Help! Please Enter My Name That Character Contest!

So there I was, sitting in front of a blank screen, the stupid big fat clock staring at me from the wall across the room. I would have been unnerved by the ticking if the clock had a ticker, but you know everything is digital these days–never mind, I digress. There I was, with the blank screen and the clock AND the DEADLINE.

Let me digress pause here to address the non-writers in the room–and I hope there are billions many of you–to let you know that the picture of the blissful artist working away in their turret spinning fancy words into mesmerizing stories is a bad joke hoax. We working stiffs authors really work at the kitchen table, the desk, the lazyboy chair, the drivers seat of the car (although we try to stop driving first), the dentist office waiting room … You get the picture.

Why? It’s the clock. And the deadline. Even if we don’t have a publisher or editor setting our deadline, we still have a deadline. Life throws them at us in the form of mortgage bills, grocery bills and the occasional prompt from a loving impatient reader.

What does any of this have to do with a Name That Character Contest you ask? Well, I don’t technically know if you’re asking, but Myren, my chauffeur, is asking and he’s the ridiculous unofficial stand-in for an below average reader for the purposes of this stupendous informative blog. I’ll tell you.

So there I was, not sitting in my turret, staring at the blank page and STUCK. Why was I stuck you ask? (Let’s not go over again how I know you’re asking.)

I was stuck because I needed a name for the bad guy and I couldn’t think of one. He was about to lower the hatchet and I had no idea what to call him.  X. That’s what I typed. Not for the first time. I was on page 152 and I had a story filled with X after X where the character’s name ought to be.

I threw down my pen closed my lap top (although this action lacks the dramatic appeal of throwing down a pen) and decided I needed to get rid of all those Xs. But how, you ask? (You’re so full of questions!)

Now backed into a corner, chased there by dozens of Xs, there was only one thing to do. Yes. I had to hold a Name That Character Contest!

(This is a true story, I swear.)

And so now, in order to get unstuck, in order to go on and complete my current work-in-progress, Beachcomber Love, I am reaching out and asking for your help, dear readers!

Enter the Stephanie Queen Name That Character Contest Here!

(Yes, there’s a prize in it for you, but I KNOW you’re really entering it to rescue me from my sticky spot.)

Here’s some details about Beachcomber Love and the character X:

BEACHCOMBER LOVE is the next novella in the Beachcomber Investigations romantic detective series. This bad guy, X, has come to town on Martha’s Vineyard from the mainland. He’s a he, a seedy low-life who mysteriously wants to extort money from the Lucky Parrot (local dive bar frequented by ex-special ops legend Dane Blaise and his partner/lover ex-Scotland Yard detective, Shana George, the hero and heroine)–and X thinks (incorrectly) that he can get away with it. Someone must have sent X to ruin Valentine’s Day. What’s his name?

Thank you so much for saving my life entering my contest to help me name X and get unstuck!

**Beachcomber Love will be released in the set A Valentine She’ll Remember, an anthology of 8 very special valentine romances, on February 1st. Look for it on Amazon for only $.99 or read the set for free on Kindle Unlimited.

Thank you for entering the contest!

Stephanie Queen

About USA Today Bestselling Author Stephanie Queen
A romantic at heart and a writer by nature, Stephanie Queen has the enthusiastic soul of a cheerleader. So of course she loves creating stories where the good guys always win. Although she’s lost count of all the jobs she had before she settled on being a Novelist, her favorite was selling cookies as a Keebler Elf. She is a graduate of UConn (go Huskies!) and Harvard U and lives in New Hampshire with her family, her cat, Kitty, and her (real or imagined?) chauffeur, Myren.

