Reinventing the Blog – Please Bear With Us!

AUGUST MALE AUTHOR GUEST:

08/19 – WALT MUSSELL – JAPANESE INSPIRATIONAL HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Sweet Feat

by M. L. Buchman

First, the obligatory eclipse photo as we were one of the very few spots at first landfall on the Oregon Coast where there was a rip in the bank of sea fog to let us see it.
More here

Yes, the dogs barked at the unexpected darkness and the birds sang the return of the light. Very magical!

A SURVEY
A few months back, I did a survey of my newsletter subscribers (and over 1,000 responded). I asked two simple questions:
  • Would they be interested in a "sweet version" of my romances in addition to, shall we call it, the standard "lively version?"
  • Why?
Of the 1,000 who responded in the 24 hours the survey was open, 49% said "Yes, Please!" This surprised me immensely, until I read the answers to the second question. Of the 3-400 comments, well over 90% said:
  • "I want to give your books as gifts to my..." daughter, mother, church friend, etc.
Ah! Now it makes perfect sense.

Of course, I'm reminded of a friend's story. Her grandmother was bedridden for a time and asked for some romances to read. My friend, an erotica writer, spent a great deal of time vetting books to make sure they were "clean and wholesome" enough for her. Her grandmother finally asked in disgust, "When did they take all the good sex out of romances?" My guess is that what we're happy to read, so would our relations be. But still, my fans asked for sweet, so I decided to give it to them.

WHAT WE DID
We went through every single one of my contemporary romance titles—of which there are 19 across 4 series so far! (I hadn't realized there were so many when we started this project.) 
  • We removed: curse words, religion-based exclamations, and we moved any se—um, lovemaking scenes tastefully behind closed doors.
  • We focused on keeping the emotional heat and tension, only turning down any on-screen physicality.
  • We added "(the sweet version)" to the covers as well as an internal page with this explanation on it (which was also on the back cover of the print editions):
    • These “Sweet Versions” are the exact same stories as the original, with no foul language and the bedroom door—even when there isn’t one—tastefully closed.
  • Then, and this turned out to be the real beast, we loaded the e- and print-versions wide over a single weekend. That's: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, D2D, Google Play, Kobo, my website... Let's just saying, doing all that times 19 titles (plus 2 "The Complete" collections for the finished series) was a beast of a task.
THE FUTURE
In addition to making my titles more comfortable to gift, I'm hoping to, over time, open the door to a whole new set of fans who prefer "Clean and Wholesome" tales. All of my contemporary romances will still be written and released in their more lively versions, but a sweet version will accompany each one.

Will my military romantic suspense go through a similar expansion? Not at this time, for a couple of reasons:
  • It was a big effort and I want to see how the contemporary titles do. Especially big as I have twice as many military romances as I do contemporary ones.
  • I like the "rougher" language and attitudes for my military characters.
  • And a major factor is that my traditional publisher still holds the rights to the first titles in all three of my major military romance series to date: The Night Stalkers, Firehawks, and Delta Force. It would be awkward to be able to transition some titles and not others for the readers.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
EAGLE COVE
Eagle Cove lies hidden in the heart of the Oregon Coast. It’s the land of seagulls and sand pipers, of microbrewers and music, of judges who run diners and women who rebuild classic airplanes. Living alone deep in the woods here barely counts as being eccentric. Come enjoy the charm and romance—in a place like no other. (This series is now complete!)


HENDERSON'S RANCH
Majors Mark Henderson and Emily Beale flew for the U.S. Army Night Stalkers and later for the heli-aviation wildland firefighters in Firehawks. Now come to Mark’s family ranch under Montana’s Big Sky and visit a land of romance, of new beginnings, and of some of the most beautiful country in the world.


LOVE ABROAD B&B
Harry Potter had the Room of Requirement. Little known to most travelers, there also occurs a “B&B of Requirement.” It can only be found where least expected and when the heart most needs it.


WHERE DREAMS
Come to “Angelo’s Hearth Tuscan Ristorante in the heart of Seattle’s Pike Place Market. The food is glorious and the women are stunning (at times literally)—a place where dreams always come true.(This series is now complete!)

More information is available at: http://www.mlbuchman.com/sweet-books/

M. L. Buchman: 50+ novels, 3x Booklist "Top 10 Romance of the Year", NPR and B&N "Top 5 Romance of the Year."
M. L. writes: Military romantic suspense, contemporary romance, F&SF, thrillers, even more short stories than novels.
M. L. has: bicycled solo around the world, designed and built houses, worked too many years as a corporate project manager, rebuilt and solo-sailed a fifty-foot sailboat, flown and jumped out of airplanes.
M. L. also: quilts!?!

