Aaron Sorkin is the best writer I’ve never read by Vivienne Lynge

Happy Easter Monday world!  It’s me, Vivienne Lynge, popping in to say “Hi!”  I hope you had a lovely spring holiday weekend.  Somehow, I was able to stay out of the kid’s shocking candy haul.  Yes, my children are the beneficiaries of mildly competing grandmothers.   Add that to the goodies left by the bunny, and the treasures found in our annual graveyard egg hunt and I’ve got 3 kids with a gallon zip bag o’candy.  Each.  Sigh.

But that’s not what I want to write about today.  Today, I’m tackling a topic near and dear to my heart as a lover of a good story: a favorite author. 

aaron sorkinI love Aaron Sorkin.  There.  I’ve said it.   Can I say he’s one of my favorite authors when I’ve never even read his work?  Yes I can.  I’ve watched his work.  Religiously. 

A Few Good Men?  Awesome.   The American President?  LOVED it!  The West Wing – I can probably recite it.  The Newsroom – love it – can’t wait for season 2 to arrive on DVD.

Now, here’s the tougher question:  What is it about his writing that appeals to me?  First, I like that his stories are smart.   I feel like I learn a little something about the world.  The political stories are usually told from a liberal point of view, but they still respect the conservative side and portray conservatives as thoughtful people with serious concerns, not as gun-happy, narrow-minded, religious zealots.

I like that these stories are fast paced and often funny, again in a smart way.  You gotta be paying attention to the dialogue to get the joke.   Aaron is the king of walk-and-talk stories where much of the action takes place during conversations between one meeting and another. 

Another favorite author of mine has a new book out next week: Lynn Kurland.  Yes, I’ll be declaring April 29th, as Lynn Kurland Day, this year.  Don’t expect that I’ll do anything until I’ve finished reading Dreams of Lilacs.  

These medieval Kurland stories are my favorites – time travel  or not.  Kurland writes characters better than many and as well as the best.  Her heroines are ladies you’d love to hang out with and her heroes are fellas you’d consider trading your own husband for. 

One of the things I like best about her books, is that her stories are equally about the hero falling in love with the heroine as they are the reverse and more traditional romance.   A few of her books actually lean more heavily on the side of it being the hero’s story rather than that heroine.   If you are looking for a few hours of joy, consider picking up a Kurland.  You won’t be sorry!

Writer friends, do you do this?  Analyze your favorite writers and try to figure out what you like about them?  Who are your favs?

HighlandDeception

Meggan Connors Shares the Worst Piece of Advice, Ever.

Hey friends, Casey here.  Please welcome my guest and fellow Soul HighlandDeceptionMate Publishing sister, Meggan Connors.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading her latest release Highland Deception and it doesn’t disappoint. If you enjoy Scottish highlanders, historical romance or just hot guys in kilts, don’t miss this book.

Without further ado, take it away Meggan….

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Not so long ago, I was asked an interesting question in regard to my writing: What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

Now, I’ll be honest: most of the advice I’ve gotten from fellow writers is pretty good advice. Writers are a helpful lot. But bad advice tends to come from the people who know you—or think they know you—the best.

It comes from family.

So, the worst piece of advice came when I was prepubbed—you know that period of time when you need the support the most. When a part of you believes you can’t write for a hill of beans, or you’ll never get published. It tends to come right after you’ve gotten rejected for the first (or the tenth, or the fiftieth) time. I got my advice right after I had joined my first writer’s group, and my first third place finish in a contest.

And here is what she said: “You know you’ll never get published, right? You should stop writing altogether.”

A part of me believes it’s just this person, that this particular person has an issue with writers in general and me writing in specific, but I don’t think it is. I have heard enough writers complain about unsupportive spouses or parents or siblings or friends. Luckily, I have a very supportive spouse, and my friends have been generally supportive as well. I could ignore the naysayers.

I honestly believe that the doubters, the haters, whatever you want to call them, truly think they are doing us a favor, that they are grounding us from being crushed by an impossible dream. Maybe life has crushed them in some way, and they don’t see the beauty in chasing a dream, no matter how impossible it is.

Whatever. I’m here to tell you that there is no harm in trying. I’m here to tell you that the only way you’ll never be published (traditionally, self-published, however you choose to pursue your goal of publication) is to not try at all. It’s to let the rejections and the naysayers crush you into believing you can’t.

And believe me, you’ll be tempted to give in.

Every rejection, every time I got bad advice, every time I had a critique partner or a judge in contest say she didn’t like something… well, the first several times, it crushed me. I thought about quitting every single time.

Because my naysayer was right: I had a lot going on. There were so many other things I could have been doing with my time. Sleeping, for instance. I’ll admit, I miss the sleeping thing.

