Time Flies Fast!

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 3.21.55 PMHoly cannoli, where has the time gone?

In November, I typed my fingers raw getting about 50,000 words of Josie’s story down. I took a break for the holidays–I needed some distance from the story to assess how it was going and what needed to be changed. Plus, after pushing so quickly through the story,  I had quite a bit of content that needed A LOT of work.

*Blink*

And now it’s MAY! I’ve worked on the manuscript here and there, of course, but it should have been finished already.

I think the biggest problem is the enormous pile of stinking poo it was after NaNoWriMo. It felt overwhelming, and I had no idea how to tackle it. You have to understand, I’m the kind of writer who writes a chapter, revises it in a couple passes, then moves to the next chapter. As I progress through the story, the chapters I leave behind are, for the most part, done. Once the entire book is finished, I go through it two more times before I send it to the editor–once to amplify the emotions and squeeze everything into it I can (I think of this as “plumping it up”),  and then I make sure every sentence is exactly the way I want it. However, all the substance of the story is there after the first go-around.

Rather than try to pick up the poo and shape it into something useful, I decided to start over. As I progress through the story, I pull quite a bit from what I’ve already written, but I’m doing it in small batches. I try not to think about all those words I still need to incorporate (or worse, send to the trash) because it makes my heart pound and I feel nauseous. Baby steps are better, focus on the present, deep breaths, and all that.

In the meantime, I have lots of ideas for the fourth book in the Legal Affairs Series, and even a good handle on a spin-off series. I’ll get it all done eventually, but it takes one step at a time. Stay tuned!

By the way, if you’re curious about the picture, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!  🙂

NaNoWriMo and Josie

img_9524What does National Novel Writing Month have to do with my next book? It’s simple, I’m writing like a fiend to get it done by the end of November. This book is Josie’s story and she’s a complex gal. There’s so much going on in this book, I’m excited to finally be getting it all down on paper, so to speak.

Now, don’t get too excited. Once the book is written, I guarantee there will be tons of edits and those take time. I don’t expect this book to be on sale until sometime next Spring. However, if you can’t wait that long, I’ve posted a quick blurb for the book on the NaNoWriMo website and I’ll share it with you here. It’s rough, but it’ll give you an idea of where this book is going. I hope you enjoy it!

PS The new working name of this book is Diamond in the Rough. Not sure I’ll keep it, but we’ll see.

Josie McFarland has sworn off all men—they don’t bring out the best in her. All her past relationships have left her heart bruised and battered. She’s content to focus on her legal career and work on her many social projects, including lobbying for legislation that will significantly curb human trafficking in Las Vegas. That resolve becomes personal when a battered teen-aged girl escapes her captors and stumbles into Josie’s life. Josie will do anything to keep her safe.

Nick Noble is suave, confident, a powerful attorney, and rumor has it he’s a fabulous lover. He also ties Josie in knots. When he challenges the legality of the new sex trafficking statute, Josie sets her emotions aside and prepares for war. Sparks fly when these two tangle.

Things get complicated when Nick discovers he has a daughter, causing him to question everything about his life, including this work. Has he been on the wrong side all along? Nick will have to find a way to work with Josie to save the daughter he’s come to love. When that means risking losing his heart to Josie, will he take the leap of faith, or will he fall back on his playboy ways and lose it all?

Starting the Next Book

file000349823764Writing a book isn’t something you just sit down one day and do. Well, maybe some authors did that, but not me. There was a huge learning curve. First, I had to learn the elements of a good story and how to manipulate them. Then there was character development. It’s unbelievable what goes into that; it’s a lot more than name and eye color. Each character has to have a wound, and motivation, plus a thousand other things. They’re supposed to feel real to the reader, so they have to be well-rounded and, well, real.

Once you have some characters, what do they do? How do they interact? What happens? I really hate this part. For me, figuring out what happens is like pulling teeth. But once it’s done, then you have to have the skill and knowledge translate it all into the written word. Words can be powerful. They can convey enormous emotion and drive compelling stories that you can’t put down. They can also be so incredibly boring that you’d rather go  wash your baseboards.