Find out more at www.mlbuchman.com.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

BLAME IT ON THE ECLIPSE! by Sarah Raplee


HUSBAND VIEWING THE ECLIPSE 
What were you doing during the "Eclipse of the Century" yesterday? 

For people like us who live in the band of totality (where 100% of the sun gets blocked by the moon), the solar eclipse has been a Big Deal - something we've prepared to observe and celebrate for over a year! Which explains why I totally spaced off my blog post being due today. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it!) 

We had 16 people at our house, eclipse glasses in hand, ready to be awed! We live on a small acreage near Molalla, Oregon, ideal for eclipse viewing. My son and his family of six came over Sunday to avoid traffic jams. We grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, visited, and played a board game with the older kids involving intricate rules and special dice. A good time was had by all!

About 11pm Son and family spread blankets on the lawn, turned out all lights, and watched the Perseid meteor shower for an hour. Knowing we had to get up early to have breakfast and set up lawn chairs in the morning, my husband and I went to bed.

In the morning, Son and Wife set up lawn chairs - a few on the deck for us older folks and a bunch on the lawn where the sun shone on a larger area. They dragged the kids out of bed and fed them a quick breakfast of toaster waffles, then gave them blankets to wrap up in and sent them to the chairs, each with a pair of eclipse glasses and a warning not to look at the sun without their glasses.
ECLIPSE COOKIES

I ate pb and j in the car on my way to pick up a friend who lives alone and doesn't drive. She's legally blind, but has some sight. Besides, in the band of totality you experience the sun's disappearance with all your senses. And who doesn't like a party?

Even out here in the sticks, traffic was almost bumper-to-bumper. plus there were groups of bicyclists under the illusion that Hwy. 211 has adequate bike lanes. Luckily, everyone was cautious and courteous and the short trip only took an extra 15 min.

Back home, we served Eclipse Cookies my granddaughter had made, coffee and soft drinks. We all periodically checked the eclipse's progress through our protective glasses. Some people listened to Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" coordinated with the eclipse progress. We noticed the light dimming, birds quieting and the temperature dropping as we neared Totality.
FRIEND AT TOTALITY-PURE AWE!

And then, a few precious, magical moments of Pure Awe!

We took off our glasses and looked at the dark moon with the sun's corona flaring around the edges. The sky turned dark blue and a few stars peeked through what was left of the sun's powerful light. The birds and animals were silent. The air was chill without the sun's energy to warm it. The sky on the horizon turned a beautiful pale orange.

I thought about how much we take the sun for granted, and how easily we forget it's power. And I offered up a prayer of thanks for all the good things in my life.

~ Sarah Raplee


What were you doing during the "Eclipse of the Century"?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Writing THE SAMURAI'S HEART by Walt Mussell

THE SAMURAI'S HEART
I’d like to thank Romancing the Genres for having me today and for tackling the topic of men in romance writing. A few years ago, I pitched an article to Romance Writers of America’s magazine on the men of RWA. My suggestion was rejected. I’m glad that there are others out there who think this topic is a good one.

So what does it mean to be a male writer in the romance world?

Initially, it left me with trepidation. I walked into my first Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) meeting about ten years ago. I’d met two of the members at a book signing a few months earlier and they’d invited me. At the time, I was focused on selling humorous parenting articles to regional magazines and trying to publish a book on marriage. The two women assured me that a male who wrote nonfiction would be welcome. At my first meeting, people treated me with courtesy. They invited me back, but I don’t know who expected to see me again.

But I did go back. I started attending monthly meetings. The following year, I attended my first writer’s conference. Overall, I tried to improve my craft. I learned about self-editing. I learned about querying agents and publishers. And, because writers discuss everything amongst themselves, I learned not to blush over certain topics.
But in those early years, I could never forget that I was a man in a woman’s world. It isn’t that I tried to forget. It’s just that I was deathly afraid of doing something that would embarrass either myself or my chapter.

I liken it to my first year of living in Japan.

