Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hooked on a series!

***

 
I’m working on Book #4 in my Vegas series and something rather miraculous has happened to me. I think this is the best book yet!! Truly!!

I’ll explain.

When I started the first book, I was trying to get my work added into an anthology with some wonderful Amazon, best-selling suspense authors whose influence I knew would help my budding career. I was told to submit a tale with around 5,000 words and it had to be done like - yesterday!!! So, I got myself to work and wrote what I thought was a good story, with a blockbuster opening and fascinating characters. I sent it in praying they’d accept the work.

To my utmost shock and heart-stopping glee, Carolyn McCray, the organiser and my promoter, explained to me that I had sent in the beginnings of a full-length novel. What she now wanted me to do was to write the short story to introduce those same characters who would appear in the book. And then, of course, write… You guessed it! The book.

Whaa???

I was ecstatic and freaking out all at the same time. They were going to take my work - except I still had to write it. A whole new short story and I had like three days before they wanted to release it….gulp.



Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I got my chubby little butt into my office and worked harder than I’d ever done before. I did come up with the short story she wanted and it was added into the anthology. I called it “Partners” and the following full-length book was called “Roll the Dice”.

Well once I started the series, I got caught up in the lives of my hero and heroine. They had to suffer and overcome huge conflicts just to make it worth my time and effort to care about their lives. Right?? I mean these books are suspense? And to me, that means the reader must never know exactly what is in store for them. As affirmed by a review from Night Owl Romance. As their creator, it was up to me to keep everyone guessing.

Except I never thought I’d be the one guessing also.

So after I finished “Roll the Dice”, I had to write a follow-up book to set things right. I mean, I don’t want to do a spoiler here but, trust me, it was imperative to continue. Unfortunately, I had released “Roll the Dice” in Sept. Christmas was closing in and I had a deadline to get a holiday book written and released by November. I had to stop writing on the Vegas series. Feeling suspended and itching to get back to it, my promoter urged me to write a bridge book to keep the series alive.

Huh?? What’s a bridge book I asked shyly, blushing like a sixty-year-old virgin? Should I have known what she meant??

She explained, without any hint of censure. Phew!

It’s a short story giving the readers a peek into the lives of your characters while they wait for the next full-length blockbuster. Okay! I could do that and I did. I released “Vegas Shuffle” a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed writing this portion, because, to tell you the truth, it rather cemented all the stuff going on in my characters’ lives in my own head also. Made everything clear for me to know exactly what I needed to do for the follow up story called “High Stakes Gamble”.  This will be Book #4, which I’m madly writing now to be released in the beginning of April.

And I will reiterate what I said at the beginning. This is Book #4 to the series and my best book yet. At this point, I’m so very comfortable with all my characters that I know their needs, their wants, what they fear and who they love. And each morning, I can’t wait to get back into their heads so I can add a few more chapters and get closer to the end so…

Wanna know something else I just found out myself? There will have to be two more books before I can even begin to think of stopping. Oh Yeah...!
 
 
****
 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Run for Joy!


 
***As promised - here is the very first story I ever had published - by a multicultural magazine called Stepping Stones.
                                            

   ***

      Keita is unhappy and listless.  For the last few days all he does is sit and clutch the old soccer ball, his only possession.  In the straw covered “piute”, he prays for a little breeze through the open sides but it isn’t happening.  He looks over the red, clay-like, sun- bleached dirt, the graying weeds, and waits.  He knows any day now the rains will come.

      His keepers, people he is forced to live with since he lost his own family, yell at him and force him outside.

     “Go and run boy,” they say wanting his space.  “Play with the other children, don’t hide in here.”

     Curled up like a lazy kitten, trying to make his thin, lanky body vanish doesn’t help.  Swats on his backside convince him to leave the spot He takes up the same position on the outer walls where the shade not only keeps the sun from his body but also keeps him hidden.  Limply he settles like a mound of old cloth.

     Hearing his name called by the voice of the only person who has ever shown him any respect or affection brings him instantly to his feet.  His Madame, the giver of the

cherished ball has need of him.  She is his only experience of love.  Sometimes she pats his head, holds his hand and even hugs and kisses him hello.

