Posts Tagged ‘fiction 4 writers and readers’

Three writing lessons from snow country.

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I live in Northern, California and this means that I am not rugged. I will admit this freely. It the temps drop below fifty I am not certain of my survival, and I am only vaguely familiar with the concept of snow. Hence, when I traveled to Lake Tahoe this weekend, I learned a thing or two! These lessons are so true of the writing life, so I thought I’d share.

Lesson #1: You’re gonna need chains. Yep, to write a book and make the summit you’re going to need some help. Yes, I know your car is nifty and has all the bells and whistles, just like your computer, but at the end of the day you’re going to need down and dirty helping tools like old obscure books (A Writer’s Guide to Poisons, anyone?). You’re going to find yourself hoarding good old fashioned notepads, and perhaps, dare I suggest it, a phone for calling various experts that do not respond to emails or texts. I know, archaic as old steel chains, but there it is.

Lesson #2:  You’re gonna need other people.  Writing is a solitary endeavor for sure. It’s a ‘buns in the chair’ get-it-done kind of slog up the mountain, but when you think you’re reached the summit, that’s where the strangers come in. You need to hand yourself over to that chain guy or that snow plow operator and trust your precious property into their hands. That is to say, you gotta let people help you. Often times, this means people you don’t know…hiring that proofreader, allowing that online critique group to read your work, or in the traditional publishing world, that editor who is going to potentially tear up your writing. It’s important. You have no objectivity about your writing, I’m sorry say. You need the chain guy and the snow plow operator to make your work the best it can be.

Lesson #3. God’s going to take you on an adventure. You will be changed by the journey. You will learn things about yourself that you didn’t know. God will show you sights more incredible that you could ever have imagined. Savor that as you head up the mountain.

Did you ever learn a lesson during your travels? Would love to hear about it! 



What’s your dog’s personality…..a quiz for dog lovers!




I’m still getting to know our rescued pup, Junie. This means I am still staring at her frequently asking, “Why did THAT seem like a good idea?” Glad to know from this quiz that Junie is “the life of the party.”

What’s your dog’s personality? Does the quiz do your dog justice?











Either/or…a quick romance reader survey!


summer dog

All right! Let’s find out what YOU, my darling blog readers, prefer in your novels. Comment with your picks  and speak your mind!



Do you prefer...

1. Either LONG NOVELS (400 pages plus) or SHORTER novels (approximately 250 pages)?

2. Either UNKNOWN VILLIANS that aren’t revealed until the end, or UP FRONT VILLIANS who are up close and personal from the get go?

3.  Either MILITARY/COP protagonists or the EVERYMAN type hero?


Let’s hear from you!


Book #2 in the Pacific Coast Investigations Series available for preorder now!

Seaside Secrets


And our blog winner for December is…..


New Years 2012

Susan F!. Congratulations!

For those who are wondering how the winner is picked, here’s the process. Every comment posted to the blog is assigned a number. I use a random number generator select the winner.  Starting up a new contest tomorrow for January! Happy New Year!

Why do YOU read fiction?


Pen with flowers

I assume you hang out with me on this wee little blog because you are a fiction lover. Me too, of course. When I’m not writing it, I’m squirreled away in a quiet corner stuffing myself with as many fiction books as I can manage. I’ve always been like that, and I imagine you have, too. As a teacher, I see the classroom focus shifting towards more nonfiction reading/writing. This is practical. This makes sense. Most jobs and higher level schooling involve reading nonfiction materials…manuals, reports, research documents, etc. In the work world of normal folks, people generally do not make their living steeping themselves in fiction. So that makes me wonder…

Why do you choose to read fiction? What do you gain from reading made up stories? I would love to know your thoughts! Today is the last day to comment and enter the drawing for a Barnes and Noble gift card, a signed book and a fall surprise. Winner announced tomorrow! 

Would you rather be an Agatha Christie or a Nora Roberts?


I love those ‘would you rather’ questions, don’t you? So here’s a good one for you. If you had to choose only ONE of these two possibilities, would you rather be a romance writer or a mystery writer?

Oh the agony! I’ve been both. I started my career as a cozy mystery writer and boy oh boy did I love it. The downside of mystery writing? Mystery readers are REALLY SAVVY! They’re looking for that twist, that trick, the red herring if you will, and they are EXTREMELY hard to surprise! It’s a rare thing when a reader would email to tell me she didn’t guess who did it. On the plus side, writing a “who done it” or a “how did they do it” is a blast and requires talent with an extra side of creativity!

But then there’s romance. Personally, I believe every truly great story has some element of love in it. The challenge in writing romance is to provide a fresh twist on done to death themes. We know who is going to wind up together by the end of chapter one. We know the hero and heroine are going to get that “happily ever after” moment. The challenge to being a romance writer is in the creation of characters and situations fresh and new. It’s a great challenge, requiring talent, a willingness to look deeply at the human psyche and an extra side of creativity!

So if I had to pick one, would I write mysteries or romances? Errrgh, acck, arrgh! I would choose romance because people are endlessly fascinating, particularly when it comes to relationships. (However, since I write romantic suspense, I can totally weave in that wee little thread of mystery now can’t I?)

