Tuesday, October 16, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

How to do an info dump without losing readers.

In your reading, have you ever come across what's supposed to be a lively dialogue but is really just an information dump? All authors have the problem at one time or another of how to get information to the reader. Here are some ways to do an information dump which I've ranked in my personal order of most boring to most interesting.
  • Flashback (unless revealing a telling point somewhere AFTER the reader is engaged)
  • Straight exposition
  • A follower giving a leader an update
  • A leader lecturing or exhorting a follower (you know today's battle will be fierce...)
  • An even information exchange (especially if there's some doubt as to whether it's really even)
  • An interesting activity buttressing the dialogue in the scene (bathing, eating, fighting, sex...?)
  • An interesting activity opposing the dialogue in the scene (I'm not going to tell him my secret...oh, that massage feels so nice...)
  • Banter/flirting
  • Opposing viewpoints/arguing
  • Actively discovering the information

What are your favorite ways to get information across to a reader?


Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

When do you decide on dinner?--originally posted June 24, 2015.

This is a post for writers...and people who like to figure out how things work...and for anyone who likes vacations, eating out, or just eating.

We have a running joke in my house. Whenever we'd like to do something fun (visit London!) but can't afford it (time or money), we say "Research!" and pretend that, since digging up information for a story qualifies as work, we can justify spending the money. But of course we can't really afford whatever it is, so we don't do it.

photo credit: Veyron via photopin (license)
Then one day my husband got a groupon for driving a supercar, and a research dream of mine became an actual opportunity.

MOMENT OF TRUTH. Take it, or not?

I didn't take it.

Before I start to hear clucking, let me tell you why. I once based a story climax in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Before writing, I did my homework. I visited the museum and did a thorough walkthrough, taking a hand-cramping amount of notes, and pictures of everything I thought I'd need. Several hundred dollars of parking, admission, gasoline and food later, we came home.

Then I wrote the scene.

Words started flowing. Things were going great...until my muse/subconscious/contrary imp of wherever-ideas-come-from decided to take a right turn and complicate a simple scene about a vampire stalking a woman with electricity, big red buttons and ninjas. Not really the ninjas, but you get the picture about the imp that is my subconscious. Loves to fizzle me up, laughing all the way.

All the research I'd done? Useless. I needed to go back to the museum.

So yes, I could have spent a hundred bucks or whatever to research driving a supercar, and I could even have written it off as work, because I put my heroes in super and hypercars all the time.

But the fact is, whatever goodies I got, I'd need more.

For me, it's more effective for me to do free Internet research, write the scene as best I can, come up with questions, then fill in the gaps and hone the details with actual experience.

What about you? Do you map your meals in advance, or pull whatever's not fuzzy from the fridge? Do you decide on a restaurant before you leave the house, or once you're in the car? Do you write or research first?

Biting Love Nibbles Bundle_web-ready_medComing June 30 Biting Love Nibbles (Biting Love Short Bites collection)

Sparkling, sassy, sinfully sexy. Indulge your yen for action-packed vampire romance with these short bites.

Biting Holiday Honeymoons That special night with their master vampires is interrupted by Dracula and Santa Vamp. Biting Halloween—Elena and Bo's honeymoon in the Dells is derailed when they get run off the road by a vampire. They chase him, only to find out Dracula—the real Dracula—is on the loose. Introduces Glynn Rhys-Jenkins from Biting Oz. Biting Christmas—Nixie and Julian slide into a hot-tub honeymoon, but things turn nasty when Santa Vamp and Mrs. Claus show up. Warning: These titles contain vampires. Fighting, biting, loving vampires. And adult couples trying to have sexy times on their wedding nights. Explicit language. Slang guide included.

Oz Bites Vampires and sex and flamingos oh my! Punk musician Nixie Emerson is now married to her master vampire and life is grand. Until the mayor “voluntells” her to assemble a pit orchestra for Oz, Wonderful Oz, a new Broadway-caliber musical. Problem—she has no budget. Add in a vampire turf war and a pregnancy that makes finding the right sexual position a challenge and running from rogue vampires impossible, and she’s getting overwhelmed. As a rebel who thrives on creative solos, she’s getting zilch for solo time. Then someone blabs there’s no pay and her musicians back out. Worse, whoever’s stealing secrets isn’t just stealing Nixie’s. Warning: Contains wild sex, explicit violence, and a frazzled punk heroine. Or is that explicit sex, wild violence, and a frazzled lawyer vampire? What the heck. There’s sex, swearing, fighting and smiles.

Murder at Chipmunk Lake Nixie's lost her mojo! Nixie Emerson, punk rock musician and first-time mom-to-be, has a stalker. Her band Guns and Polkas has gone national after their big stage debut, but the price of fame is the stalker trying to scare her into leaving the band. Her husband, master vampire Julian, whisks Nixie away to the Wisconsin north woods—where they meet the stalker on the pier of their cabin and he again threatens Nixie. Julian punches him out and the couple walks away thinking the problem is over. But when the next evening the stalker is found dead, they find out the trouble is only starting. Warning: contains a cranky pregnant lady trying to control her swearing, a master vampire appeasing his wife with food and creative sex, murder, mayhem and several arguments over what to name the baby.

Biting Serendipity Best April Fools joke ever—falling in love. Serendipity “Sera” Braun hoists beer steins at her tavern job, where a Viking bouncer is bedsheets waiting to get sweaty. But Thor only scowls at her. Warning: A terribly lonely vampire, a conflicted schoolmarm with a caged wild side, nosy roommates and the female version of a bromance, not to mention scorching sex, swearing with the **** filled in, a whole town full of busybodies—and the best April Fools joke ever.

