Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Gems found in a writer's journal by @BonnieEdwards #GemsinAttic

Ask any writer and they'll confess they love writing journals. Fresh, unmarked pages in spiral- or regular-bound notebooks inspire us. Oh, all those lovely pages to fill with ideas or notes or character development. We hoard notebooks and journals, squirrel them away in nooks and crannies, on shelves, in drawers...anywhere, really.

And then we forget them because someone has gifted us with a brand new one because what do writerly friends buy for each other? Blank journals, post-it notes, pens, and other writing paraphernalia from bygone eras.

Sometimes I open up these old journals to discover gems and this is what happened to me recently:

I found notes from a workshop given by Rita-award-winning and NYT bestselling author, Jo Beverley (1947-2016). Jo was a member of my local RWA group (since disaffiliated) and in January 2002 I went to a workshop with a brand new, never-before-written-in journal. I took these notes:

Flying Into the Mist Workshop
presented by Jo Beverley
January 2002

  1. GMC is discovered - write in the "now" - be there with the character (GMC means Goal, Motivation & Conflict from Deb Dixon's book)
  2. It's not more artistic and free (I think she meant not more artistic than plotting & planning)
  3. Decide what works for your characters - upset the status quo (fish out of water stories have this inherent strength)
  4. A trait that gets in the way of the characters' success
  5. Give characters secrets - don't have to be huge but really a problem for character (I still use this  brilliant piece of advice) i.e. claustrophobia
  6. Three characteristics - one flaw that opposes a trait (maybe the secret)
  7. Ask why for everything
  8. Sometimes a surprise needs the character and author to take time to consider ramifications.
  9. Hunting for surprises can be daunting
  10. Surprises should grow out of the events
  11. One secret can't carry a book!
  12. No book survives on the first three chapters. 
  13. Characters should fear something. 
  14. Goals have roots in the past.
  15. Look for a genuine dilemma for the characters
  16. Write until the story stops. 

Jo was a great teacher. Her workshops were clear and concise. She never wasted a word and these notes only give her lesson that day a glance. I'm a terrible note taker but these brief words make up storytelling in a nutshell.

If you can do all these things, you'll have a cracker of a story! 

Thanks again, Jo. 

In Loving Logan, Return to Welcome, my heroine Elle Foster has a really big secret that once revealed is a catalyst for the romance to take off. I'm willing to bet that Jo started me looking for what secrets my characters can have and how I use those secrets to find all the surprises she mentioned. 

Loving Logan, Return to Welcome Book 2

She lives by three rules:  Don’t date. Don’t sleep with the boss. Don’t believe in happily-ever-after.

Elle Foster left Welcome broke, pregnant, and with a bad-girl rep.

Now, she’s returned to Welcome, still broke, with four children, but has vowed to never get pregnant again.

Logan Hughes is younger and establishing a new business. Adopted, he wants nothing more than to have a family of his own. He needs an assistant and Elle needs the work…

A pirate raider lurks inside Logan and when he lets him loose, even a determined woman can fall under his spell. And that sexy pirate may make Elle Foster break all her rules.

Can Logan give up fatherhood for the one woman he wants more than life itself?

How can Elle look for her future when she's returned to her ugly past?

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Vacationing Writer

Sorry for the delay in getting this online but I just returned from a ten-day family vacation and have been playing a serious game of "catch-up". During my travels (by car) with family, I did realize a few things:
  1. You can't listen to romance novels on tape with a 4 yr old in the car.
  2. Not every stop along the way is going to offer research opportunities. Unless, of course, you're writing about a fast-food restaurant with bigger-than-life reptiles in their play area.
  3. You always see something worth writing down when you're the one driving.
  4. Social media must be delayed until the grandchildren are asleep. Unfortunately, by then, you're just too tired to care about promotion.
  5. Ideas for new plots will attack you from all sides and from the most impractical places. For both #3 above and this observation, keep a tape recorder handy.
  6. Finally, you definitely don't get to read as much as you'd planned!

Hopefully everyone will get to enjoy a vacation this summer. If so, remember the sunblock (even for the car), a few good books, the tape recorder or notepad for plot ideas, and lots of patience if you're traveling with small children!
~ ~ ~
Here's a suggestion for a good book where the characters will be as warm, or possibly warmer, than you:

Publicist Teri Hunter has her hands full promoting Professor Joshua Cain and his new non-fiction book, The Pharaoh’s Mummy. She’s not convinced it’s even possible to turn this absent-minded, modern-day, Indiana Jones into a best-selling author.

Dr. Cain’s PhDs in archaeology and art history have prepared him for almost anything on the lecture circuit and among ancient ruins. He’s just not sure about a book tour…or the sexy publicist sent to monitor his every professional move.

When an odd request falls in their laps while in New Orleans, Josh and Teri find themselves transported to 1920’s Egypt where they must resolve an ancient curse in order to be sent home. Will the dangers facing them hinder their success and threaten their very lives? Or will help from an ancient guardian keep them on-track and safe?
~ ~ ~
For those of you destined to stay home, turn on the air conditioning, pour yourself a tall glass of iced tea, put your feet up and read! It's still a great vacation for the mind!


