Tuesday, October 15, 2019

3T Writing Tidbit

Social media for authors--gift or curse? Dave from Kindlepreneur dissects various social media for you in The Ultimate Guide to Social Media. The summary is also really useful for those of us who tend to want to conquer everything.

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 8, 2019

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.

A Brief Musical Interlude--originally posted March 2, 2016.

Next month is April Fools, with Roxy Mews, S.L. Carpenter, newcomer Kayleigh Malcolm and me up to our usual April 1 hijinks. I'll have more on my offering, Cin Wikkid (including a great blog tour giveaway), later this month.

But for now, I thought you might enjoy a bit of fun with music.

(Warning: the following links are to audio files.)

I'm also a flute player, trained classical. Anybody remember the Masterpiece Theater theme? http://www.flautstreicher.com/music/01%20rondeau.mp3

How about this? (hint, it's not really about putting risqué underwear in the dryer): http://www.flautstreicher.com/music/06%20aironagstring.mp3

This is my hubby's favorite (tongue firmly in cheek. He'll sometimes start this in the wrong key just to watch my face when I come in and sound out of tune like pickles on pizza): http://www.flautstreicher.com/music/13%20pachelbel.mp3

And of course, no interlude would be complete without this: http://www.flautstreicher.com/music/23%20chickendance.mp3

What's your favorite music?

More on April Fools For Love here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

3T Writing Tidbit

Brand. What's your brand? Be on-brand.Stay true to your brand.

But what is brand?

Basically, it's tags that identify the person behind the work being branded. These days, you have to brand everything from your particular art style to what kind of employee you represent to a potential employer.

My biggest challenge, writing romantic comedy/paranormal romance/urban fantasy/hard science fiction/steamy romance was finding my brand. Because it's all over the board, isn't it?

Isn't it?

Maybe not so much.

I may have already shared this but it bears a reshare. Find your brand's voice with this fun exercise.

I started Diana's first step, crossing out those adjectives that don't apply to my stories. Whew! Identifying what I'm not is a whole lot easier than figuring out what I am. I'm still not completely done. But some of the remaining adjectives that stand out are...

Wild. Witty. Unique. Upbeat. Fierce. Exciting.

If you're struggling with your author brand, I suggest you give this technique a try.

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 10, 2019

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.

Engaging Readers--originally posted February 3, 2016.

Authors are told to read, read, read. I have to admit, between my own writing, studying how to write better, practicing flute, doing bills, keeping up with the house (well, not keeping up, more like running madly behind, trying to get within spitting distance...but at least my sink is clean :) ), making dinner, shopping, laundry...um, etc (substitute for me getting whiny, lol)--ANNNYWAY, I don't get to read for pleasure very often.

Always hopeful I might find a few minutes to enjoy a book, when I visit my library, I browse the New Release shelves. Last month, I found a book by an author I'd read a long time ago (but stopped reading), and picked it up. When I was sick the next day, I actually found time to read it.

It was SERIOUSLY good.

Hey, it might have been the fever. But I started another by the same author and it was also seriously good.

So, you probably have two questions. What's the book, and why did reader-me lose track of the series (and what's different about it now)?

The author is Lindsey Davis and the original series was Marcus Didius Falco, a private informer (i.e. detective) in Rome during the first century AD.

The new book is Deadly Election: A Flavia Albia Mystery (blurb at the end), continuing the Falco series with his daughter Flavia Albia.

Why did I enjoy the Falco series originally?
  • Well written.
  • I like stories that I can painlessly learn something (through the action). These stories are well researched, yet her research was represented in vivid interaction with the time and place, not dry facts.
  • A love interest who does NOT get tossed to the side or murdered (this is a pet peeve).
  • I like mysteries.
  • Good editing (bad editing is also a pet peeve).
  • Character was mostly driven by intelligent choices in difficult circumstances rather than making bad decisions to further the plot (aka not too stupid to live, another pet peeve).

Why did I lose track of the series?

I think it's because Falco was, in a way, too well written. He's a guy, and to me, he came across as a guy. Even though there's a love interest, she's left in the background a lot. And he still ogles and stuff. And does some guy stuff that is mildly interesting but not completely relatable to me (I do enjoy some traditionally guy stuff, like sword and armor making).

(Please note, this is from my memory of the books. I may be misremembering, but since I'll be rereading some of the earlier ones now, I'll update if I get more info.)

So what's different about this book?

The new series is about Falco's daughter, a widow living on her own, already meaty enough. But more, she's an adopted Briton with no known past, so she's a mystery and a bit of outsider even though she's totally accepted by her adoptive family. Her family has money, but she doesn't, except what she earns. She's capable and smart and kind but strong. She's a woman so she notices stuff like jewelry and makeup and how a home is put together and gives observations on women's roles in society from a woman's point of view, stuff I find I'm more interested in than the guy stuff.

And, good heavens, Flavia Albia's observations are witty. Love 'em!

