Thanks so much for having me on your amazing ABA blog, Casi. You asked me to mention my writing advice for your readers. As an author, I’m asked questions like, ‘where do you get ideas for your stories?’ From dreams, waking and sleeping, doing historical research, family genealogy… sometimes a movie or TV show…
Another question is ‘have you ever killed off any characters?’ Yep. Lots.
regarding what I’ve gleaned along the oft twisted, rocky road of fiction writing for twenty plus years. I’ve learned many things, but the most important is to savor the journey. I look back on those early days with poignant nostalgia…the excitement in story discovery, wanting to know what happened next and rarely seeing until I wrote it. I still often don’t know much ahead, but am haunted by thinking I should be more of a plotter. Back then, I was unfamiliar with the terms panster and plotter.
I love the sense of camaraderie with my characters. They become my best friends. Especially in my first book, and still my bestselling novel, Red Bird’s Song. Their hardship, joys, and struggles are deeply imprinted on me. I’ve never written any story I didn’t care about, and I’ve never cared about any as much as I did that first one. I spent months, even years, writing and rewriting it and learning how to write in the process. The rejections ultimately poured in and I learned from those agents, editors, and contest judges who took the time to help me, and I grew. The story improved, but I didn’t love it any more than I always had.
since then those early days. I used to better clear a path for writing, no matter what, than I do now. I was on fire, bursting with energy. Pass the coffee and I’ll capture a spark of what I once had. Boundless enthusiasm and youth carried me to zenith heights. I’m afraid to let myself get too emotionally invested in a story now. How great will be my fall if I must continually plunge to earth. Finding the path in between soaring among the stars and plodding is my current goal.
I used to think reaching the end of a story was ‘the thing.’ I lost track of enjoying the adventure with my unique characters, sharing their triumphs and trials…their love story. In researching history, I glean tantalizing knowledge of those who have gone before me. I form bonds with people I never would have otherwise. In writing mystery, I immerse myself in solving the puzzle and putting all the pieces together. This brings satisfaction. And I’ve met some really intriguing ghosts…
but most importantly, I’m enriching myself in the process. The connections and experiences I gain from writing are immeasurable, and the most vital is savoring the journey. I wish I’d appreciated it more then. I do now.
I have this thing about feeling connected with the past. Gardening is also a passion of mine. I’m drawn to growing herbs and heirlooms flowers that my ancestors grew and on back into the mists of time. I included a lovely garden in my new ghostly time travel romance, Somewhere My Lady, and used herbs in the story. It’s richly fragrant.
‘Somewhere My Lady is a fun supernatural romance that will have you slipping in and out of the past and future as if you were a spirit yourself.’’ ~Colleen’s Book Reviews
Lorna Randolph is hired for the summer at Harrison Hall in Virginia, where Revolutionary-War reenactors provide guided tours of the elegant old home. She doesn’t expect to receive a note and a kiss from the handsome young man who then vanishes into mist.
Harrison Hall itself has plans for Lorna – and for Hart Harrison, her momentary suitor and its 18th century heir. Past and present are bound by pledges of love, and modern science melds with old skills and history as Harrison Hall takes Lorna and Hart through time in a race to solve a mystery and save Hart’s life before the Midsummer Ball.
Somewhere My Lady is available from all major online booksellers. In Kindle at: https://www.amazon.com/Somewhere-Lady-Ladies-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B071VTNC7V
Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by my human family and furbabies. An avid gardener, my love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into my work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans, and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. I’m especially drawn to colonial America and the drama of the American Revolution. Lately, the Civil War. And I love a good ghost story. In addition to Young Adult shifter romance, I write historical, time travel, and paranormal romance, plus nonfiction. I have twenty titles out, both novels and novellas, and a novella coming out this fall. My nonfiction works are about herbs, gardening, and country life.
One Writer’s Way: https://bethtrissel.wordpress.com
Facebook Beth Trissel: https://www.facebook.com/beth.trissel
Author Beth Trissel: https://www.facebook.com/bctrissel
My Amazon Author Page where all my books reside:
Her suspense novels are spiked with romance and set in exotic locations. She calls her stories inexpensive, exciting trips to foreign locales. This one, Cézanne’s Ghost http://a.co/bQdl7jp takes place in Aix-en-Provence, France. She spent a whole month in Aix, aware that the ghost of Cézanne accompanied her during her stay. Not only did Rolynn’s apartment once belong to Cézanne’s mother, but Rolynn spent her time in Aix gathering information about Cézanne’s art and philosophies.
