Monday, December 23, 2013

'Twas the Month...

I'm over at From the Write Angle today with a holiday poem I hope you enjoy (especially those of you who participate in NaNo!).

Not everyone celebrates a holiday this time of year, but that doesn't stop me from hoping each and every one of you finds some wonder, joy and love in the coming weeks! Take time to hug your loved ones and celebrate those special moments that can only be found with friends and family. Know I'm thinking of you and wishing you the best.

Happy holidays to all!

Monday, December 16, 2013

'Tis the Season to be Sappy!

It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one who knows me that I'm a bit of a sap. I can be a tough cookie about a lot of things, but stories with heart get me. So 'tis the season to find me with Christmas movies on in the background.

I even watch some of those really over the top ones where the plot is so predictable you know the ending within the first five minutes. I know they're going to syrupy sweet and deliberately sappy, yet I still find myself welling up. This amuses my family to a ridiculous extreme!

I tend to get teary with at least one scene from every movie. Rudolph's Island of Misfit Toys? The scene where the General enters the showroom in White Christmas? When the angel gets her wings? When the letters arrive in a Christmas on 34th street? These get me every single time.

How about you? Are you a fan of Christmas movies? What's your favourite?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Backhanded Compliments

You know them. Those words with their hidden meanings. The simple phrases that on the surface seem benign.

But they're not.

We know better than most that words have power. They have life. Strength.

Use them wisely. Carefully.

A few words nearly broke me a little while ago. They weren't meant with ill intent. At least I don't think they were.

The speaker thought she was being helpful. And funny.

She wasn't.

It's taken a while but I've built a scab over her words. I'm believing again. As I knew I would.

After all, my belief is part of me. Not her. Not in her words or her thoughts.

And I believe I can. I will.

One day.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hook Me!

First lines are so important!

There are so many great examples of great first lines - one of my favourites is It was a pleasure to burn from Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Love its simplicity and how much it tells of the story without being complex or bogging me down.

Styles change and currently it seems popular first lines are fairly short. The main character is often involved. There's usually something intriguing or unique to pull you in. Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book begins There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. No main character but it is pure Awesome! My MG & YA readers gobble it up!

One of my favourite all time books is Anne of Green Gables. It was written in 1908 and the styles were definitely different. The first line is over 100 words long, doesn't mention the main character (I don't think Anne shows up until Chapter 2) and includes 3 semi-colons. Most agents and readers today would pass it right by!

I'm getting better at writing those first lines. Like many other writers, I revise that first line and scene many times before I'm satisfied. And then I do it some more.

How about you, do you have any favourite first lines? Do you find them easy to write?

I'm over at From the Write Angle today talking about first lines in a query - how do you hook that agent??? I hope you'll pop over and join the discussion!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Romantic Tension in Whiskey & Gumdrops

It's here!!!!

I'm SO excited - my crit buddy Jean Oram is releasing the 2nd book in her Blueberry Springs romance series today! It's called Whiskey & Gumdrops and it's a companion book to her first release Champagne & Lemon Drops (a fantastic FREE read!).

Here's Jean herself to talk about Developing Romantic Tension in Whiskey and Gumdrops

***
I decided while writing my latest book, Whiskey and Gumdrops {LINK}, that I needed some significant romantic tension between the hero and heroine. But how could I do that when they don't even 'get together' in the book in an x-rated way? How could I give them a few kisses, but not let them get together? How could I keep them battling each other but not let the heroine give in until the end of the book? (Oh damn, that was a spoiler, wasn't it? Oh, let's face it. It's a romance! You know they're going to get together!)

First of all, I had to give them history. They'd dated in the past but had been 'just friends' for eons.

Then I had to give them different wants. Mandy wanted to remain friends and Frankie wanted them to get together.

But I had to give Mandy a good reason why she thought she shouldn't get together with Frankie. Give her some legit fears that had nothing to do with him, but everything to do with herself. You don't want the issues to be about him so much because it is easy to muddy the waters and water down your conflict. (Plus make the reader think she should move on to someone else and you don't want that!) So, she can blame him, but it has to be obvious to the reader that it is about her--not his flaws.