The Falco series was good but I didn't identify strongly enough with the main character and the middle action wasn't quite compelling enough (for me). As an author I'd like to think readers will cut me some slack, but as a reader I know there are too many books out there that satisfy two or three out of the following four factors.

Bottom line: as many as possible of THESE FACTORS need to be met for me to engage as a reader: a STORY I want to read; a CHARACTER I can relate to (doesn't have to be the main character, but does need to be in enough of the story action that I don't put the book down); few-to-no PET PEEVES knocking me out of the story; ENGAGING ACTION (that is, character doing stuff that I care about).

We use the tag words genre, character, good writing, and plot for the four things above. I think to some extent those words have been leached of meaning and hope the ones I've used make more vivid pictures in your mind.

Notice how many of these things are dependent on the reader? We like to think, as authors, we're in a lonely profession. But the truth of the matter is all art is collaborative, and stories rely on what the reader brings to the table as much as any stage production's success depends on audience mood.

What about you? What makes you lose track of a series? What makes a series a keeper?

Deadly Election: A Flavia Albia Mystery

In the first century A.D., during Domitian's reign, Flavia Albia is ready for a short break from her family. So despite the oppressive July heat, she returns to Rome, leaving them at their place on the coast. Albia, daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, the famed private informer (now retired), has taken up her father's former profession, and it's time to get back to work. The first order of business, however, is the corpse that was found in a chest sent as part of a large lot to be sold by the Falco family auction house. As the senior family representative in Rome, it falls upon Albia to identify the corpse, find out why he was killed, who killed him, and, most important, how did it end up in the chest.

At the same time, her potential young man, Faustus, comes looking for help with his friend Sextus's political campaign. Between the auction business and Roman politics, it's not quite clear which one is the more underhanded and duplicitous. Both, however, are tied together by the mysterious body in the chest, and if Albia isn't able to solve that mystery, it won't be the only body to drop.

Kindle | Nook | Kindle UK | Also available in hardcover and paperback (and audio at Amazon.com)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

September 1T Status Update

School has started again! I'm eking out what writing time I can from lambda expressions and distributed Java. It isn't much, but I did get this status update put together :)

September news:

  • Big sale coming just in time for Halloween! Mark your calendar October 28-November 4. More information next month.
  • Hear the author play piccolo! 2019 American Legion band contest.
  • Night's Kiss edits turned in! Cover request sheet filled out and turned in. Hopefully we'll see something online by October.
  • Night's Bliss proposal package just about ready! My beta reader needs to look at the first three chapters and then I need to do a final pass over the whole thing. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

3T Writing Tidbit-The ONE WAY to write

The Writer's Journey, On Writing, The Elements of Style, Writing the Breakout Novel, Save the Cat, Swing the Bear...

Do you get confused reading all those titles promising you THE ONE AND ONLY WAY to craft a story that sells/wins awards/wins readers? Have you despaired figuring out the ONE WAY to write?

There is a refreshing post on story structure I wish I'd read before I started writing. The idea that one size does NOT fit all is life affirming (or at least writer-life affirming). The reasons why you want to do the One Way anyway are sound. The sarcasm is a bonus.

Here's the Three Act structure, explained by William P. Coleman in a way that works. Bonus, it uses Star Wars: A New Hope to explain.

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 13, 2019

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: FOR HUMANS ONLY via photopin (license)
More-than-Human Characters and Why I Love Them--Guest Author Roxy Mews--originally posted January 21, 2016.

Roxy has a great flow to her writing that I wish I could do. She makes even the most fantastic situations feel absolutely concrete through her natural, up-to-the-millisecond style. Today she's sharing a bit of how she makes that happen. Please welcome my friend Roxy Mews!
In fiction we play with extreme situations, because really, no one wants to read about the big strong hero folding laundry. (Although I would definitely pay to see that in real life.) And in playing with these extreme situations we want to have our characters react in fantastical ways.

In certain genres we have even more room to play. If we are writing about a vampire, we can show how he feels by the way he moves or the way his body reacts to another person. When my hero, Jake Meyers, is in deep thought his body ceases all movement, including breathing and blood flow.

My heroine in Coral-600, uses CPU’s to transmit reports to the lab she was created in, and certain bodily reactions cause very interesting data to be transmitted. This allowed me to give specific data to those in charge of her to prove her humanity in quantifiable ways.

And if we want something to happen for a story line, even if it’s not “believable” we can alter the world we are building to make it believable. We still have to follow lines of continuity and we still have to follow the rules we have laid out for our universe, but it’s our world to play with when we’re writing in Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, or SciFi.

Characters don’t always act the way I want them to. And there have been some instances where I have had to go back to the beginning of a manuscript and change major parts of the world, because the character I want wouldn’t exist otherwise.

When that happens I am usually in a corner rocking and hoping the editing fairy will visit me and fix the mess I wrote myself into. Turns out the editing fairy doesn’t exist and after a substantial glass of wine I get myself under control and fix it my darn self.

