Friday, January 31, 2014

In Search of Comfort Food, er, Reads

Alabama, in case anyone missed it (because you were stuck in traffic in Georgia, for example), got walloped with some winter whiteness this week. In my neck of the woods, it came mostly in the form of ice. I had some pretty impressive ice formations on my front awning:

Such things make you crave comfort foods but if you aren't stocked up, the next-best thing is a comfort book, right?

Being socked in for three days (albeit with a looming deadline) made me start thinking about comfort books--the tattered, worn books we turn to when we want something that makes us feel good, no matter how many times we read them. Books with bent spines, hot chocolate stains, and (gasp) dogged ears.

Here are my top three, in no order. Don't judge.

* The Wheel of Fortune, by Susan Howatch. It's a big, sprawling, messy, multigenerational family story with a touch of gothic that Howatch did so well in the middle period of her career. The first book of hers I read (in high school, no less) was Penmarric, which made me fall in love with Cornwall. Then Cashelmara, which made me fall in love with Ireland. In Wheel, my favorite of all, it's Wales she enchants me with. The stories are well told, emotionally rich and complex.

* The Kent Family Chronicles, by John Jakes. Don't judge, I tell you! This is the
first series I ever read if you don't count Nancy Drew or the Bobbsey Twins. I think I picked up the first book, The Bastard, because I thought it had a daring title (she laughs, thinking of the language that appears in her books these days), but quickly got caught up in the skillful blend of history and soap opera. They're addictive, all eight of them. I spy those tattered, often-reread paperbacks on my shelf as I type. Hm....

* The Stand, by Stephen King. I say it again: Don't judge! Okay, that scene where Larry Underwood is feeling his way through a pitch-black Lincoln Tunnel full of dead people and rats? Maybe comforting isn't the right word, I'll grant you. But M-O-O-N I love this book. Okay, this will date me. A friend and I sat in a biology class passing notes back and forth as to who we'd cast in a movie of this book should one ever be made, and we agreed that the dashing young actor named Robert Redford would be a great Stu. When it got made, me and Rob were both kinda old, so
Gary Sinise did the honors.

Seriously. Don't judge.

What about you? Favorites?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Behind the Camera at a Romance Novel Cover Shoot


You can’t judge a book by its cover.

As a writer, I know that old adage is just a bunch of malarkey. We’ve all either bought or bypassed books because of the cover. We’ve all given recommendations to friends – that cover just doesn’t do the book justice. It’s really a good book. 

Romance novels are known for their sultry covers that capture the perfect moment to illustrate the story on the pages within. Ripped torsos, flowing gowns, pouting lips, sharp-edged daggers, warriors clad in kilts – each cover image is a promise to the reader that must be kept.

In the days of the bodice rippers (RIP), covers were often painted works of art, loosely based on models. If an author was lucky she might get Fabio on her cover! But now, with so many books being published, cover art has become a blend of photography and Photoshop - real models thrust against imaginative backdrops with the stroke of a mouse or stylus.

There’s a lot of work to getting that one second of intense passion between two characters on the cover of book!

Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes at one of the iCandy photo shoots.

bts4Historical models, Jessie and Brian, hold their poses while hair is tucked and Jessie’s skirt is positioned so a cover artist can turn the folds into a billowing ball gown, and Photoshop some highland boots on our laird to cover up those Gold Toe socks.






Here, menage models are posed to make it look as if they’ve known each other intimately – instead of a mere twenty minutes.

photo_1 Steampunk corsets are never tight enough.

Neither are kilts. (Yes, he’s that tall)kilt

But when the images appear on the site, ready for the cover artists to work their magic, corset and kilt cinching, holding a pose in a highlander’s arms, or making three strangers look comfortable together, is all worth it!




Fess up! Have you ever either bought a book for the cover, or bypassed one because of a less than stellar cover?

Monday, January 27, 2014

I've been spending a lot of time on Pinterest lately....

In my second book, Solving for Nic,  which I hope will be released this spring, my hero’s executive assistant has a Pinterest problem.  It’s a running joke between her and my hero that she keeps up with what stage his relationships are in by watching what his girlfriends pin on their boards.  Pam knows to get the roses and diamond bracelets ready when the place settings and bridesmaid’s dresses start showing up.  Not that Nic looks at Pinterest, he just has excellent anti commitment radar.

