Saturday, August 27, 2016

Series: What to write next? - by author Vijaya Schartz

The Curse of the Lost Isle, a romantic medieval fantasy series, was twenty years in the making and is coming to a close. Of course, I wrote many other novels for various publishers in multiple genres during that time, since that series did not find a publisher right away, and required a great amount of historical research. As I am writing the last novel, Book eight, Angel of Lusignan, scheduled for release around the holidays, I realize with nostalgia that it has been a long labor of love. I’m going to miss living in that world.

As to what comes next, I’m still debating. I like writing in different genres and I have a habit of mixing them, which creates marketing nightmares for my publishers. But I like my stories to be original, different and unique. I write what I would want to read. In the Curse of the Lost Isle (from BWL), featuring a family of immortal ladies with Fae gifts, I mixed authentic legends with known history and romance. In the Ancient Enemy series, I mixed science fiction with romance, and several of my characters have paranormal abilities… sometimes created through technology. 
 
I also wrote a few contemporary romances, but always with a twist, like reincarnation, a mystery, or a thriller element. Whether writing about the past, the present, or the future, my main constants are action, adventure, and romance. I also have a predilection for cats, as they pop up as secondary characters almost everywhere (except in medieval times, but I do have a major dog character in Damsel of the Hawk). 
 

I would also like my next project to be a series. Like a reader, after I fall in love with a created world, I enjoy spending time in it. But I may choose to make these series shorter. Maybe three or four books, not six or eight like in my two latest series. It’s difficult to promote Book seven or eight to new readers who haven’t read any of the other books… even if it’s a standalone. 



Standalone is another requisite of mine. I like my series to be readable out of order, so each book should be a complete story as much as possible. As a reader, I hate cliffhanger endings and would never do that to my readers. I had to cut longer books into two parts before, not by choice, and although I still gave the first book a satisfying ending, I couldn’t tie up all the loose ends or resolve all the conflicts at the end, since that happened in the second book. It deeply bothered me. From the reviews, I know it bothered a few of my readers as well.

Now, for the time and place: Medieval? Futuristic? Contemporary? Post apocalyptic? On a space station? On an alien planet? In an alternate universe? I have used all of these in the past. Is there any other option?

As for the characters, I have a predilection for strong, kick-butt heroines. I also really enjoyed writing immortals. I once flirted with the idea of writing a series featuring angels, and I am still considering it. They could be fallen angels seeking redemption, or guardians of the human kind. Or, they could be aliens, alien/human hybrids, or AI (artificial intelligence).

So, my new writing project should definitely be a series with strong heroines, romance, action, adventure, and cats (you can never have too many of those). Each novel should be a complete story, and the series should lend itself to a different hero and heroine for each story. So, the constant would be the world in which the characters evolve.
 
In other words, writing a series revolves around creating a world in which strong, captivating characters can fight for what is just and good, and in the process, find their happily ever after. Writing this post helped me order my thoughts. Starting next year, look for the start of a new sci-fi romance series involving strong kick-butt heroines and gorgeous aliens with angel power. Now, back to finishing the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval series. 
 

 
Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
Amazon - Barnes & Noble

Friday, August 26, 2016

How fashion has changed—or has it? Tricia McGill

Buy HERE
Fashion has played a large part in my life. Before my focus centered on writing I worked in the fashion industry for many years. My book A Heart in Conflict is set in the world of fashion and because of my past it was obvious that at least one of my books should feature the industry that was part of my life for so long.

It all began when I was a child. I guess it seemed inevitable that I turn to fashion as a trade as my mother was an expert seamstress and to be honest I can’t recall ever wearing a dress as a child that was not made by her or two of my eldest sisters who later took over the task. Joan was a pattern maker and also forelady of a clothing factory. It was she who more or less coerced me into fashion. I fought against it for a year after leaving school and argued that I did not wish to work in a factory. But a position in the cutting room where she worked became vacant and between her and my mother I was convinced to give it a try. Just as a side note, I wanted to work in stables or kennels. Ah,
Joan was the glamor girl
of the family-note the shirred
bathers (they were passed
down to me)
 that dream was never to reach fruition. My eldest sister was an expert embroiderer and so all my dresses from an early age were decorated with her wonderful smocking, a tradition that has more or less died out, as most of this type of work is now done by machines.

