Monday, October 16, 2017

Carol Kilgore & Gracie are HERE!!!

Please welcome my friend and fellow author Carol Kilgore to the blog today!

A Hot and Spicy Taste of Murder – and Beyond

Law enforcement consultant Gracie Hofner is assigned to a trendy San Antonio pastry shop to watch for a delivery. In addition to the intoxicating aromas of sugar and chocolate, she also has to fight her own attraction to the man working beside her, Donovan Beck. He’s a hunk and a half and perfect for a spring fling.

If she had more time, Donovan would rank higher on her to-do list. But the number one spot is occupied by her search for a missing little girl, the target of a killer. Gracie needs to find her pronto, and the odd super-instinct quirk that’s started plaguing her may help. If not, she can always see what happens if it tells her to buy a lottery ticket.

Jalapeno Cupcake Wench is the first book in The Amazing Gracie Trilogy, a story so big, it takes three books to tell it.

Brief Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Cold! Cold! Gracie Hofner looked down. I can’t believe I did that. While reaching for her buzzing phone, she’d poured the remains of her water bottle, intended for her impatiens, over her bare feet. She pressed the button. “Hi, Nicky.”
“Morning. I’ve got something you may want to see.” The voice on Gracie’s phone belonged to Nick Rivera, her partner.
Former partner. Their paths had been the same—patrol, homicide detectives, and then detectives in the San Antonio Regional Intelligence Center—SARIC. San Antonio Police Department all the way. Except unlike her, Nick had found his niche there.
In addition, they were friends. “Fun or work?”
“Nothing fun about murder, Gracie.”
She went inside for a pad and pencil, greeted by the aroma of the coffee that had brewed while
she jogged. “Are we cleared?”
“Negative. Double homicide. Missing family.”
“If the family’s missing, who’s dead?”
“Hector and Therese Cantu. You ever heard of Cantu Electric?”  
“Don’t think so.”
“Good reputation on the West Side. They’ve been around since my dad was a kid—started by Hector Cantu’s father back in the fifties. The old commercial was like Cantu can do. Hector’s son runs the business now. Mr. Cantu’s retired. Rephrase—now he’s good and retired. He and his wife are the deceased.”
She moved to the table and put her phone on speaker so she could take notes. “Who’s missing?”
 “The Cantus have three kids, two daughters and the son, all grown. Besides the electrician business, the son owns an upscale retail lighting store. High end only. Kim and I went in there after we bought our house. I couldn’t afford a switchplate, much less a lamp or fixture. The son and his family are missing.”
“How many?”
“Three. Husband, wife, daughter.”

Visit the “Look Inside” feature here to read more: 

About the Author:

In addition to Jalapeno Cupcake Wench, Carol Kilgore is the author of three romantic suspense novels: In Name Only, Solomon’s Compass, and Secrets of Honor. She’s married, guardian to two quirky dogs, and lives in San Antonio, the setting for the trilogy.
Thanks Carol! Can't wait to read more from Gracie!!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IWSG & Me!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And we’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive! Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

October 4 question - Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

Not on purpose, no, but I think I have without realizing it until later.

Most of my MCs tend to have some element of me. Shyness. Awkwardness. Low self-confidence. Resiliency. Perseverance. Love of sports. Love of music. Compassion. Empathy.

Have to say, I was relieved when I realized I wasn't only passing along the traits I'm working on, but the ones I'm proud of as well!

How about you? Do you see echoes of you in your stories or in the stories you read?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mollie Blake & Dressed To Tell

Please welcome Mollie Blake to the blog today!


When I’m reading a book, I want to get to know the characters. If it’s well written, with a good story line to keep me hooked, they will get inside my head. One way I “see” them and begin to understand them, is from the way they dress. I won’t have much thought for a sophisticated business woman who isn’t wearing a suit. I’ll have more respect for her if it’s one by Ralph Lauren, for example.
And that’s the way I work in my writing. My characters are defined by their actions and words, but I also like to dress them appropriately. I will often scour magazines, photo websites, even high street advertising boards to find images that fit my characters.
Let me give you some of examples.
In Guiltless the hero is a photographer who doesn’t earn very much. This is quite an important factor in his make-up. Byron wears jeans and T shirts, drives an old Nissan truck and lives in a rundown farmhouse. This is one of my favourite images I have for him:

There is a scene in the book where Byron appears in “a black suit, grey waistcoat and stark white shirt with a narrow black tie.” This attire is totally out of character with the man Lauren, the heroine, has come to know. There is a reason he has to dress like this so I go into detail about his clothes, underlying their significance.
I have great fun “dressing” Lauren, the CEO of her own fashion house, who also wants to model their next range of lingerie herself. Here is an image I have on my website:

The high heels are important – Lauren is only five feet four inches and she wants to be taller. She is very comfortable wearing four-inch heels.
The images help me to use words so the reader can visualise the characters. Of course, if someone was ever to make a film of my book, my idea may not quite work. Anyone who has read Jack Reacher and watched one of his films will know what I’m talking about.

I also use visuals on social media. It’s a great way to connect with an audience and try to promote your book without splashing the cover everywhere all of the time. When you’re character is well developed and has been “living” inside you for a long time, it’s hard to pick out photos that make a good match. One way I avoid this is to use silhouettes, but I don’t want to over-use them. In some instances I take a photograph and cut the head off. It’s not as drastic as it sounds – the photo of Byron above is a good example.
I was lucky with the protagonist of my third book, Keeping You, which will be published end 2017,early 2018. When the reader meets this guy, Lawrence, he is quite the opposite of Byron. Lawrence Bane only wears designer labels. The reason for that lies in a damaged past when he never had control of his life. I drop names such as Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein and Karl Lagerfeld into my descriptions as often as he drops his pants! But there comes a time when Lawrence has to revert to bargain clothes. I have great fun contrasting descriptions, and again imagery helps me.
For example: Suit man

and Hoody man

My aim is to describe clothing to help both explain and determine the scene. In this example, one scene is about a proud man, protective of his privacy and his past. The other is a man filled with shame as he is forced, once more, to become the man he used to be.

In this article I stick to clothing, but my laptop is full of images of buildings, furniture, bouquets, cars… I could go on. Let me know what helps you to “tell” your story. 

Mollie Blake is a published author of contemporary romance. A lover of reading sexy stories, Mollie decided to go one step further and write her own. Her romances are filled with danger and peppered with hot sexy scenes. She is a member of International Thriller Writers and UK Romantic Novelists Association.
Connect with her on the web:
Website     Facebook      Twitter       Author Page
Managing Director of her own successful fashion house, Lauren Chandler should have everything going for her. But at twenty-nine, she finds herself single again, and bored. Seeking a new challenge in her life, under the guise of saving her company money, Lauren embarks on a mission to model their latest range of lingerie herself. She just needs a photographer. When Byron Lord makes an unusual proposal, Lauren is adamant he won’t win the contract.

Co-owner of Broadway Studios, Byron Lord is determined to provide job security to his off-beat workforce, and he needs Lauren Chandler’s help to do so. Byron may have underestimated how far Lauren would be prepared to go. He had definitely underestimated how much she would demand of him.

And with an ultimatum of her own, Lauren gets far more than she bargained for.
Buy links:
Enter to win signed copies on Goodreads!

Wow! I'm NOT a visual person so this is fascinating to me! I can't even tell you the hair colours of the MCs in the new book I'm attempting to plot! Very cool ideas here - and they totally work.

How about you? Are you a visual person? Do you use clothes in powerful ways like Mollie?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

IWSG & Surprises!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And we’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive! Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

September 6 Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in??

My poetry always surprises me. I don't write it all that often, but when I do it is often dark. Scary. Deep. Disturbing. Twisted. Definitely showing the darker side of humanity.

For those who don't know, I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense with light-hearted banter and doses of humour. Always with a Happy Ever After.

It's quite a contrast, but that's just the way it happens.

What about you? Any surprises in your writing? Do you write poetry too? Do you prefer the dark and twisted or the HEA?

Monday, August 28, 2017

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

Ay there's the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come...

Shakespeare had it right, (not Hamlet, never could stand that whiny character!), dreams are scary.

I'm a vivid dreamer. Always have been. My parents took me to a few doctors when I was young because they were so concerned about my nightmares. I used to scare the daylights out of my mom when I'd tell her my dreams. One night, when I was about 5, I relayed a dream that had her too scared to put her feet on the floor and go back to her room. I still remember that dream.

The doctors said I just had a vivid imagination.
No kidding.

