Thursday, February 27, 2014

Polishing Things Up

Debra is delighted with all of the changes going on around her.

Earlier this week I received the second round of edits for Family Secrets. My editor did a once-through a couple of weeks ago and sent the file back to me. I went through her comments with a fine toothed comb and make corrections, deletions, and additions where necessary and sent the mss back. This time through, the mss looks a little cleaner. It's been put into a different format and most of the track changes have been hidden. This makes it far easier to focus on new things that need to be attended to. I've done a cursory glance through and will sit down and tackle things in earnest over the weekend. But things are shaping up and looking great in the editing and polishing department.

On the home front I came home today and found my hubby had cleared out, cleaned, and scrubbed the upstairs bathroom. He'd also repainted all of the trim and the ceiling and is now working on the walls. This is a much needed polishing up, as the room was beginning to look a bit dingy around the corners. Now if I can only talk him into putting in the new floor...I just don't like the tile in there...this weekend, things will be jolly all around.

Pencils, pen, paper, and computers are the tools of my trade. Brushes, cloths, and cans are the tools of his. Each produces a lovely finished product. And isn't it so awesome to see the fruits of your labor shine? Pretty soon I'll have a brand new book ready to head out to my faithful readers, and I'll have a sparkling new bathroom, too. Gotta love it!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Name Dropping in Conversations

Paula thinks about how we use our characters’ names in one-to-one dialogue.
Have you ever read dialogue that runs something like this?
“John, I think you should change your tie.”
“Why do you think that, Mary?”
“Because it doesn’t match your shirt, John.”
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but in a couple of books I've read recently, the dialogue  sounded unnatural, simply because the characters used each other’s names too much. I’ve also read a comment from an editor that said, “Any story where the characters are constantly addressing each other by name in dialogue drives me crazy and I can’t get through the story. No one talks like that in real life.”
How often do you use someone’s name in a one-to-one conversation? I’ve monitored a few conversations recently as an experiment, but wasn’t surprised when, in the course of these, no one used my first name, and I didn’t use theirs either. Try it for yourself sometime!
When I am talking to one of my friends, I don’t say, “Did you see that film on TV last night, Brenda?” I omit her name. She knows I’m talking to her!
The same should apply in our novels. We need to think carefully about when our characters would call each other by name. As with most things, less is more. I must admit I don’t notice my use of characters’ names when I’m writing, but as soon as I read a chapter out loud, I find I’m deleting the unnecessary use of names.

Obviously, names can be used for effect in some circumstances e.g. when someone is angry (“Oh, for heavens’ sake, Mary—”) or pleading (“Please, John—please don’t go,”). There are also times when using a character’s name in dialogue can help to avoid dialogue tags, since nothing is worse than having to count back through short dialogue comments to work out who is saying what. I’m sure we’ve all done that sometimes!
Even so, we need to avoid the over-use of names, certainly in one-to-one conversations. Where there are three or more people, names are sometimes needed to clarify who is being spoken to. Having someone saying, (e.g.) "What do you think, Mary?" is fine unless everyone is using everyone's else's name. The dialogue would then start to border on the ridiculous! Far better to use some action e.g. John turned to Mary. "What do you think?" We then know that he's talking to Mary, and so using her name isn't necessary.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Time Lapse

Have you ever had a timing problem in your writing? I just discovered a big one, and I’m very glad I discovered it now, rather than after the book went to print.

I’m currently working on a series, the first of which is The Seduction of Esther, which came out in May. It’s a contemporary romance series with Jewish themes. Each book in the planned series takes place around a different Jewish holiday. No, the holiday isn’t what makes it a romance, the relationship between the hero and heroine makes it a romance (that, and the guaranteed happily-ever-after ending), but the holiday gives it a Jewish flair and anchors the story in a particular time of year.

The Seduction of Esther took place around the holiday of Purim, a joyous holiday where people dress up, act out the story of how the Jews in Persia were saved by Esther and drink a lot of wine. The next book in the series is going to take place around the holiday of Passover, a holiday that commemorates the Hebrews’ escape from slavery in Egypt.

When I started writing the sequel, I planned for the story to take place over the space of six weeks. For some reason, in my mind, that’s a workable amount of time for two people to fall in love. I’m sure there are ways to make it take longer or to happen faster, but I tend to like six weeks. Plus, that time frame worked well for the heroine’s career and for planning for the holiday.