A writer has to juggle all these things, plus a million more. She sifts them all together, then arranges them so they’re believable and authentic to the story and the characters, and most importantly, so they tell a great story. Nothing about the process is easy, but it can be incredibly satisfying when it all comes together.

My first book, Reading the Signs, took about three years to write. As an attorney, I spent years writing for a living, so I thought I knew what I was doing. I was wrong. The learning curve for writing fiction was enormous so I wrote, and re-wrote, then re-wrote again. I can’t tell you how many versions of RTS I wrote.

My second book, Fool Me Once, took only eighteen months. That’s half the time. However, it was a much more complex book. I had another steep learning curve to figure out how to juggle so many moving parts. Charts, timelines, mind nodes, calendars, and notecards stuck on cork boards are just a few of the things I used to keep it all straight.

I started writing my third book a couple weeks ago. The working title is Diamonds in the Rough, but that will probably change. It’s Josie’s story and while I’ve only written about 30 pages, I can tell it’s going to be a monster. There’s so much going on and some of the issues my characters deal with are big, gnarly, and intense. Even though I’m writing fiction, I feel an enormous responsibility to accurately represent what I write about. I’m always mindful that there are people in the real world dealing with the same issues as my characters. For them, I have to get it right— not only their suffering and struggles, but also the solutions and resources available to help them.

All of this boils down to the point of this post. Writing is very hard work and for me, writing the first draft is overwhelming. And that’s what I’m trying to do now. I’m working on the first draft of Diamond on the Rough and I hope to have it done sometime in the next few months. Then I’ll start the process of revising, and that’s the part of writing that I love best. With any luck, I’ll cut the time it takes to write a book in half again, and I’ll get this one out in about nine months. Fingers crossed. Only time will tell.  🙂

Fool Me Once…

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I’m thrilled to announce that Fool Me Once is finally published! This book has been a labor of love and I’m so happy with the results. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

You can find all the details here, and an excerpt here. The theme song for this book is Taylor Swift’s “Style” since it’s about two people who keep coming back to each other. The back cover copy hints at all of it. Enjoy!

He broke her heart and made her an object of scorn and derision in the national media…and now, to save her son, she might have to let him do it all over again.

 

Jade Lin dreamed of curing cancer. While she pursued a doctorate in biology, America’s tabloid sweetheart, Kyle Galbraith, pursued her. When he broke through her defenses and she finally gave him her heart, he publicly humiliated her by getting engaged to the woman his fans had been rooting for all along.

To add to her misery, Jade was shamed and vilified in the press as the morally reprehensible sore loser in the alleged love triangle. She lost everything—her good name, her reputation, her scholarship, and her research. She had no choice but to disappear and change everything about herself—her name, her appearance, and her dreams.

Now, ten years later, she’s attorney Verity James, and she fiercely protects her secrets, including the son Kyle knows nothing about. Her goal is to become a partner in the largest law firm in Nevada—a powerful position from which she can better protect her son should the paparazzi ever find them. All she has to do is impress the firm’s newest client and get his company on retainer.

Kyle Galbraith, now Vice President of GEM, his family’s medical company, is sent to Las Vegas to work with the attorneys hired to defend a lawsuit against GEM’s miracle cancer-curing drug. He’s shocked to find Jade, the one woman he always regretted losing.

Old wounds, as well as their highly reactive chemistry, soon boil over and Verity struggles to keep her son a secret in the face of Kyle’s addictive advances. But when they find alarming evidence of the drug’s horrific side-effect—one that could fundamentally change the world—everything they thought they knew is called into question. Have they been the target of a ruthless manipulator all along?

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

Napolean Torte

IMG_3259I went to college in Omaha, Nebraska, where I discovered one of my life-long obsessions–Napolean Torte. It’s not much to look at. As desserts go, it’s pretty humble. Don’t let the visual throw you. It’s 20+ layers of pastry, butter, and apricot goodness. Those who’ve tried it know–this is the best dessert you’ll ever have. I promise.

