Tag: First Street Church

Writing “The End”

November. It’s golden leaves turn brown and crunch beneath the soles of my shoes. (Shoes and socks?! Ugh!) Then the wind blows them away.

Meanwhile…at my computer…

National Novel Writing Month compels me to write at least 50,000 words.

For the past five years, I’ve attempted to accomplish this feat before Thanksgiving. Since the first day of the month was a Thursday, my favorite holiday came early this year.

Which means my Nanowrimo deadline came later.

Day One

It begins. I’m excited. I have prepped the two Scrivener files I’m using for the next two First Street Church romance novellas. If I draft both of them fully, that should take me closer to 60,000 words.

There’s a write-in at a local coffee shop from 1 PM to 3 PM. There are only two of us there, but words pour from our fingertips.

I update my word count on the nanowrimo.org website as frequently as possible.

Day Two

I’ve decided to write all Bailey Travers’ point of view scenes first and then return to write the shero scene. This is exactly how I wrote my young adult fantasy novel during November two years ago.

By the end of the day, I have 8,000 words.

Write on!

Day Three and Four

The weekend. I don’t usually write on weekends. This means I won’t get the badge for updating my word count five days in a row. *sad face*

Day Five

I’m scheduled to work at St. Helens Middle School. This position involves teaching seventh grade science for four hours and monitoring a study hall for an hour.

During the hour prep period, I start Jaz’s first scene.

Since I’m showing the same movie and discussing the same work sheet during all four class periods, I manage to finish writing the scene during the afternoon class sessions.

Day Six

I need to research a few items about the Texas Family Protective Services for Jaz’s story line. Also, I’ve missed my Monday scheduling of Facebook and Social Media, so my morning is unproductive as far as word count goes.

In the afternoon, I finish off all of Bailey’s scenes. I’ll be ready for Jaz in the morning.

Day Seven

I wake up with a sore throat.

Day Eight

I’m still lethargic from not completing the usual workout stuff. I’m in the Hot Seat during the weekly Novel Academy webinar, so I work on the dark moment for Tessa, the shero of the second novella I intend to write during November.

I do manage to get the SEQ filled out (although it changes somewhat during my 30 minutes of fame online), and write a scene from Jaz’s point of view.

I’m still ahead in the word count.

Day Nine

Finally, I have a 4,000-word writing day.

Word count by day-end: 20,875

Day Ten – Eleven

Weekend Again. I write this blog post and do laundry. Sunday, there’s church.

Day Twelve

Conquer the FINAL scene of November novella #1

(Yes, this manuscript might need additional scenes to complete it, but I’m ready for Tessa Travers to face her demons and fall in love.)

Except wait…this scene refuses to be written today, so on to the the opening scene of Tessa’s story. Hey, at least I wrote a couple thousand words.

Day Thirteen

Thanks to the repeated listening of John chapter 11, my writer’s brain gets a new idea. It would include redesigning the cover this book:

And releasing it as A PONDERING HEART next Christmas. After that, another new book written from the perspective of other Bible women would be released each month until Easter 2020, when the fourth (and possibly final) REFLECTIONS book would come out. (Thus, it’s a series so a cover redesign is imperative so all the covers can feel similar and I can’t afford to hire the cover designer who created what you see above for THREE additional covers.)

So, I wrote a scene for that first story (Maybe A SERVANT’S GIFT) to the total of 1,527 words.

Afterward, my muse allowed me to finish Jaz and Bailey’s story.

Thank you, Ms. Muse.

Daily total: 3,556 words

Day Fourteen

Edits on LOVE’S RECOVERING HOPE.

Must. Submit. To. Publisher. This. Week.

Day Sixteen

Tonight’s the night. Our local writers show up at the public library at 5PM and write and write and write.

Creative energy buzzes around us, increasing everyone’s typing speed.

There is pizza. There are sweet treats. Some drink coffee and others consume tea.

The past three years, I reached 50,000 words on this night.

So not happening this year. But the camaraderie is delightful and the story unfolds.

Day Nineteen

More of the same. Some scenes fly off my fingers. Others feel like I’m cutting them out with a dull Exact-o blade.

But…eventually…I reach the end of the second novella.

It’s Finally Over

Not really. Come January or February, these two stories will be subjected to my extensive rewriting and revising process before finding their way to beta readers and my editor.

If you’re a faithful reader, I’m planning for them to release in April and June 2019.

