Alison Kent's Blah Blog: Blah Blog
August 29th, 2014
It’s centrifugal motion. It’s perpetual bliss.

The Sweetness of Honey

The Sweetness of Honey
October 7, 2014

I have a book coming out in just a bit over a month, and haven’t said much about it. Yet.

1) The Sweetness of Honey is another Hope Springs book.
2) It’s the story of Indiana Keller.
3) There are two heroes…for part of the book anyway.

Here’s an excerpt:

“I’m not coming up,” she finally told him, when he hadn’t moved to get out. When he hadn’t said a word in the two or three minutes since she’d parked. When he’d done nothing but look through the windshield where the street lamps caught every hint of moisture on the pavement and sparkled.

“I didn’t ask you to,” he said at last, still facing forward, hunched a bit, his busy hands pressed between his knees. That left her a bit uneasy. His nervousness. How antsy he was. How out of sorts.

“Then . . . good night. Thank you for the evening—”

“What do you want from me, Indiana?” he asked, his head turning slowly until the look in his eyes, so bottomless and dark as they stared into hers, had her heart rising to pound at the base of her throat.

“I don’t want anything. Well, except for what I’ve hired you to do. With the cottage,” she said, her pulse making itself known throughout her body. “I mean, at the very least I’d like your friendship, but if for some reason we can’t be friends—”

It was all she got out before his hand was in her hair, bringing her face to his, her mouth to his, her lips and tongue to his in such an act of desperation, she couldn’t find the strength to back away, or to say no, or to do anything but share in the devastatingly draining emotion.

What was this man’s damage? What was he looking to her to fix or to make whole, or just to soothe because he couldn’t do it alone?

He kissed her as if he were on fire, as if she could douse whatever it was burning him up. His hand at the back of her head was hot. The fingertips of the other, where they brushed her jaw, were sure to leave blisters on her skin. An obvious exaggeration, but oh, everything about this moment felt that way.

She didn’t know what to do with her hands. Should she touch him? Should she leave them where they were wrapped tightly around the wheel? Should she tuck them between her knees to keep from reaching for him? What was she supposed to do? She didn’t know what she was supposed to do because she didn’t know if this, from him, was what she wanted.

But she wasn’t unmoved, and so she kissed him back, finally reaching up to grip his wrist, a grounding, an anchor, a solid reminder of where she was, because everything around her seemed too ethereal to grasp, and all she knew was this man. He smelled like rain on a dark night, rich and electric, a dangerous storm set to strike.

He tasted like the wine he’d had with dinner, the bourbon he’d had after, the coffee he’d had with dessert. The barest hint of the cigarette he’d smoked while waiting for the valet to bring her car. It was the first time she’d ever seen him indulge, and the lingering hint of tobacco wasn’t unpleasant.

His tongue made hers tingle, and the pressure of his lips, soft yet slightly chapped, started a sweet, exquisite tension building in her body. Oh, this was so unexpected, so beautifully, frightfully out of the blue. She didn’t know whether to revel in the sensation, or run far, far away.

Before she had a chance to decide, and almost as quickly as he’d started, he stopped, releasing her mouth, then pulling his wrist from her grip. His hand in her hair was the last to let go, and she fought against feeling bereft. Surely she wasn’t that hungry for human contact, that desperate to be wanted?

His door opening had her searching out his darting gaze; he was leaving just like that? Yes, she’d told him, and herself, that she wasn’t coming up to his loft. But she needed to figure out this push-pull thing between them, and she couldn’t if he was going to walk away.

“Thanks for driving,” he said, adding, “friend,” as he stepped out of the car. Then he leaned back in, one hand on the roof, one hand on the door, his eyes, wicked and bright, reflecting the glow of the street lamps through the windshield. “Be safe. And don’t be sorry. Don’t ever be sorry.”

Then he slammed the door and turned for the sidewalk, leaving her staring after him without a clue as to what they’d just done. Or what he’d meant by his parting remark.

Welcome to Hope Springs, Texas, where redemption grows…and where love blooms.

