Finding Valentine’s (Every) Day

It’s hard to believe that Valentine’s Day is upon us once again. As a romance writer, in many ways it symbolizes the genre wholeheartedly and I feel like I should pay homage to it.

But I would argue that romances give us the chance to celebrate love every day of the year. I have had people ask me why they would want to read a book were they already know the ending.

I argue that you might know that the couple will end up together, but the true romance and excitement of the story is HOW they end up together. What obstacles – whether internal or external – do they need to overcome to find that special someone?

That’s what makes romances interesting to read.

Everyone has a different idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day. And those variations also apply to the romances we pick up and read as well. Each one has a different flavor or nuance that takes us on the journey to that HEA. So enjoy your Valentines whenever the mood strikes you.

 

A Writer’s Spring Fever

Spring is coming in a few short weeks and I am so very excited. We had a LONG winter where I live, and the idea of flowers, green grass, and sunshine pushes away the winter blahs.

There is something invigorating about spring. It’s a fresh awakening. As a writer, that holds a special appeal. For me, there are several “spring-like” steps to my writing process.

Writing lets me delve into new worlds, new plots, new characters, new mysteries, new romances…something that I haven’t experienced or written before.

Right now I’m reading through my manuscript before I send it to my editor for detailed edits, and I realized that as I make tweaks to scenes, I am planting seeds. Making it the best it can be, before my editor gets a hold of it and REALLY cleans it up – I guess you could say she’ll be doing a spring cleaning on it 🙂  (sorry couldn’t help myself  with that one).

But I’m happy that sunshine is finally making its way into my little corner of the world. And if I’m lucky, I hope it continues to shine in my work as well.

The Best Kind Of Fortune

This weekend I ordered Chinese food. With it came the obligatory fortune cookie. I always read the fortune even if I don’t finish the cookie. Most of the time, I forget the words that appear on the small rectangle of paper before I have even walked out of the restaurant.

Every so often, a special fortune comes along and I hold on to the slip of paper as a reminder. This one was a doozy.

“Romance stirs your heart – share it with others.”

Pretty appropriate for me, the romance author. Perfect you might say and timely – including the closeness to Valentine’s Day. It’s as if I get these little cosmic pushes telling me to keep writing and telling my stories. And that’s important. Sometimes you wonder if the writing is paying off, then you get a reminder of why you need to keep going.

If someone enjoys my romantic mysteries (or mysterious romances) and possibly escapes whatever is bothering them for a short time, then why wouldn’t I keep writing them?

Since we are two days shy of Valentine’s Day, I will say that romance is something that should be shared, and I hope to continue sharing it through my stories.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I can feel romance in the air…and in the pages of a book.

 

 

Who is my Audience?

grandstand-330930_640Lately, I’ve been spending time thinking about my readers. As a writer, that is something I should do more often than not, because as I write my stories, I have to like what I create for myself, but I also need to write something that I hope my readers like as well. If I don’t, no one will read my stories and that is a writer’s biggest fear. Or it’s my fear, anyway.

When I look at my novels, I think about what comes into play and ultimately what my audience likes to read. My stories have humor, mystery, romance, and sarcasm, mashed together in a supernatural blender.

But ultimately the books circle around a recurring theme. My characters are on a search for self. Their journey includes various challenges, but the crux is about gaining confidence in yourself in order to trust the people. Without trust there is no chance for relationships or love.

Which means my audience likes funny, angsty, challenging mysteries with heart and growth. You guys are pretty sophisticated!!

So there is a little bit of everything in my stories. If you’re a current reader, thank you for your amazing support. If you’re new to my books and are considering joining audience AE then I just want to say…

Welcome and enjoy the show!

 

On An Adventure I Go!

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As you read this, I am heading off to attend Romance Writers of America’s National Conference! This year’s destination? San Diego! Yahoo!

There is something so amazing about RWA’s annual conference. As an author, I am surrounded by other authors who just get ME. They understand about the voices and the ideas that never quite go away. It’s like we speak our own language – a writer’s version of pig latin, if you will.

Being surrounded by 2000+ people in the business of writing helps me recharge, regroup and learn about craft and publishing. And of course, I get to meet up with my fellow writing friends live versus through social media. It’s wonderful to spend real time with them and catch up on their successes and challenges.

So during the week, I will try to post out on Twitter and Facebook as interesting things occur. Keep an eye out for that, my friends. And of course, I’ll let you know how things went in next week’s blog as well!

Off I go!!

Knowledge is Power

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I recently attended an all day writing conference featuring best selling author, Bob Mayer. Hours of advice and teaching that had my brain hurting by the end of the day – but hurting in a ‘good’ way.

There are so many things I could share with you from that day, but I am going to spend time on two.

The Original Idea

Bob stressed the importance of this. Ultimately it is the seed that starts your story. And many writers can get stuck on the idea. But one of the things that resonated with me from this part of the talk was when he said: “Where’s the shiver?”

