Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Setting! Setting! Setting!

Female Bluebird on a sunny day.
Mourning Dove on a rainy day--Raindrops keep falling on my head...

In writing and photography, setting can mean everything. Just think if the dove had been in front of a bunch of shrubs. The raindrops falling on his head would have been lost. The bluebird against the blue sky made for a nice backdrop.

In writing, I try to have a setting that challenges my characters, or gives the reader a new experience. I’m in the Boundary Waters on a canoe trip right now while writing the next Arctic Wolf book due out next year. It’s different from being in Alaska, where the story starts, the Grand Cayman Islands, where I've visited or say …Texas, where I live now.

Shooting pictures on a rainy day gives a different setting than on a sunny day. The same with a story. It sets the mood. A rainy, foggy day makes you feel different from a sunny, bright day. A place can  make you feel differently about the weather too. A sunny day in Oregon was welcome. In Florida, a stormy day was welcome, to break up the monotony of the constant sunshine. I know. I lived in both places too. :)

Night and day photography can change the scenery, even if it’s the same exact scenery. The same with setting. At night, what goes on can be very different from what happens during the day.

Vantage point. I was taking pictures of mushrooms from their level, which meant getting out my door mat so I wouldn’t get all wet from the grass when lying down. Then comes the attack of the puppies. If I’m on the ground, I must be there to play with them.

I do the same with writing as far as vantage point goes. What do the shifters see when they’re in their animal form? They’re lower to the ground, nose to the ground, eye level, totally different vantage point from a human walking upright.

 I'm am the most important mushroom of all.

Sometimes you just want to highlight one person among all the rest. But if that little mushroom didn’t have all his fellow mushrooms standing behind him, would he have been as interesting? Maybe. But maybe not. So, it can be with writing–and photography, the secondary characters–mushrooms–that make the one stand out.

And those are my brilliant words of wisdom today!

Have a great day!!!

Terry Spear
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
Connect with Terry Spear:
Website: http://www.terryspear.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/421434.Terry_Spear
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TerrySpearParanormalRomantics
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TerrySpear
Wilde & Woolly Bears: http://www.celticbears.com

Monday, February 27, 2017

No, Really, I Have a Job by Shana Galen

When I first published, about a dozen years ago, writers talked a lot about not being taken seriously. Their families didn’t respect their writing time. Their friends thought their work was just a hobby. We gave and attended workshops on how to guard your time and not feel guilty about not answering the phone or the door to the bored neighbor who wants to have coffee.

I thought in 2017 this attitude had passed. After all, people are working more flexible schedules now, and with the advances in technology, more people work from home. Personally, I feel like I’ve proven myself to anyone who might question whether writing is my job or just a hobby. I’ve published over 30 books with four more releasing this year. What else do I have to do to be taken seriously?

Apparently, I have to get an office. There seems to be something about physically going to an office to work, as opposed to the kitchen table or a home office, that is magical. An office away from home magically legitimizes your work. I’m being sarcastic…sort of. But I don’t know how else to account for family member requests that I babysit their children during work hours, for friends that ask me to meet them for breakfast after school drop off, or for the school itself who seems to expect me to put folders together or teach a lesson on gardening or collect boxtops during the school day. Even my daughter, who is seven, asks me at least once a week if I am a stay-at-home mom. I have told her a dozen times that I’m a work-at-home mom. Yes, my schedule allows me to pick her up when school ends. She doesn’t have to go to after-school care. Yes, I can take her to dance or gymnastics or playdates. Much of the time when she’s in an extracurricular class, I’m working on my computer. I spend a lot of my weekends working too. But since I don’t go to an office, like her father, all those books I write must just magically appear. No matter how many times I explain that I must work when she is at school, she seems skeptical.