My books revolve around my characters, and creating worlds in which I can give them their happily ever afters. So when my character needs to be able to use mind control, I have to make him a vampire capable of compulsion. When my character needs to have the ability to smell someone from across the street, I make him a werewolf with heightened senses.

So far I’ve played with Vampires, Werewolves, Hybrids, Witches, and Robots. They all have had different stories to tell, but it was a blast letting them show me their worlds. I can’t wait to see where my characters take me next.

What is your favorite paranormal character to read or write about?

Roxy's latest in The DMA Files series, Interlocking Hearts, is available now!

AmazonBarnes and Noble iBooksGoogle Play | Samhain Publishing StoreKOBO

InterlockingHearts72lg (1)A human, an almost-human, and a more-than-human walk into a palace…

The DMA Files, Book 2

After her husband threw her out, Paisley Compton drew her sexuality around her like a shield. She finds solid ground as a palace maid until, during a formal dinner service, she trips onto the lap of a man who takes her breath away.

Ben has always known Jon is far more than property, and he jumps at the chance to get the android his certificate of humanity. Paisley—whose abilities far exceed her job title—is a welcome distraction from the bureaucracy.

Used and abused by his former owners, Jon trusts no one—particularly the smartass woman who’s caught Ben’s eye. He might not be certified human yet, but he has all the right parts to get to the bottom of this sexy mystery wrapped in a maid’s uniform.

Their attraction sparks unexpected new conduits among them, but when they realize Jon’s certificate comes with a terrible price, they must risk everything to foil an Anti-Mech plot—and hope they survive to lose themselves in each other’s arms.

Product Warnings

Overheating is likely. The mechanics in these pages require ample lubrication to perform at optimum levels. When possible, multiple system operators are recommended.

Roxy wrote her first story at age six on an electric typewriter. It was about a cat and a haunted house. Thankfully, her stories and technology have matured since then. Now Roxy spends her days fighting the evil day job in hopes of conquering the stories that run rampant in her head when she comes home at night. When she discovered Erotic Romance, Roxy fell in love. She can’t wait to share all her fun and sexy stories with everyone. To connect with Roxy Mews find her babbling on Twitter, friend her on Facebook, visit her Blog, or find all these links on RoxyRocksMe.com

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

1T Status Update-August

Three months to go! Night's Kiss is in edits this month, and I've got the first draft of the proposal package done for Night's Bliss, Elias's story. I'm seriously excited to finally bring this all together and get it in your hands!

This month:
  • Atlanta's Angel (Vampire Vignettes) releases
  • Reread of Assassin's Bite (Biting Love) Even the shadows fear him—how can any woman love him?
  • Classes start again (4 this semester, see you on the other side!)

Atlanta's Angel (Vampire Vignettes)

I’m Detective Leah Mackenzie, a human with the Atlanta PD. My partner and I are investigating the graveyard homicide of a young woman when arrogant master of the city Michael Obsidian stalks onto the scene.

Obsidian declares my case vampire business. Human hands off.

Tightly furious, I follow him to his lair to convince him he’s wrong. Yeah, I confront the strongest freaking vampire in the state, so what? My heart’s pounding in fear, too—bloodsuckers, even the lawful ones, are predators governed by deadly instincts born at the dawn of time. But Mom always said to do what was right, even if I had to go it alone. I need to get justice for the victim.

Then I get a lead on the killer that takes me straight into wild vampire territory, and going it alone threatens to turn me into the next homicide.

Special note to Biting Love fans—This isn't the Biting Love Universe. This is a short, first-meet story in a post-Unmasking universe. While there's sensual tension, it's meant for general audiences. There are vampires and snark, though. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Vampire Vignettes. Short. Scintillating. First, exciting meets between an apex master vampire and the human woman who lights his life for the first time in centuries. Each story features a vampire master of the city and the woman who charms (or fights or snarks) her way into his life.

Universal link to see more here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

4T Olio

More goodies from Imgur.

Enjoying beach life
and cats...
There are three states of matter : gases, liquids and solids. In many cases, the same element can exist in all three states.
And something completely different.I saw the bottle cap challenge the other day and couldn't believe it. But here's proof...

An extra kick.
...and more proof...
Roundhouse drinks on her!
Since we seem to be on a martial arts theme...
When the training vids are as fun to watch as the movie

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

3T Writing Tidbit

 How to write a character that will make your editor cheer! I shared this last year, but it bears repeating.

Direct from the awesome editor of New York Times and USA Today bestselling books. Stacy Dawn tackles the mystery of deep point of view in a reveal-all that's a must-read. Check it out 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, July 9, 2019

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: Happy New Year !!! via Photopin License
Sampling the New Year--originally posted January 6, 2016.

Happy New Year! We have a rule around our house, one we started when it took us three years to get our home decluttered enough to put it on the market. If something comes in, something else has to go out.

