Saturday, August 23, 2014

All Things Romantic

I write romances.  I love romance...who doesn't?  But it is almost a lost art it seems. Romance is different things to different people. I have asked readers to leave their ideas what romance is in the comment section of this blog.  I am going to compile a list. Check back to see the list grow! This should be interesting and fun....please join in!  I will begin the list with some of my ideas:
1) Walk along the Riverwalk in San Antonio on a lovely spring evening with your special someone.
2) A picnic for two among a field of bluebonnets on a spring afternoon in Texas.
3) Sunset walk on a beach
4) Sharing an umbrella in a soft rain
5) A small bouquet of flowers from the local market for no special reason
6) Watching the moon rise in a cloudless sky

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nationals and what happens next....

What a whirlwind RWA is!  If you have never been, you need to experience it at least once.  This is especially true if you plan a career as an author.  I was how friendly and welcoming fellow authors...both small ones like myself and bigger ones were toward newbies.  It was great to actually meet the ladies who write the books I have read for years and enjoy to this day!  There were far too many workshops for hours in my day.  The ones I missed, I shall purchase the audio tapes for and listen at home when I have time.
Perhaps the most important thing about RWA, is the fact you come home exhausted but rejuvenated at the same time!  So many great ideas on social media and publicizing your work, indie publishing if that is the road you choose, craft techniques, etc. There is something for everyone and it all helps you become the writer you want to be.
Now, I have my first book online and have become addicted to watching the grafts and bars on Amazon and trying to act like I know what they all mean.  I spend a good deal of time pitching my book on blogs and websites and trying to get those sales up.  If I get a magic number, then my book will go into print edition and that is what I need and want.
In the meantime, I am back on my laptop...writing.  More stories in my head that must escape!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Excerpt from Just Stay A Spell

As promised, I am placing an excerpt from Just Stay A Spell on my blog this time.  This is part of a 60,000 word manuscript which will soon be out on reads to various publishers.  It is a contemporary romance with the flavor of a beauty and the beast theme for the hero and heroine.  I welcome any comments you might want to make.  The idea for this book came to me while I was sitting in a restaurant in Bandera, Texas. A couple of 'old-timer' ranchers sat at a table close by.  An acquaintance stopped to talk to them and as she walked away, one spoke the often heard phrase...."why not just stay a spell"...which translates to sit down and have another cup of coffee.  Anyway....that phrase immediately brought to mind a hero saying that to the heroine in a book....and I had to write it!  Perfect example of how ideas for my books come at the most interesting moments and straight out of the blue.  Anyway....I look forward to knowing what you think of the excerpt.

