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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cover Reveal for TASTING TEXAS by Kimmie Easely

***SQUEEEE***

Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can move on. J I have been so excited to share this post, I am busting at the seams over here! I have a steamy little secret to share with you!

I’ve had the pleasure of participating in the romance box set, Hot Summer Nights, set to release May 30, 2014. This anthology is choked full of talent, and I’m honored to have been invited to take part.

And what does an author do to celebrate?

Share a brand spanking new cover, of course! You are getting the first sneak peek at the gorgeous cover for Tasting Texas, the first novella in The Tasting Series. Brace yourselves for the awesomeness!

(Insert drumroll here) 





HOT COVER! I am beyond blessed to be able to work personally with my cover model, Padme’ Kane. She is new to the literary industry, but not to taking gorgeous photos. You can check out her portfolio here. Padme' Kane on Facebook

Once again, I have to give HUGE props to my cover designer, DeLaine Roberts. The woman is a graphic rockstar. Check out her other works here. DeLaine Roberts Website

I have great things in store with both of these fabulous ladies. 



About Tasting Texas:


Beth Garrett spends every waking moment with the love of her life, The Long Branch Saloon. The popular southern bar is a much needed escape from the reality of living in a small Texas town.

Never one for drama, Beth swears off messing around with men from her own backyard, and spends most of her nights alone. That is until fate has pity on her and sends the occasional handsome stranger through town.

That’s exactly what happens when Eric Alexander comes to Sommerville on business. After a long meeting, Eric and his colleagues end up at The Long Branch to blow off some steam, and when the sexy New Yorker challenges Beth to a game of pool for one night together, all bets are off.

Just as Beth thinks she has Eric eating out of the palm of her hand, she quickly realizes he’s been the one pulling the strings the entire time.

About Hot Summer Nights: 


Multi-talented romance authors, collaborating to bring you stories so hot, they'll melt your Popsicle off it's stick.

So grab your sunblock, drink of choice, snack, and claim your "me time" before you escape into our characters' sexy, dog days of summer.

***Releasing May 30th, 2014!***

Monday, April 28, 2014

Inspiration from My Shenandoah Valley Garden



jonquils and Virginia bluebells April 2014
"It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"  ~Mark Twain
I've spent countless hours outdoors laboring to restore order and beauty to my earthy realm. Many plants are missing from the borders, even faithful standbys. The bitter cold of the past few months took its toll. Overwintering weeds crowd out those herbs and flowers still clinging to life and must be carefully evicted. After a lengthy hibernation, I'm tearing about like a deranged bunny, but sleeping well. There's nothing like the profound peace that follows working in and among plants, with birds trilling overhead and from nearby fields, lowing cows, fussy nesting geese...all the sounds, sights, and scents of my country garden. 
Any writing I'm getting done is in my head, and a new story is slowly taking form. I seem to think more clearly outdoors. Conversations and scenes appear to me. I met a fascinating new character who has captivated my imagination. I must know her story. The challenge to these revelations is remembering them later. At the time, they're so clear, but they fade in the resulting haze. I suppose I should take a notebook out with me and jot ideas down on pages soiled with dirt. Some writers say ideas come to them in the shower, or while driving, so why not the garden? As long as they come. What of you? Where do you find your inspiration?
tulips and daffodils April 2014







"I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden." ~Ruth Stout
The image below of the cow licking her newborn calf is what I see out my kitchen window today. Husband Dennis took it. Daughter Elise took the images above. Those are Virginia bluebells my dear late grandmother gave me years ago. 

"Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day."  ~W. Earl Hall

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I write humor, not heavy. So, why did I try?

I love a dash of humor in my stories. For me, it's one of my strengths. One of my weaknesses? Oh boy, which one shall I chose? The one that bothers me the most, I suppose. My lack of being able to write deep emotion. I just don't feel I can do it as well as I'd like. I want to make your heart ache with sadness. I want your chest to constrict with pain. I want you to cry. Doesn't every writer want to elicit emotions from humor to anger to heartache to joy? I know I do--someday.

So, when I designed my heroine and hero for book one of my Firemen's Wild Heat series, To Catch a Flame, I wanted a darker hero, one who was more emotionally damaged, one who didn't believe in love. Enter Quinn. Exit my good sense.

