Sunday, May 27, 2012

At your core...what type of writer are you?

Memorial Day is around the corner, and as I gather with my friends and family, I find myself being asked the same question repeatedly, "What kind of writer are you?"

As authors, we've all had this question asked of us in one way or another.  But, this time, the person asking the question didn't want my canned response, "I write women's fiction."  They wanted more.  Why?  Because telling her I wrote "Women's fiction" didn't mean anything to her.

Her response, "What does that mean?"

So, you see my situation, right?  The way we describe ourselves and/or our writing outside of writing circles...what does it mean?

One of my friends--a writer--once described my writing as "...down home...".

Honestly, I have to admit, I think I sat feeling a little dumb as I tried to think of how I would describe what I write to someone without sounding any dumber than I must have looked.

Unnecessarily, I began to describe the plots of some of my books.

As her eyes began to glaze over, I realized she really wasn't looking for the long answer.  She really just wanted me to keep it short and sweet.  After I ran my published and unpublished works through my brain on some sort of speed review, I came up with the following:

-forgiveness of self or others

These were the elements that seemed to be included in most of my works.  I guess at my core, these themes continue to be repeated in my writing.

I have two new short stories that will soon be released: Derailed and Love All Over Me. Derailed at it's core is about a homeless female veteran, and Love All Over Me is about a woman who lost her husband in an accident, and must move on without him.

When you're sitting around talking to your friends and family, how do you describe your writing?  Can you share your list of ingredients?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sold! A SEAL Wolf Christmas!

Not sure about the title, but Sourcebooks bought A SEAL Wolf Christmas!

It all began with To Tempt the Wolf and Hunter and his wolf pack!

You know how that began. Tessa finds a naked man on her beach. Hey, he's a SEAL...wolf. What can you expect?  Snowstorm coming. What's a woman to do???

Then there's A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing.

And a return to Hunter's pack, only this time with one of his SEAL team members, back at the Oregon coast, Finn Emerson intending to protect Hunter's sister Meara.

Meara catches him before he covers himself with a towel, pretending to be her lover while she's intending to find a mate. And it's NOT going to be him. He's such a devil of a wolfish SEAL hunk.

And now?

I got word last night, talk about TGIF!!! Anna and Bjornolf get their turn!

A SEAL Wolf Christmas (title probably to change)

Navy SEAL Bjornolf Jorgenson and undercover operative Anna Johnson have a rocky beginning at their first meeting all to do with pantyhose and tying her to a bed after some heavy-duty sparring, and him declaring she has mighty fine killer knees. Christmas is coming but thoughts of sugar plum fairies and kissing under the mistletoe isn’t something these two gray werewolves have in mind when they're tasked to be the newlyweds preparing for Christmas while investigating a SEAL’s murder at a Christmas Tree farm.
Neither care about Christmas, sharing gifts, and all the traditions that go along with the season since neither enjoyed the holiday while growing up. But as they battle each other as to what makes for the perfect newly married couple’s first Christmas, they learn that a little Christmas cheer can become so much more, especially if they can take down a SEAL’s killer before they become his next target.
So get ready for more of Bjornolf. Yum. :)  And Anna and her give no quarter attitude!

Today, I'm also signing books at West Waco Library in Waco, Texas, conference room, from 1:30-4.

I'll be giving out book marks also.

And I'm at Discover New Love all month long!

Have a super great Saturday!!!

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality!"

Friday, May 25, 2012

This is when Writing is Fun

What a coincidence of fun: my newest book, Twistered, is out today -- and it's Memorial Day weekend, which is when the book takes place.

I love it when that happens!

This is my Oz book, in which I take the books of L. Frank Baum and I use some of his characters to create my own real-life Oz, in Broomfield, Kansas. There's Jack Tinsley (the Tin Man), Drew Strawn (the Scarecrow), the Wanda W. Wickman (Mina: the Wicked Witch), and of course there's Dorothy, the heroine. I also tossed in the Wickeds motorcycle gang, So-So the cat, Glynnis, the Professor, Leo (Dorothy's best friend) and of course, a Yellow Brick Road!

