Saying Goodbye

TLT 5 KindleEveryone who knows me knows that I have a to do list. I rely on it to keep my life, work, and writing careers in order. That means that I have to obey the to do list and check things off regularly otherwise it all falls apart.

For the last week, right at the top of that list has been one entry: “TLT 5 release day post.” You see, I write a post for every release talking about something relevant to The Lady Taken. Today marks the release of the very last part of the book and that means that–other than Oct. 1st’s release of the entire serial as one novel–this book is done. D-O-N-E. Done.

(You can purchase it at any of these fine retailers if you haven’t already)

Amazon | Amazon UK | iBooks | B&N | Kobo | ARe

The finality of the serial being over is probably why I’ve been struggling to write this post. Several times I opened up my laptop and pulled up WordPress only to stare at the blank screen. I didn’t know who to write and–here’s another insight into me–that’s a really rare thing. I’m a journalist by trade and that means hitting deadlines no matter what. There’s no room for writer’s block and consequently I’ve never suffered from it. Except this weekend when I couldn’t write a short post reflecting on my own serial.

Now that the words are starting to flow on the morning of my release day while I sit in bed, the reason why is pretty obvious. I’m not sure I’m ready to say goodbye yet.

I enjoyed writing this serial immensely. It was fun. Exploring a new genre and heat level was a blast, and I love the slightly over the top ridiculousness of writing about a highwayman and a countess. I also fell in love with Lady Killane. I mean, Wolf is great, but she’s the one whose head I’ve been living in for the past four months.

Naturally, since i enjoyed writing it so much even when it was stressful, the next step would be to write another. I don’t have to say goodbye to the world of The Lady Taken. I don’t even have to say goodbye to the characters if I don’t want to. The thing is, I’m also not quite ready to do that yet.

The Lady Taken was a project that sprang up during a very different period in my writing life. I didn’t have as much other active pieces of work with real, fast deadlines bearing down on me (because if I’ve learned one thing it’s that you need to be 100% dedicated to your serial if you want to keep it on schedule with preorders, etc.). Earlier this year, I could dedicate four months to the break-neck speed and death-defying high wire act of writing a serial just one book ahead. Now I can’t.

All this is to say that, while I’m having trouble saying goodbye for now, it’s what’s best. I do have plans for another serial because I would really like to tell Hawk’s story. She’s flinty and sexy and confident and so primed to meet someone who will break her down until she can’t help but loving him. I’m going to look at whether my writing schedule is open enough in early 2016 to make that a reality, but I can’t make any hard and fast promises right now.

For today, I’ll just as you to help me celebrate the end of The Lady Taken and all the future books to come!

Advertisements

Keeping a Serial on Schedule

Get It Together Blog Hop BannerToday I’m happy to be part of the Get It Together Blog Hop hosted by Lindsay Emory and Alexandra Haughton. Organization is one of my favorite topics, and I seriously couldn’t be happier to share some of the things I learned while prepping a serial.

When I decided to tackle a serialized novel, I knew that I needed a pretty comprehensive plan to keep myself from falling into a writing/formatting/uploading mess. I was pretty sure that I could get one part uploaded no problem, but working on and then releasing part two while also planning ahead to part three was going to be a challenge.

I went through each step of what I imagined my serial writing process would look like (with some serious help from Alexis Anne, my serial guru) and mapped out a plan. Then I multiplied by five, penciling in dates to help me keep on track. What I came up with can be helpful for writers working on traditionally structured novels as well serialized work.

Here’s a look at my schedule for the first three parts of The Lady Taken. Although this serial is going to be five parts in total, the first three are enough to show you how dates can overlap. You need to be looking ahead to the next book while you’re still writing your current one, especially if you’re going to put live preorder links in the backs of your books (something I strongly recommend to lead readers from part to part).

