Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Source

The Source
by Lynn Crandall

I began writing way back as a reporter for two local newspapers, first one than the other. I also wrote for commercial and trade publications, and did a bit of feature writing for a university radio station. Each of those types of writing offered ways of improving my writing skills. I would do my research and relied on expert sources to help me write articles that were based on facts and genuine personal experiences. Not my experiences or my facts, those of my sources.  

When I began writing fiction, other skills, such as being able to create relatable characters and build plots that were interesting as well as sustainable, were needed. But one that remained the same was my need for real-life sources. The best way for me to get first-hand information is by interviewing people, experts who know through their education and their personal experience what I need to know to create authenticity in my characterization, my plot, and settings. It’s part of my research, which I call feeding my story.

I recently employed a virtual assistant to help me out with locating a certain kind of person and interviewing the person for me. The VA was extremely effective and helpful. But I know I can’t rely on that second-hand info alone. Talking one on one with a source is amazingly effective. I always assure them they’re helping me with my writing but the book is not about them. While they answer questions, I get impressions about their work, their personality, and how their experiences have affected them. I could do an interview via email. A lot of people seem to feel they can fit in answering questions by keyboarding whenever they have a few free minutes. That’s fine. But I’ll miss a lot that is available spontaneously in a conversation. Things can loosen up and soon the two of us are enjoying interacting. It’s then I’ll get juicy stuff that can really enhance my story.

I’ve had the pleasure of talking to a large variety of people from different professions and different ways of living. The list includes a pilot, a drug research specialist, an athlete, a flavorist, an owner of an olive grove in Italy, a therapist, an empath, a psychic, an IT specialist, the owner of a start-up, a rape victim, and many more.

It’s very important to me that my writing be entertaining and inspiring. I want to provide details that allow readers to sink into the story and maybe expand their sense of themselves and the world. To do that I count on sound research, and often that comes in the form of interviews with expert sources. But I don’t take those sources lightly. Their willingness to open up to me is admirable. It is my respect for these individuals that prompted me to write the following author’s note in the final book in my Fierce Hearts series, Unstoppable. It is spoken from my heart.

Author’s Note
            I’m grateful to Crimson Romance for helping me bring the Fierce Hearts stories of the colony of were-lynxes to readers. The characters of the Fierce Hearts series have been a part of my life for a year and a half. Some characters were introduced in earlier books, Dancing with Detective Danger and Always and Forever Love, which were published in 2012 and 2013, respectively. In these stories, I wanted to explore other ways of being in family. I wanted characters who had strong inner conflicts, conflicts common among people but with the added twist of living lives of being radically different. But the books are not issue stories, they are people stories about finding their true selves by walking their way through their wounding and coming out changed and more whole.
Though the characters in the Fierce Hearts books work on their inner difficulties within the time context of the stories, I understand and want to acknowledge that healing problems related to abuse, betrayal, and rejection in real life requires effective work with a professional counselor and it takes time.

I hope to have the pleasure of interviewing many fine people in my quest to write good stories. And I will always be grateful for their willingness to share.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Personality Quiz: What Type of Writer Are You?

By Caragh M. O'Brien

A. When you unexpectedly have ten free minutes you:
1) write
2) daydream
3) take a brisk walk
4) mess around online

B. Your favorite beverage is:
1) Coffee
2) Fresh lemonade
3) Ice water with a twist of lime
4) Alcohol, any kind

C. Your office looks:
1) a bit unruly
2) nonexistent
3) tidy and color-coded
4) as messy as your attic

D. When you’re under deadline you:
1) work steadily with daily goals
2) ignore it until the last minute and then pull all-nighters
3) make a to-do list of all household chores
4) freak out

E. When you were a small child, you wanted to:
1) be a writer
2) read all the time
3) be an astronaut
4) all of the above

F. When taking a quiz, you normally:
1) use pencil
2) overthink your answers
3) read for typos
4) use the paper for a paper airplane

Add up the numbers of your choices [Example, answer A. 1) write is worth one point] to find your score.

The Plucky Die-Hard (Score 6-10)
You’re a very focused, productive writer who is envied by all your writer friends. Chances are, you write with an outline and take pleasure in meeting your daily word counts.  You take rejections hard, but you get back to work as soon as possible. You’re generous with feedback and support for other writers.