Joan would bring home fashion books and I spent many happy hours cutting out the ladies and lining them up for my impromptu fashion parades. My favorite of all time were the paper doll books. Not a birthday or Christmas went by when I was not given one of these books. I just loved changing the outfits to suit the occasion. On trying to find pictures to illustrate this I learned that the designs and dolls still exist but are certainly more elaborate than my early gifts. My sisters made me a rag doll and she got many a change of outfit, and hairstyle. Her hair was fashioned from thread wound around a book and stitched to her
head.
The color and length was changed regularly as the whim took me. How I wish I had kept that cherished childhood love, but like many childhood mementos she disappeared. Once we reach teenage there are too many other intrusions. I did keep my old china doll for years and only parted with her
a short time ago when she finally fell apart.  I have kept the dress she wore and her bootees, as both were made by my eldest sister for her first child.
A early book of paper dolls.
I was so used to my sisters and mother making their own clothes that it didn’t seem unusual to me. Once I began in the cutting room, fabric became easily available so therefore I also made all my own clothes. For many years I didn’t possess a shop bought dress. I do have an admission to make here, for I cannot lie, I am not a good seamstress like my mother or sisters. Yes I can make a pattern from scratch and of course sew the garment up but I become impatient when it actually comes to the putting it together part. My mother had a Singer treadle machine, electric of course by now, a far cry from her early one that had to be hand driven. I learned to sew on that, and have never been without a sewing machine since I married and left home.

After my arrival in Australia I opened my own business for a while. Another sister came along with me as she is the expert sewer. It was fun while it lasted and some of the customers were dears who were always up for a chat while being fitted. I learnt many a family secret. Mind you, there were the hard to please women whose figures fluctuated with their tempers. There is nothing worse than having a bridal gown finished only to find that the bride has lost or put on weight suddenly, either through binge eating or fast dieting.

Aunt Flo (pictured) was also in the industry. This pic was taken circa 1040.



My dear little shop-note my
dogs always came to work
with m
This was in the days before all the rules and regulations began to make life difficult for starting up a small business. I simply rented a shop, got my husband to decorate it, bought some fabric, and away I went. Until one day an officious looking man carrying a clip board came into the shop wondering if I had registered. Registered? Er, well no. But this was soon rectified as he was a gentleman and soon explained how to go about it. It was hard work in that little shop, and long hours, and so I returned to the factory. I loved my work, even though it was often tough going at change of season times when everything was always wanted yesterday.
Note my sketch on the wall.
See, we did wear knee high
boots and mini skirts then.


They say what goes around comes around, this is so true in the world of fashion. I don’t
Alma Cogan
mean haute couture which is at times bizarre in order to be different and outstanding. But as far as the average woman and what she is wearing today, my sister and I often nudge each other and say, “Remember that outfit I had that was just like the one this woman on the TV has on.”  Yes, we went through the maxi phase and the mini phase, the high boots and the strappy sandals and high wedge phase, the high-busted and the dropped waistline. Even the full skirt with layers and layers of stiff petticoats beneath, favored by swing dancers, was a trend we endured. The older ones among you will recall Alma Cogan who wore the really full skirt, and so we followed suit. I just Googled Alma and would you believe heard a snip from one of my all-time favorite songs by her, “Little things mean a lot.” Sorry, I digressed to shed a tear. Even my wedding dress was full-skirted, with yards and yards of tulle.

  I think Bridal gowns have undergone the most changes. The bride of the 40s or 50s wouldn’t have
worn a strapless gown. Most brides had a long train and carried elaborate bouquets.
  
One thing that always disappointed me and my sisters was our parent’s lack of wedding photos. Our mother never talked about her wedding day, in 1914 or thereabouts, and it is likely they had a civil ceremony where she wore a suit that she would have made herself, like this one in the picture. She would have also made her hat. 




Find excerpts, reviews and buy links to all my books here on my web site

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Old Story Made New with Legendary DJ by Sandy Semerad


     “Mama, you’ve already told me that story,” my daughters often say.  Worse, they like to summarize my stories to prove they’ve heard them before.

      But recently, to my surprise, daughter Andrea didn’t recall one of my stories and she’d been a participant in it. I discovered this block in her memory as we were trying to think of the name of a great pizza place we used to frequent in Atlanta. Andrea still lives in Atlanta, and I thought she’d recall the name and location.

     “We went there the night we met Skinny Bobby Harper,” I said.

     “Who?”

     “Don’t you remember him? He wore thick glasses, had black hair” I said. “We were standing in line at the pizza place. He commented on your outfit. It had been Western Day at Roland Elementary School. So I’d braided your hair in pigtails and you’d worn an ankle-length dress that day.

     “I don’t remember,” she said. “How old was I? Seven?”

     “I’m surprised you don’t remember. We talked about it afterwards.”

     Unable to pique her memory of that evening, I rehashed it:

     “What is she supposed to be?” he asked.

     “That’s what she considers Western,” I answered and explained about Western Day.

