Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day!!

Leap Day used to be a mere blip in the calendar to me. An oddity that messed up what day your birthday landed on, how many days were in a month, something odd made up by scientist to set the clock straight with the earth's rotation again.

But twenty years ago today, it became special. Our son, Calvin Benjamin, joined our family! Happy "5th" birthday, Ben! On a Thursday night after Friend's and ER, Ben made an arrival that made our family of four complete. Our doctor stayed late passed his call duty to deliver Ben, telling us it was special for him because his grandmother had been born on Leap Day. She had lived to be 96, and had she lived until Ben's Leap Day, would have been 100 that night.

People always ask, "but when do you celebrate your birthday when you get leaped?"
Easy, whatever day we pick!

Even though this year, it falls in the day, we had to celebrate on the 27th and 28th since he's at college today.

He's grown a little hair in five years, and still just as great looking!

We celebrated at Fiddler's Hearth, and had family dinner at Grandma's. 
There's nothing like being home for celebrations!
Happy Leap Day Birthday Ben!

Readers: What kinds of fun family celebrations do you have? 
-------------
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
Find me on:Facebook 
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Find me on: Goodreads 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Contest Announcement from Editor Tina James

Gabrielle Here:

Erica and I are excited to welcome our Love Inspired Historical editor, Tina James, to Coffee Cups & Camisoles! We invited Tina to share the good news about Manuscript Matchmakers, a contest the Love Inspired editors are holding right now. Since this is similar to the Blurb2Book contest Erica and I participated in last year, we thought this was a perfect place to share the news this year! After Tina tells you a little about the contest, Erica and I will share our experiences from last year. We'll tell you how we survived all the rounds, and what it felt like to receive "the call" that we had been offered contracts! Read all the way to the end and check out the fun giveaway we're offering!

Without further ado, here's the lovely Tina James to tell you more.

~ ~ ~ ~
 
 

Love Inspired Historical is looking for new authors!

Hi, I’m Tina James, and I’m the executive editor for Love Inspired Books. I want to thank Gabrielle Meyer and Erica Vetsch for inviting me to come and share a great opportunity we have at Love Inspired Historical for historical romance authors.

Love Inspired Historical is an inspirational historical romance line that publishes four books every month. The stories are 70,000 words and set in various countries and time periods up to World War II. The books are sweet and wholesome, and emphasize tenderness and emotional intimacy between the Christian characters, rather than more passionate feelings.

The Love Inspired Historical editors are looking for new authors for the line and are inviting writers to participate in our newest pitch contest: Manuscript Matchmakers (#ManuscriptMatch).  If you’re an aspiring or published writer who writes richly textured and emotionally intense stories set in times past, then here is a great opportunity to get your work in front of a Love Inspired Historical editor.

The first step to submitting to the Manuscript Matchmakers pitch is filling out a matchmaking profile card (where you define the hooks, conflict, and setting/time period of your story and describe your story in just one sentence), and sending us the first page of your manuscript.  Instructions on how to submit, along with deadline information can be found here: www.harlequin.com/ManuscriptMatchmakers/

Authors who catch our eye will move on to stage 2 of the contest and will be asked to submit a full proposal (synopsis and three chapters). And if we’re interested in seeing more of an author’s story, then we’ll ask for the full manuscript in stage 3.

The Love Inspired editors will be providing advice and feedback to the entrants at each contest stage. Check out our forum threads here http://community.harlequin.com/forumdisplay.php/110-Manuscript-Matchmakers and you’ll see various threads such as what we’re looking for in your Love Inspired Historical story and how to write a standout first page. And find encouragement in success stories from authors (like Gabrielle and Erica) who we’ve bought through past pitch contests here: http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/9100-Success-Stories.com  And check out the guidelines for Love Inspired Historical here: https://harlequin.submittable.com/submit/29571

One of the things that gives Love Inspired editors the greatest thrill is to be able to make that phone call that says, “We’d like to offer you a contract.”   So if you want to become the next new author for the Love Inspired Historical who gets “the call”, then I encourage you to submit your entry in our Manuscript Matchmakers pitch.

Happy writing!

Tina

Gabrielle here:

Last year, I heard about Blurb2Book from my friend who writes contemporary romance. I didn't think to enter, since I write historical, and I assumed the contest was only for contemporary. When Erica sent me a message, and asked if I was going to participate, I went online and discovered that Love Inspired was taking submissions for all their lines, including historical. I only had three days to come up with my first page and 100-word blurb, so I worked fast.

At the time, I didn't realize they had received over 320 submissions! On the day they made the announcement (naming the twenty-five authors who would move on to round two in the historical division), I was sitting in the dentist office parking lot. I squealed when I read my name on that list! I also squealed when I saw Erica's name. Later that week, I was on vacation in Washington, D.C. with my mom, my mother-in-law, and my daughters, so I worked on the first three chapters and the synopsis in between site-seeing.

