Tuesday, September 24, 2013

As Promised...A Peek at The Lost Princess

I'm having some fun over on my Facebook author page, and to celebrate my new likes I thought I'd treat everyone to a tiny blurb from The Lost Princess Those familiar with The Peasant Queen series will know Douglas, and it's fun to explore his character a bit.

I'm certain you will all be pleased with the finished story. Just remember this excerpt is not edited and may change a little. :)

Jessenia knew the ring well. It had an ornate gold filigree design and a large diamond in a square shaped setting. Her father’s wedding ring—a ring fit for a king.
            Douglas handed back the ring and the chain. “It’s handsome, but I’m glad you keep it hidden. Someone could see you with a man’s ring and come to the wrong conclusion.”
            “Like what?” she asked as she slid the chain back over her head and tucked the ring into her bodice.
            “Perhaps they would conclude you were spoken for,” he replied.
            The idea was so ridiculous she almost laughed. “No man would think that.”
            “I would.” His words, spoken so softly, caused a fluttering somewhere between her chest and her stomach. He looked at her with such intensity she had to look away.
            “Don’t tease me,” Jessenia almost begged. “I know I’m not much to look at.”
            Douglas touched her hand. “You’re lovely.”
            She didn’t want to hear any more. Invariably such a complement would be followed with an unfavorable comparison to her mother’s great beauty. “Please stop.”
            He withdrew his hand, and she looked at him to gauge his reaction. The hurt she saw in his eyes gave her pause. The last person to give her what had seemed a sincere complement had been Tristan—but why would her traitorous mind think of Tristan now?

Monday, September 23, 2013

When I Say...

When I say I'm a writer, you should probably know that the majority of my "writing" time has nothing to do with the pen, paper, or a computer keyboard. So much of that time is consumed with thoughts, plans, story process, research, and aggravation (mostly self-imposed) that sometimes it's hard to say, "Yes. I'm a writer."

See, I have this story. And it's a great one. And I wanted to release it for Halloween (haven't given up yet) but the story itself isn't cooperating. So I thought I'd share a little of the process in making Love's Price ready for reading.

First off, you need to know it's not because I don't have the perfect pretty packaging. As you can tell the incomparable Deirdra has done it again. I call her incomparable because she absolutely defines that word.

No, the story is eluding me because of this: I wrote it years ago as a gift. So I have this really pedestrian first draft that needs so much revising. And I've made some vital changes to the story in the mean time, which means considerable overhaul.

I got about 2 pages into it when I stalled. And over the weekend, thinking about the story and considering setting it aside for The Lost Princess (I have that cover, too, but you're going to have to wait) I realized this particular story is going to stretch me in ways I hadn't anticipated.

Love's Price is an onion. Not because it's smelly, but because it has layers. LAYERS. The best way to write this story, my brain has determined, is to first write a quick rough draft. First layer. Then go through and add all the setting and personality quirks of the characters. Probably 2 layers there. Then I have to go through and enhance the creepiness factor. I want this story to be scary, and I'm not an inherently creepy person. So there's another layer. Then I have to make sure the ghost aspect of the story (because, when you think about it, this story is really *2* stories--Alita's and the ghost's) makes sense. Another layer. And then I have to go through it one more time to be certain it all flows right and I don't have any serious mistakes. Another layer.

And that's all before my editor even sees it.

Still, you're probably thinking, "Yeah but it's a 75 page story. What you're talking about could take a week if you really work at it." And you're right. I could dedicate a day to the rough draft. A day for the second layer. A day for the third layer. A day for the fourth layer. A day for the fifth layer. A day for the sixth....and then turn it into my editor before September is even over so it could be live for purchase by mid-October.

But then there's that pesky real life that intrudes all the time. Since Bryan has been in Minnesota I have promised the kids that I will *not* write while they are home. Still that gives me all their school hours to work on the book. Well last week I had 3 sick kids who did not go to school except for one day. Then Bryan came home for 36 hours. I'm sorry, but I haven't seen my husband for 6 weeks. He's home for 36 hrs and I'm going to make the most of every second. Family first. You know that about me.

So Tuesday. Tuesday is when I dive back in to Love's Price and crank out that first layer. And maybe, *maybe* if I really push myself I can have it to my editor by Oct 1. That would be an accomplishment. That would make me feel like a writer again. :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Empty Arms

My heart has been really tender lately. A sweet friend of mine recently lost both her twin boys when there were pregnancy complications, and when I went to church Sunday I learned one of the ladies who was pregnant lost her baby, too. Of course it's all reminded me of Lily. My heart breaks for these mamas because I remember still how horrible that initial loss is. I cried all of Sunday, just couldn't help it.