     For the small jobs he does for her there is always water and food at her gate.  He knows her treats of bread, jam, fruit and occasionally cookies are what keep him strong. Once, for a special occasion, she even gave him a Coca-Cola.  He almost choked drinking it so fast.  Afterwards, he spent so much time bragging about it that the other boys in the village started to tease him and call him Keita-Cola.  He didn’t care.  They had never tasted one and he had.

     He runs toward her voice and finds her at the edge of the village.  She is calling  him to come help her take her dog for a walk.  She has told him that she feels very safe with him and Oma, her big black African dog.  Keita hides his fear of this huge monster but the animal senses it anyway.  He stares at Keita, wearing a snarling grin on his snout. Clearly a warning!!  Madame shushes her pet with a pat on his side and in an instant the animal changes from fierceness to loving silliness.  Both boy and dog have a shared affection for this woman, which binds them as long as she is there.

    It has been a long time since she touched Keita as she touches her dog.  He knows why.  Everyone knows.  The “Fotays” meaning white people, dislike the smell of the African body.  Why that is he doesn’t understand yet everyone knows it to be true.

Anyone who is hired to work with the Fotays such a houseboy or guard are all made to shower before they can start their work.  All the white people have showers both inside

and outside of their houses.  The outside showers, of course, are built specially for “their boys.”

     The river is so far away that he cannot go there and back without having his body become so sweaty that it defeats the purpose.  Using well water for anything but the most needed uses would bring him a beating.  He just goes about as everyone else in his village.

     Keita’s madame hasn’t hugged him for a very long time and he yearns for her gentle embrace.  Soon, when the rains come, he knows he will be clean again.

     Praise be to god!  The very next day his wish is granted.  The rains are back.  His joy is huge.  Grinning, brimming over with happy feelings he strips off his tattered faded shorts and his grubby torn t-shirt and he runs.          

     Naked, kicking his ball through the rain and feeling the mud oozing between his toes makes him laugh out loud.  Running, leaping, white teeth gleaming, happy face raised to the heavens, water running down his black, slick, now clean little body the six-year-old boy knows joy.  Soon he’ll be hugged again….very soon!

Run for Joy!

***As promised - here is the very first story I ever had published - by a multicultural magazine called Stepping Stones.

***

Keita is unhappy and listless. For the last few days all he does is sit and clutch the old soccer ball, his only possession. In the straw covered “piute”, he prays for a little breeze through the open sides but it isn’t happening. He looks over the red, clay-like, sun-bleached dirt, the graying weeds, and waits. He knows any day now the rains will come.

His keepers, people he is forced to live with since he lost his own family, yell at him and force him outside.

“Go and run boy,” they say wanting his space. “Play with the other children, don’t hide in here.”

Curled up like a lazy kitten, trying to make his thin, lanky body vanish doesn’t help. Swats on his backside convince him to leave the spot He takes up the same position on the outer walls where the shade not only keeps the sun from his body but also keeps him hidden. Limply he settles like a mound of old cloth.

Hearing his name called by the voice of the only person who has ever shown him any respect or affection brings him instantly to his feet. His Madame, the giver of the

cherished ball has need of him. She is his only experience of love. Sometimes she pats his head, holds his hand and even hugs and kisses him hello.

For the small jobs he does for her there is always water and food at her gate. He knows her treats of bread, jam, fruit and occasionally cookies are what keep him strong. Once, for a special occasion, she even gave him a Coca-Cola. He almost choked drinking it so fast. Afterwards, he spent so much time bragging about it that the other boys in the village started to tease him and call him Keita-Cola. He didn’t care. They had never tasted one and he had..

He runs toward her voice and finds her at the edge of the village. She is calling him to come help her take her dog for a walk. She has told him that she feels very safe with him and Oma, her big black African dog. Keita hides his fear of this huge monster but the animal senses it anyway. He stares at Keita, wearing a snarling grin on his snout. Clearly a warning!! Madame shushes her pet with a pat on his side and in an instant the animal changes from fierceness to loving silliness. Both boy and dog have a shared affection for this woman, which binds them as long as she is there.

It has been a long time since she touched Keita as she touches her dog. He knows why. Everyone knows. The “Fotays” meaning white people, dislike the smell of the African body. Why that is he doesn’t understand yet everyone knows it to be true.

Anyone who is hired to work with the Fotays such a houseboy or guard are all made to shower before they can start their work. All the white people have showers both inside

and outside of their houses. The outside showers, of course, are built specially for “their boys.”

