Friday, April 28, 2017

What Kind of Writer are You?

Pamela Tracy here.  By day, I'm an English professor.  This week, my 101 students are creating surveys for their argumentative topics (bring back any memories?).  One of my favorite students brought in a sample survey and the first question was...

Are you a(n) 1. Elf  2. Vampire  3. Witch  4. Fairy  5. Human.

I, of course, wanted to circle 6. Romance author! 

And, that survey gave me an idea.  So, go ahead, take the survey below.  Then, let me know what kind of writer are YOU.

1. When I write, I
[] am dressed in business attire
[] am dressed in blue jeans and comfortable shirt
[] am in my jammies
[] dressed?  
[] other? __________________________

2. When writing, I am usually
[] in a home office
[] at the kitchen table
[] at a Starbucks or the like
[] I sneak write at work
[] have laptop, will travel

3. When writing, my favorite snack is
[] I don’t snack while writing
[] chips, pretzels, something like that
[] three-course meal at my side
[] candy
[] liquid snack <hic>
[] other? ______________________

4. When thinking up a heroine for a new book, I tend to write women
[] who are in jeopardy
[] who like to take charge
[] who are like the girl next door
[] who had a secret baby 
[] who meet a cowboy or a sheik
[] all of the above
[] You mean I’m supposed to think about this before I write?

5. When thinking up a hero for a new book, I tend to write men
[] who are in jeopardy
[] who like to take charge
[] who didn’t know they had a secret baby
[] who meet a cowgirl or librarian 
[] all of the above
[] You mean I’m supposed to think about this before I write?

6. My favorite secondary characters are
[] Friends of the H & H
[] Co-workers of the H & H
[] Family of the H & H
[] Children
[] Animals
[] Sometimes a locations can be a character (think Tara)
[] I don’t do secondary characters

7. When it comes to plotting, I
[] spend weeks planning, writing out ideas, organizing
[] think about the plot while driving to work, showering, and sitting in charge, then start writing
[] been doing this so long, that a story taps me on the shoulder full blown and I just write
[] call the stranger who told me they had a ‘story’ I just had to write and they tell me what to write
[] You mean I’m supposed to plot

8. On average, I spend this much time each day writing
[] It’s an 8+ hour job
[] I write 1-2 hours before work, sometimes after
[] I don’t schedule time, I schedule pages and aim for a thousand
[] you mean I’m supposed to write each day?

9. When writing, I tend to start my novel with a
[] chance meeting between H & H
[] long description
[] rhetorical question
[] hook
[] I start at the end and work backwards

10. On average, it takes me
[] a fews weeks to finish a novel
[] a few months to finish a novel
[] a year
[] a few years
[] banging head on table, longer than a few years

 Now that the survey is over, I’ll
[] leave a comment
[] chuckle and say “Pamela has weird ideas.”
[] head over to Harlequin.com or Amazon and buy Holding Out for a Hero.
[] all of the above.

As for Pamela...
She’ll leave her kitchen table and plug her laptop into the charger before she change out of her jammies and into business attire.  Then, she’ll pat herself on the back for taking charge of her life and not having the candy she wanted.  It’s time to leave for work.  She’ll probably call her plumber hero husband on her way to work to assure as to who’s picking up her not-so-secret baby from 6th grade.  By the way, she met her husband through friends.  On her drive to work, she’ll listen to a book on tape and plot out the rewrite of chapter three on her current novel which will take four months to write.  She doesn’t gauge time when she writes; she aims for 1000 words.  Today, this survey is her 1000 words. 



This is more than just a case… 

Every instinct Oscar Guzman honed in the military and the police academy is telling him that Shelley Brubaker is hiding something. It's not just a secret; he's sure of that. It's something darker, more dangerous. And the only way to protect her is to convince her to open up to him. But Shelley isn't about to let him get that close. Oscar knows that with her con-man ex still at large and probably threatening her, Shelley is suspicious of everyone. But he also knows that at eight months pregnant with a toddler to raise, she's in no shape to fight this battle alone. And he's not about to let her!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Look Out, There’s Change Ahead. By Cari Lynn Webb:



I have two teenage daughters and haven’t made it my mission to live through them. We all know parents who are reliving their childhood dreams through their children. I’m not one of those parents. My oldest daughter is a swimmer and my youngest swims and plays soccer. As it happens, I played both of those sports and finally gave up soccer in middle school when my coaches told me I needed to make a choice. I chose the pool full time. My oldest daughter chose to swim full time in third grade after she decided she didn’t like the other soccer players stealing the ball from her. And my daughter had also been in the water since she was a one year old floating in the surf on Maui and napping under a palm tree (yes, she had the best babysitter ever). My youngest daughter enjoys the social aspect of both sports and is one of the best teammates I’ve known.

