Posts Tagged ‘Fiction4Readers&writers’

Three ways to drive a romance reader nuts.




In the course of my career, I’ve been guilty of a few of these I’m sure. The learning curve is steep and readers will let you know quickly if you’ve created the following:

1. Unlikable heroes. Yes, that amazing hero has to be flawed, of course, unlikeable in many ways, but the reader has to like SOMETHING about them. In the course of the novel they are going to grow and change, hopefully improve too, but right from the get go there has to be that intangible something that makes us want to keep reading.

2. Weak heroines. Modern romance readers are accomplished women, smart, savvy, self sufficient. They know better than to walk into dark, deserted warehouses with no cell phone after hearing a scream and a chainsaw starting up. Heroines can’t be the “tied to the railroad tracks waiting for rescue” kind of ladies. Readers won’t respect that.

3. Dead pets. Readers will forgive a lot, but not the tragic death of Fido or Pussy Cat. If you hurt a beloved pet, you’re going to GET MAIL. Same applies to birds, as I discovered early on my career. It’s not just a rule for mammals!

So what drives you nuts in books that you read? Kicking off the new year with January prize-a signed book and an ITunes gift card. 

Preorder Dana’s newest book, a rolicking romance. Here comes Tippy!  Sit, Stay, Love


Who’s your fave mom from books or TV?


Mother’s Day…that sentimental holiday in which we honor the perfect women who raised us, always encouraging, graceful, godly…except when they weren’t. After reading the stream of FB posts about all those perfect mothers out there, I began to feel a little inadequate in my own maternal duties, so I cast my mind over the various fictional mothers I’ve come across in books and on TV. Are they perfect, grace filled women? Absolutely…except when they weren’t. Do you know these famous mothers?

1. Margaret March, Little Women, by Louise May Alcott
Raising four girls with no money, a husband fighting in the Civil War, all with a patient smile on her face and never a sharp word? Marmee…you are the pinnacle of the Hallmark card mother.

2.  Bernadette Fox, Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple. This mother is on the other end of the spectrum, in that she completely disappears, yet the reader is still convinced that she’s funny, creative, loving and worth finding. She steps out of the role that confines her and though her behavior is unforgivable, the author makes it understandable.

3. Claire Huxtable, The Cosby Show. Personally, I find Claire to be right about where I’d like my own mothering to be. She’s patient…to a point. Fun loving, dedicated, goal oriented, and relaxed enough to enjoy all the quirks and foibles of her own family.

So what about you? Can you think of any mothers from books or TV that stick out in your mind? It’s triple prize month and all comments get you entered in the May drawing for a book, gift cards and a spring treat. 


Are you a genius…or a nut?



I realize that I’m a nut. Quirky. Off beat. Silly sometimes, and prone to leaving my cup of coffee in the refridgerator. I’ve been reading about some famous geniuses lately who showed some, er, oddball traits of their own. Maybe someday my wackiness will morph into genius? Sigh. Probably not, but here are a few oddball traits of some famous geniuses.

Einstein’s chauffeur claimed that he once picked up a grasshopper off the ground and ate it.

Thomas Edison’s research associates had to complete an interview process, which included eating a bowl of soup. If they added salt to soup before they tasted it, Edison automatically dismissed them as potential employees.

Charles Dickens couldn’t stand to have his hair mussed, so the writer kept his comb handy and used it hundreds of times a day.

Here’s a link to the full article if you’d like to read it.

So do you have any quirky habits or know someone who does? I’ve been too busy to post much, so we’re giving away a TRIPLE prize at the end of May…a signed book, Amazon gift card and a Starbuck’s card

A six legged hero tops the fiction list!



Can you guess a title from the Telegraph’s best childrens book of all time list? The list has wardrobes and tollbooths, Pooh bears and hobbits, but the number one, top of the list is a book with an insect as the protagonist. I refer, of course, to Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White.

You know you’re a great author when you can make a spider into the most beloved hero of all time. Spiders…that universally despised creature that people are generally trying to splat or run away from. So what kind of an author can take an insect, give it intellect, compassion and more humanity than the human characters? E.B. White, of course. Can you think of any other books where an insect outshines the humans?

My favorite quote from this amazing author? “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”

Did you ever read Charlotte’s Web or another book from the list as a child? What made it memorable in your mind? Giving away an Amazon gift card and a book this month! 🙂

Throwback to my “newbie” days…top three writing mistakes.



I’ve never really made writing mistakes, actually. (And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you!) In truth, I’ve made too many mistakes to count, and we’re talking big ones, not the namby pamby spelling errors and missed commas. As I look back on a 15 year writing career and some 20 novels to date, here are my “big three” writing mistakes.