Friday, July 13, 2018

Gems of wisdom from my books by Jan Scarbrough

When I write, I put my heart into each book, and with that, I add a bit of knowledge from my hard-won experiences. So, you might say, the characters reach their happily-ever-after ending by learning from their mistakes, just as I have done over the years.

The following are some “gems” of wisdom buried in the stories I create.

Loving in isolation was pointless. True love was mutual. Quid pro quo. Something for something. She wanted that something.

But hope was an undying thing. It might come and go, but it was always available. It existed with the birth of a foal. It existed with every chance taken.

“So many times, we lose sight of who we really are,” Ashleigh continued. “At least I did. I’ve been hiding behind a mask of makeup since I was twelve. We become comfortable showing only the face we believe society thinks is acceptable or says is beautiful, and we forget to be our own person.”

“As Hank tells me, sometimes we have to learn our lessons the hard way.”

She said this prayer often, requesting the strength she could not find within herself. Ms. Addie always said God worked in mysterious ways. A person had to seek help. “Ask, and it shall be given you.”

Maybe she was uptight, but somebody had to be. Life couldn’t be run on a whim or a lark. Not without consequences.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

SUMMERLICIOUS @kathleenlawless


I am a confessed summer-a-holic.  I live to wear flipflops.  I love toes in the sand, picnics, beach time with a great book and pool time with a great cocktail.  

Summer, besides bringing us the lovely long light evenings of solstice, lends itself to family and friends connecting over barbeques, outdoor concerts, picnics, and bocce on the beach.  Whether biking, hiking, or paddling, I’m not sure if life slows down or speeds up, but it sure feels good.  And let’s not forget farmer’s markets, garden-fresh produce, leisurely patio dinners and stunning flowers everywhere.

I can’t read my tablet in the sun so old-fashioned paper books rule, part of summer’s charm.  What’ your favorite thing about summer?   What’s your best memory? 

     Kathleen Lawless’ earliest memories are of wanting to be a writer.  To create stories that would touch the lives of others who love to read the way she does.
     “I’m working on my 24th novel and it’s amazing to see the changes in traditional publishing, including ebooks and the opportunities writers have to interact with their readers.”  She enjoys pushing the boundaries of traditional romance, erotic romance, romantic suspense, women’s fiction and stories for young adults. 
      She also knows firsthand about happy endings.  “Can you believe I wrote A HARD MAN TO LOVE with a hero named Steele, years before I met my own hero named Steel?  His proposal to me on a remote island in the Caribbean was more romantic than anything I could have written about.” 

     Her books have garnered numerous awards including Romantic Times K.I.S.S., a Scarlett Letter, and a Golden Quill, along with rave reviews.

Don’t forget to sign up for Kathleen’s newsletter to receive a free download of THE PLEASURE CLUB.    www.kathleenlawless.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

July Summer Sale @lcrandallwriter

Get Cool!

Take yourself to a winter place of snow and cold, and chill out during one of the hottest summers on record with Captured by Christmas, an anthology by Lainee Cole and me. It's on sale right now.

Find low prices in July during Smashwords' Summer Sale. At Midnight, an anthology by Lainee Cole, me, and Rena Koontz, Captured by Christmas, and my children's book Invincible and Sparkly are half offMy short, Finding Finn, is a spin off of my Fierce Hearts series book and it's free.

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.

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.

I love everything about Christmas! Of course I had to pick a story with animals and Christmas to make it perfect. Quick read and charming stories. -Amazon

Midnight Casanova by Lainee Cole
Stranded at midnight by a broken-down car, dog trainer Maddie Lockhart finds refuge in a deserted farmhouse. When the owner of the house, Chance Marlow, tries to oust her, Maddie uses the stray mutt he calls Casanova to convince him she can help with his collection of homeless animals. While their paths seem incompatible, working side-by-side to rescue animals, they discover otherwise.

Two Days Until Midnight by Lynn Crandall
Time is running out for reclusive billionaire Tamier Rein to save himself from transforming into a cheetah, and bird-shifter Lark Ellis is his only hope for surviving past midnight.

Midnight Deadline for Love by Rena Koontz
T.B. Amanscott is Harrison City’s wealthiest man and his kidnappers want one million dollars ransom by midnight or they will kill him. Every possible resource is available to Sergeant Ariana Jeanne Lozione, who is heading up the rescue attempt. There’s only one problem. A.J. wants him dead.

At Midnight is a box set of three books by different authors. I haven't read any books by these authors so for me this was a great box set to find some new authors to look for. That is the great thing about box set is the chance to read from authors you might not have read before.
Loved this set! -Amazon

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.

Once again Crandall has created a vibrant and fast paced tale that easily held my attention throughout. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters and how they fit in with her shifter world. This unique look is a fantastic introduction to this world and will definitely leave you wanting to get to know them so much better. It is such a sweet tale that I simply fell in love. This was a fantastic companion tale to Crandall’s Fierce Hearts series. It was an absolute blast to read and really highlighted the other side of the story for me. -Amazon

What happens when two love-filled young girls turn to loyalty, hope, and belief in self when confronting danger, loss, and self-doubt? In Invincible and Sparkly, Kama and Ella follow their hearts to find out in this illustrated children's book.

