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BRAVE NEW WORLD (January 25, 2022)

The dam has burst, the block has broken, and all is sunshine and rainbows! I’m back to writing – in fact, I haven’t missed a day since the new year.(That is, not a day in my weekly five day work week. When I miss a work day I catch upon the weekend).

It Takes a Thief is finally taking shape. I’d worked last year between bouts of frustration and block and managed to squeeze out about 200 pages, most of which I despised, but i sent it to two trusted friends, Lynda Ward and Jenny Crusie, to find out whether I should toss the sucker or try to save it. Both of them said, SAVE IT, so I’ve been working on that for the last three weeks. First I had to go through it, toss it the last 14,000 words (Oh, the pain), and then go and rewrite the first 30,000 words, which I’ve had to do twice already and which will definitely need another go-round. First I changed the wishy-washy, mouse-like heroine. Then I changed the confusing villain (I’m still a bit confused about him but he’s coming together). Then I had to put my hero on the page a whole lot more. Then I had to clean up everything else.

But now I’m finally moving forward, writing more stuff and feeling normal again. For some reason I never feel quite right when I’m not writing, but nothing I could do would make it work last year. It just felt stagnant, dead in the water, utterly miserable.

I blame Covid. I was languishing, as so many people have been.

I’ve been really frustrated with Audible because there haven’t been enough new books by writers I love coming out, and then I realized they’re languishing too! (The favorite writers, not Audible. Audible is flourishing, thank God. I have something like 1,300 audio books in my library and I’m hungry for more).

But languish is no longer in my vocabulary. Not only am I moving steadily forward on this, but the follow-up, To Catch a Thief, is already fully formed in my head and I can’t wait to get to it. So as Crusie would say, nothing but good times ahead.

In the meantime, during the doldrums, I’ve been working on reprints. Coming out soon are THE FALL OF MAGGIE BROWN, which was surprisingly delightful (I’d thought of it as a sort of throwaway work since way back when it was internet only) and A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT, which is deliciously gothic and has a marvelous manga available at Amazon. https://amzn.to/3rSRl5g. I’ve also been reading and revising all my novellas, some of which are really good (some of which are meh) and now I need to figure out how to print them.

And then there’ll be the new one, sometime in March, I hope.

Ah, when I’m writing life is glorious.
Anything glorious happening for you? If you’re a writer, how’s the writing going? If you’re a reader, have you had trouble with languishing authors and finding enough of the good stuff to read?

Merry Christmas (a little late)

Well, Christmas came and went while I was locked out of my website – sorry you missed my holiday excesses. I have green and red nail polish, holiday clothing, Christmas paper plates, cups, napkins plus two sets of China holiday plates. Our tree is gorgeous and all is well in the land of Stuart.

I’m really chomping at the bit to get to work in the new year. 2021 was a dud, work-wise. Oh, I wrote. I wrote and I wrote, tons of stuff. Problem was, it was garbage. Well, that’s being a bit too extreme, Being a relatively secure person, at least as far as my work goes, I don’t think I can write garbage. Nevertheless, I wrote tons of stuff that didn’t work and needs to be revised. With an ax.
First there’s the historical, which is half done. I don’t have much to do on that one – just change the heroine, the villain, and give it a plot. Amazing that one can write half a book with no plot.

Then there’s my classic romantic suspense, which needs passion and focus. I’ve been working on it for so long, and at such a leisurely pace, that I have a hard time summoning up the energy for the second half (when I was bursting with enthusiasm for the first half).

At least there’s a fresh one almost perfectly formed in my head that’s an off-shoot of the first one (entitled It Takes a Thief – second one is To Catch a Thief). All I need is a swift kick in the rear end and i’m off.

Of course, with my recent knee replacement it’s hard to kick oneself in the butt, but I’m determined. Every year I come up with a new word or phrase to encompass my hopes and dreams for the new year. This year I’m thinking along the lines of “just go for it.”

I may even break my usual record of never posting here, and I might even get a newsletter together. All sorts of things are possible when you’re determined. Maybe that’s my word for the new year – determined.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and if it was at all melancholy I hope you were able to find comfort. 2020 sucked. 2021 might have sucked even harder. 2022 isn’t going to make our troubles go far away, but we can carve out goodness, kindness and joy if we try.

Let’s do that.

Happy Holidays.