What excites you about the story? What excites the people you tell it to? Does it have umph? Emotion? Passion? THAT is what makes a good idea.

Character

To Bob, the character is the most important part of the story. And here is where the talk got interesting. He said that a character’s turning points can be described as follows:

  1. What does the character want?
  2. What does the character really want?
  3. What does the character need?

As we know in life, wants and needs don’t always go hand in hand. The same goes for character. It’s definitely an interesting way to look at characters and their development.

One of  the tidbits of wisdom in discussing character and plot development was when he said that if the protagonist as they exist at the beginning of the book were thrown into the climactic scene at the end, they would fail.

Why? Because the character has to change and grow as the story progresses so that they CAN face their fears and the climatic scene at the end!

Cool stuff, huh? Do you understand why my head was hurting in a good way?

Before I sign off of my blog today, which is Memorial Day here in the US. I want to take a moment to thank the men and women who have served in our armed services. Your dedication and sacrifice should never be forgotten. Thank you.

 

Twas the Night Before Nationals

In lieu of my normal Monday blog, I decided to write a poem in preparation for heading to RWA Nationals tomorrow…I hope you enjoy!

Twas the night before Nationals and all through the land
Writers were frantically making plans;
Shopping, last minute laundry and packing their bags
With clothes, costumes and extra cool swag;
In preparation for their upcoming trip
Where they will travel by train, car, plane, or ship;
To the isle of New York, the city that never sleeps
Which is a good thing since the city will find it hard to keep…
These writers in check.

So much to learn, absorb and explore
With workshops and spotlights and book signings galore;
Camaraderie, networking, and just plain fun
Contracts will be signed and awards will be won;
Before we know it the week will come to a close
And we will return home to write our own prose;
But not without new memories and life-long friends
Who become our cheerleaders and remind us in the end…
It comes down to Romance.

Mind Sweeper is a RITA Finalist!

Hello my followers! I am so excited to let you know that I got THE call today. Today is the day that Romance Writers of America® announces the finalists for the Golden Heart® and RITA® awards. The Golden Heart is for unpublished writers and the RITA award is for published writers.

If you have been following me for a while, you will remember that in 2013 I got the call for Mind Sweeper. It was a finalist in the Golden Heart for Paranormal Romance. And I was blessed to win my category in 2013.

Today I got the call that Mind Sweeper is a DOUBLE finalist in the RITA’s for first book and for paranormal romance. I am so happy and thankful for this and I wanted to share it with you. If you would like to check it out on the RWA site, click HERE

So what did I do when I got the call? Honestly? I burst out crying. Could barely talk. I’m not sure where the emotions came from, but the minute I heard the words ‘I’m calling from RWA’ I started to cry. And then when I was finally pulling it back together, I heard the words that I am a double finalist. Holy guacamole, Batman!

I wanted to thank you all for your wonderful support over these last few years including following my self publication path. Special shout out to my NEORWA and Lucky sisters! And thanks to my friends and family who put up with me on a daily basis… This is the type of news that makes all the work worth it!

What a glorious day it has been!

Mind Sweeper Release Day!

Wow, I bet you never thought we would get to this day, right? Well, we made it! It is Mind Sweeper’s birthday and how am I celebrating? Right now, I am typing this post, eating yogurt and wearing a tiara. Yes, you read that right, a tiara. On this auspicious occasion I spared no expense and went to the dollar store and bought myself a tiara and wand (they came in a two for one pack, so why not?). And I did this because it IS a special day even if most of it will be spent sitting in front of my laptop with my cat on my lap. That is how I write most of the time, so it makes sense that I will also spend today doing the same thing!

But I also have some really fun things happening today that you should check out as well. I am on two great blog sites!

Check out my interview on Reading Frenzy by clicking HERE

I am also on Romance Junkies today talking about why a mystery lover like myself writes romance. Come read all about it HERE

And tonight from 8-9 pm EST I will be having a Twitter party to celebrate all things Mind Sweeper. You can follow along by searching on #mindsweeper. You can also ask questions too, just make sure to use #mindsweeper in your tweet and I will see it. There will be other authors participating AND there will be GIVEAWAYS!

So before I end this, I thought I would share the selfie I took so that I could immortalize my tiara and wand celebration. Thanks for celebrating today with me!

AE

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Writer’s Process Blog Tour

Hello all! This week I am changing things up a bit on my blog. I am participating in the Writer’s Process Blog Tour. So what is it, exactly? Each Monday, authors from all over the globe answer four questions about their writing process and then ‘tag’ another author to answer these same questions the following week. So far, the blogs I have been reading are fascinating! Every writer does things a little bit (or a whole lot) differently than the last.

