This Writer’s Life…Update!!!

As an author, I must say, the past few weeks have been amazing and unbelievably busy! I remember a month ago looking at my calendar and stressing trying to figure out how to manage it all without running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Did I succeed?

Well….it all got done, and successfully I might add, but I couldn’t avoid the headless chicken! ūüôā

So, what happened? Oh where to begin….

IMG_0695[1]The month of July was spent doing another world wind blog hop promotions tour for my first novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, which is nearing its first publishing birthday next month! Can you believe it? It’s almost been a year since words that I wrote were published and shared with the world! And to this day, it is still on and off of the Amazon Bestsellers list after staying there and holding it’s own for six months straight! ¬†I am happy to have written a story that not only entertains, it captures readers emotions and leaves them wanting more! Believe me, it was not an easy feat!

I also had the privilege of hosting a Writer’s Workshop at my local library where I shared my experiences and tips on how to handle the query process without losing your mind. I got great feedback from that workshop. I also wrote a blog about it to share with those of you who were unable to attend. You’ll find it here: A Guide to Landing a Publishing Contract the ‘Write’ Way.¬†¬†Be sure to read the entire post and take advantage of the downloadable handouts attached to the blog.

I also had a lot of fun with several groups I am affiliated with on Facebook! This is the part that makes writing worth the hard work! First, there was the W.R.S.R.G. (Writer’s Review and Support Resource Group) book chat which gave readers and fellow authors a chance to get to know more about me, the author. I was able to share my experiences and go into depth about why I write and what inspired The Butterfly Memoirs series, as well as offer some of my favorite writing tips.

Next came hanging out with my friends on the B.R.A.B. (Building Relationships around Books). This is a fabulous group or readers and authors. I got ‘called out’ to participate in an Author DJ Book Battle. Crazy right? But a ton of fun! I went head to head with author Loretta R. Wells as we shared songs that either inspired our book or best represented the story or characters. The twist? We didn’t get to decide which book was used and the songs had to be at least ten years old. Talk about a mental work out! I’m happy to report I won! ūüôā

***And here’s something that made my year: I have been selected as a finalist in the B.R.A.B. Book Awards in the categories of Best New Author and Breakout Author! I am honored to have been nominated with the other talented people in the categories. I’d love to have your support! To cast your vote, visit this link to see the nomination form, then email it in! I’ll report back once the winners have been announced!***

The biggest event of my writing career happened last week when I was featured by the lovely organization, The Virtuous Women. LLC, as they hosted their first annual Author Workshop that was co-hosted by Barnes & Noble. It was a wonderful experience, and I had the opportunity to meet such talented and record setting authors within the community. People such as Coach William “Buck” Godfrey, who not only has an outstanding career as a football coach with an amazing championship record, he’s also assisted many of his players to see their dream of attending college and playing for the NFL. He also has a a Masters in English and has published three books. To learn more about him, visit this link where you can find more information about his career.¬†

I also meet Mr. Coleman R. Seward. Mr. Seward is a Chemist who worked for the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and has received the highest award that position can achieve: the FDA Award of Merit. He has published over thirty scientific papers in leading national and international journals. His book, The Chemistry of Change and Growth is his memoir.

So, what is next for M.J. Kane?

A LOT!

I’m currently working on the third novel in The Butterfly Memoirs, Lonely Heart, ¬†and will be announcing the publishing date in the next few months, so, stay tuned! I also have a few projects I’m holding close to the chest, but the moment I’m ready to share, believe me, your going to love it!

If your not already, be sure to follow my blog so you can get on my monthly newsletter email list. If you want updates on what’s happening with me or to be in line for private contest only to be offered to my newsletter followers, SIGN UP TODAY!!! ¬†Also, if your a lover of all things social networking, I am now on Pinterest and Instagram!

Pinterest: There are four boards to chose from. There are quick links to current blog post as well as seeing what books I like or am reading. My favorite board of course is the one dedicated to The Butterfly Memoirs. Ever wondered how I ‘see’ Brian and Ebony, Yasmine and Zach, and Kaitlyn? Stop by and check it out!

Instagram: While I write the memoirs of my characters, I figured it would be fun to share my own pictorial memoir. Get instant updates of what is going on in M.J.’s World when I’m not writing, or when I am. Here’s your chance to get inside of MY head! Have fun!

