A Hunter's Angel, A Hunter's Blade, Writing Wednesdays

Dreams Do Come True

When I was seventeen, I dreamed of the day I’d see my name on a cover of a published book. Back then, I was pretty idealistic about a lot of things. I planned to go to college and become a social studies teacher. I’d written my first book and of course, as soon as it was rewritten (I’d written the original in two notebooks) it would become a best-seller. George Bush was president… Not W but H. Big hair—really BIG hair was in style. Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet. Home computers took up over half of your desk space—a really BIG desk—cost a small fortune. And arcade Pac Man on the Atari and the Rubrics Cube were the games of choice.

Of course, I never dreamed I wouldn’t be able to find a job after graduating college with that secondary social studies education degree, or that I’d end up changing careers which meant going to college—again. Nor did I count on not having time to rewrite that “masterpiece” in those two notebooks by typing them in my brand new internet capable computer. School, working two jobs, kids and life got in the way of my writing. And for twenty years I’d put the dream of being a writer out of my head—but never out of my heart and soul.

Then, I dreamed up a story that wouldn’t let me alone. It wasn’t an original story; it was my first Star Wars fan fiction novel, a romance titled Always Have, Always Will. I still remember the exact day I posted the first chapter on the fan fiction forum board on the fan supported site, The Force. Net. It was December 15, 2005. I’d written the story months before in a notebook. It is full of mistakes—both technical and craft, but fan fiction readers don’t really care about those if the story is good. And I have the comments to let me know the story was at least decent enough.

Writing that story and the roughly forty others that came after it, some of them winning fan voted awards, gave me the confidence I needed to make my dream come true.

I’m thrilled to say today is my forty-third birthday, and my dream has come true. I not only have my name on one book cover, but I have my name (or pen name) on three book covers. With more to come.

No, I may not be on the New York Times Bestsellers list, but I’m published. I’ve gotten reviews that have made me cry because of how much the reviewer/reader loved my characters and stories. I’ve met some wonderful fellow writers who have become lifelong friends.

With everything life has thrown at me between my seventeenth year of life to now, I never ever really gave up on becoming a writer. It didn’t happen the way I thought it would. I’m not even writing the fiction I always dreamed I would. I thought I’d write mainstream historical stuff in the vein of John Jakes, James Michener, Alex Haley and Margaret Mitchell. I’d write sweeping historical sagas, not contemporary and paranormal romance novels. I never dreamed I’d be a romance writer. Heck, I didn’t even read romance until about ten years ago. But that is exactly what I am and proud of it!

So, if I have one motto it is never give up, never stop trying, and never stop learning. You never know just how your dream will come true, but if you don’t give up, it will.


A Hunter's Angel, Writing Wednesdays

One Month and Counting….

Today starts the one-month countdown to the release of A Hunter’s Angel

I’m beyond excited.

I’m beyond scared shitless.

And I’m beyond overwhelmed.

But this is (to steal a line my alter ego Sara might put in one of my Westerns) this is one rodeo I wouldn’t want to miss, no matter how many times I fall off the bronco.

I have a lot planned for the release and will give more details as July 20 draws closer.  I’m doing a blog tour. I plan to throw a month-long party and you get the prizes!

I’ll be giving away copies of my short story Bloodwine, and hopefully I will have the short story, Pierre’s Ghost (working title), published and will be giving copies of it away, too.

I also will be giving away an angel wing necklace and several pairs of earrings and a few charm bracelets.

At least four $5 gift certificates from The Wild Rose Press.

And at least two $25 gift cards from Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice).

Lastly, I started a newsletter and would love for you all to sign up… One lucky subscriber will win an PDF copy of A Hunter’s Angel (to be announced on August 1).  Click here for the form.


