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.


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-fiancée 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.


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 
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...

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: 
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."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

1T Status Update

As the last (or one of the last) huzzah of winter strikes, giving me the twofer of joy and exercise while shoveling (I'm being sarcastic about the joy), I am really, really, really looking forward to spring.

This month:
  • Husband spotted a red-wing blackbird today! Even though white scheiss lay all about, that's a sure sign spring is around the corner. (Thank goodness. See above.)
  • Finished the second read-through of Night's Kiss. Kat, vampire hunter with a death wish for all vampires. Enkidu, vampire. Put on same page. Watch chaos ensue. Fun!
  • Both Bad Boy Billionaire's Lady and Playing With Fire: The Battle of the Bands were launched to much excitement. Thank you to my readers for helping me get the word out! 
  • Chapter One for Bad Boy Billionaire's Lady is here.
  • Chapter One for Playing with Fire is here.
  • I have another three planned read-throughs of Night's Kiss.
  • Next up after Night's Kiss is Soul Mates
  • As part of my prep for writing the final Pull of the Moon book, I'm doing a read-through and tweak of the series thus far.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

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

We're taught the reader sees the story through the Point of View (POV) character. While that is certainly true, I'd like to point out the big Elephant in the Room.

Readers have "glove" characters--and it may not be the one you want them to have.

In Sherlock Holmes stories, the POV character is mostly Dr. Watson. In the television show Sherlock, Holmes and Watson are the feature characters. But you know what? As a woman, those two are fun to watch, but I don't see myself as them. I first saw myself as Molly Hooper. Then I saw myself as Mary Watson.

The reader may have more in common with one of your secondary characters. The "fit" of that character may make for instant connection.

What happens when you kill off the glove character?

Well, I know for me, I've actually stopped watching shows because my glove character was terminated. What do you think happens?

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.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Release Day! Rockstar romance on FIRE

I don't do rockstars. I play, too. I know how shallow the glamour is. But Connor seems...deeper. Different.

A friend asked me to write a rock star romance. I reached into how music makes me feel, both performing and listening, and Connor and Shivawn's exploded from me. Early readers raved over the music and passion in this book.

I want to share that electrifying excitement and emotional fulfillment with readers everywhere.

USA Today Bestselling author Mary Hughes brings you an electric story of music, passion, and rivalry.

Clumsy but smokin' fiddle-player Shivawn Kelly meets hot bass guitarist Connor Chase and lightning attraction strikes. 

But their bands are enemies in the Starstruck Battle of the Bands. Only one can win.

And then Connor overhears a rival band plotting—and he's afraid their target is Shivawn.

Céilí band versus rock-and-roll. It's the Battle of the Bands, but the real battle is in their hearts.

Welcome to STARSTRUCK, a showplace for talent, a playground for love. A collection of contemporary novellas that will leave you breathless and craving more.

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU |

Read Chapter One here.

The first three Starstruck Novellas are helping me celebrate with a SALE!!
Jaded 99 cents https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00W4B324O
Wrecked 2.99 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VAZCDSQ
Obsessed 99 cents https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UW0GKPM

And look for Crushed and Desired coming March 1 and March 8!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Chapter One from Playing With Fire: The Battle of the Bands (A Starstruck Novella)

It's the Battle of the Bands, but the real battle is in their hearts.

USA Today Bestselling author Mary Hughes brings you an intimate glimpse into musicians' lives in an electric story of music, passion, family, and rivalry, with flashes of her signature humor.

Clumsy but smokin' fiddle-player Shivawn Kelly meets hot bass guitarist Connor Chase and lightning attraction strikes. But their bands are adversaries in the first Starstruck Battle of the bands. Only one can win.

Shivawn fervently hopes it's her family's céilí band, but Connor's rock group might just be better. His music stirs her soul even as his lithe body stirs her interest. But her da forbids her to even go near "that eejit boy".

Connor needs the win for his band to trust him again, but Shivawn and her music light his heart with joy. Yet when he tries to connect with her, she rebuffs him. He respects her need for distance, though it's tearing him up inside.

