I plot. I spend weeks figuring out characters, locations, and flaws. And then I dig in deep. I plot my story out, by acts and beats, down to each and every scene of my story. And, sometimes, those scenes have beats and entire stretches of dialog in the notes.

Thinking Through Our Fingers: In the Mind of an Outliner – Arcs and Structure.

This is front loading a story with lots of work. I know this. But as a teacher, mom, wife, and all the other things, I realized I was doing more work trying to keep a story in my head than taking the time (several weeks) to really think through where I was going. Having a structured system lets me see the big picture and the small picture.

Like the quote says, I realize it’s a lot of work. I once bemoaned how long my writing process takes me and the wise K.M. Weiland tweeted back to me, to paraphrase, that’s the least important thing in writing I could worry about. And she’s so freaking right. Getting the story right, and layered with resonance, is the most important thing. How we get there are just details.

I have to add that once I start writing, it goes pretty fast. I can do up to 6k a day because everything is already in place, except the actual words. That becomes the easy part, at least in the first draft. I sprint with my friends, the words flying from my fingertips because I know where I’ve been, I know where I’m at, and I know where I’m going. Need to foreshadow–no problem.

I highly recommend that people try plotting, to their own comfort level. There are some things in your story that you will need to work out. Doing that ahead of time prevents writer’s block.

Best resources for plotting

Good luck!

P.S. Don’t forget my new novella, out now, My Fake Vegas Boyfriend. It’s book one of my Viva Las Vegas series set in 1958. Books 2 will be out in early April and book 3 in mid-June. Read chapter one here.

Today my book, My Fake Vegas Boyfriend, was released. (Did you know you can read Chapter 1 right here, on my site? Check it out.)

This is book one in my Viva Las Vegas series and the other two will be released in April and June. There’s so much I love about this series–the characters, the setting, the clothes, but today? The music.

There were 3 songs that inspired this book (and then, in turn, it became a series because I wasn’t ready to leave that world). The songs may not have been out in 1958 (when the stories take place), they may be older or may not have been out yet. But when the bud of an idea for this story first began, it was about evoking a feeling for the time and the people who occupied it.

The first song was Sway by Rosemary Clooney. That beat, the passion in the lyrics, the back-and-forth of two people falling in love was my foundation for the story ideas.

In writing this story, and after listening to Sway, I knew there would be a dance scene. I’ve never written one of those before, and the logistics of how to write that without it becoming, “He twirled her. She spun,” was intimidating indeed. I think I pulled it off. In fact, it was one of those things like dancing, where I just let myself access the moment and went with it and when I was done, I thought, “Damn. That’s actually good.”

But then to pick the song they would’ve been able to dance to. It had to be something I connected to, something that spoke to where they were emotionally in the story at that point, and something released before or in 1958. I chose Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You by Frankie Valli and, seriously, if you listen to the song and read that scene… it works well.

Finally, a song that helped me access the core conflict for Layla. It’s not an exact replica of her feelings, but it speaks to the situation she finds herself in. I don’t want to say anything spoilery, so I’m just going to leave the song here and hope you enjoy it– Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by The Shirelles.

I’ve very much enjoyed this walk down memory lane with you. These stories came about when I was in a dark place emotionally and I literally wrote myself out of a depression. They’re magical, I’m very proud of them, and I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.

My Fake Vegas Boyfriend

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I’ve got a lot of books coming out this year. For now, let’s focus on the Viva Las Vegas series. The first book, the aforementioned My Fake Vegas Boyfriend, will be available February 6. Based on my understanding with the publisher, the second book (My Big Fat Vegas Wedding) will debut in April and the final book (My Vegas Comeback) in June.

These stories center around the Rosas siblings–two older brothers and their baby sister. Layla gets to tell her story first. I’m so pumped for you guys to read this story. It’s like nothing I’ve written before and (disclaimer) it takes place in Las Vegas, 1958. I had to do so much research! At one point, in the third book, I had my heroine making coffee with the hero’s fancy coffee machine and then my brain shot out a, “Double check that,” and in 1958 one would’ve used a percolator to make coffee. Mr. Coffee and his progeny didn’t make their debut for a few more years.