But, what is finally finished is the insanity of National Novel Writing Month.

Goodbye, November.

I’ll be heading to Hawaii in three weeks…and I’ve got some revising to do on my other April release before then.

National Novel Writing Month Again

November.

Five years ago, I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time, and I wrote a young adult fantasy novel.
It was beyond easy to churn out 50,000 words in less than thirty days.

This convinced me I could be a professional author. I have the ability to write at a professional pace.

And that manuscript?

I revised it and tried to sell it to agents. But no one was buying. So that book and the other two in the trilogy are slumbering on my hard drive.

Will I ever revisit them? Maybe. I did re-read them and I love the premise, but since my audience is engaged in my Christian romances, I don’t have an audience for these books.

I still wish to write the young adult fantasy books. I even submit the polished manuscripts from time to time. But since the doors aren’t opening, that means it isn’t the path God wants me to take at this time.

Still, it’s November, and I love the camaraderie of writing with others who are trying to create something from nothing. So, my plan for this National Novel Writing Month is to complete the final book in the Texas Homecoming trilogy and to draft Tessa Travers’s romance.

Texas Homecoming

The first book in this series shows up as book nine in the First Street Church romance series.

You can check out LOVE’S LINGERING DOUBTS here. I hope you’ve read it. If you have, what did you think?

The second book is on its way back from my line editor. Once I get the manuscript back, I’ll incorporate the editor’s recommended changes, make any small adjustments and read through it for a final polish.

It’s due at my publisher’s office by December 1. I’ll have it there early, and hopefully, LOVE’S RECOVERING HOPE will hit the shelves at Amazon before Christmas.

This means the love story between Jaz and Bailey is fresh in my mind. It should pour from my fingertips with ease during the month.

The working title is LOVE’S EMERGING FAITH.

This is the quick blurb I wrote for the nanowrimo.org website:

His past calls out his future in the ultimate showdown.
Bailey Travers wrote off his biological father the same day his grandmother gave him and his sister to the state. Too bad the thief and dealer is out now and back to ingratiate himself to Tessa Travers, who has none of the black memories Bailey hasn’t considered in a decade.
Jazlyn Rolle’s only back in Sweet Grove to help her mother recover from an automobile accident, but when she discovers a runaway in Cider Mill Park, she can’t leave the situation alone. He reminds her of the boy Bailey carries around in his soul, and helping the boy gives he more sense of purpose than anything her paralegal work has done.
While Bailey tries to keep his father from making off with more than a few antiques, Tess is pushing him to forgive the man and welcome him into their life. She can’t see past the charming exterior that pushed their birth mother into using and dealing drugs. This time, he won’t let Jaz rescue him. It’s time he faced down his past or he’s sure they won’t have a happy future.
Letting go of a sure thing, Jaz walks away from her job in Austin and embarks into a degree program that will allow her to be the County Children’s Advocate and administer a new halfway house for foster system kids. When her father shows up to support the opening, she’s come full circle.
Bailey will need every ounce of the emerging faith in God and himself to banish his past and grab the future Jaz offers him back on the ranch where he belongs.

Tessa Travers

As early as last May, I fell in love with Tessa Travers. She was a bubbling force of nature, and I decided she needed her own story.
But she didn’t come to me fully formed.

I had an idea that the romance would center around her determination to convert her family’s ranch into a dude ranch, and the hero would be her business partner, but I didn’t have much clarity beyond that.

After the pain of the Deep Thinker’s Retreat, I know better than to sit down to write without sketching out my character’s SEQ. I needed to know what Tess’s dark moment story was and what lie and fear haunted her because of it.

Furthermore, I needed all of those things for the hero, too. I had some work to do before that story was ready to be drafted.

But, I’ll manage to scribble down enough so the first draft won’t be too ugly.

Have you ever written a novel? What is the hardest part for you?

Coming Soon to Sweet Grove

Don’t you love fictional towns? Sometimes walking the streets in Sweet Grove, Texas feels like coming home.

Or maybe I’m the only one who gets attached to fictional characters and places. It’s why I like to read well-written series set in places I like. Like Cedar Cove, WA (Debbie Macomber) or Wishful, MS (Kait Nolan).

Thanks to Amazon’s decision to close down the Kindle Worlds, the new title I slated for release on July 3 has been burbling impatiently on the back burner.

But it will make it into the world.

