Home Schooling vs. Traditional Schooling…Yep, We’re Making the Change!

homeLast week, I posted this message on my Facebook page:

Over the last few weeks, my hubby and I made the decision to pull our youngest kids out if school and sign them up for home school. They just got accepted into the program this week. So after Christmas break, no more traditional education.

This morning I got an automated call from the middle school saying they have upgraded security. You can no longer walk into the building without announcing your presence by calling the number listed on the now locked front door. The building had already been locked down, only allowing access to the front office. At this moment, I couldn’t be any prouder with our decision!

To my surprise, thirty-one people liked it and many commented, sharing the fact that they too were home schooling their kids. I had no idea!!

My husband and I have toyed with the idea of home school off and on for the past five years. Then our oldest got accepted into a Fine Arts Magnet program for Orchestra when in the ninth grade. For four years he participated in the program and we watched what started out as a wonderful opportunity start to slowly go downhill as the county had issues with funding and teachers. At the beginning of his senior year, the amazing Orchestra teacher who had been a part of the program left just two weeks before the start of the school. For several months, the program was without a qualified teacher and my son, who had worked hand-in-hand with his teacher, stepped up to handle the class as much as he could until they found a replacement. But, it was never the same. He has since graduated and is now attending college to get his Bachelors Degree in Music. His goal: become a music teacher.

One of my daughters followed in his footsteps and joined the Fine Arts Magnet Program three years ago and is taking Art. Her skills are amazing and she has learned a lot. Now in the eleventh grade, she has only one year left before graduation.

My youngest children are in the sixth and seventh grade, one in a Fine Arts Magnet Middle school for Art, the other attends the local middle school. School has been in session for five months, and we are not satisfied with what our kids are learning or how the teachers are handling our children’s education. After listening to my kids, it seems more time is spent on handling class disruptions than education. The teachers are stretched thin, underpaid, and expected to stay on track with the curriculum. When a student doesn’t understand something, chances are they may or may not get a chance to ask questions and fail assignments because the teacher does not have time to go back over it. Yep, pretty sure a lot of parents have heard this story. So what happens? Your child is frustrated because they fail an assignment, their confidence is destroyed, and it’s harder to encourage them to see the value of their education.

Add the issues of bullying, disrespectful children back talking to teachers, threats of violence, and drugs…

Ask your child what they leaned today and the most you get is a story about yet another fight in class or the fact someone has on the latest Jorden’s and you have to wonder, what are you sending them to school for???

This year, my husband started a concerted effort to learn more about home schooling process. After several phone calls, emails, and online chats with the program coordinators with the Georgia Cyber Academy, we made the decision to sign up our youngest children for the program. Imagine our happiness when we got the approval email saying they were accepted! They have only one week left in traditional school. After Christmas break, they will be learning from home!

The whole concept of the Georgia Cyber Academy is new for me and is going to be as much of a learning experience for me and my husband as it will be for the kids. Here are a few of the preconceived notions I had in the beginning and what I’ve learned so for:

MYTH: You have to have a background in education in order to teach your kids from home.

False! The online programs are set up so that your children receive assignments and take their classes at home, on the computer. They have teachers assigned to assist them. They have scheduled online, real-time class participation with their teacher. If they have questions, they can call, email, or chat with their teacher directly at any time. Learning is more one-on-one than having your student get lost in a sea of 30 plus kids in a classroom. If your child has a learning disability, they have Special Education teachers who will work with you weekly, ensuring your children’s continued growth and education. Entrance exams are given which enable the teacher to develop a system of learning specific to your children’s learning abilities. So whether you child is gifted or needs a little more help, it’s all about them!

MYTH: As a parent, it’s your responsibility to sit and hold your students hand all day while they work in class.

FALSE! Yes, some of your time will be involved, but you will not have to hold their hands. As a Learning Coach, your job is to prep your students for their daily assignments, assist them as they need help, and from time to time, assist them in certain assignments (such as science experiments, etc.) With the higher grades (middle school and high school), and especially if your children are proficient with the basics of using a computer, you don’t have to sit holding their hands throughout each assignment. You are responsible for keeping track of the time it takes to complete an assignment and enter this information as part of their attendance record. There are parent/teacher conferences, Parent Support Meetings with other parents, and the ability to connect directly with the teacher if you need help explaining something to your child.

MYTH: My kids won’t have any friends.

FALSE! The home school community has plenty of programs, clubs, and activities that allow the students, and parents, to connect online and in person. Field trips, parties, and other activities are designed for not only the student, but the parents as well. It’s like a whole new hidden world!

MYTH: They won’t graduate.

FALSE! Home school students must still take the same standardized tests as children do in school, including the Graduation Test, and yes, there is a graduation. (Not sure off the details of the graduation, but I read about it. LOL, with a sixth and seventh grader, I’ve got a ways to go before we get there!)

And last but not least:

MYTH: I can’t afford to pay for the program.

FALSE! The program we are participating in, the Georgia Cyber Academy, is F-R-E-E!!!!!! They will be providing all of the equipment, books, even a computer and printer needed in order to get online.

So, 2014 is going to be an interesting year for my family. Did I mention we gave our kids the option of doing school online versus staying in school? When they found out the difference in the education (online interactive learning vs. standard textbook), the fact that they will have more one-on-one learning opportunities and be able to work at their own pace, they jumped on board! No coercion, no special promises or begging. My oldest, which has one year left before graduation, opted to stay in school and she has our continued support. You can believe there will be blogs coming out of this experience!

So, what about you? If you’ve had experiences with teaching your kids at home, I’d LOVE to hear them!

 

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MJ

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A Fun Way to Learn How to Write From the Male and Female POV and Perspective- Part 2

Pad of Paper & PenDid you miss yesterday’s video share and breakdown on writing POV? If so, visit this link before you continue!

A Fun Way to Learn How to Write From the Male and Female POV and Perspective- Part 1

Now to pick up where we left of….

PERSPECTIVE: the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship

(Definitions via dictionary.com)

Now that you have determined what character’s POV is will be used and when, it’s time to determine how much information will be shared by that character and when.

As the definition above says, perspective is the story according to what a character sees, hears, feels, and experiences. Character A can have a totally different view of the same events than Character B, as seen in the Date Night video.

Let’s revisit Couple A:

THE BREAK DOWN:

HER POV: The Date SUCKED!

Woman A was looking forward to a romantic interlude. She did her hair and make-up, took the time to prepare a meal, and set the table. She expected her date to arrive looking nice, probably bearing a vase of flowers, and taking the time to appreciate her appearance and the meal. Next would have come some small talk, flirting, and no doubt, some personal fun time.

What did she get?

