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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Time to Learn How to Knit with Fur by Jenny Gardiner

            I’d like to start a grassroots campaign to make fur fashionable.
No, no, no, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean stylish in the form of skinning unlucky animals that happen to be born with lovely coats so that I can wear their pelts in the mistaken belief the fur looks better on me than the creature that started out with it. Rather the profusion of fur that I deal with on a daily basis. I’d like to change it from my nemesis to my ally, something I don’t have to do battle with on a minute-by-minute basis. And the only way I can see achieving this is by persuading the rest of the population that a fur-filled home--and fur-coated clothing--is actually a good thing, and not a sign that you’ve given up on battling the stuff.
Fur, you see, plays a huge part in my life. I wear it (against my will) on most every article of clothing I don. It decorates every quadrant of my house in the form of gargantuan tumbleweeds that take on a life of their own when the furnace or air conditioner blows. The rugs of my car are coated in dog fur simply from being continually tracked from the house via the soles of our shoes. It gets in every nook and cranny of our furniture. Fur, it seems is inevitable. So why not make it enjoyable?
For years I’d been inured to the fur problem. With two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and now a rabbit, fur (and feathers) just seemed a fait accomplis, like leaves falling from the trees each autumn. Only instead of seasonally, daily. And indoors. And tainting everything you own with it. But then my kids hit middle school age and image mattered and all of a sudden everyone in my house was scrambling for a lint brush (none of which can ever be found when you need them).
Still, I’d resigned myself to fur being a reality of life, something you just have to accept and move on with. I continued to not bother with the lint-brush ritual. Why bother? You spend ten minutes un-sticking it from your black pants only to have the white dog come up and walk between your legs, applying a new layer anyhow. After all, I enjoy the upside of the stuff, when it’s still on the animal. Who doesn’t love to pet a soft, happy dog, or scratch an obliging cat despite the fur flying while you do so?
I grew up with Black Labradors. I’d go away to college for months at a time and still find black fur on articles of clothing. So when my family chose our first dog, we opted for yellow lab, thinking the fur would blend better. Not so much. Then we ended up with a blends-with-nature mutt in varying shades of beige, brown and red. While her fur hides quite nicely with our hardwood floors, it shows on anything we wear. Don’t let me even rant about the parrot feathers and parrot dust that cling to everything, including my white dog’s wet black nose, the telltale sign that she’s been scarfing up dropped food and, er, droppings, from around the parrot’s zone. Not a day goes by that my white Labrador doesn’t have a feather stuck to her nose.
When you think about it, after your pet shih-tzu passes, then you sorta want the fur to linger. Like the smell of a familiar loved one who has gone away, you retreat to the comfort of their presence, however you may find it.
So why can’t we designate those clumps of shed fur gathering momentum on your hardwood floors as decorative puff balls rather than nuisance filth accruing and showing proof of your housekeeping neglect?
            I sometimes wonder why an older person invests in a new pet after theirs pass on. A new kitten, for instance, is potentially a 20+ year commitment. When you’re 80, can you plan to be there for that cat for two decades? But overriding that is the pleasure that pets provide. The unconditional love, the camaraderie. It’s hard to turn your back on that, no matter your age. With our kids older and some in college, downsizing is likely on the horizon in the next couple of years for us. When pets become the main demand in your life might make sense to be the time to not include more pets once the older ones pass on.
Yet despite their mess, their hole-digging and their less-than-choice selections of what they ingest, a pet-free life is unfathomable to me. Because despite their one-sided needs and their sometimes impetuous demands, they provide so much love, so much understanding, so much unconditionality, it's impossible to conceptualize life without my furry friends.
Now if only I can figure out how to make their byproduct more desirable, I’d be good to go.
  Sleeping with Ward Cleaver










Slim to None













Anywhere But Here
















Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me










Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)


















Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)



















I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship (I'm a contributor)



















And these shorts:
Idol Worship: A Lost Week with the Weirdos and Wannabes at American Idol Auditions


















The Gall of It All: And None of the Three F's Rhymes with Duck


















Naked Man On Main Street
find me on Facebook: fan page
 find me on twitter here
 find me on my website

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ripping It Apart!

In most any DIY project, mistakes are made. You step back, look closely and realize that you missed something or overdid something or something just isn't right. And in that moment, people (ahem...me!) take one of three approaches -- they look away and continue DIY-ing, they go back and try to fix it or they rip it out and start over. 


I've been crocheting and sewing since I was a girl and I've had teachers of both taking different approaches. Some were flexible -- oh, that's not too bad, just do ___ to compensate). Some were rigid -- that's wrong, take it/rip it/pull it out. Some were more critical - and not in a bad way. They could assess how the mistake or misstep would affect the overall finished project and recommend which path to take whether to rip or to ignore or a mix of both.