So if you could ONLY choose ONE, would you write (or read) mysteries or romance? Giving away a Barnes and Noble gift card, a signed book and a fall surprise on November 30th! Post to the blog to enter.

Would you rather….? Three questions for avid readers/writers.




It’s fun to consider those “would you rather” question games that pop up on the internet. Would I rather go back in time 100 years or shoot forward one century into the future? Hmmm. Thought provoking. Makes me want to propose a few questions that pertain to my favorite passion…books!

1. Would you rather read/write series or stand alones? As a reader, it’s hard to pass up a good series, isn’t it? You’ve already invested time in the author and characters so it’s great to beeline right for the author’s next work. As a writer, I’m torn. Yes, series work enables the writer to have a world set in place and characters to build on, but sometimes, I’m ready to explore a new setting and family of characters before I get to that fourth book in the series. Dilemma!

2. Would you rather choose an ebook or a print book? Print, of course. I crave that visceral sensation of turning pages and easily rereading a section. Plus I have a terrible habit of reading multiple books at once and I like to thumb through the pages to refresh my memory. As a writer, most of my print books automatically come out as ebooks but I’ve written a few ebook exclusives. Love the creative control, love the process of consulting on the cover, and love the royalties which are a much higher percentage on an ebook.

3.  Last question…if you could only choose one, would you reread an old favorite, or pick up a book unknown to you? So if I’m stranded on a deserted island or something, I’m probably going to choose an old favorite, something meaty and gorgeous like Tolkien, rather than risk being stuck with a book that bores me. Good thing I always travel with multiple books crammed in my car, purse, bag, etc.

Your turn! Would you rather read series/stand alones? Would you rather choose an ebook or print? Would you rather reread and old favorite or pick up an unknown book?  Would love to hear your responses to any of these, blog friends! This month, I’m giving away a signed book, a Barnes and Noble gift card and a fall surprise!

And the October winner is….




Tiffany! I just sent along an email, Tiffany! Congrats! Thank you to all who participated. I really enjoyed reading all your comments! New blog contest starts next week. Do you have any advice on what type of gift card to give away next?

Why you can’t name a hero Eggbert..



Let’s face it. The hero of a romantic suspense novel is just not going to be named Eggbert. Even the most skilled writer cannot morph that name into something macho (please forgive me, all the Eggberts out there.) Yes, names are important, they reflect the tone and feel of the book.

In my lighthearted romances for Harlequin Heartwarming, I can have an Aunt Bitsy and a misfit dog named Baggy. In my suspense novels? Er, not so much. In Jungle Fire, the german shepherd’s name is Axel, so the “name rules” apply to the animal kingdom too. Conversely though, it’s nice sometimes to juxtapose a very plain name on a fantastically complex hero. Case in point? Harry. Harry Potter.  Can  you get a name plainer than Harry Potter? Can you find a more complex character? Love that juxtaposition.

In romance, however, your hero is going to need a strong name (Dan, Cliff, Ryder, etc.) and your women need something that makes them relatable that fits the story. Is Buffy a great name? You bet, but not for a romantic suspense. And Bubbles, while perfect for that romantic comedy, is just not going to cut it in suspense. You see what I mean?

So how do you feel about the name your parents gave you? I am told Dana means “man from Denmark” but I always liked my name because it works for both genders and you don’t meet a million Danas around town. What about you? Love your name? Hate it? Would your name be great for a character in a romance novel?

Giving away a Target gift card, a signed book and a fall surprise in our October drawing.

The art of winning and losing in the writing biz




Was I surprised? Let’s make that FLOORED. I was sitting in California while my agent was busily accepting my 2014 Carol Award for Romantic Suspense in St. Louis. I did not imagine my crazy jungle novel would win anything, especially not when my fellow finalist was the amazing Irene Hannon.

Winning is sweet. And let me tell you, it doesn’t happen frequently, at least, not to me. I’ve got a few nifty awards, and I’ve got a raft of rejections, scathing reviews and such and sundry.  I’ve discovered that the winning and losing doesn’t come from these external things. So when do I consider that I’ve won?

1. When I get a letter in my post office box from someone that I’ve touched. They tenderly share their lives with me because we connected over a book. That’s a win. That’s precious. That’s from God.

2. When my teen girls say, “See, mom? Aren’t you glad you didn’t give up?” Believe me, they’ve seen me plenty discouraged, but they’ve also witnessed the gritted teeth, the fingers flying and the steadfast determination which is what I want to see in them when times get tough. That’s a win. That’s precious. That’s from God.

3.  When my hubby says, “You see? I’d knew you’d win.” He’s always been my humble supporter, the man who does everything from fix my computer to read my romance novel drafts, the poor burly man. He’s in my corner through the rejections, the scathing reviews and reader rants. He’s a winner, he’s precious, he’s from God. How could I ask for a better award than a husband like that?

What do you think makes you a winner? Last chance to enter the September contest for a signed book , a Starbuck’s card and a fall treat.