Monday, November 26, 2012

The Highlander's Hope

Woohoo!!! My crit buddy Calista Taylor is heading out on a new adventure. Under that name she's published an incredible steampunk craft book, 2 steampunk romances (Virdis & Devil on a Sparrow's Wing) and 2 grim reaper romances (JACK & For One Last Kiss).

Now, she branching out into the world of contemporary romance under the name Cali MacKay. Her first novel is called The Highlander's Hope and it's up for FREE!

Here's the blurb:

When Dr. Catriona Ross discovers clues to a long lost highland treasure, her only hope of finding the jewels is to obtain the help of Scotland's most eligible bachelor and playboy, Iain MacCraigh.

Iain can't believe his luck when he finds out the jewels are hidden away somewhere on his land-- and it doesn't hurt that the historian looking for them has curves to go with her smarts. With his brother betting the family fortune, this is the life line he desperately needs.

The odds are against them, and with word getting out about the jewels, they're not the only ones on the hunt. Time's running out, but can they learn to trust each other, or will they lose the jewels and true love in the process?


Sounds great doesn't it? And I can totally vouch for it! A sexy highlander, a smart & courageous historian & an elusive treasure - all kinds of awesome!

Book 2 in this new series - A Highland Home - is also available - and only $2.99.

Rowan Campbell is desperate for answers. She’s lived her life without knowing a thing about her father, her mother refused to speak of him, even on her deathbed. With her cheating fiancĂ© gone and no one else in her life, Rowan moves to her mother’s hometown in Scotland, determined to find the father she’s never known.

When Angus Macleod agrees to help a family friend move to Scotland from the States, the last thing he expects is to fall hard for the fiery redhead, who makes him rethink his bachelor ways. Looking for any excuse to spend time with Rowan, he’s more than happy to help her find her father, even if she’s skittish about committing to anything serious. But when Angus discovers Rowan’s mother left Scotland pregnant and terrified, he wonders how dangerous Rowan’s quest might be. Before long, Angus finds himself hindering rather than helping, despite knowing his actions could ruin any chance he has for happiness.

With Rowan closing in on her father’s identity, will Angus be able to keep her from harm? And will she ever forgive him for standing in her way?


So, pop off and try out Cali's latest stories - I hope you'll love them as much as I do!
Isn't it great when you get to celebrate a critique buddy's success? :) 


Friday, November 23, 2012

Five Things That Revolutionized my Writing by Jennifer St. George

Updated to announce the winner -- Natasha D!!
Congratulations. Please contact me or go to Jennifer's website to claim your prize!! :)

Please welcome Jennifer St. George to the blog today!

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Five Things That Revolutionized my Writing

Recently I developed a workshop concept with my fellow Destiny Romance author Louise Reynolds for the 2013 RWA conference to be held in Fremantle, WA in 2013. It made me think about the key concepts or ah ha moments that changed my writing for the better.  These are my top five: 
Getting My Writing Style Right!

I’m a planner.  Always have been but my writing style was true ‘pantser’.  It didn’t feel right, but I didn’t know how to fix it.  First Draft in Thirty Days by Karen Wiesner gave me the keys to unlocking the natural planner in me.  I credit this craft book with enabling me to write much more efficiently. 
I Want to be Just Like Her!

I ventured into my first RWA conference in Brisbane a few years ago and didn’t know a soul.  At the Awards Dinner, I watched as unstoppable Kylie Griffin scooped award after award.  I thought, I want to be just like her.  During a break I asked her was there any one thing that had made a big difference to her writing.  Enter Margie Lawson’s the EDIT system.  This logical, practical edit system shows things in your writing you might otherwise never see.  It can be tricky to master but stick with it.
The simple GMC

Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, Conflict is a wonderful tool for writers and I use it before I begin a book. However, my lovely friend, Desire author Rachel Bailey gave me a shorthand version that I keep ‘front and centre’ whilst I write.  Why not this woman for this man and why not this man for this woman?  So simple, yet so useful.
Emotional Order is Important

The talented Nikki Logan calls it the natural order of things, that is, how a character reacts to stimuli.  It’s important to have the order right starting with the visceral leading to the subconscious and ending with the conscious.  This is how we react in every day life. For an author, it is important to capture this on the page, or the reader may feel something is not quite right.
Always Finish the Book

The very first craft workshop I attended was given by the phenomenal Melanie Milburne. She taught me so many things that I’ve used everyday in the years since in developing my writing skills. One piece of advice that really made an impression was, always finish the book.  Again, sounds so simple, but without that advice I probably would have begun many different books without actually finishing them.  As she said, how do you know how to write ‘the middle’ and ‘the end’ if you’ve never done it?
Combined, these five concepts progressed my writing to a higher level.  Perhaps some of these ideas will provide other aspiring writers with that wonderful ah ha moment!

