It’s been almost a year since I moved to New Mexico, and I love it more than ever. However, I knew the kitchen would need an upgrade. The house was built in 2006. It still had the original stove and microwave. Then, somewhere along the line, someone had covered the countertops with floor tile.
Tile on the kitchen countertops is a big no-no. The grout is porous, and who wants salmonella on the dinner menu? It needed to taken care of, the sooner the better.
Remodeling comes with a certain amount of drama, and we certainly hit some big bumps along the way. The contractor was more like a used car salesman. He could talk the talk, but… I’ll have to write him into a future contemporary romance novel; as a con man. I finally had to bring in the people who did some minor upgrades for me last year.
Finally, it’s done!
Now that everything is complete I’m loving it. I have new appliances, and for the first time ever, I have granite countertops. Yippee! So now it’s time to enjoy a glass of wine. Then I’ll get back to the business of writing contemporary romance.
People sometimes ask novel writers questions which may seem condescending, although most of them don’t mean it in a negative way. They’ve simply never met an author before. A question I often hear is have I been published yet? The answer is yes, I’m published.
My publishing journey
The publishing industry changed dramatically in the late 20th century. The invention of the personal computer and the World Wide Web gave authors options they’d never had before, and the big publishing houses no longer dominated the industry.
I was a freelance graphic designer when this new technology came along. Most of my projects were designing magazines and catalogs. It was sort of fun, but it was never my passion. I loved creating fine art. I also loved writing, and I was ready for a career change.
In 2006 I wrote the first in a trilogy of historic novelettes for young readers. (Under a different name.) I also got lucky. I happened to meet a small press publisher who was very selective about who she published. Thankfully, she accepted my manuscript, and she soon became more than just a publisher. She was also my mentor. After publishing the third and final book in the Luke and Jenny series I was ready to start writing full length contemporary romance novels for adult readers. At the same time, however, my publisher was changing her business model to specialize in children’s books. We talked it over, and we both agreed that I was ready to start up my own publishing company. So I created Good Oak Press, LLC.
Why I choose to remain an independent author
With traditional publishing the author sells the rights to his or her work to the publisher. This means the author no longer owns their work. It now belongs to the publisher, and the publishing company can do whatever it pleases. Oftentimes this means the work is edited to the point where the author no longer recognizes it. Their name may still be attached to it, but it’s a far cry from what the author actually wrote. The other problem with traditional publishing is that it relies heavily on a premade formula. This limits the author’s creativity and forces him or her to work inside a small box.
A lot of thought goes into my contemporary romance novels. Each and every character has their own unique personality. Every bit of action and dialog is written for a reason. I also put a lot of thought into choosing my locations. If my story is set in Denver I don’t want someone changing it to Boston. If my character is a blonde named Erika I don’t want someone changing her into a brunette named Sarah. Each author has his or her own unique voice, and I don’t want anyone taking away my voice.
I take my work seriously. Not only is my name on the book, my publishing company’s name and logo is on it as well. I work with an amazing editor who understands me and doesn’t change my voice. A professional illustrator creates my cover art, and my graphic design skills sure come in handy. I know how to typeset and design a book. People often tell me my books look like they came from a big, New York publisher. This is the biggest and best compliment any reader can ever give me.
One of my Facebook friends recently posted something about Hollywood. She said, All I’m asking is that you give me good characters, not tokens, and good stories, not lectures.
Such is the sorry state of today’s entertainment industry. It’s no longer about entertaining. It’s about using entertainment to push a political agenda, and it’s not going over well with the general public. I think this is why television ratings are down, and why, prior to Covid, there were fewer butts in seats at movie theaters. People watch scripted TV shows, and go to the movies, because they want to be entertained. However, when you use entertainment to lecture people, they’ll walk away.
In my earlier post, No Politics Here, I talked about why I keep politics out of my contemporary romance novels. I write solely to entertain my readers, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I wanted to lecture people I would write nonfiction. However, I made the choice to write contemporary romance. It’s my favorite genre, and, like my readers, I simply want to be entertained. I stick to the outcomes readers want and expect. Good overcomes evil. The antagonist suffers the consequences of his or her actions. I’m a storyteller. My job is to entertain readers. Period. I’m neither a teacher or a preacher, nor do I want to be, and I leave the politics to the politicians.
I know I haven’t been around much lately, but I have a really good excuse. I’ve been busy moving. I recently sold my home in Tucson, Arizona, (as The Beatles once sing about someone leaving their home in Tucson, Arizona), and I’m now living in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
I’m a native Arizonan and have lived in Arizona for much of my life. I was born and raised in Phoenix, which is why many of my stories are set in Phoenix. I moved to Tucson twelve years ago. Tucson was much like Phoenix was when I was growing up, although Tucson had more of an arts community. Unfortunately, in recent years Tucson has been changing, and not for the better. By the end of 2019 I knew the time was quickly coming for me to look for a new place to live. So, long story short, I came to Las Cruces because I have friends here; a fellow novel writer named David Lee Summers and his family. I’ve known David and his family for nearly a decade, and it’s better to relocate to where you know someone.
They say art imitates life, but it this case it was the other way around. In my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, my lead character, Lauren, moves to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I describe her new home as being out in the country, with a mini kitchen in her backyard, and she’d found the home online. So here I am, a year or so later, and my real estate agent in Las Cruces sends me a link to a home that, while in town, backs up to a big arroyo, (a dry wash), with a large open space, making it appear as if it were out in the country. It also has a mini kitchen in the backyard. So, what else can I say, other than like Lauren, I really love my new home.
I’m almost finished unpacking, and once I’m settled I’ll start working on my next book. More later.
