His Forgotten Fiancée: Kindle version available for pre-order

An update on the progress of my very first published novel: His Forgotten Fiancée is now available (for pre-order) in digital format. Grab your own copy while it’s hot. (And judging by the thermometer outside, it’s hot.)

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It’s funny — seeing this produces the same thrill I felt when the paperback version was posted. It’s like a whole new book being put on Amazon. This doesn’t get old!

 

Writing a bio: who am I and why should you care?

Annie Allen wrote a good post about how to write an author’s bio.
Abraham Janssens (attr) Sight

That got me thinking about how I should write my own bio. I had to supply one for Harlequin. It not only gets posted up on Amazon, but it also is included in the back of the book and on the Harlequin website.

An author’s bio is not a résumé. It’s a quick burst of info that tells the reader about you not only by what details you include but how you write the bio. It needs to be short, lively, and interesting.

The trouble is, I find it so much easier to talk about someone else than to talk about myself. Imaginary people are so much more interesting. And does Evelyn Hill like talking about herself in the third person? No, Evelyn Hill does not. But that is the standard format for a bio.

For Harlequin’s purposes, the whole bio has to be no more than 500 characters, including all words, spaces, and formatting. That’s dancing on the head of a pin territory. You don’t have much space to express yourself, so every single word has to have a good reason to be there.

I tried a couple of different versions.

Version 1 (too horse oriented and a whopping 585 characters)

According to family tradition, Evelyn Hill is descended from a long line of Texas horse thieves. (But when your family is not only Texan, but Irish, tall tales come with the territory.) This might explain why she grew up reading stories about horses, writing stories about horses, and when possible, even riding horses. Once she grew up, the stories naturally featured a handsome cowboy as well. Or a handsome knight. Or a handsome spy. Or even a handsome lawyer. She’s broadminded.

She lives at the end of the Oregon Trail, where she gets to do all her historical research in person.

Version 2

According to family tradition, Evelyn Hill is descended from a long line of Texas horse thieves. (But when your family is not only Texan, but Irish, tall tales come with the territory.) This might explain why she devoted much of her childhood to writing stories about horses. Once she grew up, the stories naturally featured a tall, handsome cowboy as well.

She lives at the end of the Oregon Trail, where she gets to do all her historical research in person.

At 461 characters, this one might be too sparse, but it fits the space and hopefully sets the right tone. I’ve written a western, so horses and cowboys come with the territory. I like it when a bio tells you something of the geographic location of the author.  I think this might work. What think you?

Here’s an additional link. It recommends writing a different bio for different environments: author-author-writing-your-bio

It’s not my fault, but I still feel guilty

John Bauer 1915

So a couple hours after I posted about seeing my book up for pre-order on Amazon, Harlequin announced that it was closing the line. No more Love Inspired Historical.

I try to tell myself that those two events are not connected, but I still feel a bit guilty.

My subconscious: SEE? What did I tell you? It’s a hoax!

Me: No, not really. They still intend to publish my book in January. They’re going to stop publishing these books in June.

Ego: So, what you’re saying is… once my book is out, there’s no point in publishing more? They can’t top it?

Me: No. The line probably isn’t as successful as they’d hoped.

My subconscious: Which is All My Fault!

This doesn’t mean that I’ll stop writing. It does mean I’ll stop sending inspirational historical stories to Harlequin. I’m not sure what will happen to Geoff and Lia’s story, but I will find it a home somewhere. I usually vacillate between loving and hating a WIP. This is the first story I’ve written that I loved from start to finish. That either means I’m delusional or it’s actually a good story. (Well, those aren’t mutually exclusive. Could be it’s a good story and I’m delusional.)

I’m not about to say “The End” in regards to my writing. The story goes on.

The first time I saw my book on Amazon

It’s a surreal experience. A book that started with me scribbling down an idea on a yellow legal pad is listed on Amazon. This is just something I made up. But there it is.

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A strange feeling, but I rather like it.

Me: There. Now do you believe I’m a real author?

My Subconscious: Could be an elaborate hoax. You never know.

Just the art facts, ma’am

I thought one of the benefits of selling a manuscript through a contest was that the manuscript had sold based on the story itself. I was patting myself on the back for not having to write the dreaded query letter.

Ha.

If you publish traditionally, you still have to explain the story to the people who are going to sell it. The people who design the cover need to know what themes are in the story. The distributors want to know what angles the story has that makes it stand out from all the other books that are coming out that month. The reviewers need to know why anyone should pick it up and read it in the first place. Your story, your word baby that you labored over with sweat and prayers, is special to you. Why should anyone else care? Well, it’s your job to tell them. Or, in this case, my job.

On the plus side, this is an opportunity for me to influence the process. For example, for the cover I was asked to write a brief description of three different scenes: the mood, the setting, how the characters were dressed and how I pictured them. I hear stories about other publishers, about authors who feel like they have no say in what the final product will look like. I think it reflects well on Harlequin that they ask for input.

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I love Pinterest. I don’t know what authors did before the Internet. I can just point and say “There. That’s what Matthew looks like. That’s Liza’s claim. There’s Elijah, looking adorable.”

I still hate writing blurbs. And synopses. And catchy catch phrases. These are skills that I need to work on. But I’m getting better!

 

Becoming real

Cinderella
Not the cover, alas. A picture of Cinderella.

Matthew and Liza’s story not only has a publication date, it has a title. It’s almost like it’s a real book or something crazy like that.

His Forgotten Fiancée, coming soon to a retailer near you.

By soon, I mean January. Which is going to give me time to finish editing Geoff and Lia’s story and hopefully write another story that I have simmering.

A title by any other name

Roulette wheel
Looking for a title for a story? I was asked to provide a list of different titles for my story about Matthew and Liza. Google kindly pointed me toward some romance novel title generators:

Western Romance Title Generator

Romance Title Generator

Or this one, which came up with the catchy title, “The Greek Tycoon’s One-Night Plan for Tax Purposes.” I think that one’s my favorite.

If you need more than a title, you might try this one, which has generators for titles, plots, character flaws, and a horde of other novel elements.

Snow crystals on carWhile random generators might help spark the creative process, what works best is to find a title that expresses what is unique about this particular story. Finding the right title is not like playing a roulette wheel, more like picking a snowflake out of a blizzard.

Writing World has a useful article on finding the right title for your novel.