Chapter One – 2016 Love Christmas Collection – So This is Christmas – by Denise Devine #mgtab

 

So This is Christmas_Denise Devine

Chapter 1

Monday, December 10th

Winter in Minnesota didn’t rate high on my list of seasons, but I couldn’t imagine spending Christmas anywhere else. The pristine snow, the crisp, fresh air and the rainbow-colored lights decorating snow-covered roofs reminded me of a Hallmark movie. I loved shopping at the Mall of America for gifts and watching the Holidazzle electric light parade in downtown Minneapolis, but my favorite event always happened on the second weekend in December. That’s when I met up with my best friends for three days of good wine, more food than we could ever eat and lots and lots of laughter. We’d grown up in the same northeast Minneapolis neighborhood—Ellie, Jeanette, Ginny, Sarah and me—and through the years, were inseparable until our careers took us in different directions. Now that we’d hit our mid-thirties, it had become more difficult than ever to schedule a “girls only” weekend, but we’d made it a priority.

We always spent the weekend at Ellie Stone’s family cabin in Breezy Point, Minnesota. Frankly, I didn’t know why they called it a cabin. The multi-level monstrosity had six bedrooms, four baths, a den, two kitchens and two living rooms. In the lower kitchen, the Stone family cooked all their meals. The upper kitchen, the one with the beautiful view of Gull Lake, they used to stock all their booze.

I decided to drive up to Breezy Point a few days early this year. Ellie’s family had always considered me “one of the bunch” and had no problem with my coming up ahead of time. I needed to take a break from my photography business, something I hadn’t allowed myself to do for a long time. Lately, though, I’d begun to question the price of success. I had a thriving business, but the toll it placed on my life was slowly burning me out. The thought of spending four days alone in that big house with nothing to do but sip wine in front of a crackling fire would be good for me; it would also force me to give some serious thought to the dismal state of my love life.

I arrived at the house around noon. Driving up the snow-covered alley, I pulled into the back and parked in the driveway in front of the tuck-under garage. Thankfully, someone had cleared away the snow and shoveled the sidewalks. I slid out of the car and drew in a deep breath of fresh air, taking a much-needed stretch from the two-hour drive from Minneapolis. Even though the sun shone brightly in a clear blue sky, the temperature hovered around twenty degrees. Anxious to get out of the cold, I grabbed my bag and the tote containing my four-week-old kitten and bounded up the cement stairway. The Stone family always hid a spare key under the planter next to the back door. I let myself in through the screen porch to the lower level kitchen and living room.

The tote with my sleeping kitten fit on the seat of the rocking chair. The rest of my gear landed on the sofa in front of the fireplace before I dumped my coat and made my way to the bathroom. I turned on the water in the tub and stripped down to my undergarments. A nice hot bath sounded like the perfect way to kick off my vacation.

Suddenly, a loud thumping noise echoed from inside a room across the hallway. My heart slammed into overdrive as a frightening thought raced through my head.

Is there someone else in this house?

No time to get dressed—I grabbed the fuzzy robe hanging on the back of the door and wrapped it around myself then peeked through a narrow crack in the opening. I didn’t see anyone in the living room but finding the immediate area empty didn’t bolster my courage. I needed to call 9-1-1 and my phone lay tucked in my purse across the room.

Now what do I do? No way can I lock myself in here and hope the intruder just goes away.

My brilliant, lightning fast mind said, “Get the phone. Run. Now.”

Slowly, I opened the door and crept out, hoping the rushing water from the bathtub faucet made enough noise to mask my footsteps. I scurried over to my purse and snatched the phone then made a beeline back to the bathroom. Got the door open and almost made it inside when a large hand gripped my shoulder.

“A-h-h-h-h-h!” The shrill scream shot out of me so fast I hardly knew I’d opened my mouth. My body shuddered and the phone went flying as the strong hand pivoted me, bringing me face to face with my aggressor.

My breath caught in my throat as the fear gripping me transformed into jaw-clenching anger.

Christopher Stone! You scared me half to death! What are you doing sneaking around the house?”

I hadn’t spoken to him since twelfth grade, but the gap in time did nothing to cool my foaming-at-the-mouth resentment of the kid who’d spent the entirety of his youth teasing me.

