Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guest Linda Kage Reveals How Our Back Yards Tell A Lot About Us

Have you ever noticed you can tell a lot about the people inside a house by checking out their backyard?

Let's do a little snooping and I'll show you what I mean.

In this backyard, you can decipher so many conclusions. With the police car parked there as if it belongs, you can safetly say a cop lives in residence. The swing set tells you a family mostly likely resides in this house. From the baby seat on the swing, you can guess this family has a young child, probably in the toddler years. The lack of flowers can pretty much mean no one inside that house has a green thumb.

But not only can this backyard reveal the people, it can tell you a little of when and where these people lived as well.

The tornado shelter probably means they live in Midwest USA, while the field surrounding the yard says country folk (unless you've seen a lot of haybales in some big city recently!!). Since the corn in the field surrounding this yard has been cut, that means the time of year is probably later than August. But the trees still have green on them, so it's most likely before December. The style of the police car means present day, contemporary times.

Are you catching onto my theme yet?

Just like a backyard can show you about the people inside a house, the back cover of a book can tell you about the characters inside. Is the story present day, or historical, or futuristic? Is it a sci fi, romance, or suspense? What do the main players do for a living, what kind of problem are they facing, what is the hook that makes you want to open the cover and take a glimpse inside their lives?

I had quite a time trying to come up with a back cover blurb for my story The Right to Remain Mine (which releases February 6th, by the way!!!). I needed it to spell out romance with some sizzle, yet sprinkle in a dash of suspense. I wanted possible readers to know it was present day about a man and a women who fought themselves into bed with just about every argument they started. And I wanted to give enough of the story away to fully cover what happens, but still leave enough mystery that a person might actually want to crack the cover and peek inside.

I pretty much wanted to accomplish what EVERY author wants to accomplish when writing her book blurb.

Well, for the backyard of The Right to Remain Mine, this is what I came up with:

You have the right to remain cherished. Anything you read or scream out in ecstasy can and will be used against you in the bedroom of Willow DeVane. You have the right to enjoy a big, sexy cop. If you can’t find your own, one by the name of Raith Malloy will be provided for you to enjoy and explore thoroughly within these pages.

Tempers flare from the first moment divorce lawyer Willow DeVane crosses paths with sheriff deputy Raith Malloy. Both too stubborn and controlling for their own good, Willow and Raith butt heads until anger turns to passion, and they begin an affair despite their brewing hostilities. But more than one force works against them when they learn Willow’s being targeted by a dangerous stalker.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dear Readers: What Do You Want?

By Glenys O'Connell

Readers, what do you want?

In the words of the Spice Girls (which dates me, no doubt) tell me what you want; what you really, really want?

I mean, take books for example. We writers sit at our computers, or pens and notebooks, or chalks and slates, and we pour out our hearts and souls. Then we send those words out into the world, after fussing over them like mother hens, and wait. And wait. And wait. Sometimes there's a kind word from an editor or a publisher; sometimes there's a contract.

And all too often, there's a rejection.

Which, try as we might, we do take personally. Who could help but do so, after all we've given up – time with family, lazy days in the sun, movies and tv, reading other writers' books, dinner dates and trips out – in order to write those words that are so unappreciated.

And the worst of it is that those editors, publishers and agents that we rely on so heavily for a yeah or a nay, these people are only human. Stories are subjective – I might love a particular writer's work, someone else might hate it or worse, be indifferent.

Stephen King, my hero, was told his work was 'not commercial'. That not commercial writer has sold millions of books, and his work has been made into television shows and movies.

J.K. Rowling, creator of the breathtakingly popular Harry Potter books, was told that kids today weren't interested in dragons and wizards and magic. 'Nuff said.

Somewhere, out there in the Great Unknown, are editors or editorial assistants or publishers' purchasing committees who are crying into their beer for turning down the next great thing. At least I hope so.

So it seems these days that it is the readers who have the final say; the readers who spread the word about King and Rowling and many other bestsellers – once a publisher decided to take a chance on an unknown writer.

You see, readers know what they want.

There's a story about George Sands that says she began to write because she couldn’t find a book that interested her. The same is said of Louisa May Alcott, author of my girlhood favourite, Little Women and the sequel, Good Wives. But just like Rowling, they kept right on writing. The readers found them, and the rest is history.

So, readers, what do you want? What stories light up your lives, or leave you afraid to go into the dark basement alone? What inspires you? Makes you laugh, makes you weep? Lifts your mood and makes you feel better when your world is in chaos? A Love that makes your toes curl?  What, in fact, would you say are the ingredients of that Next Great Thing? Or even a book that you'd love to read?

The Internet is full or how-to advice for writers. I'm as guilty as any other blogger or article writer; I teach creative writing to would-be writers. I'm glad to say that quite a few have gone on to be published.

