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,
I admit, I knew nothing of sailing. I am pretty certain I have never been on board a sail boat in my life. I thought it took a bit of wind, knowledge and hard work, of course, always hard work to do a thing like that well. You can just tell it is not easy. But what a Blessing that did bring the Americas Cup to San Francisco. Along with those crazy and wonderful Kiwis and Aussies and British, Swedish, met some fine French folk too. I think there were some fun Germans in there somewhere too.
Though, I admit that I have LOST 10 American Flags (Tiny Freedom's Front Doors) to many a fun Kiwi who indulged my spirit when all hope did seem lost. My flags have chips and I will find each and every one of you. Ha. That was a joke.
Though from the size of the Kiwis, well, they look like Vikings to someone my size. So maybe I'll just let those flags make their way back to New Zealand. Perhaps I need to travel there to find out what happened to them.
I have had a grand time learning about sailing, and yes, not this book but the next one is going to have a scene from the America's Cup. It has been an amazing time even for a girl who has never sailed in her life. Living vicariously is so fun too.
I had a few rather lonely days with my American flags on the docks, and those Kiwis were nice to me when we were down 8 to like 1. I can't believe it. It has been a fun journey. Tomorrow, I will be watching from a high rise, but if I had any flags left that the Kiwis didn't BORROW over the weekend while I was getting an extra sparkling wine here and there from nice people and we know who you are, thank you.
I might head down to the docks. The trouble is, with all those wonderful places to stop and chat, I would never get back to what I should be doing on a Tuesday.
So, I say to you wonderful and fun Kiwis, just make sure you bring my ten flags back in a few year, no matter how tomorrow and the next day might go, as I am hoping for a few more wins. But if not, you might decide that America is a good place for a race. Next time, next time. And I will come armed with many more flags. Only next time they will be too large for your bags.
It has been a wonderful and memorable few weeks, despite I didn't know a thing about sailing, and still know very little. Yes, I will post pictures eventually on my website. It will be called, "What I did in 2013", filled with photos of all of the adventures I have had and will have.
Amazing adventures. All are going to find their way into one book or another. Because when people touch me, they find their way to my heart and my books. But for the America's Cup, it has been so "utterly brilliant" (I picked that up from the Kiwis).
It is a scene from the book after the current one I am SO trying to finish but get distracted by invading Kiwis and the like. Next book will feature the friend of the current leading lady. No hints.
I want to point out that when coming back to SF I never thought I would need to bring large flags. Or any flag. For that matter, I could not believe when the Kiwis showed up with big flags. Well, next time I will recruit mine from home along with my two soldiers, then, you will see some flags that will not be so easy to borrow. The Kiwis had much bigger flags, they laughed at my small ones that are now missing, but I waved my with such enthusiasm and, hum, they brought magic in the moment. No wonder they went missing!
No, not much work happened on my current book. But work did happen on the next book. I got distracted by the sailing and those wonderful crazy Kiwis.
Many Blessings and God-Speed Home from San Francisco. It has been an amazing experience, and so worth the set-back to book writing.
Thank you too everyone I met. Thank you for the journey.
Blessings again and God-Speed home, but bring those flags back again, or at least replace them with New Zealand flags!
Sincere love and regards,
Hello Family, Friends, Fans!
It has been an amazing summer. Update on new book. Cover is done. It is hot. But the book is going to be pretty hot. For several scenes I took a journey with my characters to the Concours d'Elegance. Wow! The finest cars in all the world. I had such a wonderful time and got some fantastic new ideas for the current book. It was amazing. I was the girl in the black hat and white flowered dress and black books if you were there.
The town of Carmel comes alive with the most amazing sports cars. If you love cars, this is it...this is heaven for cars. And, a bit of car history will be in the book....just a bit of weaving in. I love the old ones...the Packards, I loved them all. It was an exciting and fun event. Of course I made my usual stop in to see my friends at Dametra Cafe' where they treat me like family. Lovely family and lovely people who work there. The food was outstanding as always. Hotel was amazing. I want to get back next year for fun...instead of work...but I had fun along with the work.
Tomorrow it is off to only the best winery in the Napa Valley, specifically the best of the best of Napa, which is St. Helena to the Carnivus event at Crocker & Starr winery. Yes, there is a connection, for those that have read Iron Horse King. I just might have gotten a secret story or two about the real Iron Horse King sitting on the porch at the Crocker & Starr winery over a bit of wine with my husband and a gracious ancestor willing to share. Amazing stories I could not have gotten anywhere else. For those that haven't read the book...well...you won't know the secret stories. The real story is even more amazing than my romantic fictional interpretation...
It is a great honor to be a guest there and I am excited. My husband and son are jealous they cannot be with me this time, but, I have promised to taste enough for them too! Nectar of the Gods that wine. The new release I loved at and Carnivus 3...the 2010 Cab...well...I got a little taste of that while writing in some missing scenery text...visit and tasting all the wine caused me to splurge. Outstanding. Yes, there is book research going on tomorrow.... but mostly wine tasting and fun. The winery, which is the inspiration for the next book scenery-wise (because they let me taste wine while writing the scenes while occupying the lovely porch, writer's dream!). And because it is simply lovely there and the Carnivus event is always so utterly elegant so it is just perfect for the current book.
Tomorrow, I will be inspired to expand on relevant scenes about the taste and complexity of the wine .... because I am going to taste a lot of really amazing wine....they treat you like a queen and are a bit too generous with the wine ... they open the cellar with everything they have. Amazing. It will be loads of fun.
Sausalito Art Festival is for Labor Day! The theme this year is the American Flag. Now that is art I can relate to! I can't wait to sip on some sparkling wine and view the various forms of art and listen to the bands. I did enter photos to the photo portion of the contest ... I am curious to see the work that beat me..... I am sure it is lovely. I wonder if I should add this event to the next book? Hum... now that might be an idea....Anyway, it is always fun.
As always, thank you to my readers and fans that have continued to make my books successful. I had an increase in worldwide hard sales, including France and Canada! Previously I did this only in promotion.... so this is a major and exciting development for me and is most appreciated. The US sales are finally pacing the UK. But UK is still beating out the US by some margin. That is amazing to me and so exciting. Thanks again from across the pond.
It has been a magical summer and with the next book release soon, it will round out an amazing 2013. Best wishes and many blessings to everyone all over the world.