Friday, July 21, 2017

Lucky 7 with Connie Vines by @JoanReeves

 Please welcome my guest today bestselling author Connie Vines who wrote under the name Addison Murray for Precious Gems Romance.

Now she writes as Connie Vines.

She has been a member of Romance Writers of America and the Orange County RWA for decades and is the President of the GothRom Chapter of RWA.

Published in romance, historical, young adult, non-fiction, and fantasy, her novels have won the H.O.L.T. Medallion, Orange Rose, and the Award of Excellence.

Her Rodeo Romance Series, novella series and anthologies are available through her publisher, BLW, in print and e-book. Connie lives southern California with her husband and an adorable little dog name Chanel.

Connie Vines and the Lucky 7

1. When you were 18, what did you want to do with your life?

Coming from a career military family, I knew I didn’t wish to continue the nomadic life-style. I was still undecided about a career. However, I still wrote my ‘stories’ while I was enrolled in business classes. I lived in horse country and loved my horse and my poodle. Animals were and still are important in my life.

2. When you were 40 what did you want to do with your life?

At that point in time I realized I was a writer. I was working in education (publishing in children’s magazines), married with two sons in high school. I was a member of RWA, and involved in my local chapter (Orange Co. Chapter). I was also finalizing my novel for Precious Gems and my YA historical novel.

3. What is a character name you have always wanted to use but haven’t?

Athena. An ancient Greek name and the name of one of the mythological goddesses, and therefore, a little difficulty to plunk on a character.

(Note from Joan: My daughter's name Adina is a variation on Athena.)

4. What genre would you like to try but haven’t?


I believe this appeals to me because there is a Victorian Regency tone, yet there are advanced devices and the thought process of the hero/heroin is more modern. Dracula, Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, and Sherlock Holmes were among my fave reads as a teen and can easily lend themselves to be reborn Steampunk fiction.

I am not ashamed to admit that I really liked “The League of Extraordinary Gentleman” movie (I don’t care that the reviews were negative). It would be challenging, as a writer, to work a story around the ‘limitations’ of the Victorian Time Period to produce a novel with unlikely setting: the wild west, or time travel –in the case of Dr. Who.

5. Let’s go to fantasy land. If time, distance, and other conditions of reality were no problem, where would you go for dinner tonight and with whom?

I would dine with Elizabeth Cochran Seaman—better known by her pen name Nellie Bly, an American journalist. She was also a writer, industrialist, inventor, and a charity worker who was widely known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. She was a pioneer in her field, and launched a new kind of investigative journalism.

Where would we dine? I wasn’t able to locate a specific restaurant in 1880’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but I did find some recipes that I think would be "cutting edge" dining. Champagne Strawberry Soup, Baked Crab Cakes, and Egg Custard Pie.

6. Still in fantasy land, in the book shown above, who would you cast as the heroine and hero to star in the movie version of the book and why?

For my heroine, Meredith, I would cast Claire Coffee. She played Adalind Schade in the television series GRIMM. I appreciated the way she could play a likeable character after being completely evil the first several seasons. She also exhibited the dry humor and savoir-faire.

Viktor. I caught the movie Dracula Untold on television in 2014. Though the reviews were only average, I thought Luke Evans played the part of a tortured hero with depth and great sex-appeal. A Welsh actor with theater and movie experience.

7. Last question before we leave fantasy land. When the movie based on your books wins the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, what will you wear to the Oscars?

Since Kate Middleton wears her gowns by changing it up a bit, I will do the same without the fear of being labeled too thrifty.

I would wear my black R & M Richards, evening gown. The gown has a retro feel due to the classic floral bead-work down the front and flapper cut of the dress changing to black tulle from knee to ankle.

Shoes. Never skimp on shoes, is my motto. Christian Louboutin or Valentino would be perfect—except for the price and the heels being impossibly high. So, I would select an Inc. International Concepts evening pumps (which look a great deal like the Valentino).

Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow

Alive, Steampunk novelist Meredith Misso worked hard at living the perfect SoCal celeb life. Now that she is a Zombie, it’s all about the make-up, non-vegan lifestyle, and her soon-to-be ex, who somehow managed to Velcro himself back into her life.

Novella length: “Quirky, Sassy, and Fun! ~Authors Den Review,

Thanks, Connie, for joining us today.

