Happy New Year all!
I have a confession – I took a month off. December to be exact. Not all of it, but most. I hadn’t intended on doing that. What I had intended was to put the nose to the grindstone, get lots of writing done while on vacation from the day job over the holidays and make massive headway on A HINT OF SCANDAL, the last book in the SINS & SCANDALS Series.
I did none of those things. I tried, but my brain kept sputtering out. My attention span ambled off to parts unknown. My drive to put said nose to said grindstone took a lengthy hiatus. None of these things seemed inclined to return with any kind of swiftness. Their departure left a bit of a gaping hole I was having difficulty filling. At first, I tried to force the issue. Demanded my get up and go hustle on back and get itself back to work. A demand that was summarily rejected and overruled by my brain that wanted to muck about and…play.
We have no time to play! We have a deadline for crying out loud! I stamped my foot, fired off my most withering death glare and waited for everyone to fall back in line.
Nothing happened. Nada. Zip. I was politely informed that everyone was taking a vacation. Starting now. This moment. And until further notice. Negotiations ensued. I offered them a week, they suggested six months. I countered with a week and two days. They reminded me that I was running on fumes, that I was neglecting a million other important things and focusing only on one. I reminded them that we had worked really hard to get where we are and had to keep it up or lose it all. They suggested my catastrophic thinking was a little ridiculous and short-sighted. It went back and forth until finally we came to an agreement: I would take off the month of December. We would all get back to work once the holidays were over. We would finish the book.
Then I would take six months off and work on something completely different. Write a the book I had been percolating for months on end that was far outside my wheelhouse. I would rediscover the creativity and play of venturing into foreign territory without a compass.
And so here we are – back to work after a much needed mental break (I hate it when my brain is right…) and looking forward to finishing A HINT OF SCANDAL then diving off the edge into a creative pool to learn how to swim again.
For any of you who following my Instagram account, you may have noticed that I am an avid knitter. Not to say I’m a particularly speedy knitter (I’m not), or even a notably expert knitter (I’m somewhere between middling to not too shabby), but I am an avid one. I love knitting. Loooove it! I love the idea of it, I love the physicality of it, I love the patterns, I love the challenge and I love the sense of calm (when things are going as they should) that I get as the needles click and slide and most of all, I love the yarn.
Oh…the yarn (deep sigh).
I will admit that, on a good day, I have a yarn fetish that is unrivalled, but, oh boy, once autumn rolls around and winter looms on the horizon, that fetish amps up to the nth degree and nothing short of an intervention will keep me from my local yarn haunts to replenish my stash. Not that it was running low. Because it wasn’t. Not even a little. Honestly, the amount of yarn I have versus the amount of time I have to knit is embarrassingly uneven. But I swear, every time I walk into a yarn store, I cannot walk out empty handed.
I need help (don’t send help).
Mostly what I need is more yarn–I mean time! More time. Yes, more time dedicated to the knitting. So now, since taking up bullet journaling (because apparently writing and knitting weren’t enough obsessions for one person), I am using that to carve out a little time each evening/weekend for knitting. The picture above is my current work in progress. For the first time in a long time, I am actually knitting something for myself. Most of my projects go to friends and family as gifts, or get sold on my etsy shop, At Knit’s End.
And that is the story of my other creative outlet. My name is Kelly, and I am a knitting addict.
I’ve been a bit hesitant to write this post, worried how it may be received, knowing once I’ve committed to this there will be no excuse, no turning back. I’ll have accepted the challenge and it will be full steam ahead. Which is a bit daunting and a whole lot scary but, deep inside, I know it is the right thing to do at this point in my writing career.
So here’s the deal: I’m taking a break from writing historical romance.
Ack! Breathe, Kelly…breathe…
Let me explain. For over 15 years now, I’ve been writing western and regency historical romance and I have enjoyed it immensely. Who doesn’t love cowboys and dukes and rakes and outlaws? I’ve had a blast with my heroes and heroines and their stories and it’s been a great privilege having the opportunity to share them with you, the reader.
