Saturday, January 28, 2012

Plotting with Ripples and Waves

I'm not a psychotherapist in any way. I'm more of an observer and thinker. A recent post from Alicia Rasley at Edittorrent got me thinking about a theory I cooked up for myself to explain  the impact of change in my life.

I call it The Ripple Effect.

The Little Version

Visualize a pebble dropped in still water. Plip. Ripples radiate out from the strike zone. Eventually the ripples dissipate and the water smooths out.

Small change, small impact.

The Big Version

Visualize a big granite boulder dropped in still water. SPLOOSH! A coronet rises around the strike zone. Big waves roll over the water's surface. A long time goes by before the water settles.

Big change, big impact.

The Messy Version

Visualize both the pebble and the boulder dropped into the water at the same time. Plip. SPLOOSH! Ripples and waves spread in all directions. Crests and troughs are amplified and diminished.

That's real life. Sigh.

The Story Version

How useful is my Ripple Effect theory?

For me, the natural extension of observing and thinking is writing. So I use my theory to plot stories. Here's how.

The initial conflict in a book is the first pebble thrown in the still waters of a character's ordinary life. It's not necessarily a huge conflict, but it doesn't go unnoticed.

Before the story waters have stilled, toss in a stone. What is the interplay of this slightly larger conflict with the first conflict? How does it cross and alter the first conflict?

Before the story waters have stilled, toss in more pebbles and larger stones.

Watch for unexpected collisions in the intersection of waves and ripples, dips and troughs. Watch how the crest of a wave is increased by a ripple. Watch how the dip of a ripple diminishes the crest of wave.

Surprise your characters and your reader, and maybe yourself, with unusual results of  the intersecting conflicts--the Ripple Effect.

Let the story waters still. Just a bit. Let your reader catch her breath.

In goes the boulder.


Chaos. Conflict. Bwahahaha!

Then comes a rainstorm. Hundreds of thousands of drops fall. All the waves and ripples are beaten down. Conflicts are resolved. Order and peace return. The story waters return to a smooth glassy surface.

So what do you think? Does The Ripple Effect appeal to you?

© Joan Leacott 2012x-posted at Joan's blog

Friday, January 27, 2012

What is fear?

I recently wrote a blog post titled "Conquering your fears", in that post, I focused on a fear that I've had for years.  Progressively, over the last few years, it seems to have worsened.  Almost to a paralyzing degree.  And only when there was no other option, did I face my fear, and as I explained in the post, I may not have conquered it, but I am definitely not afraid to charge it...head on!

After that post, I began discussing fears with some of my friends, and it made me remember the initial fears I had with my writing:
-feared others to reading it (critique it)
-feared publishers/agents rejecting it

I remember when I first read the rules for PRO membership.  I had to send in a manuscript or rejection letter.  That felt so humiliating to send in a rejection letter.  But, it seemed even more humiliating to send in the manuscript that was rejected.

To this day, I still have the slightest amount of anxiety every time I receive a critique or send a query letter.

But, it isn't the fear of not receiving a contract or seeing strikeouts from critique partners.  No, it's this indescribable sense of maybe the story isn't done.  Could I tell more?  Should I tell more?  Would that just be over-telling the story?

I'm not a plotter.  I'm a pantser.  I write until my characters stop talking, but is that it?  Should I keep writing?  Should I keep writing until I hit that 100,000 word count?

Ughh!!! What is it about fear?  Does it just continue to reshape or does it ever go away?

What do you fear?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing Blog Tour Coming Up

Guest Blog Schedule for A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing for March and Beyond

3/1 You Gotta Read Reviews & Love Romance Passion
3/2 Book Savvy Babe
3/3 Weekend No Blogs--Teaching Workshops
3/4 No Blogs
3/5 Open
3/6 Rom Fan Reviews
3/7 Sia McKye’s Thoughts Over Coffee
3/8 Night Owl Reviews
3/9 Open
3/10 Weekend
3/12 SOS Aloha
3/13 SciFiGuy
3/14 Sizzling Hot Books
3/15 Open
3/16 Fresh Fiction & 7 Scribes
3/17 Weekend
3/19 Reading Between the Wines
3/20 Cindy Loves to Read
3/21 Open
3/22 Reviews by Molly
3/23 Open
3/24 Weekend
3/26 Star-Crossed Romance
3/27 Open
3/28 Mrs Papillion's Bookworm Reviews 
3/29 Long and Short Reviews
3/31 Weekend

Additional Dates:
March: Paranormal Addicts, Literal Addiction
April: ARRA
July 4: Petit Fours and Hot Tamales

So if anyone wants me to post on their review site, just email me for the open days. I can also do weekends.

