#TeaserTuesday – Jaded (Book Two of The Butterfly Memoirs)

We’re almost there!!!!!!

I am beyond excited about the release of my second novel, Jaded. For months I’ve forced myself to not talk share too much information. Questions and comments from readers have been torturer!!!

But now the ban is lifted!

Yasmine and Zachariah’s story has been close to my heart since the moment I wrote “The End” on A Heart Not Easily Broken. Read the book and you’ll understand.  If you enjoyed Ebony and Brian’s story, I have no doubt there are many of you who will be able to empathize with the characters of Jaded in ways that will surprise you.

My previous posts and snippets for #8Sunday have all been from Yasmine’s POV. This time I want to introduce you to the voice of the hero, Zachariah Givens.

Excerpt:

Yasmine was an amazing woman. I didn’t know her, yet she’d gone beyond anything I expected when it came to my mother. Why hadn’t Melissa been that way? I could count on one hand the amount of times I’d asked her to help me and exactly how many times she’d agreed to help with minimal fuss.

Yasmine dispelled my preconceived notions. She was nothing like what I imagined. As the saying goes, appearances could be deceiving. I wondered what else lay beneath her beautiful exterior.

“I’d like to take you out sometime to thank you. Maybe we could meet for dinner.”

The line went silent.

“Are you asking me on a date, Zack?”

“No, no, not a date, I’m sorry. I’m not trying to use my mother to…that’s sounds awful.  What I mean is I wanted to do something to thank you for agreeing to help me…us. It would be strictly platonic with no expectations. Damn, I’m sorry. I didn’t think to ask if you were in a relationship. I’m sure your boyfriend wouldn’t want you to be seen with another man.”

She laughed again, but this time there was nervousness in her voice. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to shoot you down. No, there’s not a man in my life. You’re a nice guy, Zack, and I like you. I don’t want you to waste your time trying to hit on me because I’m not looking for a relationship. I don’t want to make things awkward between us.”

I’d say they were awkward already. “I understand. I’m not dating either. It’s complicated. Maybe we can swap war stories sometime.”

“Maybe.” She paused. “I’ll be swamped for the next week or two. Maybe we could do it in a few weeks.”

“Sure, no pressure here. Like I said, it’s my way to say thank you.”

“Okay. Well, I have to go. I have a ton of calls to make and little time to make them. Just let me know when you need me.  This is my cell number so you can call or text night or day. If I happen to snap your head off when I answer, just ignore it, especially if you reach me in the morning.”

“Not a morning person, I remember.” It was my turn to laugh. “Thanks again, Yasmine.”

I stared at the phone when the line went dead. What just happened? Did a woman I didn’t know agree to help me care for my mother? Why? What did she get out of it? Nothing that I could see. My mother and I were going to be the ones getting the benefit of her time. I got my promotion; my mother would spend time with a young woman she apparently liked a lot.

The only problem I could foresee was Yasmine being put in the middle of my mother’s matchmaking attempts. Well, at least we’d already established neither of us was in the market for a relationship. I would make sure my mother understood so she wouldn’t pressure Yasmine into changing her mind.

I dialed my mother’s number to share the good news.

Of all the words spoken, the one thing that stayed on my mind was the fact this beautiful woman was single.

What could a man have done to a woman that amazing, that sexy, that…openhearted, to walk away from her?

Whoever he was, he had to be an idiot. If I was in the market and had a chance at being with her, I’d do my damndest to make her happy. There would never be a reason for her to wonder about my feelings.

The love of a woman like Yasmine Phillips had to be treated with the utmost care and respect. Her every need, physical, mental, and emotional, would be my number one priority.

It was a waste of time thinking about it. The line was drawn in the sand between us.

The only thing to do would be to enjoy her company. Nothing more, nothing less.

“Zachariah, how are you?” My mom’s voice disrupted my thoughts.

“I’m good. I’ve got some good news for you…”

####

Jaded will be available from 5 Prince Publishing on March  7th!

In the meantime, if you haven’t read A Heart Not Easily Broken, grab your copy today so you can catch up!!!

Reviews, Free Chapter Samples, All Sales Links

MJ

#WritingTips- Use Your Microsoft Word Doc Tools to Make Writing Easier!

