Cover Reveal: Under His Protection

Are you ready? I’ve held onto this one for almost six months. This is the cover that made me change the name from No Time for Love to Under His Protection.

 

 

I am so excited about this book. We continue Lee’s story, and no, he’s no with Deena, the chef he was dating in the first book.

Fox and Laura are in several scenes, and they are getting ready for their wedding.

Lindsey has been at Clemson for a year, and is progressing towards her Master’s degree in mathematics.

Lee has started his new business, as he planned in No Strings Attached, but he’s having trouble getting any traction. No one wants to give a new company a chance. Robert Stephens, his mother’s husband, uses his connections to get Lee an interview with Senator Martin Crowne, who wants to hire security for his daughter.

Elizabeth Crowne (don’t call her Beth) is running for attorney general for the state of Georgia. Someone is threatening her with vicious notes, but she doesn’t think they need to hire security. She has a feeling that her ex-fiancé is behind the threats and it will all blow over. She goes along with the bodyguard for her dad, but she thinks it’s a waste of time and money. When the threats become attacks, she has to admit that someone wants her dead.

Two jaded loners find a connection, but nothing is as it seems.  As Lee digs deeper, looking for answers, he only raises more questions, uncovering a conspiracy that goes deeper than they suspected. When those closest to you betray your trust, nothing is sacred.

Originally I envisioned this series as connected books, meaning that they share characters and not much else in terms of story line.  However, I found unresolved issues carrying forward into this book, and the plots are becoming more entwined than I planned. For this reason, I recommend they be read in order, and put the order number on the cover. My editor has the complete book now, and I am hoping for a release date in June or early July.

Today I dropped the price for No Strings Attached to $0.99, to celebrate its birthday. I’m planning to run the sale through the end of May. I’m not sure how long the different retailers will take to lower the price, but you can find a direct link to your preferred ebook seller here.  All-Romance ebooks also sells the book in pdf format if you don’t have an ebook reader. The book is now available in iTunes, Kobo, and the Nook. You can also download a kindle reader app for your tablet.

Everyone who signs up for my new email list between now and the end of May will be entered for a drawing for a $5.00 giftcard to Starbucks. You can choose either the monthly newsletter option, or the email on new release only option. Either way, you’re eligible for the drawing.

The first newsletter will go out June, and the contest will reset. So be one of the first subscribers and have a chance to win. Newsletter subscribers will also be the first to read the new prequel that I’m coming out with in August or September, that explains tells some of what happened in the first book from Lindsey’s point of view. What really happened in that casino with Ric? Sign up for the nesletter here

Happy Birthday to No Strings Attached!

The official birthday for my book is May 25, 2013, because that’s when it went live on Amazon. But on May 24th, at about ten o’clock at night, I clicked publish.

2013-07-08 11.00.55It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year. One year ago today, on May 24, I clicked publish on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. We had checked and checked and made changes, and as I stared at that screen, I was terrified. What if I had some stupid error? What if everyone hated it? What if? What if? What if?

It’s scary as a writer to Let it Go. (Cue the Frozen song, because that’s what we do at our house).

But I knew that I had put too much time and effort into that book to let it languish on my computer. So I hit publish. Since no one knew me from Adam, and I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on promotion, I’m pretty proud of my results. In it’s first year, my book has sold over 500 copies.  The most interesting thing for me is that I have developed quite a following in the UK. For the past two or three months, I have sold more books over there than in the United States.

I have had strangers email me and tell me how much they enjoyed it. People regularly harass me as to when I’m releasing the sequel. So, to celebrate the one year anniversary of No Strings Attached, tomorrow I’m going to reveal the cover for Under His Protection.

I struggle with titles. The working title for the first book was always A Corporate Affair. The sequel was to be called A Political2013-12-07 11.46.15 Affair.

Then I decided to start each book in the series with the word No. So, following No Strings Attached, I planned to have No Time for Love, which was the working title for the second book. Tomorrow you will get to see the cover that made me change my title to Under His Protection.

If I wasn’t using the title to tie the series together, I needed a series name. I liked the idea of the city background for all of my books in this series, so I decided to name the series City Lights. While we travel to the Caribbean a good bit in the books, much of the action takes place in Vegas, Miami and Atlanta in the first book, and Atlanta in the second. Plus using the city background ties the covers together. Here’s the new cover for No Strings Attached with the series name.