Then the fun part--letting her get over those fears! For Whiskey and Gumdrops, I tied it into Mandy's growth arc and the plot. So, in order to get what she wants--to be someone in the small town of Blueberry Springs--she has to figure out her fears and overcome them. In overcoming them, she is able to open her eyes to the man who has been waiting in front of her for years.

And I needed something to instigate it all. So, in goes one marrying ex-boyfriend. Instant ka-pow to her gut, forcing her to see that she needs to make a change and setting the story in motion.

Now… about that tension. I made these two friends (Mandy and Frankie) argue here and there. But when they were arguing, they were also really arguing about something else. About Mandy's fears. About Frankie's wants. Here's a little sneak peek:

“I won’t take that kind of risk with your money, Frankie.”
“What? I’m not good enough?” He thrust his shoulders forward. “You have to do everything on your own?”
“Look.” Her hands clenched into tight bundles by her side. “I’m not willing to ruin our friendship. I’ll happily be a waitress forever if it means keeping you as a friend. I’d rather do anything than hurt you.”
“Too late on that one,” he muttered.
Mandy’s eyelids flicked closed and she fought for control. “Frankie…”
“Why won’t you accept my help, Mandy? Why won’t you accept me?”
“Because—” she opened her eyes and gripped his face, staring him in the eye, needing him to understand “—you’re the one thing I can’t afford to lose.”

As you can see in the above bit we've got Mandy saying she won't take his money in order to pursue her dream and Frankie taking it as a personal rejection of his overtures. She wants a friendship. He wants more. They are at odds which creates tension. Especially if you add in bits like so where the character struggles internally:
Was it just her or was he brushing against her intentionally as he moused around her website?
Stop it! Just stop it, brain! He’s off limits! Just because you’re excited about the restaurant, don’t go projecting it onto him and his heavenly body.
She turned to face Frankie, pushing her chair away when his proximity threw her off again. His lips were much too close to hers if she wanted to avoid grabbing him and shoving herself into his lap. Her mouth was hungry for more of him than was right to want from a friend.
“He, um…they...” Damn. Look away from his lips. Be strong. He’s waiting for you to make the next move and you will not make it! Do you understand? And while you're at it, breathe, dammit. 

Can you see the tension? If you have those elements--fears (or a character's fatal flaw) working against what they want and the character's at odds with each other in terms of wants, you've got a great starting point for creating romantic tension.
 
You can get your copy of Whiskey and Gumdrops and enjoy the full version of Mandy and Frankies' romantic tension for only $2.99! Amazon  Amazon.co.uk  Smashwords  

You can find Jean here:
Facebook     Twitter     The Helpful Writer     The LoveBug Blog     Newsletter

***
Thanks Jean - I'm still struggling with adding tension of all kinds in my stories, so I appreciate the tips!

How about you - do you find it easy to add tension to your stories?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Don’t Miss The Writers Helping Writers AMAZING RACE!

Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi at Writers Helping Writers (formerly The Bookshelf Muse) have added two more books to their Descriptive Thesaurus Collection: The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Attributes and The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws. To celebrate, they are hosting a race, and not just any old race, either. It's the...

 
Writing is hard, isn't it? Create the perfect hook. Make your first page compelling. Craft an amazing 25 word pitch. Knock out a query that will blow an agent's mind. On and on it goes. And sometimes, well, you just wish someone would help.

WISH NO MORE!

From October 21st until October 27th, Writers Helping Writers is posting an OPEN CALL for writers. You can fill out a form, requesting help with critiques, book visibility, social media sharing, blog diagnostics, advice and more.

An army of Amazing Racers are standing by (ME INCLUDED!) waiting to help with your submissions. How many people can we help in a week? Let's find out! Did I mention there are Celebrity Racers too--amazing authors and editors who know their way around a first page. Maybe one of them will pick your submission to help with!

Each day this week, there's an AMAZING giveaway, too. So stop in at Angela & Becca's new Writers Helping Writers website and find out how to take advantage of this unique, pay-it-forward event for writers. I'll see you there! 


Monday, October 14, 2013

No Nos!