If you’re curious to try one, you can order one from the Lithuanian Bakery. If you live anywhere near Omaha, make it a point to stop in and pick one up. If you don’t, it’s worth the money to buy one (or two, or three . . . ) and have it shipped. The tortes can be frozen and I’ve never had one spoil in the freezer, even after months and months. IMG_3258

However, if you want the experience of making your own, it’s a great holiday tradition that is best done with help.

First, you have to prepare the dough, then roll it into about 20 tortilla-sized rounds that are baked individually. Once done, they look look like large crackers. IMG_3253

Next, you’ll need to make the filling. I can’t decide if it’s more pastry cream or pudding, but its fabulously rich and decadent.

To assemble, layer the crackers with the pastry cream and on two of the layers, include several tablespoons of apricot jam. Once the “cake” is done, frost it with the left over pastry cream and cover it with the crumbs of a couple of extra crackers.

IMG_3260As I said, it’s not pretty, but it is the most decadent thing you’ll ever try. It’s the basis for my firmly held belief that the uglier the dessert, the better it tastes. The pretty, fancy ones are so often disappointing.

Anyway, if you’re interested in making your own torte, the recipe is here.  I believe this recipe is close to the one used by the Lithuanian Bakery because it was first published in The Melting Pot, an ethnic cookbook published in Omaha in 1975, that solicited recipes from different ethnic communities in Omaha.

I made 4 batches of the dough and 2 batches of the cream and ended up with 5 tortes. I did it all in one day, but it about killed me. The good news is we’ll have torte for months and plenty to give as gifts, as well. Enjoy!

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I’m Celebrating!

CFPjCOO2Today was a big day!  I wrote “The End” on my second book, Fool Me Once. It’s now in my editor’s very capable hands.

I’ve said it before — this book is bigger and more complicated than Reading the Signs. It presented so many challenges and I’m so happy to have the story off my mind. I couldn’t wait to see how it all turned out and I’m very happy with the results.

The editing should take a couple months and I’ll need to have a cover designed. There are a million other things to do to get it ready to publish. I’m shooting for late February or early March.

If you want to know when Fool Me Once goes on sale, you can check my website, Facebook, or go here and sign up for my newsletter. If you go the newsletter route, the news will be delivered right to your inbox.

Thank you to all of you who asked about this book and told me how you’re looking forward to it. The encouragement kept me on the job.

Plot Bunnies

IMG_3094 (1) I  know it doesn’t look like much, but I’ve sweated over this list for the last week. Literally. While editing Fool Me Once, I came to a point where things felt rushed, there needed to be more time for events to unfold naturally.  So I expanded the events of one day to a full week.  Of course, given more time, the characters had freedom to get into mischief. Things sort of exploded. Thus my headache!

This list represents the events of only three days of that extra week. The colors indicate the six different plot threads that have to be interwoven over that time. Each of those threads has to grow and evolve naturally. When you throw in the need to create settings and opportunities for all these things to collide in the most spectacular fashion possible,  I’m tired.

It’s been a long week, but I think the additional 10,000 words these scenes have added to the book were worth the effort.  If you want to read an excerpt of this book, take a look at the Fool Me Once page under the Books tab.

Excerpt of Fool Me Once . . .

DSC07240-BI’m working very hard on getting Fool Me Once . . . finished and into your hands! This book has a complicated plot and weaving all the strands together into the best story possible has been a challenge. But it’s coming together!

I’ve hinted before that this book is my effort to give someone like Monica Lewinsky a happily ever after. It involves a woman who was so horribly, and unfairly, shamed in the press that she had to change everything about herself — her profession, her identity, even her personality. It also has a super sexy hero whose every move is reported in the tabloids, a spunky nine-year-old genius, a cure for cancer that comes with harsh consequences, a few science experiments, lots of raging hormones (but not only in the way you think!), a prison visit, wild coyotes and grazing capybaras, a few lawyer jokes, and a ruthless CEO who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. Did I mention murder, mayhem, and the impending breakdown of society as we know it? If you’re curious to know more, I’ve included an excerpt below.

I hope you enjoy it! I’d love to hear what you think. Either leave a comment or email me separately.

Happy Reading!

