28 July, 2015

RWW Blog Hop - Can't Escape the Past




Every Tuesday, members of RWW get together for a blog hop. We are a terrific support group for fellow Romance Authors and love to share our experiences, and we give/receive help with our writing dilemmas.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIM HANDYSIDES!

I hope you arrived here after having visited with Veronica Forand 

This week, Tracey Gee poses the following:

As we all know, authors put real people and situations into their books. Let's look at the times we've pushed through the pain by putting bad experiences or relationships into our works whether for therapy, or just as a way to close the door.




The minute I read this week's question, it immediately struck me that yes, I do, in fact, inject bits and pieces of me into my characters!

(long, silent pause in shamed reflection)

(then laughs like an idiot at self)  = ) )

I do lean on my past horrors even when I don't want to -- injecting my own pain, suffering, and sadness into my characters. But, isn't that what writing is all about? Sure, some folks today want to get rid of the 'write what you know' mentality, but for me it's easier said than done. You cannot escape yourself no matter how hard you try or how much blunt you smoke, right?

(for the record, I do not smoke weed)  : D

What I haven't done (yet) is take an actual instance of past pain/abuse/neglect and expound on it as a character reference that would explain why he or she behaves as they do in the story.

Not quite up to it in my mind, I don't think.

I've said it before, but my way of story-telling goes beyond the mundane, the reality, and even the obvious to ESCAPE from the horrors of life.

I touch on the fact that shit happened and that's why they are who they are, but I'd rather set them off on a new journey of self exploration or self fulfillment instead.

Bullshit
It's taken a lifetime for me to try and attempt a 'let it go, let it go!' attitude toward me, my past, and those who molded me into the person I am right now. Not sure I've managed to succeed at any of it, but I continue to try and block it out at any rate.

Alcoholism, verbal & mental abuse, being shunned by peers, bullied, ignored, and berated by family/friends/co-workers ... it all tends to show itself in some form or another via my writing, but not to any extent that it would 'help' me or anyone else.

Is that what I want to say? I think so.

My sub-characters are easier to play with than my heroines are, and this is something I've been struggling with and working on for decades. Erasing ME from that equation at every turn.

 I feel as if I succeeded with Kaisa and that Liv behaved confident enough to pass muster, but I just don't know.

When I wrote Sing to Me, I had a definite END in mind, and I felt like I knew Neal like the back of my hand while Liv remained a bit of an enigma throughout. She wasn't me or even who I'd like to be, but I did throw her into the thick of things 'my childhood'. Some of the crap she put up with as a child in that story were reality for me.

Divorce was a death knell to my own existence. The ultimate fail, so to speak. The heartless, self-centered attitudes I had to endure from so-called friends/family during that darkest of periods remains, and I know deep-down that it is why I am still unable to pick myself back up and live life again.

I do not trust, rely on, or believe in anyone anymore. Not even me. I don't believe in family anymore and why I stopped celebrating holidays. I remain heart-sick that my children suffered as much as I did during that time.

It's likely I'll write something that involves divorce and just as likely I'll use my own experiences in that story, too.

Now THAT, my friends, will be a story filled with revenge at its finest.

I get that everyone suffers, everyone goes through a lot of the same issues, and that we all find some way to survive regardless. Some issues are just too painful to dredge up, rehash, and attempt to work out -- even in my writing.

I've yet to figure it out in real life, so I doubt it will help make me or the reader come to terms with any by my writing and their reading about them.

I've never BEEN confident, self-assured, pleased, or even truly in love or loved in return, and so I am not quite sure how to pull those off in fictitious people, but I do try.




I lean on those I know for that information. I know tons of upbeat, reliable, open, and positive folks, so it isn't as if I'm at a complete loss.

So, again, I realize now that my leading ladies tend to think as I do about some things but that she is surrounded by people who HELP. The people she needs around her in order to overcome life's bits and pieces of crap that are randomly tossed our way.