There are a lot of rules for any job and for any creative outlet. In reality, probably none of them are universal, but they are good guidelines.

But there are always times to rebel!

I think if you know WHY a rule exists and you truly understand it, you're in a position to break it. With discretion.

My favourite rule to break is Thou must write in complete sentences.

Nope.

I like sentence fragments both in dialogue (where it's more acceptable) and out of it. I try not to overdo it, but I love the effect of fragments - especially when my characters are stressed or scared or ticked off. To me it adds to the authenticity.

What's your favourite rule to break?

I'm over at From the Write Angle today talking about Query No Nos - I hope you'll pop over and join the discussion!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gina Conkle & Viking Thralls

Please welcome Gina Conkle to the blog today! I've never read a book about Vikings before and this one is a lot of fun!

***

The Curious Case of Melkorka
The word slave carries dark meaning, doesn’t it?  History’s rife with harsh examples of stolen freedom. Viking marauders were no different in taking thralls (slaves in Viking speak). Yet, I hear occasional reader comments: “No thrall/slave would act like that and survive.”

Oh really?
Dig deeper. Go beyond your preconceived ideas, because history paints an interesting picture of Vikings and their thralls.

Consider Melkorka’s story found in the Laxdoela Saga.
Vikings raided the land of Eire, taking the beautiful high born princess. Crafty Melkorka decided to play mute as soon as she was taken captive to Norway.  There a Rus merchant sold her to Hoskuldr, an Icelandic Viking. 

Hoskuldr travelled on his own merchant business, and he paid a hefty price for Melkorka. He “knew” her in the Biblical sense, but then headed home to Iceland.
Once home, Hoskuldr stayed faithful to his wife, Jorunn Bjarnadottir, and Melkorka was required to do household chores.

The following winter, Melkorka gave birth to a son from Hoskuldr. The boy, Olafr, developed quickly, talking profusely by age two.  Melkorka still played mute and hatched her own plans.
She secretly taught her young son Gaelic.  She treated Jorunn with disdain. Yet, there’s no record of cruel treatment for her bad attitude --- quite the opposite.

One day, Hoskuldr discovered his haughty thrall talking to her son.  She told him everything: who she was, where she was from, and about her Irish king father.  And she didn’t stop the insolence either.  Peace in the Hoskuldr long house disintegrated.
You know what Hoskuldr did?

He built Melkorka her own long house on the other side of the river. She lived independently and grew her wealth.
When Olafr was older, she wanted him to visit the family back in Eire.  Hoskuldr opposed the trip, refusing to provide trade goods to help with expenses.  Melkorka took matters into her own hands.  She married a farmer who had helped manage her lands in the past.  Her wealth increased even more.
To this day, Melkorkustadir is the site where her 10th century farm was established.

The more you explore Viking history, you find thralls --- men and women--- woven into the fabric of everyday life.  Their lives played into Norse families, Norse communities as valued members of society.

And sometimes the girl with an attitude gets what she wants.
***

Gina’s a lover of history, books and romance, which makes the perfect recipe for historical romance writer.  Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations.  Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions, except for romance…that’s where she gets the eye roll.  When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found in southern California delving into the latest adventures of organic gardening and serving as chief taxi driver.
Connect with Gina on the web:

Norse Jewel

A stolen woman of rare qualities…

Seized by marauders and taken to the icy northlands by the wolf-eyed Viking warrior, Helena will do whatever it takes to earn her freedom and return to France.

A mighty Viking Chieftain…

Betrayal has turned Hakan’s heart to ice, but the spirited Frankish maid warms him in a way he’s never known. The spell she weaves leaves them both breathless, but can he keep his promise to return her home even if it means he’ll lose his precious jewel forever?

Read Reviews
Buy Links:     Amazon     iTunes    B&N      Kobo Books 

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
***
I didn't know that about Viking thralls! Research sure leads you down interesting pathways!

What's one of the most interesting pieces of research you've come across?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Internalizing

One of my critique buddies said something the other day that's been bouncing around in my brain ever since.

I'd said something about how much there is to learn, and how slow I feel at learning some of it.

