The Birth of A #Hero #mgtab #Inspiration @jacqbiggar

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Readers often ask where do writers come up with ideas for their characters? In my case, the birth of a hero comes from a variety of sources. News reports, television programs, books I’ve read; all are great resources.

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But my favorite characters grow organically from stories I’ve already written. For my new release, Missing: The Lady Said No, the idea for my hero, Augustus Grant, came to me from a previous book where the main character was a mystery writer suffering from writer’s block.

Gus is the character my hero, Joel Carpenter, (in the holiday romance novel Silver Bells) was writing about. I fell in love with the bumbling detective and decided then and there he needed his own story!

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Gus is smart, irreverent, a little bit clumsy (okay, a LOT clumsy!) and still in love with the girl he let get away.

Rebecca Hayes.

Here’s a short excerpt. Gus is investigating a murder at a horse ranch and runs into the one person he never thought he’d see again.

Becky stood at the top of the grand staircase and felt the world give way.

Augustus.

It had been too long.

And not long enough.

She couldn’t believe he was here. Or maybe she could. It had always been his dream to become a detective. After all, that was the reason they had split up, wasn’t it? He’d craved the excitement, and she’d needed stability. Safety.

Well, it was too late now, on many levels. The best thing she could do would be to put on a brave face and escape with her pride.

“Hello, Augustus,” she called. Careful not to let him see her trembling, she gripped the banister and reluctantly went to join the man who had stolen her heart. He was every bit as tall as she remembered. Still just as handsome, too. A few more lines around the eyes and mouth maybe. She shied away from his lips, focusing instead on the crooked tie and wrinkled shirt. A wry smile touched her mouth.

“I see you still haven’t figured out the right side of an iron,” she murmured.

He glanced down and ran a strong, tanned hand down his chest. Something fluttered to life in hers.

He met her gaze with a grin that slowly faded away. “I looked for you,” he said.

Oh, God.

This wasn’t what she expected. After leaving Bourbonville and moving here, to Balmoral, she’d second-guessed her decision often, but never realized maybe he did too, just a little.

“You’re the cop. You could have found me if you tried.”

As you can see, there are a lot of unresolved feelings between these two. The question is, can Gus make it right? You’ll have to read on to find out. 🙂

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This is part of a branded series set around the running of the famous Kentucky Derby. I hope you’ll enjoy my story and give the other books in the Chandler County series a try!

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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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I Dream In Chocolate

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chcolate strawberries

 

A little over a week ago I did a blog on #gratitude and my experience with Parkinson’s over on the #RSSOS blog I also blog on.

I can’t speak to how others experience Parkinson’s, only on my own experience. Right now I have a slight tremor and that’s about it. It’s beginning to seem it may stay like that for quite awhile and I appreciate that, I truly do.

I will say, however, I think you get treated differently as a patient, when you’re older. I say this, because, besides giving birth, my only other experience with being injured and the health care system, happened over 20 years ago.

I was hit driver’s side, head on by a garbage truck coming around the corner who lost control and came onto my lane going about 45 mph. The front of my car, a Cricket if I remember correctly, crunched down like a thin tin can, until it hit something around the wheel, or close to it.

The truck stopped, everything shuddered and it continued forward. The window shattered into a zillion small pieces held together, by what seemed afterwards to be something like the mac-tac we had used to cover our schoolbooks as a child. It then wrapped around my head. The seatbelt shoulder restraint gave way and it felt as if my body was thrown sideways. One hip hit the gear shift and my right arm seemed to turn into spaghetti, allowing me to touch the car door on the other side briefly, while maintaining a death grip on the steering wheel. Thankfully the car, along with me, was thrown free from the garbage truck.

I was extremely lucky since I walked out of it. But I didn’t escape unscathed. I had constant migraines for months afterwards along with neck and back problems that have continued over the years. Still, I was lucky. I survived and was able to start a family and, basically, have a life.

So what does that have to do with Parkinson’s ? We’ll skip over the fact that the areas of my body most affected by Parkinson’s are the same areas injured most during the accident. The big difference is doctors and therapists assumed I would recover and lead a normal life.

