Taking A Chance by Natalie Ann #mgtab

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Taking A Chance

With risk comes great reward. We’ve all heard this before, correct? Maybe we’ve said, “That’s right, I’m going to take a risk and I’m going to win.” Then you get all excited, you dive head first into the freezing cold water, come up for air and you wait. And wait. And wait.  “Where’s my reward?” you ask yourself.

That was me twenty plus years ago. I wanted to be a writer. An author. That was my goal. That was my dream. I’d started and stopped writing too many times to count, getting frustrated and giving up.

Then four years ago I told myself, it’s now or never and I made a plan. I’m good at making plans. And lists. Lots and lots of lists. My lists have lists and I’m proud of that fact!

My plan was to write one book. Start and keep going until it was done. Just to say I could do it. The finished product didn’t have to leave my computer, no one had to see it but me, but darn it all, I was going to finish that book.

Not only did I finish that book, Road to Recovery, but I wrote Road to Redemption and Road to Reality. Three books in draft form and I had no clue what to do next. So I started to search out editors, and since I’m a firm believer in fate, I kept coming back to this one editor.  Something pulled at me and said, “Reach out and see what she says.”

That risk I talked about before… well that’s what I did. My finger hovered over the mouse after I reread my email fifty times. The last thing I wanted to do was have a typo in the introduction email!

I didn’t have a long wait. I wasn’t floating in the cold water wondering when I could get out and grab a fluffy towel.  Now I’m not going to say my reward was instantaneous, because it wasn’t. I had a lot of work ahead of me, and I got right to it. Pulled out another ream of paper and made another list of where to start and how to approach it.

Here I am—not even three years after Road to Recovery was published—my fourteenth book, Take A Chance, was released this month.

Rene Buchanan did what I did. She’d had a life she lived for twenty-nine years and when it wasn’t working out the way she always envisioned. When she knew there was more out there and she just had to find it, she dove into that ice cold water and took her chance. Luckily for her, Cole McGuire was there to hand her a nice warm towel, wrap her up tight and show her that her risk was both their reward.

You can read Take A Chance now. Available on Amazon.

Natalie Ann

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Do You Have a Bucket list? #Inspiration #lifegoals #mgtab @jacqbiggar

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Do you have a bucket list?

The older I get, the more I dream about things I’d like to do before I leave this earth.

Here are my top five:

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I love the idea of sailing. A bottle of wine, the perfect companion, billowy white sails, it doesn’t get much more romantic than that. 🙂

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I’m amazed by architecture and sculptures. Some of the oldest and most intricate pieces reside in Italy. I could spend weeks in this beautiful country.

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Is there anything as amazing or beautiful than our oceans? I’d love to scuba dive off the Caymen islands or Australia one day. To see the coral reefs and marine life would be a true dream come true.

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I’m not sure about white-water rafting, but I would love to visit the backcountry of Canada and this would be a fun way to do it!

And number five:

I dream of seeing my books on the shelves in book stores and libraries. That would be the ultimate thrill and verification that I’ve made it as an author.

Who knows, maybe none of these will ever happen, or maybe all of them will.

It doesn’t hurt to hope!

September 5, 2017 will see the release of my twelve novel, Tempted by Mr. Wrong. I’ve always been fascinated by the dynamics in blended families. How do they learn to live together, trust each other, grow together? What about if the children aren’t really children at all? And what if they gain feelings for each other?

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Tempted by Mr. Wrong

How can something so wrong, feel so right?

Falling for her step-brother is a mistake T.J. doesn’t want to repeat, but one look into those sapphire blue eyes and she’s ready to give him whatever he wants.

Tammy-Jo Hawthorne’s marriage was floundering, but she never expected her husband to make her the laughing stock of Magnolia.

And she definitely didn’t expect to trip over him in their front yard after he’d been murdered.

Jason McIntyre was forced out of his home and the love of his life by the man who’d haunted his nightmares for ten long years.

