Christina Cole Romance

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Endings and Beginnings

On Monday I spoke of synchronicity. I wrote that the universe seemed to be leading me in exciting new directions.  Later that day, I sat down in MLWR (my little writing room) and wrote a the set-up for a scene from The Sheriff Wore Skirts. In that scene, the main character, Caleb Bryant, ponders a fact of life:

Willow TreeCaleb leaned against the old willow tree and watched the waters of the nearby creek gurgling past. Not really much of a creek these days, although it had once been deep enough to swim in. Now it would barely come to the top of his boots if he stepped in.

Funny how things in life changed that way.

He shifted his gaze westward toward the glittering peaks of the Rockies, raising a hand to shield his eyes from the late afternoon sunlight. Some folks said even the mighty mountains would one day be gone, eroded away by the ravages of weather and time.

Caleb couldn’t imagine it. He’d once attended a fancy lecture in Denver and had heard some esteemed scholar with a string of letters attached to his name provide a scientific explanation. Water, the professor said, seeped into the cracks, froze, expanded, and broke the rocks down. Gravity then took over to carry the pieces down the slope.

When the spring rains came, more rocks were swept away. Some were even dissolved by the steady forces of nature.

The human eye might not see the changes happening, but they were going on all the same.

Changes were always going on in life, too. No matter how a man might wish things could stay the same once he got himself to a comfortable place, life didn’t work that way.

 

Caleb’s got it right. Changes are always happening in life.

Yesterday, I learned that my publisher — Secret Cravings — will be closing. What this means is that all  Secret Cravings and Sweet Cravings titles are coming down from Amazon and other booksellers, and rights to my stories — including those under contract for 2016 publication — will revert to me.  I can choose whether or not to re-publish the current titles and whether or not to release the upcoming additions to “The Sunset Series”.

In many ways, I think I was prepared for this. The writing/publishing industry has changed drastically in the last few years.  Although I was quite comfortable as an SCP author and hoped to publish many more stories through their imprint, I often found myself exhausted by efforts to keep up with marketing and promotional events and maintain a rigorous writing schedule in order to meet all deadlines.

At times, over the past year, I’ve considered other possibilities for my writing. Times are changing, and authors have to change, too. Accordingly, I choose to view this ending as a fortuitous beginning for my future.

What happens now?

My immediate plans are to take care of the business at hand — purchasing my cover art, putting files in order for possible re-publication, and making sure all legal issues are addressed.

I have many decisions to make involving not only the question of re-publishing my books but also questions involving this blog, my author page on Facebook, and my newly-formed “street team”.

What I don’t have yet is a definite plan…only a vague idea of where I want to go and how I’ll choose to get there. With a lot going on in my personal life, I’m choosing now to take a break from writing and publishing.  I will continue to post to this blog but not on a daily basis. I will also maintain my official author page at Facebook — Christina Cole’s Love Notes — and I will most like make daily posts there.

Of course, I will be keeping up with my friends and readers, although I will be “disbanding” Christina’s Corner. I want to thank each street team member for the love and kindness you’ve shown in the short time the group has been together.

At this time, I’m also choosing to set aside The Sheriff Wore Skirts. The book was scheduled for January release with Secret Cravings. That, of course, won’t happen now.  Instead of completing and publishing the book now, I will be exploring other avenues in my life.

I’m adopting the willow tree now as my symbol for the future. Willows bend; they don’t break. Endings bring opportunities to begin anew, and I’m looking forward to seeing where life leads me now.

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Make a Mess!

Creativity

I say these words over and over because they’re so very true. I don’t recall the source, but I do remember when I first heard them. I was sitting on the living room floor, surrounded by a mess of papers, drawings, art supplies, books, and snacks as I worked on a project. Yes, creative people make big messes.

It was then as I began the “cleaning up” process that I fully understood this little saying. As I sorted through ideas and inspirations — keeping some and discarding others — my mess turned into a completed project.

I approach fiction from this perspective, too. I make a huge mess with story ideas all over the place. I scribble notes on odd scraps of paper. I grab research books to keep close at hand. Putting a story together does get very messy indeed.

