Smart Girls Read Romance

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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Why That Book? by Suzanne Rossi

Hi everyone! Hope you're all having a great day.

Today I'd like to pose a question: What makes you pick up--and most importantly--buy a book by an author you've never read before? Is it the cover? The title? The blurb on the back of the book? The excerpt? Did you heed the recommendation of a friend? Or are you truly intelligent and read the blog Smart Girls Read Romance and decide to take a chance?

We're all creatures of habit. We tend to gravitate toward the familiar whether it's with restaurants, clothing labels, brand names at the grocery store and, yes, authors. We know what we're going to get. There's a comfort zone we have trouble leaving. As an author, I learned a long time ago that leaving my comfort zone produced a better product. So, I can only answer the question by giving you my reasoning for taking the plunge a trying something new.

The first thing that attracts my attention is the title. Since I write romantic suspense, words like "murder," "death," or "body" grab me. My eye then travels to the cover--the darker and more menacing, the better. Bodies, blood, obviously terrified heroines running for their lives strike a nerve.

If I'm hooked, I turn the book over and read the blurb on the back. Give me a hero and a heroine who are thrown into a deadly situation by no fault of their own and are teaming up to stay alive. They try to solve the mystery--sometimes helping the authorities, sometimes by themselves--before the killer can add them to his/her list of successes.

Okay, now I'm ready to read the excerpt. This is crucial in my opinion. It can be either a suspenseful passage like a main character in danger or the beginning of a hot love scene. It doesn't matter, but it HAS to be dramatic. After all, the excerpt is a part of the book. You've written it.  If I've gone this far, I'm already interested, so suck me in further. MAKE ME CARE!!!! This is the final step before walking to the cash register.

I've been lucky in the title department. My publisher, The Wild Rose Press (IMHO, the best), allows me to chose my own. The only time they requested a change was because another book had recently come out with a similar title. So, "Trust Me" became ALL IN THE FAMILY

I'm also grateful that TWRP has terrific cover artists. They inevitably catch the essence of the story and don't get bent out of shape if I catch a mistake. I have a friend who writes for a large publisher. Her last book took place in the Everglades. The artist had a mountain slap dab in the middle of the cover. Uh, no, I don't think so. All she could do was groan.

My back cover blurbs are a combination of my input and production or marketing. I've never been disappointed. I leave the excerpts to my editor mainly because I have a severe problem making a decision. Once again, she's always nailed it. And I often make a purchase on the recommendation of a friend.

Now, to perhaps help you, the reader, make a decision, let me say that my latest book, RENDEVOUS WITH DEATH was released last Wednesday. Check it out either at The Wild Rose Press or over at Amazon and let me know what it is that grabs and holds you. 




Have a good day and I'll see you next month. 

Suzanne Rossi


Friday, August 28, 2015

Taking the Plunge into YA!

I've pondered an evolving story/series for years, but sensed it needed to be YA. The urge to write in the young adult genre grew as I spent time in the company of my now teenage nieces. We invariably watched YA TV shows and movies together and discussed aspects we liked and those we didn't. Eventually, I shared my own story ideas. With much cheering on, I decided to write Secret Warrior, a YA fantasy romance series set in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley (modern-day) in a remote region called Fort Valley, with a unique Native American/werewolf twist. 

The primal beauty and intriguing history of this hidden valley, combined with my knowledge of the Shawnee tribe, the lore of the mountain people, and draw to fantasy, inspired me. I'm drawing on what I already know and love, and weaving in those elements with younger characters. Although the series is targeting teens, adults will also enjoy Secret Warrior. I'm delighted The Wild Rose Press offered me a three book contract. Book one, The Hunter's Moon, is in the galley stage now. Each story is novella length. I thoroughly enjoy working on this series, and am glad I took the plunge.

I love my gorgeous cover by Debbie Taylor!


Story blurb for The Hunter's Moon:

Seventeen year old Morgan Daniel has been in the witness protection program most of her life. But The Panteras have caught up with her and her younger brother. Her car is totaled, she's hurt, and the street gang is closing in when wolves with glowing eyes appear out of nowhere and chase away the killers.

Then a very cute guy who handles a bow like Robin Hood emerges from the woods and takes them to safety at his fortress-like home.

