Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Speedy Editor

Debra is celebrating a new contract!

I love writing for a small press. I really, really do.

There are so many advantages...number one being the turn-around time-frame. As you know, I submitted a query to my editor right around the first of the year. Within hours I had a request for the full. Yesterday I received the offer for a contract!

(Feel free to pause here for a moment and share a cyber glass of champagne and do the Happy Dance with me.)

I mean seriously, to go from query to contract in less than a month is often unheard of in the publishing business. But this particular editor I've been working with for the past several years is quick on the draw. And I love it. For many reasons. One, it gets my books out there for my legions of adoring readers (LOL), and two it keeps me pushing to always have something else ready for her once a project is complete. My goal is always to have another mss to send to my editor once I receive a release date on the previous one. Sometimes this is easier said than done. But for the most part, it's a strategy that has worked well for me. This will be my eighth release with Wild Rose since first publishing with them in 2008. Out of the previous seven, four have been full-length print novels. Three have been e-book only novellas. As for this new one, it was intended to be a full-length(In fact I worked my arse off getting it up to the required word count.), however, my editor asked me to cut the epilogue. Which is fine. The story really does wrap up at the end of the last chapter...the epilogue was a little peek into the future. But omitting that reduced the word count. She thought it would still be published in print and e-book, but for some reason I'm not holding my breath on that one. Which is fine. My books sell better in e-format than print anyway. So, even though the book may be shorter now, I do trust my editor's judgment and am more than willing to make the change if it makes the story stronger.

But for now, it's time to wait again. Once my contract is received and recorded, I'll get my instructions and sheets to fill out for blurbs, excerpts, and the cover. And then the edits will start. I'm sure once things start moving, they'll move along at a good clip. It's just the way it seems to be going. And I'm all for it.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Coming soon: Family Secrets from The Wild Rose Press

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

'Irish Inheritance' - the front cover!

Paula considers what front covers should show.
Following on from my post last week about bare chests on book covers, and what they seem to suggest about the content of the book… Last week, I had to make some decisions about the cover of my new release, ‘Irish Inheritance’.
Emails flew back and forth between my cover artist, my publisher and her assistant, and me, once Katrina (the artist) produced the first draft. It seemed we all had our own views!
We all loved the upper half of the cover which reflected the ‘inheritance’ part of the story, but the title font and the lower half of the cover involved more discussion, and more searches of the stock photos online.
I was so happy when I found ‘my’ couple. If the hero or heroine are going to appear on the book cover, then I want them to look something like I imagine them! In this case I hit lucky.
There are many Irish coastal and/or mountain scenes in the stock photos, and the one we finally chose shows a wonderful rocky Irish coast with the hills in the background – and also a house (which is important in the story). I’m sure someone will eventually tell me where it is! It might not be Connemara (where the story is set) but maybe that doesn’t matter.
In the end, I think we got a cover that looks interesting and also reflects the story.
Here’s the blurb:
English actress Jenna Sutton and American artist Guy Sinclair first meet when they jointly inherit a house on the west coast of Ireland. Curious about their unknown benefactress and why they are considered as ‘family’, they discover surprising links to the original owners of the house.
They soon unravel an intriguing tale of a nineteenth century love affair. At the same time, their mutual attraction grows, despite personal reasons for not wanting romantic involvements at this point in their lives.
A local property agent appears to have her own agenda concerning the house while other events pull Jenna and Guy back to separate lives in London and America. Friction builds over their decision about the house and its contents.
Will their Irish inheritance eventually drive them apart — or bring them together?
And here's the cover!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stress and Writing

Jennifer reposts something from her personal blog

Oh, the pressure to write these blog posts when there are so many things I don’t want to discuss or think about or talk about anymore. But writing is cathartic and helps alleviate stress.

The good thing about being under stress is that I’m learning what sets me off and what calms me down. As my husband will be sure to point out, just because I know what calms me down doesn’t mean I’m any good at actually taking advantage of it. J But at least identifying things is a good start.