But I have now reached a point in my creative journey where I need to challenge myself beyond where I am now. To stretch my creative muscle in other areas and learn new things, new techniques, new styles that will help me become a better storyteller.
Where will this journey take me? Honestly, I have no idea. None. (Did I mention the daunting, scary part?) All I know is that I feel this need to push myself, to try something completely different. I’m going to wander a bit, traipse down the road less traveled, likely veer off in directions I haven’t taken before, loop back around a time or two and become completely lost along the way. That’s okay. A little adventure is good for the soul.
What does this mean for THE SINS & SCANDALS SERIES? Nothing, really. I will be completing the series first before I start wandering. Book 7, THE SWEETEST SIN, will be released August 9th, followed by a Book 8 (novella), A MOST SCANDALOUS CHRISTMAS in December 2016. The final full-length novel, A HINT OF SCANDAL will be out in Spring 2017. There is another novella in the series, however it doesn’t follow in sequence but rather deals with Madame Opal St. Augustine from Book 1, AN INVITATION TO SCANDAL. I’ve always wondered what happened to her and eventually plan to tell her story, but not right away.
I have a few ideas of where I plan to wander. I started a contemporary romance/women’s fiction story years ago and I have always wanted to go back and finish it. So that’s my plan to start with and then…well, then the adventure begins.
I’m taking approximately 5 months off to spend writing whatever I want. Whatever will help me improve my craft, stretch creatively and push myself outside of my comfort zone.
Am I giving up historical romance forever? No. I have a few more historical series I want to write (those Caldwell sisters keep bugging me to tell their stories), a contemporary series that may spin off the one I mentioned above, and maybe something completely different that I learn about while doing all that stretching and growing during my hiatus from structured, planned writing.
I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
But first — I’m preparing for the release of THE SWEETEST SIN (Aug) and my Harlequin Historical novella, CHRISTMAS IN SALVATION FALLS (Sep) and also writing the first draft of A MOST SCANDALOUS CHRISTMAS.
I may potentially be the world’s worst blogger. Which is funny, because when I first started blogging, I posted daily. Of course, that was years ago before writing books replaced my blogging in my morning routine. I keep telling myself I’m going to step up my game, but when faced with only two hours to write before trudging off to the day job, I generally opt for working on my next manuscript, deadlines looming over my head waggling a finger at me. So for my lacklustre blogging, I most humbly apologize. I will try to do better. Really. Swear.
There’s been plenty going on since the last post. The snow has finally melted. You’d think because it’s July this would be a given but there was sooooo much of it I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever see green grass again. Thankfully, Mother Nature relented and I can honestly say this is the first week that it actually feels like summer temperatures. Living on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean has its downside apparently.
I’ve managed to keep busy, however. I’ve been diligently working on SURRENDER TO SCANDAL, Book 5 in The Sins & Scandals Series. It will be available August 25, 2015. This will be Benedict’s story and I’ve had a lot of fun writing this book. I think I found the new Earl of Glenmor the perfect heroine. I’ve also discovered a few new characters as well who will eventually get their own books.
With Benedict’s story, we come to the end of what I think of as the core characters–the ones introduced in the very first book and the ones who were originally meant to encompass the entire series. At the time I thought The Sins & Scandals Series was to be four books with a possible novella thrown in to answer the questions surrounding Nicholas Sheridan, the Earl of Blackbourne’s parentage. What I hadn’t anticipated was all these secondary characters who arrived on the scene and demanded their own stories. The more I got to know them, the more curious I became and, well, needless to say the series has expanded to twice its original size, perhaps even a bit more than that. But in moving away from the core group, I decided to do a bit of a cover refresh which you will see with Book 6, A SINNER NO MORE. For those of you subscribed to my newsletter, you’ll get a first peek coming in the next few weeks!