A quick hug, no compliments on her appearance or the meal. Instead he made a beeline for the food, woofed it down without any conversation besides grunts that seemed to ruin her appetite. And when it came to fun time…well, let’s just say Mr. Happy was there and back again in less than 3 seconds, or as she said, before she could unhook the back her dress. And to top it all off, he finds his way to her bed and passes out from what has to be over eating and rapid blood loss to the brain.

His POV: IT was AMAZING!

Man A wanted exactly what he got: A good looking woman who cooked for him (free food), had nothing to say, and stood there long enough for him to get his rocks off. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the comfy bed. In his eyes, major score!! And he got to leave with his needs satisfied in time to watch the big game at home without interruption.

THE BREAKDOWN

The characters depicted in this portion of the video didn’t have a back story as Man B did, so there is no way to know how their previous experiences affected them. But what you do get is the perspectives of a man and woman who experience the same events.  She thought everything sucked, while he had the time of his life. All of this from the same scene.

How can you incorporate this type of storytelling in a scene in your novel?

This was a challenge I faced when writing my first novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken. My stories are told using First Person POV voice and feature the viewpoint of both the male and female protagonist. Each chapter is told from whomever’s POV tells the most important points throughout the story. There are a few times when a third persons POV is shared in order to present an outsiders perspective and introduce the back story of the heroine in the next novel, Jaded. There comes a point in the story when each of the characters previous experiences intersect into one scene. And in this scene what happens next comes from each person’s view point based on the information they have received and how they see things happening around them.

I hope this gives you a useful outlook on how you can incorporate Point of View and Perspective in your work!

Chapter 37

(Yasmine’s POV)

“Mmm, that feels good, don’t stop.”

Javan’s large hand moved slowly, massaging my back. Even though we’d made love twice, the feel of his hands on my body ignited me like the first time. “So what do you think about June?”

His fingers froze. “For what?”

I rolled over on my back. He looked delicious. His thick dreads hung loose and masked his face. My eyes tracked to parted lips that waited for action, his deep penetrating gaze heavy with desire. I bit my lip as my thigh brushed over his arousal.

I glided my fingers over a handful of locks as he leaned down and kissed me deeply. I loved the way our lips locked together. They felt like heaven and sin as his kiss moved down and worked my chin, my throat, and my breasts.

“Oh, no,” I giggled. “You’re not avoiding this conversation. What do you think about a June wedding?”

Javan regarded me with eyes so filled with desire he looked confused at the topic at hand. His head ­ both of them ­ were focused on one thing.

His eyebrows creased. “Yasmine, that soon?”

“Javan, that’s nine months away. There’s so much to do. I’ve got to find a place for the wedding and reception. We’ve got to come up with a guest list. I’ve got to find a dress for the girls and for me. And we’ve got to find someplace to live. Both of us have roommates so moving in together is not an option. And, oh, God, we haven’t met each other’s parents yet.”

The expression on his face was comical. “I didn’t think about that.”

“Yeah, baby, it’s work to get married. But once we are, the benefits are…” I grinned wickedly. “Let me show you.” I pushed him on his back and straddled him.

“I like this part.” His voice went deep as he grabbed hold of my hips.

Our tongues were fighting their private war when heavy banging on the door startled us.

“Didn’t you put the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door?” His annoyance mirrored my own.

“Yes.” My employees knew not to disturb me unless it was an emergency. Such as the hotel being on fire. “This better not be about the computers,” I mumbled and climbed off Javan to grab the guest robe from the bathroom.

Javan lay in bed smiling. His thick biceps were pronounced as he shifted his arms behind his head.

The banging continued.

“Go get ‘em, baby.” He chuckled.

I reached the door, twisted the lock, and yanked it open. “What the hell do you…Brian?” He had a murderous expression on his face. “What’s wrong? Is Ebony okay?” I pulled the lapels of my robe tightly across my chest.

“No, she isn’t.” His lips were drawn tight, his brows dropped low. “Where is he?”

I was really confused. Brian should have been with Ebony, but she didn’t seem to be around.

“Why do you─”

“Move.”

I stood firm. “No, not until you─” Brian shoved past me and headed for the bed where Javan lay.

“Your ass is mine,” he growled.

*  *  *  *

(Ebony’s POV)

“Do you want me to call the cops?” Kaitlyn asked. She held her cell phone in one hand and gripped the door handle with the other.

I drove wildly, trying my best to catch Brian at the hotel before someone got hurt. I struggled to keep from running red lights.

“Come on, come on…” My palm ached from pounding the steering wheel.

“Never mind. The way you’re drivin’ the police will just follow us in.”

“Kaity, I don’t know what to do. This is all my fault. I should have said something as soon as it happened.”

“Why didn’t you?” I saw her turn to face me in my peripheral.

I glanced at her, then burned rubber the moment the light turned green.

“Honestly, I didn’t think she’d stay with him this long. You know how Yasmine is, always with a new guy every few months. Brian didn’t need the distraction while he was on the road. He would have dropped everything and come home; it would have ruined his career. Plus, I was scared he wouldn’t want me anymore.”

“That’s just plain stupid,” she said. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Another quick glance revealed hurt feelings on her face. “We’re friends, Ebony. I could have helped you. You shouldn’t have dealt with this by yourself.”

Another wave of guilt hit me. “Honestly, Kaity, I didn’t want you to keep it from Yasmine. It wouldn’t have been fair to you. I’m sorry.”

She reached over and gripped my hand. “And you were pregnant?”

I sighed. “I don’t know, I could have been. Before Brian left we had a moment…and well, both of us were willing to accept the consequences. The next night Javan raped me and didn’t use protection. It scared me. I thought about what would happen if I ended up pregnant and the baby was his instead of Brian’s. I couldn’t live with that, so I did what I had to do. And I hate myself for it.”

Her grip tightened. “God, Ebony, I am so sorry. Whatever you need, I’m here for you.”

“What I need is to stop Brian from doing something stupid and destroying his career. I’ve got to get to him. I need him.”

“I’m gonna call the police.” She placed the call with her free hand.

The lights of the hotel loomed in the distance. I released her hand to grip the wheel and pushed the pedal to the floor.

*  *  *  *

(Brian’s POV)

“What the fuck, man!” Javan scrambled naked from the bed and reached for his pants. He hopped around on one leg to get them on. Only the king-sized bed separated us.

My mind went all over the place taking everything in. The fact Yasmine gripped my arm and shouted at me was insignificant to the hum of anger that buzzed in my ear.

I took one look at the bed and felt sick to my stomach.

This was the same room where Ebony and I spent the weekend. The room she cried in the moment I opened the door.

And then it hit me, a full shot to the chest.

She’d made love to me after she was been raped.