When the announcement for the final round came, I happened to be in the grocery store parking lot! The editors narrowed down the list to the top ten in each category, and again, I saw mine and Erica's names. I was both excited and nervous! It was a challenge to write the full manuscript in just two months, but I had so much fun. After I submitted the story, I had to sit back and wait (which was even more of a challenge!).

First, I heard that Erica was contracted, and I was so happy for her (and not surprised!). It was such a long wait, but one day in August, I was on my cell phone, making a doctor appointment for my daughter, when I heard a text come through. After I was finished with my call, I read the text. It was from my agent, asking if I had time to chat. The answer was a big YES! I had a feeling she was calling with good news (she doesn't usually call with bad news...). When I answered, she told me she had just been on the phone with Tina James, and Tina loved my story and wanted to offer me a contract!! Oh, happy day. Within a half an hour, I was on the phone with Tina, talking to her about my story. It was one of those moments when I kept thinking: "When I woke up this morning, I had no idea I'd be on the phone with an editor from New York."

Tina and Gabrielle at the Love Inspired Dinner during
the ACFW Conference in Dallas, Texas last year.
Since then, I've revised my manuscript, renamed it with Tina's help, and had the pleasure of meeting Tina, Shana, and Melissa (other LI editors) in person at the ACFW Conference. I've loved working with Love Inspired and with Tina, and I'm so thankful Erica sent me that message last year. :) My story, A Mother in the Making, releases in September.

If you write historical romance novels, don't even hesitate to enter this contest! The feedback you receive from the editors is priceless...and you never know. You might be writing a blog post similar to mine next year!
 
Erica here:
I first became aware of the Blurb2Book contest last year by reading over at the Seekerville blog. My first thought was, “What a fun idea.” And my second was, “They are including historical romance in this year’s pitch contest.” (In past contests I had seen, they were looking for romantic suspense or contemporary romance, but not historical romance.)
As I looked over the timeframe of the deadlines, I realized if I wanted to enter, I would have to come up with something quickly.  I decided to take a gallop through my ‘ideas’ folder to see if anything both caught my interest and would work for a Love Inspired Historical Romance.
Thankfully, I uncovered a story idea I’d once come up with and stashed in my ideas folder that I thought might work.
I don’t know how many times I read and re-read the guidelines for the first stage, not wanting to make a silly mistake and disqualify myself. There was a decent-sized chance I wouldn’t make it to the second round, but I didn’t want it to be for something as slip-shod as using the wrong font or forgetting page numbers.
A writers’ group I attend critiqued my idea and the first page of my manuscript, and I went ahead and hit ‘send.’
Then I wrote the full synopsis and the first three chapters, but I didn’t continue on with the manuscript at that time. I had a couple of other deadlines I was working on, some edits to do, and after all, I probably wouldn’t be asked for a full.
I happened to be at the writers group on the day the second round of the contest was announced, and we broke all kinds of rules about not using the internet while we were supposed to be writing in order to tune in and see the results of the first round.
When the list went live for the historical authors, I quickly scanned to the bottom, and my heart sank. My name wasn’t there…so I went back to the top to read who had gotten in when I realized that the names were listed alphabetically by FIRST name, not last, and that my manuscript had indeed made the list.
When it came time for the stage three announcement, and I learned they were cutting the list from 25 down to 10, I was sure I wouldn’t make the cut, but I’m thrilled to say that I did. The editors sent back amazing feedback, and it was up to me to edit my story and synopsis to fit the Love Inspired line.
I wrote like my hair was on fire. And I paid attention to the editors’ comments. With a bit of time to spare…but not much…I submitted the finished story to the Blurb2Book email address.
Then it was time to wait. We had been told that all Blurb2Book manuscripts would be read and responded to by August 30th.
As it would happen, I was once again at the writers’ group when my phone rang. (I had forgotten to turn it off! Another breach of the writers’ group rules…no phones while the group is writing!) When I saw it was my agent on the phone, I hopped up and ran outside to take the call.
Squee! It was the news that Tina James had read my story and had liked it very much. She wanted to offer a contract. I’m sure I paced a groove in the sidewalk out in front of Sharon Hinck’s house as my agent and I celebrated and went over some details. I was super-excited to get to go inside and share my good news with the group of writers who had been with me through all the stages of the pitch contest.
A couple days later, I got to talk on the phone with Tina herself, who was just as nice as could be, so encouraging and enthusiastic about my story. And a few days after that, I got to celebrate with Gabrielle as Love Inspired announced that her story had received a contract offer, too!
I know I wouldn’t be a Love Inspired Historical writer if it wasn’t for the Blurb2Book contest. I’m so glad I entered last year. Working with the LIH team has been terrific, and the authors who write for Love Inspired have been so supportive and welcoming.
I can’t believe that His Prairie Sweetheart releases in just a few weeks!!
If you’re wondering if the Manuscript Matchmaker is for you, all I can say is, you can’t win if you don’t play! Get busy, study the contest rules, get to writing, and get that story entered! Amazing things might be just around the corner!
Your Turn: Have you ever entered a writing contest? If you have, share a little about your experience. Do you have any questions for Erica and Gabrielle?

