Tag Archives: writing

How a Sassy Southern Gal and Aloof New York Man Made it to Publication (almost)

Drawn to Her: Southern Heat book 1...coming in April

It’s taken some time to get Southern Comfort, now renamed Drawn to Her, ready for publication. But all of a sudden, things have picked up. The cover is nearly finished. I just received an ARC to proof. My publisher has posted the blurb for Drawn to Her online. The release date is set for April 12. Now it’s time to get the word out!

What started out as a little story idea I jotted down nearly ten years ago, is about to enter the world!

Just for fun, I thought I’d share the history of Drawn to Her:

  1. The idea: I can’t actually remember how the idea for this story came about, but it’s probably because it was so long ago. The original story had a scene in which Drake Carmichael (the male lead) has a phone line installed into his grandfather’s home so he can access the Internet (way back when you needed to attach the computer to the phone line to get online). Eventually it was changed to DSL and in this final release, he uses his phone as a hot-spot. But as you can see, this story started long ago. So long ago, I was a little worried it end up being a historical romance.
  2. The completed work: When I sent the three chapters to the first publisher, the book was a very rough draft. In fact, it wasn’t even done. I finished it in about 3 weeks, hoping she’s ask for the full manuscript. My effort paid off, when she asked for the full manuscript about 4 weeks after that.
  3. The rejection: The editor of the first publishing company was very positive, which is probably why I let it sit for two years while I waited for a response. In that two years, I published at least three, maybe even four, of the Valentine stories.
  4. The agent: Two months before I received a rejection from the first publisher, I submitted it to an agent. I figured an agent would have an easier time getting a response from a publisher. Plus, if it didn’t sell to the current publisher, the agent could get it out to other publishers.
  5. The fix: After the rejection, my agent sent back ideas for making the book better. New scenes were added. Old scenes were fleshed out, cleaned-up and improved.
  6. The sale: During the summer, while on a family reunion in the Outer Banks, I got the call. Penner Publishing wanted to buy this book, as well as two others in a series. Whoop!
  7. The fix number 2: Although I thought the book was in pretty good shape, first round edits came back in November with several suggestions to improve it. So after a few more tweaks, it went back to the publisher.
  8. Approaching the release: I received mock up of the cover last week, and was very excited about it (you’ll need to stay tuned for the reveal). I also got the release date (April 13). This week I received a copy of the book that had a few more edits and questions, which I dealt with and sent back the next day. Today, I received the mobi ARC to proof. This is exciting because it’s the completed book, with formatting, drop caps and all the stuff that makes it look like a book, instead of a Word doc. I’ll review the ARC this weekend and send back.
  9. Gearing up for release: What many people may not know is how much work goes into the marketing a book, particularly the release. There are reviews to get, tours to arrange, and buzz to build. The next few weeks will be busy, but I’m excited. Finally, my sassy southern belle and cool, aloof New Yorker will make it into the world.

Noisy Characters and Other Writing Challenges

Noisy Characters - JennaHarte.com

A few years ago, a member of my writers group made a comment about how another writer in the group talked about his characters as if they were real people. He said it like it was a strange thing. To my thinking, the characters in books are real. Maybe not flesh and blood, but they still live.

I suspect many readers feel the same way about characters they read about. I mean…surely Darcy and Elizabeth are real! However, what might be strange for a non-writer to learn is that more often than not, characters write their own stories. Sure, I start off as the leader, creating and putting them in some sort of conflict. But once placed, the characters often take over, telling their stories without too much help from me.

I just finished and submitted book two, Southern Persuasion, of the Southern Heat Series for Penner Publishing. I have a third book, Southern Conflict, due by July 1, which is plenty of time. So much time, that my goal was to finish a cozy mystery first. There is a problem, though. The characters in Southern Conflict won’t be quiet. They’re chattering away when I sleep, drive, run…etc.

This is actually a good thing, because it’s so much easier to write when characters are essentially dictating what they want to say and do. But it definitely makes it hard to write the cozy I had planned (why aren’t those characters making noise?).

You’ll be glad to hear the Valentine’s are making themselves known as well, although not on the next book I have planned for them. Instead, Jack is in Washington, D.C. and unable to get a hold of Tess by phone or text. Something has happened at her boutique. I don’t know what, but poor Jack is beside himself.