These stories contain material intended for mature audiences. Reader discretion advised.

Available now at these retailers and more.

Kindle | Nook | Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks | Google | Kindle UK

Thanks to author Sahara Kelly for suggesting Nibbles for the title. Thanks to P&N Graphics for the amazing cover.

Friday, October 5, 2018

1T Status Update

Night's Kiss first round of edits turned in last month! I'm working hard to get ahead on my classwork while I wait for round two. Fall concert next weekend for my orchestra. I started re-editing Heart Mates over the summer. Trying to get back to that so it's ready for Hunt Mates's ENT promotion end of next month.

ALERT! Amazon forgot to return the price on Passion Bites to its original, so you can still get the steep discount until they notice their mistake.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

Three steps to kickstart your novel's success.

Blurbs. What if there was an easier way?

Aaand... I'm just going to leave this here.


Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

photo credit: Writing = Breathing via photopin (license)
Come to the dark side...recognizing tropes--originally posted May 27, 2015.

My husband and I were watching an hour mystery on television the other day--I think it was Castle--and the detectives had just brought in the killer for questioning, when out of the blue my husband says, "That can't be the killer. It's too early. The show's only halfway in."

I sniffed back a tear of pleasure. "I have trained you well, grasshopper."

One of the secrets I've learned through being an author is how to craft a believable story: tools to not reveal the killer too quickly but still keep tensions high; ways to make the supernatural, like vampires, seem perfectly natural (humor works really well there. Like the pain the poor thing feels getting a fang root canal).

The problem is, knowing the craft behind the story, the bones if you will, now gets in the way of my completely enjoying television, movies and books.

I was reading one of my go-to authors when in an early chapter, the heroine was told not to worry about the murderer, because Constable Reliable (spoiler--not his real name! lol) was watching for baddies, on patrol outside her house.

I knew...I knew Constable Reliable was going to get knocked unconscious in the Chapter Crisis. The reason I was so certain is that the heroine must always face the villain in the climax. Better yet if she does so alone. So somehow, the heroine was going to lose her protector, poor Constable Reliable, so the villain and the heroine could have their face time.

Another tell is when Stuck-at-the-hips Buddies separate. Buddy and Buddy have been together throughout the whole movie and then suddenly for some "reason" they have to go in different directions. Well, sure as anything, one of them is gonna have some bad thing happen.

Apparently DH has listen to me
complainsearch for new ways to enjoy stories despite meme and tropes for long enough that he's also started seeing the hands inside the puppets and the man behind the curtain.

What about you? What tropes or factors make storytelling a little too predictable for you?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

1T Status Update

Good news! Night's Kiss is in the hands of my brand-new editor, the incomparable Candace Havens!

More good news--BookBub SALE coming September 12. Grab your copy of Passion Bites while it's 99 cents.

I'm also excited to be heading back to school to brush up on my computer programming skills. First up--Java Script and SQL.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Author Interview VIDEO - Vivi Andrews on Workshops

Besides being an awesome writer, Vivi is one of the most incredibly talented bloggers I have ever read. I laugh, I think, I learn something in every post. So you're in for a real treat! (Two versions, two musical tracks, twice the fun!)

Original post: http://maryhughesbooks.blogspot.com/2009/10/welcome-guest-blogger-vivi-andrews.html

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

50 stories, 100% donated

Somewhere Out There (A Charity Anthology)

Experience sizzling romances, journey through fantastic magical realms, and solve engaging mysteries in this collection encompassing all genres. Bestselling authors and new voices come together to deliver incredible, exciting stories to keep you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages.

Best of all, know every cent of your purchase is going to a child who needs it. 100% of all net proceeds will go to non-profit organizations that will reunite immigrant families.

Includes a slightly less steamy version of Hunt Mates!

Click your favorite--
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes&Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Get in on the GIVEAWAY. You can win a Nook, a Kindle, Gift Certificates, ebooks and help us spread the news about this set that is 100% for charity as well as check out an amazing special offer from the authors in this set! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

Stuck on where to go next? A long time ago I heard a sage word of advice on what to do if your plot stalls out. Conflict, excitement, surprise, delight is the goal--so just throw in ninjas!

Not literal ninjas, though those work too. But if you're stalled on what happens next, clowns or ninjas or waltzing elephants will certainly shake things up.

NEW! If you don't want to get utterly absurd, there's still a way to shake things up. This article gives you over 100 writing prompts to get things moving. Things like "Tomorrow is a bad day for..." and "I woke at 3 am and realized..." are wonderful ways to not only get that plot moving, but get your creative juices flowing.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

Aahz sees the vacuum cleaner coming...
Spring cleaning--new release--originally posted April 29, 2015.

As I write this I look around my house and think it's time to give it a good thorough cleaning. And it reminded me of four years ago, when we were selling our old house and I had to keep it in Show Room Condition. It was then I first discovered something called Cleaning Mode.

Everything I looked at needed cleaning. Even if I'd just cleaned it. I saw every mote of dust, even the single cat hair marring the pristine surface of the underside of the toilet bowl.

Yeah, it was almost a fever.

Thankfully, that's mostly worn off. Now I enjoy life a little more, if living a little less orderly.

But I've kept some of the habits from Cleaning Mode, including never bringing something into the house without something else going out. The biggest obstacle to a clean house is clutter, at least in my case.

This does not apply to books! I'm thrilled to announce I have a new book to add to my shelf, the first in a new series, just released yesterday. May I introduce you to Sophia--a Witch Princess who only wants to be mundane.