A ghost sat on her shoulder to make sure she wrote her book about him. Ever have a ghost muse you?
More about Rolynn (a consummate traveler):
Scandinavian, Army Brat, Wife, English Teacher, High School Principal, Golfer, Boater, World Traveler, Author. Now add a competitive nature and a love for ‘makeovers.’ As a principal, Rolynn Anderson and the staff she hired, opened a cutting-edge high school; as co-captain with her husband on INTREPID, she cruised from Washington State to Alaska and back. As a writer, she delights in creating imperfect characters faced with extraordinary, transforming challenges. Her hope: You’ll devour her ‘makeover’ suspense novels in the wee hours of the morning, because her stories, settings and characters, capture your imagination and your heart.
Three young American women vanish in Aix-en-Provence, France.
The FBI suspects their American tour guide.
Leon Beaudet, formerly a U.S. Olympic wrestler, is proud of his five-star guide business, but when tourists disappear on his watch, the FBI dredges up a violent episode in Leon’s past and tap him for the crime. Worse, his new tour group includes Aline Kerig, who is as beautiful and carefree as the three missing women. Leon is fascinated and puzzled by Aline even while he fears for her safety. She refuses to go back to the States, forcing the FBI and local police to involve her in the hunt.
With the French tourist industry about to collapse and Leon as a prime suspect, how does he protect Aline and find his lost tourists?
The moment he saw her, framed by the doorway of the airport express bus, his inclination was to rush to the opening, push her backward, signal the driver to close the door, and wave the shuttle out of the dock.
“She can’t be mine. Don’t let her be mine,” he begged under his breath, while his heartbeat kicked up a notch, warning: She’s yours, Leon. She’s your tourist.
The woman hoisted a backpack, hopped off the bus, and walked his way, eyes focused on the sign he held with ‘Aline Kerig,’ printed on it. She was a ghost sauntering toward him; how could he muster a welcome?
“Leon Beaudet. My guide.”
Though she vocalized the silent ‘t’ at the end of his French name, like most Americans would, he answered in French: “Bienvenue à Aix-en-Provence.”
Aline blinked away the greeting. “I speak no French, but back at ya.” She raised her black cowboy hat, and ran appraising eyes from his hair down to his boat shoes. “Trip Advisor did not lie. You look like a heavyweight wrestler.” She cozied up close and smiled up at him, “Hell, you make me look downright petite.”
A half smile for politeness, a step back, then: “Uh-leen,” he said, pronouncing carefully. “As in Aline, the name chosen for Cézanne’s granddaughter.”
“Good handle in Aix-en-Provence since this was the artist’s favorite haunt.” He paused for a response. When Aline gave him a big-deal look, he said, “Let’s get your bags.”
They waited in silence while passengers arriving from the Aix Aerodome hauled luggage from the belly of the bus. She fiddled with her nose ring and brought a finger to the brilliant decorations on her ear, five silver studs. Six on the other lobe. Leon couldn’t help but stare, remembering the sketch he’d made of Tiara Foss, with four gold loops hanging from each ear.
“I travel light. Backpack and carry-on.”
“Smart,” he said.
When she pushed down her black hat, gilded with a gold band, her straight blond hair lengthened to her shoulder. “I know how to travel. First time on a European tour, though.” She clicked her tongue in a way that was sexual as well as cautionary. “Hope you’re as good as Trip Advisor says.”
Leon’s chest tightened with the click and the flirty tone. Tiara Foss all over again.
Aline stepped up to the bus to claim her black roll-on, and Leon observed her stylish ripped jeans and flip-flops, cardboard-thin. Red tank top; braless. While Leon wore a zipped jacket over a polo shirt and khaki pants in the fifty-five degree morning, Aline Kerig dressed for the beach.
“We good to go?” he asked, as he took charge of her suitcase.
When he opened the back of the Mercedes van, she smiled. “Nice wheels for a big car. I’m guessing I’m not your only rider.”
“Eight of you with me for ten days. Plenty of room for everyone.”