Dark-haired beauty Indiana Keller buys a property in Hope Springs, Texas, for three reasons: to expand her vegetable business, to harvest and sell delicious honey from the property’s established bee colony, and to reunite with her estranged siblings. But her older brother Tennessee keeps his distance, even after Indiana hires his construction crew to fix up her cottage. It’s almost as if he shares her guilt over the disappearance of Dakota, their missing brother…

While Indiana tries to reconnect with Ten and find Dakota, two local men begin vying for her heart. Handsome, laid-back Will Bowman has a checkered past, but now he’s determined to get what he wants out of life…and he wants Indiana. Meanwhile, refined Oliver Gatlin can’t fight his own attraction to Indiana, especially since his brother also fell victim to tragic circumstances. Amid the raw natural beauty of Hope Springs, can Indiana’s heart finally heal enough to love?

August 25th, 2014
The record shows I took the blows – And did it my way!

I’m a sucker for workshops and writing tips. Yes, I’ve been published in novel-length fiction for over 20 years. Yes, in those twenty years I’ve had published over 50+ works of various lengths. Yes, most of the time I question everything I do. redpencil.jpgBut there’s one thing I never ever EVER question, and it’s one thing I see over and over and OVER again on these tip lists as something writers shouldn’t do. Here it is. Ready?

I edit as I go.

Whew. I feel better. That’s a load off my chest.

I was writing No Limits when I first heard of fast-drafting. All sorts of life crap was happening at that time and I was behind on the book and I needed to get it done so I could write With Extreme Pleasure. (Note: Needing to get something done FAST is rarely the time to try a new method of doing it.) I thought this is what I need! Head down, words on the page, GO!

Uh. Not so much.

Oh, I went. Almost to the looney bin. You see, the rules for fast drafting are as follows: Vomit the words onto the page and don’t look back until the project is done. Or something like that. Stopping to edit is not allowed. Editing while writing is anathema. No editing. Period. Just the vomit. Words, words, words.

I’m no more able to leave vomit on the page than on the floor. And we have nine animals, ergo, there is vomit on the floor needing to be cleaned up more often than I care to think about.

That was the absolute worst writing experience of my life. I got to the end of the book and almost every bit of it had to be changed. What I wrote in later chapters contradicted what I’d written in the beginning. Which is why drafting doesn’t work for me. (As an aside: When I participate in the #1k1hr writing sprints on Twitter? 1) I never get 1K, and 2) I edit as I go.)

It’s in the editing, not the writing, that I find my story.

Let me say that again.

It’s in the EDITING, not the writing, that I find my story.

Of course it is, you say! That’s why getting the draft done then editing and revising works so well. No. That’s not what I mean.

I find my story by going back to edit what I’ve written every day. Sometimes I find what needs to come next by going back to edit what I wrote two hours earlier. It doesn’t matter how much pre-planning I do, how many acronyms I employ (GMC, BICHOK, WTFBBQ, etc.), straightjacketfox.jpgthe story and the characters come alive with the words. The right words. The words that have been carefully edited to find the truth. The only words that will work for that scene, that situation, that conflict. Words in the point of view character’s voice.

I need that truth to continue the forward motion, to keep the story on track and off tangents. I am writing contracted work to deadlines. I don’t have time to go back and rewrite once I’ve reached The End. Which is why I rewrite as I go. Because when I get to The End, I’m done. Save for the obvious tweaking, line and copy and developmental editing. When I’ve done my job right? Those edits are minimal. (Unfortunately, I haven’t done my job right the last few times and the edits have nearly caused me to throw in the towel.)

Let me tell you a story. My husband and I are writing a book together. Well, actually, we’ve written a book together. It’s the first act of a trilogy, so we have two to go to get the whole story told. The first major brainstorming we did on the story was during a day-long drive from Florida to Texas in 2011.

My husband works contract in the oil and gas industry, so last December he took a sabbatical. He’s back at work now, but during the eight months he was off, we got the book done. It’s in the final clean-up stages now. But no matter how much of the book we brainstormed on road trips and nights in the hot tub with margaritas (and there were a LOT of those), the book didn’t come together until there were words on the page we could edit and play with and dig into to find the REST of the story. We had the luxury of time on this one. And since there were/are two people working on it, there was some fast-drafting done.

