Which comes first?

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Which comes first, the idea for a complete story or maybe just for the book’s title? Or maybe it’s an image or a quote that gets the words reaching and stretching for each other, bumbling and fumbling until they tumble together into paragraphs and pages.
There’s no telling what will be the prompt for a new book.

For my latest release, these two words popped up and wouldn’t leave me alone until I gave them a story to live in:
Chasing Christmas.
Okay, you two, you’re a title. Now, how about making some sense?

“Mom, remember when I was little and always asked, ‘When’s it going to be Christmas?’ and you’d say, ‘There’s no sense in chasing Christmas. It’ll get here when it’s time.’”
Okay, so now the title makes sense, but I needed more for my historical tale.

And then I saw her. Her eyes told part of the story, but I had to translate it into words, then give her hope and a destiny.
It’s not as easy as it sounds.

“I hate writing, but I love having written,” is ascribed to Dorothy Parker and many other authors. Hmm. I think at some point, all authors feel the same way. I guess the ‘love’ part overrides the ‘hate’ part because we keep on doing it.
Enjoy Chasing Christmas, part of Sweet and Sassy Christmas – A Time for Romance, available today! ELEVEN Christmas tales, some sweet, some sassy (or more) by NY Times and USA Today Bestselling and award winning authors.

Only 99 cents or free to read with your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Dani Haviland

Dani Haviland, formerly of Connecticut, Arizona, and Alaska, recently semi-retired from selling tractor parts, tools, and roses. She moved to a more temperate climate in western Oregon to pursue her passions: writing, gardening, and photography.
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WHERE AND WHEN WRITERS LIKE TO WRITE

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Where Writer’s Write

So where do writer’s write? Some take their laptops to a crowded cafe, and are comfortable writing with onlookers peeping over their shoulders. Some want solitude, with everything organized around them, phone off and kids banned so there are no distractions while they pursue their story. Some have special places where they write, with their writing materials handy. So, I’m going to ask the authors who read this to put WHERE and WHEN they like to write in the comment section.

Rebecca York has a special sunroom lounge that she shares with her cats, and Jacquie Rogers has a special office that she inhabits until 4 AM, dictating her stories before pounding the keys.

Personally, my writing space depends upon the time of day, the weather, and just how I’m feeling. If I set myself a planned space and time, I don’t produce as much. When I write in the early mornings (I’m up sometimes when Jacquie’s up), which is the most often, I grab my laptop and throw a blanket over my shoulders and sit on the edge of the bed for an hour or three, until done. Then it’s time to get dressed and start the day.

If it is really sunny and nice outside, I’ll take my laptop out to a lawn swing and write there. If it is raining and stormy, the gas fireplace invites me to write next to it. I do have an office, where I make and edit videos for my Raising Giants home school program, and produce the Show & Tell Bible, but I find it hard to write my novels there.

I used to plan all my stories out, but find it is better to just write them, as I lose interest in a story if I know where it’s going. Once written, then I go back and make sure everything works. I’ve tried the dictation method like Jacquie uses, but actually speaking the words makes me lose my train of thought. I write faster and better directly on the computer.

So authors, where and when is your best writing time/space?

My latest novel is another thriller in the Brother’s of Spirit series. (First one was Height of Danger). New novel is Terminal Pursuit, not quite finished. I’m waiting for the book cover and must do a complete re-write before I put it up for pre-sale.

The Quietest Woman in the South is a post Civil War story about love, friendship, and responsibility. It has spots of humor amid the danger, and was a lot of fun to write. Evil men always have kin, and the hero and his friends have to fight the same family several times until they are free of their threat. Normally $2.99, it is on sale for $.99 this October, 2017.

Click to buy

Nancy Radke

Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse’s nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. She spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said “Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes.” It is light and humorous.
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How to Snag a Literary Agent!

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DSC_0002_5I’ve just returned from speaking at Thrillerfest, the huge annual writer’s conference sponsored by the International Thriller Writers and held in New York City. The ITW Conference has been, by far and away, my go-to place for sending my clients and students who are writing suspense, thrillers (obviously), mysteries, and emotionally electrified novels of all types. Why?

Because this is the only conference that, to my knowledge, has managed to corral 50 or more agents in a room, for around three hours, at what’s called PitchFest. Authors are given a chance to, in effect, speed-date agents. You get to sit down and talk for about 3 minutes to a real agent about your novel. If they find your pitch interesting, the agent will ask you to send either a partial or full manuscript to them. Then you move on to the next agent on your hit list. You can pitch to as many agents as you can fit into the session. This, as you can imagine, is a golden opportunity for authors who have books with intrigue, mystery, and thriller elements that are ready to be published. But I’ve also heard from authors writing in other genres, who have found, at PitchFest, an enthusiastic agent for their novels.

However, the price of the conference, expense of staying in a New York City hotel, and airfare can be substantial. Does this mean that you can’t connect with a good agent to represent you and your books if you are unable to afford traveling to a big conference? Not at all.

