M is for Making It Up

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

M is for Making It Up.  We writers do a lot of that.  Some more, some less, depending on the genre we write in, and how historically or factually accurate we want a story to be.  Mystery, crime fiction, police procedural and courtroom drama writers spend hours on research because some readers love to catch an author in a mistake.   It’s part of the fun of reading those books.  I imagine the same is true for Regency historicals that are filled with period details of costume, customs and furnishings.  

Scottish historical writers have more freedom to incorporate fantasy elements, and to forego real locations in favor of places and events they create.  Irish historical romances go even further, as most of them incorporate some form of the Fae of Irish myth and legend.question-mark-112390_640

No matter what you write, you depend on your imagination.  But as Tom Clancy famously said, unlike real life, fiction has to make sense.  Your story has to have some logic to it, even if it’s only its own internal logic.  Worldbuilding is a science as well as an art.  What’s the geography?  Who are the people?  What are their customs?  Religion?  Politics?  You may not incorporate all of those elements in your story, but you’ll think about them as you make up the details of your world, if you want the story to make sense to you and your readers.

To find other authors participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge, click here!

L is for Love What You Do

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

L is for Love What You Do. You know the old saying – A person who loves what they do never works a day in their life.  

Love to write but hate marketing?  Write more, market less.  

Love meeting readers?  Do more book signings and personal appearances.  

Love having a book release but hate social media?  Write!  Keep writing good books.  Recruit your friends and readers to spread the word for you.

Do what you love.  The rest will take care of itself.    red-rose-heart

J is for Judging

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

J is for judging.  Whether you participate in a critique partnership or critique group, write reviews, or judge contests, you’re called upon to judge the work of other authors.  Yes, it’s tough enough deciding if your own writing is good, bad or indifferent.  But we writers depend on honest feedback from our peers to help us sort through plot problems, identify word repetition and grammar mistakes, and on the plus side, to gain attention from agents, editors and readers.  

The old adage “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything” doesn’t serve us well when we’re called upon to help another author improve their writing.  Nor is it fair to anyone in a contest to give only positive feedback. Judging implies recognizing both positive and negative aspects of a work. But there’s no need to be mean, either.  Honesty can be couched in kind words, helpful suggestions, and critical feedback that leaves room for the other person to grow as an author while protecting their ego.  images

Judging another’s work is fun when they’ve done a great job, you enjoy their story, and you can easily give them positive reinforcement.  Most of us don’t enjoy the flip side of that coin, when we could not finish the book, when there are so many errors that it looks like we bled all over the page with our red pen, or when we have to score a contest entry so low that we know the entry has no chance of advancing.  But if we’re determined to help our fellow authors ensure that manuscripts are truly ready to be published, then we have no choice.  

 

H is for Hero

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

H is for Hero - Who is the hero of your story?  In Romance, the convention is to have a hero and a heroine (or a hero/hero or heroine/heroine, or hero/hero/heroine … you get the idea), both of whom get relatively equal time in the story.  Romance is written from the hero’s and heroine’s point of view.  The reader sees what they see, hears what they hear, knows what they know.  Often, those are the only two viewpoints in a story, but sometimes the antagonist (the bad guy) or an important secondary character gets a few scenes, too.

securedownloadRomance readers love an alpha hero – large and in charge describes this type of man.  But beta heroes have their followers, too, who prefer the more sensitive, cooperative male.  Heroines, thankfully, have gone from simpering, empty-headed missies the hero must save to kick-ass women who can not only take care of themselves, they often save the hero, or work side-by-side with the hero to resolve the conflicts in the book.  While the definition of hero, especially the alpha variety, hasn’t changed much in Romance novels, the definition of heroine certainly has.

G is for Genre

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

G is for Genre – What is a genre?  The dictionary definition goes something like this: a category of literature or other forms of art or entertainment, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. In other words, it’s the type of book you’re writing, whether it’s a mystery, a western, science fiction, or some sub-genre of romance (e.g., science fiction romance, historical romance, contemporary romance, etc.).

Traditionally, publishers liked nice clean divisions between genres.  Well-defined genres make books easier to shelve and to market.  But there are some authors (me included) whose books cross genres.  Mine are Scottish historical paranormal romance.  Say that six times, fast!

Red BooksCrossing genres makes marketing more of a challenge, though digital booksellers can get around that with well-chosen keywords, but it also provides opportunities to reach more readers.  My readers might like historical romance, or Scottish historical romance, or paranormal romance, psi-focused science fiction or even fantasy, but they find elements of their favorite style in my books.  So my readers come from all of those preference groups, not just one.

The secret is out.  As writers find their readership expanding, crossing genres is becoming more common.

F is for Finish the Damn Book!

