Friday, October 27, 2017

The Joy of Writing Novellas by Cheryl Bolen

About fifteen years ago a dream came true when my editor at Kensington publishing asked me to write a novella for an anthology. How honored I felt! It was a big deal to get to be "chosen" for an anthology. At some of the more prestigious publishing houses, an anthology would feature a big-name author paired with up-and-coming authors. We didn't really have any big-name historical authors at Kensington, so I sort of felt as if they selected what they considered up-and-coming authors.

I was disappointed we didn't get to do the most popular anthology, Christmas. We were picked for an American-set historical around the 4th of July. What? I'd only ever written historical books set in England. Even though I'm American, I did not read American historicals and knew nothing about how the Americans in the 1800s spoke. Still, who was I to quibble? I was a chosen one.

All of us authors got together via email and settled on a setting, and one of the authors was enormously helpful to me. Since I like to write about dukes, I made my hero the banker/mayor of our fictional town.

 When I started writing that novella--about a third the size of my typical novels--I was on fire. I wrote faster than I'd ever written anything in my life. I had my draft completed in five days. No internet distractions. After the book came out, I'm happy to say the reviews of my story were flattering. I was even asked to do a second one for Kensington Books.

I fell in love with writing novellas. The problem was, in those days you could only publish them if you were invited to be in an anthology.

Then came eBooks.

As soon as I began publishing my stories directly, I decided I was going to offer a Christmas novella. All by itself. And it was only going to cost 99-cents. So I wrote one set in England and called it Christmas at Farley Manor. It immediately ranked very high, topping the Regency charts at Amazon. I sold close to 30,000 copies of it before I decided the following year to bundle it with two other Christmas novellas (not related), call it Christmas Brides, and sell it for $3.99.

I was tickled when Christmas at Farley Manor won Best Novella.

Since that first year (2011) I've written a Christmas novella every year. Each of the ones after Christmas Brides has been tied to one of my existing series, and because they're a series, they attract more interest. These sell for $2.99.

Somewhere along the way I was contacted by Amazon's Kindle Worlds to write some novellas to launch a Pride & Prejudice world, but Amazon eventually decided not to offer a P&P world; so, I kept the rights and published them, too. I've written one more novella on request for a special anthology.

Since I started publishing eBooks six years ago I've written ten novellas and just finished my eleventh. With its completion, each of my historical series will have a Christmas novella. Since I wrote two others for Kensington, my total number of published novellas is a dozen.

 None of the other novellas have come as easily as that first, but I still love writing novellas. They're so easy. An author doesn't have to show huge character growth, and the plots can be pretty simplistic. I think my talents (after all, I'm a former journalist) lend themselves to shorter works. Two more of my novellas have placed in Best Novella competitions.

Going over my writing logs, I count writing days, and my novellas have taken anywhere from ten to 16 writing days to write. I don't count the days I edit or do no writing. I only count writing days. That's a pretty easy gig. I do spend more days polishing and editing. Typically, I work on a novella for a month or longer.

 How I wish I could write full novels that easily!

Because novellas are only a third the size of my full-length novels, they take far less than a third of the time to write, probably only ten to twenty percent of the amount of time it takes me to construct a full novel. I typically spend around five months crafting a complete novel.

Even though my novellas have been well received, readers enjoy a meatier read. I'll get the occasional gripe, "I wish it were longer." So I have to keep writing those time-consuming novels!

My hope is that readers won't tire of reading my Christmas novellas now that the market is so glutted.--Cheryl Bolen's next novella is ABirmingham Family Christmas, set in Regency England. It's a Brazen Brides book.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Pinterest You Had Me At My First Pin by @lcrandallwriter

I’m not a slow learner. I don't live on the dark side of the moon. And I’m not oblivious to the world around me. I’m not one of those people who stands in the middle of the grocery store isle blocking it while staring at the products on the shelf. When it comes to technology, I am not the first in line for a new smartphone, but only because I want to wait to see how real-time reviews turn out.