Have a super day! Terry

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New day, new muse

I hit a slump in my writing last year. I know, you're saying, "Hunh? You had 11 books release in 2011 and that's a slump?"

Well, keep in mind all of those books were written prior to 2011. In fact, I turned in 4 of them to my editor at least a year earlier. 3 of those books were re-releases, written way back in 2006, 07, 08. And 3 of them were digital and print releases. That left one "new" book that released last year, and I wrote that one very early in the year.

I haven't been slacking off. I wrote 2 more books last year (which haven't released yet) and I'm working on my big series that I anticipate will take years to see the light of day. And I'm in the midst of two more books in progress and I have one waiting for me to edit.

But I'm starting to realize that I need to go back and promote all of those previous 20-some books that I have out. Those books are still for sale and still viable. They're still out there, waiting for someone to buy them. So it's not just about the new books. It's about the old ones as well.

That's caused me to re-juggle some of my precious free time so I'm focusing on promotion as well as writing. I've always done a little bit of promo here and there, but I'm trying to get consistent about it now, trying to make it a part of my daily activities. I'm trying to find the muse -- the excitement, the fun -- call it what you will -- in promotion that I have felt when I'm writing.

It's tough. The muse just isn't there a lot of the times. Sometimes I have to grit my teeth and force myself to make a post, do a blog, or do some activity that takes away from my writing time. I have faith that it's worth my effort, but that doesn't mean I have to embrace it. I just gotta do it.

You know, that's sort of a metaphor for a lot of things in life, isn't it? You gotta go to the dentist, you gotta shovel the drive when it snows, you gotta pet the kitty when she jumps up on your lap (as she just did). At the end of the day, a lot of our day is taken up with the gottas. Let's try to make the best of it, okay? Because it's a new day and maybe a new muse is just around the corner ...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How to Get Your Hero and Heroine to the Happily Ever After

I started a new story this week and had an epiphany when I brought the hero and heroine together for the first time. It is difficult for me because I love my characters and I know that I have to do terrible things to them to keep them apart, and then there is that black moment. I naturally hate conflict of any kind. I want everyone to be happy, especially those who are near and dear to me. What usually happens is my critique partner tells me I don't have anything bad happening. Stubbing your toe and having it hurt is not the "c" word. It's not a story without conflict. "But, but," I say. It doesn't help. With my last story I had to rewrite it and add a lot of problems. One reader told me I might have overdone it a wee bit. :) Hey, I'm workin' on it.

Here I am with my new characters. I barely know them and I am plotting against their happiness. I started to giggle when I realized that once I conflict them, I rush to finish my story so I can bring them back together in joy.

Do I stand alone in this problem, or do you have trouble being mean? Maybe you like taking your frustration out on your characters. Just askin'.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Life throws curves

I’m in the final lap of fine tuning my manuscript. I’m busting my tush to get it off by month end. I didn’t pick the timeframe on a whim. After a brief overview sweep I knew what areas required my attention. You see, on January 2 an editor requested my full manuscript (Yippee!) – with a few suggested changes. Nothing major but enough to require a chunk of time.

I believe setting a deadline keeps me focused. In the past I’ve whizzed down the ‘wrong turn’ road when revising manuscripts. Today I have my own system. It might feel clunky to another writer but it fits me. This wouldn’t be near as difficult if the rest of my life was in normal mode.

After Christmas we decided to take a once in a lifetime trip. With the manuscript request the road stretched upward. I can do this, I told myself. On January 5 our email provider notified us they would start charging us for their premium email. Scotch that! I refuse to pay for email service.

Meanwhile, I’m researching for our overseas trip, communicating with family there and revising my manuscript. Switching to a new email service was another hill to climb. I put on my roller blades and shoved off.

My husband and I decided on the new email service and we began the transition. After many hours of learning how it works and what it offers I made the switch. I still need to sync my new email with my Netbook. Otherwise, all is good. Our upcoming trip looms on the horizon and two books about the region, which I wanted to read, sit unread.