     “Yes, she absolutely right, she looks like Laura Ingells, Little House on the Prairie.”

     After my long day, my mind stalled. “Do I know you? You look familiar.”

     He flashed a smile. “Your ex-husband, an old boyfriend, perhaps?”

     I laughed, “No.”

     He refused to give me a clue, but as I stared, trying to place him, I thought of a recent article I’d read. Could this man be the inspiration for the character Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati, as the article had said? The photo looked like him. “Are you Skinny Bobby Harper?”

     He offered his hand. “How do you do?”

     I told him I’d read the article about him.

     He said Hugh Wilson, a friend of his, had written and produced the popular sitcom WKRP. Wilson had been the ad guy at WQXI in Atlanta where Harper used to DJ. Wilson wrote for the Mary Tyler Moore Show, before he created WKRP, Harper said.

     Harper had ventured into television more than ten years prior, as one of TV’s ground-breaking video DJs on what was known as the Now Explosion. That show was telecast in Atlanta on Ted Turner’s channel 17 and was nationally syndicated.

     I’d read about Harper’s colorful language. (He sometimes swore on the air). He’d been fired from a number of radio stations, although others stations clamored to hire him regardless, due to his immense popularity and talent.

     In talking to him, I found him sweet and respectful, and after we got our pizzas, we sat at adjoining tables, Andrea and I at one table, he and his daughter at another.

     The next morning I was driving Andrea to school when she said, “Mama, why don’t we listen to the man we met last night at the pizza place?”

     I scrolled the radio channels until I found him, although I wasn’t prepared for what I heard him say: “Do you know what day it is today? It’s be kind to Sandy Ryles day.” (My last name was Ryles at that time.) He repeated the “Be kind to Sandy Ryles day,” a number of times and said, “If you see Sandy Ryles, be kind to her. It’s her day.”

     I smiled until I thought my face would break, as I drove Andrea to school; then drove myself to the Marta station to catch the train to Georgia State University. Back then I was working on a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism.

      I wanted to call and thank him, but I didn’t have a cell phone. No one had cell phones then.

     But from that morning on, I always listened to him. He made my days happier and brighter. He’s been called a comic genius, and he was.

     He created a character called “Lavern” from the “Never Say Goodbye” nursing home. Lavern was also a member of the “Toe-to-Toe-With-Satan Church of the Constant Struggle.”

     There were many other skits he performed over the radio, and as I listened, I pictured Lavern and all the characters he created. He also reported on how many moo cows were seen in Atlanta.

      Sandwiched in between his skits, he played lovely tunes, like Smokey Robinson’s The Tears of a Clown, and so many of my favorites, too many to name.

     In talking to Andrea and reliving all of this, I realized I’d lost track of Skinny Bobby Harper after I moved to Florida in 1990. A google search brought sad news. He died of lung cancer in 2003. He was only 64.

     But I feel blessed to have met and listened to him, and I’m sure I’ll repeat this story about the Hall of Fame, legendary DJ. How he made me feel like a queen for a day and brightened my mornings. If only I’d called to thank him for bringing me such joy.

     I’m trying to make amends by spreading some of the joy he gave to me, and the next time I tell this story to Andrea and Rene, they’d better not say they’ve heard it before. If they do, I’ll come back with, “I’m your mother. If I want to repeat old stories to make them new again, I should have that privilege.”
 
To read more, please visit my web site: 

                               sandysemerad.com 

Below you’ll find the link to my latest novel, A Message in the Roses, based on a murder trial I covered as a newspaper reporter in Atlanta. Warning: contains steaming romance.

Buy A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES


Old Story Made New with Legendary DJ


     “Mama, you’ve already told me that story,” my daughters often say.  Worse, they like to summarize my stories to prove they’ve heard them before.

      But recently, to my surprise, daughter Andrea didn’t recall one of my stories and she’d been a participant in it. I discovered this block in her memory as we were trying to think of the name of a great pizza place we used to frequent in Atlanta. Andrea still lives in Atlanta, and I thought she’d recall the name and location.

     “We went there the night we met Skinny Bobby Harper,” I said.

     “Who?”

     “Don’t you remember him? He wore thick glasses, had black hair” I said. “We were standing in line at the pizza place. He commented on your outfit. It had been Western Day at Roland Elementary School. So I’d braided your hair in pigtails and you’d worn an ankle-length dress that day.

     “I don’t remember,” she said. “How old was I? Seven?”

     “I’m surprised you don’t remember. We talked about it afterwards.”

     Unable to pique her memory of that evening, I rehashed it:

     “What is she supposed to be?” he asked.

     “That’s what she considers Western,” I answered and explained about Western Day.

