Monday, December 21, 2015

Magic of the Season

'Tis the season!

I hope the 
Magic of the Season
helps you to 
brighten your days, 
& warm your nights.
I hope you connect with
friends and family,
eat lots of goodies,
& find time to relax & recharge!

Merry Christmas
Happy Holidays
Best Wishes
to all!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Jacqui Jacoby -- Friends by Choice. Writers by Committal.

Please welcome Jacqui Jacoby to the blog today!
Friends by Choice.  Writers by Committal.
            I look at the clock now and wonder how it all went by so fast.  It was spring of 1996 when I answered an  ad on American Online—then the premier internet service--and met up with two writers who would define the concept of “writing partners.”          
It started fairly typical: “I’ll look at your chapter if you look at mine.” The trouble with us, though, is after awhile the who did what of “keeping it even” disappeared.
            We called ourselves SIN … Suspense and Intrigue Network.
            Cee was the leader, the rock. Kelly was the heart, the good girl. And me?  I’m the live wire.
            Cee beta-ed Bystander before it went to print. Kelly edited my proposal for The Dead Men.   Magic Man is dedicated to them both.
            We have been to conferences together, cheered through the years and wiped the tears when the rejections came.
            In 2005 we attended a conference in New York together. We hit the streets to see the sights on our off time and one of those stops was Tiffany’s. Seemed like a good place to visit though I got uninterested quick. They wandered around looking at the shinys while I spotted a salesman behind a counter. 
            “Are you bored?” I asked him.
            “You have no idea,” he said.
            Looking in the display I pointed at something that priced out as more than my car.
            “Can I try that on?” I smiled at him.
            “You bet,” he said. He got the velvet board, he told me about the diamonds, the make.  He gave me the whole shebang knowing I was never going to buy it.
            It was about then I got caught.
             “What. Are. You. Doing?  You are embarrassing me!  I can’t take you anywhere …”  All said with humor and a grin.
            What made this work?
            We met once a week for an hour online for more years than I can remember.  We created online exercises to tone our skills: You each have a character of your trapped in an elevator.  How do they react to the situation and each other?
            We did tandem writing, each one taking a set amount of a story, then rotating to the next person who added theirs, then moving along.  Made a great a story.
            We did a “round robin.” Let’s say I had a printed manuscript.  I sent it to Cee with all the postage it needed. She marked it up then mailed it to Kelly, who did the same. Kelly mailed the drawn up mess back to me. 
            Having a writing relationship will give you someone who will kick you in the butt and tell you to finish that project, enter that contest, and submit that book. More people with writing partners finish their projects than those that write in solitary.
            What benefits can you achieve in this relationship?
  • Writing is lonely. Now it’s not.
  • Brainstorming.
  • Accountability.
  • You are less likely to suffer from writer’s block with someone to help you.

How do you make it work?
  • Discuss expectations ahead of time.
  • Handle problems while they’re small.
  • Try to “keep it even” while understanding this spring maybe they have a huge project and need more of you. You can recoup that next fall when the roles are reversed.
  • But … You have to give as much as you take.  It’s a two way street.
  • Do not keep score.
  • Remember birthdays. Remember anniversaries … how many kids they have. Know the person you are working with. You don’t have to smother, but be aware.
  • Always look for ways to improve.

            Finding Cee and Kelly-- it boasted my morale and my writing.  We’ve had our ups and downs both in our stories and lives.  With writing and contests we entered…we’ve seen it all. We’ve had years when we were the best of friends. We’ve had others when had to remind ourselves to check in. Eighteen years is a long time with a lot of loops on that roller coaster. It wasn’t always good. But it was never bad either.
            I answered an ad in AOL in 1996.  And now I have two of the most influential people of my life in my history.
            Find a partner.  Share in their story.

Photo caption: Cee, me & Kelly. New York 2005
Jacqui Jacoby on the web: 

Website           Blog        Twitter        Facebook    Google +      Instagram     Pinterest

A man raised in the Hollywood lifestyle, Sean Branigan wanted to try something other than parties
and high maintenance way of life. With the birth of his son, Adian, Sean walked away from the glitz to try something new. He developed a television show that would keep him in one place long enough to raise his kid right. 

