It’s Spring! And we’re in a Literary Fever! #MFRWhop

While helping to plan and set up the MFRW Spring Mainstream blog hop, I was searching for just the ‘right’ name. Spring cleaning was just too depressing. Spring planting might resonate in some places but in the high desert it can lead to erratic results. Then I remembered a song I heard years ago, sung by the iconic Doris Day…something to do with Spring Fever. Hmmm, Spring Fever, now that’s a great blog hop title, speaking to all levels of writers.

With that established, I was contemplating my own blog. How would I tie in my featured book, Teach Me To Forget, with Spring Fever? I went to You Tube (my very favorite time suck) to remind myself about the lyrics. Lovely, and so…lyrical. Off to the side, You Tube suggests other renditions of whatever I’m watching (TIME SUCK MUCH???), leading me to what looked like an opera singer. What the heck, let’s check it out. Bryn Terfel

Okay, jaw dropping and mind racing. It’s so unusual to hear someone singing with such precision. The precise enunciation of each word, with just a slight emphasis on the ‘p’ in ‘dope’ along with the clarity of every phrase, plus generous facial expression supporting the words. What a treat to hear popular music interpreted in such a classical fashion.
Then my brain switched from appreciation to contemplation. Do you see a parallel between category writers and literary writers? How many times have you been told your writing was ‘too literary?’ I know I have been, along with several very talented writing friends. ‘Word usage too sophisticated for the average reader’ is one of the more common phrases. Along with ‘too descriptive’ and ‘today’s readers don’t want that level of detail, they want their books moving forward with great energy.’
Really? All of today’s readers lean more toward Hemingway than Faulkner? Then why do we have questions about the details in a story, and why oh why do we miss those rich, evocative descriptions? Some of us want to know how ocean waves slam against the dock during a storm, sending salt water spray to mingle with the fresh water of the rain. Add in the bone deep chill of a wet wind and the bright flash of lightning and we are THERE, waiting for the shadow of the love we once met on that dock…
I think readers, and writers, come in all degrees of detail desires, and I find the proliferation of small presses and the greater ease of self publication allows for a much greater variety and depth of description.
That said, here’s a snippet from Teach Me To Forget

***At first, Jonathan wasn’t sure he’d come to the right place, in spite of the dog dancing at his feet, and he worried about finding her in time. Night came early this deep in the woods, and travel was necessarily slow among the granite outcroppings and fallen Deep in the Foresttrees. If Bethany were seriously hurt, it would be a major undertaking to get her back up the hill after he found her.

Baron dashed up to him again, actually taking hold of his sleeve and pulling as though he had a thought in his head he needed to convey. For lack of better direction, Jonathan gave in to the urging. Once he took a step forward, the quivering red dog dashed away again to take up his post at the foot of a thickly leaved tree, looking up and whining.

She’d somehow managed to wedge herself in a fork of the tree. Her arms embraced the trunk, further support being added by the over-shirt she’d wrapped around her body, tying the sleeves to a sturdy branch. A quick inspection showed him the problem, branches and a vine holding her foot at an angle too awkward for her to free herself. From the scarring on her heavy leather shoe, it was obvious she’d tried. Of course she would try. Bethany had taken care of herself too long to wait around for anyone to help.
Her face was pale against the leaves, a few stray freckles standing out starkly. Thick auburn lashes lay on the dark purple smudges defining the tops of her cheekbones. She seemed to be resting, or passed out, her mouth tightened as though to keep in any sound of distress.

“Bethany?”Something, perhaps the speed of his search, had caused a slight constriction in his throat. Clearing it, he tried again.

“Bethany? Honey, how bad is it?”

The lashes quivered, compressing briefly then parting to reveal soft, mossy-colored eyes. In the twilight world of the not quite awake, she blinked then focused on him. Her mouth quivered, stretched into a small smile.

“Hello,” she said, barely above a whisper. “I knew you’d come.”

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Is More…Better? With Thanks to Seth Godin

We’re constantly told we need to achieve a certain quantity of published books before we can be taken seriously as a writer. The number varies from three to six to twelve to…never mind we’ll never have that many books in print. I’ve wondered about this advice for a long time, having bred and shown dogs for decades. The quantity of dogs in your yard has no bearing on the the quality. The only connection is d irectly to your bank account. More dogs cost more to keep.

