Friday, February 28, 2014

A Fond Farewell to Patricia Teal



My agent, Pat Teal of the Patricia Teal Literary Agency, died shortly after 3:00 a.m. on Valentine's Day.  How appropriate for an agent who dealt primarily in romance.  I am brokenhearted.

Pat and I first connected in 1985.  I had just completed my third book for American Romance, who wanted me to change everything.  I didn't want to.  My first book had been the best-selling American for 1983, and my second one wasn't doing too badly.  I thought if I found an agent, she'd sell it for me the way it was.  I sent her the ms., then she called to tell me to remember that the publisher, in the person of my editor, wanted only what was best for the book, just as I did, and I should trust them to know what they were doing.  So much for ego.  We agreed to work together, I changed the book, and she sold it promptly.

That began a working relationship that lasted until her sudden last chapter.  She complained of a pain in her hip, finally admitted herself to the hospital in the middle of the night when she began to have trouble breathing.  Her family said her heart began a downward spiral and she was gone in a day and a half.  I think she was 85. I can't believe she'll never call me again at 6 a.m. to tell me I've made a sale.  Marie Ferrarella, also her client  and one of our Heartwarming sisters, says she's sure we can stay in touch with her if we could just get her heavenly email address.

Pat lived in Fullerton, California, just a few miles from where my husband's family lived.  Every couple of years when we visited, Pat took us to The Cat and the Custard Cup for lunch - an elegant, gastronomic experience!  She drove a brown Corvette Stingray with a vanity plate that read, QUERY.  One of my fondest memories of her was of riding together to an RWA meeting in another county, flying down the freeway at some outrageous speed, while she talked and laughed the entire time, turning to me occasionally to make a point or judge my reaction.  I recall looking out my window and all I could see were the giant wheels of a semi.  I grew up in an L.A. suburb, but had lived in small-town Oregon for ten years by that time and was terrified of the traffic.  But she was queen of the freeway-fighters, dodging in an out of freight traffic while she talked.

She shared a story with me about having to tell one of her male authors that he'd been rejected.  Pat received flowers the next day with a card that said, "Ha!  I laugh in the face of rejection."  I loved that, particularly since my response to rejection is to pout.

We worked together until about 2004 when my career stalled and I went to work for an accounting office. We kept in touch for the next eight years through cards and phone calls.  I remained on her author list at Christmas time and received my yearly box of See's Chocolates.  I'll be forever grateful for that.

When  Victoria called in 2012 and invited me to submit a proposal for Heartwarming, I was beside myself with excitement.  Pat was the first call I made.  She was as excited as I was. When I sold the proposal, she sent me a bouquet of sunflowers and a card that said, "They're playing our song again!"  She was like a big sister and a good friend rolled into one sunny, supportive person.  I can't tell you how much I'm going to miss her.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Imagining Paris by Cerella Sechrist


Patisserie in Disney Epcot's France pavilion

With only a few days until the release of my second Heartwarming novel, The Paris Connection, I found myself on vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida and knew I had to make a stop at the France pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase. If you all are the type to read the dedication and acknowledgments in the front of a book, you'll know that my sister, Carissa, is a die-hard Francophile and was a tremendous help when it came to researching the book. She was right beside me on my day's visit to Epcot.

Together, we drooled over a variety of French pastries in the patisserie, where I chose a delicious confection similar to a croissant but layered with a sweet and nutty almond filling. Carissa chose a rich, whipped cream dessert with a variety of berries folded in. The rest of our group chose other, delicious items, and for a moment, clustered together at a table with French signs and facades all around us, we were able to experience a fun imitation of Paris.

Since I've never had the opportunity to visit the City of Light, I employed my writer's imagination to picture my hero and heroine, Cole and Emma, at a nearby table, heads bent close over a cup of cafe au lait.