Thanks to the owner of the First Street Church universe, my Sweet Grove Romance series can continue. Furthermore, the author coalition that populates that world with dozens of new stories every year, is introducing new sub-genres into the mix. Sweet Grove Suspense is a line of clean Christian romances with suspense elements. Heroes of Sweet Grove features former or current military personnel as the main characters.

I don’t generally write suspense. I do have a military background, and I’ve dreamed up two former soldiers who will walk into Sweet Grove carrying more than their military duffel as baggage.

LOVE’S LINGERING DOUBTS

 

All of the novellas will get NEW covers from Sweet Promise Press

Enter Jazlyn Rolle. She hasn’t lived in Sweet Grove since she was the softball superstar for the Lady Shorthorns. In fact, she hasn’t been back for more than a few days since her brother’s funeral seven years ago. And she’s only stopping in while she picks up Drew memorabilia and figures out what she’s going to do with her life now that her military career has folded.

Bailey Travers would like to get away from Sweet Grove, but his family ties him there. His foster father is about to pass away and his little sister has returned with a college degree, work experience, and a plan to convert the family ranch into a guest ranch. There’s no way she can do it alone.

Back in the day, Bailey had a major crush on Jazlyn. Jazlyn is done with men, after her recent breakup cost her the military career she’d dedicated to her fallen brother.

They’re thrown together when Bailey needs help fighting for the ranch. If only his foster father had left a will. If only his foster parents had completed the adoption process. But Bailey’s learned not to waste time dreaming about “if only.”

In Sweet Grove, even where there’s no will, love still finds a way.

A Peek Inside

In the new publishing company, Ms. Storm implemented some word count caps for each novella. Which meant I needed to reduce the word count. By about 5,000 words!

This benefits you. Now, I’m free to share par of this scene as a teaser of what’s to come. I really wanted to keep this scene (as you read it, I hope you understand why) but ended up referencing it vaguely with a comment by Bailey at the end of the novella.

As soon as Bailey cut the motor, he heard the girls’ laughter. Miles of intestines knotted, and he clenched his teeth. He shoved his hat lower, swung down from the tractor and snatched the neon softball from the beneath the seat.
Just get it over with.

Elise called the girls together, and the voices dimmed to a hum. He was a few yards from the dugout where he planned to drop the ball and get back to work.

A figure separated from the cluster. He’d recognize those muscular legs anywhere. The knot from his stomach reared into his heart, which stuttered like a rusty engine.

His feet forgot to move forward. Jaz stopped a few feet from him, sweeping kinky strands of hair that escaped from the clip at her neck off her forehead. One corner of her lips curled and that same eyebrow quirked.

“We meet again. Or are you following me?”

Bailey blinked. The softball turned to a shot put in his hands, and her words jumbled inside his mind.

She cocked her head, and both brows shot upward. The movement drew his attention to her eyes, which sparkled like topaz in her chocolate face. “Back to “cat-got-the-tongue” huh? I figured spending an hour talking in the library would have changed all that.”

She was right. They had talked at the library, and he hadn’t acted like a freshman facing a hot cheerleader. Not even when she remembered their first meeting. He opened his mouth to answer, but his throat dried and his lips froze.

A few girls in the cluster around the mound turned toward them. One whistled through her fingers, but Elise regained her attention. Bailey flicked his attention back to the gorgeous woman baring too much thigh for his comfort.

She’s going to think you’re an idiot. As if she didn’t already know the worst about him. He licked his lips to gather moisture and make his move.

“What’s up, Bailey?” She stepped closer and nudged his shoulder, as if trying to shake him from a stupor.

Electricity raced straight to his heart, a thousand volts that made him jolt away from her. Her eyebrows furrowed, and she shifted away. The subtle motion of her hips compelled his gaze to flick toward her curves. Which was a major mistake because the sight sucker-punched him.

You can read this third story set in Sweet Grove sometime in August 2018. As an additional teaser, this will be the first in a planned trilogy for Jaz and Bailey’s romance, currently titled “Texas Homecoming.”

Be sure to get Hero Delivery to find out specifics or join the Friends of Sharon Hughson Facebook group.
Have you read and reviewed LOVE’S LATE ARRIVAL and LOVE’S LITTLE SECRETS? Do you enjoy stories about military heroes?

Amazon: Destroyer of Future Plans

I’ve never been one of those author with scathing commentary about the monopolizing power of Amazon’s book store. Instead I was all-in with several Kindle-only titles.

Then they pulled the plug on Kindle Worlds.