Things started out good enough. Really, they did. My critique partner assured me I was breaking her heart over the damaged soul of this guy. I was off to a good start and just as pleased as punch.

Then my sense of humor reared it's nasty head.

Quinn knew he had fallen in love with Cassie, but felt he was too damaged for her innocence. Now, Cassie may have been sexually innocent, but she was also a bit of a pistol. Get her angry and she would go off like a roman candle. To get away from her before he damages her in any way, Quinn decides to leave town. As soon as she finds out, she storms over to his apartment to find out "why" he's leaving without telling her. They exchange words at the U-Haul trailer Quinn's packing. Quinn walks away from her snit--a BAD move for any man--and storms upstairs to his second floor apartment. He packs more boxes, waiting for Cassie to come up to continue the argument....

Still no Cassie.

Had she given up and gone home? He carried the box containing his microwave into the living room and peered out the sliding glass doors overlooking the parking lot.

Holy Mother of God!

How had she gotten his Harley untied and out of the trailer? She’d pushed it onto the small patch of yard in front of the apartment building. All of his neckties flapped from the handlebars and what looked to be his jock strap was stretched across the back of its seat. Jammed into the ground at both ends of his bike were his water skis. The rope that had secured his bike upright in the U-haul was now strung from one ski to the other with all of his damn boxers hanging from the rope. In a semi-circle around the bike sat his high school and college football trophies.

His gas grill had also been dragged from the trailer, and hanging like dogs’ ears from the closed chrome lid was every sock he owned. He narrowed his eyes as his blood pressure exploded through the stratosphere. Because there…there…in the midst of all his previously packed boxes was the object of his wrath, kicking each of the cartons, arms waving, mouth moving as if she were cussing someone out. And he had a damn good idea who that lucky son of a bitch was, especially when she scowled up at his balcony and shook her fist.

Just what did she think all this chaos would do?

She stormed back to the trailer and crawled into its cavernous interior. He leaned toward the glass and cocked the box on his hip. Now what was she after? His gaze scanned his belongs scattered helter-skelter over the lawn. She’d already removed everything he’d worked so hard to pack. Except for his…oh no. Oh, hell no! A flurry of movement flashed in the corner of his eye, followed by an unholy sound, resembling a moose in heat. His narrowed gaze swung to Cassie standing below his window playing his treasured saxophone. If one could classify the metalized shrieking she produced as playing.

She’s a dead woman. That horn’s all I have left of Uncle Mat.

He slammed the box onto the sofa and barreled out of his apartment. By the time he sprinted down the steps and charged through the building’s door, every dog in the complex was howling along with Cassie’s demented saxophone caterwauling.

“What the hell are you doing?” He tried to grab the instrument from her hands, but she spun and hit a high note he’d never imagined an alto sax capable of reaching.

“If you don’t stop that infernal racket, I’m calling the cops!” Milt Garland, the old coot who lived on the first floor, ambled out of the building. “I had to turn down my hearing aid.” He gestured to his trembling Chihuahua, snuggled between his arm and his chest. “Scared poor Killer so bad, he peed on the floor.”

“I’m sorry, Milt. I’m trying to stop her.”

Cassie slipped the mouthpiece from her lips. “I’m serenading the man I love. Don’t tell me you’re against romance, Milt—” She hip-bumped the old man and winked at him. “Not a stud muffin like you.”

Milt’s wire-framed glasses all but fogged up and a cheesy grin spread. “Well, no, I’m all for a little romance, sugar plum.” His gaze shot to Quinn. “Don’t know if this young whipper-snapper can deliver, though.” He smirked and his pigeon chest puffed out. “Maybe you’d be better off with an older, more experienced gent.”

The neighborhood dogs quieted since Cassie had stopped frantically pounding the instrument’s keys as if she were typing a letter to Santa.

She leaned against Milt’s bony shoulder. “I’m going to marry this young whipper-snapper.”

Milt narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips while he petted Killer. “Don’t look like the marrying type to me.”

Quinn folded his arms and widened his stance. “That’s because I’m not the marrying type. I’m more the one-night stand type.” This whole conversation was totally bizarre. He glared at Cassie. Thanks to her shenanigans, he’d have to repack everything.