I spent four years in Japan in the early 90s. In my first year, I lived in a small town where I was the only non-Japanese in the area. Sometimes, I’d come home late on a Sunday evening from a weekend of tourism and would take a taxi from the train station instead of walking home. I never had to tell the taxi driver where I lived. He already knew. Everyone in town knew where I lived. Everyone in town knew what I did. And if I’d done something culturally repugnant, everyone would have known that, too.
In my early years in romance writing, it felt the same way. I wasn’t the only guy in my chapter, but there were so few guys that I knew if I did something wrong, particularly at a conference, it would be remembered.

But things got easier. I eventually settled in. And after a while, one of my friends at GRW suggested that, if I was going to hang around, I had to try writing a romance. I began by penning some contemporary novels that I could never seem to finish and that contest judges hated. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I was doing.  

BREAKTHROUGH
Then I fell back on my love of history, particularly Japanese history. Based on a mysterious cross tile located at Himeji Castle in Himeji, Japan, I began writing a Japan-based inspirational historical.

THE CASTLE TILE THAT STARTED IT ALL
Though I finally enjoyed some contest success with this effort, the reception from agents and publishers was lackluster.  I began working on other projects, publishing three novellas and two short stories. I also wrote other works.
But I never gave up on this first historical.
I reached the decision to self-publish it when I heard of Kindle Scout, an Amazon program where you place an excerpt from your novel on-line and people vote on it. I was selected by Kindle Scout and was awarded a contract with Amazon.
[The excerpt that won me the contract is still available on Amazon’s website. Please click this link if you wish to read it. http://amzn.to/2ltBWrG ]
THE SAMURAI'S HEART
(The Heart Of The Samurai Book 1)
“Love and swords are forged in fire.”

Japan, 1587. Sen must find a husband to marry into her family’s swordsmith business. She seeks a Christian husband, though Christianity is banned.

Enter Nobuhiro. Third son of a high-level samurai, Nobuhiro fled his harsh father and apprenticed himself to a swordsmith. He yearns to prove his worth.

They seem an ideal match. But for Sen, the choice is faith or family. For Nobuhiro, choosing a Christian ends any reconciliation with his family. Can love be forged from the impossible?

With The Samurai’s Heart having been released in July, I’m now enjoying my new PAN status.

And, as far as making embarrassing mistakes, I’ve discovered that I can’t worry about it. I’m going to make them anyway.

But after ten years in GRW, I can say one thing. As long as I take my writing seriously, I’ll be seen as a writer first.

WALT MUSSELL
Bio
Walt Mussell lives in the Atlanta area with his wife and two sons. He works for a well-known corporation and writes in his spare time. Walt primarily writes historical novels, with a focus on Japan, an interest he gained during the four years he lived there. He refers to his novels as “Like Shogun, but the heroine survives.” He is currently working on books 2 and 3 in his series, The Samurai’s Soul and The Samurai’s Strength.

Outside of writing, his favorite activity is trying to keep up with his kids. As one is away at college and the other is in high school, this is proving more difficult each day.

You can follow Walt on Twitter at @wmussell. Please visit his website Daddy Needs Decaf at waltmussell.blogspot.com. Please check out his Facebook page at “Walt Mussell - Author.”

Links:
Website: http://waltmussell.blogspot.com/
Facebook Author Page http://bit.ly/2w1JCXg
Twitter @wmussell: https://twitter.com/wmussell
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2hUmAML



Friday, August 18, 2017

Back To School/Back To Work

I can't say I look back at my school days with any fondness, other than for the long holidays. I loved learning but didn't like the noise, the crowding, and throughout secondary school the utter bitchiness of some teenage girls. I didn't follow the latest boy bands or fashion, so instead made my few friends among the boys who were happy to talk Star Wars and Doctor Who with me (I'm still friends with a couple of them now despite being on three separate continents and thirty years on).
I've done further study since leaving school. Two computer courses up to the birth of my first child.
A few years ago, just before my debut novel got a publishing contract, I did an online fiction writing course through the Open University. I'd hoped to continue to gain a degree in English, but cost put a stop to that, plus my publication.
By the time this post goes live I will have been back to 'school' again, this time doing two days training in preparation for my new job. I'm going back to work, part time at least, as a Customer Services Assistant at my local grocery shop. It's only 12 hours a week in two shifts, but it will make a nice addition to our household income while still allowing me to be around for my monsters and my chooks, and even leave me time to continue with some writing. I'm both excited and nervous about the training. Maybe one day I'll go back to studying something more...
BTW, if you like online workshops and are looking for one on world building, a dear friends and fellow author has just opened registration for her Why Worldbuilding (is the secret ingredient) course and I highly recommend it. You can find out more HERE.
I'll finish with some pictures of my chicks, now six weeks old and close to adult size. They don't stay small and fluffy for long!





