Saturday, September 29, 2012

So Many Books – So Little Time…

By Glenys O'Connell @GlenysOConnell

It might sound obvious, but readers and writers have a lot in common.
For example, if you’re like me, going into a real bricks and mortar bookstore is like the proverbial kid and the candy store. Ditto for browsing Amazon, B & N, etc. So many books, so little time.

You start out with a plan to buy maybe one, or two….and suddenly, your basket is full of tasty delights. You get a sweet little flavour boost by reading the back cover blurbs, your taste buds sing the Hallelujah chorus as you dip through the pages at random.

Then reality hits. You can only read and really savor one book at a time (at least, I can). Your To Be Read pile already competes with Mt. St. Helens – and may also be ready to erupt all over your bedroom floor. Your book budget (if you actually had one) is already shot. Your friends, neighbours, significant other, are all going to roll their eyes when they see you sneaking in the back door with your books. True addicts actually change from the bookstore bag to a grocery bag in an attempt to hide their addiction. On your credit card statement, you have the bookstore’s bills hidden under the ‘household’ or ‘car maintenance’ tags. 
You realise you can’t take all the books in your basket. But having to choose is likely to send you into Post Traumatic Shock.  Eventually, you choose one or two books and, tears in your eyes, you put the rest back on the shelves, whispering a sad farewell and promising to come back soon.

For writers, the scenario is the same, but we’re dealing with embryo books – ideas that have snuck into our consciousness and refuse to go away. Most of us have a file marked ‘Book Ideas’. It’s really the only way to silence the clamor for a few weeks while we finish the book we’re working on. But writing The End on one manuscript is like opening the floodgates – all those half-baked, half-formed ideas in Book Ideas now scream for attention. Write me! Write Me!
Which to Choose? Which to Choose?

Often I will start out on one idea, only to realise my Muse, or subconscious mind, needs more time to work on it, then I have to close that file and look for another candidate. Many of the book ideas consist only of a paragraph or two, a signpost towards greater creative effort. Some are several pages, others just a couple of links to news stories or bits of research I've discovered on the web which seem to be crying out for a novel plot. Some will never make it as viable books alone – but joined in matrimony with another book idea, suddenly there’s hope of a long and happy relationship.
The biggest problem of all, rather like deciding which books to take to the checkout and which to leave behind,  is keeping all those other ideas in line while you concentrate on the work-in-progress. My personal scheme is to accept that every now and again I’ll think of a scene, a dialogue line, or see an article, hear a bit of gossip, that will fit one of those story ideas. I open the file, type in the info, maybe add a bit, then firmly close the file before falling into the trap of starting to actually write the book.

Otherwise, I’d have a hundred works-in-progress – none of them ever finished.

So, I’d love to hear how other readers and writers choose which books to buy, which books to write!

There’s a copy of my very first novel, Judgement By Fire, waiting for one lucky commenter.
A print copy of Winters & Somers, my Irish romantic comedy/suspense: Lisa Rayns
Lisa, please email me at glenysoconnell at msn. com with your email addy  and home address for the print. Thanks for taking part!


Glenys O’Connell is busy with edits for her upcoming release: Saving Maggie, a romantic suspense with paranormal elements, just contracted by Crimson Romance! You can keep up with her news & articles at

Friday, September 28, 2012

Guest M. S. Spencer Asks What Planet Do You Live On?

M. S. Spencer
What do the following have in common: A 10-year-old boy, a business woman, an 85-year-old man, and a celebrity on the skids?

Give up?  These people represent one of the four elements that separate humans from other animals: Condoned Insanity, aka socially acceptable addiction.

1)      Ethan Knockmeover, 10, of Brouhaha, Michigan, lived so far from his school—the Academy for Wayward Geeks—that he had to commute via subway.  For safety reasons his parents gave him an iPad.  Naturally little Ethan soon became hooked on video games.  (His schoolwork didn’t actually suffer because his teacher graded him solely on the level he reached in SimCity.)  En route to school one morning, engrossed in Asphalt 6, Ethan failed to remember that train tracks sit six feet below the platform.  Ignoring this planet’s laws of physics, he stepped into non-cyberspace.  He was rescued by the last remaining commuter NOT glued to a screen.