Readers, the next book in her Sassy & Fun Fantasy series will be available in October!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Seasoned Characters, Second Chances, and Small Towns

Romantic love doesn’t happen just once when we are young. Humans have a great capacity to love many things and people. And sometimes life doesn’t go like we’ve planned in our youthful dreams. When that happens, we deserve a second chance. By that time the second chance comes along, we may be participating in what has started to be called “seasoned romance.”

Did you know there’s a closed group on Facebook with seven hundred readers and writers of “seasoned romance,” defined as “love stories with heroes and heroines in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. Sex and love can get better with age.”

Maybe because I’m “of a certain age” and have had many second chances, I like to write seasoned romance. My Bluegrass Homecoming series are just stories.

Enter grandmother Grace Baron. In the prequel to the series, she meets small town lawyer Howard Scott, who has buried two wives. The novel Secrets is the story of Grace’s daughter Kelly. I wrote Secrets a few years ago when I got the idea to write about a woman approaching her fortieth birthday. I wanted to submit the manuscript to a traditional publisher, but was advised, at the time, this publisher did not like forty-year-old heroines. Since then seasoned romance has become more popular.

For today and tomorrow, Secrets is free at Amazon Kindle. Take advantage of this offer to read a “sweet” romance about seasoned characters, second chances, and small towns.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Of conflict and...not conflict

Nan and Me 
"I need to write a blog," I whined to my friend Nan Reinhardt, "and my mind is blank." 

I couldn't see her, but I know her well enough to know she rolled her eyes. Then she suggested, "Talk about conflict...or lack of it. Is it necessary?"

As a frequent beta reader for me and an in-demand editor, she knows I hate conflict. That I'm not good at it. That I--gasp--don' t think it's necessary for a good story.

Maybe I should back up there. It probably is necessary. Some. For me, whatever conflict I come up with is going to be internal and it's going to be peripheral, not central. The other part of that is that I don't care if it gets resolved or not.

Because few of us go into our happily-ever-afters without any conflicts on the relationship plate. Nor would we want to, because some of those things are integral to the plots of our life stories. My husband is a musician. A large percentage of my unhappiest moments in our marriage have been related to that fact. Yet music is as much a part of him as writing is of me, and the musician is the guy I fell--and stayed--in love with. Along with those unhappy moments have been 46 happy years.

External conflict? It's wonderful from those who do it well, not so wonderful from those who don't (yeah, that would be me.) I'd just as soon have the protagonists in a book I read spend the pages getting to know each other in the way that's going to bring them together and working together toward a common goal. That peripheral conflict that keeps them apart? I'd rather they learned to live with it than got rid of it altogether.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Social Media and Me by @BonnieEdwards

Back when I started writing romance it was bandied about that romance writers were early adopters of new technology. We liked personal computers before the general public did.  We embraced email and bulletin boards years before other casual users. We were always looking for ways to connect with each other mostly, not readers. I recall very early on that publishing houses were appalled to learn that we’d banded together on the internet and shared information. (Egad! The sky was falling.)

Why then do so many of us fail at social media? And when I say “us” I mean “me” specifically.  But maybe others in our merry band of bloggers will admit to a minor hesitation to embrace SM. (See? Acronyms are the new thing – some of them I admit I cannot decipher.)

The other day, I agreed to read and critique a manuscript by a relatively new author. In exchange, she’s coaching me with some new SM sites. Well, new to me, anyway. The rest of the world seems to be all about Instagram and Snapchat and all sorts of apps and applets to help with both. Sigh…

I was a relatively early adopter of Twitter but I lagged behind with Facebook. And yesterday I finally signed onto Instagram. Excited to share another new thing, I tried posting from my PC. No go. Then I went to HootSuite (been using it for years intermittently) and tried from there. Still no go. My SM coach gave me some advice.

Turns out you can’t post to Instagram from a PC. It’s strictly a mobile thing, so phones or other handheld devices are the weapons of choice. I eventually had to email my picture to myself and post from my iPad. Whew! All that just to post what I’d already put up on Twitter and Facebook.

Which brings me to writers keeping in touch these days. I’m involved in several boxed sets with various authors which means trading files, checking in and otherwise staying in touch for deadlines, release dates, and promotion etc.  It is extremely rare that we email each other. We keep in touch through Facebook groups and private messages. And Dropbox.

Just about the only things I get in my email inbox now are ads and a couple of Yahoo loops I barely read. Sometimes family sends along a joke or two.

Dare I say that email is dead? If it’s not, it’s gasping its last.