Can we draw the same parallel to quantity of books over quality? I’ve seen so many new and not so new ultra prolific authors produce a multitude of books, publishing within a month of finishing. They tell me they edit as they go along. They tell me they don’t need to let the book ‘rest’ so they can review it with a clear eye. Their goal is production and sometimes their sales numbers agree with their goal. Sometimes they don’t. Sacrificing quality for quantity?

Seth Godin’s Blog today spoke of this most eloquently, though his blog is geared more toward marketing than writing…

Not even one note  Seth Godin

Starting at the age of nine, I played the clarinet for eight years.

Actually, that’s not true. I took clarinet lessons for eight years when I was a kid, but I’m not sure I ever actually played it.

Eventually, I heard a symphony orchestra member play a clarinet solo. It began with a sustained middle C, and I am 100% certain that never once did I play a note that sounded even close to the way his sounded.

And yet…

And yet the lessons I was given were all about fingerings and songs and techniques. They were about playing higher or lower or longer notes, or playing more complex rhythms. At no point did someone sit me down and say, “wait, none of this matters if you can’t play a single note that actually sounds good.”

Instead, the restaurant makes the menu longer instead of figuring out how to make even one dish worth traveling across town for. We add many slides to our presentation before figuring out how to utter a single sentence that will give the people in the room chills or make them think. We confuse variety and range with quality.

Practice is not the answer here. Practice, the 10,000 hours thing, practice alone doesn’t produce work that matters. No, that only comes from caring. From caring enough to leap, to bleed for the art, to go out on the ledge, where it’s dangerous. When we care enough, we raise the bar, not just for ourselves, but for our customer, our audience and our partners.

It’s obvious, then, why I don’t play the clarinet any more. I don’t care enough, can’t work hard enough, don’t have the guts to put that work into the world. This is the best reason to stop playing, and it opens the door to go find an art you care enough to make matter instead. Find and make your own music.

The cop-out would be to play the clarinet just a little, to add one more thing to my list of mediocre.

As Jony Ive said, “We did it because we cared, because when you realize how well you can make something, falling short, whether seen or not, feels like failure.”

It’s much easier to add some features, increase your network, get some itemized tasks done. Who wants to feel failure?

We opt for more instead of better.

Better is better than more.

****

What do you think? Should quality or quantity take precedence? Or do we forever balance on a thin line between the two?

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Processing the Words into the Story

There’s a neat blog tour going around, where we’re asked to share our writing process, and then we ask others to do the same. I was asked by the amazing Kayelle Allen. Kayelle has created a vast universe full of people with the courage to fall in love. And I’ve found a wonderful eclectic bunch to share their information, some of them are going to be added in later.

We’re all starting by answering four questions

1) What am I working on? Edits on one of my older stories, and a new story following up on Teach Me To Forget. In TMTF Bethany refers to a women’s shelter that has helped above and beyond what’s expected and as a result many of the women from there have succeeded beyond expectation. One of them is a highly respected environmental expert. Jess is that expert, and the town she’s hired to help is the same town that turned its back on her when she was a frightened young girl. Is this an opportunity for ultimate revenge, or final closure? And what about the son she put up for adoption?

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? The first genre romance I read was by Jayne Anne Krentz. I had expected purple prose and unnaturally beautiful characters. Instead I read about people I could meet every day, succeeding against odds and falling in love in spite of themselves. The fantasy for me is every day people doing extraordinary things, such as saving the world…and falling in forever love.

3) Why do I write what I do? I could say my writing is cathartic but in fact it’s often painful and frustrating and anything but pleasant. So why do I write? Because these doggone ideas keep coming up in my mind and before you know it, the story is THERE RIGHT THERE just nudging me to let it out and play. And just about the time I give in and start that story I’m sure is going to just write itself, it decides to change me up into something entirely different.

4) How does your writing process work? Easier to say how it used to work. I used to work a full time job, come home, tend dogs, feed husband, put the various two and four legged friends to bed. Then I’d write from ten or eleven at night until two to three

Come play. NOW

Come play. NOW

in the morning. Fall into bed, get up the next morning to start all over again. I was massively productive. At that time I’d start with a basic idea of how the book would end, and write from beginning to end. Sometimes I’d write for a while, outline for a while, write again. And I told myself one day I’d have all the time in the world to write.
That one day arrived and I’m less productive than ever.  I’m dragging myself back into writing every day which is the major part of becoming productive. For the first time I tried writing scenes instead of straight through. Not sure if that’s working for me but it will be a great way to finally start using Scrivener.
I think some of the current road block has to do with fear of not being able to write anything that’s worth reading. The only thing worse is…you guessed it…not writing at all.