And I grumbled and complained my way through it all! But I learned as I went. . . or so I thought! Fast-forward from sewing and crocheting to now - writing.....



Over the 34 books I've written and are working with almost a dozen different editors at 5 publishers, each of my editors has taken a different approach to the writing version of rip/pull, ignore or that mix - revisions. Now, I'd love to tell you that I am the bestest writer you've ever read, but sadly, that is not the situation. And, from what I can tell about the publishing and writing industry, there just aren't any? many? authors who don't need to revise their work at some point. 


Some editors love to pull things apart - to move scenes, reimagine characters and plot, to tear it all apart and piece it back together in a completely different way. Some delicately apply their skills, creating a new thing out of the old with a light touch. Some do both, depending on the story and the writer. 

And I've worked with them all! And yes, it's painful. And yes, I complain. 



But, it's a critical part of the process of a writer putting their words and story into a readable form. An editor cleans things up. A good editor picks up on errors and issues. A great editor clarifies the writer's vision of their story and helps mold it into a great book. 

Right now, I'm in the middle of revising not one, but TWO different manuscripts with two different editors from two different publishers and I'm writhing in pain! LOL! 

BUT - I know it will all work out. I know the finished projects AKA the books coming out next Spring will be stronger and better for the pain. I know I'm learning more about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer in working with great editors.

So, how about you? What's your latest DIY project? Do you rip it out when you've made a mistake in your DIY projects? Do you ignore it and move on, hoping for the best? C'mon - be honest - we're all friends here! 




Terri's next book, RISING FIRE, will be the first book in her new WARRIORS OF DESTINY series from NAL/Signet in March 2015! Visit her website or her FB profile or page for lots more info about everything! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Susan Stephens: The Acostas


The Mills & Boon UK site has been running a special offer on these bad boys, and created this special banner, which I absolutely love and wanted to share with you!

I don't know when I have enjoyed writing a series of books more, or when I have received a more enthusiastic response from my fantastic readers for this Acosta series.



In this box set you can find all four Acosta brothers - each very different - and one wayward sister, as well as a Christmas book that sees them all reunited, and gives us a little bit of insight into what they've been getting up to since the last time we. Also in the Christmas book we meet a new couple, which is a lead into my new 4 book polo series HOT BRAZILIAN NIGHTS, which will be a 2015 release.


 And if you haven't seen the book trailer for Christmas Nights With The Polo Player, here's the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv3je22Gw1c




And if you would like to learn more about the Acostas and my inspiration for this series, here's a link to the dedicated ACOSTA pages on my web site: http://www.susanstephens.com/acostas/index.html
Release date 1st September - pre-order available now!


I would love to know which book cover you prefer, and why. Do share your thoughts. I would really love to hear from you, and I know everyone else would too. You can make us laugh if you want to - any take you have on this is good for me :)

And there will be a gift for a winner chosen at random, so get eyeing up those bad boys and let us know what you think!

All my very best to you
Susan



Monday, August 18, 2014

10 Things You Didn't Know About Kaira Rouda

1.    
  I moved around a lot when I was young. My parents are both from Northern California, but I never lived there. I was born in Evanston, Illinois, where my dad got his PhD at Northwestern; my sister came along next, when my dad was a professor at University of Southern California. When my dad became a professor at University of Texas, Austin, my brother was born. We moved on from there to Boston when my dad became a professor at Harvard. The final stop was Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. That’s where I went to middle school and high school.  I raised my kids in the same suburb until the first one went off to college at Chapman University in Southern California. We all followed him.

2.      My first book, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs was one of the first business books for women. It was based on my experience working with my husband to build the first national residential real estate brand acknowledging that women are the key decision makers in all real estate purchases – influencing of making 91 percent of all home purchases. Until Real Living Real Estate was launched, all advertising was directed toward men. Not kidding. I’m proud of that accomplishment – and the fact we stayed married after working together closely for seven years!

3.      My husband and I went to the same high school in Upper Arlington, Ohio, but didn’t meet until I was a reporter for Business First , a business newspaper, and he was an attorney at a law firm in town. I have three boys and one girl, and she is number 2. Coffee: black. I love lavender and I make a killer Kale salad! I’m vegetarian and gluten free.

4.      I was the society columnist for Columbus, Ohio, for more than 10 years.

5.      When I laugh, I honk. Yes, like a goose at times. I laugh a lot with friends. Friends mean the world to me.

6.      I’m almost always smiling. I feel very blessed to be living the life of my dreams.

7.      I don’t like math, or budgets but I love painting, and photography.

8.      I’m only as happy as my saddest kid. I am 1/8 Cherokee, a member of Daughter’s of the America Revolution. My ancestor, John Sturdivant landed in Jamestown in 1623. I love doing ancestry research.