Find Jennifer on the web:

Website                Facebook        Twitter          Author Page

Buy Her Book:

Destiny Romance              Amazon       iTunes

 The Convenient Bride

Sienna De Luca will do anything to save her family's hotel, and ruthless Italian businessman Antonio Moretti knows it. With problems of his own, he proposes a marriage of convenience and plans to use Sienna to secure his next business deal. But things don't go quite according to plan.

 In keeping with her part of the bargain, Sienna travels to Venice to be with Antonio, who introduces her to a life of great luxury and opulence. As befits the fiancĂ©e of the famous Antonio Moretti, Sienna is given a new wardrobe of designer gowns and outfits and instructed exactly how to behave when out in public. But after thinking he can manipulate her at his will, Antonio begins to realise he has seriously underestimated Sienna, her intelligence, her skills, her courage – and her beauty. Unexpectedly, Sienna gets too close and when she discovers his dark secret, Antonio's perfectly planned life begins to unravel.

 I will be giving a Kindle copy of The Convenient Bride to one lucky commenter here today!

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I love this advice! It's amazing how a small comment can turn around your whole thinking!! What piece of advice has helped you most in your writing?
 
Good luck to everyone in the draw for the e-book!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Laura O'Connell: Don't Be Stuck on a Desert Island!

Please welcome Laura O'Connell to the blog today!

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 At a book signing we all wish we could be J.K. Rowling with a line of readers, waiting to have their book signed, extending to around the block. Unfortunately, for most of us it feels like we’re stuck on a desert island waiting for someone to come and rescue us.

Unless you’re a well-known and long-established author, book signings can leave you feeling lonely, disillusioned and unappreciated, however, they’re a good way of getting your face and name out to the reading world. Here are a few tips you might like to try to engage with readers as they come into the store.

1.       Don’t stand behind the table. It puts a barrier between you and your reader. Standing at the front or to the side makes you more approachable. Draw them into conversation starting with something like, “Hello, I’m a visiting author today…”.

2.       Build a relationship. Some readers are shy. They avoid eye contact and will take a roundabout way to get to the shelves they want. When there’s no one waiting for me to sign a book at the table, I come alongside these shy people and start talking about some of the books on the shelves. I ask them what books they’ve read or which authors are their favourites. It’s not long before they say they saw me over at the table when they walked in and ask what I’m doing. That’s the moment I start talking about myself and within minutes others will come to see what we’re talking about.

3.       Understand the book stores’ customers. Some customers know exactly what they want and will not be side-tracked from their mission. They’ve been here before and know the layout. Let them complete their task. You won’t engage them in a conversation until they’ve made their purchase. Then they have the time to see what else is going on. Take time to approach them and engage them in conversation.

4.       As soon as they enter the store, some readers want to know authors. This type of reader will come up to the table and ask what you’re doing. Start the conversation by talking about them. They’ll be impressed you’re taking time to listen to them. Before long the conversation will switch to you and then you can talk about yourself and your book.

Don’t be shy during a book signing. Reach out to others and the majority will respond in a positive way. Being an author is all about building a relationship with your reader, a bookstore signing is an excellent way of meeting your readers face to face.
About Laura O’Connell
Laura enjoys writing stories about second chances in love and life. She calls the Gold Coast home, however, her curious nature leads her on adventures to locations that surprise and delight her. Laura has a passion for telling a good story set in places where she has lived and travelled. Her first book, African Hearts, was shortlisted in the 2011 Caleb Prize.

Laura around the web:
Website             Facebook              Twitter        Author Page

Book Blurb – Web of Lies
High school sweethearts, Stephanie and Lachlan are torn apart by circumstance, bad decisions and a web of lies, leaving an unknown future for their son, Ryan.
Eight years later they reconnect, but the time apart has changed them. The family had made decisions based on lies and deceit and now must find a way to either reveal the truth or find another option. On the surface, their arrangements seemed flawless, but dig deeper, and the people they thought they knew aren’t as they appear.
Lachlan and Stephanie are forced to confront the consequences of their actions and the entire family is compelled to reveal the truth, find forgiveness, and renew loving one another. But the hardest decision is still to come … where does Ryan live?

Buy Links:

Amazon                  Amazon UK


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Thanks Laura! Good advice! Making the time to speak to the customers about their interests is very smart!!

