Friday, March 30, 2012

Today's Friday Friend - Kathryn Jones

Please welcome today's Friday Friend, Kathryn Jones.

Kathryn has been a published writer since 1987. She has published various newspaper stories, magazine articles, essays and short stories for teens and adults.  She is the author of: “A River of Stones,” a young adult fiction novel dealing with divorce, published in 2002, and “Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones,” a Christian novel published in January of 2012. Her newest creation, a “Conquering your Goliaths—Guidebook,” was published February of 2012.
Kathryn graduated from the University of Utah with a B.S. in Mass Communication and a minor in Creative Writing. Her studies included work in creative writing, public relations and journalism.

6 Things I Wish I Knew about Publishing When I First Started Writing

Something funny happened to me on my way to getting published; I realized that writing was like anything else that I truly wanted in life. It was hard work.

Writing didn’t come easy to me and that made me angry. I wanted to prove it wrong; kind of like when you know your husband is right about something but you want to prove him wrong just so you can hold your ground.

Like a stubborn wife, I am also a stubborn writer. I want to write perfectly the first time. I want to sell everything that I put my pen to. I want my stuff to be like those great, flowing and insightful words of C.S. Lewis.

You know the guy. He could write fiction and non-fiction and could get you thinking about stuff that had never entered your brain before. And I wanted to be like that.

I have learned since then that I’ll never be like C.S. Lewis, and that’s more than great with me. (Especially since he’s dead now and he’s a man anyway). I’ve learned some things too, about writing and publishing and what it really means to be an author. Stick with me and I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about publishing in the form of a list.

Here goes:

1.      Writing actually takes work. It takes time to get your words on paper, even longer to find your voice. Finding my voice was kind of like finding that straight pin I’d just dropped on the carpet. Publishing didn’t come easy and it took a lot of writing to find it.

2.      Editing is never going to be any fun. You just do it, or you have your sister do it for you. Or you pay someone to do it for you. I have also asked friends and other writers to help me out. And bless their hearts, they have.

3.      Just because I have a superior product, doesn’t mean a superior editor is going to notice. It’s tough to get published (though not impossible) and starting out small usually works better for most of us. That means, instead of writing a book FIRST, I focused my attention on articles, short stories and poems.

4.      I don’t have to publish with a mainstream publisher for my work to be good. Yes, publishing on your own through self-publishing or POD publishing wasn’t looked very highly upon, once upon a time, but things, shall we say, are a changing. More and more writers are vying for the self-publishing option and are doing a great job at it too!

5.      The best writers write every day. You’ve probably already heard this one, but do you believe it? When I first started writing, my writing was BAD, but it had some good stuff swirled within it kind of like those chocolate vanilla swirl cones you get at Arctic Circle. I had to write every day to turn that swirl cone into a chocolate or vanilla cone. You pick.

6.      Writing is a job. No kidding. It might be fun. You might LOVE it almost more than your significant other, but it is work. But so is a marriage, so there.

I love my work, whether it’s a blog like this one or a book like the last one I published through CreateSpace. I love the editing and the marketing and the writing. And I LOVE that you finished this blog right until the very end. You might not believe me but I do.

Conquering Your Goliaths – A Parable of the Five Stones

David gathered 5 smooth stones to meet and defeat Goliath. What did these stones represent and how can you use them to feat your Goliaths in your own personal quests? Ms. Virginia Bean will show you how.
Travel with her on her own personal journey. See what she does. Learn how she grows. Discover what she becomes.
Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones” is for anyone desiring to travel beyond mediocrity, pain and fear. Learn of the great power within you, a power given to you from God, a power that must ultimately be unleashed to conquer the Goliaths in your own life. Come to an even deeper understanding of God and what he wants for you. Come…

Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones
Barnes and Noble

Conquering Your Goliaths: Guidebook

My Website:

Thank you so much for being our Friday Friend today, Kathryn, and for your very valuable advice. We wish you continued success with your writing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ten Tips for Tweaking

Tweak, according to the dictionary, can mean to adjust or fine-tune. It’s part of the editing process, but relates more to the small improvements you can make rather than to the overall plot and characterisation editing. Most of these are things I have to look out for in my own writing.

1. Try to spot clichés and change them – unless, of course, you have an annoying character who has a habit of using clichés! This can also include overused idioms e.g. pale as a ghost/as death/ as alabaster, etc. Think of something that sounds different, but without ending up sounding too contrived.

2. Check your speech tags Are they all necessary? Sometimes they are, when you need to make it clear who’s speaking, but often you can replace the tag with an action: “I’m not sure how to say this,” he said uncomfortably can be replaced with He shifted in his chair and hesitated. “I’m not sure how to say this.”

3. Following on from this: don’t use lots of different synonyms for ‘said.’ Evidently, a reader can ignore ‘he said’ or ‘she said’, but the use of other words – mumbled, growled, stuttered, begged, shouted, sobbed etc etc  can distract the reader from what’s actually being said. As above, use actions or body language instead of the synonyms. Oh, and avoid using adverbs following ‘said’ too!

4. Look for small slips in POV. Her beautiful eyes flashed dangerously is fine if you’re in the hero’s POV, since he can see this happening. However, if you’re in the heroine’s POV, would she refer to her own eyes as beautiful, would she know they flashed, let alone that it was a dangerous flash? Think about what YOU can feel your eyes doing – you know when your eyes widen or narrow, you also know whether you’re looking at someone lovingly, accusingly, doubtfully, or with hostility. So, in this case, show the heroine’s feelings, and not what someone else can see in her eyes.

5. This leads on to: beware of inserting something a character doesn’t know or see. I’ve seen so many examples of this in my recent reading (and hopefully I’ve now learnt to avoid it in my writing!) e.g. She turned to the door and didn’t see the look of fury on his face. It sounds obvious but, if she didn’t see it, you can’t include it if you’re writing in her POV. She doesn’t have eyes in the back of her head.

6. Look at the beginnings of your sentences. Do you have a page or a paragraph where every sentence starts with ‘He’ or with ‘She’? It’s so easily done, especially when we’re showing what someone is doing, thinking or feeling. Try to change the beginnings of your sentences to avoid this.

7. Over-used words? ‘That’ is the bane of my life! Having had a classical and grammar-orientated education, I have make a conscious effort to avoid using ‘that’ – He thought that she was beautiful is grammatically correct but can, in today’s more informal usage, lose the word ‘that’. One good tip I read was to use the editing tool Find to highlight words you know you overuse, and if your chapter lights up like a Christmas tree, start deleting or changing the word(s). If you don’t know the words you over-use, there are several websites where you can paste a chapter of your work and find out. Click over to our Helpful Writing Hints page to find one of these websites!