That's one of the best things about the start of a new year, in my opinion, the idea of going through the portal--starting afresh, sloughing off the old to prepare for the new.

But sometimes the old thing is perfectly good. All it needs is a fresh coat of paint or a little oil. In that case, I'm not afraid of a little spit and polish.

But what if we could have the best of both worlds? How about something good with a bit of new shine PLUS added new goodies? PLUS all of it for only 71 cents?

It's always sexy when he runs the company . . . but she commands his heart. These 10 couples know exactly what suits them and where to draw the line between business and pleasure. Find out who's boss on these perfect lunchtime breaks!

My fun novella Edie and the CEO, about a hippie-raised workers' rights manager squared off against a pinstripe-suited CEO (who get stranded together in a Rocky Mountain cabin) is part of the new box set He's the Boss. Available now! 99 pennies. Get yours today!

Amazon | BN | iTunes | Google | Amazon UK

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

1T Status Update - July

Four months to go! Night's Kiss is going to be in edits this month, perfect timing as I'm also beginning the proposal for Night's Bliss, Elias's story. I can't wait to finally bring this all together and get it in your hands!

This month:
  • Chicago's Chosen: Vampire Vignettes ready to go
  • Detect This: Vampire Vignettes (working title) first draft done, along with two edits. Title coming soon
  • New cover for Falling on for the Billionaire
  • Cover reveals below!


Vampire Vignettes

Vignette: a short, delicately memorable scene.

Short. Scintillating. First, exciting meets between an apex master vampire and the human woman who lights his life for the first time in centuries. Each story features a vampire master of the city and the woman who charms (or fights or snarks) her way into his life.

Chicago's Chosen

New to Chicago and tottering on the brink of bankruptcy, human Adele wants a job with Knight Industries, owned by rich vampire and city master Damien Knight. So when a not-quite-aboveboard invite for a party at Knight’s place comes from her best friend, she jumps on it.

But a dark, mysterious vampire at the party catches her in a fib. He’s about to throw her out when she brazenly asks for a tour of Knight’s business first. To her surprise, he agrees and takes her away from the noise of the party. On the plus side, she’ll get to see Knight Industries and maybe learn enough to get her coveted job. On the minus, she’s all alone with a dangerous predator, and he’s looking intently at her neck…

And what’s she going to do when she finds out who her tour guide really is?

MJ Chase: Pen name for more moderate language and slow, simmering buildup.

Falling (on) ^for the Billionaire
A sexy romantic comedy

Can tripping over your own feet lead to falling in love?

He’s a billionaire media superstar hungering for more than meaningless celebrity dates. She’s a junior college teacher who loves him from afar—until she’s roped into playing wingman for her international-model sister, who's trying to win him back.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

3T Writing Tidbit -- why romance don't get no respect

I write romance and humor because I love both happy endings and a good laugh.

But from movies to television to books, stories with comedy and happily-ever-afters get lower rankings, ratings, and are less esteemed compared to dramas of the same caliber.

As Rodney Dangerfield says, "I don't get no respect."

But why? That's one of the things I never understood. For years I beat my head against this one seemingly universal truth.

Dramas are more significant.

Then, many years ago when I was reading Hero with a Thousand Faces, I got a glimpse why. And also an understanding that drama's crown as highest art form was not always the case.

Modern literature, you see, is a courageous facing of the sickeningly broken life within and around us. It's heroic to face those disheartening facts, not with complaint (or sarcasm), but by turning it into art. A happily-ever-after is less courageous. Worse, it's not true and can't be taken seriously.

Thing is, HEAs in the ancient world were high art. Why? Because stories with a happily-ever-after represented the transcendence of the tragedy of man.

Take that, drama. :)

May you continue to laugh in the face of drama and may all your HEAs be transcendent.

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, June 11, 2019

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: 035/365: Valentine's Day
 via photopin (license)
The Story I Thought I'd Never Write--originally posted December 9, 2015.

Passion Bites released yesterday, and I couldn't be more thrilled to share Luke & Alexis's heartfelt story with you.

I have to admit, I wasn't sure if Luke's story would ever be written. I usually write first loves-- because I'm deeply committed to grand passion, to love that lasts an eternity. Luke, as Biting Love series readers know, has lost his wife. How did I deal with that, help him heal emotionally?

Strangely, it was a woman whose own emotions are clogged who finally emerged from the pages as Luke's savior. But just because Dr. Alexis Byornsson's emotionally frozen doesn't mean she doesn't have feelings, quite the opposite! ...although she does her darndest to deny them.

Bringing these two together was the hardest and yet most beautiful and fruitful thing I've ever attempted. The finished story still brings heartbreak and finally tears of joy to my eyes. And of course the usual Meiers Corners laughs and cold-drinks sex too.

Have I succeeded? Please read Passion Bites for yourself and let me know.