Heart Mates (Pull of the Moon, Book 1)

Witch plus wolf? They’re allergic. Except no one told their hearts.

Shifters and witches? Forbidden on pain of death. Might as well stick a fork in a light socket. Yet those are the kind of sparks witch princess Sophia Blue feels when she meets wolf shifter Noah in her aunt’s bookstore.

But Sophia is stuck. Her aunt is missing and Noah, the last person to see her, is Sophia’s only hope. If not for that and her aunt’s new, cute little doggie, Sophia would run as far as she could from the sexy, hard-hewn alpha.

Noah’s stuck too. Before disappearing, the aunt hit him with a hex gone horribly wrong—he’s the doggie. By day he’s fifteen pounds of yippity-yip, and with five anti-alpha wolves nipping at his heels, that’s deadly dangerous. Only Sophia can help him, but she has lost her magic.

Then an evil mage from Sophia’s past shows up with murder on his mind, and all Noah’s instincts shout to protect the woman his misguided heart thinks is his mate.

Warning: Sinfully sexy alpha thrown together with a hot witch in a small town. Sass, sparkle, a meddling aunt, snafus, growling, fighting, and oh yeah, sex. Might want to get up to date on your shots.

AB SKG AppleAUK

 


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Life, curve balls, and everything... 1T Status Update

Just when you think you have gotten the hang of hitting a ball with a bat, life introduces curve balls.

I've had a couple things happen that will require me to adjust how I spend my time. I'll still be writing, don't worry! And my focus will be on finishing my three series.

Of which, Night's Kiss is on its last read-through before sending off to the editor. Hooray!

But that's another curve ball. As of today, my editor at Entangled has announced she will be leaving the company to embark on freelance editing and an exciting special project. Which means I'll be sending Night's Kiss to...well, I don't know yet. But everyone I've met at Entangled has been wonderful, so I'm confident it'll be fine.

But you'll be seeing less of me on the web, at least until I get my feet under me with the new schedule. If you need anything, be sure to message me directly on Facebook or email me.

Hugs to you all.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

3 reasons you should be celebrating introversion

Can you name some famous introverts? Some of the names may surprise you.

Original post: http://maryhughesbooks.blogspot.com/2018/05/2t-repeat-performance.html

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Author Interview VIDEO - Helen C. Johannes on Confessions of a Fantasy Romance Author

I met Helen C. Johannes at my first WisRWA conference when we both had the thrill of receiving our first sale roses. But I really got to know her and admire her through her writing. She spins an amazing tale, a perfect seamless blend of landscape politics and personal passions.

With great words and dramatic music, this video turned out especially well. Original post: http://maryhughesbooks.blogspot.com/2013/02/confessions-of-fantasy-romance-author.html

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

This is another in my 25 Ways You're Losing Readers (and what you can do about it) series.

 Readers who tell you how much they love your writing are great. But you want your writing to inspire readers to tell other readers how much they love your writing.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits. Click here to see all 25 Ways You're Losing Readers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

Soundtrack Super Twins—Guests Jodi Redford and Selena Illyria--originally posted April 16, 2015.

These authors may be multi published, award winning, and best selling, but above all they're ready for the Garden Gnome Apocalypse! I love their wit on Facebook so I'm especially delighted my friends Jodi and Selena agreed to be my guests today and everyone can enjoy their sparkling (and sometimes just a little naughty *wink*) convo. I asked them to stay PG for this post, and they did! Er, mostly, lol. Please welcome the Super Twins!

Jodi: When the awesomesauce Mary Hughes invited us to blog together, well, we were slightly concerned aliens might have bodysnatched her. It’s always a huge risk allowing me and Selena to cohabitate web space together. Garden gnome armies invade Detroit. Godzilla attacks the Jersey Shore. Exotic male dancers shape-shift into Yetis and make us waffles and bacon.

Selena: Unicorns invade Texas and have a cake decorating contest. Shape-shifting squirrels try and take over the White House to demand the world’s nut supply. Bees try to…wait…wait…they haven’t done anything yet. Whew.

Jodi: Okay, I’m failing to see the problem here.

Selena: Me neither. Does this mean we get pancakes and waffles for life? Cause I could be down with that.

Jodi: As always, you’re the voice of reason, Super Twin. No wonder our brains are so in sync! What? It’s not as terrifying as it seems.

Selena: I am? When did this happen? Oh my god! Someone has taken over my body and me…*shudder* I’m...sane. Make it stop, Super Twin!

Jodi: Oh my God, first the aliens got Mary, and now you too! *prepares my tin foil hat just in case* But on the bright side, at least the aliens will never take our outstanding taste in music from us. Your Musical Monday picks always get a big Thumbs up from me. In fact, several of them have ended up on my book soundtracks. And that’s something we both are a bit fanatical about—soundtracking our books. Is that something you’ve always done?

Selena: Not always. At first I needed quiet but then I couldn’t get in the mood you know? So I had to find a song that would say everything I wanted to say in that scene, only then it turned into more than one song and well…yeah.

Jodi: Same here! Nothing inspires me and gets me rooted into a story like music. My characters have even gotten me to listen to stuff I normally wouldn’t even listen to. *cough* Disco *cough* What’s the craziest or out of the norm song that’s ever inspired you?

Selena: Disco? Whaaaa? Super Twin you did not put on a polyester suit and start singing Stayin Alive did you? I won’t judge, promise.