      “It’s so dark outside. Why won’t the rain stop? What if the lightning hits the car?”  The small voice was brittle with fear, even though the speaker was trying desperately to not show how afraid she was of the predicament they had landed in.
     Thunder rumbled and crashed around them while lightning lit the landscape and seared into the ground almost on top of the small car.  It struck so close the ground literally shook underneath them.  Rain poured from the skies in buckets and had done so for the last few hours.  It was the constant deluge which caused the water to rain down too fast to be absorbed into the ground. The roadway soon became a river.  Annie had misjudged where she thought the edge of the road was, and the depth of the water, and that landed them in the mess they found themselves in at the moment. 
     “We’re going to be okay, Marissa.  The storm will play itself out soon.”
     “I’m Jamie, remember? And you said it would play itself out hours ago.”
     “Sorry,” Annie said, rubbing her neck again, trying to ease the tenseness in the muscles which were coiled into hard knots throughout her body.  She was tired and mentally stressed from the storm coupled with having been on the road for the last eighteen hours, the final two in the downpour that rendered her windshield wipers helpless and had them stuck in deep mud on a dark road somewhere in the middle of the Hill Country region of Texas.  Not to mention the fact her lungs felt heavier in her chest, and she knew her fever had risen.  There was also a dull throb at her temples, and she would give anything to have the ability to lay her head down on a soft pillow and shut her eyes in blissful peace.  Perhaps then, she might wake and find the last few weeks were all a terrible dream and all would be well with the world once again.  A long sigh escaped her.  It was useless to wish for such things that could never be.
      “I thought this road would be a shortcut and we could save some time. The storm will pass and we'll be on our way again soon.”  The shortcut turned out to be a road that was barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass, and she had her doubts about that.  There had been no sign of inhabitants or other drivers on the road for over an hour.  When the rain did stop, she had no idea what she could do to get them back on the road. She needed to try to stay positive for Jamie's sake.
     Nothing seemed to go right for them, at least not in the last four weeks they had been on the move.  ‘On the run’ was a more apt description.  That thought was quickly replaced by another reality. They probably faced a tow truck bill and another car repair.  The car she had purchased for them in California was on its last leg.  Their cash was almost depleted.  She kept telling herself that God never gave a person more than they could handle.  If that was the case, she really hoped He knew that she was at her max and holding on by a very slender thread.
     It was imperative they get to San Antonio, where hopefully she could find a job and settle them into a cheap place to live.  Maybe then, they could finally find some peace again. Beyond that, she didn’t dare to think.  It was enough they were able to get this far without detection.  Annie was just so tired of being constantly worried, looking over their shoulders for strangers who might be her stepfather’s henchmen sent to bring them back to Nevada.  That was something that must not happen.  At all costs, she had to protect Jamie.  Annie had promised their mother she would keep her sister safe…just before she was killed by their stepfather.
                                                                           *     *     *
     Wade Lomax uttered another curse word as he used his jacket sleeve to wipe the moisture gathering inside the windshield and, coupled with the onslaught of rain pelting the glass, was making it hard to progress more than five miles per hour in the dark.  Even in the enormous ranch truck, which was raised higher than most regular vehicles off the roadway, the water was still deep enough to make him use caution.  Having been born and raised in this part of Texas, he knew quite well what a danger flash flooding was to human life.  He had learned that lesson the hardest way possible.  As quickly as they threatened to come, he slammed the door shut on those memories. There was nothing to be gained from reliving the past….nothing that could be changed.
     Pushing the buttons on the radio, trying to find a station that wasn’t just static, he hoped to hear the latest weather report. There was still no reception on the radio, and he slapped his hand back on the steering wheel, at the same moment his eyes caught the flash of his lights reflected in the metal bumper of a dark car that sat at an odd angle… half on, half off the road in front of him.
     Immediately, another string of colorful words filled the truck’s cab, along with the swift application of brakes which caused the truck to shudder as the rear end lost traction and began to fishtail. Wade held on to the wheel and managed to avoid losing control, bringing the vehicle to rest within inches of the rear end of the small car. For a few moments, only the sound of the slapping of the windshield wipers filled the cab.  Wade took a couple of calming breaths, but they didn’t work too well in light of the anger suddenly taking root in his chest.  Jamming his plastic covered Stetson onto his head; he jerked the collar of his rain slicker around his neck, grabbed the flashlight from the console beside him, and pushed open his door. 
     The water rushing across the pavement covered the top of his boots above the ankle. The rain hitting his face felt like small pellets, leaving a sting in their wake.  His flashlight took in the California license plate.  Figures.  Texans, and locals in particular, would have more sense than to be out in such a storm, much less put themselves into such a fix that their vehicle created a road hazard to others.  His jaw clamped down hard as his temper flared at the interruption in his own plans of getting back to the ranch before midnight.  First, he had to deal with whatever idiot was behind the wheel.
                                                                          *     *     *
      Annie hadn’t realized she had dozed off, her head against the steering wheel, until a sudden loud banging at the window beside her, startled her, making her jump back in her seat, eyes wide in sudden fear.
     “Who is that?!” Jamie gasped, grabbing Annie’s arm in a vice grip.  The rain on the outside and the fog on the inside of the windows combined to make it almost impossible to make out who might be outside the car. Whoever the person was, he was most insistent on getting their attention.
     “Just stay still,” Annie spoke, finding her voice and trying to keep it calm for Jamie’s sake.  “Let me do the talking.”  Jamie’s only response was to increase the hold she had on Annie’s arm.
     Annie turned the key in the ignition one click, then pushed the button beside her and lowered the window about three inches.  She had a sense of a tall figure; face fairly concealed by the brim of a cowboy hat, his chin almost buried in the folds of the collar of his yellow rain slicker.
     “Lady, what the blazes do you think you’re doing?  I could have plowed into you.  Why don’t you at least have your flashers on to warn other drivers of the hazard?” 
