One of the ways I envision a novel is to create floor plans for key settings. When I was developing the Pier Three Coffee series, I used a site called Homestyler to create the titular building's images.
Pier Three Coffee was Pier Three Bait Shop, until the Wells siblings leased it from the retiring owners and converted it into a coffee shop with direct access to the beach in their (fictional) Northern California town of Surfside. There are racks at the back of the building where surfers can rest their boards after a morning on the waves. They can order through the side window and take their drinks and treats to the patio overlooking the Pacific. Most days the glass doors to the patio are wide open, allowing everyone inside to enjoy the ocean breeze and sea air.
(Did I mention I enjoy this process? When I was a kid, I created a scale model of my bedroom on graph paper and cut out carefully measured 2-D representations of my furniture so I could play with layouts before shoving the pieces around to the newly-envisioned places. I love a floor plan, y'all.)
In Mocha for Mateo, Book 1 of the series, Mateo pulls his bakery van into the space by the employee entrance and stairs up to Alicia Wells's apartment. In between parking and delivering the muffins and scones Alicia has ordered, Mateo may sometimes slip up those stairs with Alicia.
The apartment above Pier Three used to be an extensive storage space, but Alicia's brother Austin helped her transform it into a perfect little studio space. Sure, she has to be the one to get up early and open up the cafe, but the commute couldn't be better - nor could the views from her balcony. (Personally, I'm too much of a night owl for even this superb location to tempt me to be an early riser, but that's okay. I'm capable of imagining an early bird like Alicia.)
Are you a floor plan kind of person, too? Do you like to visualize settings when you're reading - or writing?
Roll of the Dice, Book 3 - Natalie's story is now available for pre-order!
Order now, and TIGER will leap onto your e-reader on 2/29 (#FunFact: 2-29 is Bachelor Day. This doesn't bode well for Natalie's matchmaking mom!)
Warning: contains several silly, lewd limericks. (Evan is a charming, light-hearted man--or is he?)
I'm excited for y'all to read where Natalie's roll of the dice is taking her, whether she's ready for it or not.
I love fairy tales. Back in college, one of my classes had us write a modern take on a Grimm's fairy tale, and I've been exploring them ever since. But it wasn't until I heard about Decadent Publishing's Beyond Fairytales line that I thought about doing it again, as a romance this time.
They gave me Grimm's The Griffin - it's a fun tale with three brothers (including the requisite simpleton youngest), a sick princess, a series of impossible tasks, and a rather grim end for the king who didn't follow through on his initial promises.
I flipped it around so the female character was the underestimated one who wins against the odds, and set it in the fictional Texas hill country college town of Jackrabbit. I had a great deal of fun playing with the fairy tale tropes, the themes of the story, and giving my prince a happy ending.
I hope everyone has fun reading it! And visit my Pinterest board for Feather in Her Cap to check out some of the visual inspiration for this story!
I've mentioned my love of audiobooks (maybe more than once. It's a deep love. A Happily Ever After kind of love.)
So you can imagine how excited I was to get the notification that RETREAT TO LOVE's audio production - read by the stellar Amy Rubinate - is now available!
Would you like a FREE COPY? Of course you would! Sign up for my NEWSLETTER below and you'll be automatically entered in a drawing for it.
As usual, Amy did a beautiful job bringing my story to life, and I know you'll enjoy hearing her narrate Ashlyn's journey to the FireWind artists' retreat, and her emotional journey as she confronts a family secret, and finds an unexpected love.
Check out the sample, then head to Audible or iTunes to put RETREAT TO LOVE in your ears!
It's fun to compile Pinterest boards for each of my books, but I had to exercise some SERIOUS self-restraint when picking photos for the RETREAT TO LOVE board.
I'm so madly in love with quilt art, and would fill the entire board with it, but I am trying to highlight a couple of other things about the book, as well. Also I want to ensure accreditation - everything I've pinned was linked through the International Quilt Association, which brings the Quilt Show to Houston (where I live) every fall, and it's the best time of the year. The work on display there is simply stunning.
(I personally am not a very deft quilter, much less a fabric artist, so writing Ashlyn was some very serious wish fulfillment on my part!)
Been dying to hear Janice and Miguel's story in audio? You know you have!
The wait is over - READY TO ROLL is now available in audio from Audible / Amazon / iTunes. And it's sooooo good. As with ROCKET MAN, it is narrated by the stellar Amy Rubinate, Let her sweep you away for a few fun hours as Janice and Miguel's battle of wills escalates.
It'll knock your socks off.
Ready to Roll is set just about entirely within Miguel's shotgun house in Houston. I love the history of shotgun houses, how well-suited to the (less than hospitable sometimes) climate of the city they are.
It was a lot of fun to use one as the stage across which Miguel and Janice move during their date. Made me want to move in to a shotgun house of my own! I bet my pets would love racing through from front to back doors, maniac pets that they are.
I have such delightful friends!
There's a group of us who went to middle & high school together & they've been listening to me talk about writing for... let's guess no more than 3 decades? So I'm sure in their eyes the publication of ROCKET MAN has been a really long time coming!
Anyway, we try to get together monthly, and today was brunch. One friend has created a tradition for us of passing around this superb Milestone Trophy. It reads:
And today, in recognition of the milestone of my debut publication, it was awarded to me!
Obviously, I've got it sitting proudly on top of the roll top desk in my study, where it shines on me as I sit to write.
It's particularly apt, as I'm currently finishing up READY TO ROLL, which is the novella featuring Janice and Miguel from ROCKET MAN. Why is a dance trophy particularly apt for that novella, you ask? Well, you'll just have to wait slightly less than a month, then you'll find out.
(Is it unfriendly of me to hope none of my friends have milestones soon, so I get to keep it a while?) (Is it really really unfriendly of me to hope that, considering one of them is planning her wedding?) (...it's okay. I know the answer.)