The Snowball Effect #WritersGroup #LoveandSupport #mgtab @jacqbiggar

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The Benefit of a Writer’s Group

A few months ago Mimi Barbour, creator of The Authors’ Billboard, a group of over thirty bestselling romance writers, came up with the ingenious idea of setting up box sets varying in size from six to eight books and enrolling them into the Kindle Select program.

The hope was to gain new readers, and of course sales, of our individual books. We started out with two or three sets, just to see how they would do.

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There was such a fantastic response from our readers, three more followed. Then three more, then… well, you get the picture 🙂

As quick as we could put them together, they were getting read; to the tune of millions of pages read (Kindle Select’s method of determining how much to pay authors from a fund Amazon adds to each month)

Amazon KENP Rates of Major Stores

 

It has proven to be a snowball effect, benefiting the group in ways we never expected.

 

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We’ve become stronger as a group.

Friends who have each other’s backs. We support and promote new releases. Celebrate achievements. Share information. Build on our successes. And commiserate our failures.

No matter what, we know there’s someone who will listen when we need advice.

If you ever get the opportunity to join a writer’s group, I highly recommend giving it a try!

If you’d like to meet our group and have some fun at the same time, stop by November 29-30 at our 2nd Annual Christmas Bash on Facebook. There’ll be plenty of chatting, games, and giveaways! You don’t want to miss the party, we’d love to meet you there!

 

ABB Christmas Bash

 

And here’s a listing of our #boxsets: available for a LIMITED TIME!

Reviews are the lifeblood of any successful author. Without you, we can’t be heard.

If you enjoy the story, please consider sharing on your favorite social media sites, as well as GoodReads and from wherever you’ve bought the book and visit us online for great deals, interesting blog posts, contests, and much more!

The Authors’ Billboard

We’d love to have you subscribe to our blog and to sign up on for our Weekly Newsletter.

http://authorsbillboard.com/newsletter-sign-up/

Thank you!

Love, Christmas

Unforgettable Romances: Unforgettable Heroes

Unforgettable Heroes: Unforgettable Passion

Unforgettable Christmas: Gifts of Love

Kiss Me, Thrill Me

Dangerous Encounters: Love on the Edge

Rebels, Rogues, and Romantics

Sweet and Sassy

Sweet and Sassy Christmas

Love on Fire

Sweet Heat

A Christmas She’ll Remember

 

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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Vengeance rules her life… Maggie’s Revenge by Jacquie Biggar #RomSuspense #MilitaryRomance #mgtab @jacqbiggar

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DEA Special Agent Maggie Holt is fierce, smart, beautiful– and in over her head.

Maggie has been working undercover 15 months when she is taken by Chinese-Mexican cartel leader, Chenglei. She tries to escape with 8 other women and is captured and brutally punished.

Adam O’Connor is angry and frustrated. It’s his fault his partner, and one-time lover, is missing and no matter how many leads he chases, they don’t bring Maggie home.

An unexpected break in the case sends Adam south to Texas. His old SEAL Team Chief, Frank Stein, offers his home and his help in the search effort.

Will these two strong men find Maggie? And will their decades old friendship be destroyed by their love for the same woman?

Read the exciting continuation of the Wounded Hearts Saga this December!

Pre-order Your Copy Today!

she scared him. Magdalena Holt had the power to rip his safe, secure world apart and Frank wasn't sure he could handle the fallout.

Excerpt

Maggie wiped the sweat dripping into her eyes and scowled at the still-too-damn-hot sun taking its sweet time to dip behind the hills. She looked at the other women hunkered under the Humvee to grab what shade they could, and sighed. They were bruised and bloody, but alive. That’s all she could ask for right now.

Well, that and a tank of gas would be nice.

And a cool shower.

A steak dinner.

Her own bed.

Maybe she was hallucinating.

She laid the rifle across her thighs and leaned against the massive tire of the truck, one of the only spots she could touch without getting burnt. Someone with a sense of humor must have a plan for her, otherwise how could she have escaped a Mexican prison after months of captivity, get shot and survive it, then outgun a truckload of banditos and still be able to sit here boiling to death?