The Charmer (Score 11-15)
You’re a goofy non-conformist with tons of ideas and a passion for clever wordplay. You chide yourself for procrastinating, but you actually get your writing work done when you need to.  A seat-of-the-pantser, you worry that you’ll never make sense of your many drafts, but you end up happy with your final product, and your fans do, too.

The Sage Planner (Score 16-19)
You’re a balanced, happy writer who likes to make character profiles and world-building maps.  You prefer to write series rather than stand-alones because you like a big story arc and the long-term commitment to your characters. You sometimes get a bit preoccupied by promotion and worry that you should be doing more, but then you get your butt back in your chair and write.

The Wild Roamer (Score 20+)

You’re a creative, driven writer with a big imagination and a great sense of humor.  You don’t honestly know how you write your books since each one seems to involve a completely new process, but you relish the challenge.  You often weigh the connections between art and business, never turn down a school visit, and know you’ll write forever.

Caragh M. O'Brien is the author of The Vault of Dreamers and other YA novels.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Research and Serendipity

Most writers will tell you that research can be as simple as doing an internet search or picking up the phone to talk to someone in the know. Or not.

Some writers look for the most realistic or complete knowledge on their subject that they can find. They become experts themselves.

There are writers who love research so much they never actually start their books.

Still others will say that research took their stories in totally different directions from where they originally intended.

I'm jealous!

Research just hasn't been that simple for me. I write about women in unusual occupations. Once I wrote about a woman who did repossession for a living. You she drove a tow truck and snatched vehicles from people unwilling or unable to pay their loans.

It seemed a simple thing to call a local towing company to get some of the details of how the truck operated. But was I allowed to visit the office to ask a few easily answered questions? No.

But here's where serendipity comes in: our car broke down in our driveway. A first for us as my husband is a stickler for with car maintenance. We called a tow truck. As soon as it arrived I hot-footed it outside to see the truck in action. I asked all of my questions and got great, easy-to-understand answers and everything fell into place.

A couple of months later I discovered that a-- shall we say--group of individuals with questionable reputations and many, many years of legal problems behind them owned ALL of the tow truck businesses in town.

For that same book (Possessing Morgan - Harlequin Blaze) I wanted to ask some questions of a local collection agent for background. She got so excited about talking about her work that she proclaimed that she had enough to write a book and one day, she'd do just that. Some writers may have persevered, but I backed off. No way did I want her thinking that I'd "stolen" her stories.

Again serendipity stepped in and provided me with a reality show about repo men. It was their attitude I loved and that's what I brought to my heroine. Morgan Swann who is something of an adrenaline junkie who loves her work because it gives her the same thrill she had back when she was a car thief. (heh, told you I write different heroines)

I have more stories of failed research attempts but these were the best and oddly, all for the same book.  Which is here if you're interested:

Friday, July 22, 2016

Attending the national RWA conference by Cheryl Bolen

As I write this I’m just back from San Diego where I attended the national conference of the Romance Writers of America. Twenty years ago, in 1996, I went to Dallas for my first one. In between I’ve attended two in Anaheim, two in New York, one in Chicago, one in Atlanta, one in San Antonio, and two more in Dallas. I don’t go every year. There were years when I wouldn’t allow myself to go because I didn’t feel I was earning enough money to justify the steep expense. 

People ask me why I still go. It’s not like—after 35 books—I need to attend those craft workshops that teach how to write point of view, character development, or “show don’t tell.” I’m no longer hunting for an agent or editor, which was once the main focus of attending conferences. I no longer meet with my own editors or agents as I have in past conferences. I’ve never been up for a Rita, which is the Oscars for romance writers and which is always awarded at a glittering gala the last night of conference. I’ve never presented a workshop at the main conference (though I often do at the Beau Monde conference the day before nationals begin).  

I don’t go for the fun of experiencing a new destination as I rarely get out of the conference hotel. For example, I spent five days in Atlanta left the hotel one time--for a publisher's party.  