Her response was...

There's knowing something intellectually, and then there's knowing it in your bones as a storyteller, and I continue to be blown away by how long it takes me to actually "get" this stuff.

Yes!

Now, she's way ahead of me on the learning curve of getting this stuff, so it was really encouraging to hear her say this. There are days I wonder how dense my brain really is and what those neurons are doing in there instead of firing the way I wish they would!

How about you? Does it take you a while to internalize the 'rules' of good writing or are you one of those lucky writers who has it come to you naturally?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Jenny Brigalow - Saddles and Skateboards

Please welcome Jenny Brigalow back to the blog today! She's just released her latest book - a YA paranormal.

***
Saddles and skateboards.

Sometimes people express surprize when I tell them that my latest release is a young adult /paranormal. To me it seems perfectly natural. After all, I've been writing YA for almost as long as I've been writing romance. In fact my first milestone was to win a place on a residency co run by the Queensland Writers Centre and Allen&Unwin in 2010 with my teen, fantasy novel The Overlander. Since then, along with several rural romances, I have written The Overlander Trilogy, a literary novel; The Silent Ticking and another YA fantasy; In The Beginning. Occasionally I even have a dabble at poetry.

So, how do I skip from saddles to skateboards?  From outback to urban? And why. Perhaps the answer lies with my reading. For decades I have read voraciously. I love to read. I didn't start writing until I was in my forties and so my reading experience was way ahead of my writing. When I went to school (in the Dark Ages) I understood genre as falling into five "types". These being prose, fiction, poetry, drama and lyric. But in my young mind I conveniently refined them into two. Fiction and nonfiction. I guess it was a mindset that I never grew out of. I have read acres of books utterly oblivious to classification. And so, when I write,  I have no problem travelling from one genre to the next. Indeed, it is only very recently that I have been forced to deal with the whole genre concept.

When I get an idea for a book I just go with it. For instance, The Children Of The Mist came to me after a conversation with my paranormal crazy daughter. It started with a question. "How would you feel if you woke up on your 16th birthday and discovered you had become a vampire?" And so, Morven Smith was born. When I'd finished, I had to sit down and work out which genre it was a fit for. Not a smart way to write I know, but that's just how it is.

So, as I loved to roam and read in an uninhibited style, so too I like to write without boundaries. Some people ask "why change genres?" and I say "why not?".

***
Born in Britain, I arrived in Australia as a young woman in 1985 for an impromptu holiday and never left. I fell in love with the Australian bush, its unique flora and fauna and the colourful personalities that inhabit the country. I live on a small acreage close to Toowoomba with my family, dogs, cats and ponies.
I love to write. I write rural romance, young adult and, more recently, literary fiction. When I'm not writing, I'm reading, walking or riding my Connemara pony, Romeo. Rural romance is a natural extension of my passion for all things country. I believe that romance is the universal language of love. And besides, I'm a sucker for a happy ending.




Jenny around the web:      Facebook      Twitter       Website     Author Page

The Children Of The Mist

An original paranormal YA about an unconventional girl, an unconventional boy, their extraordinary
transformations, and the secrets of the Scottish Highlands.

When skater girl Morven Smith turns sixteen, she develops boobs, acute appendicitis...and a pair of pointy teeth. While she is stunned by her metamorphosis into vampire, her best mate, the enigmatic Zest, is not. For the young werewolf, Morven’s transformation is an answer to his lonely prayers.

But they are unable to celebrate their mutual paranormalcy for long — there are too many dangers, too much suspicion, and too many questions. It’s only in Scotland that Morven can learn the truth about her past. But she discovers more than she bargained for when she meets her birth family — an ancient feud between vampires and werewolves. They may both be Children of the Mist, but only one species can survive.


Read Reviews

Buy Links:    Escape      Amazon      Amazon UK      B&N

A Kindle copy giveaway of THE CHILDREN OF THE MIST for one commenter.
***
Why not indeed? Jenny you're a woman after my own heart! I read a wide variety of genres too. For now I'm sticking with one writing genre, but I don't know what the future will hold.
How about you? Do you like reading and writing widely or do you prefer to stick with one?