Funny thing, as I was writing about the process of writing I started…writing.  Still working around the dogs…put the dog out, bring the dog in, oops have to stop and play with the dog. Or cat. No more horses, unfortunately and gardening here is more of a challenge than it was in California. But there are such wonderful compensations.

Big skies, glorious sunsets

Big skies, glorious sunsets

What am I working on when I’m not staring at the sunset? Here’s a bit of what came about this morning…looks like my people are taking over the book, they’ve been resisting their first sex scene for a while, and finally explained why. They’re exhausted, they’ve fallen into bed together, and Jess thinks she’s ready to get closer.

***

    “No, Jess. Not tonight.” Not yet his thoughts added. And his body whined ‘When?
In the dim light he could see the lines between her brows, and the gleam of her eyes. Then her gaze shifted to the side, closing him out.
“I am not rejecting you. It’s just not the right time.”
“Seems to me it is. We’re in bed together, no one’s pounding on the door or calling on the phone. It’s dark, it’s private…”
“And it’s cheating both of us.” At her sudden intense frown, he sighed. “Sex is…well, it’s easy. Body parts fitting together, friction plus hormones and you get release, hopefully pleasant for both parties.”
“So what’s wrong with that?”
“What if you want more? What if I want more or we want more?”
“More than sex?” She raised up on one elbow, pulling away from him. For just a moment he wanted to hold her body against his. “What on earth are you talking about?”
He swallowed, studied the pale face surrounded by short dark spiky hair.
“Intimacy.”
“Intimacy?” Her hand pulled away from his slackened grip, and landed on his erection, which responded immediately and with great energy. He grabbed again, pulling her hand up to rest on the pillow at her shoulder.
“No, Jess.”
“Just checking. You were sounding so girly, I wanted to be sure something hadn’t changed in the last few minutes.”

Like I said, they’re taking over. Feels like I’m just along for the ride.

You’ll want to check out how  Doranna Durgin explains her process. And you’ll probably end up as much in awe of her as I am…what a powerhouse!

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Kris Bock visits to share Whispers In The Dark and a New Mexico Recipe

Hi All, waving from the land of odd weather and tumbleweeds, welcoming a fellow transplant into New Mexico, Kris Bock, who’s sharing her new book and also a quick ‘n’ easy recipe so you’ll get a taste of the Land of Enchantment. I’ll be out back, liberating the next wave of tumbleweeds.

tumbleweeds waiting like commuters at a train gate

tumbleweeds waiting like commuters at a train gate

Okay Kris, you’re on

In my romantic suspense Whispers in the Dark, my heroine is an archaeology Masters student working at the fictional “Lost Valley.” This site is closely based on Hovenweep National Monument. Located on the southern border between Colorado and Utah,Whispers in the DARK these ruins were left behind by the ancestral Puebloans, also known as the Anasazi. It’s a smaller site than some, but that’s part of its charm. You can hike and camp without crowds. The lonely location allows for an almost Gothic atmosphere – mysterious lights in the canyon, spooky moaning sounds, and plenty of people hiding secrets. My heroine, Kylie, finds more than she bargains for, of course – including mystery, danger, and new love. She also falls in love with the Southwest, as I did after moving to New Mexico more than a decade ago.

Whispers in the Dark is on sale for $.99 this week: Archaeology student Kylie Hafford craves adventure when she heads to the remote Puebloan ruins of Lost Valley, Colorado, to excavate. Romance isn’t in her plans, but she soon meets two sexy men: Danesh looks like a warrior from the Pueblo’s ancient past, and Sean is a charming, playful tourist. The summer heats up as Kylie uncovers mysteries, secrets, and terrors in the dark. She’ll need all her strength and wits to survive—and to save the man she’s come to love.

 

THE RECIPE

New Mexico is most famous, at least in culinary terms, for its green chile. The official state question is “Red or Green?” – How do you want the chile sauce that comes slathered over almost any dish? (Red chile is simply green chile that has ripened. It is usually dried and powdered, whereas green chile is roasted over open flames, chopped, and frozen until use.)

