“Your Every Move” is coming soon.

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Nothing is working out like she planned. 
Amanda Cook doesn’t know who is following her or why. She is just a simple college student planning out her future, working at the neighborhood taco shop and living with her great aunt. 
When her best friend’s cousin, Mitch, arrives in town he immediately steals her heart, but someone else wants it more. Her paranoia grows when she spots the same car at odd places around town and starts getting strange letters in the mail. 
One night after class, a man tackles Amanda and wrestles her to the ground. As she fights for her life, she has the heartbreaking realization that her stalker could possibly be someone she knows.

2017 – What will you bring?

Last year was challenging for many, but there were lots of good parts, too. Family. Friends. Good Memories. Good conversations. Good books. Good food. See, it’s not all been bad.

We have a new year upon us. How is it going so far?

With ignited enthusiasm, I’m writing and editing like crazy. Hopefully, that will translate to a new book out soon. I tried the agent search method the past six months with nibbles but no bites. So, again I will adjust my path back to the smaller, independent publishers out there. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m going through “Every Move You Make” and doing what I hope are final edits, after sharing it with my critique group and other writing buddies, whose opinions I respect.

For those of you readers who are looking for another book in the feisty family series, I will resume working on it next. I have a good start beginning five years after “Patchwork Family” ends. The kids are growing up, Peggy has her own cafe business with Tom in the kitchen and Tillie supplying the desserts. Tad is in college and Megan is in high school and thinking college might not be what she wants. But we all know she is the most book-smart of the kids and Peggy is concerned her little sister is going on the wrong track. Oh, and did I mention Megan may be in the midst of her first crush?

That is all for later.

Let me tell you a little about “Every Move You Make, I’ll Be Watching.” Just like the song Sting sang in the 80’s, someone is watching Amanda Cook – at work, at home, at school, everywhere she goes. At eighteen she’s a bit oblivious since she has her own inner struggles with the departure of her parents, the relationships with her best friends Sarah and Andrew, as well as her first love, Mitch Roman. Even though Amanda has the adorable Great Aunt Faye to live with she feels lonely and afraid of the future. I’d better stop before I spoil the surprises in store for readers and Amanda in this New/Young Adult novel.

Sorry, I haven’t blogged much the past year. (I’ve been really busy editing and looking for an agent.) You can find writers advice from me and other talented authors on Author Expressions blog. I post there once a month. It’s a good place for writers to hang out and find support.

Readers, I hope you enjoyed the two feisty family novels I’ve published so far and will be patient while I make my next stories even better.

Good luck to us all in 2017.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

I’m honored that over 750 people signed up to win a copy of PATCHWORK FAMILY. You are some rockin’ readers and I love you to pieces. I’m preparing the winners copies now and will be sending them out today. Thank you all for your interest.

patchwork_family_on_table

No free lunches

Folks, there really is no such thing as a free lunch.  But I have to admit I love discounts, coupons, and sales.  If I feel as though I’m getting something extra I am that much happier with my acquisition.  I wouldn’t have nearly as many great books in my library if I hadn’t had a coupon or got them at the used bookstore at a great price.  How does that apply to writing, you ask?  It means giving your reader more than they expect.  More twists, surprises, mystery, things that will keep them reading. Giving them a bigger helping of fun!

kids_icecreamI got a call from a friend who said, “It’s all your fault I don’t get anything done.”  She was reading Patchwork Family and was having trouble putting it down.  That’s the kind of news authors want to hear from readers. That’s how I want to feel when I’m reading, as well.

reading_lotsWhat makes the book so hard to put down? Is the character multi-layered?  Is the plot unpredictible?  Does the tension keep increasing? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself and share the answers with the author.  Is there a surprise?  As a reader, I like plausible surprises.  Personally, I don’t like loose ends.  I must be satisfied with the resolution of the conflict, but that doesn’t mean everything is tied up with a big blue bow. It means, things make sense and feel mostly resolved. 

snoopy happy danceGive readers more than they paid for…give them a GREAT read instead of just a good one. That’s my goal as an author. One more thing Readers: Be sure and leave a review when you finish a book, good or bad – they are helpful to other readers and to the author, too.

