Monday, July 25, 2016

When Writers Write Too Much

Patricia Johns

I've recently submitted a completed manuscript to my Western Romance editor, and I'm wiped! It's a good feeling, this exhaustion. It means I used my time wisely. Not a wasted minute! Well... a few wasted minutes on Facebook, but I'm only human. ;)

When I'm brain dead after a completed project, there are a few things I do as I readjust to the real world:

1. Watch Netflix, which isn't exactly the real world, but it is a great stress buster.

2. Remind my friends that I'm still alive and make a few social plans. I tend to stay closeted away while I'm poring over a manuscript, so my friends wait until I emerge. They're so nice.

3. Cook. It's a good idea to refill the freezer for my next lengthy writing binge. When I write and cook at the same time, I burn food. Apparently, my multi-tasking isn't as great as I imagine.

So now that I've come up blinking to the surface again, I will leave you with a picture of my son at the beach, enjoying a little bit of the summer after all!


Patricia Bradley


Like Patricia J, I just turned in a book— a romantic suspense that weighed in at 92,000 words in 3 months and I’m dame bread. Brain dead. Three months of getting up a five a.m. and writing (or staring at the computer, anyway) for eight to ten hours a day. And as always, I put on five pounds. :-/ So the first thing I did was bake a cake. You know, one last hurrah before I starve myself until the five pounds are gone.

Then I did…NOTHING. The first day after I turned the book in, I got up at six-thirty and spent TWO hours on my deck, drinking coffee and doing nothing at all. Well, maybe I did catch up on my Facebook posts. Then I had a leisurely lunch and at four-thirty I went to a Pilates class. And that weekend, I went shopping! It felt so strange to have the time to actually go into a store and take the time to look at the sales racks and to even try clothes on.

And then, this week I went to meet my great-niece in Chattanooga. Kinley Bryn was born June 13, and because of the deadline, I couldn’t go see her. She is such a cutie. 


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sit Down Saturday with Amy Vastine


Today we’re celebrating the July release of The Girl He Used to Love


So, Amy, where did you get the idea for this novel?


I watched a few episodes of the show Nashville, and the series is loosely based on the idea of that show. I love music and am inspired by it all the time. I also have a thing for guys who play guitar, so it seemed like the perfect idea to write about a record company. The show Nashville also has tons of drama, meaning I thought it would be easy to come up with some high stakes and tension!

What is your favorite scene?


My favorite scene is probably when Dean and Faith dance at the church picnic. Dean has a hard time watching other guys hit on the girl he used to love and cuts in. They both care about one another so much but are afraid of expressing any of it. Here's a little bit ....

“I didn’t need you to step in,” she insisted. “Ty isn’t like Charles.”

“Good to know,” he replied without loosening his hold on her.

This close, his eyes reminded her of green glass. If she looked hard enough, maybe she could see into his head and figure out what he was thinking.

Sawyer hadn’t started the next song; he was busy taking requests. There was no reason for Dean to be holding her the way he was, but she couldn’t find it in her to step away and wait for the music.

“Thank you for telling me to stay.” His words sank right into her heart and made it swell.

“You’re welcome.” Faith tried her best not to think about the way he held her hand or the small sliver of space that separated her body from his. She didn’t dare dwell on the rapid beating of her heart.

“Addison would have ditched this picnic a long time ago.”

Faith smiled, knowing he was right. “She’d be spending a day like this by the lake, working on her tan.”

Dean nodded in agreement just as Sawyer and his band found one last song to play.

He started strumming his guitar, slow and serious. The melody took shape and Faith realized it was “Amazing Grace.” Once he began singing, it took everything Faith had not to cry.

Slowly, with his eyes never leaving hers, Dean led her in a dance. It was as if everyone else at the picnic disappeared, her brother’s voice the only sound in the world. Faith felt Addison’s presence in that moment. Observing. Listening. Forgiving? Faith couldn’t be sure. All she knew was that she hoped Dean felt it, too.



If you could pick actors to play the hero and heroine, who would they be?


I actually asked people who follow my Facebook page to choose between Taylor Kitsch and Chris Hemsworth when I was writing the story. Chris won by a bit of a landslide, so Dean became a blond instead of a brunette!
I also had them choose between Minka Kelly and Leighton Meester for Faith. I think the girls look so similar that it was pretty much tied. I would pick Minka if you made me choose!

What music would match the mood of this novel?


To get in the country mood, I listened to a lot of Country Hits on Spotify while writing this book and the second one in this series, Catch a Fallen Star, coming out in December. I think since it's set outside of Nashville on a horse farm, you gotta think country.