I hope people have as much fun reading this as I had writing it -- it's fun vacation reading!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How the Phantom of the Opera Heals My Soul

By Paisley Kirkpatrick
I can't explain it. I have no idea how it does it, but Phantom of the Opera has a hold on my soul. Always has and I pray it always does. Sometimes something beautiful and haunting comes into a person's life and changes everything. For me it was seeing this movie and hearing the music. It spoke to me at a time in my life when I was in desperate need to find peace and heal. Seven years later this musical still has a way of reaching into my heart.
Last night my daughter and I attended a showing of the Phantom at our local theater. When they said it was the Phantom movie, I naturally thought it was the one where Gerard Butler played the Phantom, but it wasn't. Instead, we were transported to the Royal Albert Hall in London into one of the seats near the front. It was done so beautifully, I don't think my daughter or I moved for most of the show. Afterwards, Andrew Lloyd Webber came on stage and introduced Sarah Brightman, his lady of the music as he called her. He'd written the original score for her stunningly beautiful voice. She delighted us with a song from the opera. Amazing! Then, he introduced five of the original men who played the Phantom and they sang Music of the Night. What a powerhouse -- it gave me chills to hear their voices melded together. Michael Crawford was there as well, but he only sang about the last 30 seconds. He'd just rushed across town to be there. Can I say this was one fantastic birthday gift? I walked out of the place in was great.
Tomorrow night we go to see the new sequel to Phantom of the Opera entitled Love Never Dies. If it is anything like what we saw last night, it will be another great gift.
Why do I find this opera imbedded in my soul? Several years ago my older daughter took me to the Curran Theatre in San Francisco to see the Phantom on my birthday. It is one of my fondest memories with her. We actually waited in the alley and got to meet the cast. When the actor who played the Phantom came out he told my daughter she was wonderful to take her Mother to the theatre for her birthday. Later we found out he played the son of Michael Corleone in the Godfather Three movie.
When I needed a lift from a deep dark hole in my life, I was given the Phantom DVD for Christmas. For some unexplainable reason, the music, the actor, just everything, seeped into my soul and filled the cracks and plugged the potholes. I stepped back into living again and started smiling.
Now, here it is on my birthday again sort of closing the circle. Amazing, unexplainable, but a blessing for me for all time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Ten Commandments

Someone said that creating a good book is ten percent writing and ninety-percent editing. These statistics may or may not be true.  While I try to write my first draft as fast as I can to let the story flow, I certainly spend a lot of time polishing my manuscripts before sending them to an editor. Let me pass on to you the ten commandments I learned from editors, successful authors, mentors or workshop instructors:
1-Hook your reader with your best first sentence, first paragraph, first page. (Mary Buckham)
2-Leave your reader in suspense with a grabbing hook at the end of each scene and each chapter. ( Mary Buckham again)
3-Avoid introspection in the first three chapters or first fifty pages. (Donald Maass)
4-Stay in the present. I still hear the late and wonderful Kate Duffy repeating: “Stay in the present. Don’t tell me the back story of your characters. Let us discover it through their actions as the story develops.”
5-Show, don’t tell. A reviewer made my day when he posted a review of my sweet and spicy, medical romance, BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, on Harlequin website. He wrote: “Babies in the Bargain” could serve as an object lesson on how to ‘show’ and not ‘tell’ a story. You always know exactly what the characters are feeling, indeed, for the most part you 'feel' along with them. It’s a great read.
6-Change setting when you change scenes to avoid boring the reader. Change POV to better show the emotion.
7-Pepper your dialogue with emotion.
8-Add sensorial details that make us feel, see, hear, smell with the hero and heroine.
9-Show the emotional development. (From an editor at Mills& Boon) You should see a definite increase of attraction from scene to scene until the love scene fall in place.    
10-Raise the stakes. (Donald Mass)
    Here is an extra and most important commandment: Create lovable characters. If your characters are weak or do not appeal to the reader, the reader will not connect with them and the best plot will fall apart. I received a very nice praise from NY bestselling author Roxanne St. Claire that I used on my bookmarks: “Mona Risk writes heroes with heart, heroines with spunk, in stories and settings that are simply unforgettable.” I am sure this praise can apply to many of you authors with wonderful books.  

And here are famous quotes by famous writers:

 All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary - it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences~~Somerset Maugham.

The secret of becoming a writer is to write, write and keep on writing~~
Ken MacLeod

We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to~~
Somerset Maugham

The greatest rules of dramatic writing are conflict, conflict and conflict~~
James Frey

All my ebooks are available at Amazon for $0.99

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Love Darts and Escargot, Anyone?