When my Muse wakes me up in the middle of the night, or I have an epiphany of a new scene to add more life to my manuscript, the first thing I do is search for any means of recording my thoughts. Paper and pen, notes on my iPhone, voice recordings if I’m driving, or sometimes I just grab my laptop, open up a blank word doc, and let my fingers fly over the keys. Then I file it away until I’m ready to work on it again.

I am a plotter with a hint of panster. I take my time when I write, letting my stories marinate as I decide what trials to put my characters through. I spend even more time discovering who they are. When my research is complete, my outlines written, and I’m ready to add dialogue, the last thing I want to do after spending hours bringing my story to life, is have to go back and reformat the entire manuscript before editing it.

Let’s face it, authors, the mere thought of the words edits, editing, or editor are daunting, especially if you are new to writing!

I remember those days! But, have no fear! Since then, I have learned when you put in the work, the editing process can run so smooth, it’s nearly as fun as watching your story come to life from the blank page!

Okay, okay, stop laughing!  Let’s keep it positive people! 🙂 I’m about to share a tip that will have you grinning from ear to ear! (If you had no idea about it, that is!)

Did you know there are tools built into Microsoft Word that can cut down the amount of editing you or your editor need to do if used while you write?

I learned this while working on my first manuscript, (A Heart Not Easily Broken), and my dear friend and fellow author enlightened me to these amazing settings. I can’t lie; I am NOT a tech savvy person. What I’ve learned to do with my laptop, be it building my webpage, (the one you’re visiting now), or surfing the web, all of this has been because of being pointed in the right direction by people who discovered these shortcuts and shared them with me, or by taking the time to keep hitting buttons and trying over and over again until I figured it out. In other words, HOURS of frustration mixed with patience, coffee, and chocolate!

Now it’s my turn to reciprocate!  If any of this is new to you, I hope you find this information useful, and that it makes writing easier!

***NOTE: The following directions and screen shots are based on Microsoft Word 2010. Similar functions can be found for 2007, though they will not be as detailed. For more advice, I suggest searching Google or YouTube for instructional videos on how to use your editing/proofing features.***

Unknown tricks to Word 2007 and 2010 to avoid unnecessary editing issues (AKA – Quick Access Tool Bar). Let’s face it, we all didn’t sit down to read the manual…

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Screen shot of the steps below. Daunting, but well worth the work!

Use of this function will allow you to set up Word to point out common editing issues as you type, allowing you to rethink your sentence before you continue, or make it easier to find some of the editing issues that make your writing passive. To customize this feature, follow these steps:

  • Open up a blank Word Document
  • Select the REVIEW tab at the top of your screen; Right Click and select CUSTOMIZE
  • Select PROOFING. (Here you can choose what kind of typing issues you want Word to ignore or point out to you).
  • Look lower in the box marked: WHEN CORRECTING SPELLING AND GRAMMAR IN WORD
  • Select WRITING STYLE, then click on the drop box, choose GRAMMAR & STYLE, then click SETTINGS. (From here you can have Word point out EVERYTHING!!! From punctuation issues, misused words, fragment and run-on sentences, to the use of cliches phrases, and so much more. Using this feature to help point out issues you need to correct before submitting your manuscript to an editor will make the editor quickly fall in love with you!)
  • Be sure to select OK before exiting to save your settings.

***By the way, once these settings are saved, they stay that way  for every document you create, until you go in and reset them.***

I touched on this a few posts ago when sharing tips for writing query letters, but again, putting this simple step into practice BEFORE you write one word will make the rest of  your writing experience pleasant.

The Universal Settings for your Manuscript (or Prepping you MS for Query Letters and you Editor)

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Your screen should look like this when selecting your font type and size.

Set your Font:

  • Open a blank document.
  • Select the HOME tab.
  • Choose TIMES NEW ROMAN Font with a 12 Point  size.
  • Save and exit

***Check these settings for each new document created! They do not always stay the same!***

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This is the easiest fix!

To Set Page Borders/Margins:

  • Select the PAGE LAYOUT tab.
  • Choose MARGINS.
  • Set to NORMAL. (1 inch border on both sides and top and bottom)

***This usually the normal setting, but it never hurts to make sure it’s set correctly. Technology is funny, and can revert back to the original settings  without warning!***

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Set your page to automatic indent and line and paragraph spacing.