The river is so far away that he cannot go there and back without having his body become so sweaty that it defeats the purpose. Using well water for anything but the most needed uses would bring him a beating. He just goes about as everyone else in his village.

Keita’s madame hasn’t hugged him for a very long time and he yearns for her gentle embrace. Soon, when the rains come, he knows he will be clean again.

Praise be to god! The very next day his wish is granted. The rains are back. His joy is huge. Grinning, brimming over with happy feelings he strips off his tattered faded shorts and his grubby torn t-shirt and he runs.

Naked, kicking his ball through the rain and feeling the mud oozing between his toes makes him laugh out loud. Running, leaping, white teeth gleaming, happy face raised to the heavens, water running down his black, slick, now clean little body the six-year-old boy knows joy. Soon he’ll be hugged again….very soon!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Facebook in Guinea! You have to see this!


I’m not sure if I ever told you that we lived in Guinea, West Africa for a couple of years in 1999 and 2000? I loved the people, the feeling like I was existing in the pages of a National Geographic edition, and discovering a whole new understanding about how others lived their lives.  

Coming from a modern country like Canada, I did suffer a bit of a culture shock but it was all a part and parcel of the adventure for living in a third-world location like Guinea. The Guineans are wonderfully warm-hearted individuals who love to laugh. They treat their children well, and while we were there, we didn’t see any signs of starvation or fighting or any of the worries one might have if moving to such a faraway place.

 But we did see signs of poverty. I remember driving to a restaurant one dark evening and seeing a male student crouched under a street lamp studying his textbook. That hit me hard and brought the tears. We met many who didn’t have electricity and who couldn’t afford to send their children to school. So when I came across this photo, I just had to share it with all you techies.

I wonder if Mark Zuckerberg ever dreamed his invention would reach these heights.
 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hooks or introductions to a new fantasy?


Some refer to the first line of a story as the hook. I like to think of it as the introduction to a new fantasy.
 
I don’t know how many times I’ve had an idea pop into my head that wouldn’t go away. Today, you can see many of them in the opening lines of my books. Or I have filed them on my list “New Ideas” for a project in the future. I’m not saying that they are still the exact phrases, in fact they very seldom are.

I remember for My Cheeky Angel that it all started one morning when I woke up and thought about how happy I was with my life. I laid there for some time seeped in my good fortune and the thought came to me—what if a heroine woke up feeling the opposite. What if she hated her life, herself and her future?

My original line had undergone a huge metamorphosis because it had been more like…  Annie Hynes hated everything about her life. I changed it repeatedly until I found a positive way to write what she was feeling without saying those ugly words. This is how the sentence reads in the book…

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Many times, when I take my notes to enter the lines on my list, I realise that they aren’t as catchy as I had originally thought. Sometimes it’s just a matter of revision but oftimes, I’ve lost the enthusiasm the words first inspired. Guess that happens to all of us. I suppose it depends on our mood, or the circumstances of where we’re at in our work. But when I can’t get rid of the image the words evoked, almost always there’s a book that will follow.

The other day, as we were travelling along the highway, I was reading a wonderful story written by one of my favorite authors and she had mentioned a puppy. Instantly the following line came to me and I had to grab my purse for the notebook that’s always there and jot it down.

The ball of white fur had sharp teeth. And at this precise moment they were embedded in the material of his jeans.

Immediately, I could see the action happening and an inner smile followed. I knew I wanted to write a story with this opening. At the moment, I have three books plotted and rolling around in my head, needing to be written. But this could be a short story…...??
 
More about hooks in my next blog. But in the meantime, I'd love to know if this kind of thing happens to you? Even if you're not an author, do these kinds of ideas pop into your head and make you want to write about them?
 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Can characters take on a life of their own?

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Do you make a detailed analysis or a short spotlight into each person in your stories? A kind of profile to give you an idea of what drives each character to act the way they do under any situation. I know some authors go as far as giving their characters educations, complete background summaries and even do personality tests on them.

  

Or like me, do you fill in these characteristics as the story grows? I find that it's only by how they deal with each conflict I throw at them, that their personalities start becoming clear. And I do love conflicts!

 

There is one thing I always know and that is what they look like. Probably because before I ever put any words on file, I've lived with the characters in my head for a few weeks. So, by the time I start writing, I can see them as clear as if I was remembering an old friend.
 