What I’ve learned this month is this. Multiple challenges stretch us to reach farther, to go forward not faster but smarter. I’ll soon give myself a little pat on the back as I approach the top of the hill. With the priority tasks close to complete I will soon get to coast a bit, sit down and read, at the least, one of those travel books.

I’m sure my troubles while revising a manuscript don’t reach the category of worst ever. What’s been your most difficult outside challenge while revising a manuscript for submission?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Story Transitions

"The Artist" won at the Golden Globe Awards last Sunday. A retro silent film, I wouldn't be surprised if it had script frames. Silent films were influenced by literature, and literature had always had detailed descriptions of changes in character POV, time or setting. In silent westerns, for example, you'd read placards like: "MEANWHILE BACK AT THE RANCH."

When talkies were invented, a voice-over, or a voice over and text pronouncement, identified each time or setting transition.

The first film to use a jump cut--a transition where the narrative simply jumps to the next scene--was Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless." Godard had shot 8,000 meters of film, and the producers had a maximum limit of 5,000 meters. Godard had to cut the film down or it would be unsellable. According to Godard, he and his editor flipped a coin at each scene in a sequence and let fate determine which footage to cut. Necessity invented the jump cut.

Now screenwriters write the next scene without any labeling, regardless of its placement in the narrative, chronological or not. Film and television are training readers to fill in the gaps between scenes, and to jump between character's POV's.

Super authors head hop. Their characters change setting without overt trails. Their readers seem to follow the story.

I'm not a super author. But can I use super storyteller techniques?

Love Scenes

This past weekend, I spent a whole day working on a major love scene in my work in progress. Laboring, sweating, deleting, rewriting while sighing, huffing and pulling my hair. Do you get the picture? No, I don’t think you can yet.

I usually start my love (or sex) scene with enthusiasm. Hey, everyone loves to watch Hero and Heroine gaze into each other’s eyes, trail a determined look down each other’s noses and linger to study each other’s lips. Should we go for it? Is it going to taste as good as it looks? Once they overcome an initial hesitation—so to speak because my alpha hero and assertive heroine always know what they want—they melt into each other’s arms, play, taste, devour. They have fun and like what they are doing. So why stop now? More exploration is in order.

In the old historical novels I used to love years ago, HE would take the lead in the next phase of the game. Now-a-days, SHE likes to show she is a woman of her time. During phase two, hands run from throat to waist and linger in between, and lips soon follow, without discrimination. Things get hot. To cool down, they open a few buttons and lower a couple of zippers. Often enough, the undressing has the opposite effect. They get warmer, even blazing hot, and they start a few moves to help each other cope with the situation, until they reach a mutually explosive satisfaction. Unless someone, or something, interrupts them, and then they will try again in the next chapter.

This is the basic plot of my love scene.

Since I usually layer my writing, I go back to check if Hero and Heroine display their emotions. After all, they are flesh and blood characters who live, love and suffer. They need to share their feelings with us. If not, I torture them until they do.

I forgot to mention I always try to choose an interesting setting that would put Hero and Heroine in the right mood. I also add a few sensorial details. The ocean breeze carrying the scent of her perfume. The taste of vodka on his lips. The callousness of his palm against the softness of her skin. Characters have to smell, taste, and feel to be real.

In theory it sounds easy enough. So why did I suffer so much to create my characters’ love scene?

Do you have difficulty writing a love scene? What do you think is essential to bring your love scenes to life?

Available at

What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms?

When forbidden dreams about the sexy French Dr. Yves Malroux assail her at every turn, Mary-Beth puts her wedding plans on hold. The man would probably not even remember the plump nerd she was three years ago before she lost her illusions faster than her pounds. Regardless, to be able to marry her fiancé without reservations, Mary-Beth needs to confront her past and flies to France for a summer training program in surgery with Yves.

But Yves never forgets an organ he removed from a patient or a woman he dated. And he never forgot the pretty student of Harvard Medical School who has turned into a stunning beauty and seems in serious need of coaching about spicing her serious life with some fun and passion.

While too many questions still swirled in her mind, her jealous fiancé summons her back home.