But the other day, as I was drifting off to sleep—the time I do my most productive thinking about my writing—I started wondering something. Exactly how long is it between Purim and Passover, between book one and book two. The next day, when I woke up, I looked at the Jewish calendar for a couple of years, and much to my dismay, found that it’s exactly a month between the two holidays.

Uh oh.

Now, just like the regular calendar has a leap year, the Jewish calendar has one too, except that its leap year is actually a leap month, where every once in a while, an entire extra month is built into the calendar. So I contacted a religious friend I know to ask her if by some miracle, the leap month occurred between my two holidays—if it did, there would be some years with two months between the holidays, rather than one, and my timeline would work. Alas, it doesn’t.

I can’t have a second book take place before my first one, when the rest of the storyline is taking place in chronological order (and when I have the hero and heroine from the first book continue their story in the second book)! Granted, non-Jewish readers wouldn’t know, but Jewish ones would! It’s the equivalent of putting modern day slang in a historical romance novel.

The easiest way to fix the timing problem is to make this story take place one year after the first book. It allows the relationship between the recurring characters to develop further and it enables me to maintain my six-week timeframe, which really works well.

So, now I’m off to fix all the time issues that have come up throughout the book. When I’m all finished, I’m making sure my critique partner double checks to make sure I didn’t forget anything.

Tell me, do you notice time lapses?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Do you have a go-to habit when you're writing?

Ana reveals a bad writing habit

I tend to nibble when I am stuck searching for 'right' word or phrase. It's a bad habit, as I don't need any extra calories.

Chewing on my fingernails is limited- only twelve chances every two weeks.

I tie back my hair most days, so searching for split ends is not an option. Nor should it be.

The computer I'm using now does not have Spider Solitare, so one side of my brain can't play while the other searches for the words I want.

I need to get better at phrasing or take up finger drumming. Lord knows I don't want to lie on the floor and do sit-ups.

What do you do when you're writing and you don't know exactly what comes next?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Writing Workout - Redux

Debra shares a post on a writing workout.

I am literally running out the door to a fitness class, so I'm posting an old post previously used as part of my promotion tour for This Can't Be Love. Four years later, the same principals still apply. The original was posted at Rites of Romance in 2010.

The Writing Workout

I’ve been taking a great workout class for the past couple of months. It’s called Yogaloties and is basically a combination of Yoga and Pilates. The workout is great for toning and strengthening, and I leave each session relaxed, having left behind the cares of the day.

This got me to thinking. Sitting down to write on any given day is a lot like my Yogaloties workout.

In class, we start with some warm up breathing and stretches. This gets the body ready for the workout and focuses the mind on what’s ahead. In writing I always start with a warm up as well. I “visit” what I’ve written previously. Not to make any hard and fast edits or changes, but to re-familiarize myself with my current WIP. It helps me “get in the mood” and ready myself to dig into the core of the work.

The main portion of the workout is dedicated to Pilates. It’s the meat of the workout. This is where all the hard work is done. This is where I’m going to sweat. After reviewing a page or two of my manuscript, the time comes to move the story forward. Dig deep into the plot and get into my characters’ heads. Create natural dialogue, sizzling sexual tension, or seemingly impossible conflicts for them to overcome. On good days the words flow easily and I make a lot of progress, on other days it’s like the ab portion of my workout: painful, but with a well worth it end result.
The cool down comes at the end of the session. More breathing and relaxation poses. When I feel I’ve written all that I can for the day, I go back and re-read a portion (or all) of what I’ve written. Again, this isn’t the time for major edits, although I may tweak a few things here and there. Rather it’s a time to look back and give myself a pat on the back for what I’ve accomplished.
In both cases, it’s nice to walk away (either from my Yoga mat or from my computer) feeling satisfied with my efforts. It’s so gratifying to feel and see the results of those efforts over time: more energy, skinny jeans that fit in all the right places, or holding my latest book in my hand. These days, the jeans are fitting well, and last week two big boxes were waiting on my doorstep when I got home from work. My latest release, This Can’t Be Love, had arrived! I can’t ask for much more than that.


Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What am I doing wrong?

Paula wonders what she is doing wrong!

Last week Debra wondered whether visiting other people’s blogs does any good (because of so few comments). This week I’m wondering whether any of the promotion we do for our books does any good.