The Lady Taken: Part 1

Finish rough draft: May 7

First editing pass/Send out to betas: May 10

Build cover: May 25

Build preorder: May 25

Build backmatter: June 1

Second editing pass with beta notes: June 1

Send to proofreader: June 3

Final editing pass: June 20

Upload date: June 20

Social media marketing scheduled: June 27

Blog post scheduled: June 27

Publication date: June 30

The Lady Taken: Part 2

Finish rough draft: June 23

First editing pass/Send out to betas: June 23

Build cover: May 25

Build preorder: May 25

Build backmatter: June 1

Second editing pass with beta notes: July 3

Send to proofreader: July 6

Final editing pass: July 11

Upload date: July 11

Social media marketing scheduled: July 18

Blog post scheduled: July 18

Publication date: July 21

The Lady Taken: Part 3

Finish rough draft: July 13

First editing pass/Send out to betas: July 15

Build cover: June 27

Build preorder: June 30

Build backmatter: July 20

Second editing pass with beta notes: July 22

Send to proofreader: July 25

Final editing pass: August 1

Upload date: August 1

Social media marketing scheduled: August 8

Blog post scheduled: August 8

Publication date: August 11

A couple things to note. I have ridiculously fast, lovely beta readers who can whip through a 15,000 word novella like it’s nobody’s business. I also have a fantastically fast proofreader who is always available to read short works on two or three days’ notice. If you don’t have those things, build in extra time to your schedule.

Also, I should say that I went off the rails a bit during book 3. I mistakenly accounted for beta reading time during RWA. Yeah, that conference when pretty much all of romancelandia is concentrated in one place and completely overwhelmed. My beta readers did a fantastic job still getting me edits back, but I promised them I’d never do something like that to them again. It was completely unfair.

I got faster and faster while working on this scheduling. I gave myself a ton of lead up time for book one because I was establishing everything: covers, social media, blurbs, etc. Once the story got going, things got easier. That being said, if I had hit any snags like illness or a rewrite because something wasn’t working, I would have been screwed. Next time I embark on a serial, I’m going to build in more leeway for myself.

For more posts about getting it together and everything that entails, check out Lindsay and Alexandra‘s blogs. And make sure to enter to win a ton of prizes including enough romance novels to keep you busy for a long time.

blog-hop-giveaway-510x680

The Origin of the Story

TLT 4 KindleThe Lady Taken is sprinting to the finish line. Part 4 is now available which means we are just one part away from wrapping the whole thing up! As I write the last book and look at where the story’s gone from Lady Killane’s opening scene carriage ride to the big finale, I think it’s time to talk about this serial’s origin story.

I’ve always loved books featuring highwaymen. They’re dashing, Robin Hood-esque characters who are always so…dangerous. And we all know that dangerous is a very good thing in romance. The only problem was, I didn’t know what book I wanted to write. I played around with the idea of doing a straight historical romance where the hero was a member of the aristocracy and a highwayman (a trope I really enjoy), but the story never really gelled in my head–an impressive feat given that I have plot bunnies hopping around all over the place in there.

Fast forward to the January of this year, and I started to think about projects that I could try out to push the boundaries of what I was writing a bit. I wanted to write hotter and write a little darker. I also wanted to write historical which can be a challenging market in the land of contemporaries (oh how things have changed since when I first started writing romance just eight years ago). I struck on the idea of doing a serial because I’d seen how much my friend Alexis Anne enjoyed writing them. And when it came down to picking a story, that nagging highwayman kept popping up in my head.

One day during a lull at work, I began chatting with my friend Caitlin on gchat. I mentioned that I was seriously thinking about writing a historical erotic romance. When she asked me what it would be about, I said, “Highwaymen.” I think I probably heard the laugh of delight all the way from New Mexico where she lives. Apparently highwaymen tested well in my completely unscientific focus group.

Knowing that I was going to be writing a highwayman hero made some things easier. He was going to be an alpha–a type of hero I only like if he’s caring as hell about the heroine and not too assholeish in the process–and I was going to need a heroine who was going to be able to stand up to him. That’s how Lady Killane was born. She needed to be sexually experienced because I didn’t want to write a virgin heroine story, and so I made her a widow. And I wanted to make sure that she didn’t just verbally go toe-to-toe with my highwayman. She needed to have be wealthy enough to feel completely secure in her place in the world. I wanted to write a strong woman who was going to fall really, really hard when she met the man she didn’t know she’d been waiting for.