But not by me.
I wasn’t on deadline during those months, so I wasn’t working twelve-hour days like I am now. And it pretty much drove my husband nuts that I couldn’t help him on future scenes he was writing because I hadn’t yet found what I needed in the scenes already written but not yet edited. While he was working in the third act, I was back in the first act FIXING and TWEAKING and CUTTING and REWORDING, and you know what? We did find more of the story in those early pages I couldn’t let go of until they were right. The book is nothing now like it was when we sent it to beta readers. And that includes the TRUTH of who the main character is.

And now the drafted part of the book is in the process of being rewritten because of it.

Here’s the thing. There ARE some people who can draft a novel, get to the end, go back and revise pages and gut pages and toss pages and write new pages. I just wish the rest of us got some recognition, not to mention respect, because here’s a truth: THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO CAN’T. Period. End of story.

The words I am writing AT THIS MOMENT determine the very words that come next. And by words, in this case, I mean action, and reaction, cause and effect. Stories have structure for a reason. One thing happens, one choice is made, and what follows is a result. If I don’t know that choice, how can I move forward.

Moving forward is DETERMINED by all that has come before.

It would be easier for me to write a new novel from scratch than to revise one I’ve finished. I can do it.
I have done it, but my brain is not wired for rewriting. It’s wired to edit as I go, to get to The End and tell those characters goodbye. And that’s the thing. When I’m done, I’ve written that story. Revising means new situations, new conflicts, new motivations, and that means A DIFFERENT STORY THAN THE ONE I WROTE. Right now, in fact, I’m adding a story element that is going to give my book a greater emotional complication for one of my characters, but doing so when I’m 40K words in means a whole lot of tweaking of things that’s going to make getting to 90K hell. But at least I figured this out now!

Bottom line.

We all have to do what works for us when it comes to writing.

Editing will always be a part of writing.

How it works for each individual author is a which came first chicken and egg thing.

In the end, all that matters is BREAKFAST!

photo credit: jakepjohnson via photopin cc
photo credit: Important Dee via photopin cc

June 4th, 2014
The Sweetness of Honey

Welcome to Hope Springs, Texas, where redemption grows…and where love blooms.

Dark-haired beauty Indiana Keller buys a property in Hope Springs, Texas, for three reasons: to expand her vegetable business, to harvest and sell delicious honey from the property’s established bee colony, and to reunite with her estranged siblings. But her older brother Tennessee keeps his distance, even after Indiana hires his construction crew to fix up her cottage. It’s almost as if he shares her guilt over the disappearance of Dakota, their missing brother…

While Indiana tries to reconnect with Ten and find Dakota, two local men begin vying for her heart. Handsome, laid-back Will Bowman has a checkered past, but now he’s determined to get what he wants out of life…and he wants Indiana. Meanwhile, refined Oliver Gatlin can’t fight his own attraction to Indiana, especially since his brother also fell victim to tragic circumstances. Amid the raw natural beauty of Hope Springs, can Indiana’s broken heart finally heal enough to love?

“Emotionally intense, The Sweetness of Honey is a poignant tale of a woman who must come to terms with her past in order to embrace the future. A tender, affecting read.” ~ Megan Mulry, USAToday bestselling author

Buy at Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, at Book Depository.

The Sweetness of Honey

The Sweetness of Honey
October 7, 2014

Click for an excerpt!

March 16th, 2014
Three Times Love…

Three Time sLove Boxed SetIf you’ve never read PLAYING LOVE’S ODDS, LOVE ME TENDER, or LOVE IN BLOOM and would like to, they’re all now available in this digital boxed set. The title links above will take you to a page with an excerpt, and below you can read the letter I included in the set.

Buy at Amazon.
Buy at Barnes & Noble.
Buy at Kobo.

March 1, 2014

Dear Reader,

Twenty-five years have passed since I first put pen to paper, or fingers to typewriter (yes, typewriter) keys, as it were, to write. A quarter of a century spent giving couples in love a happy ending means a lot of changes in technology, the industry, even reader expectations: typewriter to laptop, print to digital, closed bedroom doors to doors flung wide. As I write this letter, in fact, my 50th published work is three days from release. And if you count short online reads, it’s my 53rd, with my 54th release scheduled for October of this year. Not a bad career milestone!

Twenty-five years also means a change in an author’s way of writing, her way of looking at the world and relationships, her way of putting words together to convey her meaning. In other words, an author’s voice changes over time, and mine most definitely has. If you’ve come to this collection after reading my recent titles, you will probably notice a different tone and rhythm.

