Saturday, April 21, 2018

Busy as a bee by Barbara Edwards

I almost forgot to post my blog. This week has been a challenge. I’m researching a new story and plotting the story line. All of a sudden I’m full of energy. The rainy, cold weather isn’t making an impression. I ignored the rain to enjoy the clumps of crocus opening blue and white faces to the sky. the few yellow are far outdone by the others. I even have a hyacinth sneaking out. I love their scent.

So back to my story. Lucky for me its in an era I’m familiar with, northern New England. how can I forget the covered bridge, the granite quarry, the mountains covered with color or green of every shade.

The older towns have beautiful mansions from a time when the factory owners lorded over the right side of the tracks.

I’m thinking about what to name my story. What goes with spice? Herbs sounds a little hard. I can see my hero, know my heroine and what each wants. Certainly not each other at this point.

So I’m spending the next couple months in the green mountains of Vermont with a deadline of July first.

I’ll probably be sharing parts of my story as I run into problems with the plot. 
Did you know that there are scattered family cemeteries on many of the old farms?

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Friday, April 20, 2018

A Tale of Three Tails or Three Dog Night In The Country

         My Family Grew When I Wasn't Looking

First there was Zap. He came into my life about a year and a half ago after I discovered him on a pound puppy website. He'd been abused, starved, and dumped outside their shelter. I was interested as I didn't want a puppy but the ad claimed he was two or more years old. 
Later, my vet would say he was more likely only a year old. 
It took a while to win his trust and he's still skittish around strangers. He also retains an almost pathological aversion to pickup trucks and large men.
However, he loves women and children and is a real sweetheart.

About six months after adopting Zap, I learned about a four-month-old pup. Bred as a Cowboy Corgi (Corgi/Heeler mix) this little guy didn't fit the desired standard. Although a Cowboy Corgi can be long or short haired and all colors, their legs have to be Corgi short.

Here, on the left, is Kif with legs twice the accepted length. The breeder  planned to take him to the pound unless he found someone to take him off his hands. And that's how this boy joined the household. 

Image result for Cowboy Corgi
I added this picture on the right so you can see how tall a Cowboy Corgi ought to be.

It didn't take Kif long to warm up to his new digs.                                  
Though training is slow things were going smoothly enough when three days ago this sweet fellow walked up on the deck, opened the screen door, and walked right in.
After I got over the surprise of finding a strange dog in my house, I gently ushered him back outside. Back on the deck, he stared in at me, grinned as if we'd just shared a marvelous joke, and furiously wagged a barely-there tail. Then he simply opened the door and came back inside. 

At least this time I got to see how Houdini accomplished his skillful breaking and entering. Using his nose, he bounces the wire meshing until there is enough space to get one toenail inside - after that it's a quick slide open. He had that sliding screen door open in seconds flat.

No collar and, beneath all that silky-soft hair, I could feel the outline of every bone. So, of course, I fed him. His tummy had shrunk so much that he wasn't able to eat even half of what the other two consume.

Three days later and he's also making himself at home. 
The spot on the couch without the red cover is where I sit and the space is getting smaller and smaller. 

Here they are one big family.

Checking out the new guy's pearly whites, I can tell he's also a youngster. So much for planning. I now own three furry juveniles where I'd originally planned on a single teenager.

While Zap and Kif are a little jelly, they've also started teaching Bender (yes, I've named him) the ropes. Their first and most vital task each morning (after lifting a leg) is to check out the pond. You never know when there might be a Canada Goose, Duck, or Heron to bark at.

As for this crazy dog lady? I'm headed back into town for more dog food.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What Do Writing and the Weather Have in Common? by Jannine Gallant

I took this video in the meadow a couple of days ago on a walk with Ginger. The sun was shining, the snow was melting, and the frogs were croaking. Spring had arrived!

Today is the first day of my "summer" job at the boat ramp. This is the current view outside my booth where I have two heaters cranked up to combat the 24 degree temperature. If a boater shows up, I'll probably faint from shock. LOL Not that I'm complaining, mind you, since I have a ten hour shift and nothing to distract me from writing.

April is one of those months where you never know what will happen. Kind of like my WIP (work in progress). Without a signed contract for this book/series, I've been struggling to stay focused and on track. My personal deadline (complete a book every five months) will be up in June, and I'm only a little over the half-way mark. I've come to the conclusion I won't be finished by then, and I honestly am not freaking out about that. I put a lot of pressure on myself to produce, and I need to ease up! My publisher is waiting to see how well my current series sells before offering a new contract, so I can adjust the timeline accordingly at that stage. If I get a new contract... But let's not go there and just assume I will.

