Carol Presents: Susanne Mathews … Echos of the Past

Today on Carol Presents we’ve switched things up a bit. Susanne Mathews kindly answers the question (one that most authors get asked sometime in their career) … where did you get your idea for this story? But first let’s learn a little bit more about my guest, Susanne.

me

Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. As a retired educator, she gets to spend her time writing, so she can share new adventures with her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

 

 

 

Let’s see what prompted Ms Mathews to write her story.

Echoes of the Past: Where Do Story Ideas Come From?

People often ask me where I get the ideas for new stories. Well, they come from hundreds of different places. The idea for my newest book, Echoes of the Past came to me when I visited The Lake of the Mountain Resort in Prince Edward County, Ontario, last September. The lake is a geological conundrum, a source of fresh water, seemingly bottomless in the center, constantly emptying via a small waterfall that tumbles almost 200 feet into Lake Ontario, but the lake’s water level never changes, and no one can figure exactly where the water in it comes from.

While I found that interesting, the legends associated with the lake sparked my interest. There are two. The first talks about a monster of the Loch Ness variety—interesting but probably nothing more than a large sturgeon. The second touched my soul. It was a Mohawk legend, a tragic story of lovers, forced apart by hatred and doomed to be kept apart in death until the Mohawk spirits felt sorry for them. That’s the story I used as the underlying love story for Echoes of the Past.

Before I left, I got permission from the owners to set my novel there. I brought in a new component as well when I crafted my heroine after my daughter’s best friend. Amazingly enough, the cover created by the publisher, Secret Cravings Publishing actually looks like the real Michelle.

***

So there we have it, the story behind the beginning of this story, Echoes of the Past. For writers, inspiration can happen anywhere, anytime. The key is to pay attention. That’s what Susanne did.

Here’s her book blurb:

EchoesofthePast_MEDBorn Mohawk, raised white, forensic pathologist, Michelle Thomas is trapped between two worlds—this one and the spirit world where the ghosts of those who’ve drowned speak to her. Haunted by crippling nightmares of her own drowning death and erotic dreams of a phantom lover, she strives to make sense of her life. When two suspicious deaths occur at the Lake of the Mountain Resort, she’s sent to investigate. She’ll face the greatest challenge of her career when her past and her present collide. One of these men is her future, but which one—the rich and powerful Mayor Ron Davies, or Tony Steele, the hydrology professor who may be responsible for his students’ deaths? Charged by the spirits of her Mohawk ancestors to atone for her previous sins by protecting Lake of the Gods, can Michelle solve the murders, save the sacred waters, and fulfil her destiny?

 

And the excerpt:

Tony wandered out onto the screened-in porch and looked out at the lake. The strong night winds whipped it into a frenzy as if the water boiled with anger. He checked his watch. Two in the morning again. He needed to break this habit. These unusually vivid dreams had started the first night he’d arrived at the resort. Most of them, exquisite, erotic fantasies, left him dissatisfied, but tonight’s dream had transitioned into a flight for his life. From personal research, he knew a dream’s meaning rarely had anything to do with its contents. This research project into the source of the water in the lake meant everything to him personally and professionally. He was afraid something would happen to ruin it. That explained being chased, but it didn’t explain the sexual fantasies. Those he understood easily enough.

He recognized the woman in his dreams as the shawl-wrapped stranger who walked along the beach every now and then. Beautiful and exotic, something about her called to his soul. He preferred women who didn’t look like carbon copies of others, and this one intrigued him. He thought about her now.

He’d noticed her the night he’d arrived. He never slept well in a new bed. Unable to settle, he’d stepped out onto the porch and noticed someone else apparently suffering from insomnia. A woman, a blanket wrapped around herself, her hair in a long braid down her back, strolled along the edge of the sandy beach. She’d moved southeast toward the edge of the lookout. He’d stepped outside to get a better look at her, but she’d vanished.

The next night, his imagination and libido had taken over, and in his dreams, she’d entered his leafy grotto, and they’d had mind-blowing sex. The things they’d done to one another. Thank God he’d awakened before his body had finished responding to his fantasy.