My mother was a stay-at-home mom for much of my childhood, and she was always super busy. There was laundry and cleaning and cooking to do. And that’s a never-ending and thankless job. There is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom. If I wasn’t a writer and I could afford it, I would be a stay-at-home mom. I think a lot of moms wish they could spend more time with their kids. But even if I was a stay-at-home mom, that wouldn’t mean I would want to spend my day at the school or having coffee and chatting, or babysitting other people’s children. And I would never assume a stay-at-home mom had nothing to do. I always assume my stay-at-home mom friends have a daily schedule, just like I do.

And really that’s all I want. The common courtesy of treating me and my career with respect. No matter if I do it at home or in an office, whether I’m paid for it or do it out of love for my family. As a culture, let’s stop Jane Jetson-ing women. I’m referring to “The Jetsons,” a 1960s/1980s TV show that claimed to show us the future, and in that future women spent all their time at the mall. It’s a stereotype that, though not as blatant as it was in the 60s and 80s, is still with us today.

I’m not going shopping today. I can’t because No, Really, I Have a Job.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Taking a closer look

I recently signed up for yet another marketing course. I'm hopeless when it comes to the business end of things, and I don't know if this course will be any different from the others. (Yawn.) It might be. Their first lesson wasn't actually meant to be a lesson, but it was for me. They asked us to fill out a very short questionnaire. It took less than 5 minutes, so I managed to complete at least one homework assignment. I was genuinely surprised by my own answers. Here they are:
Why did you start writing?

I'm a creative person and I was in a non-creative job. As an RN my job was to carry out doctor's orders. Period. It stifled my creativity and left me tired at the end of the day.
Writing helped me express myself creatively, find my bliss, and eventually change my life. I now write full time.
How does your writing make people's lives better?
I've received 'thank you' emails, telling me my sense of humor and imagination helped provide readers hours of happy distraction from difficult real life situations. I get that. I began reading romance novels to do the same thing. Now I'm grateful to be paying it forward.
How does it change your feelings about marketing to think of it as "creating long lasting connections with people?"
I love meeting like-minded people. A lot of writers are painfully shy, but not this one!
I enjoy interacting with readers and fellow authors alike. Inspiration often follows these conversations and you never know when some interaction will wind up in one of my books!

And you never know when a marketing course might add some much needed encouragement.
Will this help me sell books? Who knows, but it helps my attitude about it. I'm not begging people to read my books. I'm offering a service--one that no one but me can deliver. Sure, there are lots of authors who write light paranormal romance, but there's only one Ashlyn Chase. No one can tell my stories but me. I write from my heart, my experience, and my beliefs. I write for myself, to improve my own life. The fact that it improves other people's lives and loves thrills and completes me.

Any other authors know what I'm talking about?
My latest GORGEOUS cover! This book is up for preorders now, and will be released this August.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I Am in Charge...


I’m trying to do my taxes, make bears, and write a book. Which means, the taxes are a necessary evil, and if I were in charge, I wouldn’t be doing them.

Making bears, yes, they’re fun. Writing the book, it’s on deadline, so again, I’m not in charge. The deadline is. Not to mention my characters are presenting scenes to me while I’m trying to do other things…like sleep…and so guess who else is in charge???

Then the puppies. Aww, my adorable puppies. I’m supposed to be the alpha, but until I feed them this morning, they will keep hounding me, which means I finally gave in, so, you can see who is in charge.

I am over halfway done on Flight of the White Wolf, yay!

And I sewed up a lilac bear for a Mother’s Day bear, which is just the beginning, and finished a golden mohair last night. But I have an order too, that needs to be done.

In January, yes of next year, Heart of the Wolf will be re-released with a new cover and a brand new novella included! It will be 10 years since its publication. It has actually already been ten years since I signed with Sourcebooks. A decade! Where has all the time gone? lol 

Have a wonderful day!

