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, May 30, 2014

Tasting Texas by Kimmie Easley


Y’all! Tasting Texas is now LIVE! 





I am beyond excited about this steamy little novella, the first in the series. It’s always fun to write about Texas. The state (my state) is full of history, tradition, and culture.

One of my favorite places to visit is the Fort Worth Stockyards. My family and I never grow tired of the authentic Texas vibe. There’s something for everyone, and the fact that you can purchase salt water taffy by the pound is just icing on the cake, or the hips….


My family never grows tired of the rodeo, museum, and train rides. The food is to die for, and there’s always some form of entertainment to keep you on your toes.

While researching for Tasting Texas I also came across The Ashton Hotel. I’ve driven by the building more than once, but was became intrigued as I dug further into the history of the hotel. The two buildings that make up The Ashton Hotel are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed and built using a unique Italianate style, with wrought-iron balconies, decorative brick patterning, and cast stone. Even today, it remains the only building of this style in Fort Worth.

The Ashton Hotel Gallery        Weddings      The Ashton Hotel Gallery

It is now on my bucket list to stay in the Presidential Suite and to eat at the Six 10 Grille!

Another little piece of Texas that I used in my novella was Plum Lake. I’ve had the pleasure of attending a girls’ writing weekend at Plum Lake, nestled right outside of Canton, TX. It’s a rustic style cabin with all of the essentials (other than internet, which proved to be a positive), and even a HOT TUB! My girlfriends and I enjoyed late night chatter by the fireplace with a bottle of wine and yummy snacks.



You can’t throw a rock in Texas without hitting something to do or see. It’s a great place to visit, and an even greater place to live!

If you like short, steamy reads please check out Tasting Texas. It’s the first in The Tasting Series with Tasting New York nipping at its heels!

Tasting Texas on Goodreads: Tasting Texas

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

When the going gets tough, the tough get kittens

kittens in the basket
So, this sweet tortoiseshell kitty was dropped off on us, as often happens when living on a farm, and last month she had six kittens. Then, she adopted the two tiny orphans brought to us by my daughter-in-law. That makes eight.  I have what we call 'kitten corner' on the sun space where people love to gather and watch the kittens play and play with them in turn. It's a happy spot. Our tiny pom-poo, Sadie, is kitten mad. Our rescue dog, Jilly, doesn't care about them either way. She was told firmly on her introduction here not to chase cats, and she doesn't see what else of interest is to be done with them.
mama cat and happy kittenSadie will really miss these little guys when they're gone. So will I. Meanwhile, I'm doing my best to take care of the brood, along with the help of the very able mama kitty. I've decided to call her Miss Kitty. Don't tell my DH, but she's staying. Miss Kitty is such a quiet little cat he may not notice. She's also quite pretty. It is my wild and crazy hope that maybe on down the road I can breed her to the gorgeous Siamese male who has taken up residence on our farm, and she will have amazing kittens. But I haven't worked out the details yet, given that he's on the wild side. I'm also thinking it's possible I may create a new breed, or she may birth my long awaited orange and blue kitten. It's possible I'm also kitten mad.
"You can't help that. We're all mad here." - The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland
Sadie with the kittensI can dream, right?
"You can keep a dog; but it is the cat who keeps people, because cats find humans useful domestic animals."-George Mikes
As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat. - Ellen Perry Berkeley
But we can try.
**Sadie with the kittens

Monday, May 26, 2014

My Sons Called My Daughter a Moose by Vonnie Davis

Writers have active imaginations. Sometimes too active, too comical, too bizarre, but it's how our minds are wired. When folks ask us where our story ideas come from, often it's from our over-active imaginations. We see an ordinary--or not so ordinary--thing and it touches something in us, setting off a stream of "what if's."

Like the day Calvin and I were sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Paris. I had an "umburger" (the French do not pronounce the h in the word) halfway to my mouth when a guy on a Harley slowly eased by. This was 8 years ago and most weren't wearing helmets at the time, so the air lifted his shoulder-length hair, causing it to drift back like the models in model shoots with fans blowing on them.. But what caught my eye were the angel wings attached to his back. Big, long, alabaster feathers that dragged on the cobblestone street. Now picture me, "umburger" stilled inches from my mouth, which was gaping open at the sight, while the photo shutter of my mind clicked and whirled, taking mental pictures of this guy and his angel wings. He became the opening scene of a book five years later. An undercover agent, working among Parisian's avante garde, searching for a terrorist.