How about you? Does the thought (or reality) of a booksigning terrify you? Or are you one of those calm and cool types? (If so, I'm jealous!! - any more tips?) :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Word Sprints

I'm over at From the Write Angle today with my final (probably) post on Twitter hashtags for writers. One of the tags I mention is #nano. As most of you know NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month where a bunch of crazy writers (like me!) attempt to write a 50k first draft in 30 days.

As part of NaNo, there are word sprints to help you maintain the pace. If you follow @NaNoWordSprints, you'll see there's almost always a word sprint going on. Word sprints are timed 'races' where you try to get as many words time during the time limit - anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour from what I've seen. There are no prizes in this race - well, except a boost to your word count.

I don't always announce that I'm joining a sprint on twitter, but I often race along with the other writers. It's fun to see how the word counts match up.

Those in charge of the sprint will often throw in a dare or a challenge - things to add into your scene. Lost sock. Karaoke. Someone is killed on or by roller skates. Or maybe the dare will be to add in a challenge word - like alien or debris.

I rarely take up the dares because they don't usually work for my story, but they often make me smile. Last year one of the challenges was to add in a wild animal. My character was driving through the mountains and that dare added in a great scene about a run in with a moose. So, sometimes they do work out well. Regardless of the dare, the sprints are fun!

Have you ever tried word sprints? Do they work for you too?

(If you have time, I'd love to have you join the discussion over at From the Write Angle!)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Helen Lacey with a Giveaway!

Updated to announce the winner! Congratulations to Jess over at The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow!! I'm email you with the info!

Today I'd like to welcome Helen Lacey to the blog!

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How To Handle Deadlines : Writing Under Pressure
I have to admit I actually enjoy deadlines. It’s a buzz getting things in on time. If I make a commitment to get something to my editor on a certain date I will always endeavour to meet that obligation. Of course, it’s not always easy or smooth sailing. Things often crop up – family and other work etc. can easily derail plans and corrode much needed concentration. One trick, I’ve discovered, in all aspects of writing, whether it’s at the start of a project or pushing to finish revisions or edits, is to maintain a solid work/life balance.
 
Prior to working as a full time author I had a career as a retail manager for a department store and I lived and breathed deadlines. Although I didn’t realize it at the time this job put me in a good position to handle the deadlines I get now. I’ve known other writers who work a day job and meet commitments and deadlines without a hitch, but when it comes to the writing work, things often fall apart. Many years ago a prominent Mills & Boon author gave me an important piece of advice – protect the work. This is particularly significant when handling deadlines and the pressure that comes with it.
 
If it’s a revision deadline then I will take a day or so to go through the notes from my editor, take into account anything extraneous that’s happening – like a book release, a blog tour, or anything in my personal life (family weddings or holidays as an example) and then create a workable plan of action in a diary/notebook. If I have thirty days until deadline then I take out the number of days I need for the ‘other’ things I need to do and then allocate the revision time accordingly. So my thirty day deadline might in fact look more like twenty days once the time I need for other parts of my work and life are taken into account. Then I will work out a schedule of how many hours a day I need to meet that commitment. When I worked my old day job I would often say to my staff, ‘plan your work, then work your plan’ – and that’s how I approach writing deadlines. This is my way of protecting the work – keeping the balance and ensuring that commitments are met, both personal and professional. And the good thing about having an action plan – it can be changed if things around you change.
To celebrate the release of my second Harlequin Special Edition, Marriage Under The Mistletoe, I have a signed copy to give away to one commenter.

Helen around the web:
Web            Facebook         Twitter              Author Page

 MARRIAGE UNDER THE MISTLETOE

Strong. Sensible. Dependable. That was Evie Dunn's type. Certainly not young, fearless gorgeous firefighter Scott Jones. She knew the wisest course was to keep her distance, but she couldn't resist the allure of a holiday fling. Now the widowed single mom found herself with an unexpected post-Christmas gift—she was having Scott's baby!

Scott came to Crystal Point to see his sister tie the knot, not fall for the alluring owner of the town's oceanfront B and B. He knew he was all wrong for Evie, but he would do anything to win her heart and build the family he'd always wanted. All he had to do was persuade Evie to take the biggest risk of her life…on love.
Read an Excerpt


Buy Links:

Harlequin             Amazon       Amazon UK        B&N      Book Depository
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Now, THAT's an organized approach! I'll have to keep that in mind for when I actually have deadlines! :) How, about you, do you like writing for a deadline? :)