How was that even possible? How could she want to be with me after that violent act? After having her will of what happened to her body stripped from her?

The hatred for the man I considered my friend for the past ten years blazed out of control. The logical part of my brain clicked off and went primal.

I scrambled across the bed, grabbed him, and threw him against the wall with force I prayed felt twenty times worse than what he’d done to Ebony. I held him in place and with my free arm, reached back as far as I could and pounded his face.

“Brian! Oh, my God! Stop, you’re hurting him!” Yasmine grabbed my fisted arm and put her full weight on it, slowing me down.

“You son of a bitch! How could you do that to her? Why?” I got a few more licks in and a kick to his groin before Yasmine managed to knock me off balance.

Javan slipped out of my grasp and slid down the wall, groaning and holding his sack. It wouldn’t be long before his jaw, eye, and lips were black and blue. The sight of blood pouring out of his nose and cut lip gave me a small amount of satisfaction, but it wasn’t even close to what I wanted to do.

“Oh, no, Javan, baby…” Yasmine pushed past me, ripping the sheet from the bed to blot the blood running down his face. “Brian, what the hell is wrong with you?”

“Whatever she said, the bitch is lying,” he spat out along with blood.

“Call her bitch one more time and you’ll be picking teeth off the floor,” I growled while I paced the room. I wanted to push Yasmine out of the way and get to him again, but there was no way I’d put my hands on her.

“What the hell is going on?” she shouted.

“Brian’s woman is a liar.” Javan struggled to get up.

Yasmine looked at both of us in confusion. “Ebony? What are you talking about?” When Javan didn’t supply an answer, she turned to me.

“He raped her.”  Saying the words again shot a pain to my stomach and chest. Anger like I never felt before flared before my eyes. I wanted to do nothing more than grab Javan’s throat and keep him from breathing.

Yasmine’s eyes flashed in disbelief.

Javan moved to get up again.

“Sit your ass back down before I put it down for good,” I warned.

Yasmine turned to him, an expression of confusion on her face.

“Your girl is a ‘ho. She wanted me to─”

I stepped over to give him another helping of personal justice, but Yasmine beat me to it by giving him something akin to a bitch slap. His head spun around, dreads swinging through the air as his head hit the wall. I wanted to punch his teeth in, but her slap sufficed for now. “Don’t talk about her like that. Why would Brian burst in here and say that? Did you rape her?” she asked.

I could not see her face, but her voice sounded pained.

“Because the bitch─”

Yasmine’s hand shot out again, but this time he caught it and twisted her wrist. She yelled in pain.

“Don’t ever hit me again, bitch,” Javan growled.

I got in his face in two strides. “Let her go,” I said through gritted teeth.

My hands fisted in a handful of his dreads as I snatched him up off the ground, thankful for the excuse to exact my revenge. He released her, shoving her away; she stumbled to the floor. Javan swung at me, his fist connected with my face and doubled back for my gut. Adrenaline pumped through my veins; I didn’t feel a thing.

His next swing missed as I dodged, leaned down, and rammed my head into his chest. I wrapped my hands around his waist and slammed him back into the wall. He pounded my back while I retaliated, throwing punch after punch into his gut.

“Brian!”

In the midst of the yelling, grunting, and crashing of hotel furniture as we fought, Ebony’s voice rang crystal clear in the room. I managed to turn my head enough to see her standing horrified in the doorway with Kaitlyn on her heels.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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A Fun Way to Learn How to Write From the Male and Female POV and Perspective- Part 1

Before reading any further, take the next three minutes to watch this video. Get your laugh on, then watch it again and get your learn on. Not only will you be entertained, you’re going to learn something new because afterwards, I’m going to break it down!

DATE NIGHT! -THE VIDEO

(Video via Facebook share)

Hilarious, right? It’s the typical men see things differently than women story of a date through the eyes of two very different couples. The difference? The back story. Knowing what each character is going through before, during, and after a scene helps you, the author, know what experiences should be included in a scene and how to present them.

Remember those pesky and time consuming character outlines I’m always referring to? Well, here is how they work for the characters in this short video.

THE BREAK DOWN:

COUPLE A:

HER POV: The Date SUCKED!

Woman A was looking forward to a romantic interlude. She did her hair and make-up, took the time to prepare a meal, and set the table. She expected her date to arrive looking nice, probably bearing a vase of flowers, and taking the time to appreciate her appearance and the meal. Next would have come some small talk, flirting, and no doubt, some personal fun time.

What did she get?

A quick hug, no compliments on her appearance or the meal. Instead he made a beeline for the food, woofed it down without any conversation besides grunts that seemed to ruin her appetite. And when it came to fun time…well, let’s just say Mr. Happy was there and back again in less than 3 seconds, or as she said, before she could unhook the back her dress. And to top it all off, he finds his way to her bed and passes out from what has to be over eating and rapid blood loss to the brain.

His POV: IT was AMAZING!

Man A wanted exactly what he got: A good looking woman who cooked for him (free food), had nothing to say, and stood there long enough for him to get his rocks off. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the comfy bed. In his eyes, major score!! And he got to leave with his needs satisfied in time to watch the big game at home without interruption.

 

COUPLE B:

HER POV: Most ROMANTIC DATE EVER!

Everything about the evening was different than being with any other man. First, he paid for a cab. Dinner was an amazing experience. After, instead of hailing a cab, they took the scenic route, walking along, holding hands, and experiencing the night life from another point of view. At his place, the romance continued with lit candles to set the mood, a very intense love making session that lasted longer than anything she’d ever experienced. And the best part, he didn’t pass out when they were done. They lay there wrapped in each other’s arms and talked all night.

In a nutshell, everything was magical and perfect, just what a girl could ever want.

 His POV: EPIC FAIL!!!!

It’s been a long day full of one frustrating event after another. Failure to pay his light bill lead to to spend money taking her out instead of having her come over. After paying for a cab, dinner was so expensive he could no longer afford a taxi cab home. He plays off the whole broke thing by suggesting they ‘sight see’ and walk to his place, (is this chick gullible or what???). No electricity leaves him improvising again with candles. Frustrated by the series of mind numbing fails, he has too much pride to say let’s call it an evening and tires to play it off by ‘making love’ when what he’s really doing is stalling for time to work himself up for that magic moment. By the end of it all, he doesn’t feel like finishing the act, but he’s literally ‘in the game’ and has to figure out how to play it off, because hey, Ms. Gullible is having the time of her life. Again, frustrated, pissed off, and ready for it all to be over, he can’t sleep which means he has no choice but to be subjected to Ms. Chatty Cathy.

This date sucked so much he probably would refuse to see her ever again.

Pad of Paper & Pen

 

 

 

Now, how does all of this tie into writing?

