Friday, August 22, 2014

WHAT IS A WRITER'S RETREAT?

The past few days, I spent with three other authors at our writer’s retreat plotting books. In addition to a lot of laughter, exchange of marketing information, more food than we needed (and  a couple of margaritas), we plotted a lot of books and novellas. We've known one another for twenty years and work well together. Two of the books and one novella were for me. Hooray! 

In order to work uninterrupted, we were at a local hotel. We brought plotting boards, sticky notes, notebooks, and various other plotting aids that always include chocolate. We congregate in one of the rooms. But this is not a vacation, folks. We work long, long hours and get down to business immediately. Even during meals, we talk writing and marketing.

My cousin Sandra called my cell phone while we were in the process and asked me how in the world we work together to plot. She wondered if we write on each other’s books. Not at all.

Ready to begin plotting

Our group consisted of a romantic suspense/action adventure/erotica author, a humor/paranormal suspense romance author, and two of us who write western historical romance. We use a plotting process similar to that taught by Robin Perini and Laura Baker in their “Story Magic” workshops. All four of us attended the same of those workshops years ago.  Although this process is not for everyone, it is perfect for us.

Over the years, we’ve modified the “Story Magic” process to fit our books and writing process. We use a plotting board that has been divided into chapters. We keep a notebook or laptop handy for notes that won’t fit on a sticky note. Sticky notes indicate what happens in a particular scene and in whose point of view the scene is written. Pink notes for the heroine, blue for the hero, other colors for plot points, villain, and so forth.

A plotted book


We turn our sticky notes into an outline. Although three other authors suggested turning points and events for the book, how each of us interprets those suggestions is purely individual. Personal voice and style plus a lot of hours spent working creates a book.   

I came home yesterday with a new Stone Mountain novel to be called WINTER BRIDE, a Stone Mountain Christmas novella called STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS, and the first novel of a new series called the Bride Brigade. (The first of the Bride Brigade is JOSEPHINE.)  At our next retreat that we’re already planning, I’ll work on a new Kincaid novel about Rafe Kincaid, the second of the new series, and a Kincaid novella about Monk.

Each of the writers at this retreat works diligently to keep new work releasing for our readers. But new books don’t just happen. They involve planning and long hours at the computer.  Watch for new releases coming in the future!


Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THE HONEYMOON PRIZE TOUR





This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Melissa will award a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via the rafflecopter at the end of this post during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


NOTE: This book is on sale for only $0.99 during the tour.  Why not grab yourself a copy today?




He needs a wife...

Single bodyguard Nick Calhoun has been given an ultimatum by his boss--find a wife or lose his cushy, high-paying job. Clients' wives are hitting on him and putting Nick, and his boss, in hot water. But monogamy? He's never been a white picket fence kind of guy, and he's not about to embrace the happily married lifestyle now. He needs a wife who doesn't care about his steamy, extra-curricular love life...and he knows just the woman to fit the bill.

She needs a home...

Adalaide Sinclair spent years caring for her ill grandmother. Upon Grammy's death, she's stunned to find herself evicted from the only home she's ever known and labeled a thief by her inheritance-hungry family. Addie needs to find a place to live and a job--fast. So when her childhood friend, Nick, proposes a no-sex marriage of convenience, she puts her dreams of true love and happily-ever-after on hold. Finding Prince Charming can wait a little longer, right?

But will their friendship survive the honeymoon?

When Nick and Addie unexpectedly win a dream honeymoon, they decide to go their separate ways during the ten-day vacation. Too bad a camera crew is waiting for them at the tropical paradise. Acting like a head-over-heels bride and groom for reality TV wreaks havoc on their no-sex agreement...and blurs the line between fantasy and reality. Will Nick and Addie remain married in name only, or will a romantic honeymoon for show turn them into true newlyweds?


Enjoy an excerpt from THE HONEYMOON PRIZE:

“I feel like a Miss, not a Mrs.”

“Well, you’ve got five years to get used to the title.”

Five years.

That suddenly seemed like a long time to play house. Dating while caring for her grandmother had been impossible. She’d tried a few times over the years. But given up. Still she believed in love, the forever kind that would last a lifetime. Someday she would find that.

Someday . . .

He touched her arm. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing, just . . .” In spite of her doubts, Addie hoped Nick understood the depth of her gratitude. A week ago, she’d forgotten her key to Emily’s apartment and fallen asleep on the welcome mat leaning against the front door, waiting for her friend to return from a date. “Thanks for everything. I owe you big time.”

“Thank you.” He flashed her a charming smile that sent female hearts aflutter, brought women to their knees at bars and clubs, and convinced Addie to accept his marriage-of convenience proposal. Not that saying yes took much convincing. Desperation had a way of making a person see the brighter side to any option, including marrying her closest guy friend.

