Saturday, October 13, 2012


I’m not only an author, I’m an avid reader.  From time to time I stumble across things that really set my teeth on edge.

My rant is twofold. 

#1  An editor is an author’s best friend.  They want you to write the strongest book possible, so embrace them and let them edit!  With self-publishing on the rise, I see far too many books in desperate need of editing. If you go this route, please hire a professional editor.  Your readers will thank you. 

#2  I want to know what ticks you off, so my books don’t end up in the “never again” pile.

Member – No No No!  Don’t do this to the male appendage.  For some reason every time I see member, I think of the band Menudo. I have no idea why.

Flower – Do NOT under any circumstances refer your heroine’s area down there as her flower.  That warrants a book toss.

Pebbled – Really?  He kissed her neck and her breasts pebbled against him.  REWRITE!

Little (when referring to an adult)  I judged a contest recently where the author wanted to convey the heroine’s small stature. I’ll allow it once, twice, maybe even three times, but when it comes to the repetitive use of little hands, little feet…we get it.  She's small, but she’s NOT a child. 

A well-known author (name withheld) went through a "little" stage in the late 80's where every book for prattled on about the small heroine.  I stopped reading her books.

Last page character introductions  This mainly pertains to thriller/suspense books. I'm invested in the story, trying to solve the mystery, only to discover on the last page a new character is introduced and they conveniently are the villain.

Beautiful Abuse I just finished a romance where the heroine was described as “beautiful” thirty-six times in fifteen chapters.  After the first chapter, I kept score.  Despite her beauty, I found the flawless character very unbelievable. 

A page of dialogue…without tags  Sure, I leave them off too, when it’s very clear who is speaking. But when I see an entire page of tagless dialogue and I have to actually COUNT down the page, “him, her, him, her” then you have a problem. 
My friends and family chimed in with their book peeves:

Mom dislikes over descriptive filler - pages of details that don’t move the story forward and are clearly there to make page count.  

Kelli can do without the info dumps.  I’d like crime writers to stop having the cop/forensic characters describe forensic procedures to each other.  It is their job to already know that, isn’t it?”

Kimberly has trouble with pronoun abuse.  “There were so many she she she, he he he I lost track of who was who.  Put a name in there every once in a while.”

Since I'm a debut author, it's important for me to listen to my readers. After all, I’m writing for you and I don’t want to write the book you toss across the room.

Let's get down and dirty.  Tell me what you never want to see in another book again.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Other Side of Writing

I love to write. Which is to say I live to write. I’ve known I wanted to be an author ever since I penned my first story in the second grade. For a long time, though, writing wasn’t the top priority in my life. Putting food on the table, keeping a roof over our heads, raising my kids—those activities forced my writing into the back seat for a lot longer than I wanted them to.

But now, finally, I’m able to do what I love full time.   

Except...sometimes not.  

This week, a wonderful package arrived at my house. See the Harlequin logo on the side?

Squee! Inside were copies of my December release, Rancher’s Son. Much celebration ensued!
Aren’t they beautiful?

Soon after I finished dancing around with books in my hands,though, it was time to get to work again. But this part of my job as an author didn’t involve much writing.

See, nearly everyone of those advance copies had already been promised—to reviewers, to immediate family, to my editor, my agent. There were contests to enter and books to ship. And ship. And ship. And ship. 

So, away went the notes on the story I was writing, and out came piles of bookmarks, envelopes, tape, scissors, pens, markers and note pads (‘cause my mama said you can’t just slip a book in an envelope, you have to send a note!). Soon, my desk looked like a shipping office.

I have to admit, this isn’t my favorite part of being an author. Oh, I love the notes part, but the shipping? Not so much.

I’ve gotten pretty good at it though because I know that the sooner I finish, the sooner I can get back to what I really want to do—tell the story of how my next hero and heroine overcome the odds to fall in love.

