Pier three coffee layouts
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?
More on diversity in publishing
I'm honored to be featured in author Raimey Gallant's blog this week with my thoughts on actions individual authors can do to make romance and publishing more diverse, equitable, accessible, and inclusive.
As always, I'd love to hear and incorporate your ideas. Or just for you to share this post if you think it could help others think about the systemic problems in the publishing industry. Thanks!
Almost time to let the good times roll
Feel so so sorry for me. I'm recently returned from New Orleans.
I had to go. It was research.
(It was also so I could chaperone my son's field trip, but don't tell his band director that was my primary motivation.)
You remember Evan's mean sister Chloe from Eye of the Tiger? You didn't think she deserved her happily ever after, did you? Well, I am more forgiving than you. (I am probably not more forgiving than you.) (I admit that writing her comeuppance was fun, and not just because it gave me an excuse to visit New Orleans.)
Let the Good Times Roll will be available very soon! Subscribe to my newsletter and you can be the first to know when it's published.
How Gran Met Pappa - a Bonus Story
One of my favorite parts of writing is generating backstory. This rich history of what happens before Page One adds depth and richness to the characters, even if it doesn't make it into the finished book.
In creating the world of RETREAT TO LOVE, I wrote a story about how Ashlyn's Gran and Pappa met. It didn't fit into the novel, but their relationship has a massive impact on how Ashlyn views the world. I'm excited to share their earliest days with you here.
Enjoy IRISH CHAIN, and check back here soon for an update on the RETREAT TO LOVE audiobook!
Author Origin Story
In 5th grade, I realized I was a writer.
I know it was 5th grade, because in 5th grade I had Penny Heap, World's Best Teacher, and she told me I was a good writer. And I vowed to make her proud, because there was nothing better in the world than pleasing Mrs. Heap. (Her name was Penny! She drove a silver sports car! She moved me so I didn't have to sit by the mean girls!)
So I threw myself into my new craft, and a couple of Super Awesome Validating Things happened to set I Will Be A Writer When I Grow Up firmly into the concrete of ... my soul? (That metaphor got away from me a bit.)
First, one of my poems was picked to go in the "Creative Writing" section of my elementary school newsletter. Okay, yes, it was more a rip-off than an homage to Clement Clarke Moore, but let's give eleven-year-old me a break, shall we? I was a PUBLISHED AUTHOR.
And then! Encouraged by the glittering success of my first publication, I went on to submit what I seem to recall were at least four poems (all heavily influenced by Shel Silverstein) to my beloved local library - and I won!
FIRST PLACE, BABY. That's right. I'm now an AWARD WINNING AUTHOR. With MULTIPLE PUBLICATIONS:
(In case y'all can't tell, I've been cleaning out some old paperwork lately. I also found the program from the terrible play my husband and I attended on our first date, my 9th grade report card - ouch, though it did make my current 9th grader feel better about his own performance - and a postcard Salman Rushdie sent to my graduate thesis advisor.)
With early encouragement - and, let's face it, raw talent - like this, is it any wonder I am sitting on my sofa in my jammies today, a Real Author?
Introducing RETREAT TO LOVE
Once Upon a Time... I was a little kid reading all the fairy tales I could get my hands on. And then I grew up and was a writer who still enjoyed reading fairy tales. So when I had a chance to turn a fairy tale into a contemporary romance novella, I jumped at it!
FEATHER IN HER CAP will be published by Decadent Publishing. Check out my blog post over there to find out more...
And meanwhile, here's some more happy dancing, courtesy of clevermanka's gif collection:
Hey, Have You Heard...?
Somedays, chair dancing isn't dance-y enough.
Today's the day ROCKET MAN is available in audiobook format! I am a huge audiobook fan, especially romance in audio, and getting my work into audio was a major goal in my writerly career.
Here's how audio works for indie authors (well, one way it works - there are so many paths, but this is a popular one.) Audible is, as you know if you've ever listened to pretty much any podcast, the internet's largest provider of audiobooks, and they have an arm called ACX for audiobook production. Authors put their books up on ACX and narrators can look through and pick projects and submit auditions. Authors can also ask narrators to submit auditions. So, that's what I did - I received many different great auditions, as well as some that just didn't suit me, but wasn't quite finding what I wanted. Likely because I have my favorites, and had always envisioned (enlistened?) one of them reading my books.
Fortunately, my problem has a solution: I sought out Amy Rubinate, asked her if she'd be interested, she was, I hired her, and now y'all can spend 12 1/2 hours listening to her reading you my novel. Is that exciting or what?
I'm confident you'll agree, when you hear her reading of ROCKET MAN, that this production is worthy of a full-on dance party celebration. If you need me, I'll be the one flailing around in the middle of the living room! (h/t CleverManka for the gif!)
Award-Winning Writer ;-)
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.)