Friday, September 20, 2013

CassaStorm is Here!

The talented and generous Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is releasing the 3rd and final book in his Cassa series this week. IT. IS. AWESOME! Alex had a great idea to celebrate his release - he let us all ask our own questions of him. Here's mine:
 
Why did you decide to have such big time jumps in between each of the books & would you consider filling in the blanks?
 
The twenty year jumps served several purposes.
I wanted to tackle something totally different in Byron’s life each time. At every stage of our
life, we face different challenges. There are some situations Byron never would’ve encountered as a young man in his twenties.
I wanted to show maturation of the character, from cocky and rebellious to mature and responsible to wise and commanding.
With twenty year jumps, the secondary characters change a lot. Readers get to meet a new batch of characters every time.
Finally, life just isn’t that exciting all the time for most of us. Despite Byron’s profession, I figured three major events spread over his life was enough.
And I’ve thought about filling in the blanks, but not sure I’d want to go back as much as go forward.
 
 
CassaStorm
By Alex J Cavanaugh
 
From the Amazon Best Selling Series!
 
A storm gathers across the galaxy…
 
Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.
 
After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.
 
Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…
 
“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse 

“…mesmerizing story of survival, personal sacrifice, tolerance, and compassion. It’s a rare jewel that successfully utilizes both character and plot to tell a story of such immense scope and intimate passion…” - Nancy S. Thompson, author of The Mistaken

"An exciting, nail-biting read which sweeps the reader off on adventures in another galaxy."
- Nicua Shamira, Terraverum


$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
 
$4.99 EBook available in all formats
 
Find CassaStorm:
Barnes and Noble       Amazon       Amazon Kindle       Goodreads
 
 


Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.
 
Website       Twitter       Goodreads
 
Have you read Alex's series? If you haven't you're missing out - and CassaStorm is an awesome wrap up! Have you ever tried a time jump between stories?

Monday, September 16, 2013

To Change or Not to Change

The beginning of this school year has been nuttier than normal. Because of some staffing issues and my qualifications I'm tackling a different job this year. This was a pretty much last minute switch after I'd spent a lot of the summer prepping for the job I'm not doing now. I've had a CRAZY couple of weeks getting organized and setting up in my new position.

And I only have myself to blame.

I said Yes.

Why? Because change is good. It's easy to get stuck doing things one way, the same way we've always done them. I like change. I like challenges.

I'm (usually!) like this with my writing too. I like to try new things, look at things from a different perspective. I've just gone through a rewrite that had me ripping my hair out at times and giggling like a 6 year old with a cookie stash at others.

Thanks to a suggestion by a CP, I changed the profession of the male MC and this demanded a huge amount of changes. I ended up rewriting almost all of the story. Some scenes were eliminated, others were drastically changed and most of the remaining scenes needed to be told from the opposite pov.

The story is stronger now - and back in the hands of my CPs. Soon I'll find out how effective they think my changes are!

I'm over at From the Write Angle today talking a little more about changes and how they've affected my journey so far. Hope to see you there!

How about you - do you like change too?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Jane Porter: Do You Want it or Not?

Please welcome Jane Porter today!

***

I want it.  For me, it’s that simple.  I really want to write and I really want to publish.  That’s not to say I don’t suffer from self-doubt, get the blues, or struggle with my creative muse, because I do (a lot), but my desire to write, and my desire to publish, is even stronger than the fear and the sacrifices I’ve had to make.
               
But sitting down at the keyboard, finding the words, searching for a great metaphor or the next crucial scene is only half the battle of writing.  As romance writers we also have to choose to write great fiction, great COMMERCIAL fiction, fiction that appeals to the readers and the market. 
 
I’m not advocating writing to guidelines, but writing with an awareness of guidelines.  The romance writer must write to please herself (her own worst critic) and yet find a market for her stories and her voice.  If you want to publish, if you want to be part of the genre, you’ll know the market and you’ll constantly work at improving your voice.
 
I’m not a professional author, but I am a professional writer.  I take writing seriously.  I have regular office hours.  I give myself tough deadlines.  I finish books and submit them.
 
