Smart Girls Read Romance

Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog. Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Networks and the writer

Last weekend, we were in town picking up molasses/protein tubs for our lambing ewes. While waiting for loading (they are heavy), I surfed radio stations and came on NPR with condensed TED talks on the subject of networks-- tree roots, a body's cells, and finally human networks. The speaker, Robin Dunbar, had studied from Neolithic villages to our modern communities and made the case that 150 people is the most humans can tangentially interact with at one time. For intimate friendships, the number is reduced to five. As our community enlarges, our connection to individuals becomes looser.
Recently I'd been thinking about my own networking and use of time in social media. Writing is a very solitary profession, but we are told we need networks at the least to market our work. Facebook can be a big time consumer or take very little time, but how many people can we really interact with there and does that kind of friendship, where there might be thousands of miles between, serve the same benefit as one in a neighborhood? 

Looking at my own use of Facebook, I find it valuable in a social sense because I live in a rural area without much contact with people-- let alone other writers or those who would read my romances. When I go to Facebook, it's usually not for long at a time, but it lets me see how those on my friend list are doing. There are only a few where I do more than 'like' a post-- receiving about the same level of connection from them. Five is probably about right for those I know more about their lives and they mine. I feel less guilty, that it would be so, after listening to the talk.

Especially as a writer, I like what Facebook offers where I can meet readers, hear from writers in my genre, learn their problems or successes and learn about tools I might never have found any other way. Concern for a more physical network is making me wish for those where I can sit down with a cup of coffee and be at the same table and where a hug is not just a *hug*. It might take moving from the farm though, and  I don't much favor that idea... yet.

 [These memes were all created from Stencil with their images and quote options. I learned of Stencil through Facebook friends.] 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Word Pictures

By Sandra Nachlinger

“I’ll read you a story as soon as I finish cleaning up,” I said. “Go pick out a book.”

Last week my five-year-old granddaughter Corrina spent the day at our house. We did our usual things: had a tea party, made a tent out of blankets, drew pictures with crayons. As I washed dishes from our lunch, she perused our bookshelves. I’d just scrubbed the last pan when she came to me with a book and asked me to read it. The book was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach. I’m guessing the bright yellow flowers on the cover caught her eye.

I asked, “Wouldn’t you rather read the story about Harriet and her ballet recital?”

“No,” she insisted. “I want to read this one.”

I never say no to reading. I dried my hands, led her to a chair in the library, and opened the book, hoping I wouldn’t have to censor any of the words or try to explain what was going on. The opening paragraph said:

Muriel Donnelly, an old girl in her seventies, was left in a hospital cubicle for forty-eight hours. She had taken a tumble in Peckham High Street and was admitted with cuts, bruises, and suspected concussion. Two days she lay in A&E, untended, the blood stiffening on her clothes.

I asked Corrina if she knew what concussion was. She shook her head, and I explained that it was a serious bump on the lady’s head.

When she asked, “But where are the pictures, Grandma?” I told her that grown-up books usually don’t have pictures in them.

Her eyes opened wide. “They don’t?”

“No.” I gestured toward the shelves. “None of these books have pictures.”

Corrina was speechless, until I explained. “The people who wrote these books created pictures with their words. When you read them, you see the pictures in your mind—in your imagination.”

She thought about that for a minute, then climbed down from my lap and searched through her collection of books. We read The Berenstain Bears and The Bad Dream (one of her favorites) with “real” pictures on every page.

My first writing instructor advised his students to create “word pictures.” That’s an amazing skill when you think about it. By combining words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs, a writer can take her reader far away—from suburbia to Saturn; from the city to the Citadel; from last week’s headlines to the lost Ark of the Covenant—and create vivid images in the reader’s imagination. That’s quite a super-power!

I enjoyed going to India with the guests of the Marigold Hotel. I also recently visited the Blue Ridge Mountains with Cassandra King, and explored Paris (both past and present) with Juliet Blackwell. The pictures I saw in my imagination were more vivid than any a photographer could create.

Have a writer’s words transported you anywhere memorable recently?  

I.O.U. Sex (co-authored with Sandra Allen)


Monday, January 16, 2017

10 Well-Known Books; 10 Last Sentences

Everyone quotes the best opening sentences of novels, but I don’t think people quote the last sentence very often.

I thought I'd do exactly that today. This should be fun. After all, the last sentence is the last thing a reader sees so it also is very important, isn’t it?

I’ve pulled 10 books from my home library. All the books have been hugely popular and critically acclaimed. I’ve jumbled them so they’re not in any special order or grouped by genre.