On the fun side, researching the clothing, the hairstyles, the fashion and beauty icons of the time. All of that is included in the story to help you immerse yourself in a time you might never have lived through (I didn’t!).

Learn more about My Fake Vegas Boyfriend on the book page or just go now and read chapter one.

One final note: don’t forget that today is the last day to buy Infamous for $0.99 and that the audiobook is now available through audible and amazon. Just go to the book page, find your vendor, and click to buy the book.

Much love for you all,

This month marks the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing. She passed less than two years after her husband, my grandfather. They’ve been on my mind a lot lately. I catch my thoughts slipping into memories, like a bittersweet treat. I saw a typewriter today and thought I’d share one of the many reasons I love them so much.

When I was 15, I wanted a typewriter. I am a techie–always have been–and a writer. I take my wording quite seriously and always have.

This typewriter had a small word-processing feature on it. Not to give away my age, but this would’ve been summer of 1989. Believe me, when I tell you, this was cutting edge.

The typewriter would store one line in its memory and on the small screen. You could go back and edit that line or hit enter at the end and the line would be dashed off by the super-quick typewriting mechanism. I know it wasn’t the kind with keys that popped up for each letter. It was a grandfather to the computers that would come later and so it held the single line in memory then printed it off. There was also–and this was amazing–erasing tape. You could backspace and it would overwrite what had been written with a clear or white square.

I guess I saw this in the Sears catalog that my other grandmother would receive. (I’ve written about her before, too.) I’m not sure how much it cost. More than a hundred–less than three, I suppose. Which was exorbitant. My parents could never have afforded that.  I knew I would never get it, but it was so pretty, and technologically edgy, and perfect for someone who loved words. I knew I wanted to write, though nothing so specific as being a writer had formed. I think I was too scared of how much I wanted it to give it voice.

It was my birthday in July and my grandfather showed up. Now, with my children, he was very hands on. Went to all their school functions–that sort of thing. But with me… he was the big gun. I knew he loved me fiercely and would do anything within his power for me. That was more than enough.

He brought with him a box from Sears that held my beautiful Brother typewriter/word processor. My grandmother was with him, of course. He would’ve never known I wanted it if she hadn’t told him. I remembered wistfully telling her about all the features, how I was going to teach myself to type, how I could use it for school projects. I was… overwhelmed and grateful. I’m still grateful.

I did use it for school. I did teach myself to type, retyping magazine articles over and over until I could type at 90 wpm. I also wrote a few short stories on it. I kept it and used it in college, at least the first couple of years. Then computers took over the world and I managed to get myself one of those.

But, what a gift that was for a budding writer. The ability to write as many words as I wanted, neatly, cohesively. My heart says that maybe I wouldn’t be who I am today if they hadn’t been so generous and thoughtful.

I’m lucky enough to have my parents and a very special Aunt who has been like a combo second-mom/best friend to me over the years. I think the lesson for me is to enjoy each moment with them. Live in it. Feel the gratitude, be overwhelmed. Put the phone down and just be. I hope you’ll do the same this year, because we’re not promised any tomorrows. Let’s enjoy our todays to the fullest.

Here at the Sizemore home, we’re getting ready to celebrate Christmas. To those of you who celebrate differing holidays, like, say, Festivus (a holiday for the rest of us), I wish you lovely celebrations, decadent food, and happiness in the upcoming year.

It’s been a hard year, 2017. I lost my grandmother, I got a 3 book contract. I’ve watched my kids succeed and struggle. I got an Alienware computer (OMGYAY) and a new Nintendo 3DSXL. Not that I’m all about the things… I’m just looking for the stuff I can appreciate. It’s my way of coping. Don’t even get me started on the state of government. I’m kind of happy to see the backside of 2017.

