Friday, November 24, 2017

No No to NaNo for Cheryl Bolen

A lot of writer friends have been pumped about the recent NaNoWriMo writing challenge. The official title is National Novel Writing Month. It typically operates within an email group where members cheer each others' successes and offer encouragement to those who flounder.

About five years ago I decided to rise to the challenge and join Anne Marie Novark's NaNo group.
Authors are always interested in something which ratchets up their productivity. I'm a fairly disciplined writer, but while I sit in front of my keyboard all day, I am not nearly as productive as I'd like to be. I'm not alone in getting distracted by that World Wide Web--and a gazillion emails each day.

I like the idea of being accountable for a certain amount of writing each day, whether it's measured in pages, words, or hours. In fact, I've kept a writing log for years. But accountability reaches a whole 'nother level when one has to actually state her goals and accomplishments to a group with dozens of other authors. Better yet, vow to complete a book in the NaNo month.

This is what I did.

I wrote like fiend. Every day, my total pages exceeded others in the group. I was getting many virtual pats on the back, and I was feeling very proud of myself.

At the end of the month I had a completed book. Sure, it was a pile of crap, but I always remember what the Goddess of Romance Writing, Nora Roberts, said: "You can fix anything but a blank page."
Since I pride myself on my editing skills, I went after that manuscript in an effort to polish over all the rough spots.

It was like putting lipstick on a pig.

At the time I wasn't aware that my manuscript remained a pile of crap. I merrily smoothed it over, then when I was finished, I printed it out and took it to my sister to read. She is not a writer but a voracious reader. We bonded years ago over our love of Georgette Heyer books; so, she gets my genre. She's read many of my books in manuscript form. Sometimes she'll say, "This is the best book you've ever written." Sometimes, she will flat-out tell me that something's not working. Once she saved my hide by making me soften a heroine.

Since she can easily read a book (or two) in a day, I reckoned on a quick turn-around. After all, I was in a hurry to publish that book and increase my income. (Ah, the joys of indie publishing!) Several days passed. Then a week. Then another. And another. Had she forgotten about reading my book? I don't like being a PITA, so I waited some more. After all, she was doing me a favor. After more than a month passed, I called her.

That's when I learned how badly my book sucked. She'd been apprehensive about contacting me because she hated the book so much and dreaded telling me. "I can't believe my sister wrote this book," she said. She was so astonished by its poor quality and its absence of my "style," she went back and reread several of my books. "This could not have been written by the same person who wrote all those other books that were so good."

So my month of NaNo got completely scrapped.

I have learned a valuable lesson. I need to dance with the one who brought me. Any successes I've had in publishing were the result of the writing system which works for me. And that writing system is slow. I write a chapter at a time, then print it out so I can mark it up. I attempt to improve its flow, its sensory details, its emotional depth and all those things that make a book good. Then I input the corrections and print it out again. I may do this up to ten times before I'm satisfied the chapter is good enough to advance to the next one.

I have learned that you can't put a time limit on quality writing. It takes as long as it takes. For me, not being tied to the deadlines I used to have has been the joy of indie publishing. Now--with a lesson my sister helped me learn--I don't allow a work to be published until I'm completely satisfied over its merit.

NaNo may work for some, but for me it's no! no! to NaNo.--Cheryl Bolen's latest release is the novella A Birmingham Family Christmas.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Season of Seduction @BonnieEdwards et al

Season of Seduction: Limited Edition Collection
Stay warm this winter with this scintillating collection of sweet to steamy romances. Need to warm up by the fire with a hot lover on a bearskin rug? Then you’ll feel stoked by these gratifyingly sexy romances for readers looking to satisfy every taste, desire, and whim.
Come and see what all the excitement’s about…for this is a real Season of Seduction!

For only 99c! You can find your favorite retailer here:

With so many stories to choose from you'll find something you love and maybe even a new author to read. That's always a plus with boxed sets. 

My story, Slow Hand, is set in the sultry Caribbean, just in time to take you away from Winter's cold bite. 

A jilted bride...a sexy sea at first touch

Leaving behind a wintry New York, stressed-out bride Teri Branton is determined to get the Caribbean honeymoon cruise she paid for — even without the groom.

Laidback Captain Jared MacKay instantly dislikes Teri's 6 inch heels and New York attitude. All Jared wants is the nap he’s earnedbut this cruise looks like it will be all hands on deck.

Neither is prepared for their electrifying first touch.

Jared and Teri have one short week under the sultry Caribbean sun. Can Jared's slow hand lead them beyond torrid sex into a lifetime of love?

