Category Archives: The Guardian Trilogy

Writing Revolution

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

I’m in the very final stage of publishing my newest book, Understanding Elizabeth. Because it’s my seventh indie publishing effort, some steps are easier for me, but others have become more complicated.


My earliest writing (the Guardian Trilogy) consisted of outlining the basic plot, writing the chapters, sending my work to my betas, taking their corrections, posting on Beyond Austen (as well as Derbyshire Writer’s Guild, Darcy & Lizzy, Fanfiction, and Austen Underground), formatting, one final edit, and publishing.

I now understand that it is much easier to format as I write, so that isn’t the huge headache it used to be, but I have become much pickier (real word?) about my writing.

I rushed to publish my first six books, but with this latest one, I have taken six months between completing the writing of the story and publishing it. In addition to all the steps listed above (minus posting on all those forums except Beyond Austen), I have gone through six edits and rewrites. I finished the final rewrite yesterday, and I’m nearly ready to release my child to make her way in the world.

Today, I hope to put the book in the print template so I’ll have a page count for the cover designer. I also want to finish the formatting of the ebook version and send it to my very talented friend, author Wendi Sotis. She’s a wizard at all things tech, and she has the final look at my formatting.

With a little luck, I may publish the ebook Saturday. 

Exciting times!



What I Have Done and Learned

4 H emblemThat title cracks me up. It was the name of the workbook we had to finish every year for 4-H Club in elementary school. My sisters and I used to laugh about it. I’m sure the wonderful 4-H people weren’t think of native rural Southern dialect. At least I hope not. “I’ve done gone and learned this!” “She’s done gone and got hitched!” “He’s done and learned how to play the geetar!”

But I digress. (How trite!)

I really have learned a great deal in the past two weeks. I always knew that nothing promotes an author’s books like writing another book, but I have actually proven it to myself. When I published Forever Yours, Yours by Design, Book 3, the other books in the series began to sell again. I’ve already started writing a new series which I hope to publish at the end of the summer.

I’ve also learned that having great betas (editors) is very important. People like the story, but many of them comment specifically on how well the books are edited. Readers are distracted by mechanical and grammatical errors, plot deviations, over-exposition, and stiff dialog. They want limited narrative sections and more interaction between the characters. They don’t like stumbling over extra words carelessly left in a passage after the author has edited.

book banner

Better covers attract more readers. With the advent of smart phones and Kindle Fire, even e-book readers get that cover, and a great cover just jumps out of that library. I like color and drama – in book covers. Not so much in life.

Which series would you buy? This set which doesn’t match?

Or would you prefer this set which does?Accidentally Yours kindle cover

Pricing is a great big hairy deal. I don’t pay more than $5.00 for an e-book (unless it’s a runaway best seller), so I don’t charge more than $4.99. As an indie author, I can’t control the price of my print books. I make the books cost as little as I can, and I put them in the Kindle Match program.

Sincerely Yours, KDP coverForever Yours, KindleIf the reader buys a print copy, she gets a Kindle copy free. To me, that’s fair. People have gotten away from having shelves full of books. Open concept modern design is all the rage, and stacks of dusty books don’t fit into that design scheme. I view it as a great compliment readers buy a print copy of my book. They are allowing my work to take up precious space in their homes.

Good formatting is essential. I don’t like to read books in which the font types and sizes are all over the place. I stopped reading a book that I really liked because the font was so huge it was distracting, even when I adjusted it as much as I could in my smartphone. There are also tricks regarding ellipses and dashes which indie authors (and traditional publishers) should learn and use so that there aren’t big chunks of space at the ends of lines. The look should be uniform throughout all the books of a series. I made those mistakes on my first series (The Guardian Trilogy) but corrected them in my second (Yours by Design). One day I’ll go back to The Guardian Trilogy, do new covers, and reformat, but that will have to wait.

I accept that there will be people who don’t like my work. I accept that some of those people will give me bad, even unfair and cruel, reviews. Most of those people have never written a book, and they have no idea how difficult it is. I’m a freight train, and I refuse to let those people derail me.

In writing, sure and steady wins the race. I’m not the type of writer who can churn out a book every two months. That saps my creativity. However, I rarely take a break from writing. I write, edit, rewrite, edit, and continue the cycle until I have something I would enjoy reading myself.

If you are a fledgling writer, hang in there. In the words of Sir Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up.”

Incidentally, don’t forget to enter the Forever Yours giveaway!

