Tag Archives: friends

Snuggle & Read in This Cold Weather

One desperate young woman.
A chance meeting.
A life-changing outcome.

You might think that’s the promotional hook for one of my own novels, but you’d be wrong. It’s from Caroline Clemmons’ Amanda’s Rancher, one of eight stories on sale at Amazon and featuring strong heroines, gorgeous heroes–books full of danger, twists, cry-out-loud woe, plenty of romance, and feel-good endings. While the snow swirls and the surf pounds the shore, snuggle up with one of these delightful historical romances, on sale through January, and get lost in the lives of courageous pioneer women. The books are well-written, sweet romances set in Debra Holland’s Montana Sky Kindle World locations, Sweetwater Springs and Morgan’s Crossing, Montana Territory.

The Complete List of Engaging Titles

On Sale for Less Than a Buck The Author’s Facebook Page
Loving Matilda Elizabeth Ayers
Hope on the Horizon Cassie Hayes
Amanda’s Rancher Caroline Clemmons
Slater’s Bride Patricia Thayer Wright
Rye’s Reprieve Louella Nelson
Nolan’s Vow Linda Hubalek
Thorpe’s Mail-Order Bride Cindy Woolf
Laced by Love Linda Carroll-Bradd

News Item: All Kindle World books are now in Kindle Unlimited.

For a complete list of Debra Holland’s Montana Sky novels, click here.
For a complete list of other authors’ novels set in Debra’s Kindle World, click here.

Now, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention my own book on sale, Rye’s Reprieve, and its metamorphosis.

I woke up one chilly morning at four AM with a complete scene whining and begging and crying to be written. I obliged, of course.

Rye's Reprieve (3) Final - CopyWhen the scene was polished, I sent it to best-selling author Debra Holland, for whom I serve as developmental editor for all her fiction. She read the scene on the plane en route to a writers’ conference in New York and meetings with Amazon’s editorial personnel. There, they hashed out the details of launching a new Kindle World based on the many successful Montana Sky novels she’s written, and Rye’s Reprieve came into being on February 8, 2016 in the first KW launch.

The book rose to #5 in Amazon’s Top 100 Historical Romance list and for weeks was in the first two slots for KW Westerns and KW Romance. It gets even better.

Through a private Facebook group, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting the authors who have joined Debra’s Kindle World. We now have a map of one of the town settings, Morgan’s Crossing, where my own Harper Ranch Series is set, and many pages of a “bible” in which we list out titles, characters, date-span, and settings to keep them straight. We often collaborate by including some of the other authors’ (or Debra’s) key characters in our own books. It’s fun, and the readers love the huge “family” we’re building and visiting with in the books.

There are now five pages of our Montana Sky Kindle World book titles on Amazon, and I’m currently working on Book Four of my Harper Ranch Series.

It’s cold outside. Get under your favorite comforter, snuggle up with a cup of tea or cocoa, and enjoy these wonderful historical romances.

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Art is Not a Thing. It is a Way.

rainbow-fan

An Editorial by Louella Nelson

In February 2017, the New York Times cut many of its popular categories of best-seller lists—including the lists for mass market paperbacks, a bastion of the romance novel—upsetting many in the arenas of publishing and reading. “Among the lists that appear to have disappeared are the graphic novel/manga and the mass market paperback lists as well as the middle grade e-book and young adult e-book lists,” Publishers Weekly’s Calvin Reid reported on January 26.

I prefer to follow up with good news: I thought this comment by the editor and publishing manager of Romance Writers of American (RWA) based in Houston, Erin Fry, was a beacon to authors who strive so long and hard to reach a pinnacle in publishing. “Thankfully,” Fry writes, “there are a number of other ways members can achieve Honor Roll outside of the NYT list: appear on the Publishers Weekly Top Ten bestseller list or any other PW best-seller list based solely on format, genre, or region; appear in the top 50 of the USA Today bestseller list; or have sold at least 100,000 copies in a single language” (which is the category I fall into).

Fighting back, RWA National sent this open letter of objection to the Times and also posted the statement on its own website:

As a trade association representing more than 10,000 writers of romance fiction worldwide, Romance Writers of America (RWA) is deeply disappointed by the decision of the New York Times to change its bestseller criteria.

Romance authors, most of them women, have dominated the best-seller lists in mass market and e-books for years. To dismiss these authors and the millions of readers who buy their books is to ignore what “bestseller” truly means. Each year, consumers buy more than $1.3 billion worth of romance fiction. If the New York Times eliminates the mass market and e-book lists, they are proving that they are out of touch with what consumers actually buy. Further, the dismissal of two formats dominated by women can’t help but feel sexist.

RWA strongly urges the Times to reconsider its decision.

