Tag Archives: books

#Writinglife

Yesterday I worked on a few lines of dialogue for over two hours.

Really.

Did you think all this witty repartee just jumps into my head at will?

No. It doesn’t. Not even close.

Everyone knows writing is a solitary, ofttimes monotonous life and this is why. Creativity, while at times coming in bursts and flames of speed, usually…doesn’t. It’s hours, days, months, sitting at a laptop, playing with phrases, rearranging words, charging emotions with verbs and descriptors, bleeding, spewing, dying and then being reborn until finally FINALLY the perfect sentence or snippet of dialogue that reveals sososososo  much more than is said, is created.

Yeah…it’s just like that.

Every day.

Every. Friggin’. Day.

Can I get an “AMEN” from all my writer friends out in the blogosphere because you know this is true?!

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Dialogue, Life challenges, research, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

On #Libraries, #Librarians, feelings of connection, and #books

Apparently, it’s National Library Week. This is one celebration I can get behind and actually enjoy. Enjoy writing about; enjoy celebrating.

I’ve mentioned many times before in this blog that I — for all intents and purposes — grew up in my local library. I was what was called ( during my youth) a latchkey kid, meaning, after school, I was on my own, home alone, because both the adults in my life had full-time jobs that didn’t let out until 5 or 6 each night. School let out at 3, so that meant five afternoons a week I needed a babysitter until I got old enough to be left on my own for a few hours, which in my case was at the age of 7.

I’m remembering what my daughter was like at 7 and am horrified that my mother believed it was an appropriate age for independent responsibility, but that’s another blog topic entirely.

Anyway….

Every day after school I would be dismissed after the bell and then trek to my local library to stay until it was time to get on home.

I loved the library.

I loved the safety of it.

I  loved all the books.

I loved loved loved the Librarians.

I loved the quiet.

Like Belle in Beauty and the Beast, all I wanted to do was read. I wanted to be transported to other places, live lives that weren’t my own;  be loved and cherished like a princess and rule a kingdom with wisdom and grace. I could be anything I wanted to be and I could explore everything. It was in the library that I discovered my imagination and my joy of storytelling.

Once I was through the library doors each afternoon, after a 15 block walk along city streets from my school, I’d let out a sigh, safe in the knowledge that nothing bad could happen to me here. I was secure now, protected. Bad people didn’t come into the library, only good ones. People who wanted to be educated,  and who wanted to escape from their everyday, boring lives and live richer, happier, more exciting ones. The library wasn’t the place where the bullies who tormented me in school “hung out.” I was free from the cruel insults, tormenting taunts, and physical violence that had become my daily life at school.

The Librarians all knew me by name and were my first, actual, REAL teachers. I learned facts in school. The Librarians taught me about life. They’d recommend books for me to read and once I was through the kids’ section selection, they moved me onto what would now be called YA ( young adult) novels. I may have been 8 or 9 years old, but I was reading about the lives of pre-teens and teenagers, living in their shoes as they drifted through life, and getting a feel for what was to come my way once I was their age.

The Librarians talked to me about books, asked me my opinion on ones I’d read. They actually valued my thoughts. They showed me the strength there is in knowledge and the beauty there is in imagination. They fostered in me that desire to tell a tale, tell it well, and change a reader’s life. They taught me how to be entertained, and in so doing, how to entertain. They taught me how to gather knowledge, the beauty there is in research, and how to prioritize. To this day, my home library follows a basic Dewey Decimal system. To some, that may be a bit extreme. But to me, it is a real tribute to the librarians who helped form my mind and fed my soul.

In the library, we spoke in hushed tones and whispers. We used the original inside voices. In my house, the voices were more often raised than hushed, loud than peaceful, tormented than quiet.

In the library, I found myself…as a girl, a person, a student, and, ultimately, as a writer.

Every day I thank God for the women and men who worked and still work in local libraries. They are unsung heroes to countless children and adults. Where some may think that the previous statement is a tad theatrical, it isn’t to me. The Librarians I knew as a child were my heroes. They kept me safe, loved and cared about me, and opened a world for me I never knew existed.

Heroes, every last one of them.

So, help me celebrate National Library Week. Support your local libraries by donating old, in-good-condition books, attend book sales and fund drives and become a Friend of the Library.  Encourage your children and grandchildren to get Library cards and to use them! Often and with enthusiasm.

Finding your local library is just a Google search away!

 

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Filed under Author, community advocacy, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, Literary characters, New Hampshire, research, Strong Women

A #visit with #author Anita Kidesu; #WildRosePress

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Last year I was part of a collection of Valentine’s Day novellas for the Wild Rose Press titled THE CANDY HEART ROMANCE SERIES. There were over 40 WRP authors represented in that collection, one of them, ANITA KIDESU, my guest today.  Anita is one of the rare – and for me enviable, writers who have a dual personality – she not only writes in several genres, but she does it under two names ( love that!) She’s got a new Wild Press Release out that’s a sequel to her Candy Heart’s Book, Surprise Me, SURPRISE ME AGAIN. After the interview, there’s a little gift for you all in the form of an exclusive excerpt – and believe me: you’ll want to read the book after the excerpt! Here’s Tina:

Anita Kidesu, The Writer

What drives you to write: I’m not sure, I just know that if I don’t get to write for a while I get antsy. I miss my characters.

