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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

New Release! Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles

I finally did it! After abundant research, writing, and seemingly endless revising, my first herbal is available in kindle at Amazon.  I initially embarked on this undertaking last year for the workshop I gave focused on herbs and medicinal plants of the British Isles. Participants were so enthusiastic, as have many others, that I was inspired to go all out and turn this project into a much longer work. No small effort, but I enjoyed the process and learned a lot along the way. I’m always learning because this is such a vast trove of material to delve into.

 I’ve also had fun choosing images lo illustrate this book. Some are photographs of our garden taken by Elise, many are royalty free images I purchased, and a few are in public domain.  I hope you enjoy Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles. A lot of these plants were brought to America with the early colonists and are widespread here now. Others are well and truly British and Scottish.

Elise did the gorgeous cover.
thyme with honey beeBook Description:  An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.~

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It's Not Always the Writer's Fault by Vonnie Davis

Like you, I'm a reader of romance; it is my nighttime guilty pleasure--well, the one I'll talk about in polite society, anyhow. I devour on an average of two books a week on my Kindle. So before I make my purchase on Amazon, I tend to read over the reviews, reading the top three and the lowest three, as far as star rankings go. I learn a lot about the story and the author--and the reviewer too--by reading the reviews. Because each of us brings something different to the reading of a book. Some of us love one type of romance, while many love another. Most of us enjoy the alpha hero, while many also enjoy the gentle, sweet hero. If a book doesn't match the "likes" we bring to the reading experience, we often get vocal in our dislike of the book. Simply put, the book wasn't a good fit...kind of like the last pair of jeans I bought.




But I also look at reviews with the eyes of a writer. I need to keep a finger-pulse on what most readers like and dislike in their romances. Trends keep changing, and not always for the better. But that's the grandma in me talking. Some reviews go on and on about the sex, about how steaming "hawt" it was. And I wonder, what about the romance? Those delightful, sighable moments of falling in love? Ah...did I mention I was a grandma? Some reviewers complained that the characters fell into lust and bed before they knew anything about each other. Other reviewers complained the books were nothing more than one sex scene after the other, the prose and dialogue sprinkled liberally with profane street lingo. Grandma nodded at their wisdom.

I began my publishing career at a small, but well-respected eBook publisher and was treated quite well. But my eyes were always on the Big Six, or the Big Five now that Penguin and Random House merged. I always wondered if I'd be good enough to contract with them. To that end, I studied my craft and worked hard at improving my writing...and boy-oh-boy was there a lot to improve. Ladies, I kid you NOT!!! Lucky for me I had a teaching agent, who took me under her wing and literally beat my writing into submission. Oy!

Last year, I contracted with the eBook imprints of both HarperCollins and Random House. It's been a fast and furious ride. In fact, I now have 2 series contracted with HarperCollins, none of which are written, and Random House wants more bear shifters. I am writing furiously, keeping an eye on my submissions' calendar. I am once again in learning mode.

What am I learning? That the big guys are more vocal in how they want things. My one editor emailed me to think about where I wanted to put my "new" first sex scene in the contracted book, because NO one waited until chapter twenty any more to have the characters do the "wild thang". Well, pardon me! I was trying to create a relationship, give them time to fall in love. Grandma here was giving her readers all those sighable moments. *cough* I confess the first sex scene now takes place in chapter eight.

She also changed the series and book title, but I was too shell-shocked to do much more than grumble about it. Why? Because I'd also been told all my euphemisms for body parts were no longer allowed. I now had to type explicit words on my computer screen. Words that made my eyeballs twitch. So the next time you grumble about the way an author wrote a story. Please remember my plight. I'm telling you, it's not always the writer's fault.



Visit Vonnie's website at www.vonniedavis.com

*** If you'd like to become a member of Vonnie's Street Team--Vonnie's Vixens--please visit http://vonniedavisstreetteam.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 24, 2014

CHEERING FOR THE HOME TEAM

By Brenda Chitwood

Well, the torch is out, the athletes are headed home and the Winter Olympics are history. Until 2018 in South Korea.  I'm not really much for sports. Some of them are a complete mystery. I do love the figure skating.Silly costumes and all.