She may have been right, but she wasn’t right enough for me to stop. After all, if something is really important, you’ll find the time for it.

So, my advice to you is this: keep trying. People may tell you you suck, and, shoot, maybe they’re right. But they won’t always be right (suckage is always temporary). If you keep trying, keep practicing, keep honing your craft, you won’t suck. You’ll get better. In time, you’ll be awesome. After all, they say people who read for an hour a day in their chosen field will be international experts in seven years.

Think about it.

What does this mean for you? Follow the dream, and practice your craft. You’ll get there eventually.

But not if you give up.

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Meggan Connors’ latest novel, Highland Deception, came out in March of 2014. She loves to hear from readers, and you can find follow her on her website (www.megganconnors.com), Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/Meggan-Connors/120715354695518) Twitter (@MegganConnors).  Where you’ll get to hear about her latest camping trip, books she’s reading, musical musings, and her small obsession with cute shoes she can’t wear (because they’re cute, you know?).

Highland Deception is available through Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Highland-Deception-Meggan-Connors-ebook/dp/B00J3D2JS6/

Blurb:

When Kenneth Mackay, long-banished rogue and thief, returns to the Mackay holding at the request of his brother, he has no idea what he might find. He certainly doesn’t expect to be confronted with his twin’s imminent death, or with the plan his brother has concocted.

Ten years before, Malcolm made a tragic mistake, and, to preserve the family name—and his own skin—he allowed Kenneth to take the fall. Now that he is dying without an heir, Malcolm plans to atone for his mistake: by giving Kenneth his life back. All Kenneth has to do is assume his brother’s identity. But complicating matters is the unexpected return of Lady Isobel Mackay, the daughter of an English marquess… and the wife Malcolm didn’t want.

Isobel barely knows the husband who abandoned her even before their marriage, and she’d long since given up on having a real marriage with him. Yet when she returns to the Mackay holding far earlier than expected, she finds her husband a changed man. Despite the hurt between them, Isobel’s heart responds to this man who cares for his entire clan as if they were family. Who, for the first time since their marriage, cares for her as if she is, too.

Falling in love with her husband had never been part of Isobel’s plan. But when their future is suddenly in peril, Isobel must find a way to save him—from himself and from the deception threatening to tear.

I’m so grateful that Meggan ignored her naysayer. Otherwise, I’d never had the chance to meet her or read her awesome stories.

Got comments, questions for Meggan or want to share your own worst advice? Don’t be shy!  Please share.

The Procrastinator

Thea here, confessing I’m a world class procrastinator. I am distracted at the drop of a syllable, generally by bright and glittery things — like the tv screen.. I don’t know how I get things done.

I only know I have this interior war everyday about what NEEDS to be done, which is: do I write vs do I clean, and since writing is so much fun and I feel so guilty, I lean toward cleaning. But then, cleaning is such a chore and takes me away from writing … so I find reasons to avoid doing that.

Generally, when I’m on deadline, I can with good conscience clear the decks and drive everyone nuts in service of my finishing The Book. I recognize that this is NOt a healthy work habit. I’ve been analyzing my incessant complaints about how I never have time to do anything.

My Mom always used to ask, who’s stopping you?

There’s a rock hard question to stop you in your tracks. How do you explain to a not-writer? The dishes are piling up. The laundry needs to be done. I have to write. Mom would then say, so — load the dishwasher, do the laundry and write.

She just didn’t understand.

I need that time not to do dishes, laundry, writing. And I haven’t read a book in months. I watch too much tv. I’ve become an expert at manipulating my husband and son into the kitchen to make dinner. The day doesn’t have enough hours for me to avoid chores and writing.

Right now, I’m working on revisions for Beyond the Night, the long-awaited sequel to The Darkest Heart.. I promise you, I’m doing them in a timely manner. After I watch Kathie Lee and Hoda. After I procrastinate a couple of hours over this post … By noon. After lunch. Promise.

Anyone else a procrastinator? What’s your excuse?

Thea Devine is the author of over two dozen erotic historical and contemporary romances. Beyond the Night, the sequel to The Darkest Heart will be a September 2014 eBook release from Pocket Star.

The truth about SWAG

For a moment, let’s talk about S.W.A.G (Stuff We All Get) or rather; giveaways, at author events, conferences, and book signings. For this conversation, the term SWAG refers to author branded pens, jar openers, sewing kits, lip balm, recipe cards, bookmarks, etc. Any promotional item you can put your name on can be considered swag, and just as you wouldn’t show up at a friend’s house for dinner without a dessert or a bottle of wine, you can’t attend a signing without offering a little bit of swag.

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Over the years swag has become a “necessary evil,” one that authors have poured money into in the hopes that the reader will not throw their trinkets away.  But, now, I wonder if you and I are looking at swag through the correct lens. Instead of wishing our swag a long and dust collecting life sitting on a shelf, maybe we should make the most of its short-term existence.