Invincible and Sparkly by L.L. Crandall is a charming children's adventure story with an important message of hope and love. The colorful illustrations are bright and fun. I loved the story's message, which is noteworthy and succinct. - Amazon

Visit me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, BookBub, Amazon, and my Website

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Unleash the Fire by Karen Kelley


Pre Order Now
Amazon     Kobo    Apple
I'm super excited to announce Unleash the Fire is up for preorder! This is a brand new book, the first book in the Unleashed series. It's a full-length, steamy romantic comedy. Here's a little more about it.

 Unleash the Fire

I've never seen anyone with worse fashion sense than Katie. But as she sat at one of the tables in the coffee shop, laptop open, she removed those god-awful black glasses, and nibbled her bottom lip. Then she smiled, and transformed before my eyes.

I wanted her.


I'm a good girl--with very naughty thoughts.

 Jaxson is willing to help with my writing. I ran into him at the coffee shop. The guy is drop-dead gorgeous. I'm talking six-pack abs, broad chest, and oozing sex appeal. I thought he worked there. Nope, he owns the place, and he's also a very famous author.

 His help means I might actually escape my demonic boss, and living with my twin sisters, who are demanding as hell, but hey, it's free rent. If I can turn my writing into a paying career, I'm outta there.

 But just how far am I willing to let him go when I stumble over the love scenes? Am I brave enough to break all the rules? In the name of research, of course.

 I loved writing this book because Katie is a writer, struggling to put her ideas on paper. I could relate to so much that she's going through. I had to giver her someone strong who could help her, so in comes Jaxson, her perfect hero. Well, almost perfect.

 I hope everyone will enjoy the insights into a writers life that make up this book.

 Best Wishes,

Karen Kelley

Monday, July 9, 2018

What is Your Write Path? by @MaddieJames

It is my day to blog. I forgot.

It's 7:34 pm in my neck of the woods. People probably aren't interested in reading belated blog posts by now. But it's my day to blog.

So I'll blog.

Sort of.

In fact, I think I'll cheat-blog. Yes, that is a thing. I just invented it.

Sort of.

So, for my official monthly blog post here this evening, I'm going to share with you a passage from a current non-fiction book I am working on titled Discovering Your Write Path to Publishing Success. It's a work-in-progress. Any typos or editorial mistakes you see here are all mine. My editor hasn't gotten hold of it yet.

Here is my pearl of wisdom for today.

So here you are, thinking about writing. Maybe you’ve done more than think about it. Maybe you’ve already drafted a novel. Published a few articles. Written a letter to Dear Abby. Drafted a note to your kid’s teacher.

Or maybe not.

Maybe you’re not so certain you can do it. Perhaps you’ve been told it’s a silly idea. Nothing to come of it. Nice hobby, perhaps, but let’s get real, you can’t make a decent living writing. Can you?


The thing is, maybe that doesn’t matter.

Maybe you just want to write. You don’t care about a career. You just like to string words together into pretty sentences. Perhaps a writing career would get in the way of the rest of your life.

Or the rest of your life might get in the way of your writing career.

Been there. Done that. On both counts.

And then again, maybe you DO want a writing career. Maybe your goal is to support yourself with your writing. It can happen. Right?

Sure it can. There are ways.

But the thing is this—whatever Your Write Path, remember it is yours alone. Yours. You can write only for yourself, or you can write to make money. You can write for your great Aunt Sally, and that’s cool too. And as long as you are happy, and you do what you want to do, then life is good.

Truly, it is.


Writing is not a competition.

Don’t compete with others. Compete only with yourself.

Know what you want. Educate yourself about how to get it. Plan and act. Work hard and persevere. Give it time and whatever your Write Path turns out to be, you’ll find it.

Or it will find you.
What led you to this point in your writing journey? When did you know you were a writer? What’s your story? Write it here. Now.

Let's chat.
Maddie James writes to silence the people in her head. The author of nearly 50 published short stories, novella, and novels, she writes steamy romance fiction in several romance subgenres. As Sophie Jacobs, she writes sweeter contemporary romance and women's fiction. Besides writing romance fiction, her own Write Path spans 30 years of work, including magazine, newspaper, and academic journal articles, educational texts and curriculum, and cookbooks. 

Discover Your Write Path to Publishing Success will release in October 2018.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Happy Part 2 of 2018 by @JoanReeves

I survived the first half of 2018, reeling from one emergency to the next. Also reeling from one writing project to the next.

Do you have months like that where everything is an emergency and/or a "hurry up and wait" event?

Fortunately, I made all the book deadlines and survived all of the emergencies.

To celebrate, I bought a bottle of Prosecco, and Darling Hubby and I are opening it this evening.

Celebrations demand party favors so I set up a sale for both books in my ALL BRIDES ARE BEAUTIFUL series. The sale runs through July 10. Each book is only 99 cents.


Is it just a Marriage of Convenience--or something more? Something hot and sizzling between Maddie and Jake that neither can resist.