                 When the heroine discovers this little habit of Pam’s, she creates a board and fills it full of black roses and six figure bracelets and calls it Future References for Pam.  My heroine is an early 60s pre Vietnam retro fan so she has a board called Don Draper Take Me Now.   She also uses Pinterest to find hairstyles for her extra curly hair.  So while my manuscript was off for edits, I thought it would be fun to create a Pinterest account for my pen name and create boards that Lizzie had it the book.   And I didn’t stop there.  I started creating boards for a lot of my lead characters.  It’s been almost as much fun as writing about them. 

                I can’t take full credit for using Pinterest to enhance my books.  I’ve been following Caitlin Crews and Abby Green, under my personal account, for a while now and they create some smoking hot and some really beautiful boards for their books.  I asked Caitlin Crews, via Facebook message, if she had any thoughts on Pinterest and she…squee…answered me right back.

                I love Pinterest. I find it very soothing, personally, especially if I'm stuck on hold on the phone or something. And in terms of my profession, I send the boards to my editor and they're usually incorporated into art, etc. for my books. Fun and useful!

                I love the idea that she and editor use the boards to help enhance her books.  That really made me feel like I was not wasting my time, because as I’m sure you know Pinterest is rivaled only by Candy Crush when it comes to soaking up time.

                I also follow Maisey Yates,  Carrie Ann Ryan,  Laura K Curtis, Nicole Helm and Maggie Welsh.  These ladies have boards that will burn up your computer screen if you look at them too long.  Then there’s Katherine Bone who finds the most gorgeous historical themed pins.  Penny Watson likes to follow Christine Rose Elle and now I do too.  She has board after board of beautiful retro eye candy.  Maggie Welsh likes to follow Penny Reid.  You never know what Penny Reid will come up with next.

                When I decided to write this post, I asked my writer buddies on Twitter and Facebook what they thought of Pinterest.  Laura K. Curtis and Nicole Helm really like being able to “organize, annotate and share” and refer back to things quickly.  Kari Lemor uses Pinterest exclusively to storyboard and doesn’t really follow anyone else. (We’re going to try to change that.)  Penny Watson said, “Initially, I was very wary of Pinterest because it's illegal to repost copyrighted images without permission, and I was worried that the majority of the images were lacking proper attribution. However, many of the images are from blogs with "share" buttons, encouraging folks to repost on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. This is not a very interactive site-- with lots of social interaction. Folks share images, may leave comments (rarely). But it is fun to collect visual images for inspiration. Honestly, I use it more for non-professional reasons (recipes, searches for decorating ideas, etc.) than as an author social media site.”

                I agree with Penny, as usual. Pinterest is not very interactive but I think there is a lot of untapped potential there.   My Pinterest Partner in crime, Maggie Welsh, and I are working on that.  We have started a Fantasy MC board that we can both pin on and invite others to pin on too.  (it’s like Fantasy Football but with Motorcycle men…and yes, you can come play too).   Maggie and I both have personal accounts and writer accounts.  Our personal accounts tend to be PG while our writer’s accounts well….our pen names definitely have more fun.

                I think we’ve only really just started to explore the potential Pinterest has for sharing our stories and characters in exciting new ways.   I’m thinking of holding a contest on Pinterest for my next book release with a shared board just not quite sure what it will be yet.  I would love you suggestions.  I'd also love to hear how you use Pinterest, what you like to pin and if there's a favorite person you follow?

               Hope you enjoyed my post.  Follow me on Pinterest and Come Play Fantasy MC.

Lexxi Callahan was born in New Orleans and grew up in the South. She loves Dr. Who, Star Trek and the first and second Star Wars movies. She’s married and enjoying her own personal HEA with her wonderful and patient husband of nearly twenty years, their daughter and crazy dogs. One day she hopes to move back to the Big Easy then pretty much all her dreams will have come true.  You can almost always find Lexxi on Twitter or Facebook.  Book 1 of her Southern Style Series Sweetened with a Kiss was released in June 2013 and is available in paperback and ebook.  Book 2 Solving for NIc will be out later this Spring.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Historical Romance is Dead ! And I'm Not Feeling Too Good Myself !