The three stories in this collection were written early in my career. PLAYING LOVE’S ODDS, my very first book, was originally published by Meteor Kismet in August 1993. (Trivia: My book was #167 out of one-hundred-sixty-eight titles in the short lived imprint, and #168 belonged to Suzanne Brockmann!) LOVE ME TENDER and LOVE IN BLOOM were written around the same time, but were published in 1999 and 2000 respectively by Kensington Bouquet.

I love all of these romances for many reasons, and I was reminded of that when I read through them again when preparing the digital files. I do see the flaws, ouch, but the core of each story remains, for me, as compelling as the day the idea arrived. Please enjoy THREE TIMES LOVE.

Best regards,

Alison Kent

March 7th, 2014
Quiet does not mean gone, and co-authoring …

I’ve missed blogging. Many times when I have something I want to say on Twitter, it requires a string of tweets to get it all in, and who knows if anyone ever sees the entire thought. I realize blogging has lost its luster, but I’m going to revive mine. It feels like home. I thought today I’d mention that I have not been 100% true to my vow to give up social media. I still haven’t read my Twitter tweet stream or my Facebook news feed, but I have checked for mentions. I keep up with my kids and other family goings-on on FB, so I do check my “family” tab once a day. And if I have responses or tags there, I’ll take a look. That’s my personal profile, but I do the same with my author page, and it’s easy to check Twitter mentions.

But having been gone for most of two days now, I have finished a complicated synopsis that I’d been dallying with for weeks, and sent it off to my agent for input. It doesn’t matter that I have 50+ books under my belt, I still get a little thrill when I send something off. My career has bounced between so many publishing houses over the years, that I don’t have a long-time home, so no guarantee what I’ll be writing next, or for whom! I do have ideas for two more Hope Springs books.

But, honestly, whether I write those depends on how Luna and Indiana sell. Like I said 50+ books under my belt, and the industry shifting so quickly… Sometimes it seems like it’s hard to find a solid foundation. And I like writing so many different things. Right now, I’m working on a HUGE project with my husband, and having a ton of fun with it. We’ll eventually have a website, and we do have a Twitter account already. We’re just determined to focus on the writing, and to not talk about the specifics of the writing until we have the bulk of the story drafted. And it is SO AMAZINGLY COOL I can’t WAIT to talk about it!

But what’s equally cool is the co-writing process. I don’t know how other author teams work together, but it took us some fits and starts to get into a routine that still has flaws. Like someone deleting someone else’s words ::SOB:: without making a copy for future reference. (I’m over that now. Almost.) I stopped writing in Word a couple of years ago. I now write solely in Scrivener. The license allows for use on more than one machine, so we started out there. It quickly got too hard to manage because there was no easy way to work at the same time. So I kept using Scrivener, while the husband began working in Google Docs. Soon, I joined him.

What’s so amazing about Google Docs is we can both be writing on the same scene at the same time. We can delete or rewrite each others words, and we can both see it. We rarely do this. We’re usually writing in two different spots in the story, having already worked out what happens in each of the three acts. We’re deep into act two at the moment, and every day we figure out more and more things that we can add down the road.

The coolest thing of all, though, is how much reality is going into this work of fiction. Reality SHOULD be in fiction, I hear you saying, and I agree. But this is different, and I can’t explain without…explaining. The husband susses out the most amazing news and science articles, medicine, technology and the facts are dovetailing so perfectly with our make-believe world. And there ya go. I’ve told you the big truth. This is all made up. ;) Which is why he’s taking the storytelling lead, and I’m following behind with my editorial whip.

I’m writing, too. And he’s also editing. But the closest I’ve come to working with another writer was when sharing worlds for various mini-series. Men To Do. For A Good Time Call. From 0-60. Red Letter Nights. Do Not Disturb. In those cases, however, my story was mine. And I wasn’t in the next room from the other authors. This marital co-authoring venture is a true collaboration. And if we survive the year and the 225K or so words we have planned, I’ll probably say it was the most fun writing I’ve ever had!

March 6th, 2014
Being quiet . . .

You want to hear some hard truth? Do you promise not to get mad at me? Promise?
Okay then. Here it is. Your social networking habit? It’s hurting you.

