Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Book Imminent

This is so exciting, I can hardly stand it! My book, The Necklace, now has a cover and a tentative release date of November, 2010! That's less than 3 months away. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, as you can see. The artist really did an outstanding job. This book, published by Highland Press, is the "pre-quel" to I Bid One American, so by the holidays (I hope) there will be three books out about the various wacky members of the Archer family.

They don't need to be read in any particular order, but if you're driven (like me) to want them in order, here is the list. The books are set in the first half of the 19th century and include a bit of murder to add spice to the romance.

The Necklace, (tentative Nov 2010) about Oriana Archer and Chilton Dacy and a missing emerald necklace that may be cursed.

I Bid One American, (2008) about Oriana's brother, Nathaniel, who has inherited a dukedom and can't seem to resist an American heiress named Charlotte who is more interested in dead Pharaohs than dukes.

The Bricklayer's Helper, (Aug 2010), Sarah, a niece of the Archers, is disguised as a bricklayer to avoid the murderer searching for her, and she turns to an inquiry agent, William, for help.

I've been working, on and off, on another in this series, involving Oriana's younger sister, Helen. Poor Helen loses the family's emerald necklace and winds up in the company of an earl as she tries to retrieve it without making everyone think she's just another empty-minded blonde. This one doesn't have a title yet, but the first draft is done, so I'm making progress.

And, while there will probably be other books about long-lost members of the Archer family, since I can't resist writing about them, I've also got the first draft written of another historical romantic mystery featuring an inquiry agent from the Second Sons Inquiry Agency. This one is called The Deadliest Rose. It needs editing and polishing, of course, before I submit it to a publisher, but I'm really, really excited by it. I got to use all my gardening information—and even descriptions of old garden roses I grow in my own garden—for this book, and I love it when I can include the roses I adore in one of my books.

So, it's a pretty exciting time with lots of things to celebrate!

Best wishes,

Monday, August 16, 2010

Guest Blog: Elaine Cantrell, interviewing Elizabeth Lane

I'm thrilled to have a guest blogger today, writer Elaine Cantrell!

WGEN’s Elaine Cantrell Interviews Actress Elizabeth Lane

Elaine: Good morning, LA. If you aren’t up yet, you should be. The weather man’s calling for a beautiful day, and traffic isn’t too bad which is great news for all you commuters. Let’s begin our morning broadcast with an interview with Elizabeth Lane. Not that Elizabeth needs any introduction, but let me remind you of all she’s achieved in the past few years.

She originally hails from a little Mid Western town called Fairfield. When she was twenty one, she and her mother, Frances Lane, moved from Fairfield to Hollywood to give Elizabeth her chance in Tinsel Town. Of course with Elizabeth’s looks and talent she caught the eye of legendary director Marc Bruno who cast her as Gracie in Gone Away. Gone Away became one of the highest grossing films in history and catapulted Elizabeth to stardom. Elizabeth, thanks for coming this morning. I’m sure you’re a busy woman.

Elizabeth: (smiling warmly) You’re welcome, Elaine. I always enjoy the chance to reach out to my fans.

Elaine: Yes, it does seem that way. Most stars are irritated by the press.

Elizabeth: It’s all about dreams. I don’t mind talking to my fans because like them I know a lot about dreams. They really can come true.

Elaine: Oh, they have for you, that’s for sure. What about in the romance department. Have those dreams come true for you as well? I reported on the MS benefit last week and saw you and Alex Crawford together. You’ve been engaged for what: nine months?

Elizabeth: ( squirms a little in her chair and refuses to look the interviewer in the eye) Yes, that’s about right. Alex Crawford is extraordinary! He had a French perfume company create an exclusive fragrance just for me.

Elaine: Wow, the man has a romantic side. I did want to ask you though, about your relationship with Richard Lovinggood, son of California senator Henry Lovinggood.

Elizabeth: (stiffens in her chair, her face closed and blank) There’s nothing to talk about. Let’s move on.

Elaine: Ten years ago when he was only seventeen, the two of you had a relationship which you recently rekindled, and you…

Elizabeth: (voice stern) Move on.

Elaine: Okay, let’s talk about your recent kidnapping. You were rescued by Richard Lovinggood, right? For those of you who don’t know, Richard is an FBI agent.

Elizabeth: (voice cold) That was a painful time in my life, and I don’t want to discuss it.