8. Break up long sentences which have coordinate or subordinate clauses. Having returned home at midnight, she sat staring at the fire, which had long since gone out, and wished she could go back to the start of the evening to avoid making the mistakes which had annoyed Sam who had then left with Melanie even though she knew he couldn’t stand the giggling blonde who fawned over him like a teenager over a rock star.
Okay, I know that’s an extreme example, and I’m sure you can see the ways to break it up into at least two, if not more, sentences. However, it’s worth checking your own sentence length and seeing if you can break them up too. Thirty words is probably the ideal ‘maximum’ length to aim for (although, of course, there are always exceptions to that!)

9. Double-check your names and ages – and other facts. Hopefully you’ll not change your hero’s or heroine’s names part way through the story, but what about other things? I’ve heard of examples where the hero’s blue eyes have changed to brown half-way through a story, and where the heroine’s hair has changed from auburn to blonde. Check back to the name you gave a restaurant/pub in Chapter 1 if you want to use it again; don’t say the nearest town is ten miles away, and then have your heroine driving to it in five minutes (or five hours!); double-check the names, appearances and ages of your minor characters.

10. Last but not least, check your spelling! Word-processing programmes will not highlight words which are spelled correctly despite being in the wrong context. Common examples are ‘there’ and ‘their’, ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ – but other things I’ve seen wrongly spelled are ‘heal’ instead of ‘heel’, ‘sight’ instead of ‘site’ and other such homonyms.

Tweaking means going through your work with a fine tooth-comb, looking for the small errors rather than the overall story-arc. I’m sure you can add more to this list. What kind of ‘tweaks’ do you have to do?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Loving the Tortured Hero

Okay, I admit it, I’m a sucker for the tortured hero. The more tortured the better. I want to see them vulnerable. I want to see them grow. I want to see them learn that depending on women will not bring about the end of the world (were this a political blog, I’d insert some choice words for our Republican presidential candidates, but it isn’t, so I won’t).

That’s not to say I want a beta male. I want alpha all the way. Well, maybe not a complete “hard ass jerk” alpha, but I am not looking for wimpy men (or women, for that matter). Tortured heroes are rarely wimpy. They’re strong, complex characters with multiple layers, feelings and conflicts. Figuring out who they are is like peeling an onion. Okay, that’s kind of cliché and tear-inspiring. Maybe it’s more like opening up a present that’s been very well wrapped. You know, like those wrapped by kids with tons of tape and overlapping paper. Before you begin, you have to admire their wrapping job. You finally tear through the paper, only to come across the box that’s been decorated and taped shut, which you also have to admire. You get rid of the rest of the tape, which by now is in a wad next to you and sticks to everything, open the box and there’s tissue paper. Lots and lots of colored tissue paper. Ultimately, you get to the present inside. For those of you without kids, picture receiving a package from Amazon—huge box, lots of bubble wrap, small item.

The point I’m trying to make is that tortured heroes take a while to get to know. You have to dig deep to find out what makes them tick. While you’re digging, you discover what makes them valuable, attractive, worth the effort. They’re not the typical shallow pretty boy. They also don’t typically attract the shallow, plastic heroines. The heroines that spend time with the tortured hero look beyond surface appearances. They’re strong and independent. They’re usually women I can admire. I want my romance novels, whether they’re the ones I’m reading or writing, to be an escape from reality, but I also want them to be worth my time. I want them to be memorable. And the more work I have to do to discover the hero, the better I like them.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tell me how you touch me

Romance writers write about characters falling in love. Since lovers make--and break--love, we have to describe how they touch, and how it feels to be touched. Verbs are better than adverbs, so I've started a list:

Lovemaking touch verbs are caress, fondle, embrace, feel, flirt, hug, kiss, massage, neck, pet, stroke, touch, toy, clasp, coddle, cosset (which I had to look up; it means to pet, as in a lamb.), cuddle, embrace, grope, hug, love, neck, nestle, pamper, stroke, stimulate, trace, tap, tickle, rub, reach, brush, lick, dance, taste, tongue, buss, arouse, quicken, rouse, spark, spur, thrill, instigate, exhilarate, excite, quicken, trigger, whet, kindle, thrust, expose, revere, reveal, unbutton, uncover, undo, unfasten, undress, hold, carry, clinch, clutch, fill, possess, soften, stiffen, soothe, cherish, kindle, bestir, evoke, lather, moisten, lubricate, slide, smear, spread, part, open, circle, encircle, climax, accentuate, sensitize.

Love shaking verbs are nudge, peck, smooch, prod, sting, release, capitulate, comply, crumble, consent, reward, submit, surrender, gratify, indulge, yield, paw, provoke, possess, claim, take, steal, hide, suppress, flaunt, wink, nod, desensitize.

Love breaking touch verbs are hit, strike, flog, scratch, whip, smack, goad, incite, dominate, break, abuse, arrest.

What can you add to this list?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Jenny Twist is today's Friday Friend

Please welcome my friend, Jenny Twist, as our Friday Friend today.

Jenny was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike, the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family.

She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.

She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic.

In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat

Her first book, Take One At Bedtime, was published in April 2011 and the second, Domingo’s Angel, was published in July 2011. Her novella, Doppelganger, was published in the anthology Curious Hearts in July 2011, Uncle Vernon was published in Spellbound in November 2011, Jamey and the Alien was published in Warm Christmas Wishes in December 2011 and Mantequero was published in the anthology Winter Wonders in December 2011.

What is Romance, Exactly?

I always knew I would be a writer one day. It was just a matter of finding the time. I have had my head full of stories for as long as I can remember.

But I always assumed that I would write ghost stories or science fiction of the John Wyndham type. Perhaps a little bit of mild horror. So I was rather surprised when I eventually did start writing my stories down to discover that they refused to fit neatly into those genres. Or indeed, any genre.

I was recently asked to categorise my first book of short stories and when I confessed I was stumped, the review site asked, “How does your publisher categorise it?”

Good question. I had never checked. Feeling rather foolish, I looked it up on my publisher's site and discovered that it is categorised as 'speculative fiction'. How clever of them! I shall always use that in future.

You see, the trouble with writing is, you start off knowing exactly what you're going to write and how it is going to end and then the story seems to take on a life of its own and off it goes in another direction, with the poor author running along behind, hoping to catch it before it gets itself into some kind of trouble and trying desperately to appear to be in control.