Friends of ours own a cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Driving up those mountain to get there is a nerve-wracking ride for me, but the view is well worth it. So are the long walks through the thick forests. I've never been to Scotland, but I imagine the sights, sounds and smells are much the same. I use my imagination to turn the Smoky Mountains into the Scottish Highlands as I write, sitting out on their deck. Book one of my Highlander Beloved Trilogy releases from Random House Loveswept August 19th.

Facebook posts conjure up story ideas, too. My husband's niece once posted that their dog had gotten sprayed by a skunk. After researching online, her husband discovered that Messangil douche was the best thing to remove the odor. Well, once I stopped laughing, an opening scene for a book came to mind. Harper just told me Firestorm, book two of my firemen's series releases the beginning of January.

My daughter took saxophone lessons for a year in elementary school. Her younger brothers called her Moose because...well...the saxophone just was not her instrument. There's no shame in that. In fact, I took her experience and wrote a scene around it for To Catch a Flame, book one of my Firemen's Wild Heat series. This book releases the end of August. I even got her blessing on it.  

First, a bit of intro. Cassie has been in love with Quinn since she was 18 and he thought she was an annoying kid. Well, she's 21 now and is determined to get her man. She's got Quinn a tad scared 'cause he's fallen in love with her over the years AND she's his best friend's baby sister. For some reason, guys have this don't touch your BFF's little sister code. So he's moving out of town and she's just found out. Whew! Is she one angry woman. They had words at the U-Haul trailer, and the dummy had the nerve to walk away from the woman while she was in full rant. Now, I ask you, ladies, what kind of man does that?

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 in the hell 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 the hell 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 damn 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, put-putting as he walked. The senior citizen had a terrible problem with gas and either his hearing was so bad he never heard it or he just didn’t give a damn if everyone else did. “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 cheezy 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.”
Shit, as if this old man could be as experienced as I am.
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 farted, jerking his hearing aid out of his ear.
And Killer pissed on Milt’s shirt.

So, where do our story ideas come from? From the way our over-active imaginations see life and turns memories into something a tad different.

You can read more about Vonnie's writing at www.vonniedavis.com

Saturday, May 24, 2014

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

Have you ever encountered someone who never seems happy? Of course, it's hard to know what life has thrown at a person. Happiness is different for everyone. Sometimes, it takes very little to bring a smile to your face. Your expression is the first thing a stranger notices about you.   

What has this got to do with writing? Have you ever walked by an author's table at a signing party and they looked like every second there is pure misery? Yes, it is tiring and a lot of work. If no one is walking up to you, this is the perfect time to ask your friends for help and suggestions. Even though your expression is simple exhaustion, it may come across as irritation. A smile, works wonders.

When you get to a point where you are struggling in your writing and want to throw the whole thing out a window and take up bungee jumping, it's time to call your friends and break out the wine, chocolate and pep talks.

I may whine or complain that writing is hard. Duh! But it is something that makes me happy. Most of the time. Hopefully, I can support my fellow writers and best buds when their characters refuse to obey or the plot is going nowhere.

My friends always bring me joy. They also have no trouble telling me when to shape up, get busy and stop goofing off.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

BOOKS, SWAG, AND ALL THAT JAZZ






You know all the cool stuff you get at book signings? Authors give away business cards, bookmarks, key chains, rack cards, etc., to draw readers in to buy their books. We all love it, clamor for it, and yes covet it. I know always have.


Years ago, when I started collecting, authors gave away the standard bookmarks and cards that were copies of the front and back of their books. If one was lucky, the author would autograph the item. Through the years I collected a couple hundred. The picture to the right is a very small sampling of my stash. A few that I really liked I laminated and hung on the wall around my desk for inspiration.


Other examples of swag from years past are post cards, book plates, a paper fan with author info printed on it, and more bookmarks.







                 



A writer friend once gave me a puzzle for my birthday with the latest cover model heart throb. I met him once at a Romantic Times Convention. I'm sure he fanned the flames of many fantasies.







Now, I've said all that to say this. I'm getting ready to have my first book signing next weekend for, Code of Honor, Texas Code Series, Book One.
YAY! But wait - I need swag. So I started a few months ago looking everywhere I could think of along with multiple suggestions from my friends. I have new business cards and, yes, bookmarks with my logo or brand.