1. Leaving too many dangling threads. Ah yes. When I started out, I thought there would always be another book, another sequel in which to wrap up all those little niggling issues. Turns out, publishers can nix your line any old time, so you’d better make sure to wrap up all those reader questions. If not…you will get MAIL!

2. Using too many words. Oh I hate to admit this one, but I LOVE words, especially adverbs. I like to sprinkle them in to season the stew so to speak, but words are like salt. Too many and you’ve ruined the thing! Sigh. I have had to pare down my whimsical use of adverbs. The pain!

3. Using minor characters for plot purposes only. You know, the Crewman Donovan type who delivers a message and then falls off a cliff? Those kinds of characters can be one dimensional, and clutter up the story. Much better to have all the characters fully fleshed and interactive, rather than using the poor things to serve a practical purpose without giving them any dimension.

There. I’ve admitted it. I have had to learn many writing lessons (mostly the hard way.) Have you learned any lessons in your career or home life? Things you do differently now that you did as a “newbie?” Giving away a VISA gift card, a signed book and a February surprise. 

Throwback Thursday…in which I daydream with Donny Osmond


Do you ever come across a book or record from your past and it gives you those warm fuzzy feelings?  Witness the Donny Osmond album above. I remember watching Donny and his family on T.V. and listening to his music. (She’s a little bit country….he’s a little bit rock and roll.)  Old school, right? Well imagine my surprise when I learned from my teen that the hot new item this year is….are you ready? Records! Yes, records! I was stunned, but it’s true. Nowadays, teenage music lovers are investing in “vinyls” as they call them. Something about a truer sound, or maybe just the pleasure of actually loading a record instead of pushing a button. I feel this way when I find an old, musty book from my childhood. Antiquated pictures, flowery prose, and so many fond memories!

Do you ever see an “antique” that gives you warm memories from the past? Would love to hear your “throwback” memories!

Throwback Thursday: the perils of writing about a planecrash.



It’s Throwback Thursday! Indulge me while I travel down memory lane for a moment. I wrote Turbulence in 2011. I know…ancient history!  Here is the blurb and the most unique problem I ran into while writing it.

Turbulence, blurb.
Someone wants to ensure that the flight bringing Maddie Lambert and a transplant organ to her father never reaches its destination. Someone who’s desperate enough to sabotage the plane. In the aftermath of the crash, Maddie finds herself stranded on an isolated mountain with the last man she’d ever trust again—her ex-fiancé, Dr. Paul Ford. He’s the man she blames for her family’s tragic loss, but now he’s the only one who can get her to her father in time. Yet what neither of them knows is that the danger has just begun.

The writer’s problem: The pilot I interviewed was very reluctant to tell me how to crash a plane. He was eager to share all about the safety mechanisms built into modern aircraft, and how they are extremely reliable in the hands of an experienced pilot. But Jim, I’d plead. I want to know how to CRASH the plane, not keep it in the air! Poor Jim. Went against his grain, don’t you know! In addition, my frequent flyer readers told me they  the subject matter kind of creeped them out.

Do you have a fear of flying? Or are there other modes of transportation that make you nervous? Giving away a triple prize this month. 🙂

Turbulence, cover

Throwback Thursday: the book wherein I changed my hat


Killer Cargo Cover


This throwback Thursday I’m casting my memory back so far I might hit a dinosaur! WAAAAAAAY back in 2008, I wrote my very first book for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense. Here’s the blurb for this ancient tome.

Blurb for Killer Cargo: Transporting pet supplies–and the occasional bunny–is routine for pilot Maria de Silva. Discovering drugs amidst her shipments of kitty litter is not. Out of fuel in the Oregon wilderness, Maria barely escapes with her life when dealers meet her on the runway. She finds refuge at Cy Sheridan’s idyllic animal sanctuary–a whole new world for this girl. But Maria fears that her drug-smuggling client will take revenge against the man–and animals–she’s come to love. Is there a wolf in sheep’s clothing lurking in the woods?

The writer’s problem: This was the first time I switched from writing mystery to suspense. Sure they both involve following clues and yes, there is a mystery to be solved in each one, but the genres are different. In mystery, the focus is on solving a puzzle. In suspense, the protag is running for his/her life while solving the mystery. It’s tricky to get the hang of the pacing for a suspense vs. a mystery. No time to be cogitating on those clues and sipping tea, people! Suspense is a breakneck speed business, and it was a challenge for me in the first book to get into the swing of it.

Do you prefer mystery or suspense? Why? Giving away a signed book, an Amazon card and a fall surprise this month.