And then he overhears a rival band plotting—and he's afraid their target is Shivawn. He may have to defy her wishes, her father, and his even own band to keep her safe.

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Crushed by Elle J Rossi is coming March 1 and Desired by Kathy Love is releasing March 8.

Welcome to STARSTRUCK, a showplace for talent, a playground for love. A collection of contemporary novellas that will leave you breathless and craving more.

Enjoy this first chapter from Playing With Fire:

© 2017 Mary Hughes

Line dancing was harder than it looked. Shivawn Kelly had heard musicians were supposed to be more coordinated than most. Not her. Apparently, while the Fiddle Fairy had been fussing over her, the Klutz Fairy had taken a free shot.

“Why are we dancing, again?” she asked as she stumbled into Cousin Margaret a fourth time. “We’re supposed to be scoping out the competition.”

“We are inspecting the competition. Very thoroughly.”

Her cousin’s gaze ran over the lead singer onstage, going all dreamy at his skinny jeans and cowboy hat. Her eyes, the aching blue of a summer sky filled with mare’s-tail clouds, did the dreamy look really well. Maggie had a true Irish lass’s coloring with her translucent skin and rose-gold hair. Shivawn was her mirror image, if the mirror was old and darkened—chestnut-red hair, green eyes, and skin that sort of tanned before it burned.

“Maggie, dear, it’s amazing how much scoping out the competition looks like ogling the singer.”

“Oh, pooh. I don’t always go for the lead singer.”

She cut a disbelieving glance at her cousin, which sent her off-kilter and knocking into Maggie again. But really, this time she deserved it. “Margaret Clancy. You always told me there are only three kinds of band groupies: the ones swooning at the singer’s crooning; the ones dazzled by the lead guitar’s brilliant riffs; and the ones who want to do the drummer for his obvious hand-eye coordination.”

“So, which are you?” she shot back.

Shivawn kept her eyes glued to her feet. “None of the above. I’m surprised you’re interested. Musicians know how shallow the glamour is. Even a flute player is a musician, of sorts.”

“Ha, ha.”

But if I had to pick, give me the bass guitar every time. Not obvious or showy, the bass guitar was steady and relentless and drove the whole group to its climax. Give me that in bed any day over showy or self-absorbed.

Shivawn glanced at the electric bass in this country band. The grizzled blond competently walked fingers up and down the fretboard. Decent enough. But even if her eyes were capable of dreamy, which they weren’t, she wouldn’t have gone gooey over him.

The glimpse distracted her long enough that she grapevined left as Cousin Margaret went right, and she ran into her for the umpteenth time.

Fed up, Shivawn grabbed Maggie’s elbow and pulled her out of line—apparently a mortal sin from the black glares she got. But, really. Just because she didn’t have her cousin’s fairy skin didn’t mean she didn’t bruise.

She hauled them off the dance floor to the nearest bar. Bar—the word usually brought images of a narrow, gloomy space, a band smashed in a tiny corner, a postage-size dance floor, and cramped seating. But this was Starstruck, a combo dance club/concert hall, and everything was huge. Big stage, gigantic dance floor, sweeping balcony, and not one but two bars.

As Shivawn crossed the dance floor to what could’ve been the next county, she managed to finish her thought. “What do you think of the band?”

“As a musician of a sort,” Maggie began, proving she had been listening instead of ogling, or at least listening in addition to ogling, “it’s my opinion that, despite Hotty McCowboy’s many attractions, our band is better.” Her lilting Celtic accent made it sound less like bragging and more like a kindness.

Shivawn had no such lilt. Though her da was Irish, and she’d been born there, her mother was all American. At five, because of her parents’ separating, she’d been whisked to the USA to grow up here with her mother. Now her accent was firmly Midwest.

So, when she said, “Yeah,” it was flatter than a pancake. “So far I haven’t seen or heard anyone who comes close to giving our kind of show.”

Which was important, because Shivawn and her family band were here to compete in the first annual Starstruck Battle of the Bands.