I’ll give the last line, and, just to make it a game, I’ll give the answers at the bottom of this post. No peeking!

10 Last Sentences

1. “Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!”

2. Jenny listened to the mill wheels and wondered what mysteries and miracles, what horrors and joys were being ground out at this very moment, to be served up in times to come.

3. Then, starting home, he walked toward the trees, and under them, leaving behind him the big sky, the whisper of wind voices in the wind-bent wheat.

4. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

5. I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

6. “Probably,” Morelli said, “but I give good . . . pizza.”

7. “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

8. “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world,” whispered Anne softly.

9. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.

10. Her work was done.

How Did You Do?

The amazing thing about all of these closing sentences is that they are perfect for the novel in which they appear. I try to do the same–crafting the perfect closing sentence in my books.

In Old Enough to Know Better,  the book shown here, I have a closing line that is perfect for this romantic comedy. It fits the premise of the book, the characters, and what happens during the course of the story. This is the closing sentence as it appears in the book:


That’s it. No more than that 1 word in italics.

If that makes you curious, read Old Enough to Know Better and judge for yourself. (Available at Amazon and other ebook sellers as well as in audio at Audible.

The Answers
  1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  2. Phantoms by Dean Koontz
  3. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  6. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
  7. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  8. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  9. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  10. Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Takeaway Truth

To me, all of these sentences sing a siren song that makes me want to read those books again.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Good Books....

These days, I find it very hard to find a good book to read. So many books are being published now,  so many authors are coming on line and there's no end in sight. The last time I checked, the number of books published at Amazon in the romance genre alone was close to half a million.

With so many choices in the field, it's hard to pick just one. Overwhelmed, I've fallen back on what I know. I'm listening to "Gone with the Wind" on audio and I just finished re-reading a book that I read years ago.

Who hasn't read "Gone with the Wind?" Margaret Mitchell's epic story is right up there with the Bible in terms of numbers of books sold. But it isn't a traditional romance. It's so much more.

I just finished "Heart of the West" by Penelope Williamson. Great story beautifully written.  An historical western, this book is both an uplifting and gut-wrenching saga right up there with "Lonesome Dove." It's a romance, but like "Gone with the Wind," it's so much more.

In addition, with the 2nd Fifty Shades movie coming out next month, I've been selectively reading that trilogy. This is the third time I've read it or read in it. I know the writing community has made fun of and been highly critical of E. J. James' writing (I've called it "clunky" myself), but there's something about that story that draws a reader in (and it's not the kinky sex). I'm enjoying the witty banter between the two main characters and the good characterization.

How about you? Do you have books in your reading experience that you go back to and re-read and enjoy just as much the 2nd or 3rd time around? 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Newsletter Frequency by Paty Jager

This post is for readers. I've been involved in several promotional events the past year and the other participants have pushed the fact they believe an author should send a newsletter out a couple times a month, not just when they have a new release.

The content should be: Chatty, talk about life and the book they're working on or a special that is coming up.Or even information about a special deal or new book by a fellow author.

Is that what readers want? To get a couple of newsletters a month from an author?

It's more work for the author but if it's what you want, I'm willing to put out the extra newsletters. However, I like less in my inbox rather than more, so I've been dragging my feet at putting out multiple newsletters a month. I'm a firm believer in putting out a monthly newsletter, but no more than that.

I'd love to hear from readers not only do you want more than one newsletter a month, but what you would like to see in a newsletter.

Authors, how many newsletters a month do you put out and what do you put in them?

To sign up for my newsletter you can click my western newsletter or my mystery newsletter.  

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of murder mystery, western romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for her Action Adventure and received the EPPIE Award for Best Contemporary Western Romance and a RONE for her Murder Mystery. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.
blog / websiteFacebook / Paty's Posse / Goodreads / Twitter / Pinterest

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Perhaps I should explain why I have been posting for Mary Adair recently. Her internet is so unreliable that I always post her blogs for her. Now, however, Mary is in treatment for the Big C. She’s taken what we hope is a brief hiatus from posting while she goes through another phase of her treatment. She is incredibly exhausted at present.

Several years ago, Mary and her husband moved to a remote area of Eastern Oklahoma on a large, lovely wooded acreage. Unfortunately, that means they are many miles from superior health care. In addition to being an excellent writer, Mary is one of the nicest people I've ever known. We met in a writing class many, many years ago and became friends. When Mary is your friend, you can count on her forever. Please send healing thoughts and prayers her way. 

