NTRWA President Marsha West

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


North Texas RWA 
             Marsha is a former elementary school administrator who presides over our RWA chapter meetings with grace, poise and, as is essential for our group, a sense of humor.  She joins us on the blog today to talk about parenting and writing. 

     Thanks, for inviting me, Dawn. I decided to start with an issue that’s important to me. Good parenting. However, not so much in the delightful way Regina Richards speaks of it in her Bad Mommies Blog. (You really should check that out; it’s so funny.)
      All of my adult life, I’ve been involved in schools as a secondary teacher, parent, volunteer, school board member (In Texas this is a volunteer, non-partisan elected position.), an elementary school assistant principal, and principal. I’ve seen first-hand what a difference good early parenting makes in a child’s life, for his/her teacher, class and school. The ripples extend far.
     Most of us model what our parents did, be it good or bad. (I’m pretty certain mine didn’t have training.) All parents do the best they can, but sometimes even though we’re trying to help, we hinder. For instance, probably the worst thing we can do for our kids is rescue them. I’m raising my hand as a major offender. If one daughter forgot her lunch, I’d dash down to school with it. If the other daughter waited until the last minute to tell me about a project and needed the poster board, I’d head out to the grocery store for the supplies. I really wanted to be a good mom. Experts tells us rescuing teaches the child they are not capable and can do real harm to their self-esteem.  Rescuing is worse than neglect. In that situation, somehow the kid concludes, "My parents think I can handle this." Talk about counter-intuitive.
      I serve on the Advisory Board of Texas Parents as Teachers, giving them time, advocacy, and money. Your school district or child-care facility may have access to this program. I’d love to tell you more about TPAT and how trained parent educators work with parents of children from birth through four, using an evidence based curriculum. The crucial early years are most important for how successful a child is at school and in life. 
      Education is powerful. 
 We can change anything with the knowledge and the will to do so. 
 (Bolded by Dawn)
That’s my soapbox, and now I’ll answer a few of Dawn’s questions.

  What made you decide to write? What did you do before becoming a writer?
I’ve answered the second question already. But as to the first, when my mother was ill a number of years ago, I buried my worries in romances. (After a hiatus of probably 20 years when I only read educational related material.) Visiting with one of my husband’s friends, I said, “I think I could write one of these if I knew what to write about.” He said, ”Write about the huge scandal in the school district we’ve just been discussing.” (The scandal started after I left the board.) Thus the kernel for my first book was born. 
Tell us about being President of NTRWA. What has that been like? What have you loved? What has been a challenge?
I like to think being president of an organization is one of the things I do well, though not perfectly by any means. I love to see problem solving by group members, and I’ve actually experienced chill bumps when it’s really going well. It’s almost magical. (A little weird, I know.) J The biggest challenge has been my inability to juggle the time commitment to allow for writing. On the other hand (people who know me will tell you, I can almost always come up with an “on the other hand.”), when times got really tough with writing this year, and I gave serious thoughts to quitting, my involvement in NT and friends I’ve met there kept me going.

  Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?
When I was writing new books (I’ve been editing all this year.), after sending my husband off to work, I’d sit in front of the computer in our study and quickly check emails. Then I’d read over whatever I wrote the day before, making some edits, basically getting back into the world. I’d write all day until time to fix supper with breaks to see why the puppies were barking. For approximately three-and-a-half-years, I averaged 20 pages a week, cranking out 2nd-5th books. Our critique group met weekly, and we almost always had our new pages. Knowing the others depended on us kept our rear in the seat and fingers on the keys. (Both of those talented people will be published soon. The first of Jeanne Guzman’s Dragon Hunters series, Dragon Lover comes out momentarily, and Jerrie Alexander’s The Green Eyed Doll makes its appearance in 2012.)

   Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?
The short answer is “Not really.” However, from my theatre background, I’m used to having a date when something has to be ready and backing up from that date to see when I have to begin. That translates to deadlines for contests, and hopefully, someday to sending edits back to an editor. If someone doesn’t give me a deadline, I have to create one, or I don’t get anything done.

 What is the best advice you have received about this journey?
That it is a journey, and there are many paths to publication. The only person who can defeat us is ourselves—if we give up.(Amen!)

 What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?
“Don’t query until you’re certain sure the ms is in as perfect a condition as possible.” I queried much too early before I learned basics of the craft and self-editing strategies. “On the other hand,” that allowed me to become an RWA PRO, and I’ve learned a great deal form that group and our local NT PRO loop.

What kind of scenes do you have a hard time writing?
The first one. J Seriously, I have the dickens of the time finding where to start a book. I usually cut 2-3 chapters. Even now, when I get that the story needs to start in the middle of the action, I don’t write it that way.