Have you heard? Historical romance is dead. Agents and editors agree it is a hard sell and therefore it must be dead. No one wants to read about dukes, rakes, debutantes, carriages and all that stuff. The language is too hard. The rules are too stupid. Readers aren't interested in the boring historical research and the stories all sound the same these days. Yep! Dead as a guy wearing a red shirt in the first fifteen minutes of a Star Trek episode.

The small town romance is king now. Or wait! No! It's the contemporary western romance. Forget that! Angel and demon heroes in urban fantasy romance are the next big thing. Hell! With an eight figure deal in the offing, erotic romance with some BSDM thrown in there THAT'S what's hot! Or maybe Amish virgin heroes are your ticket to the big time.

Are you confused yet? Good! I'd hate to be sitting in the cheap seats on the Titanic all by myself.

The trouble with having all day access to the information superhighway is you run the risk of being intellectual roadkill. There are so many articles, surveys and reports on the state of the publishing industry and what the next big sub-genre in romance is going to be I feel like a three-legged possum during five o'clock rush hour on the Friday before Labor Day.

What is the truth? If you believe much of the professional hype out there all you have to do is write an urban fantasy set in a small western town with an Amish virgin cowboy hero who is actually a fallen angel in disguise and have him seduced by a billionaire business woman who turns him into her BSDM sex slave. Write it and the agents, editors and readers will be beating down your door asking for more. And if you self-publish it you will rake in 70% of a bazillion dollars. Universal Pictures will buy your book for another bazillion dollars and make it into a film starring Chris Pine and Anne Hathaway. They'll film it at Highclere Castle to cash in on the Downton Abbey fans.

Of course if you go the self-publishing route you will have to write at least three books and preferably six and release them all a few weeks apart. You'll have to hire a really great cover artist too. Or not. Because even in e-books great covers sell. Or not. You need to use a top-notch editor. Or you can just edit it yourself, people don't care about great editing so long as the story is good.

Still confused? I don't know about you, but I'm getting ready to climb into that boat with Billy Zane and leave Leo DiCaprio to fend for himself at this point. Sheesh!

Everyone talks about what's dead and what's hot and what you should be writing if you want to sell and succeed. There are all sorts of reports on the Evil Empire of Traditional Publishers, the rights of writers, and how fast the publishing world is changing. Advice abounds on what kind of writer each of us should be - hybrid, traditional, strictly self-published, indie, small press, e-pubbed. And most important, you've got to get it all done NOW! And get it out there FAST !!

Really? Well, listen up, writers. Auntie Louisa is about to scurry her naked-tailed butt to the other side of the road and let you in on some simple truths. We possums have been around for at least 70 million years. We know a little bit about what it takes to survive.

First of all, every genre and sub-genre I have mentioned in this post has been "dead" at one point or another in the long history of fiction. Frankly, hot genres are like buses and men - there will be another one along in a few minutes. Be patient. The one you want will swing back by and grab you.

Second, no matter how talented, skilled and educated a writer you become over the years writing in a genre that doesn't speak to you simply because it is the next big thing is like faking an orgasm. It might get you by for a while, but eventually your partner (the reader) is going to figure it out. They'll feel cheated and they'll be right. And frankly that is too damned much work for me.

Third, don't let anyone tell you what the best way to publish your work is. It's your work. You decide. And you base that decision on what works for you. Decide what sort of writer you want to be, you can be, without tying yourself into knots and become that writer. Don't let anyone tell you you're doing it wrong or you'll never succeed unless you do it this way or that way. Yes, this business is changing, but the fundamental thing - writing a great story that leaves a lasting impression on a reader and makes them hungry for more of YOUR work - HAS. NOT. CHANGED. Remember that.


Fourth, there comes a time when you have to take complete and utter control of your writing destiny. You have to go 300 on it - "This is where we fight. This is where they die."