Join Bonnie's R&R Team on Facebook. Sometimes R&R will mean Read & Review (because I need reviews on upcoming releases), or Relax & Read (because I'm focused on being positive), or Recommend & Read (because I'll post about books I love) Bonnie's R & R Team

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The love of the game @Liz Flaherty

Years ago, when asked if she loved writing, a well-known author said that no, she really didn’t—what she loved was having written. I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember exactly who said it (although I’m almost sure) and can’t find the quote to get it exactly right, but that is the gist. I remember being disappointed. It didn’t make her books any less good, but I wanted her to love writing like I did. I’m a person whose entire life is more about the journey than the destination, and I felt let down by someone who was more interested in being somewhere than in how she got there.

Yes, I know that’s childish. Isn’t it nice that I never wrote her a letter and told her she let me down? Now, that would have been childish!

I wasn’t published then—or at least, not very—and had never worked with a deadline. Writing was easy for me. Far from having to open a vein, I had to force myself to stop when real life insisted I do other things. I hadn’t had many days when the words got stuck in the throat of my computer or lay dormant and leering on the tip of its tongue. I had never written a book because I’d agreed to do it. If I reached what felt like a point of no return, where the story wasn’t viable or the characters redeemable, I just stopped and went to a new project.

This week, I am skipping merrily along. I have two chapters to write on the book that’s due in a couple of weeks. A piece of cake, I tell you!

Admittedly, I know people who can write entire books in that time, but I’m never going to be one of them. And writing’s not easy for me anymore. I may not be opening any veins, but it’s a lot of work. There was a long siege there in the middle where I thought I might not finish at all. I muttered the words I can’t do it more than once. I sent the first half of the book to my friend Nan for her to read. What do you think? Do I need to take a virtual match to it? I spent hours on single paragraphs, hauling on those words that seemed to be irretrievably stuck in my laptop.

It has been an arduous trip.

“But don’t you remember?” my husband said. “The last book was this way, too. Maybe not this hard, but hard.”

Oh, he’s right. It was. And the one before it was probably even harder.

This then, is why the author only loved “having written.” It took a long time for me to catch on, and I finally get it. I’ve sniffled a few times when I’ve written “The End,” and I always thought it was because I was going to miss those people I’d spent so much time with. And it was, but it was relief, too, that it was over.

So it doesn’t disappoint me in that author anymore—we all give up our naïveté at some point—but I am relieved about something else.

I still love writing as much as I did before I wrote for money, as much as I did the day Hilary Sares called me and bought that first Precious Gems book, and as much as I did when I finished the book of my heart in 83 days while working full time. (I don’t write fast—that was a big deal.)

There are many cool things about being a writer. Working at home. Wearing yoga pants. Not washing your hair if you’re not leaving the house. Being available for other things at times that are inconvenient to others. Having boxes of books delivered by the UPS guy and standing in the driveway talking writing with him. Writing while sitting on bleachers, in waiting rooms, eating lunch alone, and in the middle of the night because an idea Will Not Leave You Alone until you do.

But loving it…even though there are days when you most decidedly do not…yeah, loving it is the best.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

99 cent sale by Karen Kelley

I love this time of year! Except is doesn't quite feel like the holiday season since we're still in Arizona. Heater at night, and air conditioner in the afternoon. We're heading back to Texas today, though, and my daughter has said it was getting cooler. Too bad, they just put in a pool.

 Another thing I love about this season are all the Christmas books, and movies, to get me even more into the spirit of things. I love walking through the stores, and seeing all the decorations. I love the pumpkin spice scents, and gathering with family.

 So, what's your favorite thing about this time of year? And if you're still not quite into the mood yet, here are a couple of books that might help. Both are only 99cents each, or you can read for free in KU.
Blue Suede Christmas
Sydney doesn’t want to be Tony’s ‘best bud’! She wants to be his lover, but she can’t make him see it won’t ruin their longtime friendship. But when a snow storm strands them at the haunted Sleigh Bells Inn, Sydney finds her fairy Godmother in the guise of a flamboyant, very dead, Elvis impersonator.  Read for free in KU of purchase now at Amazon

Thank You, Santa!
Baby, it's cold outside...  
Charlaine only has one thought when she first lays eyes on Nathan. Thank you, Santa! That is, until she learns he’s the critic who’ll be reviewing the Inn. She only hopes the flamboyant ghost of a dead Elvis impersonator doesn't make an appearance and screw everything up.
Read for free in KU or purchase now at Amazon
You can see all my books, and learn more about each one, at

Karen Kelley

Monday, November 13, 2017

Transitions with @MaddieJames

Transitions. We all go through them. Good, bad, ugly, they happen. Even good transitions can be stressful but that doesn't make them any easier to deal with, or to power through.

