Author Interview: Liz Talley

So one of the reasons I haven’t been doing much with the blog of late is because I’ve spent the last month hanging out at the Winter Writing Festival put on by the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood.  I’ve been getting tons of writing and editing done, and it’s great fun to hang out in the chat room with other writers.

One of the writers I met there is Liz Talley. I won copies of the first two books in her Morning Glory series, and they are adorable! I did no work the day I picked up the first one since I couldn’t stop reading. Liz has a new novella in the series–Prince Not Quite Charming–which released on Valentine’s Day.

Welcome to the blog, Liz, and congratulations on your first indie publishing venture!

Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?

I live in North Louisiana and I’ve been writing for eleven years.

What inspired you to write this book?

I often listen to country music and one day when I was singing along to Blake Shelton’s “Boys Round Here” I felt convicted that I needed to write a good ol’ boy with a big truck and a slightly over-inflated ego. Then give him a sharp city-slicker to deal with.

What does your writing process look like? 

I’m a hybrid writer who is much more organic than relying on a spreadsheet. I like an outline and that’s about it.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Laundry and baseball games 🙂

What are you working on now?

I’m writing on a stand-alone novel set in South Carolina involving three friends and a past mistake. I also have the last book in the Morning Glory series on the back burner and I’m also contemplating a Christmas novella – A Charming Christmas.

Who is your favorite literary hero? Heroine? Villain?

I’ll have to go with Jamie Fraser from Outlander for hero. Heroine – Bridget Jones. I think. There are so many, but I relate to her and she amuses me. But only in the first book. Not a fan of the waffling second and third ones.

How many books do you have under the proverbial bed? Will they ever see the light of day?

Two full-length Regency romances, including my Golden Heart finaling manuscript. Probably won’t ever make an appearance but that’s okay. They are very dear to me because they gave birth to what I am today.

Other than “butt in chair,” what piece of advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Protect your story. It’s yours. No one else’s so you own that and don’t change it for anyone unless he or she is a trusted editor who knows more than you do.

About Liz’s latest book:

A city girl can survive…

Or at least that’s what New Yorker Frances Genovese hopes when she agrees to stay in Morning Glory, Mississippi for a few weeks after her brother’s wedding. Though she may not know much about small-town living, she does know a thing or two about the new restaurant her brother’s building. But she didn’t bargain for a big country boy naysaying her vision. And she darn sure didn’t expect to be so attracted to the infuriating contractor. 

Clem Aiken knows two things: what it means to be a country boy and the target market for the new eatery. When he and Frances clash on her ideas, he figures there’s one thing to do – teach the sophisticated beauty what it’s like to live in a southern small town. Frances reluctantly gives Clem three days to change her mind about the restaurant design. After all, how hard can it be to bait a hook, fry chicken or go honky tonkin’?

Excerpt:

Someone cleared his throat, and she glanced up to find the man who’d poured a pitcher of water over her head a few nights ago. “You.”

“Me,” he said with a knowing grin.

“You’re Clemson Aiken?”

“At your service.” He executed a slight bow. “But call me Clem. And you’re welcome for saving your life the other night.”

Frances frowned, tapping her pen against the notepad. “Saving my life or trying to drown me?”

“You were on fire.” His brown eyes twinkled. She’d never seen eyes twinkle, but this guy had that going on. He was also tall. Six three. Or maybe six four. Tall drink of water with linebacker shoulders and a chiseled jaw. Her girl parts should be tingling, but the fact that he was a bit too full of himself put a stop to that. She’d heard the rumors about him. He was a ladies’ man, tipping girls into the back of his truck, romancing them with cheap wine and overpracticed lines. That was enough to put her off any twitch, tingle, or blip.

You can find Prince Not Quite So Charming at Amazon.