Terry Spear
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
Connect with Terry Spear:
Website: http://www.terryspear.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/421434.Terry_Spear
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TerrySpearParanormalRomantics
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TerrySpear
Wilde & Woolly Bears: http://www.celticbears.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Enter the Age of the Alpha Heroine

In romancelandia, much has been made of alpha heroes and how sexy they are. I’m not denying the sexy. At all. I want to be clear about that. If some amazingly hot Viking prince warlord pack alpha rock star waltzes into my fictional purview, I am not going to tell him to go away. But I also might want to introduce him to my friend, alpha heroine.

And sit back and watch for sparks.

I grew up reading eclectically: Barbara Cartland and J. R. R. Tolkien and Madeleine L’Engle and John le Carre and Dean R. Koontz. Basically whatever I could scrounge at the library and/or neighborhood yard sales on the cheap. And though I salivated over the growly and slightly menacing heroes in some of those swoony ‘80s romance novels, I didn’t want to be any of the heroines.

For the yearning to identify with protagonists who looked like me, I went to … well, I didn’t have a lot of options. L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was a great springboard, but the rest of that series devolved to dude-centric stories later on, and the girls didn’t have much agency. Mostly they served as plot enablers or prizes to be won.

Japanese anime and manga offered a mixed bag, but they were way ahead of the Babysitters Club in terms of girl-power. It was thrilling to see the pigtail-wearing, giggly schoolgirl take out, like, an army of shadow demons with her magical bazooka. My favorite adorable weaponized female was the All-Purpose Cultural Cat-girl Nuku-Nuku.

In the ‘90s some awesome kick-ass heroines carved a river of blood through popular culture: Buffy and Aeryn Sun and Sarah Connor, to name a few. And books started going that way, too. Y.T. and Nell in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and The Diamond Age, respectively, made me punch a heck-yeah into the air a few times.

That lit something elemental in me, the watching, reading about, and fangirling not just strong female characters but strong female characters who were at the center of the story, not shoved off to the side. Female characters who led armies and defeated villains and bled and made bad choices. Female characters who—no spoilers intended, but really, who hasn’t read Outlander?—could, and did, rescue their dudes. By themselves! Because they were badasses!

That was what I needed, as a reader. (Again: not making any of those pretty alpha boys go home. Neo and John Crichton and Spike and Angel can all stay. Also you Jamie Fraser. You can especially stay. Here, sit by me.)

(Eyes down here, mm'kay? Focus for just a few more sentences, and then you can scroll back up. Swears.)

In the end, I guess it was also what I needed as a writer. That spark. That hell-yeah Xena Warrior Princess warble. The Wonder Woman yell!

So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to introduce you to Mari, the alpha heroine in my book, Wanted and Wired (coming April 4, pre-orderable now).

She’s really nice. Unless you hurt her dude. Then she might murderize you. 

Pre-order at Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Vivien Jackson writes stories with robots, grenades, pixies, and always, always down-home salacious kissery. She's an unrepentant fangirl of many fandoms and would love to discuss your favorite ships here or here or here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Kim Redford’s Favorite Cowboy Business Card

Okay, I admit it. I needed a bit of a pick-me-up the other day while pounding away at my keyboard, but I never dreamed it was going to come in the way of . . .

I heard a lot of hammering, sawing, and deep male voices at my next door neighbor’s house. Not normal, to say the least. Curious and more than ready for a break, I grabbed a sweater and my cell phone. I stepped out my front door into cool crisp air and looked to the left past my front lawn. Low and behold, four tall, broad-shouldered, cowboy-hatted Texans were putting up white siding on the Mid-Century Modern brick house. As much as I appreciate MCM, pretty winter days, and redbirds in pecan trees, at that moment I appreciated the eye candy more.

A guy standing on the ground was cutting vinyl on sawhorses. He saw me, gave me a big grin, and called me over. He motioned at the three men on ladders, explained what they were doing, and wondered if I’d be interested in putting siding on my MCM. Up to that moment, I hadn’t considered it, but I was suddenly getting a hankering for vinyl—or at least the installation. I asked for his business card. He stopped and thought about it, felt of his pockets, shook his head, and explained that he didn’t have one with him. And then a light bulb obviously went off in his head. He grinned, flashing white teeth at me, and pointed up at his friend on a ladder facing the house. He called for him to come down and show us his shirt with the company logo so I could get a photo of it.

