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Monday, November 30, 2015

The Dreaded "E" Word--Editing

Hi everybody.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know I did. I'm still on carb and calorie overload, but sure I can find more space for another slice of pumpkin pie--with whipped cream, of course.

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty here, I'd like to share some good news. First, I received my cover for my book, The Assassin. I've got to hand it to The Wild Rose Press, they have some of the best cover artists in the business. I've never been disappointed. I don't have a release date yet, but as soon as I do, I'll post it.

And last Wednesday, I opened my e-mail to find a contract offer for Killer Conference, the second in my Snoop Group series that began with A Novel Death. Made my day!

This past year has been quite busy for me. I had four books released in a five month period. That meant I did more editing than actual writing.

Ah, editing. Whether it's self-editing or suggestions from your editor, it can be a daunting task. I know successful authors who cringe when they hear the word. Personally, I like editing. It allows me to further improve my work. The problem, however, was knowing when to stop. In that constant state of wanting perfection (which will never happen), I have a propensity to go overboard. I once had a critique partner who claimed I could take an 85,000 word manuscript and edit it down to ten pages. A bit of an exaggeration, but not far off. Eventually, I learned to say "enough is enough." As a result, I now try to follow a routine when it comes to the dreaded "e" word.

Unless, I realize something in the story is very wrong, I rarely edit until the book is finished. I then step back for a few weeks so I can re-read it with fresh eyes. I jot notes on key points chapter by chapter. This helps since I tend to have timeline issues. Sometimes, all I need is a little tweak. Others? Well, let's just say I discovered halfway through a book that my blonde heroine had somehow morphed into a redhead. This is not an unusual occurrence when I'm working on two books at the same time. The book that drove me nuts was Deadly Inheritance. I wrote it by the seat of my pants--very little plotting routine--and it showed with numerous repetitions and a lot of useless narrative.

Once I self-edit, I'm ready to send it to my critique group, but before I do, I read each chapter sent and make more changes. My partners make suggestions and I tend to go with their ideas, since they see things I overlook.

When the entire manuscript is critiqued--could take as long as ten months--I go through it one more time before submission to my publisher.

Now, it's my editor's turn to do her thing. Occasionally, I have to stand up for certain things, but by and large, my editor and I see eye to eye. That's a tremendous relief, since I've heard horror stories from authors about editors who just aren't on the same page as the writer.

So, if you are new to the writing business, don't let editing scare you. It's just another way of making a product you like better. And while you may have slaved over that narrative passage describing a meadow or the details of dinner, don't be afraid to slash and burn when needed. Excessive words can put a reader to sleep and that's the last thing you want. Directional words like up and down are often overused. If you sit, it's usually down. If you stand, it's generally up--unless it's a military story where to stand down is acceptable. Words like "that" and "just" can also be problematic. I have a critique partner who calls "almost" a weasel word--meaning it degrades what it's describing.

I have to share this story. One of my first critique partners wrote a book that came in at 120,000 words. While at a conference, she attended a workshop on unnecessary words. "That" and "just" were highlighted. Curious, she did a search of her manuscript and found 18,000 "thats" and numerous "justs." When she finished laughing at herself, she made the edits and turned in a book 85,000 words long. It was later published.

Hope this entry has entertained and helped. See you next month with more insights into my strange world of writing.

Suzanne Rossi

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Story Behind Old Doors

I love old doors, large, small, quaint, cozy, bold, dramatic, dark...such mystery. What secrets they may hide. I'm not alone in my fascination with doors and the people/stories behind them. Disney's Monsters, Inc is all about kid's doors and monsters in closets, but I digress. In my Dec. 14th release, YA fantasy romance, The Hunter's Moon, Morgan Daniel is struck by the door leading into Wapicoli Lodge, the massive family hub of her soon-to-be heartthrob, the handsome Native American teen, Jackson. She's also wonders at the totem standing to one side of the entrance.

      ' All along the colorful painted pole were wolf carvings, mostly faces, with gaping jaws and fangs; others were carved with their mouths shut. In some instances, the entire beast was displayed, its legs stretched out. What or who was it chasing? '
      Then she spies the door.

     'Above the wooden door stout enough to withstand a battering ram were yet more wolf carvings. They stared down at her as if they held the secret to an age-old mystery. Perhaps they did.
      Goosebumps scattered over her from head to toe. Where was she?'

Good question, and one we spend the rest of the story exploring. That door definitely stirred my curiosity, mingled with a sense of dread. 

Story Blurb:

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.