Next year, I'm hoping to take my first-ever trip to France, and when I do, I’ll appreciate it all the more for the research that went into telling Cole’s story – a story I never expected to write in the first place until the editors at Heartwarming said they’d love to read more about Cole and see him in Paris.

But until I’m actually walking along the Champ de Mars, I figure a French pastry in Disney’s Epcot is the next best thing – because as all readers know, your imagination takes you places you might never visit otherwise. And that’s the next best thing to being there.

If you’d like to experience a taste of Paris, travel virtually with me during my upcoming blog tour to promote the release of The Paris Connection. I’ll be giving away several prize packages with Parisian themes, including a Bon Appetit! giveaway featuring food items imported from France that I picked up while visiting Disney’s Epcot. For more details, check in to begin your journey on Sunday, March 2 at Seasons of Humility. I’d love to have you travel with me through Paris!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Is evoking one emotional response better than another?

In the past, I have primarily aimed to write humorous, lighter stories that evoke happiness and 'ahhh' moments in readers, not that I'm particularly hilarious as my family and friends can attest to as they roll their eyes at my lame attempts at jokes, but because I believe that evoking happiness in a reader is just as important as making them cry or lash out lol. (BTW-I do realize what an incredibly long run on sentence that was-I'm known for those as well.)

Having said that, I tried something a little different with my current release, What A Girl Wants and it worked...I think. I mean, I hope it's a good thing. I went for anger in readers with the last portion of the book, right before the HEA. I created an antagonist that readers were not supposed to like and believe me they've been vocal about their hatred of Emily. (One fan said that if Emily gets her own book in the series, she refuses to read it lol). I said of course she wouldn't get her own book-ahem-at least not now anyway. :) But, I also took a chance on my hero and like I expected he is meeting with mixed emotions (a far cry to the war raging over Luke Dawson in book one).  Ethan does the right thing in this book, even if it means breaking his own heart and the woman he loves-Bailey, and while I know that's not in typical romance style, I can't help but love him for it. For being that good guy-I'm a sucker for the good guy:)

Either way, it was fun to try something different. In my next two releases-I attempt to make readers cry...I certainly did while writing the stories, and I hope it works.

But, after receiving feedback on both of these books-it made me wonder if evoking one emotion in a reader is better than another and I don't think so...I think readers want to feel it all or at least feel something and if I can achieve that in my books, I'll call it a success.

xo
Jen

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Did you watch the stories unfold in Sochi?




Were you watching when the fanfare started and the athletes from all over the world come together to compete in the Winter Games in Sochi? For me, it isn't the athletic performances themselves that draw me in, it's the stories behind the stories, the individual journeys that led these competitors to a worldwide stage. I remember watching Apolo Anton Ohno's amazing story unfold over the years. His career faltered, sputtered and nearly died until his single parent father took him to a remote cabin and left him, still a teen, to decide if he wanted to compete or quit. Fortunately for the sport and fans, he decided to grit it out and went on to become the most decorated winter athlete of all time.

Going further back in time, I remember watching speed skater Dan Jansen's heartbreaking ups and downs. At the Calgary Olympics, he was the favorite, but his sister died just hours before his race and he failed to finish any of his heats. Four years later in Albertville, he stumbled and again, did not medal. At the 1994 games in Norway, it seemed he was doomed to fail once more. Another stumble and he was out of his best race, the 500 meters. His last race was the 1000 meters and I remember gasping aloud when he staggered, but this time, he recovered and won, earning a gold medal and carrying his daughter Jane, named after his late sister, for the victory lap. You couldn't write a better ending to his story.

 Like most Americans, I remember stories like Jansen's and Ohno's not because of their speed or skill, but because their triumphs underscore the amazing power of the human spirit. Did I watch this year? Absolutely!

Who are some Olympians that stood out for you in the Sochi games? What about them did you find appealing?


Monday, February 24, 2014

What's Your Pleasure? by Anna Adams

When you’re walking through a bookstore, what stops you? Which are the covers you can’t resist?