The ER doctor referred me to a physiotherapist that worked outside the hospital, so he ‘could push me harder.’ The physiotherapist’s mantra seemed to be, “I’ve worked on football players that have played football with a broken neck. You can do it.” I was worried about driving because I had constant headaches and felt dizzy sometimes. “Keep driving,”” I was told. If you give up you’ll stop trying and it will be harder to recover. Out of respect for my fellow drivers I wouldn’t follow that advice now. I worried about mixing up words and was told it was within normal limits and just act as if I’d never been injured.

It felt as if I was in some weird type of bubble, divorced from real life. Somewhere I heard of cervical fusion operations which seemed like a great idea at the time. Not so fast. No way was anyone going to do that surgery on me until at least two years of constant, unstoppable pain, that stopped me from doing pretty well anything.

Fortunately, within a year I was much better. And at this stage in my life I don’t think anyone would suggest I have a neck operation.

Parkinson’s was different. I think it took two years before the doctor stopped asking if my balance was off, if I felt dizzy. No, maybe sometimes? Did I drool yet and a pack of other questions that made me go, “God no,” and wonder if I could just shoot myself now. Truly, it wasn’t a future I wanted to think about.

So I focused on my chocolate mysteries and a world filled with chocolate. Maybe it was a cop out but I couldn’t see where focusing on my doctor’s vision would help anything at all. I pictured my heroine, Maxine. In her mid-twenties, she’s given up a career in banking to follow her dreams. I visualized a chocolate shop filled with chocolate delights. I saw her catering events

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in interesting locals and I pictured Heath, her sidekick along with Detective Patrick Shannon, a hot detective who is in and out of her life. I figured if I was going to drool it might as well be over something worthwhile.Detective Shannon

That doesn’t mean I ignored my illness. I read everything I could about it and took some of the medications my doctor suggested. When I questioned him about others he couldn’t give me a good, concrete reason to take them and there were some pretty big downsides. I asked him about yoga and dance but he really didn’t know anything. I did yoga for years for my back, though, so except for a period to heal my rotator cuff shoulder, I kept doing it. Then I added dance exercise classes. Because I enjoy them and I can.

Some of what I’ve learned helped me come up with a medical romantic suspense series which I’m working on now. But even things inspired by actual experiences won’t necessarily be recognizable. That’s what makes fiction interesting. It’s not bound by the rules of normal life.

To share some of Maxines favorite chocolate recipes, click on the booklet.

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The latest book in my Death by Chocolate series is Soul Mates. Click on the cover for further information.

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Love In The Time of Chocolate

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Soul Mates Cover

Have you ever wondered how Valentine’s Day would look through the eyes of a chocolatier and caterer?

For Maxine,Valentine’s Day and the weeks leading up to it are busy times. It seems she can’t make enough chocolate. From catering a wine and truffle party for her friends’s new dating service to making a chocolate torte for a couple who have been happily in love thirty plus years, the one constant in her life is chocolate.

It looks as if there might be something more going on than just dating at Soul Mates though and will she get her own HEA with a certain detective or is she in for a broken heart? And she’s stepping out of her comfort zone to take part in Victoria’s answer to So You Think You Can Dance complete with it’s very own mirror ball trophy.

In case you’re looking for a dessert to wow that certain someone this is Maxine’s special recipe.

Chocolate Lave Cakes For Two

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa

2 oz bittersweet chocolate (I recommend Callebaut)

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1/3 cup superfine sugar (put regular sugar in food processor and pulse a few times to make fine if necessary).

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

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Heat oven to 325 degrees F

Chop chocolate into pieces along with butter.

Melt butter and chocolate in microwave doing 10 seconds at a time and stirring together until smooth and melted.

Cool for 10 minutes

Whisk together eggs and sugar

Sift flour over your chocolate mixture and then gently fold in.

Grease two three inch ramekins (I use Pam butter spray) and divide your chocolate mixture evenly between the two.

Bake at 325 for 11 – 13 minutes depending on oven

Turn your chocolate lava cakes out and serve immediately

Soul Mates is available on Amazon.com. More of Maxine’s Chocolate recipes can be found on my website, www.patamsden.com.