It’s hard to articulate why these grueling, expensive conferences hold their allure. I believe my number one reason for going is to reconnect with authors I only see only once a year. I’m still chums with authors I met during the 1998 conference in Anaheim—the first conference I attended after my first book sold and was published. Notice I didn’t mention authors I met that first year in Dallas. That’s because almost all of us are so intimidated and so unknown at that first conference, we just sit there like mute sponges.  

At conferences, I’ve met a few of the Precious Gems: Jo Ann Ferguson (Brown), Becky Barker, Bonnie Edwards (at the PASIC conference), Charlene Sands (this year), Holly Jacobs. I apologize if I’ve left any of you off my list. 

I’ve never been in the “popular” group of highly successful authors who have a half dozen Rita nominations and seven-figure publishing deals with one of the Big 5 New York publishing houses. These gals move through the halls of the conference with a posse like an NBA star.  

I’ve never been asked to stand on the stage and present an award and certainly never been asked to be a keynote speaker. But even though I’m not in the “popular” ranks, their success and their openness breathe energy into my writing career. I like to be in their midst. I like to surround myself with other writers. That’s why I still go to my local RWA chapter meetings even though I’ve heard no less than ten talks on deep POV. (After all, I joined RWA in 1993.) 

I like to stay abreast of the industry, and conference is a great way to do so. For instance, in a panel I saw in San Diego, one of the well-respected agents said New Adult was dead. Impossible to sell. Gosh, it didn’t even last half a decade! (Of course, even when one of my chapter members got a huge deal to write new adult about three years ago, I never had any desire to jump on that bandwagon.)  

I like to hear what industry professionals have to say. I like to meet and get business cards from industry professionals. Over the years, these have expanded to include professionals we never could have envisioned twenty years ago. This year I met (and got a card from) the author rep at Goodreads as well as from online reviewers. Through conferences, I’ve established good working relationships with reps from Create Space, ACX, Amazon.  
Here I am at the Harlequin party at Atlanta's Ritz Carlton.

Publisher parties over the years have been lots of fun. Many a year I got to be up-close but not personal with romance diva Nora Roberts at the Harlequin parties. I no longer get invited to those. I still get invited to Montlake’s parties, which are awesome, even though I don’t write for them anymore. Nook Press has on open reception every year with good eats, open bar, and an opportunity to speak with the Nook Press team.  
Lisa Mondello and I enjoy the Montlake party in San Antonio in 2014.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that just because I’ve paid almost $500 to attend all those workshops, I must allow myself to play hooky each day. Give myself time off from back-to-back workshops. I now buy a conference flash drive every year. It’s pricy too, but I find it invaluable. Doesn’t it seem the best workshops are always at the same time? This way I don’t miss one. For weeks after the conference, I hop on the treadmill and listen to the conference recordings on my iPhone and feel so proud of myself. I’m learnin’ and burnin’ at the same time! 

Each year I come home from the national conference so exhausted and so behind on my writing-related duties, I swear I’m not going again. I ask myself just what I got out of nearly an entire week and usually about $2,000 in expenses, and each year it remains hard to quantify how the conference enriched me even though I know it did. I do bring home a long to-do list for my assistant (who happens to be my recently retired “techie” husband) and another for me. I know I’ve solidified friendships with authors I see but once a year.
What’s your take-away from conferences?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

