Saturday, July 23, 2016

Time for Celebration? Not Quite Yet by Margo Hoornstra

The other day I typed THE END on my latest work in progress. Bound by Duty is the second book in my Brothers In Blue series aimed at the 90K romantic suspense market.


It’s Done! Finished! Completed! The ended!
Does this mean it no longer is a work in progress?

Hardly. As many of you know, now the real and intensive labor begins.

But first, fresh eyes are needed. Not only that said eyes must be trained and alert, with the mind attached to them able to ferret out flaws and suggest corrections.  Is this primary character developed enough? Is that secondary character too overpowering? Is the overall concept of the story compelling and, more important, plausible? Is there too much of this or not enough of that? Is the heroine strong enough or too much so? Does the hero come across as sensitive enough or too weak? Does the narrative drag? Is the backstory information filtered in slowly and appropriately or dumped in there all in a heap?

Yes. No. Yes. No. Maybe. Could be. Possibly. Perhaps.

In other words, it’s time for the tried and trusted critique partner to step in. Flutter wave to Jannine, then batting my eyes for good measure. Her job now is to answer these and other questions. Spot the defects and, thank you, Jesus, offer viable solutions. Done properly, in my humble opinion, a manuscript critique is worth its/her weight in gold.

(Oh, and just a side note. The manuscript is at about 93K, ample copy to take down a page or two should need be.)

Some authors I know wouldn’t think of sharing their work, except with their agent, editor and/or readers. Others share in wild abandon with anyone and everyone, taking any and all suggestions to heart. Ruminating on their worth and digesting them like popcorn.

So how about you, oh, others of my ilk, what’s your preference on this matter? How does your work in progress, well, progress?

My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and my stories, please visit me at  www.margohoornstra.com


Friday, July 22, 2016

Meet Hercules ~ by Leah St. James



As many of my fellow Roses have written on these pages, one of the toughest parts of this writing job is grabbing readers’ attention. When I was first published in 2010, I was clueless (seriously, painfully clueless), but I figured that like anything, marketing can be taught. And even though I’m far from a natural at it, I can learn best practices. Right? 

So I set out to learn everything I could. I studied the blogs and social media accounts of successful authors. I created my own accounts and tried to replicate their behavior. I’ve taken classes and spent hours experimenting on what “engages” readers.

Here’s what I’ve learned:  Readers like personal tidbits they can relate to. Women especially like anecdotes and photos of young children or grandchildren, and young animals. Or animals of any age, actually. And pictures of hunky, bare-chested men. Some hobbies or expertise/interest in a particular subject matter can work as well.

So for these past six years or so, I’ve been bemoaning the fact that I don’t have  young children, I don’t have grandchildren, and I don’t have pets. I love my "day job," but it's not unusual (and there's only so much I could share), and I don't have any fascinating hobbies. And as much as I personally love photos of hunky, bare-chested men, I can’t help seeing them as someone’s son and wondering what their mothers think seeing their sons plastered like that all over the web! (I know, I know...it’s a curse.) 

But, hallelujah, today I have exciting news to share. 

My older son (whom I refer to as on No. 1, because I’ve promised to never name or tag him online) has come home to live with hubby and me while he works on his Ph.D. dissertation. He had one request (other than living here):  “So, yeah....uh...Mom, can I get a cat?”

“Cat?” My ears perked up, and I’m sure my face brightened. “Of course!” I said without even thinking of consulting hubby. We’ve had cats before. I love cats...hubby (a dog person) accepts cats. AND (let’s be real here) I NEEDED SOMETHING TO WRITE ABOUT ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE! My only condition was that Son No. 1 would be responsible for cleaning the litter, which he gladly agreed to. 

I had mentioned this to a friend who’s a vet, and two days ago she emailed me. “I have a kitten,” she said. “He needs a good home. Take him.” The kitten was being “fostered” with a local groomer and was “ready to go.”

That night we hit up the local pet supply store and armed ourselves with food, dishes, a litter box and litter...and a cat carrier that will hopefully last for years....it cost enough. By the middle of the next day, we were proud kitten owners. Or, uh...Son No. 1 is a proud kitten owner. :-)

I know I’m just a tad biased, but if this isn’t the most adorable kitten ever born...I don’t know what. He’s a black tabby – looks all black from a distance, but up close you can see definite stripes. He has one tiny patch of white fur on his chest. He’s playful and fun and curious about every inch of our house. He purrs all the time and is really affectionate. (He’s sleeping at my feet as I write this..purring.) Even hubby has fallen in love with this kitten. 

My son named him Hercules,  a name I’m sure he’ll grow into, in a good way...I hope.

Hecules barely stops moving, but that hasn't stopped me from using up most of my phone's storage taking photos of him. My son said he spent about 30 minutes the first day shadow-boxing himself in a mirror. (But did he get video that I could share??? NO. Argh!)

Anyway, I’ve “talked” enough. Meet the cutest kitten ever born. Am I right?

Hercules LOVES playing with pens. Who knew?
(On a side note, I included this as proof of my ability to grow at least two houseplants.These are African Violets which are NOT toxic to cats...althoughI'm not sure how wise it is for their health to leave them in Hercules' path right now!)

