Regan's Books

Regan's Books
Reads From Regan Taylor

Saturday, March 31, 2012

One Author's Journey to Publishing - Mary Martinez' Story

Thank you, Regan, for hosting me on your blog today. It’s very nice to be back!

Couldn't resist when you commented to me about the date stamp when you started your latest book. 

Regan:  So Mary, please tell us how you came up with the idea of the Beckett’s.

Mary: Man, that is so long ago, I hope I remember. I’m getting old what can I say? Anyway, I only remember the year, because that was when I created my file, and it’s stamped 2009, yeah a while ago. 

I can’t tell you everything about how I came up with the idea because it would give a major part of the book away, but I’ll tell you how the first book –Disappear—arrived where it is today.

My husband and I were watching a documentary—can’t tell you what it was about—and that’s when the germ started. He’d been surfing the channels and we found it. When I came up with the idea, I went and rented the DVD so I could take notes, and the idea grew.  As the idea grew, so did the list of characters.

Let me tell you a bit about my process, which isn’t much of one. I am not a plotter, I do not do story boards, I pretty much let my characters run the show. I have a file where I put all my ideas, most are one paragraph blurbs. Some are a whole page. Those are the ones that usually make it past the idea folder this is one of those ideas that barely made it to the idea file before I knew I had to write it.

Here’s my process, the file that was stamped August 2009 I had named background and the WIP title—as I do with all at the beginning. Then I copied the blurb over, then I started with a list of characters, then I expand a little bit about the original idea.  Then I open a file for my manuscript and start writing. I keep my background file open as I write. As I get to know my characters, I add character traits to their background in the background file, along with their descriptions, etc. As characters appear, I add them too. This particular background file, soon had several members of the Beckett family and that is when I knew it would be a series. But first I had to get The Bridge-working title—finished. The title became Nowhere to Hide several months down the writing road.

I submitted it to several contests and during that course—after listening to feedback—I lost the first three chapters, as it started too slow. Then once I thought it was polished I submitted it to more places. Some of the advice was that where I had my murder was unbelievable. I had been to New York or Manhattan if you will. I had maps and I looked at it again, looked fine to me. BUT the source was very reliable.

That spring while I was still rewriting, we went with our friends and family to New York for a Yankee game in the old stadium as it was its last year. And while there I did some research. I made my mother-in-law and our friends go to the financial district and check out the murder site. OH and the source was so right! So I found a side street and walked/worked the murder out and when I came home I changed it.

For Innocent and Quiet I’ve walked the neighborhoods in the areas. In fact, I had found the address of Christine’s (Quite) townhouse on a real estate site and used that with the floor plan for the story. Ron and I will be visiting there in May so we will be walking by the address and get pictures of the exact neighborhood. I take my research very seriously. There is nothing worse than being pulled from a story when you know something is incorrect.

Anyway, once the story was ready to go, I found that Nowhere to Hide had been used quite a bit, and I changed the title to Disappear. Innocent has always been Innocent, and since the first two were both one word, and I really liked them—and thought I should stay with the one word titles, I changed the 3rd from Quiet of the Night, to… Quiet.

There you have most my secrets about the Beckett’s—oh and there are 3 more siblings I’d like to create a story for, but The Rents  as the kids call their parents, have their own story brewing in the back of my mind already.

Now here’s a bit about my new series:

The Beckett Series
The Beckett’s have a strong sense of family and honor. When one of their own is threatened, their bond is as strong as a badge of steel.

Trailer (Must see! Best viewed on full screen) and Series information:

Disappear (Book I of The Beckett Series)
Available in eBook now at:
Print available May 2012
“Ouch, what was that for?” Keira rubbed her exposed butt cheek. It probably had his handprint on it. “I’ll be bruised for life.”
“Whatever.” Tyler chuckled as he climbed out of bed. “I thought you were anxious to pull weeds.”
“You didn’t need to spank me. You could have said very nicely. ‘Keira, love, let’s go putter in the garden.’ Would that have been so hard?”
“That sounded like a sissy boy, I’m a manly man.” He put his arm up and flexed his pecs.
“You’re incorrigible.”  She climbed out on her side and grabbed her robe. “I’m going to take a shower.”
“Before you get dirt up to your elbows?”
“I need to wake up. I’ll take another one later.”
“Okay, we’ll I’m not going to bother before I go out and get all sweaty.” He pulled his jeans on, put a shirt on and turned at the door. He blew her a kiss as he left.

Mary’s web site:

Thank you, Regan, I had a great visit!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Does Money Still Not Buy You Happiness

There is an old adage that says money can't buy you happiness. The inference is that love, be it familial or romantic is what brings you happiness.

I used to believe that.

I believed that if we had the love of our family and even more important a romantic love interest, we had everything. In the past few years, however, I’ve begun to question that adage. Not because of any changes in my family or romantic interest. Rather from changes in not only my life and those close to me. I’ve come round to believe that an important component to happiness is security and money can provide that security.

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to work in a private sector law firm where I not only made a great salary but also had tons of overtime and with a low monthly rent, shared utilities and my car paid off had money to spend. I took vacations, bought clothes, celebrated major events with my friends. I paid my credit cards off every month. Then in 2005 I made one really big mistake – I was offered the opportunity to refinance my house to a 15 year mortgage with a really good interest rate – or so I thought. I had a job where the payments wouldn’t be an issue and up until that time never had a problem finding a job. Shortly after my loan closed the city I worked for developed money problems such that for the first time in its history layoffs happened. I was one of the people laid off. And at the same time, very few places, either private or public sector were hiring. They were holding firm.

