“True” by Ann Everett: Book Tour & Giveaway!

Please welcome author Ann Everett as she shares a bit about herself and her newest book, True. Be sure to check out the giveaways after the author interview!

True
A Bluebird, Texas Romance
by Ann Everett

Ann is giving away five awesome prize packages. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may enter every day for your chance to win one of the prize packages. You may find the tour locations here

About True:

Sometimes it takes losing everything…

True Shanahan must be the unluckiest woman in the world. Either that or she’s cursed. After another failed relationship, True leaves Dallas with a broken heart and new attitude. It’s time to walk on the wild side. But when she makes a wrong turn and ends up in Bluebird, Texas, the only man she wants is anything but reckless.

…to find all you’ve ever wanted.

Ritter Malone is the town’s favorite son and has the local hero awards to prove it. Seems he’s always in the right place at the right time. But when he crosses paths with True, his life takes a turn he never sees coming. Her songwriting skills may be questionable, but her ability to turn him inside out is indisputable.
Welcome to Bluebird, Texas.

Where a chance meeting gives two people a chance at love.

Amazon Buy Link

 
Excerpt:
When Ritter arrived at the gym, he spotted Cole jumping rope. He stopped and glanced at the wall clock. “You’re late. Roommate didn’t have you tied up, did she?”
 
“Very funny. We got a dog. Stayed up playing with him. I hit the snooze one time too many.”
 
Cole ran a towel over his face, then his lips curled. “That’s not good.”
 
“What? Getting a puppy?”
 
“Naw. The we in that sentence sounds like a contract extension.”
 
Ritter stretched. “I won’t lie. I’ve gone home to an empty house so long, thought having someone there would drive me nuts, but it hasn’t—for the most part.”
 
Cole stepped on the nearest treadmill, turned it on, and ran a steady pace. “I gotta hand it to you. You’ve managed to sleep with her and keep your hands to yourself. Or have you?”
 
Ritter climbed onto the machine next to Cole’s and matched his stride. No need to confess he hadn’t exactly resisted, but he’d not passed second base—by much. Had it not been for the phone call, he would have hit a home run. He’d had the wood for it. “No.”
“Come on. No way you haven’t hit that. Especially after what you told me about her coming on to you.”
 
“That’s why I can’t let her stay. My resistance is wearing thin.”
 
Ritter and Cole’s phones sounded a text at the same time. Ritter read his, then shot Cole a look. “Turns out, we’re off this afternoon.”
 
Cole dropped his cell back into the cupholder. “I’ve never been to New Jersey. You?”
“Nope but looks like the storm is calling us there.”

 

Hello! Welcome to my blog, Ann! Thank you for answering my nosy, I mean discerning, questions!  First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write.

 Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

I like to write romance with some sass and sizzle. All of my stories are set in Texas…since I’m a Lone Star native that’s what I know most.

What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?

I grew up in Brownsboro, Texas, a super small town about 125 miles east of Dallas. When I was growing up there, the town only had 300 people. I’ve lived in bigger cities…Austin and Lubbock, but currently I reside in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. We’re in the northeast corner of the state, near the Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana borders.

How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

I wrote some in college but was never serious about it. Then on a whim, when I was in my fifties, I decided to write a short story and enter it in a contest. Before I knew it, I had 25,000 words and decided I’d make it a book!

Of the stories you’ve written, which one do you like the most? Which one would you recommend a new reader begin with?

I think Chirp is the best book I’ve written. It’s the first time I tried writing multiple storylines within the same story. It has three romances happening. Chirp and Rance. Seth and Hanna. Tom and Helga.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a published author?

Join an online writing website so strangers can critique your work. They are the ones who will offer the best advice because they don’t have to worry about hurting your feelings.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere. The inspiration for True came from my electric co-op magazine. It had a picture of a yummy looking lineman on the cover…and I thought…hey, not many stories are written with a lineman as a main character….so, Ritter Malone was born in my imagination.

Best line you ever wrote?

As an author, this is the only time I pat myself on the back. I work hard, hard, hard, to come up with the best opening line of a book. I want it to grab the attention of the reader and set the tone of the story. Here are a few examples.

From Laid Out and Candle Lit: Not only did Tizzy Donovan think her cup was always half empty, she was pretty sure someone had spit in it.

From You’re Busting my Nuptials: Twenty-four hours ago, Tizzy Donovan was naked in Ridge Cooper’s bed, screaming to get God’s attention.

From Tied With a Bow and No Place to Go: Jay Roy Hobbs held the county record for talking women out of their panties.

From Say You’ll Never Love Me: Two weeks earlier, Raynie stood in the same spot and swore off bad boys. Absolutely. For sure. Maybe.

From True: True Shanahan stopped in her tracks, cupped her ear, and listened to the throaty moans, heavy breathing, and rhythmic grunts coming from the other side of Richard’s office door. 

 
NAME THE TWINS CONTEST:
Submit your name choices via comment Ann’s blog post, http://www.anneverett.com/2018/06/15/contest-and-new-release/or to her email ann.everett @rocketmail. com. (without spaces)
 
About the Author:
Award winning author, Ann Everett embraces her small town upbringing and thinks Texans are some of the funniest people on earth. When speaking to writing groups, businesses, book clubs, and non-profit organizations, she incorporates her special brand of wit, making her programs on marketing, self-publishing, and the benefits of laughter, informative and fun.
Social Links:

Free Stories, Upcoming Releases, and More!

Because it’s a national holiday here in the US, I’ve opted to move WIP Wed to next week–so be sure to come back to participate then!

I’m considering starting a New Release Saturday as well–where people can drop in and share what they have that’s about to come out–what do you think?

In the meantime, I’m in the final edits on Ghost of a Chance, the next standalone in the Redclaw Security series.

I can’t wait to share this one with you! I see a lot of similarities between Sarah and myself: we’re both fangirls and we grew up frequently hearing how we fell short on expectations. Part of Sarah’s journey will be to recognize her self-worth, and discovering things some people see as flaws can be your biggest strengths.

As part of the run up to the next book release, first Reclaw book, The Panther’s Lost Princess is FREE until July 5th,  so grab your copy now!

The Greatest Threat to Your Creativity Isn’t What You Think It Is

All my life, I’ve been a daydreamer. So much so, my parents despaired of my ever being functional in society. There were even times when I decided that daydreaming was bad for me, and counterproductive to my goals in life, and that I should do my darnedest to quit. To stop inserting myself into my favorite books, shows, and movies, having grand adventures throughout the day as I went about my daily tasks.

I was never successful at eradicating this behavior, and eventually I embraced it for what it was: a rich fermentation vat of ideas that would bubble and simmer until they produced a story of my own, something original and unique to me. I’ve always been a writer at heart.

The good news is I managed to be a productive member of society despite the relative ease with which I could drop into another universe. I discovered online fanfiction archives, wrote over a million words of fanfic, and then began writing my own original stories. In my fandom days, I wrote the equivalent of a novella a month. The words just flowed out of me. The transition to original fiction wasn’t without its bumps in the road, and my productivity slowed down as the stakes became higher. Without a built-in audience, world-building and character development had to be stronger. It wasn’t sufficient to have beta readers–you need betas, critique partners, and a good editor if you want to turn out quality work. You can’t just throw down words and have everyone applaud because they love your pairing and they’d leave kudos on a story where your characters read from the back of a cereal box. Writing for fun is lovely, but the more you write, the greater the drive becomes to do better than the last story. You begin seeing where you failed, and how your craft doesn’t measure up to your favorite artists. You can either quit at this point, or buckle down and do the hard work. But hard work takes time.

