Don’t Delete That!

My full-length novel for the Christmas collection is titled Sugar Sprinkled Memories. But it didn’t start out with that title. It also didn’t start out with the same character names, locations, professions, or story line.

It started life as Books and Dreams. With Lyanne and Jake. In Wild Rose, California. With a used book store and a lawyer arguing over who owned the building. Okay, the arguing over the building stayed the same. LOL I know the basis of a romance novel when I see it.

Books and Dreams was my first completed manuscript. The one I used to get my PRO pin with Romance Writers of America (RWA). I shopped it around (in the days of trying to get an agent or editor.) And then it gathered mothballs on a floppy disk, and then a zip drive, and then a thumb drive. It moved with me from computer to computer to computer. Many times over the years (I wrote it in 2004) I was so determined to just delete it, reformat the thumb drive, wipe my computer clean. But something made me hold on to that first book I wrote.

Until The Authors of Main Street decided to do Christmas Cookies on Main Street.  It one of those light bulb moments that writers dream of, I realized that Books and Dreams was perfect for the set, I just had to rewrite it. No problem! Ha! I just had to change names and physical attributes. Check! Lyanne and Jake were now Maggie and Warren. I just had to change professions. Check! The used book store owner was now a bakery owner with a million changes to update running a business in 2019 instead of 2004, along with the differences of a bookstore and a bakery. hahahaha I just had to change locations because Wild Rose reminded me of  The Wild Rose Press and all my sweet romances for the boxed sets take place in Lake Willowbee. Check! And not quite as hard as deleting a subplot with actions not becoming of a sweet romance or being a heroic character. Hey, it was my first book and I didn’t know the rules yet! Rewriting the story itself was an amazing experience, to see where I got it right even as a newbie and to see where I was so wrong and had no idea what I was doing as a writer.

I’ve always believed that to move forward we have to look back and that is what I did with this book. The bones were all there, I just had to polish it up with the skill set I have now and make it shine. I had to see and believe that my first story was a diamond in the rough and I could make it a gem worthy of being in the Authors of Main Street Christmas collection. Fingers crossed!!!


Jill James, romance writer.

What is Success?

Success is what you make it. But success will never happen if you don’t try or if you give up. Dreams will only be a dream until you put an engine to it. Once powered, a dream can become a reality, but only if you keep trying. Always find a reason to try again.

The number of times I felt like tossing in the towel and giving up writing have been more numerous than I’d prefer to admit. Frustration gets to everyone at some point, especially when we try and don’t succeed or fail to reach our desired goal. But so far I haven’t quit. Admit defeat? Never! Because I am an author and I do sell books. In fact, I’ve sold more books than most indie authors.

There are only a few elite authors who can honestly say they’ve had every book meet and exceed their expectations. Even if we expect a book to sell thousands of copies and it barely sells a few hundred copies doesn’t mean the book has failed. So what is failure? The answer is what we perceive. What I see as a failure might be another author’s highest expectation. What I see as success might be what someone else perceives as failure.

The superstars in this industry do sell a million books. But the average author will never sell that many. Selling a hundred thousand books is a huge milestone for a small group of authors, and a few will sustain an income of $50,000 a month USD for months. But the average indie author will never achieve that sort of success.

A friend wrote a book and did all the things that every indie author should do. I would say the book is a success with 100 paper copies sold since it was released this summer. That new author is furious because she didn’t make what she thought she should’ve made on her first book. Yes, there are those who put a book out and watch it skyrocket to the top. Today they still say if a book sells more than 250 copies, you’ve done well. So I won’t complain being I have two that have crossed the 100,000 mark. But my friend isn’t happy because hers hasn’t met her expectation of success.

That doesn’t mean we should give up. The trick is to keep trying and to write the next book.

The Authors of Main Street are getting ready to put out their annual Christmas boxed set. All the stories are on our publisher’s desk, and we’re waiting for our boxed set’s cover and a release date. These days we have lots of competition. Everyone seems to have a boxed set. We know that topping 56,000 copies on Amazon in a few weeks is less likely today than it was a few years ago when we were sitting in the top 100 books on Amazon, but still it’s very possible. Our heart-warming stories are simply that. Nothing you can’t read with a child hanging over your shoulder. And this year is Christmas Cookies on Main Street, and we’ve got lots of cookie recipes in this edition. So be prepared to bake mouth-watering cookies this holiday from your favorite authors.

