Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Weather's Fine Outside of the Box and I'm Stayin'

Recently, I had to make a decision.

I finished another manuscript.

What to do?

Should I continue self-publishing? Should I try to get an agent? Should I try to get a traditional publisher?

My last novella was very well-received. APPLES SHOULD BE RED was a finalist in the DABWAHA contest, a finalist in the CoRWA Award of Excellence, it was a bestseller for months, and resonated very well with readers.

It did not, however, fit into a traditional publishing niche for romance. It had characters in their late 50s and early 60s--the polar opposite of the uber popular NA trend. And it was not a full-length novel.

Then I went to Seattle. There was a fabulous exhibit at the EMP Museum about Nirvana, the ground-breaking grunge band that changed the sound of American rock. It reminded me what the term "indie" really's about artists who are risk-takers, who have courage to think outside of the box, who are fearless. Indie musicians are not concerned with commercial trends and what's selling and what's hot.

It's about craft. It's about innovation.

Years ago I met with an agent, when I was pushing my very first novel. It had finaled in three contests. I was so proud of myself because it was DIFFERENT. It was unique. No one else had created something like it. The agent hated it. She hated it because it was different. It was the wrong word count, it was the wrong theme, it was seasonal, it wasn't like anyone else. In fact, one of the first questions she asked me was "Who are you like? What other authors?" I was shocked. I thought I was supposed to be unique, one-of-a-kind.

That was my wake-up call about the publishing industry. They didn't want unique. They wanted you to fit into a tidy little box, just like a ton of other authors, so they could market you in a certain way, sell your books to a certain audience.

Trad publishing is LOW risk.

I had a successful author tell me to rewrite my book and lose the Christmas angle. (My book about Santa Claus and his sons). Just turn it into a regular old contemporary would do great. I also had to shave off the hero's beard--because "publishers don't like beards." I also had to double the word count, because "readers don't like short novels."

I didn't change the theme.

I didn't change the word count.

I didn't shave off the hero's beard.

(Oh sweet irony: Now tons of authors are creating heroes with facial hair. The unacceptable character trait has turned into a hot trend.)

I still sold my book. To a small digital press that liked short novels, that offered seasonal stories. And for a debut book, it did pretty well. And the whole series continues to do well. Go figure.

I had a decision to make then, and I have a decision to make now. Am I going to squeeze myself into that tidy little box? Or ignore the box and enjoy the freedom to write my book any way I please?

This is a tough decision. I would love to have more readers. That's always been my bottom line goal. Not the money or sales or bestseller rank. I WANT PEOPLE TO READ MY BOOKS. And it's possible that an agent and publisher would help me find more readers.

But on the other hand, an agent and a publisher won't like me writing 57,000-word novels. They won't like me making my romance characters "old." They won't like me playing with genre parameters and taking risks.

I made my decision.

I'm staying outside of the box.

I'm not going to make any big bestseller lists this way (or a million bucks)! Hee hee. But I will continue to have the freedom to write what I like, when I like, how I like.

And I have a nice little posse of readers who are coming along for the ride. Thanks, guys!

Happy To Be Box-Free,

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Seattle In Photos!



Chihuly Exhibit...

Hipster Coffee (Latte with Lavender Honey!)

EMP Museum

Seattle Aquarium

Whidbey Island Lavender Farm

Pike Place Market

Japanese Garden

Steelhead Diner
(flyfishing dream!--hubby loved it)

 Happy Summer Vacation!


Wednesday, June 10, 2015


I'm almost done! Huge thanks to Lena Goldfinch for my gorgeous cover!

Here is the book blurb for A TASTE OF HEAVEN...

“Create one perfect bite.”

Good little widow Sophia Brown always follows the rules. When the producer of a cooking competition requests an amuse-bouche, the chefs stick with proteins. Sauces. A savory concoction. She has only one shot to impress the judges on A Taste of Heaven. But in a moment of defiance, she creates an extraordinary dessert, one that combines both the bitter and the sweet, just like her own life.

That one bite changes everything.

After a year grieving for her dead husband, 47-year old Sophia is finally ready to break out of her shell. Unfortunately, there is a large, angry obstacle standing in her way. Scottish chef Elliott Adamson has a chip on his shoulder the size of Loch Ness, and he’s blocking her path to victory.

Spurred by her daughters, she embarks on a poignant adventure that takes her from the wildflower fields of Vermont to the wind-swept vista of North Berwick, Scotland. Fear, courage, and inspiration from unlikely places will mark this journey, and Sophia is determined to persevere until the very end.


Here's the link for the Goodreads page, so you can add it onto your TBR pile if you're so inclined.

A few super quickie book recommendations...