“Oh, you can make book on this, Milt. Hot lips here is mine. His ass is grass and I’m the lawn mower.” Cassie sucked a bucketful of air and blew four sour notes at one time.

Quinn jammed his index fingers into his ears and cursed.

Milt jerked his hearing aid out of his ear.

And Killer pissed on Milt’s shirt.

~~*~~*~~

OK, so maybe writing deep emotion, the kind that touches your heart with sadness won't be my thing, after all. We all write what we write. Right? Still, we can dream a little. Try to stretch our wings. I emailed this manuscript to my editor at HarperImpulse two weeks ago. So far she hasn't fainted--that I've heard of. Keep your fingers crossed for me and my dark hero. Or maybe Quinn's not so dark, maybe he's more grey or deep tan. But here's how I envisioned him.


 Visit Vonnie at her website: www.vonniedavis.com
 
 
 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

THAT LITTLE SPARK







This morning, I watched a story on TV about a book on creativity written by Ed Catmul. He is a co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios. I'm not promoting his book, especially since I haven't read it myself. The title is rather self explanatory, though: Creativity, Inc. Overcoming The Unseen Forces That Stand in The Way of True Inspiration. However, his interview was very interesting.

His insights struck a chord with me. He said that every project they worked on was awful on the first attempt. That was expected and they learned to work from their mistakes. Frozen wasn't perfect the first time it was on the drawing board.

Never be afraid to mess up.    
how to draw olaf, olaf from frozen

Always be open to change and ideas that seem out-of-the-box. Ideas come from some strange places. As a writers, we are always looking for the fresh, new idea that will make our book stand out.
 
Have you ever pictured an ax sticking out of the head of the cranky sales person who just told you, "Oh honey, that dress will never, fit you." That happened to my aunt who had just lost thirty-five pounds and was looking forward to some new clothes. Now there's a motive for a mystery novel!
     We all probably have a manuscript hidden away, under the bed that seemed to be the greatest romance novel ever written on the first attempt. Hopefully, you were lucky to have fantastic critique partners who gently told you to put it away and try again. That's why our writing is called a work in progress. Don't be afraid, be adventurous. Even the most absurd ideas can turn out to be good ones. After all, who would have ever thought an animated movie about a princess who freezes anything she touches would be a good idea?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

POWER OF WORDS

By Caroline Clemmons, in for Tessa Gray

As readers and/or writers, words fascinate us. Phrases, descriptions, active verbs, words that paint pictures for our minds.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with words and phrases. The first book I remember is a LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK OF PRAYERS. In fact, I think it’s still packed away in a trunk in the garage. I just can’t let go of books, more’s the pity.



The second book I remember is a book of verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. At the time, I had no idea who he was, but I loved that book. Somewhere along the way, it was lost or loved to death. It wasn’t until I purchased A CHILD’S GARDEN OF VERSES for my own children that I realized the title and author of the book. My daughters also loved the book’s poems.

All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer. Robert Louis Stevenson


Neither of those is the book my dad used when teaching me to read. I was thrilled with Bugs Bunny’s antics and Daddy taught me to read using the comic strip in our daily newspaper. To this day I’m not sure whether his greatest motivation in teaching me to read was to educate me or so I wouldn’t pester him the minute he came home from work. ☺ Since he was an advocate for strong education, I hope it was so I would be able to read more diversely.



Now I often reread books I’ve loved in order to study the word pictures the author painted. Do you have favorite authors whose descriptions are so perfect you read them again? I do. One is Loretta Chase in LORD PERFECT. Her descriptions of the hero and heroine are breathtaking. I love that book—as you have already guessed. I enjoy all of her books, but LORD PERFECT and MR. IMPOSSIBLE are my favorites. At least for now, but she continues to write amazing books.



Louis L’Amor is another author whose words paint pictures for me, and for my husband. We have detoured a couple of times while traveling to include a site mentioned in a book. Warning! Skip the town of Mogollon, New Mexico unless you are driving a small car on a weekend. Worst one-way mountain road we’ve ever driven. It’s frightening to look over the side of the mountain and see all the vehicles that didn’t make the turns.