I had high hopes for ‘Irish Inheritance’. I knew it was a good story, and my first review (within two days of its release) confirmed this: “Paula's description of the scenery and charm of the Irish countryside is amazing but most of all, I love the story. What a great plot, characters and setting. Could not put it down. Can't think of a better way to spend a snowy North Carolina winter day, though I would enjoy it in any season.”

In the pre-release period, I posted blogs about the various places in Ireland that feature in the novel (with lots of my photos) and also posting a few excerpts. The reactions seemed to be favourable with people saying they were looking forward to reading this book. They raved too about the cover when I posted it on Facebook in January.

And so it was released on February 3rd.

As I said, I had high hopes. This book has a good cover, and a blurb that has been called ‘intriguing’ several times. It was also priced lower than any of my other books at $2.99 (or £1.84, less than the cost of a cappuccino here in the UK!). I also though the 'Irish' link might prove attractive, since many people have Irish ancestry and/or would love to visit Ireland.

I know from experience that most downloads come in the first couple of weeks, after which they tend to come in much more slowly. The two week period ended yesterday, and to say I am underwhelmed is an understatement!

I have worked hard during the past 5 years, starting out in 2009, two years before my first novel was published, when I didn’t even know if I would ever be accepted by a publisher. Not only in this blog and my personal blog, but visiting other blogs, contributing to the yahoo loops, playing an active role on Facebook, supporting other writers, and buying friends’ books. I’ve interacted with dozens, if not hundreds of people during this time, and of course I value the many friendships I have made.

It seems, however, that very little of this leads to sales. The proof is in the disappointing sales of ‘Irish Inheritance’ since its release.

It's at times like this I start to wonder what is the point of working hard on a book when it’s only going to be read by a few people? What’s the point of spending hours on promotion, only to be disappointed when it has so little effect?

I’ve tried so hard with promotion and marketing. Over the past 3 or 4 years, I’ve done practically everything that is ‘recommended’ to promote my books, but now I am wondering what I’m doing wrong, or what I’ve not done that I should have done (apart from spending a fortune on any 'professional' promotion, because I'm not sure this would really make much difference!).

Maybe sales will pick up sometime, but that doesn't alter the fact that this has been a depressing February so far! Last week I felt like giving up completely - but the stubborn (and optimistic?) streak in me is telling me to keep going. After all, who knows what next week might bring?

Monday, February 17, 2014

What can elevate our well-crafted stories into best sellers?

Ana muses on what makes a best selling story?

I had a touch of flu this weekend and rested with the television on--proving that this (my) human mind craves occupation and distraction. This led me to contemplate the adage that stories have been around as long as people have. We need stories, whether we think them up or we watch  (listen) to the stories told by others.

Sports (like the Olympics) are a form of story. There's drama, suspense, uncertain outcomes, players with backstories and triumphs and tragedies.

Films are another form of storytelling. My husband recently discovered the classic movie channel, and we watched Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night.

The 1939 story premise is: A spoiled socialite marries a fortune hunter whom her doting father dislikes. When her father holds her on his yacht in Miami, hoping she'll reconsider, she escapes and boards a bus for New York City. A passenger, gritty newspaper man Clark Gable, recognizes her and sees an opportunity. He offers to help her in exchange for an exclusive story. 

As writers, we teach ourselves to write realistic characters, but there's obviously a market for extremes--the spunky heiress falls for the handsome, broke writer. Depression-era audiences loved Frank Capra's story, and it set the template for romantic comedies. 

So what types of characters / stories are highly marketable today? What can turn our well-crafted stories into best-sellers? 

Billionaire orphans with erotic dungeons sell. Saving the galaxy from cruel tyrants sells. A socialite, blind to her husband's theft of her wealth, is reduced to selling shoes to her former friends sells. Teenage vampires sell. 

What do these blockbusters have in common? To my mind, they have implausible plots. Yet this is what audiences crave--to escape into exotic settings, lose themselves in outrageous plots, and temporarily become larger than life characters. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sabrina York : today's Friday Friend

Ana welcomes Sabrina York and her new release, Devlin's Dare. She writes:

It's a funny thing about writing a book. Oftentimes an author gets so wrapped up in a world, in a group of friends, she doesn't want to leave. The result is something we've all seen--and often loved--a series.

When I started working on Rebound, a sexy short Novella I planned to give away for free on my first anniversary as a published author, I had no intention of writing a whole series. But as I plugged way at the story, I fell in love. With the island, with the friends, with the stories. The end result was a total of 10 books sketched out on napkins.