At the moment this was announced, I was begging beta readers to return their comments on the third book for the series published in this universe. That story was planned to release in less than two months.

The day after the announcement, I got my royalty statement from Amazon showing the first month when two titles were available for sale. It was great. The sales had been strong and steady, more than anything else I’ve ever published.

Amazon was jerking the rug out from under my expanding readership.

Worse, I was positive that the introduction to this world and the amazing influencer who conceived it was the future of my writing career. At least for the next couple years.

Thanks, Amazon, for demolishing that business plan I made a week earlier.

But as much as this derailed my career planning, I knew the news was even worse for Melissa Storm.

I messaged her. I wanted to encourage her and let her know that no one was mad at her and we hoped we could still work together.

By the next day, she’d formed her own publishing company.

And why not? She has an incredible platform of followers. She launches all her new releases to the bestseller list.

Those characters I was dropping into Sweet Grove aren’t displaced after all. Their stories will be told.
*Shakes fist at Big Brother Amazon*
In the future, I might even explore some of the other shared series worlds she’s planning to launch along with Sweet Promise Press.

So if you’re an author, you should check it out. There’s a form to fill out if you want to write for her.

Those lines in my business plan that mention Kindle Worlds will have to be lined out. But those titles should still reach you.

In a few weeks, I’ll give you a glance into the next First Street Church novella. When I know the release date, I’ll pass it on.

Make sure you don’t miss any of these updates. Follow my author page on Facebook. Better yet, join my Facebook group.

It’s nice to know that Amazon doesn’t actually have the same destructive power of…Thanos. Indie authors unite with more strength than the Avengers, too.

Do you buy most of your books from Amazon? Is there any way we can curb their market share?

Back to Sweet Grove: LOVE’S LITTLE SECRETS

Today the second Sweet Grove Romance is born into the world of published books. You can snap Love’s Little Secrets up on Amazon, and check in with Kyanna and Roth while discovering the truth about Norma and Herman Wells.

The idea for this story was born as I drafted and revised Love’s Late Arrival. I really liked the high school secretary, Norma Wells, and I kept wondering why she stayed with that chauvinistic husband of hers.

It’s been five years since my own silver anniversary party, but the question that really got me going was: what if Herman had a son who crashed Norma’s anniversary party? All the other questions that helped formulate the plot sprung from that one.

Synopsis

Norma Wells is having a silver anniversary party under duress. Tabitha Olsen and the ladies of First Street Church won’t let such an important anniversary slide by, but Norma isn’t sure there’s much to celebrate. For the past several years, she and Herman have drifted further apart, and she wonders if she even loves him anymore.

Herman’s been wrestling with a lot of changes at work. But he doesn’t talk about that with Norma. It’s his job to take care of her and protect her from the harsh realities of life. Besides, who wants to talk about demotions and pay cuts?

When Herman’s well-hidden secret crashes the silver anniversary party, everything changes. This is only the first wall to crumble in Herman’s life.

Will he finally treat Norma as a partner? Or is Norma finished with him now that she knows he betrayed her in the worst possible way?
Romance shouldn’t end after the wedding and honeymoon. This story focuses on the struggles of marriage between Christian and non-Christian and the truth about real love and forgiveness.

Read an Excerpt

From chapter two:

Norma addressed everyone by first name, smiled, touched them with warm hands. She asked them about pets, children, gardens, and their health. It struck him that she belonged in Sweet Grove, but most of the faces were only vaguely familiar to him since he’d been on the road for so many years.

Herman stood beside her, munching on a generous slice of cake. Everyone loved her. A stirring in his chest reminded him of his affection, dampened by time and distance, and the bitterness of her broken dreams and his unfulfilled plans. He’d never stopped loving her, even when his duty kept them apart.

If the gem on her finger didn’t prove his love, certainly the four-bedroom farmhouse on twenty acres must do the trick. Every anniversary and birthday, he brought rose bushes and flowers, which she loved planting. And that darned gazebo she’d wanted a few years back, situated just so beneath the arching shade of pecan trees, had been a special addition.

Norma’s hand stayed on his arm as she led him through the crowd. Herman spoke a few words to everyone, nodding in acceptance of their well wishes. Talk of the Apple Blossom festival circulated, smothering him. Finally, a woman hugged his wife and her hand dropped away from him. He sidled toward the door.

A motor revved, roaring nearby before cutting off. Many heads turned toward it. Herman stepped closer, yearning for fresh air and space without clingy near-strangers.