He’d gotten up, frustrated as old hell, and had gone downstairs. Standing in the screened-in porch, he’d looked out at the lake. Unlike tonight, the water had resembled a mirror reflecting the stars on its surface, and he’d been suspended between the water and the sky—everything brighter, crisper, and clearer than he’d expected. Animals scurried in the brush nearby. Bats swooped overhead. An owl hooted, and he’d shivered. Didn’t some of the Native American tribes believe death followed the cries of an owl?

He’d turned to go back inside when he’d glimpsed his mystery woman coming along the beach from the marshy area to the north. He’d called out to her. She’d turned at the sound of his voice and stopped. In the moonlight, he’d seen the sparkle of silver tears on her cheeks. Naked, he’d hurried into the kitchen, grabbed his damp swimsuit off the drying rack, and rushed out, but she’d disappeared.

He blinked, and the memory passed. He’d never seen a storm as vicious as tonight’s. The rain came down in sheets. Thank God the kids had made it back safely. He turned to go inside when a flash of lightning, the first he’d noticed tonight, illuminated the beach.

What the hell?

The woman, wrapped in her blanket, walked along the beach as if all hell wasn’t breaking loose around her. He ran to the door and raced across the short expanse of grass. He stopped at the edge of the water. Where had she gone? As she’d done every time he’d tried to catch her, she’d vanished. Wet through, he hurried back inside. He saw the light go out in Jackson’s room.

Tony entered the cabin, stripped off his wet clothes, and tossed them in the kitchen sink. Naked and shivering, he climbed the stairs and went into the bathroom. He took a hot shower and then dried his shoulder-length hair. He needed to get it cut. He grabbed a clean t-shirt and a pair of boxers out of the drawer. Exhausted, he fell into bed hoping for sleep.

***

Okay, you’ve got my attention. I’m hoping that Tony gets a chance to live out this dream with the mysterious woman. And since this is a romance, the chances are good. A sexy romance and a mystery. Yum!  Thanks, Susanne for being my guest.

Thank you, Carol for having me on today. I appreciate this opportunity to reach a new audience and make new friends.

You can find out where to purchase Echoes of the Past by visiting http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca/

Follow Susanne on her: Website   Blog    Facebook page   Twitter @jandsmatt

Amazon author page   and   Goodreads author page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Carol Presents: Alexia Adams … An Inconvenient Love

I feel very fortunate to have Alexia Adams and her brand new book,  An Inconvenient Love, which released June 23, featured on my blog today.

Here’s her short bio:
Alexia once traveled the world, meeting new people, experiencing new sights and tastes. She’s lived in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, England, and France, as well as spent time in Panama and Russia. When life demanded that she stay rooted in one place, she took to vicarious voyages through the characters she created in her romance novels. Her stories reflect her love of travel and feature locations as diverse as the wind-swept prairies of Canada to hot and humid cities in Asia.

*****

Right about now there are a bunch of readers who are envious of your travels, including me, Alexia. At least we can visit those wonderful places in you stories.

*****

Now here is her book info for: An Inconvenient Love
An Inconvenient Love CoverBlurb:
Neither wanted love in their marriage. But you don’t always get what you want.
Sophia Stevens is tired of struggling to pay the rent and help her brother through college. After seven years on her own, she is no farther ahead than the day she walked out on her old life and started again. So when super-sexy Italian property developer Luca Castellioni proposes a marriage of convenience, she’s intrigued. Financial security and life in a beautiful Italian villa in exchange for attending a few business functions and typing some letters seems very convenient. Until she breaks the most definite term of their arrangement: she falls in love with her husband.
Luca Castellioni lives for his job restoring beautiful buildings to their former glory. When his business expansion plans are hampered by the need for an English-speaking secretary and a wife, he does what any efficient businessman would do—he combines his requirements and selects and English administrative assistant as his bride. But when his fascination with his wife distracts him from business, he wishes there was more marriage and not so much convenience in their agreement. Too bad his wife has reconstructed her own life, without him.
When their respective lives pull them in opposite directions, they must decide: will they continue to put their businesses first, or allow love to overcome the obstacles between them?