My Hollywood Dreams/Nightmares
by Jo Ann Brown Ferguson

Once upon a time, I had a book (Under the Outlaw Moon)optioned for a movie. The producer got close to her goal of getting it made, but it never happened. I figured that was my last brush with Hollywood.
But wait...
In 2007, a packaging editor I’d worked with asked if I was interested in doing a movie novelization. I’d have two weeks to do it. Because I like a challenge or because I’m a masochist—I’m not sure which—I said sure. The script for Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage arrived via FedEx.
A real script with a big name scriptwriter (nominated for an Oscar) and big name actors (winners of Oscars and Emmys and lots of other awards) attached. Even as I was writing the novelization, filming was underway in Whistler, BC. So I got to work stripping the script’s formatting and putting it in a format I could use. I had the dialogue I I began writing the story around it. I finished in four grueling days. I sent it in, the editor was delighted with it...and then the revised script appeared. Version 11 or 21 or something. I’d worked off Version 4. There were a ton of changes. A complete rewrite. So another four to five grueling days, but this time I didn’t go by the script as closely. Some wonderful scenes had been removed, and I didn’t want to take them out of the book. The ms went back, and my editor approved, the Kinkades approved, Lionsgate approved...and all was right with my world.
Until my editor let me know the title of the movie had changed...and the book cover had to be redone. So sad because the original cover was lovely. Then the book was being released...the week the movie went back to its original title.
Are we having fun yet?
Fast forward to August 2015, and the same editor asked if I’d like to do a novelization for a young adult horror movie. I’ve never published YA, but I love it, and I’ve never read much horror, but I said yes...and then found out I had 10 days to do it. Much shorter book this time, so that shouldn’t be a problem except that I’d be working off the almost edited movie. For the next few days, after watching the movie through once, I listened to a few lines of dialogue and then typed and then listened to make sure I’d gotten them right before adding story content. I can do that movie by memory! The movie came out in September, and reviews were nice.
The book is coming out on July 26, and the reviews are nice, too. Kirkus said: “Adapting the book from the screenplay for the 2015 film R.L. Stine's Monsterville: The Cabinet of Souls, Ferguson keeps the creep factor high...” Yes, you read that right. The movie came out in September 2015, and the novelization is coming out July 2016.
Are we having fun yet?
Actually I am. I’ve enjoyed seeing how scriptwriters work, how actors work and how directors pull it together. As an author, I have to fill all those roles, and I’ve learned a lot. Would I do another novelization if asked?
You betcha!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Planning For an Upcoming Release

Every author, no matter how long they've been writing, looks forward to release day. Or, as it's come to be known, the "book birthday". There are a number of things that go into preparing for your "book birthday" and most of them revolve around promotion.
As an author of twenty-one published books, I’ve learned to celebrate each release as if it’s the very first. How do I prepare the upcoming event? Well, first of all, I stock up on chocolate...lots and lots of chocolate. I also have two full boxes of K-cups on hand, as well as a chilled bottle of Bailey's.
I'm just not sure which I'll drink first.
I finalize a book-specific media folder, something I do for each book I publish. As a matter of fact, the official promo folder is something I begin when I first start the book. Even before it’s contracted. My philosophy is that it never hurts to be prepared. Plus, everything you’ve gathered helps with the publisher’s cover art and book information forms.
The first thing I do (once the book's file folder is created), is to set up my generic media kit. I begin with a section for what will eventually become the official blurb, followed by a section for one or two excerpts. Both of these sections will be filled in once the book reaches its final galley stage.
The second section is where I’ll place the buy links as soon as they’re available. I include both the long form, as well as the shortened hyperlink. Since not everyone who may be hosting your on their site can copy and paste a hyperlink, it is important to also include the actual url.
The next section is for tweets and Facebook posts. I start those early because ... sometimes ... a line from the book will scream "tweet me"! Both the tweets and the FB posts can be fine-tuned before they're needed. They can also be embellished as promotional efforts continue long after the book's release date.
The fourth section is my author bio which may change from book-to-book depending on the genre. There are certain things in the bio I repeat, but some of the smaller details can be custom-fit for the story. For instance, the book I’m currently working on is an Egyptian-themed time travel and features a number of historically significant facts. Because my story includes these references, I’ll customize my bio to mention my love for Egyptian art and history. My bio for a previous release...a 1960's historical...included a widower with small children. My customized bio, in turn, included the fact that I have five grandchildren.
My media contacts (website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) links make up the next section. This may seem redundant since most of us keep a file just for our media contacts. However, I find it convenient to have everything pertaining to the individual book in one place rather than have to jump from file to file to put together a quick blog visit.
The last section is a generic catch-all. I sometime include “fun facts” if there’s something specific to the book itself. I may also include website urls for any research I have done during the writing process. This is also a great place to list links to any ARC reviews completed prior to release. As well, you can add links to future reviews here so that everything is contained in the same general area.
The one other folder I prepare separate from the media file is a collection of clip art and theme related stock photos and memes. I use these to create my own advertising memes, as well as to enhance guest posts when I guest on various blogs. It's also where I'll place copies of my final cover.
With everything complete, I'm ready for pre-promotion, release day, those aforementioned blog visits and ongoing promotion. I can start counting down the days until it's time to blow out those imaginary candles. Or, if I can get past the excitement, I might just write.