The above quote is from this thought-provoking post by JT Ellison. So much of it echoes conversations I’ve been having recently with a couple of writer friends. It’s such a conundrum writers find ourselves in with this social media thing. I can’t even put into words how much I love Twitter. I LOVE TWITTER. 1128_0_565_logoThere. I said it. I’m less a fan of Facebook. I just don’t like the interface, while I love the way Twitter invites conversation. Not to mention ALL the LINKS to so many amazing and inspiring articles! It is truly the best place I’ve found to keep up with the publishing industry. And yet …

Because here’s the heart of the matter. Writers? Our job is to write. And I don’t mean pithy status updates and 140 character gems that astonish the world. I mean create. I mean writing stories. I mean taking all that energy and time you’re spending online playing and refocusing it into your work.

Yes social media and other publicity vehicles have become integral to our jobs, but if we don’t write, we have no job, nothing to promote, and being social is just about the fun. Twitter tells me I’ve made over 33K tweets since joining in 2007. I know that typing out 140 characters unrelated to other sets of 140 characters isn’t comparable to writing a book, but those 140 characters 33K times means distraction. In other words, my brain was elsewhere being thoughtful and witty instead of putting that creativity into my book. Of course the very fact that I’ve made over 33K tweets proves that I have a bit of an addiction to the service. But I think that’s what makes it most effective as a promotional tool. I get to know readers and other writers. I don’t just broadcast out my book information, but I engage and share all manner of things that have nothing to do with the work. That’s why it’s called being social. And why us hermit types find it so addictive.

At the end of the six weeks, I added things up. I wrote 60,000 words during my enforced social media vacation. That was enough of an indicator to me that it was taking time away from my job, which is to write.

Of course on day one of my hiatus, I didn’t count my words. I was working between projects, snipping and nipping here and there, moving text from Google Docs (where the husband and I are writing together) into Scrivener for better formatting and editing. But imagine 60,000 extra words in 6 weeks just by typing story instead of posts and tweets. I don’t plan to hit that number. Ten thousand a week is beyond me most of the time anyway. But if I could use my social internet hiatus to write a 25,000 word novella for my readers, well… I could be wrong, but I’m thinking you guys might like reading that more than my tweets?

March 4th, 2014
Twenty-five years and counting…

Beneath the Patchwork Moon
Amazon Montlake

It occurs to me today as BENEATH THE PATCHWORK MOON releases, that I have been writing for 25 years. I am 55 years old. I started when I was 30. I know exactly when because I moved from Dallas to Houston in 1989 and began working at the oil company where I spent almost 17 years on May 1, 1989. Earlier that year, I had rented an electric typewriter. This after throwing a Harlequin Temptation novel against the wall and saying, “I can do better than that.” Yes. I’m one of those people. But I will never reveal the book or its successful author. :)

Back in the day, we wrote uphill both ways through rain and snow and sleet and hail. We did not have social media. Romantic Times was a newspaper. There were no online communities because the Internet had not yet reached every man. I exchanged snail mail letters, cassettes, and manuscript pages with my earliest mentors: Dee Holmes and Sandra Canfield. Dee wrote the fabulous Silhouette Intimate Moments BLACK HORSE ISLAND, and Sandra, writing as Karen Keast, my favorite Silhouette Special Edition ever, A TENDER SILENCE. I learned about RWA through Nikki Benjamin. And I learned about Nikki Benjamin through a newspaper article hanging up in the first new/used bookstore I found after our move. Without that new/used bookstore, and Nikki Benjamin, and RWA, I might never have continued to write. I did not journal as a child, or tell stories. I was a mother of three elementary school aged children before I ever thought I might have a book in me. No, I was a reader.

There is so much about those days I never want to see again, but there is a lot I miss. I can’t remember an RWA meeting that wasn’t focused on craft. Critique group meetings were focused on craft. No one talked promo or publicity. Bookmarks had only just become a thing. (Anyone remember Brenda Joyce’s scandalous bare-chested men?) Writers talked writing: how to deepen conflict, how to best use point of view, how to build sexual tension through subtext. How to write dialogue that sounded like real people talking. How to show through action, not tell through narrative. How to know when telling was needed. How not to info dump backstory.