   Do you ever write material based on your close relationships, such as a best friend, and how do you balance that material with the need to tell an interesting story?
I based the first book more than any other on real people, fictionalized of course. (To my knowledge, sex and murders weren’t connected to the school scandal mentioned in question 1.) In other books, I’ve borrowed characteristics or a name I’ve modified. More than people, I borrow situations and places. Bottom line, it’s fiction. People, places and situations provide the inspiration, and then my imagination takes over.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?
Family—three grands, who I enjoy babysitting, two “puppies” (12 and 13 years old), and wonderful trips with my husband. I take Pilates a couple times a week at my younger daughter’s studio. This year lots of NT related work. Emails and blogs. I feel sorry for authors if not many folks have taken time to respond, so I do. Unfortunately, as you’ve noticed, I’m not brief. I don’t write in sound bites. Need to work on that. LOL

  Tell us a bit about your work in progress.
I’m doing the last edits on my 5th book with Renee, my new in person critique partner, and Denyse, a new on-line CP.
    In Truth Be Told, a 95,000 Single Title Romantic Suspense, Meg, an Atlanta SWAT team member visiting her family in Fort Worth at Christmas wants to stop whoever is blackmailing her father. Meg pursues a resistant Scott, who struggles to accept his new physical limitations, which he received saving the life of Meg’s brother. The disability prevents Scott from returning to the force, and in his mind makes him unacceptable to Meg. In uncovering the pieces of the puzzle, they learn the truth, which threatens to ruin her father’s career as mayor and destroy Meg’s family. She and Scott discover real love will require sacrifices on both their parts.

  What is next for you?
Book 6, a single title romance with no title. The log line: When a member of the board of a non-profit arts agency in Fort Worth turns up dead, a homicide detective looks at everyone involved in the organization, including the Executive Director.
This time last year, I did a lot of planning for this book. With NT’s retreat coming up next weekend, I expect to spend the time writing like a fiend. I’ll continue to take on-line classes and attend conferences/retreats, enter and judge contests, critique, and query. There’s always more to learn.
 How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?
I don’t have my own blog. (That’s probably all I’d ever do if I had one.) I’m super pleased to be able to post on Dawn’s however. 
My web site is marsharwest.com 
and I FB a bit as Marsha Riegert West.
Thanks for having me, Dawn. 
 Thank you for stopping by.  It was a pleasure getting to know you better.
I’ve loved your questions. 

   I’m going to throw one back to our readers. What do you wish you’d known before becoming a writer? For those of you who are parents, what’s the best advice you’ve received from anyone on how to be a better parent?

Friday Plot Swap~ Mystery Style

Friday Plot Swap
Dawn's Plot Swap
Have a plot? Leave one
Need a plot ? Take one 
Have you seen a news story that got your wheels turning? 
Do you have a plot in your head that would make a great story, just not one you intend to write?  
Leave it here on Fridays 
pick up a plot for your weekend writing time.
Here is what I have for you this Friday: 
Some old style mysteries. 


Additional link: Cynthia Anderson
So, swap with me! 
Got any old mysteries in your inspiration file? 
Have an theories on these?  

Jody Hedlund

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Please Welcome

Jody was actually my very first follower on this blog and I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to feature her. 

First, let  me tell you about her new book The Doctor's Lady. You can check out the beautiful book trailer below.

I will openly admit I am not an avid historical fiction reader. I finished The Doctor's Lady in one day, staying up until the wee hours of the morning, because I had to know what happened. It is a quick moving, fascinating read about the life of a woman travel across the country in the 1830's. The characters suck you in. By the time I turned the last page, I was sad to end my journey with them.
You can enter to win a free, signed copy of the book by leaving a comment this week. 
The winner will be chosen on Monday, October 3rd.
*U.S. mailing address only, please*

Let's get to know Jody!

  What was the inspiration behind The Doctor’s Lady?

This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.
It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.

What message do you hope readers take away?

I hope readers are inspired to try new things and brave dangerous prospects in the pursuit of their dreams. When we go after the things that matter, we’ll have to take risks and we’ll experience setbacks and obstacles. But if we persevere, we can reach our destination and do great things along the way.

What do you like most about writing and being a published author?

As a writer, I love telling stories. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I’m able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. I call it the first-draft love affair! I fall absolutely and madly in love with the story and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

As a published author, I love hearing from readers. I’m always thrilled to get emails or hand-written notes from readers telling me how much my story touched them.

What do you like least?
I struggle the most during the editing phase of each of my books. The love affair that started during the first draft comes to an end. I fall out of love with my books. By the last edit—called the Galley Review—I finally reach a point where I loathe the book, think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written, and wish I could just throw it away. During the Galley stage, I’m fraught with insecurity and fear. My agent did a great job of talking me off the cliff during my fears with The Doctor’s Lady. She encouraged and inspired me to keep going no matter what happens. 

  What’s coming next?
 In 2012, my next historical romance releases. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. Although the story isn’t inspired by a true person the way my first two books have been, I do include several real people, particularly a real villain by the name of James Carr who was notorious in central Michigan for his violence and for introducing white slavery into the state.

 The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.

   Where can readers find you?

I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com

 Thank you so much for stopping by, Jody!
Psst, you should also check out her first book 

So, do you like to read historical fiction?
Leave a comment or question for Jody to be entered  for a chance to win a free, signed copy of 
The Doctor's Lady!

My apologies to those who have tried to leave a comment and were unable to. Blogger must be having a hiccup because it is set for anyone to comment. 
Please email me at writer in waiting at gmail dot com and I will be happy to enter you in the drawing.

Developing a Platform~ Guest Post

Thinking about Thursday

Developing a Platform
Guest Post By
Writing Coach 

Many writers realize that nowadays we have to have a platform. One really great way to build platform is through public speaking. However, many writers shy away from this because of fear of talking in front of large groups. While public speaking can be done in person, consider other options such as online workshops, webinars and other ways of speaking to a group without standing in front of a group.