More About Liz:

A finalist in both RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart and RITA contests, Liz Talley loves staying home in her jammies writing emotional contemporary romance. Her first book starred a spinster librarian – Vegas Two Step – and debuted in June 2010. Since that time, Liz has published twenty-one more books with Harlequin, Berkeley and Montlake, reaching number one in kindle romance with her latest series. Her stories are set in the South where the tea is sweet, the summers are hot and the men are hotter. Liz lives in Louisiana with her childhood sweetheart, two handsome children, three dogs and a mean kitty. You can visit Liz at www.liztalleybooks.com or follow her on Twitter or Facebook to learn more about her upcoming books.

 

Winter Blog Hop! Day 2 – Anni Fife

Welcome to day 2 of the Winter Blog Hop! Today’s guest is Anni Fife. Anni writes seriously steamy romance for The Wild Rose Press.

Hop on over to Anni’s blog, where she’s giving us Dani’s Inside Track on Online Shopping–For Fashionistas Everywhere!  A marvelously fun post about that time of year when she’s looking for life-saving shopping bargains so she can buy her holiday splurge outfits and fabulous party get-ups. Not to mention that must-have little black dress. 😉

Check out Anni’s latest sexy release, Luke’s Redemption, available now.

Visit Anni’s website and join Anni’s Posse to get regular updates and Bonus Treats, or find her on FacebookTwitter, Amazon, or Goodreads

Winter Blog Hop! Day 1 – Peggy Jaeger

Welcome to my Winter Blog Hop! From now until December 25, I’ll be featuring a different romance author, everywhere along the spectrum from historical to paranormal to contemporary, many of whom will be offering a giveaway. Stop by every day to see who’s on deck.

Today’s visitor is fellow Wild Rose author Peggy Jaeger. Peggy was married at Christmas time, and she tells us all about it on her blog, www.peggyjaeger.com.

While you’re there, leave a comment to be entered in her giveaway, and be sure to check out Peggy’s new Christmas release, A Kiss Under the Christmas Lights.

Tomorrow’s guest will be Wild Rose author Anni Fife!

Winter Blog Hop Coming Soon!

Happy almost winter, everyone! In order to celebrate the December release of my next book, Tempting Mr. Jordan, I have invited some of my author friends to join me in an advent calendar-style blog hop. Every day from December 1-25 will feature a post from a different romance author. Most of them are offering giveaways, so check back here every day for a chance to win some great prizes, including a fabulous Maine-themed gift basket from me and Becky Lower, in honor of our Maine-set books coming out this month.

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Check out this talent!
December 1: Peggy Jaeger
December 2: Anni Fife
December 3: Cynthia Blackburn
December 4: Maggie Preston
December 5: Becky Lower
December 6: Landra Graf
December 7: Becky Lower, part two!
December 8: Miranda Liasson
December 9: Jennifer Shirk
December 10: Lori Sizemore
December 11: Judy Ann Davis
December 12: Hywela Lyn
December 13: Julie Jarnagin
December 14: Lynn Crain
December 15: Nina Croft
December 16: Tricia Schneider
December 17: Judy McDonough
December 18: Tara Harlow
December 19: Marin McGinnis
December 20: Anna Durand
December 21: Barbara Bettis
December 22: Tena Stetler
December 23: Clair Brett
December 24: Danielle Haas
December 25: Merry Christmas!

And now I have about 10,000 words to go to win NaNo and four days remaining (you do the math), so I’d better get back to work…

The Grammar Grump: Dialogue Tags

A few years ago, when the kid was smaller and far less lippy, he was obsessed with a series of children’s books. Wonderful books, with interesting story lines and well drawn characters, and there were at least fifty of them at the time. One Christmas, we got a few of them on tape and listened as we drove across the country to the grandparents’ house. Nearly every line of dialogue was followed  by a ‘said.’ When you read these books to yourself, you don’t notice them. But when they are read aloud, wow. It became a game as we all shouted ‘said!’ every 30 seconds as the book progressed.

wordle 2I was thinking of this today as I judged a contest entry. After nearly every line of dialogue, there was a dialogue tag–those words used to convey information about the speaker. But because this author had probably heard somewhere that using ‘said’ is boring, she used other words too, including: remarked, explained, asked, instructed, huffed, purred, challenged, inquired, sniffed, whispered, concurred, warned, murmured, intoned, and added. And all of those were in the first few pages. An occasional asked, explained, or whispered is fine, but one doesn’t speak and sniff at the same time–go ahead, try it. In addition, many of the tags were peppered with adverbs–softly whispered, quickly explained. I should add that this entry was otherwise quite well written, but the ridiculous dialogue tags and excessive adverbs may have ruined the author’s chance to final in the category.