I've been through a few fairly major transitions lately. In the last six months I have:
  • Sold my house
  • Moved my residence from one state to another--in short, I moved back to my hometown after 43 years.
  • Navigated day job from working in an office, to working from home
  • Started a new romantic relationship
  • Started writing under a new pen name. 
If someone would have told me last year that from May to November of 2017 all of these things--or even one of these things--was going to happen, I would have poo-pooed the notion and laughed myself silly.

But sometimes change happens upon us quickly and with good reason--which was the case with me. One decision made led to the next, and before I knew it, I was living on a roller coaster of transition for several weeks, er, months.

A couple of weeks ago, near the end of this process, I was beginning to feel the stress creep in and I knew that sooner or later I needed to go into my cave--wherever that cave was, anyway--and regroup. 

Regrouping is always a good thing when life overwhelms. At any rate, I digress. 

Yes, I started writing under a new pen name. I am morphing (transitioning?) an old Maddie James collection of contemporary romance novels into a new series. So why the heck not, in this era of transition and change, just toss these revised and rewritten books into the world under a new name? Why the heck not? Let's not make this past six months any easier, right?

So I did. I am. All in process and this transition is going to go on for a log longer than 6 months, but I believe it will be worth it. You can read more about this new book launch on my blog here. 

In the meantime, meet Sophie Jacobs and take a peek at what she has in store for you on her website. The first three books are available now at all retailers. 

Book 1

Book 2


Friday, November 10, 2017

Time Travel: How times have changed! by Jan Scarbrough

I found an audio diskette from the 1996 Romance Writers of America (RWA) convention in Dallas, Texas. I was younger then. Eager. Unpublished. I remember rooming with a couple of ladies whom I met on the Internet. The Internet? eMail? OMG! The world was changing fast.

The diskette is entitled “In-Depth Look at the Contemporary Market.” I wonder what I’d hear if I played it again. But I won’t listen to it. Times have changed and big time. Two years after that convention, I sold my first book to Kensington. Then my second. Then when my agent didn’t work out, I contracted with a small publishing company that sold their books first as ebooks.

Today I publish my books myself—with the help of a techy husband, a fantastic editor who keeps me honest, and a variety of cover artists. I no longer have to worry about what some faceless editor will say after reading ONE page of my manuscript. No joke. I heard an editors’ presentation once where the two editors agreed in front of all of us wannabes that they “read to reject.”

We fooled them, didn’t we? We are our own captains of our ships now. We always had to do marketing and promotion. Now we publish our books, set our prices, make our own decisions.

Times have changed. For the better? I think so.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

What's in A Title? @kathleenlawlessnovels

Deliver Me is one of my favorite western historicals, based on the author's entree to storytelling, "What If?"

I admire Harrison Ford as an actor and one of my all-time favorite roles he took on is Richard Kimble in The Fugitive.  I have never seen the TV show that spawned the movie, but my fondness for the movie led to "What if...."

What if this happened in the late 19th century?  A prominent businessman falsely charged with killing his wife is imprisoned, escapes, and fights to prove his innocence.  Thus was born Judson Burke, owner of the successful Sunset Railway which helped open up much of the western US in the late 1800's. 

And while Harrison went it alone in the movie, since I was writing a romance I needed a heroine.  Enter Maddy Winslow, farm girl craving excitement, equally committed to see Burke's name cleared despite his opposition to her help.  Voila!  Conflict, danger, adventure, and I was off!

My original title was Maddy's Fugitive, my third historical romance featuring strong, independent heroines; starting with Callie's Honor and Anora's Pride.  But my editor didn't like that title and changed it to Deliver Me, which I have never loved.  So I'm thinking about a title change, something easily arranged in today's indie publishing world. 

So what do you think?  Fugitive Love?  Love on the Run?  Fugitive's Bride?  Any and all ideas welcome.  In the meantime Deliver Me is on sale for .99 cents in your Kindle store this month, and part of the Western Weddings Box set which features all three of my western historical brides. 

Kathleen Lawless is an award-winning author of more than 20 novels and novellas, spanning the gamut of historical, contemporary, and erotic romance genres with a YA thrown in for fun.
Sign up for her newsletter and receive a free erotic novella, The Pleasure Club.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Exciting New Cover for Finding Finn @lcrandallwriter

I'm happy to share a new cover for my paranormal short story, Finding Finn! The former cover was interesting and I liked it, but this one by Sharon Clare at Book Nook is wonderful.

Here's the book blurb:
Finding Finn is a short story loosely connected to the Fierce Hearts series’ were-lynx colony.