Beth Hardwick has worked on the set of Snap Shots since its premiere episode five years ago. A writer by hobby, a reader by trade, she knew her all about her boss's reputation and his pretty ladies and never thought t
wice that he would look in her direction. 

Just getting out of a short-term, tepid warm relationship, Beth never expected trouble from her ex. She certainly never expected she would have to turn to Sean for help. 

As the ex refuses to back down, each threat he throws escalates until fear is the only reaction. It’s not only makes Beth a target, but Sean and Adian, too. Under guard and terrified, they will have to trust each other to get them all to their new life.

Buy Links: Amazon Kindle  Amazon Paperback Amazon UK Amazon Aust B&N  iBooks  Kobo
How about you? Who are your committed peeps? Give them a shout out in the comments!!

Mine are Jean Oram & Cali Mackay - 2 of the best people I know!

Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Bystander by Jacqui Jacoby


by Jacqui Jacoby

Giveaway ends December 31, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday, December 7, 2015

Kathy Stewart & A Writer's Journey

Please welcome Kathy Stewart to the blog today!
A Writer’s Journey
How did your writing journey begin? I’m sure every writer’s tale is different, just as every story we craft has a different twist, an added nuance, even if we’re writing on the same topic. 

I began my journey at the age of eight, when I wrote a Flicka-style novel about a horse called Shadow. I hadn’t read the Flicka series yet, so I thought my book was unique, born out of my passion for horses. 

When I look back now, any self-respecting cowboy would have pulled out his six-shooter and shot poor Shadow – thus ending his career prematurely – because Shadow was not an obedient or easy horse to have around. He bucked, he reared, and threw his rider numerous times. Then he released his corral-mates and led them off to consort with wild mustangs. What a pain he was! And yet he was the hero of my story.

Into my adult years I continued to write articles, short stories and novels, but increasingly found that life got in the way, so these manuscripts never progressed past first-draft stage until we sold our beautiful farm in South Africa and moved to Australia.

Suddenly free of the constraints of a very demanding previous life, I was able to get back to writing in earnest. The result is a number of articles published online and in magazines; short stories that have been shortlisted, some published in anthologies; a book on editing; a children’s book; and two novels. 

In 2010 I was lucky enough to have my manuscripts, the Chameleon Factor and Race Against time, shortlisted and longlisted respectively for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award.  

This fired my enthusiasm and The Chameleon Factor was later published as Chameleon, a story about a mysterious man who goes missing in 1914, leaving Eve, the girl who loves him, with a decades-long search to discover his whereabouts.

Both Mark of the Leopard and Chameleon are based on fact, derived from true stories that sparked ‘what if?’ questions in my mind. 

And isn’t that how all our journeys begin? That chance word, that chance encounter that sparks the germ of an idea which eventually grows to become your latest novel.


Kathy Stewart was born in South Africa, and she and her husband now live on the Gold Coast, Australia. She has published a number of books as well as numerous articles and short stories in magazines and anthologies. Her manuscripts, The Chameleon Factor and Race Against Time, were shortlisted and longlisted respectively for the 2010 Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award in the UK.

Kathy Stewart on the web:

Website        Facebook      Twitter       Instagram

Mark of the Leopard 

From the author of Chameleon comes this historical fiction novel, Mark of the Leopard, the second in the African history series, a story of romance, mystery, danger and betrayal set against a backdrop of wild lands and raging seas. In 1703 Sabrina Barrington and her children are shipwrecked and presumed drowned off the Cape of Good Hope, the site of the present-day city of Cape Town.

Fourteen years later, an investigator tells Sabrina’s brother, Lucien Castle, that one of his sister’s children has been seen on the island of Madagascar, off Africa’s east coast. It is imperative to return the youngster to England before his twenty-fifth birthday, otherwise his grandfather, the corrupt and detested Robert Barrington, will usurp his rightful inheritance.

