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.  

 

Love That Scottish Burr? You’re In Luck!


486078_348901101886782_1994720705_nDo you love the sound of a Scottish accent? Can you feel those r-r-r-r-r’s rolling off the tongue and across your skin? Especially if the speaker is hot, male and wearing a kilt? 
You’re in luck! Highland Healer is now an audiobook! You can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Tantor.com and audible.com – today!

The Healer’s Gift Early Release Day!

It’s Early Release Day for The Healer’s Gift (A Highland Talents Novella)!  Coira’s story is available exclusively on Amazon (Kindle) for the next 90 days.  Read an Excerpt from my latest addition to my Highland Talents series!

imageCoira MacDugall paid with her life for her attack on the Highland Healer.  But her victim did more than heal Coira’s fatal wound that awful night.  Now drowning in the unwelcome emotions of others, Coira wonders if her new empathic ability was meant as a gift or a curse.
Logen MacDugall must discover who killed three previous lairds if he hopes to survive for long in the position. He believes Coira’s new sense can help him root out the conspirators, but after her disastrous time in the Highlands, the last thing she wants is to get involved with another laird.
Logen must help Coira gain control of her talent in time to save him and their clan from those intent on destroying MacDugall. Can Coira accept that this laird truly loves her?  Or will her memories lead her to madness again?

 The official worldwide release day will be 2 July, when it will become available in Ebook format to B&N (Nook), Kobo, AllRomanceEBooks, iBooks, and The Wild Rose Press, and In Print from Amazon and The Wild Rose Press. 

Release Day!

It’s release day for the Highland Healer audio book! Now you can hear those lovely Scottish burrs instead of just imagining them!
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When do you like to listen to an audiobook? Driving? Exercising? Dreaming?

You can get the audiobook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Tantor Media, Audible.com and probably a few more places I haven’t found yet.

Love That Scottish Burr? You’re In Luck!

Do you love the sound of a Scottish accent? Can you feel those r-r-r-r-r’s rolling off the tongue and across your skin? Especially if the speaker is hot, male and wearing a kilt?

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You’re in luck! Highland Healer has been produced as an audiobook and comes out on 3 March. You can preorder it at Amazon and at Barnes & Noble right now.

Highland Seer on USAToday HEA!

Highland Seer is on USAToday’s HEA blog!  Check it out!

The official release day is Friday, 1 Nov., and the party is on Facebook, so join the fun! 

FinalHighlandSeer_w7776Contests!  Prizes!  Very Special Guests!  Don’t miss it!

Look What Just Arrived!

How exciting!  Print copies of Highland Seer arrived this week from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press.  

I’m looking forward to giving some of them away during Highland Seer’s Release Day party on 1 November!  Mark your calendars and join the fun!

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Six Sentence Sunday Snippet #20

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Revisions are done on the second book in my Highland Talents series, Highland Seer!  I sent them back to my editor on Friday, so I’m hopeful that Highland Seer gets into the queue for a fall release, and that I have a new cover to debut soon.

In the meantime, here’s another snippet from Highland Seer. This follows soon after last week’s snippet.  Enjoy!

The Lathans have found a clan in trouble.  There aren’t many fighting-age men left, and no one to train the younger lads.  Donal is determined to find a solution to this problem, but he’s got his work cut out for him.  The half-trained young man who is as close to a master of arms as the MacKyrie’s have finds Donal and Bram working with the  younger lads and takes offense.  Donal challenges him to show his stuff, but Micheil isn’t inclined to treat it as a demonstration.

Enjoy my Six Sentence Sunday Snippet!

Micheil growled an oath and shoved through the crowd into the circle.  “They’re too young to take up fighting,” he argued.  “No one would accost them.”

“Were those lads on the whisky wagon too young to be waving their dirks at brigands armed with claymores, then?”

That stopped Micheil in his tracks.  He drew his weapon.

Donal grinned.  “That’s better.  Let’s dance, shall we?”

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The Sunday Snippet group is on Facebook!  Click on the banner at the top of this post to find the links to the other authors participating.

Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  Highland Seer will be released later this year.

Six Sentence Sunday Snippet #19

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I’m so excited!  I signed the contract last week for the second book in my Highland Talents series, Highland Seer!  This past week I worked on revisions, which I plan to return to my editor in the next two or three days so that Highland Seer can get into the queue for a fall release.

The Lathans have found a clan in trouble.  There aren’t many fighting-age men left, and no one to train the younger lads.  Donal is determined to find a solution to this problem, but he’s got his work cut out for him.

Enjoy my Six Sentence Sunday Snippet!

Donal had collected sticks and wooden swords lying about in the dirt.  He gave one to each lad, paired each lad with another, then ordered, “Show me what ye can do.”

Their enthusiasm for sparring didn’t surprise him, but their lack of skill did.

“Do ye think to defend yerselves or yer mates like that?”

The lads stopped what they were doing and stared at him, wide-eyed.  “Aye,” a brave one answered him.  “We’ll defend our clan to the death.”