9.      My dream, since as long as I could remember, was to be a novelist. It took awhile, so I tell people to never give up! My first novel, Here, Home, Hope was published in my 40s! Things happen for a reason, when they’re supposed to, as long as you keep believing in yourself.

10.  I almost always wear the “e” key off of my computers. I am confident I can win a hula hoop contest. I love to paddleboard as long as the waves are tiny and the sun is shining. I am finally living at the beach – a place I’ve dreamed of living since I was little. 



I’m thrilled Lines in the Sand is out today! I am having so much fun writing romance and learning from Jane Porter and her team at Tule Publishing. I hope you enjoy your visit to Indigo Island, too. Please let me know! Sign up for my newsletter at http://www.kairarouda.com and find me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/KairaRoudaBooks

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mallory Kane: Unsung Hero

Do you have a favorite secondary character in a book you've read or written who has never gotten his own book? I have several. One secondary character I always wanted to read about is Will Scarlett, Robin Hood's right-hand man. Luckily for me, author Diane Carey gave Will his own book, called Under The Wild Moon, written in 1986. I was delighted when I found that book. It's an exceptionally good book, by the way.

But he wasn't my only favorite secondary character. I wanted Dr. Watson in SHERLOCK HOLMES and Mr. Hastings in Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot stories to have their own books. When I read Little Women, I wanted to have a book in Laurie's point of view, mostly because I couldn't understand why he decided he was in love with Amy, not Jo. I wanted to see, from his viewpoint, how that change happened.

My own favorite secondary character is Detective Devereux Gautier, Cody Maxwell's partner from my very first Intrigue, The Lawman Who Loved Her, published in 2001. 


Dev has always gotten lots of fan mail. Over the years I've thought about him and fleshed out his story. If you're a writer or a voracious reader, you know how a character can live and grow inside your head.

Dev finally has his own book, and he deserves it. The book is called No Hero and is due for release from Tule Publishing in August, 2014.


Police Detective Devereux Gautier knows he's no hero. He's seen too much, failed too many times. And now the homeless kids he mentors are dying and the only person who can help him find the killer is the one woman who can destroy him. It doesn't help that she's also the sexiest, most interesting woman he's ever met.

Journalist Reghan Connor knows there are no heroes and she's out to prove it on the air for all of New Orleans to see. Her latest debunked hero is Detective Dev Gautier, who hates her for exposing the truth about him. Now Reghan has been given the key to the murders of Dev's homeless teens. But she's got to convince Dev that she's not setting him up for another fall. The more she's around him the more she learns that being a hero is complicated and loving a hero can be downright deadly.

Check out my website and facebook page for the latest information about Dev and Reghan and watch for No Hero, coming soon.

What about you? Who is your favorite secondary character in a book and did he or she ever test their own story? Please tell me in the comments below. I have a pretty and really handy 'reader's necklace,' which is an embellished magnifier necklace I'd love to give away in a random drawing of commenter names.



Please check out my Harlequin Intrigues too. I have a July and an August, 2014, release, which very possibly could still be on store shelves and are definitely still available online.

Thanks!
Mallory Kane
mallorykane.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMalloryKane?ref=hl

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Carole Mortimer: Dangerous Dukes

Hi Everyone,

My Dangerous Dukes six book Regency series is about to begin, and the good news is that very first duke, ‘Marcus Wilding; Duke of Pleasure’, an ebook only, is a FREE download from 1st August – 30th November!

The second book, ‘Zachary Black; Duke of Debauchery, will be available in ebook and paperback on the 1st October.  Followed by the third book, ‘Darian Hunter; Duke of Desire’, in ebook and paperback on the 1st November. 

Books 4,5,6 of the Dangerous Dukes series, will be published in July, August, and September 2015.  So don’t forget to look out for Rufus Drake, Griffin Stone, and Christian Seaton!

The Dangerous Dukes are exactly that, dukes by day and agents for the Crown by night, and each and every one of them has their adventures between the pages of these six books.  The women they fall in love with are feisty and daring, and a perfect match for their dangerous dukes.    

I’ve been writing Regency romance for the Harlequin Historical series for five years or so now, alongside my Harlequin Presents, and I am so enjoying writing for these two distinctly different genres. 

I love the emotional intensity of writing for Presents, and always will, and I have a Presents duo out in the New Year, featuring the billionaire Sterne brothers, Darius and Xander.  Later in the year I will also have a Presents trilogy published, but it isn’t written yet, only twirling around in my head at the moment.  I’m one of those seat-of-my-pants writers, in that I only ever have the sketchiest outline for my books before I write them, prefer to just sit down at my laptop and start writing.  It works for me!