But I admit, I am very late to finding the joys of Pinterest. I knew about it, and friends had shown me their boards, but I sort of zoned out about the time they swiped through a fourth “board.” The conversation went something like, “You can put recipes on a board and d├ęcor, and—“ Sorry, zoned. It all sounded like just one more time-waster.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and another friend or two suggested I stop pasting links for recipes in my emails to myself and check out Pinterest. I had just started eating a plant-based diet and was
eager for new recipes, so I did look into Pinterest. Wow, how easy to find recipes and keep them. Then it dawned on me: I can make boards for my books. I was hooked so bad, I now find pinning an obsession.

I’m hoping to expand readers’ experience with my stories with pertinent images and thoughts, etc. For instance, the image at the right is one from my Two Days Until Midnight, a short story in At Midnight, anthology released by me, Lainee Cole, and Rena Koontz. The concept is limitless. I’ve now taken it further for my present WIP to create the board first. I’m having so much fun with it I am open to more ways of exploring using the program.

Find me on Pinterest . I’d love to follow you. Where can I find you?

Photo credit: ID 10259569 ©  | Dreamstime

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Jumping Genres With Gleeful Abandon!

I've always enjoyed moving from one time period to another with my writing. There was always something challenging about pulling yourself out of a post-Civil War historical mode and tossing yourself helter-skelter into a steamy contemporary theme.

I'm fortunate enough to actively write for three great publishers who indulge my creative need for challenge and my desire to not be tied to one specific genre. I do have books with a fourth publisher but haven't written for them in a couple of years simply because they prefer their authors to focus on one particular genre and, unfortunately for our partnership, my brain just isn't wired that way.

My current contracted works-in-progress include:

  • Waking Up in Oz - a vintage retelling of the Wizard of Oz
  • Her Highland Hottie - a contemporary erotic novella sequel to my winter release, Kilty Pleasures
  • Secret Santa's Surprise - a 2018 holiday novella sequel to Bewitched
  • And an untitled time travel/fantasy sequel to my latest release, The Vessel

I just returned from a wonderful weekend in Manchester, NH where I attended Fall In Love With New England, an author/reader get-together centered on the reader, rather than the writer. Authors gave workshops and played games geared toward the reader. We had a costumed dinner party (my Egyptian Pharaoh costume took second place), and held a book signing which was also open to the general public.

I hadn't done a reader event in years and this smaller, more intimate conference was a great way to get my feet wet again. One of the many comments I heard from new-to-me readers were that they were anxious to see how well I moved from one genre to the next. Hopefully, given they either bought or won books from four different genres, they won't be disappointed.

I'm writing this at the end of a long travel day so I'll keep it short. I'd love to hear from you on how you feel about authors writing in more than one genre. Do you think it helps or hinders their ability to create a good book?

Until next month.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Magic Time @Liz Flaherty

From USA Today:
Actor Jack Lemmon was known as “America’s Everyman.” Before every take, he used to say, “It’s magic time.” Then he’d go to work, and he was right — it was magical. Writing (and reading!) romance novels provides that kind of magic for me, but like anyone else, I sometimes forget where the joy comes from. What could be a better reminder than having “Magic Time” embroidered on a Christmas stocking? – Liz Flaherty, author of Miracle on Joyful Street
It was, I felt, a rare moment of profundity for me. I did indeed have stockings made with "Magic Time" embroidered on the cuff. I must admit that I love them so much I'm finding it extremely difficult to give them away, but that's why I had Missy Hileman make them for me, right? 
Magic stockings were part of our theme in this year's Christmas Town anthology, Heartwarming Holiday Wishes. The first one was found last year in my novella, The Magic Stocking, and the other Heartwarming writers ran with the idea. And ran very well. I love the stories in this year's collection. I hope you will, too.

It has been a difficult year in a lot of ways. Not just for me, but for many people I know and care for. There have been so many losses, so much illness, so much emotional pain. Many of us are so exhausted we're having trouble determining which end is up. 
I hope and pray that we all find--and keep--the magic.
The Christmas Town residents have a Facebook page all their own we'd love to have you join. We even have a web page with all kinds of cool things on it like coloring pages and giveaways. 
Speaking of giveaways, in the spirit of all things magic and of all Heartwarming Holiday Wishes, I'm giving away one of my precious stockings and signed copies of two of my books to a person who comments here. Tell us where you find the magic.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Finding Mercy on Kindle Scout @BonnieEdwards #GemsinAttic

I just realized that the title for this blog tells a story in itself. Finding Mercy on Kindle Scout...and I guess that's actually what I'm asking for.