Sisterhood of the Traveling Books (Episode 10)

Mandy and Charlie

Mandy and Charlie

For the last two weeks, I’ve posted pictures of my trip to Japan. The reason I went to Iwakuni was to visit my daughter, her husband, and my first grandchild, Charlie Elise Cook.

My daughter’s husband is a Marine fighter pilot and had to leave for a training mission the morning after my younger daughter and I arrived, so we four girls enjoyed plenty of chick bonding. We watched movies, went shopping, visited the Kintai bridge, and indulged Mandy’s passion for renovation television shows (“The Property Brothers,” “Love It or List It,” “House Hunters,” and others).

Jon, Mandy, and Charlie

Jon, Mandy, and Charlie

I came away convinced more than ever that the 90’s called and want my house back. Tomorrow, Mel and I are going to shop for new flooring. After that’s installed, I plan to paint two porches, my office, a bathroom, and several doors.

I am now highly motivated to publish Sincerely Yours and finish Forever Yours, as well as rewrite The Guardian Trilogy, which will become The Xander Chronicles. My writing is paying for the refurbishing. (I really, really need new living room furniture, too. Right, Gayle?)

Charlie and Legacy

Charlie and Legacy

Speaking of The Guardian Trilogy, who better to photobomb Legacy than my own little legacy, Charlie. Too bad it put her to sleep.

Yes, it really happened.

I recently received an e-mail advising me to “write my own story.” Very few people would be interested in my autobiography, but I have already written much of my story in fictionalized form. Guardian, the first book of The Guardian Trilogy, is filled with anecdotal material from my own life as well as the childhoods of my daughters. The story is almost entirely true.

Guardian angel

Guardian angel

Because the book centers around Elizabeth and Xander/Darcy, her guardian angel, you may wonder at my statement. I actually do believe in angels and demons, and I think that they exist around us in a light frequency (or dimension) which we cannot see, much as sounds in certain frequencies are heard by dogs but not by humans. I wrote what happened, and I attributed the outcome to angelic intervention.

Have you told your story? Do you think it’s a good idea to do so?

Double Winners

Meredith Esparza of Austenesque Reviews just published her list of awards for 2012, and the works of two of our Crown Hill Writers’ Guild authors were among eleven award winners chosen from the fifty-six books on her list!Cornwaithe

Barbara Cornthwaite won Favorite Austenesque Retelling/Alternate Point of View for George Knightley, Esquire: Lend Me Leave, Book Two, and Robin Helm won Favorite Pride and Prejudice Variation/Alternate Path for Guardian, Book One of The Guardian Trilogy.Helm

Congratulations to Barbara and Robin for receiving this wonderful honor! What a great way to kick off 2013.

Giveaway Winners!

Laura Hile and I would like to congratulate the winners of our blog hop giveaway!

Ashley Williams and Tia have each won a copy of Laura Hile’s Mercy’s Embrace, Book One.

Misha K. has won her choice of one book in The Guardian Trilogy – Guardian, SoulFire, or Legacy.

Thank you, everyone, for entering. We will contact the winners by e-mail.

Readers, you can continue following the Austen Avengers story on Beyond Austen. I posted part one today, but I will update twice a week until all six of these chapters are up. After that, we will post once a week until we finish the story.

The Guardian Triology by Robin Helm
The powerful and imposing Xander, chief of all guardian angels, has protected exceptional humans from demonic forces over the course of ten millennia. In 1989, he receives an unusual assignment which will forever change his ordered existence. Will he lose the battle for his own heart while guarding supernaturally gifted Elizabeth Bennet from the evil which surrounds her?

Mercy’s Embrace by Laura Hile
Laura Hile’s joyous Regency novels feature Persuasion’s snippy Elizabeth Elliot and her desperate search for a husband. But she’s not as smart as she thinks, and that’s where the fun begins. Romance, adventure, and all your friends from Persuasion are waiting. And then there’s the dashing and dangerous Admiral McGillvary…

Austen Avengers, Part Six

Part Six

The Wolfman could feel the eyes on him. Someone was watching – tracking him – and the hair stood up on his back. He melted into the woods by the factory, breathing deeply to strengthen himself with the waste being spewed into the atmosphere.

Catching a different scent, he morphed quickly into his humanoid form, facing the pair before him.

Lydia Lucious and KittyLitter slinked up to Wickham, rubbing against him seductively.   Continue reading