2)     This is a similar tale with similar consequences, only this time Gertrude Tinybrain had to step UP to connect with her inanimate adversary.  Ms. Tinybrain, absorbed like Ethan in her screen, fell into a low-flying fountain in a shopping mall.  Undeterred, she shook herself off, and keeping a firm, if moist, finger on her Apps screen, proceeded to her job.

3)     An old man drove his pickup the wrong way down a busy highway for several miles before the inevitable consequences of such antisocial activity caught up with him. But this isn’t about him. It’s about the two morons who, instead of using their phone to call 911, filmed the episode and laughed all the way up to the moment of the crash.

4)     There once was a celebrity (let’s call her Lois Lindley) who was continually caught engaging in assorted crimes, misdemeanors, and sins. One sunny day, she stole this teensy weensy diamond necklace and this threadbare mink coat, and then, oblivious to the public spotlight trained on her, let herself be photographed over and over (one more time and do that little pouty face for me…) wearing them. 

These four represent the current state of confusion between the planet of the mind and reality.  The computer screen is a portal.  Once you’re in cyberspace all things are possible and nothing has consequences, or at least real, permanent and painful consequences.  You’re not you in there; you are incognito.  No one recognizes the real you.  When the portal collapsed and reality and cyberspace collided, these four had no clue that people could actually see them.  That strangers could point and laugh at them.  That policemen could arrest them.

So how did all four react to their brush with reality? Not with humiliation, but with anger—either at the inanimate object their movable force fetched up against, or at the people who made fun of them.  Worse, some were actually surprised that reality could intrude on their pretty imaginary world. They could use a wakeup call. Perhaps a new AA group would help—Ethernet Anonymous.  “I’m somebody and I don’t believe I’m really here.” 

By the way, for those of you wondering what the other three elements are that distinguish humans from animals, they are: self-deprecating humor, snap judgments, and finicky eating.

CONTEST: The reader who comes up with the best example of social media addiction wins a pdf copy of either Losers Keepers, a tale of rekindled romance and murder on Chincoteague OR Triptych, in which lost artworks, jealousy, sex, larceny and genius plays out above the mighty Potomac River.

In Losers Keepers, Dagne Lonegan’s advice column alarmingly mirrors her life when a murder is committed her first week on Chincoteague, while two lovers vie for her affections.

Dagne Lonegan, aka Dear Philomena, advice dispenser extraordinaire, hoped that spending a year on the Eastern Shore island of  Chincoteague to write her novel would clear her sinuses, if not her heart, of any feelings for Jack Andrews, erstwhile lover and long-time jerk.  It’s just her luck that her first week on the island she’s in the right place at the right time to be involved with a murder.  Only she doesn’t know it.  Unfortunately, the murderer doesn’t know she doesn’t know.  Strange and dangerous things begin happening to her, interfering with her new romance with Tom Ellis, the handsome manager of the National Wildlife Refuge.  Complications ensue when her Jack arrives to take charge of the murder investigation.

Will Dagne stick with the tall, cool glass of a Ranger or fall back into the arms of her first tempestuous passion?

Secret Cravings Publishing (2011)

eBook, 72,000 words, ISBN: 978-1-936653-95-9; print ISBN 978-1-61885-081-2

Contemporary romantic suspense, M/F, 3 flames

In my romantic suspense novel Triptych, the heroine Miranda wrestles with true love. She also wrestles with recalcitrant sisters, mysterious machines and art thieves.

Miranda Cabot lost all interest in love after her husband Edward crashed into the Potomac River rocks called the Three Sisters. Her sister Honor likewise prefers her tower and her writing.  Not so the third sister Sybil, who longs for romance with a dashing Frenchman.  She advertises for said hero on Craig’s List and is rewarded with the Chevalier du Bon Arnaque, who comes to Washington from Strasbourg on unidentified business.

            Miranda and Honor believe the Chevalier is a crook and ask their neighbors Dieter Heiliger and his grandson Corey, to act as chaperones. With three beautiful, strong-willed women in a house filled with three handsome, virile men, the inevitable result is an intricate web of jealousy, sex, and intrigue. Who will end up with whom, and will the Three Sisters take another life as the legend calls for?

