Thursday, September 08, 2011


Recently my husband retired and I’ve had to adjust my writing habits. I was used to him leaving early and coming home between 5:30 and 6. I had all day to do my thing. I found I write best when everything is quiet. Now hubby is home and usually working on something that creates a lot of noise. That was an adjustment. But I love the man and he was worth a little change. It certainly keeps me on my toes, especially when I’m deep into a story and he hollers from the kitchen, “Have you seen my truck keys?” Or, “I wrote a number on a piece of paper and left it on the table. What did you do with it?” I can now write while questions are being fired at me. Muse gets a little cranky though.

So I was really happy when he took up a hobby. My family has been in ranching for generations and he’s helped many times to feed cattle and bale hay. He decided to buy ten Brangus cows and a bull and they have kept him busy. He’s gone most of the day and when the back door opens about 4 or 4:30 and he hollers, “I’m home,” I’m happy to see him. And to listen to his stories of what happened that day with the cows. With the severe drought we’re having in Texas, those cows are eating better than we are. Suffice to say we’re never going to make any money on these animals.

Hubby always carries a camera in his truck to get pictures of new calves when they are born. He came home a few months ago and said we had a new calf and then showed me this. A ram showed up out of nowhere and no one claimed him. My husband checked with all the neighbors. Now we had another animal to feed. Hubby wasn’t happy. After several months, he gave it away.

Brangus are Angus and Brahma mix and so far we’ve had only black babies...until recently. Then this little fella was born. He looks out of place with all the black animals. But he’s so cute. I might have to name him. Any suggestions?

Isn’t it wonderful that life keeps changing? It keeps life interesting. How do you feel about change?

The Texan’s Bride - Oct ‘11

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Release Day Rituals

Recently on a different blog, a debut author asked what she should do on the day her book went on sale. I figured someone would say do a booksigning or go on a blog tour. Other authors suggested the typical answers: celebrate with chocolate, wine, and/or champagne. Go out to dinner. Buy herself jewelry. My answer is always the same: go write on your next project. It affirms you're a writer, no matter the sales or reviews.

I wasn't sure if I have a ritual for celebrating the day, although chocolate is always on the menu for good times. (Or bad times or indifferent times...) Going out to dinner is one of my favorite things, but we do that on the day I sell a book and/or the day my first advance payment comes in. (Or, as my husband claims, any Wednesday. Or Friday. Or...well, you get the point.)

So I paid attention yesterday when Stand-In Mom hit the stands. I spent the morning reading in bed--a sure indulgence and definitely not a ritual. Then I did laundry. Changed the sheets on our bed. I lead a wild life, I know, lol. When I posted it on FaceBook, Harlequin author Shirley Jump replied that she was doing the same thing to "celebrate" the release of The Princess Test. Another author suggested chocolate, so I ate chocolate Oreos. I looked into a few blog posts I'm doing later in the month. I checked out the reviews--okay, I know reviews don't mean anything (and only the glowing reviews are true, right?), but I can't help being curious. Not only were the reviews uplifting, but I received an email yesterday regarding a review of my May book, The Marriage Solution! I hadn't expected that. So of course, I updated my website.

I was waiting for my new bookmarks to arrive so I could take them to the bookstore where I'm signing on Friday. They came after the store closed, so that's on the list for today. My plan to actually see the books on the shelf (my only real ritual) was delayed. I watched the Cardinals play (and win), which is a bonus, as it isn't always a baseball night on book release day. We ate leftovers, so I didn't have to cook, which is almost as good as going out. And I did find dessert in the fridge from going out last week, and I shared it with my husband.

Now I'm preparing for next time. Do you have any suggestions or any rituals I can adopt?

Megan Kelly

Monday, September 05, 2011

Contest of Interest

Our own Laura Barth, assistant editor, is the finalist judge at the Gateway to the Best contest. It closes Sept 9th. Here's what she's interested in and how to enter.

***Permission to forward granted and appreciated.*

Gateway to the Best has a Series Contemporary Category. And as of right now, we are very low in entries for this category.

The final judge for Gateway's Series Contemporary Category, Laura Barth, Assistant Editor/Editorial Assistant for Blaze and American Romance at Harlequin had this to say about what gets her excited in a submission:

For me, the most important elements when considering a contemporary series submission are fit, voice, characterization, conflict and freshness.
The first thing I look at is whether or not a new submission fits the line to which it’s targeted. Does the plot work with our editorial guidelines? Are the hero and heroine within the right age range? Is the setting appropriate? What role do secondary characters play, if any? Is the novel the right length?
If the submission is a good fit, I look at the author’s voice and writing style. The prose should be smooth, clear and natural. The tone should be right for the story and the author should engage the reader without intruding into the story.
Characterization is also very important. The hero and heroine must ultimately be likeable and believable. I want to see a heroine who’s strong enough to stand on her own, but vulnerable and human enough to make me care about her plight. I want to see a hero who’s masculine, but self-aware and mature enough to show compassion and concern for others.
A good romance cannot be compelling without conflict, and this conflict should be organic—it should not be based on misunderstandings and coincidences. For home and family lines, especially, there needs to be true internal conflict, not just external conflict.
Finally, it can be difficult, to say the least, to come up with a totally new idea for a romance novel and still have it fit within the parameters of your targeted line. But your approach still needs to be fresh. And hopefully your story will at least have a new twist, something that makes it stand out from the crowd.

Act now! Entries for Gateway to the Best are open until Sept 9th. No extensions.

For more information, go to:

Megan Kelly
Stand-In Mom, Sept 2011