Wednesday, February 29, 2012

a lovely review for KISSES ON HER CHRISTMAS LIST!

Thanks to Michelle for this!

Buy Now!

Since Rory Wallace’s wife left him on Christmas day, a couple years ago, for another man, he and his daughter, Finley, can’t stand anything to do with the holiday. With any luck this holiday season might be better since he is spending it in Pennsylvania looking over Raleigh’s department store with the hopes of buying it to add to his family business. What he doesn’t realize is that he might just get more in the bargain; a beautiful woman who is single and just a little bit sad on this holiday season.

Shannon Raleigh, a gorgeous divorcee’, is wishing her luck would change. She is hoping this Christmas will be a happy one. Her parents left for Florida after retiring from their business. Shannon took over her parent’s department store, but now she is saddled with selling it because her parents need the money to fund their retirement. In addition, she is single since her husband divorced her because she is unable to conceive due to female problems. What a rat! Her broken heart, coupled with the sadness over her parents moving to Florida, has left her empty inside. She hopes Christmas this year will be nice, even though she will be alone.
Father Christmas has dumped a surprise on Shannon’s doorstep a couple days before Christmas. Two feet of snow and two stranded people who need shelter for the night... or maybe longer, who knows? Shannon’s heart is startled and overjoyed at the same time. She wasn’t expecting Rory so soon. Maybe her luck is going to change after all!
KISSES ON HER CHRISTMAS LIST is a homespun tale of Christmas sweets and treats. A handsome man, Rory Wallace, offers to buy from Shannon her parent’s department store. Shannon is swept off her feet by Rory’s drop dead gorgeous looks. Kissing a man has never been so tempting from the moment Rory steps over the threshold of Shannon’s front door. She finds out that he and his daughter do not like Christmas. She is determined to infuse magic into the holiday to bring the love for the season back into their lives. The attraction between Shannon and Rory is instantaneous and crackles like a whip whenever they get close. Finley might be a diva when she first stays at Shannon’s house. However, it doesn’t take Shannon long to melt the little girl’s heart. The author, Susan Meier, does a divine job of portraying the magic of the holiday season and all of the fun and surprises that go along with it. This story is filled with love and lots of homespun charm. KISSES ON HER CHRISTMAS LIST is a story that will hug you and warm your heart.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Michele Rioli

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Has the Weeding Begun?

Last night I was in the mood to read a very specific kind of book. So I grabbed my Kindle and rooted through my "stack" but found nothing. I had lots of romance novels but none of the specific kind I was in the mood to read.

So I went to the kindle "bookstore" and began to browse through the top 100. Now, as most of you know, lots of Free and $.99 books are on that list, so I grabbed five. Spent about $2.00. Interestingly, I literally needed all 5 to find a book I wanted to read.

What caught my eye and made me shudder was that the story ideas were great, but execution...well, it left a lot to be desired. That sort of makes me sad.

Or maybe it just woke me up. I know the names of authors that I love in that genre. So instead of just generally searching, from here on out I'll probably look for my fave authors...and pay the extra few bucks to get books I know I'll enjoy.

I also know a lot of great authors offer their books for free or for $.99 for specified periods of time. I'll pay more attention when their offers come up.

Or pay the extra few bucks to get books I know I'll enjoy. LOL

When it became clear that anyone who wanted to publish could put his or her book up on Amazon, we all knew this day would come. We said, "How will we find the best books when there will be so many to choose from?"

Now we know. LOL!

Have a good Tuesday. I'm off to Chilli's!

PS If you're an author looking for this week writing post...scroll down. I just felt chatty today and wrote an extra blog.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Exercise your writing!

After last week's post about emotion, I thought we could do with something a little more simple this week. So how about an exercise?

In one of my workshops, I talk about rethinking your story idea.

When coming up with ideas, especially if we're thinking along the lines of a specific genre, publisher or line, we tend to think in terms of musts. What we must "have" in order to make this book work -- so that when we write our one-paragraph story summary, we end up with something we KNOW hits the marks of what the genre/line/publisher we're targeting is looking for.

But what if the sky was the limit? What if you wanted to shoot your idea over the moon? What if you wanted to write something that would catch everybody's attention...something memorable. Still within your genre/publisher/line's requirements...but... well, better.

Can you look at your one-paragraph story summary and there something I could add to this ... a goal, motivation, conflict ... or something...that could shoot this story over the moon?

In my summer release, NANNY FOR THE MILLIONAIRE'S TWINS, my heroine was 'just coming back to life' after five years of surgeries and therapies to repair the leg she shattered in a motorcycle accident. The book was okay...but I knew (and so did the editors) that there was something 'more' that could be done. Something that could take it from good to memorable.

I did lists of twenty out the ying yang until one day it dawned on me. My heroine wasn't driving the bike that wrecked. Her boyfriend was...No make that her fiance. And he fared worse than she did in the accident. He was still in a coma.