But to me the burning question isn't what is selling today; not what formula works to make a book successful – the very existence of such a formula is a fallacy.

The real question can only be answered by you, Dear Reader: What do you want?

Right about now you may be wondering what this has to do with the current theme of this blog: Organization.  The answer, of course, is absolutely nothing.

I always wanted to be a rebel!



Glenys O'Connell is the author of several mystery & romance novels with good reader reviews; her long-awaited (in her dreams) book based on her creative writing course: Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book, will soon be published. Her 'brand' is Romance Can Be Murder, which tells you a lot about her.... Learn more here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Guest Liz Flaherty Chats About her Writing Process

Liz Flaherty
When my friend Kristina Knight interviews for her blog, her first question is “Do you have (or do you aspire to have!) a writing process?” It made me feel so unintelligent to be stumped right out of the interview gate, but stumped I was. I’ve been writing most of my life, for heaven’s sake, so what is my process? On Kristi’s blog, I mumbled something about not having one but wishing I did, and then, of course, I couldn’t get the question out of my mind. It seemed to go right along with being—or getting—organized.

Process…okay, it’s a series of natural occurrences. That’s a definition I can live with.

·         1980s. I had these nifty coil-bound notebooks with lined yellow paper in them. I filled I don’t know how many of them before I could no longer find them and resorted to white college-rule paper. I sat in my chair in the living room and wrote while my family watched TV and made noise around me. I completed my first manuscripts that way, typing them later on the electric typewriter at the kitchen table.

·         Later. The first Tandy computer entered the house. It sat on a little desk in the smallest bedroom in the house, sharing space with the ironing board and…I don’t remember what else, but it was a mess. There was a chair in one corner, and sometimes my husband or one of the kids came in and talk to me while I wrote. Other times, I interrupted the writing flow to iron whatever a kid wanted to wear on a date.

·         1990s. Everyone left home! Except my husband, that is. I had to learn to write in a quiet room without an ironing board. It was…different. And difficult. I thought my voice had been suffocated by the silence. But then I sold my first book. Always Annie came out in 1999. I bought a new computer.

·         Later. I sold another book and a couple of more. Every time I sold a book, my computer died and I had to buy a new one. I graduated to laptops and gave up the quiet room because…well, because I was lonely in there.

·         2011. I retired from my day job, which I’d loved but didn’t miss for one minute after I left it, something I have yet to understand. I thought I’d write all day, every day, but the truth is that I want to do everything I didn’t have time to do for the 40 years I worked.

So here I am. I work at the dining room table, less than 20 feet from the living room television. I get up two hours before my husband and sit in pre-dawn silence and drink tea and write. And revise. And think, “What if…” As soon as the TV comes on, my writing voice is silenced. Common sense tells me to go back to the quiet room—I am, after all, portable. But I don’t want to. I want to sew and spend time with the boyfriend (yeah, we’re very married, 40 years worth, but boyfriend sounds so…young, don’t you think?) and do all those things I never had time for.

That’s the process. It happened naturally and in a series. And it’s organized. Best of all, it works.

Thanks for coming by. I hope you have a splendid year. The latest in my organized series of occurrences is ONE MORE SUMMER, from Carina Press. It is truly the book of my heart. I hope it finds a home in yours.




I’d love to have you visit my website http://lizflaherty.com or http://wordwranglers.blogspot.com/ where I hang out with some of my best writer friends.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Planning Ahead Can Be A Great Way To Organize

Planning ahead is easy. Make a check list and stick to it. Mark things on your calendar--doctor visits, editing deadlines, family events. Oh, and blogging dates, too.  One musn't forget those.  I post regularly at four blogs: Vintage Vonnie, Voices of the Heart, Seven Night Writers and here at The Roses of Prose. Now, if I were truly a planner, I'd write my posts early and schedule them to self-publish on the specified date. Many do that, but not I. No, I don't plan ahead that well. You see, this post should have gone up at midnight, not at ten-twenty in the morning.


If I were such a planner, then at times like this when I'm not at my best, I could merely roll over and try to go back to sleep, knowing my post was already up. But I'm not. So after a night of coughing, hacking and sniffling, when I shuffle into the bathroom for more decongestant and something niggles at my cottony mind--like, what day is it???--I wouldn't go into an OMG panic.

It's just a bug of some kind, nothing earth-shattering, but I'm useless right now just the same. I see the doctor at three-thirty today, and he'll tell me what I already know: I have a virus. But thanks to the cancer scare I had three months ago, I now have a hovering husband who is calling the doctor every time I sneeze or get a headache. Pass me that box of tissues, would you, please?

Of course, if I'd only get in the habit of posting and scheduling my blogs a few days in advance, I wouldn't be in this "egg on face" predicament, stumbling and fumbling, trying to think of something witty to say. Perhaps that should be my goal for 2012. Post blogs early and schedule them to self-publish on time!!!