So, how to fix this problem? I am not saying a writer should never use dialogue tags. They are essential to clarify who is speaking, especially if there are more than two people in a scene. But you don’t need them all the time. Try a line of dialogue followed, or preceded, by a character’s action or expression. For example:

“You must be joking.” Robert laughed at the thought.
Evelyn sneered. “You’ll see.”

When you do use a dialogue tag, keep it simple. As I noted above, I hadn’t realized the children’s book author used ‘said’ so often, because when I read her stories, ‘said’ faded into the background. It conveys the identity of the speaker without beating the reader over the head. If you want to show a speaker’s emotion, or expression, try it another way:

His smile faded. “I’m sorry.”
“I don’t care, my lord.” She shrugged and turned away.

Pick up a book by your favorite author. How do they use dialogue tags? You may be surprised when you look more closely. The following exchange is from Julia’s Quinn’s On the Way to the Wedding. The characters are discussing what it must feel like to know you’re in love:

She lifted her eyes to his, made breathless by the gravity of of her own revelations.”It’s too much,” she heard herself say. “It would be too much. I wouldn’t. . . I wouldn’t. . .”
Slowly, he shook his head. “You would have no choice. It would be beyond your control. It just . . . happens.”
Her mouth parted with surprise. “That’s what she said.”
“Who?”
And when she answered, her voice was strangely detached, as if the words were being drawn straight from her memory. “Hermione,” she said. “That’s what Hermione said about Mr. Edmonds.”
Gregory’s lips tightened at the corners. “Did she?”
Lucy slowly nodded. “Almost precisely. She said it just happens. In an instant.”

There are plenty of other posts out there that go into more detail, and even a few books. Some of the better blog posts are these:
http://www.writing-world.com/grammar/said.shtml
http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/how-to-eliminate-adverbs
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/keep-it-simple-keys-to-realistic-dialogue-part-ii
http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2012/06/using-dialogue-tags-and-punctuation.html
http://theeditorsblog.net/2013/12/04/another-take-on-dialogue-tags/

How do you feel about dialogue tags, as a reader or a writer?

 

 

 

Ah, Valentine’s Day…

‘Tis the season of love, and once again the snow is piled high and the skies are dreary and gray. In light of the ancient holiday of St. Valentine, I thought I would continue the practice I started last year (hey, now it’s a tradition, hurray!) of posting selections from Victorian Valentine’s Day verse books.  I suggest reading them aloud to your beloved while drinking champagne and slurping oysters.

These are from The Lady’s Own Fashionable Valentine Writer.

To a Frenchman:
For fashion and politeness, you may claim,
Respect from all who venerate their name,
Endowed with fertile genius you must find,
Nature has been to you a parent kind;
Careless and gay you pass life‘s hours away,
Happy you seem whate’er may cloud the day;
Monsieur, believe me, to you I incline,
And fain would have you for my Valentine,
Not doubting but in love you‘ll nobly shine.

To an Irishman (poor sod):
Indeed, friend Pat, I don’t to you incline,
Reject, I must, you for my Valentine;
l neither like shilelah, nor your bluster,
Sure you of brass a sample rich can muster;
Honor and you long since have left each other,
My Emerald lad, an ass is sure your brother,
At any rate with beasts, you nature share,
Next to your bulls I’d take you for a bear.

