Monday, September 8, 2014

Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop

It's time again for the Romance Writers Weekly blog hop from romance writers from all over the globe. Each week, many of us answer the same three questions so you can get a fun peek into a writer's mind. I submitted this week's questions. Here they are:

1.What’s your favorite aspect of novel writing? Dialogue? Setting? Conflict? Narration? Explain.

By far, my favorite aspect of novel writing is dialogue. I write character-driven and dialogue-driven novels. I especially love creating nasty characters and have a lot of fun writing from a male point of view. I get bored when a novel is too flowery, has a lot of backstory, and narration. I like to get right to the action. I want readers to feel like they are in the scene and to have a hard time putting my book down. That said, I also adore throwing conflict at my characters. I say the more plot twists the better!

 2.How do you choose the setting for your plot? Are they always similar settings or does it vary? (i.e., small town, big city, castle, etc.)

I write contemporary novels--women's fiction, romantic suspense and contemporary romance. My debut novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, is set in a fictional town, Crystal City, and is modeled after a mid-sized town in Missouri where I grew up. However, my sequel will have several chapters devoted to small-town life. I've never written about a small town before, but my grandmother lived in one and my parents do now. Life is a much slower pace in my yet-to-be-named tiny town, and some of my characters need that, believe me. Others are going to hate it, however. Fair warning!

3.I’m a big six-word memoir fan. (Hemingway even wrote one.) Describe your writing day using just six words.

Coffee. Facebook. Email. Coffee. Facebook. Write.

What it should be:

Trudge to coffee pot. Start writing.

If you haven't tried six-word memoirs, you should! My memoirs are in three six-word memoir collections--two books and one calendar. It's great fun. Celebrities and famous authors get involved. Warning: They're highly addictive.

So what is your favorite aspect of novel writing? Which settings do you prefer? Tell me and then be sure to visit other RWW bloggers, Leslie Hachtel and Eden Ashe  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


I can't believe I haven't blogged about my debut novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. It seems as though everything has gone from 0 to 200 in five seconds flat this summer. I've been spinning a lot of plates while my daughter got married, doing three rounds of edits, setting up a website and preparing for this launch. I'm afraid a couple of plates crashed to the floor, including this blog.

The great news is THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS  is now available on Amazon as an ebook for just $2.99 (cheaper than a fancy cup of coffee at Starbucks) and I'm thrilled to say it has garnered 20 amazing reviews in less than two weeks. The majority are from complete strangers! It's surreal. I know that's an overused word but it is. Don't pinch me if I'm dreaming.

My publisher is Soul Mate Publishing from New York and I'm eternally grateful they believed in me and my story. In fact, I thanked them as well as a TON of other people on the Acknowledgement Page. You might be one of them but you'll have to get a copy before you can take a peek. Here's the buy link where you can read five chapters to get a feel for my novel:

THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS is women's fiction at its core but has many elements of romance and mystery. I love plot twists and surprising the reader. I can almost guarantee you'll be surprised while reading it.
To celebrate the release, I had a big launch party on Facebook. It was a virtual party where I had contests to win swag and gift cards. It was on my birthday, August 14, so that added to the fun. I'll talk more about the virtual party and swag in another post. For now, I'm enjoying the ride. A huge thanks to everyone for their support, downloads, and reviews. I wish we could all meet on a Thursday at Coconuts so I could buy a round of drinks! 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Two-Line Promotional Hooks

My editor at Soul Mate Publishing asked me to write a two-line hook for THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. She'll use this for promoting my novel online. I'm not sure why but this is really HARD--almost as difficult as writing the back cover blurb but not nearly as bad as the dreaded synopsis.

Still, I could use your input. I thought we could have a little fun. How about helping me with this? Let me know which hook "grabs" you. Which one would entice you to know more about (or hopefully purchase) my novel? I've written five hooks below. They are in no particular order. Please vote for your favorite in the comments.

Best friends, hippies, neurotic brides, and sexy cops.
What could go wrong?

Best friends. Sexy cops. Hippies. Neurotic brides.
It’s complicated.
A wedding planner, bad-boy cop, neurotic brides, and hippies.
Not your everyday romance.

A wedding planner who can’t find wedded bliss. A banker involved with a bad-boy cop.
A counselor who enables her hippie parents. It’s complicated.

Best friends and wine solve everything—bad-boy cops, bitter betrayals, hippie parents, and neurotic brides. Bring it on.

I'll be eager to see which one comes out on top. Thanks for your input!

Thursday, July 31, 2014


#AmEditing takes on a whole new meaning after you've gone through your 400-page manuscript a gazillion times. It feels like the editing process will never end. My back is killing me, my eyes are bloodshot, and I keep forgetting to eat. Sound familiar?