And now the excerpt:
The following scene takes place in St. James’s Park in London, England. It’s the third meeting between the hero, Luca and the heroine, Sophia. She thinks he’s about to offer her a job. Listen in…

“I am pleased to see you again.” Perhaps it was her imagination, but his accent seemed thicker today.
He was immaculate, not a hair out of place, his suit undoubtedly costing more than she made all month. He was way beyond her league. What else could he want except a receptionist?

“You said you had a job opportunity to discuss with me.” She moved her arm away so they no longer touched. What was he playing at? Did he think because she’d slipped her hand into his at the party that she was available for an affair? Well, if so, he’d find out soon enough she wasn’t going to sleep with him just because he was rich, and powerful, and gorgeous.

“An opportunity, yes. As you know, I own a property development and restoration company in the north of Italy, based in Milan.” His low voice, so close, sounded like they were sharing an illicit secret. “I am now in a position to sign some large contracts with British and American companies, like Chet Wilkins. However, my secretary, who is very good, does not speak fluent English. I cannot afford to have misunderstandings.”

Excitement raced through her. It was a job offer. And from the sound of it, based in Italy. She was tired of London. Tired of working two, sometimes three, jobs just to make ends meet, never getting ahead. A move to Italy would be the change she longed for, a chance to escape the constant reminders of her horrific past. Before she could respond however, he continued.

“I need more than just an English-speaking secretary. I have reached a point in my life where all my business associates are married, and new clients are always asking about my personal life. It seems to disconcert them when I say I am unmarried, and it is becoming a hindrance to my success. Family is very important in Italy. It is seen as a sign of stability. However, my entire focus at the moment is on building my business. I do not have the time now, or in the foreseeable future, to romance a woman. Besides, a wife who loved me would expect me to be home every night and probably feel neglected with the amount of time I spend working.”

Sophia struggled to keep her face neutral and not let her puzzlement show. Why was he talking about his need for a wife?

“Last night at the party you proved to me you are able to read a situation and act appropriately. I also believe you are good at your job. Walter is an astute man; he would not have kept you employed if you were not a hard worker.” He leaned toward her. His voice had dropped even more, and she wondered where he was going with this so-called opportunity.

“I think, therefore, that I should align my requirements and seek an English wife. One who would be able to assist me in my business, and also provide the home life expected of a man in my position. Are you interested?” He turned to her, his eyes sweeping over her face, awaiting her response. His smile held a hint of warmth, but his eyes were guarded, as though there was something he wasn’t telling. Something that prompted him to ask her, of all people.

This was it. She’d finally snapped. Her brain had imploded from worry and boredom, and as a result she was fantasizing about marriage proposals and being swept away to live in a castle in Italy. At this point she should reach into her pocket and pull out the other glass slipper. Except the only thing in her pocket was lint. And the only romance in her life was in the books she read. Maybe Luca was the one having a meltdown? She searched his face for some sign of insanity.

He looked serious.

What would you do in Sophia’s shoes?

 

*****

Good question, Alexia. That was quite the job offer she received. I’m anxious to learn what Sophia does. Thanks so much for joining me on Carol Presents.

And thank you, Carol, for hosting me on your blog today.

You’re very welcome. Best wishes with your writing career!

*****

Social Media Links:
Website: http://alexia-adams.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlexiaAdamsAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlexiaAdamsAuth
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/alexiaadamsauth/
Tumblr: http://alexia-adams-author.tumblr.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7068526.Alexia_Adams?from_search=true

An Inconvenient Love is available from:
Crimson Romance: http://www.crimsonromance.com/?s=An+Inconvenient+Love&submit=
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Inconvenient-Love-Crimson-Romance-ebook/dp/B00KI2EYHK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1402283152&sr=8-3&keywords=an+inconvenient+love
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inconvenient-Love-Crimson-Romance-ebook/dp/B00KI2EYHK/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1402283264&sr=8-8&keywords=an+inconvenient+love
Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/Inconvenient-Love-Crimson-Romance-ebook/dp/B00KI2EYHK/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1402283264&sr=8-8&keywords=an+inconvenient+love
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/Inconvenient-Love-Crimson-Romance-ebook/dp/B00KI2EYHK/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1402283264&sr=8-8&keywords=an+inconvenient+love
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnobel.com/w/an-inconvenient-love-alexia-adams/1119589486?ean=9781440583315
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/an-inconvenient-love/id881624938?mt=11
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/an-inconvenient-loveGoogle Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Alexia_Adams_An_Inconvenient_Love?id=726fAwAAQBAJ

 

Carol Presents: Lexie Stewart–Too Many Suitors

Today on Carol Presents, I am showcasing Lexie Stewart and her short story, Too Many Suitors. If you’re looking for a fun, fast read, this may be the short story for you.