Asher Monroe’s younger brother Finn has never had any trouble accepting his human identity despite Asher’s extraordinary were-lynx abilities and rich life with the colony. In fact, Finn loves his life as a research scientist and living on his own terms. But when a disease that is targeting were-lynxes brings a group of violent were-lynxes to town to threaten his research partner, Nissa Bello, his life is changed forever.

I'm really enjoying writing short stories for a bit. I love their pacing and that I can write them quickly between book projects. According to Brian Klems in his article in Writer's Digest, writing a short story can provide readers a pleasurable experience on a time budget. 

"Short stories are having a revival in the digital age. As book marketing guru Penny C. Sansevieri wrote in The Huffington Post, 'Short is the new long. Thanks to consumers who want quick bites of information and things like Kindle Singles, consumers love short.” It seems the short story is back—on an iPhone near you,'" he wrote.

I know I'm having fun writing short stories, and if readers are enjoying reading them, I'll continue.

Finding Finn is available for 99cents at variety of retailers, including Amazon.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Writing Around Your Day Job by Connie Vines

It’s a 5:00 world, at least that is what the popular “Vogues” song from yesteryear (1965) tells us.  In 2003, the song was reborn via the movie, “Big Fish”.

Up every morning just to keep a job
I gotta fight my way through the hustling mob
Sounds of the city pounding in my brain
While another day goes down the drain
(Yeah, yeah, yeah) but it's a five o'clock world when the whistle blows
No-one owns a piece of my time

As most writers know, writing hours are made after you complete your day job.  You time is also doled out in little snippets while watching your child’s water polo practice, Harp recital, or while boiling pasta for the evening meal.

For those of us who may find writing until 1:00 AM and having the alarm set for 5:00 AM a bit fatiguing.  It seems we are keeping good company. 

Some of these stories you may be familiar with, others may come as a surprise.

He may be a renowned author of over 50 novels, but Stephen King wasn't always a full-time writer — his time as a high school janitor helped inspire the novel Carrie. King originally threw the first draft of the story in the trash, but his wife Tabitha fished it out and told him to keep going because she wanted to know how it ended.

Before she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee worked as an airline reservations clerk in New York. She eventually quit when her friends helped support her financially so she could finally write full time.

He's a well-known author now, but before Nicholas Sparks wrote The Notebook, he worked odd jobs, including selling dental products over the phone.

 She was a talented science-fiction writer and awarded the MacArthur Fellowship — but before her success as a writer, Octavia Butler worked as a potato chip inspector. She also worked as a dishwasher and a telemarketer, using these day jobs to support her writing. And they really were day jobs, because Butler would get up at 2 a.m. to do her writing before going in to work! Amazing.

She's known as a mystery novelist; Agatha Christie was once an assistant apothecary. She reportedly knew a lot about poisons, which was no doubt helpful as she created the characters of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Just goes to show that you never know what knowledge will come in handy later.

Bram Stoker wrote Dracula while working as the manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, imagining Henry Irving, a famous actor and owner of the theater, playing the vampire himself.

So how about you?  What is/was your day job(s)?
Does your day job get your creative ideas flowing?

I work in the field of education, students, staff, and events give me ideas—or at least creative thoughts.

Sometimes, after a long day. It will take me five minutes to write a sentence.
Five minutes of staring into space until the idea of writing an opening line about how long it took me to think of an opening line popped into my head.

In the grand scheme of things, five minutes isn't all that long. But for a writer, five minutes for nine words can add up.

Writing takes time. A whole lot of time.

I always imagined I'd write my first book in a vacation hideaway overlooking the beach or cabin in the Grand Tetons.   Unfortunately, most first-time authors won't get to live out this literary fantasy.
In fact, circumstances will most likely be the opposite: writing during off-hours, scribbling notes in public, enjoying less sleep than you'd like and slowly losing your mind while trying to maintain personal relationships a full-time job and run a household.

Say you've finally found a quiet hour to yourself. You know you should write, but you're tired from work and are only on season four of “Game of Thrones.” What were once simple choices become tormenting tests of will power and resolution.

As George Orwell famously stated, “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.”

In his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” Stephen King shared a similar though more concise sentiment: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

So how do I stay on track to reach my deadline?

I’ve learned to say “no.”

I also participate online instead of driving to Orange County Romance Writers or L.A.R.A. monthly meetings; I sign-up for online classes.  I miss interacting with other writers, and my plotting group, but talking isn’t going to write my novel.

This doesn't mean you have to say no to everything, but writing is always going to require compromise.