There are magnets with the cover of the book I'll be signing and postcards with information about my Holiday short stories.




I've started placing items on the table that I'll probably use checking the placement and making sure there's room for the chocolate truffles and almond kisses.

 
Should so much time and effort be spent on these things? The only answer is yes. We put so much time and effort into writing our books for our readers and they deserve no less effort in our promotion and swag.

Well, that's my time in the hopper for this month. I hope it was a little interesting for you. If any of you happen to be in Arlington, Texas next weekend around the Kroger store on S. Cooper and Green Oaks Blvd, stop in and say hi. I'll have chocolate and swag.

Hugs,
Carra

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

Friday, May 16, 2014

April Fool Bride by Joan Reeves

Reveal: April Fool Bride

For several months, I’ve been keeping the lid on my work in progress. Now I can reveal all: cover, publishing date, blurb, and excerpt. I'm even going to tease you with a video.

April Fool Bride is my novella that will appear in Weddings on Main Street, an anthology about, well, weddings of course! I hope you love the cover as much as I do.

This Box Set by eleven of us Authors of Main Street, consists of eleven novellas of varying degrees of sugar and/or spice. April Fool Bride is a bit spicy because I like a side order of sexy in my romance novels.

I plan to publish my novella separately a month after the release of the box set. April Fool Bride is the first of my new romance novella series: All Brides Are Beautiful.



Blurbing April Fool Bride

Oil heiress Madeline Quinn needs a husband by the time she turns twenty-five in order to claim her full inheritance. Mad Maddie, as the tabloids christened her, has learned the hard way that men only see dollar signs when they look at her.

A marriage of convenience is the solution, and Maddie turns to the one man in the world she can trust, her housekeeper's son who always treated her like a little sister when they were kids.

Jake Becker hasn’t seen Maddie since the night she tried to seduce him. Why should he help the woman who changed the course of his life? Simple. Revenge.

Or is it something else. Something that simmers between them that neither Maddie nor Jake can resist?

Weddings on Main Street, an anthology by eleven of us Authors of Main Street, consists of eleven novellas of varying degrees of sugar and/or spice. My April Fool Bride is a bit spicy because I write sassy, sexy romance. In length, each novella is between 20K–30K words.

Excerpt from April Fool Bride

Jake drained his cup and went back to the coffee carafe for more, using the time to mull over her "offer."

He didn't know what was going on in that rich girl brain of hers, but whatever it was, it was definitely intriguing. And so was Maddie. He’d be lying if he said she didn’t make his pulse throb. She wasn't conventionally pretty, but her face was arresting. Striking. Appealing in its sensuality.

Her lips drew his gaze. Briefly, he allowed himself to think about covering her mouth with his. How would she taste? How would it feel to have her mouth on him. Heat uncurled within him, and he had to fight the images.

He didn't have anything better to do at the moment, he told himself. So why not string her along? See what she wanted. He turned and faced Maddie. Crossing his arms, he leaning back against the black granite counter, aiming for nonchalance. "Okay. Tell me more. Who do I have to kill for this great financial opportunity?"

"Oh, it's nothing like that," Maddie said in a rush. "You just have to marry me."

Post Script

I hope you’ll like April Fool Bride. Please join me in June for April Fool Bride and Weddings on Main Street.

(Joan Reeves writes sassy, 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. Visit her blog, SlingWords. Watch her videos for writers and readers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

ON WRITING



A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a writing workshop conducted by the writing guru, Donald Maass. Most people who write know who he is. It was such a treat, sort of like sitting down with a whole box of chocolate-covered strawberries.

Besides everything else he filled my head with, toward the end of the session, he touched on the subject of "beautiful writing."   .....  Beautiful writing is something I adore. I have been known to read a story I didn't particularly like because I simply enjoyed the written words. Example: “Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway. Most books by Nicholas Evans (not Nicholas Sparks). Except for “The Horse Whisperer,” Evans’ stories aren’t always great, but his writing is beautiful.

Reading a book is not always about liking the plot or the adventure or the action.

Writing beautifully is something I strive for with every book, though I don't always get there. While I try to write tight, as they say, and I use frank language in my books, I also try to fill my prose with creative writing techniques such as parallels and reversals and rhythms. Sometimes I imagine music in my head and try to write a scene to that rhythm.