Here’s Lexie’s bio:

Ever since I learned to read, I could always be found with my nose in a book–even when I was supposed to be doing something else!
I love the magic of stories, love following the twists and turns, love getting to know the strange and wonderful characters and experiencing their stories with them.
I remember a poster stuck to my bedroom wall when I was a kid. A wizard in splendid, purple robes was summoning a dragon in an explosion of red and gold flames. In a way, writers are wizards, summoning stories and souls from the wilderness of their imagination.
I live in Australia where I write and read and marvel at the blueness of the sky.

Too Many Suitors cover

Here’s the blurb:
Jessica finds herself trying to choose between three men. She’s an up front, pro-active sort of woman. So instead of staying home alone or attempting to see each of her suitors behind the backs of the other two, she invites out the three men. Gym-junkie Brad, workaholic Saul and BFF Jimmy. She explains the problem of her conflicted heart and she tells them what her solution is.
She’ll date all three!

And here’s an excerpt of TOO MANY SUITORS.

He held hand out to me. “May I have this dance?” he asked.
Cheek to cheek with Saul on the dance floor I forgot all about my problems. All I knew was the bliss of swaying slowly in the arms of the man I–
The shrill cry of a mobile phone split through the music like a lightning bolt.
The sound was coming from our table. It was Saul’s phone, of course.
I groaned. I couldn’t help it.
“I’m, I’m sorry, Jessica,” Saul stammered and hurried to his phone like a servant hurrying to their master.
The phone call turned out to be quite a long one and I was left standing there alone on the dance floor with couples dancing around me until embarrassment drove me back to my chair.
When Saul finally returned to the table we settled into conversation.
I pretended not to notice how often he checked his watch or did something with his mobile phone. He was like an alcoholic hiding a bottle of brandy under the table and taking quick sips when he thought no one was watching.
My poor father has high blood pressure and despite the doctors warnings he doesn’t do much
towards improving his health. It’s been a great strain on the rest of the family trying to get him to change his diet and cut down on stress.
I started to tell Saul about this- he had asked after all- and I felt my voice going croaky with emotion.
Saul rubbed my hands and nodded as I poured my heart out to him.
And then his phone rang.
A look of pain came to Saul’s face.
We stared at each other.
The phone kept ringing.
“I have to get this. I’m sorry,” said Saul.
I felt a flush of anger burning my face. I felt so foolish! I’d just been opening up to this man, sharing my life with him and leaving myself vulnerable and the simple truth of it was that Saul’s work was more important to him.
I glared, not at Saul, but at the phone held to his ear. I think I was jealous of it.
I sat patiently as the phone call stretched to the five minute mark. And then I snapped.
In one sudden movement I grabbed the phone out of Saul’s hand and dropped it in a bowl of soup on the table next to ours.
“Jessica,” gasped Saul. “What’s wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with me?” I nearly yelled. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Jessica, lower your voice. People are staring.”
“I swear you’ve spent more time speaking to that lump of plastic than you have to me!”
“I’m sorry, it’s work-”
“And work comes first! I get it.” I couldn’t stop now. Everything that had been bottled up came bursting to the surface, like corked champagne. “I don’t know why I’m wasting my time on you! There’s no room in your life for a relationship. No woman could be anything other than a mistress to you because you’re already married to the job!”
“Jessica, this isn’t fair! Why can’t you understand that I’m just trying to make something of myself?”
“What are you trying to make? A robot? Mission accomplished!”

****

So will Jessica choose Saul or will it be Brad or Jimmy? Sorry, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. You’ll have to read the story to find out.
And here’s where you can buy an eBook version:
http://www.amazon.com/Too-Many-Suitors-ebook/dp/B0067LGQ4A

Thanks, Lexie, for being a guest on Carol Presents! I look forward to reading your next short story!