“Without legal proof I was a one woman guy, my boss would ship me off to some boring assignment guarding a building or I’d be looking for a new job.”

“I’d be homeless.”

He winked. “You win.”

“We both win and get a free honeymoon out of the deal.”



Melissa McClone, Author
With a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Melissa McClone worked for a major airline where she traveled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters. Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! Since then, she has published over thirty romance novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group. She’s also been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim practices and other activities. She also sends care packages to deployed service members and fosters cats through a local no-kill animal shelter. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house. They do!

Website: http://www.melissamcclone.com

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

Twitter: @melissamcclone

Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LE4Q370

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Monday, August 18, 2014

HOW WE WROTE COMPANION BOOKS FOR A DUET BOXED SET

You probably know that Jacquie Rogers and I are writing linked books to be boxed as a duet and released in September. You might wonder (I hope) how one goes about writing linked books with another author. 

For starters, I am a major fan of Jacquie’s books, especially her western historical romances. She knows a tremendous amount about the Old West and writes with wry humor that I love. MUCH ADO ABOUT MARSHALS and SLEIGHT OF HEART are my two favorites, but the woman ALWAYS delivers a great story. So, when she asked if I’d be interested in pairing up for a boxed set, I jumped at the chance.

But that’s the easy part. First we had to work out details so our books were compatible and there was continuity of characters. This took quite a few emails and several phone calls. 

Choosing titles was difficult due to the large number of mail order bride books already published. We locked ours in and Jacquie put up a blog for us at http://mailordertangle.blogspot.com  As time goes along, we’ll post more to the blog. 

As soon as we had the titles, then we could commission a cover. Jacquie and I are thrilled with the cover. Don't you agree?



After choosing 1880 for the first book, we decided our two heroes would be cousins. Of course they would each be handsome, tall, with dark hair and bright blue eyes. Sounds like my husband, whom I call Hero. Well, his dark hair is mostly gray now, but you get the idea.

Our heroines are Richmond, Virginia sisters whose debt-ridden father’s suicide left them destitute and disgraced. With no more money after having pawned everything they salvaged from creditors, the youngest sister applied to a marriage broker as a mail order bride on the condition she could bring her sister with her. Otherwise, her sister would have agreed to marry a despicable elderly man so they would have a roof over their heads.

Colorado River near Bastrop, Texas


For locale, we needed the Texas ranch to be on the Colorado River in Central Texas, which is ranching country and supplied herds of cattle to Idaho Territory. All my books are set in Texas and all Jacquie’s books are set in Idaho. Don’t want to waste all our research, right?

The Texas town is fictitious, but based near the real town of Bastrop about thirty miles from Austin. When deciding on a community, we wanted one to which many immigrants had come earlier in the 19th century. Checking on those in Idaho Territory, Jacquie learned there were a lot of Swedish immigrants in Owyhee County about the time we wanted these books set.

Ranch such as our Texas hero owned.

In Texas, there were more Germans in this area, but also Swedish and Norwegian. We settled on Swedish for our heroes. The fictitious town is named after an actual town in Sweden, which happened a lot when a group of immigrants arrived to settle together. So, we were off and running—I mean writing.

We carefully outlined what we wanted to happen, who the secondary characters would be, names, and the situation in each book. And we all know how the best laid plans work, right? Yes, we had to keep sending our work back and forth so the tone of the books coincided. Plus I had help from my critique group and my plotting group. Apparently, it takes a village to write a book.

MAIL ORDER PROMISE by moi is not as humorous as Jacquie’s MAIL ORDER RUCKUS.  Oh, I have several humorous incidents, but Jacquie has a true gift in that department. We each include skullduggery to keep you guessing how the plot unfolds. Bwhahaha.

Don’t think I’m only going to post about MAIL ORDER TANGLE. Nope, I will maybe once a week for a while, then feature other posts the other two times that week. On Monday, the 25th, I’ll be posting a character interview with the hero of MAIL ORDER PROMISE. Please come back then. Just like my personal Hero, he’s a keeper.

In the meantime, you can learn about Jacquie's hero, Matt Johannsen, from MAIL ORDER RUCKUS today at her blog at http://romancingthewest.blogspot.com 

Thanks for stopping by!  


Thursday, August 14, 2014

BETH TRISSEL AND TRAITOR'S LEGACY TOUR



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Beth will be awarding a $35 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via the rafflecopter at the end of this post.




1781. On opposite sides of the War of Independence, British Captain Jacob Vaughan and Claire Monroe find themselves thrust together by chance and expediency.