Sleeping behind my laptop. (Please disregard any dust you see.)

Peering out the window from my desk.

Another from my desk.

Sleeping behind my laptop...
Can't have too many "at my desk/laptop" photos, right!?

The eyes are the camera's and photographer's (my) fault, not Hercules'.


Now...I'm off to post on Facebook! :-)
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Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil, and the power of love. If you'd like to keep up with stories about Hercules, here's her Facebook page. She loves visitors!




Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sit in the darn chair by Barbara Edwards

Barbara Edwards with another family distratcion
One of the biggest problems of any author is ignoring distractions and concentrating on writing. I’ve ben so guilty of doing ‘other’ things and pushing my writing to the back of my desk. Let me share a few.
I signed up for an on-line class on using Scrivener. I told myself I need to know how to use this really helpful writing tool. I did. And I do. the class was helpful in that I learned how to keep my efforts all in one handy area. Now I need to make some efforts.
Can you believe I went on Pinterest to do research? I had to ask my granddaughter how to use search, but it did work. I wanted photos of Afghanistan and found dozens that I had to search through. A time waster? Yes and no. I could have gone to the library for books, checked on google, or waited until I was ready to start my manuscript.
Lilies in my gaarden
 
Another time hog? Email is one. I spend up to two hours a day deleting emails. Oh yeah. Is this necessary? Another yes and no. I have several loops that are for promo. I retweet, I share on Facebook, I comment on other blogs. This gets my name out there so when my books need promo it is reciprocated. 
I did mention my husband had a medical problem this past winter. We’re still going to doctors on a regular basis and it cuts into my writing time like an axe. I have tried taking my laptop with me and writing, but the ‘other’ stuff takes over. I have used that time for the emails so it isn’t a total loss. 
I use my gardening to push writing back. After all, those weeds don’t pull themselves out of the ground. Maybe the gardening is an okay distraction. It clears my mind. I plot as I work. And in the end I have the benefit of some pretty flowers.
What do you do that keeps you from your writing?
Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.
Amazon Author’s Page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003F6ZK1A


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

View From My Writing Window


I moved out here last November and have been entranced with this view from my writing window. It is an ever-changing panoramic of seasons and visitors and a constant source of entertainment.

Since I'm currently deep into revisions, I'm going to cheat on this post and just share a few of the pictures I've taken. Oh, heck, these might be preferred over my ramblings...

 Great Blue Heron
 

Snowy White Egret

Canada Geese
My own personal Bluebird of happiness. Looks a little disgruntled, doesn't he?
 Female Oriole







Fawn has just about lost its spots.






Is it any wonder I often have trouble getting any writing done? 
(I promise I'll actually write something next month. See you then.)


REMULLINS: Author of the Blautsaugers of Amber Heights Series
IT'S A WONDERFUL UNDEAD LIFE
VAMPIRE IN THE SCRYING GLASS
A VAMPIRE TO BE RECKONED WITH

Amazon 
The Wild Rose Press
and all other online book stores

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Learning to Live…with Others by Alicia Dean

I have been divorced for twenty years. I have lived alone several of those years, once my kids were grown. I love it. I love being by myself. Love sleeping by myself. I love it that, when I put scotch tape or scissors in a drawer, they are there when I go back to get them.

On March 1st of this year, all of that changed. My 30 year old daughter moved in with me, temporarily, until she gets some things taken care of. Wow…have things changed. I love my daughter dearly, but not only would I have difficulty living with anyone at this stage in my life, she’s a bit challenging as a roommate. She tries, or so she says, but she just doesn’t think things through. She is absent-minded and while she’s very considerate on one hand, she’s a bit self-centered on the other. Some of the little annoyances are minor, but when you add them all up, and it’s daily… Sigh…

Oh, you want examples?
  • She never, ever replaces bottled water in the fridge, so oftentimes, there are no cold ones when I go to grab one.
  • She constantly borrows my things without permission, and she lost one of the earrings in my favorite pair. She eventually found it, but not until after several weeks and much goading and reminding and bitching on my part. 
  • Just recently--after a handful of times I attempted to charge my Kindle,  only to discover the charger not in its place--I told her, “Absolutely, do NOT use my Kindle charger again, unless you plug your Kindle into it IN THAT VERY SPOT.” The NEXT day, I went to plug in my Kindle, and the charger was gone. I marched into her bedroom, where she was asleep, but was using my charger to charge her Kindle. She sleepily, crabbily, reluctantly unplugged it and gave it back to me.
  • I can only find one of the beaters to my hand mixer. (And she’s never even used it)
  • She used my kitchen scissors to trim her dog’s hair.
  • I use Keurig coffee, and the pods are a bit costly, but it’s worth it, because I love it and I only drink two cups per day. She is now using the coffee too, and of course, I don’t mind. HOWEVER, she only drinks flavored creamer, and I do not drink it, so I don’t always remember to buy it. On several occasions, she has made a cup of Keurig, then discovered we didn’t have flavored creamer, and poured out the coffee, thereby wasting, a perfectly good, perfectly expensive Keurig pod. Speaking of creamer, twice in the last few weeks, I have come home to find a nearly full, large bottle of flavored creamer left out of the fridge all day, and therefore, had to throw it away.