     “Yes, she absolutely right, she looks like Laura Ingells, Little House on the Prairie.”

     After my long day, my mind stalled. “Do I know you? You look familiar.”

     He flashed a smile. “Your ex-husband, an old boyfriend, perhaps?”

     I laughed, “No.”

     He refused to give me a clue, but as I stared, trying to place him, I thought of a recent article I’d read. Could this man be the inspiration for the character Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati, as the article had said? The photo looked like him. “Are you Skinny Bobby Harper?”

     He offered his hand. “How do you do?”

     I told him I’d read the article about him.

     He said Hugh Wilson, a friend of his, had written and produced the popular sitcom WKRP. Wilson had been the ad guy at WQXI in Atlanta where Harper used to DJ. Wilson wrote for the Mary Tyler Moore Show, before he created WKRP, Harper said.

     Harper had ventured into television more than ten years prior, as one of TV’s ground-breaking video DJs on what was known as the Now Explosion. That show was telecast in Atlanta on Ted Turner’s channel 17 and was nationally syndicated.

     I’d read about Harper’s colorful language. (He sometimes swore on the air). He’d been fired from a number of radio stations, although others stations clamored to hire him regardless, due to his immense popularity and talent.

     In talking to him, I found him sweet and respectful, and after we got our pizzas, we sat at adjoining tables, Andrea and I at one table, he and his daughter at another.

     The next morning I was driving Andrea to school when she said, “Mama, why don’t we listen to the man we met last night at the pizza place?”

     I scrolled the radio channels until I found him, although I wasn’t prepared for what I heard him say: “Do you know what day it is today? It’s be kind to Sandy Ryles day.” (My last name was Ryles at that time.) He repeated the “Be kind to Sandy Ryles day,” a number of times and said, “If you see Sandy Ryles, be kind to her. It’s her day.”

     I smiled until I thought my face would break, as I drove Andrea to school; then drove myself to the Marta station to catch the train to Georgia State University. Back then I was working on a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism.

      I wanted to call and thank him, but I didn’t have a cell phone. No one had cell phones then.

     But from that morning on, I always listened to him. He made my days happier and brighter. He’s been called a comic genius, and he was.

     He created a character called “Lavern” from the “Never Say Goodbye” nursing home. Lavern was also a member of the “Toe-to-Toe-With-Satan Church of the Constant Struggle.”

     There were many other skits he performed over the radio, and as I listened, I pictured Lavern and all the characters he created. He also reported on how many moo cows were seen in Atlanta.

      Sandwiched in between his skits, he played lovely tunes, like Smokey Robinson’s The Tears of a Clown, and so many of my favorites, too many to name.

     In talking to Andrea and reliving all of this, I realized I’d lost track of Skinny Bobby Harper after I moved to Florida in 1990. A google search brought sad news. He died of lung cancer in 2003. He was only 64.

     But I feel blessed to have met and listened to him, and I’m sure I’ll repeat this story about the Hall of Fame, legendary DJ. How he made me feel like a queen for a day and brightened my mornings. If only I’d called to thank him for bringing me such joy.

     I’m trying to make amends by spreading some of the joy he gave to me, and the next time I tell this story to Andrea and Rene, they’d better not say they’ve heard it before. If they do, I’ll come back with, “I’m your mother. If I want to repeat old stories to make them new again, I should have that privilege.”
 
To read more, please visit my web site: 

                               sandysemerad.com 

Below you’ll find the link to my latest novel, A Message in the Roses, based on a murder trial I covered as a newspaper reporter in Atlanta. Warning: contains steaming romance.

Buy A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Process by Victoria Chatham

 


Earlier this month I attended the When Words Collide conference in Calgary and spent nearly three days listening to presentations, discussions on various writing topics by panels and – best of all – talking to other writers. One topic that seemed to consistently crop up was that of the process of writing. What is this magical process? As it turns out, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.



What one writer loves, another abhors. Take Scrivener, for instance. I know several writers who swear they could not write a book without it. I looked at Scrivener, but whichever way I looked at it, however many people explained parts of the program to me, it made no sense. Rather than make the writing easier, it seemed like more hard work. Another author writes in longhand and then revises when she transcribes her work to the computer. That I can understand a little more. There’s something very basic about sitting with pen and paper and letting your words flow across the page in total freefall, the method by which Canada’s great W.O. Mitchell (Who Has Seen the Wind, Jake and the Kid, Roses Are Difficult Here to name just a few of his titles) wrote and which has been the basis of many authors giving birth to their ideas.