Pondering if I was alone in my opinions of swag, I sought help. Fellow romance author, Kim Boykin gave me her opinion of swag. She says, “For newbies like me, it’s expensive, creating stuff, postage is the real killer. It’s hard for me to tell what giving it away actually does for sales. Does it build up your brand, lots of good will? Most definitely.  But does it sell books? Probably not. I think it’s one of those tools the industry used so people do it. Everything is so price driven these days, I’m guessing readers would rather have a discount or free books rather than stuff. I’m always amazed going through the SWAG room at RWA how much stuff there is and how much of that stuff is still there at the end of the conference. Except chocolate, that always seems to go. Fast.”

To Kim’s point, I’m often baffled by the author who labors over the perfect piece of swag and tries to get it “just right,” then complains post-event that she didn’t see her book sales spike. Have you ever purchased a book because you were given a free nail file? I haven’t. This leads me to believe that we are looking at swag the wrong way. Therefore, if we must invest in promotional items, we should come together to look at swag for what it is…a tradition. Let’s And readers do not feel obligated to buy your book because they walked away from your signing table with a free bottle of hand sanitizer. Let’s admit swag is expensive and after a few years it is possible to run out of good ideas for giveaways. Let’s accept tiny bottles of screen cleaner won’t sell a book. Let’s vow, in unison, not to check sales when our supply of pens is exhausted to only suffer disappointment when the expected uptick in sales isn’t realized.

Instead, let’s do this. Let’s make a promise to carry on a tradition. That if we do invest in promotional items, we do so with the following in mind:

  • We will try to make our swag as clever and unique as we can without breaking the bank.
  • We will strive for our swag to match the tone and theme of our book, and order just enough so that we aren’t giving away author branded hot cocoa in the summertime.
  • We will aim to imprint a visual image on our swag and recognize some people are better at remembering faces and icons because we are more than just fancy script and a web address.
  • We will attempt to make the swag work for us. We vow to share our ingenious ideas with our friends and fans on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
  • We will understand it is more important to place our swag in the hands of the readers than display it on a table to await its unavoidable meeting with the trash can.
  • We vow to look at swag as a gift to the reader, not as a means to a sale.

In conclusion, dear authors, I ask you to stand alongside me to carry on the tradition of swag. Together we realize that from chocolate candy to refrigerator magnets it’s all been done before, and will be done, probably forever. Because just as readers have come to rely on a trinket given in good faith, we have come to expect to provide it. With nothing expected in return, except a smile.

Do you listen to BTR?

For those who haven’t heard of it, BTR stands for Blog Talk Radio, the latest in on-line entertainment and informational programming. Everyday professionals, experts, and entertainers are hosting their own radio shows and being heard by millions. These topic-driven programs allow listeners to hone in on their interests and hear the latest news in whatever industry that floats their boat. So what does that mean for readers and writers? So glad you asked! PJ Sharon here with the latest scoop on how to help writers find their audience and readers connect with their favorite authors.

Writers can share their books and talk about their writing process with interviewers while sitting behind their computer or on their phones, feet up and fuzzy slippers gracing their desks. All while sipping tea and chatting about their favorite things with whomever decides to tune in. Fans or readers can type in questions to be asked and answered in real time, or a link to the show can be used later for promotion and advertising purposes.

For readers who love romance, it’s a chance to hear your favorite authors dish about their characters, read excerpts, and maybe even share a few spoilers about upcoming books. Basically, it’s another way for readers and writers to connect in a fun, user-friendly format.

The really cool thing is that anyone can host their own show. Of course, that means adding consistent content, being entertaining and engaging, and building an audience over time. It’s not for everyone, but those that are doing it appear to be enjoying the up close and personal interaction and sharing it with listeners.

I’ve done several such interviews over the past year or so and I have to say, I love doing them. It means not having to actually be on camera, but being able to hang out as if I’m conversing with a pal on the phone. It’s very non-threatening. My most recent BTR interview was in February with Linda Mooney from Other Worlds of Romance, who hosts mostly sci-fi/fantasy writers and has a decent following.

She asked me to come on the show and read a steamy excerpt from WESTERN DESERT, book two in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. Several listeners showed up to ask questions and I had a blast sharing my story with them, including behind the scenes insights into the third book, the title of which I’ll reveal at the end of this post as promised last month!

After the show, Linda sent me the link to embed into my website so readers can refer to it and listen at any time. What a great promotional tool and something I can definitely add to my press kit. I’m sure if I use it properly it could lead to TV/radio interviews in the future. It’s a way for media types to hear how well you speak about your books and interact with the interview process. You can find a list of hundreds of shows that might be willing to host romance authors here. Or you can go in and search categories for more specific shows that focus on your genre.