Thursday, August 17, 2017

My favorite time of year...

 August is on the down hill slide and with it goes my favorite time of the year because...



Surrounded by endless beauty

we get to be pirates...
How can a day that starts like this not be awesome

Our favorite picnic spot


This is the first time in over ten years I haven't had a crazy day job to return to mid-August. But this is the first time in over 20 years, I've had to by first grader school supplies (I didn't like it the first time around and I'm not liking it more this time). While trying to convince my grandson that he does NOT need a different shark backpack for everyday, I do enjoy buying office supplies for me :-)
As the beach time becomes less, I do more crafting things. Like these cute post-it holders for grandson's teachers.


I also start shifting from summer drinks to fall drinks. This week, I'll start making blood orange infused vodka for Halloween martinis.






What are some of your favorite change over activities?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Team up for more fun!

I've recently learned the importance of teaming up! Joining a newsletter, blog (ahem! Romancing the Genres!!), or promotion with another author makes your advertising go so much farther. The possibilities are endless!

I met Tory Richards after fangirling over some of her books on twitter. Turns out, she is a great human being and fantastic writer. Of course, she writes my favorite genre ever, motorcycle club. So, when I noticed that she was releasing a new novel, I contacted her to see if we could get together.

Tory and I are sponsoring a giveaway to celebrate her new novel, The Sentinels. **cue motorcycle engines revving and a shirtless Charlie Hunnam**  We've got a $10 gift card to Amazon AND a free copy of my novel Enforcer's Price. So, take a look. Two prizes, one entry. That's the power of teaming up!

Click here to enter!

The Sentinels
Tory Richards

As the president of the Sentinels MC Tanner has his hands full. It's Daytona Beach Bike Week and Daytona is his town. Then trouble by the name of Ruby rolls in, pretty, sassy, and with enough curves to tempt a saint. Well, Tanner isn’t a saint, and she’s his kind of gal, except his onetime only f**k rule isn't for girls like Ruby. But then, rules are meant to be broken, aren’t they?

Excerpt - I heard the distant sound of what I thought was thunder, until it grew closer and I realized that it was actually the rumble of motorcycles coming our way. I expected them to ride on past us, but when they slowed and pulled up behind Pops’ truck I straightened nervously. They weren’t just weekend bikers, I could tell that immediately by the way they were dressed and the air of danger that they exuded. The six men belonged to an honest to goodness motorcycle club, and their worn, leather cuts were decked out in colorful patches and name tags. 

They looked serious, and mean as hell. As I watched them climb off their large bikes and slowly approach us, I added big and handsome to their description. I glanced at Pops, looking for a sign that he knew these bikers. If he didn’t, I was going back to my car to retrieve my baseball bat out of the back seat. He just smiled and gave me a wink.

What was I worried about, anyway? We were on a busy public highway. I took a deep breath, smiled, and said in my usual, cheery tone, “Hi, boys.”

I couldn’t tell where their eyes were focused, since they were all wearing dark sunglasses. The man who appeared to be the leader, the hunk wearing the president’s patch, came to a stop a couple of feet away from us. I began to feel self-conscious of my clinging, wet clothes, especially when I felt my nipples turn hard against my thin tee. I crossed my arms, but the quirk of the man’s lips told me that it hadn’t been fast enough.

Jerk!

“You pickin’ up strays now, Pops?”

Ohmygod! The deep, gravelly tone of his voice was sexy as hell, and it did something quirky to my core. The man wasn’t too bad on the eyes, either. He was taller than most, his sun-tanned skin pulled taut over his super hot muscles. He oozed dominance, and the clunky silver rings on his fingers screamed that they were his backup. 

“’Bout damn time you got here,” Pops grumbled, pushing away from his truck. “And be nice to cutie, here, she stopped to help, and fed me, too.”

“Cutie?” 

Now I knew that his eyes were full on me, and I could tell by the tilt of his head that he was looking me up and down, as if he had the right to. I didn’t like his intimidation tactics, even if his presence was having an unexpected affect on my lady bits, something I’m sure he was accustomed to when it came to the opposite sex. The devil in me prompted me to lower my arms and slap my hands on my curvy hips in a move that I knew was challenging. A big mistake, I knew, when his sexy mouth turned up at both corners.

