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A lesson in perseverance

My second novel, The Ones We Trust, comes out in less than three weeks. Three weeks! I have a million things to do before the launch, and less than three weeks to do them in. You’d think I’d be better prepared, seeing as I wrote the first draft of this book all the way back in 2009.9780778317869_TS_prd_rev

Yes, you read that right. This little baby hasn’t officially been born yet, and already she’s six years old. If she were human, she’d be walking, going to school, and reading at a third-grade level already. She’d have adult teeth! She was also the first novel I ever actually completed.

Here’s a harsh truth about getting published: hardly any writer ever sells their first book. The first one is generally considered a practice novel, the one where you learn as you go and make lots of mistakes along the way, the biggest thinking anyone would ever want to read it besides your mother. You’re supposed to write it, shove it in a box under your bed, and move on to the next one, one where you actually (kinda sorta) know what you’re doing. I was fully prepared to do that, too, except this story wouldn’t leave me alone. It kept whispering to me from under the bed. Fix me, it said. I have a story to tell.

So I rewrote it, and then I rewrote it again and again (and again). I fixed the tone and the voice, matured my main character, Abigail, deepened her backstory to intensify the conflict. I added a subplot and a whole slew of new characters. I killed my darlings and switched genres, multiple times. I lost a lot of sleep and I shed a lot of tears.

In the end, one plotline never changed—the slain soldier’s story. Though we never actually meet him on the page, The Ones We Trust is built around what, exactly, happened to him on the battlefield. His family needs to know in order to move on, and Abigail is determined to help them by uncovering the truth. This plotline was the crux of every single rewrite, a red thread leading the way.

We writers talk a lot about how some stories need to be told. This was one of them. The little story that could. It took me six years and a million wasted words, but when it hits the shelves in three short weeks, all the work will be worth it.

On letting go

1155x510-amsterdam-6About a month ago, I did something I swore I would never do. With only 15,000 words to go until The End, I walked away from a manuscript. Just…closed the file and let it go. I guess you could say I gave up on it.

It’s not that that story wasn’t good, because it was. But with two published books under my belt, I now know a book is not just about the words on the page. It’s about a solid hook and unique characters and market trends and a pretty cover and all those millions of things big and small that all add up into a publisher’s ability to sell that sucker. And as much as I loved this story when I set out to write it, somewhere in the process it lost a little of its sparkle. Somewhere along the way, I’d lost the thrill in writing it. Even so, I was determined. Finish or bust, because the alternative seemed so much worse. All those words and time wasted.

And yet?

And yet.

Around the same time, a new idea began brewing in my head. The characters were real, and boy were they vocal. They began talking in my head, and they wouldn’t shut up. The stories they tell me are heartbreaking and shocking and so much better than the story I was struggling to finish. Any writer will attest: when characters like that come along–when a story grabs you by the guts and refuses to let you go–you better believe you sit down and write it. I opened up my laptop, and the words started flowing. This new story is killing me a little to write, but then again, those are the best stories.

Maybe I’ll pick up that old story again, and maybe I won’t. But first I’m going to finish this one, because it’s awesome.

ps. What does that picture of Amsterdam have to do with my new story? Absolutely nothing. But it was pretty, and I thought you might like it. 😉

My New Releases

Very excited to have two new releases to announce! Ladd Christmas is book #6 in my Ladd Springs series. After traveling the globe on an extended honeymoon, Nick and Delaney Harris have returned home for Christmas. Eight months pregnant, Delaney can’t imagine being anywhere but Tennessee when she gives birth.  Ladd Christmas reunites your favorite characters from the Ladd Springs series with a blend of crisis, faith and love…and new beginnings.