I’m very good at giving advice to others to calm down and not stress about things. Advice is easy to give. It takes you outside of yourself, outside of the situation and makes it easier to stay objective. And it’s almost impossible to stress about something objectively. Try it!

I’ve tried making lists and working my way through them. That works to some extent, although the length of the lists, and the sub-lists that are created, are a bit daunting. But lists let me think I’m in control, even when I’m so clearly not.

What I’ve found works best is diversion. Walking the dog, when the weather cooperates, is great. It lets my brain relax. I can make up stories in my head, think about other things, or just drift off and admire the view.

When the weather doesn’t cooperate, I write. Not here and not about what bothers me. I write and edit my stories. I disappear into my characters’ lives, which I can control. I forget about everything pressing down on me and I create a “happily ever after” for them. I ignore me for a while.

I didn’t think I’d get much writing done, because I’ve always wanted to concentrate, to have the circumstances be just right. But I’ve learned to be flexible. I’ve learned to focus my concentration on what is on my screen and what my fingers are doing, rather than on my surroundings or the many “what ifs” in my head. And it seems to be working. I’m flying through pages and pages of edits. I’m rewriting scenes and creating new ones.

I wouldn’t recommend this state of mind for writers, or anyone, on a regular basis, but as a temporary thing, it seems to be working. We’ll see what comes out of it and in the meantime, I’m looking ahead and waiting for everything to pass.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Love has to triumph.

Ana muses on her daily requirement for love... stories

I have always sought out the love story in books and films (and real life, but that's still a work in progress). Thanks to the miracle of Netflix, I am indulging in (DELETE)

Thanks to the miracle of Netflix, I can really delve into my need for the happily-ever-after.

Take The Philadelphia Story. In this classic romantic comedy, Cary Grant uses Jimmy Stewart to thwart Katherine Hepburn from getting remarried until he can convince her to remarry him. Jimmy Stewart realizes the right girl for him has been beside him all along. And Hepburn's philandering father reconciles with her mother. Three HEA's for the price of one.

A thriller needs a romance thread to hold my attention. Louis L'Amour is a great writer, but for me his stories are too short on love to warrant a shelf at eye level. I can even watch Arnold Schwarzenegger play a kindergarten cop because he falls for the mom at the end.

Give me a hero with the motivation to become worthy of his dream girl. Let the heroine end her quest by being reunited with her true love.

Love has to triumph, or what's the point of watching? Or reading? Or living?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Real Life Inspiration

Debra considers how her current schedule could provide inspiration for a scene in her WIP.

I am knee deep in basketball season. One of my extra responsibilities at school is to be the cheerleading coach. Since the cheerleaders need to be at all of the basketball games, so does the coach.

When I first started coaching almost 20 years ago, I thought I might write a story revolving around basketball. About four months of my life is devoted to it each year, so I would have plenty of personal hands-on experience to draw from. However, over the years, my interest in the sport, and thus the idea, has waned. Don't get me wrong. I really do enjoy coaching. It allows me to spend some time with 'older' kids (junior high age). But the game itself doesn't hold much interest for me. I'll root and cheer along with the best of them for my school, but if asked for a sport of preference, I'd have to go with hockey or football.

Still, since I'm in the thick of things, it seems like a shame to waste all of that good hands-on experience. So, I'm thinking I'll include a basketball scene into my WIP. Nothing that will drag on too long, but enough to use what's right in front of me occupying a good chunk of my time these days.

My hero is a high school teacher, so I'm thinking he can either be the coach or I might have an end-of-the-year seniors vs. teachers type game. The heroine will of course accompany him to this and learn all sorts of fun things about him as he interacts with the students and plays the game. With all of the time I've been spending right next to the court recently, I'll be able to throw in some great authentic details.

I do love writing from personal experience. It allows me to be much more accurate than if I'd just done some research...which really only gives you visuals and words, whereas real-life includes sounds, smells, and even taste. So I've often included 'real' things in fiction stories.