The serial killer stalking Clayton, Pennsylvania, isn’t all that has Chief of Police Grace Wallace worried. For a year, she’s tried to forget Special Agent Ian McHenry and now he’s the expert the FBI sent to catch the killer. She can’t stay away from him, but something primal is telling her to run to save much more than just her heart. Despite the strict code of ethics Ian vowed to follow as a vampire hunter, he craves Grace’s blood above all others. If he chooses to stay, Ian risks losing his chance at divine forgiveness. But if he leaves Grace unprotected from the evil he’s hunted for over a century, he loses more than just his soul…

Writing Wednesdays

Getting Back into the Groove

It seems since forever since I wrote anything for Writing Wednesday… FOREVER. This spring has been brutal. I found myself being extra busy with work, busy with stuff around the house, and not writing much. Not reading much either…

The good news, I signed three contracts since mid-April. Book two of my Hunter’s Dagger Series, A Hunter’s Blade, will be hopefully released this fall/winter by The Wild Rose Press. Book one of The Colton Gamblers, Gambling On a Secret (formally “Butterfly”) has a tentative release of January 2013, and in May 2013, Heartstrings (formally “The Long Road Home”) will also be released by Lyrical Press and will be published under my real name Sara Walter Ellwood. Of course, I’m now neck deep in edits.

However, I’m faced with trying to find my mojo again. I seem to be faltering big time. I started A Hunter’s Wing, book three of my Hunter’s Dagger Series, but it isn’t going easy. I’m also working on edits/revisions for book two of the Gamblers, but it, too, is going slow. Really, I feel lost.

When I sit and stare at my blinking curser wondering what the hell I’m going to write, I fear if I’ll ever produce another book. I’ve had writer’s block before, but this is different.

But what the heck, I’ve sold four books in seven months. I’m fairly confident my editor will buy the second book of my Western series. I like what I’m putting on “paper” so far of Wings. I liked the short story series I wrote to promote A Hunter’s Angel next month. I’m happy about my short story I self-published. So, I don’t understand why I feel so lost. So afraid that this is it.

Has anyone else ever felt like this? And if you have how the hell did you break through the barrier holding you back?

Writing Wednesdays

What Shall I Call It?

Have you ever asked yourself this question about the title of your story? Sometimes coming up with the right one can be as painful as coming up with the story.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about my books… When aren’t I talking about my books? Anyway, she asked me a question that got me to thinking about where my titles come from and why.

I have friends who don’t title their manuscripts because they think their publishers will change them anyway. I don’t buy this—sure some will, but I think it depends on the title and how it’s entrenched in the book. I remember reading a blog article by Stephanie Myers, author of the Twlight series. Each one of her titles is a metaphor.  Twlight speaks to the beginning of Bella’s life as she falls in love with a vampire. New Moon reflects the darkness Bella feels when Edward leaves her. Eclipse is about Jacob overshadowing Edward and Bella having to chose. And finally, New Dawn.  Bella’s becoming a vampire and fully awaking as a fulfilled person. Yeah, hate to admit it, I’m a fan…

I’m very particular about my titles. And though, I often come up with them long before I write my first words of the story, they all have thematic or metaphoric meanings.

The book title my friend and I were discussing is Butterfly, book one of the Cowboys of Colton and will be published under Sara Walter Ellwood. She wondered why I’d title a contemporary Western romantic suspense such a name. It’s easy… It’s a metaphor.  The hero and heroine go through a metamorphous in the story. They turn their ugly selves into something beautiful—like a caterpillar turns into a butterfly.

Book two of the Cowboys of Colton series is titled The Hardest Words to Say. Yes, it’s a mouthful, and the one title I didn’t come up with before I wrote the book. The hero and heroine had their lives go completely astray because they were afraid to say three very simple words to each other, and now that they have a second chance, they almost do it again.  Hence, to them they are the hardest words to say…

Right now I’m rewriting The Long Road Home. Another contemporary Western.  The plot is totally different in this version, but the theme hasn’t changed. Both my hero and heroine travel a long road back to each other (home).  I’ve been kicking around alternative titles for this story, which would allow me to resubmit it to publishers who have read the previous version and rejected it, but none have spoken to me.  So, I’ll probably keep the title I came up with long before I even named my hero and heroine.