You have to admire these people. They train for years long hours almost every day. It's hard work for a few minutes on the ice in front of tough judges. Fall, and it's over. I saw some of them crash into the boards, get up
 and continue. It had to hurt like crazy and I'm sure their hearts were broken. Still, they got up and smiled through their tears. Now, that's perseverance and dedication.

When I slack off writing or think I just can't do it, I remember the skaters who knew they wouldn't receive any medals, but didn't give up. Success isn't always about the medals, endorsements or cheering crowds. It's  working toward a dream.


A writer's life can be lonely. You sit if front of a computer surrounded by pesky dogs wanting to play, dust motes the size of ice bergs and bits of cold pizza turning strange colors on your desk.
If you're lucky, you have critique partners who act as your coaches and
a family who support you. The joy and relief of writing "THE END"
is my medal.

No, I won't suffer injuries or be black and blue at the end of the day, but when I start whining about how hard writing is, I think of the poor skater slamming into the boards, stumbling back up and finishing his routine.

It can be hard, but if you set a goal, it's all worth it.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

NYTIMES AND USATODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR CATHARINE BYBEE VISITS!

We are so fortunate today to have NYTimes and USAToday bestselling author, Catherine Bybee as our guest. Catherine has sold over a million books and is now published by Montlake Publishing. Catherine is a versatile writer who has written across genres. Her latest series is the Weekday Brides. Please welcome her to Smart Girls Read Romance. 

The Weekday Bride Series: The Inspiration & Writing Of

By Catherine Bybee, Guest Author

First, thanks for having me here today.

I’m asked all the time what inspired the Weekday Brides Series and I have to tell you… what may have started as a small adventure for me to write my first contemporary ended up being much more.

Wife by Wednesday was quite honestly slated as a Harlequin novel. Hence the reason Wife by Wednesday is the shortest book in the Bride Series. I wanted to try and develop a new twist on a well-loved romance trope…a rich hero and a needy heroine. Only in Wife by Wednesday, we have two very honest characters with very real needs. A marriage of convenience between two smart people trying hard not to fall in love turned out to be quite a ride for me as a writer.



I always assumed there would be a second book in the series but really hadn’t planned who would be next when writing the first book. Carter and Eliza in Married by Monday were a surprise. Had I known they were going to be the next two in the series while writing Wife by Wednesday, I might have added a chapter or two in the first book to let my readers get a taste of them. Now I leave very little questions in my reader’s heads as to who will be the next hero or heroine in the series.  

The idea of people getting married as an arrangement isn’t a new concept in romance, but I hope that with each novel I deliver the ‘reason’ my characters get married, or are married, is unique enough to capture my readers attention and keep them reading.



Every character in the Weekday Bride Series has their own set of problems and background that drive them to accept a temporary marriage. I’m inspired by the human ability to adapt and come out ahead of the game in life. Some of my readers are shocked to find some of the novels more suspenseful than the others. To that I will simply say, no two people are going to fall in love in quite the same way. Neil, the hero in FiancĂ© by Friday, is a former Marine with a darkness inside him that keeps him from loving Gwen. By nature of Neil’s former profession, this book had to have suspense in order to drive the story. Now take Single by Saturday and you’ve done a one eighty on suspense. Yes there is some sprinkled in but this story is driven by family and the relationships within. And then we see a glimpse of Rick and Judy and my readers simply know that I’m going to make darn sure those two hook up.

The Weekday Brides Series might have started out as a simple experiment in making a typical trope work and feel fresh, but has twisted into a complex and entertaining series where no two books are the same.


Happy Reading!

Catherine Bybee


New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee was raised in Washington State, but after graduating high school, she moved to Southern California in hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned novels Wife by Wednesday, Married by Monday, and Not Quite Dating. Bybee lives with her husband and two teenage sons in Southern California.

Learn more about Catherine here:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Street Teams

Hi all,


How many of you have heard the term, Street Team, and wondered what it meant? Well, I have the answer. A Street Team is a group of readers who gather in a location (usually Facebook) and they support, promote and generally connect with a certain author they enjoy reading. This is a beautiful thing for both the reader and the writer.


Coming together with a common purpose is always good, especially if it has anything to do with reading. We all love to read, and getting better acquainted with authors can be a wonderful experience for both parties.