No one in my family or extended family/friends dreams as vividly or as frequently as I do. I've become extremely skilled at pushing away the dreams when I wake up so that I can function throughout the day and not remain stuck in the nightmares and emotions (they can be overwhelming and sometimes debilitating).

Most family members and friends dream rarely and aren't troubled by dreams. Makes me curious.

Are people who are invested in fiction (readers and writers) more likely to dream and/or dream vividly?

So, do you dream a lot? Do you remember your dreams? Do you have nightmares?
Anyone else still able to quote most of that soliloquy? 

Curious minds want to know. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hold On, Reach Out

Hold on
     to the good
     with the strong

Reach out
     with both hands
     filled with love

Hold on
     to the true
     to hope

Reach out
     to the needy
     to the battered

Hold on
     with everything you have
     with everyone you love

Reach out
     with everything you can
     with all that you are

Hold on
     to love

Reach out
     to love

Hold on
Reach out

Hold on

Monday, August 7, 2017

Nicole Locke & Creating Characters

Please welcome Nicole Locke to the blog today!

It’ll happen to you someday. While creating your latest secondary character, who will eventually become a primary character, you draw a blank. 
Oh, you have the name, and a good idea of what they look like, but what makes them tick? What are their mannerisms?
Now those are two different character traits. One is based on motivation (abandonment issues), the other is a characteristic (hair twirler).
No problem, you’ve lived some years; you can make things up. Except…you can’t. You’ve used up all your own motivations. You can only address that bully in school for so long. You’ve even used all your own characteristics from your love for cake to your twitchy right leg. You’ve got nothing left in you. So it’s time to use your friends and family and reveal their likes/dislikes and their mannerisms.
Except, you’ve already run the gamut of relations and friends. Even your great Aunt Maude, who reportedly had three teeth and chuckled, was used for that hag in book three. You could watch people at airports, but you know from that brief observance you can’t glean the depth your character deserves. 
Something more is needed. Long ago, a fellow writer confessed to using Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs for creating characters. Easy enough, and incredibly helpful. Suddenly character motivations can be determined if you make their birthday in May, and know they are a Taurus. Your character can now be bull-headed and loyal. 
Except Sun Signs, as brilliant and useful as it is, doesn’t address the breadth of mannerisms needed when creating characters. Neither does Love Signs, which explores the different signs in relationships.
To make your character distinct from every character you’ve written, you need even more depth. My tip? Birthday books. 
These books are a wealth of quick information for 365 days of the year. That’s 365 distinct personalities. Some of them are detailed enough to give you motivation and characteristics. Do I recommend one book? No. Because you can’t get the depth you need from only one.
For example, I’ll use the birthday of November 11th.  The astrological sign is a Scorpio. According to one book, it says: If sports isn’t your career, it should be your hobby.  However, another book says: You’re defensive and suspicious. Both those reveals are gold when creating a character. And that character won’t match your other characters because they won’t share the same birthdate (I do recommend marking the birthdays you use).

So what happens when I’ve used up all the dates? I’ve thought of this, but I have no worries. I’ll probably be too doddering to remember, and will gleefully write them again.
Nicole first discovered romance novels hidden in her grandmother's closet. Convinced hidden books must be better, Nicole greedily read them. It was only natural she should start writing them (but now not so secretly). If she isn't working on the next book in the Lovers and Legends historical series, she can be reached at:

The Knight's Scarred Maiden (Lovers and Legends)
A maiden for the mercenary 
Mercenary knight Rhain is living on borrowed time. With a vengeful warlord pursuing him, he has accepted his fate—though first he must get his men to safety. 
When he rescues mysterious and deeply scarred Helissent from her attackers, Rhain soon wishes he wasn't marked for death. He can never be the man she deserves—his scandalous lineage alone dictates that—but Rhain can't resist the temptation to show this innocent maiden how beautiful she truly is… 
Lovers and Legends A clash of Celtic passions

Buy on:
Amazon Kindle          Amazon Paperback           Harlequin US          Amazon UK             

Book Depository        B&N                                   Kobo                         iBooks

Enter to win signed copies on Goodreads!
Thanks Nicole!

I've never heard of birthday books but that'a a great tip! I tend to use mannerisms and quirks of some of the kids I've taught and the adults I've worked with over the years.

How about you? Have you heard of birthday books? Used them? Planning on trying it now?