Snow? That’s probably not a wise question in this hemisphere right now, but I’m addicted to winter weather. I’d live in Iceland if my family would come with me. Snow, on a dusky night, trees, towering, tufted in snow. More flakes drifting down. I’m drawn to that cover, and I want to know about the story.

History. Show me a woman wearing a medieval hood, as if she were maybe Elizabeth of York? Not only do I need that—I’m reading Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir right now. Normally, I deliberate and sample a book, but combine one of my favorite authors with one of my favorite subjects? That was a one-click.

Sun, shining through greenery? A woman making a dandelion wish—I was immediately drawn to Melinda Curtis’s Dandelion Wishes. A couple observing elephants on the African veldt? I'm attracted to Rula Sinara’s The Promise of Rain for both the cover and the title. And The Weather Girl. I’m coming for the parapluie, but I’m staying for the meteorologist.

I know where my weaknesses began. One of my earliest, happiest memories centers around my family gathering to watch The Six Wives of Henry VIII on PBS. We were all fascinated and horrified. After each shocking episode, we actually talked about the way members of the families we were watching treated each other. I needed to know more about the Yorks and the Lancasters--not to mention those busy Tudors.

Winter is my favorite time of the year since I lived in Iceland and then later, lived in Hawaii for almost five years. Maybe it doesn't seem normal, but the constant sun faded me. I buried myself in winter-set stories, trying to sink into some coolness. To this day, my computer’s background screen is always covered in snow.

The Promise of Rain gets me on two levels. Ray Bradbury’s "There Will Come Soft Rains" has haunted me since I read it as a young child. Any lyrical title containing the word, "rain," leaps into my hands, and my husband has a thing for elephants. I wanted to know more about that book since the moment I first heard of it, and it’s up next behind Elizabeth on my Kindle. The Weather Girl? One of my favorite movies is Les Parapluies de Cherboug. A red umbrella is a beacon to me, and I have a confession. I have four weather apps on my phone. Weather fascinates me. How could I resist Amy Vastine’s book?

Finally, I’d never heard of wishing on a dandelion until my family moved to Tennessee when I was ten. We’d always lived far from my mother’s family, and I’d never known aunts and uncles and cousins, who quickly became my siblings, as Tennessean cousins do. I loved hanging out with my aunt, one of my “second mothers,” who lived down the hill from us, and despite her terrible allergies, she picked a fluffy (snowball) dandelion from the field between our houses one day, and held it out and asked me to make a wish. 

I had no idea you could wish on a flower. (Why do some people consider dandelions weeds?) We had moved because my parents split up, and my mother wanted to be near her family. Every piece of that dandelion wafting through the air was a wish that my parents would find each other again. That wish didn’t come true, but that moment was so intense, I’ll never resist a dandelion wish.

These are the themes and images I can’t resist. I’d love to hear about the ones that drag you straight to the shelf, and where you think they came from. What kind of cover or story makes a book irresistible to you? And, why?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sit Down Saturday with Jennifer Snow


                                 Today we’re celebrating the release of What A Girl Wants




So, Jennifer, where did you get the idea for this novel?
What A Girl Wants is book two in my Brookhollow series and when I created the character of Bailey in book one as the mechanic in town and one of the boys, I knew she should have her own story. Finding a hero that could challenge her strength and independence was a challenge lol, but along came hot, firefighter Ethan Bishop...A friends to lovers plot has always been one of my favorites to read, so writing it was fun.


How long did it take you to write?
This book took about three months. The Brookhollow setting and secondary characters that we met and fell in love with in book one made the writing just flow, telling this story. The characters really do make their own path through the stories, I'm just the transcriber lol.

What is your favorite scene?
My favorite scene is when Ethan poses as the attacker at the self-defense class that Bailey teaches at her brother's MMA club.

Who was your favorite character and why?
I love my hero, but Bailey really stole the scene on the pages of this one-she's so fun and strong...watching her rebuild when things fall apart was inspiring.