Oil heiress Madeline Quinn needs a husband by the time she turns twenty-five in order to claim her full inheritance.

Mad Maddie, as the tabloids christened her, has learned the hard way that men only see dollar signs when they look at her.

Maddie decides a marriage of convenience is the only answer.

She turns to the one man in the world she can trust, her housekeeper’s son who always treated her like a little sister when they were growing up—until one disastrous night when she acted impetuously.

Jake Becker hasn’t seen Maddie since the night she tried to seduce him. Why should he help the woman who changed the course of his life? Simple. Revenge.

Or is it something else? Something that sizzles like steam heat between Maddie and Jake that neither can resist?


Even the new release for the series, Second Chance Bride, is on sale

He was the only man she wanted—and the one man she could never have.

She left town at eighteen, wanting to leave behind all the pain and heartbreak. In Houston, she reinvented herself as wealthy, successful Constance Quinn.

The only problem is there's no room for love or relationships in her rigidly controlled existence. Now older and wiser, she's determined to find the part of herself that got lost in her transformation.

"A blonde with curves in all the right places." That's what Alex Martinez thinks when he meets Constance. When they touch, something hot and urgent passes between them. Their attraction is mutual. Their desire is palpable.

Although Constance cannot resist Alex, she's playing with fire because she has a secret that will destroy everything if it's revealed.


Now is the time to take stock of your goals and see what else you want to accomplish this year. That's what I plan to do tomorrow. Today, I'm just breathing a sigh of relief.

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance.

All of her books have the same underlying theme: It's never too late to live happily ever after. She lives her HEA with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State.

Visit Joan online: Blog * Amazon * BookBub * Facebook * Twitter.

Sign up for Joan's mailing list, and always be the first to know about new books and giveaways.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

I almost totally forgot about this blog post due today.  Almost.  If someone else hadn't posted that they'd forgotten theirs, I would have gone merrily about my day, unaware and unrepentant.

Yesterday was the 4th of July.  Independence Day here in the USA.  This holiday brings back so many memories.  Of being a kid, of taking my own child to displays.  Of visiting my dad in Boulder and eating horribly burnt bratwurst that he'd grilled.  One year we stayed in a cabin in Cuchara, CO and they had an awesome parade and display.  One year at our lake place, someone invested a small fortune in fireworks and made a beautiful display over the lake.  Another year there, the residents of our community had a golf cart parade.  So much fun.

Lately, we tend to stay home and cook out and swim.  A small group.  Still fun.  Our neighborhood is older and the fireworks weren't as bad.  My dogs weren't scared at all. 

I didn't write yesterday, though I'll be back at it today.  I'm also learning Photoshop so I can make book covers (I got the rights back to 11 older Harlequin books!)

Enjoy your summer.  I hope you're reading too!  I'm going to redesign the cover for this one, but it's up for sale on Amazon.  It won the Romantic Times Best Silhouette Intimate Moments in 2005


Monday, July 2, 2018

And They Lived Happily Ever After by Connie Vines

Classical Meaning:
Live happily ever after. Spend the rest of one's life in happiness, as in In her romantic novels the hero and heroine end up marrying and then live happily ever after. This hyperbolic phrase ends many fairy tales. [ Mid-1800s ] The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary.

What Life Teaches Us:

Adulthood, however, brings knowledge that life is messier than stories. It does not deliver happy endings, if only because it does not deliver endings. Or at least, it only has one ending. ... When a story is described as having a happy ending it is easy to think of the happily-ever-after of a fairy tale.
Why do I cling to ‘happy ends’ even when I am not writing a romantic novel?

Fairy tales were a very important part of early modern popular culture. Not only did they provide people with much needed entertainment, they offered a means of exploring one’s most secret dreams and deepest anxieties. Beneath their enchanting exteriors, fairy tales contain certain recurrent emotional situations, which are actually quite primitive in nature. Shakespeare recognized this and drew on these popular tales in his plays not just for their entertaining story lines, but for their emotional models, too. This allowed him to connect with his audience on an intimate, perhaps subconscious level.

In the 2003 film adaptation of Peter Pan , Wendy describes the stories she’s been telling the Lost Boys as “adventures, in which good triumphs over evil,” to which Captain Hook sneers, “They all end in a kiss.” Like Wendy and the Lost Boys, millions of people escape into the world of fiction to find happily ever after endings. We cheer when the good guy defeats the villain. We applaud when true love conquers all. We find hope and encouragement in the fictional examples that peace and happiness await on the other side of seemingly insurmountable trials. Without doubt, happy endings are enjoyable, uplifting, and reaffirming.

…Are we squelching hope, beauty, and wonder? Or are we perhaps just exploring the opposite side of the same coin? Life is just as full of sadness as it is of happiness. To ignore that fact is to limit both our personal experience of the human existence and our ability to write truthfully about life. To cap every story with a happy ending is dishonesty to both ourselves and our readers. The moment fiction becomes dishonest is the moment it becomes useless. Novelist Aryn Kyle  comments in her article “In defense of sad stories” (The Writer, June 2011):

My novels deal with person growth and overcoming the odds, including life and death struggles, as well as, current social issues.  How those stories possibly end in a happily-ever-after?