I have another Joe Wags story and a great little recipe for dog cookies. It’s okay if someone eats the dog cookie. They’ll just think you forgot to add sugar. Dogs are smarter than us! They don’t need sugar or salt. Just remember that dog cookies are treats for them, too.

***

NEWS

We have two new Authors of Main Street and we’re excited for you to meet them this month. So stop by as they introduce themselves.

***

I’m getting a new website. After years of messing around and not getting what I want, along with my own failure to keep up with technology, I broke down and hired a professional agency to handle my website. Yippee! It’s about happen! It is going to be spectacular! (Yes, lots of exclamations points!)

***

Excerpt

This may contain typos and other errors as it’s not been through its final edit.

WITH ALL MY HEART

A Joe Wags Christmas book.

 

Bryan and Kari took off, and when they got to the track, she started to run.

“Pace yourself. It’s not a sprint.” Bryan warned. “Nice and easy. You can do it.”

She tried, but it felt as though her lungs might catch fire and something in her side already did. She slowed, held her side as she heaved breaths, and hoped she’d survive.

“Are you okay?”

Answering was beyond her ability. She looked at Bryan and continued to hold her side and try to catch her breath.

“Let’s walk.”

She shook her head, but he was already forcing her to take steps.

She walked for several minutes and then sat on a bench. Looking up at him, she whispered, “I hate you.”

***

Bryan smiled at Kari. “Why are you hating me? Because I’m making you get some exercise?”

Kari nodded.

“Okay, you sit, I’ll run. But consider getting up and walking the track, it’ll do you good.”

He watched as she stood and walked to the track. She walked the inner lane for several minutes and then began to jog, slowed, walked part of it, and again picked up her pace. She managed to do two laps. When she finished, he gave her a congratulatory kiss.

Breakfast at his house was simple. He made quiche. Then it was off to work. It was spay and neuter day. The local shelter brought in their animals and so did the general public. He took a break after the eighth animal, did another six, and still more to go. He didn’t feel much like eating lunch, so he grabbed a protein bar and kept going. He finished his last one at four in the afternoon. The whole day went without a hitch. When he checked his cell phone, there was a message from Kari.

Dinner tonight at my house.

He knew he wouldn’t get out until after seven so he texted her back.

She immediately responded. That’s fine. Come when you’re done.

At quarter to seven, he texted her. I won’t make it tonight. I’m still at the office.

That’s okay, come when you’re done.

At nine thirty, he texted her again. You might want to give me a rain check. Still tied up.

***

Kari fixed a bowl of cereal and went to bed. At five in the morning, she was ready, but there was no sign of Bryan. She went to text him and discovered he’d sent a message to her earlier. He had an emergency surgery and wouldn’t be running with her. Mentally ready for her morning outing, she stepped out into the cold air and walked to the track at Pandora’s Flask. She wasn’t comfortable running by herself, but she decided she could do it. She started slow, broke into a jog, slowed to a fast walk, and continued to switch it back and forth until she had looped the track several times. This time, there were no kisses.

By seven thirty, she unlocked the door to the bakery. Charlie’s crew was on the job. At the end of the day, the new building was partially framed. Somehow she had managed to fill the orders on all the breads and rolls. Selene Ortiz’s wedding cake and the Johnson’s fiftieth anniversary cake had been baked. Ellen Johnson-Williams didn’t have any preference; she just wanted a spectacular cake for her parents. With almost three hundred guests expected, she didn’t want a little cake. Kari was determined to create something worthy of a golden anniversary.

Kari watched the progress on the building next door. It had been four days since she’d seen Bryan, but he did text her every day. She didn’t bother to tell him that she was running each morning by herself. She just walked to Pandora’s Flask and started running the track. On day five, she spotted a police car in the parking lot. Nolan Craig had gone to school with her. He was waiting for her when she finished running.

“Hi.” She tried to sound normal, but she was still heaving breaths.

“Kari, how long have you been doing this?”

“Not long. Bryan Walhalla got me into it.”

“Do you always run at this hour?”

She nodded because it was easier than answering.

“Well, I don’t like you running alone. If I can, I’ll watch over you.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“No, I don’t, but crime can happen anywhere.”

Again she nodded. “What time do you get off?”

“About eight. Technically seven thirty but I never get out of the station before eight. Why?”

“Stop by the bakery and I’ll give you cookies. Just come to the back door.”

“Thanks.”