The long, tall Texan stopped what he was doing and climbed down the ladder—all with his back to me. He was wearing faded jeans, a light jacket, and a wide leather tool belt. He slowly shrugged one arm and then the other out of the sleeves of his jacket before he let it drop to be caught by his tool belt. And there, indeed, on the back of his long-sleeve T-shirt was the company logo and contact information.

Ah yes, I thought to myself, that had to be my very favorite type of business card because it was definitely enhanced by broad shoulders. As long as I’m admitting things, I guess I’d better go ahead and confess that I actually said that out loud. With my words hanging in the air, he looked over his wide shoulder, gave me a sly smile, and tipped his cowboy hat.
And so, I’m sharing my photo here just in case someone else might be in need of vinyl siding—or at least the business card.

About the Author:

Kim Redford is an acclaimed, bestselling author of Western romance novels. She grew up in Texas with cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, and rodeos for inspiration. She divides her time between homes in Texas and Oklahoma, where she's a rescue cat wrangler and horseback rider—when she takes a break from her keyboard. Visit her at www.kimredford.com.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Introducing SAVING MERCY

Hello Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to my newest novel SAVING MERCY.

A little bit about SAVING MERCY...

He’s found her at last…

Cain Killion knows himself to be a damaged man. His only redeeming quality? The extrasensory connection to blood that he uses to catch killers. His latest case takes a macabre turn when he discovers a familiar and haunting symbol linking the crime to his horrific past—and the one woman who might understand what it means.

Only to lose her to a nightmare

Mercy Ledger is brave, resilient, beautiful—and in terrible danger. The moment Cain finds her the line between good and evil blurs and the only thing clear to them is that they belong together. Love is the antidote for blood—but is their bond strong enough to overcome the madness that stalks them?

My Favorite Thing about SAVING MERCY...

Cain Killion.

He's the son of a serial killer who falls for his father's only surviving victim. 

Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending... after torturing them for three hundred pages. Her novels RACE THE DARKNESS and HUNT THE DAWN are available now. Be sure pre-order SAVING MERCY.

Abbie Roads Stalker Links:

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Island of Misfit Dogs

The Island of Misfit Dogs

While researching my Rocky Mountain K9 Unit series, I was impressed with the talented, real-life K9s working alongside law enforcement officers. It’s amazing what these brave dogs can do.

Photo courtesy of the Rochester Minnesota Police K9 Unit

Here on the Island of Misfit Dogs (i.e. my house), things are…well, a bit different.

Roadie and Wiley are Australian Shepherds. Thinking that they should be allowed to do what their breed was meant to do, I signed up for herding lessons. I quickly discovered that they were not interested in herding sheep. Or goats. Or anything, really. These lessons ended when Roadie, the poster child for canine ADHD, turned away from the sheep to follow a butterfly. Not even a squirrel. A butterfly. Sigh.

Cam, on the other hand, is a Great Pyrenees/Anatolian Shepherd cross. Her ancestors were livestock guardians, bred to hang out with the flock or herd and protect the livestock from predators. At my house, as soon as the coyotes start yipping in the distance, Cam runs inside the house and hides.

It’s not as if my dogs don’t have their own talents. Wiley’s a whiz at obedience, and Roadie kicks some furry butt in agility class. Cam… Well, Cam’s really good at digging holes and taking naps and rolling around in the dirt after a bath.

Sure, they might not herd or guard or be able to detect the twenty-one components of explosives or the faintest trace of cocaine, but they’re good dogs (especially while sleeping).