Reminder: Never Give Up on your dreams

We writers have to be reminded sometimes, to “never give up”. I’ve heard stories about writers who wrote their novel during NaNoWriMo (a month) and others took years to write their book. I’m more in the latter category. I lead a very busy life. There’s lots of things I want to do, learn, experience, see and share with my family and friends.

skaterI work full-time during the day and I do freelance writing as well as novel writing. Sound a bit like your schedule? Don’t worry, the dust isn’t going anywhere. You will get the bills paid on time (hopefully), and hubby will take care of dinner if there is no alternative. I also try to read a book every week or two, because writers really need to be readers, too.

So, what am I rambling on about? Not giving up.

working_on_keyboardNo matter what gets in the way, make time for your writing. Doing a little bit as often as possible adds up, “cross my heart, it does!” And once your manuscript is done and been edited, edited and edited, well, then it’s time for the next phase.

Do you want to publish it? Do the research and decide which method is your choice (i.e. self-publishing, traditional print publishing, e-publishing, etc.). Do you want an agent or do you want to go with a small publisher who doesn’t require one? (so many questions, but the answers are out there.) Try Writer’s Market, Publishers Weekly, Writer’s Digest, for example.

From the time I conceived the idea of Feisty Family Values (working title, Feisty Fossils) in 2000 it was ten years before it was in hardback on the bookshelves. (Thank you Five Star Books!) Obviously, writing is a test of patience, but if you want it, then you have to work for it and not give up. There is a lot of rejection and that hurts. And critiquing isn’t always easy to swallow (what do you mean my baby is ugly?).

My second novel Patchwork Family is a follow on to Feisty and has a new publishing home with Belle Books. It comes out March of 2014. So, you see, waiting pays off. When you’re a new writer each book is like starting over. And it’s a long process between querying and signing a contract, signing a contract and book on the shelves. But it is “oh so nice” to see that book in the bookstores. Most authors dream of not only being published, but being able to make it a financially viable career. That’s a big DREAM!

writing_oceanIf being an author is what you want, then do not stop writing, or learning about the craft or industry. Be a sponge and squeeze that story onto the page, using all the feelings of joy and sorrow you’ll experience in this business.  It’s a huge wave of a journey and worth every dip and rise.

(Eighteen months ago I wrote about “never giving up” and this was BEFORE my second novel found a home. See, it can happen IF you Never Give Up!)

Blog Hop Time – Join Us

Blog for those who love books, reading and meeting great authors.

FFVbookcover_thumbA little about FEISTY FAMILY VALUES: The orderly life of successful artist and regal widow, Regina Morgan-Smith, abruptly changes with the arrival of her frumpy cousin, Annabelle–and not for the better. Homeless and covered in bruises, Annabelle requires more attention than Regina’s willing to give. However, family ties are strong, and Regina takes Annabelle into her home in the once opulent Riverside area of Wichita, Kansas.

Where did the idea come from? The idea came to me my senior year of college, while I was working full time.

Who are the main characters? The main characters are Regina Morgan Smith, a snooty woman with resources to spare, but barely a kind word for anyone. Her cousin, Annabelle Hubbard, is homeless and abused and goes to her only remaining family as a last resort. Tilly is Regina’s best friend and house mate and ends up being referee for the cousins while they try to sort things out.

What actors or actresses would you play your characters if it were made into a movie? Sigourney Weaver would make a great Regina. She’s regal and beautiful and tall.

Kathy Bates would make a great Annabelle. She can be soft, but tough when things require her to be.

I picture Sally Field as Tilly. Small. Spunky. Sweet. Funny. Perfect.

Some fun stuff…looking thru fence
1. If I could live anywhere, would you rather live in a medium sized city with mountains or a beach nearby.
2. What would you prefer? Sweets. Definitely sweets.
3. If you were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing you couldn’t live without? My husband Jim.

4. If I had to choose one of these books, I would have to say Alex Cross. But these wouldn’t be among my favorite books. I’d rather chose Sullivan’s Island.
a. Pride and Prejudice
b. Alex Cross
c. Twilight
d. Snow White and the Huntsman
e. The Shining

5. Which word most suits you?
a. crazy
b. funny
c. carefree
d. studious
e. anxious          All at different times and different days, depending on the circumstances.

6. Tell me something about yourself that might be funny to others? It takes me awhile to work through a geometry puzzle, it’s not always logical but I generally come to the proper conclusion.