What genre(s) of Romance do you write and why? I actually write under two names. As Anita Kidesu I write erotic romance. I’m not sure how that happened, except my characters “told” me what they wanted and I decided they knew best. As Tina Susedik I write romantic suspense/mystery/humor. I know it sounds strange, but my writing is different with both names. As Tina, the erotic part never comes up.

What genre(s) of Romance to you read and why? When I first started reading romance, it was Kathleen Woodiwiss, so that meant historical. Now I read most anything except science fiction, paranormal. I do find I tend to like mystery or suspense in my stories.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you write every day? I try to write every day. In the mornings I take care of bookkeeping, promotion, etc. Unless I have something going on at school (I volunteer at my grandchildren’s school) I write in the afternoon. If I have time, I will write in the morning. I try to write at least 2,000 words a day.

Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. In the winter, ( I live in Northern Wisconsin) I move between the couch in my living room to the couch in the basement. Because of a back and neck injury I can’t sit at my desk for long periods of time, so I prop my laptop on a pillow and write on the couch. In the summer, I love, love, love to write outside. I sit on the deck, or go to a park, or go camping and write. Just to be outside.

Do you listen to music while you write? Yes, I do, but it has to be instrumental. I use it more as background. I have a cd player that holds five cds. I can replay those five cds over and over because I never really listen to them.

How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP? Last year I was part of the Candy Heart Series with The Wild Rose Press. My candy heart was “Surprise Me.” As I was writing the story, I knew Josie and Carson’s story wasn’t over, so I wrote “Surprise Me Again,” which was released on Feb. 10th. As I was writing, that one, I realized I needed to write a story for their sons. That one is now with my editor and is unnamed right now. As I was writing the boys’ story, a female character popped up, and I realized she needed her own story. I have that one roaming through my head right now.

Which comes first for you – character or plot? I think plot comes first. I always have these ideas popping up in my head and I come up with characters to go with it.

Which three words describe you, the writer? Wow, that’s a tough one. Dedicated, always learning, pantser

Anita/Tina, the Person

Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing: Another tough one. I think I’m rather boring, but I love photography – especially nature photography.

Who was your first love and what age were you? Easy-peasy. Duane Strong. Third grade. We shared a kiss on the school bus.

If you could live relive one day, which would it be? It would be a toss up between my wedding day and the birth of my kids, although I do without re-living the pain of childbirth. I would love to relive the total full-out feelings of bursting with love as I looked at my children for the first time.

Do you like guys in boxers, briefs, or commando. All of them

 

If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be. Mascara. As a redhead, my eyelashes, while long, can barely be seen. Sometimes all I need is to put on mascara and my whole face shines.

What three words describe you as a person? Caring, smart, loving ( Peggy here: I’m sosososos happy you said, “Smart.” Many women don’t own that word and should. Brava!)

If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it be, why, and what would you do together? I would love to meet LaVyrle Spencer. I love her books. They are so real. Vivid characters. I would love to find out how she created her stories. We would go out to supper, then find someplace to have wine and talk writing and life.

Bonus round – fun stuff!!!

Favorite sound: Rushing water

Least favorite sound: People chewing

Best song ever written: Thank You by Led Zepplin – it’s my husband and my song

Worst song ever written: Too many to mention

Favorite actor and actress: I have to admit I have a crush on Harrison Ford. Actress – I’m not sure.

Who would you want to be for one day and why? The first thing that came to me was a woman traveling on the Oregon Trail. I love history and I recently wrote a book involving the Oregon Trail.

What turns you on? A man’s smile

What turns you off? Arrogance

Give me the worst five words ever heard on a first date? You’re kinda small on top. (Peggy here: I can think of sososo many retorts to that! Hope you gave him several!!)

What’s your version of a perfect day? Camping with my husband. Going for a hike or bike ride. Reading at the campsite, then sitting around the campfire.

Here’s a little sumthin’ sumthin about Anita’s new book, SURPRISE ME, AGAIN

Blurb:

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Charged with trespassing and indecent exposure on Erik Stenson’s private beach, Carson and Josie Sandberg return to South Padre Island to take care of the ticket. However, their reunion with Erik is not what they expected. An invitation for a drink turns into a weekend of passion that fulfills fantasies and leaves all parties wanting to explore a threesome outside the bedroom. Will time, distance, and family issues stand in the way, or will they be surprised again?