 

To a Welshman:
Where flows the Vye, where of’t its waters swell,
Enured to toil, the ancient Britons dwell;
Love o’er the world is known to hold great sway,
Cambria’s sons, well pleased, its calls obey;
Honest, but poor, they live in rural peace,
Making their rugged soil produce encrease,
A Valentine from such l’d gladly take,
Nor yield him up for any English rake.

To a German:
Great ugly beast! can any woman think,
Ever with such a bear her fate to link;
Rough in your manners, to tobacco prone,
Much good may do the wife you call your own;
At any rate, such state will ne’er be mine,
No Mynheer Von shall be my Valentine.

Ouch.

 

To Adam:
Abroad, at home, no matter when or where,
Delighted friends rejoice your voice to hear;
Among the throng there’s none to you incline,
More than the writer—your own Valentine.

To poor Benjamin:
Base wretch, begone! your mumming will not do,
Endless my mis’ry, should I wed with you;
Nature he made you of such vile complexion,
Juggler! you’re only fit to breed infection;
A cabbage stalk cut down to a mere stump,
Mounting upon your back a decent hump;
Indeed, indeed! you never shall be mine,
No, Mountebank!—I’m not your Valentine.

 

 

 

As I feel compelled to give the gentlemen equal time, the following verses are from Hymen’s Rhapsodies, or, Lover’s Themes, A Collection of Valentine Verses, Written Expressly for this Work, For Gentlemen, To Address Ladies in Sonnets, Superior to Any Other.  (The title is longer than some of the verses.)

To a Lady without Fortune:
I Ask not wealth—the rich, we see,
Oft wretched ‘midst their pelf:
Thy merit is enough for me;
A treasure in thy self. – –
Oh, had I bags of massy gold,
Those bags wou’d I resign, . . .
As mine, my charmer to behold,
And be her Valentine.

I had to look up pelf, which turns out to be a Middle English term for booty. No kidding. And just in case your lover happens to have some, there’s another verse for her:

To a Lady with a Fortune:
Do not suppose,
My metre flows,
‘Cause fortune is thy boast;
Ere this I knew,
I swear ’tis true,
Thou’st been my constant toast!
Oh, had I got Thy better lot
And thou wer’t poor like me !
I’d say, with pride,
None else beside
My Valentine should be.

To a Prude:
BE not fastidious, over nice,
Because the squeamish and precise,
May every chance decline;
And the capricious fair one may
Regret she did not love re-pay,
And choose her Valentine.
Be wise—for beauty soon will fade
You’ll find in me no gasconade,
Then love for love assign:
Be wise—for time is on the wing,
Nor will each February bring
A faithful Valentine.

Well, okay then.

 

 

Sorry, one more. I can’t help myself.

To a Lady of any Rank:
LIFE, they say, is but a span:
Let’s be happy while we can—
Life is short, then don’t decline
The offer of a Valentine.
There is danger in delay—
Therefore make your choice to-day:
Let me pray thee to be mine
Oh, my dear, sweet Valentine.
You’re not sure, my dearest dear,
Of a Valentine next year;
Pray then answer, by a line,
If you’ll be my Valentine.

Nothing says romance like knowing you’ll probably die tomorrow.

Happy Valentine’s Day, peeps.

**All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, from an 1876 collection of Valentines held by the British Library.  Click on images for more info.**

Musings on an Anniversary

StirringUptheViscount_w9340_750This weekend marks a year since my first book was published. I actually almost missed it–I was sitting in a hockey rink (as usual) watching the kid practice, when I got that Facebook “you’ve got memories” reminder, and there it was. A year ago, I was giddy with excitement, celebrating with many friends, drinking champagne, basking in my accomplishment. This year I’m in my pajamas at 6:30 am, drinking tea, hoping the menfolk will sleep in long enough for me to get some work done on the third book without interruption.

So I thought that I’d throw out some of the lessons I’ve learned after a year in my tiny corner of the crazy publishing world.