Once you’ve gotten over that hurdle or determined where you’re going to speak or you’ve been invited to speak, the next thing a writer needs to determine is what they’re going to talk on. I suggest that writers write on something that’s related to the topic or what the theme of their book or the research associated with their book and their genre, without speaking directly to the writing process.

For an example, if you’re a suspense writer and your book is about kidnapping such as Amy Wallace’s was, she did a wonderful job of teaching and speaking and having a website surrounded around safety for children and protecting your kids and the FBI and things like that. While reaching out to people who are interested in the topic of her book she did not specifically talk on her book.

Another example would be if you write Regency romance, such as Linore Rose Burkard. She has a wonderful website and offers things like information on clothing of the era and social mores and etiquette. Therefore people who are interested in that time period can get valuable resources from her and also will begin to develop a relationship with her and read her books because they know her and they’ve seen her stuff.

As a writer consider speaking on topics that are based on the research that you’ve done for a particular book, novel or industry, and not just be like you need to speak about your book specifically, about publishing specifically or publishing journey specifically.

Engage individuals who are interested in the topics that you cover in your book and that will help you develop your relationship and thus your platform.

Thank you, Tiffany, for those great suggestions. 

Tiffany Colter has been published locally and nationally. Her publishing credits include Charisma Magazines, Suspense Magazine, Today’s Christian, Encounter, On Mission and The Toledo Business Journal. Online she has a successful blog that teaches business principles to writers the Writing Career Coach and she writes a monthly Marketing Column and a quarterly Feature for the Afictionado E-zine. Suspense Magazine regularly publishes her work in their “Ask Your Writing Career Coach” column.

She teaches on topics as diverse as Writing for Small Business Owners to Special Needs Adoption to Thriving during Financial Crisis. Her speaking is managed through Command Performance Speakers’ Bureau.

I happen to be an exception to the "writer=introvert" rule because public speaking has never bothered me, but I know there are people who fear it worse than death.  

So, what about you? Does speaking in front of people make you break out in hives? Or do you love being in the spotlight?

Jerrie Alexander

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


I am thrilled to be featuring another one of my chapter mates from the North Texas Romance Writers of America and a fellow romantic suspense author. Jerrie is delightfully witty. I truly enjoyed working with her on this interview.

Let's get to know Jerrie!

 What made you decide to write?  What did you do before becoming a writer? 
I’d always wanted to write, studied journalism, but it wasn’t until I took a creative writing class, I found my love. Before becoming a writer? Funny, I went to work so we could afford to buy me a new car. Years and promotions flew by before I knew it. As a female in logistics, a field where men dominated, I had the opportunity to learn a great deal first hand about the way the male mind thinks, talks, and reacts. Not that anyone could really understand that jumble of nerves. (smile) I try and use those experiences in my male characters.

Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?  
I have my office at home, and I’m surrounded by bookshelves. I try to write something everyday. Doesn’t always work out, but I try.

Is the life of a writer what you thought it be? What is different?
 You know, I didn’t expect it to be easy. It’s work, requires lots of study and practice. The good thing is I enjoy learning and improving. The more I learn the stronger my characters become.

 Tell us about your great news! I hear you are signing a book deal, winning contests,  all kinds of terrific stuff. 
I’m thrilled to say I signed with The Wild Rose Press to publish The Green Eyed Doll. It’s the story of a young woman running from her past. She falls for a sheriff hunting a murderer who paints his victims’ faces to look like a porcelain doll. As we all know...Keeping secrets can get you killed...The contest news? I’m excited that The Last Execution placed first in the Celtic Hearts contest and is a finalist in The Catherine contest. Placements to be announced in October.

Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life? 
I push back from the computer and make time. It’s a must to keep my bearings and retain what little sanity I have left.(just joking.) It refreshes and refills my soul to spend time with my family and friends.

 What is the best advice you have received about this journey?  
That’s an easy one and the advice wasn’t given directly to me. Nora Roberts addressed the RWA conference in Orlando. I can’t quote her exactly. Her message? “Write the damn book.” No one cares like you whether or not you finish or sell the book. Family, friends, coworkers, sure they care but not with the abiding need that drives you as an author.

What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out? That you had to develop a thick hide. Rejections don’t mean you haven’t written a good book. It means the story didn’t resonate with that particular reader.

What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do you combat that? 
That question made me laugh. I know a couple of people who could testify when I finish a book I’m convinced I’ll never have another original idea again. That I never write another word. Then something clicks and I’m off and running. I don’t combat it. I just keep pushing forward.

What kind of scenes do you have a hard time writing?
When there are multiple characters in a room, I get four or five people together, and I have to figure out how to distinguish between them without using the old he said or she said.

Do you ever write material based on your close relationships, such as a best friend?, and how do you balance that material with the need to tell an interesting story?
 There are a few scenes I’ve used from real life. One phrase comes from my best friend who refuses to eat at a fast food restaurant... she refers to them as Squat and Gobbles. She’s single and loves that I’ve used some of her comments and situations.

 What sources do you use for inspiration? ( Music, movies, people watching)
Books, books, and more books. I read a lot. Good authors inspire me. I want to be Allison Brennanwhen I grow up. Okay...too late for that. I’d like to see my work on the shelf with hers.