The only drawback my girls have encountered is that they can’t complain to me about swimming a mile in a swim meet or getting kicked in the shins on the soccer field. They both know I actually do know how that feels and I admit there might be a lack of sympathy on my part. (I’m not living through my children, but I’m competitive and there’s a certain thrill when your kids achieve their own goals. And achieving goals happens with hard work and less whining. I do earn an eye roll or two from my girls with that line.)

Well, you can imagine my surprise when I found myself reliving my past with my daughter beside me last week. We were touring the high school my daughter will attend next year. As the cute, petite sophomore raced us through the school, I wanted to stop and ask the men students loitering outside the classrooms for their hall passes. And then check my chin for any new acne.

In less than five minutes and two corridors into the inner sanctum of high school, I was once again that awkward, anxious teen with a crush on the junior water polo player and no date to the prom. Something about being inside the high school brought out old insecurities and reminders of those growing pains teens all over the world endure: first broken heart, bad hair days, missed curfews, procrastinating on studying for that final exam, final exams, SATs and ACTs, college applications, gossip and figuring out who you are in a sea of kids all trying to figure who they are.

I’m not ashamed to admit I ran back to my car after our tour and was more than happy to look in the rearview mirror and remind myself that I had survived. And so will my daughter. Her experience won’t be mine, she’ll have to carve her own path. But she’ll make it and I’ll be right there to hold her hand if she stumbles.

Still I can’t help, but long for those kindergarten days again. When I sat at the art station and helped squeeze out the glitter glue for the butterfly project or baked cookies for snack. And I keep looking around for that pause button – the one that pauses time-I just need to press it for a moment until I’m ready for my girl to go to high school.

Is it any wonder my characters resist change – it’s hard, it isn’t always comfortable or welcome and yet it happens anyway.

And on a side note, my husband later informed me that the 80’s called and wanted their hall passes back. Apparently, hall passes are old school and no longer the thing. Lesson learned. I do wonder if my daughter’s school will have that one Assistant Principal that all the kids fear running into in the halls like we all did. You know the one that still traipses through your dreams to bust you for a dress code violation.

Until next time, I hope all your change is easy and uncomplicated.

Happy Reading!
Cari

THE CHARM OFFENSIVE by Cari Lynn Webb will be out in July. Pre-Order today! https://www.amazon.com/dp/0373368461

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter. 
https://twitter.com/carilynnwebb

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

 
 
 
 
 
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS

 
 
 
So sorry everyone. I told you I was hopeless. My blog went to publish before I'd finished.
     
...For me it's so may things; we just have to look for the  beauty and joy in everything we do. Here are just a few of the things that make life worthwhile for me. I'd love to hear what yours are. 
 
 
 







Onwards and Upwards

 

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
By Eleanor Jones
    Hi Everyone. Firstly I'd like to apologise in advance for my lack of expertise in doing a blog; I stand in awe of all you other Heartwarming authors who do such wonderful posts. 
     I could blame my age I guess but I suppose that's no excuse, anyone can learn.
     Anyway, I wanted to blog about life. We all go through trauma, heartache and all kinds of worry like losing a loved one or learning to cope with illness and pain. I certainly have
     It would be good if someone could write an article about how to cope when times are tough. That way we might know how to deal with it all. Unfortunately though no two experiences are ever the same.
       I guess we just have to hang onto the beautiful things in life, the happiness and joy. It doesn't have to be much, sunshine bursting through the cloud, the smile of a child, anything in fact that brings you joy. For me it's   

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

It's Springtime, Right?

posted by Lee McKenzie

Hello, Heartwarmers. I've been looking forward to this blog post because I planned to share photos of my garden springing to life. This is something westcoasters love to do because our gardens are usually in full bloom as the rest of the continent emerges from winter. This year, Mother Nature decided to humble us.  Springtime is taking her sweet time getting here. And as my hydrangeas green up and my ferns contemplate unfurling, they are not yet photogenic.

Luckily, while my garden grows, other things love to pose for my camera, namely, my latest thrift store finds.