Secret Cravings Publishers (2011)

eBook, 65,000 words, ISBN: 978-1-61885-064-5
Print, 206 pp., ISBN: 978-1-61885-145-1, EAN13: 1618851454

Contemporary romantic suspense, M/F, 3 flames

Here’s an excerpt from Triptych, in which Miranda first meets Luc.

 “That’s the car, Sybil! The plane must have arrived early. Go open the door.”

Miranda heard the pounding of excited feet on the stairs. She checked her hair and dress and prepared herself not merely to meet the Chevalier du Bon Arnaque, but to dislike him intensely.

She called to Honor and stepped sedately down the long formal staircase to the central hall where Sybil was taking the coat of a very tall, black-haired gentleman. As she stood on the last step, he turned and glanced up at her. A long pause ensued. Did my heart just stop beating? The house, the hall, Sybil, everything but the man faded into the background. She examined his face minutely, as though she had all the time in the world. Ringlets of thick, glossy black hair twined over his forehead, the light catching highlights of silver at the temples and deep in his ebony eyes. Tanned skin stretched tight over his high cheekbones, reminding her of the portrait of a Highland chieftain that hung in her study. She could just make out a tiny upturn at the end of his nose that lent a fanciful air to his appearance. Perhaps not a clan chief but an elvish prince?

Slowly she grew aware of Sybil’s chattering. “Monsieur le Chevalier—see how well I pronounced it, monsieur? I’ve been practicing. I promise to be your best student ever! Oh, and this is Miranda, my sister. Honor? Honor! Are you coming down?”

Miranda took the last step into a new world. She faltered before this man who turned her inside out with a single look, and words failed her. As she struggled with an unaccustomed shyness he held out a friendly hand to her. She mustered up a firm shake from somewhere, noting the hard calluses that lined his palm. A work-hardened hand. Could it be he’s not a leisure-loving gigolo after all?

 M. S. Spencer would be very happy to hear from you. 

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Thursday, September 27, 2012


Vonnie Davis
I love reading romance. Now that I’m writing full-time, I only get to read a book a week. However, for forty or more years, I used to read two to three, so as you can imagine I’ve forgotten more characters, emotional angst and plots than there are stars in the sky.

Yet a few have remained in my memory. And those few, I read over and over to study why. Why did they make an impression?

I’m currently reading Linda Howard’s Mackenzie’s Mountain, a romance I first read twelve years ago and once nearly every year since. I read it last week and as soon as I finished, I started it over again, hunting for the “whys” of its appeal. There are point of view shifts within the paragraph. Dated philosophies. Said tags galore (my pet peeve). Yet, for me, the book creates all the warm fuzzies I want from romance: The strong alpha male and the plucky heroine who goes toe-to-toe with him.

Nora Roberts’ MacGreagor series is a favorite, too. She taught me the value of secondary characters, of weaving family into the romance.

Jill Shalvis is a master at internal dialogue. I’ve learned a lot from her writings, too. Her description of Wade in Slow Heat as he leans in an open car door to talk to the heroine is a lesson in itself. Thank you, Jill. 

While I also enjoy historical romance, some are so shallow in research that the story could be set in any era or any country. I love the stunning details of historical research that transport me almost from the first paragraph. Beth Trissel, Susan Macatee and Claire Ashgrove excel.

In her Plum Series, Janet Evanovitch taught me ways to write humor. I’ve read every installment, and every time I do, I sleep fitfully. I think it bothers my romantic mind that she won’t or can’t choose between Morelli and Ranger. Go figure.

Do you enjoy learning the craft of writing from other authors? What things have you learned in your pleasure time of reading?

For one lucky commentor, you may have your choice of an eBook of either Storm's Interlude or Those Violet Eyes. 



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sometimes a deadline can provide inspiration

I'm a fast writer. If I work on a story longer than 4 months, I get stale. The characters get flat. The plot drags. So I always keep an eye on the calendar when I write.

I started playing around with my latest manuscript in the spring. I had some ideas for a book, I played with them, I made a tentative start. Then I got sidetracked when I discovered I might have copyright issues. I was using Winnie the Pooh as my base, so to speak, and (long story short), I found out that I couldn't do that.