I spent thirty-four of my education career years in Seattle, Washington.  Think rain and green.  Slugs proliferate in Washington, the ugliest slow-crawlers in the world, naked (without shells) and squishy underfoot.  They come in every color, large and small, some solid and some spotted. 

When we moved to California’s Central Coast, I had no idea that the slugs would follow us in a different form.  Sure enough, we have slugs here in CA, but they travel in their home shells, neatly covered so they look less naked.  Clothed.  Contained.  Proper.  And, guess what…edible! The typical California snail, the Helix is the type genus of the family Helicidae. The best-known species include Helix aspersa, the common, or brown garden snail, which is edible, and Helix pomatia, the Roman snail or Burgundy snail, also edible.
Yes, snail protein abounds in CA.  As I type this blog message I’m gazing at my orange tree, aware that hundreds of edible snails are crawling around on its leaves.  In fact, we Central Coasters agree that we’ve never witnessed snails in such huge numbers as we’ve seen this year.
Now, my husband loves escargot, so he could live off the little guys for some time.  Me?  Not so much.  The butter and the garlic they’re bathed in isn’t bad, but the rubbery texture of escargot puts me off. 
Typical romance writer that I am, the sex life of an edible snail does interest me. Not only are snails bisexual, but they throw love darts at each other.  They are reproducing like mad in my garden (love darts shooting everywhere!) and slowly chomping away at my orange tree.  Anybody want a truckload of edible snails?  Rolynn

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

Monday, May 14, 2012


Last year's Mother's Day was a little too soon to talk about this, but it's been well over a year since my mom's death. In that period there has been a number of developments. I've concluded the disposition of her estate, the family has had time to absorb the extent of her loss, and we are pulling together even closer than we were before.

One nice thing about Facebook is that it allows a glimpse into the lives of the younger generation of family members. I'm enjoying watching them and occasionally participating in their fun. This year they were the ones who started a virtual toast to their grandmother's memory. One of those who participated in this toast was my niece Kim, who just graduated from law school today, one of the many high achievers in my family. I'm very proud of her and I know Mom would have been too.

Part of the legacy in the title of this post is that at least two people in the family have dedicated work to my mom in the last year. My daughter, Liz Shannon Miller, wrote a lovely play about a romance writing mom and her would-be writer daughter, naming both characters after my mom. I think she used some of the loss she felt over her grandmother's death in the play, although she had that deft humorous touch that I love in her writing.

I've dedicated my next Gaian book, Beloved Stranger, to my mom, partially because she enjoyed my not-quite-so-sexy material best and the Gaian series is more sensual than erotic. That book isn't out until August, although I did have an erotic vampire/werewolf story, Shanghaied come out last Friday. 

Mom enjoyed the fact I wrote novels, even if they weren't always to her taste.

I think her favorite book of mine was Christmas With Sarah, a straight contemporary book about a man who'd dropped out of life after his wife's death, but then fell in love with an artist working as a waitress. The original title of this book was "A Man With A Purpose" because the plot revolved around the heroine encouraging the hero to get back to the work he was so good at, reorganizing small software companies so that they survive hard economic times.

One of the things I learned from my mom was that people should have purpose in this life, that it wasn't enough to drift along like a jellyfish. We need goals and accomplishments, regardless of who we are. She raised four daughters, and was involved in the lives of the nine grandchildren and the one great-grandchild that followed. 

What my family accomplishes is part of Mom's legacy. And that's a good thing.

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr

Friday, May 11, 2012

Blog Tour or Bust!