By the way, I do have a few Rancher's Son bookmarks left over. If you'd like one, drop me a line at Include your snail mail addy, and I'll slip one in the mail to you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Austin: Second Chance Cowboy

Austin: Second Chance Cowboy
October 2012
When I started work on the Harts of the Rodeo continuity series, I knew I was in for a treat. What a joy it was to work with so many fine authors! And, since writing is very much a solitary activity, it was great fun for me to get a chance to see how Cathy, Roz, CJ, Marin, and Linda plotted, researched, and approached their novels. For a few months, I was part of their club, and avid student of theirs, too.
I soon learned that I was not nearly as organized or as much of a plotter as I had previously thought! When other authors would ask me specifics about Austin’s western wear shop or Dinah’s apartment, I realized that I needed to become more detail oriented. Fast.

As I said, I learned a lot from them.

When I began Second Chance Cowboy, I was sure I’d feel closest to Dinah, but in many ways I connected with Austin the most.  I’ve always enjoyed writing about imperfect people, and Austin certainly had some imperfections. However, he also had some wonderful qualities. I liked how he looked after Dinah and bought coloring books for his nieces. I loved how he was just a little bit flirty, and just a little bit better than most folks realized.  In the end, I thought he was a perfect counterpart to Dinah Hart, Roundup’s sheriff.
One of my favorite characters of my book was Austin’s father, Buddy. He didn’t have a big part in the novel, but he did have a huge role in Austin’s character and motivations.  Thinking about Buddy, making him appealing yet real was a wonderful challenge for me. When I finished the book, I felt like I had done his character justice, and I was thankful for that.

 So, I hope y’all will enjoy Second Chance Cowboy.  It was a privilege to be a part of such a super series. And I have to say, I, for one, am already looking forward to Marin Thomas’s and Linda Warren’s books.


Sunday, October 07, 2012

Fishin' Derby

(Bet you thought my post today would be about Cardinals post-season baseball, didn't you? I'll be watching this afternoon, so if I don't reply for a few hours, I'm sure y'all will understand.)

My husband's family holds an annual fishin' derby on Columbus Day weekend. This will surprise anyone who knows me, as I'm not an outdoorsy type, but I was the first in my immediate family to win a trophy: Most Fish in the adult category. This was gratifying as we have hard-core fishers and some hard-core competitors in the family.
Both children have trophies in the kid's category. Now everyone but my husband, who taught us all to fish, has won. He claims it's because he's helping the kids with worms and taking our fish off the hooks, as well as visiting with relatives we only see once a year. (Hey, whatever gets him through the day, right? lol)

I'm reminded of when we got serious as a couple and I asked him to teach me to fish. As fishin' was his favorite summer activity, I felt I should be able to share the "sport" with him. I learned a lot about him and his patience and his teaching methods. (This held me in good stead when he later tried to teach me to drive a stick shift. Unsuccessfully, some might say, but we didn’t divorce and I didn’t kill him, so it wasn't a total failure.)

At first, I found fishin' exciting and challenging. It will surprise no one to hear I took a book along. lol He likes to walk around and cast; I like to watch a bobber. One memorable day, I grew frustrated by the cork repeatedly going under while I was reading. Bobber sinks, I sigh, reel in the fish, release it, rebait the hook, recast the line and return to my book. Not too long after, just as I'd get back in my cozy spot in the shade and re-immersed in the story, the bobber would sink again. They were nice bluegill, don't get me wrong. I even kept a few on the stringer. But...I was trying to read. So, with a glance to make certain I was undetected, I cast the line without a worm.

It was lovely and quiet. Every once in a while, my darling would call, "Need a worm?" and I'd call back, "No, I'm good." It took him several outings before he noticed the surplus of worms at the end of the day, and I was busted. I countered that I'd discovered a nice compromise where we both got to do what we wanted while spending the day together.

We continued to enjoy the outings, except for the sweating and sunburn I'd occasionally get, the nasty mosquitoes who love my sweet blood, and the day all the snakes in the lake swam around where I sat. Totally creeped me out. I didn't dare take my eyes off them to read, knowing they'd come ashore and slither up to me unawares. I wound up "fishin'" from the car. I was only reading anyway, not about to bring attention to myself by reeling anything in.

Ah, the things we do for love.

Any hobby you took on just because your honey liked it? 
I'll check in later for comments, after the game.  (Go, Cards!!)

Megan Kelly
Santa Dear, available now