So I had to re-task what I planned to do with a new story. Stumper. I decided to pick a story nobody could copyright: Robin Hood. Ok, good. There's my starting point. I started the book on June 1. And I picked at it all summer. I wrote a page here, some words there -- oh, I wrote every day but I wasn't inspired to write it. I just didn't feel the love.

August rolled around and I realized I had 9 chapters done, out of 17 or 18 needed. I had set an artificial deadline for myself of Sept. 20. You see, my DH and I go on vacation around that time and that's always my unofficial kickoff time for me to go back and work on my sci-fi series. I like to work on that in the fall/winter. It's a 10 book series, 3 books are already published (the last 3 in the series), I have 2 written, #3 is plotted, and the rest have solid ideas. So there's many years of work there.

Well, there I was, in August, and I had 9 chapters to go. I didn't quite panic, but I did try to knuckle down. But I had house guests for 2 weeks, I had a family reunion to plan and host, I had travel, I have the never-ending lawsuit (oh, now *that* is a story to tell someday).

So I got to September 14 and I realized I had about 8 days to go. 8 days to write at least 6 chapters. I was on chapter 9, almost chapter 10. I need at least 17 to wrap up the book. Could I do it?

Yep. I sat down and in three days, I wrote 30,000+ words. 6.5 chapters. I literally sat my butt in the chair, put my hands on the keyboard, and I just wrote for 3 days. Oh, I took breaks: went out to a concert, did a bit of shopping, watched some football on TV. But the main focus of that weekend was to FINISH THE DAMN BOOK. I have never NOT finished a book I started, and I wasn't going to start now.

And I did. I still have editing to do, tweaking, a re-read and some fixes. But it is 99% done. I'll set it aside now for a few months, then re-visit it, oh, in January maybe. I'll read it with fresh eyes, make the necessary changes, then send it off to my beta reader to review. Then I'll publish it.

So you see: sometimes inspiration can come from desperation!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Guest Blogger Barbara White Daille Shares Her Creative Process

Barbara White Daille
Hello, and thank you to The Roses of Prose for inviting me to visit!  I'm looking forward to chatting with y'all.

Since there's a great topic up on the blog this month, I'm going to run with it, too, and talk about where I get my ideas.  I'll continue the trend and give away a book, as well, so stay tuned.

Confession time.

I don't normally go out and "get" my ideas.  Usually, they come to me.  Unfortunately, when they do, it's often as a flash of illumination that introduces a character or shows an action.  After that, I'm on my own!

With my first published novel, THE SHERIFF'S SON, I envisioned a small boy twisting and turning and trying to get free from the large hand—attached to the much larger man ;) —holding him up by the back of his T-shirt.  Kevin's on tiptoe.  And in big trouble.  When his mama sees the local deputy sheriff who has captured her son, she knows she's in big trouble, too, because he's the man she'd once loved and lost.  That very brief vision of Kevin twisting to get free turned out to be the catalyst for the book.

In a more recent story, A RANCHER'S PRIDE, Sam Robertson comes home to discover he's a daddy.  He's never known about his four-year-old daughter and doesn't believe she's his.  But when he meets her for the first time, he's confronted with evidence he can't deny.  She is his flesh and blood.  She's also deaf, and he has no way of communicating with her.  Trust me, that was one tough book to write.  Sam has such a heart-wrenching decision to make regarding his daughter, I didn't know how he would ever reach a happy ending.  And the entire book started with one peek into Sam's living room.

With those stories, at least I had a visual to work from.  That's not always the case.  For another of my earlier books, COURT ME, COWBOY, I had nothing but a sentence to start me off: 

One day soon, he'd get rid of this wedding ring.

That's it.  Nothing about the character—except that he was male.  No setting.  No clue who the ring belonged to or what this was all about.  (I'm happy to say my readers start the book just where I did, with that very sentence.) 

I figured out...eventually...the male was Gabe Miller, and the wedding ring was his own.  But then I had to get him to reveal why he no longer wanted or needed that wedding ring.  An emotion-packed revelation, for sure, but enough to tell me this man truly deserved a happy ending.