When I write a love/sex scene, if it’s supposed to be romantic, I try to imagine the most romantic music I can think of and write the scene to that rhythm. Something like Rachmaninov’s 2nd Concerto or the music from “Romeo and Juliet.” Sometimes a parallel will fit into the rhythm. Simple example: He was tall, he was solid and strong, he was beautiful.  …..Written as they are, those phrases fit into a musical rhythm.

Sometimes I’ve written love scenes that were fun. They call for different music in my head and less dramatic presentation. They call for short sentences and cutesy dialogue. Think “Pink Panther.”

At the same time I try to write pretty prose, I also try to make my books page-turners. I have a sign on my desk I took from some writing guru: “ABOVE ALL, DON’T BE BORING” …. So I try not to be boring. And that’s a challenge when you write character-driven stories where the relationship between two people is the plot.

By now, you probably think I'm crazy, but I’m just trying to show that many elements go into the making of a coherent novel. With this little post, I’ve only scratched the surface.

Change of subject, but not entirely. Here’s a picture of the cover of my current WIP. A sequel to THE TYCOON, this is Book #2 of my Sons of Texas Trilogy.


I’m down to the last two chapters. In this book, my heroine is going along with her life, stuck in a rut. Then something totally unexpected happens that has the potential to change her life forever. It hurls her into indecision and new territory. This is a reversal. 

In this same WIP, I’m trying something I’ve never tried before with a love/sex scene. The hero is eager and expecting sex. He is also expecting the heroine to be in the same frame of mind that he is. However, she’s preoccupied with a life-changing decision. Sex is the last thing on her mind, but she doesn’t want to put him off. I’ve tried to *show* her attitude in their lovemaking. Only at the end of it does he figure out something is bothering her.   .....   Now that was a challenge and I still don’t know if I’ve pulled it off.

Need I say that I’ve worked for weeks on that one scene. And now, I’m at the black moment, on which I’ve also worked for weeks.

Never let anyone tell you that writing a book is easy.

God willing, I'll be able to release this book in June.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cart Before the Horse by Paty Jager

Every book I write comes about in a different manner. Some I get a great idea for a title and conjure up the characters and plot. Others the characters jump into my mind and won’t let me go until I stew and brew and know their life story and come up with a how the hero and heroine meet and what conflicts try to keep them apart.[whew, long sentence and thought] My least favorite is when a story idea catches my eye and I have to come up with the right characters, the right setting, and make it all work in a plausible fashion.

When a title comes to me, I have a completely blank canvas, or in the case of writing, blank screen where I can conjure up every element of the story and make it mine. This is the best scenario for me to write. It gives me freedom to go wherever I want and form the characters to fit the situation.

Having one or two main characters appear in my head and start arguing or battling over a situation, starts the story forming in my mind. The restrictions on this type of story has to do with how the character, who has formed as a person to me, will react and behave when situations are presented to them. There is not as much freedom in this kind of writing as the overbearing characters have to be catered to or the story will feel stilted or unrealistic.

Story ideas that catch my eye aren’t as daunting to write as the stories where I've written myself into a situation where I have to come up with a story using characters from previous books and following situations I set up earlier not expecting to have to deal with the convoluted background I gave a character.


That time has come. The book I'm currently working on. Staking Claim, Book Two of the Halsey Homecoming trilogy, has a hero who was a twelve-year-old in my book Miner in Petticoats. At the time, giving him and his mother a wonderfully mysterious background and slowly revealing all the interesting twists was fun. 

Now, I have to use those mysteries and interesting twists to write Colin's story and it has been a buggar!  I'm not a huge fan of Regency set stories and therefore have had to do a lot of research on titles, language, and even some customs to make my heroine, a factory worker from the slums of Liverpool, sound and act realistic when she is pretending to be a titled young woman. And then there's the villain, Lord Canfield, who is after the hero's estate in Lancashire. 

All the characters are on a Clipper ship headed to America. So along with the above research, I also have been researching travel by clipper ship and steam ship as well as the the larger cities in America where they land and take trains on their way to Colin's reunion with his family and the Halseys. 

As readers how much realism do you need to make a story ring true for you? The hardest part of this for me is getting the heroine's dialog to sound natural with a little bit of the Liverpudlian dialect. 