Will Mary-Beth let her heart decide who’s her right man? Will Yves break his no-strings-attached rule to offer love and commitment?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Target Audience – Truth or Fiction? By Rolynn Anderson

I am new to the business of marketing a novel.  LAST RESORT, a thriller/romance, released in the summer of 2011, is my first book to be published, so I have a lot to learn about how to punch up my sales.  I’m conversing in loops, blogging, tweeting and face-booking, but not as much as I should, largely because the big question of how to find my readers has me in ‘stand-by’ mode.  I want to focus my energy on writing my next book, but I’m willing to devote a calculated measure of time and gusto to reach my so-called target audience. 

You see, I’m beginning to wonder if my book has a specific target audience.  Men seem to enjoy my story, as do women.  I had the odd experience of watching a 16 year old boy dive into my novel on a day when my husband and I moored our boat at his family dock.  Conservatives get a kick out of my fun fiction as do liberals.  A 93 year old friend (who rarely reads at all any more), zipped through my book in two days and pronounced it wonderful (even though it had ‘curse’ words).

So I ask you, how much time should I spend searching for my audience?  What methods have you used to identify your reader?  How are you reaching him/her?  Those of you with a broader-than-normal readership, like mine…what have you learned about how and where to sell your books? 

As always, thanks ahead of time to all my author friends for sharing their wealth of knowledge.  I am where I am today because of your encouragement and your expertise!  Rolynn

LAST RESORT on sale now, print & download
Wild Rose Press:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Insanity is thy login name...

Today's blog post is late for a very good reason. I couldn't log into blogger due to having forgotten my login and my password. Only the work of my very tech-savvy husband managed to get me back on.

To put it mildly this made for a frustrating morning.

In my day job I also deal with logins and passwords on a near hourly basis. I'm a support engineer and part of my job is logging onto a customer's system and checking their code. To do this I need an open connection to the system, a valid login name, and a password that is both accurate and hasn't expired. I spend about half my time trying to get onto a system only to have one of the above fail on me. So you would think I would be pretty immune to the crazies when it comes to not being able to access an account.

You would be wrong. I was definitely losing it this morning.

The problem is that Blogger was bought by Google and since I was using the same email address for both when the companies merged I had to pick a new email for Blogger or risk losing access to my existing blogs. This was done but then I forgot which email address I was using for Blogger and the password. Fortunately hubby managed to work through the system to recover that information after trying my various emails. Oh, and finding the reset password emails in my spam filter.

The root cause of all this is too many logins, too many passwords, and too much info for any even remotely sane person to keep track of. I bet I have logins on at least fifty-plus accounts, each with their own unique password. There is no way to track that number of accounts other than keeping a record somewhere.

I know I can't be the only person feeling frustrated by all this. There has to be a better way to keep track of logins and the like. Anyone have any good ideas?

And if you do, make sure you patent it because you'd make a billion off it.

Oh and just to keep this writing related, Promises To Keep is still selling at a crazy rate on Amazon for $2.99. SF Romance Rules!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Crashing Hearts Release

Crashing Hearts is now released. Here's a little tease with the first few pages.

Chapter 1

Kira Nichols pushed back her hair as the crisp salt air blew it across her face. She walked up the path—her sneakers leaving small impressions in the soft sand—to the cul-de-sac. At the empty lot across from her house, the foundation had been capped over and abandoned for about a year now.

She sprang into a run at the rumble of a sports car arriv- ing at a fast clip. She arrived at the cul-de-sac at the same time the vehicle skidded to a stop. She caught her breath as the lean, ruggedly handsome man exited his vehicle. The smile he flashed her was one she imagined had many women melting at his feet.

Kira squared her shoulders and approached him. Her five foot two inch frame seemed minute compared to his at least six foot stature. She willed herself to appear calm and not give away that her senses had completely left her at the sight of him.

“Grant Rutledge.” He extended his hand to her. His deep voice, like a shot of brandy, was warm and soothing. She swallowed hard, her anger forgotten for a brief second. Then it flared back and she ignored his hand. “Do you have any idea that there are children in this area?” she demanded, planting her hands on her hips.

“My apologies if you felt I was going too fast.” He gave an exaggerated glance around. “There aren’t any children about now.” He smiled that smile again and in spite of her anger, her heart melted. She started with the realization he still had his hand extended in introduction. She tentatively shook his calloused fingers. Tingles shot up her arm and she struggled with not yanking her hand away. Heat flooded her face. She prayed he couldn’t tell.

