Monday, November 16, 2015

Robin Gianna's Writing Journey

Please welcome Robin Gianna back to the blog today!

My writing journey started with a summer beach read, and the epiphany that I wanted to write fiction.  
A formerly voracious reader, it was the first novel I’d read in quite a few years, mostly just picking up the occasional magazine while my children were small.  I know some mothers take time for themselves through books, but to me, being interrupted all the time in the middle of a story made it much less enjoyable!
But my youngest was no longer a toddler, and I grabbed a book to take on the trip.  After I read it, I
found myself lying on the beach deeply thinking about the characters. Then, back at home, oddly and obsessively creating new scenes in my head while I was cooking, driving, doing laundry. Weird! I thought maybe I was losing it until I realized these were someone else’s characters and I needed to come up with my own.  Clearly, I needed to write a book!
And so it began.  It didn’t seem so crazy, right?  I’d write a book, then sell it.  I had a journalism degree, after all, so I was a pretty good writer.  I’d read a lot.  How hard could it be?
Well, the answer is, pretty hard! :-) For me, the learning curve to writing fiction was much longer than I ever dreamed it would be.  Early in the journey, I began reading a lot of romances again and remember looking at websites of authors I liked, to learn about them.  Then was flabbergasted that it had taken some of them five or seven years to get published! *gasp*  How was that possible?  
My attitude makes me laugh now, because I know the answer.  Books are hard to write, and competition is fierce when it comes to having an agent or editor become interested in your work.  The number of years between my epiphany and selling?  Nine.  Yep, nine, though I wrote in fits and starts, often letting life get in the way.  Even when I wasn’t writing, though, I kept studying the craft.
In January of 2012, I decided it was time to either get serious about getting published by writing and submitting more, or quit.  I gave myself until the end of that year for a positive sign that I should keep going, in the form of landing an agent or having serious interest from a publisher.  In the midst of working on a single title, I saw that Harlequin Mills & Boon was having a Fast Track submission event for their medical line, where writers could submit just one chapter and a synopsis, and get feedback within a month.  Considering one could turn gray between submitting and getting a response, sometimes, that seemed like a great thing!  And my husband and many of our relatives and friends are physicians and nurses, so I’d have people to bother for research.  Why not? 
Then I pondered how to stand out in the crowd.  I decided that an unusual location would catch attention, but to stick with a popular trope so as not to stick out in a sore-thumb kind of way.  I set the book in Benin, West Africa because my husband had worked in a mission hospital there long ago, and went with a secret baby storyline.  
I was asked for two more chapters.  Woot!  Shortly after, an agent who had requested a single title of mine the prior year offered me representation, which I happily accepted.  Then Harlequin wanted the full manuscript.  These were the signs I’d asked for—obviously, I wasn’t supposed to quit!
In May of 2013, I got THE CALL.  So thrilling!  So happy!  Frankly, though?  Pretty quickly, it became a bit of a ‘Be careful what you wish for’ thing, because my life could not have been busier at that moment.  My father-in-law had experienced a life-threatening heart problem, and was living with us for a few months to recover. My mother fell and was in the hospital, then rehab. My son was graduating from high school, for which I was planning a backyard party and cooking gobs of food, and my daughter was interviewing in NYC for internships, with me accompanying her to help her move in, etc. 
Oh, and I had that new writing career taking up a lot of time, but I didn’t remove anything from my already busy life to accommodate that change.  Can you say stressful?
My daughter still laughs about the morning I got an email from my editor, saying they were going to tweet about their new author, and what was my Twitter account?  I went tearing up to her room, shouting like the house was on fire, telling her she had to set up a Twitter account for me. :-)
So, what I’ve learned that I’d like to pass on?  Get a website set up in advance, even if you don’t publish it until you’ve sold.  Get your social media in order.  Know you will have deadlines to meet and edits to do and promotion for releases that can come pretty fast and furious.  Figure out what you can delegate to others, and what things in your life you might have to do away with.  Ask for help from family members, because they can’t read your mind about what house responsibilities might be pushing you over the edge.  Most of all?  Take care of yourself.  Don’t let one of the things you drop be the exercise you used to do.  Re-energize by engaging with friends, because writing can be a lonely business.
One more bit of honesty?  I’ve had some tough things to deal with personally over the past year and a half, and there have been a few times when I thought maybe it wasn’t worth it.  That I’d gotten ‘get published’ off my bucket list and I was done.
But then my box of books would come, and let me say, that’s a great feeling.  A reader will tell me how much she enjoyed my book.  A bit of a paycheck shows up in the mail.  The book I’m working on comes together, and it feels wonderful when that happens.  All of that makes me smile, and that’s when I know.
It’s worth it.