For what it’s worth, my current project — The Sheriff Wore Skirts — is a disastrous mess at the moment. Even though I began with a synopsis for the publisher, now that I’m working on the story, I’m seeing new possibilities. New characters are emerging. New complications and conflicts are happening.

What do I do?  I let it happen. It’s wondrous fun.

To me, it’s much like working a jigsaw puzzle…only first, I have to create all the pieces.

I won’t use them all. As with any creative project, I’ll find myself throwing away things that aren’t needed, sorting out what’s right for the story, getting rid of ideas that don’t fit. Gradually, the mess will be picked up. The research books will go back on the shelf. The little scraps of paper will be tossed aside. A finished manuscript will come together, ready to go to the publisher.

Don’t ever get discouraged when your creative efforts result in a huge mess. That’s how it’s supposed to be. It’s a process, and making a mess — the bigger, the better — is the first step toward success. Celebrate all the mixed-up, confused ideas. Scatter the pieces of your own puzzle around so you can look at them from different angles. Pick things up and play with them. Enjoy the mess!

Then begin the cleaning-up process. Throw away or set aside things you know you don’t need. Find what’s most important and build around it. Add in possibilities that might work. Discard ones that don’t work.

Slowly and surely, as you clean up the mess — whether it’s an art project, a poem you’re writing, a recipe you’re cooking, or any other endeavor — you’ll see a beautiful creation shining through.

 

 


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Back to School? Already?

the-3-rsIt’s only August! Mid-August, in fact. Yet already schools are open and students are boarding buses each morning, heading off to learn “readin’, ritin’, and ‘rithmetic”. Although, to my mind, it’s still a bit too early — when I grew up, school never started until after Labor Day — I do look forward to the beginning of each new school year.

I’ve always loved walking into stores and seeing school supplies lined up. Oh, the notebooks, pencils, and pens! The colorful binders and folders!

Yes, I was one of those “nerdy” kids who loved school. Of course, back in the day, we weren’t called nerds or geeks.  I always got excited to think of all the new discoveries I would make and all I would learn over the coming year.

I still get excited by learning, and that’s why the end of summer and the beginning of school always thrills me. As autumn arrives — officially — and the air grows cool and the leaves turn colors, my excitement will continue to grow.

For me, this time of year is a signal to settle down, get into a regular routine, and turn my mind and attention to what I most enjoy doing — writing.  With that “back to school” attitude in my head and that same excitement in my heart, I can come into MLWR (my little writing room) each day with a burst of enthusiasm.

What can I learn today about fiction-writing and story-telling? What new possibilities will I discover as I’m putting scenes together? What ideas might suddenly come along?

My current project is The Sheriff Wore Skirts —another title in the “Sunset Series”. These are stories of life and love in the old west, with an ever-growing cast of characters who’ve become near and dear to my heart. At present, the manuscript is about 34,000 words, so there’s still much to be done before the story goes to the publisher in November.

Here’s a short little “tease” from the opening of The Sheriff Wore Skirts:

How long did a broken heart last? Nearly a month had passed since Sheriff Caleb Bryant’s best girl Molly had run off with another man – his former deputy, Hank Goddard – and his heart hadn’t yet begun to heal. Now, Hank and Molly were home again in Sunset.

Worse still, she was standing right in front of him.

Even though this is the project I’m actively involved with, it’s not the only project I have “in the works”. As a writer, I always have dozens of ideas lurking around, and that’s where all those colorful binders and organizational folders come in very handy.

The key to writing a novel is keeping it organized. There’s a great deal of information a writer needs, even if it doesn’t all go into the story. There’s research information, details about characters — their appearance, their background, their goals, their motivations — and there’s various settings we have to keep in mind. Writers often create timelines of events, of course, or outlines of a story’s scenes. As a writer of historical fiction, I also keep calendars from the years a story takes place so I know for certain what day of the week things are happening. For what it’s worth, I always check the moon phases, too, so if you’re reading about a gorgeous full moon as my lovers stroll hand in hand, you can be sure it really was full that particular long-ago night.

In the same way as a novel needs organization — a binder is great for this — future ideas also need some sort of order. I keep a stack of folders nearby, and when new ideas come to mind, or when I suddenly “hear” or “see” a scene from a new story, I can quickly jot down my thoughts and file them away.