One of the things that most of my rather peculiar stories have in common is an element of romance. I have come to realise that I rarely enjoy reading a book unless it has some love in it. It doesn't have to be romantic love. It can be the love of a parent for a child, the love of a pet, a loving friendship. But it is so much more interesting for me if the characters love each other. So it creeps in when I'm writing.

I'm trying to write a time travel story and I find it's all about a couple who love each other and are going through a bad patch, or a woman who is suicidal after discovering her husband's infidelity and who finds a new love in very unexpected way.

So I decided I might as well try writing proper romance. I did actually succeed in writing two stories that set out to be romance and stuck to it – A Castle in Spain and Jess's Girl, both in the anthology, 'Take One At Bedtime'. But the others went wandering off down other paths.

Take 'Domingo's Angel', a perfectly straight-forward story of a Spanish goatherd falling in love with an English girl. What could be simpler than that?

Well, it would have been all right if this bossy old woman hadn't shouldered her way into the plot and taken over. Before I knew it I was fascinated by her and I wanted to know her life story. It turned out she had this on-going power struggle with the mayor who was a pompous, over-bearing and completely unlovable person. But I fell in love with him and wondered why he was like that. It turned out he'd had a terrible childhood and it was a miracle he'd survived at all. And then there is this very unusual marmalade cat. I swear I have no idea where he came from.

You see what I mean? 'Domingo's Angel' IS a romance – sort of – but it's also a chronicle of the lives of the villagers. It ranges back and forth across time, telling how the village lived through the atrocities of the civil war and the unspeakable dictatorship of Generalissimo Franco. It tells of heroism and cowardice and it keeps breaking out into humour. I think it's trying to be a Spanish version of 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin'.

It also made me do endless research. I knew nothing of the Spanish Civil War before I came to live here in Spain. 'Domingo's Angel' forced me to learn. I have become something of an expert. Well, at least in what went on in the mountain villages. And I have come to greatly respect my neighbours. They lived through Hell and came out the other side cheerful and full of love for life and other people.

I think that's very romantic.
How would you categorise it?

When Angela turns up in a remote Spanish mountain village, she is so tall and so thin and so pale that everyone thinks she is a ghost or a fairy or the dreadful mantequero that comes in the night and sucks the fat from your bones.
But Domingo knows better. “Soy Angela,” she said to him when they met – “I am an angel.” Only later did he realise that she was telling him her name and by then it was too late and everyone knew her as Domingo’s Angel.
This is the story of their love affair. But it is also the story of the people of the tiny mountain village – the indomitable Rosalba - shopkeeper, doctor, midwife and wise woman, who makes it her business to know everything that goes on in the village; Guillermo, the mayor, whose delusions of grandeur are rooted in his impoverished childhood; and Salva the Baker, who risked his life and liberty to give bread to the starving children.The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule.

Nobody ever goes upstairs in Margaret’s house. So what is making the strange thumping noises up there? And why is there a toy rabbit under the kitchen table?
Margaret’s Ghost is just one of a collection of short stories consisting mainly of horror and science fiction, ranging from a classic gothic tale – Jack Trevellyn – to the Wyndhamesque Victim of Fortune, and the modern Waiting for Daddy, with its spine-chilling twist.
There is also the occasional excursion into romance with A Castle in Spain and Jess’s Girl.
But most of these tales take you to a place which is not quite as it seems.
It’s bedtime now. Time to go upstairs. Time to take a look. Just one look.
WARNING: Do not exceed the stated dose.

Jenny also has horror/science fiction stories in the following anthologies:

When Christine wakes up in a sumptuous white room with silken hangings, she assumes she is in heaven. But she soon finds out she is not in heaven. And before too long she begins to wonder if she is even still Christine.

There’s something very peculiar about Uncle Vernon. Nobody knows what he does in the cellar. But he’s quite harmless, really. Isn’t he?

Jamey only wants one thing for Christmas. He wants his Daddy to come home. But first he has to kill the alien.

Nobody had ever wanted to kiss June until she met her holiday romance.
Ignacio couldn’t get enough of her, though. But was it just kisses he wanted?
Or did he have a more sinister purpose?

Follow Jenny on:
my Website:
Goodreads Blog:
Or email her at

Thanks so much for being our Friday Friend today, Jenny - and we wish you continued success with your writing!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

S is for Seuss

One of the first memories I have is of sitting on my mom's lap while she read Dr. Seuss to me. There was something magical about the way he put words together. Something that keeps kids and adults alike entranced. Even now he remains one of my all time favorite authors.

In the simplest sense, his books are highly entertaining. Lyrical words, clever rhymes, and fabulous pictures combine to keep your attention. Digging deeper, his books address war, bullying, treating others as you want to be treated, and so much more. The messages are timeless.

If he couldn't find the right word to express an idea...he made one up. It is from Dr. Seuss that we get the word 'nerd'. Sometimes he broke the rules, and made breaking the rules work.

If you've ever read one of his books outloud, you know it's definitely a workout for your tongue.

His first book, "And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street" was published back in 1937 - 75 years ago - after being rejected by anywhere from 20 to 40 publishers. (The number varies depending on where you do your research.) He went on to publish dozens of others stories for 'children and their lucky parents' (as the back of some of his books state). His books have been made into tv shows, feature movies, and cartoons, allowing for new ways for the colorful stories to be experienced.

All in all, Theodor Geisel is truly an inspiration to us all.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sweet, Subtle, Sensual, Sophisticated, Steamy or Sizzling?

How do you class your novels in terms of ‘heat’ level?  Sweet, Subtle, Sensual, Sophisticated, Steamy or Sizzling? All terms used to denote different levels.

After a lot of ‘research’, I’m probably more confused than I was before I started. Levels of heat seem to vary, both in terms used and in what the level actually means.

The basic ‘Sweet’ level is fairly easy. Or is it? I’ve seen it described as ‘Kisses Only’. Elsewhere, one definition of ‘sweet’ is that ‘love scenes are implied but not shown i.e. the bedroom door stays closed'. Another is ‘No sensual or sexual overtones or intimacy, either literal or implied.’ So, in the 'sweet' level, can love scenes be implied or not? See, I’m confused already.

Another list of heats uses the term ‘Subtle’ to describe romances which include kissing and touching, but in which physical romance/lovemaking is alluded to rather than described. Isn’t this the same as that first definition of ‘sweet’? This same definition is also given (in some cases) for a level called ‘Sensual’ i.e. ‘total intimacy is implied but not described.’