  1. People are always impressed when you tell them you’ve written a book. It IS an impressive accomplishment to write a book, let alone publish one, whether you are traditionally, independently, or self-published. It’s okay to be proud of yourself.
  2. On the other hand, it’s not okay to rest on your laurels (unless of course you only intended to ever publish just one book). Just because you’ve been successful once doesn’t mean you’ll stay successful. Authors get dropped by publishers or agents, even in the middle of a series. This realization was a bit of a shocker for naive little me, although it shouldn’t have been. I suppose we as writers tend to believe that once we find that agent, that publisher, who loves us, they will always love us, no matter what we do. Nope. Keep learning, keep writing, pay attention to the market for which you write, and above all…
  3. Be nice. Don’t write a snarling one star review of someone else’s book. Don’t take someone down to build yourself up. Don’t be an arrogant shit to other writers, readers, or your editor. Most of the writers I know are the loveliest, kindest, funniest, wackiest, most generous people you’ll ever meet. But there are always a few out there who are not. Don’t be one.
  4. You’ll never be Nora Roberts, or Stephen King, or JK Rowling. Deal with it. Find your own success and your own happiness, and don’t try to be like anyone else.
  5. Not everyone will like what you write, including the people who know and love you. Some of them will be very excited to read your book, but then they will never say anything to you because they hated it and they are–see number 3–too nice to tell you so. That’s okay. But if you are a friend of a writer and you did like their book, please tell them, or write a nice review on Amazon or Goodreads, or both. Writers need to hear praise. It’s kind of pathetic, actually, but it’s true.
  6. There’s always more to learn. There’s a tendency to think that once you’ve published a book, you know everything you need to know as a writer. You don’t. Not even close.
  7. Hang out with writers. They are the only people who will truly understand your writer side. This is not to say you should only hang out with writers–goodness, no. But if you have an opportunity to go to a writers conference, or join a writers group, or just have coffee with a writer friend, you should take it.
  8. Write with writers. Writing is, for the most part, a solitary endeavor. But I have discovered lately that writing in the same room with other writers (even if it’s a virtual room) is a wonderful spur to productivity.
  9. Keep reading. My biggest mistake in the past year was to stop reading so much. I have always been a voracious reader, and have always considering reading to be my escape from the harsh realities of life. My happy place. But when I started writing, I thought that I shouldn’t read so much, and I certainly shouldn’t read many historicals. I found it distracting, I was afraid I’d inadvertently stick someone else’s words in my own work. Huge mistake. HUGE. Not reading stifled me in ways I didn’t realize until I started reading again. Don’t be afraid to read the kinds of books you write, and plenty of others besides.
  10. Keep writing. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about getting stuck in the middle of a book, consumed by doubt, yadda yadda. I don’t call this writer’s block, because I no longer think a writer ever gets blocked. There are always words to be written, and if a writer sits her ass down in the chair, she will write them. They might not be the words she wants to be writing, but those will come eventually. Just keep writing.

 

Author Interview: Beth Rhodes

Today on the blog I am delighted to welcome my friend and critique partner, Beth Rhodes. Beth’s newest book, Outside the Lines, is a wonderful contemporary romance which releases December 8. Thanks for joining me today, Beth!authorpic_Brhodes

Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?

I grew up in Michigan, where my sixth grade English teacher gave us a writing assignment. I wrote a story…and was rightfully admonished when I ended the story with, “…and then he woke up.” I dabbled in writing, but mostly read through my teens and twenties. And then in 2004, while pregnant with number 4, I had crazy insomnia. So, I wrote a book. …and the rest is history. I’ve been married to my husband for 16 years and we have 6 kids. Right now, we’re taking up space in Colorado but will soon be headed back to Georgia.

What inspired you to write Outside the Lines?

If I go way back to the very beginning, I would say this story came straight from my own life—minus the riches! I come from a Catholic family so when I was pregnant six months before getting married, there was some conflict involved. But after lots of years, I realized that it’s not really the start or finish that matter, but the journey. Love. I feel this story lots, but will say [for the sake of anyone who knows me]…it’s not mine.

