Tips From The Experts!
08-01 - B.A.Binns

Monday, July 27, 2015

Little Blue Pill by Courtney Pierce

I write for baby boomers, and I like to challenge myself with short stories about the experience—really short stories. Most are only two pages and encompass moments in time about aging and still being young. Wisdom meets Peter Pan Syndrome. Some stories are humorous; others are poignant with a touch of heart. My goal is to write 100 of these stories to publish in a collection. As a summer treat, I’m pleased to share one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it.

THE LITTLE BLUE PILL

Drudgy tasks get divvied up in a thirty-six-year marriage. On Sunday nights, one of mine is to dish out the vitamins for the week. Supplements hold the promise of whistle-clean arteries, lubed joints, soft skin, and shiny coats. Omegas are added to the array of acids, enzymes, and fiber, and topped with a chaser of prescriptions―a tiny cholesterol pill for me; a blue prostate pill that ends in “ide” for my husband. The blue pill identified whose is whose. But one particular week stood out from the rest.

Photo: Digitalart
Like all Monday mornings, the forty-minute routine started: coffee, toast with a flap of turkey, and a round of vitamins before getting ready for work. I headed upstairs for my shower while my husband read the paper. I jumped when the glass door slid open. He climbed in with me.

“Want me to wash your back?” he asked. He started kissing my neck. Now, there were three of us lathered up in the shower stall. Even his voice sounded smooth and slippery in the aroma of hibiscus flower body wash. Did I send out a rush of hibernating pheromones when I buttered the toast?

“We’ll be late,” I cooed. The dark lashes around his dreamy brown eyes dripped with water. My hands followed the cascade of soap over his lean torso.

He whispered in my wet ear, “Who cares? This is a good way to start the day.”

I breezed into work twenty minutes late, not sure if my internal glow radiated the words pole dancer on my forehead. I agreed with everything my staff asked of me for the entire day, reveling in the fact I still had it all goin’ on after so many years. Hot flashes could stay in hell; my man was a stud.

A repeat of our morning frolic unfolded on Tuesday, and again on Wednesday. With the bed left unmade and our sweats strewn on the floor, we rushed out the door laughing about being late. By Thursday, coming off my fourth glow-round, curiosity niggled under the hickey on my neck. This was so out of the blue.

Blue.

I checked the cabinet over the coffee pot after my husband left the house. I sucked in a breath. The bottle of “ide” pills sat right next to the Viagra, both the same shape and color: oblong and robin’s-egg blue. I put on my cheater glasses and inspected the contents for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

“Holy Shamoly!” I said aloud. I had, indeed, doled out Viagra in my husband’s vitamins. Should I switch them out? Confess? An innocent mistake, but this was fun. Anticipation of scooting the sheets eclipsed my guilt. Fix it on Sunday.

The deception nagged at me all day at work. Tomorrow’s romp wouldn’t be as enjoyable if instigated by a pill and not my irresistible charm. I might as well have been a blow-up doll. What started as an accident had become something underhanded. I needed to come clean. Honesty over honey thighs. This was akin to date rape. I’d worked myself into the wrong kind of lather.

The rumble of the garage door sent me into a busy frenzy with an extra wash of my hands. Would he be upset? Think the gaffe funny? A gamble, for sure, but I threw the dice. I poured two glasses of red wine.

My stud muffin came through the door and loosened his tie. He set his briefcase on the kitchen island and greeted me with a deep kiss. I handed him a goblet and gazed into his puppy-dogs. My fingers raked through his soft salt-and-pepper hair. Truly irresistible.

“I have a confession.”

“What?” He took a swallow of wine. “Did you buy something crazy?”

“No. I did something crazy. I accidentally put Viagra in your vitamins last Sunday instead of that “ide” pill. They’re both blue.”

He grinned. “I know. I switched them out on Monday night.”

Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Oregon with her husband of thirty-six years and bossy cat. She enjoys writing for baby boomers. Her novels are filled with heart, humor, and mystery. Courtney has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. She is also a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association.


Colorful characters come alive in Courtney's latest novel, The Executrix. When three middle-aged sisters come together after the death of their mother, the manuscript for a murder mystery they find in the safe will change their lives. Is it truth? Or fiction? Sibling blood must be thicker than baggage while Mom becomes larger in death than she was in life.