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first post, on April 1, was A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

F is for  - Finish the Damn Book!  If you’re like the majority of would-be authors, you’ve started and abandoned many manuscripts.  Starting a book is like starting a love affair.  It’s all mystery and excitement at the beginning.  The possibilities seem endless, and at the beginning, they are.  But like any love affair, the fireworks fade.

Therein lies the rub.  You get confused, lose your focus, your characters don’t cooperate and your plot (if you even have one) seems trite, or it’s going nowhere. So what should you do? Get over it.  Break ranks with the wanna-be’s and finish your first draft.

You’ll have accomplished what 90 percent of writers fail to do.  And if you succeed in editing, polishing, submitting and getting published, you’ll join the elite ten percent of the ten percent who finished their draft. Congratulations!

Easy-reading-is-damn-hardA quote attributed to Nathaniel Hawthorne says “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”  It’s true.  You can’t escape doing the work.  But type “the end” on the last page of that finished first draft, second draft, or polished manuscript and you’ll find out that it’s also amazingly rewarding.  Go ahead.  Do it.  I dare you!

E is for Ergonomics

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

478px-Alphanumeric_keyboardE is for Ergonomics – Face it.  We spend hours in the same chair, staring at the same screen, typing on the same keyboard.  Sitting in the same position.

Can you spell repetitive stress injury?

Unfortunately, I can.  I’m battling carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar (elbow – funnybone) nerve damage from my dedication to BICHOK (Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard) and a tendency to lean on my left elbow.

Do yourself a favor and get away from the desk every once in a while.  Stand up.  Move around.  Forget the big, wooden executive desk and get one that you can adjust up and down.  Ditto for the chair.  You’re an author.  These are your tools, just the same as pen and paper.  You’re going to spend hours a day for (probably) the rest of your life with them, so get the best you can afford and remember to take a break — often.

D is for Draft

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

9678365189_6288a55d46_mD is for Draft, First Draft  - What takes a lot of time and effort, and possibly blood, sweat and tears, not to mention a martini or six? Not Bond, James Bond.  It’s draft, first draft.

Trust me, it’s going to hurt.

In fact, there’s an excellent chance your first draft is going to suck.  You won’t want anyone else to see it.  You’ll wonder what you were thinking, calling yourself a writer.  That’s okay.  Once the first draft is done, you’ll have a better handle on the size and scope of your story, the personalities of your characters, and what you need to add and delete and change.  Then, you can transform that hot mess into a fabulous book.

It’s all in that much-maligned first draft.  Write on!

Image courtesy of Shawn Budemer/Flickr

C is for Collaborate

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

C is for Collaborate – You know the old saying: A rising tide lifts all boats.  It’s true for authors, too.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe more we collaborate and cross-promote by tweeting, re-tweeting, joining book release parties on Facebook, and so forth, the more our reach grows.  I’ve gained new readers that way, and I’m sure my readers have found some new authors, too.

If you wonder why you would want to help your “competition,” think again.  Readers love similar books.  Mysteries, contemporary romance, historical fiction, even Scottish historical romance.  Once they’ve read everything by their favorite author, they go looking for similar books.

Don’t pass up an opportunity to cross-promote.  Retweet other authors.  Participate in online book release parties. Create opportunities for other authors by hosting your own online party and inviting them to “appear” to talk about their new book, run a contest and give away a prize.  If you’re not sure who else your readers would enjoy, ask them.  Or explore bookstores to see whose books are similar to yours.  You never know how many great authors, great stories, and new readers you’ll find!

B is for Burr

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first is A, the second is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

B is for Burr, or Brogue.  That lovely Scottish accent that sends chills from our fingertips to our toes.  What is it about rolling Rs vibrating from deep in the chest of a male speaker?  Whatever it is, we can’t get enough.

B1895_HighlandHealer_DAudiobooks to the rescue!  Highland Healer came out in audiobook format just last month.  When I listened, I was amazed at what a different experience hearing the story gave me, instead of reading it.  You can find out for yourself at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Tantor, and Audible.

A is for Advertise

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  Today’s post is A, tomorrow’s will be B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

A is for Advertising – you can’t be successful as an author these days without tooting your own horn.  It’s tough, and it’s especially tough for those of us who were taught to do our best and count on someone else to notice. 

Very few authors can just put books out there and make it in today’s market.  So we advertise.  

imageFor example?  Today, I have a Special Sneak Peek up on RomCon for your reading pleasure – including an excerpt.  If you haven’t read The Healer’s Gift (A Highland Talents Novella) yet, take a look.  You might win a copyIf you’re intrigued and can’t wait to see if you won, you can get it from Amazon.

Burns Night Blog Hop

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Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains has joined forces with Kilts, Cravats and Chivalry to host a fun Scottish-themed blog hop for Burns’ Night on the 25th.