As a professional writer, I read my friends’ manuscripts.  I read friends’ books in print.  I read the “competition”.  But in the end, when I come back to my computer, I look for “me” in my stories.  I look for the hooks, the motivation, the conflicts, the characterization that makes a book real for me.  I cannot write a Presents with Lynne Graham’s voice.  I cannot write a Superromance with Janice Kay Johnson’s voice.  I cannot write a historical with Susan Wigg’s voice.  I can only write as Jane Porter and that has to be good enough.
 
It is good enough.
 
Part of being a professional is choosing to think positive, learning to set goals, and focusing.
 
And we must write.  Every day, or as often as possible.
 
Truly, if you want to write and publish, you will.  But you have to want it badly.
 
For some of us publishing will be easy.  For others, it will be a tremendous test of faith and will.  But it can be done.  I first submitted an untitled manuscript to Mills & Boon when I was eighteen and a freshmen in college.  I had my first sale just before I turned thirty-six.  In between my first attempt and my first sale I wrote more books than I care to remember, cried more nights than I’m comfortable sharing.
 
I poured my heart and soul into manuscript after manuscript but I never gave up because deep down, deep inside me, I believed I could do it.  I would do it.  And finally, I did.
 
So do you want it, or not?  It’s all up to you.
 
***
Bestselling author Jane Porter has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award four times, has over 12 million copies in print .  Jane's novel, Flirting With Forty, picked by Redbook as its Red Hot Summer Read, went back for seven printings in six weeks before being made into a Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear.  September 2012 brought the release of The Good Woman, the first of her Brennan Sisters trilogy, followed in February 2013 by The Good Daughter, and book three in the series, The Good Wife, is slotted for release in September.  A mother of three sons, Jane holds an MA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and makes her home in sunny San Clemente, CA with her surfer husband.
Jane Porter on the web:
Website  Blog     Facebook    Twitter    Author Page
 The Good Wife
Is it possible to love someone too much?

Always considered the beauty of the family, the youngest Brennan sister, Sarah, remains deeply in love with her husband of ten years. Boone Walker, a professional baseball player, travels almost year-round while Sarah stays home and cares for their two children. Her love for her

husband is bottomless—so much so that her sisters say it will end up hurting her.

Living apart most of the time makes life difficult, especially since Sarah often wonders whether Boone is sharing his bed with other women on the road, even though he swears he’s been true to her since his infidelity three years ago. While she wants to be happy and move forward in her life, Sarah constantly fears that Boone will break his promise. Now with Boone facing yet another career change, tension rises between the two, adding more stress to an already turbulent marriage. Emotionally exhausted, Sarah can’t cope with yet another storm. Now, she must either break free from the past and forgive Boone completely, or leave him behind and start anew . . .
Read an Excerpt

Buy Links

Amazon    Book Depository      B&N

Powells      BAM      indieBound
***
Thanks for sharing your journey Jane!
What about you? What are you doing to prove you want it enough?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Kelly Steel on Creating Folklore

Please welcome Kelly Steel to the blog today! Her debut novella was my very first venture into vampire stories and I asked Kelly to talk about how she created the fascinating folklore in her story!

***

Do you believe in mystical characters? Supernatural beings? Witches and vampires?

I’ve always been intrigued so I wrote about a character named Leo, who was in love and on the verge of getting married. Then by a stroke of bad luck, he turns into a vampire.

We always get the advice to write what we know about, so how could I write about a
vampire? I did some world building. Gave them a home on an exotic island. However, that island couldn’t produce a vampire. Therefore, I had to bring him in from old England. And my imagination took over. I did a plot outline and then made Leo, my vampire fall for a nice girl. On the verge of proposing to her, he turns into a vampire. Now he couldn’t burden her with his immortal self. Then he discovers that his beloved is accused of witchcraft and is about to be burned. He sprints her away to a ship sailing for a British colony.