I have a Street Team I love. They do fabulous things to help promote my writing. In return, they get my books first, they get prizes on launches, and they very often give input on the books I write. They chose covers, come up with names, and sometimes help with plot problems. They've enriched my writing and made my life happier.


If this is something that would interest you, contact any of the ladies on this loop and they'd be happy to have you on their team. It's a win-win for everyone, and you get free stuff. :)


Happy Reading,


Geri Foster

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SHORT STORY, EPIC SAGA OR SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN - WHAT'S YOUR PLEASURE?






 By definition, WORD COUNT is the number of words in a document or passage of text. Since the word count for each story varies, we, as writers, can write short stories with a designated word count of less than 7500 words, a novella of about 17,000 to 40,000 words, or a novel of over 40,000 words, maybe around 60,000 to 70,000.

Back in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties most writers felt that the longer a story was the better the book. Most titles, especially in Romance topped out at 100,000 to 125,000 or beyond. I don't know if we had more time to devote to large novels back then or what, but, oh my gosh, as slow as I read today, I'd never finish a book!

When I started writing in the mid to late nineties shorter books were becoming more popular. Different lines were introduced like from Silhouette there were Desires, Intimate Moments, Special Edition, and Intrigue. Harlequin had their own lines, as well. It seemed to me that life was more busy and chaotic than ever before, yet suddenly, I could finish a book in a day or two. Not the standard two to three weeks or longer.

Today I feel we as readers prefer a well written shorter book to sink our teeth into. We want a story that pulls us in, carries us away, but drops us back into the demanding day-to-day ready to pick up another. Below are books from three of my favorite authors, each selection being from a series created by these authors. These are of the shorter novel length and, I believe, are representative of the size book readers are looking for. From L to R, Kincaid Series, Falcon Series, and Running Series.


                                                                           

This shorter length is what I like to read and write. My novel, CODE OF HONOR, Texas Code Series, Book One is 62,000 words and, in my opinion, a good length to get the story told.



Excerpt:
Graeme pushed onto the porch to find Maggie held in Riordon's arms. Oh hell no! With the speed of a raptor, he reached Riordon, stopping short of taking the man out with a punch to his face. His anger teetered closer to the edge when he looked into the asshole's shit-eating grin.
Maggie intervened. "Graeme, please calm down. And you," she said glaring her displeasure and jabbing her finger into Riordon's chest. "Go. Now."
"Okay, beautiful." Riordon chuckled. "I'm leaving." With a taunting glance toward Graeme, he lifted her chin and covered her mouth in a kiss, stopping abruptly when his collar whizzed past his ears.
"Get the hell away from her," Graeme growled holding on tightly to the wad of shirt in his fist. It gave him great satisfaction to see the slightly shorter man's heels lifted off the wood planks. Blistering heat infused his glare as he stared Riordon in the eye. "Don't ever touch her again, got it?"
"Message received." Riordon grinned and straightened the collar of his shirt. He laughed and, as he bounded down the steps toward his car, said, "Don't look now, but you've got it bad, my friend."
Maggie steadied herself against the porch railing and swiped at her mouth with the back of her hand. What just happened? What in the world had gotten into Trevor? He'd never done anything like that before. Maybe she overreacted, but she felt like he'd violated her and the trust between them.
She sensed rather than heard Graeme's presence beside her. His warmth and spicy scent tempted her to lean closer to him. An intrinsic need compounded by desire coursed so strongly, it nearly drew her off balance. She tightened her hold on the railing to keep from falling into his arms. Her tenuous grasp on reality, though barely recognizable, stopped her from making a fool of herself.
His hands lightly supported her upper arms. "Look, I –"
"I'm –" she said simultaneously. When he nodded, she continued, "I apologize for whatever that was just now."
"No, your life's none of my business."
"Trevor's never done or tried to do anything like that before. Truth be known, from the look on his face, I think he was trying to make you mad for some reason."
"Or jealous."
"Were you?"
"Hell, yes," he growled.
She offered no resistance when he pulled her to his chest. She wrapped her arms around his waist, sliding her hands up his tautly muscled back. She lifted her face to his meeting his lips in a kiss that stole her breath and all cognizant thought. There was something she'd intended to ask him, something . . . needing . . . clarification. Just then his hand slipped into the waistband of her jeans at the small of her back. Bells and whistles went off in her clouded brain or maybe they were Black Cats and sparklers. She couldn't tell.
One conscious thought did wheedle its way in between his tongue in her mouth and the feel of his fingers sliding farther down her backside. They were still outside, on the porch. When she managed to break contact, she murmured against his lips, "Inside."
He missed her meaning, for he maneuvered his free hand to the front of her jeans working to undo the snap and zipper.
"The house," she managed. "Inside the house."