_____________

Reid doubts they will, and that’s a shame. Literally. Art–and there IS art evident in mass market fiction–is not a thing you can toss away on a whim or a concern about a bottom line. Art is the thread that binds a culture and makes it strong, vibrant.

I believe the move to cut back lists of popular fiction signifies the ongoing killing off of creative arts in favor of the flourishing of financial interests in our culture, if “cultural” we’d be when our arts dry up.

At the end of January, one blog post on a site called The Passive Voice announced a snide headline: “Panicky NYT circles the wagons around 1%-ers, throwing the rest of traditionally published authors to the wolves.” The 1%-ers are the big-name authors who hit the best-seller lists every time they launch a new hardcover. Pretty much the entire reading world knows their name. If a publisher mostly publishes 1%-ers, they’re playing it safe and not trusting that an investment in a new author will pay off. That’s been going on for a while.

Thus, new authors flock to publish their own books. However, the NYT shut another door in their faces. If the new author does everything right and sells a ton of copies, expect no recognition from the NYT: The organization dropped e-book lists. Looks like the NYT is playing to the 1% market, cutting costs, risk, the hopes of new authors, and the pleasure of millions who seek a new voice to read.

Without data to back up my claim but with life-experience guiding my opinion, I suspect that, like other major papers, the NYT suffers its share of money woes. As is so often the case when the financial picture darkens for a corporation or a country, funding and notice for the arts get cut back. For example, following the 2008 financial meltdown, the University of California Extension in Irvine, where I was teaching beginning through advanced novel-writing courses, cut all arts classes from its catalogue. They kept the computer-related courses that filled to capacity every quarter and that strategy no doubt helped the Extension program survive the financial crisis.

The ivory tower creative writing degree program at UCI only allows in about 8-10 students from all over the world, each year. So the closing of the Extension writing courses meant a good deal of Orange County and beyond went without a place to learn to write, publish, or produce. That was 11 years ago.

Even though the economy has rebounded, not much has changed at my local Extension. A quick scan of the catalogue I checked today shows business management, instructional technology, process improvement, finance, law, leadership—a host of valuable courses that can earn my neighbors some cash flow working in the businesses in Orange County. But not one course is offered in creative writing, screen writing, play- or poetry- writing, never mind singing, painting, dance, and so on.

I try to stay positive. And most of the time I can rise above that tug of disillusion that stems from chaos at the national level, mayhem in countries that offer rich culture and rare antiquities, and a community institution that delivers “university-level learning solutions by leveraging the expertise of the  campus and community” but completely ignores the need of the human spirit to renew itself in its arts (quote from UCI website).

Instead of advertising “solutions” and “leveraging,” let’s hear them yell out loud, “Creativity encouraged here!” Creativity is a friendly animal who lives quite well alongside capitalism, as successful romance writers know well. Instead of cut-backs in national lists of the books people love, let’s add lists for the new genres birthed by creative minds. Let’s open the doors of learning once again to the singing of souls through literature, music, and art.

It’s not just the number-crunchers at the New York Times or the local college or university that pluck at my positivity, but also the surging mood in Washington to do away with funding for the arts. Greed is more ubiquitous now than it used to be. Greed kills art.

The grand opera singer Beverly Sills believed, “Art is the signature of civilizations.” In this age, what are we leaving to posterity? A narrower view of what books to read? A business-only agenda? I ask this not just as a published writer but also as a college writing teacher and as a sole proprietor, a businesswoman serving the editorial and mentoring needs of best-selling and aspiring writers. What will we teach the next generation, those fresh young minds who feel a soul-deep longing to create—not just in computer science, for example, but in computer-generated art? That their dreams are not valid? That financial and engineering professions are more important?

Let’s just stop. There is another way to live, a way that arrays our many-faceted talents like a rainbow fan.

Elbert Green Hubbard was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher who was born before the Civil War and unfortunately went down with the RMS Lusitania in 1915. He said, “Art is not a thing; it is a way.”

Collaboration Between Writer Friends

In 2016 we wrote together, did speaking engagements, and supported one another through the loss of a beloved pet.

lou-deb-at-kindle-worlds-panel-rwa-2016

New York Times best-selling author Debra Holland and I spoke on a panel in July 2016 at the Romance Writers of America National Conference. The topic was writing for Amazon’s Kindle Worlds. About 100 attendees asked questions about the financial and marketing side of writers developing stories in a famous author’s fictional “world.” In the case of Debra’s Montana Sky Kindle World, authors may have their own characters interact with Debra’s already created and established characters, they may link their World books to other series the authors have created via traditional or independent (self) publishing, and they may spin off new series within Debra’s Montana Sky towns, Sweetwater Springs and Morgan’s Crossing. Other World creators have their own rules for participation. Amazon must approve World books before they are released.