So I just assumed my new glacial pace of story production was pretty normal. After all, I have a stressful day job and a home life that’s heavy on commitments. Some of the people turning out a book every month are actually writing teams, which makes me feel a bit better about only getting out one or two stories a year. 

But the other day, a realization struck me like a bolt of lightning out of a cloudless blue sky.

I don’t daydream any more.

Could that be why my production is way down?

I used to play scenes from potential stories in my head at every free moment–outlandish, outrageous self-insert scenes to occupy my mind as I walked the dogs, or did some sort of mindless task (like the dishes, or folding clothes), or commuting to work, or just before I fell asleep at night. I’d replay the scenes over and over, polishing the dialog, perfecting the action, trimming the worst of the excesses, eventually removing myself as the heroine and replacing the lead with one of my characters. When I sat down to write, the scene was right there before me–I only had to smooth off the rough spots and blend it into the story I wanted to tell. Even better, if I was stuck on something, entering that day-dreamy state of mind often allowed me to untangle a thorny plot problem, causing me to suddenly shout “Eureka!” and grab the nearest pen.

But I don’t do that any more.

My daily commute, which used to be over an hour, is now less than 15 minutes most days. While I’m delighted to get two hours of my life back every day, I actually made good use of that time when I was driving by plotting and daydreaming about my stories. I rarely listen to music these days, as I mostly did so when driving. Music has the power to send me to that dreamer’s state more quickly than almost anything else, and without the pleasant background noise, I find it hard to get in the zone. But I rarely have the time to just sit and listen to music the way I did when commuting.

Getting a good night’s sleep is tough for me these days as well, so I usually read until I fall asleep instead of daydreaming. To be honest, I’m almost afraid to let my mind ‘go’ when I’m trying to fall asleep because instead of exciting adventures or romantic encounters, my brain is most likely to circle at the base of the Anxiety Tree, worrying at problems out of my control for the moment. So yeah, I’d rather lose myself in reading.

Worst, now when I’m walking the dogs, I’ve got the phone in my hand, checking my social media sites. That used to be a BIG source of my plotting time–I’d enter the theta brainwave zone and happily organize plots, scenes, and time lines while getting some much-needed exercise for both me and the dogs.

But now that phone is out and I’m checking to see what fresh outrage is occurring on Twitter.

I used to be the sort of person who carried a book with them everywhere, so if I had to wait somewhere, I could happily read. Reading served as fuel for my own story ideas, creating a lovely cycle of creativity. Now I scroll through timelines. An obsessive thumbing of bite sized pieces of information that frequently has a negative impact on my mental well-being.

The other night, my husband and I were out at dinner, and after we’d placed our orders and caught up with each other’s day, somehow we both drifted into scrolling on our phones. If this is something a middle-aged person that addictive to a middle-aged person, I fear for the minds of our kids. I really do.

I’m not saying don’t be informed. We need to be informed. We need to share information: about natural disasters, government atrocities, mass shootings, lost pets, you name it. We also need to share the good things: our wins, both big and small, the things that encourage us and make us smile, that give us hope when all hope is dying. But we shouldn’t let the constant NOISE of information drown out our creative voice.

We’re told we as creative types must maintain a presence on social media, and I believe this to be true. But I think our utter dependence on our phones to keep us occupied AT ALL TIMES is extremely detrimental to the creative mindset.

Blonde girl with retro camera

I recently read an article that said taking photos of a trip makes your brain forget the memories of the trip itself, and while that appalls me (because I love taking pictures), I can understand it too. Because you’re ‘capturing the moment’ on your device, your brain doesn’t feel the need to do so in the same detail. Think about it: do you remember phone numbers anymore? I don’t. I know where to find someone’s contact information on my cell phone, but I’d be out of luck if I had to call someone if my phone was damaged or the battery was dead. (NTS: make a list of important phone numbers and keep it in your car)

So while I see the need to keep feeding content to my audience, wouldn’t the better use of my time be to write actual, real content instead of snapshots of the boring life of a middle-aged woman? I can answer that one myself: yes.

And while I’m still going to take photographs, it won’t be the first thing I do when I arrive somewhere new. I’m going to take a deep breath and appreciate the scenery. I’m going to memorize what the air smells like, and what sounds I hear, and how I feel at that moment before I pull out my camera.

I can’t leave my phone at home when I am out and about because I need to be available 24/7. But I can choose not to take it out when I’m walking the dogs, or bringing the horses in from the pasture, or waiting in line at the DMV. I’ve deleted most of my social media. I’ve gone back to carrying a book or an e-reader. I’m making a point to listen to more music–turning off commercial radio and just playing the songs I want to hear. Because it doesn’t matter how much content I feed an audience if there isn’t a book to go with it eventually.

And you know what? I’ve started daydreaming again. Without any attempt on my part to make it happen. I just had to open the window to let it in.

 

Adam Mann tells us why Love is in the Air (book tour and excerpt)

Hello! Welcome to my blog, Adam, and thank you for answering my nosy, I mean discerning, questions!  First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

  • What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now? 

I have lived and worked in what is called “developing economies” in Africa and Asia for over 50 years, and as a result I had to move home every two or three years as my work contract changed.  I met a lovely widow in Vietnam in 1997 which is where I live now with some of our seven adult children and most importantly grandchildren.

School and university was in England and Ireland, but I was made redundant from my job in London in 1964 and managed to land a good job in Lagos, Nigeria of all places.  I ended up spending 12 years in Nigeria until corruption got so bad I moved from the proverbial frying pan into the fire “Libya”.  Things go better in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Botswana with short inputs into Egypt and Uganda.

Don’t laugh but then I accepted a contract in the Swat valley in Pakistan, before the famous Malala was even born, but after two years moved to Sri Lanka, and then Vietnam where I live and write now.  From Vietnam I’ve gone on short term assignments to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

  • How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

I probably first wrote because I had to – official reports, studies, surveys and so on – the boring stuff!

My first love was story telling rather than writing, and then I used to read the history of some of the countries in which I worked.   It was the “unknown” and the “blank spaces” in that history that prompted me to start enquiring and then writing.  With romance novels I wrote my first manuscript in the first person, but as the passion got hotter I really had to change!

My father worked in Singapore when I was a boy and in my early teens, and living there I became a Boy Scout, so story telling around the campfire was my first introduction to telling tales, and ghost stories.

I retired four years ago, and apart from gardening, have written ten crime and historical novels, and now over 30 contemporary romance novellas, which is really the subject that we are featuring today.

  • What gave you the courage to submit your first story to a publisher?

My first book was an historical novel, which I wrote in 1996 when I lived in the corner of a coconut estate in the north of Sri Lanka but which I sat on having been almost tempted by a vanity publisher in London! 

It was in 2014 that I came across Smashwords and publishing a book with them was not difficult.  Amazon I found later is actually easier.  Over the years I have managed to get four publishers to take some of my manuscripts – Blushing Books, Phaze Books, Global Publishing Group and eXtasy Books, as I had hoped that my eBook sales would improve with their backing!

  • How would you characterize your stories? As romance, erotica, or something entirely different?

