Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Resolution

I second Toni Lynn's sentiments and endorse Paula's practical realism.

I have been nursing a sick child this week, a calling I honor over any other passion. Amend that: I have left temporarily a sick child to milk cows.

But if I were to add to the previous posts, it would be to vow to keep being brave. Brave enough to post. Brave enough to approach published authors and agents and editors. Brave enough to believe I have stories worth telling.

May we all be brave.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year Resolutions

Evidently the top ten resolutions are – lose weight/get more exercise, keep to a budget, reduce debts, have more quality time with family and friends, find a soul mate, stop smoking, find a better job, learn something new, volunteer and help others, and get organised.

All very laudable, but – it seems to me - all very vague too. They are general aims rather than specific objectives or actual targets.

I started to wonder whether, as writers, we should have general aims (e.g. to finish that novel, to get published etc) or whether we should set ourselves attainable objectives/targets. Not just as a New Year resolution but all the time.

Write 1,000 words a day? Sounds good, doesn’t it? At that rate, you could complete a novel in 2 months. But isn’t it quality and not quantity that really counts?

So how about “I WILL write through writer’s block, or when I get stuck on a plot, or a conversation, or about how to get my characters from A to B”.

But does that work? Sometimes it’s better to take a few days break, do something else, and come back to it feeling refreshed (even if you have been thinking about it in the meantime).

So what are my targets? Mainly, I suppose, to stop ‘wasting’ so much time on Facebook when I could be writing!

And to write something, even if it’s only a paragraph or a short piece of dialogue, every day.

Achievable? We’ll see.

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year Resolution....

I stopped making resolutions years ago. I never stuck with them, so throughout the year I felt guilty because I gave up on them. Way too much pressure on myself!!

So now I take each day as it comes. I hope and pray that the year will bring good health and happiness to my family and friends!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blessings of the Season

This just arrived in my inbox, and I thought I would share it with you all:

Remember, be thankful for what you have.

If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep -
You are richer than 75% of the world.

If you have money in the bank, some cash in your wallet and spare change in a dish some place -
You are among the 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness -
You are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation -
You are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend a religious meeting without fear of harrassment, arrest, torture or death -
You are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world.

If you can read this message -
You are more blessed than 2 billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face -
You are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can hold someone's hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder -
You are blessed because you can offer the healing touch.

Have a good day, count your blessings and remember throughout the coming year to be thankful for what you have been blessed with.

I wish you peace, joy, happiness, good furtune, good health, strong family, good friends and unshakeable faith. Beyond that, nothing much matters.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday cheer

Years ago, we burned wood for heat. Fearing that Santa might decline a slide down the chimney into a hot fire, my children opted for reindeer insurance. Every Christmas Eve we arranged nine piles of best green hay, then scattered around them a mixture of oatmeal and glitter. The glitter would sparkle in the moonlight and the reindeer would see the hay. Unlike Santa, who had more cookies than he needed, the reindeer were hungry. They'd swoosh down to park and eat. Santa could use the front door. (Unlocked. See sign.) Presents were under the tree in the morning.

The city granddaughter came up with her mom last weekend. We celebrated, and she took back a big box of hay. The next door grandkids have hay stacked by the front steps for Thursday night. When something works, you don't fix it.

My choice for Santa cookies are called Tillie's Coo-coons. My grandmother's cook made them every holiday. I ate them as fast as I could find them.

1/2 lb. butter
4 Tablespoons confectioner's (powdered) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla and 1 cup flour. Mix well. Add remaining flour and walnuts. Roll into balls and arrange on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Roll in confectioner's sugar two times until covered. Cool. Store in a tightly covered container.

I wish for you and yours a peaceful, joyous holiday season.

Happy Holidays....

It's hard to believe that another year is coming to an end. With two books coming out in 2010, I'm actually glad to see 2009 go... :)

My holidays are always quiet and it seems this year won't be any different. My sister will be over on Christmas Eve, but now that her kids are older they'd rather be with their girlfriend's, which is understandable. So, needless to say, their visit won't be long.

I'm one of those people who have their shopping done a month before Christmas. Being a stay at home mom I have the opportunity to beat the crowds. With the kids getting older, the shopping isn't fun anymore either. It's harder to buy them what you think they'll like, and unless they tell you, you don't have a clue. Gift cards are the way to!

2010 will bring new and exciting things for Heroine with Hearts. So make sure you check back for the big announcement!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and may 2010 bring you good health and happiness!

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Writing Habitat

"Where do you write?"

I wish there was an easy answer to this simple question. Alas, there is not.

I write on the floor, I write at a desk, I write in a mess. I write on train, I write in the rain. (I am channeling Dr. Seuss tonight.)

I can write in other places, but my favorite places to write are on the floor and in my bed. Those are the places where I first started writing. My earliest memories are of me sprawled on the floor of my grandparents' house with a pile of books, papers, and pencils surrounding me or of me sprawled out in my childhood bed (it was a twin bed so I didn't sprawl that much) with books and papers surrounding me.

I've moved from the floor to my bed. That is my preferred place to write. Once upon a time, I read that Jackie Collins or some famous writer wrote longhand drafts of her novels in her plush bed. So I decided to follow my then-idol, and it's been a bad habit to break.

Every doctor and Prevention article on sleep patterns tells me that I should not take work to bed with me. Your bed should only be used for sex and sleep.

Clearly, I break that rule.

My queen-sized bed has multiple functions: as a storage closet, DVD rack, my makeshift desk. I wrote term papers in my dorm bedroom. I wrote and edited most of my dissertation and theses as I sat on my apartment floor, eating Doritos and drinking wine. (I was a graduate student, and my food chart consisted of Doritos, burgers, wine, and rum raisin ice cream.)

My new duvet (or whatever my mom calls that thing on the bed) has puncture wounds and coloring streaks that have come from battle (me vs. a plot hole, me vs. a poorly written student paper, me vs. editing a poorly written book that I have to edit for a side gig).

My goal for 2010 is to move off the bed and into a desk. A desk seems more appropriate for a grown-up and more appropriate for a budding writer. And I think it would make my doctor and the writers at Prevention happy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Where I write

My computer is on a corner desk in what I like to call my ‘study’ but in reality is one of the three bedrooms in my house. It’s the corner near the window, with a view (from above) of my garden, the backs of the houses on the next street and, in the distance, the lights of the motorway. Not very inspiring!