My personal battle with God, religion, the concept of family, and mankind in general is my own, and my constantly wondering as to the WHY of it all is me. I wouldn't dream of creating a character who is entirely like me, though. No one would like them!

My female leads tend to be cautious, wary, suspicious, and overly independent as a coping mechanism, but they handle things tons better than I do in reality, and that's a good thing from a reader's standpoint at least.

in Love Over Time, I chose to shy away from a lot of reality to focus on fantasy instead. I did fall back on an old family belief as the premise, but instead of zeroing in on their pasts and the reasons why they behaved as they did, I concentrated on the love aspect and gave both leads the struggle with and desire to overcome fear of and mistrust in lasting love.

Perry's father mirrored mine, but I just didn't have the heart to delve any deeper into that aspect than I did. For me, it was much easier to accept and move on from the sins of the father (and probably because he died so long ago) than it is for me to let go of, move on from, and rise above anything my mother ever dished out.

Perry probably more reflected me and some of the emotional issues I suffer with now as a result of growing up with that type of a father figure.

Kaisa, on the other hand, was nothing like me at all and didn't reflect anything about me or my past -- aside from our family belief in that dreaded Lithuanian curse thing. 

My lead females are usually at the start of a new beginning, wanting to leave the ugly past behind and venture forth into unknown territory on a lark. The guys they meet are fantastic and ALWAYS sympathetic and understanding. They are men who recognize quality and strength of character and work patiently to help bring out the best in my female leads.

Which is another reflection of me and the types of men I'd love to meet or have in my life.




Thanks for hopping over and reading my response, and thanks to Tracey for making me realize just how much of me actually DOES go into my characters.

Is that a good or a bad thing, I wonder?

The hop began with JJ Devine, so please hop on over and say hello!




Romance Writer's Weekly (RWW) has a website with its own blog, and a newsletter. There is also a Facebook page, and the Twitter handle is @LoveChatWrite.



26 July, 2015

Online Interest





Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any or all of my posts.

The other day I came across an interesting post:

No one appreciates more or adores the obscure like yours truly.

However, it was the comments below this post that had me wondering about readership capabilities and the author's responsibility towards them.

A few, like me, appreciate these handy tid-bits of information and would like to use them in their work while a majority of the respondents said nay, that if the word is obscure, then the reader will turn away.

What got me riled up was a remark about not wanting to send their readers to a dictionary -- ever.

As a child, I remember a 5th grade reader that had a glossary in the back. I poured over that thing like it was diamonds and rubies and pearls.

Later, I would write down every word that I wasn't familiar with and then go home to open our family dictionary and look them up.

Being a linguist, studying language, and having an innate curiosity about words all my life, I can't think of a single negative about the dictionary.

What I won't do is sacrifice my love of words for the sake of those who don't love them. If a reader doesn't want to be bothered, who am I to argue?

It was late in life that I learned something interesting about our language skills, but it bears repeating here.

Where do you think we get a majority of our vocabulary from? Our parents? Peers? In school?

The answer may surprise you.

We gain most of our vocabulary from books.

Books with words in them are how we acquire our language and the knowledge of words.

It is upsetting to know that some people think that to learn anything new (or old in this case) is somehow inhibiting, bad, or a waste of time.

Poppycock! And, I'm attempting to bring back gads!, too.

Hmm ... perhaps this calls for another disclaimer in my next novel?

Progress Report





Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, remarks, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any and all of my posts.


Well, sales of my latest release, Love Over Time, are nice, so thank you to everyone who purchased!

Reviews of my first publication, Sing to Me, are still on the nice/friendly/supportive side as well. Much obliged for the kindness shown!

I won't say I'm in a slump or suffering with writer's block right now, but I also haven't written a single word of my 3rd novel yet, either.

To be fair (to myself), this series has been in the works now for a few years. I have 3 stories that tie together, and two of them are through the rough-draft stage, so I'm not being a slacker or too worried about progress. Right now it is a mind game thing, with me recollecting, revising, and supplementing what I've already started, and there are quite a few changes going on inside my head, too.