Castle is the only one who can confirm the young man is not an impostor. In order to do this he must leave the comfort of Amsterdam in Holland and embark on a journey into the unknown. Will Castle be able to overcome his demons and find his nephew in time? Or will he succumb to the perils that beset his epic expedition every step of the way? In a voyage that takes them from the untamed island of Madagascar to the storm-tossed Dutch outpost at the Cape of Good Hope, Castle and his companion must face innumerable dangers and battle not only rival investigators but also each other. 

Buy Links: Amazon Kindle    Amazon Paperback    Amazon UK    B&N     Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mark of the Leopard by Kathy Stewart

Mark of the Leopard

by Kathy Stewart

Giveaway ends December 31, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Love of Reading Lives On!

I had a group of Grade 8 students working in my classroom the other day. They were working on a variety of projects and activities and sitting in small groups around the room.

One of students started a discussion about the book he was reading (In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis). He knew a few others had read the first book in the series (Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy as well) and asked if they thought it was okay to read the books out of order.

One girl used the phrase companion book and, having read both books, told him it would be fine, although there could be a few spoilers about a character. A few other students agreed, and the conversation turned to what they liked about the world building in the book.

Another boy chimed in about the world building in Extraction by Stephanie Diaz and he encouraged them to read it because, while it was really different in almost every way, he thought all the books created vivid worlds, powerful characters, and intriguing (his word!) conflict, and that students who liked one would like the other.

The conversation was interrupted by the bell, but it was some great eavesdropping for so many reasons:

  • the authors the kids spoke about are friends of mine from Agent Query Connect (the kids know nothing about my connection to these authors)
  • the gender of the main character didn't matter to anyone
  • the conversation was completely and totally spontaneous
  • there was NO adult intervention or commentary (I sat back quietly and grinned!!!)
  • they showed great understanding of the books and all kinds of literary concepts
  • they were able to look past the obvious dis-similarities to deeper connections within the books
Talk about an uplifting few minutes! So, for those of you who are worried about the next generation of readers, relax! 

What about you? What positive reading have you seen and heard about lately?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Robin Gianna's Writing Journey

Please welcome Robin Gianna back to the blog today!

