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Jodie's Blogs

Why Romantic Suspense and Historical Romance?

Two years ago, I might have disagreed that I would write romance. When I was younger, it seemed all I read were romance novels. But in the last five to ten years, I've read mostly general fiction and fantasy, not so much romance, although in the last year I have read quite a few Colleen Hoover books. So . . . why do I write romantic suspense and historical romance?

 

Let's start with romantic suspense. I definitely didn't set out to write The Gangster's Daughter since I gravitate toward history naturally because I love history. I love learning about it, and I'll get to that later. But let's talk about romantic suspense and current day stories. I didn't seek to write a romantic suspense. You might have even heard me say I tried to get The Gangster's Daughter to be a historical romance, but it just wouldn't have worked out that way. Regan was too progressive to be a historical woman. If I think about it, I could have pulled it off, but I LOVE the way it turned out. I couldn't be prouder.

 

It started with an idea of a modern day betrothal. That wouldn't have worked with a historical because people were getting arranged into marriage until the 18th century, depending on which country. I believe most countries ceased within the 18th century. Not everyone has read The Gangster's Daughter, so I won't give away anything, but I knew what I wanted to do with that and it just seemed to work better in current day. I didn't realize when I started my search for an editor exactly what genre I had just written. It crossed over so many genres. I finally had one editor read my general synopsis and tell me it sounded like romantic suspense. That put that to bed.

 

Now, historical romance. Like I said, I love history. I love learning about it. All historical information. It's fascinating to learn about times before we lived. What they wore, what they ate, how they talked. When I research things, like The Duke's Daughter and the treatment of women in the eleventh century, I knew I had to create a strong heroine. Evie had to fight back. There were very few women, Matilda the wife of William the Conqueror, being one of them, who gained the respect of men during those times.

 

It's not just medieval times that hold my fascination, though. My next historical with be post-civil war. I would have done, and eventually will do, civil war or pre-civil war, but this story-line worked best with after the civil war ended. I'm not sure how many people know the facts about the civil war, but it  was the deadliest war in American History with the loss of over 600,000 men. In my previous blog, I talk about interesting research. I could write dozens of blogs on interesting research I've come across. My next historical romance has a lot of interesting research, such as how many women tried to get away with posing as men and fought in the civil war. Or did you know that in the nineteenth century, a husband could sell his wife instead of going through the scandal of a divorce? Fascinating, and makes for some good story materials if you write it right. The possibilities are endless if you're in my head.

 

My thing is, I could write so many genres but I'm already taking a risk of writing in two genres. Maybe someday I'll dabble in fantasy. Most authors write one genre, but there are some that write in two. Nora Roberts writes in more than one genre, but she has a pen name for her other genre. She is best known for her contemporary romance with her romantic suspense under the pen name J.D. Robb. She also has two other pen names, one for a magazine story she wrote and another for a series in the UK. Stephen King is well-known for writing horror, but he also engages in non-fiction and realism writing. Lisa Kleypas writes historical and contemporary romance, which is most similar to me because I don't write in a pen name for either genre. I can only hope it works for me!

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Interesting Research I've Found

Did you know that only fifteen states have stolen dogs laws? In researching information for my third book, I found some really interesting information around 'dognapping'. Kidnapping a person is a severe criminal offense, but the law doesn't see it the same way with kidnapped dogs.

 

As of 2023, these fifteen states have theft of dogs in their criminal codes:

  1. California
  2. Connecticut
  3. Delaware
  4. Louisiana
  5. Michigan
  6. Mississippi
  7. New Hampshire
  8. New York
  9. North Carolina
  10. Oklahoma
  11. Rhode Island
  12. Virginia
  13. Texas
  14. Washington
  15. West Virginia

 

While most states consider the theft of a pet a misdemeanor, penalties in these states include relatively small fines and little to no jail time. There are five states that have the best laws regarding dog laws.

  • Virginia has a Class 5 Felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail regardless of the dog's value.
  • Louisiana law states if the dog's value exceeds $500, it can result in jail time of up to 10 years or a fine of up to $3,000 (or both). If the dog's value is less, a fine and imprisonment can still be imposed but less.
  • Oklahoma has a felony conviction with imprisonment in the state jail of not less than six months or up to three years. The sentence can also impose a fine equal to three times the value of the dog, with a maximum of $500,000.
  • New York has a Class E Felony with up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000 (up from $200 in 2014).
  • Mississippi has a felony conviction punishable by a fine of not more than $500, imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months, or both.

 

According to caninejournal.com, an estimated two million domestic animals are victims of dog theft each year in the United States and only 10% of owners recover their dogs. The majority of breeds taken are purebreds such as German Shepherds, Chihuahuas, French Bulldogs, Pomeranians, and American Pit Bull Terrier's.

 

Money is the driving force behind stealing dogs. Dog flippers are people who realize the high monetary value of specific breads and can resell them for a profit. Thieves will steal these breeds for sometimes more than $2,000 of their resale value, with the exception of Pit Bulls, which are typically taken for illegal fighting.