*Jodi discreetly removes her polyester leisure suit*

Selena: Okay, so it’s weird but I listen to metal or rock to write sex scenes. Like Chevelle’s The Red really gets me in the mood to write sex scenes. Are we still PG? Is this PG?

Jodi: Pretty sure this is as PG as we get! And you think that’s weird? Remember you’re talking to the chick who choreographs love scenes to banjo tunes. But you’ve gotta admit that this cover of Anaconda by Postmodern Jukebox is effin’ outstanding. But I digress. I learn something new about you every day, Super Twin! I mentioned disco, but probably the craziest musical inspiration I ever had was visualizing an entire book world off of the song, Will You Follow Me, by Rob Dougan. That book world eventually became my Thieves of Aurion series. Speaking of inspiring...*drools as I stare at the cover of Selena’s latest Bachelor Auction book.* Your werewolf hero, Brandon, has some seriously inspiring...abs. What? I am so behaving! Just curious, does Brandon have particular song he grooves to? (Hopefully buck naked).

Se: Hmmm, *checks playlist* one song that comes to mind is Kongos- Come With Me Now. You have some seriously HOT men in your Fictional harem. What does Logan like to groove to? Hopefully while cleaning with only an apron on…

Jodi: Weeeellll, Logan has been known to Swiffer his heart out while shaking his money-maker to Howlin’ For You by The Black Keys. I just wish he wouldn’t insist on actually howling along with the song. The neighbors are beginning to complain. But you know what would be SUPER INSPIRING? If Brandon and Logan dance to Christina Aguilera’s Your Body while wearing short shorts!

Selena: Oh! Oh! Yes! *gets the camera ready* We’ll want to use for blackmail…I mean posterity later…yeah.

Jodi: And that’s why we’re Super Twins. *prepares for the garden gnome army*

Click on each of my special guest authors' name to find out more!

Jodi Redford pens wicked hot tales when not surfing the interwebs for sexy male eye candy, strictly for research purposes, of course.

After this much foreplay, something’s bound to combust.

As head mistress of Beaumont coven house, Clarissa Miles has perfected two things: keeping her sister witches from accidently turning innocent bystanders into toads, and resisting the sexy overtures of her familiar, werewolf Logan Scott.

But her resolve is vanishing—fast. Seven years ago she sold her soul to save her father, and that contract is coming due. The allure of spending her last days indulging in some dirty, naked loving is too tempting to resist.

Logan has patiently ridden out the past seven years, content to do Clarissa’s bidding and ignoring his consuming need to mark her as his. Now that the ban on witch/familiar fraternizing has been lifted, he’s off the leash and ready to launch a full-on sensual assault on her defenses. They’re destined mates, and he’ll do whatever it takes to convince her.

It’s delightfully easy to get her in bed. Get at her heart? Not so much. Especially when a deadly predator stakes its claim on her…and Logan faces a battle not only to win her heart, but save her soul.

Warning: This book contains a villain with more personalities than Sybil, a witch in search of redemption and a dirty-talking werewolf hell-bent on claiming his mate in every wicked, sexy way possible. Spontaneous howling may occur.

See more at Amazon.

Selena Illyria--a multi-published author, part vampire, part pixie who was born with a need to write and enable.

When you meet your true mate, you’ve got to take the shot...

Werewolf Pack Princess Kelly is overwhelmed with her new business, trouble with the rival cat shifters, and trying to ignore the attraction to her best friend’s younger brother. By bidding on Brandon in the Bachelor Auction, she thought she was just doing him a favor, saving him from the craziness. But now that she’s won him, her wolf wants to mark him as her mate, and she’s starting to lose control. So when he whisks her away for his birthday weekend, how can she say no? Every kiss distracts her. Each caress sets her on fire. And every whiff of his scent makes her wolf want to take him where he stands.

As a former hockey player and werewolf, Brandon knows all about being pulled in different directions. And he knows exactly what he’s asking for when he pursues a relationship with the already overwhelmed Kelly. She may be five years older than he is, and the daughter of his pack’s Alpha, and his sister’s best friend and business partner, but none of that matters. There’s only one person he wants to spend his birthday with, and he’s not going to let her refuse. And when Brandon has his eye on the goal, there’s nothing that can stop him...

See more at Amazon.

  Thanks so much to Jodi and Selena for being my guests today!

What about you? Do you listen to a soundtrack to write or read (or prepare for the Garden Gnome Apocalypse)? What kind?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

1T Status Update

Summer concert season is upon us. Gregg and I are playing three nights a week, with a band concert every Wednesday and an orchestra concert next weekend. I got a new piccolo to keep up with the demand, a Powell Sonare (the 750 with those annoying rectangular keys) with resin-infused wood for outdoor summer gigs.

New first draft done! I have completed the first draft of Night's Kiss. It's got a few holes yet to fill and lots of sculpting work to be done, but the story is in place and there are some really great resonances already in. July will be several self-editing passes.

Those two items plus keeping up with the grass (I swear, the stuff grows an inch a day) will pretty much fill my time, though I'll have a story in a charity anthology called Somewhere Out There, and I hope to finish my reread of the Pull of the Moon series and start on Soul Mates.

Happy July!


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Author Interview VIDEO - Roxy Mews on New Year, New Goals, New Point of View

Roxy Mews is not only the author of sassy, sexy romance, she's the energy and planning behind Lust With A Laugh plus a great friend who helped me through a particularly rough patch in my life. So I'm thrilled to post this video today!


Original http://maryhughesbooks.blogspot.com/2018/01/2t-repeat-performance.html 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

This is another in my 25 Ways You're Losing Readers (and what you can do about it) series.