It didn’t take her long to shower and get to the bakery. She was just heating the chocolate for the anniversary cake when she heard a knock. The security camera revealed Nolan waiting patiently.

“Hi, come on in. What’s your favorite cookie?”

“You mean I have to pick a favorite? I’ve never had a cookie that I didn’t like. I’m an equal opportunity cookie lover with no prejudice whatsoever. I like all cookies.”

She motioned for him to follow her to where she had several jars of cookies sitting on a shelf. “I make extra when I have orders. On Friday afternoons, I send my extra cookies to the Star of Israel Synagogue and they distribute them during their Saturday morning food distribution to those in need.” She handed him some tongs and a white paper bag. “Take your pick and make sure you have enough for your children’s lunch or after school snack.”

“Thanks so much, the kids will be thrilled.”

They were clearly marked so she didn’t bother to hang out and watch him. She didn’t want to overheat her chocolate. But out of the corner of her eye, she saw him lift a green dog biscuit from a jar and pop it into his mouth.

“Hey, what’s this green cookie supposed to be? Is it some diet cookie?”

Do I tell him? “No. I’m experimenting with a new recipe.”

“It’s really minty.” He blew a breath out. “It’s that same mint feeling I get when I brush my teeth.”

She giggled. “It’s full of real mint. I used spearmint leaves and spearmint oil. You like them?”

“Um, they are interesting. They don’t taste much like a cookie. No offense.”

“None taken. I intended to send a bunch to Dr. Gleason’s office for a doggie tasting. I think I might have found a great dog cookie recipe. What do you think?”

“Dog cookie?”

She nodded. “Yes. We’re getting a Joe Wags next door and the owner, Flint Silverlake, wanted me to develop a cookie for his store. Everything is human grade and totally organic.”

She watched Nolan turn a shade of pale.

“I use the same ingredients as I use on all the other cookies, and I take the same care with them. The difference is sugar. Dogs don’t need sugar, nor do they crave it. They are smarter than us when it comes to sugar and salt. And yes, it should help their breath.”

He still looked a bit pale. “The rest are real cookies?”

“They are all real, but the others are for people.”

Watch for this year’s release of Christmas Cookies on Main Street. For 99c you can’t go wrong – great reads and great cookies! And if you haven’t read our other releases, check out Christmas Babies on Main Street and Christmas Wishes on Main Street. There’s a reason why we have the reputation for the best Christmas boxed sets. Here’s out latest review.

New! johanna chrich reviewed Christmas Babies on Main Street

Enjoyment 2 October 2019

I enjoyed it with tears and smiles. Lost some sleep but did not care. Had to finish reading. Late with meals too

Remember never to give up on your dreams. Make it happen, find a way. Our dreams are important to us. We encourage our children and friends but often forget to put the same effort into our own aspirations. We can make it happen. Even if your dream doesn’t involve writing. It doesn’t matter. What matters is giving it your best! Even if it takes more tries than you want to consider. Keep pushing for success.

 

So Much Excitement

Wow! It’s Labor Day. That’s the big end of summer celebration for Canada and the USA. Mexico celebrates Labor Day May 1. But for most of us in North America, it’s the last big picnic, BBQ, or vacation before the school year starts.

Unfortunately, some places have decided to start school earlier. That just fouls up vacation times for many families who have timeshares or long-standing vacation plans. Personally, I’m glad that my area doesn’t participate in earlier school starting dates. Tidewater, Virginia is a tourist area. That means many families have thirteen weeks to make a living. It’s an odd way to live, but so many people are dependent on summer vacationers. I’ve got an upcoming book set in an island town that depends on summer tourists.

In 114 days, it will be Christmas. Yikes! I’m not certain where this summer went or how it is possible that Christmas is around the corner. That also means that the Authors of Main Street will be putting out another Christmas boxed set. Most of us are putting the final edits on our books for that set.

I’ve written quite a few books for those boxed sets. In fact I’d have a difficult time deciding which books I like best. I guess my readers like A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming as it has sold over 100K and is still popular.

The other book that stands out is A Sister’s Christmas Gift. It will be released this fall as a single title. Both those books contain toddlers. Babies and Christmas just seem to go together.

What doesn’t seem normal is writing a Christmas story when it’s hot outside. So I try to imagine I’m sitting in front of the fireplace snuggled under a warm blanket. I might even listen to a little Christmas music. Every job as its idiosyncrasies. Writing Christmas stories in the summer is part of my job.