     Most published authors have done some kind of blog tour, myself included. It usually takes a lot of work, contacting various bloggers and fellow authors to see if they have room to host you, and then writing your posts and hoping that someone shows up to read them. It's something of a crap shoot, honestly.
     I'm not saying I've discovered the magic answer. But, I am trying something different. I decided this time around to have someone handle the tour for me. In other words, I contracted with someone to arrange for me to hit a certain number of spots, which also include several reviews. The key for me was the reviews. If I can pick up several reviews from this tour, then I will consider it money well spent. Even if it doesn't pan out, it's been a learning experience and that's positive as well.
     For this tour, I hooked up with Innovative Online Book Tours. They've been fantastic so far, very responsive and very proactive. It's been a pleasure working with Vickie and Shauni,
     Although I have a really busy schedule (see below), it turned out to be a mix of interview, blog posts, and just excerpts and blurbs. In other words, I did not have to write a gazillion guest blog posts or give away tons of books at every stop.
     I'm hopeful that this blog tour will lead to more sales. It's what every author hopes for. I won't know for a few months if this investment was worth it, but I'm crossing my fingers that it is. Just looking at the list of promo places makes me giddy with the possibilities. ( :
    And today, I just saw my first review and it's a total thumbs up!!! From bodicerippers the reviewer had this to say:
Shadow Visions is the second book in the Shadow Warriors series by Gabriella Hewitt. It is a wonderful original story that is refreshing to read. Ixa is spunky and funny, while Manuel is sexy and stern. A nice easy read that wraps up the story flawlessly. If you are looking for a book that has a story unlike any you have read but still gives you the happily ever after that we all want and love, this is the book for you.
     If you want to check out the blog tour for my second Shadow Warrior novella SHADOW VISIONS, you can join me at any of these blog stops:

Click here for the links:

May 6th I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read!
May 7th A Soul Unsung
May 8th Killer Fiction
May 10th Ramblings of an Amateur Writer
May 11th Simply Ali
May 16th Bodice Rippers, Femme Fatales and Fantasy
May 18th Tea and Book Guest Blog
May 21st I Just Wanna Site Here and Read
May 25th Books Reviewed by Bunny
May 25th Sapphyria’s Steamy Book Reviews
May 29th Wonderland Reviews
May 29th Reviews by Molly
May 31st Adventures of a Frugal Mom
May 31st Good Choice Reading

June 5th Journey with Words
June 5th Understanding Shae’s Story
June 7th Ramblings from this Chick
June 7th Reviews by Molly Guest Blog
June 11th Storm Goddess Book Reviews
June 11th Wickedly Bookish
June 13th Miraculous
June 13th Fictional Candy
June 13th Adventures of a Frugal Mom
June 16th A Soul Unsung
June 16th Indie Writers Review
June 16th Wickedly Bookish

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Joanne shares Dave Barry: "Should a Woman be Mysterious?"

Hi Everyone, It's the 8th of the month, and time for me to share another hilarious Dave Barry excerpt. This one is about women and mystery. Hope you enjoy a chuckle and please leave a comment: "After my wife's knee operation, the surgeon had good news and bad news. The god news was that the operation went fine. The bad news was that he had taken color Polaroid photographs of the inside of her knee. Suddenly, with no advance warning, he was thrusting these at me, right there in the waiting room. "And THIS," he was saying quite enthusiastically, like a man showing pictures of his trip to Yellowstone, "is her ligament stump." I don't know about you, but I think there should be a certain amount of mystery about a woman." Me again: Does this sound like your husband/significant other? How is his bedside manner?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Write What You Know

By Dawn Marie Hamilton

Write what you know. How many times have you heard that bit of advice?

I write Scottish inspired fantasy and paranormal romance. Knowledge of Scottish history is easily acquired by reading. Time travel, magic, fae creatures and shapeshifting vampires—not exactly subjects learned during a lengthy corporate career. Research helps, but imagination plays a larger role in creating fantasy and paranormal elements.

How do you persuade readers to suspend long-held beliefs and accept the fantastical?

It's all in the worldbuilding…and the details. The details are where real life is inserted.

Having been a County Cooperative Extension master gardener, I know a wee bit about gardening. Gardens are where magic happens in our busy world of today. So I incorporate gardens into my stories. Sometimes in a large way, where the characters are gardeners. Other times in a small way by incorporating gardens into the setting.

At the cottage, Laurie offered them a nightcap, pouring each a glass of port. They wandered into the garden to enjoy the beautiful evening.

"Do you feel the magic in the air?" Caitrina asked.

Douglas peered at the moonlit sky and chuckled. "Aye, lass. Strong magic."

An uneasy sensation crept through Laurie as she glanced around.

Caitrina grasped her hand. "Come. I want to show you the foxglove we planted. They flowered."

Walking with Caitrina to the back gate, Laurie sensed something strange. She frowned when she smelled a familiar exotic fragrance on Caitrina. "What the hell?"