What does your writing process look like? (Plotter, pantser, story boards, etc.)

I’m a plotter!! And I love it. Any time I try to start a story without doing some plotting, I fail miserably, getting to the end.

Me too. I wish I could fly by the seat of my pants, but it always ends badly. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I raise my 6 kids, for the most part, and love up on a good man. But I also like to read and hike and run and camp and watch television or movies.

I can see how raising six kids would take a lot of time! I only have one and I can barely manage. What are you working on now?

This question is complicated. I’ve been on the fence for a month or so and have started three different projects!! >:( All “nexts” in the series I have started. But, you’ll be happy to know, I settled on Book Three, Juan Rodriguez’s story. Which, btw, is going to be a little different. 1) it has an element of romantic suspense, and 2) the main characters have never met. When I started writing it, I realized that most of my MCs are familiar with each other already and that makes the transition to sensuous writing so much easier. LOL Anyhoo, look for it next year.

Many authors do detailed character sketches before writing, even if some of the details never appear in the book. Name one thing about either your hero, heroine (or both) that didn’t make it into your book, but is important to who s/he is.

My hero struggled a lot growing up [known!], and one time, he got into a fight with another kid at school who called his mom a dyke. Writing that scene was unbelievably emotional for me! Especially because he didn’t even know what that meant and had to ask his grandpa. David seems confident, but deep inside, he’s always been a little unsure about life.

Neat freak or not so much?

Not so much! My husband is the neat one. Which make his homecomings a little tricky.

LOL. I knew we were kindred spirits! Other than “butt in chair,” what piece of advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Keep writing and get into a [good] critique group!

Excellent advice! Thank goodness you guys let me into your critique group–you’ve all been lifesavers. 🙂 

Thanks so much for joining me today, Beth, and best of luck with your new release!

OutsidetheLines 200x300Outside the Lines
by Beth Rhodes

For the first time in her life, good-girl Maria Rodriguez throws aside caution for an all-consuming desire. She wants freedom from rules and her family looking over her shoulder. She wants the love she’s only ever dreamed of. But then that love walks away. Jaded bachelor David March doesn’t believe in love. His fling with the pretty Hispanic woman from California is as close to feeling as he wants to get. Now, he’s back home, burying himself in work and trying to forget.

Shortly after he leaves, Maria finds out she’s pregnant. Her first leap into freedom results in a life-changing consequence. She knows she has to find him. But what she finds is not what she expects. David is not the down-to-earth man he portrayed. And the love she remembers has been replaced by cold calculation and contracts. He lied to her once. Can she trust that a marriage agreement will bring back the love they once shared?

Excerpt:

He stopped short in the doorway.

Maria and Mrs. Kraus danced across the hardwood floor in front of him. Maria’s dress revealed well-toned calves with each turn. Her feet moved quick and sure under her, and the older woman’s barely kept up. The ache in his neck eased when he laughed. “Not bad, Mrs. Kraus.”

“It’s the salsa,” she answered as the two women did a little turn. Maria’s hips—holy mother, don’t even think about sex right now—moved to the rhythm and then her shoulders dipped and shook as she lead Mrs. Kraus into another twirly turny thing.

He rubbed a hand at the back of his neck with a smile.

Sex. Sex. Sex.

Stop thinking about sex!

“You try it!” Mrs. Kraus let go of Maria who did another twirl and landed in his arms.

“I’m not much of a dancer.”

Maria kissed him lightly, laughing. “Everyone can dance,” she said, taking both his hands and moving him over the floor.

He watched her feet, which happened to be bare. Toes painted a dark red.

Sex. Sex. Sex.

I’m not thinking about sex.

Liar. He lifted his gaze to her face, her pretty brown eyes, and found her grinning at him and wagging those eye brows. Like she knew what he was thinking—the little devil.

Fabulous excerpt! The book is available now from Kindle Direct, or for preorder at Amazon.