WHAT PRICE PARADISE by Katherine Allred: I adored this wonderful, old-fashioned romance. Very well-written, emotional, with a slow-simmering attraction between the H/h that was believable and satisfying. It's only 99 cents right now. GO BUY IT!

DOG ON IT by Spencer Quinn: Adorable, quirky mystery narrated by a dog. Very clever and fun. Looking forward to reading the rest of this series! I bought a paperback to save's the link.

THE DAUGHTER OF AN EARL by Victoria Morgan (coming July 7th): It's been a long time since I read and enjoyed a historical romance this much. My fabulous critique partner has a new book coming out, and it's a gem. With an engaging storyline, beautiful writing, and fascinating historical tidbits, this one is a winner! Here's the Amazon link.

I made an ad for Vicki's book (I am having way too much fun doing these things...hee hee)...


Off to write,


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Food, Romance, and Some Other Updates


Okay, so I might be slightly exaggerating about the amount of snow we got. But not by much.

Here are some super quickie updates...

1. I am revising A TASTE OF HEAVEN. Should be out this summer. Here's an ad...

2. I am also working on THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF JOHN B. HAMILTON AND THE BLUEBERRY PIE...a quickie werebear romance which will also hopefully be released in 2015. Here's an ad for that one!

3. I updated this website. I have a couple of new pages--a new READING RECOMMENDATION page. Check it out. I also have a new GREEN STUFF page with plant pics.

4. I had a nice Mother's Day...

5. I wrote a post about food and romance for Celebrate Romance (Read-A-Romance-Month). I discuss my favorite restaurant, most romantic food moment, and what I would eat if I were stuck on a desert island and could only have one meal forever. Please stop by, say hello, and enter the give-away!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

What's Going On In Watsonville


The name Watson means "powerful warrior." 
I can work with that. (See photo above)

2. HAGGIS (and other Scottish food):

You all know I'm working on a WIP about a Scottish chef. So, for research purposes I decided to check out The Haven (a Scottish restaurant) with some buddies. We made a pact. 
Anyone who ate the haggis would get a special badge.

First I had hot mulled wine with whisky-soaked apples. 
(Step one before eating haggis...drink alcohol!)

It was delicious!

Then I had an amazing soup--Cullen Skink, a rich creamy seafood and potato chowder. Divine!


And now the moment of truth...HAGGIS! This is lamb haggis, and it comes in its own cute little container made of...never mind about that. The important thing is...I ate some.
It tasted like mild liver. Not that horrible actually.


And so I earned this badge of courage.

Best part of the menu? Fantastic desserts.
If you live around the Boston area, I definitely recommend this place.


I was super lucky to see Graeme Simsion last night. He spoke at Wellesley Books.
What a great evening. He is funny, entertaining, and inspirational. 
The story of his life and how he became a published author is wonderful.
He also read from THE ROSIE EFFECT.
And then of course I went out to eat with my girlfriends and got sangria.
So...all-around perfect evening.


I recently attended the Boston Flower Show. 
It was okay, not spectacular. 
(PET PEEVE: If you're gonna have a plant show, LABEL ALL THE PLANTS!)
But here are a few of my favorite things...

Helleborus...superb plant.

My favorite display was the cranberry bog. What an adorable idea.
They showed cranberry plants and had a flooded cranberry pool.

Who wants to wear this dress to prom? ME! ME! ME!


Super big thanks to everyone who supported me in the DAB-ish contest.


P. Watson

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Voting Round 2 (DING DING DING)!

I made it to Round 2 of the #DABWAHA contest...craziness!

Today APPLES SHOULD BE RED is up against JUST A LITTLE TASTE by Farrah Rochon.

If you're interested in voting, here's the website...

Voting is open today (March 22) from noon to midnight.

I'm a HUGE underdog today, so I'll be humming this song...



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Time to Vote! #DABWAHA

Voting for the first round of DABWAHA is open until noon today (March 19)...lots of good books on the list. Go check them out!

APPLES SHOULD BE RED is the underdog, but it's doing pretty well so far!

BTW, I put the novella on SALE for 99 CENTS at Amazon, B/N, and Kobo to celebrate!


Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Morning Updates!

A few things...

1. In completely unexpected news, APPLES SHOULD BE RED is on the novella list for the DABWAHA contest sponsored by Dear Author and Smart Bitches. I am shocked and thrilled and extremely thankful to all of the readers who nominated my book.


I have never played the game and I'm not exactly sure how it works. Since I'm not too keen on begging for votes, reviews, or other sorts of promotion from readers, I'm planning to post some joke images (see Mr. Lumberjack above) just for fun. If you are so inclined, and have figured out the rules of the game (unlike me!), here are some links to participate...a link to the nominees list, a link to an explanation for the bracket selection, and here's the bracket. If you have any questions about the contest, you could email DA or SB. Don't ask me...I still can't figure it out!