The only other question was, how were these two going to meet? Well, a robbery, naturally. I put Lady Killane into a carriage lumbering across the Yorkshire countryside and, just for good measure, I gave her a young companion, Jonathan. Being a wealthy, sexually experience heroine who knows a thing or two, she wasn’t too happy with this companion of yours, so why not open the book mid-argument. That way we get an early look at just how great Wolf promises to be in comparison.

And that, dear readers, is how The Lady Taken came to be. As soon as I had the central idea, I started scribbling away. Soon, I had enough of a plot to know I could tell this story in five parts. And the rest, as they say, is history.

If you want to read the most recent installment of The Lady Taken, book four is now available at all major ebook retailers.

Amazon | Amazon UK | iBooks | B&N | Kobo | ARe

Happy reading!

On My Research Shelf

This week I sent off book 4 of The Lady Taken to my beta readers. That means I have just one more TLT part to write. It’s going to be a big, dramatic ending, and I can’t wait!

giphy (3)

Strangely enough, my happy dance looks a lot like Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” video…

Approaching the end of my first serialized novel is pretty exciting but, being an author, I’m already thinking ahead to my next project. I’ve started poking around in some research books, trying to figure out what exactly my next move is going to look like.

IMG_4466

Research makes me so happy!

One of these books is key to figuring out my next idea, and I have no doubt that people who read The Lady Taken: Part 4 will be able to guess which character I’m hoping to feature. This person deserves their own book for a lot of reasons, one of which being they’re just way too hardened right now and need to meet someone who makes them come to terms with being vulnerable. Plus they kick ass so there’s always that.

So that’s where my plot bunnies are bouncing right now. But first I’ll have to stuff them back in their hutch and force them to behave because we’ve got to see Lady Killane and Wolf get their happily ever after!

Even Taylor's ready for a little well deserved love.

Even Taylor’s ready for a little well deserved highwayman love.

Comfort Reading

The Lady Taken 3I’ve gotten into the habit of writing a post every time I have a release day for The Lady Taken. Usually they have something to do with the subject matter of the serial part, like when I wrote about feminism in Victorian England for the release of part 2. I’m not doing that with the release of The Lady Taken: Part 3. This time I’m talking to you about comfort reading.

Being a writer is great, and I love my job. It is, however, emotionally exhausting. You dig in and root around in make believe people’s heads for hours. In some ways, you live their lives and then, when you hit publish, you have to sit back and mentally switch off for a moment. If life interferes, all of that becomes harder to do.

July was a monster month for me. I left my day job I had been at for six years. I published The Lady Taken: Part 2 the Tuesday of RWA. I went to RWA which was a wonderful, crazy, harried good time. The following Monday, I started a new day job. Then I put my baby sister–who lived four blocks from in New York City–on a plane to the UK where she is moving. Oh, and my best friend gave birth to her first child. That’s a lot of change for one 30-day period.

I returned to my apartment a couple Saturdays ago after dropping my sister at the airport and swinging by the hospital to visit the brand-new baby girl and sat down at my computer to do some much needed writing. Normally, I can just put my hands to the keyboard and start thanks to years of working on deadline as a journalist. Not that Saturday. Instead, I just stared at the blank screen. I was done. I’d cried twice that afternoon–once when my sister left and once when my best friend’s husband introduced me to their baby as her “auntie.” That’s a lot of crying for a woman who’s even keeled (or as one friend says, “A cold Brit”) 99% of the time.

And so I did what I always do when I’m feeling emotionally strung out and stressed. I closed my laptop, got out of my chair, and went to my bookcase. I picked up one of the four (!) Julia Quinn Bridgerton books I’d grabbed at RWA, drew a bath, and soaked and read until my feel were pruney. When, later that night, I closed To Sir Phillip with Love, I felt like my normal self again. Maybe a more puffy-eyed version, but normal nonetheless.

