Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Debra's not-so-creepy holiday post.

I love Halloween. But I am totally not into blood, guts, and/or gore. I like my holidays cozy, thank you very much. For me it's ghosties and gobblins and pumpkins and adorable trick-or-treaters.

When I decided to add a Halloween book to my holiday repertoire to join my Christmas and Thanksgiving stories, I kept this very much in my mind. Even though my story has a vampire theme, there is not an ounce of horror to be found. Cozy was definitely the feel I was going for in this case. Well, cozy with a healthy dose of sexy thrown in! :)

As part of the story, Kelsey and Rafe (my heroine and hero) host a Halloween party at the library where they work. Patrons are able to visit various stations and themed activities throughout the celebration...

A kids' costume party/sleepover with a showing of It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and pumpkin pancakes in the morning.
A Twilight Saga movie marathon.
A Halloween themed reading area with hot cider and pumpkin donuts.
Jack-o-lantern carving.
A midnight showing of Bela Lugosi's Dracula. (More kitschy and classic than horror.)
A horror movie marathon. (Okay, so there's the mention of a little horror, but Kelsey is sure to stay far away from it. Here's a little peek at her description.)

“So, we have twenty-seven with the proper intestinal fortitude signed up for the horror movie marathon.” She shuddered.
“Scary monsters not your thing, huh?”
She tilted her head to look at him, a peculiar expression on her face. “Monsters are fine. It’s the slasher films I don’t have the stomach for.”
“Ah, so no blood and guts?”

In one scene the conference room at the library is 'shown' complete with tissue paper ghosts hanging from the ceiling and grinning jack-o-lanterns taped to the windows.

The story opens with a costume party in which guests were invited to dress as their favorite literary characters. Music like The Monster Mash and the theme song from The Addams Family and Michael Jackson's Thriller played throughout.

See? Cozy. Fun. All the best parts of Halloween. And no blood or gore in sight. Now that's my kind of holiday.

So how about you? Are you a cozy Halloween fan or a creepy, spooky Halloween fan? Or perhaps Halloween isn't your thing at all.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


The Vampire and the Vixen now available from The Wild Rose Press.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How Writers Procrastinate

Paula conducts some research into writers and procrastination.
Last weekend (when I was procrastinating), I put a question on Facebook: What’s your favourite method of procrastinating instead of writing? I had 30+ responses, so procrastination is clearly a common phenomenon amongst writers.
Perhaps inevitably, over a third of the responses said ‘Facebook’. That made me wonder how many of us procrastinated BF (Before Facebook)!
Several people mentioned reading or researching. To me, those are actually a part of the writing process, as we are either learning from other writers, or ensuring the facts/information in our own stories are accurate. Maybe that is the acceptable face of procrastination.
Similarly, some replies mentioned alternative creative efforts e.g. painting, making greetings cards, gardening, baking, even transferring music from MP3 to a hard drive – or going to the gym. Now that’s what I call positive procrastination, especially, as one person said, you can think up ideas while you’re doing any of these things.
A couple of people (but only a couple!) said ‘Cleaning the house/bathroom/kitchen’ or ‘Tidying drawers’. One person said she convinced herself these jobs were very important, another maintained her procrastination included everything but housework!
Then we came to the real procrastination (in addition to Face book):
Emailing friends telling them I have writer’s block.
Making coffee
Going out to buy chocolate
Painting my nails
Chatting on Twitter
Doing the crossword (justification for that – ‘It’s still words’)
Watching daytime TV
Looking up Friday night specials
Angry Birds
Facebook games (and that’s not just me!)
And here’s the one I like: ‘Answering questions on Facebook about procrastination’.
So come on — how do you procrastinate?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Breaking the Rules

Jennifer is thinking about breaking the rules.

I’ve always been a rule follower. I’m an only child, and we tend to be “good girls,” especially since there’s no one else to blame for things! I was raised to listen to my teachers and to do the right thing. And usually, I don’t mind.

But lately, I feel like there have been a barrage of writer’s rules thrown at me. It could be because I just came back from a conference. It could be I’m spending far too much time on social media. It could be I’m reading too many blogs. It could be that I’m letting my inner doubts surface and therefore I’m paying too much attention to the “I can’ts” rather than the “I cans.”