Okay, so maybe there’s an ‘ultra-sweet’ level with no implied love-making (i.e. the bedroom isn’t even mentioned, let alone entered), and then a Sweet/Subtle/Sensual level where lovemaking is implied but not described i.e. characters disappear into the bedroom and close the door.

Nope, think again. Here’s another definition of ‘Sensual’: ‘Moderately explicit sensuality. Lovers make love, physical details are described but not graphically depicted. Euphemisms are used, but feelings and emotions are more important than body parts’.

Great! Now we’re getting somewhere. Or are we? In the list of heats which classed ‘sensual’ as lovemaking implied, not described, the term ‘Sophisticated’ is used for romances with explicit scenes which are handled sensitively but not graphically described and where euphemisms are used for body parts. Hmm, now it seems we have a confusion betwen sensual and sopisticated!

The higher up the heat scale we go, a variety of words are used to describe the levels:
Steamy (or Spicy or Hot) – explicit sensuality, making love graphically depicted; physical feelings and emotions are both important.
Sizzling (or Burning or Blazing) – Extremely explicit sensuality, sex is the primary focus of the story. Often referred to as ‘romantica’, a hybrid of romance and erotica.

Which all leaves me wondering just how I categorise my own novels. I tend to have sensual tension, leading eventually to one or two love-making scenes which, while emphasising the emotional aspects, do have some physical details. Maybe my books are “sensually sophisticated with the occasional steaminess”?

Having said all that, why then does Bookstrand (with its three main categories of Sweet, Sensual and Steamy) class my ‘Fragrance of Violets’ as ‘Sweet’??? Seems like we’re back to Square One with all these heat levels!

Think I'm just going to ignore all the level descriptions before I tear my hair out!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


One of the best ways to bring characters to life and to connect the reader with the story is to use all five senses in your writing. It’s a lot harder to do than it sounds. Face it, sight and sound are easy. Taste is obvious for food scenes, but can you incorporate it in other ways? Touch is also easy for sex scenes, but again, how else can you use it? And what about smell?

One of the first times I submitted my manuscript to an agent who provided feedback, as opposed to those who offer standard form letters, I received a lot of helpful advice. But the most interesting to me was the suggestion to incorporate all five senses. As I reviewed what I’d written and what she’d suggested, I realized that while my characters were seeing everything around them and hearing quite a lot, they didn’t touch, taste or smell things.
That led me to observing things around me. What does wood feel like and how does it compare to leather, granite or wool? How about different types of skin—dry, old, young, soft, smooth? If I closed my eyes and touched something, could I tell what it was? And then, could I write about it?

I remember in science class learning about the different areas of taste on the tongue. Sweet, sour, salty or bitter, there are a variety of tastes out there and many things we can describe, such as food, drink, rain, snow or even a lover.

I know that I can smell when it’s going to snow. I can smell when my house has been closed up for too long. I can smell food cooking or too many people in an enclosed space. All of those things make the environment real and can make it jump off the page.

That’s not to say we should have pages and pages and pages of description. You don’t want to slow down your story and you need to make sure your pacing works. But using just the right sensory description can save you words or even pages, freeing up your story for action and making the reader jump into the story with you.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sex scenes

The authors of Self-editing for Fiction Writers say, when x-rated images started being used to advertise blue jeans, explicit sex writing lost its power to shock or titillate. They suggest a subtler linespace approach will engage a reader's imagination and thus be more effective.

They say do it like this: (do you recognize it?)

He swung her off her feet and into his arms and started up the stairs. Her head was crushed against his chest and she heard the hard hammering of his hear beneath her ears. He hurt her and she cried out, muffled, frightened. Up the stairs he went in the utter darkness, up, up, and she was wild with fear. He was a mad stranger and this was a dark blackness she did not know, darker than death. He was like death, carrying her away in arms that hurt. She screamed, stifled against him and he stopped on the landing and, turning her swiftly in his arms, bent over her and kissed her with a savagery and completeness that wiped out everything from her mind but the dark into which she was sinking and the lips on hers. He was shaking, as though he stood in a strong wind, and his lips, fallen from her body, fell on her soft flesh. He was muttering things she did not hear, his lips were evoking feelings never felt before. She was darkness and he was darkness and there had never been anything before this time, only darkness and his lips on hers. She tried to speak and his mouth was all overs her again. Suddenly she had a wild thrill such as she had never known: joy, fear, madness, excitement, surrender to arms that were too strong, lips to bruising, fate that moved too fast. For the first time in her life she had met someone, something stronger than she, someone she could neither bully nor break, someone who was bullying and breaking her. Somehow, her arms were around his neck and her lips trembling beneath his and they were going up into the darkness again, and darkness that was soft and swirling and all enveloping.

When she awoke the next morning, he was gone and had it not been for the rumpled pillow beside her, she would have thought the happenings of the night before a preposterous dream....

Does this do it for you?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Friend - Carol Spradling

Please welcome today's Friday Friend, Carol Spradling.

Carol and her husband live in east Florida but look for any opportunity to spend time in the North Carolina mountains.  No matter where she goes, her laptop is sure to be with her.  She likes nothing better than pounding out the next chapter of a new book while watching the fog roll in from across the neighboring mountain peaks.

She's telling us about her journey to self-publishing:

When I finished writing my first book, I wanted to pursue publishing but knew nothing about the industry.  I was very fortunate to be picked up by a small press.  I had a very positive experience with them and would recommend this direction for anyone new to writing.  After a few years with the same publishing house, I wanted to try to publish on my own.  If I had known all of the details involved with this endeavor, I might have talked myself out of the idea.

I was very fortunate to have my critique partner.  Not only is she excellent with her critiques, she is a wealth of information.  She had decided to go the untraditional route with her writing and self publish.  At the time, I had never considered this an option.  I preferred to concentrate on the creative side of writing and leave the publishing end of the business to others.  She didn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to be involved in every aspect of my book.  She did have a point.

The two of us had a book ready for release, and our conversations slowly turned from editing a final draft to a series of innocent, publishing questions.  She was quite vocal about the pitfalls and stumbling blocks she was experiencing with self-publishing.  She also shared with me the secrets to overcome them.  It wasn’t until I saw her book on that I considered self-publishing for myself.

She gave me links to just browse and also wrote a vague to-do list if I chose this route.  I’m glad she walked me through the process a step at a time.  I would have been overwhelmed otherwise.  After formatting my book for ebooks and then for print, creating a cover, a trailer, establishing seller accounts on three major distributors, updating my blog and website, The Night Lamp was shining pretty.

Looking back, I am grateful for my experience with a small press but am enjoying the self-publishing journey.

