I’m going to be published!!

I’ll be a published author sometime this summer!  Soul Mate Publishing is going to publish my book baby, “Love Redesigned”!

I’m so excited I can’t stand it.  I’m in the editing process now, and also working on book 2 in the series.  And I’ve started collecting inspiration for book 3 as well!

I’ll post again soon with hints about what happens with my hero Roman and his love Genevieve.  I can tell you the books are set in France, so I’m all over Pinterest finding pictures for settings.

Talk to you soon!

 

New Year, New Motivation

Has it really been that long since I last blogged?  Well…November was taken up with NaNoWriMo, and writing every spare minute. Then December hit with a very busy month at work, and the holidays.  And the new year started with lots to do as well.

So to catch up on news…I finished NaNoWriMo with the 2nd in my “Love in the French Countryside” series.  I found out right before Christmas that the editor who requested the first book in the series was passing, but another editor requested the full!   Mr. Collins and I spent Christmas in El Paso with my mother….I’ll tell you, that drive from Dallas to E.P. is a KILLER.  Ten hours of nuttin’ but desert…at least one can drive 80 mph LEGALLY!  Ate some really good Mexican Food at our favorite restaurant there – love the green enchiladas for breakfast!

So with the start of 2014, I have resolved to focus on my writing, and make it a priority.  I’ve decided on a few revisions to Book 1, Roman and Gigi’s story.  I want to get that worked out and polished so I can get back to Hank and Sophie in Book 2.  I’m getting my French music CD’s out, surrounding myself with pictures of France, and soon I’ll be speaking (or at least thinking) with a French accent again.

And just in the nick of time to get me motivated again is the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter WritingFestival (try saying that…er, typing that 10 tens fast!).  With the daily sprints, surely that will get me motivated!    writing-fest-2014-template-copy

Another resolution is to get back on my diet and lost the weight I gained back from last year’s success.  Yep, already derailed with the Girl Scout Cookies that are conveniently RIGHT NEXT DOOR (love those Thin Mints!).   So, resolving to start over again…right about…NOW!

What about you? Do you make resolutions? Do you keep them?  How do you keep yourself motivated?

NaNoWriMo begins soon!

November is not just the month of Thanksgiving, and the accompanying turkey, mashed taters, stuffing, green bean casserole, Parker House rolls, and punkin pie.  For authors who want a challenge, it’s also National Novel Writing Month – hence the name NaNoWriMo.

Authors who undertake the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month.  That’s right, 30 DAYS.   I am starting the 2nd book in my French Countryside series, and NaNo is coming at just the right time.

So, I’m getting my fingers in shape for typing, stocking up on caffeine, and getting to know my 2 main characters, Sophie and Hank.

So, if you don’t hear from me much during November, you’ll know why!

2013-Participant-Facebook-Profile

I’m a PRO!

RWA PRO   I received my RWA PRO pin today!  It’s official!!  This means I achieved PRO status with Romance Writers of America – I am seriously pursuing a career as an author but haven’t received “The Call” yet from a publisher.  It’s a club every author wants to get in, then hurry up and get out of it…which means you’re being published!

Beginning to pre-plot the sequel to the novel I finished recently.  Very early stages, but I feel good about it.  My critique partners talked me into writing a sequel, and I’m very happy about it – I wasn’t ready to leave my little French countryside world yet anyway.  So it’s tres bien and c’est si bon!  Have a good weekend, everyone!

Writing Inspiration

Cover

I’m a very visual person.  I need to see something to write a description of it, so while writing my manuscript “Love Redesigned”, I combed the internet and magazines for images that I could use to inspire scenes.  Pinterest quickly became my best friend.  I’ve been a scrapbooker for almost 20 years (good gravy, that long??), so I did what any scrapper does, and put together a scrapbook/storyboard for my novel.  I bought a SmashJournal from Michael’s, got out my tape runner, scrapbook paper, and went to town pasting images into the book.  I let go of my normal strict design tendencies and collaged the entire book with an old world style.

I created tabs for each section: Roman (my hero) and his goals, motivations, conflict;  Genevieve (my heroine) and her GMC; the settings; secondary characters; the wedding (that which brings the H/h together); and the backstory for my hero and heroine.   R&G Paris Genevieve's bedroom

It was great fun putting this storyboard together.  When I had begun the manuscript, a character popped onto the page one day while I was writing – Genevieve’s gay BFF.  I was shocked, because I hadn’t planned for him at all.  Then later, while I was searching for wedding pictures online, I saw a picture of two little flower girls, and voila!  I gave a secondary character twins!