 What do you do when you aren’t writing?  
Other than read. Spend time with friends and family. My grand daughter is great fun and keeps me running.

 Tell us a bit about your work in progress.  
In The Last Execution, a homicide detective who believes in nurture versus nature decided not to give her child away. When her rapist is paroled and sets out for revenge, she’ll have to decide whether or not to trust the four-word-sentence speaking FBI agent on whose team she’s been temporarily assigned.

What is next for you?
I’m just past that stage I told you about...you know never coming up with another story. I’m shopping The Last Execution, and have started a new wip about human trafficking and two ex-lovers reuniting. The working title is Hell or High Water.

 How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter? 
Everywhere except a personal blog. 
www.Twitter.com  @jerriealexander
I love to hear from people...look me up!

                     We should probably confess to your readers that you and I are not related! At least as far as we know.

Thank you, Dawn for having me here today. I look forward to hearing from your followers. 
 Thank you so much for chatting with us. It has been a pleasure.
                     May I ask a question? Blond or brunette for your hero...what’s your preference? I know my answer. What's your favorite?

Jessica R. Patch

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


I am so excited to have Jessica on the blog and be able to say: She is represented by 
You can pop over to Jessica's Blog and read about how she got her agent( it just happened last week). It is a touching story that will bring tears to your eyes.  She also has a great post titled Top Five Ways I Warped My Little Brother. It will bring tears to your eyes also, but in a different way.

   What made you decide to write?  What did you do before becoming a writer?
First, let me say thank you, Dawn, for having me! I love reading your blog.

I’ve always had a love for making up stories, I would plot and act them out in my bedroom. Growing up, I thought I wanted to be an actress. Later, I realized it wasn’t the acting I loved, but the stories. I wrote several short stories in high school, but it never crossed my mind to be a writer, then. I began writing seriously in 2008.

I worked for a corporate childcare center for 10 years, most of them as the Director.

   Tell us about your stories. You call them relevant, provocative stories of inspiration. How does that work?
Mostly those are fancy words to lure you into reading my books! But seriously, (not that I don’t seriously want you to read my books) that simply means they are all contemporary and relatable to today’s group of women who are 20-30& 40-somethings. Relevant.

They aren’t your grandma’s romance. They have just enough heat to keep you hooked and fanning yourself, but not enough to make you hide it in between the bed mattresses for fear your tween might get a hold of it. It’s kind of like a Tango. It’s sensual, fun, captivating, and you get to see it all except the “dip!” wink. wink. That takes place behind closed doors. Provocative.

I write inspirational fiction. My tagline is romantic suspense…overflowing hope. I believe in writing about characters that readers can identify with. Some are Christians, some aren’t. All are flawed.

I want readers who feel like they’re in a sticky situation, or hopeless all together, to be able to find themselves in the story and close the book knowing they don’t have to stay that way. Inspiration.

   Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?

  I’m blessed to be able to stay at home most of the time. I write while my kids are at school, taking breaks for household stuff. That gives me time to spend with my family in the evenings and on weekends. Occasionally, I write on Saturdays.

  What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?

Study a few craft books first—there’s more to it than slapping words down on a page. And read blogs on writing/publishing. 
  What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do you combat that?

I don’t ever feel burned out, if anything I feel alive when writing. There are entirely too many things to write about. I’m constantly jotting down ideas. Stories are always there, we just have to let our creativity bring them out in new ways.

Do you ever write material based on your close relationships, such as a best friend?, and how do you balance that material with the need to tell an interesting story?

I wrote a saga and based the 2 main characters on the best qualities of my best friends. I asked permission first. I’m sure some of my conversations, or antics, come out in novels that are based off something I said or did with a friend.

I’ve never written anything personal, like a deep secret or scandal. 

What sources do you use for inspiration? ( Music, movies, people watching)

I’m sure besides my own life experiences, I find fodder in many things. People amuse me, conversations I overhear intrigue me, and yes, music. I write with music in my ears. It helps set the mood for me.

My greatest inspiration comes in the quiet mornings when it’s just me and Jesus. Usually, something in scripture will jump off the page and stir a theme, a character, or a particular plot.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I’m usually doing something ridiculous with my best friend. She helps me research for writing, and there isn’t much I won’t try. I enjoy going to the movies with my hubby. We love all kinds of movies, so we never argue over what we’ll see. Before we had children, we would go into one movie, come out, and buy tickets for another one. We don’t have that kind of time, or money anymore!

I love playing board games with my kids. Apples to Apples is one of our favorites, or the Wii. Nothing makes me want to wet myself from laughing like watching my 7-year-old son get down on Just Dance 2!
And I like to refurbish furniture. It’s soothing and fun.

  Tell us a bit about your work in progress.

I’m working on a third book in a trilogy, spinning off a character from the previous one, but all of them are standalones.

I’d love to tell you what it’s about, but I’m not even sure at the moment. I’m in the early stages, working on fleshing her out and devising a plot.

How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?

You can find me on Facebook at my writer page where I love to ask reader questions and at my personal page.
          I’d love to tweet with you! You can find me @jessicarpatch

          And come hang out at my blog. We have a lot of fun! http://www.jessicarpatch.blogspot.com/

It was so much fun getting to know you, Jessica!
Thank you so much!

Want to know more about Jessica's writing journey? Or torturing her brother? Or you could just leave her some congratulations for signing with her dream agent. 