“Again, I apologize. I hope you wouldn’t think I have no regard for children.”

Kira turned to go. “I just know the type.” She gestured absently at the car. She forced herself to walk slowly towards her house, feeling his eyes on her back. Her mind whirled. She had practically melted at the sound of his voice. Her cheeks reddened at the thought of him watching her walk away—thankful she had stayed in shape.

The solitude of the cul-de-sac was the reason she origi- nally loved this spot. Her house had been the only one in this two-lot area for six years. She hoped the new construction company would be considerate and not disrupt the serenity, and keep working hours to normal business hours, hours when Jared was in preschool.

She thought back to the long hours they kept when they put in the foundation. Jared had been unable to sleep due to the noise and disruption of his routine. Hopefully this time around the noise wouldn’t disturb him. He was just beginning to sleep through the night.

If only she could.

* * * *

Jared ran up the walkway to meet Kira, signing furiously: “Who is that man?”

“That is Grant Rutledge,” she signed back. “He is going to be building the new house, so you will need to stay away from the construction site.”

Jared’s hands and fingers flew in his excitement to know about the new house, and the fast car he saw. “Jared, use your words.” Kira ushered him into the house.

“Car, red.”

“Yes, the car was red, and it’s very fast, so you must stay away from there.” Kira found Barbara’s eyes over Jared’s head, and gave her the “I have so much to tell you” look.

“Time to get ready for the day, Jared,” Barbara interjected.

Jared skipped off to the bedroom happily, and Barbara handed Kira a cup of coffee. “Spill. I saw him. It wasn’t the fast car that made you come into this house so quick.”

Kira, glaring at Barbara over the coffee, walked slowly to the sliding doors overlooking the ocean. “What happened to the quietness of our lives? Why do I feel like it is gone?”

“Is it gone?” Barbara asked. “Or just stirred up a little? I think maybe you’ve been holding onto grief and bitterness for so long that you don’t have any idea how to look objectively at life. Before you say it, I’m heading for the kitchen and not saying another word. Nevertheless, before I go, let me just say out of love for you, Kira, darling, Patrick’s been gone for four years now. You’ve built your life around Jared, and that’s great because Jared needs you. However, there comes a time when you need someone also, someone besides Jared and an old lady like myself.”

“Barb, it’s not like that.”

“Honey, you’ve been holding on for so long, and don’t tell me you’re not angry with Patrick for the way he left the night of the accident. Kira, I’m angry with him. He never should’ve left that way. You had it just as tough as him, if not more, with the crying. He was the father. He should have been here right beside you.”

“Stop! We are not going to rehash that night and we certainly aren’t going to blame Patrick. He’s gone and nothing is going to change that.” Kira looked toward the ocean and for- got about her coffee and Barbara. For a moment she lost track of the here and now and drifted off into the peace of the ocean.

Something caught Kira’s eye, and she turned to see Grant taking measurements, preparing for the construction. Feelings she hadn’t felt in so long flooded her as she watched his dark, wavy hair blow in the breeze. Half sighing, half growling to herself, she turned from the window. Distractions were not what she needed now. There was a routine to follow. For Jared’s sake.


Preorders for your signed print copy of CRASHING HEARTS can be ordered via paypal here for $12.00 each or contact me directly to arrange payment.  Ebook is available on Amazon.  Hope you enjoy the preview.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Do Your Kids Have Ereaders?

The other day, my daughter brought home a note from school. It said this:

Good Evening,

At the start of the school year several families asked if their child can bring in a Nook or Kindle for reading. At that time the answer was no. Over the last week Mr. F and the AR team have revisited that rule. Attached is the eReader policy that XXX Elementary will follow going forward. If you are interested in having your child bring their eReader to school please read over the attached policy, sign and have your child bring in the signed form to me. Once I have the form in hand, I will e-mail you confirmation that I have received the form. After you received that e-mail you may send in the eReader with your son or daughter. Please DO NOT send in the eReader until I have confirmed receipt of your signed policy form.
I wonder if this is happening across the country, if schools are revisiting their policies and if we will see more and more children bringing ereaders to school. I don't want to get into issues of equality and what this means for children who can't afford such devices, though I think it's a worthy topic of discussion. What I want to focus on is the implications this has on young readers and the future of the digital market.