This book will be released the end of June if all goes well. That's also when we have to be moved off our seventy acres we just sold. So wish me luck with deadlines! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

CONFESSIONS OF A ROMANCE WRITER

By Kathy Shaw

            I don’t like sex.

            Wait! Back up. I left out a word!

            What I meant to say was: I don’t like to write sex. (Love ya, Honey!)

            There are two kinds of sex scenes. The bad ones and the good ones. I’m going to review the good and the bad and totally ignore the ugly of sex scenes.

            Please remember the following statements are just my humble opinions. That said I feel I should warn you, I’m one of those people who believes if I have an opinion everyone is entitled to hear it.

            Let’s talk about the bad. You know, the sex scenes where we have four pages of tab A into slot B with no emotions in sight. Now grant you, there’s nothing wrong with this if you’re wanting to read (or write) a “sex” scene. These kinds of scenes are jarring to me when I’m knee-deep into a “romance” novel, but they have their place in the right genre.

            And then there are those scenes that reside on the opposite end of the spectrum. Passionate emotions pour from the couple with the fervor of Romeo and Juliet, Lancelot and Guinevere, and Tarzan and Jane all rolled up in one. Okay, maybe not the jungle couple, but you get my drift.


            They wax on to near nauseam about the depth of their partner’s blue eyes or the shine of their golden locks or maybe the smell of vanilla and sunshine that radiates from their every pore—or some such nonsense. The closest we get to any tab/slot action is the soulful claim that they fit together like two perfect pieces of the same puzzle. There have been occasions where I’ve forgotten they were even naked.

            But enough about the bad, let’s talk “good” sex. (Do I hear a chorus of “Yes, please!) Because really, there’s nothing better than good sex—unless of course it’s great sex. But I digress.

            Writing good sex is a careful blend of the examples of bad sex we just talked about. It shouldn’t be a block of emotional connections that switches into the “meat” of sex. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

            A touch should evolve both a physical and emotional response. Those responses should graduate exponentially with where you are in the love scene. Which makes sense, right? You don’t want them to have an emotional climax while still in the petting phase of loving-making.

            Writing good sex is very difficult, which is probably why I don’t like to do them. That being said, after hours of pulling out my hair, agonizing over just the right words and making sure body parts can actually bend and twist as I’ve written them; I am always pleased with the final draft of my love scenes.

            Always take into consideration when in the story the love scene takes place, the circumstances of both the physical and emotional situation of both characters, and above all else the storyline. If they need to have sex in Chapter One (God, help you!) make it happen believably.

             Final words/advice if you're an author: write what feels right.

            Am I wrong? Right? Or left some vital piece of helpful information out? Let me know. I’m always in search of an easier way to write sex.

            By the way, did I tell you that I have just agreed to write an erotic novella? I’m such a glutton for punishment!


            Kathy Shaw’s latest release is BLONDIE AND THE HITMAN, a Darla Bodecker mystery, and is a humorous mystery with a dash of romance. Buy her book here.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

LIVING HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER

By Caroline Clemmons

Why do I write novels? Mostly because I can’t stop. ☺  There have been a few times when I became discouraged with my career path and decided to quit writing. I couldn’t. It appears I HAVE to write.

Seriously, I believe romance offers hope to readers who face what seems like insurmountable problems in their own lives. Reading about characters who overcome challenges and achieve happily-ever-after offers readers the dream that they too can achieve their dreams. In fact, I say romance authors sell hope. Since I’m an eclectic reader, I’m an eclectic writer. I write paranormal, contemporary and historical romance. I also write cozy mysteries, although I’m concentrating on romance novels now.

What I write are the kinds of stories I enjoy reading. As a theme, I want readers to find hope in my novels. Another theme is family in various forms, but always that family support one another--even if family is bonded friends rather than blood relatives. Finally, I think a second chance/redemption is a continual theme. Don’t we all wish we had a second chance to right past wrong decisions?

My goal is for readers to sigh with pleasure at the outcome of the characters at the same time they’re sorry the book is ended. Also, I want readers to feel hopeful after one of my books. Let’s face it, I’m not Ken Follett and I don’t write books like PILLARS OF THE EARTH. I love Follett’s books, but that’s not at all what I want to write. Romances and cozy mysteries are what a lot of people mind candy...novels intended to entertain and provide escape from worldly cares. Otherwise, why not watch the evening news?