First there was Logan's story in Biting Me Softly, then Synnove's in Beauty Bites. Now meet his brother Luke and her sister Alexis as they struggle to find their way in Biting Love book 9 Passion Bites.  

A broken vampire and a driven doctor, seized by a passion neither can afford.

Dr. Alexis Byornsson has her hands full in the ER when her patient’s uncle blows into the exam room. Stitching up a five-year-old’s cut is hard enough without a blond god distracting her all to hell.

To say she’s furious is putting it mildly—not that anyone would notice. Not with the legendary control that’s earned her the nickname “Dr. Frozen”.

Luke Steel never knew a woman chastising him could be so sexy. But for the first time in three hundred years, passion stirs in his gut—along with panic. Since his wife was taken before his eyes in a brutal attack, he’s sworn he’d never feel that powerless again.

Almost before either Luke or Alexis realize what’s happening, they’re sharing a blazing kiss that shatters her logical armor and unleashes his wholly unwanted mating instinct. And spurs a closer-than-skin enemy to put into motion a devastating plan for revenge.

Warning: This book contains a hot doctor and a hotter vampire messing up sterile surfaces. The usual rogue shenanigans, but this time covering deeper motives. Hang on to your stethoscopes at what’s revealed!

Kindle | Nook | Samhain | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play | UK Amazon

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

June 1T Status Update

Setting programming aside for a few weeks in favor of catching up on some writing.
  • Hot Chips and Sand is 99 cents this week only!
  • Next round of edits for Night's Kiss coming this month
  • New Vampire Vignette started that's frankly a hoot to write
  • Chicago's Chosen cover should be finalized soon
  • One-credit eight week summer class
  • Band starts
  • Getting back to Soul Mates 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

3T Writing Tidbit

One of my gurus is Michael Hauge of Story Mastery. I get his emails, which I highly encourage authors to consider.

He's a big proponent of storytelling as a means to connect with consumers. Does it work? All I can say is that his story he told about his book Storytelling Made Easy made me rush out and plunk down the cash to buy it.

After reading his latest newsletter, here's something I came up with about how to frame a blurb.

Your story is an emotion-driven story about people.
Your blurb is an emotion-driven story about your story.

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, May 14, 2019

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.

Overcoming fear--Guest Cheryl Yeko, Author and Acquiring Editor--originally posted November 12, 2015.

Cheryl is a wonderful inspiration with a great sense of humor. I'm thrilled to have her as my guest today. Please welcome her to Magical Musings!

Hi, Mary. Thank you for inviting me to visit with you at Magical Musings. I thought it’d be fun to talk about my editor experiences with Soul Mate Publishing, and how it led me to join Toastmasters to overcome my fear of public speaking.

I signed my debut novel with Soul Mate, Protecting Rose, in 2011 and it went on to win the 2012 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence in Romantic Suspense.

Shortly after, Debby Gilbert, Senior Editor and founding member of Soul Mate, approached me and asked me to come onboard as an editor, which I agreed to. I started out as a copyeditor, but moved quickly to an acquiring editor.

Today, I’m a senior acquiring editor, and still occasionally take on a copyedit here and there, depending on my workload. I also have my hands in the administration side of Soul Mate, including Newsletter creation and Cover Art Coordinator. It all keeps me very busy!

I love what I do!

As an acquiring editor, I have attended conferences and taken pitches. Although I was at first very nervous, it became easier and I signed some really good authors from these pitch sessions. Here’s a photo of me at my first editor panel. I was so not prepared for this, and had no idea I was even on the editor panel until I walked into the room. Let’s just say I was scared shitless. But everyone told me I did okay. LOL. I’m taking them at their word.  {Mary says: She did great!}

I also routinely conduct pitch sessions on blogs and at Savvy Authors online pitching. Recently, Debby asked me and Senior Editor Char Chaffin to attend RT, to not only take pitches, but also hold a Soul Mate Spotlight. I decided it was time to perfect my public speaking skills (or lack thereof) and overcome my stage fright. So, I joined up. My first six months I just sorta sat there, too nervous to do any speeches. But I was learning nevertheless just listening to the wonderful speakers.

I felt totally out of my element in this setting with these highly trained business professionals who were looking to become more proficient in their careers. Before I quit my job to write and work full time with Soul Mate Publishing, I was a legal assistant. A great job, yes, but it required no public speaking. So, this was quite a change for me.

After a good, long while, my fellow members began to gently nudge me to step forward and take a chance. Although I’d completed some member rolls, such as vote counter or word master, small things that didn’t require me to stand in front of the group and talk, I hadn’t done any speaking per se. Unless you counted Table Topics. That’s where they ask you to stand, giving you a question you’re supposed to answer in a story format, lasting between 2-3 minutes. Well, let’s just say I did not excel in this role. LOL. I hated it, and was always nervous.

I continued to attend the meetings, determined to succeed. I even managed to walk away with the best Table Topics ribbon once. But, of course, the question was, “You’ve been given an award. Roleplay your acceptance speech for this award.”