Angie

For clarity, here’s the cast of characters in this snippet. Verity is the heroine. You might remember her from Reading the Signs as the Dragon Lady Kate worked with on the big trial. Kyle is the hero. Josie is a lawyer working with Verity and Peter is the firm’s managing partner. Here we go!

Excerpt of Fool Me Once . . .

A few minutes later Verity strode into the conference room. She’d smoothed her hair, straightened her suit, and with her professional mask firmly in place, she was as ready as she’d ever be to face what came next.

Josie looked up from her notes and studied Verity closely. The move made Verity pause. It was the weirdest feeling, being noticed—scrutinized, even. Verity acknowledged Josie with a nod. In response, Josie’s mouth curved in a friendly gesture.

Oh, wow.

Verity couldn’t remember the last time someone in the office had voluntarily acknowledged her, let alone smiled at her. She shocked herself by smiling back. It was small, just a slight lifting of the corners of her mouth, but it was a smile nonetheless. It felt rusty but familiar, like reuniting with a long-lost friend.

Verity placed her files on the table beside Josie. She glanced through the glass wall of the conference room and saw Peter approaching, deep in conversation with the man walking beside him. Kyle Galbraith. Verity’s breath caught and time slowed to a crawl.

Oh. My. God.

The man was a work of art. Verity’s jaw fell open and all she could do was stand and stare. Nothing had prepared her for the havoc the sight of him had on her. She knew it the instant she saw him. She was in way over her head.

Kyle strode down the hall past the secretaries’ cubicles with an aura of power and confidence, spewing hormones like candy at a parade. His tousled hair framed a perfectly chiseled face and his bespoke suit accentuated all the best parts of his tall, lean frame. He moved with masculine grace, the fabric pulling just so across the hard muscles of his chest and thighs. The sight made places inside of Verity, the ones she’d forgotten existed, vibrate. The man exuded raw sex appeal and charisma with every step he took. Yowza, he was potent.

And Verity wasn’t the only one to succumb to Kyle’s raw masculinity. As he passed, secretaries, support staff, and other female attorneys fanned themselves, fell into chairs, and followed his every move with yearning gazes. Even the men gaped, apparently fascinated by the god walking among them. Kyle was either oblivious to the effect he had on others, or he chose to ignore it. His attention never wavered from Peter and their conversation.

Verity snapped her mouth closed and swallowed hard. She knew Kyle was magnetic, addictive, and overwhelming. She knew that. So why had she completely failed to factor that into her plan? She mentally kicked herself for not considering his charm, his allure, the way he broke down all her defenses with just one look. Or a smile. Verity wanted to whimper just thinking about his smile. It electrified her and made her want to do anything, everything, he asked.

I’m so screwed.

She winced at the double meaning of that last thought. But it was enough to snap her focus back to where it belonged. She grasped her necklace and ran it back and forth on its chain as she mentally rebuilt her defenses.

Peter swept into the conference room, a whirlwind of energy as he looked over his shoulder, listening to what Kyle said. The sound of Kyle’s voice hit Verity like a second bolt of lightning. All her defensive efforts exploded into mist. Her breath froze, her heart stuttered, and the room swayed. She grabbed the back of a chair to catch herself when her knees buckled. How had she forgotten his voice? It was smooth and rich, like a river of melted chocolate, but with enough baritone to make it resonate with something deep inside of her. She suddenly knew what cats must feel when they purr.

Tingles exploded everywhere as memories of his voice poured in. That voice holding students enthralled during a lecture. That voice overcoming all her objections to their first date. That voice whispering lovely things in her ear, crying out in passion, and fervently pledging his love. That voice, offering her the world, making promises, and begging for them in return.

Then the absence of that voice when I needed him most.

All the memories crashed around her. The devastation of his abandonment and betrayal drowned out everything else. He was a cowardly, unfaithful snake of a man and she’d never be vulnerable to him or his toxic appeal again. Her spine snapped into place and she yanked on the bottom of her buttoned jacket to straighten it. To hell with him. He couldn’t ruin her life again because she wouldn’t give him the chance. Too much was at stake and she didn’t intend to fail.

