Against the Odds. She’s Gone Indie!

DV_Goodbye Tootsie

Goodbye, Tootsie. Putting it Together: Part One
Going Indie…

It’s been quiet around here, and there’s a reason for that. I’ve been working hard, wearing a lot of hats—author, editorial director, copy writer, proofreader, art director—and that’s because…

Yep. I’ve gone indie.

Deciding to go indie with a sequel to It Had to Be You was a no-brainer in some respects and difficult in others.

Backstory alert…

1920s Fiction, 1920s romantic mystery, 1920s mystery

A Trixie Frank – Sean Costigan 1920s Romantic Mystery

When I started  It Had to Be You, I’d been away from fiction writing for over ten years. That’s one serious case of writer’s block, even if it was self-imposed due to Life Stuff.

When you neglect something so fragile and creative for that long, you wonder if you still have “it.” You certainly doubt that you deserve to have it. You wonder–when you skim back over your old books–how in the world you ever did that unquantifiable, Mount Everest-climbing thing in the first place.

So, after over a decade, I stared at that brand new, empty white computer screen with its frighteningly patient, forever-blinking cursor and wondered… What am I doing? And Where do I start? And Am I crazy?

I’d had similar doubts when I was thirty and started to write A Touch of Camelot. The edge I had back then that I didn’t have this time around was a big one. Blissful ignorance. I didn’t know the odds against getting published, and I knew even less about the craft of fiction writing. So, I just wrote.

The result of that blissful ignorance was a marvelous fluke—a contest win, an agent, a publisher, and four historical romances published within three years. It ended pretty fast too—that’s a whole other story—but, wow, it was still very cool. As my dad always says, “They can’t take that away from you.”

Ten years flew by fast. Kids, work, remarriage, graduations…

So, there I was again. More wrinkled but game. Fingers  poised on the keys, staring at that intimidating white screen. I’m not going to lie. It was harder this time. The writing was bad. Every sentence oozed like mud. No emotion. No spark. No voice.

And I knew this…how?

Because I knew about good writing and bad. I’d found my voice once before, and I now recognized it by its absence.

Still… I had an idea for a heroine I loved and a setting that fired up my imagination. But no plot. I wasn’t even sure what genre this would be.

And I knew this was a pathetic way to start a book… why?

Because I knew a book needed to be labeled for the market in order to sell it. And what’s the point of writing a thing if you can’t sell it?

Yeah, I was a cynic. I’d lost my writing virginity, and there was no getting it back. I did the sensible thing. I put the manuscript away. For about a year.

Then I got it back out.

Well… it might be a mystery, I thought. Or a romance. Or, worst of all…a Mysterious Romance.  But, heck, why should that worry me? It was set in a time period everyone knew would never sell. In a way, that double whammy freed me to do the not-so-sensible thing. Write it.

Was it easy? No. Fast? No. Fun? Yes!! But the best thing was, I got my voice back.

Which has exactly what to do with going indie?

Going against the odds.

I could have left Trixie and Sean at the end of It Had to Be You and simply moved on to something more marketable to pitch to a digital publisher. Time-wise and market-wise, that would have been the sensible thing. But…

It was Trixie who’d helped me find my voice again. How could I leave her back in 1924 when I knew her love story with Sean wasn’t done? Her next murder mystery case was drafted. All it needed was to be polished, edited and readied for market.

So, once again, I’m doing the not-so-sensible thing.  I’m going indie.

Want to tag along? 🙂

 Have you ever taken a leap of faith and done the “not so sensible” thing?

How did that go? Regrets? Or are you glad you leapt?

 Cover reveal and launch date coming soon.

In the meantime, here’s the blurb!!

GGoodbye, TootsieOODBYE, TOOTSIE

It’s after midnight on New Year’s Day, 1925, and the richest girl in America has just fallen to her death from the top floor of the posh Cleveland Hotel in Manhattan.