I like writing romance, but I have to add in the sexy bits to make the story more complete and convincing, so as a result I include explicit sex in my novellas.   I don’t call that erotica.  I don’t use swear words or violence in my stories.  I am sorry but gooseberry bushes and storks with bundles in their beaks doesn’t work with me – besides that misses out all the romance, courting and passion!

  • What draws you to this genre? Have you written in other genres?

I’ve always been concerned that historical novels write about the rulers, but seldom about their families.  I’ve found many portraits and sketches, even frescoes, about beautiful ladies but often their names are missing – so I add in their wives and family life, which is largely from my imagination.

Writing historical romance was an immediate lead into contemporary romance, but I had to use areas of the world that I knew, as I had lived and worked there.  This also applied to the characters and heroines that I invented, so that as a result many are of Asian origin.

  • City Boy/Girl or Country Mouse—and why?

Ponies and dogs were an integral part of my life as a boy, and my work has always been with animals and farmers.  So I usually set my stories in rural areas as I know them better.  Cinemas were a complete novelty to me, and I did not see TV until 1953, which then I was a very small black and white grainy screen.  World Service Radio was much better and different.

  • Are you a punster or a plotter?  Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?

I usually put together the overall plot in my mind, and often I get up in the middle of the night to do that!  I usually prepare a spread sheet of the plot and the characters, and then start writing.  Frequently the characters take over and form and even change the plot as I write, and for one story I had to change a tall thin blonde into a sturdy well built lady, with mousy hair, but with an attractive dominant character.

  • Research: love it or hate it?

I really enjoy research, but it does take up a disproportional amount of time.

  • Editing: love it or hate it?

I appreciate the work and responsibility of an Editor and even their advice of story content and character description.  I’ve only had one occasion to cloud my judgment when an Editor queried a statement of fact!   I am sorry but this made my blood boil, after all I am the author, and I had clearly established the facts before I wrote.  I tend to think that her “advice” was a matter of political opinion, which was quite topical at that time.

  • How much do you think that a good blurb and good cover art figure into the success of a story?

Great covers are invaluable.  The three novels in this Box Set are the result of a friend telling me that my cover for one looked a bit “home-made”.  The artist who made the three replacements has been telling me that the covers are my brand and should present the story!

Blurb is entirely a different matter.  Without a doubt there are Key Words that should be inserted in the blurb, and I wish I knew what they are. 

LOVE IN THE AIR

Excerpt:

It was very early morning when the flight arrived in Taipei, and Charlie walked with Sue-Ling to the Arrivals Hall.

“Wait a minute,” she said and disappeared into a shop.

“Here,” she said a few minutes later, “something from Taiwan so that you remember me!” and she laughed.

He handed him a small locally made toy farmer.

As she was standing close to him he kissed her forehead, and she blushed, but made no effort to go away.

“Bathroom,” said Charlie, and Sue-ling took his bag and said, “I’ll wait for you,” which was kind of her.

She watched him walk away, and made a mental note.

Tall, she decided, probably six feet, brown wavy hair, slim build, intelligent and with a lovely smile.  She guessed he’d be late thirties.

She knew he wasn’t married as he’d told her during the flight, as she’d told him she was nearly thirty and single, but she had also said there was an old boyfriend waiting for her at home.

Charlie, for his part, thought about this charming and attractive lady he’d met on the flight.  She was quite tall compared to other Taiwanese ladies, kept her black hair shoulder length, wore thin gold ring earrings, and was still very slim. But with winter clothes covering her he could not tell anymore.  Still she did have a lovely smile with sparkling dark brown eyes.

Sue-ling was waiting for Charlie, and she gave him her bag as she in turn went to the ladies washroom.

“Wrong way round,” thought Charlie, “I should have asked her first!” And he admonished himself, and when she came back she was a bit deep in her own thoughts.  They walked on together.

“You have to go that way, but I’m going over there,” Sue-ling indicated the overhead signs, “Oh yes, here’s my mobile phone number so if you give me a ring sometime, and then I’ll have your number,” and she handed him a small card.

“Good-bye Sue-ling,” said Charlie, “thanks for your time and help on the flight.

Sue-ling smiled and on tip toe kissed Charlie on his right cheek, and she walked away.

Charlie followed the signs leading to the Departure Hall, but was still thinking about her.

He dialed her number in his mobile phone, and it rang;

“Is that the attractive lady I met on the flight from Vancouver?” he asked into the phone.

“No, sorry, I can’t see her around here,” she replied, “but I’ll give you a call if I do.”

LOVE IN THE RAIN

Nobody loves like an Irishman!

By a sheer stroke of bad luck Henry gets caught in a tropical storm whilst he’s swimming in the sea.  He sensibly gets out of the water and finds shelter in a beach house, and a few moments later is joined by an equally sodden rain drenched lady.

Felicity is cold and wet and she has nothing dry to wear so she asks Henry to hold her so that they can both benefit from their body warmth until the rain subsides.

The story is set in South East Asia, and culminates in modern day Singapore, but the note above is only the start of a very long story…

LOVE IN THE BOONDOCKS

Kim has just been divorced by an uncaring husband who was more interested in her money than herself.  She finds work as a Primary School teacher in several remote villages, where she meets Dave who is working with farmer families in some of the same villages.  She finds him attractive and “sets her cap” at him.

Fortunately she speaks English so she manages to meet Dave in several locations before meeting him one evening in his small cottage, on the pretext of getting a lift to a village.

You, the reader, will have to find out what happens next…

LOVE IN THE AIR

Two passengers find some common ground on a flight from Vancouver to Taipei.

Charlie meets Sue-ling on trans-Pacific flight to Taipei after flight delays due to bad weather, and then further delays mean a long stop-over in the transit area at the airport.

Charlie decides to stay at the Airport Hotel where he can get a shower and rest a bit, and is helped by Sue-ling who joins him as she too is delayed by the weather. 

Their in-flight conversation becomes more than friendly, as they have to wait for their flight connections, and a mix-up in the hotel bathroom exposes more than just her skin as their relationship develops.

There is now a Box Set for these three Asian Love Stories

Adam Mann has written over thirty romance stories.  In many cases the heroine comes from Asia, but this is partly because that is where he has been working in remote areas for over thirty years.  Adam admires the resolve and determination of these ladies from Asia even in challenging and problematic circumstances.

Most of his stories are partially derived from his personal experience, and also based in locations that he knows as he’s lived and worked there.

He freely admits that his imagination makes up a good proportion of each of the stories.  He’s often found that romance is not always where a hard working boy meets good looking girl and they live happily ever after.  Most of his characters are a bit more battered in their lives before they meet, so their circumstances and incentives are much more clearly defined.

Most of Adam’s stories are about twenty thousand words, so not very long, and cheap to buy at Ninety Nine cents and easy to read.

Adam Mann is the pen name for romance books written by Mike Lord.

 

https://facebook.com/author/adammannauthor.com

https://www.amazon.com/author/adammannauthor.com

http://www.adammannauthor.com

https://twitter.com/AdamMannAuthor/status/686929540254322689

https://www.smashwords.com/?ref=ButterflyBooks

 

 

Please read and enjoy this story.

 

 

 

The Language of Romance Novels: Sweet and Sensual vs Hot and Steamy?

I’m in the process of making up a bunch of promotional posts in advance for a fest I’m doing in July, and one of the prompts was “Sweet and Steamy or Hot and Heavy?”