Today's children are very quick to pick up new technology and to adapt it to their needs. I know there are readers out there who don't have an ereader or who feel that nothing can substitute for the feel of a paperback in their hand. Don't expect the next generation to feel the same. Moreover, the popularity of ereaders is likely to encourage more reading which is good news for authors.

According to an August 2011 article in The Atlantic 3,000 young adult novels were published in 1997. By 2009 that number had jumped to 30,000 with sales surpassing $3 billion. The point of this article is that young adult is not simply read by young people anymore. That's true, but consider that this increase also likely reflects growth in the number of young readers. Kids will no longer be carrying one book to school, they'll be carrying an ereader loaded with all their favorites. Expect books and authors to become a hot topic of discussion as they compare favorites and explore new stories.

It's an exciting time to be an author, scary too. But there are more and more opportunities out there to tell a great story. The popularity of ereaders with young people is a positive sign that demand for books will stay strong into the future.

So what do you think will be the effect of ereaders on children and teens? Do your kids or grandkids have ereaders?

Monday, January 9, 2012

A slip of the tongue

A slip of a tongue can provide a funny moment can change your life

A sensual and romantic comedy novel set in France:

What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms?

When forbidden dreams about the sexy French Dr. Yves Malroux assail her at every turn, Mary-Beth puts her wedding plans on hold. The man would probably not even remember the plump nerd she was three years ago before she lost her illusions faster than her pounds. Regardless, to be able to marry her fiancé without reservations, Mary-Beth needs to confront her past and flies to France for a summer training program in surgery with Yves.

But Yves never forgets an organ he removed from a patient or a woman he dated. And he never forgot the pretty student of Harvard Medical School who has turned into a stunning beauty and seems in serious need of coaching about spicing her serious life with some fun and passion.

While too many questions still swirled in her mind, her jealous fiancé summons her back home.

Will Mary-Beth let her heart decide who’s her right man? Will Yves break his no-strings-attached rule to offer love and commitment?


*****Satisfying RomanceBy H. M. Taylor "silvarie" - (England)
This contemporary romance has it all: a strong likeable heroine who has overcome problems that will resonate with many readers, a to-die-for hero, the perfect alpha male, and a fantastic setting in the beautiful French countryside... The secondary characters add depth to the story as they are so well developed and believable. A very satisfying read and perfect to chill out with during the coming holiday season.

*****Unforgettable, By Seniorcitizen - This is a five star plus from Mona Risk. Pulled me in within the first chapter and kept me hooked. And oh, that night in Paris in a heavy rainstorm - I just had to re- read it several times for the sheer pleasure of it. I couldn't have imagined it any better.

*****Be safe or take a chance? By Margaret W. Toussaint - We're all come to this particular crossroads before. Right Name, Wrong Man takes us on a journey through surgeries, clinics, wineries, French chateaus, and Paris. Mary-Beth questions whether duty and obligation are enough for her; sexy Yves wonders if he can truly love again. Emotionally satisfying and great scenery to boot.

****Great Reading, By A. Jardine "Nancy Jardine" (Scotland) - A very enjoyable read. It was a heartwarming story-the separation and then meeting up again of the lovers not a conflagration- more of a slow burn. Mona Risk takes the reader into the environment of the hero, Yves the French Count. What more could Mary-Beth want?

*****I fell in love with Yves, By Linda B. Nightingale The doctor and French count is to-die-for. Couple this with the author's engaging voice and a heroine as well crafted as the hero, and you've got a book that will stay with you. From the first line, this book grabs and keeps your attention. I will re-read Right Name, Wrong Man.

*****A love story fit for the holidays! By Patrice Wilton "Author" (Florida) - I picked up this book recently, and found that I couldn't put it down. It was a sweet, satisfying romance with strong characters and a well written plot. The descriptions are eloquent and make you want to jump on the next plane to France.

*****When you whisper sweet nothings, you gotta use the right name! By Mary M. Barfield "Mary Marvella" Let's say you're in bed with the man you plan to marry and he calls you the wrong name. In this story the heroine does the oops! Talk about her subconscious at work! Ms Risk shares her wonderful characters (a French count) and takes us to exotic places. (Vive la Francais).You won't be able to put this book down and you won't want this one to end.

About the author:
In a past life, Mona Risk was a chemist who mixed solutions, dipped her gloved fingers in dirty waste, and ran complicated equipment in order to declare drinking water safe for consumption.

