Wednesday, April 26

What If I ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

Writing is hard.

I know, this is a revelation, one you've never heard before. Right? So I'll repeat it: writing is hard.

And I don't mean just the getting down of the words on paper parts - although that is a whole other kind of hard. I mean the rest of it - wondering if this book will resonate with readers (meaning, will it sell), wondering if you have anything useful to say to readers, dealing with bad reviews, dealing with good reviews, dealing with the 'what ifs' (what if I indie publish? what if I trad-publish? what if, instead of taking this opportunity I take this one?). The what ifs will kill you, I mean it. Especially since, usually, we take the negative side of the what if.

What if ____ goes badly? What if ____ would have been a better choice? What if, what if, what if.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about self-care for writers, and this isn't that kind of a post. It's also not a different kind of post. I guess I'm still thinking about my friend and that review a little bit, but I'm also thinking about my friend who doesn't write, but who talks down to herself a lot, and I'm thinking about the ways I talk down to myself, and I'm thinking a little bit about Margie's post from last week about albatrosses, and I'm thinking that we need to do better for ourselves. 'We' meaning not just writers, but women in general. And I'm focusing on women because I don't see (or hear) the men in my life talking about the what ifs in their life. They pick and path and they go with it, and if they decide to change that path, they change it...without comparisons, and probably with some bit of trepidation, but without the comparison model that we women use.

I don't even think it's our fault - it's the way we are approached from a very young age. Teachers
compare us to other girls in class (usually the smart, quiet, responsible girls), boys compare us to other girls (usually the pretty, boobalicious girls)...and we start to find fault with everything from the length of our eyelashes to the size of our shoes. And that carries over into our work - we start looking at how Author X is doing and wondering why we aren't doing the same things.

We don't treat our friends this way. In fact, for many of us (me included) it's so much easier to see the strength or beauty or resilience in our friends than it is to see even the smallest positive part of ourselves.

So, here is my hope and my challenge to you, and it actually comes from a kick-butt woman in the fitness world: Let's start talking to ourselves the way we would speak to the best of our friends. Let's be encouraging. Let's let the little things go. Let's be the dreamers and believers. Let's be courageous without wondering what happens if...Let's free ourselves to be successful in a way that only we can be.

Let's be better to ourselves.                                                                                                ~Kristina

Tuesday, April 25

Welcome Author Cheryl Brooks

We're so pleased to welcome multi-published author Cheryl Brooks to the round pen today to talk to us about her new and exciting Soul Survivors series. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Cheryl Brooks is a former critical care nurse who resides in rural Indiana with her husband, two sons, two horses, three cats, and one dog. She is the author of the ten book Cat Star Chronicles series, the Cowboy Heaven series (two books and one novella), the Soul Survivors trilogy, the four-book Unlikely Lovers series, and several stand-alone books and novellas. Look for her new Cat Star Legacy series from Sourcebooks beginning in 2018. Her other interests include cooking, gardening, singing, and guitar playing. Cheryl is a member of RWA and IRWA. You can visit her online at www.cherylbrooksonline.com or email her at cheryl.brooks52@yahoo.com. Take it away, Cheryl!

I should have titled my new series, The Earth Strikes Back. Funny how these epiphanies often come when it’s too late to utilize them.  
 
But I digress. My latest release, Echoes From the Deep, is the first book in a series called Soul Survivors, which came about in an interesting manner. You see, there’s a reason book two is called Dreams From the Deep. It’s because the idea for this paranormal romantic suspense trilogy came to me in a dream. 

Several years ago, I dreamed I was on an airplane that was diving straight down into the sea. As the plane submerged, the woman sitting beside me said, “Unbuckle your seatbelt, Cheryl. You’re going to make it.” When I looked at her, I realized she had spoken to me after she died. In that moment, my consciousness expanded and drew in the souls, spirits, or consciousness (whichever you prefer) of the people seated nearby. I could hear their voices in my head telling me what I had to do to survive.

Needless to say, after that, I woke up. 

But unlike many dreams that fade before you can fully grasp their significance, this one stayed with me. And, like a dutiful little writer, I wrote it down. 

That idea has been bouncing around in my head ever since. After brainstorming with some of my writer friends, I finally came up for a way to turn it into a book. Or rather, a trilogy. I’d already written an opening scene about the time I spent in Ireland, and after deciding that this plane crash occurred off the west coast of Ireland, incorporating those experiences into the second book, along with another of my weird dreams, was the next logical step. 

With all these strange dreams echoing through my mind, I had to come up with a darn good reason for someone to absorb the souls of the dead. As I was writing the first book, I realized that my concern for Earth’s environment was going to be the driving factor. In this story, Mother Earth is not only a conscious entity, she’s angry because of the way humankind has exploited her. She’s giving us one last chance to redeem ourselves, and she has chosen three young women to lead the battle against the greed, corruption, and violence that are destroying our world. 