One of my big passions is genealogy and family history. I’ve always loved history, and learning about family brings history alive for me. My brother and I are compiling a book on my father’s family and hope to have it completed and printed by the end of summer. My dad is no longer living, but he asked me to do this book, so my brother and I are trying to honor the request. I also love the old family photos and am collecting those for the book and for my own family. Both of my daughters are interested, so I’ve made copies for each of them and we’re placing them in acid free albums.

Another passion is browsing antique malls. My younger daughter and I used to have booths in a couple of antique malls, but the time required to maintain a good selection is too much for us. We loved it, though. If either of us won the lottery, that’s probably what we'd do again.  In the meantime, she has recently opened a booth in a mall where her best friend has several booths. I'm feeling left out. Maybe I should buy lottery tickets.

My husband and I like to watch movies (thanks, Netflix!). Most of my free goof-off time is spent reading. My husband’s an avid reader, so some evenings we read instead of watching TV or a movie.

I appreciate so much the readers who have told me they like my books and my writing. Positive feedback fuels my progress on the next book. I appreciate my family for their support and assistance. My husband maintains my website. Both daughters help in various ways. Every day I get to do what I love. Consider me a lucky woman living her happily-ever-after!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

WRITING A MYTHIC HISTORY

By Juli D. Revezzo, Guest Author

I’m a research nerd at heart. After all those years I spent in school, you’d think I’d be done with it, but I’m not. I may be crazy but I love to research. Luckily, I’m a writer so it comes with the territory. Even though I write—mainly—fantasy-laden stories, I always have something that needs a bit of research to get right, even if I’m well-versed in whatever it is I happen to include in the story.

For instance, in my paranormal romance novel Passion’s Sacred Dance, is influenced by Celtic Myths, specifically that of the Second Battle of Mag Thuried (that was a battle between the mythic Tuatha de Dannan and their foes Balor and the Formoire). I’ve studied Celtic mythology for a long time and therefore read about that battle here and there over the years. Still, I had much research to do in the course of writing Passion’s Sacred Dance.

How far back, exactly, was that battle? Where did the Tuatha de Dannan actually come from? Beyond that, there were scenes that take place in Celtic history. What was going on at the times when the Celts clashed with the Romans and Greeks? What did the landscape look like? Worse yet, the battles happen every five hundred years. Where did the first one take place, and what did the world look like?

All these nifty little pieces of the story demanded research from me, and brushing up on what I already knew, led me to new discoveries. (Or new discoveries for me.) Did you know the Celts built some of the world’s first fireplaces? Did you know there was more than one Ice Age? Did you know there was a period in time where the human race almost completely died out? 

I didn’t, before I started writing the novel. J Where I could’ve just thrown in the towel, no, I went diving in looking for the answers I needed. Luckily, I’m a research nerd, so this was a learning experience as much as a novel. 

How about you? Have you ever stumbled across a bit of information that begged you to learn even more?



Here’s an excerpt from PASSION'S SACRED DANCE:

Note: In this excerpt, my heroine is on the trail of her ancestor’s diary. Hopefully, it will tell her about the coming battle. She’s found Aaron, her love interest and mentor in this search, in the local college library, doing a little reading of his own:


“Ms. Macken’s here from the Bitter Thorn Grove Historical Museum about the Hazeltine letter.”

“Hazeltine?” Stacy shook her head. “No, no. It’s the Macken letter, isn’t it?”

Mr. Kaplan nodded. “You mean the Hazeltine letter. It is by Ruth Macken. As we understand it, it was turned over to the college collection by…” he paused, thinking, “Veronica Hazeltine, if I’m not mistaken.”

“Oh.” She blinked. “I’m sorry. Ms. Grenwich didn’t say that. If you have it, I’d like to see it.”

He stood and waved a hand to the main room.
“Take a seat anywhere you like while I retrieve it for you.”

She did as he suggested while Mr. Kaplan turned to the task of finding the letter. Stacy settled into a chair at a table covered with magazines. But she soon grew bored and turned her attention to studying the architecture.

On a floor above, she spotted a handsome man with strawberry blond hair leaning against the shelf. He was reading something. Aaron.

She smiled and stood, hurrying up the stairs.

Aaron looked up as she hit the landing. “Well, I think my luck’s holding out.”