When Detective Sean Costigan arrives at the scene, he learns it’s the day after Abigail Welles’s twenty-first birthday— the day she inherited a family fortune. It’s not the kind of coincidence that warms a detective’s heart. Neither is the fact that she wasn’t alone when she fell. Her new husband, Long Island party boy Nick Welles, lies incoherent in the master bedroom.

Sean’s girl, tabloid reporter Trixie Frank, is the first newshound on the scene. It’s a bigger scoop than she dreamed. The young heiress’s death will make national headlines. More importantly, this story hits close to home. And heart. The victim’s husband is Trixie’s ex-fiancé.

When Sean focuses on Nick as his prime suspect, Trixie is certain he’s dead wrong. But will saving her first love from the hot seat prove fatal to her new romance?

***

Photo credits:

Goodbye, Tootsie title graphic by Fiona Jayde Media

It Had to Be You – Copyright © 2014 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

February Doings, Sequels, and Love in the Movies

The_Thin_Man_Publicity_Photo_1936

Myrna Loy, William Powell, and Asta

Nick: Did I ever tell you that you’re the most fascinating woman this side of the Rockies?

Nora: Wait till you see me on the other side.

From After the Thin Man, 1936  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

February Doings

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when we think of February?

Valentine’s Day. Of course!

This is the time of year when the media, bookstores, and retailers reach out to romance writing types to help celebrate that most exhilarating and confounding of all human emotions… love.

a_gift_2 - Copy

Some Valentine’s goodies destined for the gift basket.

As a digital-only author, I don’t do book signings, but I’m looking forward to joining a whole passel of local romance authors at Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouses in Mechanicsburg, PA on Valentine’s Day.

If you’re in the area and you could use some baked sweets, seeds, plants, or a little romance, stop by and buy a signed book, take home a post card, or sign up for a chance to win a gift basket full of donated Valentine goodies from our authors.

Coming in 2015 … the sequel to It Had to Be You

1920s Fiction, 1920s romantic mystery, 1920s mysteryThere’s a reason my posts have been few and far between lately. I’ve been hard at work on the next book in my 1920s romantic mystery series.

No kidding! Trixie Frank and Sean Costigan are set to return in a new romantic mystery–Toot Tootsie Goodbye.

What do you think of the title? I’ll have a blurb soon.

I’ve also been working with a talented new cover artist, so expect something a bit different this time. Stay tuned. 🙂

 Love in the Movies…

CLASSICMOVIEJUNKIE

TCM ‘s big to-do this month, of course, is its annual 31 Days of Oscar festival of Academy Award nominated movies. The line-up is phenomenal.

My humble self-appointed task was simply to pick a theme–take, love, for example (not just romance, mind you)—and choose some films about love in all its varied shapes, forms and sizes…

Thursday, February 5

 ♥ Desperado Love 

Bonnie and Clyde Trailer

Dunaway and Beatty

2:00 p.m.  Bonnie and Clyde (1967)  Crime/Drama. A 1930s bank-robbing couple’s crime spree cuts a violent swath through the American South. Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard., Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons.

 Why?  Beatty and Dunaway illuminate the screen with more than awesome good looks in this 1967 story based loosely on the crime spree of Depression-era lovers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrows. Nominated for ten Academy Awards, it broke taboos for sex and violence and shot Dunaway to stardom (pun intended).  And yes, it still rates a caution for violence.

Tuesday, February 10

Bantering Witty Sleuth Love 

After The Thin Man

Powell and Loy in After the Thin Man

4:00 p.m. After the Thin Man (1936) Comedy/Mystery TCM. Nick and Nora Charles return home to San Francisco after Christmas in New York only to find yet another mystery to solve. Nora’s cousin has been accused of murder! Myrna Loy, William Powell, James Stewart.

 Why? Loy and Powell return as bantering sleuths Nick and Nora Charles in the second of their wildly popular Thin Man movies. Their inimitable romantic chemistry remains front and center, but the mystery is cranked up several satisfying notches.  (Watch a young Jimmy Stewart ooze early star power.)