Tomorrow I will celebrate the first book by starting a week long sale, and we’ll have a big cover reveal for the second book.  Everyone who signs up for my new email list between now and the end of May will be entered for a drawing for a $5.00 giftcard to Starbucks. You can choose either the monthly newsletter option, or the email on new release only option. Either way, you’re eligible for the drawing.

The first newsletter will go out June, and the contest will reset. So be one of the first subscribers and have a chance to win. Newsletter subscribers will also be the first to read the new prequel that I’m coming out with in August or September, that explains tells some of what happened in the first book from Lindsey’s point of view. What really happened in that casino with Ric? Sign up here

10 Dialog Beats Contemporary Writers Can’t Use

Do you realize that as writers we have lost whole action steps/plots to technology? Dialog beats are those little actions that you use in dialog to both tell who is speaking and provide characterization. I had a mental image of my 2013 character twisting a phone cord around her. Sigh. Not happening. Now I’ve got to come up with something else. So here are some other things we’ve lost.

WE500dialphone

Related to the Phone

  1. She twisted the phone cord around her body. What a great way to show nervousness!  I actually used this with a hotel room phone in No Strings Attached.
  2. She slammed down the phone. (Not with a $200 cost and no forthcoming upgrade subsidy)
  3. She knocked the phone off the hook. Our kids don’t know what a hook is.
  4. Her finger dialed the operator, hooking her finger in the 0 and pulling it all the way around. See number 3.
  5. She looked up a number in the phone book. Do 20-somethings even know what a phone book is?
  6. Bash someone on the head with the receiver. I’m sure it’s been done before in fiction noire. Those were heavy receivers.
  7. She stretched the cord as far as it would reach. Gained – Replace with held the phone up in the woods to try to get service.
  8. He twisted the phone cord around his victim’s neck, tightening slowly. How are we going to strangle people now?
  9. The line “He’s calling from inside the house” goes away, since GPS can’t be that accurate. “He may or may not be calling from within 500 feet of your house?” isn’t quite as bone-chilling.
  10. A busy signal. Now we just get people who hit that send to voice mail button.

What we’ve gained…

  1. Cell phones even in remote locations, which can be challenging for crime stories. There’s always the battery died…
  2. Personal databases on cell phones, including calendars, social media, and contacts. A wealth of information for would-be criminals.
  3. GPS – it’s harder to get lost, but if your character relies on your phone maps in the country with no Internet you could get lost even worse.
  4. The fantasy of being unconnected or off the grid. When I was in college, you would go hours without anyone knowing where you were. Friends had a general idea, or you may tell someone you would be at the library, but that was it. Now, not so much.
  5. DNA evidence. That has its own problems.

What we still can’t do….

  1. Predict the weather with confidence. Sure, we get generalities, but we don’t know exactly where hurricanes will hit. They can always turn at the last moment.
  2. Rivers still flood.
  3. Blizzards still hit. (seeing a trend here?)
  4. We can do very little without electricity these days.
  5. Force someone to fall in love.

For more technology troubles with writing, check out this post from 2012 on technology.

I hope you enjoyed this little walk through time. Carry on.

(Picture by ProhibitOnions at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons)

Calling all Crazy Beatches

Disco Ball

I have struggled with what to write on this blog. What do fiction readers want to read about?  It’s hard to say. I like to read blogs about writing, but my readers who aren’t writers probably don’t.

So, in the next few weeks I’m working on a new schedule and hopefully a new theme for this forum.  In the interim, here are two snippets of a scene I am working on. I don’t think I’m giving anything away.

Lee is the hero/main character of this story, and he plays opposite Elizabeth. This is a scene at a fund-raiser that happens fairly early in the story.

I’d like your input on this scene. You’ll see two casual women at the party who make some snippy comments. Or bitchy. Are they catty enough? Too catty?

I don’t want to expand on their roles much in this party, but I would like your input. Have fun getting a sneak peak.

Lee looked up at the giant screen showing pictures of the guests that night and his eyes widened when he saw a shot of him kissing Elizabeth’s ear. He heard hooting and hollering from somewhere in the room, and from somewhere else he heard a catcall. Great.

“I guess that’s proof we’re dating,” he said in a low tone to Fox.

“Right there in HD for everyone to see, bro. Hey, at least you haven’t lost your touch.”

“I need a drink,” he grunted and walked over to the car set up in the corner.

“Bring me a beer,” Fox called back.

He was waiting in line behind a couple of women in short tight cocktail dresses when he heard one of them say, “That hot young stud with Elizabeth Banks would look even better if he’d cut his hair.”