I’m starting to rebel. I’m starting to believe the adage, “Rules are made to be broken.” After all, there are so many rule breakers out there, why can’t I be one of them?

It was with this attitude that I walked into the keynote address of the published author’s retreat part of last week’s writer’s conference. As I mentioned in last week’s post, Virginia Kantra was the speaker, and she said something that resonated with me, especially in light of all the rules I’ve been told lately:

Writers feel like there’s a secret handshake. They think of Point A as unpublished and Point B as a bestseller. There is a part of us that wants to put in our 25 years and get our gold watch. There should be a secret to getting from Point A to Point B. Well, there is no secret, map or one way of doing things. We can learn from each other and support each other. If you try to follow the rules or someone else’s map, you will get lost.

I love this! The good girl in me is freaking out a bit, because, hey, there are rules and there are some that really shouldn’t be broken—like grammar and ethics and…--but there are also “rules” that aren’t really “rules.” They’re more like suggestions. And if you get bogged down in keeping track of all of them, and following all of them (which would be quite a feat as many of them contradict each other!), I think you loose some of the joy of writing.

And I don’t know about you, but I NEED that joy.

So forgive me, but I’m going to take a break for a while. I’m not going to worry so much about Every. Single. Rule. I’m going to break a few. I might even break ones I shouldn’t. Oh well.

Some rules ARE meant to be broken. And I think figuring out which ones I can break or bend might be fun.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Living the Part

Ana muses about having a maid

Sometimes, I daydream about the day when I can quit my job, hire a housekeeper and write full time. When I come back to reality, though, I'm not so sure. 
My job is how I exercise. I shudder at the thought of going to the gym. I prefer multi-tasking. Pitchfork a stall in the barn, and I end up with a clean pen as well as a workout. Harvest and lug a bushel of beets to the wash screen, and I've done two hundred toe-touchers. And passed an endurance test.
A cook might be grand. But what if I was trysting with my muse when lunch was ready? Muse could leave in a huff and play hard to get for a week.
A maid would be nice, but I'd worry about appearing messy and would clean house before she cleaned. And I couldn't feel comfortable sitting at my desk wearing knee-highs and my red thermal nightgown while someone vacuumed behind me.
And I would have to hire a PR firm when she sold out to the tabloids. "Ana Morgan wears a ten-gallon hat and spurs in the bedroom." 
I'm writing a western romance. I have to live the part. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Once Ana started reading Rescue Me, she could not stop.

                                                    Today's Friday Friend, Jody Vitek
Jody will give a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter today. Leave your email address with your comment. 

Thank you for having me today at Heroines with Hearts. Bear with me today as my responses could be a little slow. I am traveling to a writer's retreat that I’m partaking in this weekend. I’d like to share my brief journey to publication and then about my newest release Rescue Me.
The first book I ever wrote is on a back shelf waiting to see the light of day. About 11 years into my writing career, I started researching agents and built a list of those I would like to represent me. Once I felt confident my book was ready for representation, I submitted queries to the agents on my list. The rejections flowed into my email inbox. After multiple times multiple rejections from agents, I decided to submit to electronic publishers and made forward progress. Two steps forward and then the rejection arrived.
About to give up, I was given a lead to two more electronic publishers. I was firmly told to submit to them. So, I sent my submissions to the two publishers and waited for a response. On an early October day I received feedback from both publishers. The first email came in the morning and it was a rejection. Later that afternoon, my family was gathered in the living room and I checked my phone for messages. There was the e-mail from the other publisher. After hemming and hawing over whether to open it on my phone or go downstairs and sit in my office at my computer to cry over the rejection, I decided read it on my phone. Opening the e-mail my mouth dropped open, closed as I continued to read, and with tears in my eyes I screamed, “I sold my book.”