 I am now working on the final galley for THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS so this is the LAST go-around before the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). I'm very nervous about this process. I hate typos but we're human and they're inevitable. I decided to have a print copy made and bound but the print is so light I am straining my eyes. I don't have time to have it redone and didn't bother looking at my printed masterpiece(!!) at the store. Oy.

I've learned many things from my talented Soul Mate Publishing senior editor, Debby, and will share those with you after I'm finished editing. Don't let me forget. It's good stuff. For now, I'm finding errors since my editor asked me to change a couple of small plot points and they were woven throughout. I thought I had found them all on the second major edit but I didn't. Scary. I'm going underground Jack Bauer style until I've tackled my 400 pages. I can do this. That's what I keep telling myself. That said, it's a dream come true. I'm not complaining. It's an incredible whirlwind of a process and I'm thrilled to be in this position, bloodshot eyes and all.

Side note: Please mark Aug. 14, 3-6 p.m., on your calendar. That's the date for my online launch party on Facebook. It's going to be fun!. I'll give away tons of prizes/swag, gift cards and books. More about that later, too. I may have an in-person launch party later in the fall after my print books are available.

I also have a couple of other BIG announcements in the wings. So, stay tuned. A new website will be launched next week as well.

Whew! When is a writer supposed to sleep?! How do you like the editing process?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Author Spotlight: Lisa Medley on Zombies

I want you to meet a good friend of mine and fellow Ozarks Romance Author, Lisa Medley. Lisa writes about zombies. Zombies! She is such a fun-loving person, married, with a beautiful daughter, Grace, who sent my very first fan letter. She's also hilarious and positive, yet she writes about zombies. Let's find out how this came about.

Welcome, Lisa. Tell us about your new release—the inspiration, genre, characters or anything you want us to know.

Reap & Repent is the first of my urban fantasy series about reapers. The grim kind. I started writing about reapers because the field wasn’t quite as saturated with that particular monster. After a few visits to local graveyards, the story began to fall together.

 You visit graveyards? I guess that would be good inspiration for zombies!

Q. How long have you been writing? What is your typical writing day like?

I started writing fiction in 2010. I had written newspaper articles and columns off and on through the years but never fiction. After finding and falling in love with the paranormal romance genre, I read more than a hundred books in the field and finally decided I could do that too. So I did. My first attempt stunk. Vampires. Nothing new there. Then I stumbled onto the idea for a series about reapers and I’ve already begun the fourth book in the series. The first three will come out this year.

I don’t really have a typical day. I have a full-time day job, a husband, a child, pets and farm animals. I stay up late after everyone has gone to bed to peck out a few pages. I can usually write 1-2K in two or three hours depending on how things are flowing.

 I'm impressed that you get so much writing done with a full-time job and family. Not to mention your critters!

Q. How many books have you written or is this your debut?

Three books in the reaper series are completed. Reap & Repent (#1) is out now at all online book retailers. Currently, they are all e-books but Repent will publish in print on sometime in December. Reap & Redeem (#2) comes out Oct. 6 and Reap & Reveal (#3) will come out in January. Currently I’m working on a ghost romance called Haunt My Heart (unrelated to the reaper series) and will be finishing the first draft within the month. Reap & Reckon (#4) insisted on starting without me so I do have the first ten pages started on it as well.

 Wow! You're making me look like a real slacker. I love your Harlequin story. Maybe you can discuss it more in the comment section. Also, I love how you incorporated "Reap" into your four titles. Great branding!

Q. Any suggestions on balancing writing and social media?

It’s hard to do both. I’m not going to lie. But without the writing, you have no need to work on building your social media platform. Definitely spend more time on the writing than on social media. The way social media is changing so rapidly, I hate wasting too much effort there. Building the relationships is the most important thing. So far, I can’t tell that I have sold one book as a direct result of Twitter. I have sold books during and after my online Facebook Launch Party, otherwise it’s all about talking to people and making contacts with other authors and readers.

Direct promotion, organic or paid, has not yet proven fruitful in my situation. Still, the more your name is out there and in front of people, the more likely that they will eventually track you down.

 Yes, name recognition and building relationships are both important. It does take time.

Lisa was in a Zombie Parade in Lebanon, MO, recently.
She really gets into her characters!
Q. Tell us something quirky about you that we may not know.

I keep bees. Or more, I have a beehive in which bees live. They occasionally produce honey for me, which I eat with joyful glee. I have a suit and everything. I’m legit.