This is your 5th Heartwarming book. Exactly what does that mean to you?
I am so excited about this milestone! I never expected to write one book, let alone five. The support I have received from readers and from the editors over at Harlequin has been incredible. I am so grateful to have to opportunity to use writing as a creative outlet. I hope there are five more in me!



What do you plan to work on next?
The second book in the series is done and I can't wait. I will hopefully be continuing the series for many more books. Faith's brother, Sawyer, definitely needs a story! I am also working on a Christmas novella for A Heartwarming Christmas coming out in October. My story is called Peace, Love, and Baby Joy. The entire set is ready for preorder for only 99 cents right now - check it out HERE!

****ANNOUNCEMENT****
Winner of the giveaway posted on July 13th is Britney Adams! Congratulations, Britney. Please send your info to amy@amyvastine.com and I will send you that book.

Amy Vastine has been plotting stories in her head for as long as she can remember. An eternal optimist, she studied social work, hoping to teach others how to find their silver lining. Now, she enjoys creating happily ever afters for all to read. This USA Today bestselling author lives outside Chicago with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, three fun-loving children, and their sweet but mischievous puppy dog.

Visit her all over the web:
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Friday, July 22, 2016

Words to live and love by


Good morning, all!

Am taking the coward's way out today because, like Sophia, I hadn't realized this was a five Friday month, and was thinking about what to do for next week.  Then I really looked at the calendar.
But hearing from the world's brilliant people is more fun than 'listening' to me, anyway.

Got the idea for this blog because I was checking out the Wayfair website (One of my favorite distractions - have never ordered anything, but it all looks so cool!)  And there was a wall hanging with this quote from Coco Chanel - KEEP YOUR HEELS,  HEAD,  AND STANDARDS HIGH.
I love it!  So, went looking for other quotes we don't run across all the time.  It seemed appropriate to us to quote from the subject of love.

YOU CAN'T BLAME GRAVITY FOR FALLING IN LOVE - Albert Eistein

LET US ALWAYS MEET EACH OTHER WITH A SMILE, FOR THE SMILE IS THE BEGINNING OF LOVE - Mother Teresa

SPREAD LOVE EVERYWHERE YOU GO.  LET NO ONE EVER COME TO YOU WITHOUT LEAVING HAPPIER - Mother Teresa

I HAVE DECIDED TO STICK WITH LOVE.  HATE IS TOO GREAT A BURDEN TO BEAR - Martin Luther King

LOVE IS SMOKE MADE WITH THE FUME OF SIGHS - William Shakespeare

TO LOVE AND BE LOVED IS TO FEEL THE SUN FROM BOTH SIDES David Viscott

BEING DEEPLY LOVED BY SOMEONE GIVES YOU STRENGTH, WHILE LOVING SOMEONE DEEPLY GIVES YOU COURAGE - Lao Tzu

LOVE IS A SINGLE SOUL INHABITING TWO BODIES - Aristotle

AND JUST BECAUSE WE NEED SOME LAUGHS . . .

A WOMAN'S MIND IF CLEANER THAN A MAN'S: SHE CHANGES IT MORE OFTEN
- Oliver Herford

A DAY WITHOUT SUNSHINE IS LIKE, YOU KNOW, NIGHT - Steve Martin

I BELIEVE THAT IF LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, YOU SHOULD MAKE LEMONADE . . . AND TRY TO FIND SOMEBODY WHOSE LIFE HAS GIVEN THEM VODKA, AND HAVE A PARTY  - Ron White

GO TO HEAVEN FOR THE CLIMATE, HELL FOR THE COMPANY - Mark Twain

AND IF WE LET THE FOLLOWING HAPPEN, WE'D ALL BE UNEMPLOYED . . .

I LOVE DEADLINES.  I LIKE THE WHOOSHING SOUND THEY MAKE AS THEY FLY BY - Douglas Adams

Hadn't heard that quote from Shakespeare before.  The man did have a way with words.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and that you'll think of brilliant observations so that one day, the world will be quoting you!