Within the room, however, I’m surrounded by my 'life'. Books which indicate my varied interests – medieval history, the American Civil War, family history, and Ireland. A couple of shelves of reference books – rarely touched now because the internet has become my main reference source. Four shelves of DVDs (a very eclectic mix) and another of CDs, and two shelves of my holiday files – the ‘scrapbooks’ with descriptions and photos from all my trips abroad. There are also photos on display - my daughters and grandsons, and a couple of my favourite actor Martin Sheen too! Plus the two photos I had taken with Stockard Channing, to remind me of the times I met her. My noticeboard is full with letters about appointments, reminders to myself and, most important, the phone number of the computer expert who rescues me when anything goes wrong with my computer.

Of all the rooms in my house, this room reflects me. I spend more time here than in any other part of my house. But sometimes I think about the different functions this room has had during the 40+ years I have lived here.

Originally, when we first moved in, it was the ‘spare room’ where all the ‘junk’ was stored. But in 1968 it had its first makeover. I opted to have my second baby at home and my younger daughter was born in this room (about two feet away from where I’m sitting right now!). I can remember that day as clearly as if it were yesterday.

The room then became a bedroom for my older daughter. As they grew up, my two girls swapped bedrooms several times, but eventually it became my younger daughter’s room. The walls were covered with all her popstar posters.

When she eventually left home, the room became the ‘spare bedroom’ for a few years. But then, when I was involved with the local Musical Theatre for juniors, it was transformed into a costumes and props room. We raided the charity shops for full-length dresses, long skirts, Victorian-style blouses, cowboy shirts, black jackets and trousers, all of which were hung on the three racks I managed to obtain. Boxes of hats, and other stage props filled every remaining inch of the room.

In the mid-nineties, I decided it was time to remove my computer from the table in my dining room. The costumes went into suitcases in the garage, and I ‘moved’ upstairs. Originally I had a hotch- potch of furniture – old chests of drawers, old tables, old bookshelves. About six years ago I decided to give the room a make-over with purpose-made office furniture – cupboards, drawers and tables around 3 walls, and two bookshelves and a filing cabinet on the 4th wall.

This place is my home, my sanctuary, the room where I feel most comfortable and at ease. For several years, I resisted having a TV set up here, but I finally succumbed – and got a DVD player too. But I still have to go downstairs to make coffee!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Where I write

I think writers need to practice like pianists--practice finding words that describe settings, or feelings evoked by settings; words that chronical the past in ways that bring us to the present.

For this stage of my writing-to-publication journey, I have claimed my son's old bedroom. When we built our house, he was in high school and wanted to be a woodworker. He made an interesting pattern on each wall with tongue and groove siding. He refused to let me put in a ceiling fan. The desk is the one he built for the sister he teased mercilessly before she went to film school. The dresser is a demo model he took to craft shows.

The computer is a big Mac. I have had to relearn a few operations, but now I remember why I cursed Microsoft after I bought my first laptop. I hit the up volume key by mistake too often, but it is fun to type while streaming the Boss. The sole window underlooks the deck where our house cats roll in the soft, dry dirt. If I tap on the window, they leap up, surprised.

The baseboard heater clicks as its fins expand, and the smell of warming dust marks how long I have feared putting butt in chair.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Work in Progress

One of my favorite books in Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. A writer friend introduced the book to me, and I have had the pleasure of introducing my students to the book.

The best part of the book is in the early chapters when Lamott discusses my favorite formal writing term.

Shitty first drafts.

Lamott argues that writers need to let their fears go and just write. Stop "reigning yourself in" and put everything down on paper. Get it out of your system and onto the page.

To date, I have three crappy first drafts.

I am rotating between all three, excavating the good parts from the drafts. I stopped looking at the notecards I had extensively and loving padded with scene details. I re-started writing with the general idea, my character sketches, and my imagination. And so far, it's working. I've written 10 pages (longhand because I am a dinosaur). 10 pages of a crappy first draft.

But it's 10 pages of something. Through the editing process, I expect a diamond to emerge from the rough.

What I have learned with my works in process is that I need and must write those bad, ugly first drafts. The first drafts are Cinderella pre-Fairy Godmother intervention; they are hideous, unpleasant, and terrible. But the first drafts have hope. The second and third drafts can only become coherent, brilliant, glorious, vivid, and dazzling works through editing and proofreading the craptacular words on the screen or papers.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I thought I’d completed my second story but comments from my critique partners made me realise that something was missing. So I’m now embarking on a total re-write of the last two chapters in order to strengthen the final denouement.

That has distracted me temporarily from my third story. But I needed to take a backward step from that because I’ve had a feeling for a few weeks that there was (again!) something missing from it. I couldn’t decide just what it was.

A couple of days ago, I finally reached the conclusion that the conflicts were all ‘internal’ i.e. the main characters are battling with their own thoughts and feelings. What is missing is a major conflict between the two characters – something that threatens to keep them apart until the reader is left wondering how on earth these two are ever going to get together for a happy ending. So I’ll be going back to the drawing board with the whole of that story.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

As the week turns....

ToniLynn, I relate completely to your dishwashing inspirations. I get mine in the shower. (Hot running water is a blessing.) I am squeeky clean, but may turn pruney, for I am stuck (temporarily!) on my rewrite of Chapter 1.

I did write a super CSA newsletter describing my daily Minnesota-winter barn chores. Members and friends of the CSA have been emailing back how vividly I painted the picture, how they could hear the crunch of cow hooves on snow and see the newly weaned calves pining for their mothers. I proposed to them, as a winter activity, a book club-style go through of 'The Genius of Money,' by John Bloom. This book looks at the how money evolved, how it is working now, and how we need to think about its use in the future. I am tired of being consumed by money, yet I define my Self--and my success-- by it.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Stage of WIP....

Not sure what stage I'm on. Revisions, I guess. I am revising chapter one. After my CP gave me her thoughts, I reread the entire chapter once more. This time I read it as..blah, blah, blah. There was something missing.

While I was doing dishes (which is why I don't/won't have a dishwasher), an idea came to me. So now I can't wait to get some time to sit and write the new beginning (Paula, wait 'til you see the change).

I could have wrote some tonight, but instead I set up a face book account. My head is still spinning. There is TOO much going on on the pages I can't keep up. My sister assures me that with time, I'll be a pro!

Take care!

Friday, December 4, 2009

I am my own work in progress

Do you know a person who has the talent and the skills but is going nowhere? The person with the plan whose plan never materializes? A person who is all talk but never demonstrates or shows any action or forward movement?

Well, now you do. Let me introduce myself. I'm Tiana Johnson, and I am working on a romance novel if I can overcome procrastination, an overactive mind, and wanderlust.

I am a hapless, pathetic mess of a writer.