Also coming out September 15, 2015 is my latest Harlequin Historical release, THE COWBOY OF CHRISTMAS PAST. This is a novella length story that is part of the Christmas Anthology, Dreaming of a Western Christmas. It’s up for pre-order now, so feel free to pop over to my Books page for all the links.
But it isn’t all work and no play. My hubby and I will be hitting New York City for a week and before that will be relaxing at a cottage on the beach on Prince Edward Island. Can’t wait to get some R&R! Although, to be honest, I will have my notebook with me in both cases because I’m working on a mainstream fiction book that takes place in NYC, tentatively titled BROKEN PIECES, as well as working on the outline for A SINNER NO MORE, so…. 🙂
Hope you all are having a wonderful summer!
Let me preface this post by saying, I absolutely love living on the Atlantic Coast. I’m a born and bred Nova Scotian and have no interest in changing that fact (unless that villa in the South of France suddenly becomes available at no cost to me). But this February has me on the ropes. You see, the thing about living on the edge of the Atlantic is that oftentimes, your snow turns to freezing rain, then back to snow, then back to rain, then the temps drop drastically and the wind kicks in just for the heck of it. All in one afternoon.
For the past month, my driveway (which is a hill) has been encased in a layer of ice. We’re not talking the thin ice that melts off in a few hours once the sun hits it either. We’re talking thick, Hoth-like, iceberg inducing ice that five bags of salt could not even put a dent in. Heck, the wheels of my car spent days frozen to the driveway because the ice had built up around the wheels. I considered trying to free it, but I had visions of the axel of my car tearing away from underneath, leaving the wheels behind while the rest of my car slid slowly to the end of the driveway and out into the street. Don’t even get me started on my back deck. I’m not even certain it’s still there.
So, to say I am happy to see March would be a gross understatement. Granted, the ice continues to cover my driveway, holding on with a death grip that feels like it may last until June, but the weather for tomorrow promises to be a balmy 7 degrees Celsius (that’s 45 F for my American friends) and I can’t help but feel hopeful that maybe…just maybe, the snow will melt by May.
Until then, I promise to keep myself busy drinking lattes and typing away on my latest manuscript.
Hope the winter has found you all in good spirits!
I have been doing some thinking over the past few months. Sporadically, because it seems that is all I’ve had time for. Which has been a bit of a problem because I’m rather partial to thinking. I like a good mull. I like to sit and let my brain go on a good ole meander. I used to have time to do this, but lately, over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that my time has slowly been gobbled up until my days consist of getting up, writing, going to the day job, coming home and crashing. A couple of days a week I manage to drag myself to yoga so my muscles don’t atrophy. I wish I could say the same for my brain.
I’m not one to make New Year’s Resolutions. I am, however, one to make a plan for the year. I’m an ambitious sort and I love to push and challenge myself. A Capricorn without a challenge can be an ugly thing. Or so I’m told. 😉
So when I sat down to do my 2015 Plan, I devised a very ambitious one, fuelled mostly by my desire to switch over to full time writing. To do this without my husband having to carry the weight of the household bills and retirement fund, I determined I needed my writing income to equal my day job income, allowing for a relatively smooth transition. And in order to do that, I needed to have more books out. And in order to do that, I needed to step up my production plan, jam more books into the year, continue working 7 days a week.
There was only one problem with that scenario. For the past 6 months, I’ve felt the burnout creeping up on me. You can only burn the candle at both ends for so long before you run out of candle. I’m running out of candle. I can tell this because my house is a disaster despite my husband’s best efforts. He’s been stellar at taking care of a lot of the housework. But the simple fact of the matter is, he’s the cleaner and I’m the organizer. I haven’t been organizing. I’ve been slapping a bandage on a gaping wound. Crap has overtaken the house. It’s spilling out of every nook and cranny. For a person who finds peace in order, this leaves me horribly agitated. Downright hitchy, in fact.