Well, that’s it for now! I’ve got WORK TO DO!!!! Time is of the essence because the kids are back in school and my schedule is now written around drop offs and pick ups, making sure homework is done, and getting dinner cooked on time. So much for the days of lazy summer!

Now, if would only stop raining I would be so darn sleepy! ūüôā

Happy Writing and Reading!

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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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Fall in Love with a New Series This Holiday Weekend!

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!!!

KICKBACK and get your READ ON with this 5 STAR RATED SERIES!

****THE BUTTERFLY MEMOIRS****

 

A Heart Not Easily Broken Release Party!!!

Book 1- A HEART NOT EASILY BROKEN

What secret would you keep to protect the ones you love?

Ebony Campbell has a decision to make. After falling for the last man she expected, the idea of being in an Interracial Relationship takes a back seat to the secret she‚Äôs forced to keep. Sometimes, the repercussions of bad decisions and ruin everything…

BUY YOUR COPY TODAY  for $3.99! 

 Amazon USA     Amazon UK     Paperback     Barnes  & Noble     iTunes     Smashwords

Jaded

Book 2- Jaded

Once burned, twice shy?

Unable to trust another man with her heart, Yasmine Phillips mind is on one thing: taking care of her. An unexpected friendship with a man who understands her pain leads to a fling that should have no strings. But once that line gets crossed, both must decide if the secret that comes between them is worth losing it all.

BUY YOUR COPY TODAY for $3.99

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Smashwords     iTunes      Paperback 

 First chapter, Character Bios

Wanna chat about what you’ve read? Join me and other readers on Facebook on Sunday, May 26 from 6-8 pm EST as we Dissect the Butterfly Memoirs!¬†

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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- Jaded (Book Two of The Butterfly Memoirs) – Dreams

Have you ever found yourself ¬†working at a job that, even though your good at it, is not right for you? Have you ever wanted to break away and do your own thing? Your not alone…

Excerpt:

“You‚Äôre supposed to be training me to manage the new location.‚ÄĚ

I groaned. Hearing about the third Phillips’ Family Inn was not on the top of my list of things to talk about. I appreciated the family business, especially since we sacrificed so much to open the original location twelve years ago. Since graduating college, I’d been in charge of the daily ins and outs of the second location. I ran the place as if it were my own. However, it was not what I saw myself doing five years from now.

My dream didn’t have anything to do with hotel management.

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Jaded will be available from 5 Prince Publishing on in FOUR MORE DAYS!

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

#8Sunday- Jaded- Yasmine’s Philosophy on Love, Sex,and Relationships

A woman’s outlook on love and relationships is often influenced by what she sees around her, be it ¬†from parents, family, or outside influences. Most importantly, the¬†decisions¬†a woman makes ¬†comes from¬†their own dating experiences. ¬†Yasmine’s past has been¬†tainted by a wide variety of factors. So much so, she has a¬†philosophy¬†she¬†chooses¬†to live by:

Excerpt:

My philosophy on love and relationships is simple: sex isn’t love, but it’s nice while you’re waiting.

Well, that’s what I used to think before the man that I fell in love with trampled all over my heart.

And raped my best friend.

Love will never happen for me. No man will ever understand me. The real me.

Not my parents, not my brother, not even my best friends.

My life, my experiences ‚Äď both good and bad – are what define the real me.

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Get to know Yasmine Phillips in¬†A Heart Not Easily Broken! BUY your copy of this Amazon Bestseller for $3.99 today! For REVIEWS, SAMPLE CHAPTERS, and LINKS of all formats…all with just ONE-CLICK!¬†

For more #8Sunday Samples, check out these other authors! Weekend Writing Warriors

Independent Women – A Man’s Point of View

(This was originally posted on The Butterfly Memoirs Blog on 6/6/12)
A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about the various definitions
of the word independent, and asked for  women’s feedback. What Makes A Woman Independent? received a few interesting comments.

This week, I want to tackle  the subject from a different point of view.

What do men think of an independent woman?

As you know, the subject of the conversation blog posts on this site are direct reflections of the storyline and subject matter represented in the first novel of The Butterfly Memoirs, A Heart Not Easily Broken.  The heroine, Ebony Campbell, is an  independent, goal oriented black woman who knows what she wants.