Now Jason’s back–and he wants revenge.

http://a.co/eHqYH64

International link: http://books2read.com/TemptedbyMrWrong

Add to your TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35609451-tempted-by-mr-wrong

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.
View website

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Choose a Man: Navy SEAL or Fire Fighter

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Two twenty-something women are sitting in a bar in San Diego or New York City. In the lounge of PF Chang’s or Ruth’s Chris Steak House. One of these women is you. You’re wearing four point five inch glossy red strappy sandals, one leg crossed over the other so your black and white polka dot skirt is halfway up your thigh. You’re chatting with your friend and she’s wearing light pink matte lipstick, a three-inch wide pink Bakelite bangle bracelet and her blond hair in a high ponytail of cascading waves.

You know you both look hot, but you always do. So, it’s no big deal. Another warm summer night out in the city. You feel the attention, but it’s like a second skin—always there. Music, clinking glassware and slightly tipsy conversation surrounds you while you take your second sip of your Singapore sling then exhale to relax after your initial catch-up with your friend.

Now you look around. At the men. And there are plenty of them.

Are you in the neighborhood pop-spot near the Coronado Navy base filled with newly inducted warriors?

Or are you in the neighborhood hot spot of a downtown Manhattan Firehouse frequented by hot-off-their-shift lifesaving men?

Do you want the kind of man who would kill to protect you?

Or do you want the kind of man who would run into a fire to save you?

Don’t worry, there is no right or wrong answer—unless you say neither. (But what woman would say that? Honestly?)

You might say either would do, but I think most would have a preference, most of us would see the subtle distinction and maybe come down on one side or the other.

Me, you ask? I’d go for the Navy SEAL. Don’t ask me why.

But I’m going to ask you (fair or unfair) which you would pick and WHY?

Go ahead—tell me.

In the meantime, I’m working on a few stories starring two best friends. One is a Navy SEAL and the other is an FDNY Fire Fighter. Coming soon…

Catch up with me and my progress on these stories at www.StephanieQueen.com.

 

 

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.

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You Are My Sunshine #LazyDaysOfSummer #amwriting #mgtab @jacqbiggar

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I don’t know about you, but when the warm winds and indigo blue skies of summer appear on the horizon, the last thing I want to do is sit in a chair forcing myself to fight past the sticky middle of my current WIP (work-in-progress).

It’s literally like pulling teeth.

I’d much sooner have my hands buried up to the elbow in fine black planting soil, or daydream on the end of a water hose watching the hummingbirds and butterflies play in the breeze.

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But, I also realize if I want to take this writing career seriously, and I do, I need to sometimes make sacrifices.

One thing I’ve learned is better time management. I’m a late riser, mornings are not my thing :), so I usually sit at the computer with my coffee and go through the social media platforms sharing and promoting.

Then I spend an hour or two visiting my mom next door before FINALLY waking up enough to begin my day!

I take the computer outside to our gazebo where I can work on my story while watering the flowers, and occasionally catching a glimpse of a friendly hummingbird or two.

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Sometimes, I don’t get much writing done, but that’s okay. It’s a WIP, just like me 🙂

If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to lately, you can check out the new anthology written by members of my critique group to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary!

 

My Baby Wrote Me A LetterA family's brush with the past will threaten the fabric of their lives.

Dreams and Promises

Dreams and Promises includes six short stories and novellas written by authors who live in beautiful British Columbia.

It’s our way of honoring Canada’s Sesquicentennial.

Some of Canada’s major cities were founded in the seventeenth century, but July 1st 2017 marks 150 years since our country became a Confederation.

Our stories range from the era of the fur trade, to a commercial enterprise that opened up the Canadian and American West, to present day James Bay, a thriving neighborhood in the garden city of Victoria, British Columbia.

Universal link: http://books2read.com/DreamsandPromises

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Add to your TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35387646-dreams-and-promises

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.
View website

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What Silver Bells means to me? Love, Christmas Collection #Traditions #HolidayRomance #mgtab @jacqbiggar

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What Silver Bells means to me?

 

 

 

I first heard Silver Bells as a young girl. My mom and dad made it a tradition to take us out looking for the perfect Christmas tree. Sometimes we’d drive for hours before Dad found just the right area to search in. He’d park on the side of the country road and tell us to get ready, then go around to the back of the truck and haul out his axe and a rope so we could drag it out of the bush. The snow would be deep and fresh, with only a few animal tracks to guide us on our journey.