Friday Plot Swap~TFLN STYLE

Dawn's Plot Swap
Have a plot? Leave one
Need a plot ? Take one
These are always fun. Here are some 
Depending on your genre, they could make some interesting dialogue.

Under what circumstance could one of your characters say this?

Have a great weekend! For those of you off on Monday for Labor Day, I hope it is a nice, relaxing weekend.

Be sure to stop by on Tuesday! I will be doing my first book review!

Knowing when to let go

Thinking about Thursday

Everyone shelves their first novel, right? That is what I hear from most of writer friends. "Oh, my first novel? It's under my bed (in a file cabinet, locked in my mother's attic, a pile of ashes that were washed down the kitchen sink). Never to see the light of day."
That is what I am thinking about today. The manuscript I have been working on (and working on and working on) is far from my first novel. I have been writing most of my life, so I have completed several others. You want to talk about "never meant to see the light of day"? These would make your heart ache and not in a good way. But, they were all steps in the process.

I suppose this one is, too. I have never put so much work into a manuscript before. I have never had such great beta readers and critique partners before. (Shout out to the terrific Teri Anne Stanley and my NTRWA chaptermate, Genevieve Wilson.) Of course, I have never been this educated about the publishing process before.

Despite all of the crits, all the revisions, all the heart, soul and tears. I think it is time to put this one the shelf. Sadly, not the one in the bookstore I have dreamed of seeing it grace.

I had high hopes of querying it this summer, but it's not ready. I know that and right now, I am too close to it to get it any closer to being ready. We need a break. Some time apart. Maybe I will come back with fresh eyes and all the parts I can't seem to work out will magically fall into place.

So, what do you think? Where is your first novel? How do you know when it is time to just let it go?

Friday Plot Swap~Double Life Style

Friday Plot Swap

Dawn's Plot Swap
Have a plot? Leave one
Need a plot ? Take one 
A good mystery always has a twist. A popular version of this is the character living the "double life".  The perfect wife and mother turns out to be a government spy.  The all-American husband turns out to be a psychotic killer. So, today, let's talk about the double life.
Here are some examples I have for you: 
So, swap with me! 
What is your favorite "double life" plot?
If you were going to lead a double life, what would your other life be?   

My Space

Thinking about Thursday

I have been reading Stephen King's
On Writing .

I found it fascinating he did most of his early writing in a laundry room in his family's trailer. He discusses later having an office and a great desk. The desk eventually becomes a symbol of his career's place in his life. my favorite section was when he talks about starting to write part of Misery in a hotel at desk used by Rudyard Kipling .

King says this about a writer's need for space:  

"You can read anywhere, almost, but when it comes to writing... most of us do our best in a place of our own." 

I have a desk. 
Isn't it pretty? The picture really doesn't do it justice. It is a beautiful desk with all kinds of little drawers and cubbies. I love it. 

I would love to show you the inside. I really would, but unfortunately, that would cause an avalanche of old paperwork, children's art work and a pile of pictures I never seem to get into an album. 

This is where I write. 
  The left side is mine. 
The right side belongs to this guy. 
 He gets up every time I do, so he was utterly confused by my attempts to get a picture of him in his spot on the couch.

So, that is my space. Tell me about yours. Do you have a beautiful desk, but write on a love seat? Are you in the laundry room of a double wide trailer? Do you have  a furry friend who keeps you company?  

Feel free to add a picture or two. You can post them on your own blog and give the link. We can do a blog-hop. I love seeing pictures of where other people work. 

Jennifer Wilck

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


Her new release

will be available June 15th
Whiskey Creek Press

A portion of the proceeds 
 A Heart of Little Faith
will be donated to the  
which is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy.

Jennifer is offering a contest!  
Check out details at the bottom of the interview!

Let's Get to Know Jennifer!
      Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?

Well, I’m a mom to two girls, aged 12 and 9, so nothing in my life is routine! But, in a perfect world, I usually spend Mondays writing my blog and critiquing my critique partner’s writing. I try to work on my own manuscripts Tuesdays through Fridays. If I’m lucky, I can steal a few extra moments here and there to write as well. I find I’m more productive in the afternoons, so I try to focus on my writing then. However, as I said before, I’m a mom, so my schedule can change at any moment. I usually write at the desk in my husband’s and my home office, but when that gets too distracting—too many opportunities to play on Facebook, check email, etc.—I take my laptop into the family room when no one is around, curl up on our new super-comfy couch and write there.

  Is the life of a writer what you thought it would be? What is different?

I didn’t really have a preconceived notion of what it would be. However, I’m finding that the manuscript I’m currently working on is much harder to write than my previous ones. I don’t know if it’s because more people know about it, so they can ask me about my progress, or if it’s because my critique partner is critiquing me as I go, so there’s more pressure on me to get her something. I suspect it’s because I’m writing using a method I’m not as comfortable with, so it’s not flowing as well as others have in the past. I’m not used to having to struggle with writing, because my two previous manuscripts, A Heart of Little Faith and Skin Deep, came out of my head and onto the page much more easily. They spoiled me!

   Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?