What does that mean? Take all of those surveys, reports and comments about what sells and file them in the circular file. Then sit down and write the book you WANT to write. Yes, that one. The one with the impossible premise, strange characters and unbelievable romance. Write the stories you want to tell. Write the stories that won't leave you alone. And when someone reads it and says "This can't possibly sell." keep writing. Pour it all out there on the page. Don't hold anything back. And when you finish, do it again. And again. And again. Write as if your life depends on you getting YOUR stories out on the page. Because it does.

If you spend all of your time trying to figure out what the next hot thing will be, if you spend all of your writing efforts chasing trends in genre and methods of publication you're like the end dog on the sled dog team - you're running last and the view will never change.

Besides, that book you write that everyone told you would never sell? It might just be the next Fifty Shades or Crossfire or Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Historical romance is dead? Don't you believe it. It's got more lives than Stefano di Mera, baby. (You youngsters will have to look that one up.) Just wait and see. And who knows, you or I may be the ones to bring it back to life. I'm damned sure going to try. How many writers do you know who have written a Regency hero getting knocked flat by the heroine's seventeen foot pet python and gotten away with it?

What do you think about all of the surveys, reports and prophecies out there? How do you deal with all of the information about the future of publishing that comes your way? What would you tell someone who is confused, or worried or depressed about the current state of the business? 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know: Happy Birthday Lord Byron

Flamboyant. Passionate. Notorious. The original bad boy.

Today would have been Lord Byron's 226 birthday, but we still see his influences everywhere we look.

The Byronic hero is an irresistable archetype. The seductive, dark anti-hero steals our hearts. Despite his arrogance and self-destructive tendencies, we are drawn to his conflicted nature.

Jay Gastby. Jericho Barrons. Rhett Butler. Tony Stark. All flawed. All heartbreakers. All Byronic.

In celebration of the bad boys that we all love, share your favorite literary bad boy with us and tell us why.

Pleasure's a sin, and sometime's sin's a pleasure. -- Lord Byron (Don Juan)

Monday, January 20, 2014

2014: Going Public

2014 is going to be a big year for me. It's my debut year. Sometime this fall, SWEET UNREST, the little Young Adult novel I wrote way back in 2010. The book about Voodoo and the South, love and regret, bravery and fear, and hot, green-eyed French guys from the past--the book that got me my first agent--will become a book-shaped thing.

Debuting is a funny thing. On one hand, it is so important. You want to do everything and get everything right. On the other hand, my book is currently on a list on Goodreads with 220 other debuts--and those are just the traditionally published debuts that opted to be on the list or who had someone vote for them. (Feel free to go vote for it, if you want.) That's 220 debuts-- just people who have first YA books out. Forget about counting the hundreds of people who are already publishing and have YA novels coming out in 2014.

Some days, the book feels like the Biggest Thing That's Ever Happened to me. Some days, it feels like a drop in the ocean.

But I did all the things I was supposed to do:
Made the requisite website.
Posed awkwardly for a couple of hours and get an author picture ( you can see them HERE).
Signed up for my first conference as an author- I'll be at RT!
Created an author Facebook Page.
And a Tumblr... even though I don't have a clue how it works and can't post a GIF to save my soul.
And of course, there's Twitter.
Don't even get me started about Pinterest (which seems like a total time suck) and Instagram.

I'm kicking off my Blog on Feb 1, with lots of giveaways and interviews and people who are not me posting on it. And I'm on two group blogs: Tangled Up in Words and Fall Fourteeners, because I apparently have too much time on my hands.

And still... it doesn't feel like enough. It feels like too much. It feels like none of it really matters in the long-run.

Because here's the thing--so many of the authors who've gone almost viral on social media are fun. They are quirky and cute and have ironic glasses or colored hair or weird pets and seem like they're 22, even when I know they're older than me. I am none of those things. (And, no, I'm not looking for praise.)

I'm okay with being none of those things. I'm a professor, and I act like one most days--even the days I wear my Chucks. I've acted like one even back when I was still 22 and childless.

I have Thoughts and Opinions and Political Ideas that will probably get me into trouble on Twitter someday.

I don't want to stop rating books on Goodreads, because dammit I am a certified expert in literature. And I feel like even if I wasn't, I'd be entitled to an opinion as a professional writer.

I have kids, not pets, and apparently am responsible for their continued survival. This is what takes up most of my days...not figuring out how to post a GIF (though, seriously, if anyone out there understands them, I'm all ears).