Excerpt:

“What about you?” Josie said. “Have you ever been married?”

“I was. Years ago. It didn’t last.”

A flicker of sorrow passed over Josie’s eyes. “Can you tell us what happened?” She frowned into her drink. “That is, if you want to.”

“It’s okay. I married Jessica about…” Hell how long had it been? Where had the time gone? “I guess nearly twenty years ago. Like you, we met in college, fell in love, married. Things were good for a few years.”

Josie leaned to her side, allowing the waiter to place a plate before her. Ignoring her food, she folded her hands under chin and kept her attention on him. “What happened?”

“We wanted children. Jessica ached for children. It became an obsession.” Eric took one of the large shrimp from the platter in the middle of the table and began peeling it with trembling fingers, giving him a chance to get his emotions under control. Lord, how he’d wanted children, but not enough to end his marriage.

“After a few years when we didn’t conceive, we looked for answers. By that time Jessica was convinced she was the problem and fell into a deep depression. Nothing I did helped. She wouldn’t agree to see a counselor. My mother finally convinced us to seek a fertilization doctor.” Eric threw the shrimp on his plate and took a long swallow of beer. “Turns out I was the problem, not her. Seems those mumps I’d had as a kid did a number on my little swimmers. Killed them all.”

“Hell, that’s awful, man,” Carson said while Josie placed her hand on Eric’s.

Their sympathy nearly did him in. He swallowed around the lump in his throat and squeezed his damp eyes.

After all these years, the pain was still buried under his heart only to surface on dark, lonely nights and like now as he recounted the story. They were the first ones he’d opened up to. None of the other people in his threesomes had even cared to ask.

Carson took a sip of his beer. “What happened then?”

“I wanted to adopt. Wanted to create a family with Jessica. It didn’t matter if the children were of our blood or not. The doctors had talked about in-vitro. Turns out Jessica didn’t feel the same way.” He took deep breath and tried to calm his pounding heart. He wiped his palms on his shorts.

“I came home one day with information on adoption and some on in-vitro fertilization only to find her and her stuff gone. She had left me a note, telling me she wanted children from her own body. Wanted to create them naturally. Didn’t want to be married to a man who wasn’t a man.”

“The bitch,” Josie said, her eyes filling with tears. “Oops, sorry. I shouldn’t have called her that.”

“Don’t worry. I’ve called her that and worse.”

“How the hell did you handle it?” Carson asked. “I would have been devastated if Josie had done that to me.”

“I drank and buried myself in my writing. I wrote my first novel during this time.”

“If I recall, that book was rather cutting against women,” Carson said.

Eric shook his head and chuckled. “Yeah. I enjoyed killing off my heroine. Coincidentally, she closely resembled my ex.”

“Did you get in trouble for it?” Josie asked, peeling her third shrimp.

“Since I use a pen name, I don’t think she even knows I write. Besides, she was too busy finding another husband to father her eight children.”

Carson choked on his beer. “Eight?”

“Yeah. She really did want kids, but I’m not sure I would have agreed to that many. I was also told she’s gained about a hundred pounds.” Under Josie’s quiet scrutiny, he dropped his gaze to his plate.

“It still hurts, though, doesn’t it?” Josie asked.

Eric shrugged. “It’s not as bad as it was. I sometimes think about how I could have kids in college or be a grandfather by now.”

Buy Links: The Wild Rose Press // Amazon // B&N

A little more about Anita:

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From the time she was a teenager, Anita would sneak her grandmother’s romances and read them until all hours of the night. She never thought about creating one herself, but fell into it with a few friends. On a long road trip, they started talking about their favorite authors and why they like their books. To kill time, they started making up their own characters and plot.

From that point on, Anita had story ideas and characters filling her head. Finally, to shut them up, (or so she thought), she started writing them down, surprised at how erotic her characters wanted to be. Her first book with The Wild Rose Press, “South Seas Seduction,” was published in March, 2015. Her short story, “Surprise Me,” part of the Candy Hearts Series, was published in January, 2016. The continuing story, “Surprise Me Again,” was released on February 10, 2017.

Now, in between being a pharmacist, taking care of her two cats, and spending time with her family and friends, she writes. Her stories are about love and romance on the edge.

ANita loves to here from her readers. You can connect with Anita here: Website // Facebook // Pinterest // Blog // Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Author, Candy Hearts, Characters, Contemporary Romance, love, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press, WIld Rose Press AUthor

What’s in a title? A lot more than you think, #MFRWauthor

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I’m sure this is an easy feat for most writers, but not for me. I agonize over book titles. Are they too long? Too short? Do they convey the correct theme of the book? Do they even convey the theme of the book? Will it be a memorable title, or one that is easily forgotten in the myriad of published books these days?