Read more from Beth and connect with her online:

Website: http://www.authorbethrhodes.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/author.beth.rhodes

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bethrhodes99

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/bethwrites

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/112600126301514245060/posts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Beth_Rhodes

Sign up for Beth’s newsletter!

Author Interview: Barbara Bettis

Today I am pleased to welcome fellow Wild Rose author Barbara Bettis, who writes wonderful medieval era romance. Her first book, Silverhawk, was re-released on October 6. Welcome, Barbara!

Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?

I live in a rural area in Southwest Missouri. How rural? This morning, my alarm was the sound of cattle, bawling about something in the pasture next to my house. Actually, it sounded as if they were outside my window. It was almost 6:30 a.m. On a Saturday.

My fiction writing started about seven years ago although, like most of us, I’ve been writing off and on for years, but never fiction for publication. I did spend several years as a newspaper reporter and editor, but it wasn’t until I took early retirement from teaching that I decided to write romance.

Sounds quite pastoral. 🙂 What inspired you to write Silverhawk? (I love that cover, by the way!)

This book, SILVERHAWK, is actually the second I wrote. The first is hiding out under the bed. 🙂 That one was a medieval and I wanted to do another one. The idea for Sir Giles came to me as I thought about how lonely a life a mercenary knight must have, although mercenaries had a bad reputation overall. What about a knight for hire who wasn’t cruel, who lived by a code of honor and loyalty—but who was driven by a need for his own personal revenge.

What does your writing process look like?

I say I’m a pantser, but I’m somewhere in between, actually. I know the story’s outline, I know how it ends, I know major points along the way. But how the story gets from point to point is fluid. The idea of formal plotting gives me anxiety attacks. 🙂 Seriously, though, in college when we were asked to do detailed outlines of our plots, by the time I’d finished one, I felt like I’d already written the story and I’d lose interest in it. So now writing books, I try to walk a line of some general plotting, but not so much it seems I’m writing it twice.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I actually went back to teaching a year after that early retirement. I’m an adjunct (part time) English instructor at a local college.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m wrapping up a novella featuring two characters from this book and my second published book, THE HEART OF THE PHOENIX. The novella has a working title of Lady of the Forest and is the story of how Lord Henry and Lady Katherine meet.

How many books do you have under the proverbial bed? Will they ever see the light of day?

Right now, I have just the one. Although it did fairly well, finaling in and winning a few contests, it needs major work toward the end. It’s the story of Sir Roark and Lady Alyss (Henry and Evie’s sister).

I tend to work through story ideas when I’m driving or in the shower, both of which are, of course, places I can’t write anything down. Do you have any strange writing habits?

Oh, yes. Driving is mine. Somehow the whole plotline stretches clearly when I’m on the road. Like you, I can’t write it down. I did try a voice-activated tape recorder, but that didn’t work. I can’t leave myself messages on voicemail when I’m driving.  Plus, I feel odd talking out loud when I’m alone.

I don’t have that problem–I talk to myself all the time! Neat freak or not so much?

Oddly, the older I get, the more I want neatness.  I have a great capacity for focusing on what I’m doing, so I can ignore a lot!  But it takes less and less for me to say, ‘That’s enough. Gotta clean.’

Thanks so much for having me here today, Marin. I’ve loved visiting with you and your friends.

Silverhawk--new coverHere’s a look at Silverhawk, by Barbara Bettis:

He’s everything a proper lady should never want; she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.

Sir Giles has come to England to kill his father, who seduced and betrayed his mother. First, however, he’ll seek sweet revenge—kidnap the old lord’s new betrothed. But when Giles uncovers a plot against King Richard, he faces a dilemma: take the lady or track the traitors. What’s a good mercenary to do? Both, of course.

Lady Emelin has had enough. Abandoned in a convent by her brother, she finally has a chance for home and family. Yet now she’s been abducted. Her kidnapper may be the image of her dream knight, but she won’t allow him to spoil this betrothal. Her only solution: escape.