The idea of freefall is to simply write, with no attention to sentence structure, grammar, punctuation or any kind of editing. Use as many adverbs as you like! As Nora Roberts has said, you cannot edit a blank page. In getting down the bones of whatever your idea is, you are filling your pages and therefore have something to go back to revise and edit. Freefall is different to stream of consciousness which is an internal monologue reflecting a person’s thoughts, feelings or observations on what they see about them, whether it is another person, an event or something that has caught their attention. It is written in much the same way as freefall. That is, without worrying about grammar or the editing gremlin on your shoulder. Stream of consciousness writing does not actually tell a story.

You may be familiar with the term pantser, which refers to a writer who sits down at his/her computer and writes. I lean towards being a pantser. The only time I resort to actual plotting is if I get lost in the middle, when it becomes something of back-paddling scramble. My usual process is to write timelines for my major characters, decide what is going to happen to them, do whatever research I need to do and then sit down and write. Being an editor at heart I usually read the last six pages before I start another writing session, just to get myself up to speed on what I wrote yesterday and revise as I go. At the start of a book I’ll decide how many chapters it will be and stick a post-it for each chapter on my white board. There may be some notes about that chapter, more often not. I have to say that the further I get into a book, the less social I become. In fact, at about the half way point I am so engrossed I have been known to become quite grumpy if interrupted.


Once my book is finished, it goes to my critique partners and beta readers and when I’ve done whatever revisions might be necessary I kiss it goodbye and send it to my publisher. My process after finishing a book is similar to après skiing. There’s wine, chocolate, cozy blankets and sleep – lots of sleep.  

Find me and my books at: 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Books We Love's Tantalizing Talent ~ Author Karla Stover



Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Karla Stover. I have lived in Tacoma, WA all my life as did my parents.  My paternal grandparents were the first homesteaders in Oregon’s Warner Valley, owned the water rights, and had a cattle ranch. My maternal grandparents left Johnstown, PA around 1915 and settled in Tacoma. They passed their love of books and reading to my mother who passed it on to me. The maternal grandparents were survivors of the 1889 Johnstown, PA flood, lived very long lives, and often talked about it. I also spent time on the cattle ranch which had few modern conveniences. I love history. Until the last financial crash, I wrote a monthly article on some aspect of local history for a local newspaper. I also talk about Tacoma’s amazing past weekly on KLAY 1180 am, and, if I did it right, that love shows in my second murder mystery, Murder, When One Isn’t Enough. It revolves around the book, Madame of the House, San Francisco madam, Sally Stanford’s autobiography.


My first book was nonfiction, Let’s Go Walk About in Tacoma.
 

Next was a murder mystery, Murder on the Line.


Then, another nonfiction, Hidden History of Tacoma: Little-known Tales of the City of Destiny.


Murder, When One Isn’t Enough was also a murder mystery, a sequel to the first one.


A Feather for a Fan, followed—fiction set in a nonfiction environment.


A third, nonfiction Tacoma history book is currently being edited AND


For BWL I’m writing a historical-romance-mystery called Wynters Way. The cover is great.



I am a slow writer which means no time to tweet or keep up a website or blog, but I write because I have to. Don’t all authors?



EXCEPT FROM Murder, When One isn’t Enough
Amazon



     After dinner, I read more letters, learned more about the many properties Sally owned, but especially about the house at 1144 Pine Street, which had a fountain in the drawing room. Supposedly, delegates from various countries convened in the house’s living room and formed the United Nations there. In addition to Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra liked to drop in, and she entertained shahs, princes, national dignitaries, and California state and local government officials. On quiet nights, her girls made fudge. Sally also read obituaries and often paid the funeral expenses of Depression homeless.

However, it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops. Patsy developed a drinking problem. Two men broke in one night and beat Sally up. She kept a seldom-seen photograph of a seldom-seen son who was tucked away in boarding school.

I finished the last letter, bundled them up, and turned out the lights. Outside, the natives were restless. Two peacocks wandered down from the hill and took refuge on the garage roof next door. A raccoon walked up and down under the bedroom window, making crunchy noises on the gravel, and occasionally standing up to try and look in. Porch Cat’s tail twitched back and forth as he kept track of the movements. After a while I took a sleeping pill. The moon lit up the room and I dozed in its light until around midnight when the phone rang. I stumbled into the living room, picked it up and heard someone humming.

“You again. Well, you little pervert, buzz off because, frankly, I don’t give a damn.” I slammed the receiver in its cradle.

Back in the bedroom, a mosquito hummed. “Bite me and you’ll be sorry.” It did, and it was. I turned on my stomach and fell asleep.


Finding the truth buried in the legends

Find all the books of the Curse of the Lost Isle series and other books by Vijaya Schartz  from BWL HERE Myths and legends are often c...