This was easy. I just pretended I’d won the RITA. It was great!

After about eight months of sitting on the sidelines, learning, I finally gave my Ice Breaker Speech and walked away with my first Best Speaker Ribbon. I was super thrilled. It took a while before I worked up the courage to do another speech. But right before I went to the Romantic Times convention, I practiced the Soul Mate Spotlight presentation on them, with PowerPoint visuals, and it went very well. I received a lot of great feedback that helped me perfect the presentation for RT.

Then, just last month, I gave two more speeches, and again walked away with a Best Speaker Ribbon on one of them. Seems everyone loved my speech on Sentence Structure and Punctuation. Who knew English grammar could be so entertaining!

I’m feeling more comfortable now, and have actually begun to look forward to attending the meetings, instead of dreading it. Now it’s just a matter of finding the time to prepare the speeches. Oh, yeah, I forgot. Since I’m a writer they asked me to write the introduction for their website, and somehow that escalated, and now I’m Vice President of Public Relations for my club. They recently approached me and asked if I was interested in considering this position on a national level...I’m thinking about it.

So, I’ve gone from knee-knocking afraid of public speaking, to taking Best Speaker awards, and holding a leadership role with the club. How’d that happen? Crazy! But, I’m having fun...and isn’t that what life is really about.

When I’m not working for Soul Mate, I’m writing. I have two new releases coming up. A steamy short story, Christmas Eve Surprise, is due for release in November, along with seven other stories from outstanding Soul Mate authors titled, Sizzle In The Snow.

I created a fun little book trailer for this anthology and would love to share it with you.

I just completed my ninth novel, Between Midnight and Dawn, and it’s due for release in early 2016. So look for it! 

Where Love Always Wins: http://www.cherylyeko.com/ Soul Mate Publishing
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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

May 1T Status Update

This May brings the last few weeks of classes and final projects. After I'm done with the semester, it'll be summer!

Ah summer. When we can finally relax. I plan to hit the Vampire Vignettes, Soul Mates, and scope out the final Ancients book. Plus a few other summer projects. And yardwork. And American Legion Band. Oh, and one one-credit class... (so much for relaxing, lol).

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

3T Writing Tidbit

Show, don't tell. Sick of it yet?

I just have a little real-life illustration I thought I'd share.

Yesterday as I write this, a guy from our neighborhood knocked at our door. My husband answered.

"Hi," the guy said. "I'm a member of Your Local Church. Great news. We just opened a daycare and preschool! We take children from three months old to 3K, and--"

"I'm going to interrupt you right there," my husband said. "You see that big car in the driveway?"

"Y-es?" said the guy.

"That belongs to my younger son."

A beat. "Oh. Have a nice day!" The guy left.

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, April 9, 2019

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: victory shake via photopin (license)
What's your major? And other first-meet questions--originally posted October 14, 2015.

Ask any author what the hardest thing is about the business of telling and selling stories. They'll tell you...


All right, maybe not all authors. Maybe it's 4 out of 5 dentists and the gum they like.... But for me, talking about myself is as much fun as getting a root canal with a pile driver.

I'd rather hear about you than talk about me.

Probably odd, given that half the authoring job is getting the news out about my stories. But it is handy when it comes to developing characters.

Remember the questions we used to ask when meeting new people at school? What's your major, how's so-and-so for econ? Starting my career I learned to substitute "Where do you work?" and "What do you do for a living?"

Then I cut back to consulting to be available for the kids. Now my go-to questions changed. I met more people working as full-time caregivers or homemakers. One of the best conversation starters I learned was from the son of our pastor--what do you do with your free time? That question led to a lot of fascinating stories and interests.

It's one of the reasons I enjoy Amy R's So Many Questions posts so much. I get to meet all sorts of new people.

I think that's actually the reason I'm an author. I'm always interested in other people, and I love the stories they tell.

What are your go-to questions meeting a new person? What do you do with your free time?

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

April 1T Status Update

Happy April! A lot going on this month (but frankly, when isn't there? lol).

Night's Kiss is coming! #4 Biting Me Softly (hot!) Golden, deadly vampire meets a St.-Pauli-Girl-Next-Door. Books to Read universal link | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA 
  • Night's Kiss second round edits turned in!
  • First draft of Chicago's Chosen is done.
  • Cover requirements for April Fools For Love 2020 happens this month.
  • Orchestra started again, concert in May.
  • Big presentation for Systems Analysis today (plus a test plus a requirements document due).

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

3T Writing Tidbit

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

Ignore your readers' expectations at your own peril.

As I write this,  I've just seen How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. I'm a big fan of the Netflix series How to Train Your Dragon: Race to the Edge, and was looking forward to the movie for several months.

The day before we went, I was baffled by the relatively low score on IMDb (and relatively high on Rotten Tomatoes).


If you haven't seen the movie How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and don't want any spoilers, don't read this post. I will discuss the ending.