 

It's how they react under different sets of circumstances that’s still a mystery which gets solved as I create each new scene.

 

This was a part of a blog I wrote a while ago about the characters in my Vegas Series. Then I decided to add in a book that I hadn’t originally planned when I first started. At that point, I realized just how much I truly get to understand my characters.

 

 “Vegas Shuffle” the short bridge story I just published for the Vegas series was as much of a surprise to me as to the readers. I knew exactly who my hero and heroine were because they had been in the spotlight since the first book. Only problem was that they were going to be separated for eleven months. My heroine would give birth to a baby and the hero had no idea. They lived in different cities and a chasm in their communication had driven a wedge between them.

 

Seems when the chips were down, he’d acted like a spoiled two-year old and she couldn’t find him to slap him out of it. So the need to introduce new characters had to be filled. And darned if I didn’t conjure up two endearing misfits who suit the story so well that I might have to keep the series going just so they can have their own romances.  

 

Which brings me back to my original statement.  My characters do take on a life of their own. They grow and change from the conflicts I throw at them. And to make writing really challenging, new ones appear and surprise the heck out of me.

 

Don’t you just love being a creator??
 
****
 
Come see for yourself!!!
 
Today is the Indie Book Blowout!!!! - Many best-selling authors putting their books at the low price of $.99 for one day
and all on one website!!!
 
 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Why are blog hops popular for the authors?

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I can only tell you why I think they are from my own experience.

 

I’ve been involved in a few recently and tho I hesitated at first to take the time away from my writing, I had become feeling a bit secular in my little office. I mean there’s a real world out there and I’ve lived in my characters heads for so long, I’d begun talking like them at home. And trust me; the gritty language used in “Roll the Dice” didn’t sit well with my family. LOL

 
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So…when I had a chance to get involved in the First Love Valentine blog hop with S.J. Bourne I jumped at the chance. Although there was some work involved, it was different from my daily norm and pulled me out of the rut I had nestled into so happily. I guess the best thing about the whole process—and trust me, this part is invaluable—you can make a whole bunch of new friends. I have. People who I probably would never have met if I hadn’t taken the leap. Plus, I have no doubt the reason my book sales are rising is from the group efforts at advertising.

 

And then Jeff Bennington came up with another chance for me to put “Roll the Dice” in The Horror/Suspense Kindle Giveaway. I just couldn’t resist. I liked the idea of being involved with other suspense authors a lot. 

 

And that is plus I couldn’t ignore. I’m always on about how important it is to belong to groups. And that’s true. But the reason is – that promoting within a group gives you a heck of a lot longer range than one person trying desperately to push their own work. And blog hops are all about the group. They’re a little like doing a blog tour without all the expense that one has if they sign up for a professional one. I’m not saying it’s as effective… I have no doubt it isn’t. But it’s fun and helps you to see other’s work at the same time.

 

Let’s face it. If you’re like me, there are days when you sit in front of the computer looking at the blank page of your blog and wondering what the hell you can blather on about today? Thankfully, I can honestly say that it doesn’t happen to me very often because I’ve become fanatical about writing down any and every idea no matter where I am. Therefore, I have a list I can choose from.

 

But it is always fun to have a little something extra to offer my readers. Like a chance to win a Kindle or maybe some free books. Or heck –  just a great new website to find a lot of great authors.








***And while I'm at it, I should mention that today and tomorrow the KICK-ASS PROMOTIONS will be sheduled with a nice selections of different books by many best-selling Amazon authors and they are all...
 
FREE - uh huh!!! that's what I said. Free!!!

***Including the new Vegas release Book #3 -
Vegas Shuffle


Monday, February 4, 2013

Writer on Holidays…huh??

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We’ve decided to go on a holiday, our yearly vacation to find some sun and get away from the rain-soaked West coast.

 

As we organize our trip, my husband is buying such incidentals J like Health Insurance, updating the GPS so Katie won’t steer us wrong and scanning Google maps, planning his route for the four-day drive, deciding on the nightly stops and daily mileage.

 

He also took the car in to get it serviced and spent an afternoon cleaning it inside-out, vacuuming and washing windows. Then he pushed his golf clubs way in the back in order to make sure they weren’t forgotten - that they’d have a space. Next on his list was going to bank to buy some American money for the days of travelling and eating in fast-food joints. He just gets so caught up in those tedious trifling chores….!!?