So I went from having a story about a nanny who was limped a bit and was backward/shy because of sort of being out of life for five years to a story about a woman struggling to get back into life who really can't because her fiance, the guy who sheilded her from the brunt of the accident, lay in a personal care facility. Not dead but not really alive either. While part of her longs to move on...the other part desperately hangs on.

Now that's a struggle. LOL. And that's an over the moon idea. That's taking a good book and making it memorable.

Can you do that with your story?

Just the exercise of trying will bring you a boatload of new ideas!

Because sometimes your BOOK doesn't have to change, but maybe some of your scenes do. Have you taken your people to the wall? Are you bringing up their greatest fears and forcing them to face them? Do they really grow in your story...or do they just defeat an enemy?

When a reader closes your book...will the story stay with them?

Give thinking about some of that a shot today!

Happy Monday!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Emotion...Not Just for Romance Novels

Last weekend, I read Annie Solomon’s TWO LETHEL LIES. It is a romantic suspense, but the way the hero feels about the child in his custody, his feelings about his brother, his feelings about his cold, shallow mother and his feelings about life – are every bit as important to that book as his feelings about Neesy, the heroine, and the suspense that keeps him on the run.

His emotions escalate as he goes from a man happy to be unknown, to keep his distance with people and never stay too long anywhere (because he’s wanted for murder) to being a man who finally slows down long enough to realize what he’s given up and to want more…as he questions his past and life in general.

What engrosses readers in this novel of suspense isn’t just the “what the hell is going on and are these characters all going to survive" element. We care about whether or not the hero survives because we care about him…because as he reveals himself through his reactions/emotions we know he’s a good guy who didn’t want this mess. It was thrust upon him, but he did the right thing and stepped up to protect the child in his custody.

(By the wasn't easy to tell you all that without revealing so much of the story that I spoiled it for you! LOL Go buy it. Read it. Especially if you're writing suspense.)

It doesn't matter what genre you're writing. We need to care about your protagonists.  Readers don't care about characters because they are rich or handsome or even followed by trouble. They care about characters who have a heart and soul. Mitch, the hero from TWO LETHAL LIES, opens the book by rescuing a pre-teen who jumps off a bridge. He doesn't want to call attention to himself. He knows the rescue could mean discovery. Though we don't yet know what he's running from, we know he risks himself to save this girl attempting suicide because she is little more than a child.

He gets our emotional attention immiedately. We know this is a hero. A real hero. Not just a good looking guy, who commands attention whenever he walks into a room. Or a man with a history or reputation for doing good things. On page one, Mitch does something good.

Annie Solomon doesn't tell us Mitch "is a good guy." She shows us.

She also doesn't tell us he's in trouble. She demonstrates his trepidation by his reaction to the praise that follows the rescue.

She doesn't tell us he loves Julia, the little girl he's traveling with. She shows us when Julia begs Mitch to stay in the cottage offered by the family of the rescued girl, and he -- though it's against his better judgment -- agrees because he knows Julia doesn't ask much, hasn't ever asked much, though their life of running is hard.

In a couple of pages Annie Solomon has us firmly on Mitch's side because of emotion.

The really great writers among us know that the best way to capture a reader's interest and heart is to give us a hero to root for. Give him a real problem. Show us he's honest, generous, kind, brave, courageous, strong, a person of conviction, and the journey he goes through will have more meaning, more power.

Because that's what you want. Power. For a story to be great it must be interesting, credible, consistent and compelling. A situation can be compelling, but a compelling character will draw us in every time. And a compelling character is what gives a story power.

So create characters with real emotions. Emotions that demonstrate who they are, what they want, why they want it...and readers will follow your story anywhere!

Happy Monday


Monday, February 13, 2012

Deciding What to Write

Very few of us have difficulty deciding what genre to write or even what book to write. Most of us have book ideas running around like mice on a barn floor through our brains. But lots of us wake up on Monday morning, or sit down at our computer after a long day's work, and wonder what the heck should come next in our books.

Personally, I'm turning into a plotter. I used to be a pantser. Then I sort of loosely plotted my pantsing. Now, after writing my last three books using a detailed outline, I'm sort of in love with always knowing what comes next!

But if you're not a plotter and don't have a lovely outline sitting beside your computer telling you the next step your characters should do you know what comes next?

Well, you can use the action/reaction/decision formula. If the last scene you wrote was an "action" (there's a fire in the barn) then the next scene you should write is a reaction/consequence scene. (The horses die.) If the last scene you wrote was a consequence scene (the horses die), then your next scene should be a decision scene. (The hero decides he's had enough.) And if the last scene was a decision...(hero decides he's had enough) then the next scene should be an action...He leaves town.

There's a fire in the barn. (Action)
The horses die. (Consequence/reaction)
The hero decides he's had enough. (Decision)
He leaves town. (Action)

If you're not that much of a diehard on action/reaction/decision. You could do the old could/might/must and should list.