How about you? What types of real-life experiences do you include in your books?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bare chests on book covers

Paula explains why she dislikes bare-chested males on book covers.

I have a real antipathy to bare muscle-chested males on book covers, and am unlikely to buy a book with this kind of front cover. If the man is clutching a mainly naked woman, that makes a double reason not to buy the book.

Why? Because these covers give the impression that the story relies heavily on physical attraction (and sex).

I write romances, I write about a man and woman being attracted to each other. Yes, maybe physically attracted in the first instance, but if that’s all there is between them, then the relationship is shallow. I much prefer an emotional connection and deepening love rather than a relationship based solely on physical attraction and/or a need for wild sex. Any bedroom (or elsewhere) scenes in my novels are the result of a blossoming love, and not just sex because they can’t keep their hands off each other.

There seem to be more and more covers with naked males/females, but I’m not sure why some authors choose to have these bare chests or part-clad females on their covers. Do they think readers will buy the book, hoping for sexy (or even erotic) scenes? Am I weird that I don’t find these covers – or bare chests - particularly attractive?

Attractiveness to me is a smile, an intense gaze from dark eyes, or even twinkly brown eyes (yes, I admit I once fell for a man who really did have twinkly eyes when he smiled!). After that comes the character and personality of the man. If that doesn’t turn me on, then his chest, bare or otherwise, certainly won’t.

I’ll leave you with two images. Not exactly a bare chest, but the (infamous) wet shirt scene from Pride and Prejudice.

To me, this is much sexier than a bare chest, but I didn’t pause the DVD at this point. Here’s where I stopped the DVD and replayed (again and again!).

This to me was infinitely more sexy. The smouldering look of love.
A bare chest with six or eight pack is the last thing that would attract me to a man, in real life or in fiction – and so I’m not interested in books that show bare chests on their covers.
Does that mean I’m in a minority?  Maybe more to the point, would I sell more books if my front covers showed bare-chested heroes?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Mistakes We Make

I’ve been holed up in my house writing and working for a few weeks now. I haven’t gone out much and I’m behind on my errands. We’re expecting a major snowstorm today and so I decided to run to the post office to mail a long overdue book prize to a holiday blog winner.

I figured with everyone running to get bread, milk and eggs, the post office would be empty. Nope, it was packed. Apparently, if you already have the ingredients for French toast, you need to mail packages prior to the blizzard. As I was waiting in line for my turn, I noticed this:

And, since the line moved very slowly, I had time to think. The stamps were a mistake that became a collector’s item. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a tourist destination.  How many other mistakes have been made into something fortuitous, and can we, as writers, do that with our writing?

If you’re like me, you have files of “extra” writing that didn’t work the first or second time around, but that you’re loathe to get rid of completely. Or you have a character that you thought you liked but who turned into someone not quite right for the story you’re working on currently. Do you save them or do you delete them? Have you thought of using them in the future?

What if we transformed our mistakes into future opportunities?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Do novelist skills help in other work?

Ana muses on her skill set.

     I'm working on setting up an Etsy store for my soup and seasoning mix business this weekend--one of my New year resolutions. I'm crafting detailed product descriptions, a return policy, international shipping procedures, and a business profile.
     I've had to generate keywords, pick a slogan, weigh so many options. Take a risk. Read dozens of helpful suggestions that trigger more questions. Deal with frustration at my e-commerce limitations.
     One site how-to suggestion--that I am capable of doing--is writing good descriptions. I know how to vary sentence structure. I can replace a wordy phrase with one succinct word. Spell and punctuate. Front and back load sentences for impact. Paint verbal pictures.
     This takes work, just like in story telling. I'm still wrestling for the right emotional verbiage for my shop banner, but I'll find it.  And later, if I think of something better, I can change it.