Books are powerful. They can grip you and haul you along or they can sweep you away in the most gentle of manners. They capture every emotion and every situation all while letting you forget what’s going on in your life. They give you a release.

For me, the most escapist books will always be historicals. It doesn’t matter the heat level (ironic coming from an erotic romance author, no?) or the setting. What counts is whether the author can pick me up and drop me right into the middle of a world of corsets, silk gowns, house parties, and dashing heroes.

That’s what romance does for me. It comforts me and takes me away. It reaffirms for me over and over again that happy ever afters are possible, and that sometimes the path that we take is a bumpy one but we will get there.

I’m saving my other Julia Quinn books for more emergency Sunday afternoon sessions, but I would love to hear what your relieving books are. Leave a comment or come find me on Facebook.

Danger, Desire, & Feminism

TLT 2 Cover 5:16A bit of news for your Friday morning. On Tuesday, The Lady Taken: Part 2 went live at all major ebook retailers. I’m thrilled that I’m getting the chance to share the next installment of Lady Killane and Wolf’s story with you (and I promise that you’ll be excited for what I have in store for part 3).

In the midst of releasing The Lady Taken: Part 2, I just happened to sit down at the Romance Writers of America national conference with a PhD candidate who is researching romance, community, and feminism. In her last interview question, she asked me if she thought there was a direct, positive link between romance and feminism. Easy answer. I said yes without hesitating. In my eyes, reading romance and writing romance are feminists acts. In fact, I would argue that romance itself is inherently, unashamedly feminist.

Here’s a simple definition for you. Feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal social, political, and economic power. That power gives women that ability to choose how they live their lives without having to rely on a man to give them social or economic status. They can choose if they work, if they get an education, if they want to marry, if they want to have kids.

In modern romance novels, most heroines own their decisions. They choose to enter into a relationship with the hero. They allow that relationship to deepen both emotionally and sexually. They are shaping their own lives. The content of the books is feminist, and I believe that reading and writing books where women’s opinions and feelings matter (not to mention their sexual and romantic satisfaction) is an incredibly feminist act.

My The Lady Taken serial is set in England during 1882. In some ways, things were never better for women during Victoria’s reign. The old divorce laws that required women to provide two reasons (such as adultery or abandonment) for dissolving a marriage as well as an extremely expensive and embarrassing legal battle (think an act of Parliament) had loosened. There was still a strong social stigma about it, but more and more people could get divorced and leave unhappy or abusive marriages. Thanks to several Married Women’s Property Acts, married women could also hold property and earn wages because that property was no longer automatically their husband’s upon marriage. The suffrage movement was solidifying during this time too, although the militant suffragettes we associate with the fight for the right to vote weren’t yet chaining themselves to fences and destroying factories.

Lady Killane is very much a product of her time. If she had been born twenty years earlier, she probably would have been unable to inherit her husband’s money. Instead, Charles leaves her with enough money to begin investing, and in five years she manages to grow that into a little empire of factories. She is a business woman in a time when business women were rare but it is legally possible. In many ways, she’s one of my favorite types of heroines–the ones who defy what was expected of them at the time.

When I started this serial, I knew that I wanted to write about a woman who would grab exactly what she wants while also dealing with the inherent vulnerability that all of us have when we start to develop an emotional attachment to someone. I wanted her to be as confident in business as she was in the bedroom but also a great fit for Wolf. She needed to be the kind of heroine who could go toe to toe with an alpha who has a secret beta side. Lady Killane makes choices about who she has sex with, when, and why. Since she has money, she’d able to build a life without being forced to marry again (even if she does still have to contend with society’s perceptions of widowhood). She governs her own life. For all of these reasons, I thin she’s more than a match for Wolf.

When I sat down to write The Lady Taken, I had a couple rules for myself. I never wanted Wolf to sexually threaten Lady Killane (their relationship had to be built on consent), and I never wanted her to feel as though he was judging her because of her sexual appetite. Romance novels are one of the few books that don’t just focus on a woman’s sexual experience, they tell readers that experience is important and valuable. No matter how sweet or kinky the book winds up being, the heroine’s pleasure is a major focus. I wanted to be sure that Wolf was 100% on board with satisfying this woman for no other reason than it’s what she wants and what she deserves.