Visit Courtney's website at www.courtney-pierce.com. Her books can be purchased at Windtree PressAmazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, and at several independent bookstores in the Portland area.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Being An Author In The UK #amwriting

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and the supernatural with a romantic soul. One thing I love about being a UK author is how the settings and locations around me inspire my writing. It might seem odd that everyday contemporary Earth settings can find their way into alien planets and cultures, even onto space stations and into the far future. But that's what I love about them. Pretty much anything in my everyday life can lead to another story.

Mersea mudflats

For instance, drive half an hour from home and you have a choice of beaches. From the mudflats of Mersea (desolate, and yet beautiful in their stark appearance) came my marine planet Ulto Marinos. The glorious sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea where we spend whole days over the summer sparked the idea of the tropical island on Metraxi where my two main characters in Keir finally realized their true feelings for one another. And debris on the stonier sections of Mersea beach sparked the idea for my first short story, The Bones of the Sea.

Weird stone stumps at Mersea
Frinton beach
And it isn't just the more 'exotic' locations either. This fountain in Colchester town centre became the focal point for a creative writing exercise during a course I did with the Open University. Later it became the centrepiece on a space station called Venus Ascendant that promises the romantic getaway of your dreams, with holographic suits and an empathic AI who can read and fulfill all your desires.


It's since been filled in and planted up due to being vandalized too many times *sadness* but it's been immortalized in one of my stories at least.


Not a dragon or a snake skull, but the pelvis of a bird
Stag beetle
And not being far from the countryside or the local zoo, there are plenty of interesting things to be found. Um, I have a bit of a reputation for liking weird things...

Pet stick insect

Our pet leopard gecko. Love reptiles!

There *are* downsides. The UK is a small island, after all, and every year I sigh as my fellow US authors rave about travelling to the RT convention or RWA events. Or my fellow fangirls go to the big SF conventions. Most of my readers are in the US, and the chances of me ever being able to do a signing over there and actually meet any of them (or any of my author friends) is remote. But I would never move. Not while I love where I live and it still provides so much fodder for my writing!


Want to chat? Find me on Twitter as @pippajaygreen or at my website.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Writing Has Made Me Rich!

By Linda Lovely

Okay, no need for the IRS to start an audit. The meager author income reported on my tax return is unfortunately no lie. Nonetheless, researching mysteries and romantic suspense novels has made my life so much richer.
Here is a small sampling of my experiences and encounters with fascinating folks I would never have met if it weren’t for my research and professional affiliations.

Writers’ Police Academy
The Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) takes top honors on my list of opportunities to gain experiences and meet people I would never, ever have encountered if I had not attended the WPA. In August, I’ll make my fourth visit to the Academy, where I’m a volunteer staffer, giving back to an organization that is dedicated to helping writers of crime fiction get it right (and have a lot of fun in the process).
At the WPA, I have:
·         Searched a building with a SWAT team, carrying my own (unloaded) automatic rifle
·         Experienced the decision-making dilemmas police officers face in deciding when to fire in simulated real-life situations with hostages and armed threats. (I killed no civilians.)
·         Visited a burn site looking for signs of arson
·         Searched a wooded area for signs of a shallow grave
·         Learned self-defense tactics that work for women if they’re grabbed
·         Searched jail cells for contraband
·         Interviewed suspects and
·         Studied nasty bioweapon alternatives
·         Seen how dogs and robots would work to foil terrorists
·         Watched police divers retrieve underwater evidence
·         PLUS sat in classes presented to every type of law enforcement expert imaginable, from Secret Service, FBI and DEA agents to forensic psychologists, fraud and gang experts
·         What’s best? Many of the experts I met at the Academy and in my own backyard have been more than willing to help answer specific questions related to my manuscripts.
·         Retired Detective Lee Lofland, WPA founder, and Dr. Denene Lofland, who seems to know all there is to know about bio crimes, have become dear friends.

Sisters in Crime
Closer to home, I meet fascinating folks every month at the Upstate SC Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Here are a few of our law enforcement-related guests:
·         An entertaining woman who heads her family’s bail bond company.
·         A psychic, considered empathic, clairaudient, claircognizant and sometimes clairvoyant.
·         A policeman who has spent nine years as a school resource officer.
·         Judges, public defenders, defense attorneys, DA.s and prosecutors.
·         Forensic crime scene and firearms specialists
·         A specialist in tracking computer and financial fraud.
·         The head of a group fighting domestic abuse and minor sex trafficking
·         A parole officer,  

Road Trips & Phone Interviews
Writing mysteries and romantic suspense also provides an excuse for road trips and conversations with some of the most interesting people outside of law enforcement. My most recent excursions have been to visit a goat cheese farm and a (legal) moonshine operation. I’ve also interviewed folks in my home town who are old enough to remember what it was like in 1938, when my novel LIES is set.