Titles can, in all truth, make or break a book. Would you have read any of these books if these were the titles?:

  1. The High-Bouncing Lover
  2. The Last man in Europe
  3. The Dead Un-Dead
  4. Mistress Mary
  5. Nothing New in the West
  6. Wacking Off
  7. The Don’t Build Statues to Businessmen
  8. The Kingdon By The Sea
  9. At this point In time
  10. Private Fleming, His Various Battles

I was a bit surprised at a few of them, and I can in all truthfulness say I wouldn’t have read any one of them except for the Dead Un-Dead, because I think it was a cool, really out-there title. To see the titles these books were actually published as, scroll down when you’re done reading.

You can’t, apparently, trademark a  title. I found this out when I wrote my third book, FIRST IMPRESSIONS ( which, BTW was the original working title of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice) and did a  search to see how many books with the same title there were (423). My second book I called THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. 366 other authors also called their works of fiction that. SO, how the heck can I can up with a title that (1) hasn’t been used before, and (2) will make the random reader interested in it enough to pick up the book and check it out? Again, no easy feat.

I used to make lists, pages of lists, with book titles. Even then, choosing just one was torture.

I’m so lame at coming up with my book titles I  left the naming of my second book in the Will Cook For Love Series from Lyrical/Shine to the editors. They came up with A SHOT AT LOVE. When you read the book you’ll know it’s the perfect title, but I didn’t have anything even close to that I was working with! Thank God for the people in the know who really really really know what they are doing.

Naming your book is an awful lot like naming your child. You want to give it something with character, essence, personification, and beauty. And your book, to the writer, is your baby, your child, your creation, so you don’t want to let it down by giving it a crummy moniker; one that will inspire ridicule and laughter. Honestly, I pity the poor children of celebrities who have been named after fruits, compass directions, and astrological projections. Sad.

See? You probably thought the title was the easiest thing to come up with.  I bet you didn’t know how hard it really was to name a book? Well…at least it is for me!

Here’s what the above titles were actually published as, and thank goodness they were!!!

  1. The Great Gatsby
  2. 1984
  3. Dracula
  4. The Secret Garden
  5. All Quiet On the Western Front
  6. Portnoy’s Complaint
  7. Valley of the Dolls
  8. Lolita
  9. All the President’s Men
  10. The Red Badge of Courage

When I’m not agonizing over naming books, you can usually find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

Since this is a 52 week blog hop challenge, here are some other authors who are also taking about how they name their books today. Stop by and check out their blogs.

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Filed under Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, First Impressions, Kensington Publishers, Lyrical Author, MacQuire Women, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women, The Wild Rose Press, There's No Place Like Home, Uncategorized, WIld Rose Press AUthor

He said he wasn’t the romantic kind of guy, but…..

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So. You’d think the arrival of Valentine’s Day for a romance writer would make writing a blog concerning the day easy. I mean, come on. Valentine’s day is about love, for lovers, and just filled to the brim with romance-related themes. Should be a walk in the park for me to come up with a blog topic for a Valentine’s Day Blog hop.

Yeah…not so much.

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Last year it was a piece of proverbial cake. Wild Rose Press had put together their Candy Hearts Romance series, of which, I was a participant with my novella 3 WISHES.  Easy peasy. This year I struggled a little until I finally decided to just tell you the story of my first V’Day with hubman. Shhhhhh! He doesn’t know I’m telling you this.

We were going steady ( I’m old and that’s what it was called “back then”) for just under 3 months by the time V’Day came around. We’d started dating two days before Halloween, which should have been a light bulb moment, but I digress…

My hubby–then boyfriend– is not what anyone, including himself, would call romantic, so I didn’t have any misguided hopes and wishes Valentine’s Day was going to be a biggie for him. I didn’t even think I’d get a present or a card or a dinner out because we were both so busy at the hospital and his time off was routinely spent trying to catch up on much needed sleep.

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The 14th rolled around and I had to work the day shift. He’d been on-call the night before but got off at 6pm. We hadn’t planned on seeing one another because I thought he was just going to go home and crash until he needed to be back at the hospital. At about 7pm a knock at my door had me opening it to him. He had a grocery-wrapped bag in one hand and a piece of folded looseleaf paper in the other. All I could think was WTF?? 

He handed me the grocery bag and in it was a package of Chips Ahoy cookies – my favorites – and then the looseleaf paper. He told me he remembered that the cookies were my favs so he’d bought them instead of candy or flowers.

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Awwww.

The looseleaf paper turned out to be a home-made V’Day card. On the front of it was a hand drawn ( by him) picture of what looked like a daisy. The inside said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Love La.” The best part of the “card” was the back. On a store bought card you’d see a price tag and the card copyright. On the one he’d made, he’d written for the price $1,000,000.00.

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Awwwww, again.

Really. Could this have been any cuter? And did I mention I was 24 and he was 27 at the time? Not exactly kids, folks, but grown-ass people with careers! Needless to say, I was charmed.