If you don't know what the series is about, this is a DreamWorks animation series based on Cressida Cowell's children's books. There are three movies and a large number of shorter adventures that follow Viking chief's son Hiccup as he meets and befriends a dragon enemy. Hiccup starts as a young boy, but by The Hidden World he's a young adult and chief of his village, and all the Vikings there have befriended and work with dragons.

The basic plot is that Hiccup is looking for a way for humans and dragons to live together in peace. There are greedy human dragon-thieves and nefarious human dragon-hunters who keep trying to destroy Hiccup's dragon friend. There are further complications, but all you really need to know to understand my point is this:

  • Hiccup yearns to create a home for his people and their dragons.
  • And that's exactly what we want, too.

So when we get the more tragic (and adult) ending of Hiccup letting his dragons go instead, it's a resolution that's flat. Because Hiccup suffers, not to get his happy ending--he suffers to get nothing he wanted.

And by the sobbing of the little kids in our theater, his audience didn't get what they wanted, either.

Contrast other films. Once Dorothy suffers Oz, all she wants to do is go home--and she does. The Ghostbusters want to be taken seriously and to vanquish the ghosts--and they do. Luke wants to avenge his aunt and uncle, rescue the princess, and learn about the Force--and he does. Harry Potter wants to end the threat of Voldemort--and he does.

And these are all things we wanted, too. So when the protagonist accomplishes these things, it's satisfying.

Here's the big one. The Avengers are a bickering mess of would-be superheroes who need to give up their egos and learn to work together.
  • They don't want to be a team.
  • But we want them to be a team. (There's even an audience substitute, unabashed fanboy Agent Coulson.)
We're pulling for them to be a team, so when that epic moment comes and they circle back to back to back to fight together (can you hear that triumphant horn tune?) it's cathartic and jubilant and most of all deeply satisfying.

I understand now why the critics on Rotten Tomatoes love The Hidden World--and why the general public didn't. It's not satisfying. Not because it doesn't do things right, because it does. It does things wonderfully well--for an adult tragedy.

But the kids in the audience didn't go to see an adult tragedy. They went to see an uplifting kids' movie. The movie broke their hearts, and it broke mine a little, too, when what I went to the theater for was to be made whole.

Remember this when you write your next story. What are your readers expecting? If they're coming to you to be made whole, or even just to be entertained for a while, the best story in the world will fall flat if it doesn't fulfill their needs.

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

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

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: The Quest via photopin (license)
Readers--I need your help deciding something--originally posted September 16, 2015.

I've been re-reading one of my favorite mystery writers lately--Rex Stout. Stout began writing his 1/7 ton, orchid-loving gourmand genius detective Nero Wolfe in the thirties (just after the end of Prohibition, Wolfe's first recorded words are, "Where's the beer?"). But the stories are lively and readable for today's audiences, thanks to entertaining narrator Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's feet, eyes and ears on New York--and ours, too.

I admit that I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy reading Stout as much, since my author training means I see the puppet strings and the puppeteer behind the words.

photo credit: Puppet via photopin (license)
But no. I actually enjoy Archie and Nero more, because Stout's such a freaking great writer. There's an impact seeing a genius use the tools of writing that a teacher's telling (even with examples) doesn't have. Don't believe me? Think of any occupation where you've seen someone who blows you away. For me it's Brett Favre, whatever you might think about his career. I see anyone throw a football and it's caught and I think yay, amazing, because frankly I can't throw a ball a foot to a receiver dressed in two-sided tape. But Favre...when he threw the ball, the receiver didn't catch it so much as Favre seemed to place the ball directly into the receiver's hands. Artistry, poetry in motion.

Anyway, the point to all this is that Stout made me reconsider one aspect of writing that has plagued me my whole career. What makes something mysterious? Frankly, I always thought you had to write vague unsettling creepy stuff.

Here's what I now think is true, and this is what I need you to confirm or not: The way to be mysterious is to be crystal clear about your mystery.

Example: Which is more mysterious?
  • Jen thought she saw a shadowy figure in the dark bushes.
  • Jen saw the bushes stir. Not a cat-size stirring, but man-size.

Or this:
  • The victim wrote something in her own blood before dying.
  • The victim wrote "rache" in her own blood before dying.

So which is more mysterious to you? First or second point in each example? Please let me know!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

1T Status Update

The countdown continues! Only eight more months until Night's Kiss, second book in the Ancients trilogy and sixteenth book in the Biting Love Universe! Enter to win one of two copies of The Bite of Silence here.

Times Square. New Year’s Eve. This year, it’s a Countdown to Death.

Twyla Tafel has uncovered an insane plot to unleash vampires on the unsuspecting revelers. She’s armed only with her great admin skills, her useless art degree, and Nikos—a seriously hot vampire she’d love to paint as a Spartan king roaring his muscular challenge at the Persians.

This one's super-hot.  Adults only, please.

