Friday, December 02, 2016

My Alternatives to the Bullet Journal

I've been hearing a lot about "bullet journals" lately, so I decided to find out what they were and how they're used, especially since I am an "analog" person.  I checked it out and my reaction was, "Yikes!  That sounds way too complicated!"  Especially the fancy little "legends" and the index. 

Here's what I do:

1.  The to-do list:  I write this on the back of paper that would otherwise be recycled (in other words, old drafts of my manuscripts) that I cut in half and clip today with a hinge clip.  If something doesn't get done on that day, it goes on the list for the next day.  You could also use just a cheap blank journal, and then you could write notes in it, too, as seems to be a bullet journal thing.  But no fancy little legends for me.  If something's important, it goes to the top of the list.  Or gets circled.  And when the day is done or the list complete, the list goes into the recycle bin. 

2.  The calendar on the fridge:  This is a wall calendar with space enough for short notes hung on the fridge with magnets.  Onto this I write appointments, birthdays, events, etc.  Easy to see and seen often.

I also use sticky notes on the calendar.  I write notes to remind myself of important things to be done soon or by a certain date, or more info about an event, or to remember to take something to an event.  These are very visible and hard to miss.

3.  My purse datebook -- This is a 2-year monthly planner small enough to fit in my purse.  Since we spend time at the cottage, I need something portable, and this is it. I also keep phone numbers in it.

4.  Journals -- I don't write down what I do or have done every day, but I do use journals for things like home repair plans and estimates or party planning so I don't wind up with a bunch of notes scattered about the house.  Currently I'm keeping track of the Christmas gifts I've already purchased or will be purchasing.  The journal is not something I necessarily refer to every day, though, or would want to. 

So there you have it, my alternatives to the bullet journal.  Of course it means not everything is in one place, and that could be a downside, I suppose.  But the calendar on the fridge and sticky notes can be seen by everyone in the house.  I don't need to have the long term things like party planning/gift lists in the same place as my to-do lists, and I don't need to keep old to-do lists.

It's like writing, I guess.  Pick the method that works for you and if you get joy out of keeping a bullet journal, have at it!  But I don't think it's for me. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cover Reveal!

Here it is, the cover for my next Harlequin Historical, A MARRIAGE OF ROGUES, available January, 2017.

He made a dangerous wager...and won himself a wife.

Gambling hells are Sir Develin Drake's forte. Hunting risk, craving victory, he's surprised by nothing. Until the woman whose dowry Develin has claimed in a card game proposes the only solution that will rescue her from ruin: a wedding.

Wicked Develin isn't made for matrimony, but all Lady Theodora Markham demands is a convenient arrangement. He must avoid falling for his wife's sensual charms -- there are secrets hidden behind her beguiling gaze -- yet neither can resist surrendering to the passion their marriage bed promises!

Set in Regency England and not tied to any of my previous books.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mega Sale at Harlequin Historical!

Harlequin Historical is having a big backlist sale from October 18 - 25th.  The books will be $1.99 and many of my books are included.  The books on sale are digital editions, and the sale is only for the US and Canada.

Here's the list by time period:

Dark Age Britain:


Medieval -- My Warrior Series












Please note that I write each book to stand alone, so you won't feel lost if you haven't read any of the earlier ones in the series not currently available.

Medieval Trilogy:







(THE WASTREL and THE DARK DUKE are linked.)








And there are two medieval Christmas anthologies with a novella I wrote:

"The Twelfth Day of Christmas" in THE KNIGHTS OF CHRISTMAS

"Comfort and Joy" in THE CHRISTMAS VISIT

Now, I probably shouldn't do this, because I'm proud of all my books, but I'm going to note some of my personal favorites here, so if you haven't already read or can't buy them all, these are the ones I'd pick for you.

THE OVERLORD'S BRIDE is a personal favorite among my medievals.  I love this couple, and so did a lot of my readers.  For a long time, the  hero was simply known to me as "the Voice" (long before the show!) and if you read the book, you'll find out why.

My latest trilogy, CASTLE OF THE WOLF, BRIDE FOR A KNIGHT and SCOUNDREL OF DUNBOROUGH, has some of the more interesting family relationships I've ever written about.

Of my Regencies,  I have to give a special shout-out to THE WASTREL, in no small part because of the secondary characters.  I had a blast with them.  I also have a special place in my heart for the hero of THE VISCOUNT'S KISS, "Buggy" Bromwell.