Florida Heat was released in July 2012 and Rescue Me was in the process of being written and edited. I decided to submit Rescue Me to my publisher when it was ready for submission. I wasn’t interested in trying to get an agent and that’s why I went back to my publisher. I thought it would be easier the second time around. After having gotten all those rejections and having a publisher but it wasn’t. I still worried that they would reject me. That they would reject my story. To my delight, they offered me a contract.
Are you wondering how I came up with the idea for this book? Well, if you ask any writer how they come up with ideas for their stories you will get a variety of answers. But in general, every writer will have similar answers. A line in a song stuck out in their head, something overheard in a conversation in a crowded elevator, something they see on the side of the street and the list goes on.
For me, Rescue Me stems from a visit to a family member’s old farm house. Although the city I named in the book is fictitious, I based it very loosely on the city where the family farm is location. It was after I started writing the beginning of the story that I shared the basis of this book with my second cousin, who grew up on the farm, and he told me a little history that shocked me. What I wrote, actually happened to my distant relatives! What am I talking about? The real farm was won on a poker bet.
It only takes a sliver of information or to see a miniscule detail on the side of the road to spark an idea. To make you wonder, what is the story behind that? So, be careful of what you say and do because it may end up in a book someday.
What tidbit of your life would you be willing to put in a book? Are there any taboo parts of your life to be written about? If yes, you don’t have to explain but it would be interesting to see how many of us have taboo parts in our life.

Ana's Review of Rescue Me:

     In additional to her Twin Cities veterinary practice, Catherine Mornelli takes in stray animals as Four Hooves and Paws Rescue. The land where she houses her rescue horses has been put up for sale. Pragmatically, she decides to see her favorite great-aunt Elaine’s barn is serviceable.
     Up north, Aunt Elaine’s 200 acres abuts Catherine’s old boyfriend’s farm. Josef has become a successful farmer and rents Elaine’s fields. Josef dotes on Aunt Elaine, but he is secretly hoping the sweet old lady will bequeath her land back to him. You see, his great-grandfather lost the land to Catherine’s great-grandfather in a poker game. 
      And dear Aunt Elaine has a scheme of her own: to get Catherine and Josef to marry.
      With this setup, Jody Vitek creates an enthralling story with a host of supporting characters and perfectly timed plot twists. The priest who tries to block Josef’s and Catherine’s “shotgun” wedding so Aunt Elaine’s trust money will go to the church. The tornado that destroys Aunt Elaine’s barn along with Catherine’s dream for her rescue service. The dilemma after one night of passion.
      Ms. Vitek writes with vivid imagery and graceful phrasing.  I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Her website:
Her books are available at Melange Books, Amazon, and B&N
She can be found on Facebook:
Twitter: @JodyVitek

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Spring Fling 2014

The Spring Fling Writers' Conference is back in Chicagoland in 2014.

My RWA chapter hosts a writers' conference every other year, and 2014 is the year. If you're in the Chicagoland sure to check us out...or feel free to forward this information.

There are just two weeks left for early bird registration. We'd love to see you at Chicago-North RWA's Spring Fling Writers' Conference 2014!

Chicago-North RWA Members: $160
RWA Members: $170
Non-RWA Members: $180
Registration forms available on the website:

Admission: $200


April 25-26, 2014

Chicago Marriott Northwest, Hoffman Estates, IL
Conference Discounted Room Rate: $89.99/night + tax

Headliners--New York Times Bestselling Authors:
Kristan Higgins
Mary Balogh
Lauren Dane

Laura Bradford (Bradford Literary), Suzie Townsend (Newleaf Literary), Nicole Resciniti (The Seymour Agency), Nalini Akolekar (Spencerhill Associates), Melissa Jeglinski (The Knight Agency)

Christa Soule (Samhain Publishing), Alex Logan (Grand Central Publishing), Elizabeth Poteet (St. Martin's Press), Amanda Bergeron (Avon Impulse), Margo Lipschultz (Harlequin)

All editors and agents will be taking appointments.

Other features:

Two Days Packed with Workshops and Panels
Publishing Spotlights
Open-to-the-Public Book Sale & Signing
Librarian, Bookseller, and Book Blogger Appreciation Event
Silent Auction Benefiting Literature for All of Us
Pitch Perfect Master Class with Carrie Lofty
Special Guest Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
Infamous "Hot Night" Love Scene Group Critique Sessions, Sponsored by BDSM Book Reviews
Performance by Hilarious Chicago Comedian Adam Grabowski

Please feel free to share this information anywhere you feel it's appropriate, like your chapter loops, Facebook and Twitter feeds, blogs, etc. Everyone is welcome!