“Looks like a drowned rat to me.” The bikers behind him laughed.

“Flattery will get you nowhere,” I responded sarcastically, meeting what I thought were his eyes. I turned my attention back to Pops, putting my hand on his thin shoulder. “Now that your boy is here, I’ll be on my way. It was nice meeting you.” I glanced back at the group of bikers. “Goodbye, boys.” I gave them a wave, eager to be on my way.

“Baby--” The sound of his growly voice made me stop in my tracks to look back at him. “You call me a boy again, and I’ll be only too happy to show you that I’m a man.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

This Mom's Snoopy School Dance

It's that wonderful time of the year again!

The school bells are ringing, the kids are screaming...and I am sitting back drinking my morning coffee with a smile!

Now don't get me wrong. I love my kids with all I have and then some more. But let's face it, the summer is a life-sucker. It's hot. Humid. Long days. Short nights. And did I mention bugs? YUCK!

Every summer is the same. Plan. Plans. Plans. There is no just sitting back and relaxing. It's the time to swim, go camping, have sleepovers, and grill out every single chance you get. It's all fun and games until it isn't. After a while, it starts to feel like work. (And did I mention it's hot and there's bugs?) Plus, you can only have so many darn cookouts! If I eat another hotdog, I swear I will...Well, I don't know. But I am hotdogged out. I want casseroles and chili and lots and lots of soups and grilled cheese. Ironically, I haven't always felt this way. I guess getting older does that to a person. Or maybe just me. *shrugs*

Anyway, I digress...as always...haha

Where did I leave off? Oh yes...the school year is here again! *Snoopy Dance*

While I am not a fan of getting up at the butt-crack of dawn, I am a fan of schedules. Which makes the school year this mom's BFF. As a writer, editor, and graphic artist (still a noob artist), I keep a pretty tight schedule to meet all my deadlines. With the children off getting a wonderful education during the day, I am free to work without interruption. Except the occasional going out to take King Alfred for a walk. It's during the first few hours of morning I get my best writing done. My brain is fresh, the caffeine is refueling my bloodstream, and it's quiet. Bring on the Dragon!

No, not an actual dragon, but that would be cool! The Dragon dictation software that has become my best friend. With it, I am able to just speak my way through a story and my word count triples for the day by noon. Totally awesome! (However, you should see my boo-boos and typos LOL)

Today is the 14th as I sit here and type this. In two days my children return to school, and I have already set my workstation up in preparation. One more final cookout tonight, which I will be eating a darn burger this time, and one more trip to the local swimming hole before the new school year is upon us! Then that's it. Summer vacation will officially be over, and I can return to work! *More Snoopy Dance*

I have sooooo many plans and ideas...my mind is swimming with voices ready to be heard!

If only I can tear myself away from Netflix...

Now that I have rambled on, you may be asking, "Ishabelle, what is the point of this post?"

Depends how you look at it.

Ishabelle dislikes summer.
Ishabelle eats a lot of hotdogs.
OR Ishabelle is ready to get back to writing once the kiddos return to school!

If you voted for the last one, you're right! And I bet I am not the only one! I know tons of writers like myself who depend on the return to school to sneak some writing time in, so here's to you all!

May the words come forth and fill your paper with awesomeness!

Until next time,

Isha


You can find Ishabelle Torry on Facebook Twitter @IshabelleT
Blog


P.S. My podcast is doing a giveaway for its anniversary. Check out the link here for free stuffs!
Focus on Fantasy Giveaway





Monday, August 14, 2017

Still in a Daze because of my School Days!






By: Marcia King-Gamble
www.lovemarcia.com








It’s almost September, and kids are either in school or getting ready to go back. Just last week, one of my nieces started her freshman year in college. The other starts her senior year soon. So many memories came rushing back as I heard about the preparations. There were stories of shopping, packing, unloading and getting settled, then finally the realization that sleep away college meant being on your own and making adult decisions.




School was always an interesting experience for me. I have never attended a public school, and yes, I know that sounds a bit strange, but those are the facts. I was for the most part always a uniform girl.

Growing up, attending some elementary and high school on a tiny Caribbean island, lends itself to a different experience. My family, thankfully, had the means to send me to prep school. What Kingstown Preparatory school meant back then, was a standard blue uniform with perfect pleats, a crisp white blouse, navy blue or black socks and shiny black shoes. If you were female you were expected to wear knickers, and God forbid a hint of colorful underwear showed, that meant detention and lines. Yes, we were very British. You would have to write over and over again "I will wear my knickers to school." 