The Regency books are longer, just as emotionally intense, and I even manage to include the odd murder or two in the storyline!

Yes, there will be murder and mayhem, kidnapping and deception in the six Dangerous Dukes books.

Enjoy!

Much love to all of you,
Carole Mortimer

Friday, August 15, 2014

Michelle Styles: Using raw emotion and GIVEAWAY

At the moment, watching the news about the dreadful humanitarian crisis in Iraq, I keep wondering about what I would do if I faced something like that. Being given a few hours to collect belongings and then travel over difficult country trying to find a safe haven.
Unfortunately situations like this are not unique to our time. It has happened time and again. Around 1000, Christainty was v much in the join or die mode with the Vikings. People who chose to cling to old religions were often cast out if the ruler decided to go for a new one. The Eddas were written in part as a response to this forced Christianisation.  Thankfully today, it would be abhorrent for most main stream religions to behave in this manner and for the most part (outside the Middle East), religious wars are a thing of the past.
 Such times  brings out the best in people and the worst. It is one of the reasons why I like writing historicals — emotions are timeless. People have always lived and loved. They have loyalities and strongly held beliefs. They have always had to confront such evil and loss. In many ways, in by-gone eras it was worse because of the lack of communication and the loss of immediacy.  There again ,perhaps that was not altogether a bad thing.
I find the raw emotion very hard to watch and the way I deal with it a bit is to write. It is one of the lovely parts about being an author when I confront something that is horrible, I can use it to create something, rather than sitting and letting my imagination run wild. For example, the first part of TAKEN BY THE VIKING was written just after my youngest son was nearly snatched off the street of Reykjavik by a drunk. I was so angry that I could really understand how my heorine could kill someone.

I sincerely hope the situation improves for the people whose lives have been turned upside down. I don't know what the answer is. Toleration for others' beliefs might be too much to hope for...but in the longer I have to.

Giveaway
SAVED BY THE VIKING WARRIOR is published on 19 August in print in North America and I September as an ebook. It is available in the UK as an ebook from 1 September and print from 5 September.
"THERE IS NO ONE. I TRAVEL ALONE. I LIVE ALONE. ALWAYS."
Battle-scarred Thrand the Destroyer has only one thing on his mind: settling old scores. But with the beautiful Lady of Lingfold as his prisoner, the unyielding warrior starts to dream of a loving wife and a home to call  his own.
Cwen is also seeking justice, but she knows the fragile alliance she’s built with Thrand will only last as long as they share a common enemy. Unless they can find a way to leave revenge to the gods to forge a new life together
I am giving away one signed copy to Tote Bag readers. To enter please email me (contest@michellestyles.co.uk) with Tote Bags contest in the subject line with the answer to the following question: Where does SAVED BY THE VIKING WARRIOR take place? (hint  read the excerpt)
I will do the draw on 19 August 2014 and will ship all over the world.

Void where prohibited.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Christina Hollis: One Day, One Hundred Years and Seven Thousand, Seven Hundred Names.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AColours_in_Gloucester_Cathedral.jpg
"Our" Colours, By Nilfanion

On Sunday, 3rd August, it was my privilege to attend a ceremony at Gloucester Cathedral to commemorate the start of World War One (or the Great War, as it was known before 1939). That war started one hundred years ago last week. I was one of more than three hundred people, one from each parish in the diocese of Gloucester, who took a small but important part in a service to mark the beginning of what was supposed to be "The War To End All Wars".

I and my fellow Presenters each had a document printed with the name of every person from our respective parishes who died during the war. Although the village where I live is very small, mine had twenty-three names on it. Other people from larger parishes had dozens of names. The main part of the service consisted of the Presenters filing up to the altar, where each in turn handed their document to the Lord Lieutenant of  Gloucestershire, who is the Queen's representative in the county. 

It's the kind of ceremony England does brilliantly, and this was no exception.The invitation said "uniforms and decorations to be worn". Sun shining through the stained glass windows bounced off so many medals, braid and even spurs the effect was amazing but I didn't take any photos. It would have been disrespectful. As all the regimental banners were paraded up to the altar, I thought how moved both my grandfathers would have been to know we still remember that terrible time. Both men were decorated in World War One, one on the Western Front, the other in Mesopotamia (an area covering much of the Middle East).

Before the service began, I worried I'd cry when they played the music used for Remembrance Day. It always has that effect on me, but it didn't happen this time. Once I'd delivered my list of names I turned to go back to my seat, glad I'd managed to stay dry-eyed. Then I saw the stream of people behind me, still heading toward the altar. It went on, and on, and on. Each person held a document representing many deaths, and all walked in stunned silence. That was unbearably poignant.

What is really tragic is that one hundred years later, people are still dying all over the world, because human nature won't let us all live in peace together.