If the sun was still high enough, the snow would glisten like diamonds. If it was lower, the trees would cast shadows and we would hurry to stay close to our dad. The thing I remember most is the quiet. No cars. No people chattering. Just the crunch of our boots and the wind sighing through the spruce trees.

Being a townie, as we called the kids who always lived within town limits, this was a treat for us. It reminded me of church. And maybe that’s what it was meant to be, Nature’s cathedral.

 

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When we’d finally get back home, Mom would make us hot chocolate, place Bing Crosby’s Silver Bells on our stereo record player, and Dad would bring the tree into the house and find the best spot to set it up. Most of the time, he picked a tree that was miles too big for our living room and bare on one side. He would grin at Mom’s clucks and groans and wink at us.

I think it was a game they played. 🙂

When my dad passed away, we stopped going out on our Christmas tree quest, instead we bought an artificial that went up in any corner of the room and always looked perfect.

But it didn’t have the scent of pine, or the love of a family outing to make it into something special.

When Mimi Barbour came up with the idea for a box set of holiday stories titled with Christmas songs, it was easy to decide which one I’d like to do. I was delighted when one of the winners of this spring’s Fresh Fiction contest chose my song!

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It was fate. Thank you, Deb Philippon. 🙂

 

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What about you? Do you have family traditions, young or old, that makes the holidays that bit more special?

We’d love to hear about them.

 

I hope you’ll give the Love, Christmas Collection a try. It’s filled with twenty never-before-seen novellas from bestselling authors of romance.

I think you’re going to like it!

 

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Love, Christmas Collection

Put a song in your heart with 20 all-new Christmas Romances from NY Times, USA Today, and national best-selling authors. Each brand-new title is inspired by a Christmas carol and will lift your spirits and bring on the holiday cheer. 

Amazon: http://bit.ly/LoveChristmasUS 

B&N: http://bit.ly/LoveChristmasBN

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/love-christmas-holiday-stories-that-will-put-a-song-in-your-heart

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/love-christmas-holiday-stories/id1158227218?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

And don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.
View website

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Weeding Your (Word) Garden (aka De-Cluttering Your Writing)

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GardenEvery gardener knows that flowers and vegetables won’t thrive if you let weeds take over your garden plot. The same is true of writing. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, a short story or hefty book-length project, prose that’s littered with unnecessary verbiage loses its impact.

How do we know what to keep and what to toss out? A good gardener learns the difference between a baby plant they started from seed and an insidious intruder. Before the weeds threaten the desirable plants a good gardener will yank those suckers out of there, allowing vegetables and flowers the nourishment and light they need to survive.

Here are a few tips for weeding your literary garden:

1)      Trim back adjective lists. (The tall, slim, vivacious woman with bright red hair and matching lipstick walked up to him.) Leave one or, at most, two adjectives. Make them the most vivid and specific. Readers only retain one or two details per sentence.

2)      Avoid unnecessary adverbs. Best-selling horror author Stephen King advises cutting all adverbs, but sometimes these colorful words do add to a scene, if judiciously used.

3)      However, be particularly aware of the dreaded -ly form in dialogue tags. (…he said hopelessly; …she commented sulkily.) Instead of tacking on an adverb to label the speaker’s emotion, keep the emphasis on the spoken words, or the character’s actions.

4)      “Would” is often an overused word that clutters good prose. Some writers string together paragraphs full of “woulds”. Search on it and, if you find this particularly persistent weed, substitute the root verb form, which is often more direct and powerful. Instead of “he would often attend the opera,” write: “he often attended the opera.”

5)      Don’t be afraid to use the strategic incomplete sentence. Writers who insist on every sentence following the Subject/Verb/Direct Object pattern often end up creating a stilted, forced style. This is particularly true of dialogue. Real people don’t all talk like college professors, using perfect grammar.

6)      Even a word like “the” can become clutter. (Cluttered: He picked up the hammer, the nails, then the stack of boards and loaded them into the truck. Better: He picked up hammer, nails, and a stack of boards then loaded them into the truck.)

7)      Dig out your “pet” words. We all have them. If you think you might be relying too heavily on one or more words, particularly the sort of word that stands out for the reader, use your word processor to search for it throughout the manuscript. You may be shocked to see how many characters use that same word or phrase in their dialogue, or how frequently you use it as your catch-all word for description. (Frequent weeds: big, large, got/get, just, went, going to…, about to…, etc.)