CODE OF HONOR buy links Amazon for Kindle ebook and print:  http://tinyurl.com/muln4r9

So which type and length of book do you prefer? Contemporary or Historical, Fantasy or Young Adult? Short, Long or somewhere in the middle? Drop me a comment for inquiring minds want to
know.

Thanks for stopping by today and listening to me prattle on. I love your company!

Carra

Find me on my websitehttp://carracopelin.com
Facebook: http://facebook/carracopelin
Twitter: http://twitter/CarraCopelin

Sunday, February 16, 2014

When the Going Gets Tough by Joan Reeves

Remember the old Billy Ocean song When The Going Gets Tough? If you're not old enough to remember the song, look it up on iTunes. What do you do when the going gets tough? The way you answer that question may determine your longevity as a writer—and as a human being.

You've heard the old cliché and seen the inspirational posters: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Right?

Well, usually. Sometimes when the going gets tough, if you've been fighting the good fight for a long time, maybe you should just relax a bit. Take a load off, Fanny, to quote another old song. Take a vacation even if it's just a day off to goof around.

How To Goof Off Productively

Set a time schedule for relaxing, or you may end up relaxing away the rest of the year instead of a couple of days. After a few days of catching up on your TV viewing or a day at the golf course or shopping or just reading, you'll be surprised how much better you feel. You'll be ready to dive into writing—and life—again with renewed energy rather than become a burnout victim.

Take A Dis Vacation

Take a vacation from disrespecting yourself or anyone else. All that negativity and whining takes an enormous amount of energy. Resolve that if you can't say anything good about someone that you'll just keep your mouth shut. That goes for your self-talk too. Especially for your self talk! Stop saying all those nasty things to yourself.

Some people trash talk themselves so much you'd think they were getting paid to do it. Start saying good things about yourself. You're not a loser because you didn't get that promotion or paint the dining room before New Year’s or write 100 pages last week. Get some perspective on your goals and on your life and never personalize the downside of anything. Ever.

Figure Out Where You're Going

Do you have goals? If so, are they realistic? Most people set goals so high that there’s no fracking way they can ever achieve them. They’re not setting goals—they’re setting themselves up for failure. Figure out exactly what you want. You. Not your spouse or your best buddy. What you want. Not what you should want.

What would make you happy? Set your goals realistically—high enough that you have to work to achieve them but low enough to be in the realm of real possibility. Set up a viable action plan to achieve the goal. Step by step. Day by day.

Wrong-thinking Goal: I want to hit the NYT best seller list with this book. Or, on a smaller scale, I want to win Yard of the Month from the Garden Club. Both are totally out of your control.

Right-thinking Goal: I want to finish the manuscript. I want to have a weed-free yard. Both are totally within your control.

Dance To The Music

Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music. (Must be old song week, right?) With everything you do, set up a system of milestones and rewards. When you achieve a stated milestone like completing the first draft of a manuscript or getting an interview for a new job, celebrate. When you get a good book review or you get an "attaboy" at work, celebrate. If you get your first rejection as a writer, celebrate.

I don't mean pop a hundred dollar bottle of bubbly each time, but do celebrate and bask in the glory of achievement. Make the reward commensurate with the achievement.

Be Present

Live today. Don't get caught in the trap of regretting what you didn't get done yesterday. Pat yourself on the back for what you did today. Avoid thinking: when I get this done, I'll be happy. That's just a way of postponing happiness.

Learn what it takes to be happy every day. Be happy when you’re typing away on your first draft of a book or working at the Evil Day Job. Be happy when you’re hitting the Publish button on Kindle Digital Publishing and just as happy when you’re staring at a 1-star review. Happiness is a choice that comes from within, not from external circumstances.

The shortest time is the space between projects when it’s all done and you’re basking in the glow of completion. That is such a short time. Happiness shouldn't be reserved for that tiny span of time. Be happy then and when you’re just hanging in there and enduring the present in hopes of a brighter future. Live each day and be happy each day.