Ellie’s twin brother stood before me wearing nothing but a pair of skin-tight jeans, barely zipped with the top snap gaping open. I’d seen him wearing less at the beach, but even his favorite chino shorts had never looked this good on him. Before I knew it, my gaze quickly traveled from his slim waist to the width of his broad shoulders and smooth, muscular chest. Embarrassed by my obvious curiosity, I looked away. This body did not match the scrawny kid I used to wrangle with growing up. When did all this happen? I mean, I knew most ball players worked out to gain strength and boost their power to hit a baseball for a living. I’d watched Chris on television and on the big screen at the ballpark, but I never imagined him looking this good up close…

He didn’t seem to care about his half-naked appearance as he yawned and ran a hand through his tousled dark hair. “I wasn’t sneaking around,” he said in a smooth, deep voice. “I was sleeping. You woke me up.”

I glared at him to mask the sudden flutter in my stomach. “Are you—are you alone?”

“W-h-a-a-a…of course, I’m alone.”

I stared boldly into his deep blue eyes. “What are you doing here?”

He shrugged. “What I always do when I need to get away from the crowds—I crash. What are you doing here?”

“This weekend is our annual Christmas get-together,” I said matter-of-factly and raised one brow to let him know he’d better crash somewhere else.

He frowned. “Aren’t you a little early? It’s only Monday.”

“No, I volunteered to do the housecleaning and put up the decorations so the place would look great when the girls arrive,” I said lying through my teeth. He didn’t need to know my real plans.

“Okay, great.” He sounded amused as he leaned over and picked up my phone. “I thought for a minute there you were trying to get rid of me.”

My patience wore thin. “Look, Chris, you’re going to be in the way. Don’t you have to get back to the cities to get ready for a hot date with your girlfriend or something?” Whoever she is this week…

He didn’t rise to the bait, but I noticed a muscle twitch in his cheek, as though the whole “date” situation didn’t set well with him. It didn’t surprise me considering the high-profile women he chased—Hollywood starlets, models and pop singers—Queen Bee Central. He changed girlfriends with the same frequency most men took their shirts to the laundry. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but just the same…

“Tell you what, I’ll stay in my room while you vacuum and do whatever it is you need to do.” His eyes flashed when I shook my head. “What’s your problem?”

“It’s not what, it’s who.” I took my phone from his hand. “I’m not in the mood to spend the next four days dodging a guy who likes to play practical jokes on me. You know, like throwing water balloons, unscrewing the top off the salt and pepper shakers, flipping my glass of soda upside down on the table, hiding a whoopee cushion under a blanket on my chair,” and his crowning achievement, “putting a live snake down my shirt?”

He burst out laughing. “Are you still mad about that? I did those things when we were kids.”

The fact that he still thought them funny still made me mad and I didn’t trust him one bit. “Yes,” I said in my snippiest voice, “and I’m soooo not in the mood for any of your antics this week.”

“I’ll be good.” He held up both hands. “I won’t cause an ounce of trouble. I promise.” His gaze suddenly dropped to the front of my body and his eyes widened. “Uh, but I can’t say the same for you.”

I looked down and found my robe gaping open, my pink with black polka dot Victoria’s Secret undies in full view. “A-h-h-h-h-h!” My scream this time had more to do with frustration than fright. I jerked my robe shut and stormed into the bathroom, determined not to give my childhood nemesis the satisfaction of seeing my face turn crimson like he had so often in the past.

His triumphant laughter propelled me all the way.

smBoxset

 

 

Denise Devine

Denise Devine is a USA TODAY bestselling author who writes sweet romantic comedy and inspirational romance. She is currently writing two series, Forever Yours (Inspirational) and Counting Your Blessings (Christmas romantic comedy). You can visit her at www.deniseannettedevine.com.