This year’s Christmas boxed set, Christmas Cookies on Main Street, features cookies and we’re including favorite cookie recipes.

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Loving Arabelle, a historical western, will be coming out this month. Cynthia Woolf’s book the first in this series, Thorpe’s Mail Order Bride, was just released.

Thorpe's Mail-Order Bride (The Brides of Homestead Canyon Book 1)

One more thing! (Yes, I’m liberally using exclamation points because all of it is exciting.) I’m getting a new website. I can’t wait. I’ve turned it over to an agency. Meeting with them was almost overwhelming as the number of things they say they will do makes my head spin. I’m sitting there thinking huh? I am the most techno-challenged person alive. Yet this company swears it will be a cakewalk for me when they are finished. I hope so.

My little website was fine in 2008. Eleven years later, it’s 2019, and it totally sucks. The website has been in severe need of updating for quite a few years. So I’m excited and hopeful. I can’t wait to see what this company will do to it.

Here’s the way it looks now. http://www.ayersbooks.com/ Before the end of the year, it should be spectacular.

With luck, I’ll being putting out the newsletter for the Authors of Main Street. I’m going to learn how to do that and tie it to Facebook. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsofMainStreet/

Snow! Save it for a White Christmas

It’s that wonderful time of year when everyone begins to think about snow, holly, Christmas trees, etc. The Christians celebrate Christmas, the Jews celebrate Hanukkah, and add a few extra holidays in there such as Kwanzaa, Yule, and also the winter solstice. It doesn’t really matter what anyone celebrates but the one thing that all have in common in the northern hemisphere and far enough North is the concept of cold temperatures and snow. We’ve even have songs about snow such as White Christmas, Let it Snow, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, and of course Jingle Bells.

In the last few years, I’ve not even bothered with a Christmas tree. Bah humbug, maybe, but not really. It’s just not worth it for me. Instead I enjoy the trees that my girls put up and decorate. They’ve taken over Christmas Eve dinners. Usually they take turns as to which one will host it. All of the fun and none of the work, the holiday has become easy for me. But this year my one daughter is considering doing something a little different. She wants to experience a little holiday fun in the Big Apple. Just how does she plan on getting there? Oh, she’s driving.

Honey, we live in Virginia. We might get a snowstorm and a couple of inches can be crippling in this area. You’re talking about going further north into Yankee land. They get snow.

She tried very hard to assure me that she knows how to drive in snow. Driving in snow is not really a big problem – it’s snow and snow in Virginia is the same white stuff in Pennsylvania or New York. Except in Virginia, we measure it in small increments. We get two and a half inches. Notice the half inch? They will close down school for a half inch of snow. When you travel North into Yankee Land, snow is measured in feet.

My daughter’s little sports car is adorable, but I don’t think she’s considered snow deep enough to cover her car.

When I was seventeen, I decided to go visit my girlfriend in Pennsylvania. After dinner, I made quick phone to her house, and I was on my way. When I left the island where I was living in New Jersey, the only thing predicted was possible rain. It was normally a few hours drive to my friend’s house. I hadn’t been on the road but maybe twenty minutes when it began to rain. It continued to rain, but then I noticed the rain was getting a little bit icy. I crossed the bridge into Philadelphia and directly into falling snow. From that point forward, I crawled. It should have been just a short ride. Hours later and well after midnight, I finally made it to my girlfriend’s house. No cell phones in those days to call ahead and say hey I’m on the road. I made it and drove down their long driveway to a darkened house. The entire family assumed, because it was snowing, that I would have never attempted that trip. Wrong!