“We picking up anyone else here?”
“No. I take you to your apartment where you catch up on sleep. I gather the rest of the group this evening and we have a small welcome party at our office on Rue Rifle Rafle. The tour begins at our shopping and eating district, the Cours Mirabeau. Restaurant Les Deux Garçons, noon tomorrow.”
She tipped her hat back, revealing eyebrows set on alert and shamrock green eyes. How could the whites of her eyes be stunningly bright after a day’s travel from the East Coast? Helped by uppers, maybe? Or coke, Tiaraʼs drug of choice.
“I don’t need to rest.”
With her hand-wave, a scent of verbena, citrus with a hint of grassiness, came his way. Tiara had favored patchouli, Leon’s least favorite perfume.
“I’m in Aix and ready to rumble. Forget sleep,” she said, in a voice that brooked no argument. “Once I dump my stuff, I’m gonna wander.”
Leon’s experience with Tiara weighed in. Hell, weighed on him. Would Aline Kerig go missing from his tour, too?
Eight Suspense Novels Spiked with Romance and Exotic Settings
Web and Blog:
When I began writing fiction a few years ago, I faced a problem—well, more than one, but we’ll just talk about one today. Finding—and losing–the writing habit. I know for many of you, that’s not an issue. But perhaps some may share my initial handicap. What do you do when habits fail?
I thought I couldn’t write unless I ‘felt’ like it. In other words, when inspiration struck. Mind you, this came as a surprise to me, because I’d spent years as a daily newspaper journalist and editor, working with deadlines, after which I taught journalism, emphasizing among other things, meeting deadlines!
when I couldn’t seem to bridge the writing of non-fiction, which involved working from facts and notes and deadlines, to the more subjective process of fiction, where I created my own facts and reality in my own time. I thought I needed to be ‘in the mood’ to tell the story.
Unfortunately, all too often my muse packed up her inspiration and went on vacation. Which led to my not committing any writing for days. Until I found a wonderful group of other writers who followed a simple 100-words-a-day rule.
No matter how I felt, no matter how bad I thought the words were. And we reported our writing totals to the group each evening. I committed to the process, and lo and behold, it worked! Writing each day became a habit. And it stayed with me through three books.
Trouble is, that habit slowly fell by the wayside. This year, personal and family issues seemed to demand more and more time until I found myself going days without writing at all. And it happened before I realized it.
No matter what, I write a minimum number of words a day. But the good thing is, once I get started, the total always exceeds the goal I’ve set myself. Editing and revision count, by the way. My wonderful weekly critique group helps keep us all on track, too.
I’m thrilled I’ve regained the writing habit. Now if I could just work on the munching-while-I-compose habit….
Write. Every. Day. Even if you don’t want to. Find a critique group or crit partner(s). They help motivate you and keep you on track. Stop waiting for the mood to hit you—you’ll become too adept at ducking!
Award winning author Barbara Bettis has always loved history and English. As a college freshman, she briefly considered becoming an archeologist until she realized there likely would be bugs and snakes involved. And math. She now lives in Missouri, where she recently retired as an English and journalism professor and plans to spend more time creating heroes to live for.
He must pursue his enemy; she must protect her people. Can their love survive the duties that drive them apart?
When her elderly husband dies, Lady Katherine fakes her own death and disappears into the forest with others escaping the brutish new lord. Determined to protect her people, she knocks the wrong man senseless. But Lord Henry isn’t an enemy, he’s the brother of her childhood friend. Although his tender confidence tempts her, she’s bound by duty.
Henry of Chauvere has found the one lady he wants for his own, never mind she’s tied him hand and foot. When he learns the king has ordered her to wed Stonehill’s ruthless new master, he insists Kate seek haven with his sister. But she won’t desert her friends. Henry vows to solve her problem, provided he catches a traitor before the threat from Kate’s past catches her.
When a daring rescue compels Henry and Kate to join forces, their attraction grows into love. If only duty didn’t drive them apart.
There are a lot of posts and articles about various tricks and exercises which can be used to combat writer’s block, but this isn’t one of them. It’s really more my personal story of fighting my way back to writing after walking away from it for a while. A Writer’s life is an emotional roller coaster.
