Monday, August 31, 2015
Friday, August 28, 2015
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
To make our work fresh and unique, we scour our brains for ways of saying what ultimately is the same truth — the truth that has been told by our predecessors from the first instance that one human spoke to another member of the cave-dwelling group about an experience they would all need to understand to survive.
In tales of romance, the element of survival may not seem quite as drastic as how to wrangle with a saber-tooth tiger or avoid eating those poisonous berries that look so delicious. But the human heart — technically a mere symbol of the miasma of emotions we cope with every day — can cause the most dire of consequences to arise from what some consider trivial events.
Falling in love, for many of us, is one of the moments in our lives that carries with it all the elements of human drama: comedic and tragic. Romantic love is not for the faint of heart nor is it in any way limited by circumstance. Each couple experiencing the wonder of finding the one-in-six-billion person who is their perfect match can testify to the miraculous phenomenon — that overwhelming elation of supreme good fortune. The ultimate “I can’t believe this has happened to me” moment.
Along with that elation comes the doubt — “This can’t be happening to me - I don’t deserve this - This can’t be love” — when you wish you’d never met this person.
Although Romance, as a genre, is often denigrated as “fluff,” “trivial,” “inconsequential,” most of this criticism comes from a misplaced sense of intellectual superiority. When I entered the Creative Writing Program at my university, I did so with the objective of writing “important” novels. I took classes in every aspect of writing the meaningful short story to the construction of the meaningful novel.
Try as I did, I wrote …“and they lived happily ever after.” The optimistic ending is in my nature, probably a result of my childhood spent in reading the classic fairy tales of world literature but more probably related to my “cup half full,” “walking on sunshine” point of view.
“Important” novels are those that drag the reader into a downward spiral of misery and hardship. “Frivolous” books lift readers up, provide “the air beneath their wings.”
I know which I’d rather write and read. Life is hard, why make it harder?
Monday, August 24, 2015
by Fran McNabb
If you look at a calendar for the year, you realize there’s a nice pattern and a calming sense of familiarity to the names of holidays spread throughout the year: New Year’s Day, Valentines, Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas.
The holidays can be expected on or near the same dates each year, and with that regularity, most people find a sense of stability. We know when to pull out our white shorts for the summer, when to start searching for Christmas gifts or school supplies, and when to think about cleaning the fine china for Thanksgiving dinner.
Life goes on whether you’re involved in it or not. Hubby and I still think about plans for our year, but they’re not set in stone. We’re retired. For the most part, we can do what we want when we want, but every once in a while, I stop and remember when life wasn’t like that.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Susan Aylworth is the author of 13 published novels and has a part in three boxed sets, all 16 titles available now. Mother to seven, she is "gramma" to 24. She lives in northern California with her husband of 45 years and the two spoiled cats they serve. She loves hearing from readers @SusanAylworth, at www.susanaylworth.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Tomorrow's my birthday. I'll be (gasp!) 53. Spare me the comments about how I don't look my age. I don't mention the day because I'm fishing for compliments. What I really wanted to say is that, even at my (venerable) age, I still have to remain flexible with fate. Because fate seems to love jerking my chain. I'm officially an old dog still learning new tricks.
Life never remains constant. Today is my last day at a job I've had for more than a decade. I've been in this industry for four decades and starting Monday, I'll be trying my wings at something else. No longer will I be able to joke that I work for Satan (health insurance, so yeah, it ain't too far from the truth).
Two days from now, I'll be dropping my youngest child off at college and will come home to a much quieter house (but with more food in it).
I honestly didn't expect 2015 to be the year of so much change (there's more, but it's not my story to tell. Suffice it to say, the last six months have thrown my family topsy-turvy in many ways). But it seems that's just how it happens. You're moving along on your usual path, and suddenly, you hit a detour. You negotiate that turn, and there's another up ahead. And another. Until when you look up again, you realize your path has led you somewhere entirely different than where you thought you'd be.
In "The Princess Bride," Westley, in his Dread Pirate Roberts persona, tells Buttercup, "Life is pain." I beg to differ. Life is change. The days we'll remember when we're looking back are not the days where we got up, went to work, came home, did some chores, watched a little TV and went to bed. We'll recall the milestones: the days that were different, the days that changed us. The birth of children, the death of loved ones, trips and vacations, the end of or respite from the usual grind.
Go ahead, fate. I'm ready.
As John Lennon sang in Beautiful Boy, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
Enjoy your life, my friends. Live it fully, no matter where it takes you.
Gina Ardito is the award-winning international author of more
than twenty romances, a legendary singer in confined spaces (her car, the
shower, her office cubicle), and a killer of houseplants. She
hosts fun, informative workshops for writers around the country. In 2012, Gina
was named a Woman of Outstanding Leadership by the International Women’s
Leadership Association, but to her friends, she’s still just a shenanigator. A
native of Long Island, New York, she lives with her husband, two children, a
bionic dog, and their two cat overlords. For more info on Gina and her books,
you can visit her website at ginaardito.com, follow Gina on Facebook
Friday, August 14, 2015
Okay, inquiring minds want to know…why a writer? Certainly not for the fame and fortune…or maybe it is?