Every semester a seamstress (sometimes your mother), was employed to make you bloomers, (that’s what I called those knickers.) These bloomers were worn over your regular underwear.

In fourth grade, I attended a parochial school in New York. Again, I wore a uniform, plaid I think, with a little neck tie, but thankfully bloomers were not required..



After a year, I returned to the island to find a great aunt, who had been a nun, had been sent home to die. Regrettably, she had breast cancer.  My Aunt Leila insisted, and my mother complied with her mandate that I attend the local convent school. And no, I had no interest or desire to be a nun. St. Joseph’s Convent was a prestigious school which the wealthy and island white attended, especially when they were not able to pass the test given by the Girls High School (another private institution). The “Convent” girls were said to be stuck up. I hardly fit in and I was difficult.



St. Joseph’s uniform was a royal blue skirt with box pleats, a crisp white shirt, white sneakers (and they better be sparkling white), and a bow tie.  Eventually they lost the tie. I cannot tell you how many hours I spent in the courtyard in the blazing hot sun reeling off a Hail Mary or twenty because of a speck of mud on those sneakers.  Naturally, I did not last very long in that environment.  Frequently, I forgot my veil, necessary for the Thursday prayer hour. Probably to spare the family the embarrassment of being expelled, I returned to Kingstown Preparatory school.



Somewhere around age eleven, I took the The Girls High School test, narrowly missed out on an academic scholarship, and was admitted to Form 1. High school in the islands starts at age 11 or 12, and is probably the equivalent of Middle School in the USA. There was more uniform wearing of course.  But now it was a navy skirt with pleats, a white shirt, blue and white striped man’s tie with a perfect oxford knot, black shoes and socks, knickers and a helmet-like hat. This time there were knicker checks. You had to drop that skirt, and woe was you if there was a hint of color showing. I once got suspended for not wearing my hat. Can you guess which of the above  lovelies is me?








At age 15, my family moved permanently to the United States.  This time I was enrolled in a cool prep school in Greenwich Village. Elisabeth Irwin was a progressive high school with a student body more celebrity than plebeian. There, the uniform was raggedy jeans (much as you see today), platform shoes/sandals, and ratty tees or peasant shirts, showing over an inch of skin.


Come college, I was the jean wearing Danskin girl with the knot (very ballerina-like at the top of my head). That knot moved to the side whenever I had a date. The good thing was that finally I  got to wear what I wanted, albeit my clothes were always pressed. Old habits are hard to change!
 

And just for the record, even today, I never wear knickers -- -at least not the bloomers of my childhood years. 

About Marcia King-Gamble
Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This former travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. Her free time is spent at the gym, traveling to exotic locales, and caring for her animal family.


Visit Marcia at www.lovemarcia.com or “friend” her on Facebook: http://bit.ly/1MlnrIS. Be sure to sign up for her newsletter.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

HAPPY EVER AFTER by J.C. Hay

ROMANTIC SF & SPACE OPERA AUTHOR J.C. HAY
I couldn't be prouder of being in the romance industry, or being part of the romance community. Every time I sit down to write, I get to tell the story of someone's "happily ever after" - a story about hope, growth, and healing that reminds me how important, how personal those themes are to me. And while it might be easy to feel like an outsider, or an interloper, given how few men write romance, I'm reminded again and again that I'm welcome, and a valued member both locally and when I visit nationals. For obvious reasons, I tend to stick out when I enter a room, which is not easy when you're a bit of an introvert, so the kindness and acceptance really is wonderful.

My journey to romance was so tightly tied to my reading science fiction that I didn't think you could separate them. Relationships formed the core of everything I was consuming - Anne McCafferey, and CJ Cherryh filled my bookshelves, while Star Wars and Robotech filled the big and small screens. In every case, the story was being driven by an emotional arc – healing through love, and recognizing the capacity to be loved. And it still felt like I couldn't see the forest for the trees. A few years into my publishing career, I had only had minor success selling SF&F short fiction when a dear friend took me to coffee at World Fantasy Con. I still recall looking out at the square when she said to me "You know you're writing romance right?"