I have been ‘tagged’ by the extremely talented author by the name(s) of Amy DeLuca/Amy Patrick. No, she does not have a split personality. She writes YA (Young Adult) under the name of Amy DeLuca and NA (New Adult) under the name of Amy Patrick. She is a 2013 and 2014 Golden Heart® finalist, which is how I met Amy last year. In August, she will be releasing CHANNEL 20 SOMETHING, her first novel in a new NA series. I have been lucky enough to have a sneak peek of this book and it is a winner! Visit Amy at her NA website here, or her YA website here. Or on Twitter.

Okay…on to the questions!

What am I currently working on?

I am currently working on A LOT. I am completing final proofreading on my 2013 Golden Heart® winning novel, Mind Sweeper that will be released in the fall. Yay! (Sorry for the shameless plug, but I am so proud of this book!). It is the first book in my Mind Sweeper series. I am also completing first edits on my novella which is book two in the series as well as my second full length novel, Shifter Wars, which will continue Kyle, my heroine’s, story. And with all of this comes the decisions inherent with self-pubbing. I am juggling a lot. Some days I juggle tennis balls and other days I juggle chainsaws (don’t try this at home), but as long as I keep things in the air and don’t shed too much blood, I’m calling it a ‘win.’

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

You know, this one is a toughie. There are so many phenomenal paranormal romance and urban fantasy writers out there that I am in awe of and who are each unique in their own way. But if I really think about my writing, I would say it has a great combination of the fantastical and the funny. I look at my writing as delving into ‘normal’ situations and putting a paranormal (and therefore oftentimes humorous) twist on it. And I love independent heroines who think that they are in charge of their lives and their emotions, but in reality have a lot to learn, including how to trust.

And that is the cool thing about writing. You can have universal themes that work across the genres. Women with trust issues can be wearing hoop skirts in a historical, a gun and badge in a suspense or be sporting fangs in a paranormal. But the ability to let someone close to you and love them is relatable to everyone.

Why do I write what I write?

I have been addicted to books my entire life, so it isn’t too hard of a leap that I have also been writing for a long time. But in the last 5 years, I really started to take my writing seriously and that is when I wrote my first paranormal. I absolutely loved, loved, loved, the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all of the paranormal shows that have evolved since then. There is something wonderful about creating a world of ‘other beings’ that have powers that we can only begin to imagine, but struggle with the same issues we as everyday humans face (love/hate, trust/betrayal, good/evil). And world-building that is involved with writing paranormal is my idea of heaven.

As for why I write romance, I guess you could say it is because relationships are the basis of everything in life and make stories and characters more interesting. I grew up reading mysteries and I love them, because I love solving puzzles, but wow does it take a long time for a relationship to blossom in one. Dead bodies are cropping up left and right, but it isn’t until book five when the plucky independent heroine and the sarcastic cop finally, finally, finally kiss! So my books have paranormal characters usually solving some kind of mystery and falling in love at the same time. I guess you could say I write romanstery or mysterance!

How does my individual writing process work?

Now on to the final and hardest question. I have been reading all of my fellow writer’s blogs on this and I am amazed at the intricate process many of them follow. But we are talking about me now and I can tell you emphatically that I am NOT a plotter. I actually have a tendency to jump around when I write. Which if you know me personally is VERY ironic since I am extremely meticulous in my day job. Spreadsheets and project plans are my friends during daylight hours. But when I put on my writer’s cap and sit down to create, I do not write an outline or synopsis. I start with the kernel of an idea. It could be about a character, it could be about a situation. And if that kernel rattles around enough and bursts open, I have to write it down. I equate it to a movie trailer. The idea flashes in my brain for a few seconds and it makes me want to see and write more.

I will tell you that I do write fairly complex plots (mystery lover, remember?) and a large cast of characters. Those two things are my main focus. Does my plot make sense? Did I leave something flapping open in the breeze that readers are going to say, ’what about this?’ I make sure that my plot works and carries through the entire manuscript. And I love creating those, ‘oh crap’ moments that make the reader wonder how they will ever get out of trouble.

Then on to characters. Because when it comes down to it, that is what readers love and come back to again and again. So after my first draft when I am editing I make sure that I have really given my characters the back story to explain their motivation. Why does my heroine not trust? Why does my hero feel the need to save everyone? And this part is so hard because as writers our characters are three-dimensional in our heads, but that doesn’t mean that they are coming across that way on the page. That is probably where I spend most of my time in edits.

So there you have it. Now on to the fun part! I get to tag someone for next week’s blog. And Miranda LiassonI am lucky enough to tag my writer-friend and chapter mate, Miranda Liasson. Miranda was the 2013 Golden Heart winner for her series contemporary manuscript, Baby on Board, Help! And I am so excited to announce that she recently signed a multi-book deal with Entangled Indulgence for a contemporary series she is working on. I have read snippets of Miranda’s work and she is uber-talented. Check her out here. Or on Twitter.