I do have something great to share. My cover for my novella, part of the Honky Tonk Hearts series is in. Somehow the artist was able to capture Evie's dose of attitude, but then I shouldn't be surprised. The Wild Rose Press has the best graphic artists.

Evie Caldwell hates her life. Five years ago, she gave up college and her dream of teaching to care for her ailing mother. Now, she’s trapped taking care of her worthless brother and the family ranch. Waiting tables to earn her way out of Texas, the last thing she wants is a muscleman with a macho Marine attitude complicating her life. But, oh, how that man makes her insides melt.

Wounded vet Win Fairchild returns to Texas to heal, find a piece of his soul, and open a ranch for amputee children. Finding someone to love is not on his agenda. But when he starts work at the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk, a spitfire with violet eyes and a major attitude instantly captures his heart.

Evie just wants to escape, but now that Win knows what he wants, can he convince Evie to stay in Texas—and his bed?

My final galleys for Those Violet Eyes are in. As soon as my eyes stop watering enough so I can see the computer screen clearly, I'll get started on those. Until then, it's orange juice and hot tea for me. Let's add another thought to the list of things to do in 2012, shall we? STAY HEALTHY, EVERYONE. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

World Organization

No, I'm not trying to organize the entire Earth. I'm just trying to organize the world building going on in a futuristic series I'm writing.

This is a BIG series. The final 3 books in the series are out (Human Touch, Living Proof and Leap of Faith). Those 3 books take place 400 years after the start of the series -- which is what I'm writing now. In those 3 future books, they allude to things that happened in the past -- the past I'm writing now.

Confused? Nope, I'm not. I'm Organized. Or I'm trying to be organized. I am anticipating at least 7 books to be written for this multi-generational saga. That means I need to keep track of a lot of details. I tried computer organization -- calendar programs, address books, databases, but none of it was quite right and there was the problem of synchronization. I tend to write on many different computers in the course of one day, carrying my current files with me on a memory stick. It got too hard to remember what to update, what was updated, etc.

So I reverted to paper tracking and it's working out very nicely. I went to the local thrift store and found a bunch of old DayRunner organizers. Remember those? They were all The Thing a while ago. You could buy all kinds of nifty stuff to put in the organizers -- the kind of stuff I need to organize a world.

I have calendars (blank ones for the future that I can write in and set up my own dates), an address book (in which I keep track of characters, their names, their traits, their appearance), To Do lists, photo sleeves ... I have one MASTER planner for things like vocabulary, places, timelines, 'facts'. Then I'm keeping another planner for the current book and its details. I have a place to jot down ideas, a place

Some of this I do keep on my computer. My detailed character sketches for the main characters are on my memory stick, for example. I printed out a copy to put in the planner but whenever I update it with a new fact or event that affects that character, I jot a note on paper and then eventually I transfer it to the computer and I print a new version.

I've been doing this for a year now (this is a BIG series and it's going to be written over the course of several years, in between other projects) and I am calling it a success. I put this series aside for about 5 months and just came back to it. My notes made perfect sense to me and I can pick up right where I left off. My jotted notes make sense and I can see where they'll fit.

I think I may finally have this organizing thing figured out (at least for this world). Now if I could just get the socks all to match...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guest Victoria Gray Talks About Blending Fact with Emotion in Historical Romance

Why do I love reading and writing historical romance?  The answer is actually quite simple.  Historical romances transport me to another time and place and immerse me in a love story.  Before I started writing historical romance, I never considered the skillful balance between facts and emotion in these stories, the delicate weave of details within a love story that creates a sense of time and place and brings the plot and the characters to life.  Now, as a writer of historical romance, I know firsthand the challenge of blending facts into a story without creating information overload.

While the developing emotional relationship between the heroine and her hero is the central focus of historical romance, historical details serve to sweep the reader away to another time and place.  Infusing facts throughout the story without sounding like a travel guide is a writer’s challenge.  Research, layering details through multiple revisions, and a willingness to cut facts that don’t enhance the story are my keys to achieving balance between historical detail, story flow, and emotional intensity.  

Of course, thorough research is a given.  Historical inaccuracies pull a reader out of a story, while details about historical events, clothing, food, transportation, communication, occupations, and social structure—the list could go on and on— provide scaffolding for a believable story.