When working with this many characters (at least 20 principles and numerous secondary characters and arcs) life can get complicated. The series will likely take me a full yer to complete. On top of all this, these aren't the only books I'm working on! 

My strategy is to use a spread sheet. I happen to LOVE spread sheets, so this works well. I include critical physical data, occupations, and important family details. I have another workbook tracking the critical plot points and timing (as some of the stories overlap), and a worksheet showing which characters appear in each book. This tool has been agodsend. I consult it nearly every day.Five books are finished and out, some of them available in print as you read this. Reviews have been glowing.
Read on to learn more about the series and check out the Tryst Island Trailer:

DEVLIN’S DARE—Book 5 in the Tryst Island Series
A No-Strings Fling Becomes Something For Which He Will Risk All
Devlin Fox has always been a player. A horny bee flitting from flower to flower. He has no idea why the sexy minx he meets on the way to Tryst Island affects him the way she does. Arousal—for her—hits him like a fist to the gut and he can’t stop thinking about her.
But Tara Romano doesn’t “do” commitments. For good reason. When she proposes they be “friends with benefits,” Devlin can’t figure out why the idea annoys him so much. It should be the perfect scenario. A gorgeous, alluring woman who only wants him for his body… He wants, needs, more from Tara, so he hits upon a plan to turn their no-strings-fling into something lasting. A series of tantalizing dares—dares Tara cannot resist.