“Are you kidding? He’s hot now! He’ll probably be in the market in a few months. He’s just a toy to mess with while she’s on the rebound. They never stick around. Besides, he’s way too young for her. My money is on James. I’ve heard he’s up for an ambassadorship. Why wouldn’t she take him back?”

The line moved forward, the women bought their drinks and turned to leave. The mouthy one saw him and flushed slightly that she had been caught talking about him, and then winked at him. She fished in her purse for a card. “Here’s my card. Call me if you want to go out sometime.”

He wanted to say something cutting to wipe the smirk off her face, but instead he took the card and winked, and she kept going. He tossed it in the trashcan as he passed. Too young. That was ridiculous. It always amused him when women bitched about men talking about their physical attributes, but when they were alone they did the same thing. He handed Fox his bottle of beer.

 

They stood to leave just as Candy and Juliette, two women that had gone to the University of Georgia with Elizabeth, came in. Instead of long skirts, they had gone for short cocktail dresses that clung to them in all the right places. Elizabeth had tried on the style before, but always felt like a hooker so she never bought them.

“Elizabeth, I liked that picture they flashed up there a few minutes ago of you and that stud you’re dating. What’s his name?” Candy asked.

“Lee. What picture?”

“You know, the one of him leaning in all kissy kissy,” Juliette said. They made smooch sounds with their mouth and started giggling.

“I haven’t seen it,” Elizabeth said, feeling offended.

“You’ll have to. Then the camera pans out for another shot and I tell you, his buns are AMAZING. When you get done with him you need to hook us up.”

“I thought you were married?”

“We’re separated, but by the time you’re done with him I’ll be divorced and ready for my own rebound man. I’m sure I could keep him in the style he’s accustomed to. As long as he does some work around the house, if you know what I mean.”

Elizabeth didn’t consider herself a prude, but she wanted to claw the other woman’s eyes out. She was about to blast her when Laura touched her arm and nudged her forward.

“We’ve got to go. Nice meeting you,” Laura called out.

“Was it my imagination, or was she just a complete bitch?”

“You didn’t imagine it. I felt like I was in middle school all over again. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

“I’m glad you were here. I was about to say something I would regret later.”

“I wonder what picture they are talking about?” Laura asked.

They came back out it in the ballroom and stopped as a life-size picture of Elizabeth and Lee dancing filled the screen. His hand appeared to be cupping her ass, although she swore she didn’t remember him doing that.

“Great,” she muttered under her breath.

“And that’s not even the best one,” she heard Lee say.

“I guess that’s what happens when you skip all the parties for six months. They come at you like piranha. Are you ready to go? I’ve had about all this I can stand.”

Copyright 2013, Lily Bishop

___________________

So what do you think? i would love your comments below. Keep checking back in the next few weeks as I move closer to release date.

 

(Picture By Sarah from Brizzzzzle, UK (Disco ball in blue  Uploaded by TheCuriousGnome) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Birth of a First Draft

Yesterday morning I finished the first draft of No Time for Love, Lee and Elizabeth’s story. Lee is the brother of the hero in my first book, No Strings Attached. When last we saw him, he was dating Deena, who works for his mother. We find out his story in this book.

What happened with him and Deena? You’ll have to read the story to find out.

Lee has done as promised and started his own security firm, now called Security Solutions. He doesn’t want to focus on personal protection, but he can’t turn away a lucrative contract protecting Elizabeth Birch, the daughter of a State Senator and candidate for Attorney General. Someone is trying to kill her, and his job is to keep her safe, find out who is trying to kill her, and keep the whole thing out of the media. He’s only got one problem: Elizabeth doesn’t need or want his help and she gets in his way every turn.

Sound interesting? I hope so. Here’s a picture of my newborn, still covered in sticky fix-it-flags.

My Baby

Currently I have over 60,000 words, and about 175 pages. As I add more depth and sensory detail in coming drafts, it will get longer. But before I go too far in the revision process, my husband the lawyer has promised to give it a quick read for plot only to see if he believes the story line. Since my main character is a lawyer running for Attorney General, in ways this is his world more than mine. While I’ve picked up lingo from him for years now in the way he talks about his cases, I want to see what he thinks about the bad guys in this one. If he can believe it, then I know I’ll have something, because he doesn’t suffer fools lightly.

I’m sure together we will tweek the storyline, then I’ll get hard to work on revising. Once I’m happy, I’ll send it to my editor, who will help me make sure my language is the best it can be.

Then it will come to you. I promise.