For more details, please visit our website:


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Getting past a Road Block?

Paula wonders: At what point do you abandon a story?
On Monday, Ana wrote about the return of her creative muse. I only wish I knew where mine was right now! I’m struggling with ‘Different Worlds’, a story I started nearly two years ago. I got to Chapter 13, decided it wasn’t working, and started to rewrite. The second re-write seemed to going better. I changed quite a lot and reached Chapter 15, but still wasn’t happy with it. Last November I put it on the back burner and started to write ‘Irish Inheritance’ instead – and submitted that at the end of August.
In September, I returned to ‘Different Worlds’. I’ve analysed the characters, I’ve worked out where I want to go with it, I’ve edited and re-edited most of the early chapters, but I’m still not happy.
A year ago, when I was seriously thinking of dumping the story, I sent the first 15 chapters to a reviewer friend who offered to read them. She loved what I'd written, said she’d already fallen in love with my hero, and urged me to continue the story.
Despite that, my mind is still saying, ‘There’s something wrong somewhere’. But I can’t put my finger on that ‘something’.
As a result, I’ve started to dread opening up the document. I’ve probably added less than 100 words in total during the past week.
Now I’m at the stage of wondering whether to persevere with this story or whether to abandon it completely. The thing is, though, I know there is a good story there somewhere, but somehow I can’t find my way through all the details. I thought about writing the resolution of the story and then working my way backwards, but I found I couldn’t do that, which probably means I am a linear writer, who needs to develop the characters and plot chronologically. I can't write 'stand-alone' scenes without knowing what has gone before.
So my question is – how do I get myself past the road block that seems to barring my way ahead? How do I find that ‘something’ that currently eludes me? I know one answer is to write something else and then come back to it, but I’ve tried that and it hasn’t worked.
Any ideas gratefully accepted!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Conference Wrap-Up

Jennifer shares her thoughts after a writer’s conference

I just returned from a two-day writer’s conference and I’m so inspired! The conference was sponsored by the New Jersey Romance Writers of America. Their yearly conference features workshops, panel discussions, keynote speakers and pitches with editors and agents.

The conference is fabulous. Because we’re in such close proximity to New York, we get a lot of big-name publishers and agents attending and participating. We also get attendees from up and down the East Coast of the United States.

I had a great time meeting in person many of the people I follow on Facebook and Twitter, or getting to know better the people I see at the occasional meeting I attend. And of course, hanging out with good friends was a plus.

But the best part was what I learned at the conference.

On the first day, there was a Publishes Authors Retreat. These were separate workshops geared specifically for published authors, who are at a different point in their careers than unpublished ones (it was not a “ha-ha, you can’t be here” kind of thing). Because there were other workshops going on simultaneously, I actually only went to the kick-off speech by Virginia Kantra, before attending other workshops not part of the retreat.

Her speech was inspiring. It was supposed to be about the state of the publishing industry. And I’m sure, if she had stuck to that, I would have gotten lots of useful information that I would have filed away to be dealt with later. Instead, she turned that topic on its head and claimed that WE are the state of the industry. We need to write what we love, because when we write from a place of love, we turn out the best work. And readers get that, like that and want more of that.

I love this woman (and her coffee habits at breakfast the next morning were hilarious)!

My two favorite workshops were on self-editing and writing a conflict-based synopsis. Both of those workshops were jam packed with information. I cannot wait to make use of the handouts we were given! After sitting through those workshops, I feel completely prepared to edit my work and to write an amazing synopsis (providing I can pull it off).

The second day of the conference featured a really cool thing called Anonymous Author. We submitted the first 200 words of our WIP ahead of time and five agents and editors critiqued them out loud, discussing what they liked, didn’t like and whether or not they’d request more based on those words. Because it was anonymous, there was no shaming done and they were very polite, even though they were very blunt. I’ll admit, I submitted my first draft of my first 200 words and they pointed out a lot of errors. What was interesting was that I could hear exactly where the problems were when the submission was read out loud. And I completely agreed with their diagnosis. So although a bit disappointed, I am not discouraged.