A lot of authors are very prolific, turning out several books a year, but I’m not one of them. It usually takes me an average of a year’s time to write a full-length manuscript. It takes a lot out of me, too, even though I do derive pleasure from the process when things are going smoothly. But, of course, writing, and life, don’t always go smoothly.
Haunted Souls, came out the summer of 2016, and I spent a lot of time doing promotional events that summer—including signing books with an author idol, Mary Higgins Clark! Then suddenly it was October, a popular month for my combination of ghost mysteries and romance, and as usual, I overscheduled myself with both online events and author panels and talks. My writing, which had taken a back seat to a new release over the summer, stalled out completely.
For me, once that happens, it can be a challenge to get back. I had the idea, I had the first few chapters, I had an outline, I’d done the research…but I couldn’t seem to force myself to sit down and actually type words.
not with the goal of actually finishing the novel, but with the goal of getting the required word count in daily, which would equate to 50,000 words in a month’s time. This has worked for me before, and as I get on a roll, it gets easier. And so I began.
It was going great. And then my Dad found a tumor, around Thanksgiving. My inspiration for word counts dwindled. I kept trying for a while, but by the time I found myself thinking “just write 100 words today”, and still dreading it, I decided enough was enough.
who are looking for my next book, and I’m eternally grateful for that and loathe to disappoint them. But I’m also not locked into any million-dollar contract that says I have to submit a book at a certain time, either. So I closed the Word document and threw myself into other things.
One of those things was going through the final part of the college decision-making process with my older son…college visits, campus tours, etc. Then there were also the senior class events which became more frequent as the spring went on. I spoke with my Dad a lot, visited him in D.C when I was able, and tried to hold it together. He lost the battle in April, and then I set about helping plan a funeral while grieving.
and I was determined to spend as much time with him, and the family, as I could the summer before he left for college. Occasionally I thought of my unfinished manuscript, but even looking at it seemed too overwhelming. Losing the only parent I had left, having a son finish high school and prepare to leave home…it was an emotional roller coaster and all I could do was hang on tight, savor the memories, and work on making new ones.
After my son was successfully set up at his new home away from home, I started thinking about writing again. I missed it. My characters still wanted their story told. I had over 50,000 words done already. But I was scared. Could I even still write?
One chapter a day, to get reacquainted with the story. I liked what I had. And while I didn’t exactly “write” every day, I did make changes, take notes, edit, etc., all the while letting the pieces of the plot sink back in, along with the finer details. And when I got to that last sentence, right in the middle of a scene, I just picked it back up. Slowly at first, but then I gained momentum.
So, I’m back at it, going strong, and I’m really excited about that. And very relieved that I haven’t “lost it”—I just needed time.
Amazon Link: http://a.co/eT9CTAm
Named one of the Top 3 Reads of 2016 by Read Free.ly
Those of us who love to write—and read—Historical Romance understand the importance of research. In fact a number of my fellow authors have told me it’s the need for painstaking research that discourages them from attempting to write an historical novel. But as a reader, I aunderstand the importance of authors creating an authentic and convincing world to visit. And authenticity requires details. But how much detail is too much? A woman posessed, Laura Strickland says it’s in the details.
We’ve probably all read books that personify each extreme—either so poorly endowed with historical detail they fail to hold our interest, or so filled with excruciating minutia it feels more like reading a history text book than a novel. I feel the first job of any fiction book is to entertain. But the author does owe readers who devote untold hours to his or her story a certain level of verisimilitude.
I was fortunate in that when I wrote my Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy, set in Medieval Nottinghamshire, England, I had a deep familiarity with the period. For years, I’d soaked up whatever information I could find about Robin Hood, just out of pure love for the legend. When I began the series, I merely distilled what I already knew, honed it and passed it through the sieve of my words. Of course, more research into certain areas was required, such as discovering names of various Sheriffs of Nottingham. But it came relatively effortlessly.
On the other hand, when I decided to attempt a Steampunk Romance and moreover to set it not in Victorian London, Boston or New York but in my native city of Buffalo, New York, I completely underestimated the amount of research that would be involved. After all, I was born in Buffalo, grew up there and went to schools built early in the twentieth century. How hard could it be?