January is a cold dreich month in Scotland. The strains of Auld Lang Syne have long since drifted over the heather. We need to keep ourselves cheerful somehow. So on the 25th of January we celebrate the poetry of our bard, Robert Burns. 
We pipe in the haggis, toast it with a dram (whisky), eat it and then we consider the life of the man behind the poems. He was a bit of a ladies man for sure and so that is why the speech, known as “The Immortal Memory” is followed with a toast to the lassies and a reply from the lassies. There is poetry and singing and dancing to follow and we all stagger home with our bellies full, our hearts renewed and the knowledge that we only have another 11 months of rain to go this year.

Hop from blog to blog to read our posts and have several chances to win some great prizes. First and foremost, join the  RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY for chances to win a $50 Amazon gift card and  one of five $10 Amazon gift cards!  Next, follow me on Twitter and ‘like’ my Amazon Author Page today to be entered to win a $15 Amazon gift card directly from me. Once you’ve done that, use the form on the Contact tab, above, to report back and send me your email, or you won’t be entered.

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Burns is so venerated in Scotland and around the world that his birthday, January 25, is a holiday in many areas and is celebrated with a special dinner.  With Haggis.  More about that in a minute.

His most famous poem in the United States is certainly Auld Lang Syne, sung every New Year’s Eve just at midnight.  

But his next most famous might be Address to a Haggis, recited during the Robert Burns birthday celebration dinner.  I won’t quote it here (it’s quite lengthy).  The haggis is then slit open with a very sharp ceremonial dirk – or a kitchen knife - and dinner is served.  

After dinner, more singing, quoting Burn’s works, and of course, consuming ale and whisky, the evening ends with Burns’s Toast to the Lasses, Reply from the Lasses, a recitation of Burns’s Tam o’Shanter and singing – you guessed it – Auld Lang Syne.

If that sounds like fun, you’re in the right place!  

Now if you’ve taken advantage of my prize opportunities here,  hop on over to the other authors participating tonight.  There are more prizes up for grabs at each of their websites.  

1. Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains 9. Inner Goddess 17. Nina Mason
2. Samantha Holt 10. Hunter S. Jones 18. Kate Robbins
3. A Dirty Book Affair 11. Christina Phillips 19. Scenes from a Chaotic Mind
4. Anne Conley 12. Andrea Bellmont 20. Sarah Bella
5. Em Taylor 13. Isobelle Cate 21. Joanne Wadsworth
6. Kirsten S. Blacketer 14. Storm Chase 22. Anne Stenhouse
7. Willa Blair 15. Ceci Giltenan 23. BJ Scott
8. Nicole Hurley- Moore 16. Tarah Scott

OUT with the Old…IN with the New

So Long 2013!

How do I sum up a year in which I achieved a lifelong dream and became a bestselling, multi-published author, with even more books under contract?

WOW!

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So where do I go from here, now that I’ve checked several major items off my Bucket List? Quit while I’m ahead?  Not likely!

Keep on keepin’ on…

I still have “authorly” goals to achieve  And I’ve learned a few things along the way.  So I’ve organized new goals into this OUT/IN list, based on what I think didn’t work, or what could have worked better, during the past year. Some of the IN list might also work for you, but I’d love to hear your ideas as well!

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OUT                                        IN

Uncertainty                          Resolve

Procrastination                   At least two hours a day spent writing books

Endless Social Media         Targeted social media and my monthly Newsletter

Blog tours                             My blog

Book signings                      ‘Signed book’ prizes for my Readers & Newsletter Subscribers

Do it all myself                    Hire an assistant

Do it all myself                    Street Team

Do it all myself                    Collaborate on marketing with other authors in my genres 

Traditionally published     Hybrid:  traditionally and indie published

2 books a year                       At least 2 books a year

Write in 1 genre                    Write in at least 1 other genre

Too much sitting                 At least 3 hours of exercise a week

What do you plan to change for the better in 2014?

Leave a comment below, and you might win a signed copy of one of my books!

Whatever your goals may be, I wish you a happy, healthy, productive and prosperous New Year!

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Hello 2014!

Gliterary Girl Summer of Love Blog Hop

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UPDATE:  And in a wholly scientific random drawing of slips of paper from a basket kept on a bookshelf…drum roll, please…the winner of a copy of HIGHLAND SEER is Caroline Waddell!  Congratulations, Caroline!  

And thanks to everyone who commented here.  You came up with some enticing summer dishes!  

You’ve landed on a page of the Gliterary Girl Summer of Love Blog Hop!  Enjoy my recipe below.  Visit all the participating sites!

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Want a taste of the perfect summer salad?  You need a watermelon!