In my current novel, HONORABLE RANCHER, I had much less than a sentence to kick-start my imagination.  All I had was the memory of how I felt about my first crush.  This somehow turned into the story of a man suffering—and I do mean suffering!—the same feelings.  Unfortunately, Ben Sawyer has it much, much worse. 

This explains his dilemma:

Bound by a promise to watch over his best friend's widow, what can an honorable man do when the woman fights him at every turn?  Buy the house she lives in, for one thing--and that's when their relationship really gets heated.

He's keeping a promise to her dead husband; she's keeping a secret she refuses to share.  They can't fall in love--but they can't stay away from each other....

Ben's not the type of hero I usually write about.  That didn't matter.  In the space of a few paragraphs, I found him sexy and intriguing and endearing and as worthy of love as any character who's ever come knocking on the door of my imagination.  I had to tell his story.  After this very brief setup, I'll show you why:

Ben and Dana are groomsman and matron of honor for their best friends.  They're alone in the garden outside the banquet hall, while everyone else is inside at the reception.

In all the years since grade school, nothing had ever come between Paul and Dana.  Ben had always honored that.  Now he had to make doubly sure not to cross the line.  "Today has to be hard for you," he said, keeping his voice low.

"Seeing Tess and Caleb so happy?  Why should that cause me any trouble?  I'm glad they're finally together."

She meant it, he knew, though her words sounded as brittle as the chipped ice in the banquet hall's champagne buckets.  In the moonlight, her eyes glittered.  Had she tried for a lighter tone to keep tears from overflowing?  Or to prove how comfortable she felt around him?

Why did she have to prove anything?  Why the heck couldn't she enjoy his company, the way she always used to?  If she'd just give him that, he'd feel satisfied.

Sure, he would.

She'd grown quiet again, and he gestured toward the fountain.  "What brought you out here?  Wanting to make a wish?"

She shook her head.  "No.  Those are for people who aren't willing to work hard to get what they want."

"I can't argue with you there."  Still, he felt tempted to toss a coin into the water for a wish of his own—that for once, she'd let him make things easier for her.  "But there's such a thing as working too hard, you know."

"Ben, please."  She gathered up her dress and stood.  "You called the truce yourself, remember?  I know you only want to help.  For Paul.  And because we're friends."  Her voice shook from her stress on the word.  "We've had this conversation before.  Now, once and for all, I'm doing fine."  As if to prove her point, she smiled.  "And I have to go inside.  Tess will be tossing her bouquet soon.  I wouldn't want to lose out on that."

A tear sparkled at the corner of her eye.

Missing the chance to catch a handful of flowers couldn't upset her that much.  He knew what she really missed—having a husband by her side.  Her husband.

His best friend.

But neither of them would have Paul back in their lives.

Before he could get to his feet, she left, running away like that princess in the fairytale his niece asked him to read to her over and over again.

No, not a princess.  The one who took off without her glass slipper—Cinderella.

Dana was no Cinderella.  She hadn't left a shoe behind.  Hadn't even dropped a button from that pink dress as something for him to remember her by.  As if he could ever forget her.

She'd been the heroine of a story he'd once created long ago, a story he'd had to write in his head because he hadn't yet known how to spell all the words.

How did it go?  Like in his niece's storybook...

Once upon a time, that was it.

Once upon a time, in the Land of Enchantment—otherwise known as the state of New Mexico—Benjamin Franklin Sawyer had high hopes and a huge crush on the girl who sat one desk over from him in their classroom every day.

No other girl in town, Ben felt sure, could beat Dana Smith, and most likely no other woman in the world could compare to her, either.  In any case, without a doubt, she was the cutest of all his female friends in their kindergarten classroom.

Unfortunately, when the teacher moved his best friend, Paul Wright, to the desk on the other side of Dana's, Ben saw his hopes dashed.

The crush, however, continued.  For a good long while.

As for Benjamin Franklin Sawyer's hopes...

Well, not every story had a happy ending.

At the beginning of this post, I said ideas come to me.  That's true.  They pop into my head and spark my imagination, making me want to tell the stories, not letting me rest until I do. 

