Category Archives: Writing

When you have to work anyway

Mrrgh. The clavicle of Texas is currently enjoying a barometric pressure change at the moment with the promise of thunderstorms tomorrow. I’m not sure if the fact that I currently feel like hammered poo is related to this, or to the possibility that I may be sick (feeling feverish and I ache all over, but grass pollen is super high at the moment and I feel like that during a bad allergy attack as well).

Mind you, I still got 1100 words written on To My Muse and whomped up a draft cover for something, but to be honest I just kinda want to crawl back into bed and watch jewelry making videos. I’d show you the draft cover, but it really is just a draft. Better to wait until it’s all neat and pretty.

So I have the flu

Or at least I assume I have the flu, judging from the symptoms — stuffy nose, muscle aches, lack of energy, low fever, and every bad thing or decision in my life coming back to haunt me in 4K HD. Whee. So Ramón will be heading off to the shops in a bit to pick up basics so that we can eat today, and I’m drinking lots of water, eating healthy stuff when I can muster an appetite, and trying to add at least a K a day to To My Muse because I’m insane like that. Don’t worry — I’m taking breaks as and when appropriate. Also, ignore the number on the graphic at left — I’m currently up to 23,289 words and I’m hoping to crack 25K by tonight.

The cats are also making it their mission to drive me completely nuts. You know how you get those heartwarming stories of moggies who can tell when their owners are ill and will curl up next to them, providing body warmth and quiet support? Yeah, I have one like that (Jessie, my silver girl). The rest are either yelling at me for food (JJ), running through the house like their tail is on fire and acting like a complete idiot (Jeremy), crawling in between me and my food for pettins’ (Jasmine), or climbing on me because I’m their favorite perch (Jemma). I keep having to go upstairs and hide in my room because Jasmine won’t go up there, Jeremy and JJ will go straight for the space heater and sprawl there, and Jemma prefers to snooze under the bed, don’t ask me why. Only Jessie will come in, check on me, then settle down next to me within petting range (if I’m in the mood, but only then) and take a catnap.

It doesn’t help that the temperature is dropping quickly and we’ll be below freezing by tonight. We just had a plumber come out yesterday to fix one of the outside faucets that had developed a fatal failure during our recent freeze (when you turned it on water started coming out from BEHIND the brick fascia of the house). Luckily it wasn’t too horribly expensive, but I did throw on enough clothes so that I could stagger out and make sure that, yeah, he’d disconnected the hose (which apparently caused the problem). I may go back out in a bit and wrap the damn thing with a towel for insulation. And we still don’t know if the pool pump took any damage from the freeze. I know, first world problems, but that’s still a $600+ expense I’d like to avoid if at all possible.

In other news, I got my hair cut. And since it’s wavy it means that once I’d washed the salon product out of it (shown at right — my hair is never that straight unless a stylist has blown-dry it using one of those big round brushes) and let it dry naturally it bounced above my shoulders. Since it was down to the middle of my back before this is something of a change. Ramón keeps saying I look like I did when we lived in Montreal back in 1994, and it’s nice not to have to keep it in a pony tail all the time.

Welcome to 2018!

I was on a self-imposed writing hiatus for the last week in an effort to let my brain cool down after the last two and a half months of frantic writing, and it was absolutely lovely, thank you! I cooked, cleaned, got stuck into a BUNCH of craft projects that had been lying fallow for some time, watched TV, watched movies, baked pies, and generally had a rather pleasant week.

Among some of the nifty neato-keen craft projects are the socks shown above. They’ve been in my purse for well over a year, and I finally got cracking on them only to find that I’d run out of the self-striping yarn halfway through the second sock. Whomp-whomp! Luckily I had yarn of the same weight and makeup left over from other projects, so one sock will have a large light and dark pink foot on it. Hell, they’re striped anyway, and it’s not like anyone is going to see when I have shoes on, right?

Another LONG overdue project is the queen-sized Dia de los Muertos quilt for my friend. E. I’ve had this fabric for, God, at least three years now, but I just didn’t have the time or the inspiration to put some many vividly patterned fabrics together in an attractive whole. But last week inspiration did indeed strike, and after a few false starts I started putting the central medallion together. With luck I can get it quilted and off to E by the end of the month.

BUT! Most important of all, I’ve started the first book of 2018. And it’s going to be…

…wait until you hear this…

…a contemporary romcom! I know, I know — what the hell do I know about writing contemporary romance OR romcoms? Quite a lot, as it turns out, and I already have the entire plot worked out and can get it finished by the end of January if I get a move on. So look for To My Muse on Amazon sometime in late February!

And here’s hoping that 2018 turns out to be a much, MUCH better year for everyone than 2017.

Red Robin and the Huntsman is LIVE!