The titles of the books in my paranormal series, The Hunter’s Daggers, are very metaphoric in meaning.  And never once has my editor suggested I change the titles. A Hunter’s Angel, A Hunter’s Blade and A Hunter’s Wings actually have multiple meanings. In A Hunter’s Angel, it’s obvious that the angel is probably the heroine, but it also means redemption, which is the one thing the hero could deny himself if he chooses to love the heroine. In A Hunter’s Blade, the blade symbolizes what the hero wants to be, but when it comes down to it, the blade isn’t at all what he thinks it is. It’s learning to cut a new life out of the unknown, which includes falling in love and finding out he was wrong about himself. The wings in A Hunter’s Wings to the banished angel heroine means getting back her way home to Heaven. But as she protects the hero from himself and from the demon she’s hunted for two-thousand years, wings take on something neither of them has ever felt—true love which could keep her grounded forever.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.  Do your titles have deeper meanings? Or do just hope your editor won’t title your book something stupid?

Writing Wednesdays

Rolling With the Unexpected

Cross-posted from Romance Writer Sara Walter Ellwood.

Last Saturday, I posted a blog about setting deadlines

Well, I just had my previous deadline completely blown out of the water.

The unexpected happened.

I got a request for a book that I pitched last month—quite frankly on a whim. I know lucky…And, it would be if it was completely ready to go. But right now I feel frantic.

It’s not. I have some editing to do. I have about four thousand words I need to delete and some facts to change. But I plan to get the thing up to snuff by this time next week.

To be honest, I expected the book to be rejected.  Why?  Because it has not been submitted anywhere else. When I had an agent, she’d read it, but did nothing with it. She said she liked it, but wasn’t sure where to submit it. And since getting the book back, I haven’t had time to do anything with it. I was dealing with getting A Hunter’s Angel editor-requested edits done and A Hunter’s Blade written. I’m esatic to get a full request on the very first time it’s been shopped around.

Now, hopefully she’ll want to contract it.

After I get it ready to submit…

Writing Wednesdays

Missing Old Friends

Cross-posted from Sara Walter Ellwood.

This weekend someone posted this picture on Facebook.

It instantly reminded me of my character Logan Cartwright from my Cowboys of Colton Series. Logan is the younger brother of ex-rodeo cowboy, ex-Marine and current Colton Sheriff Zack Cartwright, the hero of The Hardest Words to Say.  Besides being a hunky aspiring country singer, Logan is a top-notch divorce lawyer. He’s funny and smart and can rock a stage with his band Texas Justice, ride a horse and wield a lariat with the best of them, or put a slim-ball husband in his place in the courtroom for his clients.

I also posted six sentences from Butterfly, book one of the series, for Six Sentence Sunday, which got me thinking about that book again. When I received a request from Lyrical Press after pitching the book to an editor, I started to re-edit the book, but I haven’t taken it seriously. I’ve been putting it off to focus on my rewrite of The Long Road Home. Now, I’m more anxious than ever to start working on it again, regardless of what happens with the request. I’m still waiting to hear back.

I realized how darned much I miss the people who make up Colton. Not just Charli and Dylan from Butterfly, but also Tracy and Zack from The Hardest Words to Say (book 2), and Lance, Rachel, Audrey, Wyatt and Dawn from yet-to-be-written A Wife’s Last Wish (book 3). I even miss nosy Winnie Cartwright and the villains Leon, Jake and his obnoxious brother Brent.

All this reminded me how much I love Colton, Texas, with its rich history of three first cousins returning from the defeated Confederate Army and heading west where they win an entire county in a poker game. To the modern day descendants, who live and love and feud in this place. The Fergusons/Carters, the Cartwrights and the dysfunctional branch of the ancestry tree—the Blackwells.

But what that picture did was get me excited about my stories again. I’m anxious to get Butterfly re-edited, The Hardest Words to Say revised, and A Wife’s Last Wish written. And the last two books—Logan’s story, tentatively titled—Summer’s Song and the last book Having Faith planned and finished.

Has anything as unlikely as just a photo or a song got you re-excited about something you’d put on the back burner to work on something else? Or do I just have too many irons in the fire, as my granny would have said?

