Thursday, September 25, 2014

Clearing out your brain's attic

I'm working on a big series and it's one I drafted many years ago -- a few times.

It seems like whenever I learned something new as a fledgling writer, I went back and hacked away at this series or at least one of the books in the series.

Last year I decided enough was enough. I was mature enough as an author that I could actually write this story now. But oh, it was hard to give up those old drafts. I was ruthless, though. I went through them all, read the prose (oh, Lord, some of it was so bad), tossed out what I knew wouldn't work and kept a few scenes, etc.

Then I started really writing this series and you know what -- none of what I kept will work. These aren't the same characters anymore. I've learned enough as an author that I realized the way I was using those scenes was for my own enjoyment. They didn't help the plot and they didn't help with character development.

Once again I had to step back and jettison that old work. And it was just as hard as the first time. Someday I hope to re-read some of it (it's safely archived on the D drive of my computer) and maybe -- just maybe -- include some of it in my edits as I do finally prep of this series.

Or maybe I'll just laugh at it all and finally, truly, jettison it.

(more books than you can shake a stick at, although why you'd want to...)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

An Author Life

In a former life, I was a chemist. For years my writing consisted in detailing standard operating procedures or outlining contracts in a concise, straight to the point approach. When I started writing romance, I had to learn how to plot a story and present it from a specific point of view. Workshops, mentors, critique partners, contests taught me to hone the difficult art of writing and find my voice.
Nothing beats a specific daily to-do list prepared the night before to keep you motivated. Crossing out items on my list gives me a sense of achievement.

As soon as I jump out of bed I check my emails for anything important. My morning is then dedicated to various activities, errands, and chores. Walking, exercising, grocery shopping, etc… By noon, I am back at my computer browsing Internet, reading blogs and leaving comments, and advertising my books on Twitter and Facebook. It’s my promotion time. The afternoon and evening are for writing, revising, editing.

I love visiting new places but traveling was never a complete vacation for me, more like a research for interesting stories. Armed with my camera and a notebook, I traveled to more than fifty countries, snapped a gazillion of pictures and scribbled my impressions.

My inspiration sprouts from real life and people around me—they supply a rich canvas of plots and conflicts—and also from my traveling to fascinating places.

I live day by day and write what I feel passionate about; contemporary romances, romantic suspense novels, medical romances set in the various states where I lived, or the country I visited, France, Russia, Greece, even a paranormal romance based on Egyptian mythology.

Most of my heroines have high educational background and solid scientific careers, as I had. They also face difficult obstacles in their lives. But the similarities end there and the romance is specific to each heroine.

My biggest challenge is promoting my books. No one ever warned me that I would have to learn such an amount of technology to be able to sell my stories. I am lucky to have a computer guru at home who taught me to create website, blogs, trailers, book covers, newsletters,…

I always plot everything I do or write, and continuously create new to-do lists. Although I believe I can influence my future or help shape it through my work and actions, I don’t think I can plot it in the true sense of the word. One can always dream and hope that dreams will come true.

Writing is my shelter. Hiding in my own world, I create people I love. With imagination and patience, I force them to overcome their inner conflicts, fight obstacles and make love triumph.

Most writers are continuously plagued with self–doubt and need non-stop cheering to boost their morale and stimulate their muse. The reviews and praise I receive from reviewers and fans reassure me that I have written beautiful romance stories they love.

The life of a writer is a lonely battle waged against oneself, but we are lucky to bond with other authors through writers’ loops. My writer colleagues share and understand my struggles, lend support when needed and cheer my successes and joys. The daily exchange of emails resulted in solid cyberspace friendships and allowed me to publish multi-authors boxed sets of novels with other writers.
The most recent boxed set co-authored with the Main Street Authors is Wedding on Main Street and my contribution is Wedding Surprise that is not published on its own yet.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Resurrecting old works

Recently I've been spending a little time going through my file directory of writing projects looking for works that for one reason or another were abandoned without ever being completed. The reason for this is looking for additional material to publish without the strain of creating something from scratch.