She came to his side and he took her hand and gave it a light kiss. “What are you doing here?”

Delight lit to her toes at the polite, gentlemanly greeting, though she wished it was a little more.

“I was going to ask you the same thing.”

“Me? I’m just doing a little reading.”

She tilted her head to read the title in his hands. Eternal Journey: A Guide to Peace and Self-Mastery from Ancient Warriors. “Light reading?” she guessed.

“Depends on what the author has to say for himself.” He tucked the book under his arm. “What
brings you so far from home?”

She nodded to the bookcases. “Research. You’ll never believe what I found! Ruth wrote a letter to someone that isn’t in my collection at the gallery.”

“A letter? One you’d never heard of?”

She nodded.

Aaron paused for a moment, eyes narrowed intently. She wondered what thought distracted him.
“What’s it say?”

“We’ll find out.” She scrubbed a hand through her hair. “My source says she may’ve mentioned her diary to someone in it. I’m hoping it’ll tell where I can find it.”

Aaron pursed his lips and nodded. “That would be quite a coup.”

Stacy peered over the railing, wondering when the archivist would arrive. “Wouldn’t it, though?”

She felt a touch on her arm and turned. Aaron winked at her. “On the other hand, you could’ve helped my ego by saying you were stalking me.”

She tapped her finger against her lips as if considering her answer. Then she shook her finger at
him, once. “That’s the true reason I’m here, you’re right.”

****
PASSION’S SACRED DANCE Synopsis:

Battling mounting debt, Stacy Macken is determined not to lose her historic art gallery. When Aaron Fielding appears and offers to help, she fights to keep the attraction sizzling between them from clouding her judgment. He may be her savior in disguise--but can she trust him?

Aaron intrigues her with tales of the Tuatha dé Danann, sworn warriors who protect humanity from the monsters seeking their destruction. If Aaron can prove what he claims, she would give up anything to help--even the gallery he claims is sacred ground. But with her property set to stage the next epic battle, she needs answers. An old family diary will confirm the ancient legend is true, if only they can find it in time.

If the battle is lost, the enemy will take control of Earth for the next five hundred years. Stacy and Aaron's budding love might only complicate things.


If you’d like to read more, PASSION’S SACRED DANCE is available for Kindle and in paperback. The Ebook is on sale for $.99 this week at Amazon:


All Romance Ebooks:


The Wild Rose Press:

Paperbacks are available from Amazon, The Wild Rose Press, and Barnes and Noble:


Thanks for having me, ladies!

Author Juli D. Revezzo
Juli D. Revezzo has long been in love with writing, a love built by devouring everything from the Arthurian legends, to the works of Michael Moorcock, and the classics and has a soft spot for classic the “Goths” of the 19th century. Her short fiction has been published in Dark Things II: Cat Crimes, The Scribing Ibis, Eternal Haunted Summer, Twisted Dreams Magazine and Luna Station Quarterly. She also has an article and book review or two out there. But her heart lies in the storytelling. She is a member of Independent Authors Network and Magic Appreciation Tour. Passion’s Sacred Dance is her first romance novel.

You can find out more about her at her homepage: http://julidrevezzo.com/

On twitter: @julidrevezzo

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Books, Birds, and Squirrels--Springtime!



Azaleas, watermelon, water fights, and fresh lemonade.


I write a lot more in bad weather, but I’m not complaining at all. At this moment, it’s 85 degrees outside (hot for Seattle!) and flowers are blooming everywhere. The good news—birds are chirping and busily building their nests. The bad news—the woodpecker that is the size of a Cessna is back.

One of the nicest spring activities is sitting on my back deck, just me and my Kindle. I read a while, watch the birds for a while, then read some more. When I read inside, I can go for long stretches of time before I ever look up from my Kindle. On the deck, well, it’s time to slow down and sip.

Our cat enjoys spring, too. Annie has a playmate—a squirrel. Other squirrels are prey (Annie was a feral cat and even though she’s small, she’s still a Mighty Hunter), this one is her buddy. They chase each other and play hide-and-seek. I worried that she’d bother the squirrel’s babies, but Annie ignores them and seems to know those little squirrels are out of bounds.

There’s always a lot to do this time of year. We have three April birthdays to fit in besides all the yard work and spring cleaning. Ha! Who am I kidding? Our annual spring cleaning happens about every five years. It really needs to happen this year but my writing schedule makes that not very likely.