I am the woman who cannot say no to a new idea. Whatever buzzes into my consciousness get immediate attention and pushes everything else out of the way. I am a commitment-phobe who flits and flutters between the current projects, my to-do list, my wants and needs but never settles on one thing for too long. I am a dedicated procrastinator, and I am the laziest person that I know who still manages to accomplish something every now and then.

I am bursting with ideas. On the first day of NaNoWriMo, I wrote a total of 200 words on my current WIP. I spent the other 29 days plotting out a new book and cramming new ideas onto my plate. That was not my intent. But that's what happened. And this morning, I woke up with two short story ideas and a novella plotted.

I cannot focus. That's one of my problems. I get involved in one idea, and then I hop to another idea. I am on the constant search for the better lily pad, the view from the other side of the septic tank, the new and more exciting thing.

My other problem is that I play the role of the writer. I act like a writer. I talk like a writer. But I don't write like a writer. I don't make the investment of putting in the work. Sometimes I think I am floundering with the idea of pushing past the beginning to get to the middle. Sometimes I think I should give up.

I have several works in progress. None of which have moved past a random assortment and collection of scenes. I have plotted scenes, but when I write, the words don't match up to my imagination or the characters don't live up to my expectations.

Therefore, I declare myself as a work in progress. If I can get over myself, then I might have some work that is in progress and that I am comfortable talking about.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I risk wrath by double posting, but your comments enticed. Among my hats is one for professional astrologers. It's purple and red and sparkly'd love it! With approval, I will post about my astrological forecast as it relates to writing and the promise of being published. (I've been tracking that for a while... timing is everything.) I also do charts for my main characters... a fun way to flesh out characters.

What I'm working on

While I wait for a reply (ANY reply!) from the editors who have two of my novels (one for six months, the other for four months), I’m part way through a third.

I don’t really hold out much hope of the first two being accepted (by Harlequin/Mills and Boon), so I’ve been doing a serious edit of the second story – thanks to a lot of help, advice and suggestions from my excellent critique partners. Passive verbs are OUT, think active verbs; use adverbs sparingly; avoid starting sentences with ‘ing’ words; telling vs showing, etc. I really feel (and hope) that my writing has become tighter and faster as a result.

Once I’ve done the full edit of my second story, I’ll turn my attention to my first one and give it the same treatment.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What I'm working on

I finished taking my first historical through the Break into Fiction templates. My first draft was freeform pantsing. I tightened my plot, strenghtened my heroine and started the rewrite. I still need to catch my inner wave, but it is coming... and I'll be ready.

One more weekend of craft shows and (hopefully) lots more holiday orders to ship. is the soup and dip mix website, my bill-paying creativity.

It's been unusually warm, but night-time temperatures are starting to dip into the low 20's. Our stock ponds are starting to freeze over, so it's time to move cattle off pasture. They are not eager to go. We've managed to haul three back to the barn. Seven to go, hopefully today.

Two commissions came in last weekend for personal astrological forecasts--tis the season. My birthday was on Sunday, and I studied my 2010 progressions, returns and transits. Energy is shifting, opening up. Knowledge is power.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What I'm Working On....

Well, I'm HAPPY to say that this weekend I finished my second puzzle book. I am waiting to hear back from my editor to approve the changes I had to make before I hit send.

With this complete, I can concentrate on revising a secondary character's story from a full manuscript that I have out with an editor.

That is all for now. Happy writing. Take care!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Family and My Writing

Since I live on my own, I don’t have to worry about spending hours in front of the computer. Most of my writing is done in the late evening. I’m very definitely a night owl. I don’t do mornings! And at least retirement means I can stay up late any night I want to unless there’s a specific reason why I have to get up early the next day.

When I was married, my ex-husband had no interest at all in my writing. That wasn’t the reason why we divorced, I hasten to add! But when I was writing in my 20’s and 30’s, I felt very isolated. In those days before the internet, I knew no other writers and only a handful of my friends actually knew that I was a writer.

My two daughters have simply taken it for granted that I had books published when they were small, but only one of them has actually read my books.

So my ‘writing support’ now comes from my internet friends. I’ve made several through my West Wing stories, and other through the yahoo lists for writers, including two of my critique partners who are members of this blog.

Having been in a situation where I had no-one to talk to about my stories, I really appreciate all the links and support I now enjoy through the internet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Travel safe if you are journeying.
Lump-free gravy, and lots of left-overs.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Writing around family life

I did not think to start writing until my children graduated from high school. At first my husband was bothered by the time I spent writing, for this was time I could spend with him. He'd interrupt by asking me to find something for him. He'd call out that I should come look at something or ask outright when I'd be done.

Then our youngest daughter went to film school. Financially vested, he picked up screenwriting protocols and shooting techniques. He watches independent films, and can now debate plot arcs and character development. He notes inconsistencies in sun angle, cloud cover, seasonal leaf color. (He'd be a great script supervisor.) He guesses locations--and is often right.

But while he can be a paper tiger, I am responsible for claiming--and maximizing--my writing time. As a prepublished author, I need to set internal deadlines. I have not yet set whether these should be scenes or targeted word count, but I am figuring it out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

How does your family feel about your hours in chair?

My husband and son are used to seeing me in the chair. My husband is glad that it keeps me busy during the day, and my son doesn't understand what I do until the checks come in the mail.

Since I'm a stay at home Mom, it doesn't affect them much. When they are home, we gather in the living room, eat dinner, talk, and watch TV. During the evening, if I'm able to print my work, I'll do it during commercials or while I'm watching my son play Playstation online.

My family and friends are supportive and are looking forward to reading my first novel. I've been doing this for SO long, I have to be honest and admit that I really don't want anyone I know to read it, or at least tell me they read it.

I'm afraid it will be like when you hear all these great things about a movie and then when you go see it, you're disappointed.

Does this make sense?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why did you stop writing and what made you restart?

I stopped writing for a multitude of reasons. Procrastination and time were the key factors.

Before I recommitted to writing, I believed that I could only write if I had large chunks of time. And I could put off my writing responsibilities until the "muse" touched me, until I felt inspired.

All of that was a crock.

Truthfully, I didn't write because I was always putting things off. I was a sloppy and lazy procrastinator. I relished in the luxury of saying I was a writer, but I never put in the daily writing habit.

Also, I didn't write because I lacked the basic discipline of creating a daily writing habit. I believed that I needed the time and space to binge write. When I got the time--a vacation or a long weekend, I wrote, but I took some much time to reacquaint myself with the characters and plot that I didn't spend a lot of time expanding and writing the novel. I was caught in a vicious cycle.