The Night Lamp
Military confidant Cole McKnight will do anything to reclaim his home, even run bounties for an unprincipled bondsman. When Isa Foster becomes his latest assignment, Cole jeopardizes more than his property to bring her in.

Isa Foster has a bounty on her head and a dead friend at her feet. Accused of the murder, she must rely on her espionage training and wits to clear her name. Cole McKnight is one distraction she can’t afford.

With George Washington's impending inauguration and the birth of a nation hanging in the balance, Isa and Cole must work together to uncover the truth behind the murder. While Cole fights for his family home, and Isa for her very survival, their biggest battle may be fighting their attraction for each other.


The door handle rattled and Cole shot a glance over his shoulder.  Isa glared at him as he decided his next move.  Bent to his work, and seemingly determined to remain a bachelor, he yanked her nightgown off her shoulders and buried his face in her cleavage.  Pearl buttons popped to the sides, pinging as they struck the floor, and silk ribbons slipped free.

Gasping, she raked her hands through his hair and tried to pull him away.  Her grunts only added to the illusion of a woman enjoying intimacies with her husband.  Cole added to her mortification by bending her leg next to his side.  Isa could only imagine how this looked from an outsider’s viewpoint, and she closed her eyes to keep from making eye contact with the gawking stares in the doorway.  Becoming compliant in his hands, she ran her fingers through his hair and down his bare back.  Apparently, the crowd of onlookers seemed confused by the display.  They stood quiet, but staring.  Cole jabbed his thumb in Isa’s ribs and she squealed.  Hurried footsteps fled the room.

Now that the audience had fled, he pressed upward on his hands and raised his torso above Isa.  Cool air rushed between them, but she made no move to gather the neckline of her nightgown.  With no concern for her lack of modesty, she stared up at Cole, hoping to prolong the moment.  He seemed to have a similar thought, for his eyes slowly scanned her exposed skin.  She arched her back and instinctively trailed her fingers over the lines of carved definition from his elbow to shoulder to lips.  His tongue flicked out and drew her finger into his mouth.  Her breath caught and she glanced up at him.  Hooking her digit over his teeth, she drew him down to her.  He hesitated long enough to search her face.  She closed her eyes in answer and wet her lips.  His mouth covered hers, and she didn’t care if they were alone or not.  Aunt Lenore may not have meant for them to carry the charade this far, but neither of them made any effort to stop their desires.  Her nails dug into his taut flesh on its way to his lower back.  Their teeth clicked against each other and Cole tensed. 

Cold water poured from over his back onto Isa’s chest.  They both gasped and looked up at an upended pail.  Next to the dripping bucket, Aunt Lenore’s stern face was as harsh as worn leather.

Purchase links:

Find out more about Carol at

Thanks for being our Friday friend today, Carol. We wish you lots of success with 'The Night Lamp' and your future writing career.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

R is for Rewrites and Revisions

Often you'll hear an author say she's working on revisions to a mss. Another will say she's working on rewrites.

I'm sure there is a technical difference by definition. Rewrites would be writing something again. Revising would be making changes. But when it comes down to it, to me they seem to be one and the same.

If you're changing something in the mss, you're writing it again. And if you're writing it again, you're changing it. Right?!

I'm in the middle of rewrites and/or revisions (Take your pick.) on a mss. I'm approaching it a bit differently than I've done in the past. With everything done via e-mail with my publisher and editors, I haven't looked at a hard copy of a mss in a long time.

This time around I had a lot that needed to be rewritten and/or revised. So I printed out a copy of the mss. I punched holes in it and put it in a binder. I've forgotten how much better it is to look at something in print and find mistakes than to simply look on the computer.

It's also been nice to cross things out and add other things, but still see what was there before. I think this will help a lot with continuity later on.

All in all, so far, things are going well with my revisions and/or rewrites.

So, what do you call it when you work on a mss that's already written? Do you like to revise? Or rewrite?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Research for Contemporary Novels

On Monday Ana told us of the research she’s done about Brittany in the 15th century. Today I’m going to tell you about some of the research I’ve done (so far) for my novel.

Okay, it’s contemporary. I don’t have to read up about food, clothes, furniture etc. from a bygone age. It’s set in the English Lake District, an area with which I’m very familiar, so you might wonder why I need to do any research, but I’ve had to look up (or at least check) quite a lot of details.

Also, I decided my hero was going to be the local vet (actually I think HE decided!). What do I know about vets? Nothing. More research needed!

When I started the novel back in January, I thought it would be interesting to make a list of all the topics I’d ‘googled’ as part of my research. Sometimes they were simply to confirm something I knew (or thought I knew), and in many cases they were only needed for one line of dialogue. Here are some of them:

Supermarkets in Ambleside
19th century ‘crimes’ in the Lake District – sheep stealing etc
Traditional Cumbrian surnames
Lake District tourist sites, for details of cottages to rent
Photos of Lake District in winter
Sculpture trail in forest
Interior of church in the ‘real’ village I’m using (although giving it a different name)
Veterinary surgery – staff/responsibilities etc
Vet. emergencies in countryside
Farms in Hampshire
Wood burning stoves
Edinburgh vet school
Info about broken ankles, plaster casts, splints (including a request on FB for personal experiences of breaking an ankle)
Walks around Grasmere
Rydal caves.
Lake District estate agents (for hero’s house) – floor plans etc
Lambing time
Hedgehog hibernation
Foaling – time taken, possible problems
Activities for children in Lake District
Typical Geordie expressions
Dogs’ ear infections
Using brand names in novels
Tower of London – ravens
Lady Jane Grey
Child custody cases

There were many others similar to the above, and others where I didn’t actually use the information I’d looked up.

I’m about half way through the novel, so who knows what else I’ll have to look up before I get to the end? So, even for a contemporary novel set in an area I know well, there’s still a lot of checking and research involved.

With each novel, I’ve learnt a lot of new things. I now know what a Nemes headdress is, I know what correlation spectrometers measure, I know how much it costs to stage a London musical, I know how often the Eurostar runs from London to Paris and I know about dogs’ ear mites. All wonderful, although probably useless, trivia, but it’s all part of the fun of being a writer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


It’s easy to show romance in a romance novel if you write about sex. But what if you don’t want to write about sex? Or what if you want to show romance in other ways? How can you show your characters’ feelings for each other without having them constantly jumping into bed (or the couch, the floor, the car, the beach, etc.)?