First, let’s review the definitions of Point of View and Perspective:

 

 

 

 

 

POINT OF VIEW: The position of the narrator in relation to the story, as indicated by the narrator’s outlook from which the events are depicted and by the attitude toward the characters

PERSPECTIVE: the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship

(Definitions via dictionary.com)

DETERMINING USE OF POINT OF VIEW:

When telling a story, you must know which character’s voice you want the readers to experience. If the entire story is being written from one character’s POV, then it’s simple. Everything that happens comes from them. If your story is being told from more than one character’s POV, then you must decide how much of is being told and from who’s POV. This can be done in several ways:

  • An entire scene or chapter is told in one character’s POV
  • A scene or chapter is told in split POV’s
  • A section, or portion (meaning more than a few chapters in a row or Part 1, Part 2, etc. of the manuscript) are told from various characters’ POV

Knowing the story your telling (story line) and what your characters experience and how those experiences will affect their decision making (back story) determines who’s POV is shared at certain points. The character’s reactions to their environment and scenarios they face will be based on that back story.

Of the four characters portrayed in the video, the best example would be Man B from the second couple. An unfortunate event (failure to pay his light bill) led to changing his date night plans (paying for cab, expensive dinner, walking home, candle light sex, aggravation to the point of failure to perform for an extended point of time, and sleeplessness). Lack of electricity set off a catalyst of events that when told from his point of view, led to the date from hell. His POV was much more entertaining than Woman B who saw things from a fairytale perspective.

Now, how does perspective come into play?

Come back tomorrow where I’ll break down that portion of the video, as well as share a scene from my bestselling novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, where I demonstrate the use of perspective from three characters POV in one scene. Until then, Happy Writing!!!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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#FeatureFriday- The Blind Date by Delaney Diamond!

Today I welcome my good friend, Delaney Diamond, who is back with a new series and a contest!

Cover_The Blind Date_200X300

One night changes everything . . . again.

Years ago, when Ryan Stewart saw Shawna Ferguson, it was love at first sight. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a free man, and his deception caused him to lose her after a weekend that changed his life.

When Shawna’s sister and brother-in-law set her up on a blind date, she has no idea it’s with Ryan, with whom she’d spent a weekend she wishes she could forget. She reluctantly agrees to finish the date with him, but doing so leaves her vulnerable to his charms and the heat he ignited in her that very first night.

 Get it now for FREE until October 7, 2013: Amazon

 

Excerpt:

Yvonne Wallace looked at Shawna from across the table in the kitchen. They were having breakfast, and as usual, Little Miss Homemaker—as Shawna liked to teasingly call her sister—had set out a feast of homemade raisin bread, butter and homemade jam, scrambled eggs, and fruit cups.

Only two years separated the sisters, but their personalities were as different as black and white. While Shawna had dreamed of opening her own boutique, which she’d accomplished four years ago, Yvonne had dreamed of becoming a wife and mother. At twenty-four she’d married a doctor, and by their second anniversary, she’d quit her job to make that dream a reality. After six years of marriage, they had a four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son, and Yvonne was seven months pregnant with her second son. Taking care of her family and getting ready for the baby filled her days.

Yvonne was one of those people who, because she was happily married, wanted the same for everyone else. She’d found her Mr. Right and claimed he existed for every woman. Shawna knew better. Finding a good man—with whom one was compatible—seemed as unrealistic as finding a diamond mine on her property. Basically, it wasn’t gonna happen, and Shawna had resigned herself to the fact.

Her sister couldn’t seem to understand she was perfectly happy being single, and she kept trying to help Shawna find a man through “chance” meetings and “unexpected” visits when Shawna came to visit her.

When the conversation came up about her paltry dating options, Shawna had a solution. “I’ll hire an escort the next time I need to attend an event with a date.” She shrugged.

“Ew. You will not. No sister of mine is going to pay for a date.”

“There’s nothing nasty about it,” Shawna said. “Lots of women do it nowadays.”

“Desperate women.”

No. Women who don’t have the time or energy to sift through what’s out there. The companies match you up with someone who has similar interests, you go out, and then you’re done. Bam. No fuss, no muss.”

“Why do that when I have the perfect man for you?”

“I’m not looking for a man.”

Yvonne rolled her eyes. “Okay, whatever. I have the perfect escort for you. Is that better?”

“No offense, but you haven’t exactly done a good job setting me up with the right men in the past.” Shawna pretended to be in deep thought. “Let’s see, remember the guy from your church, Steve, who started singing hymns in the car on the ride back home and prayed for my soul as we stood at the front door?”

“He loves the Lord. What’s wrong with that?”

Shawna narrowed her eyes and continued. “David, who wouldn’t stop talking about his ex-wife the entire night. Our date ended with him crying on my shoulder about how much he missed her.”

“Look at the bright side. You got a free meal, and at least you didn’t waste any more time with him than necessary. One date in and you already knew he was wrong for you.”

“And I can’t forget Nolan. Sexy, suave, rich. What a surprise to see his face on the evening news as the person who’d robbed several banks in the area and left lines of poetry as his trademark. Just think, I can say I dated the Poetry Bandit.”

“Granted, I should have dug a little deeper when he said he worked in banking.”

Shawna sighed. “I know you mean well, but your choice in men leaves me a bit . . . how should I say this? Terrified.” Shawna slathered butter on the bread and bit into a crunchy slice.

“This guy could be right for you, though. I really think the two of you will hit it off.”

“How do you know him?”

“So you’re interested?”

“Answer the question.”

“He’s a friend of William’s.”

The fact that he was one of her brother-in-law’s friends meant he was probably better vetted than the men her sister had introduced her to in the past. Interest piqued, she said, “Tell me about him.”

“I thought you weren’t interested.”

“Would you tell me about him!”

Yvonne giggled, cocky in her triumph. “Like I said, William knows him better, but I’ve also met him, and he’s really nice. You’ll like him.”

“What does he look like?”

“He’s about six feet tall. Great personality, really nice guy.”

Shawna watched her sister closely. She seemed evasive, which made Shawna suspicious. “You mentioned nice twice, but not whether or not he’s attractive. Does he have an eye in the middle of his forehead or something?”

Yvonne waved her hand and snorted, as if to say, don’t be ridiculous. “Of course not.”

“Then what does he look like?”

“Don’t worry, he’s attractive. He’s not your usual type, that’s all. So please don’t do that thing you do.”

“What thing?” Shawna asked, already offended.

“You know that thing you do when you’re trying to cover up your surprise or when you don’t like something—you smile, but it’s this weird, creepy smile. Be open-minded.”

“I don’t do that. And why would I need to be open-minded? What’s wrong with him, Yvonne?” Concern started to set in.