After I become familiar with the essential characteristics of an era, I map out the plot and research specific aspects of the time period that may factor into the story.  What weapons were available?  What historical events, landmarks, and people might have impacted the characters’ lives? What literary and artistic works were prominent during that era?  In my new release, Surrender to Your Touch, the Union occupation of Norfolk, Virginia during the Civil War creates additional danger for the hero, outcast Rebel officer Will Reed, while the Union’s use of his family’s historical home, a James River plantation, adds to Will’s profound sense of loss.  Angel in My Arms features Union spy Amanda Emerson’s visit to Confederate first lady Varina Davis and her mission to Richmond’s Libby Prison to rescue a double agent,  while Destiny factors the heroine’s love of tragic romances into the character’s development.  Research to identify popular authors of the heroine’s time provided details that fleshed out Emma Davenport’s actions and dialogue.  These historical details add to the tapestry of the story.

How much historical detail brings a story to life without bogging it down?  That depends on the story.  Are historical events plot elements, or does the historical setting provide a context for the story?  Surrender to Your Touch, Angel in My Arms and Destiny are set against the background of the Civil War, but the key plot events are entirely fictional.  Historical details woven throughout the story create a sense of time and place, and references to historical figures can add to a character’s development, but historical name-dropping can result in detail overload.  Your characters shouldn’t sound like Joan Rivers on a time travel adventure.

Every author develops a method that works best for him or her.  To me, research, layering details, and revision are the keys to crafting a love story that transports the reader to another time and place.   

Here’s a little about Surrender to Your Touch:

Will Reed is out to settle a brutal score. The disgraced Rebel officer's own men want him hanged, and an enemy has ordered him killed. Intent on clearing his name and evening the score with those who betrayed him, he begins with the woman he once loved—Union spy Kate Sinclair.

For years, Kate used seduction as a lure. She knew better than to let her heart get involved--until she fell in love with Will. Grieving his death, Kate's joy at discovering him alive shatters when she is confronted by a bitter, vengeful man—a man who'll stop at nothing to learn the truth of her betrayal. As danger pursues them, Kate fights to tear down the barriers Will has erected around his heart, but her most powerful weapon may ultimately destroy her—surrender.


I hope readers will stop by my website and my blog, www.victoriagrayromance.com ; www.victoriagrayromance.blogspot.com.
I’d love for you to friend me on Facebook:
and follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/VictoriaGray115

CONTEST:   Based on the story blurb, who would you like to see portray Kate and Will if this were a movie? One lucky commenter will win a pdf of Surrender to Your Touch. Winner will be announced on Monday, January 27.

Surrender to Your Touch is available from Amazon.com: E-book or Print,
and
The Wild Rose Press:  E-book and Print

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When Organization Fails

I'm not one to wish away time - even though this month has been like a stall in the continuum. It wasn't supposed to be this way. I had an organized plan. The house we bought in Arizona was scheduled to close on December 29th. We drove out from Minnesota to spend Christmas with the family. After New Year's, my would husband fly back leaving the dog with me. He had to finish working out the month in Minnesota and he would drive out the U-haul with our household goods. I would stay at my sister's.

The whole plan began to crumble when the closing date changed. And changed again. And changed again. The inspector found more things than met the eye. Frank went back and we still hadn't closed. It did eventually close but with a bit of a hassle since we are now residing in two different states.

Family got in the way of the rest of my great organized plan. And I knew they would which is why I worked so hard to have a plan. Without even trying they worked harder to disrupt it. If you are a writer, you will probably understand what I mean. They're very proud of my accomplishments, the books I've published, and they don't hesitate to tell everyone I'm an author. But understanding what that means - that I need to actually write - must be hard to grasp. Blogging is totally out of their realm.

And so, no I don't wish time away, but I'm a bit anxious to be in the new house the first week of February. In the meantime, I will enjoy the unorganized time with family fitting in my writing and blogging as I can. Breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Brenda's latest releases:










Buy Line ebook publisher

Buy Link ebook Amazon


Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com.
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

AUSTRALIA DAY FROM MARGARET TANNER

AUSTRALIA DAY JANUARY 26th by Margaret Tanner

Hi everyone.

I know this has nothing to do with New Years Resolutions or a lead up to Valentine’s Day, but as I am an Aussie and my post is due on the 23rd January, and Australia Day is the 26th January, I thought this would be a change of pace.



Captain James Cook (1728 – 1779) was born in Yorkshire, England.  He was the man who discovered Australia. He led an expedition to the South Seas in command of the Endeavour. They sailed from Plymouth on the 26th August 1768 with a compliment of ninety four, including the Botanist, Joseph Banks. Sailing via Cape Horn they reached Tahiti on the 13th April 1769.

Cook had been instructed to determine the existence of a southern continent. He sailed to New Zealand in August, circumnavigated the islands, and charted the coastline and took possession of New Zealand for the British government.