I am really humbled that my novella has been included in this year's contest. I don't have a street team or a publisher, and as a teeny tiny indie author, I'm expecting that APPLES is sort of the "underdog of the century." Hee hee!

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who has supported my cuss-filled novella!


2. I am cranking away on my current WIP, A TASTE OF HEAVEN. Here is a fun Pinterest board I put together for inspiration. And here's a quickie snippet!


Sophia was frozen. She heard the songbirds chirping and felt the warm sunshine on her face. It was one of those stunning Vermont days, when the sky was so blue and far away, it offered both comfort and bittersweet beauty. She watched the other contestants greedily snatch up grass-fed beef and dirt-clumped vegetables and organic chickens strung up by strands of coarse string.

One perfect bite.

She knew what she should do. The judges wanted a complex sauce. An extraordinary protein, expertly prepared. An array of textures.

One perfect bite.

Tart. And sweet. Like her life.

She smiled to herself. No one, absolutely no one, ever made a dessert for the amuse-bouche. Dessert was the kiss-of-death in a cooking competition. Dessert was the red-headed stepchild. Dessert was never the star of the show. Just the end of the show. And usually a hideous disappointment.

The Scot turned to her and bellowed. She'd forgotten he was still there. He rushed toward the kitchen.

May the best man win.


3. Finally, as part of a continued effort to streamline my life, I decided to delete my other website and just keep this blog as the Penny Watson website. I will be updating my recommended reads section soon.

I have deleted some of my social media sites, too, but I still have Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and my 12-year old daughter started an Instagram for me! I'm not exactly sure what she posts there. I think she might be my new agent. Uh oh.

Happy Almost Spring!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Best Fish Chowder Ever


(adapted from Peter Christian's Tavern)

Simmer these ingredients together in a soup pot...

1 12-ounce bottle clam broth
2 diced potatoes (or more, I keep the skins on!)
2 diced celery stalks (with greens)
1 diced onion
1 pound white fish fillets, chopped up

When veggies are tender, add seasoning...

Salt and pepper to taste
I like to use dried tarragon, thyme, dill, basil, chives, chervil.
If you have a favorite seafood seasoning, try that.

Make a a small pan, melt 1/4 cup butter, stir in 1/4 cup flour.
Cook over low heat for about five minutes, stirring constantly.

Add roux into vegetable mixture and simmer until thickened.

Add 1 cup milk and 1 cup light cream, simmer for 10 more minutes.

Serve with slices of lemon and fresh herbs. 

The best part of this soup is squeezing fresh lemon juice on top right before serving. 
Try it!
Serve with crusty bread and a green salad. This is delicious.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Who Wants a $200 Amazon Gift Card? (Let's Talk Newsletters!)

I have a confession to make.

I hate newsletters.

Not all newsletters, but let's say approximately 98% of them.

Most authors are already over-promoting, so the newsletter is just the super irritating frosting on the cake of too-much-promotion.

I really had no interest in starting my own newsletter, and then I started to get some emails.

A LOT of emails.

From readers who read and enjoyed The Klaus Brothers boxed set this past holiday season. Not only did they enjoy reading the first three installments of the series, but they were quite anxious about the next books.

When would they be out?
Who would they be about?
Why didn't I have a newsletter they could sign up for so they could get purchase links and release information and be sure NOT TO MISS A BOOK!

Okay...*Penny waves the white flag of surrender*

So I decided...fine, I need to do a newsletter. But if I'm gonna do a newsletter, I'm gonna make it fun and mix it up and not be blabbing about myself the whole time.

Introducing...the PENNY WATSON ANTI-NEWSLETTER NEWSLETTER filled with fun links and weenie dog pics and book/film recommendations and cocktail recipes and yes, some information about my upcoming releases.

I'm aiming for 4 newsletters per year. Maybe less? Depends on frequency of release dates, etc.

Since I'm just starting this endeavor, I decided to bribe encourage people to sign up by offering a $200 Amazon gift card as a give-away for one lucky new subscriber.

The newsletter will be going out this week, and I'll choose a winner in early March.

200 BUCKS!

That's good.

So, if you're interested in weenie dogs, cocktails, good movies and books, fun links, Etsy shopping recommendations, and getting up-to-date info about my releases...


Or maybe you just want the 200 bucks. I hear you. That's fine.

Okay people, stay safe out there and try not to get lost in a 7-foot snow drift,


Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine Treats!


Looking for something sweet? Try these...

1. Adorable felted heart bowl from theFelterie at Etsy!

2. Watch the Westminster Kennel Club Agility competition on Valentine's Day. I'm super bummed we had to cancel our trip to NYC because of bad weather, but we can all watch on TV! Yipppeeee!