“You should join us,” Olga called, her voice raspy. “It’s safer under here. You don’t look so good, my friend.”

Maggie tried to make her smile reassuring, though the pain in her side was getting progressively worse. She’d glanced at it a few minutes ago and been dismayed by the redness surrounding the wound. “Soon. I need to do a reconnaissance of our friends over there first. I’m just getting up the energy.”

She hated how weak and dizzy she felt. They had neither the time for her to fight through an infection—and unless one of the ladies knew some desert secret—nor antibiotics to help the healing process.

Thank goodness, the men had not been trained troops. It took only moments for the firefight to end, with no injuries to the women. Maggie hated to kill them, but there was no choice. It was them or her. The grenade blast had done a good job of creating chaos among the men. They’d jumped from the truck, fearing another blast, and then it was a simple matter to pick them off from there.

She used the butt of the rifle to climb awkwardly to her feet and trudged through the sand toward the carnage, stiffening at the sound of steps behind her. She turned and frowned. The women trailed her, Olga in the lead brandishing a piece of lead piping that had been lying on the floor of the Humvee.

“Go back,” Maggie cried. “It’s too dangerous. At least until I make sure they’re…”

Olga reached her side and clasped a hand around her waist, careful to avoid the wound. “You can barely stand,” she whispered, for Maggie’s ears alone. “Do not be so brave, you’re stupid. We need you to get out of here. I need you,” she added.

Maggie gulped tears of gratitude. They may be in the middle of a war, but she’d made a friend for life.

She nodded. “Okay, let’s do this.”

***

Chenglei poured his tea and ignored the foot soldier sweating in his doorway. The child he’d been training lay sobbing quietly on the floor at his feet. Her leg was red and angry-looking where the hot liquid had spilled. She’d been warned on the proper etiquette; he never repeated himself.

It was a sign of weakness.

And Chenglei refused to fail.

“Tell me, how is it your militia cannot manage to capture five scrawny women? This is beyond my understanding.” He glared at the soldier. “Did I not make myself clear? I want them,

dead or alive. Why could your fools not accomplish this one small matter?”

The man wiped a shaky hand over his brow, then resumed Parade Rest position. “I am sorry, señor. I lost good soldiers today. The woman, she has training. My men were not expecting a firefight. They did their best under the circumstances.”

Under the…

Chenglei sipped his tea and tried to calm his nerves. The girl’s sniveling wasn’t helping matters. He gave her a shove with his toe. “Go to your room. I do not wish to see you again this night.”

She hiccupped and lifted her head, eyes red, cheeks flushed. She would be a beauty one day; if he didn’t kill her first.

“Go,” he snarled, some of the fury churning within escaping despite his control. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Once.

Twice.

There, see. The monster who beat at the doors of his mind did not rule him, he was its master. Just as he was the ruler of his fate. And one stupid American woman was not going to change that fact. He waited until the child slipped out of the room before addressing the captain.

“You are right. The woman—the one with dark hair—she is a spy.” The soldier stiffened. Chenglei hid his satisfaction. “She is here to destroy the cartel. We must do whatever is necessary to stop her. Do you understand?”

The man gave a sharp nod, the light of retribution shining out of his dark eyes. “. I will round up another team, and this time, she will not get away.”

Bueno,” Chenglei murmured. “Bring her back alive, if you can. I do not care about the rest; your men may do as they wish with them. But Señorita Holt and I have business to finish; I want her returned to me.”

The captain bowed and backed out of the room, closing the heavy brass-plated door behind him. Chenglei had a love of beauty and was careful to surround himself with only the very best of everything. The wall-hangings dated from the sixteenth century, as did the Aubusson rug he sat upon, legs crossed. The rich greens and golds pleased his eye and the silkiness of his robes gratified his skin.

Success.

He’d made something of his life; he wasn’t about to let some gringa federal agent take that away from him.

I’m so excited to share Maggie’s book with you. Her story began way back in #2 of the Wounded Hearts series, The Rebel’s Redemption (soon to be available in Audible format), and quickly became a fan favorite. It’s taken me a while to give her journey the attention it deserves. Her voice has haunted me for long enough, it’s time to tell the tale!

