Archive for the 'motivation' Category

When Fact Meets Fiction

Once in a while when I’m writing a book or shortly after, something in real life happens that makes me wonder if the creation of that book wasn’t somehow predestined. As if when I was writing I was receiving some sort of message from the universe about what was soon to occur. Now, I don’t claim to be psychic. But I do believe there are energies at play around us that we don’t understand. Sometimes these lead to the cases where fact meets fiction.

In a previous post I talked about how I saw a piece of information online that led me to a major plot development in my story “Cowboys Don’t Cry” in the Cowboy Up anthology. But that information came to me in the form of a single Facebook post that came and went without mention. It never went viral, and soon retired to obscurity as most posts do. I was changed, however. My story was changed. It was inspired.

Now here we are a month later and a new yet similar story has surface. And it has gone viral. It has taken hold of people and made them think “What would I do?”

In my earlier post I hesitated to give away the exact nature of this inspiration (and the subsequent reality) but I’m going to do so now. So if you haven’t read the story and don’t want spoilers…read no further.

In a heart-tugging twist in my story, the characters have to deal with an imminent death. A terminal prognosis. And the choice whether to suffer through to a natural end or take destiny in their own hands. This week a young woman facing that choice in real life has stolen all our hearts.

sunset heart

Her name is Brittany Maynard, and she is dying. Just as in my story, she has moved to Oregon, one of only 4 states in the US to have legalized physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. She has vowed to take her own life on November 1, with the help of legal medication prescribed specifically for that purpose. Until then, she wants her story told and is fighting for the same right to die with dignity for all Americans.

Critics have spoken out (most of them with kind, loving–if adversarial–words, thankfully) against her right to chose. They believe her physician has abandoned the Hippocratic Oath and that choosing her moment of death belongs to God, not her. They claim there is a beauty in natural death that overshadows any pain or suffering she could experience.

Match-made-in-heaven

I’m not taking sides in the debate. I honestly don’t know what I would do in her position. I tried to explore the issue in “Cowboys Don’t Cry,” and though the characters in that story came to a decision, I don’t know whether I would make the same choice. Do any of us who aren’t in that position really know? Really know?

The only thing I do know is that it makes me look at that story in an even deeper way, and wonder what energy was floating around me that brought that issue my attention at this particular time.

The only thing I do know is that on November 1, Ms. Maynard will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Peace, love, and light, honey.

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More on inspiration

In my previous post I shared the inspiration behind my new Mustang Wild series. Today I’m going a level deeper and delving into what motivated the debut story in the series, “Cowboys Don’t Cry” (in the Cowboy Up anthology). But first, I just have to post this picture of my wascally little feller Mo. Just because he’s the cutest thing ever.

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Okay, now that you’ve met Mo, on with the story of the story. I knew I wanted to write about the American West, with the wild mustangs as a backdrop. And I had this yearning to make these stories feel real, because the mustangs and their plight are real. While they are and will be romantic stories, I didn’t want them sugar-coated and I didn’t want larger-than-life characters with perfect hair and perfect lives running around. Because not much in real life is perfect, and life isn’t fair. I wanted these stories to be emotionally centered.

I knew I wanted the series set around a community where we could get to know the people and follow them from book to book. My heroine for “Cowboys Don’t Cry” came easily to me. She lives in ranching country, but I didn’t want her to be a typical rancher. So I made her a bit of a new ager. Kind of a hippie more into growing organic herbs and vegetables, and hand spinning yarn from alpacas she raised herself than breeding stinky old cows. And I knew my hero was a man running from something–not something like the law. More like something inside himself. But for a long time I didn’t know what.

In fact, I was well over a third of the way through the book when I found my inspiration in a post on Facebook. It was a link to an opinion piece. I’m not going to say what, because it would be a huge spoiler for the book. But let’s just say it was controversial. It took my breath away a little bit. It scared the crap out of me, and that’s why I knew I had to use it.

Still I resisted. This is not something often done in romantic fiction. Would the readers hate it? Would they feel betrayed? Would they scream and throw the book against the wall before they’d even finished the story?

I was so worried that I talked to a couple of writing friends…who of course advised me not to do it. Which was just another reason I had to. I’ve broken some rules before. I don’t like predictable fiction, so I strive to be different. To be real.