Now, I realize that writing is a daily habit. I acknowledge my faults--not being a good time manager and being a chronic deadline hitter and a chronic procrastinator. I work around and with those things. Once I realized my faults and once I realized why I wasn't writing, that helped me to restart.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stopping and Starting

I didn’t stop completely, but my writing became more spasmodic as ‘real life’ got in the way. My husband and I divorced in the 70’s when my daughters were 6 and 4, so I was a single parent with a full-time teaching job.

A couple of rejections by Mills and Boon in the 80’s were not unexpected because their format had changed and I had absolutely no empathy with domineering males who virtually raped wimpy females to tame them. Not my scene at all!

I didn’t have the time either to research other publishers, so apart from a few short stories at the beginning of the 90’s, I stopped writing fiction.

It’s probably also true to say that when a five-year relationship ended in the early 90’s, I was not in best frame of mind to write romances that had happy endings!

I turned instead to writing articles for the UK Girl Guiding magazine. After my first series of articles, I had my own ‘slot’ in the magazine for about 5 years.

My return to fiction writing was unpremeditated and totally unexpected. As a fan of the ‘The West Wing’, I made contact with other fans and one of them introduced me to fanfiction. She and I exchanged long emails about our favourite characters, Jed and Abbey, and from these came an idea for a story. I started to write it and, almost before I knew it, I was back in the swing of fiction again, with – eventually - an 80,000 word story. I wrote it ‘by the seat of my pants’ and discovered again the joy of characters who took me along with them. I just started with a basic idea, and the whole thing developed from that. Of course, the characters were already there for me, and it helped being able to hear the voices of Martin Sheen and Stockard Channing in my head, as well as the other actors in the show.

I had no intention of ever ‘publishing’ it, but another friend finally persuaded me to post it on one of the West Wing yahoo lists. I was nervous – this was my first venture into fiction for many years, but the response I got from members of the list encouraged me and helped to rebuild my confidence.

I went on to write 4 more West Wing stories, one of which is still ongoing. Another friend, with far more computer know-how than I have, has put them on to the site and I’ve had complimentary feedback there too.

I still had no thoughts of writing anything other than West Wing fanfiction – until I went on an American Civil War battlefields tour in 2008. Also on the tour was a best-selling Harlequin writer, Linda Lael Miller, who was doing the tour as part of her research for a Civil War trilogy. She and I talked a lot during the week and her encouragement made me think about writing novels again.

When I got home, I dug out one of the old novels I’d written in the 80’s and decided to re-vamp and update it. It developed into a very different story from my original effort, another example of the characters taking over.

Since then – well, I’ve been writing constantly – and enjoying every minute of it (well, almost!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Writing and blog members

I started writing on a self-dare; inner satisfaction was my engine. I submitted and the response was that I did not know how to craft a story. That is when I got serious—and scared. I was alone.

I live in a rural area of northern Minnesota and run two cottage businesses to support my family. Each word on a soup or seasoning label has to be perfect. Members and friends of my veggie CSA want entertaining and descriptive newsletters. Both of these are great practice, but neither requires a story arc. I have reached out to local writers, but nothing has gelled. My RWC exchanges have been disappointing. Minneapolis romance groups are four hours away, so I take on-line classes, and study books on plotting, editing, submitting, and publishing.

Today’s RWA notes featured an article on a writer’s need for partnering. I want to be multi-published. I need partners who can critique, help and support, and am willing to reciprocate. I want our group to serve our individual needs. Do you feel similarly?


Monday, November 16, 2009

Why did you stop writing and what made you restart?

I don't think I ever stopped writing. I had moments of not writing, usually a week after a rejection letter.

The longest I think I stopped writing was probably about a month during a time I thought I wasn't "qualified" to be a writer.

Let me explain. I was so excited about submitting to a particular editor. Then I read somewhere that this editor liked working with authors who were "educated." Well, that burst my bubble since I never graduated college. I was crushed. After reading that, I started reading author bios and noticed how many successful writers had a college degree. Needless to say, I felt like a complete idiot, the nerd trying to fit in with the popular kids.

Thanks to a writer friend who had convinced that I didn't need a college education (nor did this editor only work with those who had a college education), I wiped the tears, put the chocolate away and continued to write and submit. I found a Harlequin editor who liked my style and story premises, however, the stories weren't fitting into the line I was targeting. Another writer friend told me to "write longer stories", so I did, and that's when I really fell in love with writing.

The rejection letters don't stop me from writing anymore and only after I finish a story, I take a break to read and catch up on house cleaning.

Advice to those who get knocked down and need a helping hand to get back up, remember this...for every minute you don't write, another writer is and he/she could be writing a similar story as the one you're working on. So the sooner you get back to writing, the sooner you can get that manuscript in front of an editor before someone else does.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Writing Journey

In my dreams, I should have been a best-selling author by the time I was 19. I started writing romance in high school, and I had some talent, a bit of tenacity and a lot of audacity.

I knew what my destiny was, and it was only a matter of time before my dream happened.

And I came close. I submitted the first three chapters of my book to Genesis Press, and I got a request for a full manuscript.

I was over the moon. I was living my dream.

But life changed that dream, and the plan to become an author skidded a dead stop.

I couldn't write. I wouldn't write. I couldn't get past the first three chapters. I couldn't figure out the middle. I couldn't write the ending (although I knew it would be happy and glorious).

School got in the way. Life got in the way. Everything got in the way of writing.

I tried to find time to write and became an unsuccessful binge writer. Every few months, when I had a huge chunk of time devoted to writing, I would return to my first novel, If Only For One Night, and got acquainted with my characters again. I let them sit in my head for a few hours or a few days, but then I had to escort them out when the buzzer rang and I had to return to my other responsibilities.

So I quit. I gave up, shelved my manuscript, hid all my writing books, and gave away all my Writers Digest magazines to the Greenbelt branch of the Prince Georges County Memorial Library System.

The day I made my donation to the Greenbelt library, I almost cried. I had accumulated so much from those magazines, and here I was, tossing it all way. The bookshop volunteer looked at me and smiled. "You'll come back to writing again."

I shook my head. "M'am, I'm done with writing. I can't do it. I'm not good at it."

She smiled again and told me that I would come back to it. I asked for my receipt and left. At that moment, I felt like a failure. I was a failure. I let myself down. After doing so much with my life, I couldn't do the one thing I always wanted to do.

I cursed writing to hell and pushed it out of my life.

For the few years after that, I was done with writing. I read romances, mysteries with reckless abandon, and I read some horrible pieces of tripe that made me think I could do better.