A dark-haired young man in a black leather jacket swished through the doors. His fawn-colored skin contrasted with the white walls. Tousled curls flopped nearly to his shoulders, and he glanced around the room. White teeth flashed when he answered a query from one of the men clutching a cup of coffee near the door.

Herman glanced toward Norma, meeting her questioning gaze. He jerked his head toward the door. It was too soon to expect they could leave, but surely she wouldn’t begrudge him a few moments away from the crush.

He shuffled toward the door in time to hear the coffee man growl, “Don’t know no Manny Wells.”

The sound of the name anchored his feet in place. Only one person called him Manny Wells. One person he never wanted to see in his hometown.

“Do you mean Herman Wells?” Summer Davis slipped beside the older man, a carafe of water in her hand. “This is his anniversary party.”

“Can you point him out?” The younger man’s voice was smooth but unfamiliar.

All three of them turned, and Summer’s finger pointed directly to him. Her lips moved, but Herman heard nothing above the slamming of his heart against his eardrums.

The handsome stranger’s amber-flecked brown eyes fixed on Herman’s pale ones. His square jaw and wide nose were twins of Herman’s while the rest of him reflected the Hispanic beauty of his mother.

“Dad.” Fire lit the boy’s eyes, and his full lips didn’t smile.

Herman stiffened. Questions swirled through his mind at dizzying speed, and the sinking sensation in his stomach turned the spice cake to gravel.

What’s Next

You’ll meet some new characters in this story. I intend for you to like them enough you’ll want to read their stories in a few months.

Bailey Travers, the Wells’ neighbor, is the hero in the next book in the series. Love’s Lingering Doubts is scheduled to release on July 3, 2018.

I’m planning Ariel Stryker’s story for September 10, when the new young adult sub-line of First Street Church romances debuts. Adonis will play a role in that story, too, but my brain is churning up ideas for a romance all his own. If anyone deserves it, I’d say it’s Adonis.

With all the changes Kindle Direct Publishing is making to the Kindle World system, I don’t know if there will be more than these four books. But I’m committed to finishing out the 2018 projects I’ve planned.

What other characters would you like to know more about? Would you like to see me continue with the Sweet Grove Romances?

Deep Thinking at the Writer’s Retreat

My Muse is extroverted in every imagined scenario. My actual body and mind are introverted enough to happily stay home every weekend reading a book.
While Musie celebrated the idea of the Deep Thinker’s Writing Retreat, my mind shriveled into the fetal position and begged to visit a library instead. Preferably the one on my iPad which wouldn’t involve moving away from my couch.
Since the retreat was in Florida, my body argued with my feeble mind. “There will be sunshine and blue skies. We can get our daily dose of Vitamin D without taking that soft gel.”


The part of my brain that knows I need a writing tribe and that my writing is falling short—somehow, since I can’t get an agent to jump on it—also slapped the curled mound of quivering gray matter. After all, 2018 is a year for metamorphosis, and the biggest part of that is with my writing.
The battlefield inside didn’t stop me from packing a bag or waking up at 3AM. On waged the upheaval between mind, soul and Musie, while I kissed hubby goodbye and boarded a plane for the first of three legs of the journey to Destin, Florida.

My Expectations

It was a writing retreat. I expected to write.

In fact, I set myself a goal of completing 5,000 new words for the third Sweet Grove Romance. I figured, that’s five hours. I’ll be there six DAYS, surely there will be at least five hours to write.
Not if I expected to sleep.

Not if I hoped to glean the lessons I needed for character development.

I know this is my weak area, and the retreat organizers gave us three days to work on our characters. In fact, we spent hours brainstorming the hero and shero of every retreat attendee.
This after the entire group tossed out ideas for characters of the “group” story we were brainstorming.

Brainstormers Extraordinaire headed by Susan May Warren

Brainstorming is my super power. No less than six people told me that at the group. One woman (a former managing editor for Zondervan) told me to expect an email from her every time she got stuck.
Oh-kay.
But the only time I got to write anything was on the final day of the retreat. Then I was expected to craft the first scene we had brainstormed earlier and share it with my group mentor, Susan May Warren.
She wanted me to share a rough draft scene with her? Was she honestly expecting to see my best work?
Enough of that. Even if the retreat wasn’t what I expected, it was an incredible experience.