Then my editor pointed out that her research showed that the witch burning was truly over by the time this British colony was populated. So, my hero had to skip a century into time slip when he sprints his beloved to this ship! At my editor’s suggestion, I had to change my heroine’s name to an old English name. She is fabulous in her research and her critical eye for detail made my story that much richer.
About my story:

Forgetting about his mortal beloved who had died he lived for thrill and adventure now. While enjoying his massive wealth amassed throughout the years, his life is empty. Then he comes face to face with Eve and is drawn in. Eve is also attracted to Leo and they couldn’t help but give in to their desire and passion. Yet when the demon is unleashed then what would happen? Would Eve accept the person Leo is?

What would happen if you fall in love but for some reason that person is not who he really is? Would you walk away from your love?

One commenter will be getting a kindle gift copy of my ONE BITE LEADS TO ANOTHER.
***
ONE BITE LEADS TO ANOTHER

After a spate of violence on his home island, Leonardo D’Silva returns home to find chaos on Lenuka Island. Who is responsible for this? And is the intriguing schoolteacher, Evelyn Hathaway connected to any of it? Face to face with Eve, Leo is taken back to the memory of his first love. Who was Eve? Was she a witch? And when Leo turns to his real vampire self after a night with Eve, will she still accept him?
Evelyn Hathaway is intrigued by the handsome Leonardo D'Silva, the benefactor of her school, whom she's met for the very first time. Handsome, sophisticated and oh, so gentlemanly, she can't get him out of her mind. She's never met him before, yet she senses a strong connection, a feeling that they've met somewhere before, in another time and place.  Who is this Leonardo D'Silva, with the hint of a demonic glint in his eye? Can it be possible...?

Read Reviews

Buy Links       Amazon       Amazon UK

Amazon India       Amazon France        Amazon Japan

 

Kelly Steel was born and brought up in the South Island of New Zealand. After her father’s retirement, her parents moved to warm and tropical Fiji, where she continues to reside.   She loves her adopted home and thrives in the warm friendly environment, both of the climate and of the people.
Connect on web:
Facebook      Twitter       Author Page     Goodreads

Watch this Video of One Bite Leads To Another:


Link to Video

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It's a fun story! So, back to Kelly's question ... would you walk away from love if you discovered that person was hiding a major secret about his/her identity from you???

Monday, August 19, 2013

Best Advice?

There is so much advice out there for aspiring writers, it can be pretty overwhelming. Some of it will work for you and some of it won't because we're all unique individuals and there are no one size fits all pieces of advice. At least I haven't found one yet!

Some pieces of advice that have worked for me?
  •  read widely
  • write, write, write
  • find YOUR voice
  • have fun
I'm over at From the Write Angle today talking about how 1 piece of advice can work in 5 different ways. I hope you'll stop over and check it out.

What piece of advice has worked well for you?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Helen Lacey & Looking for an Agent

Please welcome the lovely Helen Lacey back to the blog again. I've just finished reading Date with Destiny and it is awesome!! Grace and Cameron are terrific characters and the plot has lots of great twists and turns - a fabulous story!

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What to look for in an agent….
Thank you for having me here today.

It’s a little mind boggling how much publishing is evolving into different platforms and opportunities at the moment. Five years ago, even two years ago the landscape looked very different. Go five years further back again and the big print publishing houses had a grip on what books got into reader’s hands and only a few authors I knew had an agent. Thankfully that’s become something of an obsolete model and now authors have every opportunity to drive their career down several different paths.
Of course these changes, these opportunities, bring about more questions and one of the most common questions I get from other authors, both published and aspiring is “Do I need and agent and how do I get one…” . My answer is usually the same – it depends on you.

Let’s imagine that you've decided you do want an agent…remember the old WIFM acronym (What’s in It For Me). That’s important. What will having an agent mean for you? Will it mean instant publication with one of the big houses? Not necessarily. Will it mean a bidding war and a multi-book deal? Probably not. What it will mean, if you have the right agent, is you now have an advocate for your work and someone who believes in your book. That’s the optimum scenario, of course. I do know authors who have signed with an agent simply because they were offered representation, and not because this particular agent would have been the best ‘fit’ for them. My advice is always, do your research.
I signed with my agent before I was published. I had a book that had done well on the contest circuit and was with an editor and had been there for about a year. The day after I signed my agent made contact with the editor (who is actually now my editor at Harlequin) and a few months later I sold my first book after 23 yrs of submitting and eighteen rejections. So why this agent? There were a few things that felt ‘right’ with this agency when I was researching agents. Firstly, I wanted to work with a small agency and one that focuses on romance. I narrowed my list down to three and considered my options. Then I spent a month or so following their blogs/websites and also researched who they represented. When I saw my agent was judging a contest I entered and from there got a request for the full manuscript and then an offer for representation. There were things more important to me than just signing with a big agency – I wanted to be with someone who understood the changing face of the publishing industry and knew the romance genre.

