The Formatting Apocalypse and Harmon General

May 23rd. 2018

There’s a fine line between admitting you have some stupid issues with technology and staring into the abyss that is underbelly of your laptop. I can’t quite tell the difference, but after six days of dealing with formatting issues for uploading the manuscripts to POD outlets the precipice is real. I’ve gone round and round with formatting (what is usually a fairly straightforward procedure) and the proof copies of the novel will reveal whether or not I have to go back into the ring.

This might be that element of perseverance that defines me as an author almost as much as sticking with the writing process. Can’t give up. Can’t give in. Must press on. Readers are counting on me to win!

In the last phase of production

May 8th. 2018

There was a big learning curve when I decided to be in charge of my book’s production. I’d watched the Print On Demand industry evolve over the years, and after writing The Big Inch (and realizing I wanted it to debut in time for the pipeline’s 75th anniversary) I knew the only way to get the book into the market was to tackle the process myself. Through much trial and error, The Big Inch rolled out in time and I soon followed that with my sophomore book release, Comfort Plans (now a 2018 Best Historical Romance award winner!) Having two successful book launches under my belt might lead one to think that I knew what I was doing–but yet again, I’m back at the chalkboard studying production steps and better ways to maximize my efforts.

Harmon General, the novel due out mid-June, has some interesting components that made writing and now producing it, a little more nuanced. For one thing, it’s a sequel so I had to be intentional in writing the plot and characters to satisfy those who enjoyed reading The Big Inch, and also be engaging for those who’s first encounter with my books might be this one. Second, I had to cement some locations and historical references I included in The Big Inch because readers remember details.

Creating a 1943-era map of Longview and marking where I’ve set imaginary places and where the actual landmarks are has been a sticky process too. And I can’t promise you I’ve got it right yet. Stick with me though, the book release party is just weeks away and we’ll have a something big to celebrate!

Comfort Plans wins 2018 Best Historical Romance award from Texas Authors

April 16th. 2018

How exciting to share the big news about Comfort Plans‘ big win! This is my second novel, and quite the departure from the WWII fiction of The Big Inch. Because I love historical context, Comfort Plans has a rich backstory of early immigration to the Texas Hill Country, and the imprint left by those needing to reinvent themselves among the limestone and prickly pear cactus around Comfort, Texas. Twenty-five years ago I used to drive those hilly roads peeking into a landscape that was foreign to this Georgia girl, and fascinated by the grit of the German settlers who chose to get off the wagon trails in a land filled with cougars, bears, and Mexican soldiers. The testament to that era was still seen in the architecture of the farms and small towns, and I would run my fingers along those limestone walls and listen for the echoes from the past. I’m weird that way.

The idea of turning one of those farmsteads into a modern family retreat is not unique–it’s done countless times a year in the Hill Country, and I chose to set a mulish builder and a historical preservation architect (one who had been derailed from knots coming undone) among one of those old houses needing restoration–just to see what would happen. What happened was a fun ride through the ins/outs of historical preservation, home construction, and power struggles, but also the reinvention of a woman who needed to prove herself. Comfort Plans is as much about a woman finding her own identity, as it is about a house shedding it’s secrets. Family dramas, charming characters, and treasure also keep the story hopping and I hope that you as a reader, enjoy it as much as I did in writing it. This is the first time in my life I can say I’ve written an award-winning book, and I’m honored and thrilled that Comfort Plans opened that door.

Finding an Audible voice for The Big Inch characters

April 2nd. 2018

I’ve been working with a professional actor, talking through characterization, place, and nuance about the characters of my debut novel, The Big Inch, as we prepare to go into production for Audible. Because many of the characters in The Big Inch are Texan, and many have southern roots, you’d think it would be easy. Au Contraire. This roster of distinctive voices would give any actor a challenge. Since a listener can’t see who’s talking from the sentence structure, it’s up to the narrator to give vocal cues and–here’s the kicker–maintain those cues through hours and hours of a dialogue-based novel. God Bless the woman who’s taking on this opportunity and her knack for mimicking the distinctives of a regional accent that needs just enough variation between the old and young women, those that are celebrating their southern roots, and those that are hiding from them.

To be fair, when I was writing The Big Inch, I never dreamed it would one day become an Audible book that would rely on a strong vocal actor bringing the characters to life for those listening while stuck in traffic or on an extended road trip. I trusted my reader’s imagination. Now, though, I’m trusting someone to give sass and vigor to people that previously existed in my head. Stay tuned, I’ll keep you in the loop as to how this is progressing, and what some of the tips I’m using to inspire the narrator to hear the characters as they sound inside my imagination.

Big news for The Big Inch!

March 26th. 2018

Spring Break 2018

March 19th. 2018

Speer Chapel at LeTourneau University

March 7th. 2018

This movie.

February 26th. 2018

When the time comes for this film to be in theatres, I’ll be the one on the front row –transfixed. My favorite kind of story, some of my favorite actors, a location that is part of my DNA, and it’s all done so well cinematically, that I’ll want to watch it over and over again. Will you join me?

A writing hole.

January 29th. 2018

I apologize to those internet wanderers who may have landed on my page and expected a little more engagement. These past several months I’ve put myself in a writing hole and periodically come up for sunshine and cookies, but don’t as often pop over to the blog and social media outlets. Hopefully, you’ll see that as a good sign, that there will be a new book this year and those who’ve enjoyed The Big Inch will get another brush with some of their favorite characters in the historical fiction novel, Harmon General. There’s a tentative release date for spring, but I will post more information as it becomes available. Thanks for remaining friendly with this writer, and I hope to spend more time with you as we nosh on the news about Harmon General.

Map Making 101

November 14th. 2017

Not that I’ve found one, but I could really use a Dummy’s Guide to Making a Map. My novel, The Big Inch, is a WWII historical fiction and it utilizes real places in the city of Longview, Texas. Imaginary characters climb the stairs, stare off the rooftops, and gaze over lake surfaces in the very places that actual people walk every day. As I write the sequel to The Big Inch,┬ácalled Harmon General, I’ve decided to add a map to the front of the new book–just as a reference for those who are curious about the context of the plot and locations mentioned. So, here are my questions. How much detail should go on the map? How accurate to mileage and longitudinal details does it need to be? And, if buildings sited in the 1940s no longer exist, how do I place them on the map? Do I create a walking map for readers to go to actual addresses, or just a loose approximation of location so that folks reading the book can visualize a general area?

You can see I have a problem that needs noodling, so if you have a suggestion for map creation, feel free to let me know.