I never did.

Until January 2009 when I was making a list of resolutions. The list was filled with the same old:

1. Be nicer

2. Drink more water

3. Get married (or at least date) someone who has Bill Gates' money and The Rock's body

4. Have a successful semester as a teacher and researcher

5. Win Powerball

Then, my hand wrote, "Start writing again." The rest of resolutions had to do with writing: starting a novel, submitting to a competition, I didn't know where it came from. It was not at the forefront of my mind. I had thought about getting back into writing, but I catalogued those thoughts as miscellaneous, random pipe dreams.

Since I believe in happenstance, luck, serendipity, angels, the Great Pumpkin, and God, I don't question the logic of the universe. What happens is meant to happen. I was supposed to be a writer. That's been my calling, my dream. And God was telling me to just roll with it and to put in the work to make the dream come true.

So I rolled with it and started putting in the work.

I joined the local RWA chapter. I went to some meetings. I started dissecting the novels I was reading. I connected with other authors. I found a writing group. I made moves, and it felt good. I felt like myself again.

That brings me to the present. I have resigned myself that my first book needs a fresh approach so it's being gutted and reworked. I have an abundance of ideas that keep spilling out in unexpected places and at unexpected times. (One night at Ruby Tuesdays, I used a whole dispenser of napkins to sketch out an idea. My server was not pleased.) I am learning how to manage my time and how to schedule my writing. I'm back on track. I'm no longer 19 with my eye on the bestseller charts, but I am older, a bit wiser, and more determine to be a successful writer.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Writing Journey

To begin with, my journey went well. When I was writing my first novel in the 1960’s, I was also reading Mills and Boon novels. Some of them were good, some were truly appalling, with stilted dialogue and implausible plots.

But they had been published. I thought that my novel was as good as, if not better, than some I had read, so I decided to send it to Mills and Boon. I bought a second-hand upright Remington and painstakingly typed it out. How much paper I wasted! One mis-type, one sentence I wanted to revise, and the paper was ripped out of the typewriter as I started again. Eventually it was complete, and I sent it off. No query letter, no synopsis, I just posted the whole thing with a brief covering letter.

I fully expected it to come winging back with a rejection, but about a month later, I had a letter from Alan Boon. He liked my writing but wanted a couple of chapters altered slightly. I did the revisions he asked for, typed the whole thing out again, and sent it off. Almost by return came the contract for that book and two more.

The book was scheduled for publication on the same day as my second daughter was due, 1st May 1968. My daughter was born 10 days before 1st May, and I got the copies of my first book 10 days after1st May.

My first novel, accepted by the first publisher to whom I sent it, and a contract for two more. How lucky was that!

My second novel was accepted about six months later, with no revisions needed. This led to two pieces of exciting news, first that Harlequin had bought the book and published it as a paperback in the USA and Canada, and second that it had also been bought to be serialised in a women’s magazine in the UK.

At the same time, I was also writing short stories and had a dozen or so accepted by different magazines.

The third novel took longer to complete because, once my daughters were old enough for nursery school, I returned to full time teaching. A personal phone call one evening from Alan Boon himself spurred me on to complete the book which again was accepted without any revisions, and again was bought by Harlequin.

Looking back, I should have kept my contact with Mills and Boon going, but in the 70’s the whole format of the M&B novels changed. Instead of ‘Pleasant Books by Mills and Boon’ (no sex please!), they launched into the paperback market with raunchy novels about aggressive, domineering heroes and females who were ‘tamed’ by these alpha-males. Not my scene at all. And they turned down the next novel I wrote because it didn’t suit their new format.

When I completed another novel in the late 70’s, I knew that it wasn’t right for M&B, so I submitted it to Robert Hale who accepted it (again without any revisions).

After that, real life got in the way – teenage daughters, my teaching career, Girl Guiding and the amateur musical theatre. I tried another book with M&B in the early 90’s, but my hero wasn’t sufficiently ‘larger than life’ for them.

I turned my back on writing romance and turned instead to writing articles, and wrote a series of ‘ideas for theme evenings’ for Girl Guiding magazine for about five years.

I came back to fiction writing about 3 years ago with my fan-fiction stories, and found that the whole world of romance books has changed dramatically.

Now I’m on a steep learning curve as I continue my journey.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How has my Writing journey gone?

For me, writing has been a spiral track. I have written non-stop for hours, and been too terrified to open my laptop for months. I have pantsered into plot craters, and delighted my inner critic with unexpected plot twists.

Five years ago, I wrote “Stormy Hawkins.” To save her South Dakota ranch, a shy, hard-working woman hires, then falls in love with, a hunky hand, who turns out to be a rich speculator intent on taking her land. The plot features kidnappings on dangerous Missouri River riverboats, and betrayals in St. Louis’ high society. I submitted to several contests, and received scathing reviews. Poor execution.

Mortified by my ignorance, I enrolled in Writers Digest fiction classes. For the advanced class, I wrote “The Bride Wore Black,” a time-travel. Career-minded Angel Foster is wooed by a fellow teacher, French-sexy Jeremy Dumont, who swears she is the love he has been seeking his whole life. Just when she softens to his advances, a student accuses him of fathering her unborn child. Unsure what to believe, Angel is seriously hurt in a suspicious car accident. Captured by a spell chanted by Celtic priest Jermande du Montfort (Jeremy in his previous life), she wakes up in 1400’s Brittany in her previous life body. As Angelique, she is betrothed to the sadistic cousin of the King of France, who is determined to wipe out Celtic culture in Brittany (a practice that continues to this day). Angel needs Jermande’s help to get back to the present, back to the bargain she struck with him in the past that will define her future.

I sent it to an agent, who wrote a personal rejection letter outlining my story’s weaknesses. Not a traditional time travel. Bleeding profusely, I dove back into classes and books, determined to right my wrongs. Over time, I concluded I had two stories. Unable to dismember my baby, I outlined a suspense about an herbalist determined to prove her father did not murder her mother, and the new physician’s assistant at the prison who feels he will never redeem his life after a drunk driving accident cost him his full medical degree.

I was too unconfident to start writing this one. It was safer to say I do not yet have the skills. I turned to writing weekly essays for my CSA. These have been well received; a local newspaper reprints them. Several have been published in a national magazine, as well as regional publications. Neighbors and strangers tell me how much they like them. CSA members ask when I will put them into a book. I am getting braver, and I think, better.

This brings me to now. I know the Universe is abundant. We get what we need, when we need it. An inner readiness to write a publishable novel has drawn me to this group. My pledge is already paying dividends: I am halfway through re-outlining “Stormy Hawkins.”

