And our August winner is….

And our August winner is…..D.L! Congrats to you and thank you to all who participated on my blog this month. Great discussions!

D.L., if you hop on my website and choose a book, I’ll mail it out with your Amazon gift card. Send me a message with your address. :)

 

 

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Music to an author’s ears….top three compliments that thrill.

 

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The job of the professional writer takes place mostly in darkened rooms or at out-of-the-way coffee shop tables. We slave away, push the send button and through some miraculous process the manuscript turns into a book. It’s done mostly in isolation. Perhaps that’s why writers covet those hard-to-earn words of praise. Here are the top three comments guaranteed to thrill any writer any time.

#1) “I couldn’t put it down.” Oh joy! All that endless agonizing over pace, plot, character arcs and such! There is no sweeter sentiment than hearing you’ve managed to create something compelling. If an element in your book captured a reader in some small way, you have completed  a writer’s greatest mission.

#2) “When will the next book come out?” Ah ha! Not only has someone enjoyed your book, but they are eager to check out more of your work? Priceless!

#3) “I could really relate to the characters.” What a sweet sentiment. Creating characters who are different but believable, multi-faceted but not over the top, and meaningful without being maudlin is not an easy task, I can tell you. Think about how many people in the world pass by you every day with whom you have no personal connection. The writer has a scant smattering of words, the briefest of moments, to make you connect with somebody whom you’ll only meet across the pages.

We all have that particular compliment that is sweet to our ears. What compliment do you most enjoy hearing? Giving away a signed book and an Amazon card tomorrow! Would love to hear your thoughts! 

Kids who don’t like to write? Hmmmm.

DaydreamingIn our  third grade classroom we give our kiddos a little survey to identify what they feel are their best and worst subjects. The”best” subjects are always nicely varied but, I’m sad to report, the trend is clear in their “worst” subject. The majority of kiddos year after year say writing is their biggest problem and least favorite. Come again? Children are the most creative, least inhibited bunch of peeps on the planet. How is it possible they view themselves as unsuccessful writers? Here are my two theories culled after more than a decade of teaching.

1. Kids think they are poor writers because we don’t let them write what they’re passionate about. We teach them about whales and then they write a report. We learn about pioneer life and then ask them to write paragraphs about it. While these assignments are important and absolutely necessary, we don’t often allow our students to write about what excites them, thrills them, confuses and scares them. In those topics lie the most powerful avenues for expression and the greatest opportunity for them to feel like successful writers. Writing is a means of moving people, and you can’t move people if you don’t believe in your subject matter.

2. Kids think writing spelling, grammar and handwriting. Er, no it doesn’t. I can craft you a neatly written, perfectly spelled and punctuated paper that communicates precisely nothing. Mechanics and neat handwriting are TOOLS, but they do not solely determine the quality of the writing. Writing is a messy process with lots of crossing out, erasing, fixing mistakes and revising. It’s got to be messy for a while, or it won’t be good at any point. The most important thing is determining what you want to say. If a writer can decide on that, I can help him or her acquire all the tools necessary to make that message the best it can be.

So how did you feel about the subject of writing when you were in school? How do your kids feel about it now? Giving away an Amazon gift card this month if you’d care to leave a comment. 

It’s back to school…and back to book writing!

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It’s time to gear up! School starts in a matter of days and for me that means diving back into a double life. Like Clark Kent, I have a mild-mannered public persona…I’m a third grade teacher. In fact, most people I encounter think that is my only profession. Because I am blessed to share a job with another teacher, I work two days a week at school and the rest as a wacky fiction writer. It’s not a perfect split. The teaching gig inevitably spills over into the rest of the week in the form of prepping, professional development, parent conferences, etc. The writing life spills over into the teaching days when I get a brainstorm that just has to be jotted down before it’s lost forever, or that blog that must be posted, or the interview that must be done.  It’s not perfect, and much of the time I am slightly disoriented. This comes to light when people ask that dreaded question, “How’s the book?” I am paralyzed. Which book? The two I am currently writing? The one I’m reading for pleasure? The professional development book? The novel I’m reading to the kids at school? I suspect my dazed countenance is why folks think I’m a bit wafty.

Do you ever feel torn between two worlds? How are you adjusting to the “back to school” switch? Would love to hear your comments. Giving away a signed book and an Amazon card this month. 

Don’t mess with my happy…or “you can’t do that in my romance novel.”

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Are you a voracious reader? Me too! And let me tell you, I invest plenty of emotion in the books that I devour. If certain things happen in the course of said novels, I can get quite PEEVED. Below is a personal list of items that I cannot tolerate in a romance novel.

1. Don’t kill the dog. I mean to say! If I’m reading a thriller or gritty mystery, fine, but in a romance novel, I want to eventually feel happy. Please do not kill any beloved pets or I’m going to put that novel down.

2. Don’t switch tones on me. If we start the book off as a frothy, fun to read romance, don’t plop some heavy bombshell in chapter six, along the lines of a brutal attack or sudden death. That’s changing the rules of our relationship. Not to say I don’t want intensity and surprises, but keep the tone of the novel consistent throughout.

3. Watch the dialect, please. You can tell me that Wanda Sue speaks with a southern drawl and I’ll insert that into my inner reader. You don’t need to write it into the dialogue. “Ya’ll keep comin’ ’round now, hear?” is just going to annoy me after twenty pages.

Can you relate to any of my pet peeves? What peeves you about novels? Giving away an Amazon gift card and signed book at the end of the month. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Those scene stealing animal sidekicks.

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Harry has his Hedwig. Dorothy has Toto and there would be no Lone Ranger exploits without the faithful Silver. Animal sidekicks can sometimes emerge to be the unsung heroes of books or movies.

It’s funny how a character that can’t even speak can take over an entire novel. This happened in my latest book for Harlequin Heartwarming. The culprit? Baggy the dog. Sure his real life inspiration won an ugliest dog contest, but I get plenty of emails and messages from Baggy’s fans. Here’s a little snippet in which I explain where Baggy came from.

https://audioboo.fm/boos/2399998-snippet-from-return-to-pelican-inn

Hey! Let’s see if we can make a list of animal sidekicks from books or movies. Add a comment and you’re entered to win the drawing this month. Giving away an Amazon gift card and signed book! Hi-yo, Silver!

Jennifer Slattery’s book winner is…

Linda Presley! Congratulations and thank you to all who gave her such a warm welcome!

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