  • From the HOME tab, select PARAGRAPH.
  • In the INDENTION box, choose HANGING.
  • In the SPACING box, choose DOUBLE, and change the  AFTER PT to ZERO (O)
  • Check the box below to avoid  spaces between paragraphs
  • Select OK to save changes.

***Again, check this feature with the start of any new document. The default settings are not the same as what you need when writing. Any new document created will not have your new settings.***

 Other Advice:

Here are a few more things you can do to make your writing cleaner:

  • Make sure you have clean chapter breaks. In other words, when Chapter 1 ends halfway down the page, Chapter 2 should start on a fresh page. The final page of Chapter 1 should not have the first part of Chapter 2 .
  • Italicize words meant to stand out for emphasis, do not highlight or underline.
  •  When inserting a scene break in a chapter, use ### or *** to show the break in time, or the start of a new scene and/or location. Which ever one you use, stay consistent throughout the MS, do not flip-flop.
  • If you have already written you MS and have not used these settings, there’s no need to type it over again! Simply go to page one, hold down the CTRL + A buttons; it will highlight the entire manuscript, from page 1 to 1000+. Follow the steps to set PAGE MARGINS and FONT while highlighted, and it will fix all of your work. Be sure to scroll through in order to separate your chapter headings on fresh pages, or else, some of them may find their way into the previous chapter. Don’t forget to save and back it all up when you’re done!

I know, I know, if you are technically challenged, the whole idea of learning how to properly format your work is daunting. But believe me; editors appreciate working with authors who take the time to learn how to use their writing programs. It cuts down on the amount of tedious stuff they need to do to get your work up to par, and allows them more time to focus on the real work, the mind-numbing technical side. And who knows, less work may end up saving you money!

Happy Writing!

MJ

 

Interview with Denise Moncrief!

Today I welcome another talented author with 5 Prince Publishing, Denise Moncrief, as she shares a bit about herself, her writing process, and wonderful advice for aspiring authors!

Denise Moncrief author pic

 Welcome, Denise!

What inspired you to write?

I began devouring every book I could get my hands on in high school. I’ve been a prolific reader ever since. All of that reading has fed my imagination. For years my daydreaming made me feel somewhat guilty. I had no problem imagining myself in other places, with other people, doing other things. One day I got the idea of channeling all my daydreaming into a manuscript. That was nine, maybe ten years ago, and since then I’ve been writing practically non-stop with only a few short sabbaticals due to a recalcitrant muse refusing to cooperate and give me a fresh spurt of inspiration.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I started writing romance, but I found an element of suspense slipped into the plot line every single time no matter how I manipulated my characters and their actions, so the suspense genre grabbed my imagination and wouldn’t let me go. I love suspense and that’s what I write.

I bend and blend genres. My stories are usually suspense and _________. My daughter tells me I can’t write anything without including at least one dead body in the story line. Well, I don’t know, maybe that’s true. Aside from traditional suspense plot lines, I find there’s an element of suspense in any conflict, a moment when the breath catches. I strive to portray that one thing in any situation that will affect the heart rate, tug at emotions, and make the reader anxiously turn the page to read what happens next.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I have a part time accounting position, so my weekday mornings are spent crunching numbers, but once I get home I divide my time between taking care of my family and pursuing my career as a writer and editor. My evenings are split between writing, editing, and marketing. Lately, it’s been difficult to squeeze working on my current work in process between editing and promotion deadlines, but thankfully, the new manuscript is within 5,000 words of being complete. I’ve never been a scheduled writer, writing for a certain amount of time at the same time every day. Now, that I’ve also been hired as an editor, I’ve had to schedule chunks of time to get alone and write for several hours at a time. If I don’t do that, the editing and marketing pursuits will swallow all my free time. So it’s definitely become a balancing act.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Hum…A writing quirk? Am I quirky? I’m not sure about that. Well, I don’t write in my polka dot pajamas, sip herbal tea, or listen to any particular style of music. I don’t have to have the house quiet either. I put on a pot of coffee and slip into my most comfortable jeans and a t-shirt. I might write on my bed or at my desk or on the sofa in the living room. Perhaps my biggest quirk is that I don’t do rough drafts. I’m probably obsessive compulsive or a raving perfectionist or something. I edit as I go because I can’t stand the thought of overlooking something that needs a tweak. I’ll write a few chapters and then edit. Write a few more and reread from the beginning, editing as I go. I find this gives me a greater sense of continuity and helps me fine-tune my plot and my characterization.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

I imagine the opening scene of the story and decide how the story will end. Between the beginning and the ending, I am a certified pantser. I let the plot evolve as it goes along, letting my characters and their developing personalities decide what to say and how to react in any given situation, as long as they get to the end of the story right where I want them to go.