On the 19th April, 1770, they spotted land at the south east of the Australian mainland. Cook continued sailing north, charting the coast as he sought a safe harbour for repairs to the Endeavour. They landed at Stingray Bay on the 29th April and renamed it Botany Bay. As he did with New Zealand, Cook claimed the great south land for the British government, who a few years later decided that this would be a great place to send their unwanted convicts, many of whom, because of overcrowding in the prisons because they could no longer be shipped off to America, were incarcerated in rotting hulks on the river Thames.  Many were petty thieves, who were transported for what we would consider minor crimes – stealing a loaf of bread, shop lifting some hair ribbons. Others were political prisoners or innocent victims of an unjust and uncaring society, like Maryanne Watson, the heroine in my 1820’s novel, Savage Utopia, which is set against the background of transportation to the penal colony of Australia.

On the 26th January 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip, who guided the First Fleet to the island continent of Australia, claimed the Colony of New South Wales for the British Empire.  He also became Governor of the colony. Slowly, a British society evolved based on the distinctions between convicts and free settlers.

 The fledgling colony began to mark the anniversary of the 26th January 1788 with formal dinners and informal celebrations.

In 1817 when Governor Macquarie recommended the adoption of the name ‘Australia’ for the entire continent instead of New Holland, a new nation started to emerge. By the 1820’s, Australia began to prosper and Australian patriotism started to be expressed at gatherings. In the early days the colony was a small society of cliques, with severe social requirements and rigid class lines, but the stain of convict blood could not be completely obliterated even though many tried to hide their tainted past. Many ex-convicts prospered and their Australian born children began to see themselves as unique because of their upbringing and isolation from Europe.

Throughout the early nineteenth century, Foundation Day, as it was called, became known for sporting events. But the growing sense of patriotism was being expressed in by poets. On the 26th January 1824, poet, Charles Thompson paid tribute to his native country with a collection of poems even though his father had been transported to Australia as a convict.

In the summer of 1836, a group of seafaring Sydneyites decided to celebrate the founding of their new nation with a sailing regatta. The Australia Day Regatta is still held on Sydney Harbour on the 26th January each year and it has become the oldest continuous sailing regatta in the world.

In 1838, fifty years after Captain Phillip landed, a number of celebratory events were organised and the first public holiday ever marked in Australia was announced for the 26th January.  This started a tradition which lasts to this very day.

SAVAGE UTOPIA published by Whiskey Creek Press
On board the convict ship taking them to the penal colony of Australia, Maryanne Watson and Jake Smith meet and fall in love, but Jake hides a terrible secret that will take him to the gallows if it ever comes out.

On arrival in Sydney the lovers are separated. Maryanne is sent to work for the lecherous Captain Fitzhugh. After he attacks her she flees into the wilderness and eventually meets up with Jake who has escaped from a chain gang.  They set up home in a hidden valley and Maryanne falls pregnant.  Will Jake come out of hiding to protect his fledgling family? And how can love triumph over such crushing odds?


Margaret Tanner is an award winning, multi-published, Australian historical romance writer who loves delving into the past.

Her website is http://www.margarettanner.com/




Sunday, January 22, 2012

Organization? Who Me?

Photo courtesy of: OctanBearcat, DeviantArt


Happy New Year, Everyone!



2012 has begun with a crack of lightning for me. And by that I mean, it hit out of the blue, knocked me sideways, and I'm still trying to put out the fire in my hair.

I released two books on January 3rd: IMMORTAL HOPE (dark paranormal romance through TOR) and STRIPPED (erotic romantic suspense through Berkley Heat). For the first time in my publishing career, my future sales now depend on current sales, and that directly translated to I couldn't sit on my hands and simply focus on the next book. I had to put myself out there. Promote. Figure out how to promote.

I settled on a couple blog tours (dates available on my blogsite) and have been struggling to keep up with everything. Writing guest posts (over 50), doing interviews (10 or so), and trying to track give aways, not all of which I initiated, but were prompted by my publishing house, but I still need to make an appearance when they occur. Add in that I am in edits for the second Curse of the Templars book, the second Black Opal book, and the fourth Inherited Damnation book, plus I have four novellas due back to back through April, and chaos is my middle name.

Which means... my life is best stated as See the Cartoon Above.

I'm normally pretty organized when it comes to writing. My usual desk is fairly clean, with only the current project's notes stacked off to one side for easy reference. I have a couple post-its tacked right in front of my keyboard, a pen haphazardly tossed about, and probably the previous day's coffee cup waiting. But otherwise, save for a little cat drool from 18yr old writing companion, we're clean, tidy, and efficient. Everything else is filed in file cabinets or transposed to my hard drive so the paper can be tossed away.

HAH!

I wish that were true right now, as I look at the mail from last week on the opposite side of my table, the pile of books I have to sign and get in the mail, the stack of notes about stuff I'm pretty sure isn't current any more, and a good week's worth of candy wrappers cluttering the minimal space where my laptop fits. Oh and did I mention? At night I'm writing by the light of the Christmas tree.