Tell us one thing you learned during research.
I was fortunate enough to have the help of two firefighters for my research. I got a tour of a firehall and a very detailed list of their equipment and protocols...and one even walked me through how they would deal with different fire situations. They were so helpful and informative and, okay, I'll say it cause I know you're all wondering-handsome:)

That's it for me:) Thanks!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Popcorn Brain---or Don't Chew While You Study by Roz Denny Fox


 

By now those of you who read my blogs probably realize I like to read up on, and discuss little known studies. The one I chose today was titled: “Popcorn Amnesia.” Research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology presents data from a study conducted by psychologists at the University of Cologne.

A number of German test subjects were sent to a movie and shown commercials typical of the ones that often run prior to the start of main features. Half of the participants were given a bag of popcorn, the other half a sugar cube. One week later the people who ate the sugar cube had a clear recollection of the advertisements they’d seen while the popcorn eaters didn’t.

Following a series of similar tests researchers determined it wasn’t the popcorn, but the chewing itself that blocked out the visual repetition commercials depend on to attract buyers to their products. A subsequent study involved half of the subjects being given chewing gum and half without. This group was presented a series of nonsense words. At a later date the group chewing the gum had much less recall of the words they’d seen than did the non-gum-chewing group. Early advertisers worked on the premise that people connected through simple visual effect. New marketers are thinking that may not be true. More than mere exposure, it may pay to repeat the name of the product over and over in order to catch people between bites. 

If, like I did at first, your thought is these studies are silly and have no value to your life, these researchers really do make some points.

For instance when a person reads something they need to absorb for a presentation or their career, or in the case of students studying for a test, it’s common to snack while reading. The researchers think a person would understand more of what they’ve read if they put off eating until after they finish reading something they hope to retain. Researchers say there are increasingly more settings in which people are trying to learn while eating. Consider the working breakfast, a client dinner, or lunch eaten at one’s desk while catching up on email.

One of the popcorn study’s authors, a neuroscientist at the university believes the act of chewing keeps someone from the covert simulation process of the mind repeating what the eye sees. He says chewing monopolizes the speech muscles effectively drowning out the process of familiarization.

So what do you think? Do you agree that crunching popcorn throws up roadblocks in your brain?

 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Art of Characterization by Tara Randel



One of the big parts of crafting a book is characterization. Let’s face it, without compelling characters, we don’t have much to work with. Readers want to fall in love with and root for our hero and heroine. So we have to make sure the characters touch our readers hearts.
Every writer has a different way of going about creating characters. For me, it can start as simply as a name. Or a story idea. I love series books, so I take secondary characters and plan entire books around them.

 Orange Blossom Brides

While writing Orange Blossom Brides, I had Max reconnect with secondary character, Dane, the hero of my July release, Magnolia Bride.  In that scene, Max makes mention of a special girl Dane knew one crazy summer. The girl who got away. Immediately, I knew I had to delve into Dane's story more deeply and soon I had his perfect heroine, Nealy. 

As I plotted Magnolia Bride, new secondary characters came to mind and I discovered the hero and heroine for my current work in progress.



That’s how my mind works. Other authors write stand-alone books, each book individual of the others, very rich in characterization while introducing a brand new world to the reader.

As I form my heroines, I always consider, how much of me goes into these women? Do I want any of me in her? LOL Should I make her as different from me as possible? Let’s face it, each character has a little piece of their author in them.

 I have an archetype book I review each time I start a new project which helps me zero in on what type personality my characters will possess. I have so much fun in the beginning stages, I almost have a hard time starting to write the story!

As a reader, I enjoy a heroine who is vastly different than me. The time I spend in a book takes me away from my real world. I want to read about situations I would never allow myself to get into and see how the characters work their way around danger, emotionally tangled up events and, most importantly, find their way to love. 