A Day in the Life

I don’t sleep in. The fact I was in a different time zone didn’t matter.
I woke up around 5:30 AM (3:30 my time). My roomie woke up, too, and we headed down to the beach for a walk. This became our normal morning routine for the next four days.
Breakfast was meant to be served at 7:30. The oven wasn’t cooperating, so that didn’t happen the first several days. (Eventually the maintenance man arrived and determined that the convection setting was the default, so the retreat hostess had been using that instead of a regular bake setting.)
At 8:45, Rachel Hauck led the group in devotions. She’d recently taught a class on the Song of Solomon at her church, so we got some condensed thoughts from that.
Enlightening, for sure. I was considering the intimacy of my relationship with Christ…and finding it sadly lacking.
Then the morning sessions began. These were the topics:

  • Stories that matter
  • Characters that matter
  • Lindy Hop MEGA
  • 4-Act Plot
  • Plot your bookends
  • Scenes that matter
  • Building your premise

No, we didn’t do ALL those the first day. There were two morning sessions and these were the topics for those sessions (ten planned sessions in all, although it ended up only being eight).
After lunch, the larger group broke into two smaller brainstorming groups of six attendees, one mentor and one scribe (the Administrative Assistant for My Book Therapy was our scribe and the retreat hostess was the scribe for the other group. Both of these ladies are published authors).
Here’s what the afternoon brainstorming sessions were supposed to look like:

  • SEQ Brainstorming (four sessions)
  • Plot Brainstorming (two sessions)
  • Black Moment Brainstorming (one session)
  • Scene One Brainstorming (one session)
  • One session of writing time
  • Two sessions for one-to-one meetings with mentors

Note how I said “supposed to” in the preceding sentence? Yeah, the brainstorming of the hero and shero took the first three days of the retreat for the six authors in our group. A full hour or more per character.

This is what a character SEQ looks like

This left no time for scene brainstorming because the rest of the sessions were needed to brainstorm six plot outlines (LINDY Hop four-act plot diagram).
I will say that we brainstormed the black moments and first scenes as we went, so all the bases were covered.

The Lindy Hop plot for my novella

The first three nights, we watched a movie from 7 to 9 PM. Each person was assigned something from that day’s lesson to find in the movie and we discussed it after the film.

  • We used THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY to discuss characterization on Friday night.
  • On Saturday, we talked about the major plot points with THE LEGEND OF TARZAN.
  • They made us cry on Sunday with THE IMPOSSIBLE. We talked about why that movie “worked” when the story was not action-packed. How did they build the emotional tension?

Not surprisingly, the emotion building still fit into the LINDY Hop structure we’d been learning.
Using movies is a great way to solidify the importance of characterization and plot. Everyone has the same frame of reference, so the question of subjectiveness is alleviated.

The spot where phone calls home happened

For the most part. There were varying themes for TARZAN that could be determined by naming different things as the “man in the mirror” moment or “black moment.”
The Deep Thinkers Retreat might not have been what I was expecting. (Notice I didn’t call it a writing retreat there. I think it’s meant to be a writer’s retreat rather than a retreat for writing.) Still, I learned so much that my brain overloaded on the flight home.

The perfect place for writing

My next Sweet Grove romance was written using these methods. In July, you can judge for yourself if this retreat made me a better storyteller.
What makes something a retreat? Have you ever when to a retreat with one set of expectations only to discover it would deliver a different set?

Seven Things I Learned from Publishing in Kindle Worlds

Every story and book I’ve published has taught me something about the publishing industry. Since Amazon gets a lot of flak about taking advantage of authors, I wanted to share what I’ve learned from publishing in Kindle Worlds.
First off, Kindle Worlds are considered fan fiction. I’m not a fan of this genre or this label.
Furthermore, I’m not a huge fan of the original First Street Church novellas written by Melissa Storm. I am a HUGE admirer of Melissa because she believes in supporting authors with every resource at her disposal.


I’ve mentioned before that I don’t read romance. Okay, that’s false now that I’ve dedicated myself to publishing three romance novellas this year and getting my first romance novel into print.

My first choice for reading material is not romance. And if I pick up a romance, I prefer romantic suspense. Sure, the romance is important but it isn’t the sole focus of the story.
So what the heck am I doing writing in a genre I don’t prefer to read?

I’ve been asking myself this question at least once a week since the dawn of my contract with Kindle Direct Publishing.

