When I first got into writing, one of the things I learned early on from several seminars on writing was that you never write like you believe your mother will read your writing. Obviously, in romance specifically, imagining your mother reading what you wrote is a little daunting. Sadly my mother passed when I was 16 so it is a problem I wish I had.
I really cannot believe how well I have done on my own as an indie writer and just feel honored and amazed when I sell books. However, like most writers, I cannot (yet) make a living only on writing, so I have a day job. This is really why I am in San Francisco working again....but I love it very much!
However, one thing I have learned recently is that there might be something more embarrassing than your mother reading one of your steamy and sometimes downright erotic romances (The Wine Prince - Vine of Obsession for instance) and that is that your co-workers might read one of your books....now that is a yikes thought!
It was stunningly easy living out on a farm in the middle of Kentucky with 12 acres around me to write exactly what I felt like while in the "writing zone" which is like you have characters and a scene play out in your head and they just do what they want and take on their own life in directions you never dreamed they would! So thinking and then writing such (sexy and erotic) scenes was not too hard while walking the land with my dogs in isolation....it is a whole different story in the real world of working and commuting!
While the thought is flattering and absolutely I am honored that anyone would purchase and read my books, it is sometimes a little disconcerting to imagine as I go through my day that someone I work with might have read one of said books! For the first month at my new job, I hid my bag going in and out of work (which has my books on it....sexy scenes of book covers is most certainly "inappropriate" in the workplace). I was soon discovered and uncovered during a Google search by a co-worker.....Not that I was exactly hiding it, but it isn't like one puts THAT on her resume to work at a law firm (I have other much more relevant credentials like having a BA in Law Studies).
I admit the day job does get in the way of writing the next book as quickly as I would like. Getting into the "zone" is much harder, but it also adds new elements to my life and book writing (not to mention pays the bills in full which is a really good thing!) Plus I work with really fun and interesting people which have become a family of sorts while I live away from my own real family..
So, dear readers, friends and fans, thank you for being there and yes, I am working on the next book (despite the slowness of my efforts). In the meantime you will know that somewhere in San Francisco is a romance writer disguising herself as a legal assistant....and hoping co-workers don't read her books, even if getting book sales is really important....giggles and yikes!
When is the next book out? Well....I am shifting between steamy romance or erotic again. The book is about half written and I finally have fully formed characters.
Now it is a decision about the level of erotic. I have learned that it is darned hard to find a book on Amazon or other sites if you jump into erotic...so maybe I will just push the envelope of steamy....Of course, this is certainly not a topic for around the coffee pot at my law firm....even if I might think about it on my lunch walk... more giggles.
Thanks to you all who tune into my blog all over the world! I can't believe how much my audience has grown...I promise I am working....by day as a mild mannered legal assistant and by night an erotic romance writer. Moving into the Thanksgiving and Christmas Seasons, I have much to be thankful for and am committed to doing a blog at least once a month despite my fun day job which has kept me rather busy! I am having a great time...and who knows...perhaps there will be a book about lawyers someday....we will see...yikes yet again.
I still can't believe I sell books every day even while I race through my regular job....it is a miracle really and I am humbled by the thought even while standing at a copy machine....and rushing to do a filing...
As always, many, many Blessings to all of my family, friends, fans and readers. Thank you so much.
I do believe that while the pen is not mightier than the sword all of the time, perhaps the written word can help interpret the swords of war and the intent of those who engage in advancing liberty for those that are denied those beautiful rights, I am posting something from The Chosen One, my best seller.
Just like "Truth is on the march and nothing can stop it" I also believe that Freedom is "on the march and nothing can stop it." Perhaps policies of those that come and go might decide how quickly freedom advances, or the way it is handled can be criticized, but in the end, liberty will win because it is the most amazing of ideas and the right to freedom does not come from man nor governments, it comes from something much higher than the feeble mechanics of man.
I believe the hearts of the soldiers that died or were seriously wounded leave behind their utterly amazing spirit, bravery, strength and all of the silent but unconquerable forces of good ..... they remind and call everyone to all that is noble and good about human beings....what they leave behind touches and changes those that they wanted to help and lives on through them forever.
Their work is breathtakingly noble and of a higher calling ....and once done ....with such gallant and amazing selflessness.... the seeds of hope grow and grow into a beautiful rose....and I know the vision of a distant shore has already been seen through the deeds of the living and dead that helped bring that vision to those that never had hope to find it because they acted with such beauty of spirit for all of the world to benefit and especially those that lived in chains and fear.