Carol Presents: Peggy Bird … Sparked by Love

I am very pleased to introduce you to another excellent author, Peggy Bird, author of Sparked by Love, plus many other wonderful books. I’ll let Peggy tell you a little about herself.

Born in Philadelphia, I’ve spent most of my adult life in the Pacific Northwest where I have happily grown webs between my toes and moss behind my ears. Over my adult life, I pursued a number of careers—nurse, legislative staffer, lobbyist, public affairs consultant, non-profit association executive, workshop teacher, oh, and mother and wife—before deciding to leave it all for what I’ve loved through every stage of life—writing.

But instead of the intricately plotted mysteries and deeply moving memoir pieces I assumed I’d write, the characters in every piece of fiction I started wanted their love stories told. Even when I had many of them hanging around questionable people or involved in murder, intrigue and general mayhem.

That’s how my Crimson Romances were born. All the stories are set in some of my favorite places in the country—Portland, Oregon, the Puget Sound, Philadelphia. My second series, A Holiday For Romance, will be released beginning in June of 2014 and will focus on some of my favorite times of the year—Independence Day, Halloween, New Year’s Eve and a few more.

Still not mysteries but I’m working on it. I’m working on it.

Sparked by Love cover
Blurb:
Artist Leo Wilson has been awarded a grant to install glass fireworks at the Fourth of July celebration at Fort Vancouver, Washington where thousands of people will see his work. It’s the chance of a lifetime for him. All he has to do is get a few permits from the city and he’ll be set. But the crabby bureaucrat who answers his phone calls is making it impossible for him to get what he needs.

Shannon Morgan is responsible for organizing the huge annual celebration of Independence Day on the grounds of the Historic Reserve, one of the most significant pieces of real estate in the region. The only part of the job she hates is dealing with some fussy artist who thinks it’s all about him. He’s just like a couple of other men she’s known—her mostly absent father, her disappearing ex-boyfriend—who cared more about themselves than they did about her.

When Leo decides to confront the cause of his trouble in person he discovers a beautiful young woman who is as surprised by him as he is by her. A walk through the parade grounds where the event will take place settles their differences and sparks a mutual interest between them. Dinner, a movie and a few torrid kisses take it from spark to flame.

But then the father she has always wanted in her life appears—with her ex-boyfriend. Shannon faces a dilemma—how far is she willing to go to have her father around? And why is he hanging out with her ex? Are they hiding something from her? A lot rides on Shannon finding the answers to those questions.

If she makes the right decisions, she and Leo will create fireworks that rival the pyrotechnics that light up the sky on July Fourth. Privately.

Excerpt:
About fifteen minutes later, Leo returned, barefoot with his shirtsleeves rolled up and a necktie in his hand. “Ready?”

“Sure. Where’re we going?”


“I’m going to put this over your eyes so you can’t see and … ”


“Is the surprise some kinky sex thing?”


“Damn. I never thought about a kinky sex thing. I’ll have to remember that for another time. You’ll have to settle for what I put together tonight.” He motioned for her to stand. “Close your eyes.” He tied the tie around her head so her eyes were mostly covered. “Too tight? Or uncomfortable?”

“No, it’s fine. Now what?”

“Now I’m going to take you to the surprise.” From behind, he gently guided her in the direction he wanted her to go. When he stopped, she smelled something flowery, sweet. And she could hear soft instrumental music, the kind played in spas or as background for meditation.

He slipped the tie down around her neck and said, “Voila.”

While he undid the knot and removed the tie, she blinked so she could focus. He’d led her to the bathroom, not the bedroom. The overhead light was off. In the huge claw foot tub she’d never used, opting for the stall shower, he had drawn a bath and filled it with bubbles. Around the room, on the shelf above the sink and the windowsill, on the radiator and the back of the toilet, were candles—maybe a dozen of them—each one in a glass vessel, cup or vase of some sort so the light from the candles glowed through the glass in jewel-like colors. Looking more closely at several vessels, Shannon could see the candles didn’t quite match the elegance of the candleholders but it hardly mattered.

“Oh, Leo, it’s beautiful.”