About Robin
After completing a degree in journalism, working in the advertising industry, then becoming a stay-at-home mom, Robin Gianna had what she likes to call her ‘awakening’. She decided she wanted to write the romance novels she’d loved since her teens.  Robin embarked on that quest by joining RWA and a local chapter, and working hard at learning the craft of fiction writing.
Robin loves pushing her characters toward their own happily-ever-afters! When she’s not writing, Robin’s life is filled with a happily messy kitchen, a needy garden, a wonderful husband, three great kids, a drooling bulldog and one grouchy Siamese cat.
Robin Gianna on the web:

Website             Facebook         Twitter

Her Christmas Baby Bump

One Christmas night with consequences! 

Talented midwife Hope Sanders’s dream of holding a baby of her own is finally coming true! She’s just weeks away from beginning her fertility treatment—and then meeting gorgeous hotshot fertility doc Aaron Cartwright throws a holly sprig in her plans… 

Aaron’s mistletoe kisses might be dazzling, but after they spend one magical Christmas night together, Hope never expects to end up pregnant! Now she’s faced with telling Aaron her surprise baby news…but has she finally found the man of her dreams, too? 

Midwives On-Call at Christmas

Read Reader Reviews

Read an 

Buy Links:

Amazon Kindle     Amazon UK     iBooks     Kobo     B&N

Enter to win signed copies of Her Christmas Baby Bump on Goodreads. 


Thanks Robin for a glimpse into your journey. Love the Twitter story! 
I just finished Her Christmas Baby Bump and it's a Terrific story!! If you're looking for a great contemporary romance with characters with heart, you need to pick up a copy - loved it!

What about you? Anyone else give themselves a deadline for success? Or get a family member to set up the social media?

I know none of us are giving up - and it WILL be worth it!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Karen Walker

Please welcome the lovely and talented Karen Walker to the blog today!!!
Karen has been one of my favourite blogging buddies for years now and I'm thrilled to be able to help her promote her foray into fiction!

The Process of Writing a First-Time Novel after Decades of Writing Nonfiction

Thank you, Jemi, for hosting me today.

 Okay, I’ll admit it right off the bat. Deep, deep down I’d always wanted to write a novel. Ever since I’d read Little Women when I was a child I wanted to be Jo, sequestered in an attic, spinning tales. But that wasn’t the direction my life took. Instead, I became a marketing/public relations professional and wrote articles, essays, brochures, annual reports and the like – always with my client’s name on the piece – never my own. 

After three decades, I quit to write full time. I had a story to tell, but it wasn’t fictional. It was my own story. That resulted in my memoir, Following the Whispers, which I published in 2009. Later that year, while vacationing in Scotland, I heard a voice asking me to tell its story. I’d never experienced anything like that before and it frightened me. It happened again in Ireland, so when I got home, I began to explore what this voice was and what story it wanted me to tell.

In the first session with my writing coach, Mark David Gerson (, I said, “I can’t write fiction.” I’d tried. During the years I was working on my memoir, I went back to school to complete a college education I’d started in the 1960’s. I took every creative writing course the university had to offer and got straight A’s – even graduated Summa Cum Laude. But it was clear to me that I was not a fiction writer. In my mind, you must have a great imagination, write great metaphors, use similes and other writing techniques. Be able to write lush, rich descriptions. That just wasn’t me. I was used to the who, what, where, when, and why of a press release. 

Big sigh here. Mark David’s gentle coaching style helped me move past my own limiting beliefs so that I could begin to allow this story to emerge. Believe me, I kicked and screamed the entire six years it took to get this story out of me. I’ve lost count of the number of drafts. The first one Mark David called a skeleton. “Now you have to put the skin and organs on it.”

Writing a novel was perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I am not an analytical thinker when it comes to writing. I write from the heart. So I didn’t think through a character’s motivation or even character traits. They just came through and I wrote it down. I guess it was kind of like automatic writing.