A tinkling sound confirmed her fear.

The gate swung open.

He [her dream lover] stood just beyond the garden gate.

Her pulse raced. Yanking her hand away from Caitrina, she stepped back in panic.

Caitrina pushed her forward through the gate. Terror forced the air from Laurie's lungs.

Nothing held her back, no barrier. She fell forward over a precipice into a swirling fog, down...down...down through a tunnel. The walls spun and she plunged downward, faster and faster, toward a blinding, bright light that continued to move out of reach.

Sucked through an opening into the white brilliance, she choked on the scream in her throat, cringing against the intense noise assaulting her ears.

She spun, or everything around her was spinning, she wasn't sure which. Her sensitized skin tingled as if touched by an electric charge. Then, the bright, white light exploded into a million fragments of brilliant color, a dazzling kaleidoscope, and she was falling again.

Down...down...down, the speed of her descent increased. Water flowed below her, a stream. She plummeted toward it. Bracing herself, she thought she'd crash into the rushing water, only to propel across it. She hit the ground hard and saw nothing more.

…excerpt from Just Beyond the Garden Gate, an unedited Garden Gate manuscript.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I like flowers with  a strong bouquet, or smell. Lilacs, lily of the valley, hyacinths and peonies, to name a few. Peonies are a common flower in South-Central Pennsylvania where I grew up. What I remember most, next to their delicious smell, were the ants. The buds seemed to attract large ants who slowly crawled over them as if it were their job to open every bud on the bush.

What was the ants' purpose? They were only present during the time the blossoms opened. 99% of the time, the flower held no attraction for the insects. So why did they come?
The Heartland Peony Society says this is a natural and temporary activity. It is believed that peonies produce small amounts of nectar and other ant attractants to encourage ants to help in opening the dense double flower buds found in many peonies. Once the buds have opened, the ants disappear.

If only our self-doubts were the same way. They come to us like those pesky ants on the peonies and crawl over our dreams and ambitions. What if I can't finish this book? What if I can't get a contract? What if I can't sell any books? What if the book I just published is the only one I'll ever be able to write? Oh, yes, the creepy-crawly sensations of self-doubt.

I remember shortly after signing my first book contract, Ms. Self-Doubt knocked at my front door with a three-piece set of luggage. She sashayed into my home as if she were my honored guest. "Oh, I'm here, my poor dah-ling." She breezed air-kisses off my cheeks. "I know you're thrilled with your little contract, but I've come to help you accept Storm's Interlude was the only book you'll ever be able to write."

I kicked her out to the curb--her AND her three-piece set of luggage. I can joke about it now, but at the time I really struggled with self-doubt. And, if truth were told, I still do. I suppose it's odd for me to say that with three more projects under contract. Still, my debut book has garnered some lovely reviews. What if the next ones don't? What if a reviewer says a subsequent book didn't live up to the promise of the first? Could happen, right?

I think all artistic people struggle with inner fears and nagging self-doubts. They are the ants of our creative flowers. Only by facing them can we overcome. Keep working. Keep writing. Keep moving your artistic career forward. Work through those self-doubts. Send those ants on their way.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May is Blooming

Not in my garden! I have a black thumb. Nothing I plant grows. I always tell my kids they are lucky they survived childhood because everything I try to grow; dies. :)

No, my writing and producing books is blooming. I have two self-published books out, one out in a couple of weeks, and the paranormal romantic suspense, the book of my heart will be out by month's end. Dangerous Shift is the story I always wanted to write when I decided to pursue writing as a career. It is hot and sexy, scary and dangerous, and totally out of the box according to my husband. LOL After that I will start plotting a new series about a single mommies club and my zombie romance.

So, by the end of May I will have two more books on my virtual shelf, with more coming soon. These days I feel like I have a barren lawn and the little sprouts are popping up here and there, the green so noticible among the brown, more of them every day. Not a green, sweeping fairway, but the promise of one.

I'm very much a creature of seasons. Winter and I are not friends. I read alot, not write alot. I hibernate until spring arrives with warmer weather and pretty flowers and blooming trees. This year I feel like I might have the growing thumb after all, only for books and stories, not plants and trees.

Is there a time of year that your writing blooms?

Jill James, author of Tempting Adam and The Second Chances series at Amazon and