The following day, the collected list of 7,700 names was read aloud in the cathedral. The ceremony began at 9:00am, and the continuous recitation took seven hours and twenty-five minutes.


Christina Hollis writes both contemporary and historical fiction - when she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping. You can catch up with her at http://www.christinahollis.blogspot.com, on Twitter and Facebook, and see a full list of her published books at http://www.christinahollis.com

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

#omgHollyJacobs

I was at Romance Writers of America's conference in San Antonio at the end of July.  I did two book signing for Just One Thing, met with my editors and other publishing people.  And I met up with friends…old friends and new friends.

I met some of those new friends when they were waiting in line for the signing.  And I'll confess, I was a bit shameless.  You see for years, I've bribed people to come over to me at book signings and pretend they were as excited to meet me as they might be to meet…let's say, Nora Roberts.  I  bribed…er, encouraged my new friends to do the same thing.  And that resurrection of my old ways led to this video.



You see...shameless.  It gets worse.  After that, I encouraged people to #omgHollyJacobs on Twitter.   I went around the rest of the conference telling people I was trending.  I mean, ten people hash-tagging you is a trend, right??

Now, I'll confess, I don't think Spielberg is worried about my new foray into movies.  But I'll confess, I had a good time.  And I've already got an idea for a new video to showcase my October book, Christmas in Cupid Falls.  Hey, maybe Spielberg is getting nervous.  I mean, if ten people can be a trend, then a one minute clip might have him worrying that next time I'll try for…two minutes!

There might be an #omgHollyJacobs2 soon.  A bunch of friends (two or three people can be a bunch, right?  I mean, if ten people can be a trend, I think that's about right!) asked if they could send a clip.  I'll keep you posted! LOL

Holly

PS I also brought an extra book home from conference, Queen of Your Own Life.  I'm giving that away, along with a new rerelease of mine, The Baby Gift (that contains Unexpected Gifts).  Just like my Facebook Page/Post.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Change in the Weather by Kate Walker

We’ve had a lovely warm summer – at times it has been a really hot summer. The sun has shone, the sky
was clear bright blue, rarely a cloud in view. When I was teaching in Wales last month – and travelling on my way to get there – it was hot and humid, and being in a workroom, even talking about writing romance, was hard work at times.  We went through jugs of water and had all the windows open.  The slight breeze from the sea helped.

It’s been warm since we got back – which was just as well, because I had all the washing to do – and get dried – after we unpacked and before we  repacked set off again. This time on a special trip for my husband’s birthday treat to the old spa town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire. We had sunshine  almost all the time we were away. One rainstorm and that was it.

But this week has been so very different.  Apparently we’ve been hit by the tail end of   Hurricane Bertha and – well, I’m glad it was only the ‘tail end’. My heart goes out to everyone who has to endure the real thing – we had huge thunderstorms, lashing winds, torrential downpours, flash floods. . .
And then today is just beautiful. The day is calm, the sun, shining, the sky is back to that wonderful clear blue – and all the heavy, humid heat that had built up has cleared. We have warmth, but it’s  fresh and enjoyable, not  heavy and close and almost unbearable.

Of course, being a writer, I’ve been looking at the weather and thinking how closely it reassembled one of my books.  There was the long , hot build up, the way that things grew stronger and stronger.  Then there was the  way the heat got  heavier and  close to unbearable, the way that we knew something had to break  - it could almost be felt coming closer and closer.  The dark clouds gathered, got darker . . .blacker. Until with a crash of thunder and a flash of lightning  everything seemed to explode around us. The heavens opened and the  rain  bucketed down, drenching everything in its path.  It’s  a real image of the way I try to build the tension in a story , cranking it up higher and higher until that ‘black moment’ when everything comes to a head  and all  the tension blows up right in my characters’ faces.

And then there is the calm after the storm .  The time when with a fresh new day, a clearer, calmer way of looking at things, they can resolve the problems that caused so much trouble and go into a future together, and hopefully to that happy ever after.

So it’s interesting that that’s exactly what I’ve been writing over the past few days. The weather outside has almost mirrored the scenes and the ‘emotional storms’ between my characters. It’s been fun watching that happen . . . and now I have to give them their happy ending and the bright sunny day.  I’ll enjoy that too.  And I was wondering if it’s the stormy  moments that readers enjoy reading in  my books – or is it that ‘calm after the storm ‘ that you’re looking for and enjoy reading most?

What do you think?

I hope you’re having peaceful weather right now – whether hot or cold -  and that the sun  keeps shining for the rest of the school holidays so that everyone can enjoy them.  And if a bit of rain is falling – I hope it will pass quickly .

My  latest title A Question of  Honor  is on sale in Harlequin Presents.