I was hoping to have a cover reveal this week, but, alas, I have no pretties to show you. Yet. I do have a blurb for My Fake Vegas Boyfriend, the first in the Viva Las Vegas trilogy. It will be released on February 6–if you haven’t seen that yet.

1958 Las Vegas. She can ruin his career. He can save her freedom. What’s a little blackmail between strangers?

 

Layla Rosas has been burned too many times—by her cheating ex, her narcissist mother, and now her father who’ll put her in an asylum, for good this time, if she can’t settle down and be a good girl. She needs a quality boyfriend—now—to convince her dad she’s back on the straight and narrow.

 

Jace Russell is good at his job: keeping the wealthy elite who visit his casino safe and happy. When a photographer snaps a career-ending shot of a client, it’s Jace’s duty to do whatever it takes to stop that photo from hitting the press.

 

Layla didn’t intend to take a compromising shot, but that doesn’t mean she won’t use it. When Jace realizes a few fake dates are all she wants in exchange for the negatives, he’s all in—with the added agenda of getting the crazy but beautiful woman between his sheets. But Layla refuses to gamble her heart on the toe-curling kisses of a fake boyfriend. It’s just a few dates. How hard can it be?

Doesn’t that sound like delicious fun? The answer is yes, lovelies. And it is.

For now, from me to you, happy holidays!

Note: This post is about Exactly Like You, which is on sale this week until December 1. Here’s a quick buy link from Amazon or hop over to the book’s page for a list of retailers.

Further note: I discuss in this post heroines I’ve written with depression and one who is a former cutter, so trigger warning.

When I wrote my last book, Exactly Like You, I wanted to do something I didn’t often see done–tackle depression in a hero/heroine. I know I’m not the first to write about this, and won’t be the last. And that’s great news because the stigma associated with mental illness needs to be blown away.

Roxie’s life had been decimated by some difficult situations (her sister’s suicide and a traumatic event at her former job as a social worker). She’s not sad or down; she’s lost in the quagmire of clinical depression. And it scares her parents and, eventually, Aidan so much they sort of stop seeing her and only see the disease.

I wanted to accurately portray the illness; no instantly getting better because of true love’s first kiss or anything. And I think I did a good job. The Genre Minx, who reviewed the book, had this to say:

I loved that Ms. Sizemore was able to write a story dealing with a difficult subject and not make it cliche or overly dramatic. Roxie’s struggle is real and she owns her struggle.

Natalie Rowe gave this glowing praise on the topic in her review on Goodreads:

The story tackles an issue of depression, it also portrays it so well! Roxie’s mental battle is so well written, you can really understand her anxieties and irrational thoughts that come with depression. I’ve read a lot of books where somebody is battling with depression and everything is just constant sadness. Which isn’t what depression is. This book portrayed it perfectly.

Falling in love doesn’t solve every problem and it shouldn’t make a character complete. What it should do, in fiction and in real life, is make us want to be a better version of who we are, the whole person we can be–if we’re willing to put in the work.

It’s why I love writing romance and why I’ll keep creating messy, real characters to populate my books. Next year, the first book in my Viva Las Vegas series, My Fake Vegas Boyfriend, debuts on February 6. The heroine of that book is a former cutter who uses photography as an outlet for the strong urges she still has to bring emotional relief with cutting. I love her, I love the hero and heroine’s journey.

For now, check out Exactly Like You while it’s on sale and get ready to Vegas it up next year, fifties style.

I have some news: I recently signed a contract with After Glows Publishing to publish my three novellas, all set in Las Vegas, 1958. (Psst: They published my Cupid’s Cafe book, Exactly Like You.)

The stories center around a very dysfunctional Italian-American family, specifically two brothers and their younger sister. We start with Layla (the sister) and she is in a pinch.

I’d tell you more, but those little blurbs of information haven’t seen the editor yet. And I don’t have covers or a release date.

But, YAY! I get to share all three stories with you next year.