These stories aren't bad. In some cases it is like seeing an old friend, one that I really liked but that I fell out of touch with. Mostly this was because the story and I ended up not seeing eye-to-eye on how the it was going to proceed. 

A big reason for abandonment was that I was mostly writing as Cricket Starr at the time... that's my erotic romance pen name and a Cricket book required a great deal of sexual situations. Not all stories lend themselves to that level of erotism so unless the story fit into one of the selling series I had such as the Futuristic Gaian stories or the Paranormal Hollywood After Dark, I didn't have a good place to market it.

One such story is "Dancing the Knight Away." Originally this was supposed to be an erotic novella about a young romance author at her first romance convention and her sexual adventures with a hot cover model. But a funny thing happened... the heroine turned out to be a really sweet lady and the hero a nice older guy who makes a bet with his roommate that he can get her to dance with him before the end of the convention. It was fun and a little sexy, but there wasn't nearly enough reason for these two to be warming a bed together when he couldn't even get her out on the dance floor. 

So a Cricket book it wasn't going to be and I didn't have a good market for it any place else. Rather than spend the time working on a story that I couldn't sell to one of my current houses and was too short to be sent to a publishing house I wasn't associated with. It was contemporary, there weren't any paranormal elements, and while I loved the characters, they just weren't going to cooperate with me as far as the sex was concerned.

So I abandoned my knight in costume armor and lady author to work on more profitable projects. 

But thanks to Indie publishing I no longer need to be concerned about simply adding this nice little novella to my list of publications. I can go back, finish off the rough edges of the manuscript, and put it out as one of my contemporary romances. I've already got the rights back to a story I had with Ellora's Cave from their Blush line that was mis-authored as Cricket Starr. I say mis-authored because it was originally a Janet Miller book at Cerridwen and I never changed its sex level to that of the Cricket level of erotism when Ellora's Cave folded the Cerridwen books into their erotic line. So there has been much confusion about that book over the years.

My intent is to launch Christmas With Sarah next month once final proof-reading is done, and have Dancing the Knight Away ready to go a week or so later. Then if I can find a third book to release... well you get the idea. I want to see if I can't build some momentum for these contemporary stories that I really like... even if there isn't a fang or spaceship to be found in them.

Janet Miller

Sunday, September 14, 2014


I’m not comfortable with long goodbye’s, tending to move ‘adieu’ events along at a good clip.  For instance: We’ve spent the four summer months on a boat for the last 20 years.  When my husband asked, “Should we think about selling Intrepid?” my answer was, “Okay.  Why don’t we plan to find a new owner for her by the end of the summer?”

Guess what?  We started advertising the sale (see: ) in July while we were in Alaska.  By September 10, Intrepid had a new owner.  We priced the boat fairly (without broker or title company costs) and we sold immediately.  Even better, we got to work with the new owners closely, offering them a notebook of instructions for managing our boat’s unique systems, and we even got a chance to take the new owners out on the boat two times.  

Yesterday, when I said goodbye to Intrepid, carrying all our good memories of years of boating in my brain and my heart, I was comfortable with the length of my ‘goodbye.’

Two months of constantly cleaning the boat for pictures and inspections; two months of tweaking the systems that needed fixing; two months of worrying that a system we HADN'T fixed would fail; two months of saying adios to all the marinas where we’ve made friends; two months of throwing kisses to our favorite anchorages.  Two months is enough.  I shudder to think that most boats take a year or more to sell.  Not for me.

My husband is fine with the speed of our sale; I was a little worried I’d taken this particular bull by the horns, but not to worry.  He was highly involved in our marketing process and today, he is as happy as I am.

So my question for you is: How are you with goodbye’s and do you worry about them being overly lengthy/painful?  Could be I have a strange approach to goodbye’s because I’m an Army brat, forced to leave dozens of countries/cities after two/three years.  Heck, maybe you don’t even try to manipulate your goodbye’s.  I’d like to know.

As you’re thinking, here’s a look at my website and my books.  Happy sales to you!  Rolynn