I was once told I could never, ever write a romance novel where the hero and heroine were already married at the beginning of the book. So I did. And I sold it to Harlequin, the romanciest of the romance publishers and it received 4.5 stars and a “Top Pick” designation from RT Book Reviews magazine. That book was called Keeping Caroline, by the way, and it’s still my personal favorite.

keeping_caroline

Then there was the time I was told that I could never, ever kill off the hero in a romance novel. So I did. And that book was published by Berkley and went on to be a Romance Writers of America Rita award finalist. It was a novella called “Angel and the Hellraiser” in the Demons’ Delight anthology.

demons-delight2

So yeah, I did this thing in “Cowboys Don’t Cry” that scared me. I think you’ll recognize it when you read it. I hope you’ll like it. And please don’t throw your e-reader at the wall. Those things break.

CowboyUpGroupBundle

Buy it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or All Romance e-books

Vickie

Dogs Days of Summer on the Farm

We’ve definitely hit the dog days of summer here on the farm, with temperatures over 100 degrees every day. And to celebrate, there’s a new dog in residence. Meet Amber, my new foster! Sorry about the bad red phone pic. Don’t know why it does that when I take pics inside.

 Amber is a five-month-old yellow lab pup. She was about to be euthanized at a local shelter because she had a minor URI (upper respiratory infection). Nothing serious at all…and yet it almost cost her life. Luckily for her, the great team at Humane Society of Flower Mound wouldn’t let that happen! Her rescue was truly a team effort as I couldn’t make it down to Fort Worth that day, and her time was up. But a call for volunteers was put out, and we quickly had people ready to pick her up in Ft. Worth, take her straight to the vet in Flower Mound (an hour away). Wait for to have her little cough checked out by the vet and get a few antibiotics onboard, meet with the (also voluteered to come in) HSFM team to get her all checked in and entered into our database, microchipped, vaccinated, treated for fleas, etc., then drive her to Denton (30 minutes away) where I picked her up. She is doing great, and I’m sure she’ll be available for adoption soon (just as soon as we clear up that little cough). She is very sweet, a little timid but coming out of her shell quickly. She loves other dogs, is unphased by cats. She’s going to make someone a great pet!

With the dog situation all taken care of, I had time to take a little ride on the yella horse this morning before it got too hot. He is doing terrific, becoming a really solid riding horse. Afterward I gave him a bath and fitted him with his new UV protective mask. Paladin has two blue eyes, one of them with no dark pigment around it at all, which makes him susceptible to horrible sunburn in the summer, and even cancer in the long run if not protected. This one is called a bug eye mask. The portion of the eyes is semi-formed to puff out so it won’t irritate his eyes.

 Of course as soon as I turned him outside, he rolled, undoing the bath work and mashing in the supposed molded bug eyes.

I’m now taking bets how long it will be before he rips the whole thing off and stomps it in the dirt!

On tap for the rest of the day, writing, writing, writing, and a little reading. I’m copyediting for a woman out east who has written a wonderful memoir. Guess I haven’t mentioned that last year I enrolled in the Copyediting Certificate Program at University of California – San Diego. It’s an 18-month course, and I’m in my last semester. I graduate in August! I’ve already started taking on some freelance editing clients. Look for the debut of my new website spelling it all out in the next few weeks.

Have a great day, all.

At RG2E, it’s all about the readers!

This post wouldn’t be complete without background music. Click here for a short clip of the theme song.

That’s right…there’s a new sheriff in town when it comes to sites for readers. It’s a big, confusing world out there when it comes to books. So many titles to choose from, so little time to read!

So what’s the shortest path to the best books on the web?

That’s right: The Readers’ Guide to E-publishing. This site lists some of the best e-books on the market in all genres.

What could be better? Why, if they gave away some of those books free, of course!  And they do, of course!  Free books daily.

What could be even better than free books daily? Free e-readers! And they do that do.

Check it out and make it a destination stop for book shopping.

You might even find some of my books there starting later this month.  😉

Writers as Learners

I’ve had a post lingering in the back of my mind lately. The need to write it developed from some conversations with authors. These haven’t been the good kind of conversations. They’ve mostly been the too-stupid-to-live kind of conversations. Most people publishing books take their craft seriously. The availability of self-publishing platforms (meaning anyone who can type can upload a book to Amazon.com and try to sell it) hasn’t changed this. I repeat: most people publishing books take their craft very seriously. But there are those few, as there are in any profession, who believe that they have nothing to learn. Their books are their brainchildren, and the only reason they aren’t selling well and are getting poor reviews is that people don’t “get” them. Or someone else is out to get them. Whatever.