Turns out Buffalo of the 1880s differed in many ways from that of the 1980s. And I knew that when other natives of my great city read my Steampunk series, they’d fall upon any mistakes the way the big, black Buffalo crows fall on spillage, come garbage day. I plunged into research like a woman possessed, starting with a massive, hand-drawn 1880s map with which I fell in love…just like I fell in love with old Buffalo, all over again.
Oh, what fun it is creating a world! And even more fun creating one with its roots down in bedrock, one that you know from the ground up, complete with secrets and shadows and beauties almost too wonderful to contemplate. The only trouble is, once you’ve created this world you won’t want to leave. That’s why my Buffalo Steampunk series is already four releases strong, with another story to come next year. And I have no plans to leave!
What do you think? Can a writer get carried away with research? How much detail is too much?
When it comes to research, immerse yourself. Learn about your subject for the sheer love of it, and make the knowledge a part of you. That way when you start writing, detail will flow naturally out of the minds of your characters, and won’t sound like the words of a lesson.
Work local festivals that fit into your genre: Scottish or Celtic festivals for Historical Romance, cooking events if that’s what you write. I’ve attended our local Steampunk Festival for the past three years promoting my series and it’s proved both successful and fun.
Born in Buffalo and raised on the Niagara Frontier, award-winning author Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. To her the spunky, tenacious, undefeatable ethnic mix that is Buffalo spells the perfect setting for a little Steampunk, so she created her own Victorian world there. She knows the people of Buffalo are stronger, tougher and smarter than those who haven’t survived the muggy summers and blizzard blasts found on the shores of the mighty Niagara. Tough enough to survive a squad of automatons? Well, just maybe.
Author Web site: www.laurastricklandbooks.com
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000002632317
Author Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Strickland/e/B001KHSACW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Reynold Michaels might not be the smartest man in the city, but he knows a beautiful woman when he sees one. The lovely creature he watches disembark from the steam tram every morning simply cannot be a prostitute…or an automaton. Yet at the high-priced bordello where she works he discovers she’s not only a hybrid mechanical, she’s funny, vulnerable, and quite possibly the missing piece of his heart.
Lily Landry understands that as an automaton she isn’t entitled to make her own choices. She must do as instructed or face the ultimate horror of being shut down. But when she forms a bond with Reynold, she quickly learns what it means to desire a life of her own.
In a city conflicted over automaton rights, can they hope for a future together?
My sister is often one of my beta readers so I always know I will get a real feel for whether or not my story might work. She is an avid reader of everything from popular best selling fiction to serious, scholarly works, so I know she will know what she likes and doesn’t like in a story. One thing she has particularly noticed in some of my stories is the setting and the way she feels pulled into it when she reads the story. That got me to thinking about how I write my settings. In many ways I feel like the setting must capture me before I can capture it. I have to feel it before I can write it. I place myself in that world and an author can do that too. The answer: Write what you feel.
Put yourself in a particular place, close your eyes and start to feel the sensations a character might feel in that particular location. Where do you start? There are a number of things you can do but they all go back to using all your senses:
Think about the feel of the air beyond just hot or cold. Consider whether the heat is dry or steamy, sticky. Think about whether the cold is damp with snow or so frigid you can’t breathe without coughing.
If you’re writing about a setting you know well, all of this can be easy. But if you’re writing about a time and place where you’ve never been, that can be tough. In many cases in my writing I’ve stuck to places I’ve been for that very reason. Writing a scene in a television studio or on a Los Angeles beach featuring my TV anchor Kimberly delaGarza was simple since I had spent so much time there.
I would have a more difficult time writing a scene set in 18th century England. Recently I’ve been working on a time travel novel and I realized I was having trouble pulling in the setting. I had little trouble with my characters from the present. They were having a hard time dealing with certain things, but they were all things they could relate to from the present. It was more difficult writing the viewpoint of the people in the past and putting myself in their place.
and there are ways to pull in those sensations from the past into the present. A cold winter day in the mountains is still going to have that same frigid feel as is a sunny day at the beach—no matter the time frame. The sounds might be different, but you can still describe some of those same sensations and then study the rest. And, of course, there are museums to study the real life furniture or garments from the past. But look beyond just the material and how things might be used.
Write what you feel. Place yourself in that world. Think about picking up that heavy jug or eating utensils and consider their feel. For that time travel, I’ve been spending a lot of time in museums and taking myself back to the past and placing myself in the world of those characters.