This series represents a departure from my previous writing style. The explicit sex scenes my readers have come to expect just didn’t fit the subject matter, so I’ve turned down the heat a bit. However, there’s still plenty of romance and a touch of humor to go along with the paranormal and suspense elements.  

As so often happens with a story like this, it grows and develops as I write, and stumbling blocks eventually give way to the “Aha” moments that make writing such a joy—those times when I’ve written myself into a corner with no way to move forward. Until, suddenly, the light dawns and I’m able to forge ahead. 

Fortunately, unlike the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post, most of those moments occurred before I published the first book.  ;-)

What about you? Are there any moments of clarity you’d like to share?

Echoes From the Deep
Jilted less than a week before her wedding, assistant bank manager Jillian Dulaine elects to go on her honeymoon to England alone. When the plane nose-dives into the sea off the coast of Ireland, she is one of only three survivors and is charged with delivering a message to the son of the woman seated beside her. 

When his mother’s dying words send Jillian to him, London Times reporter Ranjiv Tenali suspects her of matchmaking even after her death. His attraction to the lovely American woman cannot be denied, but he is shaken by the suspicion that she carries his mother’s spirit.

The souls she acquired in the midst of the crash provide Jillian with talents and knowledge vital to her survival. But when she visits Stonehenge, her role as the one chosen to connect with Earth’s spirit is revealed, setting her on a path toward romance, conspiracy, and murder.


Dreams From the Deep (Release date April 28, 2017)
Marketing assistant Cleona Mahoney survives a horrific plane crash only to discover that the buzzing sound she hears is not a concussion but the voices of people who died in the crash.

When she meets Kevan MacFinnin, their mutual attraction is swift and powerful, despite the disfiguring scars he sustained in the terrorist bombing that killed his parents. In recent months, several of Kevan’s sheep have been sliced open and left on the hillside, the only clue being a mysterious symbol painted on the fleece. 

After her communion with Earth’s spirit reveals Cleona to be the Carrier of Life’s Preservation, she and Kevan decode the revolutionary formula given to her by a solar scientist who perished in the crash.  

The discovery of another marked sheep puts Kevan and Cleona on the trail of a dangerous killer, and together they must strive to prevent a political assassination.

Preorder from Amazon
Preorder from Kobo
 


Monday, April 24

The icing or the cake?

Writing the romantic moments in a book is like putting the icing on the cake. We write about all the times he says the right thing, she says what she wants without stammering, their touches are electrified with passion, and love arcs between them as they share gazes across their steaming cups of half-caff. As the story progresses, we relate how they rescue each other from things real and imagined, love each other's families, and never spill their wine down the front of their shirts while they stare into each other's eyes in flickering candlelight.

When my writing world is good, I write the romantic moments last, after I've put together the connectors. What got them from here to there. The context. The filler.

So I was thinking about romantic moments. And the filler that went with them.

My first kiss was on a fan bus. I was 14. He was a nice guy and it's a nice memory. The filler is that in those days, high school basketball games were so much fun and fan buses were full and noisy. There wasn't much socialness in my life at that time, nor much happiness. So the kiss on the bus was romantic. The context of its occurrence was life-giving.

The most romantic thing Duane's ever said to me was, "It's the best day off I ever had." What
surrounded that moment, though, was a breast biopsy that ended with my gynecologist waking me with the words, "It's benign. It's benign." Duane said the romantic words to me as we drove home from the hospital. The rest of the filler was dark days of dread and fear and remembering my mother's illness and passing. It was keeping the test secret from our kids and bargain-praying, "If you let me get them raised, I'll never ask for anything again." (I haven't exactly stuck to my side of that bargain, but I'm pretty careful what I pray for.)

Although I don't like to get political here, my son-in-law said he couldn't vote for the current president because he loved his wife too much to do so; he could not support someone who disrespected women. Not only did he win points with a mother-in-law who loves him anyway, it was a romantic moment in the wrought surroundings of a contentious election.

One of the most romantic moments I've ever read was where a man went to see his wife in the Alzheimer's unit of a nursing home every single day. When someone reminded him of what he already knew, that she didn't know him, and asked why he continued to come every day, he said, "But I still know her." That was the romantic moment. The filler was the life together that led to that point.

Filler is undoubtedly the wrong word. So is context. The right word--for me, at least--is story. It's the fun part. The icing is good and sweet and a reward of sorts. I like writing that icing, but it's the cake that keeps me coming back as both a reader and a writer. The story.

What about you? If you're a writer, what's your favorite part to write? If you're a reader, tell us the parts you like best.

Have a great week.

Liz

Friday, April 21

Happy Earth Day (a little early)!