And that's just the first sign that Morgan and her brother have entered a hidden world filled with secrets.~

Release date TBD.

For more on me and my work visit: https://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I Took My Husband to RWA, He Wasn't Prepared...

Every year. Romance Writers of America (RWA) holds a large convention. Going was never high on my bucket list, but this year it was planned for NYC, and my editor at Random House Loveswept wanted to talk to me for a bit. So I asked Calvin what he thought of the idea because we go everywhere together. We've only been married for 12 years, so we're still in that honeymoon stage. If we took the Amtrak, he was for it. He didn't want to have to fold his tall frame into another airplane seat. He's still grumbling about our last flight to Paris.

I was able to reserve a room in the same hotel the convention was being held in, which was the Mariott Marquee on Times Square. Sounds fancy-smancy, doesn't it? Well, we had to go to the 8th floor to register since there was a theatre on the lower floors. From there, you walked over to a large circular bank of elevators, pressed the number of the floor your room was on and it gave you the letter of the elevator--from A to N--that would take you to your floor. This changed every time you used the elevators. Sometimes you had to run around the circle to reach your elevator before the doors closed and, at others, you had to wait. Being a small town lady in a big town environment, this was all new to me.

Calvin reading to students in school.
Calvin glanced around at all the women in high heels pulling their luggage. His eyes grew large. "Do you think all these women are for the convention?" I told him they were and bit the inside of my cheek. You see, I may have forgotten to tell him how many would be attending. The man's not wild about crowds; being a retired school teacher, he's more comfortable visiting local schools and reading to students. But the moment of truth came at me like one of those NYC taxis. His grey eyebrows furrowed.  "Angel, how...how many are coming?" When I told him 2500 writers plus agents and editors, the poor man sucked air and paled.


The day before the convention began Penguin Random House had us at their building for a meet-and- greet. The walls of their reception area is full of books--old, new, and famous. They had a poster up welcoming the authors of the Loveswept line and I was thrilled to see my third book's cover with them, top row, second from left.


My feet swell when I travel and being in heels didn't help my painful tootsies any. When we left their offices, Calvin hailed an SUV taxi. I was having trouble getting in. The cab driver jumped out, cupped my large behind and all but heaved me into the back seat. Then...THEN, he had nerve enough to charge us $1.50 extra for the "extra handling."

Now allow me to say a few things about the cab drivers there. First, they don't need to know how to count since they zoom down the four-lane streets five and six cars abreast. All their cabs need are strong breaks and loud horns. All you, the passenger, need are blindfolds, a large bottle of nervie-dervies, and a wad of twenties because it seemed everywhere we went cost us twenty dollars.

Although Loveswept is an ebook only line, Random House published thirty books for each author to give away at our author signing. How was I, practically a nobody going to stand out among all those big names? I'd channel Effie, my pink haired grandma from my Beloved Highlander series. I even made pink pelican baffies like she constantly wears in the books.

 
Baffies are Scottish for Bedroom Slippers

 
As I schlepped to the Ball Room in my Effie costume, women yelled, "Effie! OMG, it's Effie." I wasn't prepared. But then, maybe they weren't either...
 


Read more about Vonnie Davis and her books at www.vonniedavis.com




Monday, August 24, 2015

THE GOOD OLD DAYS?

I admit, I love historical novels. Just the other day, a friend on Facebook commented that she would love to live in a simpler time. Maybe in the mountains during the seventeen or eighteen hundreds. Really? I wanted to ask her if she had ever tried doing a week of laundry outside using a cauldron over an open fire and hanging everything on branches and fence lines. That would be during nice weather. Winter would be a nightmare.

I'm working on a historical set in Colorado Territory in the the late 1800's. Everything has to be thought out. No telephones, no electricity and no decent medical care.  You woke up at dawn and went to bed shortly after nightfall. In a mountain valley, that's can be pretty early.

PBS has done some terrific challenges for families wanting to try living in another era. A few thrived and a lot would have been dead in six months from starvation. One family lived on a cattle ranch with hired hands. A historian had come in and set up a working ranch of the 1850's complete with a vegetable garden. The family and young ranch hands refused to eat squash, peas or okra because they had never tried it before. When concern was raised that there was no food, the historian told them there was plenty and she was thoroughly disgusted with them for not even making the effort.