     What I can't do is take pictures. Everything in e-commerce is visual, just like the cover of a book. The image hooks the shopper/browser/reader to click on the link, to read further.
     Images for e-commerce need to be really good. Hi res, specific number of pixels. Set dimensions. Taken in natural light. Taken with camera-linked flash. Close up. In a mood-setting background. Demonstrate use and usefulness. Mind boggling options with real-life kickback.

    When I was visiting my daughter in NYC, I watched her friend, a professional catalog photographer, take pictures of her leather and brass necklaces. (She's setting up an Etsy shop, too.) Cocooned in a sheet draped studio, with ten-foot tall backlights and flash lighting that popped like a gun in thousandth of a second bursts, he stood on a ladder and angled a reflector so a ray of light highlighted the shaped brass.
     The camera immediately sent each image to a laptop monitor, where he assessed the initial quality of the image. If he was satisfied, he tweaked an array of settings to further improve the image. (He can take component images and assemble them so the final image looks like it was just one shot.) Her pictures look amazing. Professional. Taken on his day off. We went out for dinner after. He's a really nice guy.

     I know how to overcome my image limitations. At least I'm not having to hire a writer.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Waiting Game Begins

Debra shares the beginning of a manuscript.

I'm a bit pressed for time today, so I'm going to share the elevator pitch and the first page or so of the manuscript that is in my editor's hands right now.


"Family Secrets"


A young play-by-the-rules widow falls for her commitment shy ex-brother-in-law and discovers breaking those rules can be exhilarating, until getting caught threatens to cost her the only family she's ever known.


Chapter One
“Why didn’t you call me?”
The bold words took Erika Garrett by surprise. But no more so than the man standing on her doorstep who had uttered them. She gazed up at him. An errant lock of dark hair fell over one eyebrow, daring her to reach up and brush it back. His chiseled features bore a dark, even tan, evidence of his outside work in the summer. A hint of stubble shadowed his jaw and made him look sexy as hell. Warm brown eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled.
Chase Stewart was as gorgeous as ever.
“Hello, Erika.” Once again the deep timbre of his familiar voice washed over her, and she stared, caught up in the penetrating gaze of the man who evoked such powerful memories.
“Chase. What are you doing here?” She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen him. What was he doing on her doorstep?
Instead of answering the question, he asked one of his own. “It’s hot as blazes out here today. May I come in?”
She hesitated. But then, as if to underscore his words, a blast of hot air hit her like the heat from an open oven. The scorching heat from the afternoon sun poured into the house. Nothing like a Midwest summer to make you feel like a fried egg. It had been so hot this year, the evening news had done a story on kids literally frying them on the sidewalk. And it was only June.
“Well, I guess there’s no use cooling the outside.” The air conditioning bill would be high enough anyway. She stepped back and opened the door wider.
Chase stood in the foyer of the historic row home and studied her as she closed the door. “You look terrific.”
“Thanks.” She self-consciously touched the curling locks she’d pinned to the top of her head in an effort to control the humidity’s effect on them. She adjusted the slim strap of her tank top, and then smoothed her palms over her shorts.
He looked terrific, too. But, then again, he always did. Had she always been turned on by men in jeans and work boots? Not to mention white T-shirts that drew attention to the muscles beneath. A blush heated her cheeks and she looked away. Had he noticed her staring?

So now it's a waiting game. My editor read the synopsis I sent, requested the full, and the fate of this book is in her hands. Wish me luck!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Big Thank You!

Paula says a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who voted!

I had a different blog prepared for today, but I’ve decided to write instead about the Preditors and Editors poll which closed at midday today. I’m happy to say that ‘Dream of Paris’ clung to 1st position (yay!) although this past week saw it alternate wildly between 1st, joint 1st, and 2nd. It was clearly a very close call as another author and I battled it out for several days.

Last week I wrote about why I enjoyed Facebook. This week I can honestly say that, without Facebook, I would not have won this poll.

I posted my first appeal for votes on January 1st, and within a few days I was in 2nd place, as people responded and voted for me. My second appeal was posted a week later, and then as the final date drew nearer, I also repeated the appeal in 3 Facebook groups, and 3 yahoo groups.