At the end of the second day, I participated in their book fair, where I had a chance to sell some books, meet readers (and talk incoherently to Connie Brockway, who stopped at my table and turned me into a babbling idiot) and basically see what an amazing body of work we’ve all produced.

It was a fantastic conference and one that I wish everyone could participate in!

Monday, October 21, 2013

My imagination is back!

Ana posts the first sentence of her new (old) WIP.

I am gradually disconnecting from my CSA job. Dark dirt embedded in my hand and knee callouses is wearing off. I don't rush outdoors at daybreak.  A stubborn ache in my left butt has subsided.  The biggest change, though, is in my head. My imagination is back.

This is good news! Ideas for my three WIP compete for frontal brain stage.

I read an announcement for a new press dedicated to westerns and western historicals. So I decided to pull my first novel out of its dust covered folder.

Here's the opening sentence.
What do you think?

Gripping the crisp Demand for Payment notice, Stormy Hawkins marched up to the Prosperity Land and Loan, pushed back her leather work hat, and kicked the door with the dusty heel of her boot until she heard the heavy thunk of a deadbolt. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Friend, Jenna Jaxon

Today's Friday Friend is Jenna Jaxon!

From Stage to Page

I’ve thought about my process before, of how I write, and have come to the conclusion that it’s very much like directing a play for me.  I’d been a theatre director for many years before I began writing professionally and one might not think the two had a lot in common, but I’ve found quite a lot of overlap that’s helped me in various ways.

If we begin my process with the spark of an idea, my ideas for books come from just about everywhere.  A chance phrase overheard, a place in a novel that has an unanswered question or sparks a question in my mind, song lyrics.  Song Lyrics have been the bane of my existence--it’s why I have such a long list of book outlines on my computer.  I hear a song and the idea for another book just pops into my head. 

In directing this would be play selection.  The ideas aren’t mine, but I get to choose what play I want to work with.

I’ll admit I’m a plotter.  I’ve got to have an outline before I start, a road map that takes me where I need to go, before I can write a word.  Once that’s complete, as I start a chapter, I’ll re-write the chapter in more detail so I know exactly what the characters are supposed to do.  When completed, I’ll have my rough draft.

In directing I always block my shows in my earliest rehearsals.  Blocking is moving the people around on the stage, giving the characters motivation for movement, finding out how the characters work together.  When completed, this is my bare bones, my rough draft.

Next draft, I layer on characterization, fully fleshing out the characters, giving them motivation, delving into their back stories, finding out why they act the way they do.  This step is almost identical in directing.  As I work a play, I talk to the actors about these same things.  And both characters and actors give me feedback and help me define who they are.

Finally, in directing, I begin to run through the show and the set and costume designers bring in the sets and props and costumes for the actors to use. Creating the world of the play.  In my third draft of a novel, I add in description, fleshing out the spectacle of the novel with details of rooms, parks, outfits, giving the book a richness and making the reader understand the world in which my characters live.

At this point, in both production and novel, I polish--fixing little things here and there--until either opening night or book release day.

I’m not sure how other authors write--everyone has their own process--but I think my years of experience in the theatre has shaped my writing process and helped me to become the best writer I can be.

TAG: He has the woman of his dreams, but what price will he have to pay to win her heart?

Kidnapped and sold at auction in a London brothel, Lady Katarina Fitzwilliam squelches an undeniable attraction to the masked stranger who purchased her, pits her wits against him, and escapes him and the scandal that would ruin her life.

Unable to resist temptation in a London brothel, Duncan Ferrers, Marquess of Dalbury, purchases a fiery beauty. She claims she's a lady, but how can she be? No lady of his acquaintance in polite society is anything like her. Then he discovers she is who she says, and that this latest romp has compromised her reputation. He knows how that is. One more scandal and he'll be cast out of London society, but he needs a wife who'll provide an heir to carry on his illustrious family's name. He seeks out Katarina, intending only to scotch the scandal, but instead finds his heart ensnared. He's betting their future he'll capture her heart, but does he have what it
takes to win the wager?