So maybe it's okay that all that social media is a drop in the ocean.
And maybe it's not.

But 2014 is a big year for me. My first real book goes out into the world to be judged and loved or hated. I go from writer to author. From private to public.

And I'm not sure, exactly, what all that means, but I'd love you to come join me. :O)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fortune Friday!

It's Friday and I'm late after having been sick for almost two weeks with a terrible cold. I get a kick out of Fridays because I can make Fortune Friday comments on my various social media loops, namely Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. Quick snippets. Fortune cookies are like getting she-captain Cheng I Sao's advice. (Pirate!)

Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it.

"Is this rum-induced blather?" Jack scratches his wiry beard. "Who is this she-captain? Never heard of her."

"Jack, you've only had access to the Chinese pirate queen in the movies. Don't you remember she roved with her husband, Cheng I, and helped create a constitution for seven pirate leaders until his death, similiar to POTC's brethren court, a heirachy that propelled her into the history books? Oh, and don't forget. She married her husband's gay lover, Chang Pao, a man, strangely enough, she'd previously adopted as her son."

"'Swounds and blood!" Cringing...


Thankfully, Jack doesn't know about me treasure trove. Fortune Friday excerpts come from my secret fortune cookie stash. Yes, I admit to having a thing for fortune cookies. After all, what's not to love about discovering treasure in the midst of a delicious cookie? But I digress. I say again, "Pirate!"

Back to my originial thoughts. It's a new year. Huzzah, 2014! Hand flail! And with every new year come resolutions galore, attempts to be better than ever (Cue The Six Million Dollar Man music ~ We can rebuild him) while making promises of meeting goals set for the entire year.

Have you set goals this year? If I know my writer friends, the answer will be inexplicably "Hell, yeah!" Fellow pirates chime in, "Bloody hell and Aye!" Saluting with rum for effect.

"Give me that horizon," Jack quibbles, raising another dram of rum. "Makes for better adventure, eh? Not livin' me life on paper." Scrunches nose in distaste.

But writers do live on paper, vicariously through characters and storylines. Writers deal with daily interuptions: day job, family, health issues, computer problems, writer's block, and more on a daily basis, while characters continue to breathe life into their heads. Some deign to tell us we need padded rooms. The swine!

"Now I know why the rum's always gone." Jack purses his lips and smashes an empty bottle.

That being said...

I've got plans listed on my goal sheet this year. I'm using my handy dandy calendar, the same brand I've used and loved for two years now. I'm plugging in weekly goals, projects, and more. Trying without fail to stay on task. I highly recommend the 2014 Action Day Planner from Staples. (See below) It's been a great boon to me.

This year is going to be a pivotal year for my writing career. Huzzah! I've switched publishers and will be revealing the brand new book cover for Duke by Day, Rogue by Night, scheduled for a February re-release, on my blog Monday of next week. The Nelson's Tea prequel novella, My Lord Rogue, will soon follow. I'll be re-releasing several other books this year too. And I've got a three-book novella series lined up, as well as book three in the Nelson's Tea Series, The Rogue's Surrender, to finish. Plus, if there's still time, (LOL! Thinking big here.) I'll finally tackle a seven-book Regency series I've been plotting for over two years now. Woo-hoo!!! You'll find it here: Katherine Bone's Rogues, Rebels & Rakes Blog

Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it.

I challenge you. No, not to a duel. I challenge you to get a great calendar, set goals, think positive, and change bad habits. Accept 2013 for what it was. Make 2014 even better.

Do you have a calendar or planning method that works best for you? Don't let last year's set backs bring you down. Start fresh. Be bold. Put a spyglass to your eye and focus on that horizon. Accept what you can't change, defeat the rest.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What I Learned Writing a Series

 Alicia Hunter Pace (Jean and Stephanie)
Today's blog is written by Jean, who is half of the Alicia Hunter Pace team.  Apparently, she has been keeping secrets from Stephanie, the other half of Alicia Hunter Pace.

