Friday, September 27, 2019

Power to Encourage

"It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop." --Confucius

            I don’t claim to be a wise old crone, but nothing reminds me of how long I’ve been in the writing business faster than speaking to a writing group. Earlier this month I had the pleasure of speaking to the Tampa RWA chapter about tropes and series romance. It was a fun topic, and the group was a supportive, engaged audience. 

            The joy of events like this continue after the formal topic is done and I have the chance to speak with members of the group individually. Writers begin sharing more about their journeys, and firing questions of all kinds. We talk about the writing process, the drive to maintain creativity, the tricks behind writing synopses, but most importantly, we talk about persistence.

            Because by and large, I hope that’s what I offer people attending workshops that I give—reminders of how big a role tenacity plans in what we do. I hope that through my own tale of persistence (six full manuscripts, a partial and at least five synopses for other stories completed before I ever sold a single word I wrote) will provide some inspiration for writers who are drowning in rejections. Not many of us get to that first sale without wading through those waters. It can be disheartening. Creatively draining. But it’s truly part of the process.

            That’s the point of the workshop where I feel the wisest. Not because I know a lot about
tropes, or series, or any single point of craft. But I do know what that slog through rejection feels like. I’ve been there, fending off complete demoralization with nothing but blind faith and a good dose of stubbornness. It takes grit to keep writing in spite of the odds, to keep teaching yourself and flexing the writing muscle to improve. I remember that what helped keep my feet on the path were the occasional tales from the trenches from other authors who took many years and many manuscripts to make that first sale.

            So more than any writing wisdom, I hope that I pass along some of that courage in the face of rejection. I hope that I'm inspiring a certain level of persistence. If I succeed at this, I’ve given a truly valuable a gift. Finding the courage to believe in your dreams is hard to come by, but we close ourselves off to too many wonderful possibilities if we don’t keep taking steps to achieve them.

*** From a pep talk for a girlfriend to a heart-to-heart with a nervous child, we all take on the role of mentor and cheerleader sometimes in or lives.  When was the last time you exercised your power to encourage someone in their goals? I'll give one random poster an advance copy of book 1 in my new Dynasties: Mesa Falls series, The Rebel!

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Most Important Part of Writing ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash
If you read many ‘how to’ type of posts you’ll find a lot of different answers to the question ‘what is the most important part of writing’.

This is one of those posts, but it’s also not one of those posts.

For me, the most important part of writing is simply to write.

On any given day, there are about a thousand things that crop up that I’m not ready for. Whether it’s my daughter coming home from school with marker on her shirt from art class, or my husband calling to say he won’t be home for dinner, which also means I’m on homework duty. To having a non-fiction assignment come up. To having first round edits and final read-through documents come in from my editors on the same day.

And all of those things can seem, in the moment, to be more important that getting the two or three thousand words on paper that I’ve set for my goal.

What I’ve found, though, is that putting off the writing has a snowball effect. Because the next day not only do I still need to write those words, I also need to write the current day’s words. And there are more last minute emergencies to deal with: like learning my mother-in-law is coming over for dinner, and that I have to fill out an art fact sheet for my cover designer, and I have blog and promo posts to write for my upcoming book release, and I haven’t updated my social media sites in too many days. And. And. And and and and and.

That’s why, no matter what else I have going on, what other items are on my to-do list, what little emergencies have come up that day, at 1 PM every day, I’m at my computer. Writing the new words. The emergencies wait. The to-do list waits. The new words get written, and then I go back to the errands and emergencies and to-do list items. Because if the new words aren’t on the paper, I can’t edit them. If I can’t edit them, I can’t turn them in to my agent or editor. If I can’t turn them in, I can’t perfect them. If I can’t perfect them (at least as much as I can perfect them), I can’t publish them to share with readers.

What about you? What is the most important part of writing, for you?

Kristina Knight's latest release, Moonlight Match, is available now! 

Moonlight Match is part of the Resort to Romance continuity project ~ 10 sweet romances, all set during a week-long matchmaking event in the Bahamas! 

Aster Harrington believes in love but love doesn’t seem to believe in her. She’s hoping Goldie and Ginny, the matchmakers who’ve matched on two generations of Harringtons, can work a little love magic for her…

Some call Ethan Talbot rigid, but he prefers to think of himself as prepared. Unfortunately, when he’s matched with Aster Harrington at Joy Island’s Matchmaking Week, all those carefully prepared plans go out the window. He can get back to finding a suitable wife once he’s home in New York. After all, how much damage can one week in the Bahamas do to his plans?