I’m still much more comfortable writing nonfiction. I’m pretty sure that will be my next project – in fact that same voice is now asking me to write a companion piece to The Wishing Steps – one that imparts all the wisdom that came through during the writing of the book. I’ve learned that it doesn’t pay to ignore those callings. Stay tuned… 
Here’s the scoop on The Wishing Steps:
Three Women and a Single Story That Unites Them Across the Millennia
“Totally engrossing. A must-read for today’s wise woman!” Rev. Kathleen McKern Verigin, minister/priestess
Brighid, Ashleen and Megan: Bound through time by a curious light, a mysterious voice and a call they dare not ignore. Yet in obeying this strange force, the women must face soul-searing trials that call into question everything they know and believe — about themselves and about the world around them.
“Guaranteed to inspire you to a deeper level of spirituality and a new appreciation for Goddess.” Rev. Clara Z. Alexander
Karen Helene Walker is a widely published essayist and author of the 2009 memoir, Following the Whispers. When she isn’t writing, you will often find Karen performing in nursing homes and retirement communities as part of the Sugartime or Sophisticated Ladies musical groups, traveling with her husband of 20 years, Gary, or relaxing with a good book at their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit the author’s website at
The Wishing Steps is available for purchase NOW in both print and ebook versions at: You can also purchase it as an ebook on Kobo, I Tunes, and at Barnes and Noble.
Thanks Karen! I love the story of your journey to becoming a fiction writer - it's so interesting how the stories choose us. 
What about you? Do your stories choose you? Do you want to stretch your wings and try nonfiction (if you're a novelist) - or the reverse?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Jacqui Jacoby & the 2nd Paragraph

Please welcome Jacqui Jacoby back to the blog today!

This week we have author Jacqui Jacoby with a writing craft post of 'Second Paragraph'.

Award-winning author, Jacqui Jacoby lives and writes in the beauty of Northern Arizona. Currently adjusting to being an empty nester with her first grandchild to draw her pictures, Jacqui is a self-defense hobbyist. Having studied martial arts for numerous years she retired in 2006 from the sport, yet still brings strength she learned from the discipline to her heroines. She is a working writer, whose career includes writing books, teaching online and live workshops and penning short nonfiction.

Jacqui Jacoby on the web:

Website           Blog                       Twitter        Facebook

Google + Jacqui Jacoby          Instagram: JacquiJaxJacob      Pinterest: Jacqui Jacoby

Second Paragraph
Every writer faces it.  Every writer worries and dreads that it is going to arrive.  You sit down to type, whether it is a novel, an article or a blog entry, and there it will be: a blank document with a blinking cursor asking you to begin. 

We sit in our chairs, ready to write, the ideas in our head ready to pour onto that page, but we just can’t get it. We can’t get it to sound perfect, moving from our mind to our fingers, even when we think we know what to say.

“Why don’t you just start on the second paragraph,” Lucien Carr said when he at worked at the United Press International, no doubt kick starting a writer at a type writer. And Carr was right. Sometimes skipping the beginning to fill in later and moving on to what comes next is all it might take to get forward momentum.

Hitting a wall of “writer’s block” can be cured by something as simple as Mr. Carr’s suggestion.  You can’t get that first paragraph to work, move down the food chain to the second and see if that doesn’t jump start your ideas.  Sometimes something as simple as going back to write the beginning last can fix the problem.

If hitting the wall, however, turns to jumping off the cliff, then it might take a little bit more creativity to break through.

Ted Schwartz, in his book Time Management for Writers gives excellent advice on multi project.  It is, as Mr. Schwarz says, only writers who set off to work on one solitary project at a time giving it your full interest, until that interest is burned out. “Doctors see several patients. Lawyers see several clients … but writers often believe the myth that they are not being professional unless they stay with one project through to completion …”

Editing a book?  Have you started the research on the next, giving equal time to both projects?  Have you volunteered to guest on a blog? How about your favorite RWA chapter?  I bet the editor of the newsletter would love to have you ask to contribute as well as serving on a board or committee.  Contest judging? Always a fun way to share our creative thinking while helping out while getting a chance to see what other people have to say.

The key to finishing a novel is regularity, to be able to face that first paragraph on a daily basis and say “This is what we’re going to do.”   You must commit to it with a set time and a set goal in order to move from Page One to The End.  Nothing can get in the way of this goal. Not TV programs, telephone calls, requests from family or even that cat who decides your keyboard is the warmest place in the house.  Here is a little known truth: You can move the cat.