Don't postpone your satisfaction for some future time or happiness will always be just out of reach. Enjoy the journey because time spent on the road to success is longer than time spent at the destination.

Remember This

I hate to use Hollywood buzz words, but be present in your life. Live in the now. Be happy now. That's the real secret to avoiding burnout as a writer and as a human being.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a bestselling author of Contemporary Romance whose books are available as Audiobooks (at iTunes and Audible), eBooks (at most major sellers), and Print (coming to CreateSpace and Amazon soon. I promise! Visit Joan online at her Website, SlingWords, her blog, or on Twitter @JoanReeves and Facebook.com/JoanReevesWrites.

Look for Joan's new nonfiction ebook on Feb. 20: Little Book of Sunshine: For Readers and Writers. Encouragement and Inspiration for only 99cents wherever ebooks are sold. (Okay, maybe not every ebook seller on the planet, but most!)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Can We Ever Learn Enough?...

By Anna Jeffrey

 I’ve lost track of all the courses, classes and workshops I’ve taken since I started my writing journey years ago. Besides studying characterization and story structure and any number of other elements of a story, I’ve learned various systems for keeping up with information. I took a class once that taught how to keep copious detail about story people in multiple 3-ring binders. For me, that turned out to be mostly a mess. I was so busy gathering and sorting information I had no time to write the story.

The most profound thing I’ve learned from all of this learning is that I can never learn enough. Consequently, I’m starting a class to learn how to use Scrivener.

Scrivener is writing software that’s supposed to improve the organizing of what you write. Everyone I know who has mastered Scrivener thinks it’s the answer to the organization and flow of information through a story. I bought the program believing I could teach myself. Boy, was I wrong. So now I need a class. The woman teaching the class is the author who wrote “Scrivener for Dummies.” Appropriate, huh?

Organizing storytelling information has been a challenge for me forever. A manuscript of 100,000 words has a lot of information to keep up with. In one story, there might be two-dozen speaking characters, for example, playing only minor roles in the story, but not giving any one of them critical attention would be a mistake.

You can’t have the heroine’s aunt be blue-eyed on page 36 and green-eyed on page 150. I’ve read books that made it to print with this type of flaw. And for some reason, in spite of all the other details a writer might put into a story, despite beautiful prose, a mistake like that one jumps right off the page at a reader. Scrivener is not going to help me keep up with all of those details, but hopefully, if I’m better organized, I’ll be able to find them easier and discover a flaw if there is one.

Over time, I’ve devised all kinds of “systems” and record-keeping methods to help me keep it all straight. Most of them work to a degree, but none of them are great. Lately, I’m using a clumsy system I’ve created in Microsoft Excel. Fingers crossed that Scrivener will be better. If it isn’t, and if I have to go back to Excel, I’m going to be extremely disappointed.

This is particularly important to me right now as I’m writing a romance trilogy that’s a family saga, with a sub-story arc that carries through 3 books.
The organization and flow of information is important to the whole trilogy. The trilogy, THE SONS OF TEXAS, is about three brothers and the family they live within. As anyone who has ever written a trilogy knows, it’s critical that facts in Books #2 and #3 correlate to Book #1. Hopefully, by the time I’ve finished my Scrivener class, I’ll be able to pull that off a little more easily than I’m managing now.

Oh, and by the way.....HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY.








Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Google Earth and the writer by Paty Jager

Not Arizona.
This is our property in eastern OR.
When I came up with the idea for the third book in my Isabella Mumphrey Adventures, I was sure it would be the easiest book to write. It's the only story written in the United States, which would make it easier.

The first book in the Guatemalan jungle required research, but once she left the Flores Airport and entered the jungle, I only had to know where she was in relation to the rivers they used to get into the jungle. Terrain and all that could be fudged because who really can see the exact terrain in a jungle.

The second book was in Mexico City and a museum. Both of which I could find maps and tours and use You Tube to navigate and get the feel and lay of the land.

Google Earth shot of the area of my story.
This third book is set in southern Arizona on the Tohono O'odham reservation and the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge.  I've gathered half a dozen maps of each area and of course they don't all have things marked exactly the same. I wanted to see what kind of country some roads crossed and see what kind of terrain my heroine needs to cross to get to her destination. Because I wanted a bird's-eye-view and one from the ground, I used Google Earth to "walk" my character's path.