What’s up next for me? I’m currently working on a traditional western short story, the second in my Muleskinners series. The first is Judge Not and was published in Western Fictioneer’s Wolf Creek, book 6: Hell on the Prairie. This is a first-person account of Elsie Parry, a survivor of the Civil War, who finally hooks up with her father and then her brother seven years later. All she has is her mules—eight draft mules all named after Greek gods. In the second story, she, her brother Zeb, and childhood neighbor Hank, head out from Wolf Creek to Kearney, Nebraska, with a load of salt. We’ll see what happens!

Next, I’m writing another short story for the Wolf Creek series—not sure the title of the anthology but my story is a prequel to Sleight of Heart. Burke O’Shaughnessy is 19 years old and is on his own. He has a lot to learn before he ends up the thoroughbred gambler that Lexie Campbell meets.

During all this, I’m also working on the fifth book of the Hearts of Owyhee (pronounced oh-WIE-hee) series, Much Ado About Mustangs. Not sure when that’ll get done, and I just agreed to write a short story for the Prairie Rose Publications Halloween anthology about a sorcerer in the Old West. I’m really looking forward to that one! And I have another project coming up with my favorite author, Caroline Clemmons, that I’m extra excited about!

Hmm, maybe I should be writing on the back deck instead of watching birds and reading. Except watermelon juice isn’t good for keyboards.

Meantime, we’re preparing pots for each of the grandkids to plant something edible this Sunday. One has picked chives and another wants to grow beets (not sure how that’s going to work in a pot), so we’ll see what happens there. It would be nice if one of them opts for sage and/or dill. I’m hoping the boys will actually water the plants (instead of each other) after the first week.

What’s your favorite part of spring?


Friday, May 2, 2014

THE PLOT'S THE THING!

By Caroline Clemmons

Once upon a time, I attended a Story Magic workshop given by Robin Perini and Laura Baker. And that’s the real start of my romance writing career.

Although it’s been years now, I will never forget that day of the all-important workshop. I sat beside Sandra Crowley in the second row. A lot of my current besties were there: Geri Foster, Carra Copelin, Lyn Horner, Sylvia McDaniels, Kathy Shaw, yada, yada.

Why do I remember it so clearly?



I'd written news stories, but they're strictly facts. And they're written so that they can be shortened as needed without diluting the story's impact. This doesn't translate well to fiction, even though the training is invaluable.

When I first began writing fiction, I’d know how the story started, how it ended, and some of what happened in the middle. I’d go with that and start writing. And I’d have to cut a scene or a chapter because it didn’t fit (which wasted all the time I'd spent writing that part) or I’d get stuck and not know what came next. For the first book I wrote, I got to the end and learned that my story was too short. (See Kathy Shaw’s April 10 fun post “Help I’m Stuck In The Middle.”)


One day this miraculous, serendipitous, wonderful event happened and I attended the Story Magic workshop. You’ve heard people say a light bulb went on when they learned this or that. For me, a searchlight-sized spotlight went on over my head. What had been missing from my writing suddenly became clear. I needed to plan—to actually plot out my book from start to finish, including characters, back story, and what happened in each chapter, the good stuff, the bad stuff and why it happened. 

Who knew?

In the course of the day, Robin and Laura shared their secrets for plotting. Some who attended that day didn’t get it or didn’t like the concept. But I was on fire with enthusiasm. 


For me, the information was like being given the secret handshake to the Sisterhood of Successful Romance Writers. Arming with these tools empowered me. Now I had the method and could deal with my weaknesses and those of my characters.

Here I am eighteen titles and numerous anthologies and boxed sets later and I’m still using the Story Magic method to plot. Stick with what makes sense, right? Anytime I’ve tried to coast, I’ve gnashed teeth, wept, and had to go back and review. 

This stuff works for me. It works for numerous friends. We continue using this method to plot our books.

That’s why just an idea for a book is not enough. Writing takes lots of work over time. For some that's weeks, for others (like me) that's months. 

Sure, I love writing and can’t imagine doing anything else. I work to improve. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. I work just as hard in either case. 

But I really, really want to please readers. I want you to love my babies! All writers want that. 

And we’ll be living and writing happily ever after—as long as you keep reading our books.