See what I mean about rich? I’m one Baby Boomer who believes there’s more to life than living an insulated life interacting only with people in your own age, ethnic, and income group.
Writers—what’s the most interesting research you’ve undertaken for a novel?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

PIONEER - WELL ALMOST - MARGARET TANNER


KANGAROOS  HOPPING BY - MARGARET TANNER

I write historical romance, so this experience was very relevant for me.

My husband and I have just returned from a short stay at a place called Halls Gap in the Grampians, which is a climber’s paradise. Steep rocky cliffs overhanging thickly treed valleys. Mile upon mile of brooding bushland, silent except for the occasional bird call. One could easily get lost here, and perhaps, as happened in the pioneering days, you would never be seen again. It still looks like an untamed wilderness even now, except for a couple of small hamlets. I could almost visualise the pioneers hacking their way through the heavily treed countryside. The terrain was steep and unforgiving. In some places a fall meant death.

I have to confess, we stayed in a cabin, which you could barely discern from the road, it blended into the background so well. It had all the modern conveniences EXCEPT the heating was an enormous open fire. Hubby and I looked at each other, who was going to light the fire? Thank goodness there was a basket of kindling and a pile of neatly stacked logs. Wielding an axe was beyond us, our pioneering blood was just too dilated.

I am very proud of the fact that I lit the fire at my first attempt. I wondered if I might not have been a boy scout in a previous life, or perhaps my pioneering blood wasn’t quite as diluted as I had thought.

It was truly an amazing feeling toasting our toes in front of this roaring fire, watching the logs burn, and smelling the wood smoke. It brought back a lot of childhood memories of staying with my grandmother and various aunts in the country. They not only had open fires for warmth but they also had wood stoves for cooking. And boy, could they ever cook.

I actually felt quite close to my heroines while I stared into the orange flames, most of them had to conquer the wilderness with the hero.

In my novel, Fiery Possession, published by Books We Love, my heroine, Josephine (Jo) Saunders was an American who braved the wilderness to help her brother, and immediately clashes with the hero. It is selling for 99 cents at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and in most places that sell e-books.

FIERY POSSESSION

American Wild West versus Australian Frontier. Jo Saunders, a fiery American beauty, arrives in frontier Australia to save her debt- ridden brother’s farm. She clashes with her wealthy neighbor, Luke Campton, but neither of them can deny the attraction sizzling between them.

Hate, lust and murder. How can Jo and Luke overcome these obstacles and allow love to flourish?



Margaret Tanner writes action packed romances set in frontier Australia.


 

 

 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Writers at Work

by M.L. Buchman

When my kid was little, she was riding with her mom in the car. A flagger stopped them at a construction site and they both watched the happenings around them in a comfortable silence. Then my kid turned to her mom and delivered her first-ever complete sentence with absolute seriousness, "Men move dirt."

I've done a lot of jobs over the years; some fairly normal, some rather peculiar, and yes, some moving dirt. I spent five years odd-jobbing in restaurants, rebuilding a 50' sailboat, as an electrician and technical director in live theater, etc. Then I stumbled into corporate and for the next few decades I did a wild array of law, computers, construction, opera, and even designing tourist maps. I was on the leading edge of IT, Lean, Project Management, and a dozen other things that have turned into a blur.

And then 2-1/2 years ago, I became a full-time writer. That's not a leap you make idly, or should make at all without massive savings or a large retirement fund. We had neither but by dint of hard work (and totally awesome fans), it's working out okay.

So, we decided to take our first vacation in a long time. Let's just say that having a kid in college during a recession that cost me two different jobs and the loss of a house I'd designed and built to last as long as we lived, we haven't had one in a while. But we checked the bank account, and then we checked it again, and it said, "Sure, but don't go wild."

Oddly enough, that was easy. We live in the Pacific Northwest and it is one of the most beautiful places on the planet (No, wait! Don't move here. It rains all the time. Honest...No, really!). We thought about it a little and I also happened to think about the book I was presently writing. The lead female character was being reluctant about revealing her past...in other words, she didn't have one and was falling flat on the page due to the lack.