Interesting. You are legit--and, I'd add, courageous!
Q. What is your favorite marketing tip/promotional advice?

Be assertive but not aggressive. I skim over social media, buy me tweets and shares 95% of the time. If I see something interesting about YOU that catches my eye, I’ll drill down to see what you are all about. I’ve bought books because of WHO people are not necessarily because of WHAT they were screaming.

I agree. Some people overdo it. Way overdo it and I can't scroll past fast enough.
Q. What’s your next project?

Finishing Haunt My Heart is my first priority. I’m at 60k on it and should wrap it up in another 5-10K. Then it’s back to my reapers. I have a soft spot for monsters. And monsters in love? Well…mmmmm.

You're a nut. But a funny, likeable nut who is a good writer.

Q. I love first lines. Post your first sentence. Hook us.

 What does a guy have to do around here to get some service? Deacon Walker marveled as he glared at the undulating queue of grotesque reapers in front of him.

Reap & Repent blurb
They see death. Can they share a life?
Ruth Scott can read the energy of every person she meets. Then she meets Deacon Walker. She can see his ice-blue eyes, his black hair, and his gorgeous face. But this beautiful stranger has no aura.
Deacon is just as unsettled by Ruth—and, having spent more than two hundred years ushering souls to Purgatory, Deacon is seldom shocked by anything. As he helps Ruth to understand her true nature, she awakens desires that he decided long ago a Reaper can’t afford.
A demon invasion forces Deacon to confront the darkness in his own past even as he fights to save the human souls he’s charged to protect. When he’s taken captive, his first concern is for Ruth. But Ruth just might be able to save herself—and the Reaper she can’t live without—if she can learn to wield her newfound power.

Want to read more?  AMAZON | B&N  | KOBO 
Lisa has always enjoyed reading about monsters in love and now she writes about them. Reapers. The grim kind.
She adores beasties of all sorts, fictional as well as real, and has a farm full of them in her Southwest Missouri home, including: one child, one husband, two dogs, two cats, a dozen hens, thousands of Italian bees, and a guinea pig.
She may or may not keep a complete zombie apocalypse bug-out bag in her trunk at all times, including a machete. Just. In. Case.

Connect with Lisa Medley here:

Now, tell us what you think about zombies in love?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop

It's Tuesday which means it's time for another installment of the Romance Writers Weekly blog hop! Each week, an author from the group poses three questions for several romance authors to answer. Follow us and you'll get insight into our writers' minds! Be sure to like our page on Facebook. and stay tuned. There's going to be a HUGE give-away toward the end of this month!

This week's great questions come from author Tessa Gray. Thanks, Tessa. I enjoyed these.

1.   Do any characters you've written into your books remind you of yourself? Explain which ones and why.

It's sometimes hard to keep bits of ourselves out of our writing. Sometimes we do it purposefully and other times, for me, it sneaks in. In my August debut, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, I have a character named Alexandra (Alex) who is quite a bit like me. For instance she has a "touch" of OCD (some days I have more than a "touch") and she loves T.J. Maxx (so do I). Alex also occasionally falls for the bad boys and likes men in uniforms, especially cops. Enough said.
2.   Was there a teacher or mentor in your life who helped nurture your writing?
I had three--one in junior high, one in high school and one in college. Don Sharp was my English teacher at Pipkin Junior High. Mr. Sharp was entertaining, nurturing and pushed me to become a reporter for the school newspaper. Several of my articles were published and I was hooked.
In high school, Laura Fleetwood was my English and literature teacher. She had a lovely, easy, conversational way about her with an ability to draw the students in. I remember she had us put our desks in a circle which I thought was cool. Mrs. Fleetwood also had a section on mythology which I loved.
My college professor, Jo Van Arkel, was amazing. I told her once that she could make a rock creative. She gave us several observation exercises which were very helpful and she had us write and write some more. I always made "A's" and received encouraging comments on my papers. During one of my expository writing classes, she made a comment that I remember almost verbatim. "I'm not exaggerating to suggest that this article could be published in a major women's magazine." I've never forgotten that. I was in my mid-to-late twenties and a single mom. I just held onto her encouragement--and that essay--for years but never sent it in.
3. Every author has that moment when they doubt their ability to write. When that happens to you, how do you pull yourself up by the bootstraps and continue? What do you do to inspire YOURSELF?    
I think this happens to every author. On many days we're filled with self-doubt. Isn't that why Hemingway drank?! What I usually do is either reread things I've written in the past to boost my confidence or I'll read a book. Reading others' work always gives me confidence and courage. It's not that I think I'm better than those authors, but I see exactly how they string sentences together to create a story and reading someone else's book always makes me ready to get back to my own storytelling.
Please leave a comment, and after you're finished, be sure and check out answers from the next writer on the hop. She's the lovely, talented actor-turned-writer Kim Handysides

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Meet Romantic Suspense Author Rachel Sharpe

I'm very pleased to introduce another Soul Mate Publishing Author. Meet Rachel Sharpe. She writes romantic suspense and her debut novel is entitled COLD AMBITION.