Elaine: (eyebrows arch) It seems there are a lot of things you don’t want to talk about, and all of them relate to Richard Lovinggood.

Elizabeth: (smiles charmingly) Thank you so much for having me today, Elaine. I’m due on the set, so I have to run. My new movie Paradise Bay came out yesterday. The reviews are great, so don’t miss it.

Elaine: I sure won’t. (She stands up and shakes Elizabeth’s hand.) See you on the silver screen.

Return Engagement is available through Whiskey Creek Press.
You can read an excerpt at the publisher’s site or at my web site

Thank you, Amy for having me today.

My pleasure!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Technology and the Writer

It's that time of year when I bring my tools up to current levels. When I started writing, I used a manual typewriter and sheets of carbon to create carbon copies. Then, I got into the computer field and wrote documentation using a COBOL program to format information on punch cards. A year or two later, I got one of the very first personal computers and WordStar. Technically, all I really needed was a way to print out standard text and even very simple programs could do that.

Now, I have a computer with a terabyte of hard drive space, and my needs are even simpler because I no longer need to print out manuscripts. But that didn't stop me from getting the latest software, Microsoft Office 2010, and loading it last night.

And so far, so good. I actually like it. For one thing, nothing crashed and burned when I installed it, which is a new experience for me because most of the time, while I love technology, it hates me. My only beef is that the email application, Outlook, made a new Inbox structure and took my existing Inbox and turned it into a secondary Personal Folder, including my calendar. So I have two calendars. But I didn't have that much in my calendar, so I intend to move things out of the old one and into the new one. It's an annoyance and I might have been more aggravated if I used my calendar more. I also lost my Google calendar sync because it doesn't sync yet with Outlook 2010. But I expect that to eventually happen so I'm not worried.

A few years ago I talked a bit about software specifically for writing/writers, because I found that most of it is sort of a waste of money. I've kept track of all of that and my opinions on the matter have not changed much. The only product for writing that I still use and will continue to use despite its shortcomings is Anthemion Writer's Café/Storyline because it lets me plot out each storyline in a very nice series of "index card" like snippets that I find invaluable. The shortcomings in my mind have to do with the ability to develop and keep track of characters. I "reused" characters from one story to the next, because they are often connected. For example, my Regency romantic mystery I Bid One American includes members of the Archer family. The Archers make another appearance in my newest Regency romantic mystery The Bricklayer's Helper. It's very difficult (actually impossible) to copy characters from one story framework to another. And I don't like the way character information is handled or displayed because you don't see the whole name and you can't easily establish who is related to whom and how.

So while I use Storyline to develop the plot, all the characters are developed as ideas in my PersonalBrain. This software is outstanding and is sort of a free-form way to keep track of ideas. You can link ideas in any way that makes sense to you, and you can include web links, files, etc. I use it for everything now. If I run into an interesting website, I add the link. If I think of some new concept for a book, I add it. All my characters are in there, each linked to all the books they "live in". Promotion stuff—it's in there. Frankly, I don't know how I kept track of anything before.

At one point, I tried to use OneNote to track information, but it was too confining because I still couldn't create the links I needed to view information in different ways, such as which characters are in which books, what they look like, their personalities, and development across series. I also tried using a database to track characters. Then spreadsheets. None of it worked very well. With PersonalBrain ( you can make whatever associations you need. I include things like the houses characters live in, with links to who lives in each house and which stories they appear in, so the character who is a butler in one house is still a butler in that house for the next book. It really helps with continuity.

So, I'm pretty happy with Office 2010, Writer's Café, and PersonalBrain as my trio of writing tools.

Then, to really automate my life, I got a DROID. And a handy little app that lets me walk through the kitchen and scan package bar codes to build my shopping list. If I've already thrown away the product, or need something like fresh veggies with no bar code, I just dictate it. It adds it to the list. And I can even get coupons to save some money when I go shopping. Then, as I shop, I simply click off the items as I pick them off the shelves. Sweet.

Not to mention that my DROID also caters to my hobby: birdwatching. It finally got the iBird app, although I'm still waiting for the professional version (I refuse to pay extra to be locked down and controlled by Apple, so no i-whatever electronics will be found in my house). So I'm pretty happy with technology at the moment.

Now that I have all the tools for work and play, I've got to get back to work and actually do some writing…