On my first book, Bulletproof Mascara, the novel was also spun off into an audio book and (guilty admission) I have never listened to it. Or rather, I got ten minutes in, freaked out, turned it off and never went back.
It wasn’t that it was bad. It was more that the voices in my head had become external, but they weren’t actually my voices. The process of publishing is, in many ways, about taking something deeply personal and turning it over into the public domain. And at the time, I had barely come to terms with my friends, family, and complete strangers having opinions on my characters. Having the auditory sensation of hearing them in different voices was completely disconcerting.
However, it’s been a minute since then. Don’t you love how that phrase implies that it really was a short amount of time? And I’m a little more resigned to the process of sharing my fake people with the world. So I recently took a deep breath and dipped a toe back into the audio waters.
This time the process was much better. Not only did I get to select my voice actor, but I could add my two-cents on her interpretation. I’m completely in love with this new interpretation of my romantic suspense novel The Second Shot. It’s been so fun to hear the book with her voice. It has also been illuminating to realize when I’ve written something that looks so good on the page, but turns out to be difficult to read out loud.
The Second Shot is book one of the Deveraux Legacy series and I can’t wait for my voice actress to tackle book 2, The Cinderella Secret, and 3, The Hardest Hit (due out 10.18.21). Currently the book is under going the Quality Assurance check with Audible and once approved it will hit the virtual store shelves.
You can check out the audio version of The Second Shot here: bethanymaines.com/the-deveraux-legacy/
A drunken mistake in college cost US Marshal Maxwell Ames the affection of Dominique Deveraux and six years later, he’s determined to fix the slip-up. But there’s just one tiny problem—someone wants the Deveraux family dead. Dominique Deveraux never expected Max to reappear in her life, let alone apologize, but as Dominique investigates the mysterious attacks on her wealthy family Max quickly becomes far more than her one time college classmate. Now, Max and Dominique must dodge mercenaries and bullets as they try to make sure that they’re the only ones who get a second shot.
Last weekend, I reached peak pandemic and hosted a gathering in my carport. It was a writer’s gathering, aka a Plotting Party, so there was a lot of sitting and staring at our notebooks. And also snacking and freezing. But, as with other joint writing gatherings I’ve hosted, we did use each other to work through problems in our outlines. No one asks more “but why?” questions than a writer except a four-year-old trying to stall bedtime. But why do you want a ball in your story? But why is she in Ireland? But why did the killer drain all the blood? Each story has it’s own answer and it’s fun to hear the reasoning that went into each one.
Of course, being the writer in the hot seat isn’t quite as much fun, but it does serve an important purpose. Searching out the answers to those questions forces me to examine the clues in the story I’m writing as well as my intention for writing the character or story that particular way. When another writer points out that my characters motivations seem implausible I’m forced to confront why I want that scene or why I want the character to behave that way. Being faced with well-intentioned friends who simply want to understand my story is the equivalent of Law & Order level third-degree. Pretty soon I’m caving and confessing that I just like something and I’ve been ignoring my characters motivations all along.
But the added benefit of a plotting party is that I have additional minds to help me brainstorm. And with brainstorming comes encouragement and a cheering section that is irreplaceable. The pandemic has put a lot of things on hold, but creativity and friendship clearly haven’t been one of them. I see more outdoor plotting parties in the future, particularly as the weather gets warmer and I wish all of you a carport full of friends of your very own.
As many of you know, I’m a mom with a full time job as well as an author. And while all of that is challenging enough, the pandemic has brought many fresh and special new problems. To free up some of my time I’m relinquishing one of my Stiletto Gang posting days to the fantastic Lois Winston. Lois is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author who writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Lois will be posting on the second Wednesday of the month and I thought I’d sit down and find out a little more about her as she comes on board.
Q: What do you write?
I started out writing romance and romantic suspense and was first published in chick lit with Talk Gertie to Me in 2006. However, back in 2003, while waiting for that first sale, my agent suggested I try writing a crafting mystery. She knew an editor looking for one. With my background as a crafts designer, my agent thought I’d be the perfect person to write such a series, even though I’d never written a mystery. I gave it a try, and in the process discovered my true literary calling. My Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series sold in 2009. Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, came out in 2011. I’ve since published nine books and three novellas in the series, plus two books in my Empty Nest Mystery Series.
Q: What got you excited and started you on your writing journey?
I’m not someone who always knew she wanted to be an author. In the mid-90’s I was going through an extremely stressful period, taking on as much freelance design work as I could because my husband was out of work for an extended period of time. One night I fell into an exhaustive sleep and had a very strange dream—strange for me because I usually don’t remember my dreams. Also, the people in the dream were all strangers. Weirdly, the dream kept unfolding night after night like chapters in a book. Finally, I decided to write it down. When I finished, I had a 50,000 word romance that spanned thirty-five years!