One way to show romance is with dialogue. I recently read a book where the hero was very guarded and took a long time to trust people. He made a huge mistake, but he wasn’t the type to apologize. And, his mistake needed more than just an “I’m sorry.” So, he came to the heroine in the middle of the night, when neither of them could sleep, and explained why he’d done what he’d done. The room was dark. There was nothing to see, nothing to describe. All we had was his voice and his words. He confided in her. It was one of the most romantic scenes in the entire book.

Another way is with a look. Using vivid imagery to describe a character’s eyes or a glance or the result of that glance can show the romance felt between two characters—or even one if it’s unrequited. Again, I read a book where the hero was wearing a mask (kind of silly, but it was historical, so maybe forgiven) and his eyes showed more of him than his entire face unmasked. Just by looking into his eyes, the heroine was able to tell exactly what he was feeling.

How about actions? The heroine can go out of her way to do something nice for the hero. The hero can fix a problem that has been plaguing the heroine. They can write each other notes. Love letters written by former President Nixon to his wife before they married showed how much he loved her. He’s not exactly a romantic character, but even he had his moments.

What other ways can you show romance?

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I needed to learn about fifteen century Brittany for my WIP. Fortunately, I enjoy doing research. First, I hunted for books in our tiny local library, I usually find picture books with diagrams and simple, but accurate explanations in the children's section. I wasn't disappointed; I found books on motte and bailey castle construction, cross-sectional tutorials of moats and protective walls, descriptions of storerooms and housekeeping details.
Next I ordered books through a link to libraries throughout the state of Minnesota. I found an old book called "Medieval Living." Each chapter described a facet of medieval life, from meals to medicine, clothing to seiges, weddings to warfare.

I also hunted for used books at AbeBooks and Amazon. I found French travel guides,
books on the many Louis's of France, and theories about history of the Celtic races in France, England, and Wales. (The ancient Celts had only an oral history, so archaeologists have to draw suppositions from unearthed artifacts.)

I became the twenty-seventh member of the US Branch of the International Committee for the Defense of the Breton Language, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the French government's campaign to eradicate the centuries-old culture of the Breton poeple through the suppression of their language. Breton is a Brythonic Celtic language related to Welsh, Gaulish, and Cornish. Cousin languages are Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic and Manx.

A local book store owner sourced a Breton-English travel dictionary.

I researched Druids, menhirs, Duchess Anne of Brittany, castle ruins of Dinan, the Rance River estuary, traveling peddlers and the old story of Isolde and Tristan.

All of this, whirled together, became the historical setting for the timetravel part of my story.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Debra Kayn, today's Friday Friend

Please welcome Debra Kayn, a fellow Savvy Authors member, who has come to tell us about her new release from Carina Press.

Thank you, Ana, for having me here today!

When I started writing the Sisters of McDougal Ranch series, my editor advised me to start a character bible. I’m sure she heard my poor pantser heart drop. I don’t plot. I was a firm believer that some writers plotted, and some sat down and starting pushing the keys on their laptop.

A funny thing about series books is you have to plot. There are certain things that must be included with each book. The five sisters show up in each other’s stories, and although they’re family…they’re all different. I had to keep everyone straight, and character bibles and plotting helped.

Right when I thought I was getting the hang of taking notes and writing timelines, I sold the 4th book of the series to a new publishing house. I received an editor that said, “We’re going to take this book and turn it into a category romance. You will also learn how to use Goal, Motivation, and Conflict in every scene.” I found out that my idea of plotting had a long way to go. The results were fabulous, and made me a believer in my ability to write.

That’s the wonderful thing about writing. I never stop learning. There are lots of classes available online for writers. Some are free, some cost a little money, but you will learn. There are things I know (I swear I do!), but someone different can teach me and it all makes perfect sense.

Here are some places to find classes, mentors, information that I’ve found invaluable in my writing career.

I’ll leave you today with a blurb from Margot’s Lawman, the 3rd book of the Sisters of McDougal Ranch series:

It's hard to keep a secret in the small town of Pike, Montana, but veterinarian Margot McDougal and sheriff Roy Lee Hanson managed to keep their relationship on the sly for months. Margot cares for Roy Lee, but the last thing she needs is to worry about local gossip while she's busy running her clinic and dealing with the loss of her beloved father.

Roy Lee can't wait to tell the world that he loves Margot. He respected her decision to keep their affair quiet—until now. It's time for everyone to know Margot is his gal...especially Ryan Martin, her new assistant. He's formed an attachment to Margot and Roy Lee is sure the city boy's unexplained appearance in Pike means he's up to no good.

Margot just wants to help Ryan fit in, and Roy Lee's jealousy soon drives a wedge between them. A wedge that only increases when Margot is roped into Ryan's secret, too...

Check out all 3 of the Sisters of McDougal Ranch series books at Carina Press – Harlequin’s Digital First imprint or your favorite ebook distributor. You won’t have long to wait for #4, Florentine’s Hero, so make sure you come by my website and stay up to date on the upcoming release day.

Multi-published romance author Debra Kayn lives in the beautiful Coastal Mountains of Oregon on a hobby farm. Her love of animals includes dogs, chickens, goats, rabbits, turkeys, geese, and yes...pigs. The peacefulness of a flowing creek across her property provides an excellent spot to read a book on a summer day, go swimming, and catch the ever-elusive fish using a pink sparkly fishing pole. Meeting her husband on a blind date in her teens made her a true believer in love and romance, and she can promise you that all her books will have a happily-ever-after.

Visit Debra’s website
Follow Debra on Twitter
Like Debra on Facebook

Q is for Quintessential

My New Webster's Dictionary defines quintessential as 'the perfect embodiment of a thing.'

I think most romance authors would say they strive to create the quintessential hero for our stories. We want our hero to be perfect in every way, for the heroine, and for ourselves. I think I fall just a little bit in love with every one of my heroes each and every time. How can my heroine keep from doing the same?

What's interesting is that, although by definition, our hero should be 'perfect', it's actually the flaws within our hero that tend to make him heroic. Or, more accurately, it's how he overcomes those flaws with the help of the heroine that make her (and us as well) fall in love with him.

A 'perfect' hero is often far from perfect. He may be scarred: physically, emotionally, or both. His past often stands in the way of his future. He may not know what the hell he's doing in life. He may not want to fall in love at all.

If our hero truly was 'perfect', we really wouldn't have much of a story, would we? No inner conflict to overcome. No goals to clash with the heroine's because he'd already have everything he wanted. We need our hero to be flawed to make our story work. To show how love and trust can overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.

Although our hero is far from perfect, he's still perfect for the heroine and she for him. So I guess Webster did have it right after all.