I am excited to share the news that my book Finding Mercy has been selected for the Kindle Scout program. I need all the help I can get! The competition’s tough, and it’s an honor to be included.
I would appreciate your nomination for Finding Mercy. Every single click helps. 

You'll be able to read a sample from the book to see if you'd like to see it published by Amazon.

Here’s a bit about the story:

Can a child bring two people together?

Mercy Talbot left Welcome on a high—a golden-girl. But now she’s a broke failure. All she wants is a new start, but her precocious niece sends Mercy on a journey into her past that will change everyone’s future.

Clay Foster was once the town bad boy, but marriage and a daughter transformed him into a devoted father. 

Widowed and struggling to be the daddy Dilly needs, Clay fears his attraction to Mercy will put Dilly’s heart on the line. Because women like Mercy always have an exit strategy.

With my appreciation, you can vote for Finding Mercy here:

For readers, this program exposes them to fresh, new writing from authors they may never have heard of before. What reader doesn't delight in finding new books to read? They get to sample books and have their say in which books may be offered a publishing contract. If a book they nominate is chosen for publication, they'll get a copy to read and enjoy as soon as it's released! 

For authors, it means thousands of new-to-you readers will read your work. For writers who are publishing their own work, that kind of exposure is golden. about helping a girl out? Let your vote count on Kindle Scout!

Friday, October 13, 2017

I’ll never write another blurb! by Jan Scarbrough

Have you ever spent months or sometimes years writing a novel? By the time you’re finished with it, you’re brain dead—so involved with character and plot that you can’t see the forest for the trees. Then you must write the back-cover blurb for your self-published work or for an editor. That’s when I find myself trying to come up with a concise description of what I’ve just slaved over for so long.

Thank goodness, I found the “BlurbWriter” Kat Sheridan. She’s written and refreshed blurbs for me, spotting elements that I overlook and making my blurbs so much cleaner and crisper. It amazes me what she can do with only my filled-in form to go from.

Here’s an example from my revised book Secrets:

My blurb: With her daughter all grown up and married, single mom Kelly Baron can start her new life in North Carolina, responsible only for herself. But first she must help her mother by returning to the small Indiana town she fled years ago.

Newly divorced lawyer, Rob Scott, seeks solace in his small-town roots. The last thing he’s looking for is a relationship—until he runs into Kelly, and the secret she’s been keeping from him for twenty-one years.

BlurbWriter blurb: Schoolteacher Kelly Baron raised her child alone. Now that her daughter’s grown and married, Kelly can finally start her new life in North Carolina, responsible only for herself. She has just one more thing to do: help her mother. To do so, she must return to Heritage Springs, Kentucky, the place she’d fled years before. Back then she’d been nothing but a small-town girl from the wrong side of the tracks, hiding a secret that could have destroyed lives.

Newly divorced lawyer Rob Scott seeks solace for his heartache in his small-town roots. Maybe being an incurable romantic isn’t smart for a lawyer who has to deal with hard facts. The last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. He’d made millions in Chicago, but in his heart, he’s always kept a secret dream, a desire he’s never told anyone. Then he runs into Kelly, the girl who’d disappeared from his life years ago, leaving behind only hurt and unanswered questions.

Kelly’s kept her secret all these years. But sometimes the only way to build a future is to face the past.

Kat says, “I love helping authors bring out the best in their books. My goal is to have every potential book buyer think "Oh, I just have to read that book!" after they've read one of my blurbs. I strive to help authors by writing blurbs that turn book browsers into book buyers!”

So, the next time you have a blurb to write, check out Kat’s website And for authors who rather do it themselves, take a look at her book on Amazon: Blurb Your Novel: How to Write Book Descriptions for Fiction.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Treat of a Retreat By Kathleen Lawless

It seems funny to think that authors might need and benefit from a writing retreat. After all, isn't that what we do every day?  Retreat to our office; retreat to our own world; a world of people and places we have created?