Here's the giveaway we promised! One winner will receive the February 2016 Box Set of Love Inspired Historical Novels (Kindle version). Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.
 
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How do you deal with deadlines?


Erica Here:

Deadlines. We've all had them. When is that paper due? When is that project due? When is that bill due?

Some people hate the stress of a deadline, and others embrace them. For me, I love having a deadline. I love knowing there is an end date, a goal for which to strive.

When I went through a writing drought a few years ago, the thing that tripped me up the most was not having a deadline, not having a reason to write. Before I was published, the reason to write was to get published. While I had contracts, the goal was to meet (and for me to beat) my deadlines. But when those contracts dried up, suddenly, I had no focus, no goal, no pressure to write.

And I floundered a bit. I didn't know what to work on, what to try. So I when my agent asked what she could do to help, I said, "Give me a deadline."

Voila! A goal to aim for. It helped me tremendously. (And I turned in the ms ahead of time. :) )



I have a few strategies for dealing with a deadline:

1. Plan ahead, but not too tightly. 

When I have a deadline on the calendar, I estimate approximately how many words per day I need to write in order to finish a first draft and have time to edit. But then I don't follow it too strictly. Because life happens. I know there will be days when I far exceed that word count, but I also know there will be days when I don't write at all.

2. Think about my story when I'm not writing. Keep the story fresh and in the forefront.

While I'm driving somewhere, while I have downtime waiting for an appointment, while I'm quilting. Keeping the story fresh in my mind means when I do sit down to write, I know what I want to say.

3. Keep evaluating and updating the plan.

Be flexible, but be responsible, too. I know some writers who, the week before their deadline, write ten thousand words a day, shut out the world, and just make it under the deadline before the clock strikes 12. I know that under those circumstances, I would hate that pressure, and that I wouldn't produce my best work. I know that I like to finish a first draft and edit it to the best of my ability before I turn it in. I adjust the plan and what I need to do as I move through the calendar.

4. Keep people informed of my progress.

This is mostly my family, but also includes my agent. When my family knows a deadline is approaching, or if I tell them I need to lay down some serious word-count, they pitch in to help and they keep distractions to a minimum. They encourage and ask how I'm doing.

Keeping my agent in the loop means if there is ever a need to communicate with an editor about a project, she has up-to-date information to pass along.

So, how do you deal with deadlines? Do you like them? Do you hate them? Do you find them helpful or a distraction? 








Executive Assistant
Earl Grey Aficionado
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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly . . . of a Book Release

It's the week before my novella releases, and things are a bit crazy in cybersphere. I wonder how it used to be, to release a book, before the world of social media? Regardless, I have fallen smack in the middle of preparing to launch this baby into the world for readers all over to either embrace it, or throw it across the room.

There's a few behind-the-scenes things you should know about authors when we prepare for book releases . . .

The Good:

Initial Excitement
Awe that it's finally happening
Thrill to see your name in print
Joy to read your own words in a bound book
Satisfaction to watch your parents cry when they see you've realized your dreams

It all sort winds up looking like this . . .



The Bad:

Is that typo? No. Whew. Wait. Is that another one?  . . . eek . . . overanalyzing at its worst
Wait. A release? But I just received edits on my next book due in 2 weeks and I have another editor waiting for my rewrites by March 1st and . . . I HAVE A DAY JOB!!!
Oh sure. Great time to get the cold of the century (pass the Kleenex please)

It all sort of winds up looking like this . . .






The Ugly:

Dear God, they're going to hate me
I knew it. I knew my writing stunk
Worst story I ever wrote.
Coffee, where out of coffee? Not funny
Shoot. People at church are buying my book. Maybe I should offer refunds during the offeratory
Why couldn't I kill people in this book, it would've made it soooo much better!?!?!

It all sort of winds up looking like this . . .




















So whoever told you the life of an author was glamorous, thrilling, exciting, and always amazing . . . they probably drink water. Give them some coffee and the world will suddenly become very, very real.

March 1st . . . big launch day!!! don't forget to join us!

______________________________



Professional coffee drinker, Jaime Jo Wright, resides in the hills of Wisconsin. She loves to write spirited turn-of-the-century romance, stained with suspense. Her day job finds her as a Director of
Sales & Development. She’s wife to a rock climbing, bow-hunting Pre-K teacher, mom to a coffee-drinking little girl, and a little boy she fondly refers to as her mischievous “Peter Pan”. Jaime completes her persona by being an admitted social media junkie and coffee snob. She is a member of ACFW and has the best writing sisters EVER!

"The Cowgirl's Lasso", The Cowboy Bride's Novella Collection - Barbour Publishing - COMING MARCH 2016

"Gold Haven Heiress", California Gold Rush Romance Collection - Barbour Publishing - COMING AUGUST 2016


Visit Jaime's web site: jaimejowright.com
Email Jaime - jaimejowright at gmail dot com
Like Jaime on Facebook
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Meet Jaime on Pinterest

Monday, February 22, 2016

Because Sometimes...