My writing journey started with a summer beach read, and the epiphany that I wanted to write fiction.  
A formerly voracious reader, it was the first novel I’d read in quite a few years, mostly just picking up the occasional magazine while my children were small.  I know some mothers take time for themselves through books, but to me, being interrupted all the time in the middle of a story made it much less enjoyable!
But my youngest was no longer a toddler, and I grabbed a book to take on the trip.  After I read it, I
found myself lying on the beach deeply thinking about the characters. Then, back at home, oddly and obsessively creating new scenes in my head while I was cooking, driving, doing laundry. Weird! I thought maybe I was losing it until I realized these were someone else’s characters and I needed to come up with my own.  Clearly, I needed to write a book!
And so it began.  It didn’t seem so crazy, right?  I’d write a book, then sell it.  I had a journalism degree, after all, so I was a pretty good writer.  I’d read a lot.  How hard could it be?
Well, the answer is, pretty hard! :-) For me, the learning curve to writing fiction was much longer than I ever dreamed it would be.  Early in the journey, I began reading a lot of romances again and remember looking at websites of authors I liked, to learn about them.  Then was flabbergasted that it had taken some of them five or seven years to get published! *gasp*  How was that possible?  
My attitude makes me laugh now, because I know the answer.  Books are hard to write, and competition is fierce when it comes to having an agent or editor become interested in your work.  The number of years between my epiphany and selling?  Nine.  Yep, nine, though I wrote in fits and starts, often letting life get in the way.  Even when I wasn’t writing, though, I kept studying the craft.
In January of 2012, I decided it was time to either get serious about getting published by writing and submitting more, or quit.  I gave myself until the end of that year for a positive sign that I should keep going, in the form of landing an agent or having serious interest from a publisher.  In the midst of working on a single title, I saw that Harlequin Mills & Boon was having a Fast Track submission event for their medical line, where writers could submit just one chapter and a synopsis, and get feedback within a month.  Considering one could turn gray between submitting and getting a response, sometimes, that seemed like a great thing!  And my husband and many of our relatives and friends are physicians and nurses, so I’d have people to bother for research.  Why not? 
Then I pondered how to stand out in the crowd.  I decided that an unusual location would catch attention, but to stick with a popular trope so as not to stick out in a sore-thumb kind of way.  I set the book in Benin, West Africa because my husband had worked in a mission hospital there long ago, and went with a secret baby storyline.  
I was asked for two more chapters.  Woot!  Shortly after, an agent who had requested a single title of mine the prior year offered me representation, which I happily accepted.  Then Harlequin wanted the full manuscript.  These were the signs I’d asked for—obviously, I wasn’t supposed to quit!
In May of 2013, I got THE CALL.  So thrilling!  So happy!  Frankly, though?  Pretty quickly, it became a bit of a ‘Be careful what you wish for’ thing, because my life could not have been busier at that moment.  My father-in-law had experienced a life-threatening heart problem, and was living with us for a few months to recover. My mother fell and was in the hospital, then rehab. My son was graduating from high school, for which I was planning a backyard party and cooking gobs of food, and my daughter was interviewing in NYC for internships, with me accompanying her to help her move in, etc. 
Oh, and I had that new writing career taking up a lot of time, but I didn’t remove anything from my already busy life to accommodate that change.  Can you say stressful?
My daughter still laughs about the morning I got an email from my editor, saying they were going to tweet about their new author, and what was my Twitter account?  I went tearing up to her room, shouting like the house was on fire, telling her she had to set up a Twitter account for me. :-)
So, what I’ve learned that I’d like to pass on?  Get a website set up in advance, even if you don’t publish it until you’ve sold.  Get your social media in order.  Know you will have deadlines to meet and edits to do and promotion for releases that can come pretty fast and furious.  Figure out what you can delegate to others, and what things in your life you might have to do away with.  Ask for help from family members, because they can’t read your mind about what house responsibilities might be pushing you over the edge.  Most of all?  Take care of yourself.  Don’t let one of the things you drop be the exercise you used to do.  Re-energize by engaging with friends, because writing can be a lonely business.
One more bit of honesty?  I’ve had some tough things to deal with personally over the past year and a half, and there have been a few times when I thought maybe it wasn’t worth it.  That I’d gotten ‘get published’ off my bucket list and I was done.
But then my box of books would come, and let me say, that’s a great feeling.  A reader will tell me how much she enjoyed my book.  A bit of a paycheck shows up in the mail.  The book I’m working on comes together, and it feels wonderful when that happens.  All of that makes me smile, and that’s when I know.
It’s worth it.

About Robin
After completing a degree in journalism, working in the advertising industry, then becoming a stay-at-home mom, Robin Gianna had what she likes to call her ‘awakening’. She decided she wanted to write the romance novels she’d loved since her teens.  Robin embarked on that quest by joining RWA and a local chapter, and working hard at learning the craft of fiction writing.
Robin loves pushing her characters toward their own happily-ever-afters! When she’s not writing, Robin’s life is filled with a happily messy kitchen, a needy garden, a wonderful husband, three great kids, a drooling bulldog and one grouchy Siamese cat.
Robin Gianna on the web:

Website             Facebook         Twitter

Her Christmas Baby Bump

One Christmas night with consequences! 

Talented midwife Hope Sanders’s dream of holding a baby of her own is finally coming true! She’s just weeks away from beginning her fertility treatment—and then meeting gorgeous hotshot fertility doc Aaron Cartwright throws a holly sprig in her plans… 

Aaron’s mistletoe kisses might be dazzling, but after they spend one magical Christmas night together, Hope never expects to end up pregnant! Now she’s faced with telling Aaron her surprise baby news…but has she finally found the man of her dreams, too? 

Midwives On-Call at Christmas

Read Reader Reviews

Read an 

Buy Links:

Amazon Kindle     Amazon UK     iBooks     Kobo     B&N

Enter to win signed copies of Her Christmas Baby Bump on Goodreads. 


Thanks Robin for a glimpse into your journey. Love the Twitter story! 
I just finished Her Christmas Baby Bump and it's a Terrific story!! If you're looking for a great contemporary romance with characters with heart, you need to pick up a copy - loved it!