***
Wonderful excerpt, Peggy! I gotta say I love romantic guys like Leo. How sweet of him to prepare such a luxurious bath for her… or maybe it’s for the both of them. Hmm, the possiblities!
Thank you so much for letting us get to know you a bit better, Peggy, and of course for sharing a snippet of SPARKED BY LOVE. I look forward to reading it!

Buy links: http://www.amazon.com/Sparked-Love-Holiday-Romance-Crimson-ebook/dp/B00KI2EYHA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400910345&sr=1-1&keywords=Sparked+by+Love

http://www.crimsonromance.com/crimson-romance-ebooks/crimson-romance-book-genres/contemporary-romance-novels/sparked-by-love/

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/Search?Query=Sparked+By+Love+by+Peggy+Bird

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sparked-by-love-peggy-bird/1119589485?ean=9781440570391

The Romance Reviews Banner …Ta Da!

90x120_TRR_AnimatedBanner Sometimes I wish I had a split personality and the other half of me was a teenager with computer skills! Then, whenever I came across a tricky task (tricky for me, anyhow), I’d invoke my teenager-self to figure it out. Like today. I wanted to put “The Romance Reviews” banner on my blog. The Romance Reviews a great site if you want to find out about a romance novel, and whether you’d enjoy it. Since they help promote romance authors, including little old me, I’d like to promote them. Honestly, how hard should it be to put up a little banner? Apparently for me, very hard. And alas, I have no teenager to call upon.

Apparently, WordPress.com doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of WordPress.org. You can only do certain tasks if you are a WordPress.org member. I didn’t know this. So I spent over two hours trying to upload the banner to a sidebar. Nope. Not allowed. I’m sure any teenager would have tried once, twice at the most, and would have known it couldn’t be accomplished. But, because I flounder on a computer like a flounder at a computer, I just assumed I was doing something wrong.

We all know that saying, “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.” But that didn’t stop me from doing the same wrong thing over and over again. Of course, I checked for assistance on google several times. Nothing made sense. I hit the help button on WordPress. I hit my head against the wall. But I couldn’t get that little banner to upload.

If not for my Crimson Romance friend, I’d still be cursing! Terri Herman-Ponce, sweet girl that she is, suggested I put the banner in a post. So I did. See it? Nifty, isn’t it? Here’s the link! http://www.theromancereviews.com Maybe a teenager lurks within me afterall.

Now the Scary Part Begins

I’ve just finished writing my second novel. As my critique partners scrutinise the manuscript for errors, it’s time for me to find someone to publish it. I have great confidence in this book, but the thought of sending it out to a publishing house terrifies me. There is so much competition with other hopeful writers all vying  to catch the eye of an editor. The chance of rejection is high.

I remember, that before I found a home for my first book, STUBBORN HEARTS, I nearly gave up on writing. Waiting months to see if my book would be accepted for publication and then receiving a rejection letter … well, it felt like my writing confidence was punched right in the face.  I threw the manuscript in the back of my bedroom closet. Stupid me, why did I think I could write? But my characters drew me back. They deserved to have their story told. So I would haul the manuscript out, work on it some more and send it out to another place. It was a depressing cycle. And then acceptance came.

It’s hard to describe my feelings when I read the email saying they loved my story and wanted to publish it. First of all I let my doubts and insecurities surface. Really, they want my story? They loved it? Are they talking about my book? Then it hit me. I’m about to be a published author. OMG. Who do I call first? My husband, my mother, my kids? What a wonderful high that had been!

That high was short-lived when I was told I should be on Facebook, develop a blog, and network and promote like crazy. I had never looked at Facebook, and barely knew what a blog was. Promoting? Wasn’t that my publisher’s job?

Welcome to the new world of publishing, Carol. If an author wants her books to succeed, she better be out there getting them and herself noticed. It’s not about writing the best book you can anymore. That of course is top priority, but coming a close second is your committment to make it succeed. My committment is strong, but the know-how is sadly insufficient.

And now I’m faced with trying to entice a publisher to like my new manuscript. Wish me luck!

***

Okay, I put this blog post into a draft and then got busy and forgot about it. So here’s an update. I’m signing a contract for the above said book with Books To Go Now. Yeah! It is tentatively titled, HEARTS RACING.

Now I must get back to work on my next story! Will this insanity ever end? I hope not!