That’s really hard for me, because, as I said, I’m a mom and wife and there are so many things that need to be done! In addition, I am a freelance writer and editor with other deadlines that I have to meet. But I find it useful to plan in my head a set time each day when I’m going to write. I may not get to it at precisely that time, and I may not be able to write more than a few lines, but I find that when I can do it, I feel more productive and more confident in my writing. I also think that I’m better at other aspects of my life because I’ve taken that time for me.

    What is the best advice you have received about this journey?

The best advice I’ve received is to keep writing, even when I’m uninspired or have writer’s block. Just the act of sitting at my computer and writing something down helps me to push through whatever difficulties I’m facing. I may have to delete everything I’ve done that day, but sometimes, the really bad things I write one day make me realize what mistakes I made and give me new ideas of how to fix things.

Oh, and one more, is to write for yourself. Sure, my goal is to be a multi-published author and I’d love everyone to buy my books, but that’s not the reason I write. I write because there are stories playing around in my head and I need to get them down on paper. They may be great, they may be horrible, but I enjoy writing them, and even if I had never sold any of them, or never sell again, I’m still going to keep writing because I love it.

   What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?

Not to get too hung up on rules. There are general rules that should be followed, depending on what genre you’re writing, but if you worry about every tiny nitpicky rule, you spend all your time and energy on them, and have nothing left to write. Work on your craft and put your time and energy into that.
    What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do combat that?

To fight burnout, I usually go back and read a previous paragraph or chapter that really worked for me, that I really like. It usually inspires me to keep going. If that doesn’t work, I read what other authors are doing—in their blogs, in industry publications, in my critique group. Again, that often pushes me over the hump. Reading books by my favorite authors helps as well.

I have lots of story ideas running through my head, usually at night as I’m going to sleep. I try to write them down as soon as possible and keep them as a list to go to in the future. That way, I can go through the list and find something that inspires me and start writing.

    What sources do you use for inspiration? (Music, movies, people watching)

A lot of the time, my inspiration comes from TV that I watch. Usually, it’s a minor character who doesn’t even get credit for performing in the show, but there’s something about them—a look in their eye, the tone of their voice, or even their appearance—that makes me think of a story for them. The other day I actually got inspired by a billboard, although I doubt I’ll be able to make much more than a scene or two from it (but it was fun while it lasted!).

     What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I’m a freelance writer and editor, so even when I’m not writing, I’m writing!  I spend a lot of time with my family and volunteer at my girls’ schools and at our synagogue. I love to read, watch TV and refinish furniture.

  Tell us a bit about your work in progress.

I have two books being published by
Whiskey Creek Press.  
A Heart of Little Faith is out June 15th and Skin Deep is coming out in November. I’ve never been published before, so I’m really excited. Here’s a quick look at 
A Heart of Little Faith:

When Lily races into her friend’s apartment after a disastrous day at work, she never imagines that the man who will rescue her is sitting in a wheelchair playing with her daughter—especially when that man had vowed never to trust another woman again, and to avoid them at all costs.
However, realizing they each have something the other wants, Lily and Gideon come to a truce and make a bargain. Gideon will help Lily’s daughter if Lily will attend work functions with him. Each event that they attend brings them closer to each other, emotionally and sexually. Although unwilling to break his vow, Gideon enjoys the role of protector that he is able to play for Lily, something he never anticipated.
As Lily battles with betraying the memory of her dead husband, and with learning to trust such a guarded man, she offers up a bargain of her own—a massage for a real dinner date. Suddenly thrown into territory that neither one is prepared to handle, they both back away, until Lily gets sick. In her delirium, she mistakes Gideon for her husband, and confesses all of her deepest secrets and reservations to him. He promises himself that he’ll treat her better, and little by little they begin to trust each other, allowing their relationship to develop and blossom.
Just as things seem to be going well, Gideon’s ex-girlfriend—who abandoned him in the hospital at the time of his accident, and told him no woman could possibly love him—reappears. Her reappearance, and Gideon’s and Lily’s subsequent actions, threatens to destroy everything they have worked so hard to build. 

    What is next for you?

I’m trying something new and I’m writing a contemporary romance with a Jewish theme. The story takes place around the holiday of Purim. That lends itself very well to the idea of hiding one’s identity, so the conflict is already built-in. There’s a single dad, with an adorable 6-year-old girl and a choir director with an amazing voice. I’m still playing around with it, but I hope to have it finished within a few months. It’s going to need a lot of editing and I’m hoping my critique partner will be very patient with me!

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Jennifer.
June Sweepstakes
To celebrate the release of A Heart of Little Faith, I am offering a giveaway!
Comment on this blog post and include your name, email and favorite thing to do during the summer. 
Everyone who does will be entered into a drawing. One name will be randomly selected on June 30. 
The winner will receive a free copy of A Heart of Little Faith (paperback) and a $10 Amazon gift card. 
Entrants must be 18 or older, please!

Author Feature: Bianca Swan

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Bianca Swan!
Bianca lives in Houston, Texas with her Z3 and baby grand piano.  She has been writing all her life and loves to tell stories about hot heroes and the sexy heroines who love them.  Her favorite things:  Her two sons, music, sports cars, symphony, theater, the ocean, mountains, horses and travel.

Her latest release 
Celestial Sin  
is now available from
Wild Rose Press

I have saved the cover pictures for the end of the post. They are HOT!