A large part of writing for me is preparing my environment. I like to have a cup of coffee by my side, music playing. I prefer to write from 8:00 to 11:30 PM every other day. On Fridays I write until 2:00 AM.  Saturdays after I go to the gym and run errands.  I’ll write for a few hours, then spend time on other tasks, until about 8:00 PM.  I will then sit at the key board until 11:00..  Sunday, unless I have a blog post due/or am on a deadline, I do not write.  I may edit my week's work in the evening but that is the extent of my writing.  This is family time for me.

Remember: If you keep waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect time, you’ll never get anything done.

Pencil in your time to write on your calendar, or task journal.  Honor that time like you do all of your other commitments.

You may find your day job fits in quite nicely into your novel.  After all, if you have life experience, no research in needed.

Happy Reading and Writing,
BWL Publishing

Friday, November 3, 2017

Dead Heat by @JoanReeves #GemsInAttic

Dead Heat, defined as a tie with no single winner of a race.

When I came up with the title for my new release, Dead Heat, I had an idea to make this romantic suspense have an ending where the bad guy gets away so he can be caught another day--possibly in Book 3 of this series.

Of course, I'd wrap up the romantic plot in a nice big bow because I think books should have epic endings, a scene that sticks in your mind long after you've finished the book.

On The Way To The End

A couple of funny things happened in the writing of this book. The first thing was that the characters simply would not fit into my plan. The bad guy really needed to be taken out-- especially after what he does at the climax of the book.

This realization occurred when Hurricane Harvey hit. I'd finished Dead Heat, but there I was stuck in the house for several days with the non-stop rain pounding the roof--and leaking down the chimney in the living room.

To keep from obsessing about the leaking chimney, the hurricane, and the constant tornado warnings, I pulled the story out and started tinkering with it.

That's the absolute worst thing you can do with a full manuscript.

Instead of shipping the manuscript off to the proofreader, I ended up writing more. The novella swelled to a full-length novel which of course meant that the more I wrote, the more I had to write to blend the old and the new together and make sure there were no inconsistencies.

I began to think Dead Heat would be the book that never ended, but, finally, it did. Now it's available for pre-order (99 cents for the first week then the price goes up to $3.99).

Blurb for Dead Heat

She lies for a living so how can he trust her?

Sabrina Snow knew she was going to get herself killed if she didn’t get help. Someone was after her, and he wasn't going to stop. She ran to the only man she trusted...the only man who had the skills to save her.

Too bad Navy SEAL John Galloway probably hated her. That didn't matter because she owed him the truth even though she'd wanted to keep the knowledge from him. But what if she were killed? John needed to know where to look. If he'd hated her before, what would he feel once he learned the depth of her deception?

Dead Heat continues the story of the Galloway brothers and Outlaw Ridge, Texas.

I hope you romantic suspense readers will find this book exciting. I had a heck of a time writing it.

Joan Reeves is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of sassy, sexy Contemporary Romance.

She lives her Happily Ever After with her Hero, her husband, in a book-cluttered home in Texas.

Sign up for Joan's mailing list and receive a free ebook. You'll also be the first to know when new books are released or click  Follow on her Amazon Author Page and get an email from Amazon when new books publish.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Those Special Stories

As writers, we sometimes get a story that feels like a gift from the Gods.  It lands in our lap, almost fully baked, and all we have to do is mix up the ingredients and we have a beautiful finished product.

I recently had a book like that.  I wrote it, I wept, I rejoiced, I was proud.  This book was something, I tell you.  I turned it in, my editor loved it, my agent love it, the line editor, the copy editor, all loved it.  I can't wait for people to read it.

Not.  Every. Book.  Is.  Like.  This.

I wish it was.  I promise you.

After I turned in that book, Full of confidence, I began the next.  It started off well and I was pumped. Maybe magical fairy dust had hit my muse and writing would be smooth sailing from now on, rather than occasional torture.  I wrote away, la la la.  And then stuff happened in the real world, I came crashing down, and writing was back to being work rather than "art".  I'm not saying this story won't be good, just that it's not easy.  I want it to be, oh how I want it to be, but it's not.

Writing is like that.  Non-writers think writing is easy, like we just sit down and gemstones and gold pour from our fingertips.  I wish.  Take a single sentence, write it, then think of several other ways it could be said, with different words, and rewrite it.  And again.  And Again.  And there you have my job.  Word by word, sentence by sentence, until you have a finished book.  A story.

It's all worth it in the end though.  I wouldn't trade my job for the world.  I keep on and keep on and every now and then, I get a gift book.  The rest, hard as they might be to write, are worth it.

Writing is sometimes like magic.  Most times not.  It's work, real work. Like everything else.

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