So, what it all means is that this week, I’ll probably be stocking up on “school supplies” — even if I now call them “writing supplies”. I’ll be doing a lot of “readin’ and ‘ritin'” and even a bit of “rithmetic” as I keep my characters’ biographies up to date. Let’s see, just how old is little Kitty Barron now?

Oh, is that a school bell I hear? Guess that means it’s time to begin my day. Readers are waiting for the next book. Time for me get busy.

Thanks for visiting today!

Which of the “Sunset” books is your favorite?

 


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Upcoming Events

As summer is winding down and we get ready for the glorious autumn season — colorful leaves, cool days, football season, and the start of school — I’m settling down into my regular writing routines.  I’ll be spending most of my time finishing The Sheriff Wore Skirts, the fifth book in my “Sunset Series”. It’s scheduled for release in January. Here’s a quick little “teaser” tag:

A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do…sometimes, so does a woman.

CCBookWatch for little snippets and short excerpts from the story over the coming months. Those of you who are part of my “street team” will also have opportunities to read more of the story before release date. Five team members will receive advance copies of the ebook.

For information on joining my team, visit Christina’s Corner.

 

Even as I’m working on the next book of the series, I’ll be doing promotional spots for the latest release. No Regrets was released last month from Secret Cravings Publishing.

 

No Regrets is the story of William Howard Morse, Junior. You first met him as a unlikable young bully in Book 1 of the series. In Book 3, you saw the first of him. Now, I’ve taken this “bad boy” and given him a chance at love. He’s got to work hard, though, to prove he’s worthy of Hattie Mae.

I’ll be making several guest appearances in coming weeks. You’ll find me at:

  • Get Lost in a Story
  • Handbags, Books, Whatever
  • ABC Author Book Chat
  • Devika Fernando’s Romance Blog
  • Cowboy Kisses

Links will be posted at my official author page on Facebook: Christina Cole’s Love Notes.

Now, before the morning slips away, I’d better get busy. I’ve got a story to tell, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

 


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What If…?

What ifFor writers, those are two of the most important words in the English language. Small but powerful, they turn ordinary men and women into the heroes and heroines of romantic fiction. “What if…” transforms the mundane world into imaginative fantasies, incredible realms that might exist in the future, or endearing remebrances of past times.

Readers might think a writer uses those two little words to generate story ideas. Yes, of course, we do.

  • What if a woman living a glamorous life in a big city had to return home to a small, rural community?  That was the idea behind Summertime, my story of a stage star who spends a life-changing summer back home in Kansas.
  • What if a woman with no domestic skills had to find a husband? Yep, that “what if” thought turned into Not the Marrying Kind, the first book of my “Sunset” series.
  • What if a town accidentally hired a woman as sheriff? That’s the idea behind my current WIP, The Sheriff Wore Skirts. It’s scheduled for publication in January and will be my fifth story about the good folks of Sunset, Colorado.

You might think that once we’ve come up with a premise for a story, once we have an interesting “what if” to work from, we can retire those words and move on to writing. Nope. Throughout the process of crafting a story, “what if” continues to be an intriguing question.

Writers generally fall into two camps: plotters and pantsters. You’ve heard those terms before, I’m sure. Plotters like to plan stories out before they write. Pantsters take off with an idea and go wherever it leads them. Successful stories can come from either approach, and regardless of which writing method an author uses, “what if” plays an important role.

Although I lean more toward planning than “pantsing”, I rely on “what if” to provide me with lots of ideas and possibilities for the stories I write. As I’m putting together different scenes, I let my imagination wander, and my first story outlines will be littered with notes on POSSIBILITIES. That’s exactly how I write it. All in capital letters at the end of a scene…or, at times, right in the middle of a scene.

Yesterday, I was playing around with ideas for The Sheriff Wore Skirts. I know the storyline. I have a synopsis I’m working from. But the fun comes from figuring out exactly how the story events will unfold. I was sketching out a scene where hero and heroine come together and a bit of conflict occurs between them. As I wrote, my subconscious was writing alongside me, looking for possibilities I hadn’t consciously considered.