On the days the book talks back rudely, telling us “writer’s block” is on the menu, then we need a to attack from a different angle, letting that book know it is going to get written.  We’ll just spend twenty minutes answering writing related e-mail, or maybe we’ll write an entry or our blog.  Or better still … we’ll start on the second paragraph and see what the story has in store for us.

 Jacqui Jacoby's newest release is MAGIC MAN

Detective Peter Mackenzie knew crime and knew his job. With The Cemetery Man schedule to leave the next body on the next grave Peter doesn’t have time for the puzzling Alexandra Madison. Her wild stories of a stolen life and family and friends who don’t remember her. Her last resort, she tells him is him and the relationship they shared. Peter doesn’t need this nonsense and his eccentric father walking in only irritates him more. Until his father utters the name everyone forgot, giving hope to Alexandra for the first time. 

Time is their enemy as the weekend grows closer and on Sunday, Peter knows another body will be waiting. 

What he doesn’t know, what he couldn’t know, even with Alexandra delving deeper into his father’s past, the victims are not random. They are chosen with reason and the monster who takes them is not done. She is coming for one of them.

Buy Links:

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback

Amazon UK





Enter this Goodreads giveaway to win signed copies of MAGIC MAN. 
Thanks Jacqui! I tend to work in a linear fashion, but I have jumped ahead to writer certain scenes that are calling to me, and I definitely have worked on more than one project at a time - it's fun!

How about you? Anyone cheating on their MS with another MS at the same time?

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Final Chapter for From the Write Angle

If you haven't heard yet, my friends and I over at From the Write Angle are lowering the curtain over at our blog. It was a tough decision, but it's time. We've all gotten busy, busy, busy, and we're not able to commit to the time needed to keep the blog strong. If you haven't read the final post, it's a good one, and in the comments many of our contributors are doing updates about then/now.

From the Write Angle started in 2011. In some ways, it seems eons ago, in others, only a heartbeat or two.

It's natural to look back and to look ahead during a time like this. I haven't sent out a single query or published a single book in that time. I know to some that would seem inconceivable, but it's true. So, what have I been doing? Working on my craft. I'm a hands-on learner, so I've been writing and trying and learning. And improving.

While I may not have my stories out in the real world yet, I'm SO much closer to having a product I'll be proud to share.

My buddies over at From the Write Angle are a large part of that. So many talented writers who are so willing to share and help out others! I've already bought and read at least a dozen books by my fellow FTWAers and I'm looking forward to many more.

It's been a very good ride at FTWA, and I'll miss the regular contact with my colleagues and my new blogger buddies, but I know we'll all keep in touch.

Have you been part of a group blog? It's such a great way to grow and learn and share! 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Rachael Thomas & The Dilemma of Deadlines

Please welcome Rachael Thomas to the blog today!


The Dilemma of Deadlines
As a published writer, deadlines become part of the routine, but learning to work to deadlines is something that I tried to do even as I worked on my first manuscript. Why put that sort of pressure on yourself if you haven’t reached your dream of becoming a published writer yet? Because without deadlines to keep me focused, I would have been in danger of missing my goal. 
I was a member of Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme for seven years before I finally achieved my goal of publication. On this scheme I was able to submit one full manuscript for critique each year and the deadline for this submission was the end of August. With enrolment onto the scheme opening at the beginning of the year, this gave me my ‘final’ deadline. Into the eight months leading up to that deadline I set myself ‘mini’ deadlines, such as, to be half way through the story by a certain time. Then I calculated how many words I would need to write each day or week to achieve first the mini deadline, then the final deadline. 
I firmly believe that the sooner you condition yourself to working to deadlines, the easier everything will be when you achieve your dream of publication. Once you get over the excitement of having a book published, deadlines will become a normal part of your writing calendar and if you don’t meet them, you will be letting down a lot of people waiting on your book to fill their schedule.
My tips for working to deadlines.