Namely, names.

I don't know about other authors, but when it comes to choosing the right names for characters, I start out thinking I've got it, but then I begin to doubt my choices -- most often with the women and not so much with the men.

When I re-read one of the 3 stories, I was like, "Eew! You chose that for a name?"

I have another one in mind, and I hope it sticks.

I might have mentioned it before, but this 'series' of works is fantasy/paranormal more so than contemporary, but that start out as contemporary before moving over to the fantasy realm.

I have 3 leads so 3 separate stories (as of now) about men from another world who are sent to earth in search of knowledge that will help aid their ailing planet from ecological destruction. These men reside on a smaller version of earth in 3 separate realms but know each other through their respective kingdoms.

At this point, the women they meet on earth are indirectly related as well as being indirectly responsible for the destruction of this smaller earth-like planet.

Two of the women aren't aware of their other-world status while the third woman (whom I introduced in Sing to Me) is well-aware of her ability to planet hop and does so on a regular basis.

My thinking at this point is to start one of the stories at the beginning, ending with the two being sent back to their respective homes. In the second story, I will begin by having the second couple meet right away but be suddenly transported back - which has everything to do with their original meeting. In this story, I will delve much deeper into the root of the ailing planet, the inhabitants, and their ways of life. The third story will center around the two I introduced in Sing to Me. She's a princess and he's one of the leaders on the ailing planet.

Right now, I only see the possibility of there being one strong female lead while the other two will have to struggle, deal with, and then come to terms with their respective realities while not coming off as heedless children in desperate need of a man. What I like to do is make my female leads as realistic as possible while enabling them through some personality power or other and not turn them into mighty warriors.

A friend suggested I take the leap and attempt shape-shifting. She adores those types of stories. I don't mind the possibility of it occurring, but I do mind that there are so many of them out on the market now, and that they tend to follow a set pattern and some rigid rules.

I'll save the shape-shifting for another contemporary.





09 July, 2015

Release Day: Love Over Time





Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Chapters: 35
Steam Level: 2/5
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Kindle: buy link
ASIN: B0111355YK
Other: buy link
ISBN: 9781311019226


Blurb


A chance encounter at the airport is innocent enough, but it sets in motion a chain of calamitous events that leave photographer, Kaisa Dalen, badly shaken and jet pilot, Perry Lindstrom, reluctantly determined to protect her at all cost.

Overview


She may be attractive, and she may have a heart, but when it comes to love, photographer Kaisa Dalen is doomed to suffer heartbreak and yes, even death were she to fall deeply in love.

She believes in fate but is determined to break the spell of an ancient curse in order to experience true love without fear of dying as a result of that love.

He may be attractive, with women lining up to get with him, and he may be lucky in career choice as the owner of a private jet fleet, but when it comes to love, pilot Perry Lindstrom will pass in order to save the woman and himself from another lifetime of heartache and misery.

He believes in vicious cycles, or the sins of the father being visited on the son, but is determined to live a better life - just not with any, one woman ... until he sees a pretty lady at the airport, and then his reluctance to love is forced to flee.