And all the things I love to do outside of writing? Read, knit, explore, bike, walk, wander, try new things, journal? Barely. Things that would make my life easier? Organize said crap, purge what isn’t needed, make meals ahead of time? Not happening. Everything is rush, rush, rush and yet I always feel as if I’m falling behind.
The idea of another year at this pace left me feeling ill. Usually I attack the new year with a sense of heady anticipation, all fired up over what I’m going to accomplish. Not this time. Something was wrong. I knew what it was, but my ambitious Capricorn nature refused to accept it.
Slow down? What is this language you speak? There’s a mountain to climb! Let’s get ‘er done!
But all the pep talks in the world wasn’t going to shake the sensation that what I really wanted to do was find a lovely cabin in the woods somewhere and hole up with a good book, some lovely yarn and needles and my journal. Sit by a roaring fire. Hone my writing craft to the next level without constantly looking ahead at the looming deadline.
In the end, my 2015 Plan was simple: Simplify.
Take a breath. Take a few breaths. Purge out the crap you don’t need. Keep only what is essential. Slow down. Find the joy. Set more manageable deadlines. Lift your head up. Look around. Wander a bit.
And if that isn’t a challenge, I don’t know what is. 🙂
I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.
It’s that time of the year again – the Romance Writers’ of America Annual Conference and this year it is being held in San Antonio, Texas. I have never been – to San Antonio or Texas, but I can’t wait. Being a writer of both regency/Victorian romances and western romances, I have always wanted to see The Alamo, but the more I read up on San Antonio, I’m realizing there are plenty of other spots of interest as well – missions, historical districts, The Market, The Rivercenter Mall.
I’m not sure how many of them I will have time to see between conference events, but I hope I can get to as many as possible.
And the Riverwalk – I’m think that will be my happy place for the week. It’s absolutely lovely in the pictures and being a bit of an introvert (as a writer, I’m sure that fact doesn’t leave anyone staggering in disbelief), it’s always good to have a place to go to get away from the noise and hubbub of the conference itself. A little downtime to refill the well. And what a great place to do it than along the Riverwalk.
This conference will also mark the first time I have taken part in the “Readers for Life” Literacy Signing. This event is a chance for readers to meet hundreds of romance authors who will be signing books for their fans. I’m really excited to take part, signing my August release, SALVATION IN THE RANCHER’S ARMS, my first western romance with Harlequin Historical. Aside from a great opportunity to meet readers face to face, the proceeds from the book sales will go to ProLiteracy Worldwide, Literacy Texas, Restore Education, and Each One Teach One San Antonio. So if you’re in the San Antonio area, come by the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter Hotel. The event will be in the 3rd floor ballroom on July 23, 2014 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.
So this week will be spent getting as much work done on my next indie release, A SINFUL TEMPTATION (Book 3: Sins & Scandals Series) before I leave to stay on track; figuring out what to pack (more importantly – what shoes to take!); and ensuring the crew at my day job have all the passwords and instructions they’ll need for when I go electronically silent for the week!
With the exception of the first two books I wrote (one a YA which is collecting dust and the other a western which will be dusted off, revised and published eventually), I have always written in series. I don’t mean to. For instance, when I wrote THE OUTLAW BRIDE a billion years ago, it was only meant to be a ‘one of’. Then again, perhaps subconsciously I had other plans given that I did put two other mail order brides on that train…
But regardless, even when I start out with what I think will be a 3 book series, it has a tendency to grow beyond the confines I set out for it. The Brides of Fatal Bluff Series eventually expanded beyond THE OUTLAW BRIDE to encompass the other two mail order brides on the train. But that was it. No more! Except, after the release of THE OUTLAW BRIDE, one reader wrote to ask me what the saloon keeper, Garrett Bentley’s story was, and then another reader said she wanted to read bounty hunter Ed Devers story. Soon I started wondering too and the next thing I knew, my three book series had morphed into five. Although, if you’re looking, THE OUTLAW BRIDE is the only one currently available, but I promise the others will be written soon.