Kristina Knight is a contemporary romance author, part-time TKD-kid wrangler, and full-time Thin Mints enthusiast. You can find out more about Kristina and her books on her website. To get even closer, stalk follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Michelle Styles : Harlequin's new Romance Includes You Mentorship sacheme

Sometimes, someone does something so simple but wonderfully powerful  that you wondered why it had not been thought of before but are very pleased that it is being done now and you hope that it will be a huge success and continue for many years.  This is how I feel about Harlequin’s Romance IncludesYou Mentorship scheme.

It can be argued it is long over due but one simply cannot  turn back time or change the past. The past is written stone but the future is yet to be.
 The fact the largest publisher of romance in the world has recognized that the reading public is not simply from one background but from a myriad of backgrounds and that they are going to cater for that by actively recruiting voices from underrepresented groups is something to be celebrated..
Sometimes people from these groups have felt discouraged from submitting because Harlequin doesn’t appear to publish the sort of books they write. Because series romance in particular can be very specific about the type of story (tight focus on the growth of the emotional relationship between an aspirational couple), it can help if an aspiring author can get a mentor who knows the business. However, getting that mentor can be difficult, particularly if you feel you will be rejected or torn to pieces simply because of the stories you want to tell. The aim of being a mentor should never be to create cookie cutter lookalikes.  Kate Walker, a woman I very much consider a mentor (even when she didn’t know she was my mentor)  and now a friend, once told wrote something along the lines – Harlequin has its Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber, Betty Niels and dare I say it even Kate Walker and can reprint those stories at will but what it doesn’t have is you and the way you tell your stories.  As a very newbie author, I found that horribly comforting as I knew deep in my heart and still do sixteen years later I can’t write like anyone else.
Mentors can really help but the fact remains that not every author is the right mentor for that particularly author. Sometimes it can be in the way the mentor is saying things. Sometimes they don’t understand the question or the answer. Sometimes because of the differing backgrounds, they think are talking about  page 100 but the other person is actually on page 20.  Or people do not bother asking simply because they don’t want the rejection.
Harlequin has recognised that authors from underrepresented groups need mentors, just as badly (if not more so) than authors from groups which have traditionally made up their authors. Therefore, they are running the Romance Includes You Mentorship scheme. The grand prize is a book contract, working one to one with a Harlequin or Carina editor and $5,000 to help the author complete the book. The money is because they recognise that often people from underrepresented groups are often financially disadvantaged and can simply lack the time to write. In order to establish a career in writing, you actually need to sit down – bottom in chair, hands on keyboard -- and write.
The real winners in this scheme are the reading public who will eventually get to read the mentored author  and be able to be in their shoes or slip into their skin for a short while. Reading is the best way to develop understanding and empathy.
So if you are an aspiring author from underrepresented group or if you know of anyone who might be interested, the initial phase runs until 15 October 2019 (You need to submit the first chapter, a synopsis and a 500 word personal statement) – the full details are be found here. Good luck.
Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin Historical in a wide range of time periods. Her first book The Gladiator’s Honour  (published in 2006) was the first time  a major publisher had published a historical romance set in that time period (something that people who thought they were in the know confidently predicted could not happen) . Her 28th book for Harlequin HIstorical A Deal with Her Rebel Viking will be published in December 2019. You can learn more about Michelle  and her books at

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Christina Hollis: September—New Starts, Old Friends

I love a quiet life. Writing lets me lead one. When you spend your days in front of a keyboard, the rest of the world passes you by—most of the time.  

My wedding bouquet
Everything changes in September!

For me, this month is on a par with December. There's something going on all the time. Much as I enjoy living like a recluse, there's too much going on over these thirty days to sit at home.

For a start, the birthdays of both my husband and his sister fall this month. When we got engaged, my then soon-to-be husband wanted to marry in September. "That way I'll never forget our anniversary," he said—and he never has.  My sister's wedding anniversary is a few days before us, so there's no excuse for forgetting that, either!

The Society of Authors has a small but lively local group which meets in the next county. I attended a meeting only last week.  I'm also a keen member of the Romantic Novelists' Association. Their local chapter has unmissable meetings too, so I've been to their September session as well. 

I also love cake!
A few years ago, the York chapter of the RNA hit on the great idea of hosting a formal afternoon tea  for people who live in the North of England and Scotland. It isn't always easy for them to make the London meetings of the association. York is much closer for them.  