I think the best novella I've written is "Comfort and Joy" in THE CHRISTMAS VISIT.

So, please check out my books and the many others on sale from Harlequin Historical, and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

So much happening....

I haven't been blogging in a while because I've had a lot going on.  Fortunately, and unlike last year, the reasons have been good.

I have two grandbabies now, so this "crafty" grandma has been busy sewing and crocheting, as well as visiting whenever possible.  

There's been some catching up on property maintenance during the warm weather after last year's serious medical crises.  My husband and my dad continue to do well, I'm happy to say, but some things did not get done that should have been and we've been dealing with that.  I've also been helping out my parents with grocery shopping, etc. and maintaining their cottage, too.  

Although not as exciting as having new babies in the family, having a new book coming out is always a thrill.  I hope to have the cover for my next historical romance set in Regency England,  A MARRIAGE OF ROGUES  (Feb. 2017) soon and I'll be posting here when I do.   And if you want to know more of what's going on with me, please follow me on Twitter (@MargMooreAuthor).

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Title and Release Date for my Next Book!


will be a  

February, 2017 

release from
Harlequin Historicals.


When Sir Develin Dundrake spent a night gambling, he didn’t expect marriage to be the result.  But he didn’t foresee the bold, passionate and determined Lady Thea either.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My Silver Writing Anniversary

April 2, 2016 is a milestone anniversary for me.  It was on April 2, 1991 that Tracy Farrell from Harlequin Historical phoned to tell me they wanted to buy my first book, A WARRIOR'S HEART.    I had volunteered in my daughter's kindergarten class that afternoon, so I didn't get the call until 4 pm.  It remains a vivid memory to this day.

So, what's changed most in publishing in those 25 years?  The arrival of a little thing called the internet, with both good and, from this author's point of view, not-so-good results.

First, the good:

No more having to reach for that dictionary, thesaurus or research book I may or may not have handy to check a word or a date.  No more spending days isolated from other writers, waiting until the next meeting of romance writers or a critique group to find a sympathetic ear.  The world of research and writers is at my finger tips -- and so are a vast array of writing and marketing tips.

Self-publishing.  Although I haven't ventured into self-publishing (except for a free novella on my website), this has opened the door to a wider variety of stories for other authors.  No more having to be subject to editorial notions of what will or will not sell.  Mind you, before I sold my first book, a medieval historical romance, I was told many times by many people that medievals will never sell.  My latest book (SCOUNDREL OF DUNBOROUGH) is a medieval and I've written many more medievals in between, so those dictates were never really carved in stone.  Nevertheless, it sure could be tough finding an editor willing to look at something "different."

Digital sales.  It used to be that a category romance had but one month to be available on store shelves (a concept that I had to explain many, many times, often to no avail).  Now they can be available in digital format forever.  Unfortunately, not all of my backlist books are available, including A WARRIOR'S HEART, but many of my older books are. 

Reader reviews.  Back in the day, when there were only one or two publications that reviewed romance, it was easy to believe that whatever a particular reviewer thought, all readers would think.  And thus a bad or mediocre review was to die a thousand deaths.  One thing the online world has shown me is the sheer variety of reactions to any particular book. And that's a good thing.

Reaching readers.  In the olden days, if an author wanted to have a newsletter, that meant printing and mailing and a lot of time and effort.  Now it can be done online.  And there are blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and more ways to reach readers. It's a do-it-yourself PR bonanza!  And it's (relatively) FREE.

Saving trees and fees.  Back in the day, a finished manuscript was a big pile of paper that had to get to the publisher either by mail or courier.  That went for revisions, copy edits and author alterations, too.  I didn't want to trust my precious manuscript to the mail, so I used FedEx.  One year my total billing from FedEx was over $800.  Kinda makes the cost of internet service not so bad, eh?

But for all the good about the internet when it comes to a career as a writer, there are some things not-so-good, at least for me.

Too much information.  What's hot?  What's not?  You must do this, you ought to do that, your story needs this, you shouldn't do that.  And on and on.  There have always been plenty of people willing to give writers well-meaning advice, but never have writers had so many sources.  But unless the advice rings true to you, I say write what ya gotta write, because at the end of the day, it's your name on the story.  And too many cooks really can spoil the broth by diluting your "voice,"  a writer's single most precious asset.