When her Ph.D. and work in chemistry landed her international contracts to refurbish laboratories, she traveled to more than sixty countries on business or vacation. To relax from her hectic schedule, she avidly read romance novels and mentally plotted her own books. Eventually she left her scientific career to share with her readers the many stories brewing in her head. M. Risk likes to set her stories in the fascinating places she visited— from exotic Belarus, and historical France, to the beaches of Greece, the monuments of Egypt and the mysterious Islands of Seychelles.

“Mona Risk writes heroes with heart, heroines with spunk, in stories and settings that are simply unforgettable.” Roxanne St. Claire, NY Best Selling author.

“Mona Risk knows how to pull a reader into the minds of her well-crafted characters. Her work takes us on a journey be it local or overseas.” Night Owl Reviews.


Books by Mona Risk:
NO MORE LIES 99cents,

TO LOVE A HERO, 99cents,
FRENCH PERIL, 99cents,

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Joanne--Dave Barry's gift guide

Hi everyone,
It's the 8th of the month, and I wanted to share another very funny classic Dave Barry. While visions of the holiday still float in our heads, this is his take on holiday gifts. Enjoy!

"Men, typically, who are busy during the holiday season with responsibilities such as watching the playoffs, manage to get their wives an average total of one gift, which they wrap hastily at the last minute, which is why they do not notice that the wrapping paper says "Happy Birthday!" Sometimes a husband, trying to make his gift output look larger, will wrap the batteries separately. (I have done this.)"

So, is anyone's husband/boyfriend guilty of this?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dare to Dream!

Photo by Frank Wolzein

I thought this photo perfect for new beginnings. The new year is full of possibilities. Take advantage. Dare to dream!

Happy New Year!


Dawn Marie Hamilton dares you to dream. She is a pre-published writer who pens Scottish-inspired fantasy and paranormal romance. Some of her tales are rife with mischief-making faeries, brownies, and other fae creatures. More tormented souls—shape shifters, vampires, and maybe a zombie or two—stalk across the pages of other stories.

You can also visit Dawn Marie at Castles & Guns on January 17 and January 31. And at Celtic Hearts on February 6.

Twitter: @DawnM_Hamilton

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Reluctant Cougar and Self Promotion

The epitome of being a successful author is having your book in the grocery store, especially if it is in a cardboard display in front of the checkout aisles. Everyone who goes to the grocery will see your book. Next time you shop, check out the display. It is only the very well known authors who rate this type of promotion; the rest must self-promote. In fact, it is even in the contract of many small presses that failure to self-promote will result in termination of contract.

Social media, new releases, contests, blogs, interviews, book signings, and a booth at appropriate venues are venues for self-promotion. My first taste was with my book, RELUCTANT COUGAR by Secret Cravings Publishing that came out in November. I did the news releases, social media, website and the book went to two dozen reviewers without a ripple being made in the literary world. Time to try different tactics; I entered RELUCTANT COUGAR in cover contest at

Of course, the contest fell on Christmas week. I begged friends, associates and friends of friends to vote. My daughter, future stepdaughter, and betrothed all begged for votes on their social media pages. I went back and re-asked friends who hadn't voted to vote to garner a third place banner and a free month of advertising.
It is work, but it is far from over. I must get Reluctant Cougar running, before my second book, CUB IN BLUE, comes out in January. To this end, I have a contest for a wonderful 18" strand of pearls, plus Godiva chocolate. Surf over to to enter.

One lucky commenter will win the book. Here’s a short excerpt.

Char considered Ashlee’s words for all of five seconds. “Nope, he wants you. Young guys are going out with older women all the time. Don’t you watch television? Read magazines?” Char surveyed the break room. Spotting the east sector security guard, she motioned him over to the table.

When Ashlee left, she usually made a point of saying goodbye to Darius, the guard, who seemed to be on the shy side. She feared for him since you could never tell what Char might do.

“Darius,” Char started, “we need a younger man’s opinion and thought you’d do. By the way, how old are you?”
“Twenty-eight,” Darius answered, fiddling with the radio on his belt.

“Good.” Char chortled. “Here’s the deal—”

“Char,” Ashlee said, trying to stop her.