For all the writers out there ... get back to work! For all the readers, please keep reading. You are why we do what we do.

P.S.: This is my first post for this blog. I look forward to getting to know the other authors in this wonderful group, as well as the followers of the blog. Please feel free to visit me either on Facebook or my Website.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Romance Around the World - the Final Chapter

     For my final blog about foreign translations, I'd like to show everyone the cover and text from one of my Intimate Moments titles that was re-published in German. Harlequin/Silhouette packaged them as TIFFANY DUOS that included books by different authors. My book, UNDERCOVER VIRGIN, was combined with Lauren Nichols' book RUN TO ME.

Anyone read German? 
 The final two covers I have to share are in magazine formats for what I assume are shortened versions of the original books. I'm not sure what language these are, but the first is a translation of my  PRECIOUS GEM title, THE COWBOY AND THE CRADLE, with its original cover

Do any of my fellow GEMS recognize the magazines or the language? 

And another PRECIOUS GEM  title, TO TRUST AGAIN, with a totally different cover.
 I don't recognize the language on this one, either.

That's all for my visit to foreign translations and a stroll around the world of romance. If anyone can tell me the language of the books in magazine format, I'd greatly appreciate it! :-)

Until next time, take care and keep reading!

Hugs, Becky

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What Happens When We Kiss?

One of the most important scenes any romance writer will ever write is the first kiss.  There is so much going on from a scientific point, yet we have to turn it into a banquet or sensations and emotions. 
Turning science into poetry in the Old Testament, from the Song of Solomon seemed easy. "Thy lips, O spouse, drop the honeycomb, honey and milk under my tongue."

Today's writers are a little more challenged.  In modern day, when we kiss, electrochemical currents rush from the brain along two main nerves that extend fibre to the facial muscles.  The pupils dilate spontaneously when we are aroused.  Enlarged pupils signal sexual interest to a potential lover.  Anthropologists suggest that women may lick their lips as an unconscious way of reminding men of their lower lips, the labia, which enlarge to at least twice their original size with sexual arousal.

Why does kissing feel so good?   Touch causes endorphins, along with a potent hormone called oxytocin, which surges at the though of connecting with a partner's lips.  A kind or orgasmic chemical reaction occurs when we kiss; partly responsible for a delicious flood of desire, arousal, nipple response, erection and orgasm.  The tongue is one of the most heat-sensitive areas, making our kisses hot.  Through kissing, a flood of smell and taste sensations flow through our system.   Think of how a kiss tastes, and why.

First kiss from Grace's Folly, a western historical romance:
"Wet skin dampened the delicate fabric of her blouse, allowing his body heat to penetrate with a searing intensity.  Her arms looped around his neck.  His hands tunnelled through her hair.  Their lips met and clung.  Nothing was tentative in their mutual desire to touch, to taste, to explore each other.
Grace had been kissed before, but nothing like this... this hot, hungry open-mouthed exploration where his need fueled her own and heady sensations spiraled out of control."

Saliva was considered by ancient alchemists to be a sexual elixir.  Today, in a pinch, it acts as a very effective lubricant.  As writers we have to use it all, past and present. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Creating A Series

Hi Everyone!

First off, I have a new/old book out or as Maddie says, a reborn book. This was such a fun series to write and when I sent the proposal to my editor I knew I would be taking a chance because it was a little different from what I was writing.

First off, the series was about nerakian women who leave their perfect planet for one reason or another. On Nerak they take food pills or drink calming smoothies, they meditate a lot, if they're warriors they train, except there are no wars on their perfect planet. There aren't any men, either. Instead, they have companion units but when these units were created they didn't really have an accurate design to follow.

I've always put humor in my stories, but with the Nerak series I didn't hold back. My editor, the late Kate Duffy, told me if she had known I could write like this, I would've been writing this type of book all the time. She loved my sexy, sarcastic, humorous books. Something she said really stuck with me, "have fun with your writing". I think that's true of anything in life. If your somewhere that doesn't make you feel good about yourself then maybe you should look around and see if you can make some changes. Life is way too short not to live it to the fullest.