“Nothing. But really, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Trust your big sister on this one, okay?”

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Get it now for FREE until October 7, 2013: Amazon

Not only is Delaney Diamond giving away a free copy of her book, she’s having a contest!

Prize: Winners choice of four (4) of the following items: (1) Delaney Diamond T-shirt in large or extra large (2) Delaney Diamond two-tone tote bag (3) $20 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (4) Delaney Diamond keychain (5) an autographed copy of Hot Latin Men Vol. I (6) an autographed copy of Hot Latin Men Vol. II (7) four bookmarks with Delaney Diamond book covers.

Eligibility: You must be a subscriber to Delaney’s blog. Prizes open to U.S. and international entrants.

How to enter: Correctly match each blog on her tour with its description. Visit the contest post on her website for the details.

Deadline to enter: October 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST

Winners will be notified by email and announced on the contest post on her website.

About the Author:

Delaney Diamond writes sweet and sensual romance novels and is the site manager of Romance Novels in Color, where diversity in romance in celebrated. When she’s not reading or writing she’s trying out new recipes or traveling to an interesting locale. Find free reads and the first chapter of all her books at www.delaneydiamond.com.

 

Website     Facebook     Twitter     Romance Novels in Color

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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Book Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the WTH???

Attractive Woman with Her Books

Book reviews. Every author wants them. Every author fears them. They can be the shining star used to promote your work, or the one thing holding readers back from deciding to one-click and add to their growing collection. Over the last week, both of my books have received reviews: a 3, a 4 and a 5 Star review, and each has seen the dreaded 1 and 2 Star reviews. Each reviewer has had something different to say and it made me think…

What good can a review do for the author? How can you read through the lines? And when do you ignore them?

The first rule to any book review is: everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Easier said than done sometimes, right?

The fact of the matter is, no matter how well your book is written, no matter how clean you edits are, or how many people sing your books praises, somebody out there is going to hate it.

What’s that old saying, “You can’t please everybody?” No truer words have been spoken.

Above all things you must remember readers have different taste, like different types of storytelling, or crave a certain type of drama, fantasy, or escape from reality. If your book doesn’t hit the mark for them, chances are they will not like it. A good example of this is the romance genre. There are many ‘heat’ levels out there. Everything from Hard core BDSM, to the tame ‘bedroom door shuts in your face’, and where I fall, somewhere in between…not erotica, but definitely erotic. (I recently had a reader tell me my scenes made her blush, lol, and they are in no way close to what makes me blush!)

The flip side to this is if your book is intentionally written to draw on a readers emotions – depending on their personality type – they may dislike your characters because they cannot or do not sympathize with your characters decisions. They get so upset they are personally offended or pissed off and no longer read the full story.  They base their opinions on the characters actions and what they feel should have happened, thus the bad review.

As an author, what can you take from this?

For starters, learn to read between the lines. Once the emotional sting is gone and the tears have dried, or you stop using the ‘f’ word, whichever comes first, try to decipher what the reader is trying to say. Did they dislike the character, the plot, or the writing? Was the character unrealistic or did the decisions they make just piss them off? As the author, only you know what motivates your characters and what emotions you want to draw from the reader. So the questions you must ask yourself are:

  • Did I do too much or too little?
  • Was enough back ground information given?
  • Was the scene or reason behind the decisions made explained clearly?
  • Were questions/goals asked, defined, and reached?
  • Were there enough unanswered questions to keep the reader interested without boring them?
  • How well thought out was the plot?
  • Are there gaps in the story that leave the plot line open?
  • Was a resolution found and satisfying?
  • What about the pacing? Too fast, too slow, or just plain boring? (you’ll know the answer to this if a majority of your reviews say the same thing)
  • What can I take from this review to make my next project better?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Some characters are meant to piss people off, but you want your main characters to pull the reader in, keep their attention and have them rooting for them to reach their goal. One of the most important things to remember, no matter what genre you write, pleasing the masses (lovers of your genre) is the key, not the people who don’t or won’t agree.  In other words, if you write Sci-Fi Erotica, don’t expect a Historical Romance lover to go crazy about your book. That’s not to say readers won’t cross over to different genres, but some are more comfortable with what they know.
  • If your book is getting an influx of negative reviews, pay attention to the market your promoting to. If book lovers of your genre continue to say the same thing, you may need to step back, re-evaluate your style of writing, learn more about storyline structure, and find honest beta readers or a writing group to help you find out what went wrong. Revamp, rewrite, try again!
  • Like TV shows and movies, there are various book genres that have a different style of pacing. Some readers want the satisfaction of a full ride that has them hanging on from the beginning to the end with no breaks. (Think roller coaster ride, 0-60 in 2 seconds). They want if fast, hard, and with a sudden stop. Other readers like the slow walk on the beach, long conversations, the romance, staring off at the sunset, and a satisfactory ending. And then there’s the in-between reader who likes the road trip. They want to leave the house doing the city speed limit, but when they hit the highway, they cruise with the traffic, enjoying the twists and turns and the fast pace. They like to visit the rest stop and stretch their legs before merging with the flow of traffic again. A well written story has the mixed pace of fast, slow, and cruise control to keep the ride interesting.

What does all of this mean?

As writers, we know what our comfort zone is when it comes to telling our stories. We know what our intentions are and what we want our character to see, think, and feel. We view our work as our babies and it’s often hard to put down the laptop and share it with the world. Will we ever be able to win over the masses? No, because there are too many genres which means readers what different things. If your book doesn’t deliver for them, chances are it’s not your story, but your style of writing or vice versa. Either way, don’t let a bad review get you down. See it as a learning tool. If you can find room for improvement, make it! If it’s more of a personal issue for the reviewer, ignore it and move on! In the end, YOU, the writer, know how much time, effort, and work you put in to make your ideas hit paper. Don’t let the negative stop you! As a good friend and fellow author says, ‘you have to put on your big girl panties and get over it!’ – Carmen DeSousa

#SampleSunday and a little bit more…….

After a long day of hard work, bleeding eyes, and burning a few brain cells, the new look of my blog is complete!  But not only that, I have an announcement to make!

Starting JULY 1st-31st, my debut and Bestselling novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, is on sale for .99 cents!

Yep, you read that right! If you’ve been waiting for the best deal, THIS IS IT!!!!!

Here’s a little sample to wet that appetite!

Excerpt: 

Chapter 1

“This is the last time I wear this dress.”

“Oh, please, Ebony,” Yasmine, my best friend and roommate, yelled in my ear.

The music pounding out of the nightclub’s speakers made it nearly impossible to hear her.

“Stop fidgeting. You look uncomfortable,” she added, winking at the bartender who handed us our drinks.