Over the past¬†seven years she focused on her education and reaching her career goal, not¬†relationships. Her decision is¬†about¬†more than just her need to succeed. Past dating¬†experiences are also a factor. She once dated a man who focused on his career as¬†much as she did, and the relationship worked…until he tells her in order
for to move forward, she would need to give up her aspirations, forget her years of education, marry him, and stay home to have his kids. Needless to say, it was over.

Then, along comes Brian Young. Despite the difference in race, Ebony is drawn to him not only because he is goal oriented and has the same desire to succeed as she does; he’s supportive of what she wants to do in life. He never asks her to give up her job, quit school, or change to a career that is not time-consuming to make room for him. This mindset is the reason why Ebony falls in love with the man Brian is, and ignores their racial differences. The issues face when it comes to their families,or society in general, are inconsequential when finding the support she needs.

I had fun getting to know Brian as I developed his character. Not only is he good-looking, athletic, and an amazing musician, he’s a go-getter. When he decides what he wants, he lets nothing stand in his way.

That‚Äôs why when he meets Ebony and she brushes him off, he¬†doesn’t¬†take it¬†personally. Instead, recognizing she is unlike most women he meets – the ones¬†that faun over him because he‚Äôs in a band¬†– he goes out of his way to get to¬†know her. Her sassyness, willingness to work hard, the fact she has a plan¬†to reach her dream, are more of a turn on for him than just how fine she is.¬†His idea of a perfect woman is having a partner who will not only support him¬†and his goals, she has her own. He‚Äôs tireless in providing Ebony the support¬†she needs, be it verbally, financial, or just giving her some space.

I’ll let him tell you himself:

I listened to her go into detail about her daily work routine. Listening to her speak passionately about something she enjoyed made my day. Her enthusiasm reminded me of the way I felt about music. Women I’d dated before only talked about what they expected from me. It was refreshing to be with a woman with goals.

And my personal favorite:

When I met Ebony, sleeping with her was my initial goal, because hell, it had been impossible to ignore a body like hers. That night I was horny and in need of a release.  If she responded to the free drink, she would have been like any other woman: a quick lay with no strings attached.  But she didn’t.

The way she’d looked me up and down and questioned my intentions threw me way off my ordinary game and into uncharted territory. Up for a challenge, I grabbed hold and refused to let go. The more I got to know her, the more I fantasized and lusted…until now.

And somehow in-between all of this I did the unthinkable and introduced her to my life. My music. My family. Since when did I start introducing women I had only known for a month to my family? Family was sacred. You never brought an unknown element into the center of your life. A rotten influence could disturb the entire balance of what gave you peace in the world.

My slice of perfection. My slice of paradise.

My Eve.

I chuckled. My father described his relationship with my mother that way. And yeah, I confided in him that I thought I‚Äôd found ‚Äėthe one‚Äô. But I had no true idea what that ‚Äėone‚Äô was until now.

Never in my life had I ever been this satisfied after sex and yet still craved more. And the more wasn’t just about sex. I wanted her smile, her company. I wanted her to be just as important in my life as my guitar.

Anything Ebony wanted from me, she could have. My time. My money. My heart.

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Brian is not alone. I did a poll recently on Facebook and among the men in my life and asked which they would prefer:

  • ¬† ¬†A woman who can take care of¬†herself without being needy.
  • ¬† ¬†No, I¬†like being the one to take care of her
  • ¬† ¬†I¬†believe in teamwork. If we work together, we can achieve more and be happy.

The results came in as this:  Teamwork. Together we can achieve more and be happy.

Today’s way of life Рand let’s face it, the economy Рdictates, often demands, a woman wear more
than just the hat of wife, mother, and lover. Sometimes we have to take care of those things and assist our men in taking care of the house financially. It also means men are looking for more than just good looks. Finding a partner who is willing to dig into the trenches with them is one of the most important characteristics they are looking for.

Refreshing isn’t it? Though a good man is often hard to find, remember, he’s out there…somewhere, you just gotta keep looking.

On that note, I will end this blog with a music video that, in my opinion, adequately shows appreciation from a man to his hard working  woman. Enjoy! As always, please share your opinions!
 MJ
 

Finding Inspiration: Part Three- Characters Close to Home

Building Real Characters: How to Bring Them From the Page and Into Your HeartWriters find inspiration anywhere; at the grocery store, the bank, even the activities of driver sitting next to you at the red light, can get the muse flowing. Then of course there are my favorites: family and friends.