First up, this very nice mid-century modern stainless steel tray I scored for $1.


It had a few scratches and was, frankly, kind of grubby, but it cleaned up nicely. Even better, it was the perfect addition to the mid-century modern bar cart I found at another thrift store last year.


I must confess that I don't actually like cocktails, but I    like the idea of cocktails and I have always wanted a bar cart. They just seem so elegant. So here you see my new $1 tray atop my cart, along with the crystal ice bucket with the hammered silver handle that was another vintage find.

Last year I found this bar cart (it's also brilliant as a tea cart) at a thrift store. The price tag: $50. I loved it, felt the price was fair, and it now graces my home. After I brought it home and did some research, I discovered it's solid walnut and was made in Yugoslavia, and I have seen the same cart for sale online for hundreds of dollars. (Patting self on back for being able to spot a bargain.)


As much as I would love to be the kind of person who hosts cocktail parties (even though I don't drink them!), I love being a grandmother even more. And my new favorite thing is to keep an eye out for great deals for the new love of my life. Here are some recent finds:


A fun little denim dress with red plaid pockets and ruffles, an adorable mint green Gymboree dress, and a pair of like-new Oshkosh overall shorts...all three pieces for $7. And here's the little fashionista who'll be wearing them.


If you ask this grandma, babies do not come any cuter. And whether the love-of-grandma's-life ultimately prefers denim or diva, grandma hopes she'll love thrifting. And books. And, of course,  gardening.

Happy reading, Heartwarmers.



Until next time,

Lee, writing fifty shades of pink

To Catch a Wife
His Best Friend's Wife
www.leemckenzie.com




Monday, April 24, 2017

Dear Fund Beneficiary

by Patricia Bradley

Wednesday

Just want to let everyone know when you read this on Monday, I'll be somewhere on my own little island in the South Pacific. If I don't answer the comments right away it's because I'm too busy swimming, diving, or just sunning on the beach, or even relaxing in the hammock.

And how did I get so blessed that I am able to retire to this island? There’s this wonderful woman in Nigeria who wants to give me money! I get the first payment today. If you don’t believe me, read the letter she sent me--

Dear Fund Beneficiary
We have concluded to effect your payment of $2.5Million USD, through western union, but the maximum amount you will be receiving each day starting from today is $5,000 twice daily until the funds is completely transferred to you.
Kindly Contact Western union Agent:
MR:  
TEL:
E-mail()
Also reconfirm your information to them below
YOUR NAME----------------------
YOUR ADDRESS-----------
YOUR PHONE-------------
OCCUPATION-----------------
I have sent $5,000 twice in your name today, but Mr (Blank)  said that you should contact first with your information. So contact Mr (Blank)  or you call him as soon as you receive this email and tell him to give you the Mtcn, sender name and question/answer to pick the $5,000.This is from government office payment.
Pls do let me know as soon as you received all your funds $2.5Million,
Thank you.
Mrs. Christiana Michael.

Whoo-Whoo!! Life of leisure, here I come.

Friday
Wait...
It gets better!
Just this morning, I received another email, this one giving me another $2,000,000! Read it and weep...

Attention: Dear Beneficiary,

Your Name/E-Mail is selected as one of the scam victims to receive
 compensation sum of US$2,000,000.00 (Two Million United State Dollars) which was allocated to you from office of International Monetary Fund (IMF) I was directed to inform you that the total sum of US$2,000,000.00 (Two Million United State Dollars) has been credited through  ATM CARD in your name as one of the scam victims/poverty alleviation beneficiaries, we are however sorry for the delay in contacting you, the reason is that we are following it according to the sequential order given by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Your fund/ATM CARD is now in the United States of America.  You are required to contact...

This is the part I like best:

We sincerely apologize for all what you have gone through in the hands of those  unscrupulous elements and wish to advise you to please avoid further communication any one from any part of African Countries as it may turn to be another SCAM. Important notice, send your information through this email: for immediately release of your ATM Card. Waiting for your delivery details. Yours Sincerely Mrs Kimberly Benson Head Operational Manager ATM Card Department

So glad I didn't take off for the Hawaii just yet…I may even buy another island.

Monday morning
I guess you can see I'm not on a beach in the South Pacific. And I'm sure you knew when you read the first part of the post that I wouldn't be. But when the above letter came into my inbox, I couldn't resist having a little fun with it. But it did make me stop and think.