That was s 34 years ago in 1983  and he still gives me hand made looseleaf cards for holidays like anniversaries and birthdays to this day. The cookies have been replaced by non-edible presents now since I’m on a perpetual diet, but they are always goodies! He may not be a classic romantic by other people’s definitions ( including his own) but that’s okay. I’d rather have someone who shows and tells me he loves me every day of the year than someone who goes overboard to prove it just one of 365 days.

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Happy Valentine’s Day from a romance writer who celebrates love every day of the year!

And……(shameless self promo here!) if you’re looking for a fun, flirty, and funny little V’Day tale, my novella 3WISHES has your name all over it.

Blurb:

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Valentine’s Day is chocolatier Chloe San Valentino’s favorite day of the year. Not only is it the busiest day in her candy shop, Caramelle de Chloe, but it’s also her birthday. Chloe’s got a birthday wish list for the perfect man she pulls out every year: he’d fall in love with her in a heartbeat, he’d be someone who cares about people, and he’d have one blue eye and one green eye, just like her. So far, Chloe’s fantasy man hasn’t materialized, despite the matchmaking efforts of her big, close-knit Italian family. But this year for her big 3-0 birthday, she just might get her three wishes.

Excerpt:

At about five minutes of ten I was almost ready to turn the Closed sign on the door when it opened. I heard Janie’s breath hitch and turned from where I was sweeping up. Staying open late is always a risk, with the thought thieves will invade at the end of the day.

If the guy standing at the door glancing around the shop was a thief, then Dio mio, I wanted to be robbed.

About six foot, his hair was the color of a deer’s pelt, with autumnal golds and browns shot together in a glorious patchwork that grazed the collar of his jacket and curled a little at the ends. He wore a faded brown bomber jacket over a shirt I couldn’t see, but he had shoulders almost as wide as my doorway. A pair of well-worn jeans covered his mile long legs, and the fabric on the stress points at his knees was practically white.

“We’re about to close,” I heard myself say. “Can I help you?”

It was at that moment he looked over at me.

His face could have been sculpted by Da Vinci or Michelangelo. A broad, smooth, forehead housed naturally arched eyebrows I knew some of my gay guy friends would have paid a fortune to have on their own faces. His cheeks were carved from marble, high, smooth and deep. And his mouth, mother-of-God, his mouth. Full, thick beautiful lips sat perfectly over a chin with a dent you could shove a button into and have it stay put.

“Sorry,” he said, those fabulous lips pulling up a little shyly at the corners. “I got stuck at work and couldn’t get here until now. I’ll be quick. Promise.”

So here’s the thing: the guy was gorgeous. But even if he’d looked like a frog with raw antipasto smothering his face, I would have dropped to my knees when he opened his mouth. Warm honey, a shot of raw whiskey, and a little hot puff of smoke wafted from his mouth like a fine and rare brandy being decanted.

Buy Link:

Wild Rose Press  /// Amazon  /// Nook

To enjoy all the other fabulous authors participating in the hop, here are the links to their posts and websites:

1. The Perfect Time For Love ~ Casi McLean 2. Spunk & Hunks ~ Anna Durand
3. Love in the Month of February ~ Mary Morgan 4. Love Potions and Charms ~ Sorchia Dubois
5. He said he wasn’t the romantic kind of guy, but… ~ Peggy Jaeger 6. Love and War ~ Gini Rifkin
7. Sexy Chocolate Cakes ~ Kayden Claremont 8. 50 Great Date Ideas ~ Devon Mckay
9. Hearts Abound ~ Tena Stetler 10. Love Every Day ~ Darlene Fredette
11. Importance of Valentines Day ~ Maureen Bonatch 12. Souls Forever Bound ~ Judith Sterling
13. Mysterious Origins of Valentine’s Day ~ Barbara Bettis 14. A Romantic Valentine Dinner ~ Jana Richards
15. Steamy Romance Meets Spooky Suspense ~ Kathryn Knight 16. Book Bling ~ Elizabeth Alsobrooks
17. Sweet Romances ~ Katherine McDermott 18. Historical Heartbeats ~ Brenda B. Taylor
19. An Awesome Bewitching Author Valentines Day ~ Lisa Voisin 20. Idea City ~ Kitsy Clare/Catherine Stine
21. Welcome to the ABA Valentine Hop ~ Linda Nightingale 22. Bridie Hall YA Author ~ Bridie Hall
23. A Time For Love Valentine Blog Hop ~ Amber Daulton 24. ‘Out Of This World’ Romance ~ Hywela Lyn
25. Time Travel For Love ~ Karen Michelle Nutt 26. Valentine’s Day – A Family Tradition ~ Holland Rae
27. Historical Heartbeats

The authors are having a rafflecopter giveaway, too. Click HERE see the deets.