Words have tremendous: power to soothe, power to harm, power to change lives forever. A harsh word cannot be recalled. A kind word never goes unnoticed.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.  Proverbs 25:11  

Friday, April 18, 2014

WHO'S REALLY IN CHARGE?




As writers, we live with a few false impressions. For instance, some of our readers think we sit down at the computer and the words literally flow from our fingertips onto the keyboard, our thoughts go from beginning to book in a matter of days. No. We have future story ideas oozing from our pores. I wish! One of the biggest misconceptions, even for a writer, is that we are in control. Not even close.

Fellow Smart Girl contributor, Paty Jager, posted recently about her Halsey Brother Series. When she started her book, Marshal in Petticoats, she had no idea her hero had brothers. Through writing her story, each new character revealed themselves and thus a series was born. Well, not quite "thus". Sorry, Paty, for the over simplification.


I've said in previous posts that I started writing my book, Code of Honor, few years back. Said book ended up in a box, under the bed for a while. When I brought it back to the light of day, I figured I knew the story and the people inside out. Wrong. The original hero had died and a new one had taken his place. What??Also, several foster siblings appeared along with a couple of stray friends who popped in to help move the plot along. Lucky for me the siblings each brought with them their book titles which helped in naming The Texas Code Series. Another bit of over simplification. There was some head scratching, hair pulling, and hand wringing in the search as I recall.

So, I recently restarted the second book in the Code Series, Code of Conscience, which has also been keeping the dust bunnies company under the bed. I'm reading what was previously written, writing new, reading paper napkin notes, writing . . . wait a minute. Are you kidding me? The hero tells me he's in love with someone else. That I should have known the heroine wasn't right for him. Their personalities are too close and if I don't let him have the woman he wants, he'll either do something drastic or hang me out to dry. The more I think about it the more I see his side of it. He probably is more suited to another character and since I really would hate to be flapping in the breeze (for those of you who remember clothes lines in the back yard), I acquiesce. A new hero has made the scene and I already like the story better.

Bottom line, we are never in control. It's all an illusion that sucks us into the vortex called writing. So to all my friends and fellow writers - Happy Twirling!

So tell me, how do you feel about series? Do you like continuing stories or connected, stand-alone books? Please leave a comment and sign up for my newsletter on my website to win a copy of, Code of Honor and a $5 Amazon Gift Card. (Don't forget to leave me your email addy)

Thanks for stopping by today,
Carra
fall in love under Texas skies

Buy link:  http://tinyurl.com/muln4r9
Find me on my websitehttp://carracopelin.com
Facebook: http://facebook/carracopelin
Twitter: http://twitter/CarraCopelin
Blog: http://carra-copelin.blogspot.com


What I Learned at a Book Signing

Hi All,

How many of your have gone to a book signing to meet their favorite author? My hand is raised. I love meeting new authors and learning about their next project. When I was recently at a signing a fan came up to me and said she'd been looking all over for me. She wanted to not only buy my book, but learn more about me as a person and a writer.

Need I say I was delighted!

Fans are wonderful for a writer's ego, but they're also great inspiration. Their loyalty keeps us at the computer long into the night. They make us want to write better stories and deeper plots. That's why I'm a fan girl. I'm still in awe of my favorite authors and I know many of them personally. They're my friends and critique partners.

I'm always in awe of how they come up with different plots, characters I know intimately and words that invoke emotions. I am a writer, but first I am a reader. I love having a book, or kindle in my hands. It's like your favorite teddy bear when you were young. I take comfort in knowing the minute I turn that page, a whole new world opens for me.

I hope you all continue to read your whole life. And I hope, when you have the opportunity, you will go to a book signing to meet your favorite author.

She'll appreciate it very much.

Happy Endings,
Geri Foster

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Don't Worry; Be Happy by Joan Reeves

eBook only 99cents
I create characters in romance novels that have been popular with readers. By the end of each book, my characters have learned how to be happy. Notice I say learned because for many people, happiness is a learned skill.

I spend a lot of time thinking about human nature. One thing that's true for fiction and real life is that most of us seem to make the same mistakes as we bumble our way along the road of life.

Want to be happier? Here are some "rules" I came up with that might help. See what you think of them.