Writing Wednesdays

Breaking the Rules

I have a good friend, another writer, who always seems to doubt herself because she’d read or heard a rule somewhere that a writer can’t do this or should do that. I’m not much of a rule follower. I love to bend and break the rules. I don’t like being told I can’t do something, or worse, that I have to do something I don’t agree with. I’m like this with my writing, too.

I do follow the rules—the elements—that make sense. I strive to show rather than tell my stories, primarily because it makes for a more engaging story. Same goes for getting into the deepest POV I can and limiting passive voice. Some trends, like not head-hoping, makes for a more satisfying read, but often comes down to author’s choice. Grammar, usage and punctuation rules are as ageless as the spoken language and are there for a damned good reason. Let’s face it if it wasn’t for the comma the sentence “Let’s eat, Grandma” takes on a completely different meaning. It only makes sense to follow certain formulas that are important to writing a good, satisfying romance novel or not to stick all of the back-story into the first chapter.

Good craft is essential to having a story that will sell, not just to that dream editor or agent, but also to the readers who will shell out their hard-earned moula to buy the book.  Personally, these are the people I’ve been given this talent, this drive to entertain. And in this day and age, an author has more opportunity than ever to get her or his stories in front of those readers.

However, there are a ton of “rules” out there that are nothing more than a particular editor’s or agent’s preferences and have nothing to do with true craft or even good writing. They write these preferences up into blog articles or get them published in some writing magazine… Or even teach them to a bunch of eager writers in workshops—all under the guise of “craft.”  But the important thing to remember is most of these so-called rules often have good solid contradictions.  And that my friends, should be the clue that this isn’t really a true element of good storytelling.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t follow all the agent’s blogs. I don’t fall all over what this editor says is the best way to write a book on Twitter or Facebook. I don’t care. Some elements are universal; these are the important ones to follow—the books to read. I’ve read Deb Dixon’s GMC because that book is just a guide to good storytelling. She didn’t come up with the concept of goals, motivation and conflict, the elements every story has to have; she simply put them into an easy to understand guideline. I had GMCs in my fan fictions and my very first novel (not A Hunter’s Angel but the one I wrote in high school) long before I even heard of Deb Dixon or GMC. I didn’t know what they were called, but they were always there. Not having them makes for a boring story. And yes, I wrote A Hunter’s Angel long before I read Deb’s book, too.

I read Self-Editing for the Fiction Writers (Browne and King) and learned a great deal about many of the elements of good writing, but none of these is new. I learned even more from my fantastic critique partners. And even more, long before I ever started writing for publication and since, from reading and analyzing my favorite authors. I’ve taken a few workshops on craft, but these focused on passive voice and showing vs telling; however, like with Dixon’s GMC, these elements were never new to storytelling.

I have a philosophy. It may be correct or it may be completely wrong. Following rules won’t get you published, telling a freaking good story will. I only strive to follow the rules that are essential to telling a freaking good story. I don’t care what editor is saying that the opening scene should have the heroine standing on her head. I don’t care what agent says she’ll only read stories that open on a Monday and should always end on a Friday. Or that you shouldn’t use semicolons or start stories with dialogue or should have your hero/heroine meet within the first three sentences.

Doing or not doing these things won’t get the story published any quicker if it has other faults. Sure, the acquiring  agent/editor might ask an author to change things. But if the true craft of storytelling falls short, it doesn’t matter how the story started or what happens between  “Once upon a time” and “They lived happily ever after,” getting it published will be difficult.

The key, in my opinion, isn’t how well an author follows the “rules,” but how well an author knows when to break them. Because even passive voice and telling instead of always showing have their place in the right story, but the author has to know, above anyone else, what’s right for the story. They have to know why they are moving away from these universal elements.

So, if a story calls for having the heroine not standing on her head and beginning on a Thursday and not Monday—go for it. If you like semicolons, use them. If you think the hero and heroine shouldn’t meet until the second chapter, do it. But an author shouldn’t ever do anything just because some editor out there wrote a blog article about how they think a story should be told.

Now, once an author signs on that dotted line, all bets are off. However if an explanation can be given as to why a “rule” was broken and it makes sense to the story, most likely, the editor or agent will see it the author’s way…I know my editor did.