Setting can come to life, just as much as your characters if you write what you feel and put them both together.
Becky Martinez writes romantic suspense and mystery as Rebecca Grace. She is a former broadcast journalist who turned to fiction writing and teaching writing classes when she retired. She is published in mystery, romance, and romantic suspense with The Wild Rose Press. Her latest book, Blues at 11, is a humorous mystery featuring a TV anchorwoman accused of murder.
She also teaches writing classes and is the co-author of Creating Memorable Characters and the Let’s Write a Story series. The latest entry, The Plotting Wheel, will be available next week.
Blurb for Blues at 11
Kimberly delaGarza is leading a charmed life. As a Los Angeles television anchorwoman her face is well known around the city; she wears designer clothes and lives in a beachside home. But now she has been accused of murder. Her next TV appearance may be in a mugshot, her next outfit may be an orange jumpsuit and her next home may be The Big House. And as she searches for the truth … a vicious killer is closing in.
“That’s terrible! You call yourself a writer?”
I continued pounding the keys on my laptop.
“This is going to be the worst book ever. No one’s going to read it.”
Had you viewed this conversation, you would have seen me quietly sitting in front of the computer engrossed in my writing. It’s not easy silencing our worst critic. The verbal tussle took place inside my head, between my inner negative critic and me. This disparaging, alter ego excels in planting fears and anxieties, magnifying insecurities and creating low self-esteem…when I let it. It appears whenever I’m feeling vulnerable.
In the early days, this inner critic spoke freely. My confidence was undermined. I routinely called myself an idiot, wondering if I was ever good enough. When I managed to land a dream job in a movie studio like my heroine, Corrie Locke, I was paranoid I’d lose it.
“Everyone wants your job,” the voice would say. “You’re going to mess up ‘cause you’re not good enough.”
“I’m not listening to you anymore. If you’ve got something positive to share, we’ll talk. Otherwise, farewell.”
The self-criticisms didn’t completely go away, but slowly and vigilantly, I silenced the intrusive inner commentary. I once read that it helps to picture your mind as a bus. I sat in the driver’s seat. All the little denunciations were my passengers, trying to take over the driver’s seat. If I let them, my bus would crash. My aim was to reduce the whining passengers until all the nasties were thrown out. If I heard a negative thought, I’d view it as an undesirable rider and hurl the intruder out by the seat of his or her pants. It worked.
We owe it to ourselves to speak kindly in our minds. About ourselves and others. Our happiness and personal progress depends largely on our own efforts. After all, it’s the world inside of us that determines the direction our lives can take.
Have fun! Who doesn’t want to be around someone who is thoroughly enjoying herself?
Fave Promo Tip: Hand out your book business cards featuring your book’s cover on one side, your website, email address and a very short endorsement on the other. It works!
In my humble opinion, this is a great quote, and it describes how I go about writing a story. For me, it begins, ends, and is 99% about, the characters. I couldn’t write a story without my imaginary peeps first coming on board.
From the time I was a young girl, probably 6 or 7 years old, I LOVED people watching and listening. Whenever I went somewhere, be it the grocery store, a movie theater, a department store, or even just to the park or library, I was fascinated with watching people interact with one another, and individually.
I’m still that way. Some would call it nosey. I call it being in love with human beings and wanting to know all about them. Everything.
Anyway. I remember being 10 and being in the bank, on line with my grandmother, waiting for our turn at the teller’s window. There was an elderly lady behind us who had what must have been a companion with her. The older woman was very mean spirited and sharp tongued, continually complaining to the companion about things she’d done wrong that morning from how poorly she’d cooked the old lady’s breakfast, to the way her clothes felt as if they hadn’t been put in fabric softener when washed. To hear the old bat tell it, the collective problems of the world rested on this young woman’s shoulders and had been caused by her.
Even back then I was a champion of mistreated people and I longed to turn around and say something nasty to the old woman, but I knew if I did my grandmother would slap me upside my head faster than a hummingbird’s wings flapping, so I kept my comments to myself. Instead, I turned around and looked at the person being verbally smashed. She was pretty, quiet, and had the most amazing closed mouth smile I had ever seen. I remember thinking she looked like the Virgin Mary – serene and tranquil.