 Last month I talked about one size no longer fitting all. And that's good news for bad reviews!

Most of us hate bad reviews. But take heart! A negative review by your anti-reader may be just what your reader needs to know she's found her book.

For example, I write some hot stuff. So a review that complains about it being TOO HOT is actually a recommendation to those who like it that way!

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits. Click here to see all 25 Ways You're Losing Readers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

April Fools For Love--romance with a bit of fun--originally posted April 1, 2015.

So about nine months ago (as I remember it), one of my author friends suggested a group of us who write both hot and funny get together to do a set. She said there were all sorts of boxed sets for weddings and Christmas and Valentine's Day--so why not break the mold and do one for April Fools' Day?

Since this was nine months in the future, I blithely said "Sure!" and filed it mentally under to-do. I came up with an idea pretty quickly, mentally filed it under to-do as well, and got on with a more long-term project.

Fast forward to January. The long-term project deadline was moved up to March 1, and suddenly the April Fools' Day project has to be squeezed into two weeks. (Insert screaming, panicking author here :) )

Sometimes the best diamonds come under pressure. Meet my school teacher/bar maid Serendipity "Sera" Braun in her brand-new release, Biting Serendipity: April Fools For Love.

Check out the other great April Fools For Love stories releasing in 2015.

Banner

BitingSerendipity3x4.5Best April Fools joke ever—falling in love.

Serendipity “Sera” Braun wears glasses and a bun to teach during the day, but at night, she adds a breast-plumping vest and dirndl for her job hoisting beer steins at Nieman’s Bar. The big, leather-vest-and-earringed Viking bouncer? He’s bedsheets waiting to get sweaty, but all he does is scowl at her. She’s trying to keep her geriatric stripper of a granny from breaking a hip, but it’s hard when she keeps getting distracted by that sexy, smoky baritone.

Thorvald Thorsson is bitingly lonely—every vampire around him is mating. But his ex-fiancĂ©e rejected him as a killjoy (her exact words were he ate rules and s*** misery), so it’s high time Fun Thor comes out to play. No way he’d pair up with the cute but too-serious little schoolmarm who waits tables at the bar.

Sera bridles the wicked, delicious things she’d like to do with the muscular Viking, suppressing herself until she’s a volcano about to blow. Then they are thrown together in a prank war, and all his potent masculinity is focused on her. He makes her burn to let loose, but how can she and still be responsible for Granny and set a good example?

Warning: A terribly lonely vampire, a conflicted schoolmarm with a caged wild side, nosy roommates and the female version of a bromance, not to mention scorching sex, swearing with the **** filled in, a whole town full of busybodies—and the best April Fools joke ever.

This story contains material intended for mature audiences. Reader discretion advised.

AmazonB&N

What about you? Do you find a looming deadline helps or hurts?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

1T Status Update

I'm tickled to announce Night's Kiss is a go! I just finished signing a contract yesterday with Entangled Publishing for the second book in The Ancients series. It features the dark, hawkish ancient vampire Enkidu and lithe Kat, a vampire hunter--although Kat doesn't know Enkidu is a vampire. More info coming soon!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Fun Video! I Married a Master Vampire

I've been having a ton of fun making these video essays. Here's one on Biting Holiday Honeymoons. I especially like the Buffyesque music.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Author Interview VIDEO - Terri Meeker on Billy the Kid and Forks in the Road

I met Terri Meeker through Samhain Publishing. She's awesomely entertaining and so much fun to read. I'm delighted she could visit my blog amid her packed schedule. Enjoy! Original post http://maryhughesbooks.blogspot.com/2018/04/2t-repeat-performance.html


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

This is another in my 25 Ways You're Losing Readers (and what you can do about it) series.

One size does not fit all. And it's getting more so.

The market it huge and getting bigger. It's also tiny and getting smaller. In the music business, this is called fragmenting.

The days of the monolithic cultural icon are disappearing. We had three channels, so it was easy to talk about popular things around the watercooler. Almost everyone had watched Dragnet the night before.

Now, even if you watch prime time television, more likely your neighbor is streaming Netflix. Or an alternative show on YouTube.

We can find exactly what we want, now. And a lot of it. I love quirky scifi with a magical twist. In the old days there was...nobody. Now there's Butcher and Stross and Hearn and the guy who wrote Red Shirts and...

See? How many of you read any of those authors? There are still monoliths like JK Rowling and JD Robb that we've most read or at least heard of.

The good news is, you can write your particular brand of story and there's gonna be at least one other person out there who's hankering to read it.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits. Click here to see all 25 Ways You're Losing Readers.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

photo credit: Lex Photographic via photopin cc
My #1 Favorite Thing--It's Not What You Think--originally posted March 4, 2015.

Can you name some famous introverts? Some of the names may surprise you. Answer below :)

Those who know me, know I'm an introvert. So this may also come as a surprise.

My #1 favorite thing is--other people.

First, let's take a look at what being an introvert actually means and explode a few myths while we're at it.

Myth #1: Introverts like to be alone.

Not true. As Sophia Dembling in PsychologyToday.com's Introvert's Corner says, "Introverts are people, and people need people. That's human nature." (Aaand of course Streisand singing "People"..."people who need people" loops in my head.) It's just that, being quiet is how I recharge my batteries. While many people get energy from groups, like big parties--I don't know the science behind it but maybe it's like being in front of a really big pipe organ playing Phantom--introverts can get overstimulated.