1. Don't take advice from anyone who's more screwed up than you.
Everyone likes to give advice, but always ask yourself if the person dishing out the advice is living life more effectively with less hiccups than you. If not, smile and nod and feel free to ignore what they say. Unless what they tell you is based upon what they learned from their own bad experience of doing the opposite.

2. Do learn from others who have been where you want to go.
Model their behavior. Find out how they did it and adapt their method to your efforts.Unless the way they achieved it was dishonest and goes against your own beliefs and integrity. You can't model negative behavior without far-reaching consequences.

3. Do stop working so hard; instead, learn how to work more effectively.
Unless you assess your efforts and realize you really aren't working hard - you're just giving lip service to the idea of working hard.

4. Do enjoy yourself more.
Unless you're already spending way too much time in the pursuit of pleasure. You have to have a good balance between hard, effective work and play.

5. Do change your attitude about work.
Sometimes when we describe an activity as work -- even though it's something we truly adore doing -- the activity, in our mind, becomes linked to work equals unpleasantness. The more you enjoy something; the less it should seem like work. Unless you already view your work as play so much so that you have a slipshod attitude about what you do. Never forget you want to achieve something with the investment of your time, energy, and brain power.

Post Script

To feel like a success, figure out what success means to you.

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and I LUV Books, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Find Joan at her Blog: SlingWords.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Problem with Intentional Series by Paty Jager

When I wrote my first published historical western romance, Marshal in Petticoats, I didn’t write it with the intention of writing four more, and eventually three more, books about the Halsey family. Back in those days, all I knew about a story when I started writing it was the hero, heroine, where the book was located, and that I needed to have a climactic ending.
 
I didn’t even know Gil had four brothers when I started the book. I just knew he was hiding from his past. When his past smacked me upside of the head and I discovered he had four brothers and then they each one came on the scene, I played with the idea of them each having a book, but still didn’t think too much about it. Then Marshal in Petticoats was picked up by a publisher and readers started asking for another Halsey Brother book. I decided which brother would have the next book as I finished one and came up with a (for the time period) manly occupation to give each of the heroines. And that was as far ahead as I thought about the series.

Now, when readers wanted more of the Halseys, I came up with the idea I could write a book about each of the young men who became a part of the Halsey family’s life. I thought about the three young men and having left an opening in the last “Petticoat” book, Logger in Petticoats, to have Jeremy, from Marshal in Petticoats, in Alaska that book idea started taking root. I made him coming home and decided to title the trilogy, Halsey Homecoming, to one: show it was part of the Halsey Brother Series, and two: the Homecoming decided the next two books would have to deal with the other two characters coming home or back to the Halsey family in some way.  

Wow, that was more than I’d thought about a series before.

Because, in this day and age, people want to see what is coming…I came up with titles Laying Claim, Staking Claim, and Claiming a Heart. And we have the cover of the second book even though the story is only in the infant stages. I’m still trying to figure out what to put on the cover of the third book.

I decided knowing the books in a series ahead of time was a good plan. That brought to fruition the Isabella Mumphrey Action Adventure books. I came up with where I wanted the books set and came up with titles that dealt with Native American people in those areas. Secrets of a Mayan Moon, set in Guatemala; Secrets of an Aztec Temple, set in Mexico City; and now Secrets of a Hopi Blue Star, set in Arizona, starting on the Hopi Reservation and traveling to the southern end of Arizona. 

The problem with coming up with titles ahead of time, is I had an idea of what I wanted to put in the book, but then incorporating that as I wrote was more mind-bending than I’d thought it would be.

I’m thinking my original organic growth of a series was easier, but I think being ahead of the game and knowing the series evolution helps to put in snippets that can carry over into the next book.

Secrets of a Hopi Blue Star released this week. 
Here is the blurb:


The truth doesn’t always set you free…

Landing in the underground world of human trafficking, anthropologist Isabella Mumphrey learns her own past is as sordid as the predicament she’s uncovered.


No one is who she’d believed them to be—not her parents, her cousin, her aunt. The only constant in her life is her fiancé, Tino Constantine, and now their enemy is using her to lure Tino to his death.


Buy links:  Kobo / Nook / Kindle / Windtree Press



You can learn more about Paty at her blog; www.patyjager.blogspot.com  her website; http://www.patyjager.net or on Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/#!/paty.jager , Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1005334.Paty_Jager  and twitter;  @patyjag.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

HELP! I'M STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

Readers, please welcome our newest blogger, author Kathy Shaw. Kathy writes funny, sexy romantic comedy.