2 C mixed greens

2 C watermelon, 1-inch cubes, seeds removed

1/4 red onion sliced thin

1 T. mint or basil (not both) sliced very thin

1/2 C feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 C Champagne vinaigrette (adjust more or less depending on how “dressed” you like your salad

Toss it all together and enjoy!  (You can adjust any of the ingredients – like more feta?  Go ahead.  Less mint or basil?  Fine. Add chunks of tomato?  Okay.)

What’s your favorite summer recipe?  Leave a comment (and an email!) below for a chance to win an e-copy of HIGHLAND SEER!  Or use the form on my “Contact” page.

Donal MacNabb is loyal to his adopted Lathan clan, yet he resents being a pawn in their treaty negotiations with the struggling MacKyries. The MacKyrie clan needs his skills as an arms master, but its Laird is bartering for more than Donal is prepared to give.

Ellie MacKyrie knows the Lathan treaty will help protect her clan from the neighbor determined to seize her holdings any way he can—including forcing her into marriage. But she has another reason to want the Lathan alliance. She has Seen the stubborn Donal MacNabb reaching for her in her dreams.

While Donal fights to save a clan in trouble, his desire for the MacKyrie Seer wars with his obligation to his Laird. Before she is forced into a marriage that will destroy her clan, Ellie must find the heart behind Donal’s gruff exterior and convince him he is the man of her dreams.

I’m Almost Done Going Blog Hop Crazy to Celebrate Highland Healer’s Release!

The mad blog hop to celebrate Highland Healer‘s Release continues!  Drop by and leave a comment – you never know when I might do a surprise giveaway!

28 January – I’m interviewed by Karen Docter

30 January – Karen Docter highlights Highland Healer on her Killer Book Bench Blog

I’m also featured in the January issue of BookPinning: The Magazine.  Click on “Expand” in the center of the page to see the e-zine.  Check it out before January is over!

2353  And don’t forget!  If you’re in the San Antonio area, on 9 February from 2-4 pm at the Barnes and Noble in the Shops at La Cantera, I’ll be signing Highland Healer.  And several other  San Antonio Romance Authors will be there, too, with their latest releases.  Already have an ebook copy?  Come by anyway and get an autographed collector’s card!  I’d love to meet you!

I’ve also joined Authorgraph, so if you have an ebook copy of Highland Healer, you can get my digital autograph there!  Click on the widget to the right.

I’m Still Going Blog Hop Crazy to Celebrate Highland Healer’s Release!

The mad blog hop to celebrate Highland Healer‘s Release continues!  Drop by and leave a comment – you never know when I might do a surprise giveaway!

mermaid-logo14 January – I’ll be in the lagoon talking about what’s really under those kilts on the Waterworld Mermaids blog.

15 January - Pat McDermott hosts me for an interview.  Want a mini-tour of my writing space?  Get it here!

19 January – I’ll be blogging on RomCon - I’m still imagining what the subject will be.

28 January – I’m interviewed by Karen Docter

30 January – Karen Docter highlights Highland Healer on her Killer Book Bench Blog

I’m also featured in the January issue of BookPinning: The Magazine.  Click on “Expand” in the center of the page to see the e-zine.

2353  And don’t forget!  If you’re in the San Antonio area, on 9 February from 2-4 pm at the Barnes and Noble in the Shops at La Cantera, I’ll be signing Highland Healer.  And several other  San Antonio Romance Authors will be there, too, with their latest releases.  Already have an ebook copy?  Come by anyway and get an autographed collector’s card!  I’d love to meet you!

I’ve also joined Authorgraph, so if you have an ebook copy of Highland Healer, you can get my digital autograph there!  Click on the widget to the right.

Plotting Princesses Blog Hop – And Prizes!

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Grand Prize: One lucky person will receive an ebook/print book from all 10 authors. Grand Prize to be announced on Jan. 12th.

BLOG STOPS EACH DAY ARE LISTED BELOW. (Click on the author’s name to take you directly to their blog.
Monday – Dec. 31st ~ Alisha Paige
Tuesday – Jan. 1st ~ Vicki Batman
Wednesday – Jan. 2nd ~ Kathy Ivan
Thursday – Jan. 3rd ~ Michelle Miles
Friday – Jan. 4th ~ Karilyn Bentley

(We’re skipping the 5th and 6th since that is the weekend.)
Monday – Jan. 7th ~ Liz Lipperman
Tuesday – Jan. 8th ~ Sasha Summers
Wednesday ~ Jan. 9th ~ Sylvia McDaniel
Thursday ~ Jan. 10th ~ Willa Blair (Guest Princess for a Day)
Friday ~ Jan. 11th ~ Lynn Rush (Guest Princess for a Day)

The more blogs you visit and comment, the more chances to win! So visit with a Princess every day and see all the wonderful books you might win.