You can prove this if you don't believe me. Take your introverted SO to a quiet library. He/she will happily stay there hours, even if it's wall-to-wall people.

photo credit: JoeInSouthernCA 
via 
photopin cc
Myth #2: Introverts don't like other people.

Actually, just the opposite. We care so much about our relationships, we're all about one-on-one time.

Okay, if that's true, why do introverted friends screen phone calls, even from friends?

Because we want to be sure we're mentally and emotionally in the right place to give our friends our very best.

If an introvert loves you, you're really special to them.

Myth #3: Introverts can't be leaders.

Not according to Susan Cain’s life-altering book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Introversion isn't a handicap. It doesn't stop a person from doing anything. From PsychologyToday.com's post 5 Myths Abount Introverts and Extraverts At Work by Adam Grant, Ph. D.: 'As actress Emma Watson (a.k.a. Hermione Granger) laments, “If you’re anything other than an extravert you’re made to think there’s something wrong with you.”' Now that people are beginning to recognize that, 'Leaders are coming out of the introvert closet in droves.'

Are you introverted? Here's a quiz you can take, 23 Signs You're Secretly An Introvert at HuffingtonPost.com.

Those famous introverts? Emma Watson, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Heath Ledger, JK Rowling, Lady Gaga, Michael Jordon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Harrison Ford, Charles Darwin, Marilyn Monroe, David Letterman, Courtney Cox, Christina Aguilera, Audrey Hepburn...add yours below!

Let's get to know each other! In my first year as a Magical Musings blogger, I'm exploring my 10 favorite things. This is number one.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

1T Status Update

Forecast for May: Changes.
And the time it takes to get those changes right.
  • Night's Kiss (The Ancients Book 2).
  • Printing with the printer which has been working fine for two years.
  • Piccolo playing (which I've done off and on for decades).
  • Computer programming (ditto).

Computer programming story
I've been writing pretty much since middle school. In 2010, I made more money with my books than I did through computer consulting, so I gave full-time writing a go. Changes in the publishing industry has since cut into sales until it's simply not paying anymore. I'm working hard learning advanced advertising skills, but when a programming gig opened up, I decided to look hard at getting back into the game (that is, learn the newest programming techniques). It's been nearly ten years and a lot has changed, but the educational opportunities are insanely good. I've been halving my day between writing and programming videos, which unfortunately makes progress in both twice as slow.

Piccolo playing story
I bought my Yamaha 61 with my first real paychecks. I love that piccolo, and it's a lovely instrument, grenadilla wood and cork pads and an upper register that'll knock your socks off. But playing it in my new orchestra, I can't make the high G sound in tune. Eek! Fortunately, a nice piccolo showed up the last time we were visiting our local music store. I'm giving it a try.

Printer story
So when I get something expensive (see piccolo story above) my husband usually gets something, too. In this case, his main go-to for entertainment, Imgur, wasn't loading and he wanted a new router. Great! Got the router, he installed it, I connected my computer and tablet, typed in the new password and away we go! Except... connecting my wireless laser printer wasn't so easy. The documentation had outdated links plus instructions that plain didn't work. I ended up blowing away its configuration and redoing it from scratch. THERE's three hours of my life I won't get back. (*grumble, grumble*)

Night's Kiss story
In August 2017, I submitted the book proposal for Night's Kiss. I finished a few projects, then, having heard back once from my editor requesting a couple easy updates, I went ahead and wrote the book. In February I finished the first draft. Naturally, it was at this point that the proposal came back with the need for major revisions. It took a lot of back and forth, but finally we came up with an updated proposal both my editor and I were satisfied with. Now if it passes the head editor's inspection, I'll be rewriting the book...

These things happen. Some months are like that. Meditation helps keep me balanced. Reminding myself nothing, if you learn from it, is wasted--that helps. Other people have just as hard a time if not harder. I'm glad for the opportunities I've been given.

Hubby made me cake, and that helps a whole lot, too.

Sometimes progress just takes longer and requires more effort. If anyone's wondering why things are going a bit slowly, this is why.

Hope your month is going better!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Who's your Prince Charming?

A while ago I was asked to describe my Prince Charming. Here's my answer. What's yours?

Tall, dark and handsome or blond and seductive, I think we all want a man who is strong, can-do, intelligent, and capable—and it doesn’t hurt if he’s good-looking and rich, lol.

But the most important quality for my Prince Charming is that he loves me to pieces!

After that, well, I admit a great body (or great bodies!) wouldn’t hurt.

Eyes that stun me or take my breath away are right up there.

Some mystery is nice.

Cheekbones you can cut your finger on, anyone?

Me, I’m a sucker for musical talent.

And a voice like a deep, dark cave. *Shiver*

Bottom line, I want a man who loves me, helps me be a better person, and walks with me through the sorrows and joys of life. That's my idea of my prince.

What about you? What traits does your ideal man have?

(This post originally was at Nice Ladies, Naughty Books.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

This is another in my 25 Ways You're Losing Readers (and what you can do about it) series.

 Do you know how many books there are for sale right now on Amazon?
Well, since one of my books is ranked 1,439,629 right now, at least a million and a half. With ebooks never going out of print, that number will only go up.

Readers have a heckuva lot of choices TOO MANY choices. You used to have a chapter to capture their interest. Then a few pages.

Now, you'd better snag them from word ONE. Because it's too easy for them to go on to the next book.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits. Click here to see all 25 Ways You're Losing Readers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

Guest Post: Terri Meeker on Billy the Kid and Forks in the Road--originally posted February 5, 2015.