Captain Vaughan comes to a stately North Carolina manor to catch a spy. Instead, he finds himself in bedlam: the head of the household is an old man ravaged by madness, the one sane male of the family is the very man he is hunting, and the household is overseen by his beguiling sister Claire.

Torn between duty, love, and allegiances, yearning desperately for peace, will Captain Vaughan and Claire Monroe forge a peace of their own against the vagaries of war and the betrayal of false friends?

Now enjoy an excerpt from TRAITOR'S LEGACY:
She fixed those wonderful eyes on him, more lethal than a backwoods rifleman. “Shall I lead the way, Captain?”

“Certainly.” He’d be tempted to follow her anywhere. A most unsettling thought.

Nothing about this fetching young lady struck Vaughan as calculating, but for the sake of her adored brother and sacred revolution he strongly suspected she’d try to deceive him. He’d hate to have to make her arrest. In fact, he should loathe it to his core. And he’d only just met her.

Why did she have such a potent effect on him, and why did it seem his fate to encounter beguiling females on the wrong side of this infernal conflict? If they weren’t Rebels to begin with, they inevitably adopted the cause.

Could he persuade Miss Monroe of her duty to the king, to him, and win her allegiance? Perhaps. She’d conducted herself splendidly thus far, and for such a prize he was willing to give his all.




Beth Trissel, Author

Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by my children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, my love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into my work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. In addition to American settings, I also write historical and time travel romances set in the British Isles, and nonfiction about gardening, herbal lore, and country life.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Beth-Trissel/276061290666

My Blog: http://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BethTrissel

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1404073285&sr=1-2-ent

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/beth-trissel?store=allproducts&keyword=beth+trissel

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Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

UNINTENTIONAL BLOG TOUR





Unintentional - Book Two in the Intentional Series
by MK Harkins

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter during the tour will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. 

UNINTENTIONAL Blurb:

Cade, the gorgeous song man, has every reason to steer clear of commitment and train his soulful eyes, killer dimples, and sexy voice on every beauty swaying to his band. So why is it that he finds himself truly, deeply and unintentionally, fixed on the one woman who is not so easily swept away?

The sequel to Intentional, the debut romantic novel by MK Harkins, Unintentional is the heart-racing new work that follows the tangled thread of Cade in the aftermath of his heartbreak in losing the one woman he thought was his soul mate. After taking a hiatus from his job as an engineer, as well as his role in the band as lead singer, Cade reemerges in the Seattle music scene. Enter Laurel, the tenacious and determined music agent. Laurel is determined to sign him, no matter how clearly reluctant he is. Though they try to resist one another romantically, the magnetism is as immediate as it is powerful.

Unintentional offers readers an intricate, riveting story about the fraught paces of love, while also offering strains of heartwarming humor. With rich detail, authentic characters, and plenty of blood-pumping romance, Unintentional is a moving and multilayered look at how love can slip through our fingers, only to be pulled back again at the most surprising, stirring moments.





UNINTENTIONAL Excerpt:

I scan the room, taking in the atmosphere, when I notice the fourth member of the band jump onto the stage. Oh! My jaw drops as I look at him. This couldn’t be the lead singer. He’s, he’s…almost unreal. I rifle through my notes with shaking hands. Sophie prepared a bio on each one, but didn’t include pictures. Maybe if I had some warning, I wouldn’t be sitting here like some idiot with my mouth gaping open.

What the hell is wrong with me? It’s that guy, Cade, or whatever his name is. I’m so flustered, I can’t keep the pages in order. He is absolutely gorgeous! What is my problem? I’m a professional. I see good looking men all the time.
           
I look back over at Cade as he smiles at someone across the bar. Oh my God, he has dimples. Could he be any better looking? Nope. I think I just turned into a groupie. Well, maybe I’m not that far gone yet, but I’m close. I have to get control of myself. I take a deep breath in, hoping my heart will return its normal rate, exhale out. It didn’t work, so I try again.

I’m in the process of calming myself when Sophie asks, “Laurel, you feeling okay?” 

I look back at her. “Have you seen the lead singer yet?  Sophie, that man should not be legal.” 

Sophie looks up at the stage, and her expression turns to shock.  

She laughs at me. “I’d be willing to get arrested for that one!”

Good, it’s not just me. This should be an interesting night. I’m fanning myself, trying to order my body to calm down. I look over at Sophie, she’s grinning at me.

What?” I ask.

She laughs. “Oh, Laurel, this is rich! I’ve never seen you in such a state. Why don’t you go up and introduce yourself before they start?”

“No, I want to see how they perform first. Don’t you remember? We’re going to check them out first. We don’t want to waste their time or ours if they don’t cut it.” 