You can find out more details about it on my web site   and read all my more up to date news about my books and what I'm doing on my blog   or my Facebook page.




Monday, August 11, 2014

My Favorite Writing Books!

by Anna Campbell

In the second half of 2014, I'm running a course called Express Year of the Novel for the Queensland Writers Centre down in Brisbane, the capital city of the state in Australia where I live.  For five full days between now and December, I'm working with a bunch of enthusiastic aspiring novelists to help them develop the skills to write a saleable longer piece of fiction.

Putting together the course has had its challenges - five full days is a longish time, but not when you're covering everything a person needs to learn for writing a novel! One of the things I realized as I was designing the program was that I should brush up on some of my writing textbooks, especially when it came to complex subjects like the hero's journey.

Among the resources I've put together for the group is a list of recommended writing books. I'm a bit of a how-to book fan so I've read lots and lots of writing books. Looking at the list, it was apparent to me that a couple of books have given me help and advice that has stayed with me over a long time. In preparation for running the Express YOTN course, I've re-read some of them and they're still as useful as they ever were.

So here are my four favorite writing books.

The first is an absolute classic. Dorothea Brande's BECOMING A WRITER has been in print since 1934. I've read it a few times - it's quite short and you can knock it over in a couple of hours. And it never fails to help me with my writing life. It's not a book about the nuts and bolts of writing, it's about how to find motivation and inspiration and how to persist in this odd occupation we've set ourselves to mastering.

The second book is a more recent classic - Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD: SOME INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE. This one is great when it comes to needing that push to get words down on the page and when you have to overcome the fear factor. The title comes from a story Lamott tells about her brother doing a school project about the birds of America. Like a lot of kids, he left it to the last minute and then floundered around in a panic. Lamott's father sat down with him calmly and said, "The only way we can do this is bird by bird." When you write a book, it's word by word. I've heard this approach also called 'baby steps' and it's amazingly wise. My critique partner and I often just say "bird by bird" to each other when we're starting to get into a flap and those three words alone settle us down.

The third book is New York agent Donald Maass's WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL: WINNING ADVICE FROM A TOP AGENT AND HIS BESTSELLING CLIENT. I was lucky enough a few years ago to attend a full day workshop with Donald Maass and I still use a lot of the tips that he gave to the room full of aspiring writers. This book is wonderful for turning a good manuscript into a great manuscript. He's fantastic on how to lift tension and pacing and how taking risks can pay off when you write. If you're not sure why your story isn't hitting the high points, I highly recommend this book.

The last of my great quartet is Christopher Vogler's THE WRITER'S JOURNEY: MYTHIC STRUCTURE FOR WRITERS. This is a great introduction to how the work of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung can help strengthen the structure of your novel and give your story a universal appeal. And there are fascinating analyses of popular films like THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS and THE WIZARD OF OZ, drawing on the mythic superstructure that has made these movies into timeless classics.

There are some wonderful books on writing on that list of resources I gave the YOTN class, but if the crunch came, these are the four I'd save from the burning building. If you haven't read them and you're interested in writing either as a writer yourself or as a dedicated reader, give them a go!

If you're a writer, do you have any favorite books that have helped you with your craft? If you're a reader, do you ever read books about writing to give you an insight into the writing process?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Going Home Again :: Anne McAllister

Every once in a while I go back home – the home that the author Tom Wolfe says you can’t go to 20140809_114745again, the one I left forty odd years ago – and I’m always amazed at how things have changed, and in my head I have a sort of visual timeline going on where I see what is in front of me now, and then beneath it I have the memories of all the changes in that place that I recall. 

But this past week I’ve done the same thing in the town I’ve lived in since I left the old home town.  This has been my home for most of my life now.  I raised my kids here, wrote my first book here (and most all the rest since), and I would say that I pretty much know it like I know the back of my hand.

20140601_105156Except this week we’ve had a son and his family here visiting. He hadn’t been back in seven years. And a lot has happened in seven years even in a place that moves as slowly as the midwest.  I know that intellectually, but it took visiting the ballpark and the swimming pool, taking my grandkids to the aquarium and museum, going out on the Mississippi and seeing all the riverfront development from a whole new angle, doing all those “tourist” things I never ordinarily do – to appreciate my town all over again.

The first time I visited Vienna, some thirty years ago now, we stayed with friends who spent a couple of weeks showing us all the sights – touristy and not-so-touristy – and near the end of our visit, one of our friends said how much she’d enjoyed seeing Vienna through a newcomer’s eyes, showing off her city because she ordinarily took it for granted. 

20140809_113925I realized what she meant again this week.  I’m not usually a visual person. I like sounds as much as I do sights.  When I write, I often have to call upon my husband or a friend who has been in the same place to remind me of the visual details of what I’ve seen because I don’t register them at first.  That’s also true of where I live. 