DSC_0003There are many ways to search out and find a legitimate, experienced literary agent. Different authors have used a variety of techniques with equal success. But I’ll share with you my favorite method:

  • Finish your book and do all you can to polish your product until it shines. An agent can’t sell a manuscript to a publisher that isn’t complete of is full of grammatical errors. Many authors invest in a professional edit or critical read to help them make their book the best it can be.
  • Go online and look up the Association of Authors’ Representatives site (aaronline.org). Click on “Find an Agent”. You’ll be able to search for legitimate agents interested in your type of book.
  • After you’ve made a list of agents whose interests match yours—50-60 isn’t too many!—check out their websites. By gathering more information about each agent, you’ll fine tune your list.
  • Go online to Publishers Marketplace (publishersmarketplace.com). Register for Publishers Lunch Deluxe. It will cost you $25./month, but all you need to do is join for one month, do your research, then opt out. For that month, you will receive daily reports on the industry and the ability to “track deals, sales, agents, editors” and more.
  • Using your hit list of agents, choose one and search on his/her sales for the past 6 months. Even better, search on their sales just for your category of book. When I went looking for an agent who was representing and actively selling lots of historical fiction, I was able to track down a number of really strong agents in that field. Then I chose from among them the ones with whom I’d most like to work.
  • Check out the details of their sales (and others, if you like…this is fascinating stuff!) The Daily Deals will tell you the title of the book sold, its author, the publisher and acquiring editor who bought it, the name of the agent who sold it…and a brief description of the book’s concept. Wow! How valuable is that!

If you’ve done your homework, you’ll have found many good matches. Circle back to their websites and note their preferences for submissions. Follow their instructions implicitly. It’s a test, of sorts. If an agent wants only a query letter for initial contact, don’t send your manuscript…yet. Each agent has their own process for screening prospective clients.

I hope this gives you some insight into how to snag the best agent for the book you’ve written. Good luck! And let me know how it goes.  Cheers! Kathryn

Alicia Street

Alicia Street is a USA TODAY bestselling author and Daphne Award-winner often writing in collaboration with her husband, Roy, as well as on solo projects. She spent many years as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. A compulsive reader of every genre, she also loves watching old black-and-white movies and inventing new recipes for soups.
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WRITING-BEING YOUR DREAM!

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I grew up loving books and reading. I never really thought about becoming a writer because I knew…I KNEW that anyone who wrote books must be a genius. How could authors not be incredibly brainy, and still charm, fascinate and fool me into thinking fantasy was real? Sadly, I was not a genius.
But one day—long after college, marrying, and having babies—I decided to try my hand at writing a few stories. I found that the more I wrote, the better I got. It was like exercising a muscle; it automatically grows stronger. So does the brain when you write; your mind locks in on story-telling techniques. It’s said that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. I must have put in twice that many. But eventually, the stories I wrote began to sell, and readers (Imagine that! I actually had readers!) began to tell me how much they liked my novels.
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I have now published over 40 books with a variety of wonderful publishers. I also teach other writers how to make their stories better and more marketable, as an instructor at The Writer’s Center and at The Smithsonian Associates programs in Washington, DC. I want to share with you the key tools we talk about in one of the most popular courses at TWC: The Extreme Novelist.
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1) Ignore “the voices.” These negative thoughts that tell us we can’t do something challenging or new because it’s too hard and we’re not smart enough. Do it anyway!
2) Outrun the voices by writing daily and submerging yourself so completely in your tale that they simply can’t reach through your wall of concentration. My students pledge to write at least 90 minutes a day, six days a week, until a full (rough) draft of their story is done.
3) Be a mobile writer. You don’t need a cabin in the woods and absolute silence. Most writers have alternate “offices”—coffee shop, library, airport lounge, the mall. You’ll learn to zone out noise.
4) Use dead time—waiting in doctor/dental offices, riding on a subway or bus. I used to sit in my car during office lunch hours and write. Live in your story by taking it with you everywhere!
5) Protect your high-energy time of every day/night. If you’re a morning person, wake up an hour earlier and write like the wind. A night owl? Write while the rest of the world sleeps.
6) Don’t look back! When writing a first draft, resist going back and correcting, fussing with, polishing what you’ve written. Revision comes later. Don’t risk getting trapped in a first chapter and never moving forward.
I could share a lot more with you, but this will get you started. If you’d like additional tips and support for your writing, you might check out the book based on my class, The Extreme Novelist. It’s on sale for a pittance right now.
Most importantly of all—enjoy your writing time. It’s golden. It’s all yours. And I just know you’re going to be amazing! Hugs, Kathryn
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Some of Kathryn’s books can be found here:
The Gentleman Poet The Gentleman Poet

The Extreme Novelist The Extreme Novelist

The Wild Princess https: The Wild Princess

Alicia Street

Alicia Street is a USA TODAY bestselling author and Daphne Award-winner often writing in collaboration with her husband, Roy, as well as on solo projects. She spent many years as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. A compulsive reader of every genre, she also loves watching old black-and-white movies and inventing new recipes for soups.
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