The following recipe is not exactly traditional, but it’s my quicker and healthier version of an enchilada casserole. The directions are a little informal, as I usually cook by the “make it up as you go along” method.

Spray oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

Scatter broken tortilla chips in the bottom of the dish. (This is a great way to use the broken chips at the bottom of the bag.)

Chop a large onion and sauté in oil.

Add about 3 cups of chopped chicken (either fresh, or precooked, frozen chicken tenders). Sauté until cooked through.

Add one can of cream of chicken soup, one can or jar of enchilada sauce, and one can of drained, rinsed pinto beans. Mix well.

Pour the chicken and sauce mixture over the tortilla chips. Cover with another layer of broken tortilla chips.

Top with a layer of shredded cheddar, Jack, or Mexican cheese.

Bake at 350° for about 45 min.

This is one of my standards, because it only takes about half an hour to put together, and it makes enough leftovers for lunches. If you try it, I hope you enjoy it! You can also vary it by using black beans or ground beef, by skipping the meat and adding some vegetables, or by adding extra red chili powder if you like it spicy.

Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Counterfeits starts a new series about art theft. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. Rattled follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page.

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The Science of Suckology…with thanks to Kristen Lamb

While I was putting this post together in between laundry and cleaning and dog rotations (the first two only seem critical when I’m writing, the third is ongoing) Kristen Lamb’s new blog showed up It’s well worth the read…I’ll get a cup of hot water while you check it out.

There. I find hot water is as comforting as coffee, and if you have good water, almost as tasty. The concept for Science of Suckology came about during that great LERA meeting I talked about in January: Time To Grow Up. A panel of multi published best selling authors sat at the front of the room, and admitted their writing sucked. At least the first iteration and sometimes after several rounds of edits.

If they thought their writing sucked, what right did I  have to think my writing sucked? How dare I put myself at their level? Wait, that’s kind of downer language isn’t it? Why do we so readily claim failure? Do we want people to deny our words, and build us up with their protests? Is it part of our upbringing? “Ladies don’t put themselves forward, dear.” Well, bollocks to that, if not for bold women our world would be in even worse shape…and isn’t that a great theme for a future blog?

We begin as we mean to go on. Check out my first paragraph. At one time I would have written “trying to write.” But as Yoda (the ultimate authority) pointed out

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Romantic or Erotic or…

I started this blog maybe a week ago, shortly after the below referenced blog went public. Life intruded, stopping me from publishing the clever pithy phrases I’d written. In the interim I had several discussions with a close friend, and I found myself rewriting…

The start: A recent blog caught my eye, and that of many other writers and readers. It’s a bit spicy (some might see it as rude) but I think relevant to the thought’s I’ve had lately about Romance books. Smart Bitches Trashy Books presented 10 Things I Hate About Sex Scenes, and then sat back to watch the fun commence. There is a definite spew alert for this blog…put down your drink and cover your keyboard. Just in case.

You might be wondering about the relevance, other than the gut wrenching laughter. Some…okay, many, people think Romance books are nothing but sex prettied up. Porn with a lace parasol. Generally these people haven’t read Romance, or perhaps they read one or two books ages ago, when these ten things might be found in nearly every book. Especially the well read ones at the second hand stores.

How many times have we heard Sex Sells? Yeah, lots. Sex certainly helps sell some books, to editors and to the reading public. But how many people in the blog comments admit some of the situations in these books are not nearly as appealing as the authors might have thought they would be?

***

At this point something distracted me. Might be the wind, or an appointment. In the meantime I hosted some more blogs, went to dog classes, meandered around with chores. And had those conversations with my friend. Talking with this friend at length is not unusual, and we pretty much cover every subject possible. Eventually we got into the perfect body fantasy aspect of romance writing, a trope I do not like. My friend pointed out, for some readers it is all about the fantasy, the beautiful faces and hard bodies and over the top situations. A poorly written cheesy television show will succeed, no matter how weak the writing,  if it offers enough gorgeous bodies .

Well.

Huh.