When I did find a job it was about half what I made at the previous one but the benefits were really good and there was, reportedly, room for advancement. The advancement wasn’t a reality for anyone – just something they tell you. It’s kind of a catch 22—if you do the job well you pass probation and anywhere you want to promote to likes having you do your job well. The problem is, if you do the job well, there is no incentive to promote you because well, you do a good job right where you are.

The summer of 2006 through summer of 2007 I attempted to refinance my house and go into a 30 year instead of the 15 year mortgage. My lender (a bank that starts with a “C” and ends with a “k”) played a wonderful game of telling me it looked good. Three rounds of paperwork one of their “customer no-service” reps told me that it was better for them if they foreclosed because then they’d get the foreclosure insurance AND be able to resell my house for a higher rate. After that, in 2008, I embarked on the modification game – and that’s what it is – for some – a game. The “customer no-service counselor” repeatedly told me not to do the things the website asked for but to do other things. I checked in with him weekly – he seldom returned my calls. On December 27, 2010 he told me I’d hear the results in a few weeks but it looked good. Two days later I had a rejection.

Meanwhile in spring 2009 I accepted a job with a salary that would have righted everything – we were immediately furloughed 3 days a month. Half of our bargaining unit either filed bankruptcy and/or lost their homes. We’re talking over 30,000 people.

As 2010 crept by, more and more of my friends reported losing benefits, losing jobs, filing bankruptcy and a few lost their homes. Even with two incomes, they lost their homes. A few marriages broke up over money concerns. Even those who had relatively secure jobs were stressed and buying a burger at a fast food restaurant off the dollar menu equated with fine dining while eating out.

I submitted a second modification package in the spring of 2010 and this time I called every week and got the name, ID, city and state the “counselor” was in. I wrote down every word they said and in each conversation told them what was different from the bank’s website. They often acknowledged that there were three pieces of information: what the paperwork said, what the website said and what they were telling me to do. I noted the discrepancies and when they would contradict each other I’d tell them what the person – using their name and ID number told me. Then one day I happened to mention to the “counselor” that one of the attorneys I worked for was watching my case very closely with me – and I mentioned the location of where I worked. Ten minutes later I had my modification.

THAT kinda proves the other old adage that “it’s who you know, not what you know.”

Bit by bit things improved – I still needed a tenant/roommate – and the first one was entertaining at best. Not a day went by where there wasn’t some sort of drama—either real or imagined. That was 18 months of gratuitous drama. I've often thought her penchant for using strong chemicals to clean -- and freely so -- contributed to Molly's death. Shortly after she moved out I had to have another one more in…that lasted 4 days and I became the not so proud owner of a restraining order.

And then some money that had been owed me for some time arrived. I was able to pay off some heavy duty bills and bring outgoing money under control. I sleep better, am less stressed, know I can take care of my cats if something happens to them, I can pay to get my car tuned up…I can buy a new shower curtain without having to budget for it, I can buy the kind of bread I like and not look for day old. I can afford the deductible to get my teeth cleaned. We’re talking basic day to day life things. I feel a LOT more secure. In fact, I feel secure for the first time in almost 5 years and you know what? I feel a lot happier.

Money can’t buy happiness outright but it can certainly provide security and feeling secure that there will be food on the table and a roof over your head goes a long way to being happy. So at this point in my life I have to say – money CAN buy you happiness because for me, if I’m secure there is room to be happy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Meet My Friend Becca Simone!

I recently asked Becca her perspectives on book covers -- something I love checking out.  Here's what she had to say!

Evolution of a book cover

For me, seeing cover art for the first time is one of the most exciting aspects of being a published author.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the whole cover art process, I’ll walk you through it. For my story DEEP BLUE, which releases later this month on March 29 (!!!!) with Siren-Bookstrand, I filled out a cover questionnaire that will be sent directly to the cover artist. The first thing they wanted me to do was write several blurbs in different lengths. Here’s one of them:

One hundred years ago, Thaddeus was cursed and banished to the depths of the ocean as a half man/half sea creature. He has only three more days to find someone to love him in his beastly state or he’ll live the rest of eternity as a monster of the sea.

Then I needed to provide basic information like word count (24k), genre (paranormal erotic romance), series name (Cursed Love), theme (Beauty and the Beast story) and setting (under the sea in a lair—it’s dark with very little light to see).

Then I described my heroine:

Kate Hargrove, 32, long auburn hair, brown eyes, curvy.

Thaddeus Ryker, 28 years old, long black hair, blue eyes, always bare-chested.

I explained objects central to the story, for instance the ocean is an integral part of the story; it’s always dark; hero is half man/half sea monster so the heroine only sees him from the waist up for much of the story.

I gave the cover artist links to covers and clip art I liked, told her the general feel and tone I hoped for (romantic, sexy and haunting), then sent it all in and…waited.

And the cover you see is what I got in my inbox last week. What do you think?

Becca Simone writes contemporary erotic romance from her home in the Pacific Northwest. DEEP BLUE is her second story. You can learn more about her on her website or her group blog