Where do I get my story ideas? Most writers have probably heard that question numerous times, and sometimes it’s difficult to answer. Some of my ideas seem to come out of nowhere, fully-formed. At other times, the birth of a story is made up of several factors that are only clear in retrospect. Many stories grow out of my own experiences, interviews with interesting people I meet exploring, or comment someone makes that stirs my imagination.
To answer the question, I’ve decided to do a series of videos on the creative sparks that have led to different books I’ve written.
Arizona astronomer Claire Welland is anything but starry-eyed when it comes to romance. She knows her home on an isolated mountaintop observatory makes marriage to most men impossible, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have a little romantic fun. The last thing she expects when she comes home to Port Townsend, Washington, for her high school reunion is to be swept off her feet by Blake McKenzie.
Once the town bad boy, Blake is now a prominent shipbuilder dedicated to helping local teens. When he asks Claire to talk to one of his boys about astronomy, he’s only thinking she might give direction to a troubled kid. He certainly never dreamed she’d inspire him – to fall in love. Now Blake is determined to show Claire that their future together is in the stars … if she’ll only open her eyes.
Kate Taylor hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since her husband David died. It doesn’t help that David’s dog, Socrates, watches her constantly as if he expects her to bring his master back; that her personal life is a series of telephone conversations with her evasive adult daughter and her demanding mother; that working as a family counselor she regularly faces a client named Rachel, a narcissistic woman who evokes Kate’s most painful memories.
Kate is exhausted: tired of coping, tired of listening, tired of life. Then one night on an icy road, she goes into a treacherous skid. A razor’s edge from death, she realizes she wants to live.
She makes plans. She sets goals. She takes a lover. She copes with her daughter’s newest crisis and her mother’s financial foolishness. But then Kate discovers the truth about her client Rachel, and she’s thrown into an ethical nightmare.
I’ve always been fascinated by the power of certain settings to wield control over so much of our lives. When the universal themes of survival, love, and the dreams that drive human men and women interact with extreme environments, lives can be transformed in unexpected ways.
In IF YOU LOVED ME, I plunged a busy Seattle doctor into a remote wilderness in a desperate search for her son.
When the setting is remote – like the northern waters where my heroine Emma’s son Chris and his friend have disappeared, and men and women are stressed by life and death issues, there’s not a lot of room for pretence or hesitation. And when people go missing in the remote, largely unpopulated coastal forests of the North Pacific shores, everyone knows it’s a matter of life and death.
And sometimes, love.
This weekend, join me in an journey of love and adventure, in the Pacific Northwest that I love.
Today is a special day for me. Think About Love is now available as a Kindle book on Amazon!
This one is special for a couple of reasons.
Think About Lovewas the first of my books to be reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly. My editor at Kensington sent me the review before I saw a copy of the printed book. I was thrilled that to be mentioned in Publisher’s Weekly, and pleased that I got a pretty decent review. I hoped to see good sales for this title, but unfortunately, hardly anyone got to see the book because the publisher discontinued the Zebra Bouquet line, and Think About Love was published in one of the final months. The publisher printed so few copies in the line’s final month, that I didn’t even get the copies I’d ordered directly from the publisher for friends and family. I generally refer to this book as, “the one they printed 10 copies of,” although I admit that’s a (slight) exaggeration 🙂
Now, thanks to the marvels of Indie publishing, Think About Love is available in my own Indie edition. And, because independent authors get to choose their own cover artists, I’m lucky enough to have the perfect cover, designed by my daughter, Angela Oltmann of AngieOCreations.com.
And this is a marker day for another reason – I’ve now published all of my backlist (with the exception of Pacific Disturbance, my very first book. That one needs a lot of work, and I may never get to it. Just reading the first page, it’s obvious to me that this was a writer learning her craft.)