Which got me to thinking about the kinds of things I like in my romances.

I live for the slow burn romance. I want to watch the characters get to know each other, overcome obstacles (personal or otherwise) to be together, work for the reward–which is usually a sex scene but not always. Sex can take place at any point in the story, but I tend to prefer the slow burn where the characters lead up to it over time. I also enjoy it when sex doesn’t prove to be the magic solution to their relationship issues–that it frequently complicates things before the characters get it sorted out. As both a reader and a writer, it’s part of the payoff for being invested in the relationship.

But I was a bit bothered by the terms here: sweet vs hot. Or sometimes it’s ‘clean vs spicy’. These are terms the romance industry uses to help readers determine how much sex is in their stories, and most of the time, that subtle warning system works for me. Kind of like how I know what to expect when I go see a Star Trek movie in terms of violence and sex (which is why I’m a HARD PASS on a Tarantino-directed R rated Star Trek Movie. No Just. Ugh. No.)

“Clean” to denote a romance where the sex takes place behind closed doors/off-stage makes me stabby. I resent the implication sex is somehow dirty if depicted on page. “Spicy” makes me stabby too. It’s feels like a euphemism because we’re not grown up enough to say the ‘naughty’ words. Mind you, I understand why authors feel compelled to use these terms–it’s because even if the audience doesn’t explicitly know what they mean with reference to the story, the meaning is implied well enough that they can guess.

“Sweet” is marginally better. It’s clear where the industry is going with this–a one-word term to instantly identify the heat level of a story to a reader–especially since heat levels mean different things to different people. Sweet doesn’t mean there can’t be any sex at all during the story (though sometimes that’s the case). It’s just when it does occur, it takes place off-screen. There are times when that’s exactly the kind of story I’m looking for, and it’s nice to know nice to know in advance what you’re getting. Likewise when I read a blurb for a Regency romance that states the heroine is a widow, it’s pretty much a given there will be sex between the main characters. As long as there isn’t a bunch of teasing with long, complicated reasons as to why the characters never have sex at all, I’m okay with the fade-to-black scenes. If the characters are demonstrably showing passion for one another but that passion never takes place–either on screen or implied–then I tend to get a little cranky. Unfortunately, “sweet” as a term to describe stories with no on screen sex makes me think of a vapid, usually blonde heroine who hasn’t a clue–or else a story so full of saccharine it makes my teeth ache to contemplate reading it.

But recently I’ve read some wonderful stories that could have technically described as sweet, but the lead-up to the closed door was so romantic, so passionate, so sensual that I didn’t miss the actual sex at all. And yet “sweet” is hardly the term I’d use to describe these stories. The scenes were as hot as any graphic sex scene I’ve ever read–right up to the point where the door was closed and we return the following morning.

Are there better terms out there? I wonder because my own feelings toward the sex scenes I’m writing is evolving. Paranormal romance is a genre that tends to demand a lot of sex scenes, in some cases, the more raw and “hot” the better. Being a slow burn kind of gal, I include much less sex than some readers expect. I lean more toward the sensual than “hot”. But I suspect those lines blur for many readers, as do writers, too. Sometimes sensual becomes hot and vice versa. If a story is described as “sensual”, will readers know what to expect?

Which is why writers tend to fall back on industry descriptors. But if you’re wondering, I go for sensual every time. 

Prince of Granola by L.A. Sartor, Excerpt and Author Interview

Prince of Granola–don’t you just love that title? And this cover! Please welcome L.A. Sartor as she shares with us about this exciting new release!

Blurb:

Only One Will Win

Cacao – long a symbol of wealth, love, and power – now the center of a powerful rivalry.

The fabled Costa Rican Plantation of White Treasure, source of the rarest form of the cacao bean, is up for sale. Though two fierce competitors have been invited to bid on it, only one can win.

For Drew Hopkins, purchasing the plantation is the perfect solution to escape a life she never wanted.

For Robert Prince, it’s the perfect route to revenge.

Drew, the founder’s daughter and now CEO of HH Chocolate, heads a company whose sales are waning.  Robert, CEO of Prince Organics, a man driven by excellence, despises everything and everyone labeled Hopkins.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Will their forced proximity at the lush and exotic plantation rekindle old flames or will it fan the fires of antagonism?

 

 

Dear Reader Blurb

 

Dear Reader:

Cacao has always been a symbol of wealth, love, and power. From the ancient Maya and Anasazi peoples who drank the pleasantly bitter brew to the European noblemen and religious hierarchy who began to dine on it at their gilded baroque tables, to current times where you can indulge in gold-leafed truffles in boutique chocolate shops or bar-shaped candy off a grocery shelf, chocolate has been cherished, fought over and delighted in.

If you’re interested in an in-depth history of chocolate, The True History of Chocolate by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe is a must read.

Be sure to check out the exciting excerpt below!

Author Interview: 

Hello! I’m delighted to have you here with us, sharing about your writing process. First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

Hi, McKenna, thank you for having me as a guest on your blog.  I prefer stories with a happy ending, be it a romance, adventure, suspense, or mystery.  And guess what? I currently write all four genres, though my cozy mystery won’t be out until 2019. 

You asked if there was an underlying theme.  YES, there is. Even though the characters all have differing motivations and conflicts, I think my theme is always about trust. Trusting another person with your life, your love, your heart, your child.

What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?

I was adopted as an infant by an American couple in Germany, spent several years there before moving to Pacific Palisades, California.  Loved it there. Adventure, beaches, palm trees, sunshine.  Then we moved to Colorado when I about 10. I was heartbroken to leave CA.  Now a gazillion years later, I can’t imagine not living in Boulder with a view of the icon Flatirons. The ocean still calls to me and I get my fix 3-4 times a year.  I’d be happy with a beach home to visit anytime I desired, and my forever home in Boulder.

How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

Funny you asked if I wrote as a child.  Ha, I thought I was unique, but I’ve learned that many writers start very young.  I was about 4, and no I couldn’t write, but I told my stories to mom, who wrote them down and I “illustrated them”. I gave up my passion after a junior high school teacher told me and my parents that I’d never be a writer because I didn’t want to learn grammar, I just wanted to tell stories.  Much later I regained the need to write. And it is a need. Today I have seven books published. I’ve made #1 Amazon Bestseller and won awards.  I’m truly happy to be where I am.

 

“Writers should write what they know.” What does this statement mean to you as an author?

I think it’s very limiting in, or at least it seemed that way to me when I started, and as I’ve met other authors, they’ve shared the same restriction they feel creates in that phrase.

We know sorrow, suffering, love, happiness, fear–the emotional list is nearly endless. We might not know how an attorney works or the law, or a bakery, or how an AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) works, but that is all information we can find on the internet or library, as well as query people in the field.  I didn’t know anything about cacao when I started Prince Of Granola, my new release. Or how go from bean to bar, or much about Costa Rica.  I found experts who either emailed me answers or invited me to their business to watch the process.  But I did know about the pain of separation, rivalry, betrayal. 

So, don’t be limited by thinking you can only write about nursing if you’re a nurse (heck, you’re an angel) you can write about anything by tapping into the emotions you’ve experienced and then doing your diligence with research. And if your story is about a nurse, then you’re simply that much further along.

Are you a panster or a plotter?  Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?