Back to my photo on Instagram. I’ve just joined a group of some 200 authors who are tired of all the negativity we’re bombarded with. We want to encourage positivity.  Every Monday, we’ll be posting inspirational quotes, pictures, memes or whatever on all sorts of SM sites. 

I think it appropriate to share this week’s theme: Finding Joy in Simple Things. This is my first Instagram post and my first shot at sharing some positivity. The group is called #upbeatauthors and you can find us just about everywhere!

And yes, I walk every day in the woods. I need to just to keep my SM stuff straight in my head. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Write what you know they say

Novel writers are told to “write what you know.” I suppose that’s why I write books set in Kentucky and enjoyed my vacation last summer to Montana where I visited the setting of my Montana McKenna series.

Yet, I don’t need to always stick with what I know. I’ve also gone back in time to write a book set in 1283 England and 1890 Louisville.

In the same respect, a few of my heroines are characters with occupations or lifestyles that I have known: single mom, teacher, stay at home mom, and grandmother.

But most of my heroines have lives I’d love to know. Take a look.

  • Pet psychic
  • Owner of a thoroughbred horse farm
  • Movie star
  • Country music singer
  • Daughter of a millionaire
  • Thoroughbred exercise rider
  • Bookstore owner
  • Veterinarian (my money went to Auburn so my daughter could become one)
  • A rancher’s wife and dude ranch owner
  • A rancher’s daughter
  • Clerk in a fly-fishing store
  • Saddlebred horse trainer
  • A medieval lady 

What about you? Would you like to suspend disbelief and become one of these heroines? What other fantasies would you like to explore?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Downside of Happiness By Kathleen Lawless  #kathleenlawless

I think it would be better for my writing career if I wasn't so darn happy.

Say what? you ask.  Everyone wants to be happy.


However, I find it far easier to write when I am overflowing with angst.  Churning emotions are very conducive to several things useful to a writer.  One is self-analysis.  Why do I feel this way?  Which transfers very easily to 'Why do my characters feel this way?'  And since I like to make my characters suffer, if I'm suffering it's a gimme they are as well.

I started writing after the death of my mother when I was a teenager.  It was cheaper and more accessible than therapy and I discovered I really enjoyed writing.  I had a lot to say and work through and filled reams of paper with words that no one besides me ever read.

Then I got married and soon was unhappy.  I started writing again, commercially this time with an eye to sell.  Did I find escape from reallity in my writing?  Absolutely!  Financial success, which I dreamed of right from the start, would also mean I wasn't dependent on a husband to support myself and three children.

I finally sold my first book just as my marriage was grinding to a very painful end.  So there I was, a single mom, reinventing myself and trying not to starve in the process.  Truly excellent for the writing muse.  The whole undertaking led to the publication of more than twenty books and novellas, while the single life provided lots of material.

Then I fell in love.

The well dried up.

I no longer wanted to angst and anazlyze.

I wanted to run hand-in-hand along the beach with my love.  To stare into the depths of his mesmerizing gaze and know I am the luckiest girl in the world.  to dip strawberries in chocolate.  To create decadent meals for two.  To plan fabulous outings and vacations.

What I didn't want to do was write.

Thus I was forced to reinvent myself one more time.  Allow the happiness to spill forth and re-fill the well.  To write from a very good place.

It's not so hard.

I don't know why it took me this long to figure out.  Feelings and emotions, good and bad, negative and positive, are all grist for the mill.  So here I am, the happy writer.  No suffering required.

Kathleen Lawless is delighted to find happiness has led to an exciting idea for a seven book series.  Stay tuned....  In the meantime she is proud of her previous works.  Everyone comes out of them happy, the way life is meant to be.  Check out her website to download a free novella.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Christmas in July Sale! @lcrandallwriter

I'm happy to invite everyone to check out Captured by Christmas at Smashwords during its July sale event. Use the coupon code to get the book at 50 % off. Click here to find the code: Smashwords

Blurb: It’s Christmas, and the season of holly, Christmas trees, and goodwill is drifting on air in merry holiday wishes. Romantic suspense and paranormal author Lynn Crandall and contemporary author Lainee Cole present in their own way two stories of love in Captured by Christmas. However it finds you—under a Christmas tree or drifted in snow in a backwoods cabin—the spirit of the season will wrap you in love.