When writer’s say they work in solitary, that’s not strictly true. At least, it isn’t for me. My characters live in my mind. They argue, dream, demand, ask for advice, rule my heart and my pen.

While I’ve written a few standalone novels, I have to admit I favor writing in a series. I like building a world and filling it with strong, interesting people readers can connect with, have empathy for, fall in love with.

If I can do that, I’ve done my job 🙂

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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Writing is only part of an author’s job

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As you can see from the pretties below, there is more involved in producing a novel than just creating a Word document and having an editor track down stray quote marks and make a few suggestions.

You have to have an intriguing cover. That means finding the right photo to start with. Not as easy as it sounds, but not a bad way to lose an hour or two, looking over tight abs and fuzzy faces. I found this guy and gal then wrote the story from the image. If you’ve read any of my books, you know that many of the same folks are in several of the stories. That’s what happens with a saga. Luke is totally new to the Fairies Saga scene, but you may remember his co-worker, Benji (The Great Big Fairy). He plays a big part in Luke The Unexpected, although he’s not the hero.

If the author hasn’t already done so, she might want to align her works with those who write in the same genre. It’s hard to launch a single title, but if an author chooses well, she may get in a box set with an author who has a passionate and loyal following. After her readers have devoured her work, they may pop over to your story (since it’s in the set and already downloaded). Hope! Hope!

Whether the novel is a single title or in a set, promotions are a necessity and that means creating enticing cards or memes. And then there’s tweeting and posting to Facebook groups and sending out newsletters, updating website(s)… Hours every day are spent on these unless you have a PA who can read your mind and knows exactly what you want.

I remember when I first started writing. That’s all I did. Write. I had three books (two of them rather lengthy) before I published one. I didn’t know the second thing about promoting (the first was a web page; I knew that). Now, I spend more time either promoting OR learning the latest tools needed to promote. And if there’s a shortcut, I’m on it!

 

That being said, I borrowed and modified Jacquie Biggar’s blog about our box set. Thanks for the platform, Jacquie! I’ll be there when you need me, too. (Follow her at @JacqBiggar)

Sweet Heat – Where Romance and Suspense Meet (box set of six romances)

And my contribution is… Luke The Unexpected

He’d to anything to get this hot motorcycle mama’s attention ~ (scroll to the bottom for an excerpt, but read about the other books in the set, too!)

6 NYT and USA Today Bestselling authors come together to bring you romances guaranteed to make your blood run hot! Only 99 cents. Passion, suspense, mystery. Something to suit every reader’s taste. Grab your Kindle reader and curl up with us for an unforgettable escape. Get yours today before it goes away. LIMITED TIME ONLY.

~ Roll the Dice by Mimi Barbour How can she love the guy who shoots her rather than the criminal? This powerful romantic suspense about two detectives with differing agendas, yet after the same rapist, will grab your attention and keep you riveted.

~ Two Hearts Surrendered by Tamara Ferguson After years of fighting their feelings, Luke Bryant and Kelly Callahan share an enchanting night of passion at her sister’s magical wedding. So when Luke returns home from Iraq as a disheartened wounded warrior, Kelly refuses to give up on him. But will that past night of enchantment be strong enough magic for a military hero to finally surrender his heart to the woman he loves?

~ Slow Dancing by Suzanne Jenkins After a wrong turn in Mobile, Margaret Fisher and her toddler, Ellen are lost. Then, their car breaks down in a small town in front of the garage owned by eligible bachelor, Frank McPherson. Twelve years later, the peaceful life fifteen-year old Ellen has with her stepfather is threatened when after midnight, a stranger appears at the edge of the woods. Jealousy, intrigue, and murder strive to tear them apart in this tale of unrequited love.

~ Luke, the Unexpected by Dani Haviland Brought together by their love of vintage motorcycles, Luke and Holly have more than just an out of tune Indian Chief to deal with. The spurned Tanya wants revenge, and will stop at nothing to hurt Luke and all those he cares about.