 

Myself, on the other hand, other than packing and tidying the house, I am in charge of matters of the most importance. Planning blogs to set up in advance for the days we’ll be on the road. (I hate rushing into hotels rooms and working late into the night.) I have also spent an inordinate amount of time updating my laptop, fully charging all the batteries for my phone and kindle. Speaking of the kindle, I loaded a few books I’ve been meaning to read that have nothing to do with work and everything to do with the fact that I’ve gotten behind on my favorite authors.

 

My Briefcase is bulging and still I’m scanning the office, terrified I might forget something that down the road I’ll need and won’t have. Notebooks, favorite pens, address book, memory sticks that are full of the work from my PC.

 

Because let’s face it… An author has no holidays. No time off. Our brains don’t shut down because of different scenery—on the contrary. Great new plots are always attacking, events we just have to write down for our wip. Just discovered character quirks come to us anywhere we happen to be that might ramp up a hero or heroine. I accepted that undisputable fact long ago. Writers don’t get holidays. We just get different places to write!!

 
inI'm invested with THE KINDLE BOOK REVIEW for a month in order to promote my hot new Vegas Series.
Roll the Dice is Book #1 and is a fast-paced, thriller that will keep you glued to the pages. Or so I've been told by the numerous 5-star reviews.
 
"This fast paced romantic suspense is the perfect blend of action and romance." Loves Reading | 9 reviewers made a similar statement
"This is a book you won't be able to put down until you reach the last page. " Reader Forever | 6 reviewers made a similar statement
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Are Giveaways popular?


Yep – at least I hope so. I can only tell you why I think they are from my own experience.

 

I’ve been involved in a few recently and tho I hesitated at first to take the time away from my writing, I had become feeling a bit secular in my little office. I mean there’s a real world out there and I’ve lived in my characters heads for so long, I’d begun talking like them at home. And trust me; the gritty language used in “Roll the Dice” didn’t sit well with my family. LOL

 

So I decided to start trying different ways of promoting. Joining with others in blog hops and Giveaways hoping to reach a larger audience—people who might never find my work in any other way. I mean isn’t that what we all want? New readers to get hooked?

 

And so I’ve joined in with Jeff Bennington, and others, to put my Romantic Suspense novel “Roll the Dice” into the genre mix with other suspense and horror authors. It’ll be fun to follow the activity on twitter  and watch the numbers. It’ll also be nice to get new likes on my facebook and of course a rise in sales. (One can only hope!!!)

 


 

Roll the Dice – 1st page

 

“You shot me!” Sweet Jesus it hurt!

“You told me to.”

“Dumb shit!” Aurora Morelli pushed her new partner from hovering over her so she could sit up. “I didn’t mean it!” she continued. “I just wanted you to scare Rhondo.” She felt blood gushing from the wound on her arm, and purposely kept her head turned away.

“Shooting you did scare him. He let you go, didn’t he?”

Aurora frowned at him. Why does his voice have to sound so damn reasonable?

“Whatever!” She hoped her scorn would get to him.

“Hey! I saw his eyes. You didn’t. He had every intention of using that knife. I’m talking about that sharp one he had pressed against your throat. If I’d have tried to shoot him instead of you…” He shrugged, leaving her to come to her own conclusion.

Aurora shuddered, fighting off nausea. She didn’t want to listen to reason. Staying angry made the situation a whole lot easier to deal with. Sarcasm, the best weapon she had in such a macho-man’s environment, replaced whining.

She glared at him and saw his shapely eyebrows rise. The light of the bulb hanging from the ceiling of the cruddy apartment haloed his head, making the bare skin shine. “Just my friggin luck to end up with a partner who looks and thinks like Bruce Willis.”

Kai Larson chuckled, but Aurora’s glower put a quick end to his merriment. He tried changing the subject with sweet talk. “I’ve been told I have perfect shaped head for being bald.”

“Sure, and it goes swell with your baby-blue eyes,” she sneered. No way would she admit aloud that he did look good.

His response was a grunt of displeasure. “Are you always this crabby?”

Disbelief shone in her amazed expression. “Not at all”, she said, disdain evident. “Only when I’ve been shot.”

 

 
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