If you have a Facebook account, I‚Äôm sure you have seen the pictures posted by someone at least once a month that says: (in a nutshell): BEWARE, I‚ÄôM A WRITER, ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED IN MY NEXT BOOK. ¬†I was at the bank the other day and had a lively conversation with my banker. Upon completion of my transaction,¬†she asked me, ‚Äėis this going to be in one of your stories?‚Äô I laughed and said quite possibly.

It seems no matter how hard I try; my Muse is always working, always observing and cataloging the statements and actions of others, especially when it comes to my kids.

In the last few weeks, my children have shocked me with¬†their ‚ÄėRemember when‚Ķ‚Äô tales. Being an only child, it never ceases to amaze me what ¬†my four kids get into when they are unsupervised in their bedrooms. First, there was the ‚Äėbroken-glow-in-the-dark-stick incident‚Äô that led to fluorescent¬†yellow liquid being splashed over bedroom walls. (According to them, it wore off withing minutes, thus leading to doing it again in order to illuminate the room. ¬†No evidence was left behind. Imagine my horror!!!) Of course a lot of sibling smacks upside the head, and then the sneaking to cut hair or trim their eyebrows disasters that ended with bad results. (Those I knew about, but it still makes me laugh to remember the results.) Funny stories that made my eyebrows shoot into the hemisphere and start to give the ‚Äėyou know better‚Äô speech. But then I realized the issues happened months, even years ago. What‚Äôs the point?¬† All that‚Äôs left is ‚Äėdon‚Äôt do it again.‚Äô

Once the kids go about their evening activities, my Muse sorts through the information, while not inspiration for my adult characters’ lives, they make great character back story.

***Back Story: Insight into the protagonist nature or history through reflective flashbacks, scenes, or dialogue. This information is used to show how a character will react to certain situations.***

There are various ways to use back story.¬† Some authors like to use flashback during a scene or as a scene to show an incident that explains the reason¬†for their character’s actions during the course of a story. (Think about the show LOST, whose episodes focused on the back story of a character‚Äôs life, decisions, made, and how they related to the present situation). In novels, the most common use is having a character allude to their past through dialogue, thought, or peppered in by the omnipotent voice. (Dialogue is the best way to share this information without slowing down your prose and boring a reader.)

How do you know what your characters back story will be?

By writing character outlines.

If you have ¬†followed my blog, you know a large portion of my writing begins with focusing on deep character development. I love writing characters my readers can relate to either through their own personal experiences or someone they know. Creating well-developed back story can do that. Knowing where your characters have been, what experiences have affected them –¬†good and bad –¬†will give your characters a strong voice that makes them stand out.

Even if it starts from when they were kids.

In a nutshell, a well-developed back story lets you know your characters. Knowing and understanding your characters will explain their motivations. Motivations are what set up a plot. Reactions to plot twists/turns are what provide scenes. Scenes mixed with reactions are what create drama.

Whew!  Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is, but as with all things in life, you get what you put in. Taking the time to sit down and understand your characters will show in your writing. It will help you understand why they interrupt your writing, and no matter how much you want the story to go one way, they hijack your manuscript.

For more on writing character outlines and finding writing inspiration, visit my previous posts:

M.J.’s on Writing- Helpful Advice for Aspiring Authors

MJ

Why Do I Write?

That is a question I’ve asked myself for the past three years. Before then, I was never a writer, but man was I an avid reader!

I grew up in a rural area and my mom didn’t allow me to play with the neighborhood kids as much as I wanted to. Being an only child, I spent a lot of time by myself. Barbies, stuffed animals, and Strawberry Short Cake (the original version, not the new one!) were my BFF’s. Like any little girl, I spent time making up stories and acting them out. There were times when I would borrow my parents audio cassette tape recorder (omg, now I feel dated and old!), sit down with my stuffed animals, and make up stories and songs, record them, and use them to entertain my parents.

As I got older, dolls were put away, and books became my number one source of entertainment. Stories like, The Box Car Kids, A Circle In The Sea, and Homecoming were my favorites. I can’t remember how many times I journeyed to the local community and school libraries to check them out. If you were to look at the back on the little slip of paper where you signed your name when checking them out,  (dated again!) My name would be there repeatedly.