What am I going to do to better organize? Pray for this month to whirr by in another couple days.

Then, I will probably take down the tree first, and organize my house once more. We started with the demidemons' playroom today. Holy cow that was frightening. But I can't really focus when I'm sidetracked by so many other messes. I'll write a paragraph or two, then notice the pile of dishes and have to get up to fix that before I can continue.

So first up, clean the house. Put the darn Christmas stuff back in the shed. Then file all this accumulated junk, and sit down to outline the next three novellas in Inherited Damnation.

I say that, and it gives me hope. In truth, I have a sneaking suspicion, the majority of the first part of 2012 is going to resemble Murphy's Law of Clutter.

We'll see when I come back on the 30th and the blog tours are over.

But speaking of! Do come and join me, please. Between the two tours I still have 50.00 in Amazon Gift Cards to award, and there's plenty of opportunity to win.














Chivalry Never Dies


Deception Is Part of the Game




~Claire



TWITTER: @ClaireAshgrove


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hints to Organize Your Promo


Everyone who knows me knows I don’t think in organized terms. With this in mind, I'm presenting hints for organizing your life to include promotion for your books.
This is in no way meant to be instructions or directions on how to organize your promotion methods. I found out the hard way what every ebook writer learns: the only way to sell books is to market, market. market.
The other big fact is: Selling your book taked time away from your writing.
The solution: organize.
Aaaargh Just the thought makes my stomach ache, but its necessary.
Once I realized I needed to use my time wisely, I made decisions. Here is a partial list of things that helped me.

  1. What am I promoting? My books or myself?
    Really important to know to save wasted efforts. It doesn’t make any difference as far as objectives, but  does affect the subject.
  2. Where do I go to promote?
    My goodness, the list of places is endless and growing. I got lost in the tangled web of the internet. It takes real dedication to stop trolling and get back to work.
  3. Find a network of supportive and like-minded authors.
    I am on several blogs where various authors post. This gives me exposure without the daily expectation.
  4. Find how to check how many visitors go to your sites. Are your efforts paying off or a waste of time?
  5. Concentrate your efforts.
    I support my fellow authors by following their blogs and found a timesaver: I check the bloggerlist (also worpress and google) daily instead of clicking on each individual blog. Commenting is easy and the numbers add up.
  6. Create a blog.
    Focus on something. Writing, interviews, whatever will draw attention.
  7. Tweet. I know, I know.
    To make it simple I joined Triberr along with several supportive authors. My followers are growing and the most recent count is over 20 thousand reached. These are people who buy books.
  8. Join StumbleUpon.
    Never heard of it? Me neither, but it suggests blogs to people who list interests. Horses, dogs, cowboys, vampires? Click on it. A whole new audience for my books.
  9. LinkedIn
    Is a puzzle to me since I’m not looking for an employer, but there I am. It doesn’t take much time and my name is out there on several groups. Connections are growing. Another new audience.
  10. Set a time limit.
    I started with one hour a day. Now I’ve divided it into 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the late afternoon.Why? Because morning is my prime writing time. And I have organized my priorities.
Hope these hints help you. I'm willing to add to my list if you have suggestions.

Author Website: http://barbaraedwards.net
Blog Site: http://barbaraedwardscomments.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/BarbaraEdwards
Ancient Blood http://on.fb.me/naHRY5
Twitter: http://twitter.com/barb_ed
Authors Den: http://authorsden.com/barbaraedwards      
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/barbaraedwards

In Ancient Awakening, Police Officer ‘Mel’ Petersen investigates a death only she believes is murder. By disobeying direct orders from the Rhodes End Chief, she risks her career to follow clues that twist in circles to her backyard and lead the killer to her.

Her neighbor Stephen Zoriak is a prime suspect. Steve worked for a major pharmaceutical company where he discovered a weapon so dangerous he destroys the research. He is exposed to the dangerous organism. He suspects he is the killer and agrees to help her find the truth.

In the course of their investigation Mel and Steve find the real killer and a love that defies death.



www.wildrosepress buy link

Friday, January 20, 2012

Social Organization

Laura Breck
I realized yesterday that we have not hosted a real party or social event in years. And we have the perfect house for it. We converted one room into a bar, and over the years have accumulated lots of liquor (which I'd like to get rid of.)
  
So it's time to have a party. In a few weeks, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival Torchlight Parade will wind through the streets just a few blocks from us. What a perfect opportunity to gather friends and relatives for a fun evening.

Of course, this is Minnesota. Today's high temperature will be -1, with a -32 windchill. So I have to wait until a few days before the parade to determine if it's a good idea to ply people with alcohol and send them out into dangerously low temperatures.

All this is leading up to my topic. Social organization. Being a full-time writer, I tend to work twelve to sixteen hour days, even on weekends, so I don't get out much. And when you don't attend parties you're invited to three or four times, you drop off the invitation list.