I was especially thrilled when several people shared my appeal on their own timelines, and when several friends said they’d persuaded their families and friends to vote for me. I daren’t name names because I’d be too worried about missing someone out, but they all know who they are. I must, however, make special mention of Jeannine Gray whose novel had reached 4th place; she was quite happy with that, and didn’t think she could get any more votes, so she then asked all her friends to vote for me instead! So incredibly kind and generous of her.

By last weekend I was in 1st position, and held it for two days, and then – shock – dropped to 2nd place again on Sunday evening. Time for a last ditch appeal!

After that, the waiting! There have been times when I really did start to wonder why I put myself through this agony of suspense. After all, it was only a poll, not the short list for the Booker Prize!

Last night I was in 1st place, but I hardly dared to open the rankings page this morning, in case I’d slipped back to 2nd. But no, 'Dream of Paris' was still at the top, and messages of support flew in from several friends during the morning, and even more as midday approached.

And then, huge sigh of relief. The poll closed and I’d clung onto that top position.

Now life has resumed a semblance of normality again – although I do confess to having a big smile on my face.

This blog post, therefore, is a tribute and a huge thank you to all my Facebook friends who voted for me, and to those who persuaded their friends to vote too.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mood Swings and Character Traits

Jennifer writes as the mood strikes.

Maybe it’s because I’m a pantser. Perhaps it’s because I have limited time to write and so I grab moments when I can. It could even be that all writers do this, and I’m not so special after all. J

But my mood influences what I write and how I write. Sometimes, it prevents me from writing anything at all. Other times it enables me to write entire chapters in one quick sitting. Most often, though, my mood is reflected in a specific scene or conversation.

Although I don’t plot out every aspect of my work, I do have a general idea of where I’m going, and I don’t usually stop writing until I know what I’m going to write the next time I sit down. While I’d love to always write linearly, sometimes, my mood dictates that I don’t.

For example, the next piece in the story might be a love scene. However, when I sit down to write, I’m angry because I’ve gotten in an argument with someone. That’s not a good time to write a love scene, but it’s a great time to write one of the conflict scenes between the hero and heroine, or to incorporate the villain in the story. When I’m feeling snarky, I’m able to create great chemistry and banter between my hero and heroine, or really between any two characters. When I’m sad, I find I’m able to infuse the black moment with extra emotion.

For the past year, I’ve tried really hard to make sure I write at least a scene or two every day. With my time and attention pulled in many different directions, that’s not always possible. But it’s a goal that I keep in the back of my mind. I find it keeps my writing muscles in good shape and the added benefit is that I’ve learned to be able to write through almost anything. And, by harnessing the emotions I’m feeling at the time, I’m able to write scenes that I might have struggled with otherwise. I’m taking advantage of my feelings, rather than waiting to write at a time when I might be calmer or more focused.

It doesn’t always work and I’m far from perfect. Many scenes I write have to be rewritten or completely scrapped. But if I had to wait for a day when I was on an even-keel emotionally? I’d probably write no more than a title. Ever.

Monday, January 13, 2014

How did they do it?

Ana wonders aloud:

The US just endured a brutally cold spell, and due to its location, Minnesota was in the deepest freeze. Daytime high temperatures of minus twenty, nighttime lows of forty below. Plus wind, for extra chill.
The local adage is military: adapt and overcome, but that's hard when heaters fail.

I'd had the blower on our heat storage unit refurbished last fall, but it failed on New Year's Eve. Just as the cold was building. The electrician didn't call back until 3 pm. The warehouse for the part had closed by the time he called to order a new one. We had to wait.

We turned the basement heat to full blast. Positioned a fan to blow warm air upstairs. Huddled in the bedroom under blankets. When I ventured out to check emails (at my desk located next to the usually toasty heater) my fingertips turned numb. 45 degrees.