The WeddingSome pictures reminded me of scenes I had already written; other pictures inspired scenes and action that fit into the story.  I started carrying post-it notes (really pretty ones!) to jot down notes throughout the day so I wouldn’t forget when genius ideas struck me.  Then I’d stick them in the storyboard/scrapbook where needed.

I created an entire world for my characters in this scrapbook, one that I wish I could visit in real life.  By piecing together pictures, I furnished a chateau, an 18th century farmhouse, Genevieve’s dream bakery, and the Paris that I want to visit someday.

How about you?  If you’re an author, do you use pictures to inspire your writing?  If you’re not a writer, do you scrapbook, or cut out pictures that inspire dreams?

Genevieve Goals

Review for “Hunting the Hero” by Heather Boyd

I love reading. I have spent the weekend since I got off work Friday afternoon immersed in the Regency world.  One of the best ways to escape the heat of a Texas summer, in my opinion.  Yesterday I read an advanced copy of “Hunting the Hero”, the conclusion to the “Wild Randalls” series by Heather Boyd, which hits ebook shelves on September 1st.  Be sure to add this series to your TBR ‘pile’!   Ms. Boyd is definitely one of my new favorite authors.   Here’s my review of this book.

Cover for 'Hunting the Hero (The Wild Randalls, Book 4)'“Hunting the Hero” is the long-awaited conclusion to the series “The Wild Randalls”.   The author gave me an advance reader copy for reviewing, and I was so excited to read it.  However, I was so impatient for the reunion of sister Rosemary with her three brothers that I wanted to skip to the end, but I settled down to enjoy the ride.

Lord Constantine Grayling has decided it’s time to put aside his mourning for his wife after two years and visits a brothel. Upon his first visit, he is taken by the lovely and enticing Calista, a woman with secrets buried in her brown eyes.  He is so taken with her, he pays for her time to be his exclusively, which comes as a relief to her as she is just as taken with him. But Calista is a realist, forced into her circumstances long ago.

Lord Grayling is so taken with her, he wants her in his future, whether as mistress or as a governess for his three lonely daughters.  But while she refuses, she is unhappy once he cuts off ties with her – she misses him.  Fate steps in in the form of Lady Arabella, a friend to Constantine, and she whisks “Calista” (who assumes her secret name of Meredith again) away as her companion.  With a few minor alterations to her appearance, Melinda appears at Constantine’s house as a governess applicant and hired on the spot.

While the previous three books in the series had the brothers interacting throughout each one, this fourth book did not reunite Rosemary with her brothers until near the end.  This gave us the chance to know Rosemary/Meredith as an adult, long away from her family, and who she became over the years.  Although forced into her current employment by the limited opportunities afforded to women of this era, she still comports herself as a lady, and is able to teach courtesans or young children in the ways of proper behavior.

I was completely drawn into the book from the very beginning.  Quite frankly, I had not intended to finish the whole thing in one sitting, but the story became so real to me I couldn’t help but continue reading to see how it played out.   Heather Boyd’s voice is so strong that I became a fan after the first book.  Each one I read became my favorite, and with this fourth book, I was immersed in the world of Grayling and Meredith.

I very much look forward to reading more from Heather Boyd, and hope she has more in store for readers with a story for Lady Arabella and other secondary characters from this series.

Inspiration for stories

Writers get inspiration for stories from everywhere – books, newspapers, magazines, Pinterest (a big one for me), and everyday life.  Case in point: yesterday I saw a picture on facebook of a baby girl with her four brothers standing behind her, holding signs that spell out “Don’t mess with her”.  BOOM. Instant story idea about a woman with four older over-protective brothers.  Then, of course, each one of them has to have a story of their own!

Another case in point: I left work yesterday (in 110 degree heat, but that’s Texas for you), and passed by a building being renovated (or torn down).  As I passed beneath the scaffolding, a guy was walking out of the building.  I’ve seen some of them working, and they’re all wearing those white Tyvek (Hazmat??) jumpsuits that cover them from head to toe.  But the guy I saw yesterday had his pulled down so it hutattoong around his waist, and he had a white tank top on.  His head was nearly shaved, and he had full tat sleeves on both arms, wrist to shoulder.   Immediately, the writer in me wondered what his story was, and I came up with all kinds of plots.  I don’t ordinarily like tattoo sleeves, but on this guy it worked.  But if I wrote his story I’d have to make him taller.  :-)   I realized later that I appreciated him as a writer with a story to tell than as a woman seeing an attractive man!

I’m beginning to work on my next story, which will lead into a series of Alpha heroes.  The series idea came to me while at the RWA conference.  I’m really excited about these novels, and I can’t wait to begin working on them, tying them all together.

So yes, inspiration comes from so many places, even just ordinary walks in the dawg days of summer!