So this year, I'm going to be more social. I started a Facebook page for my personal life, and I've connected with people I haven't seen in a while. I'm going to take more walks around the neighborhood (when the temperature reaches a more hospitable number) and re-establish friendships. I need to make lunch dates with friends, too. Some whom I share e-mails with but haven't seen in months.

All these ideas: the party, Facebook, reconnecting, will help me feel less isolated. And that's something that will help me with my goals for 2012, one of which is becoming a healthier me. By increasing my social exchanges, I will have more motivation and more support with something I've been struggling with for a long, long time. Wish me luck!

Laura
LauraBreck.com
Secret Vegas Lives
Scandalous L.A. Desires
both available from Red Rose Publishing

Don't forget to check out Romance Biggest Winner 2 – a fun, social way to make 2012 a healthier, happier year! http://romancebiggestwinner.blogspot.com/

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2012 - The Year of Good Eatin'...

by Amber Leigh Williams

Resolutions and I do not have a good track record. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember last year’s resolution. I think I’m more productive across the board when I don’t have a resolution. This is due in part to the guilt. If I’m not doing it, I feel guilty. If I feel guilty, I tend to wallow. Therefore, for me, guilt and productivity don’t mix well at all.

It’s taken me eighteen days to come up with a solution. My 2012 resolution will be to feel less guilty because this year’s will be just for fun. If I don’t find the time to do it, it’s no big deal. If I do, then yay!

It was while coming up with a recipe for a guest blogging article this week that it struck me. My husband is so much better than me in the kitchen. (I brag about his specialty in the kitchen here.) Since the day we’ve met, he’s had this natural cooking ability. Perhaps because he was forced to help in the kitchen throughout his early life while I didn’t learn to boil an egg until I was eighteen. (Sadly, that is not an exaggeration.) My mother cooked these beautiful meals. To my knowledge, nothing was ever burned or undercooked. Me? Well, I’m the opposite. I manage to both burn and undercook things. I’ve nearly set the kitchen on fire three times in the last year. However, there are a handful of things I do well. My banana pudding happens to be my husband’s favorite dish. (He even chose to forgo a traditional groom’s cake so it could be served at our wedding!) I make my own special spaghetti that I cook for dinner guests with Texas toast, salad, and red wine. When my younger sister went off to college, she even asked for the recipe to take with her so she could have a taste of home three hundred miles away.

While watching Julie & Julia, I realized what I wanted to do. My new year’s resolution is to find three new recipes I can enjoy making as much as eating, like spaghetti and banana pudding. I’ve already found the first one. I was inspired by the television show, Downton Abbey. Whenever those Granthams sit down to a formal dinner scene, I instantly get hungry. By chance, I found the recipe for “apple charlotte” from the show online. It’s simple and sounds absolutely delicious! And, as an added bonus, I usually have better luck with desserts and baking. The preparation layering is very similar to banana pudding….

INGREDIENTS

  • Butter, for greasing the pie dish and bread
  • 9 slices bread, crusts removed
  • 6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly (peel reserved)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Sugar, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter a pie dish and the bread slices. Place a layer of bread at the bottom, then a layer of apples. Sprinkle over these a portion of the lemon zest and juice, and sweeten with sugar. Place another layer of bread, and then apples, proceeding in this manner until the dish is full.

Then cover it up with the peel of the apples, to preserve the top from browning or burning. Bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes; turn the charlotte onto a dish, sprinkle sugar on top, and serve.




The next recipe I’d like to master is slow cooker chili. For me, chili growing up meant a few cans of Hormel, a sprinkle of cheese and a small dollop of Daisy® sour cream. One bite of my sister-in-law’s chili, however, was an enlightening experience. It’s wonderful and diverse and has a little bit of a bite to it. (She makes her own salsa, too, which is to die for! Apparently, that great cooking gene was distributed evenly throughout the hub’s siblings.) I’m determined to find out how to make great slow cooker chili by the end of the year, maybe even get my hands on the in-laws’ recipe….

As for the third recipe, I would love to be able to treat the hub to morning pancakes. So far, I’ve been hopeless with breakfast. He’s been making omelets and sausage for me for the last eight years. Though pancakes may be a little trickier than apple charlotte and chili, it’s worth a shot!

Do you have trouble keeping resolutions? How about making a fun one that doesn’t make you feel guilty if it doesn’t quite pan out and which can still enrich your life if it does? Another one of my fun resolutions? To read more. Last year, I read far fewer books than the year before. Now that my eyeglass prescription has been updated, I’m ready to dive into my TBR pile with both hands. So here’s to a year of good eating and good reading!

If you have a fun resolution, shout it out! I’d love to hear more….