When I’m editing another writer’s work, one of the first things I do is de-clutter it. Think of it as putting your manuscript on a diet. A slimmed-down manuscript reads with more power, better pacing, and will more likely appeal to a literary agent or publisher. It’s just plain better writing—and that’s something we should all aim for.

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If you’d like to learn more tricks for perfecting your writing, you might want to check out The Extreme Novelist, my book based on the courses I teach in Washington, DC at The Writer’s Center, and for The Smithsonian Associates educational programs. Short story writers and memoirists will also find loads of information to them. You can order the book through any bookstore, or find it quickly here:  https://www.amazon.com/Extreme-Novelist-No-Time-Write-Drafting-ebook/dp/B00WA5FCVK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1473169296&sr=8-1#nav-subnav

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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Authors: Hold Onto Your Readers…with Brisk Pacing

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hand-281995_640I’m sure you’ve “been there…done that.” You’re reading a novel that seemed interesting, but somewhere around the middle it began to drag. When a short story, novella, or novel slows down and then sputters to a halt—readers lose interest and often fail to continue reading. Literary agents and acquiring editors for publishing firms are even more likely to put a story aside and send a canned rejection, without ever seeing the wonderful writing that follows. But intensifying the pace of a scene, or an entire story, is often an easy thing to do if you know how.

Regardless of the genre in which you’re writing, it’s first helpful to break down the chore of creating an effective pace for your story into three steps: Planning (before you start to write), Writing, and Revising. Here is a summary of some of the best tips I know, which I shared with my students at The Writer’s Center in the Washington, DC area this past Saturday. Some tips may initially seem unrelated to the structure and pace of a story—but they all have an effect on how the reader views the progress of the story. You probably won’t use all of them, but I hope you’ll find at least a few that will help you pick up the pace in your stories, and hold your readers’ interest to The End.

The Planning Stage:

1)      Before starting to write, determine the genre, sub-genre, mood and style of your story. In short, know what you’re writing. It’s not just a story.

2)      Give yourself a target word length, or at least a range. (For a novel, 80,000 words is a safe range in today’s publishing world.)

3)      If you are a “plotter,” review your plot outline (synopsis) for key climax scenes. If you are a “pantser,” remember that you will need to include these dramatic high moments throughout your story. Don’t just save all the drama for a big splashy scene near the end.

4)      Determine your launch pad. Where should the story start? (An active, visual scene at a moment that establishes the central conflict is always a good choice.)

5)      Choose “movers & shakers” for characters. (i.e., those who are most involved, not mere onlookers or an inactive narrator)

While Writing:

  •   Avoid repetition like the plague. (Words, phrases, incidents, dialogue…must be varied.) Do a “Find” to search for overused words and phrases. Cut and tighten your prose.
  • Move the plot toward resolution in virtually every scene. Throw out scenes that fail to build toward the final climax scenes.
  • Dual-purpose your scenes whenever you can. If you are writing a scene for the purpose of character development, or to show setting detail, allow your characters to continue interacting throughout. Never stop the action to deliver information.
  • Minimize or simplify dialogue tags. (Use “said,” action, or speech-style to identify speakers if possible, rather than relying on colorful tags like ‘he pontificated’, ‘she wailed miserably’, ‘Gerald muttered worriedly’.)
  • Make the most of emotion. Readers are more forgiving of a slowly developing plot if emotion and tension constantly tug at the characters…and therefore, at the reader.
  • Add a ticking clock. (How many minutes before the train crashes, the bomb goes off, or the business deal becomes irreversible?)
  • Let the characters fail—then try, try, try again.
  • Plant surprises, secrets, and unexpected twists. You’ll never bore your readers.
  • Hold back information…but not too long.

During Revisions:

  • Search out any word usage that interrupts the flow of reading.
  • Look for overly detailed setting descriptions that stop the story’s progress.
  • Notice any scenes that are too similar, and cut them.
  • Delete empty scenes—the trip across town, a chat over tea that reveals nothing new.
  • Clean out clutter words/phrases (going to, starting to, thought about, to-be forms, would, etc.)
  • Remove your travelogues! Reserve for your holiday newsletter.
  • Does your plot move forward in a cause & effect pattern? It should.
  • Is what happens logical/believable, given the fictional world you’ve created?
  • Make sure your characters recognize the cost for failing or succeeding.