My next project is a new book, the story of a counselor named Kate, who makes a decision that throws her into a counselor’s worst nightmare and sets her on a collision path with disaster. I’m in final revisions for Kate’s book, and one of my challenges is finding a title. I love it when titles come to me while I’m writing the first few chapters of a new story. These early titles provide a focal point for my writing, and I escape the nagging frustration of trying to find the perfect title. I know almost everything about Kate, except the name of her story. Somewhere around chapter 6, I came up with the title Lifelines, but it feels too tame for the storm Kate finds herself sailing into.
In any case, I hope to release Kate (AKA ????) before Christmas this year.
The other day I received notice from KoboBooks that my new Writing Life account was ready. I’d been excited by the recent news that Kobo would be rolling out a new, writer-friendly interface for authors wishing to publish eBook editions of their books, and eager to take a look.
I went right over to find out what Kobo meant by writer-friendly. Amazon’s interface is writer-friendly, as is Smashwords. Barnes and Noble’s, not so much , but I’m hoping for improvements there now that Microsoft has invested in B&N. If Writing Life made it as convenient to publish eBooks as Smashwords and Amazon, I’d be happy. More would definitely be a bonus.
I got much more!
Signup: The signup process was easy – it took me less than 5 minutes, and that included looking up my banking information.
Distribution: KoboBooks are distributed in over 170 countries!
Payment – Yes! I was hoping for payment through PayPal rather than checks by snail mail – but I got even better. A bonus for Canadian (and I assume other non-USA) authors and publishers – Kobo pays by direct deposit to my Canadian bank account
Publishing my books – Fast, Easy, and Smooth!
This is the easiest process for uploading ebooks files, pricing, choosing sales channels, and entering the book’s meta-data that I’ve ever used. Not only was it fast to get the data up there, with easy to use forms and very little waiting – the books were available for sale almost immediately. It was easy to opt out of DRM (see my blog about digital rights management) so that my readers don’t need to worry about being locked into one format.
Information on sales – Writing Life has a beautiful “Dashboard” that allows writers and publishers to see sales numbers and estimated dollars earned at a glance, and a quick link to the publishing daqta for all books in the account.
Kudos to Kobo for a slick, convenient interface, and a system that makes authors books available in the ePUB format worldwide, on excellent terms (Kobo asks that the contract terms be kept confidential, but I found them very fair).
Vanessa Grant romance novels newly released on KoboBooks
– DRMfree, samples available at KoboBooks
I started rereleasing my previously published books some years ago, when I applied to my print publisher for reversion of rights of some of my print-published titles. Back then I believed eBook adoption would be swift and enthusiastic, but it was actually over ten years before eReaders became a common sight.
The last few years have been filled with big changes in publishing, and where authors who chose to publish their own works were once looked down upon, so many big authors have joined the crowd of “indies” (independently published authors using the readily available vehicles for publishing their own eBooks and POD – AKA Print on Demand – books) that most traditionally published authors are at least considering applying for reversion of rights and independently ePublishing their backlist. It’s hard to argue that “real authors don’t self-publish” when J. K. Rowling is going the indie route for eBook releases of Harry Potter.
Amazon has taken the lead in making it easy and inexpensive for authors to publish independently with Kindle Digital Publishing and CreateSpace Print on Demand services, and supporting services and forums for indie authors. Authors wanting to make their books available on the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Kobo, and Apple devices can go direct to the online vendors like Barnes & Noble and Apple, or they can go through Smashwords.com which offers eBook publishing and sales, and distribution services to other retail channels like Apple, Kobobooks, Sony, and Barnes and Noble.
When I learned that Microsoft was investing $300 million in Barnes and Noble’s digital book business, like many others, I hoped that this would give new life to Barnes and Noble’s digital book presence, and allow B&N to offer both authors and readers better service. Frankly, Barnes and Noble’s performance in this area has been disappointing.
Competition gives both readers and authors more choices, and creates a healthier industry.