HELP! I'M STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
By Kathy Shaw

            Probably the second most asked question I get (behind where do you come up with your ideas?) is: What’s the hardest part of the book to write?
            Hands down, it’s the middle.
            I’m not sure if it’s the adrenaline of starting a new project or getting to amuse myself by writing two people’s highly-volatile emotional dislike of each other, but I love to write the first third of the book. Yes, not all romances start with the hero and/or heroine in-hate with each other. There are stories of friends falling in love or non-combative competitors falling in love or maybe a dozen other scenarios where emotional aversion is not the jumping off point. But not in my books. Where’s the fun in that?
            And then, there’s the last third of the book. This is the section where they know they love the other (although they probably haven’t admitted it yet) but there is too much “stuff" between them to over-come. I could go on, but that’s for another blog.
            So let’s get down to business. The Middle!
            Or more importantly “being stuck in the middle.”
            This is where the hero and heroine fall in love. But what makes them fall in love? What makes them fall off the deep end?
            Well, heck if I know!
            Over the years, friends and family have shared their stories about how they fell in love. The sagas all go about the same way.
            The couples meet. This is where I always get a lot of endearing details. (First third of book)
            Then, they say, “We fell in love,” and sigh. Just that one line—no details, no particulars, no how-to-pamphlets. Nada! This is where I want to tear my hair out. (The dreaded middle)
            Next, they wax on about their happily-ever-after or lack there of. Yea, we’re back on the research trek. (Last third of book) Remember, I’m saving my creative anxiety concerning a book’s ending for a future blog.
            So, here’s what I’m hoping will happen. Share with me how you fell in love or how/when you realized you were in love. Please, please! Because…

HELP! I’M STUCK IN THE MIDDLE!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

FROM AUTHENTIC LEGENDS TO ROMANTIC MEDIEVAL SERIES

by Vijaya Schartz, Guest Author

Vijaya Schartz, Author

In the French countryside where my father was born, the birth place of Merlin, near Broceliande, legends of Melusine the Fae abound. She lived notoriously in Lusignan in the 12th Century, built the tower of Vouvant in one night to save the villagers from the invaders. Wherever you turn, you see the legendary ondine gracing the signs of the local taverns, the bakery, the museum. There, Melusine is alive, and part of history as well as legend. But very few are familiar with the entire scope of her story.

While visiting the Melusine Museum in Vouvant, years ago, I came upon a special exhibit that included a puzzling tapestry. It depicted the wedding of Sigefroi of Luxembourg with Melusine, in 963 AD. 963? The Melusine I had come to know had lived centuries later. How was this possible? Then I discovered many more legends of Melusine, her mother, and her two sisters, in the local folklore of various European localities at different times in history. As if the same family of Fae, immortal by nature, had survived through the centuries, each time with the same personality, each time afflicted by the same curse, for abusing their supernatural powers in childhood...

Excited by that discovery, I set upon a decade of research to connect all the dots. Yes an entire decade. While writing other books, I actively pored over ancient translations, old texts, I traveled to France to tiny libraries and museums holding on to their local legendary roots... until I put together the many pieces of that incredible puzzle, to uncover the entire picture. Only then did I understand what I had... enough fantastic material to write the most exciting medieval fantasy series.

My agent was very excited and prompted me to write the series. But publishers at the time did not receive it well. They thought the readers would not buy medieval fantasy... unless it was vampires. Well, my immortals are not vampires. Finally, a Canadian publisher, Books We Love, gave this series a chance last year, and I am grateful. Four books are out right now, with a fifth to be released around the holidays. More will follow as the tapestry of the entire legend unfolds.

The Curse of the Lost Isle series starts in the early 800s with Pressine the Fae, in PRINCESS OF BRETAGNE, during the Viking invasions in Scotland. In Book 2, PAGAN QUEEN, she defies the Goddess and gives birth to three daughters, Melusine, Meliora, and Palatina.

SEDUCING SIGEFROI, Book 3, and LADY OF LUXEMBOURG, Book 4, are set at the foundation of Luxembourg as a country. CHATELAINE OF FOREZ, Book 5, is set in what is now France, and was just released this year.