I used to proudly wear the panster badge.  It’s a bit tarnished now.  While I always knew my beginning and my ending, it would take me months to create a middle.  Then I dealt with huge rewrites and editorial revisions.  Now I’m developing my own plotting worksheet from various classes that have resonated with me.  That worksheet is work in progress. 

And lil’ miss panster, aka, me, is becoming the queen of spreadsheets for various reasons, like, ugh, expenses, but also I need book bibles for my series.  I just did a blog on them here if you’d like to see what I’ve done. 

What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?

Since I live in Colorful Colorado, and I mentioned above that I have to have my beach fix, my favorite spot is by a warm ocean.

Part of our day (our, meaning my amazingly patient husband should be with me for a perfect vacay) would be in the water and on the sand, with yes, sunscreen, and no, not with a mai tai in hand, that’s for after I’m done with the sun. Then go sightseeing. I always find things to add to stories this way and I make a record of them either with a camera set on video so I can record the image and my thoughts or my iPhone doing the same thing.

Later in the evening we’re either dining out extravagantly or eating local. I get recommendations from Triple D, friends and yes, internet research.  Drink in hand, we watch the sunset. After dinner we stroll the beach, darting either into or away from the tide. And a last cup of coffee before we share a kiss and dreamland claims us.  Sound sappy? Probably, but that’s perfection for me.

Do you see your writing as a hobby or is it your goal to be a full-time writer at some point in the future?

I was able to retire from my part-time “day” job at a somewhat early age. And instead of just enjoying writing, I turned it into full-time job.  I was obsessed with writing, it took over. While my husband was patient, it became obvious to both of us that I needed to find balance in my life.  My childhood phrase was “Lessie Do It.” I’m still pretty driven, even today.

So, it’s been more of a challenge than I thought to find the balance, and six years later, I’m not sure I’ve yet achieved that goal. I know I’m better at putting aside my laptop when I reach my word count goal for the day. I don’t get angry at me and the world if I miss a day (but I do try and make it up) and I almost never write while on vacation. I may jot notes, or record them and transcribe them in Dragon Naturally Speaking. And the recorder is never in a place I can’t put my hand on it immediately. Because you know, I do my best thinking in the shower and often, wrapped in a towel, I’m running for the recorder. My husband and writing retreat buddies are used to this.

Research: love it or hate it?

Absolutely love it.  As I mentioned above, information and people with information can be found by being diligent about looking.  And people, wow, they are generally so willing to help.  For instance, in my second adventure book, Viking Gold, I made connection with a Colonel (ret.) in the Danish Air Force who’d been studying Nazi sub and airbases.  The information he gave me, completely turned my story around and made it so much better than my original concept.  The submarine base in Trondheim Norway gave me chills. Today it’s pretty benign, but its history!  And so I used it, changed it a bit, but not enough to ruin the reality. I could go on and on with stories that SES told me about WWII but I’ll spare you.  😊

*How much do you think that a good blurb and good cover art figure into the success of a story?

It’s huge. I’m redoing a few of my covers and blurbs because I am able fix them now and make them better. I didn’t have the skills before, and I often didn’t know what I wanted to change in a cover or a blurb so how could I tell my cover artist?

I think it’s important to keep both fresh and updated.  To reflect the times with the blurb and be as professional as possible with the cover.  I like to try to tell a bit about the story in the cover.  In Dare To Believe, my first book and a romantic suspense, I’m creating its third cover. While the first two were done by a wonderful graphic artist, I felt the cover needed some minor tweaks.

Hey, here’s a thought, check out the cover on my website and tell me if you think the blurb at the top says enough or should I say what I’m trying to convey on the cover, Color Won’t Return To Cate’s World Until Haley Is Found?

I’d love to hear your opinion.  After all you all are readers, exactly the people I want to reach. (And if you’re a writer, hey, same goes. We read after all.)

Do you miss your characters when you come to the end of their story? Do you find ways to write sequels for them or do you become entranced with a new set?

I do write series, because I’ve found that readers love to find a character from a prior book in the new one. They and I (yes writers should be readers) feel like we’re in remembered territory even as new characters with their own conflicts, motivations and goals come into play.  It’s like a treat. 

In fact, my WIP Dream Of Me This Christmas Eve is being written because readers asked me to write about a particular minor character. We didn’t even meet in her Forever Yours This New Year’s Night, but apparently people liked who she was.  Caroline Young will now have her own story around October of 2018. The 4th book in the Colorado set Star Light ~ Star Bright series. I’m pretty thrilled that 1) people responded to me and asked about her and 2) that I finally found the right story for her.

Excerpt from the Prince of Granola:

Robert watched as Drew, garbed in that ridiculous jumpsuit, followed Isabelle up the steps to the hacienda. Just before disappearing into the house, his nemesis hesitated, turned, and gave him a brief, provoking smile.

The furrows on his brow deepened. If this continued for four days, he’d have a permanent set of ridges.

How was it that the one person he avoided whenever possible was here now, after the same plantation?

It was ridiculous that Señor Camerillo would think of selling his rare cacao beans to HH Chocolate. They weren’t in the same league as Prince Organics. Or for that matter, any other gourmet chocolate company.

HH made mass-market chocolate bars, holiday-themed shapes, and bite-sized foil-wrapped squares, all with barely enough cacao in them to call them chocolate. And Robert knew that HH was finally in the financial straits his father had predicted when he’d walked out of HH’s headquarters the last time.

Henri Hopkins had been old-school through and through, refusing to move with the times. Robert knew that Drew had started working there right after grad school, but by the time Henri had relinquished the reins of the company to her, she had a dying business on her hands.

His thoughts returned to Drew’s brief taunting smile. How dare she?

What, taunt, provoke? Why not? We’re adversaries after the same goal. And I should have done it first, showing her that she didn’t have a chance. Let her be stewing. “Jeez, get a grip. You’re not stewing.”

“Pardon? I did not quite catch that.”

Robert glanced over at the señor, realizing he’d spoken aloud.

“It was nothing,” he assured the puzzled man.

But it wasn’t.

The last time he’d seen her was over a year ago, during a corporate panel discussion hosted by the number one business show on television. She’d been charming, articulate, and had the moderator in the palm of her hand. After the show was over, Drew answered a few questions from various business reporters, then fled the room as if she couldn’t stand to breathe the same air as him.

Yet just now he’d allowed her, however momentarily, to seize the upper hand as he focused on that taunting smile instead of simply ignoring it.

Doubled with that punch to your gut and groin when she pulled off that helmet and all that glorious chestnut hair tumbled around her shoulders.

About the Author:

I started writing as a child, really. A few things happened on the way to becoming a published author … a junior high school teacher who told me I couldn’t write because I didn’t want to study … urk … grammar. I went to college, moved a few times, came home and found the love of my life (that is another novel worthy story, but for later), and got married.

I have always been a voracious reader and one night after throwing a particularly bad book at the wall (even putting a small ding in said wall), I realized that I could do better.  I told my husband, and he said go for it. I called Mom and she revealed the junior high teacher story and she told I’d been writing all the time up to that point.

That blew me away. I didn’t remember any of it.  But I started writing again, nearly the next day, pen and paper, learning, making mistakes, winning contests, then moving away from novel writing to screenwriting, getting a contract for a script and doing really well in screenwriting contests. But I wasn’t really making a career from any of this.