Thursday, July 21, 2016

Process and place

Liz Flaherty

Helen suggested we talk about writing process this month. Or maybe our special places to write. Since…ahem…I don’t actually have a process, I opted for places to write. (Let me add here that if anyone knows of a good place for me to find a process, I'm all ears.)
My favorite is my desk in my office. When the college professor my son worked with retired, he gave Jock his desk. Since they were moving anyway and Jock didn’t have anywhere to put it, he asked if I’d store the big oak teacher’s desk. I said sure. For a while. And now I say he can have it when I die, because it’s not going anywhere until then. It sits by the windows in my office and I have an uninterrupted view of the fields and woods to the west. I’m a country girl—it doesn’t get better than that.
Unless I’m at another son and daughter-in-law’s house in North Carolina, when I sit in the breakfast nook with my laptop before anyone else is up. It’s just a cup of tea, me, and the Blue Ridge. If this doesn’t ignite the fire in your writer’s heart, then your wood’s wet.

One time, years ago, I had edits to do—a horrifying number of them, as a matter of fact; I think I had to rewrite the book—and I was pretty much stuck. The longer I worried about it—and looked at the calendar because I didn’t have very long and the time was flying by—the more stuck I got. We were going away for the weekend and I ended up in the dining room in a Hampton Inn at something like four in the morning doing edits. I don’t remember where we were. I only know I worked there all morning, ignoring the filling-up and emptying-out of the room and drinking cup after cup of coffee. And being gloriously unstuck. So it has become a semi-tradition that when I have edits—especially if they’re heavy—the Flahertys end up in a motel or a state park lodge for a weekend.

Where’s your favorite place to work? Or, even better—in case I need to borrow it—your favorite way to get unstuck?

Helen DePrima

I wish I had a favorite place to write – maybe I’d be more organized and productive. My best location is anywhere I won’t be disturbed by the phone or my husband or the dog wanting to go out or come in. A big leather recliner in the family room works well for me except that my Maine Coon cat likes to participate in the process; try typing with a large bundle of fur in your lap. I’ve worked in hotel rooms, on ferries and in parking garages – I rarely leave the house without my beloved laptop.


As far as method, I’ve heard there are two kinds of writers: organized and organic. Since no one’s ever accused me of being organized, I guess I fall into the organic camp. I once attended a writers’ workshop where the presenter taped a long sheet of butcher’s paper to the wall. She had outlined every chapter, every scene, probably every paragraph. If that were the required method of writing, I’d be dishing up fast food orders instead. The extent of my organization is envisioning my main characters at the beginning of their adventure and following them to jot down how they proceed. I generally have some idea how the story will end, but sometimes not even that is set in stone. In The Bull Rider, my female lead uttered three words entirely without my planning or permission and the whole plot took off cross-country with me in hot pursuit. The resulting excursion greatly enriched the story. Being receptive to unimagined possibilities is my one best writing tool.

I can usually get unstuck with a little exercise – swimming or hiking or even just a quick turn around the patch of trees and brush stretching behind our woodpile. I got hopelessly bogged down recently over the POV in the book I just completed – who should be the lead in a key scene – when it occurred to me to have a third character recount the action after the fact. Problem solved.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Who Tells Your Story by Syndi Powell



I had heard about this hip hop musical about one of America's Founding Fathers, and I became curious to find out what such a combination would sound like. I listened to it once, twice. And then it happened: I became obsessed with the musical "Hamilton: An American Musical" by Lin-Manuel Miranda. He's a gifted storyteller, bringing the story of the man on our ten dollar bill to life. But one line that stood out at the beginning changed the way I looked at the book I'm currently writing: Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?

As writers, we often look to who lives or dies in our stories, but we should also be looking at who is telling the story. Each scene comes from one person's point of view, and if you flipped that it could change how it plays out. After all, two people witness an event, and you'll get two different stories about what happened. The major details may agree, but the little details could change depending on who is telling the story at the time. Similar to the Japanese film, "Rashomon", the truth of what happened depends on who is speaking.

How can we apply this to our writing? Often, we pick whose point of view a particular scene is from by who has the most at stake. But we could add depth to our story by looking at how it would play by changing the POV. Each character comes in the scene with a particular agenda, hoping to steer the story based on that. If my hero wants to convince the heroine that they need to take their relationship to the next level, then he will manipulate his dialogue to get the desired outcome. But what if that same scene is from the heroine's point of view who wants to keep the status quo. She will use her dialogue and body language to emphasize the need to stay the same. Depending on whose point of view you choose will determine the words and mood of the scene.

By coming at the same scene from different points of view, I can determine the strongest thread of action. It will also influence the direction of the plot since I tend to write by the seat of my pants rather than by methodically planning. It's brought up some surprises and twists that I hadn't expected. I hope it's also created some depth in the characters since I'm going deeper into what they see, feel, think.