There is also a box set of the first three novels in the series… a true bargain. The rest of the series sweeps Spain, Aquitaine, and the Middle East during the Crusades, an exciting and dangerous time to be alive... especially for Pagan immortals. See an overview of the entire series on my website under Medieval Series.



CHATELAINE OF FOREZ
Curse of the Lost Isle Book 5
Medieval Fantasy Romance
by Vijaya Schartz

1028 AD - Afflicted by the ondine curse, Melusine seeks the soul of her lost beloved in the young Artaud of Forez, who reigns over the verdant hills south of Burgundy, on the road of pilgrims, troubadours and merchants. But this dark and brooding Pagan lord is not at all what she expected or even hoped. He knows nothing of their past love, her Fae nature, or her secret curse. Must Melusine seduce and betroth this cold stranger to satisfy the Goddess and redeem her curse?


The gold in the rivers instills greed in the powerful, and many envy the rich Lord of Forez, including his most trusted vassals... even the Bishop of Lyon. When Artaud’s attraction to Melusine makes them the target of a holy hunt, will she find redemption from the curse, or will they burn at the stake?

This series already gathered many five-star reviews, with titles like "Edgy Medieval, Yeah!" or "Wow!" or "Fantastic!" But be warned, I do not sugarcoat the middle ages, and some scenes are bloody and realistic. I hope you will try it and enjoy it. At this time this series is only available in kindle on Amazon. Follow the links below to find all my books.

Vijaya Schartz

Find Vijaya on her WEBSITE, and her books on AMAZON - B&N - ARE and other major eBook retailers on the web.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Getting Through Revisions Without Slashing Your Wrists



The Trials and Tribulations of Creating a Masterpiece
or
Getting Through Revisions Without Slashing Your Wrists

The world of publishing is huge and dinky all at the same time. Authors know a lot of people — both online associations and in-person. Lots of us are friends because, well, we don’t question each other if, at dinner, someone asks about poisoning a rich relative or the proper way to garrote a man. It’s just normal conversation. (Note: we do get occasional questioning looks from restaurant patrons and waiters.)

We critique with each other — delving into character, continuity, and plot holes. We go back to our writing hidey holes and fix everything, then, because we’re apparently masochistic, we let our critique partners read it again. You have to have a tough skin to get through this process.

After you’ve satisfied your critique partners and polished the story as best you can, off it goes to the editor.

Then you hold your breath.

I don’t have anything in the editing process right now but one of my critique partners does. She just got back her edits and a revision letter, and we’re trying to sort it all out. Her job is to forge on and make this story the best it can be. My job is to keep her from slitting her wrists in the process.

One of the hardest parts of writing a story is to put your vision of the scene and your notion of the character on the page. That sounds simple enough and it is in theory — in practice, though, it’s hard to accomplish.

The author and the critique partners have discussed the characters, the situation, and the setting. While these characters all come from the author’s imagination, the critiquers are often involved in every stage of development. When they read a scene, they already know what’s supposed to be there, which means it’s very easy to understand a character’s motivation even if it’s not on the page.

However, the editor hasn’t been involved at all, and is a fresh pair of eyes. She only sees what’s written, and sometimes gets the complete wrong impression of a character. So the editor writes: “Is your heroine really this naïve?” And you mutter, “Why on earth would she think that?” The editor thinks that because the heroine’s motivation or circumstance is not on the page! Simple enough.

Usually simple enough to fix, too, if the author can figure out how.

The hardest part of it all is coming to terms that her masterpiece is, in fact, not. It’s very much akin to having someone tell you your new baby is ugly. Must of us write from the heart and our stories are part of us. We don’t want the evil editor to tell us our babies are ugly. But to deliver the best book we can, we must hear the truth and embrace it.

The irony is, we love our editors even if we’d like to fit them with concrete boots. That sounds crazy, but every author I know would go to the end of the earth, including pulverizing our own egos, to make our stories come alive. You see, we really get a kick out of creating these characters and worlds, and we want our readers to enjoy them as much as we do.