Now, on to what I’ve learned from this experience:

  1. The timeline of publishing may be shorter than with traditional publishers, but it isn’t quick and easy. Let me add: I have only contracted for a bonus with the first book released in November. This is an incentive from KDP to get authors involved in these universes they “own.”
  2. There is even LESS communication with KDP than with any other publisher I’ve worked with. Even the small house that took two years to print the anthology I was involved it had a specific editor who replied to my emails in a timely manner. Not so much with the KDP representative.
  3. It’s better to get support from other authors when you’re uploading your first book. The cover portion of the upload is confusing (set up so you will design your cover right there), and I was glad that there were multiple authors in the FSC Facebook group who could walk me through it.
  4. You won’t sell a ton of books. Even authors with huge followings who mailed their large lists of subscribers found they didn’t sell the expected number of copies. Which seems strange since Amazon promoted the heck out of these books on release day.
  5. The influx of cross-over readers takes time. In fact, I didn’t see a huge rise in subscribers to my Facebook page (we ran a promotion) or my email list when the book released.
  6. Staying the course with multiple avenues of exposure is still necessary. Once I finally got my spot in the Sweet Grove Sentinel (newsletter for the Kindle World), I netted 53 new subscribers in one weekend. Wow!
  7. Quantity is as important as quality. I believe the more titles I publish in this world will grow my following. Since there are so many books and authors in the First Street Church universe, the readers can’t be expected to buy ever one of them. At least not within the first few months.

    In the end, I don’t feel I’ve wasted my time and effort writing for Kindle Worlds. Yes, they own all these stories—forever—but I could take the characters to a different location if I wanted to publish outside of the First Street Church universe.

    Do you have any questions about this form of publishing?

A Romance Series in Sweet Grove, Texas

Small town romance series are a huge hit. How do I know? Because the little town of Cedar Cove,Washington (now a Hallmark Channel series) was invented by Debbie Macomber years ago and has millions of adoring fans.

It isn’t the only small town series I’ve read and enjoyed. Currently, I’m a huge fan of Kait Nolan’s Wishful Series. In fact, I never thought much about Mississippi until I read these books. Now I want to go there…and specifically to Wishful. Too bad it’s fictional…

Because of my affection for small town romances, my joy at being included in the Kindle World of Sweet Grove, Texas, shouldn’t surprise anyone.

I hope you’ll learn to love the people and the places of Sweet Grove as much as I do. Check out the entire world here. Read the recent feature about me from the SWEET GROVE SENTINEL here.

My newest romance series is considered a Christian romance series. I’d encourage readers of my sweet romances to give it a try. I swerve far from being preachy (and if you think I don’t after reading one of these books, please email me with your concerns), so I think even people who aren’t generally a fan of Christian books will enjoy this series.

Also, as several reviewers remarked, I tend to dabble on the darker side of town. Sweet Grove is a wonderful place, but it isn’t free from problems.

In this series, I’m trying to use non-standard sheroes and heroes with real life issues. And my happily ever after endings don’t feel forced or fast. (If you read and feel differently, again, send me an email. I want to know if I’m missing the mark and I don’t always read my reviews.)

Let me introduce you to my Sweet Grove Romances.

Book One

LOVE’S LATE ARRIVAL released on November 15, 2017. Read all about it here.

 
Book Two

LOVE’S LITTLE SECRETS will release on March 13, 2018.
Will his secrets end their marriage?
Blurb
On the eve of her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Norma Wells isn’t sure she loves her husband anymore. They’ve grown apart since a barren womb robbed Norma of her most cherished dream. When his secret son crashes their anniversary party, she’s ready to walk away.
Herman Wells performs his duties, even when it means keeping secrets that would destroy the love of his life. All at once, every secret is revealed, and Herman prepares for damage control. No matter what, he’s not willing to see his marriage end.
To save it, he will have to take advice from his son and even confide in the preacher. He can’t rely on Norma’s anti-divorce to save him. Somehow, he must make her fall in love with him again.
Can Norma forgive the betrayal? Or has Herman’s secret-keeping doomed their love?