Phoo! Sorry about the radio silence for the last few weeks but I have been nailed to my chair getting Red Robin and the Huntsman ready for release! It’s a second chances holiday novella set in the Two Thrones universe and follows the adventures of Ypresian army captain Duncan Bardahlson (eldest son of Lord Commander Ferdal Bardahlson) and his bickering brothers Ewan and Hamish as they’re dispatched to the tiny province of Wellen right before the winter holiday of Frostfair to apprehend a legendary bandit known as the Redbird. One little problem: Wellen is governed by widowed countess Lady Roberta Busse, who also happens to be Duncan’s long-lost love. Oops.

There’s snark, wine, an overbearing tax collector, an impish priest, a rather large pig, an extremely smart eight-year-old, a LOT of porridge, and a love story that is guaranteed to have you cheering by the last chapter if I do say so myself. Plus it’s available on Kindle Unlimited so you can even read it for free if you have a KU membership!

And now, I clean and put up the Christmas tree — whee!

SO much cleaning to do…

One of the side effects of NaNoWriMo is that housekeeping in the Cameron manse usually falls by the wayside while I try to make word count. This year, however, I’m 1) well ahead of schedule (more on that below), and 2) still have to do the cleaning that fell by the wayside while I was editing Lady of Thorns. So I’ve instituted a plan of writing for a half hour, then cleaning for a half hour, then writing, then cleaning. Or in the last couple of days’ case, writing/raking. Sweet mother of Cthulhu, but we have a lot of leaves in the front yard. I’ve already raked up 8 bags’ worth and there will be at least another eight bags to go.

But it’s got to be done because otherwise they blow all over the street and I feel like a slacker (plus it’s not good for the lawn to be covered with leaves). That being said, after the last two days of raking I kinda feel like I’ve been beaten by Mob enforcers so I may well take today off from raking (the leaves aren’t going anywhere, after all) and focus on vacuuming the downstairs. Because 5 cats + 2 humans = one hell of a lot of hair/fur/dander. Thank Zoroaster for Dyson vacuums, that’s all I have to say.

In other news, my NaNoWriMo projects are a skosh over 30,000 words, one of them will be out on December 5th as a holiday novella (Red Robin and the Huntsman, set in the Two Thrones universe), and I just found a memory on Facebook from 2011 stating that I’d be happy if I could write a book a year, plus assorted short stories. Ha. Ha. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, I was a sweet summer child back i 2011, wasn’t I?

Oh, finally, if you’ve read Lady of Thorns could I ask you to leave a review on your preferred site? Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, it’s all good. I just need more reviews. Thanks!

A fix for formatting problems with Amazon’s Look Inside function

Today’s helpful hint is for any self-pubbing author who’s had problems with the “Look Inside” function in Amazon completely screwing up your formatting and possibly losing you sales. You see, I checked out Lady of Thorns yesterday and scared the cats with my screaming when I discovered that the preview’s formatting was completely fouled up. I proceeded to check all the rest of my self-pubbed books and discovered the same freaking problem with ALL OF THEM.

After calming down and doing some research, I learned that the Look Inside function interprets HTML very literally and doesn’t always seem to recognize CSS (nobody knows why), which can result in a screwed-up preview even if the actual ebook looks fine.

But there is a way to fix this on your own! Unfortunately Scrivener won’t let me look at an ebook’s HTML so I downloaded Calibre, which will allow you to edit the ebook’s HTML. I added Lady of Thorns in EPUB format to Calibre’s library, then right clicked on it and selected “Edit Book”. That opened up an editing app with a list of all the text pages in the book and their individual CSS style sheets. Ignore the style sheets and focus on the text pages that appear in the Look Inside function (note: a page will be called something like bodyx.xhtml instead of the page name, so just start at the top of the list and open pages until you find the ones you want). Double-click on a page to open it in the HTML editor.

A brief explanation of HTML code: the following code <p>text here</p> indicates that all the text between <p> and </p> (in this case, “text here”) should form a single paragraph. Now look at your page’s HTML code. If a paragraph is primarily something like <p> class=”p1″><br></p>, it’s just a space between paragraphs. Ignore it. But if a paragraph contains text that is screwed up in the preview, replace the paragraph’s <p class=”X”> code (just this first part — you can leave the </p> part alone) with the following:

BODY TEXT

Regular body text to be centered with no indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

Regular body text to be left-aligned with no indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: left; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

Regular body text to be left-aligned with a first line indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: left; text-indent: 1.5em; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

     Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

Regular body text to be justified with no indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

Regular body text to be justified with a first line indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; text-indent: 1.5em; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

     Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

HEADERS

Depending on which app you used to create your ebook, your headers (the larger size text used for chapter or page names) will either be indicated with <h1>text</h1> or with <p>text</p>. The following are meant to be used with <p>text</p> headers. To use them with a <h1>text</h1> header, replace the p with h1.