PR pressure -- whether from the publisher, agent or other writers, writers are being asked to do a lot of PR online.  Here's the thing:  I'm a writer, not a marketer.  If I wanted to work in marketing, I'd work in marketing and (presumably) have a steadier income.  (Sidebar:  I will never forget the look on the face of a financial planner when I explained that I had no idea how much I was going to earn in any year.  "No idea at all?" asked he in stunned disbelief.  "Nope, not a clue," I replied.  "None??"  "Nope."  He may still be in shock.) 

I made the decision to do only what PR I was comfortable with and that wouldn't take away from my writing time or my family time.  Should I have done more?  Could I have done (or do) more?  Oh, yes -- but at what cost in terms of time and attention?  Still, one of my major regrets is not doing more PR at certain points in my career, when I think it could have made a difference.  But that's water under the bridge now.

Reader Reviews.  Geez Louise, they can be brutal!

Reaching Readers.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss, right?  My readers really don't need to know too much about me -- or indeed, anything -- to like my books, and there have been times I learned something about a favorite author that made me cringe and forever tainted the way I viewed their work.

What else has changed in 25 years?  Forty-seven more books and novellas, covers, word counts, the editors I've worked with, bouncing from category to single title and back again, my kids grew up, my husband retired, I'm a foster grandmother and I'm going to have another grandbaby soon. 

Whatever else has changed in the past 25 years, though, one thing has not and never will as long as I'm writing:  I still try to tell the best possible romance I can about interesting, believable characters in a realistic, believable setting.  And no, it doesn't get any easier.

This is the original cover for my first book, sold April 2, 1991, on the shelves March, 1992.  It also was the first manuscript I ever completed. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Where did February go?

Yikes, it's been awhile since I've blogged!  I think I have some pretty good excuses, though.  Two of them, both babies.

In January, I became a foster grandma.  I knew that that was in the works, of course, but if you think writing a book is tough, try going through the process of becoming licensed to provide foster care.  Makes revisions look like a cakewalk.  But the process WAS completed by my son and his wife, and in January, they became foster parents to a baby.  Believe me, it was as exciting as the call I got from an editor at Harlequin telling me they wanted to buy my first book.  Even if the placement isn't permanent, it's still a thrill.

Then in February, I found out my daughter and her husband are expecting.  Right around my birthday, too.  Cue more excitement!  And frankly, folks, I suggest you buy stock in Osh-Kosh, Michael's and Fabricland, because there's already been a whole lotta shoppin' goin' on!

I'm also working on a book.  It was due late last Year-of-the-Medical-Crises.  Fortunately, my very understanding publisher has allowed me to take my time to write it.  However, as anybody who's written a book that required stopping, starting over, stopping and starting again can probably attest, it's not been an easy road.  It's one I'm still on. 

So it's been a bit of a "different" time for me.  Fortunately, things are going well, but it's still uncharted waters for the next few months, so I can't say how often I'll be blogging.  I'm much more likely to be tweeting, so if you want to follow the progress of my current manuscript (aka The Great Ragout because I threw everything and then some into the first draft), I suggest you follow me there -- @margmooreauthor

I hope everyone is enjoying a good year so far.  I'm certainly having a much better one!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Really Easy Baby Quilt

Many years ago, when my son was born, my friend sent me a baby quilt she had made.  I was impressed by the shape and even more by the construction -- it was not complicated, to put it mildly.  If you can baste (aka running stitch) and tie knots, you can make one, too. 

This is the original quilt.

I decided to make one, using the original as my pattern.  I discovered that it was easier to do it all "by hand," given that quilt batting tends to get stuck on the presser foot. 

I also realized it could also be made in a rectangle, too.  That way, all the cutting necessary is trimming seams and thread.

Here's what you need to make this simple baby quilt. 

1 yard or meter of printed fabric - I use polyester/cotton or 100 % cotton

1 yard or meter of plain fabric for backing.  (Use the same kind as printed fabric)
NOTE:  I always pre-wash and dry all fabrics.

1 yard or meter of quilt batting  (NOTE:  I've only ever used polyester batting, so I don't know how this would work with other kinds)

Scissors for cutting batting, smaller ones for trimming threads.

Thread to match.  (If using polyester/cotton blend  fabrics, make sure you get polyester thread.)