That’s Devlin Fox?” She glared across the restaurant. It wasn’t bad enough that the gorgeous guy she ran into on the ferry turned out to be friends with the douche in the ascot she’d been running from. No.
He had to be her worst enemy too.
Damn. Damn damn damn.
“You know him?” Bella asked.
“He writes a Foodie Blog.” Tara glowered around the table, trying hard not to snarl. Or pout. “He gave Stud Muffin a bad review.”
“What?” Cam squawked.
Jamie shook her head. “Why did he do that?”
Tara crossed her arms over her chest. She’d spent her life learning her craft. Spent her life savings opening her own bakery. Spent years building clientele. Then, with one crappy review, business had tanked. Totally into the toilet. In one fell swoop, many of her regulars had stopped coming in.
She wasn’t sure she’d be able to make the bills this month, which was devastating.
And all because of him.
It was unfair for one man to have so much power.
And why had he panned her bakery? “Because I don’t have gluten-free.” She muttered, then added, under her breath, “Big baby.”
Still, gluten-free was a huge deal in Seattle. She’d spent the past week working up recipes. And fantasizing about wreaking vengeance on a certain blogger.
It had been a mere fantasy, until now. But now…
Kaitlin shifted closer, drawing Tara’s attention. “What are you thinking?” she asked in a whisper, her features tight.
Tara froze. It didn’t do to think around Kaitlin. Not that the elfin redhead read minds, or at least that’s what she claimed. But she seemed to know things.
“Nothing.” Tara made it a point to bat her lashes.
Kaitlin’s nose rumpled, as though she smelled something nasty. Like a lie.
But hell. Tara couldn’t tell Kaitlin what she was really thinking because Kaitlin—the sweet, innocent soul that she was—would try to talk her out of it. Ramble on about Karma and shit.
No, Tara couldn’t tell anyone what she was really thinking about.
Because she was plotting revenge.
She was going to get Devlin Fox back. And she was going to get him good.
* * * * *
“Hi there.”
Devlin turned on the barstool, his trademark smile firmly in place. Everything within him froze. It was her. That little slice of heaven from the ferry. Damn. She was as hot as he remembered.
She sidled up next to him and the chatter of the bar receded. Fascination—and something else—rose.
“Well hello there.”
He liked her scent, something floral and light. He liked her heat as she pressed against his side. She lowered her long lush lashes and peeped up at him through the fringe. Damn, that was sexy. She licked her lips. That was sexy too.
“I never got to thank you,” she purred.
“Th-Thank me?” Was that her hand? On his thigh?
Shit yeah.
“For saving me.” Her fingers flexed. “I would have tumbled to my death if you hadn’t grabbed me.”
“I doubt you would have tumbled to your death. Disfigurement, perhaps. Dire injury. But not death. Don’t exaggerate.”
She laughed, a low chortle. “Well… Thank you.” She leaned closer and whispered, “Can I buy you a drink?”
Devlin blinked. He’d been hit on in bars before, but no woman had ever offered to buy him a drink.
She might just be a perfect woman. “Sure.”
“What’s your poison?”
“Whiskey sour.”
She signaled to the bartender.
“So…I’m Devlin.”
“Devlin.” She cooed. Actually cooed.
“And you are…?”
He jumped a little as her hand skated up his thigh. His pulse skipped. “I…ah…yes. But what can I call you?” He had a pretty good idea where this was headed, and he wanted to know what to cry out as he sank into her steamy depths. It was only polite to know a woman’s name at a moment like that.
She pursed her lips, as though she were thinking it over. Or thinking about something else. Her thumb snaked up. Nudged his balls, ever so lightly, and through thick denim, but he felt it like an electrical charge. “Call me Sugar.”
“Sugar.” Oh yeah. She was sweet.
“Would you…like to go for a walk?”
“A walk?” His cock lurched. All thoughts of that drink faded.
“It’s a beautiful night…”
She looked over her shoulder and then threaded her fingers in his, leading him toward the back of the bar. He didn’t know why they weren’t heading for the front door, but didn’t much care.
She was a beautiful woman. She wanted him. And he was just drunk enough to follow her anywhere she led.
He shot a glance at Parker who sent him a thumbs up.
They barely made it out the back door of the bar before she kissed him. Damn. Backed him up against the wall, raked her fingers through his hair, pulled his head down and took his mouth.
And damn, she was a good kisser. She ate him with heat and passion and carnivorous zeal. He responded in kind, thrusting his tongue into her mouth. He nearly passed out when she sucked on it, nibbled it, toyed with it. He couldn’t help imagining her doing the same to his cock.
Her palm roved over his chest and made its way down to his hips. He didn’t dare move as she slowly teased the band of his jeans. She pulled back and held his gaze as she popped the snap.
“Mmm,” she murmured, reaching in. His eyes crossed as she molded his length. Squeezed. “Such a big boy.” She licked her lips and his brain short-circuited. When she went to her knees before him and blew a hot breath on him through the cotton of his briefs, he nearly lost consciousness. “I want to taste you,” she said. “Take off your pants.”
Holy God. Yes.
In a frenzy, he kicked off his shoes, and ripped off his jeans, hopping from one foot to the other. He held still, frozen in place, as she hooked her thumbs in his briefs and eased them down revealing his eager cock. She dragged his underwear down until they pooled at his ankles.
He heard the catch in her moan. Felt the trace of a warm finger around his swollen head and down to the base. He shuddered.
“Ah. Yes,” she said, coming close. Her heat caressed him. His knees knocked. She fisted him. Pumped. Once. Twice. Blood pounded at his temples. Thrummed in his cock. She bent closer. Her damp breath kissed the head. “Such a big dick,” she said.
If he’d been in his right mind, her tone would have warned him, but he wasn’t in his right mind. He was a little drunk and a lot horny and there was a gorgeous woman on her knees before him with his cock in her fist. Her mouth hovered over the tip.
Yes. Yes. Just a little more…
She released him and stood up in a rush. Her beautiful, seductive expression morphed into something bitter. He gaped at her, stunned.
“Yeah,” she said, propping her fists on her hips. “You, Devlin Fox, are a big dick.”
And then she left. Whirled on her heel and left him standing there, half-naked, leaning against the grimy brick wall behind a grungy bar.
And she took his jeans.

About Sabrina York
Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York is the award winning author of over 20 hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & sexy erotic romance to scorching BDSM. Connect with her on twitter @sabrina_york, on Facebook or on Pintrest. Check out Sabrina’s books and read an excerpt on Amazon or wherever e-books are sold. Visit her webpage at to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Free Teaser Book: And don’t forget to enter to win the royal tiara!

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Books by Sabrina York
Brigand (Erotic Regency, Ellora’s Cave) —Coming soon
Heart of Ash: A Tryst Island Erotic Romance (Erotic Contemporary)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Making the Rounds on Blogs

Debra reflects on posting comments on blogs.

There are a lot of blogs out there. I myself am involved in three of them on a weekly basis. The past couple of weeks I've been making the rounds to two others as I'm participating in some special promotions. I was at KMN Books for the First Kiss event earlier this month, and today I'm over at Heart of Romance with Sarah Hoss. All of this blog hopping is keeping me pretty busy, let me tell you.

I always have to wonder, though, whether it does any good. I often bemoan the fact that I get very few comments when I post blogs or visit other blogs. Although, truth-be-told, it doesn't really surprise me. I used to be much better at commenting on blog posts by other authors. However, as time seems to become more and more precious these days, I usually forgo making these comments most days. And if I'm not leaving comments on other blogs, why in the world should I expect them to leave comments on mine?