My husband told me repeatedly that independent publishing was becoming a valid way to publish a novel and people were making big dollars.  I didn’t believe him even after he showed me several Wall Street Journal articles. I thought indie meant vanity press. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I started pursuing this direction seriously, hit the keyboard, learned a litany of new things and published my first novel. My second book became a bestseller, and while I’m not rolling in dough, I’m absolutely on the right course in my life. Prince Of Granola is my 7th book.

Please come visit me at www.lasartor.com, see my books, find my social media links, some screenplays and sign up for my mailing list. I have a gift I’ve specifically created for my new email subscribers. And remember, you can email me at Leslie@LeslieSartor.com 

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Ten Things Writers Need to Stop Telling Themselves

More than any other group of people, writers should get the power of words.

Words move people to stand behind a leader. To willingly go into battle, knowing death is likely. To fight to protect the weak and innocent.

Words make us laugh, bring us to tears, and the best, the most powerful words, are engraved on our hearts. We quote them when we need strength, or to show love, or evoke sympathy.

So why do we as writers so often neglect the power of words when it comes to our own work, our own self–esteem?

It’s not just writers. I’d hazard to say it’s a widespread problem–perhaps a little more so among women than men. It’s not that men don’t internally belittle themselves, but I believe many more women are raised to verbally–and publicly–abuse themselves than not. Call it what you like. An appealing ‘humility’ or whatever. The truth of the matter is many of us constantly run ourselves down and we are scarcely aware that we’re doing it.

Lately, I’ve been running into all kinds of conversations, blog posts, and Twitter threads about the power of words and why in particular, we as writers shouldn’t denigrate our work and abilities, lest the repetition of our negative words becomes the truth. I understand this concept, but like knowing I should eat vegetables and choosing pizza instead, positive affirmations are difficult for me.

I grew up in a religious household. Many religions drum into you your lack of worthiness as part of your need to be redeemed. Most religions are patriarchal in nature, which adds an additional layer of unworthiness if you happen to be female. My family was also full of over-achievers. Doctors, nurses, psychologists, pastors… if you weren’t giving back to society in some way, you weren’t worthy. Standards were often impossibly out of reach. If I brought home less than straight A’s from school, I was under-performing to the family standard. If I got straight A’s, well, anyone could get straight A’s at a public school.

So reading books like Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking was encouraged. But even as I read it, a burning resentment smoldered inside. Thinking positively wouldn’t get you out of a bad situation. It wasn’t going to cure chronic illness, or make you smarter, prettier, more talented. I read the book and rejected the message.

Same with the body positivity movement. No, I’m not saying the movement is wrong. I think it’s high time we rejected the fashion industry’s standard of beauty (artfully enhanced by Photoshop, which means not even their own standard-bearers live up to the hype). We should all embrace the notion that women come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and physical ability–and not erase the less-than-impossibly perfect because they somehow don’t measure up.

But that concept of equality that I will grant to everyone else comes harder to me. Why? Because I don’t believe it. Not as it applies to me.

I’ve been hearing negative commentary about my looks, my intelligence, and my abilities my entire life. It’s still ongoing today: from my family, my co-workers, the man on the street, society as a whole. I have a book of ‘positive affirmations’ that is practically empty because I can’t think of anything to put in it that won’t make me roll my eyes and snort.

I get up in the morning and note the dark circles under my eyes and how my hair is thinning. I curl a lip at the roll of fat around my waist. I point out how unattractive I am, and how I should do something about it when I’m not so flat-out exhausted. I frequently say things like “I’m too old for this crap”, meaning “I’m at a point in my life where I should be treated better than this” but all my brain hears is I’m too old.

So I join a body positivity group, but drop out because I can’t complete the exercises. I routinely say things to myself I’d never say to a friend–not even a stranger, for that matter. I know better. But like Steve Martin’s character in Roxanne, I’ve perfected the art of running myself down so well, I take the wind out of anyone else’s ability to do so.

When Katie Masters (are you following Katie? If not, you should) posted on Twitter about not belittling your own work because doing so would make it true, I tried very hard to internalize her advice. I’m really struggling with that right now–on top of the never-ending loop of negativity that tells me I’m too old, too fat, unattractive, not sexy enough, not smart enough–I also bemoan the fact my writing is Not Good Enough. It’s not terrible. But it’s no where near where I’d like it to be. When I read stories by people who are hitting it out of the park, even as I clutch them to my chest because of the magic they evoke, I’m crushed because I’m not in the same league. Hell, I’m not even in the same country.

See, I’m doing it again.

And likewise, Neil Gaiman has said some wonderful things about writing, impostor syndrome, and comparing yourself to others. But when I went looking for a specific quote to share here, I fell down a rabbit hole of impossibly excellent quotes, which might just turn out to be a blog post all of its own. But suffice to say, enough people out there that I like and respect have been telling me to stop undermining my work. There’s a difference between self-deprecation and self-denigration and I think too many of us choose the latter thinking it’s the former.

Ironically, what finally made me see what I was doing was harmful was the far right. Um, yes. You heard me correctly.

See, they get the power of words. Make them illegal aliens, not people seeking asylum through legitimate channels. Call them rapists, drug dealers, terrorists, animals. Make them less than human, something you don’t want in your neighborhood, and you will turn a blind eye when they are rounded up and placed in concentration camps. 

It works because on some level, the people who believe these things want to believe them. It fits their internal narrative.

But one thing I’ve learned as a writer is we have the power to change our own stories.

So here are some things I’m going to stop telling myself. I hope you’ll stop saying them to yourself as well.