 Thursday, February 12 (13)

Family Love 

Father_of_the_bride_1950_promo (1)

Taylor and Tracy in Father of the Bride

3:30 a.m. Father of the Bride  (1950) Comedy. TCM  A family man is overwhelmed by the upheaval of planning his beloved daughter’s wedding. Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor.

Why?  Tracy is perfectly cast as the crusty-on-the-outside, squishy-on-the-inside father of the bride, and a teen-aged Elizabeth Taylor charms as his effervescent daughter. A light family comedy with some misty-eyed moments to warm the heart.

Friday,  February 13 (14)

Three’s a Crowd Love 

Taylor-Clift-A_Place_in_the_Sun

Taylor and Clift

 2:15 a.m. A Place in the Sun (1952) Drama. TCM. A poor young man faces hard choices when the world of wealth and privilege beckons to him in the form of a beautiful young socialite. Mongomery Clift, Shelley Winters, Elizabeth Taylor.

Why? Spot-on performances by all three players in this riveting 1950s love triangle. Nineteen-year-old Liz Taylor scores her first time out in a serious, grown-up role, and Shelley Winters sheds her blonde bombshell image to the tune of an Oscar nomination. But it’s Montgomery Clift who owns this tragic tale of one man’s path to hell paved with good intentions.

 Saturday, February 14

 Bantering Legal Beagle Love 

Adam's Rib

Tracy and Hepburn in Adam’s Rib

6:00 p.m.   Adam’s Rib (1949)  Comedy, Drama, Romance. TCM.  Sparks fly on the home front when husband-and-wife lawyers represent opposite sides in a women’s rights case.  Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday.

Why?  Tracy and Hepburn are  synonymous with smart romantic comedy,  and this entertaining film with its battle-of-the-sexes story line  is no exception. Hepburn’s heartfelt courtroom arguments for women’s equality may seem quaint today, but they’re a telling product of their time. How far have we come since then? And how far have we yet to go?

***

And that’s a wrap!
I’ll say toodle-oo with a movie trailer–After the Thin Man–Find it HERE. Have a great week!

***

Times listed are EST. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.

 (Missed something? You may be able catch it for a week or more on demand at Watch TCM)

***

Photo credits:

Publicity Photo for The Thin Man – Author Unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It Had to Be You Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited ® – Copyright © 2014 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Bonnie and Clyde – Trailer – [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 After the Thin Man – By Trailer screenshot  (After the Thin Man trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Father of the Bride – By Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (work for hire) ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Place in the Sun – Production Still from feature film by Paramount Pictures [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Adam’s Rib – By Trailer created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

After the Equinox, Coincidences and Classic Movie Junkie

Ghost and Mrs Muir“It’s been a dream, Lucia…”

From The Ghost and Mrs. Muir  1947, 20th Century Fox

After the Equinox

Happy belated autumn equinox!

autumn pumpkinHere in Pennsylvania, temperatures have been lovely—70s and sunny. It doesn’t get better than that. But our daylight hours are shortening, leaves are turning, and night temps are dipping.

Autumn has always been a mixed bag for me. A sense of melancholy sets in as the season changes. Why? I don’t know, but I also remember the excitement that starting a new school year used to bring. So, I tap into those memories to help counteract my autumn blues. Football games, apple cider, farm shows, favorite sweaters and Halloween. Bring it on!

Does the change of seasons affect your mood?

Coincidence Department

Most years, the hub and I spend some time in Montauk, Long Island, a tradition that started when I talked him into going with me to do some research for the 1920s romantic mystery I was writing—It Had to Be You.  Montauk has some rich 1920s bootlegging history.

This year, on our way to our Long Island retreat, we spent a night in Manhattan at the New Yorker. Wonderful midtown location.