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Filed under 3 Wishes, Author, Candy Hearts, Contemporary Romance, love, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press

#ReadingChallenges and why they are important…

 

goodreads_icon_100x100-4a7d81b31d932cfc0be621ee15a14e70Last year I officially read 150 books in the Goodreads reading challenge. I say officially because I actually read more like 250, but the extra numbers weren’t on my Kindle and I forgot to enter them into the challenge stats whenever I was finished.

My bad.

This year, I’ve signed up again and my goal -again – is 150 books. It will probably be more, but that’s okay. I’ll try to remember to add the paperback and hardcovers after I finish them.

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I tell you all this because I feel a reading challenge is an important undertaking no matter what age you are.

We all remember having reading lists over summer vacation while is school. Some of us found it torture to get through the required books, while others of us ( like moi) asked for extra books because I’d finish the required ones in the first few weeks.

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Those summer reading challenges were meant to keep kids on the reading track and not get lazy and have all those drilled in vocabulary and spelling words forgotten over the 8 weeks of summer recess.

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I read a horrifying statistic the other day that said 33% of college grads NEVER read another book once they graduate. Like in, NEVER! Holy Cow. How can that be??? If I don’t have a book in my purse, or my kindle with me whenever I go out of the house I feel…naked. Emotionally and intellectually and literally ( hahaha- pun meant!)

How can a person never open another book? Never want to be entertained using their mind, imagination, and emotions? Never want to lose themselves for a few hours in the plights, adventures, and romances of characters who jump off the page and into their lives? Never want to educate themselves on new topics, inventions, or learn from the biographies and autobiographies of leaders, movers, and shakers int his world??

I think reading challenges should be mandatory for everyone. I know. Read that sentence again. The word that sticks out is MANDATORY: required by law or rules; compulsory. I know this would never fly legally. You can’t make someone read if they don’t want to. But how about a hard sell of encouragement? Listen, we got two generations of kids off drugs with THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON DRUGS campaign.brain

I bet we could do the same with people who don’t read. Show something rotting – like five week old fruit and say THIS IS YOUR BRAIN WHEN YOU DON”T READ REGULARLY. I’m not an ad executive and don’t work in publicity for a reason, peeps, but you get my drift.

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I am challenging everyone who reads this today to a 2017 reading challenge. The prizes are vast and include: you’ll be smarter, happier, more entertained. You’ll have things(Books) to talk about at parties, opinions about situations you never thought you’d have, and a general feeling of being smarter than you’ve ever experienced before. You’ll come across as erudite, well informed, and well-read.

Try it. Set a reading goal – write it down ( or send it to me!) and put it someplace you’ll see it every day. And then follow it.

Reading, to quote Martha Stewart – an avid reader – is a good thing.

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When I’m not reading you can find me here: :Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Filed under Author, branding, community advocacy, Life challenges, Literary characters, research, Romance, Romance Books

On #Goodreads, #giveaways, and growing your brand…

Okay, I’ll admit it. Until last year I didn’t even know what “growing your brand” meant. And if I’m really being honest, I didn’t know a person could be a brand.

Kim Kardashian changed that concept forever.

branding

The reason I’m waxing prolific today about this branding topic is because I just finished a Goodreads giveaway for my newest release, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. I’ve done a Goodreads giveaway for all of my books after they’ve been published, but this time I had more hits and requests than ever before, so that got me asking questions, evaluating, and thinking (always a dangerous occurrence!)

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Two avenues of thought rushed through me when I saw the final number of requests for the book (613):

  1. Romance Readers love Holiday stories and they saw this one listed, so they figured they’d take a chance on a relatively unknown author because–hey! — it was a Christmas tale, or,
  2. People saw the giveaway listed who knew me from my previous work and wanted to really read the book and –hey!– there was a giveaway for it.

Do you see the difference in those 2 lines of thought? One is based on the genre of the giveaway, the other on name – or in this case – brand recognition.

When I was told I needed to come up with a brand by which readers would instantly be able to recognize a Peggy Jaeger book ( and I still get goosebumps when I say those 3 words together – Peggy, Jaeger, and book!) by the publishing powers that be, I thought and thought for days about what my books try to give the reader. A solid romance, for sure, with a happily ever after ending, but then aren’t all romances supposed to give the reader that? No, it needed to be different. Recognizable.  Something that, when my name was read or said, would evoke the brand, like Timex – takes a licking and keeps on ticking – does.  Do they even make Timex watches anymore, or am I really dating myself??”

Anyway.

After weeks of sleepless nights trying to figure this out, my daughter finally helped me narrow it down. What I write about are strong women, families, and men (hence, the romance). So, the Peggy Jaeger brand, when you hear the name associated with a book, tells you I write about Strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Simple. Genius, but simple. And remember-able ( is that a word? it should be.) And see how smart I am? I put the brand tagline in bold so when you read it, you’ll remember it. Who says you can’t teach an old dog a new trick? Or in my case,  a middle-aged storyteller a new concept?