 

If you want to keep up with news on No Time for Love, subscribe to my blog. Or if you don’t want all my posts and just want to hear about new releases, click here to get an email when I’m releasing new books. Click here to join my mailing list.

 

My First “Word Processor” – A Father’s Gift

A Father’s Gift

Remington Rand KMC typewriter

Picture By Georg Sommeregger (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I have written stories for as long as I can remember. In elementary school I wrote my own version of a soap opera starring the kids in my school.  It was in script format. I was always scribbling in notebooks until my fingers cramped.

I don’t remember the year, but it was some time in middle school, maybe seventh grade, for Christmas Santa Claus brought me a Remington Typewriter, an old model not much different from the one pictured above.  I already knew that Santa Claus was my dad then, but everyone at my house continued with the lie. To this day, it remains one of the best gifts I have ever received.  (I think my son just heard me reading this out loud to my husband. We think he doesn’t believe in Santa any more, but if he does I just let the cat out of the bag. Wonderful.)

Today I give tribute to my dad because he saw who I was (a crazy geeky girl who wanted to write) and he found something he knew I would love. It wasn’t the latest girl fad at the time, which was probably something like platform shoes or Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans, but it was exactly what I wanted and needed.

I taught myself to type on that old machine. I found an abandoned typewriter book and did all the drills, and by the end I was self-taught 65 plus words per minute. On a typewriter. I loved the thing.

I wrote my first novel on that old typewriter. In high school I wrote a book called At Cross Purposes.  I haven’t looked at the manuscript for years, but the gist was that a married woman went on a business trip, had a one-night fling, and it turns out her husband died in a plane crash the same night, very macabre for a 16/17 year old. I was a child of divorce, and I was intrigued by the idea of one spouse dying at the moment the other was having an affair. Now of course I’m horrified by that thought. I’m sure if I looked at it now, the writing would be atrocious and very juvenile, but I still remember the book.

By my second novel I was in college and I wrote Beads of Glass, about a girl growing up in the sixties who was the girl in a set of triplets with two boys, and how she was treated differently from her brothers. This book was my honors thesis for my undergraduate degree. The last time I looked at it I noticed that the narrator was obsessed with marking the passage of time in the book.  (Thirty minutes later, At 12:30 p.m., etc. )

These books are as much a fabric of my own personal coming of age as high school and college. I wrote a third book just after I married my husband, about a woman who was torn between her career and wanting to stay home with her new baby. Amazingly enough, it mirrored the issues I was facing at the time. It may see the light of day in the next few years.

Lastly, No Strings Attached is out there, finding readers, slowly but surely. My husband is on his way to Las Vegas in a few weeks on a business trip, and the running joke around our house is that he’d better not be trying to live out portions of the book. Of course, my character isn’t married when she finds her romance in Vegas.

The typewriter is gone, lost in a house fire, but that doesn’t change the fact that it kicked off a dream.

So, to my dad with love — Thank you for buying a little girl a typewriter whether it seemed like a good gift at the time or not.

A Little Beauty Goes a Long Way

I’m visiting my hair dresser today for my four-month touch-up. I don’t have much gray, but with dark hair it quickly becomes like a red cape to a bull. I look in the mirror and that’s all I see.

Romances are often about transformations, and I’ve read many make-over scenes, particularly in contemporary fiction. There’s the inevitable straightening of curly hair, a lightening with highlights, and often our little middle class heroine gets a designer wardrobe. Most contemporaries have stars too young to have gray, but the coloring of gray is a strong scene in Cher’s Moonstruck.

I have a scene where Laura, my leading lady, goes to a spa before a big party. I chose to leave her hair curly, because Fox, her hero, loves her curly hair. She’s always playing with her hair, and I use the way she wears it in each scene as a barometer of how she is feeling. I can’t wait for you to meet Laura.

One more point about romantic stories and hair as I move from the dryer to the stylist chair. I get so tired of contemporary heroines with waist-length hair. Who does that? Even the college girls I see every day on campus cut it at mid-back. My hair is shoulder-length and some days it’s too much. So next time you write about waist-length hair, get out the scissors!!!!!

How Do You Feel About Gerunds?

I am sitting in my car thinking about how much I use gerunds in my writing, those pesky little -ing words meant to show immediacy. According to recent feedback from my editor, the answer is too much.

Did you notice the first sentence had two? I could have gone for three. I could have said “I am sitting in my car thinking about using gerunds in my writing.” That might have made my point more, but it was implying future use of gerunds, so it wasn’t as effective.