  1. I’m Not Good Enough. Here’s the thing, everyone has someone they look up to as better than them. Better parents, better writer, better friend, lover, person. There are people who are prettier, smarter, and more talented. All you can do is be the best you there is. That’s all that’s required of you. And it is a heckuva lot easier to do that if you stop beating yourself up at the same time. You may not be as good as “them”, but everyone is at a different point on the same path and no one else walked it the same way you’ve done. Cut yourself some slack–and keep walking.
  2. I’m not productive enough. What the hell does that even mean? Productive enough for what? To build a following? To make a killing on KU? Are you a writer? Do you put words down in the format of your choice? Then you’re productive enough.
  3. I’m not successful enough. Frankly, this is garbage thinking. If you go into writing because you want to be rich and famous, honey, there are easier ways of doing that. What are your criteria for success? A bestseller ribbon? Winning awards? Being featured in Oprah’s book club? Making a gazillion dollars? Your definition of success should be dependent on the stage where you are right now. Sometimes that means simply putting words–any words–to paper. Sometimes that means self-publishing a story that got rejected. Sometimes it means putting the rejected story in a drawer and coming back to it in a year or so to see what it needs to fix it. Sure, you’re going to keep moving the bar higher. Just don’t place it at unrealistic heights that discourage you from even trying.
  4. My writing sucks. Does it really? No, seriously, is it the worst thing you’ve ever read or are you just being hard on yourself? Have you eaten today? Taken a shower? Walked the dog? STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD. Take a break and do something else. Because you know this isn’t really true. You may not be as good as you’d like to be, but there are people out there who like your work, who (oddly enough) think you’re a good writer and they wish they could write like you do. I know, there’s no accounting for taste, but if you truly sucked, no one would like your stories. So just don’t even go there.
  5. I’ll never _____________. It doesn’t matter what you put here. Top the bestseller list? Win a prestigious award? Make enough money writing to quit the Evil Day Job? It’s both easy and true to say, “Not with that attitude you won’t” but the question you should be asking yourself is “Does it matter if I don’t?” If you have none of those things now, how will your life materially change if you never achieve those goals? Spoiler alert: it won’t. So are you going to let that stop you from writing?
  6. That one bad review is somehow more accurate than the fifty glowing ones I received. Ouch. Bad reviews hurt. But if the comments in a snarky review are outliers, then let it go. If you’re hearing the same things over and over again from beta readers, critique groups, editors (all of which should have assessed your work before you publish it), and readers, then that should be a heads up that you’ve done something wrong and you need to change it. But when you get that nasty gif-laden review that seems to come out of nowhere, keep this in mind: there are only two reasons why someone leaves that kind of review. Either they have a following because they are the Simon Cowell of reviewers–and therefore their fans hang on every gif with glee to see someone else be destroyed–or they want to make you feel so bad you quit writing. Are you going to let some soul-sucking vampire make you give up on your dream of telling stories? No? Then ignore this kind of review. Don’t read it. Don’t acknowledge it. Don’t let it have any power over you.
  7. My stories will never change the world. Oh cupcake, you don’t know that. Sure, on the whole, I would hazard to say most stories don’t change the world–at least, not in ways that we can see. Maybe there will never be theme-parks where kids of all ages dress up as characters from your stories and buy story-themed items, but I wouldn’t let that get you down. The vast majority of stories written won’t be read thirty, forty, fifty years or more down the line either. But your story can change the life of the one person reading it today. Maybe you gave them hope or laughter on a day they needed it most. Maybe you snuck in a little enlightenment and made them see things in a different manner than they had before. Maybe you represented ‘self’ to the reader who’d never before recognized themselves in a story. Don’t discount that. Most world changing events–for good or bad–happen in incremental steps over time.
  8. Everyone on social media seems to be doing so much better than me. Ugh. If you’re going to sit around comparing yourself to others on SM, just turn it off for a while. Keep in mind, SM is where people either tend to post about the best, the worst, or the most mundane in their lives. I don’t know about you, but I seldom feel envy at seeing pictures of what someone had for dinner–so let’s cross those out. That leaves the I won the lottery-went to the Bahamas-became a bestseller-lost thirty pounds without trying crowd vs the my life is SO bad you’ll never be able to top it crowd. Remember, those people going through stuff both good and bad are merely at different points on the path as you. You’re seeing a snapshot into their lives that doesn’t reflect anything else that might be going on. And the person with the new cover art/new release/award-winning story might be YOU next week, month, or year. Celebrate wins with your friends. Comfort if there are losses. But if you can’t stop comparing yourself, then walk away from SM for a while–put that time into writing the next story.
  9. My stories don’t matter. This is another version of ‘won’t change the world’ but on a smaller level. So I ask you, is it necessary for them to matter? There is nothing wrong with telling a story for the sheer entertainment value of telling a story. Don’t sell that short. It’s worth more than you think it is. 
  10. I’ll never be as good as so-and-so. This may well be true. On the other hand, I bet that author has someone they feel the same way about as well. Recently someone listed one of my couples among their top favorite pairing–along with my ALL TIME FAVORITE pairing in the same genre. No joke. I’d never been as flattered in my entire life. Never in a million years would I have put my characters on the same page–but someone else did. So maybe we aren’t the best judge of our work.

What it boils down to is this: words matter. The words we tell ourselves on a regular basis matter a lot. If we’ve spent a lifetime running ourselves down, we’re not going to change that soundtrack easily–the grooves have worn deep. But in order to change we MUST stop playing the old soundtrack. We must challenge lies whenever we hear them–be it from ourselves, our families, or people in positions of power over us. We must stop accepting negative feedback as being the only right message simply because it’s the message we believe.

I really struggle even saying things like, “that’s not so bad.” Believe me, I know how hard it is to reprogram your thinking. But I’m going to give myself a month of NOT running myself down. Of stopping the negative feedback loop whenever I hear it playing and countering the conditioning by telling myself positive things about myself that I believe every day. I think if I start with things that won’t make me snort coffee out of my nose, then I can progress to things I want to believe.

I challenge everyone reading this to do the same–and come back here in a month and let me know what changes you are seeing in your life. Let’s do this together.

 

Destiny of a Gargoyle: New Release and Interview with Chris Redding

Hello! I’m delighted to have you here with us, Chris, sharing about your writing process. I have to say right off the bat, there aren’t enough books with gargoyles as the protagonists, so I’m delighted to see your story features a gargoyle as the hero! Please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

Hi, I prefer paranormal romance, but I also write some sweet romance. If there is an underlying theme then it would be fish out of water. I’ve found very few places where I truly fit in so the theme is close to my heart.

What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?

I live in New Jersey and have for close to thirty years. I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia on the Pennsylvania side and attended Penn State. I still root for Philly teams. Where I live is actually more rural than where I grew up and I wouldn’t trade country for city.

How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

I’ve been writing since I was ten, but for publication for twenty years. I’ve always had a passion for writing. When I was ten I was allowed to read a story in front of my class. I was the nerd. Awkward, glasses, big front teeth. When I finished reading the whole class was paying attention to me. I thought that was the coolest thing ever.

What is the draw for you in your chosen genre? Why THIS kind of story?

I didn’t always write paranormal romance, but I think for me it is returning to my roots. Being who I really am. I grew up on a steady diet of Night Gallery, Twilight Zone, and Outer Limits. I’ve always liked the freaky stuff. I think I am at a point in my life where I am comfortable enough to admit that. I think there is so much freedom in writing paranormal. Anything can happen.

I agree with you 100%. I’m a big sci-fi fan from way back, and I feel that paranormal romance allows me to have fun with world-building and kooky events happening without in a story. 🙂

City Boy/Girl or Country Mouse—and why?

Country Mouse for sure. I like green. Trees, grass. Wide open spaces. I cannot imagine living with people that close to me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a super extrovert, but I don’t need to hear people all of the time. I love that animals routinely traipse through my yard.

Are you a panster or a plotter?  Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?

I used to be a pantser. I can no longer hold the story in my head. I plot. I do the character arcs then a chapter by chapter outline. I don’t stray from it though I might add to it as I write.

Do you see your writing as a hobby or is it your goal to be a full time writer at some point in the future?

I see it as a job. I ghostwrite so I always have deadlines and it has helped me with my discipline. I also am a writing coach so if I could do some combination of my own writing and coaching I’d be pretty happy. Of course I’d have to make money at it.

Research: love it or hate it?

I love it, but I don’t do as much as I used to. When I wrote romantic suspense I had to learn more. Now I can make things up as I go along. It’s more fun. What I do research is the market. That’s a little harder and thankfully my sister helps me. She has a much more analytical mind than I do. She can distill it down so I can understand things.

Editing: love it or hate it?

Love it. I love to make my story better. I have a new editor and I’ve known her a long time so I know how good she is at story. She is one of those rare editors that can to big picture and small picture editing. She can see the types and the plot holes.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, do you find what you listen to influences the story at all?

I’ve started listening to video game soundtracks. They are designed to help you focus. Having a gamer son, he recommended a few to me and most of them have worked. I sometimes type faster if the music gets faster.  I also listen to meditation music.

How interesting! I might have to give that a try!

Destiny of a Gargoyle

Blurb:

He was born in a time when magic ruled the Earth.