And then I hit high school. Alice in Wonderland became my favorite read. It was around this time I ran into books from Steven King and John Grisham. I remember being freaked out by Needful Things, unable to sleep at night, yet I couldn’t put it down. A Time to Kill brought tears to my eyes, the amount of emotion and feeling the father experienced was so well written. I remember the moment I finished that novel, I made a note to read each and every novel written by John Grisham. And for the next couple of months I did just that.

That was also when I discovered movies based on books, while good, are seriously lacking. No matter how well the actors portray the characters, no matter how well the screen writer adapted the film, there is absolutely NO WAY for the audience to feel everything the author put into the story. Explanations, feelings, and reasons why a character makes the decisions that drive the plot, can never be explained without taking the time to read the words the author slaved over to tell his/her tale.

Guess movies are the fancier version of Cliff Notes, huh?

But I digress…

Somewhere down the line I decided to start reading Sci-Fi . I love stories that follow a character as they grow and evolve, you know that elusive “they’ve found their HEA, but what happened next? Are they still happy???”

Around 2002, when Star Wars: Attack of the Clones was released, my family went to watch the movie. I had always been a Star Wars fan, having developed my love of the series as a child from my father. The original SW movies were mainly about Luke Skywalker leading the rebels to overthrow the evil Emperor and his henchman, Darth Vader. But then came the new movies based on events years in the past that lead up to the original motion picture. Talk about deep character development. It answered so many questions as to who Darth Vader was and why he became the man behind the mask. (Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, by James Luceno tells you what the newly named Vader felt like in that suite!)

I found myself immersed in the world of Star Wars Expanded Universe novels. For those who have no idea what those are, let me explain. If you’ve ever watched the Star Wars movies, Episode 1-6, and I say IF because I have a family friend that has NEVER watched one in his life. (I threaten to tie him down and force him to watch a marathon, lol) For those SW die hard fans who have to know what happens after Darth Vader dies and is redeemed, the Expanded Universe novels follow Luke, Han, and Leia, their kids, and numerous other characters in a wide variety of series. The amount of novels are too many to count. How do I know? I’ve read over 40 of them, and there are more than that I have yet to read! Yep, SW geek!

As I’ve said before, I am a lover of stories that continue and don’t end with just one book. Another great series is The Lord of the Rings. Somehow I found myself reading the trilogy…twice. Tolkien was a master at not only creating worlds beyond your imagination, and characters that are memorable, he also created languages. It took him years to pull all of his stories together. Just think of the sheer magnitude of the work. Not to mention the fact that a portion of his novels were written while he sat in the trenches as a soldier during World War I as he watched his friends die around him.


What does any of this have to do with the reason why I decided to write?

Everything.

Authors write for different reasons. Some have over active imaginations that drive them to put pen to paper. Others do so as a hobby or to entertain people around them. A lot of authors write to heal while recovering from a painful memory. Be it diary, blog, endless notes, short stories, or novels.  There is some kind of a writer in all of us.

I was never one to keep a running diary. I tried it once and got bored with my life. But my imagination, on the other hand, has always run rampant, even as an adult. I found myself making up stories to keep myself entrained while waiting in the doctors office, sitting in rush hour traffic, even while lying in bed at night unable to sleep. But it wasn’t until several life altering experiences affected my family did I realize putting pen to paper and letting the emotions flow from my fingers into the lives of my characters did I start to heal. I realized I had a story to tell.

So, for me, writing and learning the craft of writing, has become my passion on many different levels.

The stories I tell, while they fall in the romance genre, are not just about romance. Yes, sex is involved because it is a part of life, but my stories will never be considered erotic romance. Contemporary romance? Yes, because my characters reside in the same day and age as you and I. Interracial Romance? Yes, because my characters are from various racial backgrounds. The love, the relationships, the bonds formed between the men and women that reside in my head go well beyond skin color. Women’s Fiction? It can fit here too because the topics I write about pertain to the many issues women today face.

Yet, my stories are not just about the women. They’re also about the men.

My stories are about love, redemption, healing, and evolving into something more than what they were in the beginning. My characters lives are like yours and mine. We ride a roller coaster of emotions. Some days are good, some days are bad. There are times of overwhelming joy, just like there are times of pain and grief. And even though my characters go through these growing pains, they come out on the other end as changed individuals, having learned from their experiences, and become better from them. And that, my dear friends, is the message I write about.

Hope, love, understanding….evolving.

Just like a butterfly…

And that is why I write.

MJ

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