Thus, the heart is mightier than the sword when it shines with good and the sacrifice is ultimate.
Perhaps where the sword left off maybe humble words will help in some small way...to bring good people to Freedom and Peace....and to bring my sisters from far away that much closer to personal liberty...to have the chance to chase their dreams, write their words, live as equals and find Freedom's Front Door.
"Because my dear sisters, none of us are free until all of us are free."
From The Chosen One.
Freedom's Front Door
By: Rebecca Bernadette Mance
October 20, 2009
Dedicated to the Iraqi and Afghan people
and all those who are willing
to walk through Freedom's Front Door.
May you know that we are not perfect,
but we have tried our very best to do the right thing and
give you the gift of Freedom........because none of us are free until all of us are free.
We have sent the best and finest that we have to offer.....our fine soldiers....our sons and daughters...now you must take the steps walk through Freedom's Front Door.
He said, "Follow me."
Carrying a flag from a distant shore,
He had a message I could not ignore,
Follow me down the path to Freedom's Front Door.
He said, "Follow me."
Even though you cannot see the light
I will hold it high and bright,
And it will lead you on the darkest night,
To an idea born on a far away shore,
So follow me now to Freedom's Front Door.
He said, "Follow me."
Don't let others make you afraid,
Just believe in the good from my heart I gave,
And understand the sacrifice so many have made,
So that you can find a life with so much more,
When you follow me to Freedom's Front Door.
He said, "Follow me."
When you need me, I will never stand down,
I will help you until your footing is sound,
And you take that walk on the path so many have found,
You will walk alone with pride to your core,
As you walk the path to Freedom's Front Door.
He said, "Follow me."
And I knew his heart was more than brave,
His work was for more than an accolade,
And I recalled the others and what they gave.
I said, "I'll follow you."
So I started down the path and my heart soared,
Like the Eagle that flew over that distant shore,
And I walked right through Freedom's Front Door.
Thank you so much to my readers! This is my best month ever for sales! It is truly amazing and I am profoundly grateful.
Bob Mayer an inspirational, positive, fabulous writer had a post on Twitter some time back about what he was thankful for. I really liked it. It reminded me how much I have to be thankful for. Sometimes we get caught up so much with what we think matters that we forget what really matters. I had some time off....quite unplanned... Yet...as I consider my own Blessings... and difficulties...I remind myself that having time off is such an amazing Blessing, especially for a writer. Now, thankfully I am back in action again and while time off was wonderful, economically speaking, working is better.
However, the time off time has launched me fifteen chapters into the latest book that I didn't think would be done for quite a while. It also allowed me time to get deeper into the story and characters ... and my latest characters are doing a lot of things I never expected.
I think everyone should be lucky enough to get unplanned time off in early spring. Even if I am thankful now to be back in action. The spring reminds of the Kentucky Derby... of little colts and fillies dancing around on misty rolling hills, of fresh things, fresh starts and endless possibilities.
They key is to be thankful for the moment you are in even when your life is shifting, be thankful for your family and friends, and do not fret so much about what you should be doing, or why things didn't go exactly like you might have planned...or thought you wanted.
The Bay Area in spring is too lovely for words. A few weeks ago I drove to one of my favorite locations in Mountainview that has the most amazing view. It is an inspirational place for me where I get lots of ideas and often brings me happiness and comfort in times of trouble. And it also reminds me that to truly live, to truly be an excellent writer, to truly understand the human existence...that sometimes we must hurt...let go of things. Sometimes we must take risks. Sometimes things don't turn out like we expect.
Sometimes we have to do things that are really difficult because life brings us difficulties. We always do what is right and remain steadfast in our values of doing the right thing and it always does work out better than we ever imagined.
You have to see the world in a whole new way... sometimes that means stepping back and away. It also means starting over, pressing reset and going in a new and positive direction.
When things change and go in a direction you didn't expect, while it might seem unfortunate at the time, it almost always takes me to new and exciting adventures. And in this case, it has been an amazing new direction and I am so happy. And yes, very grateful.
Unfortunately this means Paris is going to wait a year, but my theory is that it means it will be an even more exciting adventure next year. I will have had time to plan even more amazing adventures.
And Paris in 2015? Well, "Paris is always a good idea." And I will add to that...in spring....it is even a better idea. We are now planning new adventures when we go in a year to include Monaco, Bordeaux, Champagne and other locations we previously might not have visited....By then I can celebrate another book (or two) and a successful year in my new adventure.
In the last month I have been reunited with old friends and made lots of new really fun friends. That is a whole lot to be thankful for and I am counting all my blessings on this fine spring day.