     The voice was a deep rumble and nothing remotely kind in it.  So much for the Texas friendliness she had read about.  Irritation began to rise as her sense of fear began to subside to a lesser degree.  Did he think she wanted to be there?
     “I did have my lights on until I realized they were drawing my battery down.  If help came along and we were able to get unstuck, I knew I needed to be able to have my car actually move.  Sorry, we inconvenienced you.  If you can tell me where to find the nearest house, I can get help.”
     The word ‘we’ registered in Wade’s brain and he moved the flashlight, shining it on the speaker briefly, noting deep green eyes and lots of dark lashes in a pale face, before moving to the smaller female huddled in the passenger side, her face clearly registering fear, her hands locked on the upper arm of the driver.  He experienced a pang of instant remorse for being so heavy handed with the pair, but it was a miserable evening all the way around.
     “The nearest house happens to be Lomax Ranch.  Even if you found the gate, which is another four miles ahead, you wouldn’t be able to get through it without a code.”
     “My cell has no signal out here.  Do you have a radio in your truck by any chance?”
     “No, I don’t,” he replied shortly.  “Look, you two can’t stay here like this.  Someone else could come along and hit you or run off the road trying to miss you like I almost did.  More importantly, the creek behind you has gone over the banks and blocked the road by now and the river a few miles in front of you hasn’t even crested yet, and it’s already way past flood stage.  You’re essentially cut off.”
     The news was almost the last straw for Annie.  She was tired, her bones ached, and her throat was growing more painful by the moment.  She had tried to ignore the signs of impending illness for the last two days of their travel, but she could feel her last energy draining away much the same as her car battery had done.  What was she supposed to do? 
     “Look, Mr. Whoever-you-are, instead of giving me bad news, do you think you might try to act like John Wayne, instead of just dressing like him, and tell me how I can find help?”  Her chin came up, as did her voice.  She summoned every last ounce of strength she had to face the arrogant stranger.
     The light from Wade’s flashlight, which he held to the side, so as not to blind the two in the car, did pick up the flare of brightness that sparked from the eyes in his direction.  The woman had some spirit in her; he had to give her that.  He also felt something strange flit across his senses as he watched the eyes attempt to put him in his place.  No one had ever dared to come close to doing that, at least not someone who wasn’t related to him, and even then it was only his aunt who could get away with it. Wade supposed he deserved her remarks and that was an irritant also. He needed to take charge of the situation and settle it as soon as possible so they could all get on their way.
     “I’m going to pull my truck closer. Then I’ll get you both transferred inside it and get you to the Lomax Ranch. This storm is going to get worse before it gets better.  We need to all get out of it. Gather up the things you must have this evening, and get ready to move.  I’ll be right back for you.”  He didn’t wait for a reply, but went trudging back through the rain and the deepening water to his truck, his body almost bent double against the howling winds.
     “Are we seriously going with him? Why can’t we just stay here?’  Her little sister’s voice ended on a tremble.  She was trying to be brave but was having a battle of it.
     “There isn’t much of a choice, Jamie.  Just remember our story and let me do the talking when we get there.  At the very least, it will be a dry, safe place for a few hours.  Get your bag from the backseat.”
     “How do you know it’s a safe place?  He could be an axe murderer or something.”
     Annie shook her head.  Up to a few weeks ago, she would have asked her sister where she got such ideas in her head or told her she watched too many of the wrong movies on cable.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t from television her sister had gathered her experience with the darker side of human nature.  Annie hadn’t been able to protect her from that.
     “Sometimes, you just have to go with gut instincts.  For whatever reason, I think this man is just a Good Samaritan that was sent our way to help us out of this spot we landed in.  Maybe he’s a guardian angel in disguise. We just need to be thankful he came along when he did.  We’ll get help for our car and soon be on our way again.”
     The truck pulled beside the driver’s side of the car, leaving enough room for the doors to open and allow him room to maneuver between them. With a movement of his hand, he indicated she needed to unlock her door.  Once opened, he leaned in and motioned for her to hand over the two small bags and their purses.  With quick steps, he secured them in the back seat of his truck and soon returned to the door.  “The water is cold and getting deeper.  I’ll carry you over to the truck.  Who’s first?”
     Annie turned to Jamie.  “Crawl over me and you go first.  Be quick.  It’s okay.”  She reassured the girl with a smile she was far from feeling.
     Jamie moved, hesitantly at first, until the man could get a hold on her and then she was lifted quickly and carried to the large truck, disappearing into the back seat, the door closing behind her. 
     Within a matter of moments, he had returned. Two arms reached out for her next and Annie raised her arms and slid them over a pair of broad shoulders, and around a strong column of neck. Automatically, with the sting of rain hitting, she buried her face as best she could against a wet shoulder.  Reaching the truck, he swung her around to enable her to slide onto the seat just as a loud clap of thunder shook the ground again and lightning lit up the skies, turning the darkness into almost an eerie daylight.  Annie’s face came up, and her eyes widened in her face as she looked up into the face just inches from hers. 
     Dark eyes set in a strong face of high cheek bones, straight nose, and a squared chin bore into hers, equally assessing of her, quietly watchful.  Another streak of lightning came, and she caught her breath in her throat. A slight turn of his head and she saw the scar that arced from just above his right eyebrow downward to disappear into the hair above his ear.  It was wider than most and jagged. Moving her eyes away from it in a self-conscious sweep, she caught the look in his eyes at that moment, the sardonic twist of his chiseled mouth.  He dropped her into the seat and stepped back, his hand going to the door of the truck. 
      “Don’t worry.  I may look like a monster, but I’m not.  At least not one you need to worry about.”  The door shut between them.  She could see him step back to her car, securing the doors.
     “Who is he, Annie?”  Came the small whisper from the back seat.  “Did you see his face?  How do you suppose that happened?  Maybe a fight?”
     “Shhhhh,” Annie responded.  “It’s not the outside of someone that matters, remember?  It’s none of our business either.  All we need to know about him is that he’s helping us when he doesn’t actually have to do so.”
     “You’re right.  I just wish we could go home.”  The wistful voice faded into the backseat.
     “So do I, honey.” Annie whispered the words to herself more than to anyone else. Except, she knew there was no home left to go back to…and none in front of them.  She had no idea where home would ever be again.