What's your quintessential hero like? What flaws make him the 'perfect' hero?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012


At some point in a story, our hero and heroine will have a quarrel. It’s all part of the conflict(s) we introduce to make life difficult for them.

For me, it’s often the hardest part of the story to write as I dislike confrontation personally and so find it difficult to write.

I’m aware that there are many pitfalls when writing a quarrel. It’s all too easy to give the impression that the heroine is a nagging, screaming harpy, or the hero an arrogant, supercilious b….d! Readers of romance usually want to escape from the kind of quarrels that sometimes (often?) happen in real life!

Petty bickering is one sure way to turn the reader off your characters. Equally, I think we need to avoid name-calling, belittling, and verbal abuse, and neither combatant should bring up old history as part of the quarrel. Any form of physical violence is a no-no too, as is one of characters going into a lengthy sulk afterwards!

Obviously, there may be exceptions to the above, but, generally speaking, a quarrel with any of these elements shouldn’t occur between the hero and heroine unless there is a specific reason.

So where does that leave us? Basically, there should be a genuine reason for a quarrel or confrontation. It should be a valid disagreement which is related directly to either the internal or external conflict(s). Righteous anger is satisfying, but shouldn't degenerate into vindictiveness.

And it should be a fair fight. A heated exchange is good for upping the tension, a slanging match isn’t!

‘Making-up’ afterwards can always be good too!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Q is for Questionnaire

Every summer, my kids spend a month at sleep away camp. They spend the entire year counting down until that first day when they can leave home and go to their “home away from home.” And while I resisted at first, I’m glad they get the opportunity to spend time away, make new friends and create memories. Getting them to tell me about it, however, is another story.

They’re perfectly happy to tell me every little detail when they’re home. They’re also fairly good about sending letters home—it’s amazing what incentive a meal for a letter home will do—but those letters don’t actually give a lot of information and they definitely don’t answer any of my questions. They’re still not quite sure about letters, anyway. With email and texting, the idea of a letter taking almost a week to get to me, a day to respond and a week to get back to them, their desire for immediate gratification is completely shot.

But, never one to give up, especially when I have the chance to be nosy about my kids and their activities, I asked my friends, whose kids also go to camp, for help. As the parents of boys, they are champions at extracting information from unwilling subjects (not to be stereotypical or anything, but boys grunt, girls chatter). And they provided me with a handy, dandy questionnaire (see, I am getting around to the topic, it’s just taking me a while). The questionnaire is a fill in the blank form, worded in such a way as to prevent “yes” and “no” answers. “My favorite camp activity so far is…” “The names of some of my friends are…” “My favorite food so far is…” It doesn’t require them to write a book, but they do have to provide information (providing they remember to put it in the envelope).

This questionnaire got me thinking about the characters in my books and how I figure out who they are. I think it was last week on this blog that we debated how we come up with our characters—images in our heads, from TV, a voice, etc. Creating the character is just the first step. Until you flesh them out, they’re just an image, an empty form around which you have to create a story. That story is more difficult if you don’t know your characters. And so, the idea of the questionnaire. Hopefully, your characters aren’t as recalcitrant as my children—I don’t know about you, but I write to ESCAPE reality. But even the most loquacious sometimes need a little prompting.

So, here’s my question to you. If you were to create a questionnaire for your characters, what would you ask?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Have I always been a bit queer?

Recently we had to post five things no one knew about ourselves. I, going first, was unclear as to how detailed the reveal should (or could) be, and I wrote in broad strokes.

Hunting for a topic that started with Q, I copied all the Q words out of my beloved Flip Dictionary and tried making sentences will only words beginning with the letter Q. I had a good time.

This led me to elect to reveal two things about myself that you may find a bit queer. I've loved reading the dictionary ever since I was young. When I have some spare moments, I like to pick up a jar or bottle, say of shampoo or toothpaste, and scan the front and back labels for words that begin with each letter of the alphabet. It's easy to find A and B and C. D and E. F is fairly common. Y and U are usually useful. But Z and J are hard to fine. I guess I don't know anyone who uses Just for Men.

Here's a few Q sentences I cobbled together.
The querulous queen quarantined the quibbling queue.
The queer question quieted the quixotic quill-wielder.
Quench your thirst, he quipped.

And here is a favorite poem from the Waldorf Book of Poetry, called
Mrs. Grammar’s Ball,

Mrs. Grammar once gave a fine ball
To the nine different parts of our speech
To the short and the tall
To the stout and the small,
There were pies, plums, and puddings for each.

And first little Articles came
In a hurry to make themselves known;
Far A, AN, and THE—
But none of the three
Could stand for a minute alone.

Then adjectives came to announce
That their dear friends the Nouns were at hand;
Rough, rougher, and roughest,
Tough, tougher, and toughest,
Fat, merry, good-natured, and grand.

The Nouns were indeed on their way,
Tens of thousands and more, I should think;
For each name that we utter,
Shop, shoulder, or shutter—
Is a Noun; lion, lady, or link.

The Pronouns were hastening fast
To push the nouns out of their places:
I, thou, he, and she,
You, it, they, and we,
With their sprightly, intelligent faces.

Someone cried, “Make way for the Verbs!”
A great crowd is coming to view.”
To light and to smite,
To fight and to bite,
To be and to have and to do.

The Adverbs attend on the Verbs.
Behind, as their footmen, they run;
As thus, “To fight badly”
And “Run away gladly”
Show how running and fighting were done.

Prepositions came, in, by and near,
With conjunctions, a wee little band,
As either you or he
But neither I nor she,
They held their great friends by the hand.

Then, too, with a Hip! Hip! Hoorah!
Rushed in Interjections uproarious.
Dear me! Well-a-day!
When they saw the display,
“Ha! Ha!” they all shouted out, “Glorious!”

But alas what misfortunes were nigh!
While the fun and the feasting pleased each,
Pounced on them at once
A monster-a Dunce!
And confounded the nine parts of speech.

Help Friends, to the rescue! On you
For aid Verb and Article call.
O give your protection
To poor interjection,
Noun, Pronoun, Conjunction and all.

I salute all word freaks.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Friend Laura Browning

Today we welcome multi-published author Laura Browning to Heroines with Hearts!

Tell us about “Santa’s Helper”.
How is it different than your other books?

Santa’s Helper is my first attempt at a holiday-themed story. I tried to play off some of the ideas of the holiday such as the spirit of giving. In this case, the heroine is filled with it, but has to show that through little things. Jack, the hero, is in need of it and far more able to carry out his efforts to be generous. In addition to the idea of a holiday story being a departure for me, it is also a departure in that it’s a single title. I tend to write series playing off secondary characters from previous stories.