...You just need a weekend of this...


Sunshine and writing...


A walk in the woods to see the maple syrup sap running...


Multiple mugs of very strong coffee...


Silence and sanctuary. Soaking up moments with my girl....

I hope your weekend was restful and refueling!

Psalm 29:11  The LORD gives strength to his people; 
the LORD blesses his people with peace.

Where do you go for sanctuary and silence?
-------------
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
Find me on:Facebook 
Find me on: Pinterest
Find me on: Twitter
Find me on: Goodreads 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Interview with Amy Matayo and a #Giveaway!

I'm so happy to have my friend Amy join us today at the blog! Her first time ever being here on Coffee Cups and Camisoles. She's a sweetheart and super cool in person. You'll enjoy getting to know her today and don't forget to enter to win a copy of her latest novel! :)

___________________________

How did you begin writing?

I started writing as a kid—bad poems, even worse song lyrics, angsty diary entries—so I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing in some capacity. As I grew up, the writing changed to more complex (but still bad) poems, articles for my college newspaper, halfway decent greeting cards for a company I worked for after graduation, and magazine articles. Through that, I always knew that I wanted to write novels, but the idea was a scary one. It seemed daunting, the prospect of writing an entire book. Finally in 2008, I woke up in early January and decided to be done thinking about it. I wrote my first chapter on January fifth and finished my first (unpublished) novel in May of that year.

Take us through a day in the life of you, the author (because some of us picture you rise from bed, calmly pour your coffee, sit in a sunny little alcove, and write for eight hours before getting ready for a luxurious dinner out with your special someone) ;)

Some of you are hilarious. The only thing right about that description is that I rise from bed, but it’s more like I jolt out of bed after pushing the snooze button a few times, then start yelling at my kids that we’re all late for everything. Then I throw food in lunch boxes, yank shirts over heads, hand out money for gas, then shove everyone out the door as I drive the one child who can’t walk/drive himself to school because he’s thirteen and his school is too far away (the inconvenience). And then finally, I after stopping at Sonic for a lemon water, I make my way back home to work.

And that’s when I check email. Make more coffee. Get on social media. Decide my closet probably needs organizing. And what about my sock drawer—don’t get me started on that. And then maybe I should paint the bedroom. Mop the floor. Go to Starbucks. Change my outfit because what am I wearing? I can’t post a selfie on Instagram wearing this awful shirt.

And this is how my brain works until around lunchtime, when I realize I have only three hours until my kids get home and I’ve gotten exactly nothing done. So I write furiously. And edit furiously. And somehow out of all this chaos and procrastination, a book is born.

Tell us where you got the idea for your latest book and why you developed a passion to write it?

About a year-and-a-half ago I had this image that wouldn’t escape me. I kept picturing these kids—a younger boy, a slightly older girl—living in this abandoned house I remembered from my years growing up on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border.

About halfway between the Arkansas border and Tulsa, there is this house on the south side of the highway. It’s a beautiful house...now. But when I was younger it sat empty and unfinished, staying that way for a decade, maybe two. Unused rusty cranes and bulldozers flanked each side and became covered in cobwebs. Mounds of fresh dirt slowly sprouted weeds...eventually trees. Even though the house had the potential to be gorgeous, everything about it used to scare me. Every time we drove past—which generally averaged to be two or three times a year—I would stare at it. Hold my breath. Think up creepy little scenarios about what might be occurring in that gigantic, deteriorating house. I never forgot those stories.

And so I kept picturing these kids living inside this house. And the strange part was that I went to bed one night thinking about nothing out of the ordinary and then woke up the next morning with the image of these broken, homeless kids who just wanted to be loved and understood by someone. Maybe I dreamed about them, maybe I didn’t. But they were there and they weren’t leaving. Not that day or the next or the rest of the month.

I told my agent about that image and explained the plot in detail. She told me I was crazy for veering away from the norm, but then she told me to write it anyway. So I did.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

Shaye and Cameron equally. They both have their own voice in that they alternate chapters, and they bring different strengths to the table. Shaye is independent and fierce, but she’s also bruised and broken. Cameron is broken too, but he is an optimist, an encourager. They are my version of two people meant to be together, meant to prop each other up and blend their strengths and weaknesses into one ideal pairing.

What is the most important takeaway from your book that you hope your readers see?

That you are not stuck in your circumstances. That your past does not define you, that your present does not have control over you, that your future is not written in the dismal stars, and that no one—not one single person—is unworthy of true and lasting love.

If you were to be offered the opportunity to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or to back pack deep into the heart of the Swiss Alps, which would you do and why?


Backpack deep into the heart of the Swiss Alps. One, because Switzerland. And two, because I wrote a book that centered around this concept (Love Gone Wild) and I would LOVE to live it out.

And while you’re on this grand adventure, would it be necessary for you to have coffee or tea? (‘cause we’re split evenly in preference here at the CCC blog)


Oh no, the pressure! Coffee for daytime and tea for nighttime. BUT if I were forced to choose one, I guess I would go with coffee. Because surely I would get sleepy at some point and need coffee to keep going, right?