I wrote in another post that I was going to put together an outline to better stay on track. I actually did! I know, shocking, right? I have a few rough notes scribbled in a binder, plot points that need to happen in the next quarter of the book. I even put together a romance arc to keep that part of the story moving forward. I was pretty pleased with myself...until I actually started writing. Just like the erroneous assumption that spring had arrived and it would be smooth sailing (get it--boat ramp LOL), those clouds rolled in and snowed on my parade. (Sorry about the mixed metaphors.) My characters got off track immediately. I tried to drag them, kicking and screaming, back to my outline, but they're stubborn. Finally, I gave up and decided to go with the flow. Maybe they'll work their way toward my plot points in good time. Or not. I've come to the conclusion some things can't be forced. My hope is my characters know what they're doing. I guess we'll find out.

In the meantime, pick up a copy of BURIED TRUTH. I need sales to get that next contract. Help a paranoid author out, and happy reading!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Loving Our Bad Boys by Betsy Ashton

Why is it that we fall in love with our bad boys? I don't mean in real life, although that was true once for me when I fell in love with a budding rock star, until he became a star and lost his way in the drug scene.

I mean, why do we like our bad boys in our books? I ask that because I have never written a story about a bad boy. My Mad Max series has strong male figures, but Max's boyfriend can't be confused with a bad boy. Johnny Medina is a decent guy who loves Max. Period.

My serial killer is the closest to a bad ass dude as I've written, yet she is a female bad ass dude. I didn't fall in love with her, but I became entranced by her story. After all, she has a "storied" career of what she sees as righteous kills. Her fans find themselves rooting for her, even as she struggles with her own psychological mysteries. She doesn't know how she would be defined in the DSM and frankly doesn't care.

So, why do I want to write about a bad boy? Because they look so deliciously entertaining. Years ago, I wrote a romance which I never sent out. It doesn't fit the genre model. The characters are both around forty. One is married; one wears a wedding band, but her marital status is unclear. When they fall in love, the conflict intensifies along with the heat. He's married; she might be. Is he a bad boy for being married and loving a potentially married woman? So far, he's the baddest dude I've tried to write.

I read about bad boys all the time. I love thrillers and suspense stories. My fictional heroes range from Jack Reacher to Mitch Rapp to Jack Bauer to Mr. Reese in the old Person of Interest television show. They kill. They're good at it. Very good. They are sexy in a dangerous sort of way. They kill people who need killing. They hide in plain sight.

Oh, hell. That Thing in Eyes Without A Face is a female version of all them with a dash of Dexter. I guess I can write about a bad ass. Bad ass dudettes need equal billing.

What do you think?


Betsy Ashton is the author of the Mad Max Mystery series. Her stand-alone serial killer novel, EYES WITHOUT A FACE, is a departure from her normal fare.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Life Happens by Diane Burton

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. ~ John Lennon

I should stencil John Lennon’s quote on the inside of my eyelids. This has not been my best year, writing-wise. Oh, 2018 started great with lots of energy, ideas galore, a plan to release three novels this year. For two weeks, I was going great guns on the fourth Alex O’Hara mystery. Then, for some weird reason (which I won’t go into), I quit that book to finish one that I thought was 75% done. It wasn’t, but I’d committed to it.

Enter the doldrums of 2018. Winter blues, depression. Whatever. I was stalled during the month of February. I wrote but not as much as I could have. With March, spring was in the air. Sort of. For a day or two we had sunshine. Hurray! My energy returned. The finish line was in sight, just 10k words to write. I had the outline done, just needed to go from “telling” to “showing.” And I was looking forward to celebrating Easter with my family.

That’s when Life slapped me up the side of the head and said, “Unh uh.” I woke up one morning with a vicious sore throat and a cough. I guess Life thought I needed to remember all those people who got influenza, even those who’d gotten the shot, those who ended up in the hospital. When family members (Hubs included) had gotten hit with bad colds, I escaped. I couldn’t believe it. How lucky could I get!

My luck ran out. No Easter with the family, not with coughing my head off. Finally, I was bullied (Hubs and daughter) into going to the doctor. Guess what? Doctors take Spring Break, too. Off to Urgent Care, where I was diagnosed with pneumonia. Say what? That explained the lack of energy, difficulty breathing with the least exertion, wanting to sleep all the time.

Along with no physical energy, my creative energy disappeared. Even reading was too hard. So was Facebook and email. Binge-watching Netflix was all I could manage. Life must have thought I needed downtime while one course of antibiotics worked. Recheck at the doctor’s showed an ear and sinus infection. Another course of antibiotics. More downtime. After all that, I am feeling better. I even got to see the grandkids last week. Talk about withdrawal. I hadn't seen them in over two weeks.