This isn't an easy job, since they've left me hanging without much to go on!  ;)  But by the time a book has ended, I'm happy to have found out what the story is all about.  I'm thrilled to see the hero and heroine have found their happily ever after—and I hope my readers are, too.


Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the lizards in the front yard but could do without the scorpions in the bathroom.

From the time she was a toddler, Barbara found herself fascinated by those things her mom called "books."  Once she learned the words between the covers held the magic of storytelling, she wanted to see her words in print so she could weave that spell for others.

She hopes you will enjoy reading her stories and will find your own storytelling magic in them!

Barbara would love to have you drop by her website:  You can also find her on

Please look for HONORABLE RANCHER, in both print and e-book, at the following locations: 

To win an autographed paper copy of your choice of THE SHERIFF'S SON, COURT ME, COWBOY or A RANCHER'S PRIDE, please leave a comment or question for Barbara.  Check back in the comments area here on Saturday, September 29th, to find out if you've been selected as the drawing winner!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Believable Fiction by Brenda Whiteside

The Morning After is my latest release from The Wild Rose Press, and I'll send an ebook to one commenter today. The Morning After is a contemporary romance, novella length, and part of The Honky Tonk Hearts Series. All the books are different with one exception. One major scene takes place at the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk. To write this book I started where I always start - with the characters.

My stories are always character driven. Before I can tell their story, I have to know them inside and out, as Bobby Stockwood might say.  But he wasn't the character that spawned this story.

Abigail Martin whispered in my ear one day that she was in her thirties, never been married, bored with her job and ready to let her hair down, so to speak. She didn't have a name to start with but when I thought about a woman whose biological clock was ticking, the girl next door living in Amarillo, Texas, the name Abigail popped into my head. And since she's on the average side of most everything in life, she couldn't have a very colorful last name. Sorry all you Martins out there but it's a pretty tame, average name.

She needed someone as colorful and unique as she was mellow and average. In walked Bobby Stockwood. Bobby is a redheaded cowboy with a quick wit and a romantic soul. He's been married twice, has a ranch and a family business, loves to dance, sings off key and is damn sexy.

After I had their physical attributes and their personalities entered into my character study outlines, I needed their histories. Much of the history of my characters will never appear in the story. This is one thing that is hard to grasp for new writers. As a writer, you build a good deal of information on both the characters and the back story. It's tempting to show how much you know and all the research done to make the book work. Exciting stuff for a writer. For the reader - not so much. But in order to write believable fiction a writer needs to know it all.

Once I knew them, I could build the story. And if Abigail was looking for a little excitement and change in her life, waking up with a redheaded stranger the morning after her best friend's third wedding was a good place to start. Ah, love at first sight for Bobby the night before. Abigail is of course more pragmatic, especially since the night before is nothing but a blur. Oops!

And as love blooms for her, a problem arises. All stories need conflict. You have to make your characters work for their happily ever after. Life is not all peaches and cream, and if you want your fiction to be believable, your characters must suffer. I can't give it away, but it feels life altering for Abigail. In the end, the resolution is fun.

That's a brief look at how I build a story. The spark comes to me from a word, a phrase, a concept or out of the blue. But once that tiny bit of information is in my head, I build the characters. Their story unfolds, but I usually have to search hard for the conflict and resolution.

Can there really be love at first sight?

Abigail Martin doesn’t think so. Unless the sexy redheaded stranger she wakes up with the morning after her best friend’s wedding is telling the truth.

Bobby Stockwood fell cowboy-hat-over-boot-heels for the brown-haired beauty, and married her in an impromptu wedding ceremony.  Now he just has to convince his new bride that the morning after can be the first day of the rest of their lives.

But just when Abigail starts believing the fairy-tale is real, she finds out exactly who Bobby is, and the walls of make-believe start crumbling down.

Brenda and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. Recently, they moved to prairie country in Arizona and are enjoying the wide-open spaces while tending fruit trees and veggie gardens. They share their space with their dog, Rusty. When Brenda isn’t at her laptop writing, she enjoys hiking, motorcycle riding and the company of good friends.

Visit Brenda at
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at
She blogs about prairie life on her personal blog