In honor of Earth Day, April 22nd, I invited my writer peep Jillian Jacobs to be a guest blogger today.
She has an Elemental Series which she is currently promoting, and her Earth Elemental character is a total hottie (sigh.... unfortunately he's in love with Maya, the Water Elemental...) Please read her earth-friendly blog below!

When writing my Elementals series, I read a lot of articles on water conservation. In celebration of Earth Day, April 22nd, here are some tips on how to make my water-girl, Maya, happy. Let’s show the Earth--and each other—some love!

One other suggestion is to reconsider your love of Greek Yogurt. Here is an article because that’s a whole other post: https://news.vice.com/article/theres-a-downside-to-all-that-greek-yogurt-youre-eating

The following suggestions are from the Department of Ecology, State of Washington’s website:
       Turn off the water while shaving or brushing teeth. 
       Take short showers instead of tub baths; showers use less water. (And you can always share water!)
       Don’t use your toilet as a wastebasket.  Use a leak-free, high efficiency toilet. 
       Wash only full loads of dishes, and select the appropriate water level or load size option on the dishwasher.
       Do not use water to defrost frozen foods; thaw foods in the refrigerator overnight.
       Scrape, rather than rinse dishes before loading them into the dishwasher.
       Compost food waste instead of using the garbage disposal or throwing it in the trash.
       Keep drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water turns cold.
       When washing your hands, turn off the water while you lather.
       Native- and drought-tolerant plants can make a beautiful alternative to unused turf areas in your yard
       Use a rain barrel; collected rainwater to use on your landscape can help you save water outdoors.
       Use a broom or electric blower to clean driveways and sidewalks rather than hosing them off.
       When washing your car, use an adjustable nozzle or sprayer and turn off the water stream while soaping your vehicle.
On EARTH DAY! Celebrate with the Elementals!
#paranormalromance #book1free

Water’s Threshold FREE for a limited time!
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1wOqeXg
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/WatersThresholdBN
Kobo: http://bit.ly/WatersThresholdKobo
iBooks:  http://bit.ly/WatersThreshiBooks
Fire’s Field
Amazon: http://bit.ly/AMZFiresFieldebook
B&N http://bit.ly/BNFiresFieldebook
Kobo: http://bit.ly/KoboFiresFieldebook                                 
iBooks: http://bit.ly/FiresFieldiBook
Air’s Vision
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2idgy4x
B&N: http://bit.ly/AirsVisionBN
Kobo: http://bit.ly/AirsVisionKobo
iBooks: http://bit.ly/AirsVisioniBook

Another way to show our love for one another is to attend a book signing.

Writers On The River, an author signing and book sale event, will feature 80+ romance authors at the Par-A-Dice Hotel, 21 Blackjack Blvd in East Peoria on Saturday, July 8th, 2017. New York Times and USA Today best sellers will be in attendance. The signing will begin at Noon for VIP guests and 1pm for general admission and will end at 4pm. Last July, The Writers On The River raised $1,500 for Thistle Farms. For more information, please visit www.thistlefarms.org. This year, the event is hosted by Healing With Words, a not-for-profit established for healing survivors of abuse, addiction, trafficking, and prostitution. We feel the best way to spread love is to share the love of reading. Through the written word, persons can find an escape and a form of entertainment.

Our mission is to bring together readers, authors, and survivors in a positive manner that affects change and relief from negative influences.
www.writersontheriver.weebly.com

Thursday, April 20

Take Flight, Albatross. Take Flight

 by Margie Senechal

For the past couple of weeks, every time I sat down at the computer, I felt as if I had an albatross hanging about. And not in the good luck kind of way.

I felt guilty because I had pressing real-life tasks that had to be done on the computer. Things like taxes, insurance renewals. You know, important stuff.

But, I wanted to get words on paper and in doing so, I put the "important" stuff off. (Please, feel free to see any previous procrastination posts to understand)

Unfortunately, nothing good came out of those forays into the imagination. Because no matter how badly I wanted to write, the albatross of responsibility kept flight just over my shoulder, keeping the muse at bay.

And like the ancient mariner, we--or is it just me??--do this to ourselves. I think of all the wasted time I spent avoiding the computer and it horrifies me--and not in a Stephen King sort of way. Maybe procrastination is my ultimate albatross.

Side note. I just found out that an albatross is a bird. All these years I've imagined a gigantic beast from the gods. Maybe I shouldn't advertise my ignorance to what an albatross was seeing, as the daughter of a Navy man, I've always lived by the water.  But, this is a place for sharing hard truths or at least, embarrassing ones.

This week, I got my taxes done and if I'm honest, it was because I didn't have a choice. And I renewed JV's insurance and registered for ours under the Wag umbrella. And as sure as I'm writing this, I'm sure another albatross will appear and try to harness my imagination.

But, today, I freed my albatross and let her take flight. Hopefully, my imagination will follow suit.

Happy Thursday!!