Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Jenny Brigalow & The Journey

Please welcome Jenny Brigalow to the blog today.


Hi, I'm Jenny Brigalow and as a writer approaching publication for the first time I'd like to share something of my journey.
I've been writing enthusiastically for several years. Romance, YA and literary fiction. For a long time I didn't have the confidence to submit for publication.
I always thought: 'I'm just an ordinary person. I'm not a highly qualified professional like a doctor, nor have I any kind of influence." I wondered who the heck would be interested in anything I have to say. So what turned things around for me?
I suppose things started to change in 2010, when I won a place on a residency course co-run by the Queensland Writers Centre and Allen & Unwin Publishers, with my teen novel, The Overlander. This exposure gave me the confidence which I badly needed to start submitting material for publication.
I also plucked up the courage and applied to become a member of both the Romance Writers of Australia organization and the Queensland Writers Centre. This brought into my life something I badly needed. Contact with and support from other writers. Needless to say, being accepted for membership of both these organizations benefited me in so many ways.. They gave me access to a smorgasbord of advice and information.
When Steam eReads finally offered me a contract for my rural romance, A Man For All Seasons, it was an amazing feeling. I felt like I'd won the Lotto.

Let me just say that a far as I'm concerned, it's a great time to be a writer. The E-Publishing phenomenon of e-publishing is creating a new window of opportunity for aspiring authors and publishers alike. It's been like a shot in the arm for the publishing industry.

So, I guess what I really want to say is that dreams can come true. So, if you're an aspiring author, don't give up at the first hurdle. Have a go. Don't be deterred. The biggest lesson that I've learned on my journey was the realization that while I may be ordinary, I am also unique. I'm an immigrant and an expat and that gives me a unique viewpoint, not to mention a special relationship this country. Australia, in which I've chosen to live. I belong here in this country, yet I view it with foreign eyes. Compared to England's green and pleasant land, Australia is, to me, a wild, magical, indomitable place. It touches something deep inside me. I have a passion for the land, even though it's not my place of origin. So I've put my roots down here in the bush, and here I am,

This is how far I've come. Yet in many ways, my journey as a writer is just beginning.
What about you?
There will be an eCopy giveaway of my A MAN OF ALL SEASONS to one commenter!
Find Jenny on Twitter, her website 
So, where do you feel you fit in on the journey? I usually feel like I'm balancing on the edge of some precipice or other :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Shiny & New

We finally have spring on the way. Okay, we haven't had temps above freezing for several days and they say a bit more snow is possible. And the piles of snow from the snow blower are still on the lawns.

Don't know if we'll ever get to track and field season at school - the long jump pits are still filled with snow and/or ginormous puddles of melting snow *sigh*

And my hubby went ice fishing this weekend (still almost 2 feet of ice on the lake)...


The sun is shining and I've even had birds singing me awake the last few mornings. My crocuses are shooting up too! All good signs.

Spring gives me more energy and I've started on a new wip. LOVE those first drafts and Shiny New Ideas. This draft is the 3rd book in the series I plan to self publish later on this year. Each book has its own main characters, but they all share the same small town setting.

How about you? Do Shiny New Ideas fight for your attention in the spring too?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dialogue with Natalie Charles

Please welcome Natalie Charles to the blog today!

Thank you so much for having me!

Dialogue is an especially important component of any suspense writing. If you've read a Raymond Chandler novel, you know what I mean. Snappy conversation between clever characters picks up the pace while revealing as much as pages of narrative, and when you're writing suspense, it's all about feeding your reader necessary information while keeping those pages turning.

The following is an excerpt from my debut for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, The Seven-Day Target. Libby has just returned the engagement ring Nick gave her– three years after they broke up.

"But you kept it. You kept it all these years." He said it with a quick snap, his words betraying a depth of raw hurt.

Libby halted. "I meant to return it."

"Ah, sure. When the time was right and the gesture was calculated to hurt the most."

She swallowed. "I'm due in court. Thanks for the tea."

"You paid for it."

"Then thanks for nothing."

This exchange is an example of how dialogue can do heavy lifting for a writer. I don't need to explain that things are tense between Nick and Libby; their conversation says it all, and in very little space.

Any fiction writer can benefit from using dialogue that sings. You want a page turner, right? So here are a few of my favorite tips.

1) Keep the tags simple – Yes, you're a writer and you have a way with words, but dialogue tags aren't the place to showcase your talents. Stick to "Bob said" and "Jane said" most of the time and reserve your clever words for the dialogue itself. Will readers gloss over those tags? Yes! That's what we want! We want our readers to get so caught up in the rhythm of the characters' conversation that they are carried to another place. Better yet, whittle those tags down to nonexistence at points. If two characters are having a conversation, let them speak without signaling who is doing the talking—unless those signals are necessary to avoid confusion. Reader confusion is a bad thing.

2) Your characters are individuals –Communication is wonderfully complex. People express themselves differently depending on gender, personality, life experience, level of education, and even region of the country or world. Take a look at some dialogue you recently wrote. Is your cowboy hero really as erudite as a Yale professor? Or would he express that idea in simpler terms? Would he be likely to talk freely about how he's feeling, or to admit that he doesn't know the answer to a question your lovely heroine is asking? (Answer: no, he would not). Dialogue can trap an intrusive author, so make sure your characters are really the ones doing the talking.

3) Remember that this is a conversation You may have heard the advice to read your dialogue out loud, and I'll echo that here. One thing that can jar me out of a story is reading dialogue that doesn't sound like something someone would say. Maybe the words are too polished, or the sentence is so long that no one could say it in one breath. It's okay for your characters to express themselves imperfectly, or to stumble over their thoughts at times. Maybe they think one thing and say another. That's all good, as long as they are saying those things like people.