A few years ago I came across a Facebook meme a musician friend had posted about the rules for dating a musician. It was an interesting read which made the point about a gig not being a date, and to not expect your significant other to give you their undivided attention as interacting with the public is part of their job.
Writers, like musicians, have unconventional jobs. We generally don’t work a normal 9 to 5 work week. Many of us have day jobs. We oftentimes have do our writing after hours, and sometimes we have deadlines. After all, our books won’t write themselves. And while we very much appreciate your love and support, chances are we’re not going to be your typical boyfriend or girlfriend. Like musicians, we too have our own set of dating rules, most of which will also apply if you have a family member who’s an author.
the rules for dating a writer
Writing is our passion. It is not a hobby.
Authors and writers are often introverts. Please don’t mistake our quietness for conceit or arrogance.
Writing is not a performance art. Please allow us the time and space to work on our craft.
Please don’t quiz us about our works in progress. If we want you to know what we’re working on we’ll be happy to tell you about it.
Never, ever look over our shoulders while we’re writing!
A missed deadline can be a career killer. If we tell you we’re on a deadline it doesn’t mean we’re trying to avoid you. It means we’re on a deadline.
Please don’t tell us about this great idea you have for a book unless you’re actually writing it.
If we want your feedback we’ll ask you for it. If we don’t, then please don’t tell us what you think we should be writing.
Please don’t ask us to make you into a character in one of our books.
A book signing is for engaging with fans and promoting our books. It’s not a place for you to hang out.
Please don’t brag to your families, friends and coworkers about how you’re dating an author. We’re not trophies.
Please don’t ask us for free copies of our books for your friends and coworkers.
Never ask us how much money we made on our last book, or how many books we’ve sold, unless you want us to quiz you about how much money you job pays you.
We work in an extremely competitive business and we can’t all be as famous Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Never confuse talent with fame.
Writing is one of my life’s passions. I put my heart and soul into each and every romance novel I write, and my blog is where you’ll get the inside scoop. You’ll learn more about your favorite characters, and I’ll talk about what inspires me. And when I start working on my next novel, you’ll be the first to know.
Sometimes life happens, and we writers get distracted. Such was the case with me this past January. My house was built in 1965. I purchased it in 2008. Someone did a not so lovely kitchen remodel in the 90s, and it really looked dull and dated. And while I loved the idea of a new kitchen, I wasn’t so gung ho on the idea of turning my home into a construction zone. So, I kept putting it off. And putting it off. But it had to be done, sooner or later.
So my kitchen went offline for most of January, with my appliances, dishes and cookware piled up in my dining room. And while I was able to do edits and revisions, I simply was unable to write. Funny how our minds work. When we’re under a lot of stress our creativity just goes.
Thankfully, all things come to an end, including a kitchen remodel. And the end result was well worth it. As I loaded my dishes and cookware into the new cabinetry it felt like I was moving into a new home. So now that it’s over I’m back at work on my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, which I plan to release this summer. I’m also coming up with an idea for another contemporary romance novel after that. It’s good to be back.
I was an avid reader long before I ever dreamed of becoming an author. In fact, I came from a family of readers. I’ll always remember my mother loaning me one of her books and telling me I had to read it. She said it was one of the best novels she had ever read. The book was The Shell Seekers. The author was Rosamunde Pilcher.
As soon as I started reading I was instantly pulled into the story and I couldn’t put it down. Such amazing, unforgettable characters. And even though it was a long book, I was sorry when the story finally came to its end. Since that time I’ve read other Rosamunde Pilcher novels, and all were amazing. Not only was she a gifted storyteller, her work inspired me to become a contemporary romance writer.
Sadly, I just heard the news that Ms. Pilcher has passed away. She will most certainly be missed.
It’s been a challenging couple of weeks. My dear friend, and proofreader, Gloria Gray, suffered a serious stoke earlier this month, and, sadly, she has passed away from complications.
Gloria was my proofreader for The Stalker,and The Letter. She had been a proofreader for a newspaper for many years, and was a delight to work with. Gloria had an eagle eye when it came to finding typos, misspellings or wrong homonyms. She would also let me know if a paragraph seemed ambiguous or confusing so I could change the phrasing. We used to talk about the characters and the things they did. She really loved my books, and was one of my biggest fans. I talked with her a few times about my current book in progress, The Scandal. She was really looking forward to proofreading it.
Gloria and I also shared a love of music. In fact, we met through a mutual friend who is a jazz singer. Sometimes I’d take her with me to a few other friends’ gigs. She always enjoyed them.
People like Gloria don’t come along everyday. She had a good heart and she always had your back. She will most certainly be missed.
Writers, particularly fiction writers, tend to be creative people, and many of us pursue other creative outlets. For instance, Cynthia, my editor, makes custom Barbie dresses for collectors along with custom jewelry. She has an online store called, Victorian West.
I happen to love photography. I got my first camera when I was ten, and I’ve been taking photos ever since. Perhaps this is the reason why some of the characters in my contemporary romance novels, such as Carrie Daniels in The Deception, and Danny Woodruff, in The Letter are photographers. I’ve even shared some of my photos on this blog. So, after much thought, I’ve decided to take my photography to the next level and make my work available to the public.
However, before we go any further, I need to let you know that for branding purposes I do different things under different names, and I do my photography as Gayle Martin. That said, I enjoy the great outdoors when I’m not writing, so much of my work is landscapes, although I’ve dabbled a little with studio photography. Learning how to do digital paintings is also on my bucket list.
My photography website and store is called, Gayle Martin Photography, and I’m presenting a nice variety of work. I hope you’ll stop by and take a look. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing contemporary romance novels.