A woo-woo moment (or two) at RWA conference

Well, I’m home from the RWA conference, and while I’m exhausted, it was fantastic.  I learned so much, had a lightening bulb moment for a series of books (yay me!), and am energized about my writing.

Oh, and I found my ‘long lost sister’. <cue Twilight Zone music>

On Thursday, I was at the elevators, and a woman said hello as she walked by me. She stopped in her tracks, backed up and said “I’ve been hearing all day there’s a woman who looks like me.  I think it’s you.”  I looked at her, and did see a resemblance.  I told her that for years people have been telling me about a woman who looks like me and used to work there  <insert my place of employment> before me.  Seriously, it happened at the insurance company I worked at in St. Petersburg, at Pier 1 Imports in Tampa, and at my current job in Dallas.   And since it happened so much, it became a joke that she was my evil twin sister.   So Lina (my doppelganger) and I laughed, and she moved on.

I kept running in to her the rest of the day.  Now keep in mind there were over 2,000 people at this conference, and we kept seeing each other.  That night I went to an ice cream social, and there she was.  Here’s where the “woo-woo” comes in.

Lina: “Okay, now we have to stay in touch. Did I give you my card yet?”  She handed me her business card.

Me: “No, not yet.”  I looked at her card and goosebumps sprang up on my arms and along my neck.  I had my own business cards in my name badge holder, and turned it around to show it to her.

Lina: “Oh, I gave it to you already.”

I shook my head.  “No, these are my business cards.”

The picture on the cards were exactly the same.  I think our goosebumps even matched.

Weirder part?  We have the same haircut, wear same style of glasses, are the same height, and our favorite color to wear is black.

WOO-WOO MOMENT. So now we’re ‘sisters’ and friends.

Quick check-in before Conference

I’m flying out tomorrow to Atlanta for the RWA Conference, and am so excited I can’t stand it.  I’ve been watching facebook posts by authors lucky enough to already be there, and I’ve seen a few pictures from the hotel.  The Marriott Marquis is really getting into the spirit of the conference – they have wrapped the elevators with giant book covers!  Isn’t that amazing?

I’ve written my pitch (to non-writers, that’s the short “blurb” writers use to try and sell their story to editors and agents)…basically, what you’d see on the back of the book that entices you to read it.  I’ve also written the logline – the one sentence that encapsulates your story – great to use if you meet someone who asks what your book is about.  It’s short enough you can say it on an elevator ride, but get the point across about your book.

I have to laugh, however.  I blew my chance last night to actually practice an ‘elevator pitch’.  I walked out with my boss last night and he asked where I was going this week.  I told him about the conference, and that I have 3 pitch appointments.  We literally stepped on the elevator and he asked what my book was about.  I was so surprised I forgot the logline I’d written.  Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t do that in Atlanta!

I’ll be checking in periodically on facebook and twitter.  Hope you all have a great weekend!

Allison

Hot ‘Lanta

Hard to believe that one week from today I will be in my 3rd workshop at Nationals.  For my non-writer friends, this is a HUGE, MAJOR conference for Romance Writers of America.  This is my 4th year to go, and every year it’s in a different city.  This year is Atlanta, and bless Dallas for prepping me for hot, humid, bad hair days.  Yes, Atlanta in JULY.  Ugh.  But, I don’t plan on leaving the conference hotel, so hopefully that air conditioning will kick in and it won’t be too bad.

Anyhow, I love going to this conference.  This would be, for you music fans, going to a conference where all your favorite rock stars are gathered.  Yes, I can be fan-girl crazy when I get to meet my favorite authors…at least on the inside.  On the outside, I maintain a professional demeanor.  I just have to remember that one of these days I hope to have my own books on bookshelves next to my favorite authors.  (Oops, there goes the fan-girl again!)

RWA Nationals is 3 days of high energy pandemonium.  What else can it be when 2,000 women (and some men!) get together in one place to talk about something we all love: WRITING.  The workshops are fantastic, and I already have the ones I want to attend chosen, printed out the handouts, and the extra events on my calendar. I always come back so energized from Nationals, so I’ll be ready and rarin’ to go on the next manuscript.

The conference ends with the RITA and GOLDEN HEART awards on Saturday night.  Now, to non-writers, I liken these to the Oscars and Emmy awards.  RITAS are for the books published in 2012, and the Golden Hearts are for unpublished manuscripts.  I have my favorites picked out already, and will be waiting with breathless anticipation as they announce the winners in each category.

I’ll keep in touch via facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorAllisonBCollins  and twitter: @allisonbcollins if you want to follow along and see the fun I’m having.

Oh, and please say a prayer, keep your fingers crossed, or whatever you do for luck.  I’m pitching my manuscript to an agent and an editor next week. (Cue the butterflies in my stomach.)

Au revoir!

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