Have a wonderful weekend and you can expect another excerpt from one of my soon-to-be-published books in the upcoming days!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Release Date!!

It has happened!  Stephanie, my publisher at Astraea Press, told me that my first book will be released on July 29th!!! I am excited....and ill!  LOL  It is coming closer...the beginning of this journey as an author.  Writing is the major part of it all and I have been doing that for the last three years.  The other part of writing is the part where you must be a social media expert.  I am a novice at that and I will make some mistakes along the way...I am told everyone does.
One huge step I took today....inviting people to join my street team.  My street team will be a special group and already, based on those who immediately stepped up and volunteered...they are special.  The street team is charged with getting the word out about my books.  Since the first book will be digital, they spread the word throughout their friend networks....via facebook, twitter, instagram, phone calls, emails, you name it.  They ask all their friends to do the same and spread the word through their contacts, etc.  It is a domino effect.  If I have a paperback or hardback book come out....then they would add dropping into the local B & N or bookstore or library and asking them to please carry my books!
In return, my street team gets to know about my latest books before anyone else...they get to read excerpts ahead of everyone there will be swag bags and giveaways along the way.  So it's good to be a part of my street team!!
When I have my cover art...I will unveil it here on my blog first.  Please follow my website if you haven't already and do make comments here if you feel so moved.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Social Whirl

Here I am....still whirling from my spin on the social media merry-go-round.  Being a novice writer, soon to be published, I am still learning all sorts of things about the publishing world.  One of the most confusing and more than a little terrifying...and time the amount of social media avenues one must be aware of and participate in.
Don't get me wrong.  I want to communicate with my readers/friends.  That is how I see those readers who choose to pick up one of my books and actually read it and hopefully, want to read more of my work...not just readers but as new friends.  The type of friends I would give a shout to and say pull up a rocking chair on my shady porch, have a glass of my sweet iced tea, kick off your shoes, and sit a spell....then we would spend hours talking about all sorts of things from family to recipes to world woes to our favorite books and more.  Don't you just love those sort of afternoons and visits with your girlfriends?
Anyway, that's how I see my social media going.  It begins with my blog...which in this case, will serve as my shady front porch with its view of Texas sunsets and nice, brisk west Texas breezes!  There will be a hint of my sweet roses and honeysuckle wafting on the early evening as the sun sinks lower and then later we'll catch the first fireflies...or lightning bugs as I have always called them in the early summer evening as they flit here and there in the growing darkness.