This all happened, just yesterday: 

  • I have begun having meals from Home Chef delivered once a week. (It is AWESOME, by the way. So handy. All the ingredients and the recipes come right to your door). A few days ago, my daughter came home from work after I’d gone to bed and decided to make one of the meals. I woke up to a godawful mess in the kitchen, but that’s neither here nor there. She cooked another of the meals yesterday while I was at work. Last night, I was going to cook the two remaining meals. However, my daughter had ruined that option. 1) The dish she made a few nights ago was the ‘pork’ recipe. As it turned out, she’d used the steak instead, so I had no steak for the recipe I was going to cook last night. It wouldn’t have been so bad, had the pork been chops, but it was loin, which doesn’t replace steak all that well. And, these recipes are tailored to where the ingredients go together nicely. 2) I was also going to make the chicken dish, but she’d used BOTH packages of chicken in the recipe she made earlier that day.
  • AND…she’d left another mess in the kitchen.
  • AND…the freezer door was standing open.
  • AND…I couldn’t find the olive oil because it was in a different cabinet. (Not a big deal, but I just have to wonder, why wouldn’t you just put it back in the cabinet where you’d found it?)
  • AND…she’d left a few plates of food on the stove, loosely covered, even though we’ve had an ant problem this summer. She covered them with paper plates. Instead of ‘a’ paper plate, for some unknown reason, she’d used a stack of approximately 5 paper plates over each.

Okay, so…I know this just sounds like a bitch session about my daughter, who, did I mention, I love dearly? I’m just wondering, for those of you who live with others... Especially Donna, whose husband, grown kids, and parents live with her…how do you do it???

Monday, July 18, 2016

Christmas Countdown! by Jannine Gallant


Since I'm tired of promoting my books and have no sales going on until next month, I thought I'd share our Roses of Prose holiday short story plans for this year. Every December, the majority of our authors post Christmas short stories for the entire month. And to make it a little more fun, we all begin our stories with the same first line. Of course choosing a line is all part of the excitement. Everyone threw out ideas and voted, narrowing the field to the top three choices then voted again to get a winner. This year the top three contenders were:

"You asked for a Christmas Miracle?"

This was the absolute last time she kissed anyone under the mistletoe.

She'd rather deck him than deck his halls.

I thought they were all great lines. But, the winning line was...drum roll...

This was the absolute last time she kissed anyone under the mistletoe.


I hope everyone will visit us in December to read our short stories. Is your interest sparked by our mistletoe kisses line?

We also need a title for our collection, which will be incorporated into the cover we use to promote our stories. We want our title to tie to our first line. For example, last year our first line was about a ringing phone, and our collection title was Ringing in the Holidays. So, think kisses or mistletoe... All suggestions are welcome. Load up the comment box for us!

To find out more about my books, check out my website.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Book Reviews: The Good, the Bad and the Funny by Betsy Ashton

I admit it. I read book reviews. I read those posted on Amazon and Goodreads for the books I write. I read reviews of books I read and review, but always after 1) I've finished the book, and 2) after I post my own review.

So it should come as no surprise that I've become a connoisseur of reviews. Not all mine come in through social media or other websites. I have a ton of "old school" readers who send emails or, gasp, snail mail.

Not long ago, I received this from a friend I've known nearly 50 years. He may be a tad partial. He's a critical reader, normally, but he went all fan-guy on me for Uncharted Territory: "I loved the first book, but this one is miles ahead. Great story line, engaging characters, a hint of suspense, and you deal with important contemporary themes without preaching. Brava." I'm still blushing--bragging too.

Posted on Amazon was this gem for Uncharted Territory: "I enjoyed the new characters here, namely, the English tutor Max hired to homeschool the children and the two pastors from different sides of the track. The desolation of the area (post-Katrina, MS) when they arrive is palpable."

Then there was the snail mail letter in which a reader apologized. "I know it took you over a year to write Mad Max Unintended Consequences, but I read it in two days. I couldn't put it down." Well now, that just fine with me.

My favorite one-star review was from a disappointed reader who thought I'd tried to jump on the Jessica Fletcher bandwagon with Mad Max and failed. Bless you, dear reader. I didn't try to be the next Jessica Fletcher. There is only one. I want to be the only Betsy Ashton with Mad Max.

I howled at this three-star review for Mad Max Unintended Consequences: After seeing  "Fury Road...I was overjoyed to learn that Mad Max's adventures continued in literary form. However, after finishing the book, I was left with a lot more questions than answers...Overall, I thought it was a well-written book, even it if took quite a departure from the films. I do hope that, if there is a sequel, Ashton will incorporate more car chase scenes and explosions."

Could this be why so many people on Twitter and Facebook want to hook up at Comic Con???

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Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and NobleI'm really excited that the trade paper edition of Uncharted Territory was released this week. Please follow me on my website, on TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.