Here’s the thing. When you sell your first book, you don’t know if you are going to have a series, even if that’s what you hope. There is just no telling how that first book is going to go. What if you don’t sell a single copy except to yourself? What if it sells okay but everyone who reads it hates the characters? What if it is so bad that people hang outside your door and throw eggs at you? What if they break in your house and take your computer so you can never write another book of any kind?

It could happen. Not likely, but it’s possible. What is more possible is that it won’t do well enough that your editor is unwilling to go into that world again.

Luckily, that didn’t happen to Stephanie and me. When Secrets Gone South is released next month, there will be four Gone South books and one novella in print. But since we weren’t sure in the beginning, we didn’t do all the things we should have to keep the facts straight. In the end, we didn’t have any inconsistencies—that we know of—but it wasn’t for lack of trying. We spent a lot of time as we went,  putting together time lines, looking up names, birthdays, and occupations, and hoping for the best.

Never again.  You live and you learn. For our next series, we are sure of what’s going to happen so we will create a “Bible” of facts. These are the rules that we think will work for us:

Don’t get fancy and create a spread sheet. Simple is better. Get a composition book.
In that book write every character’s name, no matter how insignificant they may seem. You never know when the cemetery owner is going to become a favorite of your readers.

Don’t give a minor character an occupation you don’t want to write about. You never know when that minor character might tap you on the shoulder and say, “Hey! I’ve got a secret baby!”

Keep a meticulous chart of what happens when—conceptions, weddings, birthdays, festivals. It is all going to be important.

Especially for main characters, keep a record of likes and dislikes as well as things they own like vehicles, houses, and jewelry. If the hero from book one has a peanut allergy, it’s best if he isn’t seen eating a bagel with peanut butter in book three—unless you want him to have a medical emergency.
Even for minor characters, write down what you think isn’t important and especially what you’re sure you will remember—because you won’t. You cannot have a character who has been police chief for four books, suddenly become sheriff.

Above all else, keep this in one book, designated for the series. Do not write on random envelopes, the backs of printed manuscript, and restaurant receipts.

Yeah. Stephanie didn’t know about those envelopes and receipts. It’s best that she didn’t.

What do you do to keep your facts organized?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Getting The Proverbial Call

This was my view on January 10, 2014. I was on Pensacola Beach for an early Birthday celebration. It was a happy day because I received my first publishing contract from Soul Mate Publishing. I always believed when the day came, I’d dance. I did eventually, but the first thing I did was cry. It was overwhelming to know someone valued my work enough to offer to pay me for it.

I texted Hubba-luv at work and called my mom, who cried with me. I emailed my CP and texted my BFF plus an awesome group of supportive ladies from my former career. Everyone applauded. Even though it was via digital communication, I heard their cheers. It’s possible I’m still in shock.
I wanted to put announcements on social media and shout it from the rooftops, but something told me to wait. Later that night, when Hubba-luv was sawing logs, I was reminded to write my blog post for Romance Magicians. I can’t think of a better place to share my news than with the group who helped me get here.
Southern Magic is an amazing RWA chapter. I’ve received much needed advice, support, and encouragement from the talented writers who comprise this group. I’ve learned so much about the craft and business of writing through the wonderful monthly programs, Q&A sessions, and online courses. I’d like to thank everyone who’s helped me on my journey to publication. I’m not going away though. Soon, I’ll be bugging you about blurbs, marketing, swag, and so on and so forth. This party’s just getting started.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Second no more - when supporting characters take the starring role

One of the temptations as an author is to revisit secondary characters from previous books, giving them the lead role.  You can get a little crazy about it sometimes, expending too much time and story on characters who should be firmly in the background, prepping the field for a future book, to the detriment of the story you're trying to tell now.

But there are some characters you write who don't strike you, at first, as candidates for the starring role.  But over the course of a story, or maybe even more than just one story, this character keeps catching our attention, doing or saying things on the periphery that make you think, "Hmm.  Wonder what his story is?"

That's what happened to me with the character of Doyle Massey.  He made his first appearance in the final book of my Cooper Justice series, Cooper Vengeance, set in Terrebonne, Alabama.  A sheriff's deputy who worked with the heroine, Natalie, Doyle at first came across as an antagonist of sorts, a co-worker who didn't seem to think too much of Natalie or have much patience with her prickly nature.  But by the time the book was over, Doyle had proved to be a big help to Natalie and J.D., and everybody parted as friends.