     Do you have a writing routine? 
  I work full time to support my habits, but I try to reserve weekends (or at least one day per weekend) to write.  I wish I could be like those people whose muse shakes them out of bed, and they write furiously for an hour then dash off to the office, but I get into my book and don’t want to go to work! 

 What does it look like? 
 Whatever I can greedily fit in – which means my social life suffers.   

Where do you usually write?  
 My condo is small.  I write facing the corner fireplace.  To the left are sliding glass doors with shades which let in the light.  In the bedroom to my left is the piano in its red palace with hardwood floors.  The rest of the house is marble-tiled.

 Is the life of a writer what you thought it be? 
I haven’t achieved what I thought would be the life of a writer.  I’m still writing and working.  What is different?  I wanted the success of Anne Rice!  Why not dream big?

    Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time  and living a normal life?  Unfortunately no.  I’m lucky that my children are on their own now, but the job is still there.  I write when I can and when my muse (and I have to be inspired or I can’t write a parched white word) allows.

 What is the best advice you have received about this journey?   
The same as everyone else.  Perseverance.  My own personal experience would be to advise getting a really thick skin.

 What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?   
Writing for me is therapy, an escape into the worlds I build rather than those built on TV.  But in a way, I wish someone had told me to write for myself—not for the public.  I’ve had an agent, won contests, and still I doubt my writing because of the rejections.  I don’t know if this is common amongst writers but suspect it is.  After all, we are spilling our emotions onto the page.
     What do you do to fight burnout?  
 I stop writing until I have to write again. 

Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? 
Oh, yes, constantly.  Then a character walks on stage, whispers in my ear, and bang, I’m doomed to months at the keyboard.  How do combat that?  I wait.

     What kind of scenes do you have a hard time writing?  Action scenes, but I enlist the aid of my son.

      Do you ever write material based on your close relationships, such as a best friend? 
  No, though sometimes I blend my friends together to come up with a character. 

  How do you balance that material with the need to tell an interesting story?  
 I let the characters take on a life of their own.  This sometimes leads me to write pages and pages of material that I will never use. 

     What sources do you use for inspiration? ( Music, movies, people watching) 
The ocean inspires me.  Music is an inspiration.  The Prophecy movies inspired me to write about angels.  I love people watching, especially in airports, but they aren’t an inspiration, more characterization.

     What do you do when you aren’t writing? 
I love to drive.  I compete in rallies.  I go to the symphony, theater and I like to find really good restaurants, especially seafood or good country cooking on which I grew  up, but the latter can add inches to the waistline.

    Tell us a bit about your work in progress.  
 I’m converting a romantic suspense to erotica. 
Cardinal Desires was a semi-finalist in the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest and won the Georgia Romance Writers’ Magnolia award.  A vampire and a forensic psychiatrist team up to catch a serial killer.  My editor at The Wild Rose Press asked for something else, and this one was prime for changing.
    What is next for you?  
 My fallen angel story Celestial Sin  
released May 20 from The Wild Rose Press, The Wilder Catalog.  For a sneak peak at the trailer, blurb and excerpt, please visit me at Bianca’s blog.

You can also check out her other release:

Thank you for being our guest Bianca!

Friday Plot Swap

Friday Plot Swap
Dawn's Plot Swap
Have a plot? Leave one
Need a plot ? Take one 
Have you seen a news story that got your wheels turning? 
Do you have a plot in your head that would make a great story, just not one you intend to write?  
Leave it here on Fridays 
pick up a plot for your weekend writing time.
Here is what I have for you this Friday:
A Florida man whose wallet was found in a Cincinnati school wall almost 50 years after he lost it on prom night was reliving fond memories Friday...The wallet still had Simpson's driver’s license, photographs, a lock of hair and tickets to the 1963 prom

This one was sent to me by a friend. She titled the email "research":) I couldn't resist including it. If you read the actual story, it is just mind boggling.
A woman who shaved her bikini area while driving caused a car crash in Florida Keys, prompting police to issue fresh warnings about safe driving. [The woman]was driving to meet her boyfriend in Key West and told authorities she wanted to be “ready for the visit,”

So, Swap with me! Read any interesting news stories lately?

Welcome Keri Ford!

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


Keri Ford was raised in South Arkansas on a farm surrounded by family, horses, cows, donkeys, ostriches, emus, chickens, ducks, Canadian Geese, and enough dogs one would think they were a pound…and then she bought a Cosmopolitan when she was twenty-two. She doesn’t recall the fantastic sex tip that drew her to the magazine, but she vividly remembers reading an excerpt of Christina’s Skye’s Code Name: Princess. One elevator scene and quick thought of, I didn’t know people wrote stuff like this… and her life would never be the same. Visit www.KeriFord.com to find out more about Keri and her books.

Let's get to know Keri!
Be sure to check out details about her latest release
at the end of our interview! 

   Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?

What routine? J I have a very short attention span, so things that are patterned and routine and the same from day-to-day get me bored super fast. I’m a pretty laid back person, so I just go with it and work at different times. That doesn’t mean I’m not organized. I have lists and calendars and all that fun stuff to keep me up-to-date on my progress. And a deadline is a deadline, period.

and this is where I work. I live in a single-wide (which I often mock and now you know why!) and my desk is sandwiched between my husband’s recliner, the couch and tv at my back and one of my husband’s deer overhead. I have to be careful when I stretch and stand, because I have occasionally whacked the deer on the nose. I’m scared I’m going to knock the darn thing off the wall one of these days.