Even later studies had their problems. The BBC had a modern family living in WWII London. That didn't seem such a stretch until faced with rationing  and food shortages. Mom had a melt down when they had to entertain guests with a cake without icing.

So, while I love reading about the past, I wouldn't necessarily like living back then. Authors don't tend to mention outhouses, lack of hygiene, spoiled food, terrible health care and the hard work involved in just maintaining a clean home.Not romantic, you see.                                                                                                   
This morning, I watched a short news report about a family owned Dairy Queen in a small town in Minnesota that still made old time favorites discontinued by corporate DQ. The frozen chocolate dipped banana and butter scotch sundaes, for example. I hadn't thought of those in years. Now, that's my idea of "the good old days." I'll keep my air conditioning and modern appliances. Camping is as close to simpler times as I ever want to get.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

three novellas or a novel




It was a sad day when my cat died. I’d lost Pepper, at 3½ years old, to a congenital time bomb, where there was no fixing it. I frankly was heartbroken. For assorted reasons, I had believed her spirit had returned to me three times in different cats. Looking for comfort, I asked for a dream that would help me understand if reincarnation was real. I wanted to believe she’d come back. I wanted to believe life was fair.

The dream that came was not about her. It was about reincarnation. It was about the question of fairness. From where do such dreams come? I have no idea. This one told a story, had characters, and some very intense images. The next morning, thinking it through, I decided a dream like that, even though it wasn’t exactly a typical romance, was a gift that should be shared, for others to make of it what they would.

My dreams only provide bare bones of a story. In fleshing it out, I added Montana, a Native American element, and a bit about ranch living. Given my own life, I like writing about ranches, but for a supernatural novella, there was another plus. There is little more earthy and practical than ranch life. To juxtaposition that with the mystical was like adding contrasting colors to a painting to make it more vivid. 

When I finished When Fates Conspire, I knew there was a second story. The Dark of the Moon was more involved with the ranch and had an older heroine. Finishing it, there needed to be a third.  Although the three romances each stand alone, the thread through them needed an ending, an explanation. That became Storm in the Canyon

I consider the three to be more metaphysical romances than paranormal. Yes, there are spirit guides, demons, shape-shifters, spiritualism, plasma bolts, energy hot spots, reincarnation, monsters, druids, and sorcerers... Okay, maybe they are paranormal romances, but hey, no werewolves, zombies or vampires. (The metaphysical world is made up of happenings people claim to experience where paranormal can be anything.)

With three novellas, I decided (partly to get a paperback) to turn them into one book, Diablo Canyon. Therein lay a problem. When you offer three novellas or the book, even when you explain it in blurbs, the reader can mistakenly buy all four. No writer likes unhappy readers. I could have taken the novellas off-line, but I had a reason to keep them. 

Although I find writing page after page of a sexual encounter to be boring, I like some steam in the books I read or write. Novellas, as I write them, have little word space for steam. For Diablo Canyon, I added it. 

Knowing how some readers dislike heat, I kept the novellas. When Fates Conspire, The Dark of the Moon, and Storm in the Canyon as they were—with the closed door. In all other aspects, the novellas and the novel tell the same story. I’ve never done this before, probably won’t again, but it was an interesting experience—the hard part was making sure readers understand the options.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

#Writing Retreat @MountRainierNPS by Sandra Nachlinger

Sometimes it pays to be lucky! Earlier this year I participated in the Kent (Washington) Rotary Club’s silent auction and won a two-night retreat for four people at Camp Berachah at Buck Creek – the perfect getaway for my writing group. We settled on a date in late June, and I secured reservations, along with directions to the camp and details about what our retreat would include (which was everything except bedding). 

When the weekend arrived, we all headed toward Mount Rainier National Park, down Forest Service Road 7160, across a bridge, and through deep woods via a dirt road to the facility. What awaited us was a quiet, welcoming place to hike, eat good food, contemplate, and even write. Lucky for us, although the camp can accommodate 200+ visitors, only a dozen had reserved the camp during the weekend we were there. With laptops charged and a quiet setting in which to create, we devoted ourselves to writing.
[Click on photos to enlarge.]