TOP OF THE ROCK

View from the Top of the Rock

During our short stay, we visited the World Trade Center Museum, Times Square and Top of the Rock, but my favorite picture from this visit was the sight that greeted me when I stepped out from the revolving door of our hotel. Directly across the street was a building with space to lease. Beautifully carved into its face was one word: BICKFORD’S.bickfords 3

For those who haven’t read It Had to Be You (and I know you’re out there, you one person, you), Bickford’s was a popular national chain of cafeterias that started in the 1920s. It was a part of the New York City landscape for much of the 20th century. It was talked about by Andy Warhol and it appeared in works by William Styron and Woody Allen. It also happens to be a favorite hangout for my hero and heroine as they tool around 1920s Manhattan solving mysteries. 😉

So, here it is. The view from the sidewalk outside our hotel. Look closely at the top face of the building. I love coincidences. Don’t you? Any interesting coincidences happen to you lately?

Classic Movie Junkie

In nosing through TCM’s October schedule, I saw no shortage of classic favorites I’d happily recommend, but I decided that, for this post, I’d look for some options that were new to me – movies that I’ve always meant to see but never got around to.

I picked six that caught my eye. They either had interesting reviews, stars I couldn’t resist or were considered classics. But I hadn’t seen a one. Of the six, here are three picks. Happy post-equinox viewing!

Thursday, October 9

 Gene_Tierney_in_Ghost_and_Mrs_Muir_trailercropped9:45 pm   The Ghost and Mrs. Muir  (1941)  Fantasy/Romance. TCM.  A headstrong young widow moves into a seaside cottage haunted by the ghost of a rugged sea captain. Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, George Sanders, Natalie Wood.

Why? Five-star romantic gem. Gene Tierney is perfectly cast as the proper but willful widow Lucy Muir in this sweet, funny, wistful love story that transcends time. Rex Harrison excels as the brash ghostly sea captain who first challenges her and then slowly falls in love with her. But he’s a spirit and she’s young and alive. Will he set her free? Highly recommended.

 Wednesday, October 15

 6:30 pm   Wife vs. Secretary  (1936) Comedy TCM. The wife of an affluent magazine publisher begins to believe that the rumors about her husband and his lovely secretary are true. Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, James Stewart.Jean_Harlow_in_Libeled_Lady_trailer

Why? Star power. It’s impossible not to recognize shades of Nora Charles in Myrna Loy’s portrayal of the sophisticated wife. Her glib other half is portrayed handily by Clark Gable, but it’s Jean Harlow—playing against type as Gable’s over-competent secretary—who’s the most fun to watch. Harlow, a comedienne at heart, had already built a stunning movie career by playing platinum blond vamps-with-a-wink. She was ready to show audiences what else she had.

Also watch for a young Jimmy Stewart in one of his earliest film roles as Harlow’s adorable, long-suffering boyfriend. You’ll want to take him home.

 Sunday, October 19

Alfred_Hitchcock's_Marnie_Trailer8:00 pm   Marnie (1964) Psychological Suspense TCM. A wealthy businessman becomes obsessed with curing a beautiful compulsive thief by uncovering the tragic secrets in her past. Sean Connery, Tippi Hedren. (Director – Alfred Hitchcock)

Why?  Riveting, flawed, complex characters. Connery’s suave brand of animal magnetism has never been more potent (or disturbing) and Hedren’s thinly-controlled ice princess performance never goes over the top. Critics seem to be split on whether Marnie is one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces or if it missed its mark entirely. Judge for yourself. My eyes never left the screen.

Content warning: Adult themes–no foul language or nudity, mild by today’s standards, certainly–but it’s about, among other things, predatory behavior and moral ambiguity. Not for kids.

Times listed are ET. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.

Next time… Halloween classics!

Until then, have a great week.