Sophie shrugs. “I don’t think it would be a waste. Look at them, Laurel. I know Cade is super-hot, but did you see the other one? I think his name is Ayden. Can’t we just meet them anyway? Even if they aren’t what we’re looking for, they might be in another area. You know what I mean?” She winks at me. 

Buy Link:




.
M K Harkins, Author
 MK Harkins is the author of the romantic novel Intentional. An avid reader, she began writing fiction when she ran out of reading selections on her Kindle. Her new novel, Unintentional, is a sequel to her first work and is based on the life of the character Cade. A business owner, Harkins spends her free time traveling, watching movies, reading voraciously, in addition to creating her own fiction. The author currently lives in Mercer Island, Washington.







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Monday, August 11, 2014

MEET MY CHARACTER BLOG TOUR

Welcome to the Meet My Character Blog Tour! My friend Jacquie Rogers is the one who roped me in, er, I mean, graciously invited me to participate. So before we get to my character, Ellie Dickerson, I’d like give you the rundown on Jacquie.

Jacquie Rogers, Author

Jacquie Rogers is a former software designer, campaign manager, deli clerk, and cow milker. Her 2007 release, FAERY SPECIAL ROMANCES, won the Fall NOR Award for Best Print Sci-fi/Fantasy Romance and finaled in several other contests. She also has stories in other print anthologies as well. Her short contemporary novel, DOWN HOME EVER LOVIN’ MULE BLUES, has received several top picks and 5-star reviews. Her SLEIGHT OF HEART and the Hearts of Owyhee series have gained Jacquie a large western historical romance fan base. Her short stories for Western Fictioneers and Prairie Rose Publishing add to her ever-increasing popularity.

Jacquie teaches several workshops both online and in person, and is co-creator of 1st Turning Point, a website where authors come to teach, learn, and share—all about promotion and marketing. You can also find her at her Facebook group, Pickle Barrel Bar and Books, website, Romancing the West blog, Twitter, and Goodreads. Her Amazon Author Page lists all her books.

Whether you prefer reading paranormal or western historical romance or traditional westerns, her stories capture a rich array of emotions accompanied by a touch of her wry humor.  

MEET MY CHARACTER

Now I’ll introduce you to the heroine of MAIL ORDER PROMISE, a short western historical romance that will be included in a duet with Jacquie Rogers, MAIL ORDER TANGLE, to be released in September. (Wow, that's not far away!)

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Ellie Dickerson is fictional—except in my head. My characters are always real people to me, friends who talk to me and reveal their deepest secrets. Then I disclose those details all through the book. ☺

Ellie and Laura might have worn
dresses similar to these


2) When and where is the story set?

My story, MAIL ORDER PROMISE, opens in May 1880 near the fictional Central Texas town of Valdesta. Jacquie’s takes place a year and a half later in Owyhee County, Idaho Territory, and is titled MAIL ORDER RUCKUS.

3) What should we know about him/her?

Twenty-year-old Ellie is a redheaded, green-eyed beauty who grew up pampered near Richmond, Virginia. Her mother died when Ellie was ten, and her sister Laura cared for her. Their father’s suicide and the scandal his death unleashed left them nearly destitute and shunned by their society friends. Laura considers marrying a much older man to give them security, but Ellie won't let her beloved sister sacrifice her happiness. At the same time, she doesn't want to risk being separated from Laura, who is three years older than Ellie. On the condition that her sister can travel with her, Ellie contracts with a marriage broker as a mail order bride.


Imagine washing clothes in a pot over an
open fire wearing one of these dresses


4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

When they arrive in Valdesta, Texas, they learn the man Ellie contracted to marry was buried only two days earlier. His handsome brother and cousin meet the girls and take them to the Rocking J ranch. Ellie has no idea whether the brother (Kage Johannsen) plans to step in and wed her. When she asks, she learns he has no intention of marrying her because he considers her spoiled and helpless with none of the grit needed to last on a ranch. She and Laura are at a loss as to what to do. Where could they go and how would they get there? Kage’s worthless cousin Olaf adds danger.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

She needs security for her and her sister. She desires a loving husband, nice home, and the respect of those around her. Of course, as she learns more about living on a ranch, her idea of a perfect home changes from a plantation-style mansion filled with servants to a rambling Texas ranch house with Kage. But can she change his opinion of her?

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The title of the duet is MAIL ORDER TANGLE. You can read more about both books in the duet at http://mailordertangle.blogspot.com  We don’t have much on the site yet, but the cover’s posted and there’s a blurb for each book. I love the cover, don’t you? We’ll be adding more to the website in the coming days.