4) Your characters are novel-worthy – Your characters are people we want to read about…right? That means they can be as brash, rude, or sassy as the most outrageous real-life people, or they can be as thoughtful, wise, and considerate as the most inspiring among us. The thing is, they have to be more interesting than the average person to keep a reader engaged.

So go ahead: let your characters loose. Let them say the outrageous things that all of us wish we were brave enough to verbalize, and let us sit back and revel in the thrilling mayhem that ensues. Or let them inspire us and verbalize the thoughts we've struggled with expressing. Either way, I guarantee your reader won't be bored.

What are your favorite tips for writing dialogue?

Natalie Charles is living her dream as a writer for Harlequin Romantic Suspense after winning Mills & Boon’s 2011 New Voices Competition. By day, she is a practicing attorney whose writing is more effective for treating insomnia than most sleeping pills. This may explain why her after hours writing involves the incomparable combination of romance and suspense—the literary equivalent of chocolate and peanut butter. The happy sufferer of a life-long addiction to mystery novels, Natalie has, sadly, yet to out-sleuth a detective. She lives in New England with a husband who makes her believe in Happily Ever After and a daughter who makes her believe in miracles.

Natalie loves hearing from readers! You can contact her through her website,

Natalie on the web:  Website        Facebook         Twitter

The Seven Day Target

He never meant to speak to her again. Back in Arbor Falls for a funeral, Special Agent Nick Foster has moved on. He has no plans to stay in his tiny hometown-or to reunite with the beautiful Libby Andrews. His onetime fiancée broke his heart, and what's past should stay buried.

Libby doesn't want his help. Her childhood sweetheart can never know the real reason she ended their engagement three years before. But when a serial killer targets her, she must team up with the rugged agent for her own safety. Something in her past has put her in danger, and the passion they've reignited puts their future in deadly jeopardy.

Read Chapter One

Review by Cataromance

Read Reviews

Buy Links:  Amazon          B&N         Powells
       BAM        IndieBound
So, any dialgoue tips to share?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Jacqui Jacoby & Miguel

Please welcome Jacqui Jacoby to the blog today! Her book With a Vengeance was a lot of fun - kick ass heroine and a twisty plot that surprises you.


Meet Miguel.  He’s my computerized day planner and the genius behind my getting anything done.  We check in every morning to discuss what it is I need to do for the day. Whether it is the list of daily house chores that keeps the home running smooth, or a list of deadlines of upcoming projects, he will know exactly where I need to be.
For me, turning to a day planner was a necessity and not a pleasure, as I am sure it is for most people who take the initial first step.  I started using mine back in 1997 when I was a working housewife, homeschooling my kids and I needed a concrete method to know what I needed to do when.  I have continued the practice as the kids have grown up and gone their ways as I find there is still so much to do.

When a deadline arrives in my inbox, the first thing I do it break it down, making sure my completion date is one week before the actual due date. All that time with those kids taught me that you need to be prepared for the unexpected.  I enter all these dates and projects into Miguel first thing, before I even think of tackling the project.  Then I can forget about it until it pops up on my screen.  It’s a great way to relieve the stress of something hanging over your head.
Day planners don’t have to be fancy. A simple notebook where you can keep track of what is due when and what you need to work on is fine.  Or they can be more complicated with special features.  They can be paper, bound or loose leaf or they can in installed on your computer, safe with a back up flash drive handy for those unexpected events. 

Right now I am editing a book, one I want to have submitted by my birthday.  So I choose the date a week before and I open the feature in Miguel.  Then it’s a matter of breaking it down into steps. 

·         First read through. Update to 2013.

·         Second read through.

·         Wait two weeks.

·         Print Copy. Read with Fine Tooth Comb While locked in room alone.

·         Contact agent.

·         Contact editor.

·         Submit
Each entry is given a due date, posting to Miguel’s page daily until it’s complete.  This keeps me on track; it keeps me from falling behind.

I recommend day planners to everyone who has goals in their lives though I know they are not for everyone.  I doubt many people have as close a relationship to any program on my computer that I do with Miguel.  But I say Why Not?  What have you got to lose?


The more she wanted out, the more they dragged her back in!

Daughter to murdered CIA officers, niece to a deputy director, Jaime Walsh has never known life outside the world of espionage. Until a high-action case in Buenos Aires leaves her gutted. Physically, emotionally…and professionally.

She’d planned for her long-overdue vacation to be a time to rest and reassess. With her longtime partner Stephen not far behind, it’s a tropical paradise away from work. A paradise where boundaries will be tested.

From their training days, Stephen Reid has watched Jaime kick ass while performing what has become his second job—watching her back. But now his feelings have grown.

As best friends look at each other in a new light, they like what they see. And Jaime dreams of a new life outside “the company”.

Except someone from their past won’t be satisfied until Jaime and the man she loves are hunted to the brink of death. Now Jaime must find the strength to trust her heart and let go of her fear. Before she loses everything…
Jacqui Jacoby on the web:
Website          Facebook           Twitter   Author Page

Buy Links:
That sounds very much like the way my daughter (ruthlessly) organizes things! I'm envious! :)

Are you a day planner type? Do you have/crave a Miguel?

Friday, April 5, 2013

To Hop or Not To Hop?

I'm over at From the Write Angle today talking about head hopping and multiple points of view.

I love seeing/hearing a story from two different points of view. For me it adds another layer to the story.  I remember reading Jon Scieszka's The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and being blown away by the creativity. Awesome stuff.

I wrote one story that included the villain's pov as well as those of the lead characters. That was a lot of fun to write, but 3 povs seemed a bit much for today's market and that story is still in the figurative drawer.

How about you - do you like writing from the villain's pov? Multiple povs?
Hope to see you over at FTWA!