Are your stories based on experiences of someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share an example?

No, I can’t think of any instance where I’ve based a plotline on my own experiences or the experiences of anyone I know personally. However, the underlying theme of all my stories is forgiveness and reconciliation. I heard someone say one time that unforgiveness is the poison one drinks with the hopes of injuring someone else. I believe this to be very true. I’ve experienced personally how destructive unforgiveness can be, not only to the offender, but to the offended.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

I remember well my first rejection. I submitted a series of four stories to a publisher. He very kindly suggested I should continue to hone my skills by perhaps going to a writer’s workshop. It was an excellent piece of advice, because I did as he advised and realized how much I didn’t know about the craft of writing. That was years ago. An author should never believe he or she has learned all there is to know about the art and craft of writing.

Commonly accepted style evolves and changes over the years. Be aware of trends. The trends readers preferred ten years ago might not be what keeps a reader’s interest today. For instance, a common trend is to use as few he said/she said type dialogue tags as possible, replacing the tag with action beats.

When you finish writing your baby, after pouring all your heart and soul into plot and characterization, put the manuscript aside for a few days and then come back to it. Read it aloud with the critical ear of a reader, not the emotionally attached heart of a writer. The exercise often reveals glitches in the flow of the narrative.

There is an abundance of information and guidance available to aspiring writers on how to hone writing skills. Not all suggestions work for every writer. Research editing and writing. Read blogs and books on the subject of writing. Build relationships with other writers. A writer should test different approaches and find out what works best for her. For instance, I’ve read more than once that a writer should write straight through a rough draft, then go back and edit. This approach clearly doesn’t work for me.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I have been published or have been contracted by three wonderful indie publishers, Still Moments Publishing, 5 Prince Publishing, and Crooked Cat Publishing.

What are your current projects?

My last single tile release was Deceptions of the Heart, a full-length paranormal romance suspense novel from Still Moments Publishing. Crisis of Identity is romance suspense with a humorous bite, scheduled for release this week from 5 Prince Publishing. My current work in process is paranormal romance suspense set in the Pacific Northwest of the United States with the working title The Memory Catcher.

My full library at Still Moments Publishing, including Deceptions of the Heart, can be purchased at http://www.stillmomentspublishing.com/p/ebook-store.html, Amazon, Barnes and Noble Nook, Create Space, or Smashwords. My new release, Crisis of Identity, when it becomes available this week, can be purchased at http://www.5princebooks.com/buy.htm and Amazon.

CrisisOfIdentity

Tess Copeland is an operator. Her motto? Necessity is the mother of a good a con. When Hurricane Irving slams into the Texas Gulf coast, Tess seizes the opportunity to escape her past by hijacking a dead woman’s life, but Shelby Coleman’s was the wrong identity to steal. And the cop that trails her? He’s a U.S. Marshall with the Fugitive Task Force for the northern district of Illinois. Tess left Chicago because the criminal justice system gave her no choice. Now she’s on the run from ghosts of misdeeds past—both hers and Shelby’s.

Enter Trevor Smith, a pseudo-cowboy from Houston, Texas, with good looks, a quick tongue, and testosterone poisoning. Will Tess succumb to his questionable charms and become his damsel in distress? She doesn’t have to faint at his feet—she’s capable of handling just about anything. But will she choose to let Trevor be the man? When Tess kidnaps her niece, her life changes. She must make some hard decisions. Does she trust the lawman that promises her redemption, or does she trust the cowboy that promises her nothing but himself?

 Buy your copy today!!!

Author Bio:

Denise wrote her first story when she was in high school—seventeen hand-written pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she read. She earned a degree in accounting, giving her some nice skills to earn a little money, but her passion has always been writing. She has written numerous short stories and more than a few full-length novels. Her favorite pastimes when she’s not writing are spending time with her family, traveling, reading, and scrapbooking. She lives in Louisiana with her husband, two children, and one very chubby dog.