The Hunter's Moon is available in pre-order at many sites now: At Amazon at Barnes & Noble 

Next in my Secret Warrior Series, Curse of the Moon, is in edits and I'm at work on the third, The Panther Moon, published by The Wild Rose Press.

For more on me, please visit my blog:

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving! Be Thankful for all Things by Vonnie Davis.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you all. Calvin and I will be in Maryland with my sons, their ladies and grandkids, enjoying the holidays and a week away from writing.

I don't get to see them nearly as often as I'd like, especially with all the contract deadlines. Steve, my older son, is a vice-principal at a middle school in Maryland, father of two, and just recently got his fifth degree black belt or Master status in karate. He's a bass player and, in Mom's opinion, an awesome singer. Are you as prejudiced about your children as I am about mine?

My youngest son, who still allows me to call him "my baby boy" is the safety manager of Volvo in Maryland, father of one, and elementary school wrestling coach. Both of my sons work security for the Washington Redskins and sometimes for the Baltimore Ravens. College costs are looming for them both as their kids are in senior high school.

I also have a daughter living in Indiana and Calvin has a son in Berlin, Germany. Yes, the kids are spread far and wide, but they're healthy with full lives. But enough of Mother talk, even though it's that time of the year to express our gratitude for all things large and small. Calvin and I find our lives incredibly blessed. I hope yours is, too.

Our blessings are everywhere, aren't they? I've been getting monthly shots in my retina. No fun, but I'll be blessed with sight longer. I've been busy writing, sometimes to the point of mental exhaustion, but I love the process. Even though I confess to getting weary. Sometimes when I reach the end of a book, I can barely form a complete sentence. I mumble and sleep.

Calvin's been waking up with numb, tingling fingers. He can't button his shirts, so I buy him ones with quarter zippers. We make do, knowing things could be worse with his diabetes. Compared to so many, our health issues are minor. I hope yours are even smaller or non-existent.

Do you have traditions for the holidays? My daughter-in-law, the organizer, emailed her menu out to everyone two weeks ago. Tina always places three kernels of corn on our plates. Before grace is said, we go around the table and state something we're thankful for as we remove each kernel of corn. Mike silently goes for the box of tissues and sets them beside Tina. She scowls and says she won't need them, but invariably she does. She's fine until she gets to the "being a mother" part. She can't have children. Mike had custody of Ryan when they married, so in her words she got this incredible husband and a chance to be a Mom to an eight-year old.

Ryan is now a senior in high school, sending off college applications and I'm not sure who's more upset he's growing up--Mike, Tina, or Grandma. He's our math and science geek. When kids make fun of him in school, he just laughs. He wears the title proudly. MIT or Caltech are his main goals.

I've shared a smidgen of my life. Small and large things I'm thankful for. I hope your list of blessings are as precious to you as mine are to me.

Have a love-filled holiday, everyone.

Read more about Vonnie Davis at

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I will have to confess. I'm taking a small break from my portion of the blog this month. With the holidays and helping with a relative recuperating from surgery, my brain has stopped producing any creative juices. With everyone having busy schedules, I though you all might enjoy something simple to make and very traditional.

So, I looked up some historical recipes that look good for the holidays. They are taken from The Outlander Kitchen Cookbook by Theresa Carle-Sanders. The Outlander series is one of my favorite historical/fantasy/time travel guilty pleasures.


Colum's Shortbread

Yield 9" buttered pan
Oven at 300 degrees

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup cold butter

Move rack to middle position and heat oven to 300° F. Butter a 9” square or round pan.
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Grate butter into flour mixture and blend well using your fingertips, until everything resembles the texture of sand.
Press firmly into prepared pan and freeze for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer, prick dough all over with a fork, and bake until edges are just golden, 30 to 35 minutes.
Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares or wedges (petticoat tails).
Serve with tea for a mid-afternoon pick me up. Store in a covered container for up to 5 days.

Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)

I hope you enjoy these.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Montana Christmas

I've had the holiday season in a few of my books; but so far, only one (a contemporary western) is centered around the Christmas season. A Montana Christmas is set on a working ranch with the emphasis on hoping to heal a family

I liked the idea of writing a Christmas story that was a slice of life story as much or more than a romance. It does carry on the love story in From Here to There, serving as a kind of epilogue as it's set several years later. At its center is love, which is what the season is about. I also thought that while Christmas is considered a time of magic and goodness, for some, it's a time of stress and unmet expectations. So take two families and see if the Christmas season can bring together those who have chosen to be apart for reasons that once made sense. Do they still?
It was rewarding to set this story on a ranch since I live the ranch life and understand the work doesn't stop because of a holiday-- not even such an important one as Christmas. Setting it in a state I love being, Montana, but where I have never spent a Christmas added to the enjoyment of immersing myself in the beauty of the season.