Take a moment to think about the stories that have changed your life.  Many of them were stories of pain, loss, sacrifice, and sin. These are the stories that speak bluntly about hard subjects and force their characters—and their readers—to face hard truths and, hopefully, walk away from the realizations as someone slightly different and perhaps slightly better.

Few of us would want to subsist on a steady diet of tragedy, but all of us are better for having occasionally cleansed our reading palate with the astringent bite of these unflinching portrayals of bittersweet truth.

Sad stories don’t have to be depressing stories. The stories that have broken my heart and changed my life are stories of great tragedy, but they’re also stories of great hope. That, right there, is where we find the true power of the sad story—because light always shines brightest in the darkness.
This is why my stories always end with a happily-ever-after.

I have a core belief, no matter how dark the moment, someone—be it Faith, or the guidance from a friend, or a stranger, will offer guidance or give you the strength to face another day.
Before I type The End, I make certain my readers feel there is a happy future for my ‘characters’ and for themselves.

What story changed your life?  Fanned the dying spark of hope into a flame rekindling the fire in your soul; or mended your broken heart so you could reach for tomorrow?

What story did you need to hear when you were a child?  A teen? Finding your way as a young adult?

What happily-ever-after story do you need to read now?

While you Reach for your happy-every-after in your life.  Remember to reach for a novel to feed that hope!

Happy Reading,



Apple itunes

Friday, June 29, 2018

How I Came to Write Historical Romance

I came to writing historical romance through the back door, so to speak. First, I was a journalist. No, let me back up. First, I was a reader. I got hooked on the old Gothic romances of the Victoria Holt variety. Just loved those women-in-jeopardy stories. So I decided I could write one of them. Only, like my favorite author at the time, Mary Stewart, I would use a modern-day setting.

At 25, I completed my first novel. But it didn't sell. Another of the same genre followed, and it didn't sell, either. When I read a big, sweeping historical like those so popular in the 1980s, I thought I could write one of them, but I'd set it in World War II.

That book, in manuscript form, won several contests, as did my women-in-jeopardy (now called romantic suspense) stories. But still no publishing contract. However, the senior editor at Harlequin Historical was judging my World War II book, which had finaled in a contest, and she said she liked my writing and would like to see something I'd written with a setting prior to the 1900s.

By then I had joined Romance Writers of America and was desperate for a book contract. I'd been scribbling stories for two decades. So I decided I could write a romance set in Regency England. I had read every book Georgette Heyer ever wrote, and I loved the era. I'd even gotten to the point where I was finding errors in other author's stories. So I began writing A Duke Deceived. After I'd written three chapters, I entered it in two or three contests, and to my delight, it placed in each one I entered. When I completed it in 1996, I sent it to that editor at Harlequin Historical, and a half a year later, they called and offered me a publishing contract. 

It was the seventh book I'd written! About half of those which came before it are not publishable. Three of them--including that World War II romance, It Had to Be You--have been indie published, and though sales are not huge on them, readers have responded very favorably.

I was thrilled when that first published book won me the title of Notable New Author in 1999. More than  thirty novels set in Regency England have followed.

What about that first romantic suspense I wrote when I was 25? It's now been indie published as CapitolOffense. To my shock, my indie editor said Capitol Offense was his favorite of the six books he edited for me. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that neither the World War II love story nor the romantic suspense stories sell well, even though the reviews are good. All of my Regency-set historicals are perennial bestsellers. Readers just don't follow me to other genres.

Many of my historicals contain mystery elements. That way I can keep my feet in both camps.

After all these years, it's still a guilty pleasure for me to read those old midcentury women-in-jeopardy stories.--Cheryl Bolen, whose newest series is The Lords of Eton. The second installment, The Earl, the Vow, and the Plain Jane, came out this month. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

First Loves by @lcrandallwriter

There were two of them. One was tall, blonde and lanky, the other shorter, dark-haired and muscular with darkly intense eyes. My grandmother introduced them to me. I never missed a chance to see these two young men and I day-dreamed about them when we were apart. Today, about a hundred years later, I can't remember both of their names but I do remember the dark-haired one's name. It was Buzz.
I was young, and the feelings I had for these guys were rich and fun. I awed at the lives they lived, always on the road, always grabbing life by the horns, always active, though frequently in trouble, but I didn't care about that. Even though we never met, I knew them well. I had a crush on these guys, the main characters in my grandmother's favorite television show, Route 66. They were my first loves. I think we all know that first love crushes hit us at any age, and yes, I was very young for this one. But still, this admission really dates me.

Buzz and What's-His-Name were among a long list of crushes I had on people I didn't know. The fantasy of it probably made the crushes more exciting and more fun than if I, at such a young and inexperienced age, had fallen for someone I could actually talk to, sit across from on the teeter-totter, or shoot marbles with. That's one of the beauties of first crushes. They are whatever we make them.