Connect with Denise on the following links:

Twitter   Facebook    Google+    Goodreads    Blog/Website   Amazon   Email   SmashWords

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

Thanks to Carol Fragale of 4 Broad Minds for tagging me for this honor! I have had the privilege and sharing blogs with her and several other talented Women’s Fiction authors on Goodreads.  So…let’s play!

Ten Questions About My Latest  WIP:

Autumn landscape1. What is the working title of your book? Jaded, Book Two of The Butterfly Memoirs (Currently in the hands of my editor.) Release date is March 7, 2013.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from? The story line is based on a secondary character in my first novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, Yasmine Phillips, who is the best friend of the heroine, Ebony Campbell. Though the  novel focuses on Ebony, there are a few chapters where the reader is introduced to Yasmine to show where she is in her life. She’s ambitious, a hard worker, and full of self-confidence, especially when it comes to her relationships with men. She’s all about friends-with-benefit. During the course of the story, she winds up engaged to her main hook up. Everything seems to be working out until Ebony drops a bomb on her happy moment and she discovers her new fiance is not the man she thought he was. Jaded picks up two months later when we find Yasmine still reeling from the heart break of her engagement. Shes decided to give up on relationships of any kind and focus on finding herself.  She’s been working on a business  to start her own small business. Entrepreneurship is nothing new. She’s grown up watching her parents build and maintain their own business, a Bed and Breakfast chain of hotels, since she was in high school. Upon graduating collage, the chain expanded opening a second location. She’s managed the hotel for the past three years. During the course of the novel, Yasmine finds herself in a relationship that has her struggling to decide whether she is ready to open her heart up and give love another chance.

3. What is the genre of this book? Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, Interracial Romance

4. Which actors would you choose to play the characters of the movie rendition? Oh, that’s easy! My male lead would be Columbus Short! He is exactly how I pictured Zachariah Givens while writing. For Yasmine, it would be a mix between Zoe Saldana or Megan Good.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? After heart break leaves Yasmine devastated, she must decide if fighting for love is worth the risk of  losing the woman she’s become.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher? I am Indie published through 5 Prince Publishing.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? I outlined the novel first, but from there it took 29 days to write my rough draft, complete with errors and no edits…about 85,000 words.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I would have to say the first novel in the series, A Heart Not Easily Broken. I have worked hard to develop my own style of storytelling, so I can’t think of anyone to compare it to.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? My stories are based on themes and ‘what if’ scenarios. Jaded deals with several themes: women as entrepreneurs, reaching your goals without the support of family, opening yourself up to love after heartbreak, friends-with-benefits relationships, dealing with sick family members, and knowing when to trust yourself to follow your heart.

10. What else about your book might pique the readers interest? If you’ve read A Heart Not Easily Broken and got to know Yasmine, the truth she learns at the novels end will have you wanting to know what happens to her. As I said before, one moment she’s in her happy place, then without warning her outlook on love will never be the same. You will want to know if and how Yasmine Phillips finds her Happily Ever After.

Whew! That wasn’t too bad!

The three authors I’d like to tag to introduce their Next Big Thing are: Nia Forrester, Candace Shaw, and Sharon C. Cooper!  Enjoy!

MJ

Interview with Nia Forrester!

One of the fun things about social networking is meeting  other authors who are taking various publishing paths to see their work put into readers hands. No matter what path you take, our experiences are different and can alter the voice of the writer. (If you’ve been through the query gambit  you know what I mean.)

Recently I was contacted by Nia via Facebook when she messaged me to say she’d picked up a copy of my book because of hearing great things about it. I in turn got a copy of one of  her novels. We later talked privately about our books, both   impressed with the others approach to writing. I was floored by  how much – in my opinion – out style of storytelling mirrors one another, despite the difference in our writing voices.

The book I read, Unsuitable Men, has me anxious to read more of her work. Her novels are on my TBR list! Be sure to grab a copy of her latest release, Secrets!

Secrets cover picShayla has a secret. She’s very different than the person she used to be three short years ago; that person she finally feels like she’s left behind and never wants to be again. And she’s been doing fine so far with her plan to reinvent herself. Trey Denison wasn’t going to put even a dent in those plans.

All she needed from him was an extremely short, extremely hot, purely sexual affair and she had no reason to believe he wouldn’t provide it. After all, that was his specialty. But after one crazy weekend, Trey decides that a ‘short affair’ with Shayla is the last thing he wants . . .