My Facebook is up and ready for you to stop by and hopefully give a LIKE to it before you leave.  I tweet on Twitter also....@debraholtbooks.  If you like one of my tweets, please give it a retweet and even favorite it if you will.  However, this spot will be our comfy "sit and stay a spell" place.  If you stop by, feel free to tell me about yourself...important things...silly things...hopes and dreams....whatever moves you! 

In the meantime....I'll keep writing my latest manuscript.  In the weeks to come, you'll find excerpts  from some of my about-to-be published books and those that are waiting for publishing homes.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rules for Writing

There are rules for writing.  Sometimes too many rules.  Rules depend on who is stating them at any given time.  There are rules that make me see RED....and get me up on my soapbox....such as those dealing with POV.  But that is a topic for another time.
In researching some things about rules for writing, I came across something Raymond Chandler said:  "I have made three rules of writing for myself that are absolutes: Never take advice. Never show or discuss a work in progress. Never answer a critic."
I agree with the second and third one.  I never allow anyone but my critique buddy/line editor to see my work in progress....not even my family.  It is a quirk of mine and proud of it.
Never answer a critic....well, I don't have any of those...YET.  Only because my two books have not made it through the publishing phases yet.  Once they are out, I am certain there will be those people who will expound on things wrong.  I will not waste time on those reviews.  My words are mine.  Read them, enjoy them or not.  They stand.
As for the first one....never take advice.  I can't go with that one hundred per cent.  I have taken advice...gladly...from other writers, my agents, etc.  I listen to what they say....I think it over....I either agree with it and use it to the betterment of myself as a writer....or not.  But I welcome advice. I smile and thank the giver and I either keep the advice or toss it.
One thing is a certainty in this winding, bumpy, pot-holed marred road of writing....I continue to learn and shape my craft.  Looking back at manuscripts I wrote three years ago and comparing to what I know!  So thanks to the advice givers....and those of you who became my teachers along the way.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

On the road to publishing....

First let me say that Paula, my editor at Astraea Press, is AWESOME.  I was afraid at first...wondering what sort of person I would be assigned, or rather, whose hands my baby would be placed into for dissection.  Paula took my manuscript, and me, by the hand and led us down the unfamiliar path.  There were times when I did want to cry...STOP!  When I didn't want to hear another word about POV (there will be a LOT more about my views on POV during blogs to come), and a time I just wanted to say, NO MORE!

I found I had to do some re-writing of scenes or conversations that I didn't want to do, but I had agreed to follow the contract, so I had to abide by it.  Warning....if you cannot turn loose of your manuscript and place it in someone else's hands and step back and let it go...then reconsider this whole publishing thing.  It will invariably happen to you... you will be asked to make changes you don't want or agree with.  If you can't be flexible, the road will be very rough for you. Publishers will also share the fact you are an author who is difficult with other publishers....YES, they do talk to each other.

In the end, I learned SO MUCH from Paula.  It has made me a better writer and that is always the goal... to improve with each book you write. I had an editor who cared not only about my book and my characters, but about me too. I was blessed!

Now, that book, Under Texas Blue Skies, has passed through the editor stage and is now in the Proofing stage.  I am certain there will be more lessons to come my way.  Bring them on!

Writing is my happy place....

Yes, it has been almost a month since I last blogged.  However, in my defense, a LOT has happened in my personal, non-writer life.  My husband's health issues went into high drive and to a critical stage. Thankfully, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel and it is a good one!  We must take it one day at a time, but we will do it.