I won't lie - I balked at the observation for the first several minutes. Internalized genre shame can be hard to push past, especially when you add in the complicated gender politics of writing in a genre that the industry traditionally dismisses as 'for women.' Fortunately we kept talking about it, and I realized that she was right. At the core of my stories it had always been about the relationship, and while I had been actively trimming the HEA from my writing to make it more salable in other markets, I'd maintained in my head that a happily ever after was possible. When I returned home from the conference that year, I submitted my first story to Samhain Publishing and the rest is history.

This fall, I'll be releasing a new space opera novel as part of the Great Space Race shared series, which will also include stories from Teresa Noelle Roberts, Elsa Jade, Sabine Priestly, and CJ Cade. These have been great fun to write, trading my dark world for a brightly lit future and teams zipping across the galaxy in an interstellar version of the Amazing Race for a futuristic reality show. Suffice to say, wacky hijinks will ensue. And just last month, I released the third book in my cyberpunk romance series. Each book explores a near future Earth, where cybernetic mercenaries fight shadow wars for corporate giants, and find that sometimes redemption is the hardest fight of all. The first book in that series, Dubai Double-Cross, is on sale for 99 cents, and I've included an excerpt below.

Dubai Double Cross
Blurb
Elise is looking for an exit. Too many years as a top-talent thief in the digital shadows have whittled away her patience and her humanity. She’s not looking for complications, but with one more job, she’ll finally have enough money to leave the life for good.

Na’im does what he must to survive. Whether it’s selling his body to the corporate glitterati, or going on the run when things get bad – but even a survivor can be caught off guard, and his boss’s murder has left him with no one to trust but a thief with her own agenda.

Together, they’re on the run trying to figure out who framed them both and stay one step ahead of the murderer who’s close behind. Trust is a rare commodity for accidental lovers, but in a dark future where everything can be upgraded and emotions can be programmed, sometimes all that can keep you human is your heart.

Excerpt
“Can do, Elise.” The name felt odd to use. An elegant, feminine name, it felt inadequate for describing the no-nonsense woman he’d seen take charge of the situation.

A situation she created, and controls, Na'im reminded himself. A situation that started with the murder of your employer. A sudden stab of pain and guilt wrenched through him at the thought of Jalila, dead in her suite of rooms. He knew the feelings weren’t all real. Her surgeons had implanted his love and loyalty as easily as they had put in the memory cortex. But there had been real emotion as well, he was certain.

She had pulled him up from the bottom of the spire, and installed him as the bishop to her all-powerful queen. Her death threw everything into chaos. In that, Elise’s declared innocence made sense. Elise’s job became twice as difficult with a murder investigation surrounding it.
Still. Someone had killed Jalila. And that someone was at large. They could even be watching them now. A cold tingle tightened the skin between his shoulders.

He glanced over his shoulder at the two guards. The one without the cup had a hand to his jaw, mouthing in the universal sign of someone using a bone-induction communicator. The guard nodded and elbowed his partner, before stepping out into the crowd, scanning faces.

Na’im risked a glance at Elise, but she hadn’t noticed the guard. She continued to move forward through the crowd, heading for a way out. He tugged her around a corner, hopefully out of sight of the patrol. She opened her mouth to protest and he covered it with his.

She froze, one hand still balled into a fist on his shoulder, then relaxed and melted up against him. She stood shorter than Jalila, and he had to bend slightly to keep their lips matched. Not that she seemed to mind. Her hand traced his shoulder and his skin came alive, accompanied by a familiar tightness in his core.

Despite his body’s response, or perhaps because of it, he broke the kiss. Her gray gaze went soft as she leaned against him, lips tantalizingly parted. His mods kicked in, pointing out the increased swell of her lips, the capillary flush to her cheeks, the slight dilation of her pupils. Her level of arousal was easy to read, declaring that she’d enjoyed the kiss as much as he had. 

He checked for the guards to distract himself from his body’s response. They’d moved, scanning the crowd actively, but they had started off in the opposite direction. He took a deep breath to recover his center. “Sorry. The guards were looking for someone. I figured we needed to hide, so I improvised.”

She blinked and her eyes went from clouds to iron. “Good thinking.”

Bio
JC Hay writes romantic science fiction and space opera, because the coolest gadgets in the world are useless without someone to share them.
In addition to Romance Writers of America, he is also a proud member of the SFR Brigade (for Science Fiction Romance), the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Romance chapter, and a proud member of RWA’s PAN (the published authors network).