But with all the normal confidence of going to a house that I’d gone to for years that was as much my home and sometimes felt more like home then my own home, I merely found be magical way into a house that was locked with a huge security system. I left my car in the driveway because no one left room for my little car in the garage, which just meant my girlfriend’s mom took up a whole lot of parking space in garage. Yes, we used to tease her. She was lost without valet parking. How she could manage to take up at least two and sometimes as much as three parking spaces in the garage was beyond me. It’s probably why that house had such a huge garage. But if they knew I was coming, her dad always made sure I had plenty of room on his side where he parked his car. No such luck on that cold night. I left my car in the driveway, came in through the mud room, and my little excursion outside to sneak into their house without setting off all the alarms had left me coated in a layer of snow. I took my coat off and hung it over something in the mudroom knowing I would leave a puddle of melted snow under it and I’d probably hear about it in the morning. Then I quietly tiptoed upstairs and climbed into the bed that I always used. And after a very long grueling drive, it didn’t take me but a few seconds to go to sleep. Then I heard my name being called. I was always raised to believe if my father said something, I needed to jump and as quickly as possible. My girlfriend’s father made my father seem like a pussycat. There were actually several reasons for that partly because my father knew her father from the time he was a little boy and my girlfriend’s father was he a grown man compare to my father. I think he was about 15 years older. But his wife was quite a bit younger than he was and I will tell you that story another day. So when he called, I rose off that bed came flying down the stairs. He looked at me standing there in my pajamas and said I saw your coat so where is your car? I simply replied it’s in the driveway. He told me to go find it. This man was probably six-six or six-seven and had a very deep baritone voice, so as a teen, he could be a little frightening. (Another words, I didn’t play around, although he was always nice to me and everyone else. I was probably just as much a daughter to him as his own daughter.) Back up the stairs I flew and by then my friend was awake. We pulled on our jeans, but I had come without any boots. So I borrowed her mother’s boots because we were about the same size.

My car was a little MG Midget. Very cute and very tiny, and it was a convertible with a soft top, meaning it had black canvas for a roof. My friend and I had to walk out from the mudroom because the snow is too deep to try to get onto it from the garage door area. But the mudroom exit meant I could just skip the steps down to a walkway and walk across the snow I really figured I’d find my car easily except there wasn’t even a lump in the snow to give any indication where my car was parked. My girlfriend and I went out to approximately the area where I thought I parked my car. We got on our bellies and began to sweep snow away,and we had to try to figure out how far down to sweep the snow because we didn’t want to put a foot through the roof. It took a while, swimming the breaststroke on top of the snow, but we eventually found my car. Once we had done that, her father could take his big Jeep out with a plow on the front and clear the driveway.

The weekend that had started as a nightmare of a drive and then a lost vehicle under the snow, actually turned into one of those magnificent memories of playing in the snow. We took the horses out, staying mostly to the wooded areas. We rode for hours. Snow has a way of making the world very quiet. (Fortunately, I always had a pair of riding boots at her house.)

Then that night we had more snow followed by an ice storm. Not a little ice – a whole lot of ice. It knocked the power out. Her family had a generator, but it didn’t power everything. We didn’t care. For us it was an adventure, and we had fun. Kerosene lamps sat in the main room downstairs. We carried candles upstairs when we headed to bed. The following morning, we put on ice skates and we ice skated over fields and meadows. At seventeen and eighteen, we were old enough that no one said come in, you’ve been out there too long. We did what we pleased.

We traded ice skates for boots. We did some cross country skiing. We’d come in long enough to drink coffee or hot chocolate. We’d grab something yummy from the refrigerator (powered by generator) and go back out again. Just for fun, we built an igloo in the front yard. We couldn’t stand up in it, maybe somebody’s five-year-old could, but we could crawl around in it. We washed it down in water so that it would freeze. I think the igloo probably lasted until April.

The ice had taken down the phone lines and I couldn’t even call home to alert my mom that I would not be home. That also meant I would not be in school on Monday morning because I couldn’t get away from where I was.

No matter what, the horses had to be cared for and fed. Once we had the ice, we couldn’t go riding, as it would have been too dangerous for the horses. They had their heavy blankets and we gave them extra oats and sneaked a few carrots and apples to them.

The family dog was almost as old as we were and she couldn’t stay out very long with us, but we let her come, and then we put her back in the house while we wandered hill and dale.

I remember such a storm as a child and my dad and I went around the neighborhood and collected people and brought them to our house. We had a huge fireplace and Mom had the ability to cook over that fireplace. Our house became a madhouse of people and children, and although I had a chance to go outside and play, it was not the same. The ten years difference between those storms was the difference between being trapped inside and having total freedom.

Never once have my children ever experienced anything like that. The area in Virginia where we live does not get that kind of snow. My girls cannot imagine ice skating across fields. But now I’m listening to a daughter who’s talking about heading north, because she knows how to drive in snow. I haven’t had to drive in snow, well in deep snow, probably since I was seventeen. But I two feet of snow on the ground and more snow falling.

I wonder if my daughter even knows she needs to carry a shovel, sand, etc in her car, a blanket for each of us, and I think we will need lots of chocolate. We still haven’t decided, but I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll go north and we’ll have fun. With a little luck, the really heavy snows will stay away until at least until Christmas Eve and by then we will have returned home.