Welcome, Rachel!

Q. Tell us about your new release—the inspiration, genre, characters or anything you want us to know.

"Cold Ambition" is the first book in the Jordan James, PI series, which is the story of a young woman from New Orleans living in Boston and trying to make it as a private investigator against some pretty serious odds. Her first case is a twenty-something-year old unsolved murder that not even Boston's finest could crack. Little did she know that with her very first case, Jordan would find herself unwittingly involved in an international conspiracy that puts her very life in jeopardy... 

The inspiration for Jordan James came from the fact that as a child, I loved watching re-runs of "Magnum, PI" so much that I literally wanted to become a PI myself. The lifestyle presented in that show was possibly the most thrilling life I could have imagined - living in Hawaii on an ocean front estate free of charge and getting to drive a Ferrari you don't own while solving sensational cases with your friends? Who wouldn't want a life like that? When I truly began to put pen to paper, however, I couldn't imagine a more exciting city to begin a career as a PI than in Boston which, along with New Orleans, is one of my all-time favorite cities. 
Now that you put it that way, I think I'd like to be a PI as well! That was a good show. I agree Boston and New Orleans are both great cities and wonderful fodder for novels.
Q. How long have you been writing and what is your typical writing day like?
I've been writing stories ever since I could write. Reading and writing have always been passions of mine, which is most likely why I became an English major in college. A typical writing day for me is atypical at best. At this point in my career, I still have a "day job," so I write whenever I can. Oftentimes, I get the most writing done on the go via my cell phone's writing app. If I'm writing a novel, my goal is to complete the first draft within a season. Editing takes more time, but as long as I get that first draft down, I'm good.
I've heard you talk about that phone app before. What is it called? Though, I can't imagine penning a novel (even part of one) on my phone. I love that idea to finish a draft in a season. Hmm. Maybe I'll try that.
Q. How many books have you written or is this your debut? 
This is my debut novel, but there are currently four books in the Jordan James, PI series. Soul Mate Publishing contracted book two, "Lost Distinction," and I am editing book three, working title "Retribution." I am also writing book four. I hope for this to be a continuous series like "Jack Reacher."
You are making me feel like a real slacker especially since I can no longer say my day job is anything but writing. But I did work outside the home for over 25 years. Congrats on selling book #2 and working on #'s 3 and 4. I'm impressed.
Q. Any suggestions on balancing writing and social media?
It's all about consistency. You have to remain active to keep your name and your work out there, but you don't want to over-saturate your market to the point you lose readers' interest. I try to keep semi-active on Facebook and Twitter as well as my blog, but I do not post daily. Marketing is easily a full-time job that could take away from your writing time if you let it. That's why it's important to be consistent, but keep things in balance.
Marketing can definitely be a full-time job. Achieving balance is key, I agree, but it's often hard to follow that advice.
Q. Tell us something quirky about you that we may not know.
It's not exactly quirky, but I love music and I play the guitar. I was in a band in high school called Outta the Blue. If I couldn't write novels, I would probably focus more time on my music.
You're cool! Love the name of the band and the fact that you can play a guitar!
Q. What is your favorite marketing tip/promotional advice?
When I first began my journey to publication, I was talking to a friend and fellow author and he said, "You're going to write? Then you need to Tweet." After a minimal argument, I agreed that whenever that wonderful day happened, the day when a publisher finally said, "Yes, we want to publish you," on that day I would give in and get Twitter. And I did. And my friend was right. Twitter allows you to reach, in my opinion, a wider audience than Facebook. Both are amazing marketing tools that anyone needing to promote themselves or their product/service should utilize, but so far, I've found it easier to engage readers on Twitter. 
Interesting. I've found more fans and networking opportunities on Facebook! But I'm also on Twitter.
Q. What’s your next project?
"Lost Distinction," book two in the Jordan James, PI series. In it, Jordan is called upon to find the missing son of a US Ambassador. With time running out and lives at stake, she must race to uncover the culprit of an elaborate plot while also uncovering a far more personal truth too intimate to ignore...
Sounds intriguing and complex.
Q. I love first lines. Post your first sentence. Hook us!

Perilously perched on the edge of a high-rise that offered a spectacular view of Faneuil Hall is most certainly not how I pictured my untimely demise...