Monday, November 9, 2009

How has your journey gone?

As every writer will tell you, the journey is an emotional roller coaster.

In the beginning of my writing career, I had a judge from a contest tell me to find a new hobby. I entered the contest for feedback because I KNEW I needed help. Had I been a different person I would have tossed the computer through the sliding glass doors and said "forget it," but I didn't.

I'll never forget the first time I really understood deep POV. I was reading Pamela Britton's first NASCAR book. The way she wrote was like nothing I'd ever read before. POV jumped off the pages and slapped me upside the head! I GOT IT!! What a great moment as a writer.

Little moments of learning like the above keeps me going. The little tickle I get in my belly while I'm writing makes me enjoy what I'm doing, in spite of all the rejections.

So far, the journey has been a long and crazy one, and I wouldn't change a thing. There were things I needed to learn before I sold, people I needed to meet to help me get there, and confidence I needed to build to handle my reviews once the book is released.

I still have a long journey ahead of me, but with the CP I have now, and the friends I've made along the way, I feel that I am on the right path to a journey of bigger and better things!

Friday, November 6, 2009

What triggered me to write?*

This can be a multiple-choice question: What inspired Tiana Johnson to write?

a. Bad writing, simplistic plots, horrible grammar

b. An urge that she had in her gut

c. Revenge

d. Because she makes sense of the world through stories

The correct answer should be E: All of the above.

But I have 15 minutes to write before a faculty meeting and I am working on minimal sleep. (Side note: Fake eyelashes + glue + a first-timer experimenting with a new look = an irrational fear that the first-timer's eyes would seal shut for eternity if eyes were shut for more than 20 seconds).

So, I'll make it short.

I can't remember a day when I wasn't telling stories, reading stories or creating stories. I carried books with me everywhere: to bed, to school, to the tub, to playground. I was always immersed, wrapped up in some book, be it Pilgrim's Progress, a Choose Your Own Adventure, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Sweet Valley High or a Harlequin.

Along with the book, you'd often see a notepad and a pencil for scribbling notes and ideas. It's a habit that I still keep. Look in my purse, and you'll find a bound notebook, an assortment of pens, and paperback books galore.

My family and schoolmates considered me odd. But my grandmother and mother put up with it. My grandmother would vacuum around me so I wouldn't have to close the book I was reading. My mom and dad indulged my book whims and wishes and would let me roam the aisles of the local bookstores until I was tired.

A few years ago, I realized that this desire to tell stories and make up stories wasn't abnormal as others in my life saw it. This came when I sat in on a graduate rhetorical theory seminar. Before your head hits the table in boredom, I learned a few useful things out of the class. One, I learned how to fall asleep with my eyes open and with minimal noise. Two, I was exposed to Walter Fisher's narrative paradigm.

The short but sweet version of the narrative paradigm is that human beings are natural storytellers. We string the pearls of our lives--the beginnings, the loss, the heartaches, the triumphs, the minutiae, the boring mess, the everyday lived experiences, the conflict, the ends--together to communicate to discuss our experiences and to help others know our situation and our lives.

I write because I can and I must. I write because I am not good at much else in my life. I create stories because it's the universal way. I am a natural story-weaver and a born storyteller who understands the world through and because of stories. I write and create because it's how I am able to grasp onto something certain in this slippery and confusing world.

*My caveat: To quote Dorothy Parker, "I hate writing, I love having written." Writing continues to be a draining yet life-giving force in my life, and I hate the demands and taxes it places on me. But I do love the rewards of seeing and revising the words I have written on the page.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What triggered me to write?

Originally there was no trigger. Writing was (and is) something that is part of me. I’ve invented stories for as long as I can remember, and started writing when I was eight or nine.

I scribbled my first stories in an exercise book and used characters from my favourite school stories by Enid Blyton and pony stories by Ruby Ferguson. From these I moved on to original stories about the characters who lived my head. School, pony or theatre stories. I was stage-struck in my early teens, and wrote several plays which we performed with my Girl Guide group. I now shudder when I think of some of them!

In my mid-teens, my stories were written for my friends, and were usually about anyone we happened to have a crush on at the time. I’d probably be sued for libel if any of those stories saw the light of day. I’m not sure if fan-fiction had been invented back in the 50’s, but essentially that was what I was doing.

I wrote all the time. Not just stories, but long letters to my friends and a detailed diary. I simply wrote. It was as natural to me as breathing.

Writing fiction took a backseat during my university days, there simply wasn’t the time. I started teaching, got married and had a baby. When my baby daughter was asleep in the afternoons, I started writing fiction again. In longhand on paper, with all the crossings-out and tearing up of sheets of paper which that involved. I wrote a novel, an extended version of one of my teenage stories (with names changed, of course!). At the time, I had no intention of submitting it anywhere, I was simply writing for myself. Maybe it was my escape from baby-talk, bottles and nappies. I decided to submit it to Mills and Boon and it was accepted. Two more novels followed, and several short stories for magazines.

My writing became more spasmodic when a demanding teaching career and bringing up two daughters as a single parent took all my time and energy. I still wrote articles, but abandoned fiction/romance writing. I felt that I had lost my muse.

What triggered my return to romance writing? Three words – ‘The West Wing’. I was totally addicted to the TV series, found online groups about 3 years ago, and also discovered fan-fiction. After a discussion with an ‘internet friend’ about the characters in the show, I started writing a story, originally just for her. It was supposed to be a short story, but once I started I couldn’t stop. My muse had returned. My friend persuaded me to post it online and I continued to write West Wing stories.

The next trigger came with a chance meeting with a best-selling Harlequin writer when I was on an American Civil War battlefields tour in 2007. She encouraged me to start writing novels again.
Since then I’ve completed two which are currently with Mills & Boon and Harlequin, and I’m working on a third.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Was there an Experience that trigged the desire/need to write?

When my parents divorced, I was 7 and it devastated me. As a kid you blame yourself. What did I do wrong? Or what didn’t I do? Why did daddy leave? ETC. I instantly knew that I had to take care of my baby brother and I needed an outlet for my hurt and anger. I started to keep a journal. I started to draw pictures and tell a story that went with those pictures. I wrote my thoughts down.

When I was 13, I read my first romance novel. Montana Sky by Nora Roberts. Immediately I knew I wanted to write romances. The very night I finished that book I began writing my first romance novel, Unexpected Love. I still have that story hidden away. It was awful, didn’t make sense and very short. But I finished it and I’m proud that I took that first step.