Love puppies?

This year’s Authors of Main Street beautiful box set of holiday stories to warm your heart contains Christmas Paws.

Flint just opened another Joe Wags. Paisley is forty-something, divorced, and the mother to two grown girls. She wasn’t looking to find love nor was her oldest daughter. Maybe it was an Irish Setter named Cinnabun who’s at fault.

Here’s a little tidbit of that story for you.

Image may contain: text

Flint looked around and grabbed a cup of coffee.

“Is that your way of being certain that the coffee is always fresh? Do you ever get tired of drinking so much?” Paisley grinned as she said it.

“Never. And your coffee is always fresh. I do have a question for you.”

Paisley swallowed and sat at a table. “What’s up?”

“Are you doing anything different – something that you find works well and brings in customers?”

“Sorta. I figured it doesn’t cost much so I keep training treats and other goodies by the registers. People know that their dogs can sample whatever is there.”

Flint turned in his seat and then walked to the jars on the counter.

She followed and whispered, “Stand back and watch.”

Aileen brought in her Foxhound. The dog anxiously waited in line. Then he stood on his hind legs with his front paws on the counter. “Here, Major. Here’s your little treat. I would like a hazelnut caramel coffee and– Stop it, Major. You got your treat. Oh dear, do you still have the pumpkin cookies for the dogs?”

Tim smiled as he waited on them. “Does Major want the large-sized cookie?”

“Give him two of the medium ones and a large minty breath chew.”

The dog’s tail was wagging so hard it could have been considered a weapon.

“And you always have the jar out there?” Flint asked.

Paisley grimaced. “Sometimes it’s a plate with samples of whatever is new or an old favorite. I had the pumpkin cookies for a week, and then I went to the mint chews. This week I have the new Bitty Betty Beef training treats. I announce which treat on the sandwich board by the front door.”

“Keep it up.” He looked at her. “How do the customers like Bitty Betty Beef?”

“Well, I’ve not had a single complaint from one of the dogs, and I’ve never had an owner make any comments.”

Flint went to the jar and grabbed a few treats.

Aileen smiled politely at him.

Flint, the perpetual showman, kept that sweet smile on his face and turned on his charm. “They are new treats. Seems your dog likes them. Have you tried them?”

The look Aileen gave him was priceless.

“Really, everything I sell is one hundred percent human grade food. Taste!” He handed her one and put a few in his mouth.

Paisley looked at Aileen and reached into the jar. “It’s true. It’s all top quality.”

Paisley popped a little treat in her mouth and immediately spit it out. “Oh, that was disgusting.”

Flint swallowed. “On second thought, don’t try the Bitty Betty Beef. I promise, you will not like it.”

Flint looked at Major. “What did you think? Do you need another to be sure before you comment?”

Flint reached into the jar, grabbed a few Bitty Betty Beef treats, and fed them to the dog. “I do believe, Major approves.”

Aileen looked at Flint. “He’d eat road kill if I let him.”

Flint put on his best smile. “In that case, I’m sure he’d love a whole container of Bitty Betty Beef.”

Paisley vanished into the back room and dissolved into laughter that made tears run down her cheeks. Oh, Flint, I can’t believe you did that. I can’t believe I put one in my mouth. I wish I had my toothbrush. Her laughter rose to the surface again. Maybe I’ll grab one of the mint chews to whiten my teeth and freshen my breath while removing any tartar. Won’t my dentist be thrilled?

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Christmas! It’s Available for Pre-Order

Our 2017 edition of Christmas stories is now on Amazon on preorder,  Christmas Babies on Main Street. Release date Oct. 12, 2017. All your favorite Main Street authors have stories tucked inside. Remember, we are an international group so everyone’s Main Street is a little different. But don’t you think that’s what makes it fun?

These are clean stories you don’t have to hide from the children, and of course the same wonderful quality that you’ve come to expect from us.

And if you have a horse lover in the family, expect your Kindle to vanish while she reads the novella from Lizzi Tremayne!

All though Sept. you’ve been reading snippets of these stories. All of our stories are complete, not teasers! And they are all brand new stories!

So grab your 99c copy today! It will be delivered to your Kindle Oct 12. And as one reader commented on our boxed sets, there’s not a sinker in the bunch so read them all! And what is Christmas without a little romance?

http://amzn.to/2xQ5Lsj

 

 

Casket or Coffin? The rivulets down which writers may find themselves…and does it really matter?