What got you interested in writing?
My interest in writing began with my interest in reading. I’ve read voraciously ever since I learned how to do it on my own. I used to retell stories to myself at night to make me a part of them in some way. Eventually, that translated into a love of writing, and even determined my course of study in college. I was a journalism major.

How long have you been writing?
Somewhere, there lurks a handwritten copy of the gothic romance I completed at the age of sixteen. Tabitha and Gareth – those are the heroine and hero. It was filled with all sorts of angst and gothic romance clichés. It was really awful, but of course, my mother adored it. There are also a couple of short stories completed for English classes – some of which got someone else a wonderful grade (Oh please, don’t let any of my students see that!) and earned me some extra cash.

What inspired you to write your first book?
Well, gothic romance aside, the first book I got published wasn’t actually the first one I wrote. Winning Heart, which just came out in July, I originally completed six years ago. I didn’t choose it as my first attempt at getting published because it was a little non-traditional. It arose out of a “What if?” question that popped into my mind about foxhunting, which plays a role at the beginning of the story.

What comes first, plot or characters?
This is a tough question for me because I usually come up with a what if kind of an idea that gives me the initial start to a story, then I begin to develop who the characters are and that normally takes the idea in a different direction than I might have initially envisioned. Sound disorganized? Yes, it is. It’s a very inefficient way to write that I can only manage to carry off because I write extremely fast.

How do you come up with the titles for your books?
I hate that part. Most of the time, my manuscripts don’t get titles until I’m about ready to submit them somewhere. In their initial forms, they normally have the hero’s name on them, don’t ask me why. The exceptions to that would be The Silkie’s Call and The Silkie’s Salvation. Both those titles are very plot descriptive.

What is the hardest part of writing?
Most of the time, an initial draft is the easy part of the process for me. The hard part comes in stepping back from it to look at it critically. Sometimes that critical look involves a major rewrite. For example, the original version of Winning Heart I completed in first person point of view, decided I could never sell it that way and rewrote the entire thing in third person. I had to add in additional scenes from the hero’s point of view and rewrite some scenes because they worked better in a different point of view.

Do you have an interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if this is a quirk or not. I can write anywhere. It must be a leftover from working in a noisy newsroom for so many years, but I’ve sat with a laptop at baseball practices writing at the same time I was carrying on a conversation with someone. I write on laptops, desktops and my netbook. Thank God I have only a basic cellphone or I’d probably find some way to write on that too. I have a flash drive that lives with me. Everything’s on it. Everything’s portable, and it’s always with me unless I’m sleeping or in the shower…lol.

What have you learned from being a published author that you wish you knew before you were published?
Having someone critique your work will always feel a lot like the cat scratching you, and the cover artist will never see your hero exactly as you do.

What’s the best writing advice you ever received/read?
The best advice I ever read was from a writer, I don’t remember who it was now, talking about a friend of his who never got published because he kept trying to make his current manuscript perfect. Sometimes you just have to say it’s good enough and let someone else decide if it’s ready to publish.

Any advice for new writers?
Two things. Keep at it. Practice improves your writing, and that should be one of your goals is to make each story you write just a bit better than the last one. The second thing I would tell new writers is this: to be a published writer you must submit your work to a publisher. Don’t do what I did which was to keep writing for years without every attempting to publish. Once I made the decision to make my writing a business, I found a publisher.


You have several series out. Tell us about the “Silkies” books. Is the seal concept something you came up with on your own, or is there a myth or a history behind it?
Ah, I love the Silkies. You’ll also see this spelled as Selkie; I found both doing research, so yes it is a mythology primarily of Celtic and Norse origins. Most of the mythology has tragic endings of separation and Silkie children being stolen from human homes. My introduction to them came through a ballad Joan Baez recorded on an album when I was just a kid. “Silkie” is her version of The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry. It’s a very sad song, and I guess reaching back to my childhood roots of not liking unhappy endings, I changed the whole idea.

Your other series is the “Brotherhood of the Guardians”. I’m always a sucker (no pun intended!) for a good vampire story. Is there anything about your vampires that make them different from the ‘usual’ or are they more like traditional vampires?
My vamps are good-looking, rich and run a financial investment empire—oh and they kick rogue vampire butt on the side. I’ve truly twisted this mythology and spun it off the idea that vampires are really the offshoot of Cain. This twist is something that takes a while to come out because they also have the ability to transform humans, and my initial vamps were all changed, not born.

What made you decide to write a series?
I get so attached to my characters, I don’t want them to go away. I blame this on my mother’s decades-long addiction to “Days of Our Lives”. It must be in my genetic code.

What is one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?
Is it true that romance writers create the man of their dreams? Absolutely. I don’t think I’ve had a single romance hero belch, scratch or turn off my chick-flick so he can watch Swamp People.

Where can we find you and your books?
You can find me at,, on facebook and also on twitter at LauraBrowning4.
My Books are available at The Wild Rose Press, Lyrical Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

P is for Priorities

Are there ever enough hours in the day to get everything done that needs to be done?

I'd have to answer that question with a resounding no. No matter how long, hard, or fast I work, there always seems to be something left over to finish the next day. Or the day after that.

I have piles of things around the house that need to be attended to. I have to do my 2011 taxes. I have to design an ad for a brochure for an upcoming writer's conference. I have to grade papers. I have to write and submit minutes from a meeting last week. I have to create a trivia game for an upcoming event. I could go on, but I won't.

All of that doesn't include the day-to-day responsibilities of a wife, homeowner, and a full-time job.

So out of that mess of a list, what do I make a priority?

I'd love to say my writing, but unfortunately, that seems to be the thing that is always put off until I have more time (ha ha). All of those others things have a definite timeline and deadline for being accomplished. And I'm not one of those people who can get by on very little sleep. I need my sleep. Lots of it.

I have an entire mss that needs to be revised and rewritten. I have a mss I need to polish up for a pitch in April. And I have an idea spinning for another story.

I have zero time to work on any of this.

If you don't have the luxury of being a full-time writer, how do you make it a priority? What things do you let go by the wayside to get some writing done? I for one am at a loss because everything else on my list seems to be a much bigger priority, with consequences imposed if I don't finish.

Plus, I haven't worked out in ages and it's starting to show.

Obviously I'm spreading myself too thin. I need to figure out what I'm willing to give up. It can't be anything related to my job...I kind of need that. Trouble is, those other things I get myself into, I do enjoy. I just wish I could find a better way to balance and prioritize so I have time for everything.

Seriously...any suggestions?!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!