Before I got around to writing my blog post, someone else did it for me. Did it better, even.

So forget my post. If you’re a writer, you need to read this. Really, really need to read this, instead of making excuses.

http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/keep-learning-so-you-wont-get-stuck-in-the-pits

Have fun.

Predictions for 2012 for writers and readers – Part 2

Yesterday I put in writing my predictions for writers in 2012. As promised, today I’m going to consult my crystal ball to get some insight into what readers will see. (Mist swirling in ball. Vickie straightening turban, murmuring magic words and drinking wine. Much wine)

Magic Eight Ball Crystal ball says nothing. Or at least not much.

And that’s the way it should be. Sometimes writers forget that readers don’t see the man behind the curtain the way we do.  Sit in a bookstore and watch and listen to the customers (try not to get arrested for stalking). Hang in some reader forums if you can find any that haven’t been taken over by hungry writers.

Most readers have no idea what’s happening in the publishing industry, nor do they care. Most readers can’t tell a traditionally published book from a self-published book, nor do they care. Most readers don’t know what midlist is or what a fair digital royalty rate is. Nor do they care.

Therefore, the changes that seem world-altering to authors will be subtle or non-existent to readers. A few of the more observant may notice the differences below, but most probably will not.

  1. Bookstore closures will slow. Now that the Borders are gone, the few remaining (Barnes & Noble, Hastings, Books-a-million, and a few hardy independents) will batten the hatches and try to ride out the storm. Sure, we may lose a few more, but the mass closures of 2011 should not recur. So people will still be able to drive to a bricks-and-mortar store and buy books, though they may have to drive a bit further.
  2. A-list authors and breakouts like Roberts, Patterson, Rowling, King, S. Collins will gain percentage of shelf space in discount stores like WalMart as fewer midlist and new authors appear (see yesterdays predictions for writers to understand why). But the change will be gradual, and therefore go unnoticed by many readers.
  3. A few names readers are accustomed to seeing and buying won’t be found on the shelves. Last week alone, I spoke to three midlist authors who are abandoning traditional publishing to go the indie route. Hopefully their readers will find them online.
  4. Readers will continue to be inundated with e-reader ads. Sales will slow a bit after the Christmas rush, but there will still be an uptrend in electronic reading adoption. Other readers will continue to hold out. Unfortunately, their reading choices will gradually shrink as midlist authors jump ship and publishing houses begin offering e-book only lines for their newer talent. But again, the change will be so slow that I doubt many readers will notice.
  5. Books will be cheaper than ever for those who do adopt electronic reading. They’ll find so many books ranging from free to $2.99 that they will never have to buy a more expensive book again if they don’t want to.
  6. Among those cheap books, there will be bad books. Readers will have to become adept at sorting the wheat from the chaff in order to get the most out of their reading time. There will also be so-so books and many great books.
  7. Retailer tools will continue to improve to help readers find the great books.
  8. Readers will band together through social media just as authors have. They will share reviews and recommendations and price deals to help with that chaff sorting.
  9. Readers who embrace electronic reading will find a wider range of stories and voices than ever before available to them.
  10. Readers will continue to love great stories, and support the authors who write them.

Those are my predictions. Guess I’ll check back at the end of 2012 and see how I did.

Meanwhile…hang in there…coming soon to Amazon.com, my new romantic fantasy novella:

Predictions for 2012 for writers and readers

Did you know I come from a long line of fortune tellers? It’s true. My dad’s people were Irish gypsies–or travellers, as they prefer. Here’s a picture of my grandparents’ travellers camp circa I-wish-I-knew-when.

MeMa foretold the future using cards, and two of my great aunts read palms professionally for many, many years. So I know of what I’m talking about when I say I’ve got predictions for 2012.

Well, actually, I probably don’t. But it’s still fun to believe.

We all know the publishing industry is undergoing a great upheaval. I don’t think anyone really knows what the business will look like when things quiet down, but I’ve read several interesting posts postulating the possibilities over the last few days, so I can’t resist doing one of my own.

Here are two of the posts I’m talking about: D.D. Scott and Bob Mayer.

This post isn’t about who is right (or “write”) and who is wrong. It’s about being informed and planning careers and calming the fluttery butterflies of uncertainty in all of our stomachs. Today’s post will approach the predictions from the writer’s view. Tomorrow I’ll look at what’s in store for readers.