I hope that you continue to enjoy Wolf and Lady Killane’s story. You can pick up your copy of The Lady Taken: Part 2 from all major ebook retailers.

Amazon | Amazon UKiBooks | B&N | Kobo | ARe

And if you’ve got thoughts on feminism and romance, I’d love to hear them!

Exclusive Excerpt: The Lady Taken

Dirty. Sexy. Victorian.The days are flying by here in New York as I prepare for RWA Nationals. I’ll also be celebrating the release of The Lady Taken: Part 2! The second episode is even hotter and higher stakes with a twist of an ending. I think you guys are going to love it.

Today I wanted to give you a sneak peak of some of the upcoming release. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, definitely give it a read so you’ll be all caught up (it’s just $0.99 after all). This serial can’t be read out of order, besides why would you want to miss any of the delicious Wolf action?

TLT 2 Cover 5:16“Madame,” he growled, “you’ll give me the names of your relatives. Once we have the ransom payment, we’ll release you. You can go back to your journey only delayed a few days.”

He wanted to intimidate me into retreat. I knew that toying with this man would be foolish, but I had no intention of playing his game for anything but a total win. Like a chess master moving pieces around a board, I would endeavor to think ten steps ahead of my opponent, always ready to change course and outmaneuver him. I had a feeling that Wolf would prove to be a formidable opponent, always anticipating my next play.

“I will not give you any names until you provide me with the basic necessities,” I said as I went to sit again.

He swept his arm out, gesturing to the luxurious trappings of the rooms. “And what could you possibly require that is not already here?”

I arched an eyebrow. “A different gown, to start.”

He frowned. “What you are wearing will suffice.”

“No,” I said firmly. “It will not. It’s ripped and stained, and it’s beginning to smell of perspiration. Never mind that it already stinks of horses.”

He crossed his arms to study me but nodded all the same. Apparently my request was not an unreasonable one. “Any other demands while you’re at it, my lady?”

“Books,” I said, gesturing to a locked glass bookshelf next to the desk. “I will be in need of entertainment if you are to hold me hostage for several days.”

His eyebrows both kicked up at that. “Is that so?”

I moved to the sofa again. “Yes.”

“I’m not in the business of acquiescing to the demands of my captives.”

No, but somehow I knew that he would yield to this one. I put my hand out. “The key?”

The way he stalked over reminded me of lions tracking their prey through the tall grasses of the African savannah. I could not help feeling like a gazelle waiting to be caught and devoured at any moment. Still, I held his gaze, defiant.

“You wish to be entertained,” he said, the low gravel of his voice stroking over me, as soft as his fingers and just as insistent. I clenched my thighs together, but there was nothing I could do to hide the fact that I was becoming well and truly wet—ready for this man I’d already tasted and craved more of.

“I can’t imagine how I’ll pass the time while you’re holding me here. Against my will.”

He towered over my body, his hands pressing on either side of the fainting couch. I was trapped before him, at his mercy. A shiver danced through me. I shouldn’t want this—shouldn’t want him. I was in danger. I was vulnerable. And yet my blood rushed in my ears. My heart pounded, and my lips parted a fraction of an inch. The only thing I could think about was the man before me and the dark promise his voice held.

“Do you wish for me to entertain you?” Wolf asked, his eyes raking over my body in a slow, leisurely way. This man was going to torment me until I said the words he wanted to hear, but I would not give in that easily. This was a game—one that had to be played carefully.

“I wish for amusement,” I breathed. “Whether you are the one to provide it or not matters little to me.”

His head dipped. I could feel the caress of his hot breath against my neck, but his lips never touched my skin. “You lie.”

The Lady Taken: Part 2 is out July 21st on all eretailers! Preorder now for just $0.99!

Amazon | Amazon UKiBooks | B&N | Kobo | ARe