Like most current fiction, my book is written in third person past tense, but I still find myself sprinkling in gerunds. Here’s an example:

Lindsey tried to talk to the red-headed girl beside her, but that failed when the girl’s phone was ringing and she got up and left.

This is a clumsy example from an early draft, but you get the idea.

What about this instead?

Lindsey exchanged a few words with the red-headed girl beside her, but that failed when the girl’s phone rang and she got up and left.

I think it still kept a sense of immediacy. I’m still not happy with the sentence, but it’s closer.

What about you? I challenge you to go on a gerund hunt. You may be surprised at what you find.

The Uber Cookie: Can Your Characters Bake?

I don’t bake a lot. I cook, but my brand of cooking is generally Southern and simple. We eat everyday things like tacos, spaghetti, chicken tenders, that kind of thing. Occasionally I will go out on a limb and make homemade salad dressing. The other night I made homemade croutons. My fare is simple.

I don’t bake. It’s time-consuming, and since we could all stand to lose a few pounds, I just don’t mess with it. But tonight the kids wanted something sweet, and I hadn’t been to the store, so I decided to make some cookies. Below I want to explain the decision-making process that led to the creation of the Uber Cookie.

CookieThe original recipe was from the back of a bag of chocolate chips, and went something like this:

  • 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour (1st mistake — I used self-rising)
  • 1 tsp salt (left out — because I used self-rising)
  • 1 tsp baking soda (left out — because I used self-rising)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (I used 1/4 of this)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (used about one cup)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (omitted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (forgot)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (used about 1/2 that)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (left out)
  • Added 1/4 cup oil to make up for missing butter
  • Added 1/2 cup applesauce to make up for missing butter and add more sweetness

So, amazingly enough, out of a ten-item recipe, only one item I got right, and that’s the two large eggs. I plopped those cookies down on a baking sheet, sort of like drop cookies, and baked them. I left them a good distance apart, but once the batter heated up, the spread was on.

Was it a cookie? Was it a cake? Or somewhere in between? The consistency was almost like a dry cake or an airy cookie. It was sweet, but not too sweet. The best word that my husband could come up with was odd. The kids were fascinated with them. They were really excited that I made the cookies.

The next time you have a failure in your kitchen, think about it from your character’s perspective. I’m not a ditz. I know that to have something come out right you have to follow the recipe. I ran into trouble when I didn’t have enough butter, and I didn’t realize until I had already committed. The self-rising flour I thought would be okay to substitute. My daughter was helping, and she would have been really disappointed if I had changed my mind. So, yes, I knew I was in uncharted territory and they may not have been edible, but sometimes you’ve just got to experiment.

So how would an OCD character handle it? Throw the batter away when she realized she didn’t have the butter? Or go across to the neighbor’s and borrow it?

My husband ate a cookie, pronounced them odd, and we had a good laugh. But what if he were a jerk about it? What if I had been trying really hard and he had said I was worthless because I couldn’t bake simple cookies? Would that be the beginning of a drawn-out ugly fight? Would that be the beginning of a female character finding her self-worth again?

Or what about the OCD widower, whose former wife’s sister is a clutzy aunt who is taking care of the kids for the night and they make fun cookies and a huge mess in the kitchen? I could see a Lifetime or Hallmark movie starting with that.

I know. I’m an incurable romantic. How would your character handle a baking experiment gone wrong? Next time you’re stuck, think about it. How do you use your everyday choices in your character’s lives?

Writer’s Tip Monday

I’m still editing and I’m almost there. Here are my Monday tips.

Tip One: There is no there there.

If you are at the polish stage, do a quick search for the adverb there and look for a stronger sentence construction. Often “there” is a filler that can be strengthened with some creativity. Remember, unless you are referring to a place, there is no there there.

Tip Two: The moon was jumped over by the cow.  Or by the zombies.

Look for passive construction. I saw a great tip today on the grammarley blog from twitter user Rebecca Johnson (@johnsonr).  You can find it here:

http://blog.grammarly.com/post/34095768680/writeworld-mightymur-the-final-brilliant

Her idea: Look for your verb. If you can insert the phrase “by a zombie” after it and it still makes sense, you have a passive sentence.  I love this! I don’t want to steal their thoughts, so check out the grammarly blog for the exact examples.

That’s all folks.  Remember, editing doesn’t have to be a painful process, and it doesn’ have to extend into infinity.  My goal is to send the complete manuscript to my editor by the middle of November. I would like to be done before then, but I’m realistic, and considering I work full-time and have two elementary school age kids, I think that’s the best I can hope for.

Write on!!!