But this week, showing my town – and the place my son grew up – to his five and seven year old children, I found that, like my friend, I was enchanted with all the things I saw, as if I were really seeing some of them for the first time (knowing me, maybe I was!). 

LastYearsBride-us,jpgI felt the same way when I finished writing Last Year’s Bride for Tule Publishing’s Montana Born series in the spring.  It had been a dozen years since I’d written a cowboy hero.  Prior to that I’d written close to twenty.  They were there, in the back of my mind, ever since. But I didn’t get to see them again – up close and personal – until this year.  And it felt like coming home, seeing the past and the present through wide-open eyes.  Makes me eager to do another one.

Have you “gone home” again?  Or looked at your own environment as a newcomer might?  Or showed to it someone you wanted to love it as much as you do? 

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Cruising the conferences - Kandy Shepherd


I love going to writers conferences. They inspire me, invigorate my writing muscles and embrace me as part of a greater community of people who spend a lot of time with the “imaginary friends” who become the characters in our books. Some people think we're a bit weird - other writers know we're just creative!

Ten days ago I was at the Romance Writers of America national conference in the beautiful city of San Antonio, Texas. 

The conference was attended by more than two thousand writers from all around the United States and other parts of the world.

Luring readers to the book signing at RWA San Antonio with M & Ms - I ate way too many myself!

 Meeting other writers, editors and agents as well as bloggers and readers is such a buzz. Attending workshops presented by the best in the romance business is invaluable.

There’s the fun of signing books at the mass book-signing in aid of adult literacy that is an important part of the conference.

I was in very good company at the Harlequin book signing!


And of course there are the fan-girl moments of seeing romance icons like Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jayne Anne Krentz wandering around the conference or lining up for coffee!

Still suffering from jet-lag, right now I’m at the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference in Sydney for another dose of wonderful romance-writing inspiration—and a hefty dose of partying!

Then it will be back to writing!





Kandy Shepherd is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She lives on a small farm in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her family and a menagerie of four-legged friends.

Kandy’s second Dolphin Bay story for Harlequin Romance, The Tycoon and The Wedding Planner is on sale now.


Visit Kandy at her website





Connect with Kandy on Facebook and Twitter






Friday, August 08, 2014

Katherine Garbera: The Power of Family

My family is the source for everything I write.  My parents were strong believers in the power of family and we have always been a strong unit.  Growing up we did everything together.  We watched t.v. (for a very limited 30 minutes a day), we grew our own food in a large garden, and we listened to country music and sang along with the radio.

It’s this last bit that inspired me to write HER SUMMER COWBOY.  The country songs I heard on the radio were my companions through many long summer days.  And I knew their stories as well as my own.  I knew that George Jones had lived fast and wild. And that Johnny had finally been tamed by June.  And I fell in love for the first time to Waylon Jennings voice. 

When the Big Marietta Fair was being talked about all I could remember were summers at the fair and concerts that my family always went to.  They were, of course, country artists and we’d sit there all day to get a good seat and then listen to the concert.  It was one of the highlights of my childhood.  And I wanted to bring a little of that to my readers in HER SUMMER COWBOY.

Emma Jean Wells is the daughter of a famous country music singer loosely inspired by Keith Whitley and the granddaughter of a country legend that is an amalgam of George Jones, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. 

Hudson Scott is a mixture of the badboy who walked through Jesse’s Dream and Tim McCraw’s Indian Outlaw.  He’s tough and sexy and doesn’t really take anything from anyone except for Emma who seems to get under his skin without him even realizing it. 


I hope you enjoy reading HER SUMMER COWBOY. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

August...


Harlequin are continuing their re-release of my backlist with three new books on sale in July and August.

In the UK they've started using pretty new covers to give the books a fresh new look and I'm absolutely delighted with what they've done with The Three Year Itch and All She Wants for Christmas  Don't be fooled by the title which was changed by Marketing from Trouble in Paradise when a December slot opened up.

This book is set on a Caribbean island made for two and has nothing to with Christmas. At all.

In the US, Harlequin have taken the opposite tack and are using original covers and Dating Her Boss is, happily, one of my favourite covers. A real classic.


Interestingly, catching up on these books, I've realised how much the Romance line has changed since I started writing for Harlequin Mills & Boon.

The heroes in these books are much more like Presents/Modern heroes - alpha, arrogant, tortured men.

For me, the men changed when I began writing scenes from their point of view. My first dual vp book was Eloping With Emmy (which is, incidentally available at the moment as an ebook for 99c) in which the hero took the lead vp role and we saw him falling in love - and knowing that it was all going to end in tears


Which do you prefer - the old or the new covers? And do you still enjoy those old books where the hero is darkly enigmatic - or do you want to know what is going on in that handsome head?