At the east bar, a truly spectacular bartender was handing out drinks and a sizzling smile with equal speed and flair. The man packaged sex appeal like a Ferrari. Within moments, he slid toward them. He wore the Starstruck uniform of a black T-shirt with logo. But on him, it looked like less of a uniform and more of a tribute.

“What can I get you ladies?” The rich timbre of his voice, the lyrical spin he put on his words, caressed her ears. She bet he was a singer.

“I’ll have your best beer on tap,” Shivawn said, then pointed to her cousin. “She’ll have some sissy drink.”

“They’re not sissy,” Maggie objected. “They have flavor.” She turned her brightest smile on Mr. Tall, Dark, and Drinksome. “I’ll sample whatever you’re mixing up tonight.” A bump of her strawberry brows gave “mixing” a bit of added steam.

“Well. For you…” Hands spread on the bar, he leaned toward them, chest and arm muscles bulging appealingly as he added his own bit of steam. “We’re having a special on margaritas.”

“Sold.” Maggie mirrored his tilt, plumping her considerable assets in her V-neck sweater. “Margarita is like my name, you know. Margaret, margarita.”

“Mine’s Ben.” As he tapped his name badge hanging from a blue lanyard, his gaze stayed on Maggie’s.

Shivawn gave him points for that. Her cousin had a flutist’s truly spectacular chest.

“Done with singers?” she murmured, and Maggie shot her an I-will-shortsheet-your-bed look. Shivawn smiled innocently.

“As far as beer goes,” Ben spoke to her this time while his hands nimbly prepared the margarita. “All our beers are the best.”

“What’s your favorite, then? I’ll have that.”

“One dopplebock coming up.” He smoothly slid a jumbo margarita before Cousin Margaret then retrieved a glass and frosted beer bottle, uncapped, and expertly poured.

As Ben moved off to serve other customers, Shivawn cast her gaze around the large space. On the main stage, the country band twanged its last number. Another band was setting up on the smaller, temporary stage across the dance floor from the first, tucked in beside the bar where Shivawn sampled a truly lovely dark beer. The two stages were alternating hopefuls of all genres in the four days of open auditions. Her family’s band was scheduled for the final night of preliminaries. Three judges, currently anonymous, would pick the top bands to go on. Things would get cooking with the first bracket playoffs Thursday.

“Where do you think the judges are?”

“Maybe in the balcony?” Margaret turned away from the bar and leaned back on her elbows, surveying the exposed second floor to her right. Her gaze wandered to the temporary stage, where the new band, lots of leather, skin, and studs, finished setting up. As the country band struck its final chord, she went on, “Or maybe the judges are dancing—”

“Weren’t they good?” A blond guy on the second stage grabbed a mic and broke into the dying chord. “Put your hands together for Country Boys and Cowboy Boots.” He raised his arms over his head and mimicked clapping.

Shivawn knew it was mimicked because if he’d really clapped, the amplified thud-thud-thud would’ve burned out their eardrums.

Applause like a brief rain spattered an instant before the guy said, “Now get ready to rock your body down with Taboo Soul.”

He flipped his long blond hair back, and Shivawn would have sworn she heard three women around her sigh.

Onstage, the lead guitar dashed off a riff that could’ve made Jimi Hendrix cry, a virtuoso run of tangling fingers, accompanied by muscular poses worthy of a superhero. He ended on a dramatic, dominant seventh chord that poised them all at the top of the song’s cliff.

And then the bass guitar came in with a glide from sol to do, so smooth and perfect it ran along Shivawn’s flesh like silk, leaving her skin rumpled and aching. When the drummer hit the first beat, everyone was hooked.

But for her, she’d been hooked by that bass slide.

The singer started rasping out lyrics as the crowd cheered. Shivawn’s feet carried her away from the bar, out to where she could see past the blond throwing his long hair around as he deep-throated the mic. Past the shaved-skull lead guitarist jumping around the stage like a stringy Hulk. Past the biker-styled rhythm guitar stalking in his wake. She wandered, almost hypnotized, out to where she could see the man laying down that dark, thrumming, pelvis-churning bass.