Excerpt


“Good morning.”
Teary-eyed, Kaisa turned in the direction of a familiar low and thick voice. Holding onto the leather strap of her purse with both hands, she gazed through blurred eyes at the man she had met at the hospital yesterday. The tall, thin blonde with the beautiful, deep part of a lake blue eyes. She blinked, wanting to see him more clearly, and as he smiled so sweetly at her, she felt compelled to take a desperate step toward him. The need to be comforted was great, and he offered as much safe haven as Jordan at the moment. In fact, she had never felt so comfortable with a man before. It was almost as if they had known one another forever and she was free to say or do whatever she pleased and he would just get it. Jordan McDonald just didn’t have the same kind of power over her well-guarded emotions.
“Good morning,” she heard herself whisper. Without considering the consequences of her actions, Kaisa reached out to him. Her mind shouted at her to stop, though, and so she did. With that hand still hovering between them, she averted her watery gaze and frowned at a potted topiary set against the wall behind him.
“Is everything alright?”
Hearing his voice again, she returned her gaze to his now-curious expression.
“I’m frightened,” she said, acutely aware of the whisper-soft sound of her voice. Perhaps it was fear that caused her inhibitions to flee; she couldn’t be certain and didn’t care just then, either. “I need to get back home, but I’m –.” She gagged on an urge to burst into tears and slowly swiped an arm across her nose while gazing into the dreamy man’s indigo eyes. Only yesterday she had worried about appearances with this guy, but look at her now. A driveling fool acting like a baby.
The frown he offered made her hold her breath, instantly thinking that he might be able to read her mind and agreed that she had no right to board another plane and put more lives at risk.
“Miss,” he said and set a hand on her shoulder. The unexpected move startled her, and after eyeing his hand on her body, she stared up at him with what she knew to be a dumbstruck look. “What are you afraid of?”
Kaisa started to turn in the direction of the nearest ticket counter and weakly pointed over a shoulder. She tried to speak; to answer him when what she wanted to say sounded too stupid to utter. Childish and weak, too. And yet, how was she supposed to get home if she couldn’t figure out how to overcome the fear of flying?
Tears pooled above her lower lids as she stared at him.
“I just want to go h-home.”
“Alright.” He set his other hand on her other shoulder and began to soothe her by gently rubbing them. He offered another smile as well, leaning a bit closer to her tear-streaked face. “We’ll get you where you want to go, so just try and relax. There’s no need for you to worry.”
“No!” Kaisa halted before he could lead her toward the ticket counter. Shaking her head and trembling, she clung to his impressively solid arm and gazed ahead at the flashbacks now hitting her in rapid succession. “I can’t,” she gagged. “I won’t. I won’t risk any more lives. I can’t do it. It’ll happen again, and I won’t be responsible.”



07 July, 2015

Release Day Delay




It is with a sad heart that I must issue a delay in the Release Day (party) Announcement of my second novel, Love Over Time.

It actually comes as no surprise that something of this nature would occur.

If it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have none at all.

Before I break out in country music song, however, let me just say that it isn't the end of the world; not even for me.

Good news! When I uploaded the file to Amazon, it returned with only 3 possible errors -- two of which were formatting, but not because of me. 


That paragraph symbol thing with the dot before it . . . It was there in both instances, as was the dot to indicate a break in words, but in mobi format, the words ran together, so all I had to do was go back into the file and re-space them.

The 3rd issue had to do with my use of the word ballzy. I chose to leave it as is.

Of course, this didn't give me a swelled head in the 'thinking I'm the darndest smarty-pants grammarian alive' category.

Until my eyes crossed and my head swam, I searched that document for boo-boos, questionable wording, and funky-looking punctuation.

It will not surprise me in the least to find even more now that it is in eBook territories, but OH WELL.

I edit things once I find them, and I hope that sits well with my readers.

Then there was the issue with the author name.

LOL. I know. Can you believe it? Sure you can, because it's me we're talking about here.

When preparing to upload a file to the Kindle, you scroll down as you go. It asked for OTHER contributors to the work.

OTHER.

So, I selected my wonderful cover designer as OTHER and gave her the title of ILLUSTRATOR.

So, how does that make it appear on the actual buy page, then?

My OTHER became the AUTHOR.

Funny thing: when I went back to change this obvious misunderstanding, suddenly there was the option to choose AUTHOR.

Anyway, the book is back in my name at Amazon, the page breaks are all fixed, the word ballzy is still there, and I'm hopeful the fixed font will be to everyone's liking.

But then there is Smashwords.

I've been waiting, now, since yesterday morning for them to make it official.

I'm still waiting.

With my first novel, it took approximately five hours to complete. And, I know it says the wait can be up to 72 hours, but after I uploaded this latest file, I received immediate confirmation of ZERO vetter issues.

