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.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Starting the New Year Right by Suzanne Rossi

Hi everyone.

It is now officially 2017. Can't say that it feels any different from 2016, at least, not yet. I'm looking at the same gray, gloomy skies, chilly temperatures, and frequent rain as I did in December. But then, that's winter in Memphis, Tennessee.

I'm not a big fan of making New Year's resolutions. In fact, I gave it up years ago. I found that by the time the end of the year rolled around, I hadn't kept many--okay, make that any. Zip. Zero. Nada. I finally came to the conclusion that if I didn't make resolutions, I would achieve my goal by December 31st. Made sense to me.

However, that doesn't mean I don't have things I want to get done in 2017.

First off, I need to get back to actually writing--not critiquing, not editing, not revising--but real writing with new stories, new plots, and new characters. The past six months has seen my routine in upheaval. We sold the house in Fort Lauderdale in July, moved to Germantown in August, and have spent the better portion of the fall and winter unpacking and getting used to the climate again. Somehow, writing fell by the wayside. Not only do I have problems finding a decent storyline, but my mind flits from one thing to another like a nervous butterfly.

And then, there are the renovations I want to do to the kitchen along with a room addition onto the back of the house. But that will be another blog on down the road.

I was also determined that my husband and I who are both pushing seventy (he's there, I will be in November) need to get in shape. Writing is not conducive to exercise, and since he retired a couple of years ago, the hubster has also taken to a sedentary lifestyle. That's one reason why I pushed for a house with a pool. At least in the summer we'd get some activity going. Also, our bedroom is upstairs. We haven't climbed stairs in over twenty years. I huffed and puffed like the big, bad wolf. So when a brochure for the Germantown Athletic Club came in the mail, we hustled over and took a tour.

The Club is up to date on the latest of everything. All those machines were intimidating, but the shallow pool, the forty foot regular pool, and the hot tub looked inviting. They also have personal trainers for the truly serious (not us) and numerous group activities like Zumba, water aerobics, and all types of yoga. I may check out some of those later, but for now, we've agreed to take it slowly. We'll go two days a week at first. That should give us time to recover from what I'm sure will be crippling muscle aches before tackling those machines again. When we no longer hurt, we'll increase to three days.

We signed up yesterday, and decided our first experience will be Friday. I'm looking forward to it. We even went out and bought some proper workout clothes. After all, image is everything, right? And speaking of images, I can see me tripping over my own two feet on the treadmill, falling face down, and flying feet first into the aisle where I will cause some little old lady walking by to tumble head over heels and break her hip. Since modern technology is everywhere these days, I'm certain someone will catch all this on their cell phone. So, look for me to become famous on the Internet.

I hope you all are having a good start to the new year. Take care, and since February is a short month, I'll be back in March.

Suzanne Rossi

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Writing While in Slug Mode and My Time Travel Romance Series

Sleepy kitty














Winter is both a good and challenging time to write. Hibernation calls and chocolate becomes a food group, hot beverages a necessity. My favorite is hot Earl Grey tea, also peppermint. I am not averse to coffee. Caffeine battles the tug to curl up with my drowsy kitties and nap. Occasionally, I succumb, plus we've had another round of plague in the family that set me back. Again.
Despite it all, I'm pleased to say I recently submitted the next in my paranormal time travel romance series to my Wild Rose Press editor and she loves it. This first story, Somewhere My Lady, is a New Adult time travel mystery romance similar to Somewhere My Love but different. The novel kicks off my new series within a series, 'Somewhere in Time--The Lady series.' The common theme in all my 'Somewhere' stories is that they open in an old home, so far in Virginia, and then flash back to an earlier era (or eras) in the same house or somewhere else entirely like the Scottish Highlands.When my editor asked how many titles I foresee in this latest venture, I said, 'At least three.' I have no idea how or when the ideas will come to me, but they invariably do. She needs a clue for contract wording, though.

Who knows? I might write six.

Old English Manor with red roses



In Somewhere My Lady, the couple are whisked back and forth between present-day in the elegant colonial home on the James River and its rich past during the American Revolution. The story has mystery, history, ghosts, humor, angst, a lot of paranormal activity, and above all Romance. I'm psyched and look forward to sharing more about it soon. 

(The above image is actually a pic of a British manor house, but the best of the James River plantations homes bear a resemblance to one, so close enough.)
old Victorian home

















I'm at work on the next story in my 'Lady' series, which is totally different from the first one except that it fits the overarching theme in my Somewhere' series--like spokes on a wheel. 