WARNING: A blade-wielding heroine who crosses swords with a master of sensuality.

Excerpt for Only Scandal Will Do:
“Lady Katarina,” the marquess said, taking her limp, cold hand. “I have been looking forward to this moment ever since I heard you were in London.”
That voice sent shivers down her spine. She remembered well the arrogance in it when he’d declared himself her master. Soft and silky now, his mouth poised over her hand, and the words sent searing heat that penetrated her long kidskin gloves. Only sheer determination kept her from snatching it out of his grasp, and fear at what might be said if she acted in any way as though she had met this man before. No one must know.
She made herself look at his face, into the dark brown eyes that gleamed with…apprehension? Amusement? Katarina twitched her mouth into what hopefully passed for a smile and said, “I am delighted to make your acquaintance as well, Lord Dalbury. Although I must confess that until just now I had not heard your name.” Although pleased to hear how strong her voice sounded, she feared she might choke on the lies she spouted. Kat slipped her hand from his and a measure of calm returned.
Jack was deep in his conversation with Lord Braeton, completely unconcerned about her. She tried to refrain from looking at the marquess, but he demanded her attention by addressing her again.
“I almost missed the pleasure of making your acquaintance, Lady Katarina. I left the ball just before midnight, but one of my carriage horses came up lame and I returned to ask Braeton for the loan of a replacement. Lady Luck surely smiled on me tonight.” His wide smile seemed genuine, his voice tinged with a hint of relief.
She sighed. Her last night in England and Lady Luck had to favor this fellow.
He continued on, disregarding her silence. “I understand from Lord Braeton that you and your brother only arrived from the colonies three months ago, Lady Katarina.”
She found it hard to keep her tone civil. “Yes, my lord. We came to England in early February.” As she had told him before! It helped not to look at his eyes. Instead she fastened her gaze on his cheek. He would likely carry those scars the rest of his life. She hoped it hurt his vanity every time he looked in the mirror.
He apparently saw where her gaze lay, for he ran his finger down the center mark. “Ah, I see you are curious about my wounds.” He shifted his weight slightly, drawing her a little away from the others.
“Is it a war wound, my lord?” she asked, feeling the return of her confidence.
“It is a badge of honor I wear, given to me by a worthy opponent who I underestimated in many ways. I now regret the chance encounter, Lady Katarina.” He lowered his voice. “She did not deserve the treatment she had at my hands. I make my most sincere apology for doubting her words to me.”
Kat stiffened at this offering. How could he stand there and try to apologize so cavalierly in a crowded ballroom? “Whoever she is, then, Lord Dalbury,” she said sweetly, “I hope your opponent is more forgiving than I would be.”

Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance.  Her historical romance, Only Scandal Will Do, the first in a series of five interconnecting novels, was released in July 2012. Her contemporary works include Hog Wild, Almost Perfect, and 7 Days of Seduction.  She is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as a member of Chesapeake Romance Writers. Her medieval romance, Time Enough to Love, is being published this year as a series of three novellas.  The first book, Betrothal, released on April 19th.

Jenna has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets.  When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director.  She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage. 
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Thrill of Release Day

The Vampire and the Vixen by Debra St. John officially hit shelves yesterday.

I thought it would be anti-climactic. And in some ways it was since Vampire has been out on Kindle for months now, but there's still something thrilling about an official release day. It's always fun to see my title at the top of my publisher's page.

And it's fun to be touring around to various blogs to get the word out. Tomorrow I'll be visiting with Karen Michelle Nutt and offering a piece of Flash Fiction as part of her Halloween Flash Fiction Bash. There are so many fabulous authors participating, and each one is giving a prize! Be sure to check it out.

And of course now I'll be able to offer my book in other formats besides Kindle. The PDF version is available through TWRP. And soon it should be available for Nook. (Although I checked yesterday and the title wasn't up yet.)

Reviews from professional reviewers will hopefully soon arrive. I've gotten some really great ones from readers on Amazon, but it's always nice to have 'official' sites weigh in as well.