Since finishing my first novel I have gone on to finish 7 more. All of which need major edits. Some I may get to in time, but others I will leave the way they are, hidden with my first finished piece. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t write. That doesn’t always mean I sit down at my computer or with a notebook. I’m constantly writing in my head. Getting to know my characters, the place they call home, there family and friends, there jobs and the plot of the story.

And let’s just say if I didn’t write I would probably be locked up in a padded room from all the voices I hear in my head and the many arguments I have with my characters at 3 in the morning.

Until next time,

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What triggered my desire/need to write?

What triggered my desire/need to write?

I think I have always needed to be a writer. I was unaware for years, preoccupied with more immediate needs. I was a reader, though. I loved words and I loved stories.

As a child, I devoured the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Imagination? Check!

In high school I underlined the entire The Red Badge of Courage. Excising every unnecessary word? Check!

I slept with The Moon is a Harsh Mistress under my pillow. Setting as a character (and un-salacious sex scenes)? Check!

After moving to our northern Minnesota farm, I gained visceral appreciation for sayings that salt our language. ‘Couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn?’ I stood on a ladder and hammered nails into red metal siding when we built our barn. 60-feet long and 12-feet high (plus roof) is a big—and stationary—target. Verbal imagery bridges the divide between telling and showing.

What triggered me to write was a disappointing read. The author a) wasn’t close to her characters, b) had met her word count, or c) had a deadline breathing down her neck. (cliché alert). My writer seed sprouted.

Romance is the genre I love. Storytelling is the craft I am still learning.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

What experience triggered me to write?

After I had my first puzzle book published, I wanted to receive another book cover in the mail (for me, that is the most exciting part of publishing). I went to the library and picked up three Harlequin Blaze books; Brazen by Carly Phillips, Out Of Control by Candace Schuler and I can't remember the last one. After reading those, I was hooked. I found Vicki Lewis Thompson, and so many others.

I came up with a plot idea. Wrote the entire story in 50 single spaced pages and I was hooked. I went into chat rooms online and that's when I learned I had NO IDEA what it took to be a writer. I read books, took a writing course at Brown University, met people online, joined RWA and local chapters.

I started submitting to contests, editors, agents. The more rejection letters I received the more determined I became to do this. After five years, the tears on a rejection letter had stopped, the week of depression and not believing in myself had stopped, and the emotional roller coaster ride a writer goes through came to screeching halt. The skin had thickened and I wrote because I couldn't give up.

Finally, after seven years, the tears became happy ones when I got the ecall. I'm an example (as many other writers are) that persistence and believing you can do anything really is what it takes to get what you want.

When the journey has been this long, and when you actually reach out and touch the light at the end of the tunnel, it makes all the tears worth it! Of course, it could be years before I make another sale, but for me and those who know me, selling just one novel was confirmation that the impossible can be possible!

Visit my website at

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hello world!

I have churned out several biographies in my other life as a PR flack. Bios have the same rhythm and feel; you know the person’s birthplace, alma mater, number of kids, current job, blah blah blah.

You get the boring stuff, not the real deal on people. Things like a favorite yoga position, their first love, who inspires them, what motivates them, and what makes them tick.

Here’s my attempt to not bore you to pieces and to give you some interesting tidbits/insights about me.

Who are you? Tiana Johnson
hat is your idea of perfect happiness? Warm chocolate chip cookies; a sauna and a massage.
What is your greatest fear?
 Snakes, not being successful, public scenes when breaking up.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 
Indecision and wishy-washiness.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
 Tardiness, inability to acknowledge the difference between em and en dash.
Which living person do you most admire?
 If I have to choose just one, it would be my mother. She puts up with me. I have to love her for that.
What is your greatest extravagance?
 Magazine subscriptions, Sephora, iTunes, and the health and beauty aisle of major drugstores...
What is your current state of mind? Prickly and sleepy.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
 Intelligence, manners, ability to make me laugh, strength, ability to quote Jay-Z in a meeting and read the entire Wall Street Journal over breakfast...
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
 Spunk, intelligence, grace, ability to make me laugh, creativity, fashion-forward...
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
 My one last nerve, dude, contrary to popular belief, off the top of my head, all I know is...
When and where were you happiest? Salsa dancing on an August night. Yesterday on the treadmill approaching mile 4. Two years ago at a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. Last Tuesday enjoying a burger and milkshake at the Landmark Diner.
Who are your favorite writers?
 Alice Walker. Toni Morrison. Pearl Cleage. Walter Mosley. bell hooks. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Now that I’ve listed the highbrow stuff, let me list the favorites that my friends call literary junk food: Francis Ray, Brenda Jackson, Diane Mott Davidson, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, Honey B, Rochelle Alers, Donna Hill, Eric Jerome Dickey, Julia Quinn, Kayla Perrin. This list could go on forever.
Which talent would you most like to have? 
Knit a pattern other than k1 and k1, p1; juggling; plumbing.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
 From one of the first romances I read: Kane Taggart in Francis Ray’s Forever Yours.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
Obtaining my Ph.D. Being a teacher. Being a good friend.
Where would you like to live?
 A farm where I could grow my own food and have sheep, but still close to a city where I can see plays.
What is your most treasured possession? 
My mental faculties.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
 A life without friends, family, a lover and candy.
What do you most value in your friends?
 Honesty, humor, respect, and discretion.
What are your favorite names?
 Naomi, Selah, Jacob, Noah, Grace, Segolene, Natalie, Leontyne...
What is it that you most dislike?
 Gluttony, sloth, intemperance, chipped nail polish, runs in stockings, rudeness, waiting for a near-death experience to realize how important life is.
What is your greatest regret?
 Giving up on writing while I was in grad school. Not going out on that Valentine’s Day date with Omar. Not moving out of the country when I had a chance.
What is your motto? I still have my feet on the ground, I just wear better shoes.

Hi, I'm Paula Martin

I’ve lived in North West England all my life. Married at 22 and divorced at 30, I didn’t remarry and I’m now happily single. It means I can do what I want when I want! I can sit at the computer, writing for hours, and also chatting online to my friends in America until the early hours here. I had 4 novels published in the 60's and 70's by Mills and Boon/Harlequin then had a long non-writing gap. I've recently returned to writing romances.

I have two daughters in their forties, and two grandsons. One of them was 21 last week (where did the last 21 years go? It doesn’t seem a minute since he was born) and the other is fifteen.

For more years than I care to think of, I was a history teacher until I took early retirement in the mid-90’s. Although I enjoyed teaching (most of the time!), I can thoroughly recommend retirement.