First-aid for Submissions (Because pacing may be the reason for rejections):

If an agent or publisher likes some elements of your story but ultimately rejects it, the reason might be a weak opening or dismal pacing. Try giving your manuscript a fresh eye. Ask yourself:

  • Do you deliver a hook that can’t be ignored on the first pages?
  • Does the story begin with an active, vivid scene?
  • Have you moved all backstory from the opening to the middle of the story?
  • How far into the book is the Central Conflict revealed? Can you move it up to the first chapter? The first two pages? To page 1? Is the conflict important enough to carry the whole story?
  • ake things worse for your characters, and/or make those challenging events happen at closer intervals.

Whatever form of fiction you are writing, constantly look for ways to keep the pacing brisk. This is what makes readers keep turning pages.

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If you’re curious as to how this works…here are two of my novels that, hopefully, will give you a sense of brisk pacing, even though they are historical fiction, which is generally thought of as a more leisurely paced type of novel. Above all…enjoy your writing time! Kathryn

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The Gentleman Poet https://www.amazon.com/Gentleman-Poet-Danger-Shakespeares-Tempest-ebook/dp/B003V1WTWM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472495073&sr=1-1&keywords=the+gentleman+poet#nav-subnav

The Wild Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria’s Daughters https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007679UQA/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1#nav-subnav

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.
 View website

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Germinating Seeds for Stories or…Spinach?

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This week I’m writing all about getting seeds to germinate. Plot seeds (as in a story) or veggie seeds. They really aren’t very different.

Hatching a new story requires a writer to search through their mental file cabinet of ideas. Once you decide upon the type of story you want to tell, you need to prepare the soil—so to speak. This might mean clearing your desk of distracting paperwork or craft projects. Ignore your email inbox and phone messages, until you get your day’s writing done. While plants need the proper lighting and right amount of water and fertilizer—the writer’s brain and body require a healthy diet, sufficient hydration, exercise, and a comfortable working environment. We also need to dedicate sufficient time to grow our story into something worthwhile.

In the garden world, I have the more trouble encouraging my spinach seed to sprout than any other veggie seed. All the pros tell me that it can take weeks for those little pellets to sprout. Although you might be able to hurry them along with either a good soak for 24 hours or a cold-treatment in the fridge. It seems they are so temperature sensitive that, when the soil is over 75-degrees, they’ll refuse to germinate at all. Spinach loves cool weather. And on top of that, even in the best of conditions, only about 30% are likely to ever sprout. Stubborn little babies, aren’t they?

Why bother with planting spinach at all? Maybe it’s for reasons similar to why I spend so many hours writing stories. Just as I love spinach for all of its marvelous benefits to my health, I love producing fiction because it’s healthy for my brain. Writing a novel encourages me to exercise my imagination and fully engage creatively. And I’m convinced that, like growing vegetables, we write better depending upon the seasons.

I tend to write more fluidly and with greater energy in the spring and the fall. The air feels fresher where I live in the Washington, DC area during those seasons. I seem to breathe easier, think clearer. Spinach, too, grows most happily (once you get it started, that is) in both the early spring and the late fall. In fact, some varieties will winter over so that you have lovely fresh greens without any fuss at all, as soon as the snow melts. If you forget to do a fall planting you can even sprinkle seeds over the frozen ground. As soon as it thaws in spring, I’m told, seeds will sprout for a carefree crop. It’s apparently only when you’re trying to force the little darlings to sprout in less than optimum conditions that they won’t send up shoots.CoverFinalSM-TheExtremeNovelist

That’s one thing that’s magical about writing, which we talk a lot about in the classes I teach at The Writer’s Center in Washington, DC (and in The Extreme Novelist). If we scatter story seeds then let them develop organically in our mind before starting to write…and then take the time to draft a working synopsis. If we then give these ideas the attention they need by writing daily and not letting the craziness of everyday life crowd out our writing time–that’s how we  grow as writers and begin to produce quality, publishable  fiction.

Write daily, my friends. Write with focus. Nurture yourself as a writer, just as a good gardener tends her garden. You’ll harvest an amazing crop.

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.
 View website

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