 ~ Missing: The Lady Said No by Jacquie Biggar The Race is on to find a Killer in the heart of Kentucky horse country Detective Augustus Grant is faced with his most baffling case to date. Well-respected race horse breeder, John Jorgenson, is murdered in his den days before the Kentucky Derby and the list of suspects is growing. Complicating matters, Gus’ ex-girlfriend is the last person to have seen the victim alive. With all the evidence pointing in Becky’s direction, will Gus do his duty? Or follow his heart?

 ~ Turning Up the Heat by Susan Jean Ricci Malibu O’Hare and Mark Bouchard are headed towards matrimony, until an old adversary sabotages their plans with a devious scheme.  Will the sinister plots continue to succeed, or will love, commitment, and justice prevail?

Order your copy today!

Add To Your TBR List

Excerpt from Luke The Unexpected by Dani Haviland   

The unexpected hero in threadbare jeans and a white tee shirt turned away, ignoring the oversized teenager with the bad attitude, and offered the sobbing girl his hand. “Are you all right?” he asked.

“Who are you?” Tanya replied, wide-eyed at seeing anyone else on this deserted property. She had made sure she and Tubby would be alone. And, although she was new in this small town, she would have remembered seeing a man this good-looking and broad-shouldered— here or anywhere!

“Hey!” Robbie stepped over and wedged himself in between the blonde damsel in distress and her dark-haired knight.

Luke’s eyes narrowed as he assessed the cad, noted his unsteady stance, then gave him a well-placed hip bump, knocking him to the ground.

“That’s twice you’ve knocked me for a loop,” Robbie said. “You’re a marked man now, Asshole!”

“Marked? Nope.” Luke rolled up the short sleeves on his cotton tee shirt to the top of his shoulders, flexing his muscles slightly to antagonize the chunky man-child even more. “Not marked. No tats on me anywhere. At least, that are visible,” he added with a wink to the stunned femme. “And you got my name wrong, too. It’s Luke. It’s a simple mono-syllabic moniker. It should be easy for you to remember.”

“You won’t be around long enough for…”

Luke had turned his attention back to the young, stunned woman, once again deliberately ignoring the boor.

All bullies were alike. They talked big, yelled loud, pushed and shoved those smaller than themselves, and somehow—without any specialized schooling—managed to excel in the science of intimidation.

“Hey, I’m talking to you…” Robbie tried again to get the newcomer’s attention, this time gripping Luke’s shoulder from behind.

Luke grabbed the grimy paw, squeezed fingers together until he heard a whimper, then spun away, twisting the sweaty arm up and behind the youth until he looked as if he had a duck wing, not an arm.

“Hmm. I’ll bet this is your favorite position. At least, for your victims. I’d call you by your given name, but I really don’t care enough about you to ask for it. And, since I believe you were planning on visiting some distant relative in a neighboring town — or better yet, a distant state — I’ll not bother. Now, the lady and I were just getting acquainted, so skedaddle and take your broken knife with you.”

Luke held out the knife he had surreptitiously filched during the arm-twisting do-si-do.

“But it’s not broke,” Robbie said, reaching for it.

“Well, I’ll be.” Luke flicked opened the switchblade, dropped it to the ground, then used his boot to nudge it on top of a half-buried stone. He stomped down with his size 13 Wellington, separating the six-inch blade from its plastic faux-bone hilt.

“Oh, and don’t even think about complaining to the cops or anyone else. That type of ‘shaving razor’ is illegal. I doubt you’d want to admit to any of your so-called friends that the new guy in town bested you, either.”

“But…but…”

“No, dude, it’s bye, bye. Can you repeat after me? Bye.” Luke paused and sucked in his lips in exaggeration, then exhaled as he enunciated, “Bye,” and walked away, the young blonde clinging to his arm.

(Was this the right girl for Luke? Download the box set and find out! Oh, and thanks if you do!)

 

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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An Editor is your Manuscript’s Bodyguard @AliciaStreet1 #mgtab

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Novel writing is a lonely art. To complete a book, we have to sit alone writing word after word, page after page, gradually building a world only we can see, until we finally get it down on the page in a way that is clear and compelling enough to lure the reader into its grasp and keep her engaged throughout.