Sign up for my newsletter, if you can’t wait to find out more, because they get all the details first. I love them. Not more than you, but why not join them so all the people I love are together? And if you don’t want to sign up for my newsletter, that’s ok. I’ll share updates and information here. There’s so much research involved in writing a story set in a real city sixty years ago.

Until next month, I thank you for your support so. much.

 

Today, I’m interviewing a friend and critique partner. I’m so excited for her new book which hit online retailers yesterday.

Are you working on another book? 

I am currently writing the first full-length novel in the Serendipity series. It will follow one of the characters readers will be introduced to in What if We Break, Justice Morgan

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

I would probably hang out with Dakota Bryant, the heroine in What if We Break. We’ve all experienced loss, and like so many people it seems, I fight with depression and anxiety, which plays a part in Dakota’s character. We would probably go for coffee, or maybe grab a drink, somewhere chill. A place where you could just hang out, maybe grab a bite, and just talk.

What is your book about?

This particular book is kind of an introduction of sorts to the fictional small town of Serendipity, Texas. In What if We Break, the readers get to meet Dakota and Kreed Bryant, a married couple who at the start of the book are separated. They’ve faced a lot of trials in their marriage and struggle to come back on common ground. There will be more books in this small town, but this really gave me a chance to explore the town and some of the handful of characters that have been occupying my mind lately.

What is your favorite part of the book?

Ooh…my favorite part, without giving too much away, is what the hero, Kreed Bryant, does to try and set things right with his wife.

Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer?

I do have another job! I work as a barista in a family owned coffee shop in my small town of Cedar City, Utah. It is such a blast…and in some ways (as my niece has informed me) is very 90s cliché for an author.

Blurb

Sometimes the holidays can be complicated…

Dakota Bryant has had more than her share of heartache, especially around the holidays. With her best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her estranged husband in the wedding party, she’s not likely to catch a break. Hopefully, she can survive the Christmas week with her heart and sanity still intact.

War and loss left Kreed Bryant a shell of the man he once was. Returning home for the holidays to play his role as best man to his closest friend is simple. Facing his biggest challenge… setting things right with the one woman he vowed to move Heaven and Earth for is a lot more complicated.

To find their way back to the love they once had, they will have to be honest about who they are and learn that every journey to happiness is not easy or without heartache.

Buy Links

Amazon

Book Info

Title: What if We Break – A Serendipity Holiday Novel

Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance

Publication Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Clean Reads

Format: eBook

Author Bio

Author. Hopeless romantic. Overall mess.

That sums Kinsey Corwin up in a nutshell. But, if you would like a little bit more info on her, she was born in San Antonio, lived in the Southwest most of her life with a brief stint in Panama and California during her childhood. The majority of that time has been among the glitz and glam of Neon Lights known as Las Vegas, until recently when she relocated to a small college town in Southern Utah.

She loves baseball, has an obsession with the Boston Red Sox although she’s never been to the East Coast, and she had a real ugly cry going when Big Papi retired.

She’s a Contemporary Romance author who loves the idea of small town romances, friends to lovers, and rekindled or second chance loves. Her heroes can range from cowboys to musicians, soldiers to sheriffs, wannabe chefs or mechanics. The stories are usually fueled by her love of the water, country music, childhood memories as a military brat, and her own deep love of creative pursuits which include cooking, writing, and drawing. You will often find these elements present in the tales she weaves in one form or another.

Author web links

Website: http://kinseycorwin.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/corwinwrites/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/kinseycorwin

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kinsey-corwin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/corwinwrites/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kinsey-Corwin/e/B01FNE9DMI

Newsletter: http://kinseycorwin.us16.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=7b4f60d4a927342562db64929&id=cb4773c4ee

Today, I’m interviewing a fellow Cupid’s Cafe author. If you enjoyed Exactly Like You, step back into that mystical matchmaking environment with Captured Memories.

What inspired you to write this book?