Photo credits:

Ghost and Mrs. Muir Trailer – [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Harlow – By Trailer screenshot (Libeled Lady trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Marnie – By Trailer screenshot (Marnie trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pumpkins and NYC- Delynn Royer

Updates and Whatnot and Classic Movie Junkie

Baby_Face_Barbara“I have to think of myself. I’ve gone through a lot to get those things. My life has been bitter and hard. I’m not like other women.”

From Baby Face, 1933, Warner Brothers

Updates and Whatnot…

GLBadgeFinalist_2014There’s happy dancing going on here at Light of Heart. I was thrilled to learn last week that It Had to Be You was named as a finalist in the Romantic Elements category of New Jersey Romance Writers’ 2014 Golden Leaf Contest.

It Had to Be You is in wonderful company with titles from fellow Romantic Elements finalists K.M. Jackson for Bounce and Tanya Holmes for Within Temptation.

If you’re looking for great romantic reads, there’s something for everyone. Finalists in all of the categories are named in the August 29th post at the NJRW Blog here.  Beginning in September, there will be excerpts, and winners will be announced at the  Put Your Heart in a Book Conference on October 17, 2014. Fun!

Classic Movie Junkie… Labor Day Picks

What’s your favorite season? Are you a summer bunny? Autumn? Winter? Spring? I’m a summer bunny, so it gives me no joy to watch another summer season fade in the rear view mirror. Fortunately, there are some great films on tap at TCM this coming week to ease my grumpy seasonal transition. Here are just a few.

Tonight! Sunday August 31

Alan_Ladd_in_Shane8:00 pm   Shane (1953)  Western, Drama TCM.   A mild-mannered drifter with a violent past joins homesteaders to fight the deadly tactics of a ruthless cattleman to run them off their land. Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon deWilde, Jack Palance.

Why? The mysterious drifter… the Man with No Name … the gunfighter who rides off alone into the sunset. This is an American western archetype that may have culminated in Pale Rider, but long before Eastwood’s anti-heroes rode into town, there was the Man with One Name–Shane.

This classic western still stands as one of the of the best of the genre. Stunning cinematography, timeless story, great performances, and one of the most heart-tugging final movie lines of all time.

Friday September 5

8:00 pm  Baby Face (1933)  Drama. TCM  Tired of being used by men, a cynical young woman moves to the big city to Stanwyck_Baby_Facesleep her way to the top. Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent.

Why?  Stanwyck plays one tough cookie in this Pre-Code classic that, along with some other racy films—notably Jean Harlow’s Red-Headed Woman ( 9/12/14)— helped usher in enforcement of the Hays Code. Is there a great story here? Not particularly, although it’s frank enough to be interesting. I’m not wild about the ending, either, but Stanwyck is a pure delight to watch as this bad girl we love to root for.

Sunday September 7

Charlton_Heston_Ben_Hur_trailer 8:00 pm   Planet of the Apes (1968) Science Fiction. TCM. Astronauts go through a time warp only to find themselves stranded on a planet of the future where apes have evolved as the dominant species.  Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter.

Why? The first and best of the Planet of the Apes series. Charlton Heston brings his A-game to his role as the cynical, mankind-hating astronaut George Taylor. But it’s Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall—as the truth-seeking ape scientist couple Zira and Cornelius—who bring light, wit and (ironically enough) humanity to this grim, clever tale about man’s inhumanity to both man and beast. The final 30 seconds … unforgettable!

Trivia Corner

 Curious about those naughty Pre-Code era films? Many featured strong female characters. Check out more on tap for September 5th on the TCM schedule – Female, Night Nurse, The Divorcee. Then check out TCM’s documentary–Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood.

*

Brandon deWilde

Brandon deWilde – “Shane…! Shane…! Come back!”

Brandon deWilde was that baby-faced actor who belted out the famous tear-jerking final lines in the movie Shane. He was the youngest actor at the time to be nominated for a competitive Academy Award–Best Supporting Actor.

Have a great week!

Times listed are EST. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.