So all in all, it's a pretty exciting week!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Does networking work?

Paula’s thoughts about social networking

Way back in 2009, when I started writing romance novels again after a 20+ year break, I began to explore Yahoo groups and then Facebook. This was two years before I had another book published, but by June 2011 when ‘His Leading Lady’ was released, I had a fair amount of online friends. Two years later, and with four more books published, I’ve continued to expand my online friendships. It’s true to say many ARE now my friends, and not just names, because we’ve exchanged comments, often to the point of feeling as if we’re having a real life conversation. I’ve made more friends through several FB groups too, notably the GBE2 and Writers’ Post groups.

Blogging has also helped. I make a real effort to visit and leave comments on friends’ blogs, probably two or three each day (on average). I took part in the Six Sentence Sunday group for about 18 months, and the April A-Z blogging challenge for the last 3 years, and ‘met’ more people through both of those. Inviting people to be a ‘Friday Friend’ here has strengthened many friendships, as has being a guest blogger elsewhere.

I don’t spend as much time in the Yahoo groups as I used to, as many of these seem to contain only promotion, but I often follow the links on the loops to different blogs. I also dabbled in Twitter for a time, but I found it difficult to keep up with all the activity there (especially as a lot of it seemed to be pure advertising of books).

There have been times when I felt I was spending too much time on ‘socialising’ – which I prefer to call it, rather than networking. To me, the latter implies that you are ‘using’ the networks simply to promote yourself and your books. That’s not to say I don’t advertise from time to time, but I prefer to think of it as socialising and making friends.

What I didn’t actually realise was that by doing this I was establishing an online presence for my name. Several times in the past few weeks I’ve had friendship requests from people who have said (to paraphrase one of them): “I see you around so often on different pages I thought we were already friends.”

My ‘online presence’ came home to me last weekend. On Saturday evening, I posted a message to the effect that my next novel would be released next February, and I was looking for blog visits in February and March. Within a couple of hours, I had ten offers to host me, some by leaving a comment, others through direct messaging. By the time I got up next morning, there were five more. I know there are other friends I can approach directly to ask for a guest spot on their blogs, but what was especially gratifying about the offers was that only two of these were from bloggers I had visited in the past. The others were from other friends I have made on FB, and it’s always good to be able to visit ‘new’ blogs. I also had two offers to read and review the novel (in addition to their offers to host me on their blogs).

Bearing in mind that FB posts soon get pushed out of sight by all the other posts appearing there, I could probably repeat the request next week, and get more offers. However, I think 15 is enough for now!

One short message on FB has resulted in me being able to plan a two month blog tour. It’s also made me feel a whole lot better about the time I spend socialising on Facebook!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Finding the Inspiration to Write

Jennifer is making progress on her writing.

I spent yesterday writing.

I know, the first sentence of a blog post (or anything, for that matter), is supposed to snag the reader’s interest. But my first sentence should snag your interest, because it’s a bit amazing and it’s true.

See, my kids were home from school yesterday for Columbus Day. Normally when they’re home, I don’t write unless I’m on a deadline, because it’s too easy to get distracted and there’s too much that I need to do for/with them.

But while I was taking my dog for a walk in the morning, my critique partner called with her feedback on my first chapter.

She and I have just entered into this relationship and everything is brand new. She made some comments and suggestions about that first chapter, ones I hadn’t considered before, and I spent the rest of the walk and the morning considering what she’d said.

Eventually, I NEEDED to write. Both of my girls had a ton of homework—one of them had a study group over—so I used the time to break out my computer and rewrite.

It was not the most productive writing I’d ever done. There were lots of interruptions—going out to get lunch for the study group, helping my younger daughter with lots of questions about her homework, doing laundry, running errands, etc. But in between, and consistently for the whole day, I wrote.

I rewrote the entire chapter. I’m not sure how good it is, or if it fixed the problems my critique partner found—some of which I agreed with, others that I didn’t. But I was productive. And I wrote. And I’m closer to my goal!

My critique partner and I are finding our rhythm. It’s looking to be a promising relationship. And she inspired me enough to push through on a day where I thought for sure I’d be too busy.

I call that a huge success!