Not to be getting morbid on you this early in the piece, but really, it’s important. Getting the detail right makes a difference to the discerning reader. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, a writer may have to leave the main stream and travel down smaller and smaller rivulets until the detail becomes clear—and correct, to the best of their understanding.

I’ve known this for quite some time, but was reminded the other day, when writing a scene for one of my 1863 historical fictions. In the interest of avoiding word repetition—by using varied words to say the same thing, I used the word coffin in one line, and casket in the next…and then, as I often do, began to wonder whether substituting one for the other was appropriate…for now, and as well as 1863. As my best friend, a techie, tells me whenever I ask him a question, “Google is your friend.”

So I went online…once again.

As any writer of historical works will tell you, do your research before you begin. I do, I do…but ‘when in the course of human events, it become necessary’ to figure out the plausibility of, for example, substituting ‘casket’ for ‘coffin’, one must hit the proverbial books again.

In this case, it turned out that mere word substitution was definitely not OK.

The name selected for the burial container of your historical heroine’s uncle implies vastly different things, with respect to the period in which he lived, his cultural affiliations, and his social status as well. The number of sides? Coffins have six or eight, while caskets, in North America, at least, have four, and are designed to look like a bed—apparently, to ease the mourning process—sheltering those left behind by making the deceased seem less dead than they are. (Really? No amount of makeup could have made my grandfather look alive, to my eight-year-old eyes.) Are they shaped like the deceased, as in the anthropoid shape of a coffin, wide at the shoulders and narrow toward the feet, or rectangular like a casket? How many layers?  And the composition of those layers? While common in England a few centuries ago, a tri-layered coffin, with the middle one of lead, would have been difficult to manufacture for burial of one’s loved husband while crossing the Sierras in a covered wagon. There certainly wasn’t the space to carry a spare.

So you see why it takes a writer so long to finish even a simple paragraph?

Likewise, some readers are pretty particular about their hobby. Take, for instance, horsey people. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been riding since I was seven, and luckily, made a career out of my love for horses. I’m not a snob in general, but when I pick up a book that has a horse in it, and its characters do something a horse person would consider just plain stupid, I tend to drop the book. Say, if a character does something like whip their reins around a hitching rail (your horse will rip their mouth to shreds if they panic and pull back), wrap the reins or lead rope around their hand (good way to lose fingers), or drive a pair or team from the wrong side of a carriage (the reins are buckled together at different lengths, specifically for the side on which the driver traditionally sits). I don’t want to read any more.

Some may call it snobbery, but it’s really more that the author has just lost credibility in the reader’s eyes. If they couldn’t bother to research enough to get that simple detail right, what else could be a lie in the story?  Research, research, research, and then run it by a person in that hobby. An author won’t always get it right, but they earn points with me for doing their best.

Detail, detail, and more detail.

During The Great Flood of Sacramento, having your fictional steamboat pilot tying his boat up to the dock would have local history buffs jumping up and down in hysterics, because the pier was beneath three stories of water.

The piles for said docks were just not that long. There was an awful lot of water filling up Sacramento, not to mention the whole Central Valley of California.

In fact, there was so much water that Leland Stanford had to go to his inauguration in downtown Sacramento in a rowboat. I can suppose his wife would not have been amused. Imagine the difficulty that would have posed for management of her crinoline, and keeping her ankles covered.

HOWEVER, and this is a big one…one can research and research…and then put it all into the story.

No, you say? Whatever can you mean? I’ve discovered all this information, and I want to tell the world, now that I’m an ‘expert’ on the topic!

It won’t fly. It just won’t.

If a reader wanted a history book, they would seek out a history book.

If one is writing historical fiction, the historical detail must be used with delicacy. Subtlety. It is far too easy to launch into historical exposition, and bury the story in pet research.

I know. I did it. And I must constantly prevent myself from doing it again.

Other authors ask why I released a 3rd edition of A Long Trail Rolling.

“Move forward,” they said. “It’s your first novel, get on with the next book!”.

I couldn’t.

This may have been my first book, but it was also the launching pad for my first series. The suboptimal reviews I’ve received (from the first edition) have complained of historical exposition, or history book-type rants about what I loved from my research. As Stephen King says, “Kill your darlings”. To those of you who offered these comments, thank you—it’s helped my writing evolve.