Buck Creek ran within strolling distance of our Creekside cabin.
Walking paths wound beneath towering trees.
Chirping birds and the gurgling creek provided

background music.
This photo of another cabin shows the overall atmosphere
of Camp Berachah. 
We each had a separate room with one shared bathroom.
Although the accommodations were austere, they were
comfortable. We gathered in a common room to share ideas,
discuss our writing, have a glass of wine, and just catch up with each other.
When we needed alone time, we'd find 
solitude alongside the nearby creek.
By the way, my writing group has previously retreated to Moclips—a small town on the Pacific coast of Washington State. Both experiences were productive for the group and just plain fun! If you're able to arrange a retreat, I highly recommend you do so.



Sandra Nachlinger is the author of Bluebonnets for Elly (a sweet romance) and 
co-author with Sandra Allen of I.O.U. Sex (a spicy Baby Boomer romance)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

COVER THE WORDS CONTEST or Putting Your Best Face Forward

I'm a member of Yellow Rose Romance Writers, a local chapter of Romance Writers of America. We are hosting a book cover contest this year called, COVER THE WORDS. We hear all the time how the cover sells the book. The cover draws the reader in so they'll take the time to read the blurb or sample, to buy our book. I hate to say it, but I agree. I'd like to think my words are so powerful the readers are pulled into the page to get lost until they surface at "The End" an emotional wreck. Unfortunately that's not true. Some covers are so bad I don't even stop to read the title. 

Some of us have boat loads of talent and great software to create our own covers and then others, like myself , must seek out a designer to help us get our words in the readers hands. It takes time to find the right background, the perfect couple, the right colors . . . the process is daunting.

So, in the spirit of getting those covers discovered, we're offering a way to get them in front of our readers and our peers to see how our covers compare to others in our same genre. Does your cover have the magic to rise to the top?




Fee: $15 per entry
Entries accepted from June 1 - August 31, 2015
Entry: Electronic submission of any romance book or novella's front cover.
Covers may be from traditional
or indie published works of all romance genres.
Judging: Overall Winner and Top Three Finalists in each category
will be determined through popular voting.
Final category winners will be judged by editors and publishing houses
for first, second and third place.
Prizes and Awards:
Overall winner and First place in each category will receive a gift certificate for a free book cover and a badge to display on their website.
Second and third places will receive a badge to display on their website.
Put Your Best Cover(s) Forward

Follow the link below for  information and instructions for getting your cover entered. I look forward to seeing yours in the competition!

 Cover The Words Contest

We hope to see your cover there!
Carra

Carra Copelin WebsiteCarra's Blog , Carra's FB page , Carra's Twitter Page

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Body By Computer by Joan Reeves

I thought I'd share some lessons I've learned from my chiropractor, physical therapist, and massage therapist. Yep. I have all three in my ongoing struggle to rehab my upper back.

Backstory

Show me a woman with back problems, aches and pains in shoulders, neck, and arms, and I'll show you a writer using a computer more than 8 hours a day.

I remember reading a university research study done in the UK about the bodies of computer gamers. The researchers conducted a series of physical and psychological tests to determine whether computer game playing could be defined as a sport.

Seriously, a Sport?

I'm talking serious gamers here. The kind who actually earn thousands in prize money and sponsorships each year.

They found that professional computer gamers have the instant reactions of fighter pilots. Unfortunately, they also discovered that these gamers have physical bodies akin to 60-year-old chain-smoking couch potatoes.

Say What?!

Well, I guess that's a great big NO for it being a sport and intensive computer users being athletes.

Of course, this started me wondering how we writers would stack up in a similar study. I mean, I spend most of my day in front of a computer, pecking furiously on a keyboard. And I have the mouse shoulder to prove it. (Mouse Shoulder is the term describing the upper body strain resulting in chronic pain in the specific collection of neck and shoulder muscles, tendons, and nerves noticed in people who use computers for long periods of time.)

Heck! It's not fair to have the injuries when I can't even brag that I've got the reactions of a fighter pilot. Maybe the reactions of a turtle with repetitive stress injury...

Long Story Short

To make a long story short--yeah, I know, too late--do as I say and not as I do. If you read for extended periods of time on a laptop of desktop computer--even on a cell phone--or you write for long hours at the keyboard, stop it. Set an alarm and get up every hour to stretch and walk around.