The first book in my Rocky Mountain K9 Unit series
Available June 6th, 2017

He lost his mentor.
He lost his K9 partner.
He almost lost his will to live.
But when a ruthless killer targets a woman on the run, Theo and his new K9 companion will do whatever it takes to survive—and save the woman neither can live without.

Grieving the death of his partner, Theo Bosco has no room in his life for distractions. Though his instincts scream that he should avoid Juliet ‘Jules’ Jackson, he can’t seem to stay away. It doesn’t help that Theo’s new K9 companion has fallen head over paws with Jules’s rambunctious family.

Or that when he’s with her, Theo finally knows peace.

When Jules rescued her siblings, whisking them away to the safety of the beautifully rugged Colorado Rockies, she never expected to catch the eye—or the heart—of a cop. Yet as Jules struggles to fight her growing attraction to the brooding K9 officer, another threat lurks much closer to home…

And this time, there’s no escape.

“I love Ruggle’s characters. They’re sharply drawn, and vividly alive. These are wonderful escapist books.”—Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series

Preorder your copy of Run to Ground at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Learning History from Fiction (by Asa Maria Bradley)

Désirée Clary
by François Gérard (1810)
Like many writers, I have always been a voracious reader. Luckily, my mom is also a book addict and happily enabled her daughters addiction.

My favorite stories were about human connection. Relationships between siblings, strangers, and soul mates fascinated me equally. I don’t remember the first romance novel I read, but I do remember shocking my Swedish seventh-grade history teacher by my extensive historical knowledge of how the current ruling family of Sweden was founded. All the kids in my class knew the event took place in 1818 by a French general named Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte.  And that he changed his name to Charles XIV John when he was elected heir presumptive to the Swedish throne. (The royal family was dying out because of too much inbreeding. Seriously!) We learned those details from our textbook.

But I was the only student who rambled on about King Bernadotte's queen, Desideria, and the challenges she faced when she first arrived at the Swedish court. I knew she’d once been the fiancée of Napoleon Bonaparte and that her real name was Bernadine Eugénie  Désirée Clary. I knew she was heartbroken when she had to leave Paris and go live in the cold north. I knew she found her new country chilly both in terms of the climate and the court’s opinion of her.

My extensive historical research came from only one book. In my mom’s library, I’d discovered Désirée by Anne Selinko. This 1952 melodramatic historical romance chronicles Désirée’s many tragic love affairs and unjust treatment by her indifferent husband and the snobbishness of the Swedish court. Although very one-sided, completely from the perspective of the queen, I ate it up. I didn’t even mind that the book was published twenty years before I was born.

If the melodramatic early teen-aged version of myself hadn’t sympathized with the Désirée character in Anne Selinko’s book, I’d remember as much about Charles XIV John’s reign as I do the other kings’ history that we covered in class that year—nothing. Not because I don’t like history—I do—and not because I had a bad teacher—my history instructor was my favorite and very good at his job. I just didn’t connect with the dull rendition of biographical details of the characters in my history book.

That’s why I read and write romance. I love the human struggle of the characters on the page and how readers connect and relate to the people in a novel. Without that connection, there is no story for me and the book won’t hold my interest. On the flip side, when I fall in love with a character and a plot, I’m likely to ramble on about it to my teacher in history class, to strangers in the grocery store check-out line, and apparently—decades later—to distinguished readers of a blog dedicated to writing romance. :-)

Do you have a favorite historical figure that you've read a fiction-based-on-real-facts novel about?

Asa Maria Bradley grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology and history steeped in Norse mythology, which inspired her sexy modern-day Viking series. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest with a British husband and a rescue dog of indeterminate breed. Booklist attributed her writing with “nonstop action, satisfying romantic encounters, and intriguing world building.” Her debut book, Viking Warrior Rising, was a 2016 double RITA finalist and the follow-up, Viking Warrior Rebel, is an RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee.
Visit her at www.AsaMariaBradley.com, follow her on Twitter @AsaMariaBradley, or connect with her on www.facebook.com/AsaMariaBradley.Author.