BUY you copy today! 

Welcome, Nia!

What inspired you to write?

Some of my earliest memories are of being read to, and seeing my parents read. My father was a voracious reader, and he read just about everything—the newspaper, of course, but also popular fiction, history books, biographies and the classics. My childhood memories are of a home filled with books. I started writing at the same time I started reading, stringing words together that were probably nonsensical at first.  And I’ve been a writer ever since. The only period I remember not writing was when I was in law school and just didn’t have the time. I remember those years as among the most miserable of my life—wanting to write and not being able to was excruciating. The only thing that probably kept me from going completely out of my mind was that I was journaling, even though not writing fiction. After that, I pledged that nothing would ever keep me from writing again. So while a love of the written word and of the process of reading first inspired me to write, I’d have to say that now I view it as so much a part of who I am that I almost don’t need “inspiration” to write, I just do it because I have to.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I write whenever I have a spare moment, or when a thought about my characters occurs to me. I don’t maintain a set schedule, but when I am actively working on a book, I cram as much as I can into the hours I have. I also have a day job, so that means I write well into the night and early morning hours if my characters are speaking to me. I also write in my head almost all the time, meaning I craft new details about the people in my books while I’m showering, cooking dinner, driving to work, or grocery shopping. And I carry a pocket-sized leather-bound notebook with me at all times so if I hear a word, phrase or snippet of conversation that I want to use in my writing, I can jot it down. Occasionally an idea comes to me out of nowhere for a story or a detail about a character and I use the notebook to record those as well. But if I had to give an average, I would say that in an active writing period (sitting in front of the computer, actually typing ), I probably write 6-8 hours per day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Not sure how interesting or quirky it is, but while I’m writing, I can’t read anyone else’s work, or anything at all really. I think it may be similar to “getting into character” if I were an actor —I have to screen out every other voice except my own and that of the people in my book. If I watch television at all, it cannot be fiction; it has to be the news only. I don’t want anyone else’s stuff to creep into my writing. And that’s easy to do because writers’ brains are like the most sensitive of sponges—always gathering data for the next work. So I try to put myself in a kind of creative sensory-deprivation chamber, in the hopes that the only creative ideas I produce on the page will have come from within, not the latest popular song on the radio, or book I read, or drama I watched on TV.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

No question, I’m a pantser! I never outline a book or a character. They become real to me and all I want to hear is what they have to tell me about themselves, all of which I allow to unfold on the page, I can’t determine what they will do until I write it, I can only determine who they are. In Secret, for instance, I knew who Shayla was and what her past was, and what she looked like. I knew what her family background was, and I knew she was moving into a house with Trey Denison, a playboy with a painful past of his own. Specifically what would happen as a result, I honestly did not know until it unfolded on the page. I knew they would have a relationship but not much more than that. And that’s always how I write. Whenever I’ve tried to use outlines to predetermine what should happen, the dialogue, the situations, everything feels and sounds forced. So I stopped trying.

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

Despite my trying to screen out the rest of the world as I’m writing, there’s no doubt that I get ideas from the world and experiences I’ve had before I write. For instance, ‘The Seduction of Dylan Acosta’ was inspired by one summer watching bad reality television when those “ . . .Wives” shows were all the rave—Basketball Wives, Football Wives, Mob Wives. I watched some of the women change their appearance, behavior and values as they became more immersed in this persona that was determined almost completely by who they were married (and some of them not married, but simply attached, to). And it made me wonder how that process of redefining yourself might unfold, and how gradual it probably is.

In some of the “. . . Wives” shows, I watched as some of the relationships with the men they had come to define themselves by unraveled and ended and how desperate the women seemed to be to hang on to those relationships even though they had become bitter and alienated. I tried to understand that desperation and finally reached the conclusion that they were desperate because they had become the Football Wife or the Basketball Wife and no longer knew who they were apart from that. Without that, they would have no identity. So in The Seduction of Dylan Acosta, I wanted to explore how that process happens and the world that these women live in, and how it can threaten the very relationship that they use to define them.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

My only suggestion is to never stop writing. Don’t write to be published, just write. I only recently came to terms with the fact that while I’m newly published, but not a new author, and one thing I can say for sure, is that when I stopped writing fiction for 3 years and then started again, I was not as good at it as I had been. By stopping, I lost valuable developmental years and lessons. And my voice changed so much! Some of my old stuff that I haven’t published sounds so different, and some of it is much better (in my opinion) than anything I am writing now. But I am no longer that person, and so even editing that work and trying to do rewrites to publish it has so far been an abject failure. It sounds like two different people, because it is. So my advice would be: write uninterrupted.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

With my fiction, I am self-pubbed. I also write policy and social commentary under another name.