Brand Concept Blackboard

But back to the Goodreads giveaway.

My winners were chosen by Goodreads and I dutifully mailed off the paperback copies of the books, along with the special boxes I made for them ( see pix) and a nice thank you card for entering the contest. I’ve done that for each of the books I’ve given away and my hope is that the winners see how much I truly appreciate their entering. If they like the book they won, the hope is always they’ll want to read the other books listed.

So, a win/win all around.  3 readers won a book for the holidays and I (hopefully!) got 3 new reader-fans for the effort. Giveaways…to echo Martha Stewart (the Grand Dame of branding)…they’re a good thing!

When I’m not giving things away you can usually find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Of #Romance and #book-signings…

 

toadstoolSo yesterday I was privileged to have a book signing for my latest release, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS  at the ToadStool Bookshop in my home town.  For two hours I got to chat and catch up with a bunch of old friends – some I haven’t seen in quite a while ( Brian, I’m talking about you!) and I met a few new ones as well. It’s always a crap shoot for a relatively unknown author to embark on a book signing because you just never know if ANYONE will turn up. One of the store managers has told me in the past they’ve had signings for authors and one or two readers/buyers may show up, but there have been more times where no one has. I think I’d need to be talked off a ledge if that happened to me! Luckily, I’m still here today, writing this, so you know it didn’t.

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Another fly in the ointment to drawing potential new readers in is the Romance Novel aspect of my books. Again, from the people who work in the shop, Romance is not a big seller for them. They have a beautiful section for their offerings, and all the big names are represented ( plus, little ol’ me!) so it’s not because they don’t stock the books. It’s more, I feel, people who don’t read romance as a general rule go out of their way to stop and buy one. Well, that’s something I hope to fix and change just by being a continual face and vocal presence in my community. Earlier this year I did a radio spot with one of our local talk-radio DJs – a guy who just happens to be a wonderful fringe friend. Don’t ask me to explain that because it’s too complicated and involves HIPPA rules and regs! Anyway, after that spot many many people approached me and told me they weren’t romance readers, but were willing to give it a shot since I’d written the book. This may be the only time MY NAME was the draw for a new reader, hee hee. I’m happy to say I know several people since then who’ve said to me, “I never read a romance book until I found out that’s what you write. Now, I love them.” They’ve gone on to explore other romance genre authors because of that, so in a very real way, that’s my PAY IT FORWARD moment.

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It’s not easy to find new readers, especially since the Internet now rules the planet. The Toadstool is the only brick and mortar retail book shop in my area. There are a few secondhand book shops ( which I love!) but this one is the biggest and has recently relocated to a much better, more foot-traffic laden location. In fact, yesterday during my two hours, the shop was wonderfully packed with holiday shoppers. And they weren’t only shopping, they were BUYING! This gives me a warm and tingly feeling for several reasons. It tells me people still like the feel of a REAL book in their hands. It tells me people still read! Actual words on a page, not listen to a podcast or scroll through a computer. It tells me people still give books for gifts – and that makes me the happiest. I always feel if you give a book as a gift for anything – holiday, birthday, just because – you are giving someone a few hours of escape. A few hours spent in contemplative reflection. A few quiet, stolen hours to just sit back and be entertained. Now that’s a true gift.

So, again to all the wonderful readers and friends who came out to support me yesterday ( Pun included since you bought books!) a very heartfelt THANKYOU! I hope whoever you purchased the books for – Mom, Sis, Daughter, Girlfriend, or just YOU – that the stories make you happy and give you the hope and promise that everyone deserves their own Happily Ever After.

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When I’m not out promoting the Romance Genre, you can usually find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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My life in three words….

and those words would be, “Help me, Jesus!!”

Let me ‘splain.

I’m doing a presentation for my Romance Writers writing group in March 2017 and then giving it again at a conference to the New England Romance Writers group in April. It’s a good talk, even if I do say so. Timely and to the point. Plus dotted with humor.

But, I digress…

The lecture/talk is accompanied by a POWERPOINT presentation. Now, I am a great talker. I could ramble on for hours about any topic that strikes my fancy. I was on debating club in school so I can argue for both sides of almost any discussion. But I have never before used a machine to aid me in my discussions, and this is why I need celestial help. I have no freaking idea how to effectively use PowerPoint.

Now, because this is, well, me, and most of the things I’ve learned about in life I’ve learned about in books, I did the logical, smart, quick thing to do and bought a PowerPoint Manual. 2 in fact. Powerpoint for Dummies, ( because this is, like, me!) and Teach Yourself Visually PowerPoint.

Last night I started learning how to navigate through the PowerPoint system. Chapter one was called NAVIGATING THE POWERPOINT INTERFACE. Okay, what?? Navigate and Powerpoint I knew the definitions of. Interface? No friggin’ clue. This is Webster’s definition of Interface:

  • a device or program enabling a user to communicate with a computer.
  • • a device or program for connecting two items of hardware or software so that they can be operated jointly or communicate with each other.