Rescuing the intrepid lady—while hunting traitors—is a challenge Giles couldn’t anticipate.  But the greatest challenge to Giles and Emelin is the fire blazing between them. For he’s everything a proper lady should never want, and she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.

 Excerpt:

Sir Giles found her on her knees, pulling weeds in the Lady’s Garden.

Lady Emelin sat back on her heels with an exaggerated sigh. “Would you move your shoulders, Sir Knight? They block what meager light I’ve found.”

If a tone could cross its arms and tap its toe, hers did.

A lightness inside him felt shockingly like a smile. That’s why he was here. She amused him.

“Where would you like me to move them, my lady?”

“London, I should think.”

I love that line: “A lightness inside him felt shockingly like a smile.” So vivid! Thanks for visiting, Barbara!

You can find Silverhawk on Amazon. And you can visit Barbara at: 

Website: www.barbarabettis.com
Blog: www.barbarabettis.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraBettisAuthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/BarbaraBettis

 

 

Grumpish about Grammar

This post is very late. I was in a super bad mood last Sunday and couldn’t think of anything I wanted to write, and I was too busy reading contest entries anyway.

Back in the spring I volunteered to serve as a first round judge in several contests. I actually love judging contests, but when I volunteered I stupidly failed to realize that all of the entries were due back in the same week. Nevertheless, I was happy to do it–it is great fun to read the entries and to help a writer (often a brand-new writer) learn a bit more about craft, and I never fail to learn something myself. Sometimes the entries are absolutely wonderful and truly a joy to read. Other times, not so much. This year, I had far more not-so-much entries than wonderful ones. Most of the entries I read had a great plot–original, interesting, and fun. Unfortunately, many of them were also riddled with errors in grammar and punctuation. Some had clearly not even been proofread, and were full of typographical errors and spelling mistakes.

As a result of this experience, I have spent the last few days wondering why writers would enter a contest without dealing with at least some of these problems. It is important to realize that a contest is, in some ways, a trial query. Most contests have agents and/or editors serving as final round judges. If you final, you get your work in front of one of them. If she likes it, she may request a partial manuscript, or even a full. And sometimes–as I can gratefully attest–an editor buys your book or an agent agrees to represent you. Why, then, would you not make your manuscript the very best it can be before submitting it? Especially because contests cost money?

Now, I will admit that the first time I entered a contest I had no idea what I was doing, and it is certainly possible that some of the writers I judged were in a similar place in their writing careers. My entry had many, many craft errors, but it had been carefully proofread. I learned a lot from the judges in that contest, and in my critiques of the entries I reviewed in the last couple of weeks, I tried to do the same for those writers.

My point here is two-fold: First, if you are an author, especially a published author, consider donating your time and expertise to juIMG_3137dge a contest. You will make a huge difference in a writer’s life, and you will learn something too.

Second, if you are a writer wishing to enter a contest, polish that manuscript! Proofread it–do not rely on spell check alone. Check your grammar. If you need to brush up on grammar rules, do so. Pick up a copy of Strunk and White. Go online–there are a lot of sites which offer help on grammar issues. For example, I like the Grammar Girl for short and sweet tips. There’s Grammarly, which scans your text for grammar and punctuation. (I’ve never used it, but it gets good reviews.) From the Write Angle has blog posts about grammar, craft, querying, and a bunch of other good stuff. Or just Google “grammar” and see what you get. Once you have these basics down, it’s much easier to focus on the craft–all those things that make you a better writer.

I’ve decided to stop whining and do something to help (hopefully). Once a month, starting next week, I’ll do a post on issues I’ve spotted in manuscripts, or things I’ve been curious about. If any of you have a grammar or craft question you’d like me to discuss, or if you’re interested in doing a guest post about your grammar pet peeve, or if you are better than I am at coming up with catchy names for my grammar posts (because honestly, who isn’t better at that than I am?), leave a comment here or drop me a line at marinmcginnis@yahoo.com.

 

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