If you had to write your novel long-hand, would you use a fine point Sharpie, a roller ball pen, a fountain pen, or a pencil?

A fountain pen. I know this because I wrote my first book longhand, which seems to ridiculous and time consuming to me now. But I used a fountain pen. I still have that draft.

Your favorite flavor of pie … 

Chocolate for all the time, pecan for Thanksgiving.

What are you currently working on in the book world?

I’m working on a Contemporary Romance called The Thirteenth Chance for Waterfall Press. It stars a professional baseball-playing hero and a neurotic school teacher heroine that are (of course) thrown together out of necessity. It’s been fun and challenging to write, and it’s completely different from The End of the World. It’s currently in edits and will be released in September.

Lastly, will you leave us with a snippet from your book that is one of your favorites and gives us a glimpse into its pages?


Though this book is not my story, it is the most personal one I’ve written. There are lots of favorite parts, but this is my favorite passage:

“He is my connector. The only person in the world who understands me. My exact missing piece...the piece that when picked up and placed next to me fits as though it’s been there all along. He has fit perfectly with me from the first moment we met. I may never make love to him or kiss him or even hold his hand, but I can’t breathe unless he’s around me. When he’s gone, a part of me is gone. And when he’s here, he fills the room with so much of his presence that all of me is content in the fact that I could share his space forever. Because he is my soulmate.”

___________________________


Amy Matayo is an award winning author of The Wedding Game, Love Gone Wild, Sway, In Tune
With Love, and A Painted Summer. She graduated with barely passing grades from John Brown
University with a degree in Journalism. But don't feel sorry for her--she's super proud of that
degree and all the ways she hasn't put it to good use. She laughs often, cries easily, feels deeply, and loves hard. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and four kids and is working on her next novel.


www.amymatayo.com
Twitter: @amymatayo
Instagram: @amymatayo



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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Finding a Cover Model

I love so many things about writing, but one of the hardest things for me to do is find actors or models who resemble my characters. This is a necessary component when it comes to cover design, so I have to research carefully. It usually takes me a long time to find just the right model.

Part of the reason it takes me so long, is because I write historical fiction and I would much prefer to use historical photos. Sometimes that's impossible, so I look for actors who have been in historical settings. If I have my heart set on one actor or actress in particular, I try my best.

For instance, in my upcoming Love Inspired Historical, A Mother in the Making, which releases in September, I pictured Kate Hudson as the heroine. Kind of feisty, quirky, charming, and loveable. I don't know of any historical setting she's ever been in, but I did find a picture of her in a long, yellow gown from How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.


To help the cover design team, I had to show them clothing from the time period, 1918. So, along with this picture of Kate, I sent these pictures:





As for my hero, he's a widower and a bit older than the heroine. He's a doctor, distinguished and a bit authoritarian in the beginning. I pictured one of my favorite actors of all time, James Garner. Here's the picture I sent the design team:


Again, I needed to set him firmly in 1918, so I sent these pictures along to help the cover design team:




 
Once I found the pictures of my characters, it was fun to find their clothing and accessories. It was almost like dressing a doll when I was a child. 
 
I also had to provide three scenes from the book that could potentially make a good cover scene. I had to provide descriptions and pictures for that, as well. I'll share those next week.
 
Your Turn: What is your favorite book cover of all time? I have quite a few, but one that pops out at me is Fancy Pants, by Cathy Marie Hake. I remember seeing it for the first time several years ago, and it set the mood for the book.
 
 
Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Word Sowers Christian Writer's Conference

Erica here:

I am pleased to be teaching a workshop this April at the Words of Life 2016 Christian Writer's Conference, put on by the Omaha Word Sowers!

Word Sowers Christian Writer's Group exists to encourage, educate, and connect writers, and their number one priority is to glorify God!

They have a stellar lineup of classes taught by some fantastic folks. Best-selling authors and industry professionals will speak on topics ranging from the craft of fiction to writing for magazines to treating your writing as a business.

I'll be teaching on using a plot board to map out your story. It's a hands-on style of plotting that calls for lots of post-its and colored pens! And what writer can resist office supplies? :D

There are many other classes as well, and several that I am eager to attend myself. As a bonus, I'll get to hang out with my dear friend Mary Connealy and meet one of my favorite writers, Cheryl St. John in person!!!!! Squee! :D

It's a great conference for a great price! You can find more information by using the link below.

http://wordsowers.com/upcoming-events/annual-conference/

If you live in the Mid-west, if you're thinking of becoming a writer, if you want to know more about what it takes to be a writer, if you're an established writer who wants to connect and learn and fellowship with others of like mind, check out this conference and sign up! :)


QUESTION: Have you ever been to a writer's conference? When, where, and what were your impressions?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Preparing For A Release

There is nothing more exciting than preparing for my first release. Ok, so I'm exaggerating. I was more excited when my kids were born, but after that? Yep. This pretty much tops the list! I also love that I get to share this moment with eight other wonderful women.