So what’s a writer to do? Because writers block is a real thing, the safe action is to write down the story that is running in my mind, which means Southern Conflict has made it to the top of the writing list. I hope to have a draft down by the end of the month or mid-Feb so I can work on my cozy. However, I have been reading my cozy at writer’s group, so I hope to get a few thousands words written on each week. The Valentines have to wait…but not for too long. They’ll be up in April or May, assuming the characters of Southern Conflict keep talking and I’m able to get their story down, revised and edited by then.

 

Annoying Characters

I’m breathing an tentative sigh of relief as To Love, Honor, and Kill: A Valentine Mystery Book Five receives its first reviews (three 5-star reviews so far). It’s always nerve-wracking to release a new book. Will people like it? Will they hate it? In this case, I was especially nervous because I included two other points of view.

Conflict is an essential part of any story, but as I’m sure you’re aware, there is a fine line between establishing realistic conflict and crossing over into annoying. This is a concern for me in most books, but especially so in To Love, Honor, and Kill. For one, I had to have a realistic reason for Daniel to avoid Kate for so many years, and an even better reason for him to finally notice her. At the same time, I didn’t want Kate to be the type of woman to simply fall into Daniel’s arms simply because she’d loved him for so long. The conflict and times of ease between the two of them needed to feel real, not forced. To be honest, I’m not sure I completely succeeded.

Fortunately, even the reviewer that said Daniel and Kate were annoying at times, enjoyed the book overall and gave it 5 stars.

Summer Lovin’ and Fun

sweethartesI’ve had a crazy, busy summer, and have ambitious goals for the fall and winter! To finish the summer, I thought I’d have a little fun by having a giveaway for my Sweet Hartes. Not a Sweet Harte? No worries. You can join in the fun for free. I answer your questions, give sneak peaks to upcoming books, have giveaways and more. Visit the Sweet Hartes at Facebook to join now! Then be sure to stop by to see what sorts of fun and goodies will be going on in August.

More news….

I announced on Facebook, that I just received a 3-book deal on my Southern Heat romance series. The first book, Southern Comfort, was the book that sat at Harlequin for nearly 2 years (1 yr, 11 mos, 3 weeks…but who’s counting)! Luckily, during the wait I got an agent, beefed up the book and sold it to Penner Publishing! Southern Comfort will be released in January, at which point book two, Southern Persuasion will be due. The third book, Southern Conflict (I may ask to change that title), is due in July.

I’m very excited to have received this deal. Unfortunately, it puts off more Valentine books for a time. My goal is still to have To Love, Honor and Betray: Valentine Book 5 published in September as well as a Christmas Valentine short story in December. I have several other book ideas for the Valentines, but with the three book deal at Penner, I need to get the other two books written. Plus I have a new idea for a cozy that I’m eager to write (probably for NaNoWriMo).

Here is a picture of fall/winter writing schedule:

Jenna Harte Fall 2015 Writing Schedule

It’s a little ambitious, but I can write fast when I clear my schedule and I know what I want to write. I know you might be questioning this as it has taken forever for Valentine 5 to get finished. That has been partly busy schedule and partly plot issues. But starting in August, I’m making a big push to get it done and to my editor before the end of the month.

So that’s it for now… I’m off to write and when it’s time for a break, I hope I’ll see you in the Sweet Hartes group.

I Promise to Do Better…

Last week while I was on vacation with my family, I got a call from my agent that a publisher was interested in buying Southern Comfort. Whoop! Happy dance. At the same time, I had this sense of dread because the offer included a three-book deal (another whoop), but I still haven’t published Valentine book five. Guilt! On top of that, all my traveling left me little time to engage on social media or be involved with the Sweet Harte Street Team.

I’m home now and in a few weeks my kids are off to college, which I hope means more time to write. My goal is to have Valentine five published in September. And because I feel so bad that it’s taken so long, I hope to have a short Valentine Christmas novella for you in December.

I hope you’ll be excited about Southern Comfort. It’s a romance that will be part of a series that take place in Central Virginia. Many publishers like the southern setting and had great things to say about it, even when they didn’t buy it. Once that series is done, I hope to move on to a cozy mystery that’s been peculating in my brain. That doesn’t mean the Valentines are done, though. I have several story ideas for them.

Although the writing (and revising and editing) are foremost, I hope that I’ll do better staying connected with you. If you’re a member of the Sweet Harte Street Team, I’m working with my virtual assistant to come up with fun stuff, giveaways and more. (If you have ideas, I’d love to hear them).