If I'm guesting at a blog I'll make the effort to visit for a week or so before and after my post to support other authors. And if I'm involved in a special promotion, such as those above, I'll leave comments for the fellow participants on their days. It's not that I don't want to be supportive of other authors, it's just the system seems to be inundated with blogs. And the same people visit these blogs all the time. And most of the people visiting are other authors, who probably have just as little time as I have to leave comments and such.
It all comes down to the age old desire to reach readers. Sure authors are readers, too, but, an author's first priority is writing, not reading, so telling other authors about new releases maybe isn't the best audience. I'm sure there are blogs out there dedicated to readers. I'd sure love to find a bunch of them. Or specialty blogs. For example, my latest book features a bull rider. Now getting the word out to rodeo people would probably get me somewhere.

I'm thinking this might make a good summer research project.

For those of you who have a 'following' on your blogs, do you tend to see more readers or more fellow authors? And in what way do you find your followers support you?

I'm just curious here as I try to figure out what works for me.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Visit to 'Pemberley'

Paula tells of a successful day at ‘Pemberley’.
Last Saturday, two friends and I visited Lyme Hall, about 15 miles away from where I live. It’s what we call a ‘stately home’, dating originally from the 16th century, but added to at various times since then.

It gained a certain kind of notoriety nearly 20 years ago because it was used for the exterior shots of ‘Pemberley’ in the BBC ‘Pride and Prejudice’ series, and especially because this was where Mr. Darcy aka Colin Firth took his plunge into the lake and emerged with the iconic ‘wet shirt’ clinging to his chest that had women everywhere drooling over him!
If you haven’t seen this scene, here it is:

To commemorate this auspicious event, the lake at Lyme now boasts (temporarily) a 12 foot sculpture/statue of Mr. Darcy in the lake – which has received all kinds of criticism. Believe me, it is truly horrendous, but we couldn’t resist having our photo taken with Mr. Darcy in the background!

It was too cold and windy to follow the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ trail through the gardens to see where Darcy met Elizabeth after his swim in the lake, but we did see the courtyard and retraced his steps down the stone stairs, across the courtyard and through the archway. You can see these in the YouTube video above.

There was also a special exhibition about the TV series – and yes, the actual white shirt was there, as well as other costumes worn by Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett, and other members of the cast (sorry, wasn’t allowed to take any photos of these)

We also listened to a 15 minute talk by the woman who had been the manager of the house at the time. She gave a fascinating insight into the negotiations beforehand with the BBC, and then some of the experiences when the film crew and cast were there for seven days, followed by the huge public interest after the Lyme Hall scenes were shown on TV. They had absolutely no idea at the time what the effect would be, let alone that nearly 20 years after the series was first shown on TV, they would still be celebrating the role of the Hall in ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

At the end of our visit (and after we had almost been blown over by the strong winds outside!) we visited the gift shop, and I picked up a book called ‘The Making of Pride and Prejudice’.

I can honestly say it is the best £12.99 (or $23) I have spent in a long time! Not just because it tells the story of the making of the series, which was interesting enough in itself, but also because it gives a wealth of detail about the making of any TV series, with everything from casting and rehearsals, to lighting, sound, properties, and camera work.

Why am I raving about it? Because my current heroine is an actress, who is making a TV series!

I’ve searched online for details about the production process, but never found anything as informative as this. It details everything I could ever want to know about all the people involved in a big production, and even an hour by hour account of one day at a location shoot.

I could not have bought a better book to give me the information I need to add some ‘authentic’ details to my current novel.

So my visit to ‘Pemberley’ was a success in more ways than one – and not least because of all the chat and laughter with my two writer friends, Awen and Carol, of course!
P.S. More about Lyme Hall and 'Pemberley' here, in case you're interested - including the fact that Colin Firth did not actually dive into the lake - and my new 'bible' tells me he had buckets of water thrown over him to provide that 'wet shirt' effect!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Back on the psychiatrist's couch

Ana does some homework. 

I am taking an online class that is really helping (forcing) me to define my main characters' internal and external conflicts.
I just turned in a homework assignment, and as I poured another cup of coffee, I was struck by how my characters' issues mirror my personal life.