The third book in my Nerak series is Bad Boys Guide to the Galaxy:

Bad Boys Guide to the Galaxy

Undercover cop, Sam Jones, is ready for his vacation, but his plans never included taking an uppity female alien to his cabin deep in the piney woods of Texas. Sure, he fell a little in love when her sister showed him the hologram of Lara, but he didn’t know a Healer would act so damned superior or look so damned hot. He wants to kill her one minute and seduce her the next.

Planet Nerak is perfect, but when earthlings are accidently transported to Lara’s planet one of them infects an Elder. As a Healer, Lara must test earth plants to find a cure, but Sam doesn’t seem pleased by her presence. He should, for she is from a much superior race.

Healers are set above everyone but the royals. A Healer must meditate to keep her mind one with the universe. It is not permitted to touch a Healer less they disturb her aura. Sam does not seem to know these rules, and worse, he doesn’t seem to care.  She only hopes she can find a cure soon because Sam is affecting her aura in an odd, but rather pleasurable way. 

                                       Buy Now:  Kindle    Nook     Kobo     Apple

Happy reading,
Karen Kelley

Monday, July 11, 2016

Reinventing a Series - Legend's Landing Bed & Breakfast Books @MaddieJames

Things happen in publishing. Good things, bad things. And these days, one can always be certain of this... Things change. To be an author, in any day and age, takes resiliency.

For example, the first Kensington line I wrote for closed after my 4th book. The second line I wrote for there, also closed after publishing book 2. I was now an orphan. I also had just gotten a new day job and stopped writing for a while (um, 5 years...) and by the time I got back to it, the entire industry had changed. I decided to work my way back into publishing via a small press.

It went bankrupt, and took my one contracted book with it (a week before it's scheduled release). The book was lost in litigation for quite a while, then purchased by another publisher, who released the
rights back to the authors. (thank you for that good deed) Finally, I tried another small press and was with them for some time. During that era, I co-wrote a contemporary romance series of books with three other authors. We ended up moving that series to my own publishing house a few years later--and then (remember, wait for it) stuff happened.

After six years, I had to make a business decision, and closed my own house to outside authors. (I still publish under that house name myself.) But what to do about this co-written series? The authors decided it was time to break up the set. Each author was now fully in control of her own books and took them to self-publish.

I decided to rebrand, republish, reinvent. With a new logo, and new covers to tie them all together, and a new short story to add to the mix, Legends Landing Bed & Breakfast books were (re)born, nearly 9 years after the original stories were published.

And now, readers can purchase the entire set for a bargain price for a limited time only. The collection is now up for preorder at most places (coming very soon everywhere else) with full release on July 25.


This set includes the 13 stories of the original Legend’s Landing Bed & Breakfast series, including the eight Matchmaking Chef stories, all in one ebook collection! This collection includes:

Bed, Breakfast and You – Chef Suzie Schul tangles with fling from her past only to realize that he’s come to town with a plan—and that plan includes making her his, forever.

Home for the Holidays – When Suzie’s estranged sister Chelly finally comes home for the holidays, Suzie does more than forgive her sister – she sets her up to reconnect with her old high school flame. 

Perfectly Matched – Chef Suzie is cooking up more than biscuits when she tries to work matchmaking magic with the town wallflower, and the hunky country music singer who has come to town.

Hot Crossed Buns – What’s a small town cop to do, when the love of his life runs away when he pops the question? He hires a matchmaker to lure her back.

Dates Du Jour – Speed dating? Speed eating is more like it when Suzie tries to matchmake puppy nanny Lyssa Larkin with every available bachelor in town.

Side Dish – When Nora Patterson meets Suzie, the Matchmaking Chef during a book signing at her store, she finagles a matchmaking picnic lunch date for two. But her date seems more interested in her best friend, Becca…

Mate to Order – When Suzie’s success as a matchmaker hits the national scene, about the same time as her debut cooking show, her new producer comes to her with a list of requirements—for a ‘mate to order’ husband.