I love visiting new places as well as familiar ones. I’ve travelled around a lot of mainland Europe, although there are still some European countries I haven’t seen. One of my favourite cities is Berlin, and I’m going there again next week for the celebrations marking the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I’ve been to the Middle East (Israel, Egypt and Dubai) and to the United States and Canada several times. More recently, I’ve ‘discovered’ Ireland and fallen in love with it.

My interest in history has led me to go on several ‘battlefield’ tours in Europe, visiting many different First and Second World War sites. This year I achieved a long-standing ambition to see the grave of my great-uncle who was killed in the First World War when he was just twenty. I’ve done a lot of work on my family history and discovered all kinds of fascinating ancestors.

What else? Girl Guiding has been part of my life for over forty years. I ran a Brownie pack, and then a Girl Guide unit for many years, and played various roles in the local Girl Guiding Community. This gave me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had elsewhere, not least the chance to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace. But I gained just as much pleasure from meeting girls and their leaders in many different places.

I’ve also spent many years in the amateur musical theatre world. Although I’ve appeared on the stage a few times, my main interest is behind the scenes. I’ve done properties and wardrobe, and also directed over a dozen productions with the junior branch of our local theatre group.

I’ll talk about my writing later. Meantime, thanks for reading – and hope you’ll visit again soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Bit About Tonya Callihan

I write romances; sweet to sensual to erotic. I have been writing for ten years now, but only started to pursue writing as a possible career a few years ago. I have never had a romance of mine published.

I do write a bi-monthly column ‘Tonya’s Tidbits’ at

I also write for several other websites, mostly freelance.

I review for many sites, LASR/Whipped Cream, You Gotta Read, Mistress Bella Reviews, Fresh Fiction and HRC.

I am an editor with The Dark Castle Lords Publishing and Hearts on Fire Publishing. And a copy editor for Class Act Books. I will be an editor & review coordinator/marketing director for a publishing company starting in Janaury of 2010.

Romance in the Backseats “Paranormal Author Fight Club” started Oct 1. My story, Ancient Awakening, finished 5th.

Terry, who is in charge of Romance in the Backseat, recently took my story, Ancient Awakening, to the Authors After Dark Convention. Fingers crossed!

Friend me on Facebook and MySpace

View my personal blog, Tonya's Ramblings

View my website

View Tonya's Tidbits, a column I write every month for Fresh Fiction. Find out all about your favorite Harlequin and Silhouette books and authors.

I have to say I look forward to being involved with these four incredible authors. I'm so happy they agreed to come on board. Thanks for agreeing to this project and I can't wait to see what we bring to the table.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ana Morgan bio

Hi! I am Ana Morgan, a writer en route to publication.

My dad was a Foreign Service Officer for the CIA and I lived in Germany during grade school. After a stint in our nation’s capital, I attended an all-girl’s high school near New York City, where my required two years of Latin were eased by my having been an under-the-covers-with-a-flashlight reader.

I abandoned Ivy League physics in favor of dusty tomes describing out-of-body experiences, and struck out to discover (uncover) who I really was. I became a wife and a grandmother, an astrologer, and a Biodynamic gardener in northern Minnesota. Along the way, I waited tables, drove a school bus, and started a cottage business. I never made it back to college.

I discovered romance at airport waiting gate when a mechanical problem delayed my flight. There, a multi-pubbed author cheated me out of a loose-ends-tied-up ending. I vowed I could do better.

Bumbling through my first draft, I learned that good authors make the read easy.
Then, at word 138,985 (of 140,000), my historical heroine took over the story. I felt exhilarated and humbled. I knew I had to start over.

I also knew I needed more practice. I took classes. I read books. Not confident yet to be Stormy Hawkins’ voice, I drafted a time-travel. This time the hero took over. His story is so complex, it warrants two books. I needed more practice, and I needed more confidence.

I outlined a contemporary romantic suspense. I wrote essays and newsletters. Inspiration woke me some nights. Other times, it appeared in time for the ending. I self-published, and have been published. Readers of my hometown newspaper encourage me to reprint my weekly gardening column into book form.

I will get to that, but I have older promises to keep.

The writers on this blog clicked at first contact. I hope you will join us regularly as we chronicle our writing journeys, share what we know about craft and publishing, and celebrate our love of heroes and heroines who uncover (discover) their hearts.

Ana Morgan

p.s. Did you watch the first episode of White Collar on cable? Its pacing, character introductions, and back-story delivery are teachable.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Welcome to Heroines with Hearts kickoff week where I'm supposed to tell you a little bit about myself. First, I'd like to thank Tonya for bringing this group together.

This is my first time blogging. I don't want to be a "blog hog" so I'll make this short.

On a personal note, I've been with my husband for over half my life time and I still can't keep my hands to myself, which makes me wonder how I lived the first half of my life without him. We have an eleven-year-old son (who is home with flu-like-symptoms today) and a four-year-old cat.

I love to learn and have taught myself things from how to design a website to how to write a novel. My goal in life has not been to write books, but to gain one-hundred pounds so I could donate blood. I still haven't reached that goal and I was informed last year that you now have to weigh 110 pounds. I'm not getting any younger, I'll start to shrink and lose weight soon, but I won't give up hope!

As a stay-at-home mom, my book writing keeps me sane. There is always laughter in my house (yes, some yelling, I'm a mom!), but my husband and I are both Libra's so we can really get the crazy going. I've actually had to kick him out of bed a few times only to return when the giggles stopped or I was asleep. I'm a fan of country music. I miss country music when it was country and western and the women wore gowns and the men wore decorative suits with rhinestones (I'm showing my age!).

I write educational non-fiction word search puzzle books under my full name, Toni Lynn Cloutier. Word Search USA and World Search Puzzles have been out of print for about two years now. But I'm excited to announce that they are being reprinted with a new look and new facts in the next couple of years. Word Search USA will be available in the spring of 2010 and World Word Search (new title) will be out in the spring of 2011.

As for how I went from puzzle books to romance novels, I'm really not sure. It's been a long journey from having a plot idea to getting it published. Lassoing Love by Toni Lynn will be available in the spring of 2010 by Highland Press.

That's it for now. Thanks for stopping by. With five contributors, there will be something new to read each visit so come back soon. Until next time, take care!

Toni Lynn

Thursday, October 22, 2009

test post

posting this test


This is a new blog where 5 multi-genre authors have come together to blog about their writing journey.

Tonya Callihan
Toni Lynn

Ana Morgan
Paula Martin

Tiana Johnson

We hope you will join us for our journey.