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Marshall Field’s Christmas Memories

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When I was a kid living on the far south side, and later in a south suburb, the thing I looked forward to most was the occasional visit to downtown Chicago. Mom used to take me on that forty-five minute electric train ride two or three times a year, but the one  I most looked forward to was the day we would see the Marshall Field’s Christmas windows and have lunch in the Walnut Room. The Walnut Room is still there, but Marshall Field’s is long gone—bought by Macy’s.

In 1874, Macy’s in New York created one of the first major holiday window displays with a collection of porcelain dolls from around the world. Other department stores around the country followed. In 1897, Field’s got into window design, and Christmas meant displays of toys, windows that continued through World War II. Then a new idea made Marshall Field’s as unforgettable as Santa Claus himself. Theme windows spanned the length of State Street. From one end to the other, the windows told a story like The Night Before Christmas or The Nutcracker.

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I used Marshall Field’s as the model for Westbrook, the main setting for Crimson Holiday. In thinking about a holiday romantic mystery, I knew I wanted to use a department store like the one I loved as a child. I wanted to involve the Christmas windows. And I wanted the murder victim to be Santa Claus. No, wait! Not the real Santa. The department store one. Rather the one dressed as Santa for the annual Christmas party. Okay, so I have a bizarre sense of humor.

SOMEONE KILLED SANTA CLAUS!
Passed out after the Westbrook Department Store Christmas party, window designer Shelby Corbin wakens only to trip over Santa, the store’s co-owner and Shelby’s boss. Terrified that she will be blamed for the murder, she panics. CEO Rand McNabb sees a dark-haired woman wearing a crimson party dress fleeing the scene and thinks he knows her identity. His romantic attentions both thrill her and frighten Shelby. Is the sexy CEO really helping her search for the truth about that fatal night, or does Rand have a deadlier motive for courting her?

Part of me is in my heroine Shelby. The Yay! It’s Christmas! part. I used to have an annual Christmas tree-trimming party. I made dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies and gave most of them away I collected a new special Christmas ornament every year, just as Shelby does, so I could experience my holiday history every time I looked at the tree.

Because I always loved Christmas, I enjoyed creating this intricately plotted romantic mystery. A fun task, and a fun story, one I hope will make readers smile.

 

Patricia Rosemoor
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Patricia Rosemoor has had 99 novels, 8 publishers and more than 7 million books in print. Patricia writes dangerous love, romantic suspense or paranormal romantic thrillers. Patricia has won a Golden Heart from Romance Writers of America and two Reviewers Choice and two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times BOOKreviews, and in her other life, she taught Popular Fiction and Suspense-Thriller Writing at Columbia College Chicago.

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From Pearls to Terror

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When I was a little girl, my parents used to take me to Seaworld, San Diego. There were two shows I absolutely adored.

One was the Underwater Show that featured mermaids.

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The other was a pearl diving exhibition.

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Over the years, I never forgot what it was like to sit spellbound while watching both, and somehow, after I became an author and got the itch to write a thriller, one of these shows made it to a place called TERROR ISLAND.

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What? One of these things does not match the others, right? But I wanted my mystery-thriller heroine, Katsu Espinoza, to be a pearl diver, come hell or high water! The profession made sense to me because I needed a woman who could fight her way through a storm on the seas, one who had diving skills, and one who looked delicate but was actually as tough as nails. (You’d need to be that way to survive a serial killer who’s luring victims and killing them!)

And don’t you love it when life presents you with an opportunity to give you what you need? It just so happened that, years ago, when I first wrote this book (the former title was BAITED), two of my good friends had moved to Japan, and they invited me to visit.

Well, since there was no more pearl diving show at Seaworld, I just had to go overseas to do my research!

So I set out for Mikimoto’s Pearl Island. (Yes, this Mikimoto, the pearl guy.)

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True, my Japanese was tragic (Oh, but did I try to get it right!). It’s also true that the island was far from where I was staying and I would have to take quite a trip all by my lonesome to get there. In a foreign land. Without speaking the language. But it was my mission.

I was doing it for Katsu.