 Is the life of a writer what you thought it be? What is different?

You know I think it’s exactly what I imagined. Pajamas and fun. And then just the flexibility. I can dig in hard for a week and for two weeks after, take it easy. That flexibility I think keeps me going and interested in writing.  

   Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?

I have to make time for family. I can poke at the computer all day and all night seven days a week without stepping away to just hang with my family. It’s not that I don’t love my family, LOL I do, but I can get wrapped up in my writing and want to do that all the time.

When my son (4years old) is out of school, I try really hard to work in the mornings to lunch, or a little into the afternoon and then we play the rest of the day. That doesn’t always happen. Sometime we do the opposite and I work the afternoon, play mornings. I raised him to know that mommy is working and he does his own thing for the most part.

 What is the best advice you have received about this journey?

After reading some of my writing, Courtney Milan told me she felt like I was following the “rules” blindly. Those few words, that she probably didn’t realize would impact me so, completely turned my career around and got me on the right path.

 What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?

Don’t be afraid to at least look at and consider other publishing options. I was a bit of an e-pub snob for a couple years because I didn’t understand it, didn’t research it or anything. I wrote it off because it was different and not “traditional”. BIG MISTAKE. BIG. HUGE. (wink). After I looked closer, did some research, I tested the waters and I absolute love it. I love my publisher and all she does for me.

While the epub path may not be right for everyone, it’s great for me. I wish I had started looking sooner. 

  What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do combat that?

Maybe a few years down the road the road, I’ll start having those worries, but I feel like I’m just now gearing up and getting started with all the stories I have to tell.

   What kind of scenes do you have a hard time writing?

The sex scenes. OMG. They’re so frustrating. I have to write them in layers. I start with the mechanics. Insert slot A into B. Then I go back and put in all the feel goods. Then go back and add emotions. It is a long process that can take weeks to get a 3 page sex scene just right.

      Do you ever write material based on your close relationships, such as a best friend?, and how do you balance that material with the need to tell an interesting story?

I find I tend to base things off myself more than others. Not that I’m rewriting my life over and over again—no! But such as Nicolette in In The Hay is very wishy-washy on trying to find her career and path in life. That was me before I found writing.

The only time I’ve been tempted to write about someone I know it was in a negative light, but I really don’t want to idolize someone I don’t care for in that way.

    What sources do you use for inspiration? ( Music, movies, people watching)

Inspiration is everywhere, you just gotta wait for it to smack you around. I’m not picky, I take what I come up with, from wherever it comes.

 What do you do when you aren’t writing?

Trying to keep up with my family! My son is four and he is all boy and a handful. This spring we started planting a garden together, so that’s been a new thing to keep me busy!

     Tell us a bit about your work in progress.
I’m currently editing Making Her Nights, fourth in the Apple Trail Series. This book is so awesome and loaded with sexual tension. This book to me feels like the hottest one I’ve written in Apple Trail, but it so far has less sex scenes than the others. After years of dodging each other, these two finally admit their feelings and it’s just whew.

    What is next for you?

I have a trilogy of books scheduled to come out back-to-back in 2012. They spin off a character introduced in Apple Trail 5, Satisfying Her Nights. I don’t know much about them, so … I guess that’s all I have to say on it!
Thanks so much for having me today!
Thank you for talking with us!

Now Available! 
3rd in the  
Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Arkansas series
….two strangers visiting Apple Trail. When they get together will they put in roots in this small town or go back to their lives?
It’s been a White Picket Fence life for Nicolette. Charming, but tedious. She graduated high school, raring to go. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems though. The fear of being stuck in a rut, living a dull day-to-day life keeps Nicolette from settling on a career, despite her six years of college. When the chance arrives for her to housesit, she takes opportunity by the horns for a little playtime. She would experience life and find something that would make her happy.
Drew knows exactly what he wants. To run the family construction business. Too bad his dad doesn’t think he’s ready. They make a deal. Drew will help his cousin put up a new fence and after he’s learned hard work, the construction business is his. Drew’s not sure learning how to string fence line together will see him suitable for a career of paper pushing, but he’ll do it.
When Drew meets the wanna-be-free-spirited Nicolette, his determined thoughts of what he’s always worked for begins to sway. Nicolette’s finding the fun in life. But their relationship is temporary. A week tops.

Also available :

Through the Wall
On the Fence
For more excerpts and more, please visit Keri’s website: 

Weird Writer Behavior

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday
What is your weird writer behavior? 

I have a confession: 

I talk to myself. Pretty much all the time. Sometimes, I talk about what I am doing, sometimes I talk about what I need to do next and sometimes, I talk  about the lives of my imaginary friends. 

My favorite place to do this is in the car.  Thank goodness for the invention of hands-free cell phones! Now at the stoplights, I don't have to pretend like I am singing. 

It also keeps me entertained while cleaning. I've had arguments, first kisses and plotted murder, all while folding laundry, mopping floors and wiping down counters. 

If I ever get the opportunity to be a full time writer, my house will probably be much cleaner! Okay, probably not, but it is one of the possible benefits I keep touting to my husband.
So, Tell Me Your Story. What is your weird writer behavior? Do you talk to yourself? Follow strangers to finish hearing their conversation? Have a computer picture file of people you have never met?