In Snowbound, Lynn Crandall lets readers check in on favorite Fierce Hearts series were-lynx characters Kennedy Mitchell and Asher Monroe as they uncover the identity of the creature scaring the humans in Octavia, a small rural community in northern Michigan. Plans for an intimate getaway and family-style holiday are crumbling as the snow piles higher and Kennedy and Asher find themselves snowbound with a killer outside their door.

In The Mistletoe Effect, Christmas is second-grade teacher Tess McCall’s least favorite holiday, but she’s doing her best not to let it show. Learning he’s a father to seven-year-old Holly makes Alex Randle anxious about the upcoming holidays. When Tess’s class starts reading to shelter dogs, Holly and the antics of shelter dog Mistletoe lead them all to rediscover the magic of Christmas.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Huge 99 cent sale from Karen Kelley

Hi Everyone!
Are you enjoying your summer? Karl and I are having so much fun in the wonderful state of Michigan RVing with the 7 year old grandson and touring the Upper Peninsula. Ate our first pastie (pronounced past-ie) which was a meat pie. Karl enjoyed it a bit more than I did, the Great Lakes are fabulously clear and the water is so blue, Mackinac Island where no motor vehicles are allowed was my favorite. Loved the carriage ride and seeing the Grand Hotel where Somewhere in Time was filmed. We would've stayed there but it cost about $1,000 a night. Ouch! Way out of my budget!

After we came down from the UP we put the RV in storage so we could stay at our son's home and they've taken us to a few restaurants here where we discovered the mac and cheese is over the top good, the chili does not taste like Texas chili, and the root beer is the best! Oh, and Mexican food is really different from Texas Mexican food. I love new experiences, though.

We're flying to San Francisco on Tuesday, then Hawaii where we'll all be staying in a two bedroom villa at Disney Aulani resort courtesy of our son and dil's Christmas present to us. We've never been to either place so we're looking forward to it.

I hope you're having as much fun this summer. If you need something to read, then I have two books that are in with a bunch of other fabulous books and they're only 99 cents each. A great way to fill your e-readers! Check them out here:

 Happy Reading
Karen Kelley

Friday, July 7, 2017

Blame It On Chocolate by @JoanReeves #GemsInAttic

I have a new release,Blame It On Chocolate, that has an interesting backstory. I wrote this funny short story romance for Valentine's Day. I even posted an excerpt of it on another of my group blogs.

However, I didn't like the ending. It just didn't feel right so I set it aside. Every now and then I'd think about it, but I didn't do anything with it. I figured the right ending would make itself known eventually. Sometimes you just have to be patient with a piece of writing.

While I was weeding a flower bed, I figured out how it should end. I finished the story and published it a few days ago.

Blame It On Chocolate

A Moment in Time is all it takes for Love to be revealed.

Chloe Elliot was the good girl. She’d never been a hell-raiser. Never gotten drunk, used drugs, smoked pot, or slept around. She didn’t even curse!

Since her dad was the son of a minister and the oft-elected mayor, and her mom was the elementary school principal, she'd had no choice but to live a life above reproach.

Truthfully, it really hadn’t been that difficult.

Until Hunter Cole returned to his home town.

That was the beginning of Chloe's fall from good girl status. There was just something about the man that addled her brain and created havoc in her body.

Hunter Cole reckoned he had the best of all possible worlds. He'd played for the NFL, and even thought two back surgeries had ended that career, he was lucky enough to follow in his dad's footsteps and work the family ranch and also follow his granddad's path and be the sheriff in his west Texas town. Life was perfect.

Until he dropped by the library to say hello to his best friend's little sister.

Chloe wasn't so little any more. In fact, just looking at her made his common sense evaporate. She affected him like no other woman--and he'd had women throwing themselves at him since he was a high school quarterback!

If he made a move on her, her brother would nail his hide to the wall. There was only one thing he could do, but did he really want to do that?

The thought of it made his bachelor heart shudder with alarm!

I think you'll like this funny romance short story. You can get it only on Amazon, and it's only 99cents: Blame It On Chocolate.

Do Me A Favor Please

If you like Blame It On Chocolate, please leave a short review on Amazon.

It doesn't have to be long--just a few sentences saying why you liked it. I'd really appreciate it.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She'd be delighted if you’d follow her on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

Sign up for Joan's Mailing List and receive a free book along with new release news and giveaways.