In other news:
  • Tentative release date for Night's Kiss is November 18, 2019!
  • I'm still anticipating Night's Kiss edits this month. They should hit just in time for spring break (no rest for the wicked--or authors, lol).
  • I've finished the first draft of the first novella in the NEW VAMPIRE filler project I mentioned last month. Super excited about these.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

3T Writing Tidbit

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

Show, don't tell.

Not always.

In Biting Nixie, I showed the love develop between opposites Nixie and Julian. But one of the first criticisms was... "They never said 'I love you.'"

??? I showed it, right? Wasn't that enough?

Nope. Some readers need the words. But beware! Some readers hate the words. They already got it from the context.

A series I love recently had one character go through a traumatic separation. It was beautifully shown as the character, numb, pushed away the pain and anything to do with the situation. Some readers found her wooden and uncaring instead. ??? For those readers, throw in a quick, "She was numb, unable to deal with the horror her life had become. So she didn't. One day she would, but that time wasn't now." And move on.

For big changes, especially those that are emotionally fraught, it's safest to explicitly acknowledge the emotion before moving on.

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, February 12, 2019

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.

The Weird Disorder--Guest Elle J Rossi--originally posted September 3, 2015.

Author, artist, singer, extraordinary friend. Please help me welcome Elle J Rossi!

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve heard that book people, in general, are weird. They talk about characters as if they’re real. They have book boyfriends. (I’ll admit to having three—okay, maybe five.) They debate book cover choices and cry over the end of a series. They believe in time travel and lore and second chances and happily ever afters. They plan their days around words.

If the people—book people—I’ve come to know over the last several years are considered weird, then I feel very fortunate to be amongst such an awesome crowd. Matter of fact, I wear the bookie label with pride. Someone get me a T-shirt!

Let’s take a few minutes to talk about one facet of the book world. Authors. Not only do authors have to have crazy levels of imaginations, they also need to have a head for business, a shiny personality that makes people want to interact with them, focus, determination, and above all, drive.

On any given day, an author can wake up and have no clue who they are. Will they be a young girl fighting her way through the streets of Chicago because her parents are too wrapped up in their own lives to care? Or, perhaps, a mother of three who’s put so much energy into her husband and children she’s forgotten who she is. Maybe she’s a badass huntress covered in demon guts or a thirsty vampire trying to control the urge. She is all these things and more. Becoming these characters is paramount to getting to the heart and soul of their story.

But wait! After the words (not to mention the blood, sweat and tears) are on the page, many deep breaths are taken and the gears are switched. Time to handle the business end—I won’t even get into the many details of that aspect. In between writing and business, maybe we take a few moments to peek in at the social media sites. Har-har. Peek? Yeah, right. We lurk, we scroll, we crack jokes, we interact. For many, this is our only interaction with people who don’t reside in our heads. Here, we can be whoever we want to be.

When I asked other authors if they ever feel like they have multiple personalities, I got a lot of awesome answers.

Kemberlee Shortland, author and CEO of Tirgearr Publishing, said, “I'm definitely a Sybil!! Three pen names plus my writer persona. Add to that my publisher persona, the 'me' who deals with authors, the 'me' who deals with frisky cover artists, the 'me' for business dealings, the 'me' when I'm promoting, the 'me' for family and the other 'me' for friends... I'm basically the one person and yet also a myriad of other people I drag out when situations arise.”

Author Peggy West said, “This morning I am a woman wearing a bathrobe, drinking a cup of coffee and wondering about the meaning of life yet am also a young woman in 1840 who takes a dangerous chance as she walks along the raging sea to the dark mansion where she will go through the hidden closet of a missing woman and will get stuck there. Writing day.”

Me? I am a reader, an author, a cover artist, a wife, a mother, a friend, and, depending on the day, Wonder Woman. These multiple personalities create the whole me. I’m weird. So what? I’d rather be weird than boring.

So, who are you today?

Check out the newest release in Elle's popular Josie Hawk Chronicles, Indigo Dawn.

IndigoDawnVampire Lust and Pixie Dust.

Josie Hawk is a Huntress. A killer devoted to protecting the humans of Nashville from the shadows that lurk in the night. But the shadows are gaining ground. When an infamous pixie tricks Josie into a drug-induced nightmare, Josie envisions the death of her vampire lover, Keller O'Leary. Was the vision a threat ... maybe even a promise? But from whom?

Desperate to track down the source of the toxic psychedelic pixie dust, Josie kicks and punches her way toward the truth. But her efforts backfire, provoking a deadly attack at Wolfie’s—the bar Josie co-owns with her sister-in-arms, Sage.

Tag. You’re it. Haunted by the threat to Keller, Josie scrambles to outwit her elusive opponent before the deadly game escalates and claims more lives. But in saving Nashville, will Josie lose those she loves? Or will she be too late to stop the deadly game of tag?

Amazon | BN | Kobo

Scarlet TearsAnd look for Scarlet Tears this fall!