How do we know if we’re on target? A good beta reader can help diminish the loneliness and give an author a helping hand, but there comes a time when every manuscript needs the eye of an experienced editor to support the transition from finished manuscript to polished book.

Being an editor as well as an author, I’ve felt the relief and excitement from both sides of the fence when story craft issues are identified and revised in a content edit. And once the copy edit smooths out writing mechanics, honing a novel into a truly great ride for the reader, it’s like icing on the cake.

One of the most important aspects of editing is the ability to zero in on what works best for a particular novel’s world and for the author’s narrative voice. One size does not fit all.

The necessary elements for a successful romance novel differ greatly from those of epic fantasy or dystopian fiction. Even within crime fiction, the demands are not the same. The breakneck pacing of a political thriller does not suit a warm and fuzzy cozy mystery. And neither of those genres calls for the heroine getting her man at the end—a must in romantic suspense. A new adult heroine isn’t going to use the same kind of language or phrasing as an older widow in women’s fiction. And words that sound pompous or archaic in the mouth of a Navy SEAL hero might be just fine for a character in a historical romance.

I love being an editor who can help a fellow author turn a manuscript into the book of her dreams. If you have an editing question or would like to work with me, contact me at my proofreading and editing website—and be sure to check out my testimonial page. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by today!

We hope you enjoyed what we shared with you today! Please take a few moments to share with your friends using the share buttons below. Subscribe to our blog so that you don’t miss a single post. —>>

 And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, get some free books and then get a note containing sales and new releases each Friday.

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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How do authors manage to visit all the places they write so eloquently about? #Travel #Inspiration #mgtab @jacqbiggar

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Did you ever wonder how authors manage to visit all the places in the world they write so eloquently about?

Believe me, if I could travel to exotic locales I would (not so sure about different worlds though!), but most of us have to make do with researching the areas we’re interested in placing our characters into.

Whether it’s a castle in England

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or the vineyards of Italy

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We can get real-time views thanks to modern day search engines like Google. With Instant Street View simply type in any address and you’re instantly transported there with a complete 360 picture of the area.

Another great search tool for authors is Pinterest. You can find just about anything you’re looking for on subjects ranging from fashion to settings, and of course inspiration 🙂

My upcoming release, Hold ‘Em: A Gambling Hearts Romance, is set in the Texas hill country. I had visions in my head of what the area should look like, but needed to make sure of some facts such as what sort of flowers are prevalent in the open ranch fields? I did an online search and came up with this lovely field of bluebonnets:

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Perfect for my scene! Here’s a little taste of what I wrote:

Cassandra stared at him, bemused. The sun had decided to peek out from behind the clouds, turning his hair antique gold in the streaming light. Their clothes were soaked, but on him, it was a good look. His shirt plastered to his torso highlighted strong shoulders and a well-defined chest. One she wanted to rest her head against.

Startled out of her trance, she jerked her gaze out across the most beautiful valley she’d ever seen. Bluebonnets and healthy green grass waved back and forth, teased by a playful breeze. An old log cabin, its roof sagging and covered with moss, crouched by a babbling brook shaded by a giant cottonwood. And just to finish the fairytale, a multi-hued rainbow cast its benevolent glow over the entire picturesque area as though daring the rainclouds to return.

“Wow,” she said. “You weren’t kidding. This place is fantastic.”

A deer broke cover and slowly made its way down to the brook, testing the air every few feet.

Cass grabbed Matt’s arm, intensely conscious of the coiled strength that lay just under the skin. She cleared her throat and pointed, “Look, Matt, it’s a Bambi.”

Matt gazed at her instead of the animal, the quirk of his mouth causing a heart-palpitating dimple to appear. “What is it with women and Disney creatures?”

She laughed and dropped her hand, uncomfortable now with his sole attention. “Are you telling me you never had a favorite character from a movie when you were a child?”

He lifted his head and eyed the deer, his profile reminding her of a proud animal. When he turned back the humor was gone. “We should get down there before the weather decides to break again. You ready?”