So, authors and readers, what type of heroines do you enjoy creating or reading about?  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The First Sign of Spring by Linda Hope Lee
    
     Each February, on my morning walk I look for a certain first sign of spring. About a week ago, the grass-like leaves popped up, and then, a couple days ago, the delicate purple and white blossoms appeared. The crocuses are here, and now I know that spring cannot be far behind.

Photo by LHLee
      This little flower has quite a history. The first known image of the crocus is a fresco dating back to Minoan Crete, which shows the flower being harvested to make saffron.
     The flower also figures in the legend of the handsome youth Crocus and the nymph Smilax. Crocus successfully pursues Smilax, but when she tires of him, she bewitches him and turns him into a saffron crocus.
     Saffron has been used in perfumes and ointments. Cleopatra used it in her baths. So did Alexander the Great, believing it would heal his wounds. 
     The crocus is said to have come to the New World in a trunk owned by German settlers. The Pennsylvania Dutch cultivated it and marketed it to Spanish colonists in the Caribbean. 

Watercolor by LHLee


     The flowers I see on my walks will bloom for weeks yet, giving me plenty of time to enjoy them.
     What harbingers of spring do you find in your neighborhood?


Monday, February 17, 2014

Sweet Sixteen Alpha Versus Beta Bracket by Melinda Curtis

Last year, a certain editor of mine wondered if my hero in Dandelion Wishes was too alpha for sweet readers.  I thought readers would love Will Jackson if he was well motivated.  Why?  Because I believe the alpha hero can cross genres - sweet or steamy.  But what do you say?

I've devised a non-scientific Man Bracket, just like you'd see for March Madness.  I used movie and TV heroes to fill the bracket choices.  Now it's up to you to decide.  There are two brackets - one for fantasy heroes and one for actors in a role.  Choose a winner for each bracket and post your ultimate hero below. Was your man alpha or beta?

Readers who comment will win an autographed copy of either Dandelion Wishes (alpha hero) or Summer Kisses (not-alpha hero).


Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine Day Gifts by Roz Denny Fox


The other day I saw an ad on TV for a unique Valentine’s Day gift. You’ve all probably seen it too. A Big Hunka Love Bear.  First, he’s about the cutest thing you’ll ever see. It’s not that I have a Valentine to send something to this year, but just seeing the bear made me smile. If you want to check him out for another year, perhaps, since this is a little late to send someone a gift this year, go to: www.vermontteddybear.com

He has outfits you can buy. For instance there’s a cute, personalized t-shirt. There is a bear hugs outfit for a baseball fan.  And believe it or not, the "Zombie Bear" is sold out. Outfits are cute, but so is the bear just in bear-form.

He’s four feet tall and squishy. Or they have a smaller Lil’ Hunka Love Bear.

But hey, on Valentine’s Day you want to go big for the love in your life.


It’s true that flowers and chocolates are the most purchased gifts. But flowers don’t last, and if you’re a romance writer, For sure neither do chocolates. And if you gobble down chocolates you’ll probably get mad at yourself, or worry that you took in too many calories or something.

A teddy bear will last forever, and will make you feel good every time you walk past him.

I know, because I have a giant bear. Not this one, mine isn’t quite 4 foot tall, but almost. My granddaughters gave him to me for company after I sold my house and moved into a townhome where I didn’t know a soul.


You should always hug your valentine first, but sometimes if you’re down and he’s not around, hugging a lovable, soft teddy bear is the next best thing.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Baseball Jargon

Research can be such a fun part of writing and something all of us do, especially when beginning a new book. One of the essential elements of that research is getting the terminology and language that’s unique to the subject. In the novel I’m currently writing, IN A LEAGUE OF HER OWN, a record-holding softball pitcher turned college coach must return home to help out with her father’s minor league baseball team. Needless to say, this story was right up my husband’s alley. He’s been playing baseball and softball for over twenty years. He helped me compile this fun list of baseball jargon to share with you:

 

Homerun:

Dinger

Moon Shot

Homer

Round-tripper

Bomb

 

Fly balls

Fly (outfield)

Pop up (infield)

 Pop fly (outfield)

 

Line Drive

Liner

Smash

Line Smash

Bullet

 

Fast Pitch

Heater (fast ball) He has quite a heater

Throwing Heat

Serious Heat

Junk baller (throws a lot of slower, curve pitches)

Breaking balls- curve ball or a slider or any pitch that moves

Brushed back-  fast ball thrown near the batter to move off the plate

Chin Music- same as above

Crowding the plate- batter standing very close to plate

 

Highlight reel catch- a great catch probably will be shown on ESPN

Spraying ball- not having good control o

Wild pitcher- has no control

Free pass- walk

Nailbiter- close game

Heartbreaker- close game

Ribbie- Run Batted In (RBI)

 

Blown call- umpire gave the wrong call/ unfair call

Blowout- one team kills the other

Barn burner- close game

Yanked- pitcher taken out of a game

Pulled- pitcher taken out of a game

 

Web gems- a great play probably will be shown internet

Seeing Eye Hit- ground ball that just barely gets through the in-field for a hit

Dribbler- in-field hit

Bloop or Bloop Single or Blooper or Bloop Hit- a fly ball that drops between the infield and the outfield

Tweener or gapper- line drives or fly balls that land between outfielders

Save- game where the starting pitcher was winning, left, and the relief pitcher comes in on a close game and relieves the pitcher.

Blown Save- reliever loses lead/game

Masher/Basher- strong homerun hitter

Gone- homerun (announcers only say that)

K- when pitcher strikes you out (as in the pitcher had 7 Ks that game)

I hope you enjoyed the list! It’s going to be great to have these authentic terms peppered in the novel J

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Everyone Has a Story to Tell by Amy Vastine

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and that got me thinking about one of my favorite things - chocolate. We all know the iconic "Life is like a box of chocolates ..." line from the movie Forrest Gump, but as I put the finishing touches on my newest Heartwarming manuscript, I realize the same can be said about people. Everyone we meet is always more than we see, their story bigger than the little slice we happen to share with them. 

I think that's what I love about both my professions. As a social worker, I get the see the many layers of a person, a family, a given situation. The troubled kid, who always has a smart remark for the teacher but never has his homework done, could easily be written off as a no-good punk. But I know that his father left when the boy was a baby and his mom's been addicted to pain killers for a few years now. The boy says he hates school, but he's never missed a day. He certainly never misses a social work appointment and is mad if I'm the one who cancels. He has hopes and he has dreams. He's afraid and he's angry. He makes a lot of bad choices but wants someone to care.

Then there's the shy girl who would love to fade into the background if people would let her. To most, she's unremarkable. She only has one or two friends in a school of over seven hundred students. But I know she loves anime and can tell you everything there is to know about one of the series. She can draw the characters as well as the original artists. She also writes her own stories about these characters on a fan-fiction website. She's really excited to have a dozen people reading her stories and dreams about being a writer someday. 

As a author, I get to create characters who have similarly complex backgrounds. The hero and heroine are the ones I want people to root for, but they each have their flaws. Sometimes they're too stubborn for their own good, sometimes they aren't as confident as they seem. They make bad decisions and have regrets. The so-called villains in my stories might make you angry, but they have their own set of problems and even a few redeeming qualities. Maybe they're caring for a sick parent or their heart has been recently broken.

Now, I will admit, sometimes my editor needs to remind me of these things. My characters need to be colored in a little more during my revisions. Everyone should have a story to tell, even those little background characters. 

I think it's a good lesson in writing and in life in general. People are definitely like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get. That plain looking square chocolate in the box is usually the one filled with the most delicious caramel. And the one with the beautiful swirls on top, ugh, is filled with coconut (not a coconut fan!) 