7. Which group of words explain what you are like the most?
a. fly by the seat of your pants
b. drama queen
c. don’t sweat the small stuff
d. footloose and fancy free.
e. Too tightly wound      All of these at different times and different days, depending on the circumstances.

woman readingThese questions were provided by Tracy Kaufmann, the lead on this Blog Hop. We hope you’ll enjoy them. Please stop by and visit these others participating authors:

Katie McKnight- http://www.writergirlkatie.wordpress.com/
Christine Rice- http://christinerice-author.com/blog/
Divon Delgado- http://www.divonville.com
Cinta García de la Rosa- http://authorsyouwanttoread.wordpress.com
Tracy Kauffman- http://tracykauffman.blogspot.com
Julianne Grider- http://www.jpgrider.com/jps-blog.html
Ruthie Derby- http://madisonpost.wordpress.com/
Kathryn Williams-Platt-  http://kathrynwilliamsplatt.blogspot.com
Jack Strandburg- http://jstrandburg.wordpress.com
Catalina Egan-  http://4covert2overt.blogspot.com/

Quick Question

Who is your all time favorite fictional character?

 

In romance, mine is Elizabeth Bennett or Pride & Prejudice.

In mystery w/humor it’s Stephanie Plum (the first dozen books).

Other mystery faves: VI Warshowski & Kinsey Millhone

In women’s fiction: Pearl, the maid in Dot Frank’s Sullivan’s Island stories.

What about you?

What makes a great story?

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Lucy (my Brittany) and I were walking at noon today and this question popped into my mind: “What makes a great story?” I think it’s interesting characters who are three-dimensional and vivid, a compelling plot that I can relate to, the relationships between the characters and questions answered, with some surprises thrown in.

Do you ever have trouble suspending disbelief? I do sometimes, but in a great book the world is built successfully enough that I feel like a fly in the room watching and experiencing what the characters are dealing with. A well written sci-fi is an excellent example. Does the alien with the green hair and 9″ nose seem real on the page? Does the planet with a heavier atmosphere that inhibits our flexibility ring true to the story? If the answer is “yes” then I’d say that story is being told very well.

Is there such a thing as the “perfect man” or “perfect woman”? Not really, because “perfect” is pretty boring. It’s our flaws that make us unique and interesting beings. Our quirks, our crooked smile, the uncontrollable snort when we laugh. I love those characters that do dumb things once in awhile, because that is what real people do – dumb things. For instance, substituting salt for sugar in a dessert recipe. Been there, done that. But I also admire characters that can do something I don’t know how to do – doctor, lawyer, indian chief.

Readers want to care about the characters and cheer them through the conflict in their lives, but if they are just a name with no face and no feelings, then my first response is – not interested. There are too many great books out there to waste time on one that isn’t.

That’s not to say that I only read “women’s fiction” or books about family and relationships. The fact of the matter is this, I read just about every genre. “So many books, so little time.” If it is  a great story – I want to experience it!

What is your idea of a great story?

Hero Worship

I’ve got a serious case of Hero Worship going on. In fact, if Dot Frank was a man I’d have a crush on her. Last night I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Dorothea Benton Frank speak at Watermark Books. Folks, let me tell you – she is funny, down to earth, and totally inspiring. I want to be like her when I grow up – IF I grow up.

First of all, I’m so tickled that she came to Wichita and visited one of my favorite bookstores. How cool is that?

Sorry, I digress. My best friend Maxine and I got there early, meeting up with my friend Janice. We strategically sat on the 3rd row, directly in her line of sight. To be honest, I felt like a kid in a candy store filled with free candy.

She was kind enough to answer all our questions and tell us wonderfully funny stories about how she got started writing, her first book and her new book Porch Lights (which I loved), growing up on Sullivan’s Island (I’ve got to go there!), and bits of historical information about Charleston. I’ve read everything she’s written, as had many of the other attendees last night. We were a room full of happy women, laughing and fanning ourselves (it was 103 yesterday and all those bodies made the a/c struggle). There was about 100 of us!

When Dot Frank writes about South Carolina and the islands I not only see them, but I feel the humidity and smell the salt of the ocean air. Wow. If you haven’t read her books, get to the bookstore – this woman knows how to tell a story!

Would you belive I have about 200 books to read on my shelves and all I want to do is read hers over again?

I’d better get busy and write!