What could happen here?
What might happen?
What HAS TO HAPPEN (must) to make the plot work?
What should happen? (As in ... Is it time for a little romance? A kiss? Some suspense? Or the external conflict to get a little page time?)

Doodle. Play a bit. Read the last thing you wrote and ask yourself what could happen, what might happen, what has to happen, what should happen?

If that doesn't work, do a list of 20. What are 20 fun things that could happen right now? What are 20 romantic things that could happen right now? What are 20 suspenseful things that could happen right now?

Let your brain run free. And don't stop at what looks like a good answer. Force yourself to go to 20 and see if you don't come up with something wonderful...something that might take the book to a whole new level.

And remember my mantra...enjoy the process! If it isn't fun...why are you doing this? It is work, and craft is serious business. But you can still have fun!

Happy Monday


Monday, February 6, 2012

Dear Writers Step away from the keyboard

I teach an entire workshop on revising, CAN THIS MANUSCRIPT BE SAVED.

You would think that would SAVE ME from over-writing, over-editing, over-tweaking...but last Saturday, once I had all the "tweaks" my editor wanted clear in my head...I still went overboard. When I realized some insane writer had taken over my normally calm and conservative brain, I yanked my fingers off the keyboard and stepped away from the computer.

Why do normally efficient writers do crazy things?

Who knows. LOL But I can tell you why I'd crossed over into the dark side.

1.  I wanted to get it done too quickly. I just really wanted this done, so I dove into the book and started changing things -- which means --

2. I broke my number 1 rule: Read the entire manuscript before you change anything.

When you make changes before you read your manuscript the potential exists that the fixes you make could really and truly mess up something that comes later in the story.

You can also go overboard with a change. At one point on Saturday, I added a little scene my editor wanted to see toward the end of the book and in my punch-drunk enthusiasm I thought, Wow, this means I can totally change the ending to...

And that's when I stopped. Why? Because I didn't need a new ending! I needed a tweak before the ending.

So I stepped away. And even took Sunday off to clear my head. Because I'd literally gone through most of the book on Saturday...reading as I was wildly changing...I now knew the book again and knew what changes needed to be made and I took out most of the things I'd done on Saturday. And got myself back on track. I made the tweaks in three days and the book went in on Thursday.

I don't merely tell you this to show you that even after many, many books you can still go crazy. (Though you should see that lesson!) I tell you this to demonstrate that you really, really, really need to read your entire book through when you get editor changes.

Yes, you can mark spots with postit notes as you're reading.
Yes, you can mark places on your hard copy where grammar and sentence structure need to be fixed...or maybe a typo.

But really, you don't want to be making changes until you've read that whole book through! Not just because the changes you make can really screw things up...but also because once you read the whole book through with the editor's comments in mind, you can come up with the BEST answers/fixes for your story.

In the end, that's your real goal. Not just to fix the turkey, but to turn it into a swan or an eagle or whatever kind of bird you really like. :P

Happy Monday!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

March Online Workshop Info

Registrations for "Can this Manuscript be Saved" online workshop are now open. Here's the link -

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dear Readers -- Tuesday Afternoon Movie

Today I'm going to talk a bit about going to the movies...if you're a writer looking for the post on conflicts...scroll down.

For the rest of us just looking to chat...Let's talk movies.

When the weather turned and my DH and I couldn't play golf anymore, we decided we'd go to the movies once a week. It took a few weeks before we found a day that suited us both, considering he's visiting his parents, I go to hospice on Wednesdays and once a week I play Yatzee with my son and mom. But eventually we settled on Tuesday.

At first we sort of agreed on the movies, but after a while we just couldn't avoid the fact that I like certain things and he likes others. So now one week I pick the movie; the next week he picks.

I made it through CONTRABAND okay. Even if the movie hadn't been good, Mark Walburg is fun to look at. He didn't quite fare as well through EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE. In fact, neither did I. Even though I'd chosen it, I thought the kid in the movie was annoying and Sandra Bullock's part should have been bigger.

I know a few hundred thousand...maybe even a million people will disagree on that one! LOL At its heart ELandIClose was a great story. I just thought it could have been told a little better.

Today we went to see MAN ON THE LEDGE. A fairly good movie. My DH loved it. I got a bit antsy. Not because the movie wasn't good or entertaining, but because it was one of those movies were everything was at risk every second of the movie.

The writers really did their jobs...but I ended up a nervous wreck. Thought I'd need a shot and a beer afterward!

Next week, it's my turn to pick and we'll be seeing ONE FOR THE MONEY. I don't care if it's bad or good, I KNOW this one will be entertaining.

I don't always want to sit on the edge of my seat. Sometimes I want to laugh. Sometimes I want to cry. Sometimes I want to think.

Luckily, every other week I get to pick the movie!