What about you? Anyone else give themselves a deadline for success? Or get a family member to set up the social media?

I know none of us are giving up - and it WILL be worth it!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Karen Walker

Please welcome the lovely and talented Karen Walker to the blog today!!!
Karen has been one of my favourite blogging buddies for years now and I'm thrilled to be able to help her promote her foray into fiction!

The Process of Writing a First-Time Novel after Decades of Writing Nonfiction

Thank you, Jemi, for hosting me today.

 Okay, I’ll admit it right off the bat. Deep, deep down I’d always wanted to write a novel. Ever since I’d read Little Women when I was a child I wanted to be Jo, sequestered in an attic, spinning tales. But that wasn’t the direction my life took. Instead, I became a marketing/public relations professional and wrote articles, essays, brochures, annual reports and the like – always with my client’s name on the piece – never my own. 

After three decades, I quit to write full time. I had a story to tell, but it wasn’t fictional. It was my own story. That resulted in my memoir, Following the Whispers, which I published in 2009. Later that year, while vacationing in Scotland, I heard a voice asking me to tell its story. I’d never experienced anything like that before and it frightened me. It happened again in Ireland, so when I got home, I began to explore what this voice was and what story it wanted me to tell.

In the first session with my writing coach, Mark David Gerson (, I said, “I can’t write fiction.” I’d tried. During the years I was working on my memoir, I went back to school to complete a college education I’d started in the 1960’s. I took every creative writing course the university had to offer and got straight A’s – even graduated Summa Cum Laude. But it was clear to me that I was not a fiction writer. In my mind, you must have a great imagination, write great metaphors, use similes and other writing techniques. Be able to write lush, rich descriptions. That just wasn’t me. I was used to the who, what, where, when, and why of a press release. 

Big sigh here. Mark David’s gentle coaching style helped me move past my own limiting beliefs so that I could begin to allow this story to emerge. Believe me, I kicked and screamed the entire six years it took to get this story out of me. I’ve lost count of the number of drafts. The first one Mark David called a skeleton. “Now you have to put the skin and organs on it.”

Writing a novel was perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I am not an analytical thinker when it comes to writing. I write from the heart. So I didn’t think through a character’s motivation or even character traits. They just came through and I wrote it down. I guess it was kind of like automatic writing.

I’m still much more comfortable writing nonfiction. I’m pretty sure that will be my next project – in fact that same voice is now asking me to write a companion piece to The Wishing Steps – one that imparts all the wisdom that came through during the writing of the book. I’ve learned that it doesn’t pay to ignore those callings. Stay tuned… 
Here’s the scoop on The Wishing Steps:
Three Women and a Single Story That Unites Them Across the Millennia
“Totally engrossing. A must-read for today’s wise woman!” Rev. Kathleen McKern Verigin, minister/priestess
Brighid, Ashleen and Megan: Bound through time by a curious light, a mysterious voice and a call they dare not ignore. Yet in obeying this strange force, the women must face soul-searing trials that call into question everything they know and believe — about themselves and about the world around them.
“Guaranteed to inspire you to a deeper level of spirituality and a new appreciation for Goddess.” Rev. Clara Z. Alexander
Karen Helene Walker is a widely published essayist and author of the 2009 memoir, Following the Whispers. When she isn’t writing, you will often find Karen performing in nursing homes and retirement communities as part of the Sugartime or Sophisticated Ladies musical groups, traveling with her husband of 20 years, Gary, or relaxing with a good book at their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit the author’s website at
The Wishing Steps is available for purchase NOW in both print and ebook versions at: You can also purchase it as an ebook on Kobo, I Tunes, and at Barnes and Noble.
Thanks Karen! I love the story of your journey to becoming a fiction writer - it's so interesting how the stories choose us. 
What about you? Do your stories choose you? Do you want to stretch your wings and try nonfiction (if you're a novelist) - or the reverse?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Jacqui Jacoby & the 2nd Paragraph

Please welcome Jacqui Jacoby back to the blog today!

This week we have author Jacqui Jacoby with a writing craft post of 'Second Paragraph'.