No matter how many times I adjusted the hem of my dress, it was impossible to ignore the warm air tickling the backs of my thighs as people pushed past me in the crowded bar. It would take more fabric to keep my shapely derriere from involuntary exposure.

“Thanks.” I slipped money into the bartender’s tip jar, and he rewarded me with a gorgeous smile. “For the record, I am uncomfortable.” I turned to face Yasmine. “Freakum dresses are your thing, not mine.”

Yasmine laughed. “True, true, everyone’s not blessed with a body like mine.” She ran a hand over her hips, striking a pose. “Besides, I love showing mine off.”

I smirked before sipping my margarita. Yasmine’s light-skinned complexion, slender ballet dancer body, long legs, and B-cup breasts suited her personality.  There were times I wished my body was more like hers, though. It would make shopping for clothes a lot easier. As it was, I had been blessed with the shapely figure my Nana called ‘bootylicious’.  According to her, and her photo albums, I looked just like her when she was my age, with caramel-colored skin, perfectly proportioned hips, a butt that drew major attention, and D-cup breasts, making it hard for a man to look me straight in the eye.

I groaned while making another wardrobe adjustment. The jaw-dropping cleavage of my dress threatened to give my ‘girls’ their own airtime.

“I love my body, too. I’d just rather not show it to everyone.”

Yasmine shook her head while my attention went back to the patrons of the club. A wide variety of men lined the dark walls, standing just out of range of the overhead lights, making it impossible to pick out their faces in the smoky room. No doubt, many were on the hunt, looking for an easy lay. It shouldn’t be hard; one scan of the room revealed potential opportunities in every direction. Nearly every woman in the club wore a dress so tight it appeared to be a spray on, with skirts stopping just below their hips. I cringed. That sounded like my attire. Self-conscious, I tugged on the edges of my dress again.

The next time we go out, Yasmine is not selecting my outfit.

“That dress is going to get you some major action tonight. You’ll be thanking me in the morning…or afternoon.” She laughed.

I rolled my eyes. “I don’t have time to get into a real relationship right now. Finishing this last year of college is my focus. I’ve got to get that veterinarian job at the zoo, I’ve worked too hard to mess up now. Besides, I don’t need a man to take care of me.”

Yasmine smirked.

“Financially,” I clarified. “Having a nice body to lie against is a different story.”

She laughed and held out her hand for a high-five. “That’s my girl. Look around tonight. I bet you’ll find someone.” Her attention went to a dark skinned guy headed in our direction. He glanced over, smiled, and kept walking. “There’s one right there.”

He was attractive all right, but not the physical type I preferred. I was attracted to men who were tall, had thick lips, and eyes that peered into the depths of my soul. A man with the body of a sex machine, yet had no problem working hard for a living and wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.

One of the first things I noticed about a man was not his shoe size, but his hands. If they were too pretty and soft, the man didn’t believe in hard work. If they were overly calloused with visible dirt under the nails and full of scrapes and bruises, those were signs that a man didn’t take care of the little things, which meant the rest of him would be questionable. Now, a man with hands somewhere in between, calloused from work with no traces of dirt under his nails, those were signs of a hardworking man who could clean up nice. Everywhere.

I shook my head and sipped my drink. “He’s not my type.”

“Stop being picky. It’s only going to be a summer fling.”

“Even so, if I’m going to give a man my body and my time, I should at least be able to hold an intelligent conversation. Everything doesn’t have to happen between the sheets.”

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Read the rest of Chapter One here! 

AHNEB Sale with seal pic 450

 

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.

 

 

 

Available for .99 cents starting JULY 1st-31st! 

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the second book in The Butterfly Memoirs series, JADED!

For more information, visit this link! 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

How Important is Branding to an Unpublished Author or Published Author?

Website Author Banner

Branding, we’ve all heard of it. Products such as Tide with the large orange bottle, McDonald’s and those unforgettable golden arches, and then there is Chili’s and the green jalapeno pepper, to name a few. These and many more can be found in nearly every town, on TV, and on the web. Each of them has one thing in common: the use of color, shape, or item represents the company and products they sell.

How does this relate to an author, published or unpublished?

When a publishing house prints a book, the covers are unique to each book, but have you noticed that no matter how many books an author publishes with that line, the font of their name is (usually) the same? If the book is part of a series, regardless of what number it is, the main title will be the same, for example, the Harry Potter series.  The colors change from cover to cover, but the font remains the same.  This allows fans to find it when scanning the shelves of libraries and book stores. Think about it, do you read each and every name on the cover when looking for your favorite author, or do you allow your eyes to find the size, shape, and ever familiar font of the authors name to know you’ve found what you were looking for?

Did you know you don’t have to be a published author to develop your brand? I established mine before I began querying.

Let me tell you how…

In 2010, upon the advice of those around me, I started a blog. The point of blogging was to help me improve my writing skills. The experience taught me how to engage an audience and receive feedback and participation through comments. And while I was nowhere near ready to publish anything I wrote, I did build a following. The more I shared my experiences, the more people followed my blog. I also established connections via popular social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook.  Visitors to my blog connected with me online, and online connections started visiting my blog. It was months before I upgraded my online presence ‘picture’ from a downloaded image of a heart and book to being brave enough to show my face.  And wouldn’t you know it, the moment I put my picture up, my following on all platforms increased!

Without realizing it, my face became a part of my brand. No matter what social networking site I am attached to, you’re going to find the same picture, same name…easy recognition.

Next came creating a brand, or theme, for the books. The Butterfly Memoirs series is a Contemporary Romance novel that features interracial couples dealing with real life issues. I knew from the moment I started writing my covers would not have the typical Man/Woman embarrassing or half naked. I like symbolism in my stories and I carry that theme in my covers. The series covers will always consist of two main elements, a butterfly to symbolize the female character as well as the image of something that represents the male character in the book.

As for the series itself, I have a logo of a butterfly imprinted into a wax seal that says ‘The Butterfly Memoirs’ and my name, thus branding the series. So anytime you see my picture, logo, or book cover, you’ll know it’s me.

Though you may not be writing a series, you still need to build a brand for yourself and for your audience. Here are a few simple tips, and the best part, they don’t cost a thing!

Branding your online image:

Here are a few tips on taking an author picture without spending a lot of money. Remember, your picture introduces you to your readers. As they say, a picture says a thousand words!