This book leapt out of me in a sweep of pure inspiration. Honestly, it’s thanks to the concept of Cupid’s Café. I loved the idea of writing romances where the hero and heroine are both struggling with real world problems and issues that weren’t getting talked about. While Lori wrote a beautiful book on depression and healing from loss, and Landra’s riveting read featured bipolar disorder and bulimia, I wanted to tackle issues that were near and dear for me. While I’ve never experienced either myself, close women in my life have struggled with the aftermath of assault, and I’ve witnessed friends fight the battle of addiction. Captured Memories is the way I chose to honor the difficult battles those close to me wage every day, and I was so grateful for the opportunity that After Glows and the other Cupid’s Café authors provided in the concept and message of this series.

What do you love most about the writing process?

A couple things. The moment I first start a manuscript is like crack. It’s like the beginning of a relationship, all full of excitement and all the potential in the world. I’m smitten with that moment almost as much as I’m smitten with the point where you write those final lines of your story. Both of those experiences are absolutely exhilarating. After the manuscript is done, I have a favorite aspect of editing too. While writing brain is totally a creative mindset, there’s a different sort of creativity involved with editing that I adore, all the problem solving aspects. In total, despite the times when I’m sitting there staring at a blank page or running through the manuscript to cull extraneous adverbs, the highs of the writing process always outweigh the more tedious things.

What is your writing style? Pantser or Plotter? Pen and paper or computer? Do you write Alone or in public? Music or silence? Goals of certain # of words a week or when inspiration strikes

I’m a notorious pantser. While I’ve gotten a bit better with fleshing out the worldbuilding ahead of time, I prefer not to know much more than a couple chapters ahead of what I’m working on, apart from a couple bullet points with the eventual progression of the story. As I push ahead, the story unfolds on its own, and I end up excited and surprised by the twists and turns along the way. The couple of times I’ve plotted in entirety, the stories end up static and I usually don’t finish them. As for where I write—always, always, always alone. As an extrovert, I have no focus when other people are around because I want to talk to them! I also have individual soundtracks for each manuscript I work on, because that helps me sink into the scene as well. I keep myself to rigorous writing goals every week, which works so, so well for me. If I waited until inspiration struck, I’d never get any writing done because the more I stay in the groove, even on the tough days, the more it becomes reflex.

Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?

This is one of my favorite questions, but also an intimidating one since there’s always so much out of my control. I love thinking about the future and love making future plans, however, a large portion of your career trajectory is entirely out of your control. There’s so much in the hands of publishers, agents, readers, etc when it comes to publishing and finding success with writing. However, one of the ways I continue plugging ahead is by continuing to work on the stories most important to me. My immediate plans for the next couple years are to finish my Take to the Skies series, a steampunk adventure (one book left!), as well as my Tribal Spirits series, a shifter romance (three or four books left to write!). I’m also hoping to have one of my young adult manuscripts picked up in the next five years so I can work on one of those series! As long as I can keep getting new contracts in the next five years, I’ll be happy.

What made you want to become a writer?

Time for a little real talk. I’ve always been an avid reader, ever since I was a kid. I was also an incredibly shy extrovert with social anxiety, which meant I didn’t have many friends. So, I’ll be honest, my earliest friends were the protagonists I read about in book after countless book. Books became my steadfast companions, ways to be stronger, and braver, and more ferocious than I could ever imagine in real life, and the escape to fantastical realms was always one I treasured. From an early age, the only thing I ever wanted to be was an author. That has always been one constant in my life and my direction from an early age. There are so many stories I want to tell, and so many people I want to reach. Even though I’ve overcome my shyness and social anxiety over the years, writing remains my favorite avenue to connect.

Captured Memories (Cupid’s Cafe #3)

An invitation to Cupid’s Café will change your life.

After the incident that caused Liv Morozov to drop out of college, years later she’s still trying to pick up the pieces of her life. She’s managed to carve out a career for herself as a photographer, but when it comes to guys? Her issues send them running for the hills, every damn time.