April Fool’s Pranksters by @JoanReeves #mgtab

AFB_2400px3200p_NYTI’ve always thought April Fool’s Day was made for fun-lovers. I was in awe of April Fool’s Pranksters. I always spent the week leading up to April Fool’s Day trying to think of a stunning prank.

What I dreamed up was rather innocuous like short-sheeting my brother’s bed or yelling, “There’s a tiger in the yard.” (Hey! I was only a child!)

If Only the Internet Had Been Invented

If I’d had Internet and search engines, my pranks would have been awesome. However, it’s never too late to create an epic prank that will live in the memories of family and friends. If you’re like me and need some inspiration, here are some of my personal favorites.

To share with your kids, try Family-Friendly April Fools’ Day Pranks or 31 Awesome April Fools’ Day Pranks Your Kids Will Totally Fall For. You can pull these pranks on your kids or help your kids prank their siblings.

If you want to prank your co-workers and friends, 25+ Hilarious Pranks for April Fool’s Day is superb. I particularly like #2 and #23. If I had a glass door at home, I’d totally do the balloon fake-out on my husband.

So I guess you see how much I still like the first of April. In fact, I liked it so much I wrote a book and called it April Fool Bride.
AFB_04
About April Fool Bride

Oil heiress Madeline Quinn needs a husband by the time she turns twenty-five in order to claim her full inheritance. Mad Maddie, as the tabloids christened her, has learned the hard way that men only see dollar signs when they look at her.

Maddie decides a marriage of convenience is the only answer and turns to the one man she can trust, her housekeeper’s son who always treated her like a little sister when they were kids.

Jake Becker hasn’t seen Maddie since the night she tried to seduce him. Why should he help the woman who changed the course of his life? Simple. Revenge.

Is it a marriage of convenience or something more? Something that sizzles like steam heat between Maddie and Jake that neither can resist!

April Fool Bride is on sale during April for only 99cents. You’ll find it at these ebooksellers: All Romance Ebooks * Amazon * iBooks * Kobo * Nook * Smashwords.

Giveaway

Did you ever try to pull an awesome April Fool Prank? Tell us all about it and leave your email to be entered in a random drawing for one of my fancy schmancy writing pens that has a little flashlight in the top and a writing journal adorned with the April Fool Bride cover art.

Love means never having to say, “You’re under arrest!”

Ha! April Fool’s!

The cover art for April Fool Bride is not on the journal. The journal features the cover art of Cinderella Blue, another of my sassy, sexy romantic comedies.

Giveaway Terms: (1) Winner chosen by random draw. (2) Comment and email must be left to be entered. (3) Contest ends April 15. (4) Members of Authors’ Billboard are not eligible. (5) Winner will be notified by email. (6) Prize winner must be in continental U.S. (Outside the ConUS, I’ll give away an ebook of Little Book of Sunshinea small volume of inspiration.

Joan Reeves

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Joan Reeves makes her home in the Lone Star State with her hero, her husband.

They have 4 children who think they are adults and a ghost dog, all the ingredients for a life full of love and warmed by laughter.

Joan lives the philosophy that is the premise of her romance novels: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.”

 View website

There are no Strangers #mgtab #amwriting #Romance @jacqbiggar

pexels-photo (2)

 

The world of a writer can seem pretty exciting to an outsider. They must belong to an elite group, have a secret handshake, go to conferences, make all kinds of money 🙂

Yes, the list goes on.

And for a few of the really lucky ones, maybe this is true.

But for the vast majority of us, that’s not quite how it goes.

Instead, we plug away at our computers, desperate to get some words- any words- down so that we can say we did it, we made our word count.

Like that is the key to success.

In my experience getting the story onto the paper is only half the battle. It doesn’t matter how good you think your book baby is, if no one knows you’ve written it.

So how do you get the word out without alienating the very people you hope and pray will give your book a chance?

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You need to break out of that little bubble of creativity you’ve wrapped yourself up in and enter the world of social media.

I know, words to strike fear in an introvert’s heart.

But, trust me, it’s easier than you’d think.