Another beauty of the crush on a stranger is the whole-body, out-of-body experience of it, minus any growly temper, bad breath, or inexplicable scratching we don't want to know about. That Hugh Jackman may pick his nose is unimaginable. Sure, Chris Pratt sweats, but it's beautiful, glistening, and stink-free.

In the books I write, the main characters’ paths to love prove to be a lot harder, a lot messier than what I imagined with my crushes. I put my heroes and heroines in grave danger. They get dirty and they get hurt. They have to unearth old patterns that prevent them from finding love and be willing to change destructive ways. They have to face not only the villain who threatens their lives but also the inner demons that keep them stuck.

First loves are special, whether for book or TV character or in real life. I've spilled about my crushes, how about your first crush? Who was it? When you recall your feelings for that person, do you smile really big?

This post was first published on The Write Way Cafe 
photo credit © Yoyo1972

ID 5536649 | Dreamstime Stock Photos   

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Story or voice?

Yesterday on my Facebook page--here it is, come join me--I asked friends and followers there what they'd been reading lately. I asked largely because I'd just finished such a great book, Just In Time, by Marie Bostwick, and have enjoyed the responses because they've all differed so much from each other. And they made me think of another few questions. Since I was supposed to blog today, I figured I'd ask them here.

What means the most to you in a book? Once you've bought it, whether because of the cover, the blurb, the author, the title, or the fact that it was either free or on sale, what keeps you there? And, while I'm asking, how long do you give it before you decide not to finish?

When I ask what "keeps you there," what I really want to know is whether it's the story or the writing. Personally, I can read the dullest story in the world if it's written in a voice that invites me into the conversation. If the setting is described so that I'm there getting my feet wet in the creek and swatting at mosquitoes, I want to stay. If the emotion makes my heart hurt or tears roll or gets me smiling when there's no one to smile at, I'm there. The story is secondary. 

If it's the best story in the world and has won more awards than most of us have ever dreamed of but the writing isn't evocative to me, I probably won't finish. I'll check out the ending and I won't ever give it a bad review, but I won't seek out other books by that particular author, either. 

I give a story a minimum of two chapters before I decide it's not going to work for me. Or, occasionally, I order the sample Amazon offers. I usually know by the end of that--I'm not sure how long those are--whether it's a keeper or not. 

On the same subject, but not really, does anyone else find that they enjoy audio-books by people whose writing they normally can't or don't or won't read? I do, often, and would love to have a viable explanation for it. 

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Loving Logan - Pre-order news! by @BonnieEdwards #GemsinAttic

I'm so excited to share that the second book in my Return to Welcome series is now up for pre-order. Early buyers will get a chance to read the story of Elle Foster and Logan Hughes for only 99c. Loving Logan will be released July 1.
Pre-Order 99c

Here's a bit more about the story:

She has three rules: Don’t date. Don’t sleep with the boss. Don’t believe in happily-ever-after.

Elle Foster left Welcome broke, pregnant, and with a bad-girl rep. Now, she’s returned to Welcome, still broke, with four children, but has vowed to never get pregnant again.

Logan Hughes is younger and establishing a new business. Adopted, he wants nothing more than to have a family of his own.

He needs an assistant and Elle needs the work…

A pirate raider lurks inside Logan and when he lets him loose, even a determined woman can fall under his spell. And that sexy pirate may make Elle Foster break all her rules.

Can Logan give up fatherhood for the one woman he wants more than life itself?

About Welcome, WA...

Ahhh....the lovely town of Welcome, WA where no one is welcome to return. I created Welcome when I wanted to write about a homecoming that didn't go smoothly. And now I know why! This idyllic town with the lovely bakery, the tree-lined streets, and friendly faces is not what it seems.

Jealousy and old grudges with a dollop of nasty gossip make Welcome...well...less than welcoming. (and makes for some comic relief)

And I love a good play on words, don't you? I hope you enjoy my newest romance series and know I'm winking when I say: Welcome home!

In other news Book 1, Finding Mercy is now available in print! 
Finding Mercy in Print
Bonnie Edwards lives with her husband and pets on the rainy coast of British Columbia. She has written novels, novellas and short stories for Kensington Books, Harlequin Books, Carina Press, and Robinson (UK) although now she publishes her work herself. For more deals and progress reports on new books subscribe: Bonnie's Newsy Bits

Look for more exciting releases on her website.  https://www.bonnieedwards.com/

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Monday, June 18, 2018

The Excitement of 'The Chase'

Or ... as authors often call it ... finding a new plot.

As great as it feels to come up with a new story idea, the hard work behind 'the chase' is not all that glamorous. Both authors and readers long for a new idea, an unusual twist to a standard plot.

Romances of the 1960's and early 70's were filled with doctor heroes and their steadfast nurse or receptionist heroines. A singular twist was the widowed doctor hero who falls for his child's nanny. If the book had a foreign setting the hero was most likely a Prince or Sheikh.

In the late 70's and early 80's romances added in suspense. By the late 80's, love scenes had come out in the open. All the major publishers were adding racier lines to their catalog. Still, no swear words, and body parts were still euphemisms rather than the real bold thing.