And then I thought about a nice trip and I turned to my wife, "Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island seems like a nice place to visit, doesn't it?" We've both been there several times and it is truly one of the highlights of the Northwest. "Sounds like a good place to come from as well," my stumbling character stood upright and nodded knowingly to the north.

It did.

So we drove from our home on the Oregon Coast, up along the Olympic Peninsula, and took a ferry over to Victoria. And that's when things started getting strange. As the ferry was pulling in, I looked out the window and saw the town's gorgeous skyline. Which I didn't get a picture of, because I was taking this one instead.


Little known fact, Victoria is the second busiest seaplane port in North America (the busiest is Skagway, Alaska because it's the only way in or out). And parked right there was the plane that I had already decided would be the featured aircraft in my current novel (a DHC-6 Twin Otter). At this point my character was chortling over my shoulder, "That's where I learned how to fly." I'd been wondering.

Then we visited the BC Royal Museum, one of the nicest small museums anywhere. My wife had arranged a behind the scenes tour where we, by pure chance, managed to meet the Head of Exhibits, the guy who heads the group that builds, installs, and maintains all of the exhibits. No pictures, but a great half hour conversation. My character thought this was almost as cool as I did and insisted that she wanted to work here before joining the military.

Then we wandered down to the docks where I was able to see my planes a little closer.



Even a lot closer.

I also spent about a half hour chatting with a pilot about handling characteristics and a tricky landing he made in Malta that is definitely going to end up in the book somehow.

We drove all over Victoria to find out where my character lived. We explored libraries and finally took a little ferry ride to see what her daily commute would be like. These ferries are just too cute for words. They're so cute, they even do ballets. Watch this, you'll thank me. (Ballet begins around 1:00.)


As we were taking this tiny ferry tour along the harbor, my wife and I were taking photographs and discussing what my heroine might see and think as she passed different sights. We were afloat in a beautiful harbor on a gorgeous day and would soon be out having a nice English tea in the middle of our first vacation in seven years.

Then I was struck by an interesting thought and I turned to her in astonishment and said:
"I'm working right now."

Let's hear it for being a writer!

My character who grew up in Victoria, won't actually have her book out until next September...it isn't even finished yet. But my next Firehawks book will be out in two weeks, so you might want to catch that in the meantime. It's set in another lovely part of the Pacific Northwest.

Release August 4th - available for pre-order now
This is definitely my favorite job yet!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Romance Through Time by Susan Horsnell




This month I thought I would take a look at Romance and how it's changed over time.

Where would we be without romance? What was courtship and marriage like for our distant ancestors? Beginning with the ancient Greeks' recognition of the need to describe more than one kind of love, inventing the word eros to describe carnal love, and agape to mean a spiritual love.

Ancient


In ancient times, many of the first marriages were by capture, not choice - when there was a scarcity of nubile women, men raided other villages for wives. Frequently the tribe from which a warrior stole a bride would come looking for her, and it was necessary for the warrior and his new wife to go into hiding to avoid being discovered. According to an old French custom, as the moon went through all its phases the couple drank a brew called metheglin, which was made from honey. Hence, we get the word, honeymoon. Arranged marriages were the norm, primarily business relationships born out of the desire and/or need for property, monetary or political alliances.


Medieval


From buying a woman dinner to opening a door for her, many of today's courting rituals are rooted in
medieval chivalry. During medieval times, the importance of love in a relationship emerged as a reaction to arranged marriages, but was still not considered a prerequisite in matrimonial decisions. Suitors wooed their intended with serenades and flowery poetry, following the lead of lovelorn characters on stage and in verse. Chastity and honor were highly regarded virtues. In 1228, it is said by many that women first gained the right to propose marriage in Scotland, a legal right that then slowly spread through Europe. However, a number of historians have pointed out that this supposed leap year proposal statute never occurred, and instead gained its legs as a romantic notion spread in the press.


Victorian


During the Victorian Era (1837-1901), romantic love became viewed as the primary requirement for marriage and courting became even more formal - almost an art form among the upper classes. An interested gentleman could not simply walk up to a young lady and begin a conversation. Even after being introduced, it was still some time before it was considered appropriate for a man to speak to a lady or for a couple to be seen together. Once they had been formally introduced, if the gentleman wished to escort the lady home he would present his card to her. At the end of the evening the lady would look over her options and chose who would be her escort. She would notify the lucky gentleman by giving him her own card requesting that he escort her home. Almost all courting took place in the girl's home, always under the eye of watchful parents. If the courting progressed, the couple might advance to the front porch. Smitten couples rarely saw each other without the presence of a chaperone, and marriage proposals were frequently written.