2 or more skeins of embroidery floss, depending on # of colors used

marking pencil or fabric marker that will wash out

pins, needles for sewing and embroidery

Here's what you do:

Pin the pieces of fabric right sides together.  (The "right side" will be the brighter side.  If you can't tell, it doesn't matter which side you use.)

Pin quilt batting to fabric. 

Mark seams on fabric.  I do a wide seam, usually 3/4 inch. 

Using sewing thread, baste three layers together, leaving opening (4 - 6 inches) to turn inside out.  Remove pins. (I'm assuming non-sewers may be trying this.)

Trim seams to about 1/2 inch.  Trim batting a bit more.  Trim across corners (so you'll have a little triangle of fabric cut off) and even closer to seams for about an inch near corners.  

Turn inside out through opening.  I find it easier if I reach inside the opening to the fabric at the corner farthest from the opening, hold that and slowly pull back through opening.  This can be tricky, as the batting is thick, so take your time if you're new to this sort of thing.) 

Slip stitch opening. If you can't do a slip stitch (or hemming stitch), fold sides of opening to inside to match seam and pin, as it will be sewn closed when basting around sides with embroidery thread.)

Press.  This will make the next step much easier. 

Laying quilt flat, pin around edges and through all 3 layers within quilt to hold fabric together while working.

Mark along 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch from outer edge of quilt all around quilt.

Separate a piece of embroidery floss (see how here) and using 3 stands, baste around edges of quilt following marking.

 Join threads with reef (square) knots and trim about 3/8 - 1/2" from knot.

On right side of fabric, pick a place in the pattern to tie knots.  I pick the center of flowers, for instance, or the stars as in pictures shown.

From front, insert needle straight down through all 3 thicknesses, leaving 3/4 to 1 inch of floss at front.  Now here's where it gets a bit tricky.  Insert the needle up through the back and all 3 thicknesses so it comes out close to where you inserted the needle to make a stitch.  Take a look at the back.  The stitch should be small, about 1/8 inch.  It can be a bit larger, but not much.  If it's too large, pull out and try again.

When you're satisfied with the stitch, don't cut it yet!  Tie a knot, pulling floss tight.  Cut floss about 3/4 inch from knot. 

Continue until you've put a stitch and knot in every spot on the pattern. 

Trim the knots.  I trim them to about 3/8 to 1/2 inch.  Whatever length you decide upon, be consistent.  Here's one where the pattern was regular.



Here's one that's more random:

 Remove all pins.  Wash and dry as per fabric used.  

 And that's it!


Monday, January 04, 2016

Let the revisions begin!

Today I start revising the first draft of my current work-in-progress that I'm now calling The Great Ragout because oh, my, it's got a lot of "stuff" going on.  I realized this was the case as the chapter count increased to a whooping 32.  There was a reason for this -- my work was interrupted by not one, but two, family medical crises in 2015.  Fortunately, things are okay for now, but clearly, the stop-and-start meant I spent some time wandering through the manuscript wilderness, trying to find my way back to the path after each break.

So, how do I revise? 

I print the draft.  For a long time, I thought I did this because I was "old school."  Yes, I started my first book on ye olde typewriter.  And I find it easier to keep track of changes and notes when I can hold the manuscript in my hands.  However, I've come to another realization lately.  Reading on hard copy makes the experience more of a reader experience and less of a writer experience.  It gives me more distance, and gives me a better view of the bigger picture.

I read the draft with colored pen in hand and make changes and notes as I go.  I write additions on the back of the pages and other paper as necessary.  I use highlighters if there are blocks to be moved or deleted. 

After I go through the whole manuscript this way, I begin the second draft on the computer.  I don't just transpose the changes and additions and make deletions as noted.  I make new changes.  Sometimes I'll print up a scene or chapter to check it.  I'll go back and forth making changes or moving bits.  I save the deletions just in case, although I rarely use the cut bits.  After I've done the second draft, I'll print it up and go through this whole process again, at least once more.  Sometimes a few times.   However many it takes until I'm satisfied the story is the best I can make it, and within the right word count.

First drafts are tough.  They take a lot of mental effort, because you're making decisions all the time -- every sentence, really.  It's like building a house.  Revisions aren't easy either - it's like renovating a fixer-upper.  The "bones" might be there, but the plumbing's shot and the wiring's not up to code, and then comes the new walls, etc. etc. and finally the decorating.  But just like a good renovation, when the final draft is done, the satisfaction is wonderful.