 

If you want to center a header: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 133%”>

Example:

KEL MAKES A MISTAKE

If you want to left-align a header: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: left; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 133%”>

Example:

KEL MAKES A MISTAKE

If you want to right-align a header: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: right; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 133%”>

Example:

KEL MAKES A MISTAKE

Note: you don’t have to do this to the entire book, just the pages that show up in the preview. This is usually your front matter (Table of Contents, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Acknowlegements) and part of your first chapter. Save your edits and upload the revised ebook file to Amazon. Et voila — the actual ebook looks the same, but now “Look Inside” recognizes the HTML and generates a properly formatted preview.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Depending on when you upload your corrected ebook file, you may not see the changes immediately in Look Inside. Don’t panic! I fixed Lady of Thorns and uploaded it on Wednesday evening, and by Thursday everything on Look Inside was fine. I then did the rest to my other books on Thursday, uploaded them … and on Friday morning they all still had jacked up Look Inside previews. When I contacted Amazon about this, they said that it takes seven days for new/updated book files to appear on Look Inside and to wait a week then check again. Since the preview for Lady of Thorns was fine by Thursday morning, I translated this to mean, “We usually run a batch process every Wednesday night. Check Thursday morning and all your previews should look fine.” In any case, if your preview formatting issues haven’t gone away after you’ve uploaded the corrected file, wait a week, then check again.

And if this makes you want to cry because you don’t DO HTML, dammit, ping me and I’ll help you out.

Lady of Thorns is LIVE!

And the third book in the series that was never supposed to be a series is LIVE, people! A huge thanks goes out to my awesome beta readers L.D. Blakeley, J. Kathleen Cheney (both of whom are awesome writers, so go check them out), Theresa Eastridge, and Peter White, and to everyone who pre-ordered the book. I hope you all LOVE it, and remember, reviews on your preferred site put you in the will!


Love was never supposed to be part of the deal…

Lady Amelie de Clerq’s prickly demeanor has earned her the nickname “Lady of Thorns,” keeping potential suitors at bay and making her the butt of the nobility’s jokes. Determined to attract a husband who will love her for herself rather than her fortune, she decides to embark on a journey of sensual self-discovery.

Alain LaPorte, wily lawyer and toast of the capital’s social set, has been summoned to Lierdhe to oversee business negotiations with a neighboring earl. When Amelie asks Alain to tutor her in the bedroom arts, he agrees to introduce the highborn virgin to pleasure. But lessons in lovemaking soon turn into a matter of the heart, forcing both Amelie and Alain to confront their fears about intimacy, loyalty, and love.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | iTunes

My brain hurts

This is my word count for the day, and that’s on top of getting a half hour in on the treadmill and making dinner. I figure the target is a lie and I have at least another 7.5K to go. My brain hurts, but I’m so close to the end I can taste it.

A most extraordinary experience


As you know (Bob), I spent Thursday and Friday writing a 13,500 word novella for an antho call. Luckily I was pretty solid on the story idea so I was able to nail my butt to the chair and crank it out in record time. Polished it and sent it in to Evernight, and all is well.

The antho call was for stories about the ultimate bad boys — criminals, killers, what have you — who completely disregard the law but are utterly loyal to their women (or men, depending on their orientation). So I wrote a story about a Southern hitman named Colton Jackson who is hired to kill a Dallas lawyer. Problem is, the lawyer’s secretary Ria Guzman walks in at the wrong moment and catches Colton red-handed. Ria and Colton had an immediate, powerful attraction to each other when he first came into the office posing as a client and he doesn’t really want to kill her, so he essentially kidnaps her, takes her to her apartment, and everything boils over. There’s passionate sex, trains going into tunnels, fireworks, etc. Colton then learns that he was set up to kill Ria (which would have seriously pissed off her powerful gang leader brother and put a price on his own head) and has to dispatch the threat, although there are loose ends that could lead to more stories about these two, I dunno. At the end of the story she has to disappear, so he takes her back to Louisiana with him.

This, however, is where it gets weird. I don’t know if it’s because I was completely immersed in the story for two days, to the point where I could very clearly see the law office, her apartment, and both Colton and Ria in my mind, but right now I have the oddest feeling that Colton and Ria are actually in Colton’s apartment in Shreveport right now making dinner and talking about what they need to get her new identity set up, and whether she really wants to go back to work as a secretary (he wants her to stay home but she’s independent and wants a job). It’s like I put so much mental energy and effort into them, I somehow made them real.

And yes, I know they’re not really real. At least, I hope not. But man, the brain is a weird, weird organ.

Have I mentioned recently that I love my job?

Because damn, I love my job. And I particularly love the inspiration for my sweet-as-honey hitman Colton Jackson. If I haven’t mentioned this before, it’s good to have gay friends who share your taste in men because they find the best pics online…