Hamilton believed in the power of words. He used them to create and to destroy. Miranda believes in the power of music and story. And me? I know that we need to find out who lives, who dies, and who tells our story.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Miracles...by T.R. McClure

My first book with Harlequin Heartwarming, Wanted: The Perfect Mom, debuted in June.

Last Friday I sent in the second manuscript for the Home to Bear Meadows series. In Wendy's Story, one of the characters partially recovers from automobile injuries. I wondered if the recovery would be believable to the reader. After all, I'm writing romantic fiction, not science fiction. During the last stages of writing, the phrase "medicine is part science and part miracle" popped into my head. Where did that come from?

Maybe from a story that's been circulating in the local newspapers and television stations here in central Pennsylvania.

Emily Whitehead lives in Philipsburg, PA, a town "just over the mountain" from me. She was diagnosed with standard risk pre-b acute lymphoblastic leukemia when she was five years old. You can find more about her story at www.emilywhitehead.com. After several relapses, she became the first person in the world to try the experimental treatment of genetically modified T-cells, a phase 1 clinical trial at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The first person.

She was in the news because her foundation just hosted the second annual tee off for t-cells golf tournament, the money from which pays for another child to receive the treatment. Her foundation funds researchers to help them find less toxic treatments for pediatric cancer. See www.emilywhiteheadfoundation.org.

Now 11, she and her parents attend fundraising events and speak at conferences to share their story. And she is over three years cancer free.

You don't have to travel far to find a miracle. One might be "just over the mountain".

Medicine is part science and part miracle.
http://emilywhitehead.com/2015/02/emilys-story-on-hbo-vice-special-report-killing-cancer/

Whatever you're reading today, romance, science fiction, or the local news...
Enjoy the read.
T.R. www.trmcclure.com

Monday, July 18, 2016

July Releases, Sweepstakes Winner, RWA in San Diego and More . . . by Kate James

I am thrilled to be sharing a release month with Amy Vastine, Catherine Lanigan and Karen Rock! We had great fun planning the various release-related activities for our readers. One such activity was a preorder sweepstakes.
Congratulations to Stephanie Craig for being our winner!

Currently, we have a joint blog tour underway with TLC Blog Tours. We have 31 exciting stops, with giveaways. You can find the full schedule of stops here.

But that's not all! On July 20th, we will be holding a Facebook party, with special author guests Brenda Novak, Elizabeth Heiter and Roz Denny Fox.

If you haven't registered already, you can do so here. We'd love to see you at the party. Of course, we'll have fun events and lots of giveaways! The prize packs I will be giving away are shown in the picture below...and each author will have their own giveaways, too!
Next, I would like to share some pictures from the RWA 2016 conference in San Diego. It was wonderful seeing good friends and making new ones. A highlight of the event each year is the Harlequin party, and this year didn't disappoint.

Despite the full schedule of events and workshops, we were able to find some time to relax and enjoy beautiful San Diego.

The picture on the bottom rigth is of an inscription on the window of the roof-top lounge at the Hyatt. Isn't it appropriate for Heartwarming authors?!

Those of you who have read any of the books in my K-9 trilogy know that they are set in San Diego. In fact, many of the scenes in When I Found You, my July release, are set at the San Diego airport. Although the airport in the book is fictionalized, I couldn't resist taking some pictures of the actual airport when I arrived.

Perhaps these pictures will help you better visualize some of the settings in the story!

On the topic of When I Found You, I am currently on tour with Prism Book Tours. Although the tour is well underway, you can still visit any of the stops. The schedule of stops can be found here. This is the prize pack up for grabs:
If you attended RWA, what was your favorite moment? If you didn't, what did you do over the weekend? One person leaving a comment will be selected at random to receive a K-9 trilogy T-shirt!
Please check back here (at the end of this post) Tuesday morning for the announcement of the winner (Canada/US only).

In case you are wondering what Harley and Logan were up to while I was in San Diego, they had a blast at their "country club," and made some new friends in the process.
Best wishes and happy reading!

Kate
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And the winners are . . .


Sincere thanks to everyone who visited our blog yesterday and left a comment. For the giveaway, I didn't exclude Heartwarming authors this time because I appreciate all the tremendous support I receive from all of you; however, when the first name I drew happened to be a Heartwarming author, I decided to draw again and give away two T-shirts.

And the winners are:
  • Heartwarming author, Loree Lough; and
  • Pam Jones-Hamblin.

Loree, I have your address. Pam, please send me a personal message on Facebook with your mailing address and shirt size.

Thanks again to everyone who played along!

Best wishes,


Kate
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