The writing bug had bitten me. Long story short, I joined some writing organizations, learned what I was doing wrong, honed my craft, and signed with an agent. After many years of rewrites, that totally unpublishable romance transformed into a 90,000 word romantic suspense and became Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, the second book I sold.
Q: Do you solve the mysteries in novels & movies or do you sit back and enjoy the ride?
I should have had an inkling that I’d eventually wind up writing mysteries because I have an uncanny knack for figuring out whodunit early into most books, movies, or TV episodes. I love when I’m wrong and fall for a red herring, but it doesn’t happen often. My grandfather was the captain of a large county police force and responsible for the apprehension of many gangsters and other bad actors back in the day. I figure I inherited a large dose of his detecting DNA.
Q: And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask… what are your favorite shoes?
At this point, any that are comfortable! I’m afraid my sexy heels days are over, thanks to foot surgery a few years ago after an injury and arthritis that developed in that foot as a result. So now my shoe closet contains mostly Sketchers with cushioning inner soles.
Connect with Lois!
- Website: www.loiswinston.com
- Newsletter sign-up: https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/z1z1u5
- Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com
- Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/anasleuth
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Anasleuth
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/722763.Lois_Winston
- Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lois-winston
I once had a cousin/uncle/grandparent-ish person (he was my second cousin once-removed if you want to get technical here, but the point is that he was in his eighties and I was around ten, you get the idea) who once posed the question that I probably wasn’t supposed to hear – what’s the difference between naked and nekkid? Naked is simply having no clothes on. Nekkid is naked, but with intent. In other words, the difference is subtle and mostly to do with what you intend to do about it. Which is how I feel about old and vintage.
My general preference, when given a choice, is for old things. Which is to say I like old books, old furniture, old clothes and my grumpy old dog. Although, usually I say vintage, which is the same as old, but with character. I don’t want new things (unless they’re electronics and sometimes not even then). I want the things I’ve become accustomed to and work for me. Which is why sometimes, even when something gets actually too old to use, I still hang on to it. Recently, my favorite skull-n-crossbones mug developed an unfortunate hairline crack that resulted in it weeping tea over everything. It was unusable but I hung on to it for two weeks. What was I planning on doing with this mug? It wasn’t fixable. It wasn’t art. Did I think it would magically heal itself? It wasn’t until I had resigned myself to it’s passing that I was able to let it depart into the recycling bin.
I don’t think my preference for the old and familiar is particularly unusual. I think most of us are little grumpy about being forced into new things. We’re uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. On the other hand, studies seem to indicate that actively being in a place of uncertainty and learning keeps Alzheimer’s at bay. Being used to a little discomfort makes us appreciate what we have and have grace for those who also in discomfort. And I think that if a few more people were used to being told no and being a little more uncomfortable then they wouldn’t lose their cool and have public temper-tantrums in the middle of Target (why is it always Target?). Perhaps we need new things periodically just to remind us that sometimes we don’t always get to keep our favorite mug. And sometimes we need a new mug to tell us that everything will be OK. As long as it looks vintage.
And Now…. Book News!
The Cinderella Secret is coming 10.19.20 and there are gifts, prizes, and sneak peeks for you to delve into! The Cinderella Secret is a romantic thriller that continues the Deveraux family saga, this time with Aiden Deveraux, the handsome lawyer going up against Ella Zhao who blames the Deveraux family for her father’s death. With family secrets and thrills at every turn, The Cinderella Secret delivers a one-two punch of passion and action that will keep readers turning the pages.
Pre-Order The Cinderella Secret on all ebook platforms: https://books2read.com/Cinderella-Secret
Bonus Gift (but just for my friends)
The Lost Heir, a Deveraux Legacy prequel novella, will be released in December, but members of the Blue Zephyr Press / Bethany Maines newsletter will receive it on October 19 with the release of The Cinderella Secret!
Join here: https://bethanymaines.com/the-deveraux-legacy/
Want a chance to win a free copy of The Cinderella Secret? One lucky winner will also get a copy of Book 1 – The Second Shot. Giveaway ends 10.17, so snag your entry now!
Enter at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54817893-the-cinderella-secret
Try Before You Buy
Read Chapter 1 of The Cinderella Secret!