Writing historicals can be an exercise in trying to get out of the research and into putting words down on the page—for me, anyway—but maybe I’m just easily distracted. It’s also my excuse to keep delving deeper into the period in which I’m engaged. I love it, but it’s a bit of an addiction, this research. I can’t seem to get enough, and it will probably remain a compulsion, best kept under control.

Maybe we can start a new club. RA—Researchers Anonymous.

Maybe I’ll write a contemporary. A short one. I might finish it a lot faster…

Oh yeah, I’m doing that…soon…for Authors of Main Street’s next Christmas Boxed Set!

Here’s a teaser for that story…horsey girl in veterinary school…what she gets up to—and beyond.

 

   

I’m getting set to release Book Three in The Long Trails series of historical romantic thrillers, called A Sea of Green Unfolding, in digital and paperback.

During the run-up to release day, I’ll be offering digital copies of Book One of the series, A Long Trail Rolling, for only 99c, and preorders for A Sea of Green Unfolding at a discounted rate until release day!  Come on by my author site to sign up for my newsletter to stay informed!

Thanks so much for reading, I’ll see you again soon!

xx

Lizzi

Lizzi Tremayne

When a Story Goes Astray

Okay, I’ll admit it. I goofed. I started writing what I thought would be a sweet Christmas novella for the 2017 Christmas boxed set by the Authors of Main Street. Except my simple story has grown in length. The guidelines we follow are pretty relaxed and simple for these boxed sets. All new, great stories of novella length, 18K-40K words (I promise no one counts words), holiday themed (often an underlying theme), and no cliffhangers.

Here’s the dilemma. A romance usually ends in certain places such as the commitment for a lasting relationship such as an engagement ring or a wedding ring. So what have I done? He’s given her the engagement ring, actually without too much fanfare. The hardest part was getting to the point of asking. 😉  But I’m about to tip over the max word count.  I really need another 20k-30k words to finish this story. If I wrap it up for Christmas, I’m missing a big chunk of the story!

  • So do I rip part of the story away? No, because I’m not going to take the life out of this story.
  • Do I quickly tie up the story and put a bow on it? I hate reading stories where I’m so into the characters that when a writer does that I want to scream no and never read that author again.
  • Do I just tip over the word count and warn my fellow authors out here on Main Street? Oops! I think I just told them. (It’s not nice to hog the space in the boxed set.)
  • Or do I write this one until I feel it’s finished, and then write another for the boxed set? Time! I need more time!!

And there’s one more problem, I already know this is not going to end on that wonderful wedding. If I ended it there, I think my readers would be furious with me. Why? Because in the real world, it wouldn’t make sense. I can’t change the timeline of certain events. Darnit! The readers would be left hanging. Not a cliffhanger, but leaving them with the feeling that they were shortchanged, because they are left with all those life questions.

So I’m sitting here making the only decision that makes any sense. It’s extremely basic.  Write the story until it ends. Write the whole story, otherwise it won’t be a great story. So I’m about to go way over word count and that means I’ll have to write another story for the boxed set. I can do that.

This story tips the scale into literary fiction more than romance, even though there’s a romance tangled into it. This is a journey of two people who had found each other and have fallen madly in love. But the journey is not easy. Getting to their HEA (happily ever after) isn’t going to be solved with a wedding. It’s too complicated.

Real life is a walk through a maze filled with roses. There are plenty of thorns on those canes. The most beautiful roses often have no scent, the lowliest ones can be the sweetest, and some of the hardiest ones can be vicious with thorns. But if you take the time during the journey, you will discover the finch’s nest, the green tree frog hiding in the petals, the dizzying hum of the bees, the lady bug, and countless other creatures along the way. But there will always be those thorns, waiting to grab at your legs or shirt sleeve.  So I willingly took the path with an ending in mind, but somehow I plucked a rose and found myself tangled in thorns. Yet the air is sweet, and filled with song.

I can explain story arcs to a room filled with wannabe writers. I can teach them to write a beginning, a middle, and an end. But I can’t tell them how to stay within a word count because every story will demand a certain number of words. If I ended this one with a Christmas wedding, then my readers would be furious because there’s an arc that must be completed.

So I have strayed down a path. I’m not sorry for what I’ve done. In fact, I’m thrilled with this story.  It’s just not going to be a novella. There’s a great big story in this manuscript, and it needs to be told.

Guess I’ll have to write another story for our Christmas boxed set.