Terri Meeker is a fellow Samhain Publishing author who's awesomely entertaining and so much fun to read. I'm delighted she could join us today amid her packed schedule. Enjoy!

 When you come to a fork in the road, choose the path that will make a better story.

These are words that my daughter’s ex boyfriend lives by. Yeah, I know. Ex. But he’s a great guy and has some pretty amazing adventures. Lately, I’ve been pushing myself a bit with his motto. People express regrets on their deathbeds, but you never hear “I wish I’d have stayed home more. Played things a little safer.”

A few months ago I took a solo drive to Wyoming to see my Dad. While planning my trip home, I got a horrible/wonderful idea. Since I was in the middle of writing a book about Billy the Kid, and his old stomping ground was a mere few states away… a little detour was awfully tempting. And between a direct route of 1,200 miles or a side-trip to New Mexico – it wasn’t hard to see which would make the better story.

I phoned darling hubby. “What would you think if I came home via New Mexico? It’s kind of on the way.”

“Define kind of,” he replied. “Because my map of earth says otherwise.”

“Well, it would add more than four hundred miles on the trip,” I admitted. “But still. Billy the Kid!”

He’s known me for a while and he knows I am a woman of obsessions. Since beginning my Billy book, I’ve devoured more than a dozen books on the Kid. Hubby has sat through countless documentaries. But a trip to his actual haunts would be magical critical to my research! (Spoiler alert: my approach to Billy is somewhere between serious scholar and your average 12-year-old girl’s position on One Direction.)

At six pm, I said goodbye to Dad and started driving. I drove all night. The next day around noon (and 943 miles later) I pulled into Fort Sumner, New Mexico. A dusty little town with one going concern when it comes to dining establishments. But it featured no less than two Billy the Kid museums. I spent the day taking photos of saddles and cooking equipment and getting into passionate discussions about Billy with a lot of old guys wearing seriously enormous belt buckles.

At dusk I made my way to a lonesome cemetery, where Billy and his two best ‘pals’ are buried. They even share a tombstone. I’d bought a fifth of Jack Daniel’s in town at the Liquor Store/Minimart. As the sky turned from orange to purple in the setting sun, I sat down by Billy’s grave and splashed out the first shot on his grave. It was, admittedly, very dorky but - I ain’t gonna lie - it was also kind of awesome.

The next day I went a hundred miles further south, further away from home. To Lincoln – the site of Billy’s most famous jailbreak and the setting for the first third of my book. Was it awesome? Well, is the thought of me drinking whiskey by myself in a cemetery creepy? (That was rhetorical. The answer to both is yes, of course.) It was one of the most charming experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

I’m not entirely insane, however. Though I got into many wonderful conversations with many Billy experts throughout the day, and took scads of notes, I was hesitant to come right out and tell these strangers what kind of book I was writing. Or even that I was a writer. These were serious Billy scholars, who’d dedicated years reading old newspaper accounts and letters.

By nightfall, I settled into the Wortley Hotel. It boasts a mighty eight rooms, but I was the only one staying there. At a population of 52, Lincoln is a pretty quiet little town. But the Wortley sits right across the street from the jail and figured prominently in his escape (and my book).

Donna, the hotel’s minder, was thrilled to hear I was writing a book and plied me with questions, snacks and wine. So we sat on the porch as the sun fell. I watched Billy’s jailhouse window from across the street (word to the Billy fangirls, upper left corner) and we finished off the bottle. Then we finished off another. By the third bottle, I was telling Donna all about my story.

“It’s a time-travel. I’m sending a professor from 2015 back in time and she will mess with Billy’s jailbreak. And then he’s going to experience things from our time and see what’s become of his image. I’m especially excited for him to see a clip from the movie ‘Young Guns’ because his reaction is going to be some next level shit.”

Wine will do that to you. Make you choose the path that might make a more interesting story. In this case, when the hotel’s owner and acting ‘mayor’ of the little town showed up, she insisted I tell him all about my wacky time-travel romance featuring their town’s legend. And I did.

He laughed his ass off and was fully on board.

He said not everyone in town likes people messing with the legend. That some took their Billy quite seriously. But he insisted most folks would like it and Billy hadn’t gotten the time travel treatment that he knew of. He even confessed that he too had gone to Billy’s grave years ago and shared a beer with him at sunset. (Okay, he was a teenager at the time and there was simply no excuse for me … but… moving on!)

I’ll be damned. When you that interesting path sometimes it yields pretty amazing stories. In this case, a real, actual story! I’m on my second draft now and my ‘little’ detour to New Mexico has made all the difference in understanding the tale.

And as pure bonus, I met some pretty amazing people along the way.

Read Terri's debut time-travel, Not Quite Darcy.  

How to Woo a Gentleman and Weaponize Dessert
Romance novel junkie Eliza Pepper always thought she was born too late, but now she really is stuck in the wrong time. Tasked with mending a tear in the timeline, she's trying desperately to fit into 1873 London. But dang it, mucking out a fireplace while looking like the lunch lady from hell is hard.

If she can just keep from setting the floor on fire and somehow resist her growing attraction to the master of the house, she'll be fine. All she has to do is repeat her mantra:  "He's nothing like Darcy. He's nothing like Darcy."

William Brown has always taken pride in his mastery of English decorum, but his new maid is a complete disaster, has thrown his household into chaos...and he finds her utterly captivating.

Though he's willing to endure extreme physical discomfort to keep their relationship in proper perspective, her arrival has brought out a side of him he never knew existed. And Eliza has an innocently erotic knack for coaxing that decidedly ungentlemanly facet of himself out to play...