Not about what idiot thought I'd fall for such a silly email, although when these letters first started coming out, there were those who believed they had been chosen to receive millions of dollars, but I digress. If somehow I did fall into $2.5 million dollars, would I then do nothing the rest of my life? Would I just retire from working and go live on a beach somewhere in the South Pacific?

I'm going to reserve my answer to that question for the comments. You see, I want you to tell me what you would you do with the balance of $2.5 million dollars after paying all your bills and setting up trusts for your kids, etc.





Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sit-Down Saturday with Melinda Curtis

This Saturday, we're sitting down with Melinda Curtis, who has another Harmony Valley release: Love, Special Delivery.

Melinda, for those who don't know, what's the Harmony Valley series all about?
Just a few short years ago, Harmony Valley was on the brink of extinction with only those over the age of 60 in residence. Now, the influx of a younger generation is making life in Harmony Valley more fun for its gray-haired residents than afternoon television.

Tell us about this release. Where did you get the idea for the story?
Love, Special Delivery is about the re-opening of the post office and fire department. There's an old saying among writers that if you're writing about a fireman, he better suspect the heroine of arson. LOL. Fire seems to follow Postmaster Mandy around town, and she's not pleased that Fire Captain Ben has suspicions about her. Ultimately, this isn't a suspense story, but a tale of what we give up for family. Mandy has sacrificed her dreams of working for NASA to take care of her younger sister and Ben has sacrificed a chance to be a fire investigator to watch over his father, a career firefighter whose lungs and heart aren't what they should be.

What were some of your favorite scenes to write?
I love delving into the emotion of falling in love, but...Fans of the series know I love quirky old people (mostly because I'm related to quirky old people). But the two supporting girls in this story - Olivia (Mandy's 17 year old sister) and Hannah (the daughter of Ben's best friend) - bring the quirk of girl dreams, the kind you used to have before bills and mortgages came along. Olivia is boy-crazy and Hannah is obsessed with animals and reptiles, often bringing home little beasties she's convinced need saving.

Can you share an excerpt?
Here's one where Ben discovers Mandy lives next door to him. The first time they met, he couldn't understand how her smile could be so carefree (he also threatened to shut down the post office for fire code violations). Little does he know, the bigger Mandy's smile, the more stress she's under.

 “For the love of gardenias!” A figure moved beneath the shadows created by a large tree.
 Ben hopped off the picnic table. “Need any help?”
 The woman and the bushes stilled. “Um. No. I’m looking for…I’m trying to…” The woman huffed as if the weight of the world was too much for her patience. “I like to look at the moon, and this humongous tree is in my way.”
 Her hesitation and intensity gave her away. “Mandy?”
 The very air seemed to go still. No crickets chirped. No owl hooted. Even the offending tree had gone still.
 He peered into the shadows, trying to discern if she was still there, imagining her holding on to that calm smile of hers. “Mandy from the post office?”
 “It’s Ben, isn’t it?” She spoke as if this was the worst news of the evening. “How did I not know the fire marshal was my neighbor?”
 He chalked up the defeat in her voice to the stress of his fire inspection. His opinion of the post office didn’t reflect on her. She…He had to admit, she and her unflappable smile were more interesting than most things in Harmony Valley. “We’ve both been busy working.” And he went down Harrison to the firehouse, while she probably drove in the opposite direction to the post office.
 “If our house looks vacant, it’s because I park in the garage and walk to work.” Gone was the postmaster with her defensive stubbornness. In her place was a neighbor shooting the breeze, one who fed displaced raccoons.
 “Speaking of looking…” His lips turned upward for the first time that night. “I can see the moon clearly over here.”
 “Rub it in,” she said, less pained than when she’d discovered he was on the other side of the hedge.
 He was near enough now to see the outline of her face, although not a clear expression. Not her smile.
 He wanted to see her smile.
 Which was beyond ridiculous. A stranger’s smile shouldn’t matter.

Any behind-the-scenes details you can share?
The raccoon in the book is based on one we discovered in our son's backyard when we were trying to prep his house for sale. We couldn't go out at night in the yard because she growled louder than a Rottweiler. Do you ever play "what-if"/worst case scenarios in your mind? I do. Might as well put it in a book.

Faulty wiring in the old post office causes several fires. Faulty wiring is my biggest fear whenever we do a home remodel. I was not happy to do research on how electrical fires occur. This is a fear I share with Mr. Curtis, who has told me on numerous occasions - even when I want to replace a simple plug - "I don't do electricity."