As for my writing, I have made a discovery during all this medical crisis... it is my happy place to go to when I need to get away from people and things.  Sitting in a hospital waiting room, or a doctor's office, or even in a car waiting on a pharmacy order to be can write!  Some people think writers are an odd lot.  Perhaps we are... but I know writing keeps me sane in the most insane of moments in my life.

My prescription for you.... keep writing.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Still Writing...

I'm still here...still writing...still trying to learn all the ins and outs of the publishing world.  That is a never ending experience!  In a perfect world, I would be able to quit my day job...although I LOVE it. I would then be able to devote my entire day to writing on my manuscripts.  At present, I have two that I am working on.  I also have two that I am trying to re-edit and get back to my agent so they can get out to those wonderful editors who will hopefully fall in love with them and offer contracts (another perfect world example). That would also give me time to learn all about the social media needed to promote my books once they hit the marketplace.  Unless you are lucky enough to be contracted with a major publishing house, you will have to do a lot of promoting of your work on your own.  Start educating yourself WAY before your books are published!  That is the perfect world.
In my real world, I work 8 hours a day, go home and begin writing for another 4 hours.  On weekends, unless there is a football game (part of my work), I am writing for ten to fourteen hours on Saturday and Sunday.  I am lucky in that both my children are grown....however, that does not mean they do not require my attention....they still do, just now it is for grown-up stuff!  My husband is in the mix too.  We are going through some medical issues right now that has curtailed my writing somewhat, but the stories don't pay attention to that fact.  Sitting in the doctor's office, waiting and waiting, a new storyline comes along and naturally I am searching for paper (left my notebook at home) and pen and end up writing new book notes on a brown paper bag!  Where there is a will....and a story that won't stay out of my brain...there is always a way to write!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Acts of kindness....

Writing is a lonely occupation.  We have all heard that and it is very true...for the most part. However, my journey has many helpers along the way.  I would give some advice to novice writers....look to your friends...what talents do you have surrounding you?  I am constantly amazed by those who have stepped up to offer to help out with a website design, or advertising know how, or connections in the community to get the word out about my books.  It is all the more special to me because they volunteered their talents to help me achieve my dream.  So look around you and you may just find that you are not alone on your writing journey.  Never take these wonderful souls for granted!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

When do I get to write?

Okay....trying to stay faithful to this blogging venue.  It has been two very eventful days in this writer's life.  First of all.....PUBLISHER'S MARKETPLACE.  For two years, I have read this every day....envious of all those authors and their books that had been bought by a publisher and soon to be published for the world to read.  February 18th...THE day.  PM listed both of my books on that day on their page.  I have arrived!  LOL  Check off the bucket list.  If I am on that page...must mean I am now an author.  Okay, so my thinking may not make perfect sense to a lot of you, but it does to me...and to those handful of my friends who DO know me and understand perfectly...and love me anyway!

The downside of all this?  I have not had but a handful of time to actually...write!  I have spent hours trying to research and read all I can about social media and how to market my brand and build my reader base.  Of course, my books are not out yet but now is when I have to build the base I have found out.  Sounds good, but how to do it.  I am still trying to find that out.  This will, I fear, be a slow process and those who know me...know that I HATE slow.  I also HATE technology.  So we may be doomed.....

I also want to point out...I believe in giving a hand up to others who are newbie writers so I will share whatever I can to help make it smoother going for you.  This blog is my venue for that.  It is also MY venue to vent, to question, to whine, to laugh, to share....whatever comes into my mind.  That is a scary thing as my friends can tell you.  If something helps you...great.  If this isn't for you...thanks for stopping by and hope you find what you are looking for.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

In the beginning....

In the beginning, there was this novice...would-be writer.  Me.  Two years later, I am still a novice.  I believe I will be that for some time to come.  However, I am learning something new each day.  My journey began two years ago (again). One of these days, I'll explain what I mean by that.  For now, I have opened this blog site for those who want to read my ramblings and hopefully, join in when you feel so moved.  I have two books, both contemporary romances, that are about to be published.  I have an agent...or should I say both agents are working on my behalf and that is super and a learning experience in itself.  This blog is non-judgmental and my own thoughts.  I will try to be faithful to it but if I fall behind, that means I am busy writing on my other books I hope to have published also.  Until then....I keep writing.  I urge you all to do the same....just write!