So behind-the-scenes preparing for a release? I have a bunch of interviews I'm answering questions for as those blogs will be launching over the next several weeks. I'm also setting aside copies of my book for a few contests that are being hosted. Writing some articles for a wonderful publicist who gave me a few super-de-duper opportunities.

ALSO! I'm preparing for the big FACEBOOK LAUNCH PARTY that I'm co-hosting with the other 8 lovely authors on March 1st. We're giving away a Kindle Fire, gift cards, books, and chatting about the novellas, cowboys, westerns, and it's going to be so much FUN!! :) You HAVE to join me; I'd be lonely without you.



I'm also planning a giveaway of the book here on our blog in the upcoming weeks, behind-the-scenes with my Pinterest board, YouTube videos (just you wait!), and a secret tidbit about my novella that involves Erica, her novel The Cactus Creek Challenge, and a contest for . . . wait for it . . . COFFEE!!

So hang tight -- visit here every Tuesday for the next several weeks. It's gonna be FUN FUN!

What would YOU like to know about the writing of my novella, behind-the-scenes, and the beauty of New Mexico, that is the setting for The Cowgirl's Lasso. :)

______________________________

Professional coffee drinker, Jaime Jo Wright, resides in the hills of Wisconsin. She loves to write spirited turn-of-the-century romance, stained with suspense. Her day job finds her as a Director of Sales & Development. She’s wife to a rock climbing, bow-hunting Pre-K teacher, mom to a coffee-drinking little girl, and a little boy she fondly refers to as her mischievous “Peter Pan”. Jaime completes her persona by being an admitted social media junkie and coffee snob. She is a member of ACFW and has the best writing sisters EVER!

"The Cowgirl's Lasso", The Cowboy Bride's Novella Collection - Barbour Publishing - COMING MARCH 2016

"Gold Haven Heiress", California Gold Rush Romance Collection - Barbour Publishing - COMING AUGUST 2016



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Monday, February 15, 2016

Looking for Love~~in all the Old Places

Inside my grandparent's old bedroom dresser is a small wooden chest where I found their old valentines cards while sorting through things with Mom. I remember that old dresser sitting in the bedroom of their Northern Michigan home for decades. I remember the smell of that room--a mix of clear woodland air, a hint of sand and lake water, and a little bit of just plain oldness.

Now grandma's old dresser sits in my childhood bedroom. When I was a kid, there was another dresser full of old mementoes that sat in my parent's bedroom. It was a favorite activity to go through all the drawers full of things from the past, nearly like walking through the back of a wardrobe into Narnia. I loved the old pictures, newspapers, and yearbooks tucked in those drawers.

I love everything vintage. So when mom pulled a stack of valentines cards from that old dresser that my grandpa John and grandma Emma had sent each other from the 1930's and earlier, I was thrilled. Aren't they lovely?!



How wonderful is this font of my great aunt's name inside, like a calling card?!


Of course, Valentine's Day is a day just like any other. Except, it's a good reminder to take the time to tell someone how much you care and love them. Remember the love that has impacted you. Share love to those around you who need a little extra! Thank someone who showed you love. Take the time this week, even though the day has already passed. 


Mom and Dad--thanks so much for fifty-plus years of loving each other! 

Ted, thanks for sharing life with me, sweetheart! 



Readers: Sometimes Valentine's Day brings out the sadness of loss, loneliness, or love gone missing. Or even the ache of love that just hasn't shown up yet. I challenge you to look for love this week. Find ways to celebrate love. Call a friend for coffee. Tell a favorite old story of love. Find your old cards and pack them in a special place in your dresser for your grandchildren to find someday...
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Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Friday, February 12, 2016

Interview & #Giveaway with Mary Alford

Today, we're pleased to bring you Love Inspired suspense author, Mary Alford, and her latest release! Read on and don't forget to enter the giveaway for a copy!!!


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What authors do you like to read?

I love reading anything romantic suspense. My favorite subgenre of romantic suspense is inspirational romantic suspense.

I’m a huge fan of Susan Sleeman and Shirlee McCoy as well as Terri Reed and other Love Inspired Suspense authors.

What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?


I grew up reading Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt’s books. I loved On The Night Of The Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney’s Sea Jade was worn out from over reading. These are the books that made me want to be a writer.


What’s more important: characters or plot?

I have to say, they are both equally important. Without fully developed characters, the plot doesn’t fall into place for me. When I begin a new book, I usually have a rough idea on where I want the story to go, but it may take me a few days to work out the characters personalities in my head. And as always, the characters like to change up the storyline a little. It never ends the way I planned it.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author and what would it be?
I don’t particularly enjoy gruesome crime scenes. I think you can write suspense without making it too graphic.


How important are names to you in your books and how do you choose them?
Very important. Without the proper names, the book doesn’t truly come to life. I usually chose a masculine name for the hero and for the heroine, well, it’s usually a name that I’m fond of.