You should’ve seen the first chapter of my first effort and the monstrous backstory dump. I didn’t understand how the reader was supposed to know what was happening – or why – without me spelling it out right up front. I was not and have never been a natural storyteller. I am a writer, a wordsmith. I love words. I spend way too much time looking for the only one that will work. Then I need there to be a rhythm to the sentences when they’re read, and a balance, a flow, a purpose. All the things that make up voice.

Twenty-five years of writing and 50+ published novels/novellas/short stories and I still struggle with all that makes up voice. Sometimes I find voice a hindrance; I sound out beats of a sentence as I’m writing, and I can’t read a book that doesn’t make me love the words on the page as much as the characters and their journey. Because I started writing so late in life, I know it was always this way for me as a reader. I remember talking books with a co-worker years ago, figuring out between us why the viewpoint wasn’t working, where the author’s choices had gone wrong for the reading experience. So when I see remarks like this one below from the comment section of this post it makes the creative part of me very sad.

What’s really noticeable on KBoards is how little discussion there is about writing. It’s all marketing, pricing, and discoverability. Product quality is only discussed in terms of cover design, formatting and proof-reading. Editing is thought to be synonymous with grammar and spell checking. The main obstacle to becoming a successful author is always assumed to be some problem in the business plan.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that authors have so many choices these days for getting their work in front of readers. But when did the craft of writing become an afterthought, and promotion take center stage? This is where I’m struck with nostalgia for the early days, and where I love the close writer friends I have with whom I can talk about theme and viewpoint choices and what a character most wants in life.

I hope you enjoy Luna and Angelo’s story in BENEATH THE PATCHWORK MOON. Book three in the Hope Springs series, THE SWEETNESS OF HONEY, is set to release October 14, and will wrap up the current trilogy with Indiana Keller’s story. I do have ideas for more books, so we’ll see what happens!

February 14th, 2014
Everything old is new again…

When I was around twelve years old, 1970 or so, a family in our church gave us an upright piano. Their youngest son played, and they were buying a new one for him. I knew how to read music; back in the day, they taught these things in school. Also, we had music lessons at church with one of our song leaders.

I learned early to peck out Eleanor Rigby, This Land Is Mine (from the movie Exodus), Chopsticks, and Heart and Soul (of course), and Baby Elephant Walk (from the movie Hatari). My parents moved from Texas to Oregon when I was 21, and left the piano with me. Until recently, we knew next to nothing about it, but research tells us it’s at least seventy years old. The Bogart Piano Company ceased operation during WWII.

piano from bogart piano company

Over the next 34 years, we moved the piano at least a half dozen times. Here’s a picture I took last July while we were moving (again) to our current home. We talked seriously then about finally getting rid of it.

Piano July 2013


My sister had teethed off many of the ivories when she was two.

keys used for teething

There were dead keys on the high-end. The thing was terribly out of tune, the wood terribly scarred, and it was terribly dirty inside. Outside, too, a lot of the time. We’d left it on a dolly in the corner of our living room for years, and the only playing it saw was from the grandkids banging, or the occasional strolling cat.

piano interior

About this same time, my husband saw this post on Reddit, which linked to this post describing the conversion of a similarly old piano to a desk, and this photo below of the completed project. I emailed the women who owned the piano, wanting to find out more about the process, but never heard back.


I posted an ad on Craigslist for a woodworker, and had several responses, and got quotes, though none of the responders had ever done such a conversion. I talked with one guy seriously during July before we moved. He showed me some portfolio work, but then I Googled him and found some not so complimentary reviews. About that same time, he fell off the face of the earth, which I now count as a blessing.

Then one day, my husband stopped by a furniture store that does a lot of custom work to look at some sofas donated to my daughter’s dog rescue group. While there, he asked the owner if she knew of anyone who could do such a conversion, and she sent him to The Tinderbox. Which was closed that day.

I pulled up the website and emailed, and the contact there put me in touch with Greenwood Bay. Bob, the owner, and his colleague Jeff came out to see the piano which was now in the garage at our new house. We discussed ideas, and cost, and a couple of weeks later, they sent a truck to pick it up.

Yesterday, they brought it back from the shop.

piano in shop

And this is my new piano desk, worth all the months and all the flails!!!

piano at home


Click through for more pics!
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January 5th, 2014
Starting Over

A clean slate. I like it.