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Age Old Question – What should I make for dinner? By Jannine Gallant

How much time do you waste staring into your refrigerator, wondering what to make for dinner? My guess is (if you’re anything like me) you go to the same old standbys, tried and true recipes you’ve made a million times before. I know I’m guilty as charged. The problem is, eating the same old thing gets boring when you’ve already made it three four times that month.

Now, to our organization theme. A few years ago, I pulled out my recipe cards and my cookbooks. I went through them, making a list of recipes my family loves and where I could quickly find them. It gave me a fast reference guide. So instead of that old standby, I can run through the list, and say, “Hey, I haven’t made this chicken dish in a while.”

If you’re really organized and motivated, you can sit down with your master list on Monday, and plan dinners for the whole week. Wow, imagine not stopping at the store every day, standing by the meat counter thinking, What should I make tonight? Less trips to the store means more time for writing, reading, painting your toenails… It’ll also save you money because you won’t be tempted to buy that bag of pistachio nuts. (That’s one of my husband’s weaknesses when I’m foolish enough to send him to the store!)

To get you started with your list of awesome recipes, I’m including one of my favorites below. You can also find more of my recipes on my blog, Food For Thought.

Chicken Stroganoff

4 slices bacon
1 ¼ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into strips
1 medium onion chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
½ tsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 can less sodium chicken broth
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 Tbsp. flour
4 cups hot, cooked egg noodles

Cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and crumble. Leave some of the bacon drippings and saut̩ chicken. Add onion and garlic Рcook until wilted. Add seasonings, broth and bacon to pan. Simmer 10 minutes. Combine sour cream and flour in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Add to pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for two minutes. Serve over egg noodles. Yields 4 servings.

Visit my Website for info on my current and upcoming releases. Bittersweet will be available from Whiskey Creek Press in February!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A KEY TO HAPPINESS


So our theme this month is organizing. By this time you realize that I'm not much for organizing my house. My thought with this blog is to help with another type of organizing. Organizing one's well being. A key to happiness. I don't have a magic wand, but I believe one key is knowing what makes you happy. My husband. My children. My family. My doggies. Those are a given and an easy answer. But today I'm not taking about who or what you love that makes you happy. I want to talk about what you do to make yourself happy. 

So what makes me happy?
  
I'm happiest when I'm busy. I'm like my father that way. He always had a project or two underway when I was younger. My father was a high school teacher and basketball coach. He was also a workaholic. My siblings and I used to cringe if he didn't have a summer job because it meant one thing- we were going to be busy. And I mean busy. One summer my father thought we should get a feel for what real work was like. He had us hoe out a whole cotton patch. Yes, manually. Yes, he had a tractor that could have plowed it nicely. But we wouldn't have gained that experience in life. Experience he always contended was important.

Over time I have come to realize one thing. I have become my father. No, I have never made my children hoe out a cotton patch, but it wouldn't have hurt them if they had. No, I have come to understand my father better, because in a sense I have become him. I have to be busy. I don't need a lot of sleep. I can't stand it when I don't have control of a situation. And I have become a workaholic myself.

I'll admit it. I like to work. I like my job at the hospital. I love to write. If I had a little more time, I'm sure I would like to clean my house...but I have all these projects. I read what most authors recommend- to complete one project at a time when it comes to writing. I'm sure that would be a good idea. I have only one problem with that- I can't do it.

THE JUDAS KISS
I'm happy when I'm writing. I'm not even organized when I write. I'm a panster. I don't follow an outline. I go with the flow of the story. Oh, I know where I want to go. It's just the journey to that end - most of the time, I'm not exactly certain how I'm going to get there, but I have faith in my story. It comes. I have to feel the story. But that means I go and come to my writings. When I'm in the middle of writing, I become obsessed with the story or that portion of it. If I'm stuck at a point, I move on to what I am feeling.

Why am I telling you this? It explains why I have so much going on this year with my writing. Everything seems to be finished at one time. THE JUDAS KISS was just released. It's my first book in the Tide of Charleston series. I'm so excited about The Judas Kiss because the series is set in Charleston. I love the mystic of Charleston. I have two more releases with the Tides of Charleston, The Promise in May and Another Night Falls is September. Under my pen name, Carrie James Haynes, I'm continuing on with the Whispers of a Legend series releasing, Vision of Destiny, hopefully at the end of February. Then I have Daughter of Deceit (historical paranormal) set to be released at the end of January.   

So much to do...but I'm happy. So what about you? What do you do that makes you feel better?

Check out my new release, The Judas Kiss, a historical fiction book sweeping from Charleston Harbor to the ballrooms of London during the turmoil of the American Revolution. Also excited- Whispers of a Legend, PartOne-Shadows of the Past has gone FREE on Amazon! 

SHADOWS OF THE PAST
Can find me over on Novel Works, my historical blog, and