To my fans, friends and readers, thank you again for my best month ever and for just being good friends.
I hope this moment finds you every Blessing and every happiness and that you too enjoy a fine spring day wherever you are.
Merry Christmas! And may this New Year be filled with love, laughter, perfect health and prosperity for everyone!
Yes at long last I did finish on my birthday (or within a day or so) The Wine Prince - Vine of Obsession! This was my first "light erotic" romance. It was a lot of fun and I admit that the really naughty scenes were written with the assistance of wine, and of course, one must do sufficient research by reading various similar materials for "inspiration".
Thank you to both of my amazing editors and dear friends Debbie and Liz.
This book was a journey. Despite my wonderful editor Liz who wanted "shades" of The Letter (concocted over margaritas with our other friend Cindi) I had to admit about a fourth of the way into the real shades that while my characters could take some erotic journeys ....they certainly were not going to take all of them. I decided that I wanted a male character with a fine hand not a billy club.
However, were it not for Liz and her notion of kicking up the next book to be into the erotica range and her insistence that I read the real shades, the book could not have been what it turned to be. In writing it, I sometimes went deliberately and deliciously "anti-shades".
When Liz read the book for the first time she was a bit surprised. I kept from her almost every detail. I was so stealth that she thought a sequel to The Letter would be Victoria and William's children...but alas, it was generations later...it had to be because I had already started writing the book when I started to go "shady". Plus, it was not at first ever intended to be a sequel to The Letter. However, in fashioning it to be both a sequel, then adding the light erotica...the whole story took on new life and ended more amazing than even I had predicted.
John-Pierre is obsessed and dominating just like William was in The Letter so that part was easy. I also added excerpts from The Letter and that generated a lot of sales for that book...that was fantastic...but it had a purpose because there was a similar pattern and I think it really made the book pop.
So excited was Liz about this book that we met at The Palace Hotel for lunch to go over the book and her suggestions and celebrate my birthday the day after she finished it. I was, of course, eager to meet with her because she used words in her email like "OMG I couldn't put it down!"
After so much work, you soak in a moment like that.
At The Palace Hotel where it is quite beautiful, but quiet, there were a number of Christmas parties going on around us. And they did get to hear Liz and I debate, somewhat heatedly, the difference between a particular scene in Iron Horse King that involved what I call "love taps" and being beaten painfully.
We did turn a head or two, but really were too excited to care. I wonder when the last time a conversation like that has happened in that famous and opulent dining room (perhaps more often than I imagine).
But I knew I had found a new love for Liz to replace her other unmentionable hero when she said of the main character, "John-Pierre would never have served ... He would have had ..." As an author, I sat there knowing I had created a person that Liz would and did love (and she knew what he would serve!). He was a character with a fine, but yes naughty, hand and I believe I obtained the same effect without....without the pain!
I am lucky and blessed to have such an editor who might just be more excited about the book than me.
Editor Debbie also confided that it might be my best book. Though like Liz she favors The Letter and Iron Horse King. I believe Iron Horse King is my best book. But of course Iron Horse King was based on a real person and he already was bursting with character...I just had to find the right counterpart and figure out how to make the book comprised of historical facts, fun and romantic.
Writing is a funny thing. One single thing can change the entire book. In Iron Horse King I originally was going to call the book "The Train". But I had measured down not just the name of the book but also the true character of the person it was written about.
One day, I just thought "Iron Horse King." I pictured him in a top hat and tail coat climbing out to the top of the train and it changed everything. From that moment on the character became true to life with the intensity of the real character and I gave him the boldness that was true to the real person that was his formula.
John-Pierre was also a mild character until he went erotic. One moment he was one person and then I turned him into a Frenchman that was a previous army sniper. Very fun and delicious.
That is the amazing thing of being an indie writer. You do write raw. In the end I made the book, the story and the characters, exactly what I wanted. More amazing is that world-wide people buy my books every day. I still can't believe that. I am humbled and feel such gratitude. My dream is complete, it can only get better.
I am taking a little time off for Christmas to spend with my husband (son is working), but the next book is getting started in the New Year. The new book will take us to Europe. That is all I will say right now, oh and will involve "Summer" character (friend of Bethy) from The Wine Prince.
Editor Liz and I are headed to Paris, Bordeaux, Champagne and Monaco (Two weeks in France starting May 1 -OMG!). I need to work on research and scenes. I am blessed to have a really kind friend that has offered me a free flat in Paris. My husband is not keen on Paris so he was happy to send me with Liz! (with warnings of course to not get into too much trouble...which of course I wouldn't. :)
But "Paris is always a good idea."