Zane Parata has declared himself off-limits for relationships. Between trying to maintain sobriety and the long hours he works as a chef, no one wants to deal with his brand of damage, and he wouldn’t want to burden them in the first place.

When Liv shows up at Cupid’s Café, she never expected to find Zane, her brother’s former best friend who had vanished one day and never returned. The sparks that surged when they were both teens rekindle stronger than ever, and all too fast, Liv and Zane entangle in each other’s lives, breaking their own rules. Except with both struggling with the demons from their past, the love that’s begun to grow is one lapse away from shattering the two of them beyond repair.

Goodreads | Amazon

Excerpt

The date started as bland and was speeding right along to abysmal.

Liv sucked on her straw, taking in an extra hefty helping of her black-and-white milkshake, as if the creamy goodness could block out the absolute drivel coming out of this guy’s mouth. He hadn’t seemed like this much of a twat online, but hey, dating profiles lie. The overhead lights of the Denny’s blared down on her, and the rattle and chill of air conditioning blasting through this place made her skin prickle.

“So you take photographs, right?” Kyle asked, his smarmy grin the kind she itched to punch off his face, and the Drakkar Noir he’d slathered on making her stomach churn. “What’s your real job?”

Liv swigged so much milkshake it went straight to her head, but even brain freeze melted in the fury his question inspired. So far he checked off every item on her ‘Shit that Makes Liv Morozov Rage’ list. Acting like her career wasn’t a legitimate profession tended to top that, along with the territorial way he leaned forward, his hand inching across the laminate table as the minutes wore on.

“Professional Emasculator. I’ve been told that’s why I’ve got such a problem keeping a man,” she drawled, batting her eyelashes innocently while the venom poured from her mouth. This had been a bad idea from the start, spurred on by the promise she made to Tessa to give the dating pool a fair try again. Common sense-wise, making connections she might be able to use for her quite-real job as a photographer didn’t hurt, and she figured she could slice through any assholes who came her way.

Looked like right off the bat they lined up for the slaughter.

Author Info

Strong women. Strong words.

Katherine McIntyre is a feisty Irish chick with a big attitude despite her short stature. She writes stories featuring snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes—high chance for a passionate speech thrown into the mix. As an eternal geek and tomboy who’s always stepped to her own beat, she’s made it her mission to write stories that represent the broad spectrum of people out there, from different cultures and races to all varieties of men and women. Easily distracted by cats and sugar.

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Katherine McIntyre’s Support Squad

Cupid’s Cafe Facebook Group | Website | Amazon | Goodreads Author Page

One of the big things I struggle with when starting a story is likeability. The general premise is that a reader needs to be able to connect with a character, that the character should have redeemable qualities so that the reader can like him or her.

I have two issues with this. First of all, I’ve written nice alphas and I’ve written jerky alphas–no one cares. These guys don’t have to be likable. They need to be heroic. They can be jerks and still live by their own code of ethics. I have zero problems pulling this off, but it bugs that heroes are given so much more latitude than heroines.

Second, I have a hard time making likable heroines. I’ve written everything from the wilting flower (who everyone loved, right off the bat–not my typical heroine) to, shall we say, more abrasive heroines (these are the ones I usually start out with). I prefer to think of them as complex.

Because, here’s the thing. My characters are not happy when the story starts. Their lives are usually in shambles or, they think they have everything under control, but it’s all just a house of cards waiting to fall. And people with difficult lives are not happy, likable people.

It really annoys me that I have to try to make my heroine conform to being “likable” in order for her to be identifiable. Um, look… I’m a likable person. But sometimes, I’m a wreck. Sometimes, I’m a handful. And, you know what? I think more people can identify with me than can not.

Starting right now, I’m going to fight this stereotype–that women only like to read about sweet, light, giving creatures. The Snow White, whistling while she works as birds light upon her finger. I never even liked Snow White. Or Cinderella. They were both basically doormats for their antagonists. Why would I want to write that?

Please, give me your opinion on heroines at the beginning of a story. What do you love and hate to see? Call it research, because I really need to know.