  • Photography equipment: If you can’t afford a professional headshot, take advantage of the features of your digital camera or cell phone camera.
  • Setting: Plain back grounds or simple settings work best. The key is to engage with the reader, not have them wonder where you were when the picture was taken.
  • Wardrobe: Keep it simple! Use solid colors that compliment you. Keep away from strips and patterns because they are distracting. Ladies, keep that jewelry simple, guys, don’t forget to shave or tighten up that hair cut! (Of course, if grungy or over the top is what you’re going for as your ‘persona’, have fun!) *TIP: If you study my picture, you’ll see I wear a butterfly ring that is facing the camera and not away. I am pulling my book/series brand into my image. It’s subliminal branding!
  • Posing: Be comfortable! Don’t try some awkward pose that will translate pain in your eyes though your lips are smiling. Be natural, focus on the camera, and imagine you’re looking directly at your reader. Keep your mind clear…negative thoughts will translate through your facial features no matter how hard you try! Sell yourself!
  • Editing: When done, upload your picture and crop it to take out any blank spaces, once again, the focus should be on you. Readers want to know who YOU are. Off centered images with dead spaces are distracting as well as poor lighting.
  • Sharing: Now that you have your picture, share it with the world! Post it on all of your networking sites so readers will recognize you, no matter where they are! Most people recognize and remember faces before names. If you have one picture on Facebook, and another on Twitter, and yet another on Google+, fans will be unsure if it’s you. Keep it uniform! If at any time you change or update your photo, be sure to change it on all of your sites. **Ignore the urge to change it up every few weeks! Even though your name may be sitting beside the image, people recognize faces before names. Again, it’s branding! After all, McDonald’s doesn’t change the color or shape of their golden arches!**

Branding your style as an author:

  • Your writing style and the way you give voice to your characters is a part of your brand. Read books from two of your favorite authors. Notice how the authors writing style/voice varies from one another, yet, when you read more than one of their books, each of their stories have a similar tone, speech pattern, or even use of particular phrases that distinguishes their writing style from someone else’s. So should yours.
  • Interactions with fans on social media can make or break you. How many times have you come across offensive, political, or highly opinionated posts or tweets that have offended you or left you with a sour taste in your mouth about the commenter? Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but beware of using your social presence as a showcase for your opinions. Readers now have access to you online and will pay close attention to what you have to say. Make your post count. There are times to joke; there are times to be professional. There are times when your fingers need to be still on the keyboard and you avoid addressing a comment, even if it stings. The last thing you want to do is turn off a fan due to your political views or personal feelings. Instead, use your online presence as a way to build your fan base, sharing information about you, your books, and upcoming projects. Fans these days love author/reader interaction. As Indie authors, we have a chance to do what many NYT Bestsellers can’t…talk to our fans on a regular bases. Readers love it!
  • Make your online presence known. Websites are the home base of your brand, the place where a reader can be directed and learn everything about you. This can be done one of two ways: 1.) pay for a professional website or 2.) Take advantage of free website tools and build your own. Sites such as WordPress.com, Blogger.com, and Wix.com, to name a few, offer free blog hosting. (I’ve used all three, and WordPress, which hosts this blog/website, is by far the best!) All you have to do is create an account. This takes time and patience, but can be an educational and rewarding experience. Keep your site professional with links to all of your social networking sites, products (remember, your book is a product), and any merchandise (free reads, etc.) The more work you put into it, the more people will be drawn back to it to see what’s new. Don’t publish content and step away. Website maintenance and fresh information is a must in order to keep your readers coming back. Your website represents you 24/7, even when you are not online. Content should include: a picture, a well-written bio, (remember, you’re an author. It should be free of grammatical errors. If you have a poorly written bio, readers will hesitate to purchase your books because they feel they will be written the same way), all sales links and links to social sites where they can find, follow, or contact you. Your site should also include information about your books (book blurbs), and a sample of your work for them to read.

I know it sounds daunting and like a lot of work, and believe me it is! The point of all of this is you’re a writer and it’s what you love. In order to be successful, you have to put in the work. Marketing and discovering your brand is all about knowing who you are and how you want your writing perceived. By the way, I’m not telling you something that I haven’t done. Everything you see on this site was done by me and it took weeks! But it was well worth it! J

#WriterWednesday- Interview with Nikki Walker!

Welcome to another #WriterWednesday! Today I introduce Nikki Walker, who writes Contemporary Romance and Inspirational Fiction. I had the pleasure of meeting Nikki on Facebook and have enjoyed our conversations. So, grab your cup of coffee, sit back, and get to know her!

All books

Welcome, Nikki!

Wordsmiths Interview Questioner

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Don’t forget to send a photo, cover of your latest book, a brief book blurb, and where you can be reached in cyberspace!

 

What inspired you to write?

Much of my writing starts with, ‘what if?’  Sometimes, it just comes to me in a desire to write and once I get in the process of writing, the story will unravel or be refined from that point forward.  Sometimes I can see it play out in my mind like a movie. It’s really good when the story comes to me like this—the chances of it being completed and not thrown into the Eternal WIP File is slim. There is some of me or an experience of mine in every story that I’ve ever written.

 

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

I write Contemporary Romance and Inspirational Fiction.

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

Lately, it’s been very late at night into the early morning.  This started out as insomnia—well that is what it is.  However, it has become the time when my desire to write is the strongest.

 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Hmm, my writing quirk?  The only one I can think of is to be in a zone free of “Ma-ma-ma-mommy-heyma!”  I think that will pretty much do it for me. 🙂

MJ: LOL! Pretty hard to do during summer vacation, that’s for sure!

Are you a pantser or plotter?

I am a pantser.  I am only beginning to loosely outline some direction and that only lately.  I love the story to flow freely from my pen or now my keys. But I am considering your advice MJ!

MJ:  It never hurts to try something new in order to find out what works best for you! 🙂

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?

Every one of my stories has some of me in it.  There was one event that shook me.  A young couple that I met were in a car accident.  I would only see the family in my bible services and some get-togethers, but I didn’t really know her—it was something that I intended to do.  She was very much full of life, just glowed all the time.  The couple had a beautiful little girl that my daughter loves as well.  The wife did not survive the accident.  That hurt me to my heart.  It made me wonder so many things that we all wonder when we hear about tragedies like that.  For one, how every day is a gift, and what we would like our last conversations with our loved ones to be.   That was the beginning of the idea for my story, A Love Worth Waiting For.

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

Some may be starting a little more prepared than I was, but the best advice I’ve been given is to write as often as one can and recognize that it’s all a learning process.  I would also advise that they invest in themselves as much as they can afford financially and with as much time and balance as they can manage in every other area of their lives.

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

I am Self-pubbed.

What are your current projects?

I am currently working on In Search of a Healing Place.  It is the follow up to Redemptive Acts, the second in the Redemptive Series.