My problem...It is taking me twice as long to write by trying to stay so stuck to the  correct boulder, pebble and bush. To get this book written in the space of time I have left before deadline, I've decided that no one is going to read the book and walk the same path she does, so I don't need to know exact details. Once I got that notion set in my mind, I've been getting closer to my word goals each day.

As a reader, does it matter to you if you just get a feel for the setting and the obstacles that challenge the character or do you want to be able to walk the character's path exactly?

Theme for Secrets of a Hopi Blue Star: The Truth Can Be Ugly

www.patyjager.net
www.patyjager.blogspot.com

Monday, February 10, 2014

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK - THE INSPIRATION FOR A ROMANCE SERIES

By Guest Author, Peggy L. Henderson

Thank you so much for inviting me to blog at Smart Girls Read Romance, and talk about what has inspired me to write the Yellowstone Romance Series.

Up until four years ago, I was a ravenous romance reader, not a writer. Historical romances are my favorite, especially those set in the American west. While there are plenty of cowboy romances to choose from, I had a hard time finding romances set in the mountains and the wilderness, during a time when fur trappers and mountain men roamed the Rocky Mountains.

One of my favorite places on earth is the Yellowstone and Grand Teton area of Wyoming and Montana, and my husband and I camp there every summer. It is my once-a-year, two-week escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

During the summer of 2009, my husband had another commitment to take a group of boy scouts on a backpacking trip into the California High Sierras, so my Yellowstone trip that year wasn’t going to happen. Or was it? On a whim, I asked my good friend and boss at work if she would want to go on a girls-only camping trip with me to Yellowstone for a week. She had limited camping experience, and I had never gone without my husband. This trip would be a life-changer for me, in more ways than one.

YELLOWSTONE HEART SONG, my debut novel, was born on a lone stretch of Interstate 5, heading home from that camping trip in 2009. Driving through the Utah desert on the 1000 mile journey home, my mind had a lot of time to wander and reflect on the trip.

I had never thought about writing a book, and when the original concept for the story popped into my mind, it came as a complete surprise to me. I didn’t think much of it over the months, but it always stuck with me in the back of my mind. I kept searching for books, hoping to find something that had been published that was similar to what I had in my head, so I could read it. No luck.

The following year, on another trip to Wonderland, I took greater notice of all the places in the park that were part of that story in my head. The day after arriving home, I sat down to write. The story just wouldn’t let me go. I told no one what I was doing. The thought of letting anyone else see what I wrote was laughable. Another year later, 2011, I had a finished story. (Well, a story anyways) Now what? I checked around the internet. I wanted someone to read it, just to get some feedback, but never did I have publishing in mind. I found some RWA contests, and entered one. To my great surprise, I finaled! How shocking was that? My harshest judge said, “find a critique partner.” So I searched the internet again. And I struck gold when Carol Spradling answered my query. She tore through my manuscript with a loaded red pen and fine tooth comb.

Months later, she asked me when I would pursue publishing. What?!?! I basically ignored her. She wanted to know what I would write next. Huh??? Okay, I thought. I love Yellowstone, I can’t think of anything else to write, and I loved the interaction with Carol, so why not write a sequel? That’s how YELLOWSTONE REDEMPTION was born. I flew through that book, and had a first draft done in six weeks.

After that, I was gung ho to write another. YELLOWSTONE AWAKENING was a few chapters from completion before Carol put the brakes on me, and told me I needed to get something published. My husband suggested I self-publish. So, that’s what I ended up pursuing, and I published YELLOWSTONE HEART SONG on January 2nd, 2012. The reader response has been overwhelming, to say the least.

The series, which had started as a stand-alone story that wouldn’t leave my mind, turned into a fictional journey through Yellowstone’s history, and weaving factual events into the books. YELLOWSTONE REDEMPTION contains a scene that was inspired by John Colter’s legendary escape from the Blackfoot Indians. YELLOWSTONE AWAKENING is a fictional account (with true facts and names sprinkled in) of the creation of the nation’s first national park, and YELLOWSTONE DAWN deals with some of the problems the park encountered in its infancy. The final book in the series, YELLOWSTONE DECEPTION, deals with a more current issue the park has faced, and I wrote that book due to overwhelming reader demand for a couple of minor characters from YELLOWSTONE HEART SONG to get their story.