( kidding. Close, but kidding) my writer’s brain has tried to imagine just what that lovely lady could have been thinking to block all the vituperative comments being hurled at her. Maybe the old lady was going to leave her a gazillion dollars in her will and she was thinking of the day she’d get to spend it; maybe she was envisioning the next time she would see her secret lover who was waiting for her to get off work and come to him. I tend to think she was conjuring ways to shut the mean old lady’s mouth. Permanently. Whatever it was, her face and the situation has been stuck in my memory bank for all these years and I know one day I will base a character on her.
Since I write romance novels I know how my stories will end and what the plot will be. The characters are the impetus for me, the parts of the story I must find and learn about. I’ve been to conferences where I’ve been instructed to write complete and detailed character profiles before I ever type a word on the page. Other courses have suggested that I conduct character interviews with my potential peeps to find out what makes them tick and why they would be good candidates for my story. One multi-published author at a recent conference stated emphatically that you shouldn’t even name your characters until you have written at least 100 pages in your novel. Just refer to them along the way as hero, heroine, sidekick, villain etc. Ok, I think it’s safe to say I am not going to be doing that one. It’s just too out there for me to even consider. Sorry, multi-published author. And you know who you are.
I come up with the names of my hero and heroine first. Once I have the names I troll Google images and find people that look like the names I’ve come up with. For instance, I wrote a story about a guy with jet black hair and blue eyes. I found an old picture of Christopher Reeve ( Superman) and bingo – he was the archetype for my hero. All my descriptions of the hero were then based on Super– I mean, Christopher Reeve. After I know their names and what they look like, I figure out the conflict between the two of them. Once that’s done, I roughly plot out the story, scene by scene. This plot isn’t written in stone and I do modify it along the way if I think something better will work. But my goal is to move those two characters around as much as possible into each other’s way until they realize they love one another.
Okay, so it’s really not that simple. But it is safe to say that the last 15 novels I’ve written were all character driven. I love these people. I sweat for them. I want them to wind up together for eternity, happy and secure in life and love. Since I’m so invested in them, it stands to reason that they – the characters – are what motivates me to tell their stories.
They drive me to write. Plan and simple.
the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after.
Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.
Tying into her love of families, her children’s book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.
Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s.
..in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance. In 2017 she came in 3rd in the New England Reader’s Choice contest for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and was a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest for the same title.
A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00T8E5LN0
You want to revisit them and find out if the secondary character from book 1 falls in love with the girl next door or if a totally new love interest shows up. So, as a writer, knowing how popular books in series are, that is what I want to write. My hope is that a reader enjoys the first book in the series so much that she purchases the whole series. But do readers want series or stand alone?
There a couple of different kinds of series. There’s the stand alone type where the books are related because the characters share the same town/workplace/family etc. Each book is a complete love story, and it doesn’t matter too much which order you read them in. Then there’s the type of series that I’m currently writing/editing where it makes a great difference to the reading experience if you read the books out of order.
tentatively named the Solace Lake Romances, is focused on three sisters. When the Lindquist sisters are children, their parents die in what is ruled a murder/suicide. They grow up with their maternal grandparents at their fishing lodge in north-central Minnesota, and when the grandparents die, they inherit the lodge. The sisters come together to bring the now decrepit lodge back to life. Each book is a complete love story for each sister. But over the three books, the mystery of what happened to their parents is unravelled. So it’s crucial that the stories be read in order.
I realize it’s frustrating for readers to begin a series and then be forced to wait for the next book. To alleviate that frustration, I’ve already written all three books (don’t get me going on how long that took!) and since I’m indie-publishing them, I plan to release them closely together.
My question to readers and writers is this: Do you enjoy series like this that should be read in order or do you prefer a stand-alone series? Tell me what you really think. I’ve written both types of series now so you won’t hurt my feelings either way! And who’s your favorite author of book series? Do readers want series or stand-alone ?
Is the best man for her really the best man?
My writing tip: When creating a series, create a “bible” containing all the pertinent information about the series, the plots and the characters. Make it a handy reference guide you can refer to easily so you can keep all the details straight and don’t have to reread a book or two to get the information you need.