Good one!!! I just love compelling first sentences. They're so important. Now, I wish I had asked you why you decided to write using first person. Maybe you can tell us in the comments.
Everyone, please read Rachel's excerpt below, then leave a comment and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. And, of course, check out her novel, COLD AMBITION. Thanks for stopping by, Rachel.

My name is Jordan James, and I am a twenty-four- year-old woman. I just wanted to get that straight from the beginning. I am well aware that Jordan is commonly a boy’s name, but for some reason my parents decided that a normal name like Melissa or Amanda would not suit me. Regardless, my name has not caused me any trouble since an unfortunate teasing incident in the third grade. In fact, it has been quite useful in my line of work. But again, I digress.
I’m originally from a suburb of New Orleans but moved to the Northeast to attend Brown University. I spent four fabulous years in Providence and graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in psychology. Like most bright- eyed, eager graduates, I assumed jobs would be thrown at me as soon as I was handed my diploma. I assumed that I could take my pick. The world was my oyster. To make a long story short, my ideas and reality did not match. After several frustrating months of searching, I decided to move to Boston. I thought this city would provide me with all of the wonderful opportunities I had been unable to find in Providence. When it didn’t, I settled and took a job as a waitress at a small Italian restaurant along the Freedom Trail near the Old North Church to make ends meet. It wasn’t a bad job; the tips were good, and the owners were wonderful. In fact, they became quasi-parents to me when I didn’t know anyone else in Boston, but I wasn’t satisfied. This job wasn’t what I had spent four grueling years studying for.
After work each evening, I went home to my one- bedroom apartment on Sewall Avenue, counted my tips, and then spent many hours searching online for different career opportunities that might be available to someone with my credentials. Unfortunately, I had already looked into most of them and during an economic crisis, good jobs can be hard to attain. I started saving religiously and continued the search for my dream job.
After I saved up a decent amount of money and recruited the reluctant help of my parents, I decided to go into business for myself. What career did I decide on? What job could possibly stimulate me intellectually and help me provide for myself in a manner that I could finally be on my own, both physically and fiscally? Private investigation. Yes, I decided to set up shop as a P.I. Now, one might wonder, what could have possibly led me to believe that I could make it as a P.I.? Another valid question is: why did I want to become one in the first place? The answer to both questions can be summed up in one word: Magnum. I grew up watching re-runs of the classic 1980’s show and was enthralled by both his career and his lifestyle. It was exciting and thrilling. He lived in Hawaii, drove a Ferrari that he didn’t own, and lived on an expansive oceanfront estate free of charge. Who wouldn’t want a life like that? With the black belt in Tae Kwon Do that I had earned in college, I felt more than prepared to take on a potentially dangerous job. However, even with my black belt and my education, my choice of career received less than enthusiastic responses.
“No one is going to hire a woman to investigate anything,” my father stated when I called him with the news.
“Oh, that is such a dangerous job. You could be killed! What’s wrong with the restaurant? In fact, what’s wrong with moving back home?” my mother inquired. I must admit I shuddered at the thought.
“A private eye? Good luck with that one,” scoffed my older sister, Alicia, the pediatric neurosurgeon. She had graduated from an in-state university and set up her practice within thirty miles of my parents’ residence. She was always the good one.
Despite the negative feedback, I decided to forge my new life in the home of our country’s forefathers, where liberty was conceived and it was decided that freedom was considered worth dying for. Unfortunately, the cost of living had gone up substantially since Paul Revere had galloped into history with his famous midnight ride. Finding a reasonable apartment in an area that didn’t have the police on speed dial was difficult. Finding an office that didn’t put my unborn children into debt would be a miracle.
I learned, however, that perseverance pays off. My landlord owned an office building near Fenway Park with a tiny, unrentable office. It was smaller than all of the other offices in the building and, therefore, considered undesirable. I investigated this situation and found out that my landlord had been unable to rent it for over a year and a half. This was the perfect opportunity for me to put that minor in communications to work. Although it took nearly a month, I was able to logically convince Mr. Chambers that if he were to rent the office to me at five-eighths the normal price for six months, it would be beneficial to us both. Eventually, he saw it my way. He says it was actually because I nearly drove him to jump into the Charles River because of my incessant nagging. I like to believe it was due to my keen negotiating skills.
So, on November 3, nearly a year and a half after graduating, I unlocked the door to my office, turned on the light, and smiled at the black letters freshly inked to the opaque glass in my door—Jordan James, P.I. Now all that I needed were clients. As fate would have it, someone was looking for a P.I., someone whose case would affect not only my career but my very existence.