Zero. Which actually stunned me. It means I got all of the harrowing formatting that is required of an e-file done right the first time.

So, while I wait (and hopefully you wait patiently for my second novel to hit the market) I went back and cleaned up my first novel, Sing to Me, and reissued it as a second edition.

I won't dare to claim expert at this, but I probably could write a book about formatting, or maybe just a blog post filled with helpful advice.

Nah.

Funny thing about helpful advice books/posts is, they always tend to leave out some crucial, wee tidbit of information, right?

So, it is by trial/error that I learned, and I think it is best for others to do it that way as well. Save your money and trudge through on your own until you master the art of formatting and then you'll never have to worry about it taking DAYS again.

Anyhow, I'm sorry for the delay, and I thank you for your patience and understanding. My only hope is that it will be worth the wait.

Onward ho!


Such a pretty cover, too (*sigh)

06 July, 2015

Cover Reveal: Love Over Time


My second Contemporary Romance Novel, Love Over Time, is mixed with paranormal and fantasy elements and will be released tomorrow, July 7th, 2015, on the usual eBook channels.


Courtesy MarianneNoWicki / PremadeEbookCoverShop.com 

Be on the lookout for the big release day tomorrow!

Right here, on my FB page, Twitter, and on my Tumblr page as well.

All the juicy details will be included.

And, thanks, everyone, for your continued support!

05 July, 2015

Book Review: Emily's Vow by Betty Bolté




Series: A More Perfect Union
Book #: 1
Genre: Historical, romance, American, War for Independence, revolutionary war, spy
Content Notes: Sweet
Heat Level: 1

Print Length: 306 pages
Publisher: ePublishing Works!
Publication Date: October 4, 2014
ASIN: B00O7601NY
ISBN: ebook: 978-1-61417-654-1; paperback: 978-1-61417-655-8
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Price: $3.99 ebook; $14.30 paperback






In 1782, the fight for independence becomes personal ...

Blurb


Emily Sullivan’s greatest fear is dying in childbirth, as did her twin sister and their mother. Then she’s thrown in a loyalist prison for her privateering father’s raids on the British, and her accuser -- a former beau -- promises to recant if she will marry him.

Frank Thomson always loved Emily despite her refusal to return his affections. A patriot spy posing as a loyalist officer, when Frank learns of Emily’s plight, he challenges her accuser to a duel.

Freed from prison, Emily ponders returning the affections of her rescuer -- the only man she's ever loved and who married her twin to save the Sullivan family's reputation.

But Frank cannot afford to be discovered. For the sake of young America, he must deliver his secrets.

Review


This is my introduction to Betty's writing, and it was an enjoyable read start to finish.

Betty has a unique style, which is a great thing when reading a lot of romance-genre novels. Emily's Vow is not typical, formulaic, or even predictable, and that says a lot about Betty.

As the other reviews attest, the author did her homework and it shows.

Well-written, flawless, and with more substance than sex, it is the story of a young woman who feels betrayed by her long-time love, who married her sister out of honor.

Emily is also terrified of having babies, so she puts most of her energy into thinking up ways to talk her father into letting her purchase a small shop so that she can be independent.

It's cute, but Emily is no silly wallflower at every male's beckon call.

Except, maybe, for Frank.

Frank is as suave, dashing, and intriguing as his dual existence in this story, and despite my younger brother having that name, I still found a way to get past that and concentrate on our hero.

There are bits and pieces of magic and mayhem sprinkled throughout, along with a few espionage moments that leave the reader as worried for life and limb as the characters themselves.

Secrets abound, making you guess and wonder, and I like that.

It was thrilling to be taken back to such a long-ago, far-away time as the early Revolution and sit through this nail-biter of a tale.

The antagonist is evil and no-good as they come, but as we read on, we discover more about him and start to question his change of heart, but in a good way.

At least for me. I had to wonder what went wrong and why he couldn't see past his own nose, but that is part of the author's ability to write well and in a way that makes me think.