Join Joan's Readers Club and receive free books. For details, email Joan at JoanReeves at outlook dot com. In the Subject Box, put Readers Club.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Taking Yourself Back

In late August of 2015, my father passed away.  He'd been sick for awhile, congestive heart failure combined with kidney failure.  My husband and I had been taking care of him, basically unassisted by either of my brothers.  After he passed, there was a will and dealing with his estate as Executor.  I had to get the house cleaned out (my brother had an estate sale,) and repaired and cleaned up for sale. Finally, everything was in order, all outstanding bills were paid, and the court allowed me to disburse the funds from the estate according to the will.  There was family in-fighting, struggles and doubts, but as 2016 begun, it was finally over.  Done.

And I decided to take myself back.  In the four years since my father had moved close to me (previously he'd been living in Colorado,) I'd battled exhaustion, frustration (he wasn't easy to deal with and fought me on a lot of issues).  My writing had suffered, my health too.  It's really hard to write an uplifting romance when life is in the toilet.  For the first time in years (I've been published 20 years now), a manuscript was returned by my editor and I was asked to rewrite it.  I don't blame her - it was a mess.

I began walking.  Like I do about a lot of things, I got obsessive about it.  I competed and I couldn't stand to lose.  So even if it mean walking 3 hours a day total, I did.  Looking at my Fitbit stats, I walked over 20,000 steps a day numerous times,  One time I walked 33,367 steps!   I won the Weekend warrior 30 times, Daily Showdown, 20 times, And finally, I won the Workweek Hustle 68 Times.  I walked so much that I injured my foot and got Plantar Faciitis.  But I digress.

I lost weight deliberately and slowly.  Over the course of that year, I lost 15 much needed pounds. My writing once again started to feel joyful and I wrote a book of my heart that was well-received and stayed on Bookscan's top 100 Romances for 4 weeks!

And then I went on a week-long cruise, it was Thanksgiving and our wedding Anniversary, Christmas and New Years and Valentine's Day.  By early 2017, I'd gained every single one of those 15 pounds back.

By mid-this year, once again determined to take my life back, I signed up for a fitness challenge.  For a set fee (very inexpensive, $79.99,) I received a meal plan (lots of protein, healthy fats, complex carbs,) and exercises (along with videos of the coach - popular Fitness model Jamie Eason Middleton - showing how to do them.)  Once upon a time, I'd worked out with a persona trainer and I was familiar with the exercises.  I was surprised at how weak my body was/is.  I just completed week 3 and feel stronger.  My blood pressure is down, I can easily lift a 40 pound bag of dog foor (I'd struggled before,) and my mood is better.

As a bonus, the writing is flowing.  I'm honestly, truly happy.  Yes, I miss my father.  I always will.  I know I'll see him (and my mother) again someday.  But for the time being, my life belongs to me.  I'd like to keep it that way.  I will lose the weight, one pound at a time.  But this time, I'll be building muscle too.  I hope and plan to keep up with this.

Determination = success.  Whatever it is that you truly want to do, the only way you have a prayer of succeeding is if you try.  That's the point of this long post.  I hope you take it to heart and I hope you succeed wildly.

Meanwhile, I have a new book out - July 1st.  It's a Harlequin Nocturne and my first Bear Shape-shifter.  I hope you'll try it.

You can purchase it for Kindle here:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

DON'T BE TOO REAL by Hannah Rowan

“You should put that in a book.”

How many times have authors heard that?  Even from each other.

The problem is—in light of all the crazy, mixed-up,, messed-up things we see on a daily basis—they don’t always translate well into a book.  Yes, something may be interesting, but does it make for a good story?

Never mind that it really happened that way.  A lot of times the things that really happen are so illogical, nobody would believe them in fiction.

To my intense frustration, the characters in a story are supposed to have motivation for whatever it is they’re doing. It took me a while to figure this out.

I still remember one of my first critique partners who read my manuscript/mess in progress and asked “Why are they doing this?”

Well, why not?  I thought whatever cutesy thing they were doing at that time was interesting.  She had to explain to me that though interesting is nice, having a reason for doing something was more or less a requirement.

Yes, but…it really happened to my cousin’s next door neighbor!

Too bad for me.  Of course, if I could come up with a logical reason why someone was doing something, and it fit in with the characterization and the motivation in the story, I suppose it would be okay.

But in real life, people do things for all sort of wacky reasons that onlookers find it hard to understand or believe.

I guess that’s why we like to escape into fiction.  There’s a reason for things, and even the most bizarre things have to be grounded in some sort of logical framework.

At the very least, some of those things that people think we should put in a book can be a good jumping-off point for a plot that really does make sense.

How many people get their story ideas from something that happened in real life?

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