Compounding the misery, the water line to the barn froze. We had cold, thirsty cows needing water. After work, we filled 5-gallon buckets in the bathtub, hauled them outside, poured into old cream cans, and repoured into the stock tanke a mile down the road. We turned on every portable heater in the milkhouse and pumphouse, trying to thaw the line--which had already withstood minus 35, but not sustained.

We got colder and wetter. And waited. A week later a new heater blower was installed. The next morning, the well driller put a new pump on the well. Water flowed.

How did artists create in cold weather? Write with gloves? Paint by moonlight?

Come to think of it, Matisse and other great painters hied to tropical and Mediterranean climes.
Laptops are portable with wifi. Too bad I can't relocate.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Welcome guest author Rebecca Syme!

Rebecca Syme muses on Four Reasons Not to Make Resolutions in 2014 

When that big sparkly ball came down at midnight on December 31st, many of us were already looking ahead to 2014. Sitting down to evaluate the last year is such a common activity these days, you’d think it happened every year.

Oh wait. It does.

There’s an episode of the Canadian sitcom Corner Gas where a group of friends all made resolutions together and are racing each other to see who can “win” at resolutions and then who will give up first. You get the idea that they do this every year, from their conversations, but it evinced the absolute truth about New Year’s resolutions, and why it’s just not a good idea to make them.

4. New Year’s Resolutions are a fad. The definition of a fad is something that receives attention for a short period of time and then drops out of consideration. This means that there is an immense amount of pressure to make resolutions for a short period of time, but then no attention paid to them after about January 3rd. That means you get no support from the general public community. There aren’t going to be articles in your favorite magazines about your New Year’s resolutions in, say, April, when you’re more likely to need them.

Why is this dangerous? Because when you make a life change,  you need support. Fads, by nature, are fleeting, and don’t long themselves to long-term support.

3. New Year’s Resolutions are often vague. I resolve to lose weight. Great. How much? Over how long? Why? I resolve to be nicer. Great. What does “nicer” look like? Why might you be less nice? How nice is nice enough? I resolve to stop smoking. Great. You’re gonna quit cold turkey? Do you have support in this? What happens if you start smoking again?

Why is this dangerous? Because goals that lack specificity are hard to keep. Goals should be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to keep them.

2. New Year’s Resolutions are often extreme. People who have never gone to the gym start going every day in January. People who have smoked a pack a day their whole life stop smoking January 1st. People who have lived with grief for years suddenly start dating. People who have a sugar addiction stop eating candy completely. There’s this sense of white-knuckling with resolutions. Try to do something extreme until you can’t not do it.

Why is this dangerous? Because extreme behavior is very difficult to maintain. In fact, it’s sort of set up not to be maintained. Extreme sports, for instance, are short and intense. Like sprints. Changing your life is a marathon. Not an extreme sport.

1. New Year’s Resolutions will come back again next year. Like my friends on Corner Gas, most people know that they’re going to make another resolution next January. Their life is set up to disappoint them. They’ve made resolutions before and either kept them for awhile or not kept them at all. But come the following January, they have to make another one.

Why is this dangerous? Because the more comfortable you are in disappointing yourself, the more you’re going to give in when that donut just looks too good or you want to sleep in instead of going to the gym.

Statistically speaking, only 8% of us are going to achieve our resolution goals this year. Instead of the other 92% getting that much closer to chronic disappointment, why not just forego the resolution-making? Instead, this year, love your life. And in April or June, when you have some time, sit down and do a self-evaluation. Set some SMART goals, if you want. Above all, set yourself up to succeed. Find a community, set realistic goals, get support, and change your life. Don’t set resolutions. Be the person you want to be all year long, and forever.

What do you think? Do you like resolutions? Have you ever kept a resolution?

You can purchase R.L. Syme’s recent historical release, The Outcast Highlander today from major retailers. Find her online at or learn more about the book at

He's lost his family, his title, and his honor, but he can't lose her...