This contradicts my own opinions but what good would it be if we all agreed? Or maybe I could say, how utterly boring. For me, the fantasy has never been putting myself in the place of a ‘perfect’ heroine, especially not one who bemoans her long flowing hair, impossibly large breasts, tiny waist, too long legs. YAWN. Reader, writer, and even within my own reality, it’s about the senses. The feel of a dry wind on my face, the stroke of bare skin against a hard muscled body…add in a bit of manly hair and ohhh, yeah.

Give me a minute.

Okay.

Romantic means different things to each of us, and we all have our own level of comfort when it comes to what’s enough sexuality in books, and what’s too much. A friend’s wonderful, frothy, light hearted story of modern witches was just criticized as ‘too erotic,’ leaving we who have read the book scratching our heads. Several times I’ve seen writers try to ‘sex up’ their stories to make them appeal to a wider audience and it does not always work. To finally get back to that blog, and the continuing comments…what one person finds offensive another finds appealing. Writing is an art, and when you try to create art to please everyone…yeah, we know where that leads.

Since we haven't had rain here for far too long, I'm going to add this picture I took last year in Canada

Since we haven’t had rain here for far too long, I’m going to add this picture I took last year in Canada. Just for fun.

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WELCOME JoAnne Tucker

JoAnne is with us today to share some of her life experiences and tell us about her creative endeavors. Not to mention help plug that hole in my blog…soon to be filled with all those posts I started then set aside for more research. Welcome back, JoAnne!

NEVER GIVE UP:
For as long as I can remember, I have had an artistic flare-whether that be for writing, painting, sewing or drawing. I recall as a my photo apr 2011child how much I enjoyed drawing. The writing came later. My seventh grade English teacher was Mrs. Henderson-a young mother and wife. She gave us a writing assignment and after gifting me with an A+ told me I should consider writing as a career. She meant as a journalist. I did not take her advise and become a journalist (one of my many misgivings). My mind went toward other things as many young girls dream of-a husband, home, and family of my own. I put my love for writing and painting on hold for years. I unfortunately married a man who like my mother never encouraged me to be artistic. It was not until my children were grown and I no longer had a husband, that I went back to my first love-art. I got a late start, but always encouraged my children and others to partake of artistic endeavors. I now have six books under contract with two publishing houses. So my words to you all, is that no matter what road you choose, never forget your passion, and always keep it close to heart. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from enjoying your natural talents. You might need to put art on a temporary hold, but never give up.
Author Bio:
I have been a long-time resident of southeastern Ohio, and worked in the blue-collar industry most of my life. Besides having several novels under my belt, I canvass paint.
When not busy with hobbies or working outside the home, I spend time with relatives, my dogs Jasmine and Scooter, and volunteer my time within the community. I am a member of the Hocking Hill’s Arts and Craftsmen Association, The Hocking County Historical Society and Museum, and the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. I believe in family values and following your dreams.
 My original canvass paintings, can be found at: http://www.booksandpaintingsbyjoanne.com
 Blurb for “The Crime of the Century”
The residents of Rolling Hills, a hamlet in southeastern Ohio, were horrified when the dismembered bodies of two missing teens were pulled from the local river. Multiply suspects surfaced, but only one was railroaded, Richard Allan Lloyd, a known nudist andThe Crime of the Century eimage (1) hothead.
What began as an evening stroll turned into what found only in horror films, and dubbed ‘the crime of the century’. 18 year old Babette, a voluptuous beauty contestant and horsewoman, and her 19 year old boyfriend Shane Shoemaker, a jealous and possessive unemployed printer, were last seen crossing a trestle bridge. Within fourteen days, their mutilated torsos and severed heads and limbs were unearthed, suggesting satanic cult activity.
With an investigation smeared with contradicting statements, and a botched crime scene, investigators built a flimsy case against Richard Lloyd. The three-week trial was based on police corruption and ineptitude, fairytale theories, and forensic mishandling.
This heinous crime shattered the sense of security for Rolling Hills, destroyed two families, and forever scarred the town. This story is a detailed account of finding justice for Babette and Shane, and of one man’s perseverance to gain his freedom from death row.
Other books by JoAnne:
Murder Most Foul-a detective/mystery book
Wicked Intentions-a paranormal/mystery anthology
Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between- a poetry collection written with love and respect for others
Upcoming releases:
Loves, Myths, and Monsters-a fantasy anthology starring the Mothman, the Chupracabra, Mermaids, reincarnation, werewolves, and etc.
Twisted Love-a biography true crime anthology
Flagitious-a crime/mystery novella anthology
Order your copy of “The Crime of the Century” by JoAnne Myers here http://www.blackrosewriting.com/non-fiction/the-crime-of-the-century-a-shocking-true-story
****

THANKS JoAnne, looks like those people stuck at home in the ice storm will have something to read.