Good question and I’m not sure I have a good answer. Definitely not for the fame and fortune. Not that I’d mind the fortune, but I’d just as leave skip the fame part. It’s just that being a writer is part of what I am. My imagination is always at work and seems to bring up new story ideas and characters regularly. They begin knocking at my brain and demanding release.
When did you first put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to create your classic and cozy characters?
I wrote my first short story when I was eleven or twelve. It was a mystery and three pages long, which seemed like a lot of writing at the time. I wrote my first serious short story in 1980 and submitted it to a couple of magazines. They all turned it down, but a couple added nice remarks about my writing, which was all I needed to keep at it. I think I finished my first complete novel somewhere around 1984 or 1985 and sold my first novel (the sixth complete novel I’d written) to Avalon in 1988. It was published in 1990.
Do you have a set writing schedule?
I wish I did, but I have a full-time job (though I’m working my way toward retirement from it) and family commitments. I try to save a couple of hours a day for writing and try to get 500 words done per day, but it doesn’t happen every day, and I don’t beat myself up about it when it doesn’t work.
Is there a certain routine, food/drink, or location that summons forth the muses for you?
Not really. I often re-read the second I wrote the previous day, making corrections, and that gets me into the story enough to get the ball rolling. If I’m having trouble, I allow myself one game of solitaire while I’m thinking, but then I have to write one sentence before I can play another game. Weird as it sounds, it works and gets me rolling. However, a cup of coffee always at the ready nearby is a definite necessity
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I watch sports on TV - Carolina Panthers football, Duke Basketball, Atlanta Braves baseball, along with going to games of our local minor league team, the Greensboro Grasshoppers. I also putter in the garden, play computer games, and travel.
I imagine you’ve been reading all of your life (all great writers have.) What was your favorite book as a child?
Yes, I have a lifelong addiction to reading. I remember tearing through every Nancy Drew book I could lay hands in my pre-teen years. When I couldn’t find any more new ones, I went through the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift and a couple of other series whose names I don’t even remember now. But Nancy Drew was always my favorite.
Do you re-read books? If so, which one have you re-read the most?
Yes, although not many. I’ve re-read the books of my idols, Mary Stewart and Barbara Mertz (aka Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters) numerous times, but the book I’ve re-read most often would have to be The Lord of the Rings.
But there’s more to life than reading, writing (and arithmetic)…what is your most memorable adventure in your life?
Hmmm. That’s a hard one since I’ve done a few. But, yes, the most memorable adventure happened in 2005. Along with our two daughters, my husband and I went over to England for our son’s wedding. (He attended graduate school at the University of Bangor in Wales, and while there met his future wife, a young woman from Kent in England.) We decided to use the opportunity to see more of the United Kingdom, so we flew into Edinburgh, Scotland and spent a few days there, before we headed for a few days in London, and then down to Hastings to the hotel on the waterfront where we’d stay for the wedding. It was my first time in the UK and it was all new and wonderful. Sharing it with family made it extra special, and then the culmination in the wedding was marvelous. Another thing that made the trip so great was that in Hastings we got to meet so many members of the bride’s family and spend time with them, learning more about how they lived, etc. I recall that every moment was packed with things to do, see, and talk about!
If you were on American Idol, what song would you sing to WOW! the judges?
Ouch, this is a little painful because there was a time when I could actually sing. I had vocal training as a kid and sung in a number of choirs in school, then later in pop/rock groups, cover bands, and a couple of church music groups. But ten years ago I had two rounds of surgery to remove some things from my sinuses that weren’t supposed to be there, and my vocal cords were damaged, resulting in the loss of almost all of my range. (Same thing that took Julie Andrews’ wonderful voice.) But if I were still able to sing, I’d probably cover Both Sides, Now, by Joni Mitchell, or Memory by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
What are you currently working on? What can we readers look forward to seeing from you?
I’ve recently turned in the second book in my Market Center Mystery series to Five Star. The first in the series was A Gift for Murder, released in hardcover in 2011. The sequel is titled Wired for Murder. I have no idea yet when it will be released. I’m currently working on a novella in the series which I’ll likely self-publish myself to support the series. My working title for it is A Gift for Destruction, but that could change. And finally I have a short story just released in July as part of the Frostgrave: Tales of the Frozen City anthology, which is connected to the Frostgrave game world. My story is titled, “Best Served Cold.”
Last question…movie rights…who’ll play your current main characters when Hollywood comes knocking on your door?
Oh, dear. I don’t know… Jennifer Lawrence in a dark wig would make a wonderful Heather McNeil. For Scott Brandon, maybe Chris Pine.
Catch more of Karen McCullough the second Saturday of every month here on the Classic and Cozy Blog.