The first in a new Scottish Medieval Historical Romance series, the Highland Renegades, from award-winning author R.L. Syme.

Kensey MacLeod returns home after a failed marriage alliance in France to find her world in turmoil: her best friend married to an English sympathizer, her mother at death's door, and her father imprisoned and thought dead. As an English lord descends to claim her father's lands, Kensey escapes north with her mother and brother, and runs straight into the arms of the outcast Highlander.

Driven from home and family by a crazed father, Broccin Sinclair refuses to stand aside while the English invade his beloved Scotland. But who should he champion? The freedom fighter who saved his life, the family who has forgotten him, or the woman who captured his childhood heart?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Must Read

Debra gushes about the latest book in one of her favorite series.

We all have them. Those go-to authors and books that no matter what we buy as soon as they hit the shelves. I go so far as to write release dates in my planner so I don't miss the day. And with pre-ordering available, sometimes they get shipped to my door the day of and I don't even need to leave the comfort of my own house.

I read one of those this past week.

Last year around this time I did a post about fellow C-N author Julie Ann Walker who had debuted a new series earlier that year. The first three books had been in my TBR pile forever, and over Christmas break I finally got around to reading them. And I was hooked. Couldn't put them down. Read the first two back to back in one day and finished the third a few days later. Since then two more books have joined the series.

The fourth came out in Spring and the fifth last month. Now, you'd think that since I immediately purchased them that I would have read them right away. But that would have ruined it a bit. These books are like fine chocolates that need to be savored. The pleasure needs to be drawn out. Because if you dive into them too quickly, all of that anticipation comes to a screeching halt and you're left to wait months and months for the next release. So I tease myself by having the books in my house, but I save reading them for 'special' occasions. And these books aren't ones to carry over to another sitting. When I read, I make sure my schedule is clear for the day so I can go all the way from beginning to end.

The fourth book in the series, Thrill Ride, I saved for my first-read-of-the-summer. You know, that first book you read when you know you have nine weeks of vacation stretching before you and you can sit down on the front porch with a tall glass of lemonade and read to your heart's content. No getting up early. No lesson plans to do. No papers to grade. Just the joy of a good book and the promise of sunny days to come.

The fifth book, Born Wild, arrived on my doorstep back in December. I set it on my dresser. And let it sit. I saw it every day. But I didn't pick it up to read. The tantalizing temptation of knowing what was coming was kind of thrilling. But I was immersed in Christmas stories, getting ready for the holidays, and once they passed, working on edits and revisions on my own mss. I had promised myself I'd give myself a reward when I submitted it to my editor...what better reward than to sit down and read one of my favorite authors?

But the timing just wasn't right. Like I said, when I dive in, I have no plans for coming up for air until I get to 'the end'. My hubby was home with me for Christmas break, so I didn't want to cocoon myself upstairs alone when I could be spending time with him. He made tentative plans to be gone this coming Saturday, so I made tentative plans to sit down with my book. Then luck and fate smiled upon me. We were supposed to go back to school on Monday, but because of the bitter cold temps here in the Midwest (Wind chills were 40 to 50 degrees below zero!), it was deemed unsafe for children to be out. Thus, we were given two more days off. My hubby had already made plans to go back to work on Tuesday, so as I had the house to myself on Tuesday, I curled up on the couch and read.

Ah, it was blissful. Wonderful. Trilling. Exciting. Wild. Sexy. Everything I'd hoped it would be.

But of course by midafternoon I was finished. The story was over. The book had to be closed. And just like that I was back to waiting. I immediately checked the author's web-site and found to my delight the sixth book will debut in May and the seventh in December. Happy happy joy joy. So even though I'm waiting again, that anticipation is already there, and I know there will be plenty of things between now and May to distract me from obsessing too much. And, if I get too big of a craving, I have five books on my shelf just calling to me to be reread.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Why I spend time on Facebook

Paula explains why she enjoys spending time on Facebook.