Curiously sorry she’d ruined the moment, Cassandra nodded and they started out for the valley floor. The deer took one look at them and bounded away, disappearing into the woods on the far side of the clearing.

“What is this place?” she asked, lagging along in his wake, her hand brushing the top of the grass as they walked.

Matt glanced back, then kept going, his body cutting them a trail. “It was my great-grandfather’s first home. Dad used it as his fishing shack when he wanted a break from ranching.”

Cassandra gazed upon the valley with new eyes. She imagined an adventurous young man with Matt’s face riding across the Texas plains until he happened upon this magical land. Easy to see why he decided to stay.

If you’d like more of my vision for this story, check out my Pinterest board here

What about you? How do you research your settings? Any tips or tricks you’d care to share?

Hold ‘Em releases August 15th, I hope you give this funny, heartwarming book a try!

 

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In the game of love all bets are off

When professional poker player Matthew Shaughnessy wins the pot of a lifetime, he didn’t expect to land himself a fiancée.

Cassandra Gardener is left with little choice but to play the part of a Texan’s fiancée for a week if she wants to clear her father’s gambling debt.

Can two people with so much to lose win the biggest bet of all- love?

http://a.co/9OJfSea

International Link: http://books2read.com/HoldEm

Add to your TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34682965-hold-em

Thanks for stopping by today!

We hope you enjoyed what we shared with you today! Please take a few moments to share with your friends using the share buttons below. Subscribe to our blog so that you don’t miss a single post. —>>

 And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, get some free books and then get a note containing sales and new releases each Friday.

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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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.
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Writers Reading Vs. Readers Reading by @JoanReeves #mgtab

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I spent most of the past 5 days working in the yard at our house in the country. Three years ago, a leprosy-carrying critter tunneled all around the foundation of our house and pretty far up under the foundation of the back porch.

Our neighbor tried to trap it in a cage made for wild critters. He succeeded only in catching 1 pissed-off giant skunk instead.

I learned a lot about wildlife pests that year. For instance, only 1 thing deters an armadillo. Death. My only hope was that it might become road kill. I guess that eventually happened because it stopped coming around. By then, the yard was wrecked. Mulch was scattered everywhere, shrubs were uprooted, flowers were dead.

Real life problems intervened, then last year, another armadillo found our yard. Same story. I bought Coyote Urine Granules which was touted as an armadillo deterrent. Well, it didn’t deter the armadillo, but it sure made us run for cover. Eventually, that pest must have met a speeding car on the highway too.

This year, we made the commitment to evict the weeds that had replaced the landscaping. Big commitment, and an even bigger job!

You may be wondering what this has to do with the title of my post. When I’m pulling weeds and digging up surviving plants, I have a lot of time to think. So I thought about books and reading. I thought about my work in progress and suspension of disbelief which led me to think about how readers would accept my new story. Another leap, and I was thinking about how a writer reads versus how a reader reads.

Writer’s Viewpoint

I think as writers we always look at situations in books from a writer’s viewpoint. I don’t think readers look at those same situations in the same way.

For instance, if a writer is trying to create a situation in which the protagonist does something most people wouldn’t do, the writer agonizes over how to make it believable to the reader. The writer jumps through all kinds of mental hoops to create a situation in which readers will suspend their disbelief and follow the viewpoint character through the story.

Reader’s Viewpoint

Actually, I don’t think most readers (who are non-writers) ever really think about whether a situation is outlandish–especially if they immediately identify with the viewpoint character. They’re not thinking about the story in the same way as writers.

Readers don’t shop for books, picking up one after the other, with the thought, “No, I won’t read that because the premise is unbelievable.” Or, “yes, I can suspend my disbelief and read this.”

Most readers are wanting to be taken on an adventure so they’re not nearly as critical as writers. Otherwise, there would be no paranormal or fantasy sales or any of the other genres populated by high concept books. There’d probably be a lot fewer romance and mystery sales too.

When a reader wants a mystery, he/she probably doesn’t pick up a book, read the blurb, and think: I don’t believe a wacky woman could work as a bail recovery agent. Or, the reason this housewife wants to play sleuth is ridiculous.