I hope you have enjoyed this travel through romantic time.
Until next month, stay safe.

Sue



Susan Horsnell - Western Romance Author

Author's Page:
http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Horsnell/e/B00BXR5FMM/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1437206600&sr=1-2-ent

Blog:
http://susanhorsnell.com

Website:
http://horsnells.wix.com/susan--1

Monday, July 20, 2015

Shutting Up The Inner Editor

For most of us authors, when we first ventured into writing, we were aglow with unbridled creativity, and the story flowed unhindered through our fingers onto the page (or screen). I know it was like this for me with my first novel, and similar still with my second.

Then, by the time I started the third, something had shifted. I got stuck. A lot. I found myself second-guessing every sentence, every word, and--on the big picture level--the whole idea itself. What had changed from when I'd first picked up pen and notebook and just spent hours happily writing away?

Answer: I had started actually learning the craft.

Along with the (very necessary!) immersion in and acquisition of the standards of fiction writing, the rules and conventions, came a new filter in my brain, one that would come in handy at revision time. All that learning and honing my craft had awakened my inner editor. And don't get me wrong, she's great! So nitpicky, so discerning, so merciless, she slashes through the sludge of First Drafts with the ease of a hot knife sinking into butter. She's just what I need after I finish writing the story and start on the crucial polishing.

Problem is, she's exactly what I don't need when writing.


Photo by Laura Ritchie, available under a CC BY 2.0 on Flickr


In that initial phase of getting the bare bones of the story down onto paper/screen, the presence of an overly critical, persnickety, question-every-word inner editor is counter productive. It's inhibiting to the point where I will sit in front of my PC, fingers hovering over the keyboard, and discard every thought that pops into my mind as not up to par with the high-polished standards of my inner editor. I type something only to backspace the heck out of it the very next second. "I've used this exact phrase three times already. Gotta come up with something better." And then I'll sit there, pressuring myself to think of a more fitting description while the minutes tick by. If I'd just used the lame description I'd had before, I could have already moved on with the scene and gotten more of the story down. I could always edit it later--but you can't edit a blank page, as La Nora so succinctly put.

But such was my fate after having absorbed that much knowledge about writing--when it came time to write, it took me far too long to get anything down. I overthought everything. Ev-ery-thing. My inner editor wouldn't shut up.

Until I stumbled upon a method of shutting her up that's so easy it's mind-boggling.

To sum it up: It's writing in sprints with a set word goal. Yes, I know. It's ridiculously obvious. But I'd never written like this. I'd set myself word goals for the day, but not in combination with a set amount of time, and so I'd sit there, squandering away my time for writing because I didn't exactly have a deadline. Turns out, I work well with deadlines.

I saw a dear writer friend of mine--Melia Alexander--do these sprints of 15 minutes during which she had to write 250 words, and my first thought was, "I could never write 250 words in 15 minutes!" I really thought that was an unattainable writing speed for me. Until I tried it, and found--to my great surprise--that I could easily do this. With one condition, though: I had to forcefully shut up my inner editor.


Photo by Shawn Rossi, available under a CC BY 2.0 on Flickr


With only 15 minutes to write 250 words (that's a little more than 16 words per minute), I knew I couldn't stop to ponder the intricacies of "Is this too much telling?" or "What's a better word for 'thrust'?" I couldn't stop to edit myself, because I didn't have the time. So simple, and yet so liberating. Did my inner editor pipe up and start critiquing what I wrote? Sure she did. But I didn't listen to her. Every time she began speaking, I responded with, "No time. Will fix later." And I kept on writing.

Make no mistake, though, it niggles at me that what I'm writing isn't my best effort. I know much of what I jot down like this will have to be edited, but that's not important. I'm getting the words down, I'm getting the story out there, and I'm not mired in paralyzing self-doubt anymore. It's important to be able to write the whole story.

And once I'm done, I'll let my inner editor out to play and have her fun.

What tips and tricks do you have to outsmart your inner editor and be more productive? Let me know in the comments!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Following her lifelong passion for stories and languages, polyglot Nadine Mutas went from tangling with tongues at a translation agency to wrestling with words in her writing den. She pens wickedly sensual paranormal romances, and her debut novel, Blood, Pain, and Pleasure, which was published on May 28, 2015, has won several awards for excellence in romance writing. You can find more info on Nadine and her books on her website: www.nadinemutas.com