I never in my wildest dreams expected readers to contact me and tell me how much they enjoyed learning about Yellowstone through my books. Many emails I receive are from people who have never been to Yellowstone, and now want to go visit, or the email I received from a reader who was planning a “quick trip to see Old Faithful,” but now wanted to see so much more. I ended up writing up an itinerary for her.

The following message is one of my favorites:

“I read YELLOWSTONE HEART SONG and YELLOWSTONE DECEPTION and I am impressed with how well you know the history and the ecology of that area. Most people don't even think about what the park looked like in the 1800's before they killed off the predators and stopped the fires from burning. I didn't even really think about it until I worked with a vegetation specialist who said the veg in the park was a joke and not how it was supposed to be at all. Good job on knowing your stuff! I hope you realize that most people who live in this area don't even know as much about it as you do.”





The Yellowstone Romance Series

For Aimee Donovan, it started out as an unbelievable journey into the past. Little did she know that her time travel would shape the destiny of the place we know today as Yellowstone.

The Yellowstone Romance Series is an enticing mixture of adventure, love, and danger through the generations as we meet the Osborne and Russell families.
From the dawn of the rugged and untamed wilderness of Yellowstone to the majestic national park we know today, we feel the passion, heartache, and excitement on every page.

YELLOWSTONE HEART SONG Excerpt

For the better part of the morning, Daniel led her through the forest, showing her how to read different tracks, other signs to look out for that an animal had been in the area, where to look for edible roots and plants, and how to watch the skies for changes in the weather. Along with the berries, she filled her backpack with mint, wild onions, licorice, and various other roots and plants.

She had listened attentively as she tried to absorb everything Daniel told her. Some things she already knew, others were completely new to her. The subtle animal signs he picked up on astounded her. Silently, he had pointed out a black bear sow and her twin cubs in the distance, a moose in the thickets that she would have completely overlooked, and countless other smaller animals. He knew which critter made every track they came upon. He read the forest for information as someone in her time would read a newspaper. It was most refreshing to get a glimpse of this wilderness that she loved so much in her time from this man who carved out a living here.

Aimee savored the beauty of her surroundings. Aspen trees grew in abundance. Beaver lodges could be seen all along the streams, and countless otters played in the waters. With the coming of the fur trappers to these mountains within a decade of this time, the beaver would be trapped to near extinction. Wolves would be hunted until none remained, and without this predator, the elk would take over, causing the destruction of the aspen from overgrazing. This was a Yellowstone unfamiliar to her, but it was as nature had intended before the encroachment of man.


Peggy L. Henderson, author,
with lower falls in background

Peggy L Henderson is a laboratory technologist by night, and writes during the day. She has been happily married to her high school sweetheart for many years. Along with her husband and two sons, she makes her home in Southern California. They dream of moving to Montana some day.

Find her and her books (and audiobooks) at the following links!





Saturday, February 8, 2014

How Do Side Characters Become Front And Center?

So how do side characters get their own headline?

Fan request.

When I wrote Running To You, I never dreamed that fans of the story would become passionate about the side characters. In fact, I never gave it any thought. I had the storyline and the following stories planned out.

So I thought.

When the book released and the comments started to come in, I realized that Harrison Brooks would need his own story, but what was it?

Side characters are there to develop plot. They are there to give the story substance. Sometimes, the readers want more from that character... They aren't ready to see the story end, but even more... They aren't ready to accept that the side character doesn't have more to tell.... Or is there more to the story?

Standalones and series are planned out, most often in advance. But, if you are a pantser like I am, your characters may take you in a direction you didn't plan. For a writer, that might be plan A, plan, B or even the use of an alternative alphabet :)

I didn't plan on Harrison having his own story. It was a difficult one to write. In fact, I told my writing friends that I HATED it. I ripped out chapter after chapter before I got close to anything that Harrison would have wanted.

I say that like he's a real person. In my mind he is. And what's worse... I struggled to give him the right story... His story.