When I revisited the sleepy town on Terrebonne, Alabama, in book four of my Cooper Security book, Secret Assignment, it seemed a no-brainer to have my hero interact with Doyle Massey when the heroine went missing. Again, Doyle was more of an antagonist than an ally, at first, but in the end, he came through again.

I figured when I started the Bitterwood P.D. series, there wouldn't be much opportunity to revisit Doyle again.  After all, he was back in Terrebonne, soaking up the Gulf Coast sun, while the characters in Bitterwood were in the Appalachian Mountains, dealing with a Smoky Mountain crime spree.

Until the Bitterwood P.D. chief of police retired under a cloud of suspicion.  With the police department stained by the taint of corruption and looking for a new chief, it seemed the perfect time to toss Doyle Massey into the mix and see whether he'd sink or swim.

In my new Bitterwood P.D. book, Blood on Copperhead Trail, Doyle takes the top job at the Bitterwood P.D. just as the county is considering disbanding the police department altogether, putting the town under the county sheriff's jurisdiction.  Doyle may be the department's best hope of retaining their autonomy, if he can clean up the corruption and convince the county's public integrity officer, Laney Hanvey, that he has what it takes to right the ship.

Conscientious Laney finds his laid-back, life's a beach attitude too flippant for the seriousness of the police department's situation.  But when Laney's sister and two other girls go missing up on the mountain, she discovers there's a lot more to Doyle Massey than she thought.  And he just may be the best man to have at her side when the going gets dangerous.

Do you like to see secondary characters get their chance to shine?  Or do you think authors overuse the convention?

Monday, January 06, 2014

Addicted to UNO

Anybody ever find themselves so involved in some online activity that time just slips away? You know, you have a list of things you need to do . . . chores around the house, day job, sleep, and writing of course . . . but you say to yourself, "Just one more."

I recently found UNO online and have been enjoying the heck out of it. Now, after realizing how much time has gone into playing games, I've had to be firm and make a deal with myself. "Larynn, you need to cross one item off your list before you can play another game."

Yes ma'am, reasonable side.

So, at the top of my list was my Romance Magicians blog post scheduled for today which got me thinking about all the other times I get caught up in activities that take away from my list of must do's.

Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, email, music, your favorite TV show or movie . . . the list goes on and on. Don't get me wrong, we all need down time but I'm sure we all let these favorites get the better of us from time to time.

How about you? What consumes more of your time than you intend? Come on, confession is good for the soul.

Now if you'll excuse me . . . UNO is calling my name :)

Friday, January 03, 2014

2014 Writing Resolutions - What are yours?


I don't know about you, but I need a great big gulp of fresh       2014 air!

And let's all say this together (okay, you don't have to say it out loud):

It's a Brand New Year of Beginnings!

Got that list of resolutions chiseled in stone yet? Penciled in?

How about thinking of what you need to work on this year?

I'll share some of my own here and I hope you leave yours in the comments below. Between us, we should see that no matter where we are on this writing - for - publication journey, we can support each other.


1. Exercise somehow, someway, for some amount of time EVERY day. Why you ask? Isn't it important to sit my butt in the chair with my fingers on the keyboard every day? Well of course it is! But... how many of us battle carpal tunnel, sore shoulders and neck tension, headaches, and weight gain?
*raising my hand here*
One of the best courses I took last year was Tiffany Lawson's From Madness to Method with Margie Lawson University... and guess what Lesson 1 was?
Relaxation Exercises ala Method Acting classes to get the blood moving, the brain oxygenated, and muscles (physical AND writing) relaxed!
Do yourself a HUGE favor and put it down on your daily to-do list. Get in the pool (my favorite), on the bike, or walk outside in the fresh air. Keep some light barbells nearby while writing so you're flexing some muscle while plotting. Sit on an exercise ball and work your balance. You'll feel better - especially at the end of the day!

2. Now... BICHOK and write every day! Kelly Stone's 90 Day Writing Challenge started yesterday. Check in to post your daily tally, your goals, whatever you wish for support and accountability. We've all heard it again and again - there's no fixing a blank page.
Just. Write.