She glanced at Josie and did a double take when she realized Josie watched her closely. Speculation crossed Josie’s features and Verity didn’t like it one bit. It made her resolve that much stronger—she wouldn’t allow Kyle to ruin this for her. She toyed with her necklace again while she waited for Peter to make the introductions. The action was familiar and it calmed her scattered nerves. She scolded herself one last time to keep it together. When she moved to greet Kyle she was the calm, unflappable Dragon Lady once again.

Romance Writers Unite!

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Chocolate versions of the Rita Award

I think most writers would agree that the process of writing a book is not only personal, it’s solitary. While my baby is bubbling in my head, it’s hard to share it, especially with a non-writer who doesn’t understand the technical balance between character, plot, and the need for conflict. It’s a whirlwind of puzzle pieces that have the potential of being assembled in a thousand different ways.  The process of choosing which configuration best maximizes the tension and brings out the most emotion in a story is delicate and has to be done one tiny step at a time.  For me, it’s time consuming, exhausting, and something I take very seriously.

So, imagine my pleasure at attending the Romance Writers of America Convention in New York City last week.  Literally thousands of romance writers came together to talk about all those puzzle pieces, to make connections with other writers that last long after the conference is over, and to learn more about the craft of writing.  It was wonderful to indulge in those conversations that make non-writers think you’re nuts.

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My daughter and I at the Awards Ceremony

For me, it was especially fun because I shared it with my daughter. She joined me for the last couple days of the conference and got a glimpse of what writers are like in an environment where we can let our hair down and talk about all those things others just don’t get.

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Me with Jill Shalvis

But the conference isn’t only about writing. It’s a time to be a reader, too. So many of the legends in our field attended the conference, it was hard not to go a little fan-girl. Nora Roberts, Lisa Kleypas, Robyn Carr, Jill Shalvis, Julia Quinn, Roni Loren, Kristan Higgins, and so many others attended this year. It’s surreal to see them walking the halls of the convention center, willing to share their time and experience with anyone who approaches. To me, that’s the most amazing thing about the

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Me and Robyn Carr

convention–the complete and utter willingness romance writers have to help and encourage their fellow writers.  Frankly, without the RWA and the first convention I attended, I don’t think I would have ever finished my first book.

So, I’m back home now, completely energized and eager to get back to work.  I’m still hoping to get the next book out this Fall, but there’s so much to do!  I guess I better get to it.  : )

New Toy

file0001167812349I was one of those kids who loved to take notes in class.  They were color-coded and indexed.  I was always organized, at least when it came to my written work.  I taught those skills to my daughter and she made good money in high school selling her notes at the end of the year to the kids taking the class the next year.  Her notes for AP US History were a thing of beauty.

I’ve noticed some of this anal behavior creeping into my life as a writer. I crave organization, beautiful notes, color coding.  That’s hard to do on a computer.  So I’ve had to find other ways to get organized.

IMG_2762I found this desktop calendar at Target for a dollar.  It may be hard to tell (I purposely fuzzed it out), but that’s Fool Me Once, fully plotted, and with each subplot color-coded.  I recently discovered Frixion erasable pens and highlighters and that made this job an absolute joy.  It was like a spa day for my nerdy side. Total indulgence.  : )

But now, I’ve found something even better.  No more erasing entire squares on the calendar to move them somewhere else.  I don’t even need to stock up on more erasable pens because this new system is computer-based.

Here’s a screen shot.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.17.16 AMThis is the beginning of Reading the Signs outlined in Aeon Timeline.  Not only does it keep the work organized, but I can color code the various subplots.  At the bottom is a list of all the characters and it gives their ages when each event took place.  This was incredibly helpful in getting the back story straight.  You have no idea what a headache it is to keep all the events, ages, and characters straight over a period of time.  With this program, so much of the math is taken care of.

So, that’s my new toy.  It’s been incredibly helpful in getting my thoughts organized on Fool Me Once.  I’m editing like crazy and its starting to shape up, but there’s still oodles to do.  In fact, I need to quit fooling around and get back to work. 🙂