In my case, as many of you know, I began a new series on a ranch  I created in the mining camp of Morgan’s Crossing. Rye’s Reprieve, set in 1886, features a doctor with a secret and a veterinarian who has come west with her sisters to make the family-owned Harper Ranch flourish. It was my first historical novel and rose in Amazon rankings to #7 in Historical Romance in August. The next in the series, due to release by Amazon December 15, 2016, features a suffragette being tracked by a federal agent and a miner with secret gift and a mysterious past–Rebel Love Song.

Debra and I will do a second panel discussion on Kindle Worlds, with other authors, at the March 24-26, 2017 California Dreamin’ Writers Conference at the Embassy Suites in Brea, CA.

On October 13 we spoke to Professor Karen Felts’ class on Sexuality and Gender at Orange Coast College and fielded questions about romance writing, the writer’s journey, publishing, and the link between imagination and life-experience in writing fiction.

These collaborations emerge from 15 years of working together.  Debra came to me in the late 90’s because she wanted to augment her work counseling stars in Hollywood; she wanted to become a published fiction writer.

I was already teaching writers through classes I developed at UCI Extension, and I was mentoring a women’s writers group on Fridays in my home. I took Debra on as a client.

After a series of one-on-one consults focused on the basics of scene and story design and character development, Debra joined the Friday group. Wild Montana Sky was the result of a prolonged association with this critique group; the book went on to win national awards and Debra spent the next ten years trying to be traditionally published. It was a disappointing ten years.

However, when she self-published Wild Montana Sky on Amazon for Kindle, over the next 11 months the book sold nearly 100,000 copies. Suddenly the big houses who had rejected her were calling to ask her to choose them to publish her Montana Sky series. She turned them down and went with Amazon, publishing several sweet historical novels in the series, self-publishing spin-off novels, collaborating with a sister romance author on a series, and releasing fantasy novels as well as a text on grief and grieving and a chapter in an anthology on self-publishing. For all her titles, visit her Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Holland/e/B004XXKZH8

I remain Debra’s developmental editor, making suggestions on the flow of the narrative in her fiction, on the consistency of characters, on logic, on dates and weather and opening hooks and all the myriad complexity that makes a successful piece of fiction.

In 2015, to help keep each other motivated (because writing is very hard, lonely, draining work even if exciting at times), Debra and I began to write together at my dining room table. We continue to do so. She just completed An Irish Blessing, book 2 of The O’Donnell Sisters Trilogy, related to the Montana Sky novellas. It releases this month. I have been working on book 2 of the Harper Ranch series, Rebel Love Song.

The collaboration goes beyond writing, though.

lou-n-tux-9-18-16-jLast month I had to put down my 18-year-old kitty pal, Tuxedo, who was approaching kidney failure, and Debra, as both friend and a doctor of psychology, was just the right kind of support: loving, expressing condolences, backing off on the writing regimen while I grieved, and checking on me. I was grateful–as I was for all the wonderful notes I received on Facebook from my followers.

I won’t go into details, but I was able to support Debra through a house-move and a personal challenge or two.

When I was ill this summer and unable to write, Debra graciously released me from a pending Montana Sky release date and kept in touch on a friend level.

That’s what we do as friends: encourage, support, guide. Communicate, even on the tough issues. Defend. And above all, create. We create both a friendship and our own rich life,  like close sisters.

Host Your Own “Vision for the Future” Seminar

Host a “vision” seminar with your writing partners, writing group, and best friends, some great eats, and a few materials from your home and an office supply store. Read my guest blog for the great folks at WritersInTheStorm.wordpress.com to find out more.  Just click on the blue title below:

Envisioning the Writer’s Ideal Life With Vision Boards and Mandalas by Louella Nelson

Or paste this link into your browser: http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/

Here’s a teaser to whet your appetite for the details–

…Just as I assert to writers that all stories and characters reside in your subconscious and need only be drawn out through auto-writing, meditation, or long showers—Deb’s introductory remarks reassured us we already knew The Plan for our lives-to-come.  

She guided us in a brief meditation in which we accessed our subconscious and gave confidence to our dreams.  If that sounds a little woo-woo, it is—but it’s an effective way to unlock ideas.  I often suggest that writers tell themselves three to five nights in a row before sleep that they know exactly what to write about, how to fix a character, where to go next in plot, and so on.  Deb did something very similar. 

Here’s a paraphrase of the process:  Essentially, eyes closed, imagine yourself in a beautiful, peaceful place; breathe there for a bit; wander down a path and see your spirit-guide (an ancient savvy version of you) waiting for you; ask for what you want, what you wish to know, and then gently ease yourself back to the conscious world.

Read more by clicking the title below–and enjoy!

Envisioning the Writer’s Ideal Life With Vision Boards and Mandalas