Making Dialogue Work for You

Proper dialogue will bring your characters to life, but poorly executed dialogue can kill your characters, and no amount of clever exposition or narrative can revive them.

Because dialogue in a manuscript is easy to spot, a potential reader can quickly skim your story and judge your writing skills. If you want to sell your book to that reader, you’d better make your dialogue work for you. Here are some pointers.

1. Use incomplete sentences. When we speak, we often use clipped sentences. Listen to other conversations and you will see what I mean.

2. Eliminate chit chat. Check out this piece of dialogue.
“Hi, Jane. It’s good to see you. How are you?”
“Good thanks. You?”
“Oh, can’t complain.”
“Anything new in your life?”
“No, just the usual.” Blah, blah, blah.

BORING! Yes, we often speak like that, but it will make a reader slam your book shut and put it back on the shelf. Chit chat words are empty words and they take up valuable space and time.  Good dialogue is purposeful. It reveals and helps move the story forward

3. Long dialogue speeches usually don’t work. Unless the speaker is giving a lecture, it is nearly impossible for the second party of the conversation not to cut in and add his own opinion. And doesn’t it drive you crazy when one person talks and doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise, sideways or upside down? I does me.

4. Even when the dialogue is simple, there is always a way to add interest and a hint of conflict (which also adds interest). Compare the following two dialogue snippets:

“Did you hand in your assignment?” Mr. Ericson asked.

“Yes, I put it on your desk this morning,” Mark answered.

“Oh right, I remember now. I hope you edited it,” he said.

“Yup, I always do” Mark said.

“Good then,” Ericson continued marking papers, while Mark waited. “Was there something else?” Ericson asked.

“Yes, I was wondering why you gave me such a poor mark on my last essay.”

AND now the second snippet:

“Did you hand in your assignment?” Mr. Ericson asked.

“I put it on your desk this morning,” Mark answered.

“Edited well?”

“Like always.”

Erickson continued marking papers, while Mark waited. “Was there something else?”

“Why did you give me such a poor mark on my last essay?”

THE second piece is more interesting because:

a. some of the cooperative words (“Yes”, “Oh, right” and “Good then”) were eliminated.

b. a question was answered by asking another question.

c. some dialogue tags were removed.

DID you also feel a wee bit more tension or conflict in the second passage? Conflict keeps the reader reading. It doesn’t have to be an out-and-out fight.

5. Dialogue tags (he demanded, she murmured, he pleaded, etc.) can often be eliminated. Tags should only be used when it is unclear who is speaking. There are ways to get around using tags.

a. Use an action to show which character is speaking, but be sure the action suits the dialogue. If a character throws a pot across the room, he isn’t likely to say, “I love you.”

b. When there are only two people talking, just by starting a new paragraph, the reader will know there is a new speaker.

c. A character’s style of speech will reveal who is talking. “Aye, he was a mighty fine lad.”

6.The best dialogue tag to use is “said.” It disappears on the page, unless the page is peppered with it. That would be a no-no.

7. A character cannot laugh dialogue. “And then he fell off his chair,” he laughed. “I knew he was drunk.” This needs to be changed. How’s this? “And then he fell off his chair,” he said, laughing. “I knew he was drunk” Or: “And then he fell off his chair.” He laughed. “I knew he was drunk.”

8. If you want a character to hiss something, you’d better have some “ss” sounds in the sentence. It’s pretty hard to hiss this comment. “That man killed my uncle.”

9. Don’t overuse proper names in dialogue.  Here’s an example of name overuse.

“Tell me, Jim, what were you thinking?”

“To tell the truth, Bill, I wasn’t. I just reacted.”

“Then may I suggest the next time you get yourself into such a predicament, Jim, think first.”

“Bill, you’ve got my word on it.”

THIS might be a good time to do a little name dropping. Really, as in drop the names from this dialogue!

EMPLOY a few of these techniques and you will soon be a dialogue dynamo!

Are There Degrees of Perfection?

I’m a professional picture framer and my job requires me to be fussy.  Everything has to be just so: frame corners joined precisely;  mats even and cleanly cut; glass without fingerprints or scratches; assembly without lint and specks. It’s fastidious work. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great job, but trying to do everything perfectly–which most customers expect–can be very demanding.