What I've been dwelling on lately is the aftermath. Coming home from the hospital after being "cleaned out" and just feeling so empty. Regretting that my child's body was to become medical waste and I couldn't bury her. That was so hard, but at the time I just didn't know what I could do--what questions to ask, what was within my rights to request. All I felt was agonizing heartache. And then to have to celebrate two birthdays--my oldest turned 5 two days after the procedure and then my youngest turned 1 four days after that. I remember her birthday party so distinctly. Sitting there opening presents with her and trying not to let my misery show. Just wishing everyone would go home. I don't remember my son's 5th birthday at all.

There's no good way to lose a child. Some will tell you "well at least you didn't get to know them" or "At least you got to see and hold them" and they mean well, but seriously their well-intentioned words can be so inappropriate.

I withdrew after my miscarriage. We were in a weird place in our lives, and I remember Bryan being around and I remember not having to deal much with the children, but I have no idea how that was. I know he had to go to work. I just don't know when. The days just went by in a blur.

Why am I talking about this here? Because I turned to my writing. I wrote all about my feelings when I learned I was pregnant, and when I felt something was wrong, and when I had to say goodbye. Facing all of that helped me cope, helped me deal with everything. Eventually I returned to myself.

In the years that followed I began to have doubts. Despite what I knew about life and death and God's plan, I wondered if I really had a baby waiting in heaven for me. Maybe I just didn't understand as much as I thought I did.

And then, God gave me an incredible gift. Ten years after losing Lily, I got to meet her. Sure it was in a dream, but I held her, sang to her, talked to her. It felt so real, more like a vision than a dream. And it was wonderful and heartwrenching at the same time. But I know. I know that my baby is waiting for me. There is certainty where there used to just be questions.

And with that knowledge comes comfort. You never forget losing a child. Ever. The hole created by their absence never really goes away. But eventually peace comes. Understanding that there is a larger purpose than this life helps bring that peace to your heart. And while I shed tears for the heartache my friends are going through, I still know they will eventually find peace. And I'm so grateful for that.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

My Review: A Portrait for Toni by Annette Lyon

*I received this ebook in exchange for an honest review*

Toni has no idea what she’d do without her best friend, Carter. Who else would she be able to vent to about her parents, her job at the dance studio, or her latest relationship woes? When Toni’s father lands in the hospital, Carter, as always, is there for her.
That is, until he starts questioning Toni, saying he thinks she has an eating disorder. Then she starts dating Clint, the hot new guy at the studio, and somehow that puts a deeper wedge between her and Carter. When she’s hospitalized after an on-stage collapse, and Carter stupidly starts in with advice about food and weight, she sends him away—then instantly regrets it.

One night after a performance, Toni tries to mend the hurt between them. She goes to visit Carter at work, in his art classroom at the high school. She doesn’t see him there, and instead, she stumbles onto proof that he has feelings for her that go way beyond those of a friend. Toni is left with the very real prospect of losing Carter forever, unless somehow she can return his feelings—but that’s impossible.

Isn’t it?

My review: This book was a little hard for me to take in some ways. I’d get so wrapped up in the story but, at times, would have to put it down and then later found myself dreading to pick it up again. Why? Not because of the writing, certainly. Annette Lyon knows words, and uses them at their best. I think it was more the subject matter. It’s difficult to watch someone, even a character in a book, continue self-destructive behavior without an end in sight. It was so hard not to scream at my Kindle, “Toni! Stop it!!”

And then there’s her relationship with Carter. Sigh. Of course he’s wonderful, and she’s clueless about his real feelings for her, but this one struck a little too close to home for me. (You will undoubtedly not have that problem) Way back when I was the clueless girl with the male best friend convinced he was head over heels for me. (All that has since resolved itself and we’re both happily married—to other people.) But I think my personal experiences clouded my judgment, because I had no clue how this story was going to end. Was Toni going to wake up? Was Carter going to move on? I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I have to say Annette pulled it all together perfectly in the end.

A Portrait for Toni is climbing the bestseller lists, so don't wait. Click on over and grab your COPY now!

Annette Lyon is a Whitney Award winner, a two-time recipient of Utah's Best of State medal for fiction and the author of nine novels, a cookbook, and a grammar guide as well as over a hundred magazine articles. She's a senior editor at Precision Editing Group and a cum laude graduate from BYU with a degree in English. When she's not writing, editing, knitting, or eating chocolate, she can be found mothering and avoiding the spots on the kitchen floor. Find her online at blog.annettelyon.com and on Twitter: @AnnetteLyon