Just one more way to connect readers and writers in the digital age!

Now, to reveal the title of the third book in the trilogy…drum roll, please… we had WANING MOON, WESTERN DESERT, and coming this fall…HEALING WATERS, the continuing adventure of Lily Carmichael and friends as they make their way back home to warn the good folks of Stanton of a coming doom. Will they reach them in time…or is it already too late? Can Lily and Will overcome their differences and find their way back to each other as they race against time to save the human race from certain destruction?

Don’t forget to join me on my PJ Sharon Books FB page as I roll out the cover reveal for my next Contemporary YA novel, PIECES of LOVE, set to release June 21st. POL Picture4The big reveal will take place on April 18th, but pop over and “like’ my page now so you don’t miss out on the fun as I reveal a new “piece” of the cover each week along with an excerpt. Leave a comment on my FB post and be entered to win an ARC of the book, winners to be drawn on reveal day, April 18th, when you’ll also be privy to links for the release of my single, PIECES of Love, the theme song to the book.

Tell me, have you ever listened to BTR?

The Writing Process

Hi there, Sugar here.  I have been tagged by Xio Axelrod to blog about my writing process.

What am I working on? 

At this very moment I am knee deep in revisions for GENTLEMEN PREFER CURVES  the third book in my Perfect Fit series. Revisions are going surprisingly well. I shouldn’t jinx myself, but for the first time I don’t want to cry as I do them.  But before that I was working on book three in my Redemption series.  It’s way darker than my romantic comedies and can at times be a little difficult to write so it’s nice to take a break and revisit my funnier stuff.

How Does My Book Differ from Others in the Genre?

I write romantic comedies, and there are a million of them out there.  In my Perfect Fit series all my heroines are plus sized/ curvy, which is different, but I think my voice is unique and sarcastic and funny. Some people don’t appreciate my snarkiness but  a lot of people do.

Why Do I Write What I do?

Because I’m no good at writing regency romance.  I’m too much of a realist for fantasy and I’m not clever enough to write mysteries.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I still work full time, so I spend my nights and weekends writing.  I’m not much of a plotter but I do know the major plot points before I start writing.  I really love character driven stories, so I try to make my characters memorable and lovable or really awful people that readers love to hate. But I love for them all to be realistic and relatable in some way . I want to be friends with them.

So that’s it! What’s your process like?

 

Meet Me in Milwaukee, by Katy Lee

Hello Readers!  On April 26, 2014 I am heading to Milwaukee for a fun day out with romanceVey logo readers.  The event is put on by the fabulous and beautiful Barbara Vey, a blogger for Publishers Weekly.  Each year she holds an event called Barbara Vey’s Reader Appreciation Luncheon, and boy, do readers get appreciated!  If you love romance of any and all sub-genres, you don’t want to miss this day made just for you.  There will be gifts and favors and books and conversations and books and…well you get the idea.  But if you want the details, click on Barbara’s site here.

There will be 40+ awesome and talented authors, each with their own table, and readers get to choose the author they want to hang with for lunch.  Seats are limited on a first come first serve basis, which is why I am getting this message out to you now.  I don’t want you to miss your opportunity to sit with your favorite author…or perhaps, you want to meet new-to-you authors.  Go for it!  Head to Barbara’s website to check the author list and scroll down to sign up.

Me and Barbara at RWA
Me and Barbara at RWA

And if you’re still not sure, let me tell you about the Keynote Speaker.  Perhaps you’ve heard of her?  She’s goes by the name of Debbie Macomber.

Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 170 million copies of her books in print worldwide. Macomber brings to life the compelling relationships that embrace family, community and enduring friendships, filling her readers with a sense of love and hope.

Macomber is the author of more than 100 novels, most recently the instant #1 New York Times bestseller Starting Now, and The Inn at Rose Harbor; two bestselling cookbooks; numerous inspirational and nonfiction works; two acclaimed children’s books and the Mrs. Miracle Christmas novels.  She is also the author of beloved and bestselling series of novels set in Cedar Cove, Washington on which Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove, Hallmark Channel’s first dramatic scripted television series, is based. She is the recipient of a RITA® award; an RT Book Reviews Lifetime Achievement Award, and is a multiple winner of both the Holt Medallion and the B. Dalton Award. In 2010, the Romance Writers of America presented Macomber with their prestigious Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.

And she taught me how to knit!  Seriously.  I owe all this fine handy work to her.

Katy Lee Books' Sock Monkeys
Katy Lee Books’ Sock Monkeys

She is a wealth of knowledge.  You will be so glad you came to hear her, and I will be so glad to meet you, either at my table or during the meet and greet!  Start planning today!  And stay tuned to see what my table favors will look like.  Oh, the possibilities!  And if you have any questions, feel free to ask. 

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