Back From Dead

I bet you thought I’d disappeared for life. Like everyone else I’ve been dealing with Covid restrictions and being even more reclusive, but I’m fully vaccinated, spring has sprung (despite having two snowstorms in the past 2 weeks and flurries on some of the other days. Vermont is gorgeous but it doesn’t do spring.)
I’ve also been battling really obnoxious writer’s block, something I seldom have had to deal with. I’ve spent so damned much time thinking about why I’m not writing that I know a lot of the reasons – for one, the money matters, and I’ve spent most of my career making choices based on creativity, not money. The one time I thought I could take the money and run was a total disaster, and the many times I’ve chosen a less lucrative offer over a more generous one I haven’t regretted it.
And the last book, THE ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY WORST MAN IN ENGLAND, SCOTLAND AND WALES did so well, got such nice reviews and made so much money that I’m a little paralyzed in trying to equal it (when I know perfectly well this is a different book and I shouldn’t be comparing). And I’m being greedy on a creative level – I want each book to be utterly brilliant and ravishing, but the only way you write a brilliant and ravishing book is to write the damned thing.
So I was whining to Crusie yesterday, trying to decide between which two books to work on, my old-skool romantic suspense or my new historical, and I finally decided to get over myself and get to work. So that’s what I’m doing. (Of course, you notice I’m writing this post instead of actually working on the book, but that’s incidental.)
So, starting today, I’m diving back into the terribly-titled Beggar’s Ken, and I’m going to write until it’s done and then slap and knead and pummel it into shape. I was thinking of tossing out chapters, but that will just make me feel frustrated, so I’m moving forward, and as Crusie would say, nothing but good times ahead.
And then I’ll finish the Old-skool romantic suspense, which I love and isn’t what people are wanting from me, and then maybe my Indiana Jones-is adventure, or I’ll write something entirely different. Writing makes me happy.
So today I’m going to make myself happy and write.

It’s Out!

The Absolutely, Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland and Wales

Today is the official launch day of The Absolutely Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland and Wales. It sneaked out a couple of days earlier, but it’s finally in all the stores, with a print edition to follow really quickly, and with luck an audio version down the line.

I was never supposed to write the book. I had four or five good starts on new books, including my favorite, a modern Mary Stewart-ish romantic suspense, a female revenge book, an Indiana Jones/1930s book, a 1920s gothic, and several other starts along the way. But you know, the girls in the basement (as opposed to Stephen King’s boys in the basement) want what they want, and the idea of this very very bad boy came into my head and wouldn’t leave.

When ideas take over like that (Black Ice was one of them – I was 70 pages into another book and just started writing Black Ice one morning and couldn’t stop) when that happens you have no choice but to listen.

It wasn’t like the book was easy. I went off in the wrong direction the first time I thought they ought to have sex, and just dug myself in deeper and deeper. I hate this new habit of mine where I have to toss out tons of chapters, but better wasted chapters than a wasted book, and I love how this came out, though I was ridiculously uncertain in the very beginning. But all my early readers love it, and I’ve let go my worries and just love the damned thing so much.

I’m expecting great things from this, though I’m not sure why. Just my spidey-senses, which are usually right. If you buy it I’d really appreciate an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads, because I’m making an effort on this one, and I really want people to read it.

It’s at all the usual suspects: Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Absolutely-Positively-Worst-England-Scotland-ebook/dp/B08FYXSG9F/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=anne+stuart&qid=1597765753&sr=8-4

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-absolutely-positively-worst-man-in-england-scotland-and-wales-anne-stuart/1137491470;jsessionid=37996624F6E211070942F4DA69D6BB25.prodny_store02-atgap11?ean=2940162958178

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-absolutely-positively-worst-man-in-england-scotland-and-wales

Applebooks: I can’t figure out a link via the computer. If you get your books from them then you probably know how to do it.

It’s saucy, it’s funny, it’s sexy and romantic and it’s written by the absurdly humble Anne Stuart. What more can you ask for in a book?

Ch-ch-changes

OMG, I saw the first sign of changing leaves! It shouldn’t be a shock – I live in Northern Vermont where the leaf color in Autumn is amazing, and we usually see the first signs of change during the first week of August. But it was a long, hard winter, and I suspect we have another long, hard one ahead of us with the *#!^%$ virus.

I want another full month of summer, maybe even two, where I can float in my pool and listen to audiobooks (I just re-read Ilona Andrews’s WHITE HOT, which is delicious). In fact, I’ve been doing a lot of rereading. I know what I want to read, and I’m quite often disappointed in the new stuff I’m trying. Still, I do keep discovering new writers that really appeal to me. There’s just something about revisiting an old favorite.

Plans for the ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE WORST MAN IN ENGLAND, SCOTLAND AND WALES are coming along swimmingly. I’m guessing it’ll be out in about a month, and there’s other good stuff coming. The cover is wonderful – I should start flashing that around – and I love the book.

Funny thing about books – they have minds of their own. I realize why I had such trouble with the final third of Worst Man – I was trying to force it into the mold I was used to, with a dangerous, murderous hero and the world about to explode. But that simply wasn’t this story. Obviously, given the title, my hero is a very bad man. But he’s also eminently redeemable.

More details to come. I’m getting very excited about this.