What are your current projects?

My current projects are ‘The Art of Endings’, the spin-off (not sequel!) of ‘Secret’, and an as yet untitled spin-off  of ‘Commitment’ that features Chris Scaife, one of the secondary characters in both ‘Commitment’ and ‘Unsuitable Men’.

Connect with Nia via these links: 

Twitter     Facebook      Goodreads     Blog/Website      Author Page     Email

 

It DOES Take A Year To Write Your Prose!!!!

My collection: Roberts, Brockmann, Evanovich, and yes that IS Twilight, and it belongs to me, not my daughter!
How in the @&*% does Nora Roberts manage to publish three to four books a year under two different pen names, yet still have time to water and plant her garden?!?!?!?!?????
Is there a ghost writer in her house?
I love Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb. I have twenty-five of my favorite books penned by her in my collection. Talk about inspiration! It seems like every few months I walk by the book section of my local grocery store and find two brand new books sitting on the shelf, one in each of her pen names. Wow, the woman is good.
I watched an interview with her a year ago, and they asked her about her writing schedule. Yeah, she definitely has one, along with an office built by her husband where she writes. She also follows a strict writing routine that does in fact leave her time for her favorite past time, gardening. I, on the other hand, can’t seem to write a schedule let alone follow one! Plus, my four kids, ages ten to sixteen, are at a stage in life where they have various activities – orchestra, jazz band, art, book club, and etc. – that demand I spend time taking them places. (Finding Creative Ways to Edit While Running My Household) Nora’s children, on the other hand, are all grown. Her writing career started years ago when her boys were young, and she was a single mom. What ever she did to get her career started and make it to the level of success she’s seen over the years, I have to give her props. If I ever have the opportunity to meet her, I’m going to demand tips.
But, until then, I have to stick to what I’ve learned.
When I first began my writing journey, I checked out books from the library dealing with the art of writing. I remember one book, This Year You Write Your Novel, by well-known author, Walter Mosely. He is the famed author of books such as Devil in a Blue Dress, (later turned into a movie staring Denzel Washington), and many others. One look at the title and I scoffed, thinking, ‘A year? Yeah right. I’ve written my first three books already…in nine months!’
Sigh…..Don’t I feel like an idiot! Well, at least I had some form of confidence that encouraged me to keep going; even when I found out I still had a lot to work on!
And now, two years later, I’m just beginning to see the EXIT sign as I near completion of my first book. In December my editor will get her hands on the manuscript, but the journey won’t end there. Once she sprinkles her fairy dust on it, it will come back for yet another rewrite. I’m praying that will be the last one, because the characters for the next book are tired of waiting.
That said, I’d like to share with you:
M.J. Kane’s Top Ten Things I’ve Learned During My Writing Journey:
(Check out the links, they go back to related blogs)
10. Research comes in many forms. Don’t be afraid to use them!
If this is your first time writing a novel, I’m sure you’ve already stockpiled your personal library with books on writing and editing to get you started. My local library was a great place to find books, but not all can be found there. Tip: Hang out at your local book store (if you can still find one) Take pen and paper and cruise the shelves for books on writing and writing in your genre. Find a nice corner, and take notes. It’s free, and the access to the information you seek is priceless. Scan the Internet for articles and blogs on writing – such as this one – and pick up pointers from those who have been in the game longer than you have. There’s a wealth of advice to be found. (Finding the Correct Genre for your Prose)
9. Patience, coffee, and a box of chocolate.
Screen savers can be inspirational! Oh yeah and the butterflies, too! LOL!