So, do your homework…don’t sign with an agency simply because they ‘offer’ you representation. You are the creative arm of the author/agent relationship and you should be with an agency that encourages your creativity and truly believes in your stories.
To celebrate the release of my August Harlequin Special Edition Date With Destiny, I have a copy to give away to one commenter.

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Helen Lacey grew up reading Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables and Little House on The Prairie. These childhood classics inspired her to write her first book when she was seven years old, a story about a girl and her horse. Although, it wasn’t until the age of eleven when she read her first Mills & Boon, that she knew writing romances was what she wanted to do with her life. Her parents’ love of travel meant she saw much of the world in those early years and she feels fortunate to have had a diverse and interesting education over several continents.

She continued to write into her teens and twenties with the dream of one day being a published author. A few years and careers later, including motel operator, florist, strapper, dog washer, and retail manager, she got the call from Harlequin Special Edition. She loves writing about tortured heroes, both cowboys and CEO’s, and heroines who finally get the love of the man of their dreams. She now works part time in her sister’s bridal shop, where she gets to meet fascinating people, some of whom might one day end up being in one of her books.

From Welsh parents and a large family, she lives on the east coast of Australia in a small seaside town at the southern most point of The Great Barrier Reef, with her wonderfully supportive husband, many horses and three spoiled dogs.

Connect with Helen:

Website    Blog      Facebook    Twitter     Goodreads 

 
Financier Grace Preston did fourteen-hour days in New York City. She didn't do small towns in Australia. Not since she'd fled almost twenty years ago. But when a personal trauma sent her home-with a secret she couldn't reveal-the last person she needed was her first love.

Local cop Cameron Jakowski had loved Grace for most of his life. But he wanted marriage and family and she didn't. He was small town, while she was big city-and lived half a world away. But for now she was right here-a walking, talking temptation. One he managed to avoid...until he made one mistake. He kissed her. And reawakened the passion that could change their lives...forever.

Read Reviews

Buy Links
Mills & Boon UK     Harlequin US     Amazon     Amazon UK

B&N     Powell's Books     BAM      indieBound
  


Link to Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lc-e0dyN1So

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Good advice, Helen! Anything to add  to her list for agent shopping?

(I'll be out of town when this posts with spotty/non-existent internet coverage so I'll catch up when I'm back!)

Monday, August 12, 2013

The GaryFest!

Love this idea!!


If you haven't met Gary yet, it far past time you did! Gary is a great guy (former Canadian now living in the UK) and his posts are always worth a visit. Here are the 'rules'!

Announcing the "Anti-Blogfest Gary Fest" on August 12, a blog hop in honor of Mr. anti-blog hop himself, Gary at Klahanie.

Hosted by Mark “Madman” Koopmans, Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, “Life is Good” Tina, Rockin’ Robyn Engel and Morgan “The Morg” Shamy. 

The rules are *very* simple. 

Create the titles of three PG-13 rated blogfests you would never join - and then add a descriptive sentence or two.

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So, here are 3 blogfests I would never, ever sign up for!

Your Most Embarrassing Moment!

Top Ten Horror Movie Picks!

Dill Pickle Recipes for Every Meal of the Day for an Entire Year!

I'm way too private for the first, way too wimpy for the 2nd and while I know some of you may love dill (*shudder*), it's one of the smells/tastes I can't tolerate at all!

How about you - what's one blogfest you'd NEVER enter?

(I'll be out of town when this posts with spotty/non-existent internet coverage so I'll catch up when I'm back!)