This is Book #1 in a series, and I look forward to reading the rest of Betty's work.




Bio


Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories that feature strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. Get to know her at www.bettybolte.com.






Social Media Links


Twitter: @BettyBolte
eBook Discovery: http://bit.ly/ZOhVhL

Buy Links


Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1wZML3a

02 July, 2015

Self-Publish Battles On




Recently, we've been hearing more horror stories about changes to self-published works that are submitted/uploaded to Amazon for their Kindle.

The latest issue is attached to their Unlimited program, where they've taken it upon themselves to pay the AUTHOR based on the number of pages read.


Under the new payment method, the amount an author earns will be determined by their share of total pages read instead of their share of total qualified borrows.

The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed 100 times but only read halfway through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
We will similarly change the way we pay KDP Select All-Star bonuses which will be awarded to authors and titles based on total KU and KOLL pages read.

Not being a member of this Unlimited program, I might not have a right to voice an opinion on the topic, but these types of issues usually include a trickle-down effect that will likely affect me at some point.

The only pro I can see here is that the author will get a better idea about their readership and the amount of interest in any, one novel they upload to the Kindle.

Which means those who choose to enroll in this Unlimited program take their chances.

I'm at a loss as to the words 'borrow' and 'pay' as well. Borrow, to me, is equivalent to library lending, which is free, so . . .

The second issue appeared on my FB feed this morning. A blog post by someone who read a novel and wrote a review, but Amazon refused to post said review because they claim the reader is 'related to' the author when they are not.

Is it Amazon's business or right to make such a judgment call?

Just last week, after the Supreme Court decision to legalize Gay Marriage across the board, hundreds of thousands of FB folk hopped on the Rainbow Flag bandwagon and had it embossed over their profile pic.

Days later, we find out that FB used that app to perform more algorithms and glean still more private information about its users.

I had my own profile pic made with the help of a friend, and I used the Lithuanian flag as a symbol of my heritage.



Personally, I want my rainbow back!

I don't mind that the LGBT community use it to fight their causes, but I am miffed about the fact that now, regardless of gender interest, any form of rainbow use equates to being gay.

As a society, we have always tended toward following the leader, hopping on bandwagons, and tooting not our own horns but the loudest ones handed to us by someone else.

As social media worshipers, that bad habit spirals out of control at an all-too-frequent and no-longer-alarming rate.


Norway lemmings in Migration

I fancy myself as being the bird in flight swooping down for an afternoon snack rather than one of the thousands of mindless lemmings that do whatever a majority (or few) of the others do.

So, getting back to the issue with Amazon and their new policy . . . I think it stinks.

I think we've allowed ourselves to be manipulated, led by the nose, and hoodwinked enough now, don't you?

Why had it never occurred to the big brass at Amazon to include # of pages actually read as a part of the ratings system to begin with? And, not as a public bit of information, but exclusive to us authors as a help and not another hindrance toward our goal of being successful in the publishing business.

It can't be that they need the money and more that they are of the hording mentality just like any other conglomerate in this day and age. The pennies we earn to survive equate to billions for them, which then equates to their wanting more and more while offering their supporters less and less.

My suggestion is, if you are of the opinion that Amazon is getting too big for its own britches and wants to take you down for being a supporter, that you upload your work at Kobo, LuLu, Smashwords, or BN.

Smashwords heaps them all together for you in one fell swoop, even circulating to Public Libraries if you wish, which is cool. So does LuLu.

I'm new to Kobo, and it is Candian-based, but that doesn't matter.

And, I'll continue to use Amazon until they pull their funny business on me, at which time I'll pull right out and head elsewhere.

Oh, and one last thing . . . about that article where the reader was denied an ability to review? It might be a good idea to go back into your 'friends' and 'followers' lists and clean out the algorithm data.

Goodreads is attached to Amazon in that review department, so if you are friends with an author there, it means Amazon thinks you're trying to pull a fast one in the good review department because you're that guy's momma and not a legit reviewer.