The plan to finish my romantic suspense (Number Never Lie) by Easter didn’t happen. That pushed back the release by Mother’s Day even farther. I'm almost afraid to mention a release date. I’m disappointed, but what can I do? Buckle down again. Keep on truckin’.

We make plans, and Life laughs.

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She blogs here on the 16th and 30th of each month. She shares snippets from Numbers Never Lie every weekend on her blog.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Art of the Blurb by Alison Henderson

By the time you read this, I will be deep in my edits, probably moaning and tearing my hair. However, at the moment I'm taking advantage of my last few days of freedom to work on the blurb for UNDERCOVER NANNY that will become my Amazon product description.

As you know, blurbs vary widely in length and level of detail. Some are mere teasers. Others spell out most of the main plot points. I've read quite a number of articles on how to write great product descriptions, but I'm not sure I got many useful pointers from any of them. Some were written by professional marketers, and others by authors discussing the elements and style that have worked for there. I'm not a marketing guru, but personal preference seems to play a major role.

So, what about you? When you're looking for a new book, what do you look for in a blurb? Do you want a brief description that gives you an idea of the tone of the book but only a broad overview of the characters and plot? Or do you feel more comfortable (and therefore more likely to part with your hard-earned cash) if you have a better idea of the story?

I don't think most readers like super-long blurbs, so I've written two potential options for UNDERCOVER NANNY: one with approximately 100 words, and one twice that length. I would love your opinion as to which would make you more likely to hit the "Buy" button.

Kidnapping. Extortion. Antiquities smuggling. Add one light-fingered, bad-tempered monkey, and it’s all in a day’s work for novice bodyguard Casey Callahan.

She has been hired to protect the five-year-old niece of archaeology professor Alec Bainbridge from would-be kidnappers while posing as the child’s nanny—a task made all the more challenging by the escapades of Balthazar, a Capuchin with an attitude.

Amid break-ins, anonymous threats, and possible arson, Casey and Alec race to identify the villains before they harm the child or make off with a priceless Egyptian artifact. All the while, their growing mutual attraction becomes a complication too powerful to ignore.

Kidnapping. Extortion. Antiquities smuggling. Add one light-fingered, bad-tempered monkey, and it’s all in a day’s work for novice bodyguard Casey Callahan.

Casey has been working part-time for an all-female bodyguard agency while finishing her graduate degree. In her first solo assignment, she has been hired to protect the five-year-old niece of a handsome archaeology professor from would-be kidnappers while posing as the child’s nanny. When she arrives at the house, she is startled to learn her duties will also include wrangling the little girl’s staunch companion, an impudent Capuchin named Balthazar.

Alec Bainbridge has been balancing excavation and teaching duties with single parenthood since the death of his sister. When a stranger attempts to take his niece from school, his fears push him to hire a bodyguard. However, the young woman who shows up is a far cry from the matronly type he was expecting.

Despite Alec and Casey's best efforts, the anonymous threats continue to escalate, sending them on a race to identify the villains before they harm the child or make off with a priceless Egyptian artifact. All the while, their growing mutual attraction becomes a complication too powerful to ignore.

Do you like either? Should I mix and match elements? I want to give readers enough, but not too much. It's a fine line, and any help you can give will be most appreciated.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

#Binge-watching with Christine DePetrillo

I consider watching television and movies research for writing. I thought I'd share some things I've been binge-watching recently. If you haven't seen some of these, you might want to take a peek.

1. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman - An oldie, but a goody. I love period pieces that transport be to another time and place. I've always thought the character of Dr. Mike was so well done. A true testimony to the strong female spirit.

2. Anne of Green Gables - Speaking of strong female spirit, is there anyone better than Anne? I simply adore Megan Follows as well. She is such a gifted actress and I first fell in love with her as Anne.

3. Black Mirror - A Twilight Zone-esque show but with a futuristic flavor. I'll admit some of the episodes are... unsettling. Mostly because they are not stretching the truth all that much. I'd just like to hang out with the writers of this show because they must be super interesting to have the ideas they have.

4. Everything Sucks - If you love 90s alternative rock, you'll like this show. The soundtrack is admittedly better than the plot, but you'll love the characters because you can no doubt find a little piece of yourself in at least one of them. It's also a good show to keep you entertained while you're waiting for Stranger Things to come out with a new season.

5. Cheers - Just because everyone needs a place "where everybody knows your name."

6. Bitten - I like to rewatch this to get in touch with my inner werewolf. And Greyston Holt is so nice to look at.

7. Hallmark Movies - Sometimes a night just needs a little love, you know?

8. Beauty and the Beast - Disney come to life? Yeah, count me in.

What binge suggestions do you have for me?

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift eCard! Visit my website and scroll down on the home page for the details.