 Photo credits:

By Trailer screenshot (Baby Face trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Shane – By Trailer screenshot (MGM) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Trailer screenshot (MGM) (Ben Hur) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Brandon diWilde – By ABC Television (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sneak Peek Sunday … She Done Him Wrong

Welcome to Sara Walter Ellwood’s Sneak Peek Sunday!

 One Writer’s Bliss

OUT THE WINDOW - CopyIt’s been a few weeks since my last post. I’ve been keeping busy with revisions and polishing of the second book in my 1920s mystery series. I’m happy to say it’s finally up to snuff and ready for submission.  [Insert happy dance!]

In fact, there’s been lots of happy dancing around here at “Light of Heart” because, as I write this, I’m also on my annual writers’ group retreat—an event I look forward to all year. Four days at a retreat center in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania. Here’s a pic of what’s outside my window. Bucolic, n’est pas? It’s a long weekend full of NO cooking, NO cleaning, NO day job—that’s right. No obligations beyond yakking it up with an awesome group of writers and setting one’s fanny down in front of the computer to write, write, write!  This, folks, is what we call Writers’ Bliss.

What special getaways do you look forward to?

And now to this week’s Sneak Peek from It Had to Be You

Today’s six-paragraph peek is number four from It Had to Be You, my new 1920s romantic mystery about a tabloid reporter who stumbles on the story of her career when she joins up with a jaded homicide detective to solve the Central park murder of a notorious bootlegger.

In  previous peeks, we met Detective Sean Costigan just as he was coming off an all-night murder investigation with no sleep. He had one more witness to track down, a hungry tabloid reporter who once earned her byline at the expense of his Brooklyn brothers in blue.

Sean wasn’t quite sure what to make of the lovely Trixie Frank.  She’s the daughter of a multi-millionaire. Why would an uptown dame like that be working for the sleaziest jazz sheet in town?It Had To Be You_Carina Press

In today’s peek, Sean’s past has just walked in the door of the crowded cafeteria where he and Trixie are having lunch after a long day spent canvassing Hell’s Kitchen. For two days, Sean has been looking for the murder victim’s wife, Nell, who went missing after her husband’s slaying.

Why did Nell go into hiding? And what does she know about her husband’s murder? Sean’s got more than a professional interest at stake when Nell walks in the door. She’s his ex-fiancée, the woman who jilted him for another man fourteen years ago…

***

When Sean had set his mind to tracking down Nell, he thought he was prepared to see her again, either face-to-face or, if it came down to the worst, laid out cold on a slab in the First Avenue morgue. He’d been wrong.

When he’d turned to see her very much alive from across the room, something painful caught in his chest, something that only tightened when she’d come close enough for the jasmine scent of her perfume to stir his senses and for the breathtaking color of her eyes to come clear.

It was as if fourteen years fell away. Sean remembered— No, felt what it was to be eighteen again, full of hope and possibilities.

As children, a special understanding had existed between them. He couldn’t count how many hot summer evenings had turned to dusk while the two of them sat with their legs dangling over the edge of an empty pier, talking and sharing childish dreams. And when they’d grown older, it was those bonds formed in childhood that had ripened into a sweet sexual connection that Sean had not found with any other woman who came after her.

But now, as he sat across from her in the busy cafeteria, he’d had some time to gather himself. Fourteen years had passed. They weren’t eighteen anymore, and wherever she’d been hiding the last couple days, she was here now and she was safe. It was his job to see to it that she stayed that way.

“Tell me about the night Johnny was killed,” he said.

***

People come into our lives and they leave. Life paths intersect and then take us in different directions, but sometimes those paths circle back to intersect again. Did you ever have to face someone from your past who betrayed you or broke your heart? How did you handle it?

For more fun sneak peeks, be sure to hop on over to SNEAK PEEK SUNDAY HERE!

IT HAD TO BE YOU


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Text Copyright © 2014 by Delynn Royer.

Permission to reproduce this text was granted by Harlequin Enterprises Limited

It Had to Be You – Copyright © 2014 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.