I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Not touting my novels all the time, I hasten to add, although I may post a link occasionally, especially when I can show a ‘connection’ to something topical. St. Andrew’s Day was a good time to post a link to ‘His Leading Lady’ because of the musical based on a Scottish legend that featured in the novel. A report about possible new discoveries in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt was a perfect opportunity to deny any psychic ability on my part, but to highlight my archaeologist’s discovery in the valley in ‘Her Only Option’. Maybe now I need a volcanic eruption to promote ‘Changing the Future’ – and, of course, St Patrick’s Day will be a good time to advertise my new novel, ‘Irish Inheritance.’
However, I don’t consider Facebook simply as a platform for promoting my novels (or my blogs either), even though I have seen others use it solely for that purpose. After all, it is a social network, not a marketing or promotion network (which, sadly, so many yahoo loops have now become).
Facebook, for me, is the means to get to know people, and I enjoy the interaction with the many friends I have made there.
Does it lead to more book sales? Maybe a few, but probably not many (as my sales figures show!). It may mean ‘my name’ is becoming known, since I often comment on others’ posts, share links or fun items that have interested or amused me, add my own status posts that may or may not be connected with writing, and generally ‘network’ with other people.
Not with a ‘chosen few’ either – which I have seen happen with some ‘cliques’ on Facebook and Twitter, whose members only seem to comment on or share each others’ posts (or advertise their books), and ignore everyone else because they are not part of the ‘in’ crowd!
I’m happy to cast my net much wider than they do, and I enjoy the many and varied links I have made with so many people on FB. So much so that I now consider this to be far more important than selling books or making my name known.
Recently, I have met several Facebook friends in ‘real life’ and, without exception, have felt that they were already ‘old friends’ even though we were meeting face-to-face for the first time. Two or more hours of non-stop chat (about anything and everything, not just about writing) is evidence enough of how online friendships can become real life friendships.
The value of Facebook was brought home to me last week, when I didn't see or speak to anyone in 'real life' for six days. This invariably happens during a holiday period. I live alone, my family were doing 'their own thing', and my friends were all involved with their own families etc. It wasn't until the sixth day, however, that I actually realised I hadn't actually seen or spoken to anyone. Why? Because I had been 'chatting' to my friends on Facebook, having a laugh with them, and thoroughly enjoying the social aspect of networking. 
So thank you, Facebook!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Personal Challenges of Being A Writer

Jennifer has some adjusting to do…still.

I’m a writer. Apparently, part of being a writer is learning to swallow your pride and embarrassment, or at least, it is for me.

I volunteer on my Temple’s executive board, which means I help set the direction we go, strategize, oversee committees and hire and fire clergy. It’s serious, it can be more time-consuming than a regular paying job and it’s stressful.

Last night, we had an important board meeting. My entire focus was on this meeting, the potential outcome, fallout, reaction, etc. Imagine my surprise when my friend and fellow board member held up one of my books, and another board member started commenting about it to me from across the room. I was more than a little embarrassed.

My Rabbi, who happens to be a good friend of mine, and knows all about my writing, although thankfully does not read my books, made a joke and asked me how many shades of red I was turning. As he was sitting next to me, he could see that I was turning approximately 15 shades of red. I called across the table to please discuss the book with me after the meeting.

I should have had a better response. I probably could have managed one if I were more prepared. But we were already starting the meeting late and it had the potential to run late into the night with lots of debate. The very last thing I was thinking about was my writing—although earlier in the day, I did contemplate bringing my computer to get in some editing (there tends to be some wasted time with chitchat, etc.).

Part of the problem is that it’s sometimes hard to be taken seriously, and being known as a romance writer doesn’t help that. And part of the problem is that I’m always embarrassed when attention is drawn to me.

I don’t mind being identified as a writer. In fact, it’s my abilities as a writer that lead the rest of the board to look to me to draft letters to the congregation, rewrite forms or manuals to better reflect our philosophy, etc. And it’s a skill of which I’m proud.

Now I just need to learn to handle it on the fly better!