Patience is key when working on your character back story, story plots, and settings. It takes time to discover who your characters are and what motivates them. This amount of research takes more than a few hours. Sometimes it can take days. Find a in-depth character profile chart that works for you. Settle in with your coffee, something sweet, and get to know your characters intimately. It’s the only way for your characters to leave the one/two dimensional life on paper and become three-dimensional. From there, the story will grow and find a life of its own. (The Importance of Writing Outlines – I’m Glad I Did!- Part 2)

8. Find music that inspires you to write and edit too!
Now that you’ve got your outline and discovered your characters, you need to find inspiration. Music can establish the mood of a scene, influence the story’s flow, or even explain what a character is feeling when they can’t say it themselves. (Does Your Story Have a Soundtrack?)
7. Passive Word Check List.
This is like holding a magic wand in your hand when editing. Search for words that make the passages wordy or boring because you use them repeatedly. The trick to writing a story that does not bore your readers is to paint your prose with colorful and creative ways that express your characters emotions and thoughts. My ‘kryptonite’ list includes the words:  was, that, saw, feel, look, and see for starters. Then there are words that are often misused: a/an, to/too, its/it’s. My personal list has forty-one words/phrases I check before the chapter is marked ‘edited’. This list came from words my critique partners pointed out as they read my work. (Digital Audio Recording Devices + Editing = ??????)

6. Thesaurus and dictionary.
This is the answer to the dreaded passive word check list. If your brain is fried and you can’t think creatively, this is your life line. Not sure if that word will fit correctly in your sentence, use the dictionary. Need to find another way to say ‘see’…thesaurus is the way to go.

5. A locked door and a good pair of headphones can make any workspace personal.
The beauty of fall!

Unfortunately, not everyone can have a dream writing space like Nora, but you can create your own slice of writing heaven. Mine is in my bedroom where my desk is located next to a big picture window. I enjoy watching the trees change color and the squirrels run around collecting food for winter. As long as the door is locked and the head phones are on high, I can ignore the knocking and get into a scene…lol, at least that’s the plan. Still haven’t got the kiddies to go along with the plan. For some reason, every time I start working on a love scene, that’s the time ALL of them suddenly need my attention. Talk about a mood killer! (The Dynamics of Writing a Love Scene)

4.  Beta Readers, what can I say?
So, you’ve burned up brain cells and blown a few fuses to create your literary perfection, it’s time to take that baby on a test run. Find your beta readers, whether they are critique partners, family members, or a friend you’ve made on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social networking site. You need real feedback. If you can get someone who writes the same genre as you, they can let you know if your MS fits the genre or if you’ve missed something. Finding someone who doesn’t normally read your genre and hooking them with your story can build confidence. That means you’ve got what it takes to tell a strong story. (The Value of Critique Partners and Beta Readers)
3. Join social networking sites for support, marketing and promotion.
Most of us have already joined Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Now’s there’s Google plus, Linkedin, Klout and a god only knows how many more. In this day and age, you can never have enough ways to connect to other writers for advice and support. If you haven’t done it yet, start writing a blog. It’s not only a great way to share your work with others, it’s also a way to create a fan base and let people know what you’re doing.
2. Find an editor!
Whether your goal is to self-publish, e-publish, or try your luck with the selling your book to one of the big publishing houses, an editor is key! Readers are picky and will not fail to notice if your story has not received that ‘professional’ touch. Not everyone can be an English major and know every writing rule known to man. That’s why God created editors! But seriously, we all need them. It will cost some money, but having that touch added to your work will separate your hard work from those who aren’t willing to put in the work. Think about it, we’ve all read a book written by a well-known author distributed by a major publishing house and have found some sort of grammatical or technical error. So, Indie published authors don’t fear. Do the best you can, work with an editor, and understand: you can’t please everybody. No matter what you do, somebody is NOT going to like something about your story and find a reason to criticize it. Look at it this way — at least they read it. (The Joys – and Woes – of Editing)
1. Have the will and desire to try again and again until you get the story right, no matter how many re-writes/edits it takes.
That statement pretty much says it all. If you don’t have the desire to work through the ups and downs of telling the story and doing the best you can, then maybe becoming an author is not for you. Admit defeat and try your hand at something else. But if you step away and find you can’t keep your mind off writing and your characters keep nagging you to tell their story, try again. Take a writing class, read more books on writing. Read books in your genre and see what it is they have done to make them become successful. Then try again. (Finding Inspiration…Again!)
With that said, Breaktime is over, back to work.  I’m off to work on my second round of edits….
Until next time, WRITE WELL!!!!!