Leave a comment and I'll give away a copy of any one of my available backlist books for whoever's name comes out of the hat!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Addison Fox: The Sunday of Summer

I read a comment the other day – “August is like the Sunday of summer” – and it’s stuck with me all week. I read the quote on Twitter so unfortunately don’t know recall the author of the tweet, but a quick Google search has the line credited to a blogger named Lon Horwedel. My thanks to Mr. Horwedel because in that small sentence he hit on a world of imagery that made my writers brain light up in happiness.

And I love when that happens.

The words in and of themselves make little sense, yet when you read it, you know exactly what the author meant. We all know that Sunday feeling. The one that makes you hang on a little tighter, even as you know the time is slipping away. There’s a sense of urgency, yet there’s a sense of relaxation. For now – today – the time is yours.

To the point above, the sentence by itself makes little sense when you parse it apart. August is a month. Sunday is a day. Summer is a season. Yet in the sentence, the author evokes something very real and tangible in the mind of the reader.

I’m amazed how often the writing process is exactly like that. Telling a story is vastly different from writing an English paper. And while the mechanics of putting words on a page to convey information remains the same, the process of telling a story gives a degree of leeway to how you use those words to construct images in the mind of another.

Yes, sentences should be spelled correctly. And yes, grammar is important. And yes, even basics of conveying information should be adhered to. But the rest is up to the storyteller.

In storytelling, a single word can make up a sentence with considerable punch and feeling. Sentences that begin with conjunctions – a strict school no-no - may be just what the story needs. Even characters who speak incorrectly might be exactly what’s needed for the words to mix uncomfortably on the page.

For all these reasons, the art of storytelling is a lot like those Sundays of summer. At the end of the day, my job as a writer is to draw my reader in, making them feel any number of emotions and I only have my words to do that. It’s important that I use each and every one of them to maximum advantage.

So what do you think? What are some of your favorite authors? (I’m always on a hunt to add some great books to my TBR pile). What are some of the ways a good story draws you in and makes you feel something extraordinary?

Thanks for joining me today!
XOXO,
Addison


Despite early ambitions of being a diver, a drummer or a doctor, Addison Fox happily discovered she was more suited to life as a writer. She lives in Dallas and - thankfully - doesn't have to operate on anyone. You can find her at her home on the web at www.addisonfox.com. Her latest book, THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER, is currently out from Harlequin Romantic Suspense. You can visit her at her website at www.addisonfox.com

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Yvonne Lindsay: For Love of a Cowboy

What happens when a superstitious Kiwi hippie chick locks horns with a taciturn Montana cowboy? Sparks fly, that’s what!

As a reader, I’d thoroughly enjoyed the previous Montana Born books—the rodeo series and the brides series—and it wasn’t hard to imagine characters living in the town of Marietta. When I was asked to contribute to a new series I leaped at the opportunity and I loved working on my novella, FOR LOVE OF A COWBOY, from the moment the story idea popped in my head and I especially enjoyed having the opportunity to work with the great team at Tule Publishing as well as the other talented Montana Born Books authors. Set in the fictional Montana town of Marietta, FOR LOVE OFA COWBOY hinges around the big Marietta Fair and is one of six fabulous stories being sold in Montana Born Book’s summer fair series.


Life is simple for Booth Lange–work hard, save hard, stay out of trouble–until Willow Phillips arrives in Marietta and turns his entire world upside down. The superstitious hippie is everything he can’t stand—transient, careless, and trouble with a capital T. He wants her out of town before she can upset more than his equilibrium, and yet, he can’t seem to stay away or keep his hands off her.

Willow, retracing her late mother’s journey through Montana twenty-seven years ago, has one goal. To meet Willow’s father. Maybe then she can face the life-altering decision that awaits her. But meeting her father proves more elusive than she anticipated, and just why is Booth Lange so determined to drive her out of town?

To celebrate the release of this novella, I’m giving away a Tule Publishing Tote bag with some Tule goodies, including a couple of books from my Harlequin Desire backlist, to one lucky commenter.  So tell me, do you love a cowboy?

A typical Piscean, USA Today! best-selling author, Yvonne Lindsay, has always preferred the stories in her head to the real world. It makes perfect sense that she was born and bred in Middle Earth, um, New Zealand. Yvonne has published over twenty-five titles with Harlequin and is a three-time Romance Writers of Australia R*BY nominee and a finalist in the Romance Writers of New Zealand Koru Award of Excellence. A former law office manager she now spends her days crafting the stories of her heart and in her spare time she can be found with her nose firmly in a book, reliving the power of love in all walks of life, or knitting socks and daydreaming.