After the rest of the band, she was expecting leather, tats, and metal makeup. But no, the bass player was a mysterious contradiction. He wore an ordinary black tee, but it stretched across his broad chest and bowling-ball-muscled shoulders like paint. His pants were regular jeans, not leather, and a bit white with wear, but molded to his legs like silk. His axe was nothing special—black body, maple fretboard, silver bridge and controls. But something, the unusual tuning pegs or inlays or bridge pickup, told her this instrument was finer than it looked.

Cousin Margaret’s voice, calling her name, fell muffled on her ears as her feet brought her closer yet. She’d expected leather, and certainly those powerful arms and strong legs would look great encased in lots of buttery black…or better yet, nothing at all.

He was intent on his music, gaze on his bass as his long, artistic fingers glided easily along the fingerboard. While the lead singer vacationed on an ego trip, and the lead guitar put so many riffs in inappropriate places he began to sound like aural tinsel, the bassist hung out in the back—controlling the pace and shape of the music. Steady. Sure. Never changing.

No, scratch that. He was, ever so slightly, pushing the beat, slowly increasing both tempo and volume, but almost unnoticeably. The audience would feel it as a rising temperature in the room, a quickening of heartbeats. Without fanfare, but as sure as the dawn, he brought both music and audience slowly and inevitably to their feet.

Shivawn stood there, swaying, letting his music stir her. She didn’t understand her reaction, as he seemed mostly ordinary. Yet his notes reverberated deep inside her, where nothing else could touch. Her heart. Her soul. His hands were as capable on the guitar as they’d be on a woman’s body. On her body.

Then he looked up.




His jet-black eyes burned with all the tightly leashed passion that he was pouring into his music.

Her breath left her. Her heart paused, on the brink of recognition.

His gaze focused entirely on her—and connected with her with an almost physical force.

Electricity surged through her, her whole body going haywire. Her heart beat a new, hummingbird’s rhythm.

She swallowed hard. Ordinary? He was in no way ordinary.

But more…here was the band that could beat them.

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Tuesday, February 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.

photo credit: Edgar Barany via photopin cc
It’s Gotta Have Heart--Favorite Things #3--originally posted January 27, 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 three.

My husband and I were having a discussion the other day about couples. We've gotten to the stage in our lives when we've rubbed a lot of the painful edges off each other--not quite to where we look alike but I can see the day looming coming.

You can find a recap of the couples discussion on my personal blog, but the point I'm exploring today is a bit different.

Couples in books.

photo credit: cdrummbks
photopin cc
Growing up I read a lot of science fiction (Isaac Asimov, the Danny Dunn series (which just came out on Kindle in November!!)), fantasy (C.S. Lewis, Five Children and It), magical reality (Zilpha Keatley Snyder, the Freddy the Pig series), historical fiction, and mysteries (Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe).

About my late teens I found the romance section. Remember your first introduction to romance? Me, it was a Harlequin I can't find again (darn it!), Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Johanna Lindsey.

I was hooked. I thought I'd be reading only romance for the rest of my life...

Well, no. Eventually I found traditional romance didn't give me all the things I looked for in reading. Action, adventure, mystery, wonder...these things are subgenres now but then I had to widen my search.

photo credit:BGSU University Libraries
photopin cc
Who did I find? Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum, mystery/humor). Jim Butcher (Dresden Files, SF/fantasy). Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody, mystery). Just recently I started on James Rollins (Map of Bones, Sigma Force series--thriller?), and I'm enjoying the stories immensely, but I'm not totally convinced I'll read the whole series.


Because strangely, the rest all have romance somewhere in their makeup. HFN or HEA; it may not be more than a small part of the story, but there's attraction somewhere in there that has the potential for committed love and is not just James Bond hitting on the Girl of the Week. (Revolving-door romance does not qualify for me. I'm not sure Rollins will give me that. I'm not sure he'll give his heroes their one-and-only, or if he'll give them a revolving door.)

Point being, when I looked at the books I read, I discovered that small or large, I need romance!

What about you? What was your stepping stone into Romance? Does a story have to have romance for you to read it?