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Wacky Wednesday…catching up with Margaret Daley

Have you ever had moments when your mind goes on vacation? Sometimes I have days or even weeks like that, when I’m focused on writing, or the dogs, or some other complication in my insane life. Fortunately I’ve developed a habit of filing away items I’ll need to use later. And in this file I found a great blog from Margaret Daley, along with a fruit salad that is bound to brighten up our winter doldrums. Grab your hot chocolate, your coffee, your drink of choice and let’s welcome Margaret

Tropical Fruit Salad with Toasted Coconut

Ingredients:

                        1/2 cup shredded coconut

                        1 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

                        1 ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

                        1 ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

                        1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

                        6 fresh mint leaves

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, papaya, cantaloupe and mango. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, sprinkle with the toasted coconut and spoon onto small plates. Garnish with the mint leaves.

Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Outdoors Series, Picnics and Tailgates, by Diane Rossen Worthington (Time-Life Books, 1998).


This is a good recipe to convey my story, which takes place in the Amazon. If I was stranded in the jungle, I would want someone like Brock Slader to be with me or I’d probably starve.  Although I Dangerous Pursuit-smalldon’t like coconut out of a can, when it is fresh from the tree, it is great. It has a strong nutty flavor. I imagined Samantha and Brock eating something like this on a good day. However, probably not cut neatly like the recipe calls for.

 Brock and Samantha do find themselves stranded but Brock is very capable of surviving in the jungle. Brock knows his way around and that’s a good thing for Samantha who is searching for her brother. The problem with that is others are searching for her brother, too, and they mean him harm.

 Blurb for Dangerous Pursuit, book one in The Protectors Series:

Reading about danger never prepared Samantha Prince for the desperate phone call from her brother in Brazil that sent her from the safety of her New Orleans bookstore into the rugged, inhospitable Amazon in search of him and a hidden treasure. And reading about romance never prepared Samantha to resist the mysterious appeal of Brock Slader, a guide she hired to help her in her quest.

Alone with Brock in an alien world of orchids and anacondas, primitive headhunters and very up-to-date gunmen, she struggles to keep their relationship strictly business. Will Samantha survive the dangers in the jungle only to have her heart broken by a man who lives on the edge—no strings attached?

Buy Dangerous Pursuit at AMAZON BARNES AND NOBLE APPLE

Margaret Daley’s bio:

 Margaret Daley, an award-winning author of eighty-five books, has been married for over forty years and is a firm believer in romance and love. When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about Margaret visit her website at MARGARET DALEY

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/margaretdaleybooks

Twitter: @margaretdaley

 

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Time To Grow Up…as Writers

David Farland blogs on writing techniques and also on writing philosophy.  Today’s Blog addressed the long held belief that any writing was better than no writing. Which does have merit, of course, if our eventual goal is perfection of the written word. But if our goal is seeing our finished book in print, multiple times over, we need to up our game.

At the most recent LERA – Land of Enchantment Romance Writers meeting, four successful (and may I say brilliant?) writers shared their secrets. Jeffe Kennedy Robin Perini Katie Lane and Darynda Jones shared their secrets to success as well as their secret triumphs and failures to a roomful of people who thought they knew about the writing life. In brief, they take their writing seriously, they schedule when they will write and they write. That muse so many of us pretend to need before we can create can show up or not. They write. Given the multitude of awards and best seller statuses shared (check them out!) the system obviously works.

If it works for them, it can work for us. Going back to David Farland, he finishes this bit of writing advice with: “If you’ve been using the “tortoise method” of writing, grow up.” 

Gulp.Dontcha just hate it when something so profound slaps you between the eyes. If your muse wants to take a holiday, let her/him/it. Wave buh-bye while you’re sitting down to pound out your next 1500 words. Guaranteed, she/he/it will be back looking over your shoulder, wanting to be a part of the process.