When things get rough for Mandy, she smiles and likes to spend time alone talking to the moon. I have an odd sanity-saving ritual of my own, but when I came up with the idea of the moon, I thought that was more romantic. Really, who wouldn't want to gaze at the moon with a handsome guy? (note: see the question about this below for your chance to win an autographed book)

What's next for you?
The next installment of Harmony Valley comes out in October. It's Nate's story and called Support Your Local Sheriff. Yes, the pink wedding dress Mae left him in One Perfect Year will be featured!

Next week, I'm launching a new version of my bridesmaid series. Each sweet romantic comedy novella in The Summer Bridesmaid Series begins with an unexpected kiss. In A Kiss is Just a Kiss, minutes before the wedding, Kitty Summer is convinced her sister's fiance doesn't love Maggie. But the only way for this bridesmaid to stop the wedding is by kissing the groom on the altar. This book is part of the RT Conference promo in May.

Just a few weeks ago, I released my first writing craft book. I'm a writing craft geek and 1 class shy of a psychology minor. Frankly, my dear...Creating Unforgettable Characters is an easy to use inspirational guide to creating characters with over 100 examples from movies and TV.

Thanks for stopping by on a Saturday!
Thanks to all the readers and Heartwarming authors who stop by. Here's a question for you: Do you have any rituals that help keep you in balance? One lucky commenter will win an autographed copy from my Harmony Valley backlist, excluding Love, Special Delivery. Winner chosen Tuesday, April 25.

Melinda Curtis is an award-winning USA Today Bestseller. She writes sweet romance for Harlequin Heartwarming, sweet romantic comedy novellas, and traditional sexy contemporary romances. If you sign up for her mailing list here you'll receive a free sweet romantic comedy novella and/or the workbook that goes with Melinda's writing craft book.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mail Bag

by Shirley Hailstock

I've never been in the military (college ROTC, no actual duty), but from stories my uncles told me and countless military movies I've watch, the mail was always a highlight of their time away from friends and family. The advent of e-mail has some of us dreading the day and the myriad of messages requiring our attention or the spam that seems out of control.




However, there is the mail we love - fan mail.




While authors are nervous that the fans will hate our books, it's so heartwarming to open an e-mail and find a glowing review or a story about how the book affected the reader.




"They got it," we cry and I mean cry; tears, sniffles and all.

So, to share with you some of the mail I've received (only the good or heartwarming letters), I got a letter from a woman who said she'd wanted to be more adventurous, but was afraid to buck her friends by doing something they might disapprove of, yet after reading one of my books, she was going to restart her life and live for herself. Four years later, I got another letter from her saying she'd gone parasailing, skied a black diamond mountain, had toured Iceland and was on her way to Dubai. I wasn't crying, but my hand was on my heart.

A heartwarming letter I got came from a nineteen year old woman who was in the hospital and had lost her baby three days after its birth. Her sister brought her one of my books. The book had a child who was in danger of dying. (My character comes out fine.) The reader said that book got her through the grief she felt. I was in tears by the end of the two-page handwritten letter. I can't imagine losing a child and then reading about another one in jeopardy. I feel blessed that I had a hand in helping her.



Prison mail, yes we get mail from prisoners. Apparently, romances are big in prison libraries. Many of these letters praise our stories, then ask for help, not with a lawyer or a method of getting them out of jail, but with a source to get their own books published.

Casting calls are a favorite read for authors. Readers love to send us mail about a book they love. They want it made into a movie. Many go so far as to cast the characters with Hollywood stars. Thank you. We love it and they are fun, but the reality of seeing our books on the small screen or the silver screen is almost a mathematically negative number.


Many authors write series books. These are the ones where there's a family or friends and each one gets a book. Readers love it because they invest in the series and love all the character. (Thank you, guys.) The mail that comes about these give the author's storylines for where the next book can go. Often the author can't use these. One, because they already have the books mapped out and two because even though an idea cannot be copyrighted, the author doesn't want any legal problems related to someone else's suggestion.



There are more letters than I have time to tell you about. You write them, so you know what's in your own, but maybe not what's in other people's mail.

As authors, we don't know the impact of our stories. We want to entertain our readers, give them wonderful adventures through words, but the themes that you identify, that touch your heart or alter your world are unknown to us.

When we open that fan mail account and see the surprise inside, it warms our hearts. So keep the mailboxes full. This is the kind of mail we're glad to open and spend time savoring.