What secret talents do you have? Because here at the CCC blog we have all kinds of them ;)

I love playing the piano, although I’m not good at it, and I’m teaching myself the guitar, (even worse at that). I have three granddaughters who I love and they each like to do different things. The oldest loves to ride in our side-by-side. The middle is a girly girl who loves doing makeup things and crafts, and the baby is a rough and tumble girl. So with them, I am learning different things. It’s fun getting to be a kid again.

What were you like as a child? Steady-going like our Anne, a tornado like Jaime, and adventurous soul like Erica, or an avid-reader like Gabrielle?

I’m a Gabrielle. I was a rabid reader. Starting as a young child, I pretty much devoured every book in our local library. Today, I still love reading, but I find my time to read is limited, so I have to be choosey.

Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

Hum, I’d say the time when my hubby and I were out four-wheeling on a narrow mountain pass that was pretty hairy and had a steep drop off. Needless to say, I’m glad I wasn’t at the wheel. Did a lot of praying, though.

What’s your writing goals for 2016?

I want to complete my third Love Inspired Suspense and hopefully have it and my fourth accepted for publication. I also want to complete another full length inspirational romantic suspense and have it along with my first one sold. Nothing like having a tall order for the New Year.

Lastly, will you leave us with a snippet from your book that is one of your favorites and gives us a glimpse into its pages?

Jase gazed up at the sky. The weather conditions were definitely worsening and he had a decision to make. He couldn't leave her here and the car didn't appear drivable. But there was another option. He could take her back into town and deposit her at the hotel then wait out the rest of the snowstorm from Maggie's Diner.

His was the only house past the last curve. No one came this far up the mountain by accident. So what brought her here? Old fears from his past life slowly crept in. She didn't appear to be a threat, but he'd learned the hard way not to depend on appearances. Bad people came in innocent-looking packages, and in the spy business, you never let down your guard.

"What were you doing up here on the mountain in this storm anyway?" he asked through narrowed eyes, carefully gauging her reaction.

"I'm…searching for someone."

Her body language told him she wasn't being completely honest and he needed answers.

"There's no one up here but me, so let's try this again. Who are you and why are you really here?"

Her gaze collided with his, and he lost his equilibrium for a second. Even scared to death and as cagey as a trapped bear, she had the type of beauty that took his breath away. He hadn't thought of another woman in such a way since Abby, and it bothered him that a total stranger could illicit such thoughts.

"My name is Reyna Peterson and I have told you the truth," she retorted, bristling at his tone. "I am trying to find someone. A friend of my husband's."

She was married. A simple gold band on her left hand seemed to confirm her story, but he couldn't let go of the doubts. "Oh yeah? What's the friend's name?"

She hesitated, evidently torn between answering his question and keeping her secrets. His internal radar pegged the top of the chart.

She cleared her throat. "Jase Bradford. His name is Jase Bradford."

Shock and disbelief threatened to buckle his knees. He hadn't heard that name in years. He had long ago buried the person he'd been back then.

Somehow, Davis managed to get coherent words to come out of his mouth. "There's no one by that name around these parts. Your husband is mistaken." A hard edge crept into his tone as it always did whenever he thought about the past.

Reyna stared at him in a way that conveyed she either didn't believe him or didn't want to.

"Eddie was so sure I would find him here…" she murmured, almost to herself.

Eddie. Eddie Peterson? No, not possible. He couldn't have heard right. "Your husband's name is…Eddie?" He latched on to the name as a distraction because it felt as if someone had slugged him hard in the chest. With the exception of his former handler, Kyle Jennings, Eddie was the last remaining member of the Scorpion team still alive. Eddie wouldn't be trying to make contact with him without good cause. And why send his wife? Had something happened to his former comrade?

"Yes," she confirmed reluctantly. The second the words were out, he could see she thought better of sharing them. "I'm sorry. None of this is your problem."

She had no idea how wrong she was. Eddie Peterson had been one of his own. He'd recruited him personally as part of the elite Scorpion team after the failed weapons mission near Tora Bora had taken the lives of two crucial team members. Eddie had been a good fit with the team and they'd grown close while serving side by side. Her husband was his problem. And now so was she.

Davis's plans had now changed. Instead of going back to Defiance, he'd take her to his place. See what he could find out by morning. Pray that all of this would turn out to be just some strange coincidence and then send her on her way. Unfortunately, he didn't believe in coincidences. Especially ones this huge.

A deluge of wintry mix pelted his face like tiny bullets and his feet were numb. "There's no way to get your car out of here tonight." He crooked a thumb in the direction of his SUV. "My ride's just up there. Let's get you warm. You're shivering. I can come back and get whatever you need for the night and we'll deal with the car in the morning."

Reyna didn't budge. He could see she didn't trust him. Not the normal reaction of someone just rescued from almost certain death.

"We'll be stuck up here if we stay much longer," he added, hoping to convince her.

She hesitated another second before giving in. "You're right. We need to get out of the storm. It's got to be well below freezing out here."