Not dissuaded, Char pulled him back into the conversation. “Darius, our friend, Ashlee,” she waved off-handedly at Ashlee as if Darius hasn’t wished her goodnight for the last sixteen months , “has an admirer who is constantly sending her emails, cards, jokes, and such. He does this twice a week. Ashlee thinks he can’t be interested in her because he’s considerably younger. We need your younger man opinion since you’re roughly in the same age range as her possible beau.”

Just hearing Nick called her beau made Ashlee blush, but she stayed quiet, curious to see what Darius thought.

He asked, “How long has he been sending you stuff?

Drawing her brows together, she considered the time. “Six months.”

“Six months. Wow, have to admire the dude. He has tenacity. Any average guy would have given up by now. I bet you’ve done enough to give him hope.” Darius nodded, agreeing with himself.

“You think he’s really interested in me?” Ashlee found the whole concept shocking. No one would mistake her for a Botox-filled Hollywood star chasing younger men.

“Way past interested, I’d almost say obsessed. There’s no reason a guy would keep contacting you if he wasn’t interested in seeing more of you,” Darius explained as if she were a particularly dense child.

“I thought he was being nice,” she explained, ignoring the group stare confirming her dim-wittedness.

“No guy is that nice. He wants to go out with you. Has he ever asked you out?” Darius continued, suddenly a part of the group.

“No, well…” She thought about the awkward phone call they had when she went to help Daniel’s sisters with a yard sale featuring his possessions. “Last time I traveled through his area, he did mention going out for drinks, but as a friend deal.”

Interested in reading more? Cougar is available in ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Bookstrand and Secret Cravings, here's their link: If you read this far, then you deserve the answer to the contest. The move is 9 ½ Weeks. Surf on over to and enter. I extended the contest to February 15th. Good Luck.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Allow yourself to take stock of what you were able to accomplish in 2011. Did you get a contract or have strong sales or conquer a writing flaw? Yay you!

As writers, we'd all like to make a big sale with a fantastic advance and find oursleves on the Best Seller list. Is that goal achievable? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

But to prepare ourselves, I think we need to see how we've grown as writers in 2011. Then evaluate how we can grow stronger as writers in 2012. How can we improve at our craft?

I'm going through the first round of edits with my agent, so improving is at the forefront of my mind right now. Gee, and I thought I'd licked that bad habit of using passive language. I can't seem to get it through my head that to write "was smiling" is passive. I've got my characters "was ______ing" all over the place. Oy! So before I can dream about a big sale and making any kind of best seller list, I've got a lot of work to do.

Obviously, as a new writer, I need to take stock of areas of craft in which I need to improve. I need to keep growing. Someone once said the learning curve of a writer is continual. So true. To be easy on myself, I'm tackling two weak areas this year: passive language use and character development.

That's not to say I won't also make goals. I loved Jill's list from yesterday. We need goals--realistic goals--to keep our writing careers on track. I want to get a contract for the book I'm editing now. I also want to write at least two more books and a novella/short story. Then there's the social media to utilize more effectively. Boy, do I need someone to hold my hand through that fast-moving maze.

Reflect a little before you make your goals' list for 2012. And good luck to you all in achieving them.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 and you

Whether you call them resolutions or goals doesn't matter. It is still what you want to accomplish in the new year. At the end of 2012, assuming the Mayans were wrong and we are still here, what do you want to have achieved?

I started out with a goal of wanting four books published in 2012. One (fingers crossed) to The Wild Rose Press, two more self-published to finish the trilogy of Second Chances, and my zombie romance. But when I looked at the calendar I realized with how much I have finished on each of those stories I was probably only looking at April or May.

Last time I looked, a year had more months then that. LOL So I reset my goals to six books in 2012. For me, that is an ambitious task, but I'm determined that 2012 is the year I take writing seriously and devote hours a day, each day, to the job.

I have other goals, not writing-related that I want to see through in the new year. I want to read more and different genres and to leave reviews for every book I read.

I want to exercise more and get healthy to see many more books published by myself and my friends. I want to eat better and make my husband eat better too. (this may be impossible goal. LOL)

I want to write more letters and send them to our military family members. Mail from home is a gift they love.

I want to be stronger in my convictions and state what I feel without second and third guessing myself with if it is too opinionated.

At the end of 2012, what do you want to look back on and see as your accomplishments?

Jill James
Tempting Adam, now available
Divorce, Interrupted, now available
Someone To Trust, available soon