If you’re fairly new to social media I’d recommend you pick one and get comfortable there first. You don’t need to dive in. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with.

Open an account with your email and an easy to remember password, and you’re under way! Yes, it is that simple.

If you chose Facebook for experimenting and have gone through the steps to set up your profile (FB is very helpful with guiding you, so don’t worry) then you can go ahead and search for family and friends. There’s a little search box in the top left where you can add a name. Facebook will bring up a list of results and you can choose from there who you want to friend.

As you make new connections it’s a good idea to comment on posts that appeal to you, but try to remember the 3 no-no’s; race, religion, and politics!

Over time you will make friends with people who genuinely care about you and your books. Just remember it’s a two-way street; you have to give a little, to get a little.

I’ve made many valuable contacts since I began my writing career. Romance writers are a friendly, supportive, bunch who are more than ready to share their expertise with those who are new in the field.

That’s another great reason for getting comfortable with social media, it’s a learning platform of sorts. As you build your network, opportunities will occur that will benefit you and your career.

You just need to open yourself to the possibilities!

Thanks to Mimi Barbour and The Authors’ Billboard, I’ve been given the chance to participate in two amazing box sets this year!

First is Summer Heat-Love on Fire

Summer Heat FB Party Kindle FBPost

16 All New Contemporary Romances from NY Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling Authors.

Guaranteed to make your blood run hot. Passion, steamy nights, excitement, and suspense. Something to suit every reader’s taste. Grab a cool drink (you’ll need it!), find a hammock, and curl up for an unforgettable escape.
Tweet: We're having a party, and you're invited! Join us today, March 9/16 from 12pm EST for fun, games, and a Kindle Fire! http://on.fb.me/1ShLd0A

We’re having a party, and you’re invited!

Join us today, March 9/16 from 12pm EST for fun, games, and a Kindle Fire!

http://on.fb.me/1ShLd0A

And you can pre-order Summer Heat from these retailers:

Google Play: http://bit.ly/1QVFyh8

Apple: http://apple.co/1TVjEcN

Universal (Booklinker): http://myBook.to/SumHeat

BN purchase: http://bit.ly/1VIZ7qJ  or http://bit.ly/SuHtBN

BN UK: http://bit.ly/SuHBNUK

Kobo purchase: http://bit.ly/1XPUCvS or http://bit.ly/SuHKb

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/20CGJBa or http://bit.ly/SuHtGdR

SummerHeatAuthors.com: http://bit.ly/1oI4s7c

Summer Heat Release Party FB: http://on.fb.me/1ShLd0A

 

 

 

Then this fall we’ll be celebrating Christmas in style with twenty never before read novellas by best selling authors from The Authors’ Billboard.

The excitement has begun already with a fun, new contest:

Calling all Christmas lovers!
Do you love the music of the holiday season? If so, the Authors’ Billboard needs your attention! This coming 2016 Christmas, twenty of our authors—New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers—will be putting together a multi-author box collection of brand new, never before published stories to dazzle everyone, but we require your participation.
The theme of our bundle will be CHRISTMAS CAROLS. And we want to use YOUR favorite holiday songs. If you and your song title are chosen, one of the novellas will be dedicated to YOU.
Sound like fun? Please enter the contest by naming your special carols in the box below. You may enter as many times as you like. So what are you waiting for?
Here’s what the winners will receive:
1. Twenty winners will have his/her favorite song chosen as the title and possibly the theme for one of the novellas.
2. That particular story will be dedicated to the winner— twenty in total.
3. And the winners will receive a free copy of the box set (eBook only).

Ho, ho, ho! And good luck!

Love Christmas

 

Enter Here

 

So as you can see, there are no strangers, just friends in the making 🙂

Jacquie Biggar

http://jacqbiggar.com

Jacquie Biggar

Lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her her husband, daughter, and grandson. Loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. Spoils her German shepherd, Annie and calico cat, Harley.
And can’t function without coffee.
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