YouTube has some great videos that teach how to stretch. Just enter a search string: how to stretch upper body or whatever part of the body you need to stretch.

I'm doing a stretch routine three times a day so I can actually write more with greater comfort. Give it a try. Your body will thank you.

Giveaway

Do you do any kind of daily stretching routine or workout routine to keep your body in top condition? Leave a comment with your email and tell us about it and be entered to win a free audio book.

(Joan Reeves is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives her happily ever after with her husband in the Lone Star State. Visit her at her Amazon Author Page and sign up for her Wordplay, her email mailing list.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sad to Say Good-bye by Paty Jager

My recent release is the last book in the Halsey Brother Series. I've been writing about the Halsey Brothers since the first book Marshal in Petticoats came out in 2006. It was my first published romance novel and started me on a journey with the Halsey Brothers.

When I wrote Marshal in Petticoats I hadn't planned on a series. It wasn't until the book was contracted and the editor asked me when the next brother's book would be ready that I realized I'd written myself into a series.

In Marshal in Petticoats I gave the hero four brothers, pulling names out of the air, without knowing I would be writing their stories. But as I wrote each story they became familiar, almost like family, to me. With each book there were secondary characters added who also became like family. That is what prompted the sequel trilogy, Halsey Homecoming. These are three books written about the young men who were brought into the Halsey family through marriages and acquaintances.

The final book Claiming a Heart is about the blind boy who tripped over Clay Halsey in the beginning of the book Doctor in Petticoats. He became an important secondary character in that book and Clay moved him to Sumpter, Oregon making him a part of the family.

While Claiming a Heart is the final novel about the Halseys, there will be a Christmas novella coming out in October that features Shayla, the daughter of Aileen in Miner in Petticoats. This novella, A Husband for Christmas, will give everyone, including me, the closure we need to know the family will thrive and be happy. ;)

Blurb for Claiming a Heart

Book three of the Halsey Homecoming historical western romance trilogy that is a sequel to the Halsey Brothers Series.

Callie MacPherson - or Mac - is hiding from the law. When she witnesses a group of lawless thugs beating a newcomer, she drags the innocent man into the underground tunnels of Pendleton. Caring for the man, Callie discovers she hasn’t become as hard-hearted as she’d feared.

Donny Kimball’s loss of sight didn’t blind his heart. It can see far more than his eyes ever could. His heart tells him Callie MacPherson needs him as much as he needs her. If only he can convince her of that before they both get killed.

 

Monday, August 10, 2015

New Research: Indulging My Feminine Side

My latest research for the third novel in the Royals of Solana series brought me back to my clueless, naïve, uncoordinated adolescence all over again.
But this time around, I could do so from the privacy of my own home, without external judgment. Well, except from husband, but he’s allowed. J
Before I delve into my uncomfortable adolescence, here’s some background:
Growing up I wasn’t the ‘girly’ type. I was the tomboy, running around the neighborhood barefoot following my two bigger brothers and their friends around, playing in dirt (or mud), pulling frogs out of the creek with a stick or my bare hands. I rollerbladed, played soccer, swam, dived off the high dive, and never wore a bikini. In general, I just got dirty.
Forget skirts, jumpers, or dresses.
Much to the chagrin of my mother, who didn’t really get the chance to doll up her only daughter.
By my teenage years, I became more interested in the ‘girly’ stuff. But didn’t really have beauty-savvy or a lick of fashion sense that most pre-teens developed. I didn’t wear makeup until 14 years old, and still today have a hard time curling my hair in a way that would last half a day.
Fast forward to today.
When I started this research, I got excited. Because this meant I get to peruse ball gowns and hair styles and accessories, without anyone realizing I was clueless when I asked questions like “What’s an A-line dress?” or “How to make a French braid?”
I found these nifty charts:
 


Which led me to a whole bunch of fun finding ball gowns for my characters.
 

 

 

 



Which ones do you like?

Thanks for letting me share my feminine side with you today.
Now that I’ve embarrassed myself all over again with my ignorance of the ‘girly’ stuff, I’ll go try to tackle hairstyles.
And perhaps my arch-nemesis: the curling iron.

By Susan Sheehey http://www.SusanSheehey.com