The characters in this novella are good people, with true Christian values, but not actually part of any church at this point-- not that it is ruled out for the future. Part of what they do is something I know many choose when not traditionally religious-- they also celebrate the Solstice with some ancient, Celtic traditions. Bringing into the family both the Solstice and Christmas is done by many as well as adding in Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and whatever other traditions were part of their growing up.

Joining together those who have had problems in the past doesn't always work well in any season-- let alone at a time of the year when there are already a lot of stresses and expectations. So all of that is part of A Montana Christmas, which follows the ranch family in From Here to There. I liked seeing how these characters, who I'd come to love, were doing a few years down the road. Writing it also suggested a future story for the family which I have yet to write because this was the year of historic romances but next year, it's in my plan.

Links to all buy sites at: Romances with an Edge

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hyperbole - by Sandy Nachlinger

When I was growing up, my dad would sometimes pin me with his laser stare and ask, “Are you stretching the truth?” How could I possibly deny my exaggeration under those circumstances? I could only hang my head and mutter, “Yes, sir.” But now that I’m grown up and a writer of fiction, I find that exaggeration can sometimes be a good thing. In fact, when applied to writing, it has earned a fancy name—hyperbole. That sounds so much nicer than fabrication or embellishment or just out-and-out lying, doesn’t it?

I get a kick out of hearing people use hyperbole in everyday conversation. My friend Pat once told me, “I either have to get a haircut or a dog tag.” She’s a writer too, so we can forgive her for overstating the shagginess of her coiffure. And we’ve all heard the clichés:

 “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”
“She’s as big as the side of a barn.”
“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times ….” (Oops. There’s my dad again.)

But when used sparingly in writing, hyperbole can be an effective tool in adding color to our stories.

For example, In Macbeth, Shakespeare wrote:

"Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No. This my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red."

I think it's unlikely that Macbeth's blood would actually turn the ocean red, but by using hyperbole, Shakespeare sure lets us know how guilty his character feels.

And then there's Mark Twain in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
"There did not seem to be brains enough in the entire nursery, so to speak, to bait a fishhook with." Much more effective than writing, "The children were not too bright."

Flannery O’Connor (in “Parker’s Back”) wrote: “The skin on her face was as thin and drawn as tight as the skin on an onion and her eyes were gray and sharp like the points of two picks.” What a picture O’Connor painted!

In my first book, I.O.U. Sex, Peggy wants to lose weight before she tracks down her boyfriend from high school days: "I'm holdin' off 'til I'm as thin as a bar of soap after a hard day's washin'." My co-author and I thought that was much more fun than just saying she wanted to lose some pounds.

 So go ahead and stretch the truth every once in a while. You’ll add spice to your writing, you’ll have fun doing it, and it’s perfectly okay – so long as you call it hyperbole. 

*Note: This is a recycled post, which I originally published several years ago on the Boomers & Books blog, which is now inactive.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Transfer Smashwords Book to Kindle eReader by Joan Reeves

Many authors offer free books through Smashwords plus Smashwords just has a ton of free books. Some Kindle users may not know how to get a Smashwords book onto your Kindle.

Smashwords offers eBooks in multiple formats. One of these is usually the .mobi file format used for Kindle. It's very easy to download the .mobi files and transfer them to your Kindle. Here are step by step instructions for you.

How To Transfer a Smashwords Book to Your Kindle

1. Set up an account with Smashwords so you can purchase an eBook or download a free book with a Smashwords coupon. Then when you buy an eBook from Smashwords, the book is automatically placed in your Smashwords library. You can download the eBook in any offered format immediately or at a later date.

2. Even though you have Manage Your Kindle set up for buying and managing your Kindle books from Amazon, you will need to download the Kindle for PC app to your computer. When you do this, the download installation will set up a My Kindle Content folder, listed under My Documents on your computer. Then, when you download an ebook from Smashwords in a .mobi file, the file will automatically be saved in your My Kindle Content folder.

3. Download your selected book from Smashwords. The book will be placed in your Smashwords Library, and Smashwords will save the book as 2 files on your computer. The first file will be the My Kindle Content .mobi file, and the second file is a .mbp file. Once those 2 Smashwords files are saved on your computer, the Kindle for PC app you already installed on your computer will be able to open the eBook. You can read it immediately on your computer.

Most of us with Kindles though want to read on the Kindle. So let's continue.

Transfer Book from Kindle for PC to Your Kindle Reader

There are 2 ways to do this.