Then came that little nudge to my brain. Hey, wait!

  • WHAT IF this takes place at the bath house?
  • WHAT IF she sees him naked?

Later, as I explored other scenes, more little nudges came.

  • WHAT IF he comes home one evening and finds that woman in his bed?
  • WHAT IF the sheriff’s office is ransacked?
  • WHAT IF he suspects she’s lying?

Each time a writer asks “What if…” new possibilities emerge. At times, we can get carried away, of course, and part of the writing process involves choosing the right possibilities and saving the other ones for other days and other stories.

At this stage of the writing process, I can’t promise you the heroine’s going to see the hero naked in the bath house scene. I don’t know for sure whether the hero will have an unexpected — and unwanted — bed partner. Maybe the sheriff’s office will get ransacked; maybe not.  What I can promise is that as I continue working on the story, I’ll be asking the same question as I write each scene.

“What if…”

THANK YOU for visiting today. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about my writing process.
Your comments will be appreciated.


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Getting in the Groove Again

Now, there’s an old-fashioned expression.  “In the groove”. “Groovy”.  For those who weren’t around back in the day, the expressions were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Yes, those were my days. It’s almost painful to think I ever used the word “groovy”, I did. Funny how we can look back on our mis-spent youth and cringe at times. Oh, yes. Life was groovy back then, or so it seemed.

Groovy

In case you’re wondering, “groovy” was synonymous with cool, excellent, fashionable, amazing, at least, according to Wikipedia.  Groovy – Wikipedia. The article explains:

The word originated in the jazz culture of the 1920s, in which it referred to the “groove” of a piece of music (its rhythm and “feel”), plus the response felt by its listeners. It can also reference the physical groove of a record in which the pick-up needle runs. Recorded use of the word in its slang context has been found dating back to September 30, 1941, on the Fibber McGee and Molly radio show, when band leader Billy Mills used it to describe his summer vacation. In the 1941 song “Let me off Uptown” by Gene Krupa, Anita O’Day invites Roy Eldridge to “… come here Roy and get groovy”. The 1942 film Miss Annie Rooney features a teenage Shirley Temple using the term as she impresses Dickie Moore with her jitterbug moves and knowledge of jive. In the 1945 film A Thousand and One Nights, Phil Silvers uses the term to describe an ostentatiously bejeweled turban.

The word has now disappeared from the language in its colloquial form, except for times and places — like here and now — when somebody uses it to poke a bit of fun at the past. Yeah, it really was groovy, man.

Actually, I’m using the word in a slightly different context today. To get “in the groove” means to “get with it” again, to “start spinning”, and I’m just making matters worse here, aren’t I? What I’m trying to say is that after being off-line for several days while dealing with REAL LIFE, I’m now back at work here in MLWR (My Little Writing Room) and back to my online connections, too.

I probably won’t be spending a great deal of time online though. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be putting the finishing touches on No Regrets, the fourth book of my “Sunset Series”.  I guess I could say I’m getting back “in the groove” there, too. As I near the end of each writing project, my mind and my muse kick over into what I call “get it done” mentality. Instead of playing around, I focus. Instead of jumping around in the story, I concentrate on pulling it together into a coherent timeline. Instead of putting aside “problem spots” with an “I-can-fix-it-later” approach, I go through those spots and resolve each one. I sometimes think of it as similar to a major construction project where the inspector has gone through the building and created a “punch list” of things to be done, re-done, or otherwise fixed up.

So, you might not see me online as much as usual over the next few weeks. When I do emerge, it will be with a completed story sent off to the publisher. Then comes the fun of waiting for cover art, planning the launch party, and sharing the story with western historical romance readers.

And then comes even more fun as I set to work on Book 5. A sheriff wearing skirts? Yep, that’s what’s coming up for the little town of Sunset.  The Sheriff Wore Skirts is currently slated for release in January, 2016. It’s going to be a fun story.

Groovy, huh?

To keep you entertained while you’re waiting for No Regrets, come along with me now for a “blast from the past” and enjoy a few groovy tunes!

Groovy Kind of Love – Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders

Groovin’ on a Sunday Afternoon – Young Rascals

Feelin’ Groovy – Simon and Garfunkel