ISOAHP Cover

 Tyrone has some major adjustments to make. He is fresh out of jail and has been turned away from the life of luxury that Wheeler Industries, the family hotel chain, used to afford him. His days of being the spoilt younger son are over. He transitions from jail to working for his father as a Mail Department Manager. Not exactly what he envisioned while serving his time. Nor did he think he’d be living in a rental that he would have to pay for out of his new, greatly-reduced salary. Farryn Grant, his father’s personal assistant, has been assigned to help him transition to a much simpler life. Neither of them anticipate how this arrangement will affect their hearts.

Most importantly, Tyrone has to figure out how to make peace with the pain he has caused his brother and sister-in-law, Cherise whom he raped during a frat party. This assault continues to fracture his family, who are in the process of healing. None of them have quite figured out how to deal with the fact that while he is the father of Diamond, the child that resulted from the assault, it’s his brother who is raising her. This story leaves one wondering if there can be redemption for Tyrone. Will he and his hurting family ever find a healing place?

 Amazon    Other Books 

 About the Author: 

I am a writer of African American Contemporary & Inspirational Romance. Long before I had an impulse to write, I was reading. Reading was my EVERYTHING! Reading was my escape and means of entering new worlds. Everything was possible between the covers of a book, especially to a little girl growing up in Newark, New Jersey in the 70’s and 80’s.  A 4th grade contest helped me put my first words on paper and eventually it became a means for emotionally venting when I began to journal. Something Oprah Winfrey said on her show reignited my desire to write stories in my twenties.  Then I discovered that with a pen, I could re-write endings to situations in my own life. Now writing is not only a conduit to healing, it’s a means of hugging others through words. Still for a long time, I was too shy to show my work to people beyond close friends and family. Long before I had an impulse to write, I was reading. Reading was my EVERYTHING! Reading was my escape and means of entering new worlds. Everything was possible between the covers of a book, especially to a little girl growing up in Newark, New Jersey in the 70’s and 80’s.  A 4th grade contest helped me put my first words on paper and eventually it became a means for emotionally venting when I began to journal. Something Oprah Winfrey said on her show reignited my desire to write stories in my twenties. write stories in my twenties.  Then I discovered that with a pen, I could re-write endings to situations in my own life. Now writing is not only a conduit to healing, it is a means of hugging others through words. Still for a long time, I was too shy to show my work to people beyond close friends and family.  That all changed nearly three years ago with the writing of Finding You.  Then a year ago my muse woke up and I’ve been writing ever since.

Twitter     Facebook     Google+        Goodreads        Email       Blog/Website

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

#WriterWednesday- Interview with Lisa Orchard!

Welcome to another Writer Wednesday feature! Today I introduce you to Lisa Orchard, who writes mystery novels for young adults.

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Welcome, Lisa!

What inspired you to write?

I was an avid reader when I was a youngster, I loved Nancy Drew!  By the time I was in fifth grade I was writing my own mysteries and playing detective too. J I guess you could say those early mysteries are my inspiration for writing today, but I also feel  that I have a message in each of my stories for the young people who are reading them.

 

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

I write Upper Middle Grade/Young Adult Mystery/Thrillers. I chose this genre because I’ve always loved mysteries and they come naturally to me. That being said, I’m also right in the middle of a coming of age novel that I’m really excited about.

 

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

I don’t have a schedule. I write whenever I have the opportunity. Life gets pretty busy with two active boys, so I try to fit it in around their activities.

 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

When I get stuck I first try chocolate and if that doesn’t work I go for a walk or a run. It seems that exercise stimulates me when chocolate doesn’t. But I always go the chocolate route first; after all, I’ve been told it’s an Anti-Oxidant! I tell people I eat it for health reasons.

MJ: LOL! Good one! I’m going to use that! 🙂

 

Are you a pantser or plotter?

I’m a total Pantser. It’s seems that outlining has a negative effect on my creative process.

 

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?

The stories are based on some of my own experiences.  I wanted to be a detective when I was younger; however, they’re greatly embellished to make the stories more interesting.              

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

Keep writing! I’ve noticed that my writing improves with each story that I write.

 

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

I would say that I’m “indie pubbed”. I’m published through Astraea Press, an awesome publisher by the way. 🙂

 

What are your current projects?

I just finished the third Super Spies novel and it’s scheduled for release in early August.  It’s titled, “The Super Spies and the Pied Piper.” I’m excited about this one!  I’m also working on a Coming of Age Young Adult Novel and it’s off to a great start.

Thanks M.J. for interviewing me today! It was fun!

TheSuperSpiesandtheHighSchoolBomber 500x750

The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer 500x750

Find Lisa’s books on Amazon!

Find Lisa’s Books on Barnes & Noble!

About the Author:

Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on mysteries by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then.  “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber” is the second book in the “Super Spies” series. Her first book was published in March of 2012 and it has received rave reviews.

After graduating from Central Michigan University with a Marketing Degree she spent many years in the insurance industry, pining to express her creative side.  The decision to stay home with her children gave her the opportunity to follow her dream and become a writer. She currently resides in Rockford Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the third novel that stars the same quirky teens. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Twitter     Facebook     Google+     Goodreads     Blog/Website     Email

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email


#8Sunday- Food, Family, and Friends

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend!

The MAN GRILL…the place where a man is king….lol! No doubt, there will be a lot of manly cooking going on over this holiday weekend and I hope everyone has fun. There’s nothing like gathering around a smoking grill with family and friends to prepare a feast! This brought to mind a scene from A Heart Not Easily Broken.

It’s the Fourth of July and Brian convinces Ebony to join him at his parents house for the family BBQ. It’s the first time she meets his family, and boy is it huge! Four sisters, their husbands, nieces and nephews…and of course, Mom and Dad. Ebony’s nervousness dissipates once she meets his father.

Excerpt:

I winked at Ebony as we walked over to the stainless-steel giant we’d chipped in to buy him on Father’s Day. The savory smell of hot dogs, steak, and chicken permeated the air.

“Dinner looks great, Dad.”

“Me and this grill are a match made in heaven.” He took a moment to flip a row of steaks. “The kitchen is for the women. But this…” He pointed with pride to the grill, “this is man’s work. It’s like the caveman days of cooking over a pit fire.”

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If you haven’t read the Amazon Bestseller, A Heart Not Easily Broken, buy your copy today! It’s $3.99 and available for Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and on Smashwords. If Paperback is what you prefer, find it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! 

 A Heart Not Easily Broken Release Party!!!

M.J.Kane- Women’s Fiction/Interracial Romance/Contemporary Romance

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond-haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.

ONE CLICK for REVIEWS, FREE CHAPTER READS, ALL SALES LINKS!

For more information on The Butterfly Memoirs Series and a sample of the next book, Jaded, visit this link! 

Looking for more #8Sunday Samples? Visit this link! 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email