The late 1980's and early 1990's saw a rise in shorter historical romances. No longer the 300+ page saga, Shorter, quicker, but equally satisfying reads could be found with more emphasis on the relationship than on the history.

And, just as the genre was changing, so were the authors' careers. As story lines got bolder, so did the writers creating them.

My very first romance novel was, as you might guess, a Precious Gem! Published in 1996, Courting Trouble was a typical sweet category romance. Looking back now, I realize I might have been ahead of my time because I'd created a "foodie" romance long before they were a thing.

With a small town sheriff for my hero, and a cookbook author for my heroine, I'd set a personal bar for myself that my second book would have to beat.

My second book also sold to the Precious Gem line but, unfortunately was lost when the line closed unexpectedly. I tucked the book away and didn't bring it back out until 2014 when, revamped, I sold it to Soul Mate Publishing. This was my take on a plot twist. Home is Where the Hunk is became my backward secret baby book. It featured a father who knew he was the father but had no idea who'd given his child life.

Winner of the 2015 International Digital Award for Contemporary Romance, this book will always be one of my favorites.

In between Courting Trouble and Home is Where the Hunk is, there were many other books in a variety of genres. Everything from vintage historical (1960's and 70's) to futuristic fantasy to erotic romance. Hey, a girl's got to keep her options open!

What's next? What new idea? What plot twist?

At the moment, I've chosen to take on a classic. I'm giving The Wizard of Oz a face lift. Waking Up in Oz is my vintage take on the infamous story. With any luck, I've twisted it just enough to make it new again.

Until next month, happy reading and creative writing!


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

One Favorite Book? by @lcrandallwriter

I like to play games with my husband. I don't mean things like manipulation or power plays, I mean simple things like "ever have you ever?" My games often don't make sense and they certainly don't matter a lot. It's just fun.

One game is, what movie have we seen that actor in? Another has been what three things do you hate doing? And what three things are most fun doing? It's not unusual to learn new things about him while playing games, which fascinates me because we've been married many years. For this particular game, I learned he doesn't like to negotiate for lower prices, say on a new car. That blew me out of the water. He is very good at it. When I told our kids that he doesn't like it, they were shocked. "What! No way!"

My games typically are impromptu. Last night I asked him, "What is your all time most favorite book?" That stumped him. He is a voracious reader and has enjoyed many, many books. That was his answer -- "I've liked a lot of books." I persisted. "What one book is your favorite?" Then I asked myself and I was stumped. Geez, I've been reading and loving books since I was a young child. I still remember reading The Poky Little Puppy over and over and over.

This morning my husband had two answers, one nonfiction book and one fiction, but both were books about characters expanding and becoming more than they'd been before. The Great Bridge, by David McCullough, chronicled the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, which took enormous perseverance, intelligence, and devotion. The second book, Take Me With You by Kathryn Ryan Hyde, really touched my husband's heart. It featured a main character showing two children the world and forging life-long friendships and heartfelt admiration.

Me? I'm still trying to narrow down my list of favorite books to one.

So what about you? Can you name one favorite book and share why you love it?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

No Place Like Home by Karen Kelley

     Just over two years ago Karl and I became full time RVers. We bit the bullet and downsized from 2,000 sq feet to app 300 sq feet. It took us over a year just to do that. When you've been married as long as we have you collect a lot of "stuff".

     Even though we rarely traveled beyond our small Texas town, pop. 3,000, we were ready for this new adventure. We sold the house, moved into our fifth wheel, and took off. In the last 26 months we've visited 39 fabulous states, made a few blunders along the way, and had the best time of our lives.

     We were getting ready to pull out of Tifton, Georgia on April 23rd when Karl's left lung collapsed. We were terrified. After four days in the Tifton hospital, they transported him to Emory hospital in Atlanta because the hole in his lung was "really big" and wasn't closing on it's own.

     Family comes first, always. I put my writing on hold as Karl and I prepared for his first surgery--ever. He did great, but in recovery developed another leak, even though it was smaller than the first one. We were devastated. It took around 3 weeks for it to close on it's own.

     We made the decision to head back to Texas and stay in one place for a while so that Karl could recuperate, make doctor appointments, get a smaller oxygen system set up, and I can catch up on my writing. It was a good decision. After traveling for 26 months, we're both ready to stay put for a while.

     BUT, will we get the itch to start traveling again, or  will we take off again for parts unknown? Who knows. There is something to the saying, 'no place like home' and Texas is home. We love the Hill Country, but there's always going to be a bit of an adventurer in us.

     So, are you an adventurer, or are you a stay put type person? Or maybe a little of both?

Have a great day!
Karen Kelley

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Grand Experiment @MaddieJames

Last summer I embarked upon a grand experiment. I wasn't sure where it was going to take me, although I did have a plan. I just wasn't sure that I could actually pull off the plan, and I also wasn't sure that the grand experiment would work.

I'm still not sure but I think this is a "time will tell" type of thing. I'm still waiting for time to tell.