Gargoyles protected fairies from goblins. His family was a group of elite gargoyles who were assigned to protect a specific fairy. His father’s dereliction of that duty cursed his sons to become stone and wait.

Now reawakened in the twenty first century where no one believes in magic how is he going to convince his fairy that she is one and that she is in danger from a goblin?

He must do that without falling in love with her.

Bio:

Chris Redding is a paranormal romance author who has written 9 novels and novellas that will transport you to other worlds. She lives in New Jersey with her family. When she isn’t writing, she walks and does yoga.

Buy link: http://a.co/3mwSfUl

Where to find me:

Chris Redding Author LLC

Email: chrisreddingauthor@gmail.com

Website: www.chrisreddingauthor.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/chrisreddingauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrisredding

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/101743269602364199911/posts

Skype: Chris.Redding.Author

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/chrisredding/

 

June WIP Wednesday

Old black dusty vintage typewriter on the table.

It’s the first Wednesday in June, so you know what that means, right? It’s WIP Wednesday!

The rules are simple: please keep your snippet to under 500 words (I know sometimes that’s not a good stopping point–a little fudging is allowed) and no graphic sex–let’s keep the tone PG-13 for the general reading population.

I’m offering a snippet from my upcoming release, Ghost of a Chance, another in the Redclaw Security series. In this story, Sarah Atwell has been given a second chance at a life she left behind when her grandmother leaves her the family horse farm–only it comes with strings attached. She must fulfill the terms of the will or the farm go to horse trainer Casey Barnes instead. What they don’t know is that outside forces aim to tip the balance–and in doing so, create a dangerous situation for them both.

Fortunately, Casey is a former Redclaw Security agent–and the bad guys won’t know what hit them…

A quick recon of the tracks indicated the stray horse had turned back onto the path the others had taken, so Casey wheeled Indy back to rejoin Sarah.

How had the horses escaped the dry lot? Why were there so many canines involved in chasing them? Wild packs of dogs existed, and coyotes were becoming bolder, but nothing about the steady drive of tracks toward the road made sense. Initially, Casey’s distrust of the semi-feral Shepherd had led him to believe the dog was behind the escape, but the sheer number of paw prints dispelled that notion. The dog might have been present, but she wasn’t alone. If the animals chasing the horses meant to hurt them, they would have caught up with them by now. None of this was consistent with wild animals making a nuisance of themselves. If the horses in the dry lot had been attacked and had fled in desperation, there would be fences down. The gate wouldn’t have been standing open.

That required human hands.

The forced movement of the missing horses toward the main road smacked of deliberate manipulation. But why? What did anyone have to gain by doing something like this? If it hadn’t been for the fact one of the missing horses was Athena, it would be easy to dismiss his concerns as fanciful. But the entire inheritance hinged on keeping Athena safe through her high-risk pregnancy. Which beggared the question: who would benefit if something happened to Athena?

As far as he could tell, the only person was him. And since he knew he wasn’t behind the series of “accidents” that left him without answers.

Now it’s your turn! Share a little snippet with us!

I Should Be Better at This By Now

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the key to success was persistence, likening improving as a writer to my experiences as a competitive rider–and how moving up through the ranks resulted in plummeting to the bottom of the heap until you mastered the new skill set at your current level.

I believe in persistence. I do. My favorite quote on the subject is by Calvin Coolidge:

But that having been said, sometimes it’s hard to battle through discouragement.

These past few years have been fraught with discouragement and loss. One of the many things I’ve had to accept is that my old competition horse had to be retired because she was no longer sound enough to ride. As such, I’ve been riding a friend’s mare so I can keep my hand in the game and she has a quiet horse to ride on the rare occasions she has the time to spend an afternoon at the barn. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement, except that we ride in different disciplines, with completely different training styles, and at twenty years of age, Robin isn’t going to learn how to accept my commands. I’m going to have to learn how to communicate with her instead.

Riding a horse is riding a horse, right? Um, no. There are as many different ways to ride a horse as there are to drive a car, and just because you’re competent on the highway in a four-door sedan doesn’t mean you can go off-road in a four-wheel drive pickup, or drive through the streets of Milan in a Formula One racer, or take an eighteen-wheeler out on the interstate.

I used to compete in eventing. The mare I’m riding now is a hunter. While eventing includes show jumping, the training styles for the two sports is very different. I’m used to riding with contact–my hands in close communication with the bit at all times. Robin, the mare I’m riding now, is used to being given her head and only loosely guided around a course of fences. So when I ride her the way I’ve ridden every other horse for the last twenty years–with close contact with the bit–she gets pissy and hot. The more I try to rein her in, the more annoyed she becomes. She picks up speed, shakes her head, and threatens to buck. My instinctive reactions only make things worse. It’s like trying to drive as though I have an automatic when I should be manually shifting gears. The end results are ugly.

And frustrating. There are times when I feel like tossing my hands up in the air and calling it quits. This particular day, Robin had been gradually ramping up during the course of our ride. It felt like I was riding a powder keg and the fuse was lit and growing closer. The things I would normally do to balance and check a horse careening around the ring out of control were the wrong move for Robin, succeeding in winding her up even more. Letting go of her mouth and allowing her to run full tilt at obstacles was just counter-intuitive. 

I confess, I was completely discouraged. That’s when that deadly phrase entered my mind:  I should be better at this by now.

How many years have I been riding horses? Too long to share without revealing my advanced age. The very fact I’ve been riding since I was eleven years old weighed heavily in my self-disappointment. I should know how to correct this horse. I should instinctively know how to work with my current issues, understanding that I’m not going to teach an old horse new tricks. My failure was a double-whammy in the face of my experience.

At the same time, I was reminded of a scene from Young Sherlock Holmes–a 1985 Steven Spielberg movie that asked “What if Holmes and Watson had met as schoolboys?”

There’s a terrific scene in which Holmes and Watson are meeting for the first time, as Holmes is massacring a violin. As Watson enters, Holmes lifts the violin up to smash it on a chair. Watson stops him, and Holmes snarls, “I should be better at this by now.”

Watson asks, “How long have you been playing?”

“Three days!” Holmes snaps.

I think many of us are Holmes in this situation. Through the promise of instant gratification (“Lose 20 pounds in 14 days!”) we’ve been taught that if we can’t master something in 48 hours, we’re a failure. Likewise, success should come to us in a similar time frame.

We know that’s not the case, but we get suckered into believing it might be different for us just the same.

In my situation, having been riding horses for over 25 years, the notion I should be better at it seems valid. And yet I discount the fact the horse I’m riding has been trained to do things almost diametrically opposite from the way I’d normally ride.

I was nearly in tears that day I was trying to canter Robin safely around the arena. I was ready to give up. Not just riding Robin, but riding in general. For a horsewoman, that’s a bid deal. But I took a deep breath and decided to give riding counter-intuitively a go. I dropped the reins as I asked her to canter, freeing her head when that was the last thing I felt like I should do, and she went around the ring far more quietly than she’d done before.

When it comes to writing, we have to be willing to do the same thing. Give up our expectations. Take chances. Do something that goes against everything we’ve been taught or believe about the process. Every story is different. Every set of characters is different. We might think we should be better at this by now but complacency is the death of creativity. Instead of railing against the knowledge that what you’re doing isn’t working and becoming frustrated because you should ‘know better’, take this for what it is: a sharpening instinct that what you’re doing is wrong and needs to be fixed. And then fix it.

You’ll be glad you did.