Editor Debbie has a little too much going on to go, though she was tempted (and I can't even get her to visit me for a few days!). But she will be there in spirit. She has been my friend since I was four years old and we went to the Catholic school together (only she wasn't Catholic). She has put up with my craziness all these years...hopefully now she only sees me as "an eccentric author" rather than just crazy. I am certainly going with that. She is about to start following her own passion now and I am so proud of her.
The only negative to all of this is that now that I went a bit "shady" with light erotica..I have to suddenly contemplate that people I know will read this book. Oh well...being a writer is being a writer. I learned long ago that you can't write books if you are worried your mother (and presumably anyone else) will read them.
My dear mother passed away when I was 16 and she was 42. She probably would be a little scandalized but in her last days, I promised her I would take every adventure that she never got to take (though I am not sure if writing light erotica was what she had in mind for the daughter she sent to Catholic school). However, I am sure she would appreciate the adventure she never took in being an author. And I do believe she would be proud.
If you are going to write, it is best to write raw and take a few risks.
This year has been an amazing year. It started out to be not just extremely difficult, but almost a complete disaster personally. Yet, it became more and more magical with each passing month. Which does confirm my belief not just in Santa and Miracles, but just the goodness in people and the wonder and mystery of life. There is a plan for all of us, even when we are afraid of the steps to get there.
No one could ask for a better year. I got the opportunity to go to Paris in May 2014, though a working trip it is also a fun trip.
I saw the complete turn around at the America's cup and as a mother and wife of soldiers was touched as I watched literally thousands of Americans pass by me with American flags when I thought I would be the only one (this was SF after all and not really known these days as being particularly patriotic...though in the past it was a big Navy town). I was proven wrong...because thousands did walk by me with flags.
Third, I relearned to ride a bike and my limp is nearly gone. I can dance again. I did a lot of things I never thought I could do.
My books really started to take off and I have consistent sales that increase...yes...perhaps only in tiny bits...but all the same...they do increase and that is more exciting than I can describe. So I really became an author in my own heart.
This was a truly Blessed year despite the hardships at first.
And the year is going to close out perfect. My husband is flying to see me so we can spend Christmas together. We will go down to Monterey/ Carmel, have the Christmas Buffet at The Palace (Yaay I don't have to cook!) and celebrate some milestones for our family.
I wish for all of my family, friends, readers and fans to have a truly Blessed Christmas and that 2014 will be your best year ever for each of you.
Four of my favorite lines come from a poem called "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley.
"I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul" And
"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."
I am inspired to share them for many reasons. One is because that I have been reading Who Dares Wins by Bob Mayer. The book reminds me in a time when it is easy to forget, because we are faced with difficult world issues and many are experiencing great personal difficulties, you must face your fears and walk boldly toward your dreams.
Walk purposefully to a personal greater good. Those good things you can do daily to make your world and the world around you, better are what I mean. Don't be afraid to fail.
Your best lessons are when you fall down and skin your knees. True failure is not trying at all. Be always brave even when people try to make you look foolish, laugh at you and put you down.
If you are always walking toward the good, "playing it forward" there is no failure. Instead, you should see the failure as a set- back or a need to hit the reset button and learn lessons.
Who Dares Wins is "raw" and "real" just as I think I am as an independent writer because it has real life stories about Special Forces soldiers and what it takes to be an Elite...the true Elite, those who face their fears, help others often knowing it will come at an extremely high personal cost. They are those that reach back to lend a hand instead of running to safety or making themselves look better at the expense of another.
"In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed."
I was extremely inspired by the America's Cup races and had the unbelievable opportunity to see the great comeback first hand. I had the opportunity to meet many of Larry Ellison's employees who shared his visions with me. They told me the stories of his struggles to bring the America's Cup to San Francisco. I felt the vision and got caught up in it.
Each of us can feel a vision, either to lead others or to know when we should support a vision that might change the world. And it did. He did bring sailing to the common man. I had never sailed in my life, but suddenly I was captivated by the amazing story as it unfolded....and I believed it could happen. It did.
Freedom's front door is not a local view. It is a world vision. It means each person, anywhere in the world could be anything he or she wants…an Indie write...a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer...and his or her two hands and heart could make the difference.
Bob Mayer talks about women in his books. They are afraid of failure and success. I had never considered this, but it is true. I knew I was afraid of failure, but it never occurred to me I was also afraid of success.