Award-winning author, Jacqui Jacoby lives and writes in the beauty of Northern Arizona. Currently adjusting to being an empty nester with her first grandchild to draw her pictures, Jacqui is a self-defense hobbyist. Having studied martial arts for numerous years she retired in 2006 from the sport, yet still brings strength she learned from the discipline to her heroines. She is a working writer, whose career includes writing books, teaching online and live workshops and penning short nonfiction.

Jacqui Jacoby on the web:

Website           Blog                       Twitter        Facebook

Google + Jacqui Jacoby          Instagram: JacquiJaxJacob      Pinterest: Jacqui Jacoby

Second Paragraph
Every writer faces it.  Every writer worries and dreads that it is going to arrive.  You sit down to type, whether it is a novel, an article or a blog entry, and there it will be: a blank document with a blinking cursor asking you to begin. 

We sit in our chairs, ready to write, the ideas in our head ready to pour onto that page, but we just can’t get it. We can’t get it to sound perfect, moving from our mind to our fingers, even when we think we know what to say.

“Why don’t you just start on the second paragraph,” Lucien Carr said when he at worked at the United Press International, no doubt kick starting a writer at a type writer. And Carr was right. Sometimes skipping the beginning to fill in later and moving on to what comes next is all it might take to get forward momentum.

Hitting a wall of “writer’s block” can be cured by something as simple as Mr. Carr’s suggestion.  You can’t get that first paragraph to work, move down the food chain to the second and see if that doesn’t jump start your ideas.  Sometimes something as simple as going back to write the beginning last can fix the problem.

If hitting the wall, however, turns to jumping off the cliff, then it might take a little bit more creativity to break through.

Ted Schwartz, in his book Time Management for Writers gives excellent advice on multi project.  It is, as Mr. Schwarz says, only writers who set off to work on one solitary project at a time giving it your full interest, until that interest is burned out. “Doctors see several patients. Lawyers see several clients … but writers often believe the myth that they are not being professional unless they stay with one project through to completion …”

Editing a book?  Have you started the research on the next, giving equal time to both projects?  Have you volunteered to guest on a blog? How about your favorite RWA chapter?  I bet the editor of the newsletter would love to have you ask to contribute as well as serving on a board or committee.  Contest judging? Always a fun way to share our creative thinking while helping out while getting a chance to see what other people have to say.

The key to finishing a novel is regularity, to be able to face that first paragraph on a daily basis and say “This is what we’re going to do.”   You must commit to it with a set time and a set goal in order to move from Page One to The End.  Nothing can get in the way of this goal. Not TV programs, telephone calls, requests from family or even that cat who decides your keyboard is the warmest place in the house.  Here is a little known truth: You can move the cat.

On the days the book talks back rudely, telling us “writer’s block” is on the menu, then we need a to attack from a different angle, letting that book know it is going to get written.  We’ll just spend twenty minutes answering writing related e-mail, or maybe we’ll write an entry or our blog.  Or better still … we’ll start on the second paragraph and see what the story has in store for us.

 Jacqui Jacoby's newest release is MAGIC MAN

Detective Peter Mackenzie knew crime and knew his job. With The Cemetery Man schedule to leave the next body on the next grave Peter doesn’t have time for the puzzling Alexandra Madison. Her wild stories of a stolen life and family and friends who don’t remember her. Her last resort, she tells him is him and the relationship they shared. Peter doesn’t need this nonsense and his eccentric father walking in only irritates him more. Until his father utters the name everyone forgot, giving hope to Alexandra for the first time. 

Time is their enemy as the weekend grows closer and on Sunday, Peter knows another body will be waiting. 

What he doesn’t know, what he couldn’t know, even with Alexandra delving deeper into his father’s past, the victims are not random. They are chosen with reason and the monster who takes them is not done. She is coming for one of them.

Buy Links:

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback

Amazon UK





Enter this Goodreads giveaway to win signed copies of MAGIC MAN. 
Thanks Jacqui! I tend to work in a linear fashion, but I have jumped ahead to writer certain scenes that are calling to me, and I definitely have worked on more than one project at a time - it's fun!

How about you? Anyone cheating on their MS with another MS at the same time?