Even though we have all those friends in our head, it's still a very solitary pursuit.  And often real life gets in the way.  From a broken appliance to a broken ankle to a sick friend or an empty refrigerator..... the list goes on and we crave that escape.  That place where nothing interrupts the muse.  Where tea and wine and snacks are close at hand and no one is asking, "What's for dinner?". 
The bonus is the like-minded writer friend or posse, always at the ready to help brainstorm and problem-solve a stubborn or thorny plot point.

I've been to retreats with one or two others, retreats that numbered fifteen or more, and everything in between.  Each experience brings an invaluable dimension to my work.  As I write this it feels like time to make plans for my next writing retreat.  My favorite is when there is a spa booked at the end of the day as a reward for all my hard work.  What about you?  What's your ideal retreat experience? 

Kathleen Lawless is the award-winning author of over 20 novels, and is busy anticipating her next retreat with some long stretched of writing time spent on her up-coming series.  Sign up for her newsletter for updates and receive a free novella.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New Release! One Crazy Christmas @BonnieEdwards #gemsinattic

 One Crazy Christmas

 (The Christmas Collection Book 3) 


Did you know these Books2Read links will take you to your favorite online retailer anywhere in the world?

Between them, they have five daughters. They live in different countries. But love doesn’t give a fig about that because this is One Crazy Christmas…

Karyn Whyte is a busy single mom of two, the owner of Whyte’s Christmas—a woman who would like to meet a convenient man—one who lives nearby, has no baggage and makes no demands. Oh, and he must like curvy women.

Cade Devine’s a devoted single dad to three little girls. Sure, he’s got his hands full, but that doesn’t mean he wants to be alone.

At a mutual friend’s wedding, interest flares at first sight between Karyn and Cade. Enticed and attracted, they break free of their constraints for one long weekend of passion and deeply satisfying companionship. 

During their three-month secret romance, they learn they’re perfect together. But there are five other hearts at stake and Karyn and Cade accept that responsibility must win over the love they’ve found. Fate can be cruel and sometimes love hurts.

Accepting an invitation to Christmas with their newlywed friends brings Karyn, Cade and their children face-to-face and anything can happen when love and family come together… 

Readers’ thoughts on previous books in this series:

Not-so-Blue Christmas (The Christmas Collection Book 1)

4 Stars  …a warm-hearted and romantic Christmas story. (EC Sheedy)

5 Stars … a wonderful holiday romance (Kelsey Tanner)

5 Stars  … The small coastal setting adds a charm that readers can immediately relate to and wish they could live there. Highly recommend for a good, fast read. (Florida Mama)

Invitation to Christmas: (The Christmas Collection Book 2)

5 Stars Love is in your Christmas stocking … Bonnie has created the wonder of love and Christmas joined in harmony for this story. (AZZ – Amazon Reviewer)

5 Stars One for the season... 
This is the perfect story to get you into the holiday spirit. A sweet yet complicated romance that will definitely leave you smiling. Five stars for Invitation to Christmas and a definite recommendation. (Author Kate Douglas)

5 Stars Punchy and real... a great little Christmas novella 
Just what I’ve come to expect from Bonnie Edwards... punchy and real!! I love Bonnie's style. This novella was everything I wanted it to be…and more. 

Find, follow, or friend me here:

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Witches, Ghost and Goblins...Oh My by Karen Kelley

Witches, Ghosts and Goblins...Oh My!

 I love the month of October and all that it brings: cooler temps and Halloween. My birthday is also this month, and now, that of my first great granddaughter who we welcomed into the world last night. Harper Sage weighed in at 6lbs, 6oz and of course she's absolutely perfect.

 I have two books on sale for 99 cents but for a very limited time. Double Dating with the Dead is about a psychic and a skeptic who are forced to stay in a vacant hotel for two weeks to prove the other one wrong and save their respective careers.

 My Favorite Phantom is the second book on sale for 99 cents. It's about a ghost hunter afraid of ghosts who runs into Casper on crack and the hot professor who hires her to rid him of his menace.  

 These books are full-length, very steamy, laugh out loud romances. I hope you enjoy them!


Karen Kelley

Amazon     Nook                                                                                       Amazon     Nook

Kobo     Apple                                                                                           Kobo     Apple


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Funny Quotes & Titles by @JoanReeves

 Surprise! It's me--Joan Reeves. In case you're wondering why I'm posting on a Sunday, here's my story--and I'm sticking to it.