  1. Make them achievable. It’s no good setting yourself a target of two thousand words a day if your daily life is not going to allow you to reach that target and believe me, when I say that continually not meeting your daily target will make you miserable and knock you right off course.
  2. Don’t become distracted. Your writing is important, so give yourself the time you deserve in which to write. Carve out a set time each day or week for that purpose, even if it’s as little as half an hour a day. The words you write in that half an hour will soon build up.
  3. Don’t be intimidated. You’ve worked hard for weeks or months and the final deadline is in sight and it’s very easy to become intimidated by it. That is the point when anything, and I mean anything, usually becomes more appealing than writing, no matter how much you want to meet your deadline. This is the point I tell myself I will write for just ten minutes then go and tackle the ironing or mop the floor, but usually find that the enforced ten minutes is enough to stem the need to be a domestic goddess and focus on my story.
  4. Enjoy writing. Whatever scheduling you decide to use to reach your final deadline, always make it realistic and ensure it doesn’t put so much pressure on you that you lose the fun and enjoyment of writing. After all, that’s why we do it.
Rachael Thomas Bio
I grew up in the Midlands, but when I moved to Wales, over twenty years ago, I found a place to finally put down roots. I married into a farming family and embarked on a massive learning curve which also saw me learning Welsh when my two children were small.
Writing is something I have always wanted to do and I can still remember the thrill of one of my short stories being held up as an example to the class when I was about nine. It wasn’t until my own children were in school that I seriously started to pursue my dream. I joined a local writing group which met every Monday afternoon and being with like-minded people was the boost I needed.

Reading romance had always been my first love, and just about every short story I wrote was romance, so I decided to write my first book. During that process I also attended my first weekend writing course with Kate Walker and joined the RNA’s fabulous New Writers’ Scheme. A short time later I joined Romance Writers of Australia and learnt a lot from entering their competitions. I sought out courses and you can imagine my joy when I discovered Sharon Kendrick’s course in beautiful Tuscany.

Behind the Scandalous Fa├žade, my So You Think You Can Write entry, is my thirteenth book and although only eight have those magic words ‘the end’ written on them the others are definitely part of the learning process I have enjoyed over the last six years.

I love escaping to distant shores with my characters, entering their glamorous world and feeling all the emotions they experience as they discover their love for one another. A love so strong it will overcome all obstacles eventually, leading to that promised happy ever after.

Connect with Rachael Thomas on the web:
Website         Blog        Facebook                Twitter              Goodreads

One Night To Wife

A souvenir from her Greek affair! 

Mogul Nikos Petrakis is on the verge of a deal that will make him even more powerful. He doesn't need any distraction—especially not a sexy redhead whose curves beg to be touched! But now that she's carrying his heir, Nikos is forced to make a decision.

It's time to make Serena his wife!

When one night…leads to pregnancy!

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback

Harlequin US

Three months ago, journalist Serena James had her heart broken by a man she'll never forget, especially not the fury in his eyes the night they parted. Now she's back in Santorini to tell him that their summer fling had unexpected repercussions…
Great advice! It's amazing how appealing cleaning the bathroom can be when we're trying to avoid a tough scene!! Any more deadline tips to share???

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Twittequette Rant

Today I'm over at From The Write Angle, ranting talking about some Twittequette Tips regarding DMs on Twitter. I hope you'll pop on over and join the conversation!

I don't rant very often, but this topic is one of my personal pet peeves.

Make me feel better about the rant, what's one thing that drives you batty and you'd like to rant about?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Home Run Books

Last day of August - how did that happen?????

I've spent part of my summer organizing my classroom library in my new classroom. So much fun! I've got a lot of books - I've had my students do a math activity every year estimating how many books are in my library. Conservative estimates put it over well over 5000 books. It's a very crowded room.

I've got the books organized into buckets - divided into fiction & nonfiction, then by topic, genre, reading level within the genre, authors and more. I always have a few students who volunteer to help me keep it organized over the year. Couldn't do it without them!

One of the best parts of my job (special education resource teacher) is helping kids find those 'home run' books - books that turn them into readers. I love 'touring' new kids around my library and showing them possibilities. I generally send them away with a handful for them to try out. Often, we'll read the first bits together and see which ones excite them.

Once they know how to find books that are at their level and are about things they're interested in, they dive right in. Then, before long, they start expanding those tastes and trying new things. Having the power to choose and the time to explore is often a key to reading success.

Do you remember one of your 'home run' books? One of the first books that turned you into a reader? I think one of my first was the Encyclopedia Brown series, then Nancy Drew & the Boys. I still like mysteries now!