3. Take a writing class, join a writer's support group, plan to attend a writers' conference.
Yes. All three. It's not as hard or expensive as you may think. Let's break it down:
There are writing classes all over the internet, from the above mentioned Margie Lawson courses ($$$$) to free fiction classes on ITunes U.
Wazzat? You haven't heard of ITunes U?
 Neither had I until I programmed one of my many techie gifts and found it.
 And in between...? Savvy Authors... RWA University... Romance University... Women on Writing (WOW) ... Candace Havens' Writing Workshop on Yahoo loops... Rachelle Gardner's blog....
And don't forget twitter chats with agents and editors!
Writer's support groups are all over Facebook - 'sokay, here's a shameless plug for my own called 5 a.m. Writers. But you don't have to join mine - check out Indie Romance Writers, Marketing Support for Romance Writers, Kindle Authors... just put "writers" in the search bar and more than you can imagine will appear. Free. All free.
Writers' conferences don't come cheap. Day long workshops with your chapter are terrific when money and family constraints don't allow for a longer trip, but it's worth the money and effort to commit to a weekend away with a concentration on learning as much as possible and making connections and friendships. If a conference cost is prohibitive, consider a retreat with friends away from home. No cooking, no kids, no cleaning, no schedules. Just writing and critiquing. And ___ <-insert your liquor of choice. Priceless.
 Shameless plug II: January 25th I will join Debby Giusti, Tamar Myers, Larissa Reinhart and more southern mystery authors at the Murder Goes South Festival of Readers and Writers of the Southern Mystery, sponsored by Sisters in Crime and Smyrna Public Library. I'll be leading a writer's breakout session on writing in the 21st century, talking about technology, creating your brand and marketing your book.

4. Finish the book. Let critique partners do their thing, then revise. Write the synopsis. Query, pitch, submit or self-publish. Then, market the hell outta that one and do it all over again. Tia Nevitt's 6 Paragraph Synopsis infographic is my favorite, but there are lots of other sources on synopsis writing, query writing, pitching and of course, self-publishing.
What favorite process can you share?

What are your resolutions for 2014? Leave a comment and help us all out!
Next month I'll be back with tech ideas for book marketing and author branding. A bientot!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Fear of the Unknown

First, Happy New Year! Hope 2014 is going to be great one for all of us!

The past few years have brought so many changes. Some we’re happy about (acceptance of self-publishing) to some that we’re not (closing of book stores). I know I've read several authors I probably never would've picked up and many of those I’ll not read again. Not that their writing was sub-par but because their style of telling a story was not one I cared to read again.

In all of this, one thing I've been reminded of is how there are so many ways of telling a story.  

I’m mainly a third person type of gal. In other words, I love to read and write books in third person (most fiction are written by using “she” and “he”). Of course, there are pluses to first person (written as “I”). You get a more personal close up of the narrator. A drawback is that she can’t know or see anything that didn't involve her participation. Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series is typical of first person. Great series, but limited in view.

The books that blew me away this year is the Beautiful series from the writing team of Christina Lauren. The two ladies wrote a world I've never been interested in: Big City living (they start out in Chicago and then move to New York City). So it has to be some fancy writing to grab my attention. Each chapter is switched out between the heroine and hero, and they did great on the male POV. Anyway, this post isn't a book review, but I just wanted to point out how when you think you've seen or read it all, something can pop up and show you that you still have much to learn.

So in 2014, I will be increasing my craft studies and learning new techniques in writing. So if you have a book to suggest, let me know. Chances are that I have it, but you never know.

Don’t you love how someone’s writing can motivate you?

P.S.  Oh, get Beautiful Stranger in audio. OMG! The guy’s voice is awesome, if you like English accents.

Carla Swafford's a third generation storyteller and is married to her high sweetheart. 
CIRCLE OF DESIRE  ". . .  trip to bedroom may be as dangerous as a gunfight." 4-1/2 stars RT Magazine
CIRCLE OF DANGER ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it." Time Magazine.
CIRCLE OF DECEPTION "Abby & Rex smolder and BURN up the pages . . ." Mmmi Musings
You can find out more about Carla's books at