I'll share this grand experiment with you in a minute but first I want to respond to a few questions to myself:

  • Am I happy with this grand experiment so far? Yes. Yes I am.
  • Do I regret having jumped in with both feet with this adventure? No. No regrets whatsoever.
  • Would I do it again if I had to? To this extent? Perhaps not. (See lessons learned later for more info.)
I've been publishing romance since 1997--21 years now. I started out in traditional publishing after working ten long years to polish the craft and write a book that was accepted by a New York house. Twenty-one years is a long time to write and publish, and also a pretty good span of time in which our writing evolves. I'm no exception. 
Last summer, when I looked back over that 20-ish some years of my complete body of work (50ish titles then), I realized some things.
  • My brand had shifted.
  • I was writing all over the place in romance subgenres.
  • My sales were tanking
  • About half of my books were ten years old or older.
  • I'm a better writer today.
So I made some decisions. Some of you already know what those decisions are, if you've been following my work. Once I started on this grand experiment, I was very transparent with what I was doing. In the summer of 2017 I pulled 20 books out of the marketplace and put them all on hold. I created a new pen name and new brand for those 20 contemporary romance novels and set out to rewrite them all, one by one, rebrand into a new series, and re-release.

The first book went back up wide in the marketplace in October 2017. Since that month I have re-released one or two books a month. This is what makes me happiest in my grand scheme. So far, I have kept with my plan and I am on track with my release schedule. In fact, I am ahead of schedule and have felt comfortable putting books further out on preorder because they are ready. 

Not all books needed the same level of updating, revising, rewriting. Later books were in fairly good shape but needed new series elements added or characters blended throughout the story. Others' need a fair amount of work.

Am I happy with the results? Yes. I know that the dozen books now back in the marketplace are better written, well-edited, and have cool covers. Plus, they are all now in one small town series and with continuity--that makes me happy. 

Any regrets? None whatsoever. Would I do again? If needed, yes, in a heartbeat, but I would (and am) biting off in smaller chunks. I have 3 books currently on preorder through August. September will go up in a week or so. Then one book each in October, November, and December (include a new Christmas story in that time frame!) And a final release in January. Then I will be finished.

Sorta. With the writing at least. 

You see, the grand experiment was written this way:

1. Branding
2. Content
3. Marketplace
4. Targeted marketing

I'm beginning to craft that grand experiment marketing plan now. Stay tuned for part II.


Maddie James aka Sophie Jacobs writes to silence the people in her head. Find out more at www.maddiejames.com

Friday, June 8, 2018

Taking my website into the mobile age by Jan Scarbrough

So, the young guy at work looked at my website on his cell phone. He said it needed to be bootstrapped.


“A loop of leather or cloth sewn at the top rear, or sometimes on each side, of a boot to facilitate pulling it on.” Dictionary.com


I’ve heard the idiom: “Pull (oneself) up by (one's) bootstraps, to help oneself without the aid of others; use one’s resources: I admire him for pulling himself up by his own bootstraps.” Dictionary.com

But what does bootstrap have to do with my website? Little did I know, everything! My 2012 version of janscarbrough.com was outdated. It needed to be bootstrapped!

“Bootstrap is a free and open-source front-end framework (library) for designing websites and web applications.” Wikipedia

Not to get into the details (which I don’t understand anyway), quite simply, developers can use this product to make websites easier to view on mobile devices like phones and tablets. Let’s face it, how many people own a landline phone? (Me!) Most phones are mobile, and they do more than voice communication. Our phone, for many people—especially younger people—is our lifeline. We do everything on our phones from texting to paying bills. So, it makes sense that if you want your website viewed, you must make it viewable via a mobile device.

Therefore, let me introduce you to the 2018 version of www.janscarbrough.com! It is not officially finished, but close.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


Is marrying a prince really a happy ending to a fairy tale?

Memories of the latest royal wedding are fading into history, but I’ve been catching up on You Tube clips of the highlights of the event.  Yes, all the pageantry was interesting.  And the clothes.  And the guest list.

But what really held my interest was speculation about what the main characters were thinking while the eyes of millions of people watched their every move.

I know what I’m generally thinking when I’m sitting through a long ceremony.

Do I have time to stop for milk on the way home?

I didn’t take anything out of the freezer for dinner.

I really need a new pair of shoes.  I saw some really cute ones on QVC the other day.

And then perhaps I’ll have some thoughts about the people sitting through the ceremony with me.  I might envy a woman’s ability to pull together an outfit while wondering if the woman next to her owns a mirror, because that outfit…well.

And because I’m a writer I’ll start making up stories about the people I’m looking at.

But a prince’s bride most likely doesn’t have to worry about stocking the fridge.

She does, however, have to worry about what her life is going to be like once she says “I do.”

I’m pretty sure the royals don’t have one bit of privacy.  They’re not only scrutinized every time they go it in public, but their homes seem to be cluttered with all manner of servants and aides and advisors and whatnot.

While I would greatly appreciate having someone cook all my meals, I don’t think I need witnesses should I decide to spend the day in my sweats, binge-watching Gray’s Anatomy and eating a few pints of Ben & Jerry’s.  Are the royals even allowed to do such things?

Could their lives really be as perfectly proper and polite as they appear on the surface?

And do they really have to wear those totally bizarre hats?

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