 

There are ways you can protect your dog. Proof of ownership (licensing documents, adoption papers, veterinarian records, identifying photographs, etc.), keeping tags updated, having your dog micro-chipped, and buying pet insurance (if available) are all viable ways. Some people may not know that some pet insurance policies cover some costs that are associated with stolen pets. Figo has an Extra Care Pack add-on (for an extra fee) that includes advertising, a reward and $150 toward the loss of your pet. Fetch offers it as additional coverage will all policies of a $15,000 annual limit or more. It includes advertising costs, a reward for stolen or lost pets, and reimbursement for what you paid for your pet if they're stolen or get lost.

 

What do you do if someone steals your dog (or if you lost your dog)? First, file a police report, although it will probably be a low priority. Don't stop there, though. Post your dog's microchip number, canvas the area and don't be afraid to recruit help! Distribute flyers, search for sale ads, contact your local animal shelters, and contact the media. All of these are ways you can recover your dog, regardless of whether stolen or lost.

 

Curious what the most expensive breeds are? Here are the top ten:

#10 - The Akita is a Japanese dog breed of large size. They were used for guarding and the hunting of bears. These dogs can be worth between $1,000 and $4,000.

#9 - The Saluki breed are powerful sight hound hunters who must be kept on a leash or in a fenced yard. They can be worth between $2,000 and $4,000.

#8 - Rottweilers are domestic dogs, which can be worth between $2,000 and $7,000. Their main use was to herd livestock, but they are also known to be used as search and rescue dogs, guard dogs, and police dogs.

#7 - Pharaoh Hounds are hunting dogs with a willingness to please and are easy to train. They can be worth between $2,500 and $6,000. The Pharaoh Hound is easy to lure.

#6 - The Chow Chow is a spitz-type of dog breed that originally hails from Northern China. They're known for their very dense double coat that is not smooth or rough. They can be worth between $3,000 and $8,000.

#5 - The English Bulldog, also known as the British Bulldog, have large heads with thick folds of skin around face and shoulders with a flat face and protruding jaw. Bulldogs are generally friendly, amiable dogs and can be worth between $3,000 and $9,000. They are energetic, but may overheat quickly.

#4 - The Samoyed is a herding dog with thick, white, double-layer coats. They are spitz-type dogs which get their name from the Samoyedic people of Siberia. Domesticated, they assist in herding, hunting, protecting, and sled-pulling. They can be worth between $4,000 and $11,000.

#3 - The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a British breed named after King Charles II and is generally a lap dog. They can be worth between $2,000 and $14,000.

#2 - German Shepherds, also known in Britain as Alsatian's are working dogs, originally bred as a herding dog for herding sheep. Since then, they're used in many types of work, including disability assistance, search-and rescue, police work, and warfare. They can be worth between $3,000 and $24,000.

#1 - The Tibetan Mastiff  is a large size Tibetan dog breed and is prized for being a nocturnal sentry, keeping predators and intruders at bay. They are extremely independent and intelligent and can be worth between $2,000 and  $1.9 million. Yes, 1.9 million dollars!!

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Starting a New Project

I love starting a new writing project. But I have a hard time finishing what I'm doing before starting in; I get so excited. A fresh new idea, wide open to possibilities that are positively endless, a blank page to create whatever I want. It's awesome!

 

But . . . back to starting a new project and how I do it. I have a notebook (and a folder with random papers that I'm currently trying to get into this notebook) with ideas I've written. It's usually a character with a problem; a scene that's played out in my head to start. That's the beauty of creating. It can go anywhere from there BUT it has to be entertaining, well-thought out, and flow smoothly. It takes a lot to get there.

 

To have a story, you need the parts. This is where I have a notebook, a flash drive, and a 3-ring binder for each book to keep everything organized. I start with the notebook and I write my idea in it. The character has no name and there are no other characters. Typically, this is where I flesh it out.

 

A story should include characters, setting, plot, conflict, resolution, themes, morals, symbolism, point of view, perspective, and an ending. The main parts of a story are characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. Of those, there are three that are fundamental elements: character, setting and plot.

 

Usually, the theme, moral, symbolism, and perspective of the story make sense to me once I finish the other parts. If you've read my books, you know I put a lot into my characters. Every single one of them. Not every detail will go into the book, but I know the details of them. A character's actions, goals, and problems can inspire a whole new book.

 

I like to plan, so I outline everything before I write the book. As I gather my characters, I also determine the fundamental conflict and decide on a setting that will complement it. It's not as easy as you might think. Sometimes things change while I'm mapping it all out. While I have ideas for characters, settings, and the main plot, I start imagining scenes that can move the story forward, create more conflicts, and ultimately shape the ending.