I should have posted Friday. Unfortunately, I didn't even think about it until I was rushing out the door that morning to pick up my daughter and take her to the hospital for Physical Therapy.

I told the other GEMS that I'd do it Saturday.

BUT...I started early that morning with editing my current work in progress and didn't think about the post again until I crawled into bed, exhausted and brain numbed.

Now it's Sunday afternoon. I guess this falls under the heading of: Better Late Than Never.

The funny list below was inspired by the ribald comment my darling hubby made about a certain part of my anatomy that was plainly visible as I bent over to pull weeds. I laughed at what he said and retorted, "Don't bend over in the garden, you know them taters got eyes."

In case you don't know, that's part of a title by the late American humorist, Lewis Grizzard. He was a long-time columnist for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, and he died way too young.

Lewis McDonald Grizzard Jr. was only 47 when he passed away in 1994. He was the label he coined: a SAWB--that's Smart Ass White Boy for those who don't know.

Best Quotations from Lewis Grizzard

"Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house."

"The only way that I could figure they could improve upon Coca-Cola, one of life's most delightful elixirs, which studies prove will heal the sick and occasionally raise the dead, is to put rum or bourbon in it."

"Life is like a dogsled team. If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes."

"If soccer was an American soft drink, it would be Diet Pepsi."

Grizzard's Funniest Book Titles

1. Don't Bend Over In The Garden, Granny, You Know Them Taters Got Eyes

2. Chili Dawgs Always Bark At Night

3. If I Ever Get Back To Georgia, I'm Gonna Nail My Feet To The Ground

4. Shoot Low, Boys--They're Ridin' Shetland Ponies

5. I Took A Lickin' And Kept On Tickin' (And Now I Believe In Miracles)

6. They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat

7. If Love Were Oil, I'd Be About a Quart Low

8. Elvis Is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself

9. My Daddy Was a Pistol and I'm a Son of a Gun

10. I Haven't Understood Anything Since 1962, and Other Nekkid Truths

Lewis Grizzard, gone, but not forgotten.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She loves a good laugh. That's one reason she writes romantic comedy and even writes funny dialogue in her grittier romantic suspense novels.

She'd be delighted if you’d follow her on Amazon, BookBub, Facebook, and Twitter.

Click here to get a FREE ebook. The download link will be sent to your Inbox for a free copy of one of Joan's most popular romance novels.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Light in a Dark World

In light of the horrific shooting in Vegas, I've found myself withdrawing and weepy.  It's really difficult to understand so much darkness and horror.  Our country is divided on so many issues - and the vitriolic nastiness continues on social media.  I love on my family and my dogs.  And I write.

We all do what we can, we light bearers, to try to fight back the darkness.  Pushing against hate with more hate is never the answer.  And totally removing ourselves from the swirl and sway of these times might help us feel better temporarily, but does nothing to make things right again.

I'm not going to touch on politics here, in our writing space.  In the light of a tragedy like Vegas, we realize very quickly that we are all human, no matter what our political beliefs.

I try to focus on the good things in life.  My volunteer work rescuing dogs.  My husband and daughter.  The fact that I have a roof over my head and food to eat.  The new TV season has started, so all my favorite shows are out there again, ready to be watched.  And new books are published every month, so I always can find something interesting to read.

This summer, I've read a lot of books.  Romance, of course, and Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller, and Literature.  I've even read some non-fiction, taking up my metaphysical studies once more.   I've been envious of another author's writing skill, laughed out loud at a spectacular plot twist, and shuddered at a particularly vivid description.  I've read a lot of NY Times bestsellers this summer and most of them lived up to the reason they made that list.

As for me, I write romance. Every day except the weekends.  It's not always easy, ya'll know that. Even after numerous books.  But I tell myself that there is someone out there, some reader, who will pick up my book and lose herself in the story. For that person, the darkness will temporarily be replaced with love and light and happy endings.  That, as an author, is all I can hope for.

For you - writers and readers all - I hope you find your own methods of beating back the darkness. Our world is changing, and we must continue to fight for what we know in our hearts is right and good and... light.  We must always be the light.

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