Ladd Christmas_MED

Not Without You is book #1 in my new and upcoming series, Silver Creek. Set in a fictional ski resort village against the wild landscape of the Rocky Mountains, each novel in my new Silver Creek series features a romantic adventure sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

From the unspoiled beauty of alpine trails to the well-funded cobblestone streets of Silver Creek, these eco-minded heroines combat controversy, danger—even the unexpected romance—in their quest to empower those without a voice. Nature remains supreme in this bold and beautiful country. But is it true what they say, love can conquer all? When the human spirit is involved, anything is possible…

Battling a killer in high country and an undeniable attraction between them, grad student Lisa Richardson and Marine survivalist McIntyre Walsh must work together if they intend to get off the mountain alive in book #1, Not Without You.

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After a fun start with my Facebook Release Party, I can’t wait to see how the New Year unfolds!

 

 

Celebrate!

I find myself whipping through the holidays against my every intention to slow down and enjoy the moment. I want to consume the scent of evergreen–something we don’t get a lot of here in Florida–and linger in the beauty of the lights, the magic, the meaning of the season. My children have been counting the days, of course, hardly able to contain themselves as they anxiously await the big night. (Who knew there was something called Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve?) Thank goodness the actual day has arrived!

gingerbread house

It’s a beautiful time of year, one we celebrate with friends and family, sharing our hearts and time, contemplating our blessings. It’s a time to give, a time to receive, a time to take stock in where we’ve been, where we’re going and what it all means. This year has been a whirlwind for me. I’ve completed my new series, Ladd Springs, releasing book 5 out of 5 later this month. It’s been exciting, exhausting, challenging and rewarding but well worth it. Now, I take time to breathe and simply “be” before continuing the process of marketing and brainstorming the next set of books from Dianne Venetta. (Does it ever end? ;))

Kids are great

Hopefully not. Hopefully, for as long as I’m living and breathing I will have the spirit of creativity in my heart, the passion that sustains me and gives back in the form of entertaining stories which provide escape and release from the everyday stress and strain of life. We all have busy lives. We live in a time where technology propels our minds at the speed of light and thrusts us from activity to activity, goal to goal. I, for one, am taking a breather. If only for a day, an evening, a moment, I’m jumping off the “merry-go-round” of obligation and duty and sitting calmly at home with my husband and children.

Trying to, anyway, and I hope the same for you. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year. See you in 2014!

Wild Things, You Make My Heart Zing

We live on a tiny acreage on the outskirts of a small town on the Canadian prairies. Behind our property is miles of grain fields interspersed with huge patches of dense bush and a creek which meanders through it all. So when we have visitors of the four legged variety, it should come as no surprise and yet….

The other night, unable to sleep in our too warm house, I decided to slip outside, sit on the deck, and star gaze. Out the back door I went, the squeak of the hinges magnified by the silence of the night. As I closed the door and turned toward the yard, an enormous shape caught my attention.

My heart pounded in my chest. My legs vibrated with fear. I stood there frozen and eyed the creature staring back at me. It was only a moose but still, if it charged, would I be able to get back into the house before it cornered me on the deck and ate me?

(Yes, I know, moose are vegetarians but I’m a writer, hence I have a very vivid and exaggerated imagination.)

Unmoving, I stared at the moose. Unmoving, it stared back at me. Out the corner of my eye, something moved in the dark and I noticed a second moose just a few feet away from the deck where I stood. Silence swelled around us, thick with tension, fraught with the unspoken question … who would bolt first?

I did, of course, because I’m not only a few hundred pounds less than they are, but I’m also a bigger fraidy cat. I summoned the courage to unstick my feet from the deck floor and hightailed it back into the house where I flitted from window to window, checking out our visitors with the binoculars, trying to see them with only a sliver of moonlight shining on their huge bodies.

But then a third moose joined the first two and now that the humanly threat had vanished, they proceeded to consume the leaves from my roses and fruit trees, until finally they bedded down in the yard for the night. The next morning, they’d left behind proof of their presence, little piles of dark pellet turds all over the green grass.

Thanks for the thoughtful gifts, Wild Things.

 Will they be back? As I write this post, I’m watching for them, wondering not if, but when they’ll return.  It’s not the first time a moose has wandered into the yard and so close to the house.

What wild creatures have you seen up close? What did you do and how did you react?

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