Favorite Promo Tip: Do the kind of promo you enjoy and can stick with. Don’t make yourself do something you dislike, because that discomfort will likely show. But don’t get too comfortable with one kind of promotion. What may have worked yesterday may no longer work today.
Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to full-length paranormal suspense and romantic comedy. She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side. She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.
When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, she can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby.
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou. You can reach her through her website at http://www.janarichards.com
Jana’s social media links:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/janarichards
Newsletter Signup: http://www.eepurl.com/m3UnT
Google+ Profile: https://plus.google.com/100820406211390323245
Laugh. Cry. Love. Feel the Romance
About a month ago, a friend of mine wanted to know if I could help someone who was interested in publishing a book. I was humbled and honored he thought of me. Within in a few hours, this soon-to-be published author, Lynn MacDonald, reached out, and we started messaging through Facebook.
She had a lot of questions regarding the publishing process for her self-published book, The Good, The Bad, and The Unthinkable – Behind the Scenes of Healthcare in America. We soon discovered we could not cover everything through text messages. We ended up in a wonderful, insightful phone conversation that lasted about an hour.
Of course, when she thanked me and said I was the only author she had talked to who would help share insights into the publishing world, I was astonished. Who wouldn’t love to tell their story about how they got published?
Anyway, I thought it would be a good topic to talk about: Some Inside Publishing Secrets.
Here are a few questions new Authors/Writers ask:
This all depends on your style. Since I’ve published two books using a traditional publishing company and one book using Amazon Direct, I have a little bit more knowledge about the negatives and positives of taking either path. Personally, I like going the traditional route. No matter how small or big the publishing company, you do have some help marketing your book. There are also author groups who can help you out with marketing, advice, and moral support.
Of course, the advantage of self-publishing is the freedom to make every decision on your own terms. This includes editing, book cover, pricing, etc.
Some advice on book covers is if you’re going through Amazon Direct, design or choose a book cover that will be accepted if you want to advertise on Amazon. I made the mistake of designing a sexy book cover for my self-published novella: Mine, Forever and Always. Unfortunately, Amazon didn’t like it, and they wouldn’t let me advertise the book on their website. So, I decided to pay $15 more to purchase another photo and redesigned the cover. Below is the difference between being accepted and being rejected:
The simple answer is YES! Of course, this can cost a lot of money. The going rate to have your 80,000-word manuscript edited by a professional can cost over $2,000. As struggling writers, who has that much money to spend on a book that may be rejected over 60 times over the next year?
I believe one of the best things I ever did was find a beta reader who was willing to charge me less than $100 to edit and proofread my 25,000-word novella. Since Mine, Forever and Always was a historical romance, I decided to go with a woman who was from England. She was phenomenal and well worth every penny.
Also, I’m very lucky to have a grammar goddess as one of my best friends. She is always proofreading for me and catches errors, three editing rounds missed. She truly is a goldmine!
I wished I’d known the answer to this question before spending months researching to whom I should send my first query letter. I found a wonderful site called Querytracker. Their site is free for the basic service of searching for literary agents and publishers who accept Query Letters in specific genres.
When I published my first two books through a traditional publishing company, I worked with a wonderful cover artist who listened to what I envisioned for the book. I sent her ideas of other books, photos of models, and links to covers I thought would work well for my story. Below are the two photos I sent her to use. When Diana Carlisle designed my holiday romance, In Mistletoe, and then sent it over to me, I fell in love instantly.
In summary, there is a lot to publishing a book; however, with a little guidance, it can be so much fun and fulfilling. I believe there is always someone out there to help you make your dreams come true!
Tammy L. Bailey grew up in historical Appomattox, Virginia and moved to Ohio the day after she graduated high school. A third generation veteran, she joined the Army National Guard in 1988, served five years in the active duty Army, and retired as a Master Sergeant from the Ohio Air National Guard in 2011. She is a wife and a mother of two boys. She is a huge Jane Austen fan and loves watching Jane Austen movie adaptations.
Her debut novel, Lord Bachelor, became a finalist in the Heart of Excellence, Reader’s Choice Awards.
When she’s not writing contemporary or historical romance, she enjoys Star Wars movie night with her 10-year-old son and going to drumming practice with her 13-year-old son. Fall is her favorite season, the B-17 is her favorite plane, and Hawkeye is her favorite Avenger.