The Running Series starts out with the story of Dr. Grayson Brooks and his quest to find love and hold on to it the only way he knows how. In Running To You and Two Sides of a Heartbeat, we find that Grayson and Harrison may be identical in creation, but they are not alike, except for the love they have for the "Love of their lives." What's more, they have to lose those loves, before they can finally realize the love lives for itself, if only they would accept it.

Harrison has to lose Monica Green so that he can find himself. His journey takes him through the sufferings and heartaches of others. He helps and guides damsels in distress, but he finds himself in that journey. It is at that time in his life that he can accept a love of his own.

My Confession is really about Harrison's own confession to himself. He is likeable, loveable and worthy. Even though some ill-fated issues from his past haunt him before he is finally able to put them to rest.

I hope that you will read Harrison's journey to love. I suggest that you read the entire series, although My Confession is written so that it could be a standalone.

I've learned to listen to the readers and I could not be more proud to be bringing Harrison's story to life. He has so much to tell.

Please join me for the release party on facebook Monday, Dec. 10th 7-8pm CST.

My Confession and The Running Series are both available at all major outlets.
Click to Amazon Click to Amazon Running Series Box Set
All the best,


DeLaine


DeLaineRoberts.com
@delaineroberts
www.facebook.com/delaine.robertsauthor

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When Stories Don’t Cooperate


So last year I started a new project. My romantic YA thriller series was winding down, and it was time for something new. I had several ideas I’d been toying with for a few years, but then out of nowhere, an entirely new concept came to me. Just one little sentence, but I loved it. My editor loved it. There was so much potential….

Off I went. Awesome new characters, my first ensemble cast. An utterly fantastic settling. A super cool premise…

I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

And deleted, and deleted, and deleted.

My editor said, “Hurry!”

I wrote some more.

Deleted some more.

And my frustration grew. I had all the ingredients at my fingertips, and they were perfect. But no matter how I tried to put them together, the result was not what I wanted. I tried different combinations. I tweaked. I experimented with various openings. Deleted some scenes. Tossed out a few characters, whipped up a few new ones. Still…meh. It was like having a counter full of sugar and flour and eggs and butter, baking soda and pecans and chocolate chips and vanilla...and knowing they would make an amazing cookie…but having no idea how to make it happen. I wanted to pull my hair out.

Finally, I had to submit something. I made it the best I could, and hit send. It was okay, I guess. It didn’t suck. My agent gave it a thumb’s up. My editor loved it. The publisher green-lighted the project. An offer came….

…but I felt no sense of excitement, not like when I sold my Midnight Dragonfly series, when I was breathless with the thought of bringing the story of my teenage psychic to life. This time I felt…dread. It all just felt so…wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

When I first started in this business, I never imagined turning down an offer from a publisher, much less my dream publisher (and my dream editor), but in the end, that’s what I had to do. Because…something was wrong, and I knew it. (Admittedly, the offer wasn’t over-the-top-great or anything, but still…it was a publishing contract!)

Flash forward a year, and suddenly I find myself practically bursting out of my skin to write that story, the one that nearly killed me last year…the one that just wasn’t working. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it…or not. While days and weeks and months have gone by, the story has swirled around in the back of my mind, and my subconscious has done that amazing, wonderful thing that subconsciouses do. The story has changed. A lot. A little here, a little there. Some big Ah-ha’s!, and some little ones. Same characters, same setting, same premise, but with time, the ingredients have settled into place, and I finally know how they need to be arranged.

And here’s what I’ve come to realize: writing is a whole lot like cooking.

Have you ever made a soup, or maybe a lasagna, or a chili or a gumbo? And you add all the ingredients just so and serve it up, take that first bite, and…meh, it’s just kinda bland? But then the next day, after sitting over night, and all those flavors having a chance to mix and mingle and settle, you heat it up and try again and….voila! Yes. THAT is how it’s suppose to taste.

Writing is the same way. Sometimes a story needs time to simmer for awhile, to sit on the back burner so all the ingredients can settle together in just the right way. If everything doesn’t come together at first, you can’t give up, you just have to realize that stories, like the best of foods or drink, can’t be rushed. Remember Orson Wells's famous commercial for Paul Masson wine? 

"We will sell no wine before its time."

In today's fast-paced publishing environment, there's such a rush to market, but sometimes you just have to slow down and let the story finish cooking.