For a complete list of Karen McCullough’s books click on over to her website http://www.kmccullough.com
And be sure and check out her blog http://www.kmccullough.com/kblog
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
envisioned in the beginning, but that meandering path could lead to a beautiful thing.
Go to www.sandrawilkins.com to find out more about her and her books.
Saturday, August 8, 2015
I read as much as I can, too, but every now and then I itch to get out in a more serious way. I want to take a vacation and travel. We go to the beach once or twice a year and that’s great for resting and relaxing, providing more reading time, but it doesn’t satisfy my longing for new places, people, and experiences.
At least every other year we plan a more major vacation with travel to someplace we’ve never been or don’t get to visit often. We almost always meet or include other family members in the trip, which tends to make it more meaningful for all of us.
A few years ago, we flew to Las Vegas, then drove to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, spent a few days there hiking, drove to Bryce Canyon and spent a few days, and then drove over the mountains to Denver. It was a lot—A LOT—of driving, but so worth it. It was the first time I’d seen real desert other than in movies and television shows, (yes, East Coast Girl), my first view of the Rocky Mountains, including an unforgettable ride on Interstate 70 up and over, my first time in Vegas (and likely my last), and hikes in eerie landscapes at Bryce that sparked all sorts of story ideas.
|Me at the Grand Canyon, 2010|
|My husband and son at Stonehenge, 2014|
By the time you’re reading this, I should be home from the latest jaunt, a trip to Italy. My son and his family joined us there for a stay in Rome, followed by Florence, and then Como. Report to follow.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
by Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson
Monday, August 3, 2015
Third review on my new release and it asked why was the story similar to one already written. Needless to say I was horrified. I never read the book cited. At least I don't think I ever did.
Before I tell you about the story and my story, let me say I have been reading romances since I snuck True Confessions and True Story magazines from my mom's reading pile when I was fourteen and then progressed to romances. That was 50 years ago and I have read a whole lot of books.
The story I just released - Bachelor.com - is my story. Rooted in what happened to me but with a twist. I was the consummate nerd. Moved to a city from a small town in Pennsylvania when I was going into the eighth grade and did not belong with my new surroundings or the kids. Didn't dress the same, wasn't anywhere as mature as they were, and not nearly as mean spirited. Dirt poor, when I got a new outfit for school, that was all I got. One new outfit. I wore thick soled shoes and thicker glasses. I was picked on and laughed at unmercifully for most of my school years. I can't remember all the names I was called, but I do remember trying not to be noticed so I wouldn't hear them. The cool kids picked on me, the jocks laughed at me, and I virtually had few friends. Those that were friends were just like me and we survived together by learning to blend into the background.
I kinda morphed into someone tolerated about my junior year of high school, and wrote on the school newspaper and yearbook staff. That's where my love of writing came from. Got a job, worked on changing myself and kept on reading romances because that's were the great guys were.
Fast forward to now, and I needed a new plot. Writing about a woman who goes from plain into pretty was overdone, so I decided to try writing about a geek who suddenly becomes cool. But guys aren't into plastic surgery, so I figured and auto accident would take care of what I needed. So I smashed the hero's face and sent him to the hospital. I gave him a girl-friend who cared about him, but not a girlfriend because I had a boy-friend who I guess took pity on me back in the day and at least talked to me once in a while. That and we both like science fiction books.
I called upon life for the rest, drawing on things I saw, things I saw on TV and things experienced through life. The hero actually owned a successful computer-gaming development business, but had be lying about it for two years because the girl-friend treated him like a person and not a modern-day nerd. She offered to help him build a new outside while he tried to remain the same on the inside, and she also offered pointers to ease him into the dating scene because she thought he deserved to experience everything he had missed before she told him how she actually felt about him, all the while hoping he would not find someone else in the process. I tossed in some cougars and kittens, a hussy at work, and some internet bloggers who found out about his transformation and broke the story on the internet, and an FTC investigation of his company which had a public offering on the stock market before they ended up happily ever after.
I thought it was a good story. Then wham!! I was told someone already wrote it.
Worse than that, I liked this story so much that I hired a PR firm to do all sorts of media on this because I was finally able to release all the hurt I still carried, but should have let go a long time ago. How stupid would I have been to try to attract attention to something already out there? How stupid would it be to not think readers would notice?
I been reading for 50 years, writing for 20. Did I read a story like this? Maybe. I can't prove I didn't but I can't prove I did.
But I can prove I lived it. The scars are there and I guess will always be now. I don't know what is going to happen. Maybe the book will be pulled. Maybe I'll never submit again for fear all the stories in my head have already been told. Maybe no one will publish me again. It will be what it will be. But I will see this to the end, whatever that is.
On the only positive thing I can see is maybe there is another story in the future. This time non-fiction.
Please don't share this post. This is for my Avalon sisters who I hope know me well enough to at least understand that I had to talk to someone because this hurts as much as all the name calling.