Here are my predictions for 2012:

  1. Big mainstream publishers are not going away anytime soon. They will evolve…even if they have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the future.  The three evolutionary changes I think we’ll see first are:

    a) Hardcover and large print run paperback releases will be limited mostly to the A-list authors like James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Sue Grafton, etc. And celebrity books (yuck).

    b) More mainstream publishers will begin to offer “e-book only” lines for their midlist and newer, unproven authors. Some authors will sign these deals (even though the royalties can’t compete with indie earnings) in hopes of selling enough to eventually become elevated to one of those A-list spots and getting a print deal. Others will sign because they don’t want the headache of all the other roles the indie author must play in marketing, cover design, formatting, etc.

    c) Mainstream publishers will continue to sign indie authors who are selling very well, though they will have to significantly improve their conract terms to get them.

  2. More midlist authors (like myself!) will make the jump to indie publishing.
  3. More talented unpublished authors will quit beating their head against the submission-rejection wall of traditional publishing and go the indie route.
  4. Number two and number three combined will not only continue improving the overall quality and respectedness (?) of indie publihed books in the general population, but will cause a fundamental shift in the supporting industries including literary agencies, writers’ organizations, bestseller lists and book review processes that previously scorned self-published work. For example, today in the Romance Writers of America, an author is not considered published (which comes with considerable perks through the organization) if her work is self-published no matter how many copies she sells. Methinks this is going to have to change.
  5. Current midlist authors who don’t make the jump to indie will see increasing pressure on their earnings throughout the year and 2013. Their print runs and print sales will drop, but their increasing e-book sales will not make up the difference in revenue due to the low royalty rates most publishers are paying these authors. This is especially sad for authors late in their careers who stick with traditional publishing because they see themselves as old dogs who can’t learn new tricks. They may not be able to ride out the tidal wave of change until retirement.
  6. Indie authors will increasingly band together. In order to reach the maximum audience, authors will cross-promote each others’ books and collaborate on anthologies. They will maintain multi-author websites, blogs and other social media outlets. More and more we’ll see groups of authors functioning almost as cooperatively owned publishing houses using their group leverage not only for marketing purposes, but in the acquisition of resources such as cover art designers and copyeditors. Cool, huh?
  7. Way out on a limb with this one. By the end of 2012 or early 2013, I believe we’ll see someone or something emerge that could be a potential competitor for Amazon in the long run. I have no idea who that will be.
  8. Number eight is more of a wish than a prediction. Authors today have some great professional organizations backing them up: Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of American, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Internation Thriller Writers, and more. These organizations provide for the care and feeding of authors. They nurture new talent (well, some of them do), provide ongoing eduction opportunities, serve as industry watchdogs and keep their members updated on industry trends. I’d like to see a multi-genre professional writers organization for indie writers emerge. I mean a reallyprofessional one.Indies have such an entrepenurial, free-spirited mindset that I don’t think this will be an easy task. But there is a void. Today the void is being partially filled through social media pages of indie authors. In the future I think we’re going to need the klout of a professional group to deal with the big business retailers (and others) who support us and the scam artists who’d like to con us. I’ve seen firsthand the impact of having such an organization, and I miss it on the indie side.

That’s it for my 2012 predictions. What do you think? Who’s got their crystal ball all warmed up?

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at things from the all-important reader’s point of view.

In the meantime…remember my new fantasy romance novella will be available on Amazon.com later this week!


Available Now!

western romance novel boxed set

7 men as tough as the West. 7 women ready to Cowboy Up

Available Now!

Psychological Suspense short story with a bonus inspirational short story included

Coming Soon from Vickie Taylor

Fantasy Romance Novella

What am I reading today?

GOOD OLE BOYS - Denise Barker - Just started, but I'm intrigued so far!

Last five books read:

TEXAS GOTHIC - Rosemary Clement-Moore - Awesome! Great fun and spooktastic at the same time!

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN - Ransom Riggs - Really creative idea. Enjoyed it very much!

BOOTSCOOTIN' BLAHNIKS - D.D. Scott - Very enjoyable, fun book!

THE GOOD DAUGHTER - Diana Layne - Awesome! Get it now!

GOT YOUR NUMBER - Stephanie Bond - Fun little mystery!

What’s on my TBR List?

GOOD OLE BOYS - Denise Barker

Reader’s Guide to E-publishing

Find your next e-book here!

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