As for me, I have been replacing old covers that look amateurish because, well, they were done by my husband and me and we ARE amateurs at cover design. Here are the before and after of THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE. You can see how very much more appealing the professional effort is than the one my husband and I did. We were pinching pennies and going for free photos. Ah, well… everything has a learning curve. I have to thank my husband, though, because he was willing to devote time to designing numerous covers.  The one on the left is the one we designed and the one on the right was designed by Kim Killion of Hot Damn Designs.

Now I’m slowly making my way through some of the older covers, intent on perking up books with professionally designed covers by Skhye Moncrief. I just need to choose the cover models. Easy, right? No! Searching photo stock to find the right image to represent the main character/characters is amazingly time consuming and frustrating.

I have searched several sites until my eyes are about crossed. Not that I mind searching through photos of handsome guys, but I need a photo showing a handsome Caucasian man with dark hair who is clean-shaven and is wearing his shirt. That’s not as easy a task as it sounds.

There are gazillions of photos of men without shirts or with shirts unbuttoned. The image I need now is for a mystery, not a romance, and is for a widower with a young son. There is only a hint of a romance to come and no reason for the cover model to be without his shirt.

When I was traditionally published by one of the Big 5 NY houses, I had had several bad covers. I believe the amateurish products my husband and I produced were better than those, but still not good enough. In between the big New York house and my self-publishing, I was with Wild Rose Press, and they have gorgeous covers and helpful staff.

But, friends and I decided to self-publish and see how we fared. We love being in control of all the aspects of publishing. No one can tell us that a certain subgenre is not selling and we should write something else. We write what we want when we want. No waiting six months to a year before the book is published either.    

If only we could control sales! Sigh. Big, Big Sigh. I digress.

Here are some questions for you:
Do you care if a book is published by a big NY publisher, small house, or by the author?

Do you like bright colors or subtle tones on a cover?

How much influence do you give the cover?    

Friday, January 6, 2017

Happy Productive 2017

Happy New Year!

I'd like to send a special thanks to Joan Reeves for including me on her blog last month. I tried to give away a few books ... but I think most people prefer digital copies these days. But alas... I survived! 

Resolutions---  Caroline Clemmons is going to try and write 10 books this year.

Book 2-is the 2nd  book in a 5-part series (I think I need to start this off as book 1.. because the first book received a rejection, an “ehhh, his career isn’t desirable”… and a no-word at all.

But hey! I’m learning to brush off the rejection quicker than before). …
back to the book….. 

Book 2 of this series has my beta reader on the edge... let’s just say if I don’t finish it, she might hurt me…. (lol… she just poked her head in my office and asked where her book was)   

Book 3- is a 4-part series about a set of sisters/cousins in non-traditional fields of work for women. 


So what do I have in store this year?

The Beauty and the CEO (Once Upon a Tiara)

Undeniable chemistry 
Makeup artist Zoe Baldwin can't believe the gorgeous guy she flirted with on the way to a job interview was her potential boss. So when Will Ravens, CEO of his family's cosmetics company, tells Zoe her innovative approach isn't right for his brand, she agrees to work alongside him at a beauty pageant to prove her skills. But where there are sparks, there's certain attraction… 
Will is fighting to keep his family legacy afloat. He's going back to basics at Ravens Cosmetics, leaving no time for romance or Zoe's avant-garde ideas. But despite his intentions, he finds himself falling deeper under Zoe's sensual spell. Amid the chaos caused by company sabotage, can both their career dreams and passionate fantasies come true? 
Pre-order today! 
Barnes & Noble
Google Play

Add caption
A Tiara Under the Tree (Once Upon a Tiara)

The ultimate prize this Christmas… 
Former beauty queen Waverly Leverve can barely show her face in public after an embarrassing meme goes viral. But now fate and a misdelivered pizza have brought her dreams back to life. Gorgeous bad boy turned business mogul Dominic Crowne wants to sponsor Waverly in a pageant scheduled for Christmas Eve. Waverly vows to keep their arrangement purely professional—but soon their arrangement quickly takes a sensual turn… 
Dominic knows that his golden touch can fix almost anything—including Waverly's tilted tiara. Against his own will, Dominic is mesmerized with his stunning new client. He's falling for the pageant princess and the vulnerable yet sexy woman within. But when Waverly's ultimate goal finally comes within reach, can he help her achieve professional redemption and find his Princess Charming under the mistletoe?

Alright y'all... I'm out for now. Happy Reading. Happy Writing!