The same issue cropped up when I wrote SALVATION IN THE RANCHER’S ARMS. It was a ‘one-of’. Get in, get out. No fuss, no muss. Except…then there was this sheriff in the story and, well, SALVATION IN THE SHERIFF’S KISS will be out in February 2015. But then I’m done! Except…as I was writing that one this other guy showed up… Kincaid’s story is slotted to be written next year.
So when I sat down to write AN INVITATION TO SCANDAL I suspected I was in trouble when Nicholas’s friends showed up on the page. “Well fine,” I muttered as these characters insisted on having their own stories. “But it’s only going to be a trilogy and that’s it!” Except that left Abigail’s brother Benedict with no happy ending. “Fine. One more then, but then I’m done!” (SURRENDER TO SCANDAL 2015). Except…then I started wondering what happened to a certain courtesan who showed up in AN INVITATION TO SCANDAL. “Fine,” I huffed. “But you are only getting a novella.” (SINS OF A SOLDIER 2015)
Except…then my imagination wandered over to Miss Eugenie Caldwell from AN INVITATION TO SCANDAL. You know, that poor girl has two younger sisters and no male heir to inherit their father’s rather dismally small fortune and title. I gritted my teeth. I suppose I could give them their own series…(THE MAYFAIR MISSES 2015/16).
But that was it! Finito! Except yesterday, as I was writing A SINFUL TEMPTATION, Book 3 in the SINS & SCANDALS SERIES, a certain Miss Cosgrove entered the picture and heavens…this woman has a story too!
So what should have only been a few of a books has now morphed into enough series and off-shoots to keep me busy well into 2017. It has also led me to the realization that there is no such thing as just ‘one-of’ where my brain is concerned.
Today has proven to be a pretty good day all around.
For starters, it is part of a long weekend, and I do love my long weekends. I am currently overlooking the fact that it is gray and somewhat rainy. And by overlooking, I mean I’m in denial. But I digress. The really great part about this day is that I have finished all my uploads to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks and CreateSpace for A SCANDALOUS PASSION – Book 2 in THE SINS & SCANDALS SERIES. It will take a few days for it to become live on most sites, but it’s already live on Amazon which makes for a happy day.
And the second part of the happy day is, that my editor from Harlequin sent me an email today with the title and release date for my second western historical. The first, SALVATION IN THE RANCHER’S ARMS is available for pre-order now and will be released August 2015. It’s follow up, SALVATION IN THE SHERIFF’S KISS will be released in February 2015 – just in time for Valentine’s Day.
So how am I going to celebrate all this good news? Wild party? Copious amounts of wine? Running through the streets shouting at the top of my lungs? No. Something even better. I’m going to spend a few hours this afternoon at the local coffee shop working on Book 3 in The Sins & Scandals Series, A SINFUL TEMPTATION.
Followed by wine and the requisite running through the streets.
Twice in AN INVITATION TO SCANDAL, I have the hero, Nicholas drinking a bourbon.
This is a pretty neat trick on my part (you’ll notice I said trick and not gaffe, although I think we both know which one it really was…). You see, near as I can tell, bourbon wasn’t around in England in the 1820s, which is when my story takes place. As it turns out (and I get this straight from Wikipedia, who apparently I should have consulted before I hit the ‘publish this now’ button), bourbon is a type of American whiskey. And while it has been produced since the 18th century, the name bourbon wasn’t in use until the 1850s.
What Nicholas should have been drinking was brandy.
Not to say he wouldn’t have enjoyed a good bourbon, I’m sure he would have. But to do so would have required a fast trip forward in time to another continent and somehow that seems like a bit of a nuisance when one could simply pour oneself a brandy and be done with it.
So when you come across the word bourbon, let’s just pretend I really said brandy, shall we? And in future, I promise to consult Wikipedia before I make my characters drink anything else.