“Then die ye will, laddie, unless ye learn how to fight.”

 

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Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  Highland Seer will be released later this year.

Six Sentence Sunday Snippet #18 – Whisky

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I signed the contract this week for the second book in my Highland Talents series, Highland Seer.  So that’s where today’s snippet is from.  

The Lathans have rescued old men and lads who were attacked by bandits bent on stealing their wagons loaded with kegs of whisky.  Returning the wounded MacKyries home to be cared for, the Lathans are angry that their  laird would send his clansmen out so poorly guarded and with bounty guaranteed to draw thieves.

Enjoy my Six Sentence Sunday Snippet!

“Can we be sure of our welcome here?” Jamie asked quietly.

“We’re bringin’ home their whisky and their menfolk,” Donal groused.   “The laird’s gratitude had better include answering a few questions, like why we’re havin’ to bring home his wounded.”  At Jamie’s raised eyebrow, he continued.  “Once they ken how charming we are, there shouldna be any problems.”

Jamie grinned and shook his head.

Behind him, Bram choked back a laugh and began coughing.

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Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  Highland Seer will be released later this year.

Six Sentence Sunday Snippet #17 – Visitors

I enjoyed a visit from a long-time friend this week, so this snippet is about a visitor Toran receives – a new friend and ally. As the old saying goes, there’s good news and bad news…

Enjoy my Six Sentence Sunday!

Toran stood with fists on hips as Angus approached. “What brings ye?” Toran asked. “Is there more trouble?”  

“Aye,” Angus answered. “And good news, as well.”  He dismounted and handed the reins to one of the lads who stood by.

Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  

Six Sentence Sunday #16 – Sunday Snippets

This week, I spoke on a panel about writing love stories and love scenes at the Writers Guild of Texas in Austin with Tracy Wolff, Mari Mancusi, and Shawnna Perigo.  It was so much fun, I’ve decided to share a bit of a love scene here today.

Enjoy my Six Sentence Sunday!

He had to prove to her that he was serious about a future with her. “To become my wife and the lady of my clan.”

“What?”

Toran glanced quickly around, but no one else seemed to have heard her startled exclamation.

“There will be time, lass.  All ye need.  And when ye find that ye are ready, we will marry.”

Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  

Six Sentence Sunday #15 Now We’re Sunday Snippets

Things are a little chaotic since the demise of #SixSentenceSunday.  Our Facebook follow-on group just changed its name to Sunday Snippets.  There’s another group called Sneak Peek Sunday that uses 8-10 sentences.  I’m going to stick with six for now and hope this all sorts itself out soon.  It would be great for all these groups to get together and support each other.

Enjoy my Six Sentence…ooops, I mean Sunday Snippet!  In this one, Toran is just starting to get a sense of the chaotic situation he’s landed in.

He needed to get a look outside. If he could move quietly enough so as not to wake the lass, he could peer out the tent flap. His boots were lashed together with enough slack between them to hobble him, but not to prevent him from walking in some limited fashion. He considered trying to remove them, but the bindings around his ankles were too tight, and even if he got the boots off, he didn’t want to lose them. He wouldn’t get far on bare feet, so he’d have to find a way to cut the cord between them. First things first.

Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  

Six Sentence Sunday #14 And What a Weekend It’s Been!

This has been a crazy weekend – I appeared on TV Friday to talk about Highland Healer and did my first book signing yesterday.  In honor of those pivotal events in my career as an author, I’m giving you a look at a pivotal event in Aileana’s life, one that will affect her, Toran, and everyone around them.

Enjoy my Six Sentence Sunday!

Aileana met Ranald’s impassive stare with one of her own and then turned back to Colbridge.  She suspected she knew what went on behind Ranald’s expressionless eyes.  Colbridge lay pale as death. Blood soaked the tunic and leathers meant to protect his upper body, and pooled on the table beneath him. The metallic tang of it filled the tent.  If she let him die, Aileana fretted, what would be the consequence?

Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  

I Survived My First Book Signing!

The San Antonio Romance Author had a group book signing today.  SARAs Sasha Summers, Lisa Pietsch, Gina L. Maxwell, Tara West, Patricia W. Fischer and Sophie Greyson and I braved the rainy, foggy San Antonio weather and had a lot of fun (and chocolate!) despite the lack of crowds.

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Here I am before we started.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Six Sentence Sunday #13 – On My Own

Now that the official Six Sentence Sunday is over, I’ve decided to continue on my own, or until I find a group resuming it.  I’m starting with the opening sentences of my debut book, Highland Healer.

Enjoy my first solo Six Sentence Sunday!

They brought the man into the tent on a makeshift stretcher, bound and unconscious. A hunting plaid of muted earth tones draped over his broad chest and across one muscular shoulder, where it fastened to his tunic with a simple brass pin. Quartz crystals decorated the open ends of a braided gold torc at his throat. That fact alone, that jewelry remained on his person, told Aileana that he was being accorded special treatment, not robbed like the common soldiers fallen on the field of battle. He would be a warrior, probably a laird, of the clan that Colbridge fought today.

Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, and other retailers.  

Six Sentence Sunday #12 – The Last Official #SixSunday

It’s hard to believe, but this is the last official Six Sentence Sunday.  January 27th.

I’m sorry to see it go.  I know you are, too.  It’s been a wonderful way to get a glimpse of so many talented authors’ work.

Should I continue here – just for my readers?  What do you think?

In honor of the end of #SixSunday, I’m sharing the moment when Toran realizes his time with Aileana may be ending.

Enjoy the last official Six Sentence Sunday!

Ice suddenly slid down Toran’s back, from his neck to his buttocks. “What do ye mean, lass?”

“You made a promise to me.”

“A promise?” Panic surged like beating wings in his belly. He knew the promise she meant. 

To see other authors contributing to Six Sentence Sunday, just click here.

Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, and other retailers.  

The Next Big Thing: Willa Blair’s Blog Stop

Welcome to my “stop” on The Next Big Thing blog hop. And thanks to Linda Carroll-Bradd for tagging me to participate.  In turn, I’ve asked Kathryn Knight, Chris Redding, Mageela Troche and Bess McBride to participate, and they’ll be posting next week, beginning Dec 10.

“The Next Big Thing” is a question and answer discussion blog in which we discuss…yes! the next big thing we’re working on, or a recent release.  In my case, Highland Healer.

My Debut Book is a Bestseller!

  • Where did the idea come from for the book?  I saw the first scene like a movie clip – a big man being brought into a tent on a rough stretcher, a woman watching and waiting to assess his condition.  The rest of the book followed from that.  Initially, I wasn’t sure what it was going to be – historical, fantasy, science fiction or something else.  But as I wrote that first scene, it quickly became clear to me that the story took place in the highlands of Scotland in the past.  Then it was a matter of finding the perfect time in Scottish history, which took a lot of research.
  • What genre does your book fall under? Highland Healer is a Scottish Historical Romance with a Paranormal twist.  It won the 2011 Washington Romance Writers’ Marlene contest in the Paranormal category.
  • Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Honestly, I have no idea.  In my imagination, the characters have their own faces and personalities, and I’ve never tried to find a “real world” analog for them.   I’d love for you to suggest some!  It would be fun to find out how my readers see them.
  • What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?   After Toran Lathan escapes with healer Aileana Shaw from the army where she was a captive and the invader lays siege to the Lathan keep to get her back, Aileana uses all her abilities to protect herself and those she loves while Toran fights to keep her.
  • Where can we get your book? Click on the cover above to link to Amazon Kindle. Highland Healer is  on sale there until its official release date on Jan 4.  After that, it will be available at full price from The Wild Rose Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, other e-formats and in print.
  • How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? My first draft took a decade. I was a pantzer at the time, and still working my day job, so the energy to be creative and write was in short supply.  When I started the second book of this series, I first outlined each chapter and its scenes.  That book took less than a year to write – a huge improvement for me.
  • Who or what inspired you to write this book?  I’ve always written – stories, articles for the school newspaper, something for the school literary journal.  A few novels that I started as a child are tucked away in a drawer – they’re written in pencil!  This book grew over a long period of time out of that initial scene, and like most debut books, a lot of twists and turns in story structure, plot, characters and setting happened before it all come together.
  • What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Highland Healer is not your usual historical romance.  I always loved reading science fiction and fantasy, especially if the stories included psi talents.  So now, traces of psi talents have a way of  showing up in most of the stories I write, whether the story setting is past, present or future.  Add to that my fascination with how relationships develop, and I think you’ll find my books are captivating, sexy and satisfying to read.

EXCERPT:

Despite his threats a few moments before, she had sensed no real animosity in him. She’d been treated well since arriving at the Aerie. Her dream of a home, with people who cared about her, perhaps a family of her own, rose unbidden to her mind, and with it came a familiar lump in her throat. She was tired, she thought, to let that longing overwhelm her now. She folded her arms under her breasts and kept her eyes on the flames. She heard Toran move from the door to stand behind her. She tensed as his hands came to rest on her shoulders. He turned her gently, but irresistibly, to face him.

“What should I do with so beautiful, so valuable, a prize?” he murmured, almost to himself.

His deep blue gaze ensnared Aileana as completely as his hands. She knew she should be outraged at being called a prize. He’d done it before, on the way here. Did he truly see her that way? She refused to be chattel any longer, she told herself, and would not allow him to treat her so. But she found she could not summon her ire. One of his hands left her shoulder and he lightly touched her cheek, then slowly slid his fingers down her throat to her collarbone. There, he hesitated, and Aileana held her breath until he moved the hand back to her shoulder.

His simple touch sent shivers dancing and nearly undid her.

Thank you all so much for visiting with me today. Don’t forget to check in with Kathryn KnightChris ReddingMageela Troche and Bess McBride next week on December 10th for their “Next Big Thing.”