1. Connect the USB end of your Kindle cable to your PC. Open the Kindle drive, copy the Kindle Content .mobi file into the Documents folder on your Kindle drive. (It’s just like transferring a file to an external hard drive or a thumb drive, etc.)

2. If your Kindle device has a WiFi connection, you can use the free email address set up with your Amazon Kindle account and email your .mobi file to your Kindle via that email address. If in doubt as to what that email address is, login to your account / Manage Your Kindle. In Left sidebar, you'll see Your Kindle Account and below that, a number of choices, one of which is Personal Document Settings. Click that. A window opens, and you'll see at the top Send To Kindle Email Settings.

3. Click Learn More to read the instructions given by Amazon on how to set up the free Send-to-Kindle Email Settings under “Personal Document Settings” in your Amazon account. It's easy to understand.

4. Once you have your Kindle email address set up, just open your email app, create a message sending the email to your Kindle Email that you plan to use, attach the Kindle Content .mobi file, and click Send.

5. When you email a .mobi file to your Kindle account, you'll find the eBook listed in your Kindle Library under All Items. Just use the Actions button to select where you want to deliver the eBook. (This is for those of us who have multiple Kindle reading options, i.e., smartphone, Kindle, Kindle Fire, etc.)

6. Turn on your Kindle reader device so that it will receive the eBook just as if you'd bought it from the Kindle Shop. The book will download just like any other eBook purchase.

Actually, it takes less time to buy the book from Smashwords, download it to your PC, send it to Your Kindle Account, and download onto your device than it takes to read this.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives her “happily ever after” with her hero, husband, in the Lone Star State. Visit Joan at her Amazon Author PageSlingWords, her blog; and sign up for Wordplay, her email mailing list, and receive a free ebook.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Home for the Holidays by Paty Jager

 Most people think fondly of going home for the holidays, be it Thanksgiving or Christmas. When my children were young we'd swap Thanksgiving and Christmas each year with his family and mine. After my mom passed away my dad usually came to our house for Christmas and sometimes Thanksgiving.  But I remember the thrill even as an adult of going home and the memories of past holidays and the anticipation of spending another holiday with family traditions and instilling those traditions in my children.

When I'd decided to write Shayla's story, a younger secondary character from Miner in Petticoats, I thought about that yearning to be home for Christmas. She was asked, not invited, by her older brother to return home to Sumpter when he and his wife and children were returning. But she refused because she always did the opposite of what her brother wanted just to be contrary. However, when her friend suggested they could arrive by Christmas and he would ask for her hand in marriage, she jumped at the adventure of traveling with her friend and surprising her family.

Here is the blurb for my new Christmas Novella, A Husband for Christmas.

Final Novella in the Halsey Homecoming and Halsey Brothers Series

Shayla Halsey wanted to be home for Christmas, but never imagined her travels would include spending the night in a brooding stranger’s cabin. Snowballing events cause her to look inside herself and recognize maybe it wasn’t being home she wanted as much as it was to have a home.
Mace Walker has his life in order and doesn’t want it disrupted again. Yet, when he discovers a woman stranded in the snow, he has to help her—despite her overbearing and reckless fiancé. In a matter of days, Shayla turns his life upside down and forces him to decide if he should leave town or face the consequences. 

Mace started at the top, grasping the button and pushing it through the hole.
“Thank you,” Shayla said, more breathy than she’d wanted. His intense stare at each button as he fastened her clothing had started her heart pumping like she’d ran all the way from Baker City.
“Get your hands off her!” Randal took three steps toward them.
Mace glared at him and Randal stopped.
“Y-you shouldn’t be touching her like that,” Randal said, staying on the other side of the table.
“She can’t do it.” Mace continued buttoning her shirtwaist.
“I should be the one helping her. I’m her fiancé.” Randal took another step forward.
Mace glared at him and glanced down at Shayla.
“You plan to marry him?” Mace asked.
Under his scrutiny and sitting with her top only half-fastened, she cleared her throat. “I haven’t said yes.”
Randal charged forward. “You agreed to come here as a way for me to ask your father for your hand.”
Shayla trailed her gaze over Randal’s familiar mouth that stayed in a perpetual smile. It was turned down at the corners now. His usually twinkling eyes were wide with surprise. He was the boy who made England not so lonely and glum.
Mace leaned back. “Are you going to marry him?”
Shayla turned her gaze on Mace. His full mouth didn’t turn up at the corners, and she’d yet to see a smile. His eyes peered into hers. Her stomach fluttered. Looking at Randal never gave her the thrill that staring into Mace’s eyes did.
“I don’t know.”

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