 

You might ask yourself how I keep this all straight. That's where my notebook, my flash drive and my 3-ring binder come in. I have worksheets for my character development, my outline, my scenes, settings, research, etc. I categorize these in my flash drive and I fill them out as I settle on concrete details, and I print out the most important ones and put them in my binder. Oh, and I have a checklist for every project. My checklist goes through the entire process, from starting a project to the receipt of my copyright registration certificate. It doesn't go through my entire outlining process, although that might be a good idea. That is when I consider my project, and checklist, done.

 

With my third book done and in editing and my fourth book already partially written, I expect I'll be starting my fifth project in the spring. What I'm not sure of yet is whether that will be another romantic suspense or another historical romance. I have several ideas for both genres!

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Distractions

Are you one of those who gets distracted easily? I'm one of the lucky ones who doesn't have ADHD or get easily distracted. That doesn't mean I don't get distracted. It just doesn't happen easily or frequently. So, what do I get distracted by? I think it might be easier to break this down to what I might do when a distraction enters the picture. Distractions can be unrelated to writing, although I have many things that distract me while writing. One of that might affect other writers, maybe the biggest even, is editing.

 

I don't mean editing once you've written your novel. I mean editing while you're writing. Me? Guilty for sure. This is one of my biggest distractions while I'm writing, especially when I get an idea for a change of something I've already written. It is hard for me to jot it down and not lose it. I try to use my Notes App on my phone, although there may be a better app I can use for writing. Sometimes I write it in my notebook, but I have so much written there it might get lost. What happens is I go back to make the change and end up finding other things to change. People suggest not editing while writing, but I haven't changed my process because it doesn't seem to affect my results.

 

Research is another distraction. While I try to get all my research done and out of the way before I begin, sometimes things either sneak in that I need to stop to research or I missed something. Now, I'm not sure we can label this as a distraction. It's more like a necessity. Sure, I could highlight it or tag it somehow to come back to fill in my research later, but interrupting my flow of writing irks me.

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Finding an Editor

I admit, I got lucky when I found my editor. I've mentioned it before in my blogs about the process that I followed to become self-published. There is an amazing website service called Reedsy that I went to find a developmental editor.

 

Now, there are different editors that you can hire for different services. It depends on your budget. I don't have a large budget, so I hired solely for developmental editing, which is a MUST for self- publishing. There is no way around this when you self-publish. As the writer, there is no way you can't be subjective with your own writing. Hire for this, unless you have a buddy that's willing to do it for you, but they should have a background in it and experience.

 

Here are editing services you can hire for, in order of how you would do them:

 

Developmental Editing: Start with developmental editing once you've written, self-edited, and received feedback from beta readers. You don't have to hire someone to do this, but I think it is not wise not to if you are self-publishing. That's my opinion, though. A developmental editor is going to do a fully review of your book, including structure, plot, characters, pacing, etc. 

 

Copy Editing: Copy editing comes after you've done developmental editing, and made changes suggested to improve your manuscript. Remember, just because the developmental editor has suggested a change to your book does not mean you have to take said advice. It is your book. Copy editing will check for grammar, spelling, usage and consistency, correct punctuation and language usage.

 

Line Editing: Line editing is the third round of editing by a line editor. They suggest changes to make sentences sharp, take out any redundancies and address verb issues. A line editor may also identify awkward sentences and fix structures of sentences and paragraphs.

 

Proofreading: This is the final editing before publication. This is the confirmation that there are no incorrect spellings, formatting errors, widows and orphans, etc. This is the final polish on your art.

 

The good thing about Reedsy is you can decide what you want to hire for and you can get up to five quotes from professionals you are looking to hire. Every professional has a resume of their experience and projects, as well as reviews. You can hire for Developmental Editing, Copy Editing (which also includes Line Editing, I believe) and Proofreading. I can't tell you how much these services cost because I have only hired for developmental editing and the cost for my editor may be more or less than for others. There are other variables as well–What genre is it? What is the word count? What is your budget? All you can do is put your information out there and collect some quotes. You do not commit unless you accept an offer and your collaboration begins.

 

Everything flows through Reedsy–files, messages and payment all go through this website. I've worked with my developmental editor on two books and we can work together outside of Reedsy. But we haven't discussed anything beyond messaging.

There are other ways of finding an editor. Google. I follow several other website resources, such as Writer's Digest, Jane Friedman, and Writer Beware. I talk about Reedsy because I've been through it, and I'm comfortable with it.

 

Besides Reedsy Marketplace, there is also Reedsy Blog that has some great articles for helping you as well. Remember, before you get to the first editing stage–you'll want to edit your own work!! There's help for this out there! I have my own methods for editing. It's not a pleasant process, but I'm very organized when it gets to the editing phase. I've learned enough to know that by the time it gets to my editor–I don't want her to have to read through a bunch of misspellings and unfinished sentences. So take the time before you hire any professional to do any of the first three to do your own form of editing, even if it isn't subjective. This is a learning process. Do what feels right for you!

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