Photo by Steve Surfman, from Westminster website

3. Wanna get some chi chi chocolates for your sweetie? These look good! 
Expensive, but good!

4. Try a different kind of flower/plant.
Red roses are sort of boring. 
How about peonies, daffodils, fragrant stock?
Try something different this year!

5. Read an oldie but goodie romance novel, with a gentle giant of a hero.

Preacher is the most wonderful hero! Swoony!



Thursday, January 29, 2015

So About That Term "Indie"...

I first heard the term "indie" as it applied to musicians. The whole idea of independent artists being able to create their own kind of music was inspiring, cool, impressive. They didn't want to be pigeon-holed or market-driven or lose their creative freedom.

It wasn't about the money.
It wasn't about the celebrity.
It was about the music.
Being able to write and produce what you wanted to do, not what a record label told you that you HAD to do. To fit in. To make money. To be mainstream. To be universally liked. Maybe be generic.

Indie meant unique.

How ironic that the same term in publishing has swung so very far to the other side.

Now that "indie" and "self-published" are often used interchangeably (right or wrong), I am seeing a trend that is sort of surprising. There are a lot of "indie" authors obsessed with money, rank, bestseller lists. They employ super aggressive promotion techniques that skirt ethical issues. Jumping on the bandwagon trend-of-the-day is commonplace. Instead of focusing on unique, original material, many authors are quick to copy other folks who are successful.

The term "indie" in publishing is losing that quirky, creative meaning and instead has become market-driven, money-focused. Pretty much the complete opposite of what I see in the music industry.

So I'm taking it back.

I'm proud to be's the best thing that ever happened to me. I can write about anything I want to--and believe me, if I had submitted my love story with 60-year old characters to a traditional publisher, it would have been rejected faster than a speeding bullet.

There is nothing wrong with writing mainstream and focusing on money and trends and marketability. It's a different way to approach this industry.

But when I see readers complaining about "indie" authors who just cranked out another 50 Shades of Grey knock-off, it bums me out.

I'm "Indie" in the classic tradition--and proud of it.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Projects for 2015

I survived the holidays. True, I didn't quite finish the to-do list (no cards this year, and I did not bake any homemade Christmas cookies), but the tree was trimmed, the kids were happy on Christmas morning, so...SUCCESS!

And now I have to start my crazy 2015 schedule. I won't bore you with the ridiculous to-do list, but I will give you a quickie overview of my three main projects. Here we go...


I am super excited for this book! It's a full-length women's fiction about a 47-year old widow who is struggling with her identity after the death of her husband. She enters a professional cooking competition as an amateur, and meets her match with Elliot Adamson, Scottish chef from hell. Or heaven. Depends on your perspective.

Time to make haggis sexy. Yeeeeee hawwwwww!

Coming Spring 2015



This will be my first multi-author series, and I am thrilled with the concept and the enthusiasm of my fellow authors. After spending a year totally immersed in Harlequin Presents, a story idea popped into my head and wouldn't go away. It has all the glamour and beauty of Sorrento, Italy, but of course (since I just can't help myself), it also has a twist on the traditional series concept. A rich and powerful Italian businessman falls in love with a sweet and unassuming American artist. What happens when the heroine has the chance of a be mentored by the famous Italian artist Manuel Castaldo?

Sorrento Passion is a four-part series, self-published. The other authors participating are the very talented and creative Lexxi Callahan, Ros Clarke, and Bobbi Ruggiero. This is a great group of writers, with eclectic interests and writing styles. Lexxi pens the uber-sexy Southern Style Series, Ros writes a wide array of fiction, always with her signature UK-flair and gorgeous style of writing, and Bobbi, a finalist for the First Kiss Contest, has a fresh, modern voice and an intense interest in rock stars. What a kick-ass combination!

This promises to be a series filled with drama, passion, heartbreak and of course, happy endings. I will post more information later in the year.

Release Date: TBA



I can't believe the forth installment of the Klaus Brothers Series will be released this upcoming holiday season (2015). Holy Christmas Tree! We are finally going to find out what makes Mr. Ice-Cold Gregor Klaus get hot-under-the-collar. And I have a sneaking suspicion it might be a lovely woman in green satin (Hannah, who was was introduced in SWEET ADVENTURE). This book will not only follow the romantic story of Gregor and Hannah, but will also focus a lot on family, which is one of my favorite Christmas themes.

Coming Christmas 2015


More stuff coming up this updated website, a newsletter (the anti-newsletter newsletter...hee hee!), and soon my books will also be available on iBooks (Apple).

What are your plans for 2015? Anything exciting? LET'S GO TEAM!