Try as he might, he couldn't get a good read off her, and he didn't like it. Not one bit. "Watch your step."

She clutched the edge of his jacket in a vise grip as she followed close behind, slipping over the icy mess.


Readers can email me at: maryjalfordauthor@gmail.com

You can find me at my website: www.maryalford.net


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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Parenting is Hard

Next to being a wife, my greatest joy in life is being a mom. I have amazing, talented, beautiful children. They are my heart's desire. But, even with all their attributes, it's still hard to be a parent.

It's hard to wake up every morning and start the routine all over again. It's hard being consistent.It's hard to be understanding. It's hard to be patient. It's hard to meet the unique challenges each child presents. It's just hard.

But there comes an indescribable joy when God reaches through my inabilities, and shows me He is at work in my children lives, even during the hard times.

We recently had conferences for our twin boys. They began kindergarten this year in separate classrooms.

One of our boys is "the spirited one." He's incredibly smart, focused, determined, curious, imaginative, and passionate. He loves the inside world, just as much as the outside world, and he is always exploring building, creating, and dissecting. I'm endlessly amazed by him.

But he's the type of child that people have two very different reactions to. Either they are fascinated by him--or irritated.

I was nervous sending him off to school, wondering if his teacher would be the fascinated kind--or the irritated.

It quickly became obvious to us that his teacher is the fascinated kind--and we love her for it. At conferences this past week, I had to hold back tears as she told us how much she loves having him in her room, and how much she'll miss him when the school year ends. She completely understands him, and affirmed for us that he has an amazing capacity for knowledge and academics. His test results show he is well-above average, and some of the mental skills he has are on a different level than most five-year-olds.

We've always called him our non-conformist--and she affirmed this, too. She said: "I never worry that he'll follow the wrong crowd...I'm certain he'll be the one leading it!"

But just like everyone, our son's greatest strengths can also be his greatest weaknesses. Because of his ability to "think outside the box," he's forever finding ways to bend the rules. It's amazing (and frustrating)!

There comes a great responsibility with raising children, especially one like our boy. My husband and I work diligently to direct our son's gifts and talents in a way that will benefit him, the world, and God. It isn't always easy, and some days we're just plain tired, but in moments like our conference time, we're reminded that it's worth all the extra effort.

His teacher said she can recognize the tools we're giving our son to succeed--and that makes all the difference for him. Those tools are a direct result of our faith in God, and the tools He's given us through his Word.

Parenting is hard...but it's oh, so worth it.

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Red Badge of Courage

Erica here:

The Red Badge of Courage:

Not the Stephen Crane Civil War novel. The Red-Pencil Edits kind of courage. 




Recently, on an author email loop I belong to, we got to discussing edits. Not the ones from our editors, which we rely on to make our stories better, but the ones that come from readers after the work is already in print.

One author said a lady offered to show her the mistakes in her novel...and she knew the exact number of mistakes and where they occurred.

One reader wrote in to say the author had ruined the English language for her. (Wow! That's some power to come out of a romance novel.)

And to me, the piece de resistance: a couple of authors said they had received their books back in the mail from a reader who had gone through them with a red pencil and corrected everywhere they perceived a wrong to be! 


O_O      X_X      O_O 

(This is me blinking in total shock!) What???

Now, the purpose of this thread of emails among the authors wasn't to bash readers, but to ask what is the correct response to such occurrences? (And to commiserate a bit and share war wounds and encourage each other through the sting.)

I've had someone come up and say, "You had a typo on page 752! You should fire your editor." I've had offers to show me where my boo-boos are. I've had someone say my research was wrong about something (and leave that opinion in a review for all the world to see forever.) I got where the authors on the email loop were coming from.

So what is an author to do?

These seasoned writers had some sound advice.

The general consensus was:

1. No response was better than a sarcastic or bitter response. Don't burn a bridge.

2. Remember Aunt Allie's Advice: (From my friend and fellow author Allie Pleiter) "If you're small enough to need it, I'm big enough to give it to you." Mostly, folks who want to point out your mistakes just want to feel as if they know more than you do. They want to feel important. Okay. I can go with that.

3. Evaluate the reader's concern. If your ebook was uploaded from the publisher, and there is a glitch...say every apostrophe shows up on their kindle as an ampersand (I've had this happen to books I've bought on amazon.) thank the reader for bringing it to your attention, then contact your publisher and let them know so they can upload a clean copy. Not all reader feedback about errors is baseless.



The truth is: If you have a 100,000 word book, and it is 99.9% mistake free, you will still have 100 errors. 

Authors do their best. They have many editors, and the manuscripts go through many rounds of edits. Sometimes errors slip through, sometimes what a reader perceives as a grammar, spelling, or punctuation error is really a style choice, and sometimes I think it's gremlins.

I have decided if I get a book in the mail that a reader has red-penciled for me, I'm going to put it on my trophy shelf as my "Red Badge of Courage."

And I have decided to extend grace, both to readers and to authors. A typo or two isn't going to ruin a reading experience for me.






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