Links:
Newsletter Sign-Up (get a free Corporate Services short story!): http://jchay.com/mailing-list-sign-up/
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Follow me on Twitter @j_c_hay: https://twitter.com/j_c_hay


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Back to School Days by Lynn Lovegreen

I loved school as a kid—I started telling people I was going to be a teacher in first or second grade. And I did become a teacher, so I continued going to school most of my life. August was always an exciting time, as I thought about going back to school and what great things might be in store.

Now that I’m retired, the heady anticipation of this time of year is gone. But I still love back to school sales. As a writer, I’m still attracted to all those notebooks and pens and such. 




I don’t need to buy much for myself. So I donate to a school supply drive. It’s a win-win situation, where I can give in to retail temptation and a student or two gets fun school supplies to start the year.

I encourage you to do the same. Check with your local school or community group to find a school supply drive, and donate a little or a lot. Happy back to school days, whether you’re going back to school yourself, sending a child to school, or it’s a just fond memory!




Lynn Lovegreen grew up in Alaska, and still lives there. She taught for twenty years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Preserving your Voice


Hi everyone! I am YA author B A Binns , writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for teens. My tagline tells you what I am about - Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them. 


This is my second post on that super-elusive quality called Voice. The first post (which you can find at VOICE: It's All About You) came back in March, fittingly occurring as I was beginning the first of what ended up being three different rounds of revisions for my debut middle grade novel, Courage. I craft stories for kids. I am not one of those prolific writers who can curn out multiple books every year.  My first YA novel was published by Westside Books in 2010. Courage, which will be released in 2018 from Harper Collins, is only my fourth published novel. In between I have written several short stories and have two stories in progress.  Like a chisel wielding stone artisan, I work slowly, clawing out a finished product one chip at a time. At least my chosen media is slightly more forgiving than rock. When I mess up, I get to delete and rewrite with a keyboard.

For me, crafting a novel means doing that over and over again. The roughest part for me is figuring out how to perform major revisions without loosing my initial vision, my Voice.

Voice is hard to describe, but it’s something you just know when you hear it. Think of music. Christmas approaches (I know, I can barely believe how much of this year has gone myself).  Various artists will be releasing their versions of the old standards. Same old words, same old story, but different people find different artists compelling, singing standards that stand out because of the arrangement; the Voice.

I ponder this because I came face to face with the issue over the last few months while doing final revisions for Courage. As I said in another prior post, Revision and Editing are not the same things. Revision can involve making major changes to improve the story and reading experience. Those changes can encompass everything. Everything except dismantling the novel's basic core and theme. That has to remain to keep the voice intact.

At its core, Courage is about brotherly love and is a retelling of the Prodigal Son parable told from the point of view of the good brother who now fears the older brother he once loved and revered. I typed The End on this story in 2015. It was acquired by Harper Collins in 2016. Revisions began earlier this year for the 2018 release. Let me say that my editor is a wonderful woman. She’s interesting, loves books, and has near infinite patience. She also saw parts of the story she really wanted changed. I had to both listen to her, and remain true to the theme that moved me.

However, over the years, my own voice had changed. The 2016 elections played a large part in that, along with many of the issues plaguing people of color in America, including children of color. As I did the revisions, I realized there was no way that could not leech into my story. I was amazed to find how the personalities of several characters changed as I plowed through the revisions. But the innermost story of redemption remained strong.

As I said in my prior post on Voice, an author’s voice is the sum of their life experiences. That is the thing editors and agents prize more than they do the author’s plot. Lots has happened to me, my life and my world in the last two years. When called on by my editor to rework the ending, my updated Voice licked it’s lips and took control.

Our writer’s voice constantly evolves. That sometimes has us looking back on our body of work done years earlier and being astounded. We evolve, change, come up with things that are different because we ourselves evolve. Remember that when dealing with critique partners, beta readers, and editors. I’ve heard of writers revising to please them until their once vibrant and lively story turns voiceless. No editor or agent I know is interested in a story without a compelling, leap off the page and suck readers in, Voice.  It is Voice that makes writers. As someone said, there are only so many plots in the world. What makes a story original, what makes it yours instead of someone else’s, is how Your Voice tells Your Story.

On a related note: a number of editors, agents and award-winning authors are giving away critiques as a way to help the new a new organization, KIDLITNATION.com. Kidlitnation will use the funds to help #ownvoices. be heard. Today, August 9, is the final day of the raffle, if you are interested, take a look at the array of talent you can bid on at http://kidlitnation.com/home/own-your-voice/fundraising/. This is a chance to get feedback from industry experts on your Voice and your manuscript.