Writers who are reading will think like that, but readers don’t. Readers just dive in, wanting an adventure, wanting to be entertained. Readers are more lenient with books than writers, as long as the reader is entertained. Ultimately, suspension of disbelief is achieved by being carried away by a story and its characters.

Bottom Line

Regardless of the genre, readers follow this thought process: “Hmm. This sounds intriguing.” If it does, they buy. Readers buy based on the way the story or the character resonates with them. They don’t pick apart the blurb or over-analyze the premise.

Writers may buy the same book, but that little editor inside them is constantly analyzing and critiquing–not just the writing and the story, but the way it was marketed too.

At least that’s my 2 cents. What do you think?

Passion. Secrets. Lies. What Tessa doesn’t remember may be the death of her.

Post Script

I loosely based the setting in my Outlaw Ridge, Texas series on the country-side near our house. In Heat Lightning, the first book of the series, the only varmints Tessa and David encounter are the two-legged variety. Heat Lightning is free on Kindle Unlimited, or only $2.99 to buy. Dead Heat, Book 2 of the series, will be published in July.

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.”

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5 Easy Ways to Breathe Life into Your Characters

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hand-281995_640If you love to write fiction—be it short stories, novellas, or novels—you need to people your tales with characters. And, if you want readers to flock to your stories, these paper people need to be believable and interesting. So how does a new writer learn to develop characters that rise above flat Dick & Jane figures?

Here are five techniques to get you started. If you use all of these in your storytelling you’ll move your fiction above and beyond the realm of tired clichés.

Make them talk. In real life, people interact by speaking to one another. Characters who live in their own world, rarely interacting with others—you may call them loners—can come across as uninteresting, one-dimensional navel-gazers. Try putting them into situations where they’re forced into conversation with others. Introspection is fine, but when you let characters voice their desires, goals, intent, fears or even threaten each other…they seem so much more real.

Roger  Kathryn from Roy

Make them move. Today’s fiction is all about creating scenes that readers can visualize. We’ve been trained by the media. We go to the movies, watch TV, spend hours viewing videos on our computers or phones. We expect visual entertainment. If you don’t make your characters run, walk, gesture, eat, throw things, make love and do hundreds of other things to create visual images in the reader’s mind, you’ll have a very small audience for your stories. We need to “see” a story to become engaged in it.

Give them a friend (or enemy). When we observe a person who is acting as if they are in love, worried about another person, being kind to a stranger, or fearful of someone—we know what that feels like. Emotions are universal. We identify with a character through the feelings this person experiences towards others. And when we identify with a fictional character, we become curious and want to find out what happens to them in their story, so we keep turning pages.

Give them a history. Real people don’t just appear out of nowhere on a street, in a house, or at a place of work. They have a past, and their past determines their personality and how they react to situations. Try “interviewing” each of your main characters. Ask them where they grew up. Did they come from a warm, close family…or a troubled childhood? Was religion a part of their upbringing? What did they want to be when they grew up…and what did they actually become? Ask them anything you like. If you write the questions and answers as an exercise, similar to the format of a magazine interview, you’ll gather valuable information that will bring your people to life. Then use what you’ve learned about them to write your story.

Give them a challenge. A hard one. Don’t leave your characters to idly muse over their lives, their troubles. Force them to act. In real life, we are fascinated with people who tackle their problems with gusto. We love stories about the immigrant who came to this country with nothing and built a successful life. We love stories about the “little guy” who, against all odds, beat out the powerful corporate or government figure. Because they act when faced with a challenge, we believe they exist.

Above all, have fun with your characters. If they entertain you, you can be sure they’ll also entertain your readers.

Want more tips to bump up your fiction? You might enjoy the book inspired by courses Kathryn teaches for The Writer’s Center and Smithsonian Associates programs in Washington, DC. You can find it here: CoverFinalSM-TheExtremeNovelisthttps://www.amazon.com/Extreme-Novelist-No-Time—Write-Drafting/dp/0692420835/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471356664&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Extreme+Novelist

 

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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