This second story takes place in a castle-styled Victorian home in historic Staunton, Virginia, and flashes back to various eras within the lifespan of the house. Another winner, I think. At least, I'm engrossed in the writing. Each of the 'Lady' stories has a strong female lead and hero, and a great supporting cast of characters. I hope you will enjoy them when they take flight later this year.
Door, Old, Fantasy, Halloween, Gothic Style, Mystery, Spooky, Wood, Medieval, Doorway (2)Doors are important in these stories and the question posed is, 'Will you go through that door?'
What awaits you on the other side?
If you haven't read my Somewhere in Time Series, the stories are all available in kindle at Amazon. Somewhere My Love stands alone, but Somewhere in the Highlands is the sequel to Somewhere My Lass, so those two are connected. Somewhere the Bells Ring is an anytime read with a Christmas theme. Amazon link below:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ways Our Grandchildren Delight Us

~~ Vonnie Davis

I think most of us grandmas have little traditions we do with the grandkids, no matter their ages. When distance is involved, we have to be more creative. My one granddaughter and I watch the Miss America Pageant together. She lives in Ohio and I'm in southern Virginia. We text during the event, something we've been doing for years.

My two grown grandsons go to see the latest Bourne movie on the same day as Calvin and I. They're in Indiana. We text about the film afterward. As soon as the movie is available on Blue Ray, Amazon makes a delivery to each of their houses with a copy from Grandma. We do the same thing with James Bond, too. Whenever they come to visit, we do a Bond marathon complete with too many snacks as we repeat the cheezy lines we know by heart.

The Super Bowl has my other grandson (I have four) and me betting and texting and teasing. Whatever team he's for, I'm for the other side whether I truly am, or not. I mean, how else can I get him all riled up? He's in northern Maryland.

Books have been a large part of our tradition, too. When Josh was in Afghanistan, he asked for books of poetry about nature--something he could mentally sink into like Robert Frost and Walt Whitman.

My youngest granddaughter goes to the Maryland School for the Arts. She'll ask for books on music theory.

When Ryan was a toddler, he spent many weekends with me. I began to collect Disney videos. The first was "Bambi." He scrambled off my lap and ran to his drawer in the kitchen where his toys and books were kept, returning with his "Bambi" Golden Book. He followed along with the video on his little book. He was only 14 months old then. It didn't take me long to realize with every video I bought for his enjoyment, I'd have to buy a matching book.

Ryan's a freshman at MIT now. He was chosen to work on an internship with the Bossman Group, doing research on the Mars 2020 Land Rover. He explained what he'd be doing, but I don't speak math or Greek or chemical chit-chat. I just nod with all the grandmotherly wisdom I can fake. He's majoring in Solid Material Engineering with a double minor in Energy Storage and Environmental Science. Ryan's favorite book? I think I've mentioned before it's "The Universe and Dr. Einstein."

He relaxes from a heavy school load by wrestling, a sport he loves. MIT's wrestling squad is flying to Lynchburg this weekend, where we live, to wrestle in an Eastern Collegiate Tournament with 20 other colleges. We'll get to see him and I can't wait. Here's a short video of him at his last match. He's the one with no socks and writing on his singlet, or uniform. And what is that squibbling? Hey, it's MIT...they're math equations.


What traditions do you have with your grandchildren or children?

For more information about me, the writer and not the grandma, visit my website at www.vonniedavis.com.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Networks and the writer



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

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

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

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


Friday, January 20, 2017

Word Pictures

By Sandra Nachlinger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her eyes opened wide. “They don’t?”

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

  

Monday, January 16, 2017

10 Well-Known Books; 10 Last Sentences

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

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

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

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

10 Last Sentences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Her work was done.

How Did You Do?

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

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

Truth.

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Good Books....

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

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

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

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

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

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



Thursday, January 12, 2017

Newsletter Frequency by Paty Jager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

Sunday, January 8, 2017

JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


How much influence do you give the cover?    

Friday, January 6, 2017

Happy Productive 2017

Happy New Year!

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













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


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

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



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




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












~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~





So what do I have in store this year?


The Beauty and the CEO (Once Upon a Tiara)

Undeniable chemistry 
Makeup artist Zoe Baldwin can't believe the gorgeous guy she flirted with on the way to a job interview was her potential boss. So when Will Ravens, CEO of his family's cosmetics company, tells Zoe her innovative approach isn't right for his brand, she agrees to work alongside him at a beauty pageant to prove her skills. But where there are sparks, there's certain attraction… 
Will is fighting to keep his family legacy afloat. He's going back to basics at Ravens Cosmetics, leaving no time for romance or Zoe's avant-garde ideas. But despite his intentions, he finds himself falling deeper under Zoe's sensual spell. Amid the chaos caused by company sabotage, can both their career dreams and passionate fantasies come true? 
Pre-order today! 
Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/2dhxK8p
Google Play http://bit.ly/2d07Kkc

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

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








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