Okay, once I got over being panicked by a simple word, I read on. How to choose a theme, how to decide on a design, how to create a SLIDE, how to navigate around the RIBBON. That’s another word I had trouble with because, you know, RIBBON signifies something I tie my hair back with or the backs of fancy dresses.

I dutifully created my first slide after about 50 stops and starts and deletions and begin-agains. I had some text – no pictures yet because my mind was boggled by now – but a starting point.

Okay, so now, how to save it? I did everything the manual instructed me to do. Perfectly, I might add, the first time.

Then I went back to check and see where the document had saved to and….couldn’t find it. Yup. Two hours of sweat down the drain. Another fifteen minutes of frantic checking and I “found” it listed in an obscure compartment titled PRESENTATIONS. Well, Du-uh and FML!

2 hours and fifteen minutes on just one slide. Here is what it says because –of course– I couldn’t figure out how to cut and paste it here!

Romance and the Baby Boomer Generation

or

Writing Romance about and for the Seasoned Crowd.

2 hours fifteen minutes, people. For that. At this rate, my presentation will be complete in 2020.

When I’m not pulling my hair out trying to learn something new, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, Pet Peeves, research, Romance, RWA

Winner! Whiner?

Strange blog post title, right? Well, maybe not.

So, November is a memory, but not the November challenge of NaNoWrimo. You’ve – hopefully – gotten your winner banner, letting one and all know you managed to eek out that 50,000 word minimum for the month, and maybe even a little more ( like me!) and now you’re internally debating the next step.

Dive right into editing? Start to query agents, editors, and publishing houses?  Print out the book and give it to one and all of your supportive peeps to read and review and critique?

Well, I hate to give advice because I hate to receive it, but….

Let’s sit back for a second and think this through.

You’ve just spent 30 arduous days giving literary birth to your new baby. A quick pregnancy in potential plotting ( if you’re a plotter) and then 30 continuous days of delivering it into the world. 720 hours, 43,200 minutes, 2,592,000 seconds ( does this remind you of a Broadway show tune?) That’s a lot of time spent in doing one thing, any way you slice and categorize it. The goal of the challenge is to write your story. To get it onto paper or the laptop. Like most writers competing  in the challenge you did not edit along the way. I’m sure your manuscript – like mine – is rife with spelling, grammar, and tense mistakes, not to mention maybe a plot hole or two. Or three. Now is not the time to submit it or allow ANYONE to read and review it.

Now is the time to….sit back for a little bit. Let the manuscript safely stew in your file section. Don’t read it…don’t edit it…don’t start letting the publishing world know it’s available, because it’s not.

I know the excitement of getting the story down – and quickly – is high. Believe me, I know it. But you need to rest your creative brain for a tad and forget some of the words you wrote. Then, when sufficient time has passed – and that can be two days, two weeks, or even a month ( like AFTER the holidays!), you can open it from the file and start to read it with fresh eyes. Eyes that will see all those mistakes, plot holes, and character problems. Those setting mixups and description errors. You’ll be able to SEE you gave your heroine green eyes in chapter one and then realize the hero described them as brown in chapter four. You’ll be able to SEE the motivation you gave your killer to kill was the same internal struggle you gave your hero to. You’ll SEE the escape plan you concocted in chapter 6 is pretty much impossible if you’re penning a contemporary tale and not one filled with dragons and wizards.

Right now you are high on the fabulousness of what you’ve written. Let it stew a while and you’ll realize it’s still fabulous, but needs work. Namely, editing.

Editing with fresh eyes is the best way to find the problems and think of ways to correct them.

Now, as far as querying – don’t. Not now, and certainly not after the first read through. My last three NaNo written books have been published AFTER they went through extensive edits and rewrites BEFORE I even submitted them. The books I submitted to my publisher were the ones where I removed all the mistakes, fixed the grammar and tense, and idealized the plot and story line. My settings were all consistent, my characters fully formed and possessing the correct hair and eye color throughout the book! And even after they were bought they still needed more editing!!!

Do yourself a favor: have a glass ( or two or…) of wine, sit back and put your feet up on the ottoman. Watch a good romance chick flick or even an action adventure movie. Or both. Relax. Rest. Revive. Then you can review, revise, and rework those wonderful NaNoWriMo pages.

Trust me. You’ll be happy you did.

AND ( here comes a shameless plug and I’m not ashamed in the least) if you want to escape into something funny and read a holiday tale, try A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, available right now. It’ll take your mind off writing and put it back on reading someone else’s work for a bit.

When I’m not being shameless you can find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me// Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Filed under A kiss Under the Christmas LIghts, Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Editors, Life challenges, love, NaNoWriMo, research, Romance, Romance Books, WIld Rose Press AUthor