When I first started as an Indie writer what I quickly realized was that other Indie writers (always women) were the worst enemy to other indie writers and themselves. They were doing things like putting up poor ratings for books that were really good. They are Indie Bullies. Women complain that they can’t get by and often blame men, but they are sometimes too petty and jealous to help one another find success.
God made lots and lots and lots of girls much prettier and smarter than me...I don't care...he made a lot of writers better than me....I love to read their books...they inspire me to be better and better. If you focus on making yourself a better person rather than making others look bad you will get to your personal goals faster...being mean to someone else is never going to make you a best-selling novelist.
I got locked into it for a while when I first started...getting hurt by the mean words... But then, I was reading Warrior Writer (also by Bob Mayer but now called Write it Forward). It really did help me see past those things.
And my fabulous editor and even dearest friend Liz told me she has read The Letter ten times...at first, I was skeptical...really...she was just saying that to be nice. One day I realized, she really did meant it. I could not see past not just my insecurity, but past the meanness even if I did recognize and track down sometimes the bad marks from other Indie writers!
I had another very good friend tell me how good Iron Horse King was, and I knew he really did mean it! (which meant it could be a guy's book too!) I now think of it a bit like a "Man's romance" as well as a woman's.
Did I want to be perfect and never publish a book, or did I want to tell a story and, of course, keep working on being better? I left it behind right there. I helped any Indie writer I could find.
My most successful book all over the world, The Chosen One was the one nearly nobody liked. In November I am going to be in the Romance Writers of America Magazine! Thank you so much! In the Voice of Romance Writers page! I am honored.
I can't believe I got here! I am an author. I went to years of seminars, entered contests and failed...got back up and worked harder and got better. My failures made me work hard and RWA is an amazing organization with seminars, advice and support. I met so many people just like me. I will always be a member and always support them because being a part of that organization helped me so much.
We do need people to help us improve in a positive way. We need to find our weaknesses and make our writing stronger. (Find our "blind spots").
I made a decision to be an Indie Writer, based on a very good friend's advice, one of my dearest friends ever….she said to me…why don't you e-publish. I said, "Because only three out of the five judges give me good marks." I would get one or two high marks one decent one and two horrible ones...so I could never win. She said, "Well, there are a lot of three out of five people in this world."
She was right. Dear friend Nancy. There are a lot of three out of five people in the world. My US sales are now starting to pace with my international sales.
Thank you so much. I cannot tell you my readers, how much I appreciate it. I wake up in a day and I cannot believe that people I never met all over the world purchased my books.
As an Indie writer, I don’t have people advertising for me, or putting muscle behind me. My main editor is me and a few friends who have busy lives themselves. I could not do without them. Most indie writers are in the same boat. Professional editors cost a lot of money...my friends are willing to settle for a good bottle of wine or dinner.
Point is, I want to make sure I play it forward to all indie writers to remember that we must work to perfect the craft and help one another. I want to play it forward. I want to be an Elite. A true Elite. I want anyone that has a good story to be brave enough to put one foot in front of the other.
Two of the best romances ever written...one of the authors wrote the book in first person like Shades of Gray. Only it is completely different traditional romance…but I have always wanted to write a romance in first person. The book is Once Upon a Moonlit Moore, by Rebecca Brandywine. And Rose in Winter, by Kathleen Woodiwiss (now passed unfortunately). And how can anyone ever, ever forget in romance, Johanna Lindsey? I have read every one of the books written by these women. Those three authors still remain the masters in my mind. Oh there is an important one I am forgetting...new to me...Her books are so good I cannot be jealous. Julie Anne Long. What I Did for A Duke, but every one of these women amaze me...what a gift.
If I could be half as good as those four women...Not to mention Julia Quinn...so many others, my life will be pretty much complete.
Point is, the magic of Romance lives on. Play it forward. Each person...stop for a second and capture the dream of another...do something good. Really good.
Thank you so much to all of you my readers...I still can’t believe that every day I live an ordinary life...but every day...people all over the world and all over the United States buy my books. I am so humbled. I am so honored. I am so, so, very honored. I get to write exactly the way I want, not as others would have me write.
I have never liked rules. Because words are magic when they come straight from the heart.
And to my Sisters in the world. Play it forward. Be your better best. Be an Elite. You don't have to be a Special Forces Soldier to be Elite, you just have to have the heart of a Special Forces soldier.
Keep walking, quietly if necessary, but always with purpose. Those who have read the certain book know what I mean. Women have changed the world in huge ways, most times in silence. We can use our special gifts to make the world better for each other.
Always have the Unconquerable Soul.
Blessings and sincere regards,