Me? I’m editing A Question of Honor (first in a series about a ranch in northern New Mexico that helps out PTSD warriors) and writing on Seasons (working title) My heroine in Seasons doesn’t really have a name yet, so far she’s been Leslie, Mel, Jess. Even so she’s having adventures and delving into her painful past. I do love my angst.

Every sunrise is a new adventure

Every sunrise is a new adventure

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Wisdom from Mary Caelsto: Can Your Thoughts Affect Your Sales?

You’d think Mary was reading my mind about my New Year plans (no resolutions here, folks, just positive thoughts!) I was going to share what happened at the wonderful LERA meeting Saturday when this popped into my inbox. Which means I have another blog in the works! For now, let’s share the wisdom of Mary, the Muse Charmer. And isn’t that a lovely horse with Mary?  Mona

Can Your Thoughts Affect Your Sales?

Mary and Fortune

Mary and Fortune

It’s an interesting notion. And I’m not going to go all Pollyanna and say that by thinking positive thoughts you’re going to hit all the lists. I’m also not going to say that your thoughts have no effect on your sales. Why? Because your thoughts affect everything you do.

Let’s pause for a moment. You’re a writer, and that means the stories you write come from your mind and heart. As an author, I know I fall in love with my characters. I find myself wrapped up in universes and world-building. It’s one of the reasons why I no longer really plot, because even if I do, the story takes an unexpected turn and I find myself wandering away from the set points. At some point and time I decided the heck with it and just began writing.

Which brings me back to the subject of how our thoughts affect sales. We can step away from our stories for a moment. Our moods affect so much. We can look at a bookshelf full of books on our “to be read” list or a folder in our e-reader and think that we want to read a book, we just don’t know which one. The same with movies, or the old question of what’s for dinner. You know you’re hungry or want to read but nothing seems to fit. It happens with writing, too.

Muddled thoughts create indecision. If our thoughts are laced with worry or fear we make certain decisions, like diving into that pint of ice cream we have in the freezer instead of making an actual meal or having a healthy snack. Those tiny actions, no matter how small, impact our writing, and yes, even our sales.

So how does this work? Let’s take the very common writer’s thought: my books aren’t good enough. We all have that thought from time to time. How can this thought affect our sales?

We write with the thought that our work isn’t good enough. This most likely means we’re not giving it our best. In the back of our mind we have the nagging belief that it doesn’t matter, we’ll never be like “big name author” that we perceive as writing so much better than we do. The book gets accepted and published by our publisher or we still self-publish it. When we go to promote we still have thoughts that the book isn’t good enough, readers aren’t going to like it, we’re not going to sell…and our actions tell that tale, too.

Our actions follow our thoughts by perhaps not being as proactive on social media. We don’t solicit for guest blog spots or make connections with our fellow writers like we should. We hold back.

When we do, our sales reflect this reality. And it all started with a thought.

That’s why it’s so important for writers to support themselves with good prosperity practices. A prosperity practice is a series of actions and thoughts that an individual does to support him or her with goals. It can be very powerful and can take whatever form that the person needs. Through a prosperity practice the thoughts that occasionally (they don’t ever really go away) plague us about our writing, the not good enough, won’t sell, won’t get on the lists, can be managed and dealt with without having them overwhelm our lives and our careers.

Our thoughts really can affect our sales because they affect what we do in the course of writing, selling, and marketing our books. Take some time to think about, or maybe even write down, some of the thoughts you have around your writing. Let them be as uplifting to you as your books are to your readers!

May the muse be with you.

Bio:

Want to learn more about prosperity practices? Join Mary in March for Prosperity Practices For Writers, a six week class prosperitypracticesclass_graphic_200_redbeginning March 21. Learn about personal prosperity practices and how you can integrate them into your writing and your life to help support and energize you toward your financial goals! To register visit http://musecharmer.com/prosperity-practices/. There are deep discounts if you register before January 20.

Mary Calesto lives in the Ozarks with her partner and a menagerie of animals, including two spoiled horses, an opinionated parrot, a wiggly puppy, an office bunny, and the not-so-itty-bitty kitty committee.  She has written romance for over ten years under a few different pen names. These days, she spends time with her own writing and also uses her lengthy experience in publishing to coach authors as The Muse Charmer www.musecharmer.com . Her goal is to show authors the tools they need to reach their goals by working on the inner writer through a variety of techniques, plus help the outer writer with solid industry and craft advice.

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