Good editors love books. There has to be a special place in Heaven for editors who know that their comments will cause untold misery. Still, they write the revision letter, shut their eyes, and click Send in spite of it, because they really do want to help. The easy way out would be for an editor to fix a few things so the author knows the manuscript was read, collect the fee, and be done with it. But no. A good editor puts the story first, before the author’s ego. Gulp.

Once the revisions are done and accepted, we all go out and party together. Yep, we all survived to write another day.

 Hearts of Owyhee ♥ series, ♦♣ Sleight of Heart ♠♥
'Twas the Fight Before Christmas (Wolf Creek, Book 9: A Wolf Creek Christmas)
A Gift for Rhoda (Wishing for a Cowboy) | A Flare of the Heart (Hearts and Spurs)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

CRAZY LIFE OF A MOSTLY SANE WRITER

By Caroline Clemmons

Non-writer friends often ask me how I think up all the stuff in my books. I wish I knew a clever comeback. My friend Bobby Terry tells people she gets her ideas from a small factory in Ohio. What really happens is our crazy brains conjure all these characters and situations. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. And we’re not really insane, either. Well, most of us aren’t. I’m not naming names, but there are a few people on my Probably Certifiable List.

And there are those (lazy?) people who say, “I’ll feed you ideas, you write the book, and we’ll split the royalties.” Uh, no. Not happening. Ever. The idea is the easy part. In fact, I have more than I can list. Writing a cohesive book with a credible story line is the hard part.

I’m fortunate enough to have three great critique partners who help me plot my books and who are members of this blog: Geri Foster, Brenda Daniels, and Carra Copelin. Sometimes Hero helps me over a sticky plot problem. I can plot by myself, of course, but an exchange of ideas spurs creativity. Even if I don’t like their suggestions, hearing them helps me formulate my own. And if I lose my way writing, they help steer me back on course. (Plan to join Geri Foster and me for our BAD BOYS AND COWBOYS Facebook Launch Party on April 18th.) 


Then comes the hard part. Some parts of writing become easier with each book. One part that does not is making basic plots fresh, giving a tried and true idea a new twist. People argue over how many basic plots there are. The number varies from nine to twenty-seven. Supposedly, any book is a variation of one of those few basic plots. And the more books an author has written, the harder that new variation becomes. Yeah, bummer.

How to make feisty, spunky heroines differ from those in past books? How different is one handsome cowboy from another?  How many ways can Tab A insert into Slot B? You get the idea, right?

Hero and I used to joke about a favorite author who repeated her basic plots. We would say, “This one is plot A.” Or plot B. She only had two. The city and names varied, but little else. At the time, we had no notion of the difficulty of a fresh plot. And, hey, she sold a gazillion books and is still even though she’s passed away.

The main problem I encounter is that life keeps slapping me upside the head. Literally, if you count the fall I had last August. You know the usual: dental appointments, doctor visits (or your prescriptions won’t be refilled), and all the errands and social stuff necessary to function. Plus, we’re still recovering from our move, the deaths of friends and family members, and all the other stuff that hinders everyone everywhere.

Many people think that if you work from home, you can stop and do this or that because, after all, you don’t have a “real” job. Sigh. This is why Debbie Macomber has an office away from her home, by the way. If we stop writing, we lose our concentration, our “groove”, and have to reread the last portion we wrote to get back into the zone. Fortunately, Hero understands this. Full time authors have to set goals in order to stay on target and publish frequently enough to stay in readers' minds.

I try to vary settings and events so that my books appear fresh, even though they are always in my style and voice. Whether contemporary or historical, with the exception of one novella set in Georgia, they’re always set primarily in Texas. They’re the same, but different. Each main character has a journey, both external and internal. The same, but different.

So, now that I’ve finished GABE KINCAID (which will launch April 18th please remember) and it’s off to my editor, I’m taking a few days off to clean house. Yeah, it’s way past time—even the dust bunnies are writing “help me” on the furniture. While I clean, I’m mulling over my next book or two.  


I’m sure you’ve heard that writers are either writing or thinking about writing. It’s true. We can’t help ourselves. For the next few days, I’ll be thinking about writing. And cleaning. Ah-choo.  

P.S. Did you see Geri Foster's and my ad in InD'Tale E-zine? The e-zine is free. We're on page 37 of the April issue. 
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