As I watched the ama (pearl divers) display their skills, diving and coming up for a whistling breath of air, Kat Espinoza took shape in my mind, and I liberally used that research in the book. If I ever make it back to Japan, maybe there’ll even be another mystery romantic thriller in store!

Or maybe I’ll just go to satisfy the dreams of a little girl who watched the mermaid and pearl diving shows with stars in her eyes.

Chris Marie Green is also the thriller author of the Vampire Babylon series, including the spin-off Lilly Meratoliage series, plus the Jensen Murphy, Ghost for Hire series. She tries her best to avoid international incidents whenever she takes a break from her first love, writing, and cheats on it with her other true love, traveling. You can find her on Twitter @ChrisMarieGreen and on Facebook at “Chris Marie Green—author”! www.chrismariegreen.comwww.terrorisland.weebly.com

You can get TERROR ISLAND here:

Kindle: http://amzn.to/1SBXtHq

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/terror-island/id1001600862?mt=11

Print: http://amzn.to/1fcVMkr

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1056089293?ean=2940151509756

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/terror-island-a-spine-chilling-mystery-romantic-thriller

www.terrorisland.weebly.com

 

 

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Creating A Series

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I now have three books in my Death By Chocolate series up on Amazon. A Ghostly Affair, A Christmas Wedding To Die For and my first book in the series, Chocolate Worth Dying For.

Oh, I know a lot of hard work went into it but, to me, it still seems magical. I’ve blogged on creating a series previously but at that point I was in the process of planning it out. For the first time in my life I sat down and seriously (and sometimes not so seriously) thought out what I wanted in the series. With the help of Power Point, Pinterest and Lisa Wells’ class on building a series I was well on my way.

Chocolate Worth Dying For, a cozy mystery series would be set in Victoria, BC and revolve a chocolate shop owner and caterer, Maxine Peters. Smart, sassy and too nosy to keep her nose out of other people’s business she’d have to find out who was behind any crime committed around her. In real life I don’t advise that. There’s a certain truth to the saying, ‘curiosity killed the cat.’

Then I came up with a side kick, Heath. Part of it was practically. Catering requires a lot of heavy lifting so her side-kick Heath is 6’2′ and a recent graduate of cooking school. He’s young, enthusiastic, works for cheap and he can do the heavy lifting, as well as giving her moral support. I gave her an on again off again love interest who was a policeman. There’s more but that’s the backbone of it.

I’ve stuck with the backbone and all those ideas and pictures of what the characters wore, car they drove etc really paid off. Plot points changed. Characters were added or deleted and I’m sure that to many looking at the starting ‘bible’ and the end result, it would seem as if I should have just started from scratch. They’d be wrong.

Since then I’ve been to ThrillerFest and heard some exceptional writers such as Michael Palmer, Catherine Coulter and Michael Connelly talk about their writing and how they do it. Most didn’t give such formalized directions on creating books or series. But most did spend a fair amount of time thinking about their characters and ideas for their books before they actually started writing them. In their own way, whether they’ve admitted it to themselves or not they’ve all come up with their own ‘bibles’.

Michael Connelly KNOWS his main characters, such as Harry Bosch, better than many of you know your friends. Characters get major thought and research before they make it to the page in Catherine Coulter’s books.

Given that I also work full time, with no assistants in sight to help organize my work or life, creating a ‘bible’ is a smart way of keeping track of the details so that I can create another story in my Chocolate Worth Dying For Series.

Right now I’m working on the fourth in my series, Soul Mates. One of Maxine’s best friends has just opened a matchmaking service. After all who doesn’t want love, romance and happily ever after? The question is how far will someone go to get it? And what happens when someone decides to take advantage? One of Maxine’s best friends, Tanya has decided to open a dating service, Soul Mates and Maxine wants nothing but the best for her. But…

You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens. If you want to start at the beginning Chocolate Worth Dying For is free on Amazon.com every day this week except the 28th.

Chocolate Worth Dying For  FREE  on April 27, 29, 30 and May 1st.

New Chocolate Worth Dying For CoverA Christmas Wedding To Die For - Copycover (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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