7) When can we expect the book to be published?

We’re aiming for the first or second week in September. It’s an ambitious schedule, but both Jacquie and I are extremely excited for this release. It’s our first time working together, although we’ve been online friends for quite a while, and I’ve been Jacquie's fan for years. (Her SLEIGHT OF HEART and Hearts of Owyhee series are favorite books of mine). I’m honored to be included in this duet with her!


Next week (August 18), please check out these awesome writers’ characters!

Here are the authors I'm Tagging:


Carra Copelin, Author

Carra was born in Dallas, Texas and raised a few miles to the west just a stone's throw from where the Dallas Cowboys now call home. Unlike other authors, she didn't write from childhood or read long into the nights beneath the covers, but discovered romance novels as an adult. Little by little, as she read her way through hundreds of books, she discovered there were many people residing in her head. With all of them demanding their stories be told, she decided to give writing a try. From that day she was hooked and, even though life took over for a while, she's busy bringing her characters to life.

Carra is a member of Romance Writers of America and President of the Yellow Rose Romance Writers. When she’s not writing she loves creating and plotting with her fabulous critique partners, watching NCIS and NASCAR, and visiting with her three beautiful grandchildren. She and her husband reside in Arlington, Texas. You’ll find her blog on her website.

Facebook     Twitter     Website     Amazon Page     Goodreads      Pinterest     Google+


JACQUIE ROGERS


Yes, the same lovely woman who tagged me for this blog tour. I’m tagging her back because I want to learn more about her characters. Maybe she’ll share the scoop on Matt Johannsen, the hunky hero of her book. 
Pretty please?


Thanks for stopping by!

clothing photos from Pinterest

Friday, August 08, 2014

WHY DO I WRITE?

I’ve often been asked why I write romance. Mostly because I can’t stop. There have been a few times when I became discouraged with my career path and decided to quit writing. I couldn’t. It appears I HAVE to write. The people talking my head must be released to the page (monitor).

Romances offer hope
Seriously, I believe romance offers hope to readers who face what seems like insurmountable problems in their own lives. Reading about characters who overcome challenges and achieve happlily-ever-after offers readers the dream that they too can achieve their dreams. In fact, I say romance authors sell hope.

A theme that runs through my stories is hope. Another is family in various forms, but always that family members support one another. Finally, I think a second chance is a continual theme.

I want readers to sigh with pleasure at the outcome of the characters at the same time they’re sorry the book is ended. Also, as I mentioned in your first question, I want readers to feel hopeful after one of my books. Let’s face it, I’m not Ken Follett and I don’t write books like PILLARS OF THE EARTH. I love Follett’s books, but that’s not what I want to write. Romances are what I call mind candy and are intended to entertain and provide escape from worldly cares.  Otherwise, why not watch the evening news?


A brief story from my grandmother
inspired this book

Authors are often asked what inspires them. Frequently it’s a kernel in a family story or newspaper. I think, “This would have been a much better story is if had happened such and such way.” Other times, the story and the main characters just pop into my head and I go with it. That’s ideal, isn’t it? When the story and characters come to you? After all, writers get to make up stuff. It’s a great job.

I’m a full time writer—except when life interferes. I try to limit my email, blogs, and social networking time to three hours a day. It’s tempting to keep going with all the interesting blogs and email loops and Facebook and Twitter, but that doesn’t get books written, does it?  Fortunately, my husband is very supportive and helps by cooking (what a Hero!) and other chores to free up more of my time for writing.


I do have a life outside writing, of course. One of my big passions is genealogy and family history. I’ve always loved history, and learning about family brings history alive for me. My brother and I are compiling a book on my father’s family and hope to have it completed and printed this year. My dad is no longer living, but he asked me to do this book, so my brother and I are trying to honor his request. I also love old photos and collect family photos.

Family photo from 1910
Another passion is browsing antique malls. My younger daughter and I used to have booths in a couple of antique malls, but the time required to maintain a good selection was too much for me. She still has a booth as a part time effort in addition to her career in education. Teachers always need a second income!

Reading and time with family are special interests any time. My husband and I like to watch movies (thanks Netflix). He’s an avid reader, so some evenings we read instead of watching TV or a movie.

Me at work. That must be Max helping because
Sebastian is a black and white tuxedo cat.


I have a laptop my brother gave me, but don’t use it as much as I could. I prefer writing in my office, which I refer to as my pink cave because of the wall being pink and I hibernate in it as if it were a cave. My sweet husband gave me a lovely desk and computer station in dark faux cherry (pretend wood). I have all the equipment I need, including a good desk chair. So, now back to writing.

Thanks for stopping by!