And I let it get to me.

I took every tiny criticism personally.  After all, I had worked to make their framing as perfect as possible so any negative comment felt like a personal attack. I had become obsessed with perfection. With every piece I would fuss and worry that  the customer was going to say that this wasn’t perfect enough.

I became a pressure cooker. And one day I exploded.

I decided, that very day, I had to take time off. My staff was more than capable of handling the business. For six months, all I did was come in to pay bills and write paychecks. Eventually I returned to work.

But here’s the thing I learned while I was away. I learned that there had to be a point where my best had to be good enough. Was it perfect? Pretty darn close, but no. I’m not after perfection anymore. I’m after excellence. Only God does perfection.

That’s how I approach my writing, too. I do it to my best ability. I try to learn and improve my craft everyday. Is my writing perfect? Nope. There will always be sentences that could have been improved. Stronger verbs could have been chosen. But eventually, I have to tell myself it’s the best I can do at this time. Then I send it off to a publisher. I get rejections like every writer,but I don’t take it personally anymore. I’m disappointed, but not beaten. I have accepted my limitations and my strengths.

Tips and Lessons for Writers

I’ve been writing for some time and I thought why not share the writing related wisdom I’ve managed to retain before it disappears into a brain crevice, never to resurface. So under the category, Tips and Lessons for Writers, I will from time to time write helpful articles for scribes and wannabe scribes. At least I hope you’ll find them helpful. Regardless, it will be a nice way to remind myself what good writing involves! Plus, I write romantic fiction and the right side of my brain is taking over. I need to exercise the left side  and write with logical thinking and precision. Believe me, that is a very difficult assignment!

Get the Champagne Flutes and Pop the Cork

I’ve been reading the comments on facebook bouncing back and forth between the Crimson Romance’s June authors. There is so much excitement among them that I can’t help but get caught up in it too. Each time a beautiful new cover is revealed, I can almost hear champagne corks popping as the authors celebrate.

And who can blame them!

It’s no simple thing, writing a novel. It’s far more than just taking a concept, piling words upon words, adding and deleting, moving and shuffling until the words form sentences, then paragraphs, then chapters, and finally a completed manuscript.  It’s about the writer digging deep within himself. He has to have the guts to steal time from a myriad of other obligations which threaten to heap guilt upon him.  He has to have faith to stick with his original story when a new and seductive plot sidles up next to him. He has to endure the pain when rejection letters are slicing away at his confidence.

They why do it? Why write when it causes such angst?”

I can only answer for myself.  I began writing simply because I wondered if I could. It was a whim, a foolish desire to see if I had any writing ability in me. I was unaware of the challenges I would face.

So I wrote, joined a writers’ group and wrote some more. I read books upon books about grammar and plotting and characterization. I rounded out my characters and put them in a lovely setting to live, and before I knew it, they were practically telling me their story and I simply recorded it. Certainly I presented them with obstacles, but ultimately they themselves resolved the problems. And while all this was going on, I had discovered a new passion . . . writing!

Did I have trouble finding the time to write? Not really. My two biggest responsibilities were adults now, so I was spared the guilt which weighs so heavily on young mothers. My dear husband understood my need to write and gave me free rein. I really didn’t care if the floor needed washing or the laundry needed folding. My writing took priority.

Was I tempted by other plots. Yes, sadly I was. But I refuse to take full blame. My characters, Tom and Beth, spent months at a time pleading editors to publish their story. While they were away, I sought out other characters for company. But when they returned, rejected again, I commiserated with them and promised never to give up on them. I edited and edited. Then I edited some more.

And one day, one glorious day, a lovely and wise young editor at Crimson Romance took an interest in the story. She accepted it!

The other Crimson Romance Ladies in Red know that feeling of euphoria. We’re riding high on it . . . the June authors indubitably riding highest.  To all the wonderful women at Crimson Romance, cheers! In a couple months it will be my turn to celebrate and you can bet champagne will flow.

P.S. Tom and Beth ask you to stop by your local eBook store and read all about their “Stubborn Hearts”.  I told them this wasn’t the time or place to shamelessly plug their story, but when have they ever listened to me!   😉