AmazonB&N
Also at iBooks, Kobo.

Terri Meeker is supposed to write her author blurb in the third person. It’s just how things are done. She shouldn’t question it, but then she’s always been difficult. Even in high school, her best friend’s mother described her as ‘eccentric’ before urging her daughter to make friends with a nice, normal girl.

She was born in Wyoming but has made her home on Fidalgo Island in Washington state. She’s loved history since childhood and has been fortunate to live in lots of places with fascinating pasts, including: Washington DC, Philadelphia, Virginia Beach, Albuquerque, Missouri and Mons, Belgium. She’s an ex-history teacher, a mom a Whedonite, a gamer and a ginormous nerd. She also loves to write.

Terri is really getting into this third person thing and thinks it will give her a lot of gravitas during future dinner conversations. She thinks you should probably start doing it as well.

Her website is at terrimeeker.com. Check it out and you’ll be able to find her on twitter, fb and all that social stuff. She’d love to hear from you. Trust me.

Website: http://terrimeeker.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/terri.meeker.1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ActualTerri
Blog: http://terrimeeker.com/preface-blog/

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

1T Status Update

When our older boy decided he wanted to join the Marines, I was both proud and scared. He thought he'd learn some valuable things as a Marine. I agreed, though I thought his lessons might be different than what he expected.

What I didn't expect was that I'd learn a lesson from the Marines. Well, I learned several, including getting a lot better understanding of PTSD. But the lesson that applies right now is this:

Semper Gumby.

It's a takeoff on the Marine motto "Semper fidelis" which means always loyal/faithful. In this case it's per the clay animation character Gumby, an eraser-boy more bendable than paperclips. Semper Gumby means always be flexible. Because when he was enlisted, the fight, the assignment, heck, his basic schedule was always, always, always subject to change.

So. Remember Night's Kiss, which was essentially done? Yeah, that's getting a bit of a shakeup. I'll let you know when I do what's happening, lol. Until then, semper gumby.

Other things:
  • Orchestra rehearsals start this month. 
  • Taxes are done :)
  • Possible computer programming consulting job this month.
  • Contest entries 1/2 way judged. I hope to finish those today and tomorrow.
  • Read-through of Pull of the Moon still on the board, though that may be pushed into May.



Tuesday, March 20, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

This is another in my 25 Ways You're Losing Readers (and what you can do about it) series.

When is a stereotype character good?

You might be tempted to respond, "Never." I beg to differ. (What a strange phrase that is. "Oh, please, puh-retty puh-lease let me get into any argument with you." ?? English. amirite?)

Last month we discussed "Glove" characters, or a character the reader feels more in touch with than your Point of View (POV) character. Kill off this "window" character at your own peril!

I'm arguing that, in this one case, a stereotype is good. It will help you keep your reader from identifying with the character you want to make the disgusting bad guy or kill off.

I happen to be an older female. I like the CW shows but am most attracted to the ones that have excellent older characters (The Flash, for example.) So I'll use Older Woman as my example here. If you know you absolutely have to make a disgusting bad guy out of your only Older Woman--stop. Create a second Older Woman. Make her the blandest, most stereotyped Older Woman you can. Leave your kinda quirky, energetic Older Woman as is. Now, when you make the bad guy--make it the stereotyped Older Woman. Ninety-nine percent of your readers who glove the Older Woman will glove the quirky one, not the bland one.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.  Click here to see all 25 Ways You're Losing Readers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

8 Shocking Secrets Healthy People Know--Favorite Things #2--originally posted February 4, 2015

Let's get to know each other! In my first year as a Magical Musings blogger, I'm exploring my 10 favorite things. This is number two.




I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose. ~Woody Allen
They say laughter is the best medicine. What I want to know is, where did Dr. They get her medical degree and what studies has Dr. They done?


"Laughing. Easier than Yoga,"
says Squirrel.
photo credit: 
uBookworm 
via 
photopin cc
Well, exactly. "They" say a lot of things. But in this case, there's stuff on the Internet to back them up, much more scientific (marginally). So here they are, the eight shocking secrets.
  1. "Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress" according to Helpguide.org.
  2. It also "boosts the immune system." Ibid (which means I sucked the quote from the same post).
  3. It also "protects the heart" by "increasing blood flow". Ibid (Yep. Another one from the Helpguide.org post).
  4. Importantly, for those of us who suffer from depression, it "dissolves distressing emotion" Ibid. Ibid. (Hey! Repeated, it sounds like a frog.)
  5. For diabetics, it "reduces blood sugar levels" according to PsychologyToday.com. I did not know that and am shocked. Shocked, I tell you. I don't know if my heart can take the stress. Oh wait--I can laugh it healthy.
  6. According to  Michael Miller, M.D. in the same article, "it is conceivable that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium." Right! Um...what's an endothelium? (Runs to Wikipedia...blood and lymph vessel lining, huh.) "And reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease." Oh! Now I see.
  7. In another article at UMM.edu, Dr. Miller's findings were elaborated: "people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease." (Does this count as separate item? Yes? No? Imma count it.)
  8. Frankly, when I laugh I feel better. Okay, that's mostly anecdotal, but here's a quote anyway. "When I start the day by checking out my favorite cartoons, I start the day with a smile." From this post by the author M. Hughes.


Cat asks, "This is humor?" photo credit: Ms D. Meanor via photopin cc
In conclusion, I leave you with this medieval quote, "I say unto you, go out and find merriment, as it doeth you much goodeth." Or, from the contemporary translation, "Laugh. It's good for you."