Read here: bethanymaines.com/cinderella-secret-chapter-1/
So, I forgot that I was supposed to blog today and instead used my few minutes of writing time to write a scene where two of my characters go to a Waffle House. But as a west coast resident, I’ve never actually been to a Waffle House. As a result, I spent way too much time looking at the Waffle House menu on line and now I want hashbrowns and waffles. Sometimes we hear authors say that their characters speak to them. My characters wouldn’t deign to do that. They’re too busy talking to each other. And honestly, if I left them to their own devices they would talk until my fingers cramped up from trying to transcribe. I frequently have to cut off the conversations so that the story goes somewhere. That’s part of the editing process, but these conversations are excellent at helping me understand the characters. When I discover what they find funny, what they hate, what annoys them, and what their hard line stance is on Christmas decorations after New Years, I can plunk them down in any situation and know how they’ll react. Which is how I know that Jackson Deveraux would be quite happy at the Waffle House, but that he would be shocked that his hoity toity grandmother Eleanor Deveraux knows to order Waffle House hashbrowns scattered, smothered, and covered, but not chunked. The Deveraux family is full of secrets and surprises, but when I started writing about them I never would have thought that hashbrowns would be one of the surprises. The Deveraux family, from my Deveraux Legacy, has become one of my favorite group of characters. They’re a very fractured family that is struggling toward reconciliation while attempting to overcome the periodic interruption of mercenaries, bank robbers, and greedy CEOs.
Enter to win a paperback copy of The Cinderella Secret on Goodreads!
Or you can join the Bethany Maines / Blue Zephyr Press Newsletter mailing list and get a free copy of the prequel novella, The Lost Heir in October!
Does anyone else feel like Fall just hit with a sledgehammer? The weather shifted, everything started getting colder and book release dates started cropping up faster than weeds in my lawn. My friends in the Stiletto Gang have several new releases. Debra Sennefelder put out the fashion / Halloween themed mystery What Not to Wear to a Graveyard (see her post here) and we’re still celebrating the late summer releases of Debra Goldstein’s latest Three Treats Too Many and the newest Stiletto Gang member Gay Yellen with Body Business.
My next book releases in October, but that just means that all the marketing is happening now, now, now (use your used car salesman voice for the last part). Marketing for most authors, including me, is a somewhat painful process in which we attempt to interest the greatest number of people in our precious book baby. The Cinderella Secret is book 2 (of 4) in my Deveraux Legacy series. With a series, book 1 sets the tone and while marketing can be increased for subsequent books – if an author did a terrible job on book 1 then book 2 doesn’t have much of a chance. This kind of high-stakes “hope you got it right” marketing pressure is what drives many authors to hate marketing. We’re already responsible for inventing these characters, putting them through hell, hopefully letting some of them make it out with a happy ending, and now we’re responsible for making them a success in the world? It’s too much! My poor babies deserve more! But, of course, we saddle up and go out there and do our best for our imaginary book friends because we really do love them. Fortunately, it is a bit easier with assistance from friends, marketing professionals, and having some pretty sweet giveaways and incentives in my back pocket.
The Cinderella Secret: Hot-shot lawyer Aiden Deveraux holds the key to unlocking the dark secrets of Ella Zhao’s past and Ella holds the key to Aiden’s heart. But a murderer wants to stop those secrets from ever seeing the light of day and Aiden and Ella may have to trust each other with their secrets if they want to make it out of this fight alive.
Release Date: 10.19.20
Pre-Order now from iBooks for ¢.99! (Price goes up after release week!) Buy here → https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-cinderella-secret/id1528407978?mt=11&app=itunes
Have a netgalley account and want to get an advance copy? Blogger/Reader Sign-Up → https://bit.ly/ReleasePromotionTheCinderellaSecret
Want to win an e-copy and a $40 Amazon giftcard? Enter to win → http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2a9f3a7480/
Want to get the Deveraux Legacy prequel novella, The Lost Heir, for FREE? Learn how → https://bethanymaines.com/the-deveraux-legacy/
This week has been a bit of roller coaster ride for my writing. I received some very excellent news which them prompted me to move up several items on my to-do list, which further caused me to do the thing that I had been dreading… Call Apple Support to fix a problem with my Apple ID. I have had three different people on my “case” and have now been bumped up to a “Senior Advisor.” In short, my problem has been deemed an actual problem (hmm… like I said at the beginning?) and I have been moved away from the people that tell me to do things like “spell out North, instead of putting N.” and “try clicking ‘add’ 4 times really fast.” Which is probably good because I was starting to make notes for killing off a customer support specialist in my next novel.
But all of this has left me feeling more than a little bit blocked. I want to do one simple thing, but suddenly the simple thing spawned multiple problems and multiple frustrations. Usually when I’m feeling frustrated I can dive into one of my writing projects to escape, but unfortunately I’m feeling blocked on many of those as well! Book #4 of the San Juan Island series is holding until I can figure out who finds the body. I’ve got it narrowed down, but I’m not sure who would be the best person. My sci-fi version of Beauty & the Beast for the Galactic Dreams Anthology series is with my co-writers and I don’t want to write the next section without their input. And The Lost Heir, my Deveraux Legacy novella is with my beta readers. So what’s the solution to this thorny issue? Here’s what I came up with…
Step 1: Go blackberry picking
Step 2: Make pie.
Step 3: Eat pie.
It may be the long way around for pie, but it is a solution to a very thorny problem.