Book Three

Within the First Street Church Kindle World, the authors have decided to introduce specific subcategories. My third book will debut with the Heroes of Sweet Grove line on July 3, 2018
LOVE’S LINGERING DOUBTS
This is the tentative tagline and blurb, subject to change as the story is written and the characters buck my outline.
To trust each other or lose it all?
Blurb
When her brother is killed in battle, Jazlyn Rolle gave up her softball scholarship for Army green. Barely four years later, she’s home again, disgraced and disillusioned. She’s nobody’s hero.
Bailey Dyer’s doing everything he can to save the ranch he’s called home since being fostered there at the age of six. He doesn’t have time for anything but work.
Until the pretty stranger in clingy running shorts carries his dog along the country road. He wants to deny the attraction, but how do you avoid someone who hits a softball into your lap?
When a distant relative decides to fight Bailey for the ranch, Jaz will get her chance to come to the rescue using the legal skills she learned in the JAG’s office. But will Bailey admit to love? Or will he let Jaz succumb to her lingering doubts?

Book Four

Sweet Grove High is a line for young adult and new adult romances within this Kindle World. It debuts on September 10, 2018.
Readers of LOVE’S LATE ARRIVAL expressed curiosity about what happened next for Ariel Stryker. Her story will be expanded in this fourth book, still untitled.
Future Books
I’ve roughed out at least two more stories for this series and they will likely be released in 2019. After that…who knows?
Another novella for the Heroes of Sweet Grove line, LOVE’S LOST INNOCENCE pairs a woman fleeing memories of a brutal assault with an angry former soldier, whose external wounds aren’t nearly as debilitating as his festering fury.
The secret son of Herman Wells is going to get his own book too. I think I’ll pair him up with a minor character from LOVE’S LATE ARRIVAL, but I haven’t decided for sure. I don’t have enough of the story outlined to settle on an appropriate title.
What’s your favorite small town series? What sort of characters or issues would you like to see addressed in future stories? (If I use your ideas, I’ll mention you in the acknowledgments or perhaps even dedicate the story to you.)

Enter an alternate Kindle World. I did.

Today is the day. I’ve crossed over and become a “fan fiction” author. Or so Amazon wants to say. That’s the premise behind Kindle Worlds.

I prefer to say, “Today is my Christian romance publishing debut.”

I’ve been talking about it for a few months now. And today, it will be all over Amazon when you hop online to buy a book.

Free advertising? Sure. I’m in.

I hope you’ll check it out. Maybe share this post with your friends who like Christian romance. Or sweet romance. I promise, I’m not a preachy writer.

Congratulations to me! Another book is published.

Congratulations to Kindle Direct Publishing! They’ve acquired full rights to this story – forever.

What are you reading today?

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Writing Insanity

November. National Novel Writing Month. It’s a brotherhood of insane writers, pounding out 1,700 words per day for thirty days.
Since I’m rather unsure if I am meant to be a novelist, I may be a rebel again this year.
In 2014 I wrote that path. It netted four short stories, one of which I fleshed out into a 70,000-word novel.
A novel I pitched to three agents this past summer. All of them said the same things:

  • Women’s fiction must be at least 80,000 words and closer to 100,000 is better
  • The stakes need to be upped for at least one of the characters

All that to tell me I needed to rethink the story and add another 10,000 words at least.
But it hasn’t called to me.
However, I’ve planned and plotted a follow-up novel starring the youngest woman from that story. I could write that story in November.
Or I could write the next novella or two for the Christian romance “series” set in Sweet Grove, Texas.
After all, my debut in that Kindle World will be here in two weeks.


I’m hoping readers will be panting for the next installment, a story featuring minor characters from this first one.

What about doing something fun?

I’ve been jotting ideas for another fantasy novel for several months. I want to tackle the idea of a realm that exists outside of time encroaching on a world that exists inside the restrictions and constructions of time.

My thought is to have the mentor figure and the villain brothers who live in the timeless realm. They’re competing (as brothers do) and have gotten caught up in trying to trip each other up…by planting prophecies and information along the timeline in the world where time exists.
The story could include elemental magic with atypical sources.

But I really don’t have a story for it. Just a ton of vague ideas. And that’s NOT the best way to be a winner during National Novel Writing Month.
With the release coming up on the 15th and the content edits for REALITY EVER AFTER due on the 13th, I’m not certain I’ll have the focus for NaNoWriMo.

But how can I NOT do it? I’ve done it for three years and won every time. It’s such a morale booster.

Sure, it’s a little bit crazy, too. Especially when I only have three days per week to get my words written. And I’d want to finish by November 22 because we’re heading to the Oregon coast to spend Thanksgiving weekend with my sister.

If I’m not finished, the story will be hanging over my head the entire time.

Part of me wants to write something “just for fun” and another part of me knows I need to stop procrastinating and get stories down on paper.

What’s your advice? What would you do?

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