Murder on the Mountain – Legendarian Kate Carpenter thinks her Tennessee State trooper husband is dead. ATF Agent Michael Lehman knows he is not. When he goes undercover in her Legend Elementary classroom, his mission is to determine how Kate fits in the middle…

Romancing the Scone – Suzie’s cousin Sidney Schul, owner of Sidney’s Sugar High Coffee Stop and Bakery, makes the best damned scones south of the Mason Dixon. All is well until a mysterious stranger stalks her scones, and attempts to romance her out of her famous recipe.

Better Than Chocolate – When chocolatier Scott Matthews escapes to Legend, he wants nothing to do with anything chocolate. New York transplant, Jillian Bass, only wants to start over in a new town with her chocolate shop, Bittersweets. When Scott takes one whiff of her Belgian truffle, all bets are off….

Hard Candy Kisses – New Year’s Eve is just around the corner and Patti Jo Baker has tried every trick in the book to land a date for the annual New Year’s Eve Bash at The Lodge. This includes setting up a kissing booth at the Legend Elementary Winter Carnival….

Star-Crossed – When Jasmine Walker returns to Legend after a fifteen-year absence, she doesn’t expect her troubled teenage past to collide with her well-planned, professional future.

Not This Christmas – Nora Patterson crashes into the back end of Reverend Rock Peterson’s SUV on a snowy Christmas Eve night, and finds herself snowbound with the attractive minister. She’s prayed for someone to share her life—could Rock be the one?  

Now available for preorder at: Google Play | Kobo | iBooks | B&N
Will be available for purchase at Amazon on 7/12 (early release)
Maddie James writes romance – but don’t try to pin her down to one genre. From edgy suspense to flirty contemporary romance to darker erotic titles, she just wants to silence the people in her head. Find out more at

Friday, July 8, 2016

Write what you know. It’s fun! By Jan Scarbrough

“Write what you know.”
― Mark Twain / Source Goodreads

I’ve never ridden a bull (or attempted to). Does Twain mean I can never write about a bull rider?  Not necessarily. Nathan Englander says, “Write what you know isn’t about events. It’s about emotions. Have you known love? jealousy? longing? loss?”

I do that. I write what I know—about events that I’ve experience and my emotions.

Kentucky Woman opens in Louisville, where I live. The novel continues at a fictitious horse farm. The hero is Jackson Breckinridge, a banker and farm owner. The heroine is single mom and ex-jockey Alexis Marsden.

I love of horses. So I write about them.

His expression softened. “You’ve loved horses all your life, haven’t you?”

Where did that come from? She shrugged. “I’ve heard a theory that a person is either born with a horse gene or not. I guess I have it.”

“I was born with it too.”

“Horses are in your blood.”

“My Kentucky blueblood,” he said with a touch of self-mockery in his voice.

I was a single mother for many years.

“Can I watch TV?”

“Not on your life. Tomorrow’s a school day.”

When had she started sounding like her mother? Of course, Tyler knew he had school the next day. Odd how one’s best intentions faded once becoming a parent. Responsibility for a child’s life was a heavy, although joyous, burden.

And my experience with my own mother found its way into the book.

A familiar pang shot through Alex’s stomach. Why did her mother always make her feel like she was five years old? Defensive. As if her judgment was flawed.

Alex took a deep breath, hoping to steady her nerves. Her relationship with her mother was complicated. One minute Alex was the child. Next, the parent. In rare moments, they were friends. That’s when she did dumb things, like complain about Jack Breckinridge’s idiotic proposal.

I couldn’t even resist adding one of my pets into Kentucky Woman. Here I describe my dog Red, named Copper in the book.

Once in the house, Alex climbed the stairs to check on Tyler. His door was shut and she quietly pushed it open. Light from a nightlight illuminated the room just enough for her to see her little boy sound asleep, sprawled out in the middle of his new bed. At his feet lay a great big fuzzy dog, his sorrowful amber eyes looking up at her as if he knew he didn’t belong.

“Jack,” she called downstairs in a hushed voice. She put her finger to her lips when he joined her and then pointed into the bedroom.

Jack smothered a laugh. “It’s just Copper,” he said.


“The barn dog. She was a stray who adopted the farm.”

The copper-red dog’s flag-like tail thumped up and down on the bed as if asking for forgiveness and acceptance.

When you read a book, do you ever wonder what may be autobiographical in it?

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