Remember that the next time that seemingly annoying person is vying for your attention or when you feel envious of that neighbor with the picture perfect family who must have it all. Everyone has a story to tell. Sometimes, we just need to ask them to tell it. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Musical Instrument Museum by Marion Ekholm


Phoenix has numerous museums, but one of my favorites, as well as my granddaughters', is being featured in the 10 Best Readers’ Awards - MIM, the Musical Instrument Museum. This unique museum has musical instruments from around the world, many from famous artists such as the rock star Alice Cooper, who has a home in Phoenix.
 

 
 We always go up the escalator after getting our earphones, turn to our right and go into Africa. There we see instruments on display in front of videos of people playing similar instruments. The earphone equipment picks up what’s on the video and often there’s more than one. Maps above the display show where these people and their instruments, often primitive and handmade, are from.

After Africa we travel from one continent to another. There’s history of the change in instruments as well as examples of how they are made. You can get a taste with a little amount of time spent at a display or sit and experience the ambiance to the fullest. There’s also a music theater with spacious seating and exceptional acoustics that hosts artist from around the world.

By the time we get to the United States and Europe, the girls are tired, want to leave the displays and go down to the Experience Gallery located on the first floor. This definitely is their favorite part of the museum. The room is filled with all different types of instruments they can play to their heart’s content. How many museums have you been to where you’ve spent five hours with your children and had to drag them away?

The last time I went, my daughter joined us, so I was able to leave the girls playing drums, guitars and bells while I explored the new exhibits in the United States section that included Jazz and 100 years of Arizona music. Several more, including Blues, were in the process of completion.

If  you plan to be in Phoenix, consider The MIM as a special treat. You can find all their information on their web site, www.themim.org  Also, check out the 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards and see if one of your favorite museums is up for selection as the best. This lists more than a dozen museums across the country that are particularly suitable for families with children. Voting must be done by noon on February 17. Their web site is  www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-museum-for-families/


 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Love Stories and A Minute on the Lips by Cheryl Harper


 
I think most writers probably have stories that mean something extra special. Maybe books are supposed to be like children in that we aren’t allowed to have favorites and it’s true that I love all my books. But A Minute on the Lips is special.

When I first decided to get serious about writing, I had a friend take me at my word. Susan took me to a fabulous, energizing writing workshop. We started going to a small writer’s group together. And I think that having someone else treat me like a writer started the ball rolling in a way that making a resolution might not have on its own.

Instead of showing what I’d written to friends or family, I wanted a fair and impartial judge to tell me I was good enough, so I entered a small contest. And I won. I could hardly believe it. And I was hooked. I entered larger contests. I won some. I lost some. But the victory was enough to keep me going even after the rejection letters started.

A Minute on the Lips started as one of those contest entries. It was the first chapter of a mystery. And it won first place. The judge came to tell me I should definitely finish that story. After I got over the shock, delight, and panic, I did. Seeing that cover thrills me because getting it ready took some work and a patient editor. And I love this story more for it, I think.

From the beginning of the writing journey to the words I wrote for today’s word count, I’ve always wanted to tell funny, feel-good stories. That’s what I like to read. Whether I’m celebrating a first-place contest win, showing off a real booky book in my hand, flopped on the floor despairing over my latest editorial letter, or kicking around a new story idea, that’s always my goal: a smile for the reader.

A Minute on the Lips fits that goal and makes me smile when I think of it. This book showed me the value and satisfaction in sticking with a story because I love it. At each round, I learned something about the story, about myself as a writer, and what is possible once I get out of the floor and take a chance on improving the story.

I hope that you’ll visit Tall Pines to meet Sheriff Jackson and newspaper editor Mark Taylor, have lunch at Jackie’s Country Kitchen, home of the prize-winning chili champion, say hello to Andi’s Gram and be tolerated by her cat Mojo, and that when you leave, you’ll love this story too.
If you'd like to win a copy of your very own, I have a couple of contests going right now. You can find out the details on my web site: http://cherylharperbooks.com.