My Hero's core beliefs: 

                   Women can't be trusted (his fiancee dumped him for his younger brother.)
                   No woman wants to live on a remote working ranch. (this is why his fiancee dumped him.)
                   He's better off alone--if your family betrays you, who can you trust?

                                                                My Heroine's core beliefs: 
                  Her "family" is so strange, she's permanently "marked" as strange.
                  She has to stay on the ranch (good thing she loves it) because it's the only place where she's not ridiculed.
                 She'll never marry. (The ranch hands (who raised her) love her, but no one her age ever will.)

This story was my first attempt a writing a romance, and I definitely poured out my inner demons. 
Time, study, and two first drafts have brought me to a place-space where I believe I can get out of my way. Focus on telling the heroine's story. 

Two other stories are waiting. They have autobiographical aspects, too, but not as many as this one. 
I may be a recovering crazy person, using writing as my therapy. Maybe I'll get to a point where a story does not mine some inner aspect of my being. 
Or maybe not. I'm pretty deep. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Friend: Joanne C. Berroa

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. What better time than to read a hot romance? There’s nothing like getting in the mood for romance with a story to warm you up on a cold, winter day. Romances run the gamut from mild to steamy, while mine fall somewhere in between. I like to use sensual words and descriptions as opposed to sexually explicit verbiage to put the reader in the mood and convey the love between the hero and heroine. Sometimes less is more.

Whatever your taste in romance novels, be sure to check out my latest venture into novella land: The Shewolf and the Priest. It’ll change the way you look at Catholic priests. Pair a sultry gypsy lady in Romania in the late 1800’s (who can shape shift into a white wolf plus raise the dead) with the priest, and you get titillating, illicit romance.

Enjoy your day of romance on Valentine’s Day and know that I’ll be sipping hot cocoa and reading a novel of love.

--Joanne C. Berroa, Author


Angelora is a breathtakingly beautiful shape shifter who takes the form of a wolf. She also possesses a supernatural ability to raise the dead. She’s the last remaining member of a unique gypsy tribe in Romania in 1880 where only the women of the sect retained these extraordinary gifts, handed down from generation to generation.

Father Steven is an incredibly sexy Catholic priest with a haunting past. He lives a simple, holy life attending to the needs of Saint Isidore’s parish and draws comfort from the knowledge his past sins have been forgiven, until one fateful night his and Angelora’s paths cross.

Will Father Steven ignore his sacred vow of celibacy to woo the beautiful, sultry gypsy who imprints on his life? And will her “powers” unite them or destroy them?


Steven swallowed, his heart racing. In his walks he’d never encountered wolves, yet he knew they haunted the north woods. His eyes locked with the white wolf’s in silent communication, primal yet alarmingly personal. It was as if the wolf could read his mind and look into his very soul. Not knowing why, he extended his hand, palm upward, toward the white wolf. It came slowly forward a few meters then hesitated. The others flanked it, keeping guard. Without a sound the alpha turned and fled back into the woods with the pack at its heels. Steven breathed sharply, relaxing only a trifle. Boris stopped barking and whimpered.

“It’s okay, fellow,” Steven said. “They’re gone.” He turned on his heel and with the dog following him, he made his way over dirt trails lined with decaying leaves back to the village. By the time he reached the rectory, total darkness had enveloped the land. Try as he might, he couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling something powerful had happened that night and his life had been irrevocably altered in some unspeakable way.


I’m a resident of Barnegat, NJ and I’ve been writing all my life. Back in 1983, Dell published my novel, “The Barbary Coasters.”  It was set during the 1860’s in the Barbary Coast of San Francisco and was part of a series of books written by different authors called, “The Making of America.” My pseudonym was Lee Davis Willoughby.

I’ve written articles for several computer magazines over the last thirty years doing software and hardware reviews and ads.  I was also a photographer for cover art for two magazines back in the 80’s, and currently write profiles for businesses and professionals for Micromedia Publications, a local newspaper publisher.

Rebel Ink Press has released four of my historical romances thus far: My Life, My Heart – a time travel--reincarnation novel, On Angels’ Wings – a love triangle novel set during the turbulent years of World War II, Love’s Sweet Vengeance – love and danger set in the old west in 1866, and The Diamond Cross (Nov. 2013) – a sweeping romance saga taking place in the late 19th century in Hungary, New York and Saratoga Springs. The latest is a novella entitled The Shewolf and the Priest. All full length novels are available in both eBook and print formats.

In my “spare” time I also teach piano and organ, and I love hearing from readers.

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