Author Libby Fischer Hellman, publicist Rebecca Crowley, NYT bestselling author Ruth Harris, and thriller author CJ West have done more than wish good things for Microsoft’s investment in Barnes and Noble. They’ve taken the time to analyze their experience of digital publishing through Barnes and Noble and Amazon, and write an open letter to Microsoft sharing their view of how Microsoft can help make Barnes and Noble’s digital book presence better for readers, authors, and the publishing industry.
If you want to see healthy competition in the eBook world, pop over to Libby’s blog and read the Open Letter to Microsoft written by these four authors. While you’re there, take the time to use the share buttons at the top of the blog to spread the word, and make a comment yourself.
As a gift to my readers, I’m setting the Kindle eBook version of my romance novel “If You Loved Me” free for two days – March 2 and 3rd. Have a free read on me!
This edition includes a free preview of The Colors of Love.
In my September 23, 2011 blog Yippee! … If You Loved Me I shared some amusing moments during this novel’s original journey to publication has some amusing moments, and talked about my excitement about this new edition of this romantic novel.
The majority of If You Loved Me is set in a beautiful – and remote – area of the Pacific Northwest coastline that was my home for many years.
She needed his help to find her son – no matter what the cost!Surgeon Emma Garrett had made sacrifices to follow her dream of becoming a doctor – and yet none was as painful as turning down Gray McKenzie. But not even the threat of losing her greatest love could stop Emma from fulfilling her dream of repairing the bodies of damaged children.Now widowed with a thriving Seattle practice and an eighteen-year-old son, Emma is suddenly plunged into the wilderness when her son and his friend disappear on a kayaking trip. She desperately needs the help of an expert who knows the territory – and nobody knows the Pacific Ocean’s north coast wilderness like Gray McKenzie.But when Emma arrives on Gray’s remote doorstep unannounced and determined that Gray will rescue her son, she soon realizes that reawakening her past may cost far more than she’d imagined.
I’m very pleased to be releasing this new version of The Colors of Love, a romance novel I originally wrote for Kensington books a few years ago. I had a lot of fun writing this novel, and editing the novel in preparation for this new release brought me some joyous memories of my uncle, the artist John Keast, who passed away recently. John had a passionate interest in life, people, and art. My journey back through the love story of my fictitious artist heroine, Jamie Ferguson, brought some wonderful memories back for me.
The Colors of Love – now available!!
“Ms. Grant creates a masterpiece … romance at its best.” Rendezvous.
Dr. Alexander Kent feels disturbing surges of both irritation and desire every time he encounters Seattle artist Jamie Ferguson. Alex likes order, efficiency, and women who are as sensible and reliable as he is. With her riot of red curls and flashing emerald eyes, Jamie is the very picture of a restless spirit – the kind of woman he knows all too well: here today and gone tomorrow.
Jamie finds Alex domineering and strangely gruff. But when she begins painting his portrait in gold and rose hues, she discovers that his scowl hides a well of tenderness. It’s up to her to show him that the growing love they share is not only red-hot, but also enduring, timeless, and simply meant to be.
As a special thank you to my readers, I’m giving the Kindle edition of STORM away free today and tomorrow! Also included with this edition, a free excerpt of If You Loved Me.
Storm is my second novel, the story of Luke and Laurie falling in love on the magical islands of Haida Gwaii in British Columbia. Luke and Laurie have always had a special place in my heart, and the storm that drew them together symbolized many coastal adventures I’ve shared with my husband.
When I wrote Storm, I set the story on the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia, islands originally named after the wife of the British King George III without regard to the fact that the indigenous First Nations had already named their islands. In 2009 the British Columbia signed a historic reconciliation agreement with the Haida Nation, and the islands were renamed Haida Gwaii. Because the romance in Storm is so much a part of the heritage of Haida Gwaii, for this new edition I wanted to bring the story forward into the 21st Century.
In bringing the islands forward to the present day, I’ve taken artistic license with regard to logging on Lyell Island. A few years after the book was originally published, a national park was established and the Gwaii Trust was given the task of managing the forests. Because logging itself is not central to the story, I’ve taken the artistic license of leaving the logging camp on Lyell Island.