York's a long way from me, involving a long car journey to the nearest station before a three-hour train journey, but my daughter is very fond of that historic city. She did some of her training as an archaeologist there so three years ago I booked us a weekend break there. She showed me round, and I took her to the York tea. A day's sightseeing followed by cake and fancy sandwiches in great company was a fantastic experience. The RNA tea is now an annual fixture in my diary. 

September is back to school time, of course. In my case it's back to university. I'm half-way through my Masters in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Gloucestershire (you can find out more about that here) and I can't wait to get back to it after the long summer break. I've already been researching some ideas to incorporate in my final modules.
Find out more at
After working on my book, Struggle and Suffrage in Bristol, I've become interested in the way the simplest advances in technology have made huge changes in the lives of working people. I've taken out an annual pass for the Dean Forest Heritage Museum, and will be visiting it as often as possible to help with my research. The museum and its archive are stuffed with interesting items and books. They even have a miner's house on the site, decorated and stocked  exactly as it would have been in the late nineteenth century—complete with china chamber pots under each bed!

The final thing written in my diary this month is the talk I'm giving to the Bristol and Avon Family History Society.  I met several members at the Bristol city archive while I was researching Struggle and Suffrage in Bristol. They were very helpful, and friendly. Now I've been invited to their family history fair, and I can't wait!

Have you got anything exciting lined up for the last days of summer? 

Christina Hollis's first non-fiction book, Struggle and Suffrage in Bristol is published by Pen and Sword Books. You can find out more about that here, catch up with her at, on Twitter, Facebook, and see a full list of her published books at

Friday, September 13, 2019

Got Questions or Topics?

This week, Susan Gable and I posted our 95th episode of Trippin' with Holly and Susan! Have you seen them? We try for a nice mix of videos about writing, books, reading, tv shows, movies, Erie PA tours...

Basically, no topic is off limits! Well, almost no topic! LOL

As we approach finishing up the first 100, we're looking at the second 100 and asking for your help. We'd love to know what you'd like us to talk about. So please send us questions or suggestions for topics. Or send us places in Erie you'd like us to visit and take you along for the ride!

I know most of you watch them on Facebook, but I have been busy parking them at YouTube. So if you've missed an episode, or (eek!) haven't seen an episode, you can always find them there! You can post any suggestions here or on Facebook, or send them to me at HollyJacobs1 (at)

Thank you all for trippin' with us! And for helping to fill the tank by buying our books!


PS Check out my summer of Rom Com:

The Makeover (a bad makeover...and a fun comedy!)
How to Catch a Groom (a science geek and a romantic makes for a lot of fun!)
How to Hunt a Husband (a fake-stripper with a heart of gold and her fake-biker boyfriend try to fool their meddling mothers!)

And September Sales:
Laugh Lines (a book with the ugliest cover ever but a lot of comedy!)
Bosom Buddies (the opening scene is based on my years as a lactation consultant...and it's a comedy!)

Monday, September 02, 2019

Meet the Neighbors by Susan Sands

If you've read any of my blogging in the last six months or so, you'll remember that we moved into
a new townhome neighborhood. Because it was dead winter and too cold to really venture out for several months (for me), I didn't meet many new neighbors here. I'm a weird blend of introvert and curious neighbor and don't typically seek out a social life with my neighbors now that my kids are grown. I was part of a long-standing bunco group in my last neighborhood, so I had lots of friends there, but here, not so much.

I go to the mailbox, smile, and say hello. But this summer, my husband and I got into the habit of going to the community's pool on the weekends. So, we've slowly begun to meet some of the folks we now live amongst. I have to say, it's an interesting group.

The guy next door is a gastroenterologist and plays the banjo (not well) on his back deck. I know his profession, not because he told us, but because the guy on the other side of him told us. He knows this, not because the good doctor told him, but because that guy is an attorney and does background checks on all his neighbors. You know, because you gotta know who you share walls with. They are super nice though, and we found out that his wife is the daughter of a golfing buddy of my husband.

There are a handful of women at the pool who are readers and always show up with a new book. It's been fun to discuss what we are reading from our floats and loungers. The group also consists of single career women, a woman veterinarian, several empty nesters like us, and younger couples who are at the beginning of their professional careers. So far, I'm the only author in the group that I'm aware of, but writers don't always show themselves right away.

It's been fun to slowly make my way into the community. I hear there are some pretty interesting parties, but I'll settle for a little pool socializing for now. And learning second-hand about my neighbors from my other neighbors...LOL!

I wish everyone in the path of Hurricane Dorian the best. Coming from Louisiana, I'm glued to the coverage. If they tell you to get out, get out!

Have a great Labor Day!