Tag Archives: Katy Lee

Getting Back on your Luge

Olympic-RingsHappy Olympic Games! These two weeks every two years bring great excitement to my home. Winter or summer, doesn’t matter, we are glued to the games. We enjoy it all–wins, defeats, but especially the personal victories.

I’m sure you have all seen Shiva Keshavan get back on his luge as he raced down the course after falling off at a deadly speed . What an amazing victory, not to mention he’ll be known forever.

Stories like Shiva’s are the ones I can relate to. I think we all can. There we are, racing toward our dream, and Bang! We fall off course. For many, it’s the end, maybe out of fear or discouragement or anger. We say we tried, and no one will fault you, because you did.

But what if you get back on the course? What if you use every last ounce of determination to take one step toward the goal again? Or in Shiva’s case, get that luge back under you. What if you move every part of your mind, body and soul until you are back in the race again? There’s still no promise of a win, but I think it’s safe to say you sure will be remembered differently.

You’ll be remembered as the one who got back on the course and back in the game. A victory in itself.

So, whatever it is you are racing toward. Expect to be pushed/knocked/beaten off course. It’s a given, and everyone will even expect you to accept it.

Be the one they remember who didn’t.

Keep moving and play hard, and enjoy the games!

Review of Katy Lee’s WARNING SIGNS

After the lovely Indian Summer day we had yesterday, this morning’s chill here in the Berkshires and the skeletal trees are a reminder that summer is long gone and winter is just around the corner. Time to stock up, settle in, and spend some time with a few good books.

My fellow Scribes pals, Susannah Hardy and J. Monkeys have been talking a lot about what they’ve been reading lately. Since I always appreciate book recommendations, I thought I would share one of my own. I recently finished WARNING SIGNS by our very own Katy Lee. Yes, I do try to read books written by my friends, but I only write reviews for books I truly enjoy.

Review of WARNING SIGNS by Katy Lee

Warning Signs CoverLee’s main character, Miriam, is first and foremost a formidable heroine. A deaf Principal in a hearing school, Miriam has her work cut out for her. But when it seems that the town has it in for her, she doubts the wisdom of returning to the little town of Stepping Stones where she visited her grandmother as a child. The town is hiding a secret and Miriam may be the key to unlocking it. Enter Owen, a handsome DEA agent sent to infiltrate a drug smuggling operation on the island, and Miriam is forced not only to prove her innocence, but to protect her heart as well. This fast paced romantic suspense had heartwarming moments, action-packed adventure, and a mystery that kept me guessing right through to the end. Great job, Ms. Lee!

If you’re looking for a suspenseful, sweet romance, with a strong heroine and a wounded but worthy hero, this book is for you! 

What about you? Do you have a good book recommendation? I’m currently reading Kristan Higgins’ recent release, THE PERFECT MATCH. If it’s like her other books, I’m sure I’ll be laughing, crying, and wishing it wouldn’t end.

A ReVisit with Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Greetings to you all! Today Author Shannon Taylor Vannatter is giving away a free copy ofRodeo Queen her book Rodeo Queen! Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. But first sit back and get to know Shannon better.

Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She lives in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows. Vannatter won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category, The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards 3rd Favorite New Author and #1 Contemporary Award.

Tell Us, Shannon, How do you battle the doubt monster?  Doubt Monster: the nagging feeling while writing, that your prose is terrible, you plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no-one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

ShannonWhen that happens, I find a writers meeting to go to. Being around other writers always gets me going.

Have you thought about writing something that is completely different for you?  Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before.

Not really. When I first started writing, I dabbled with inspirational romantic suspense and realized I really stunk at it. There was very little suspense and I kept focusing on the romance. Plus I didn’t want to learn about guns and dead bodies. Finally, at a writers conference I heard an editor say that if you’re not sure what genre you want to write, pay attention to what you read. The genre you enjoy reading is probably what you should write.

It was an ah hah moment for me. Occasionally I read romantic suspense, but I have to be in the right mood because it keys me up. Occasionally, I read women’s fiction, but I’m always leery because I want a happily-ever-after. I don’t enjoy historicals or Amish. My consistent favorite read is romance. And I’ve given up on reading secular. I read to relax and I don’t want to be cussed at or unholy images planted in my head.

All that said, I can’t imagine writing anything other than inspirational contemporary romance.

What story haven’t you told yet that you want to tell? What is holding you back?

This French guy has been in my head for several years. I haven’t had time to deal with him because of deadlines for contracted books. A good problem to have. But I plan to carve out some time and write his story later this year.

What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

When I learned that the Heartsong Presents line was being discontinued. And two of my books would die in the process.

And then Harlequin bought the line. My two books released and I got to continue the series with three more books.

What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

I guess I’d just be a stay at home mom. And when my son gets grown, I’d go back to some office job like I had before.

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

Mine’s actually complete. And it’s the first book I ever wrote. It was a good story, but I had no idea how the mechanics of writing worked. It was about a girl with a stalker and the private detective who became her bodyguard. I actually completely rewrote it a few months ago. It’s now a rodeo queen with a stalker and the Texas Ranger she dated back in high school. It’s releasing in November. I don’t believe in leaving books in a drawer. All of my first efforts have been published—after lots of learning and revision—except for two and I haven’t had time to rework them yet. But I plan to.

Author Jane Haddam says that anyone who seriously annoys her gets bumped off in her next book.  How do you incorporate your real-life experiences into your stories?

Things I see or experience often go in my books. This whole rodeo series started because my dad announced at a very small town rodeo when I was a teenager and I worked in the concession stand. Years later, I saw a cowboy wearing his wranglers, boots and hat holding hands with a girl in a pin-striped suit at the Arkansas State Fair. I wondered how they met and what they had in common. That became the basis for book one of this series.

How do you come up with your shtick?  By shtick I mean that thing that identifies the story as belonging to only you.

There’s always a dark-haired guy with green eyes. My husband has that coloring and that’s what I’m attracted to. So I can’t write a blond hero. My characters live in real small towns. They usually come with a southern drawl, use southernisms, and they all say y’all and drink sweet tea.

How did your current release come about?

Once Harlequin bought the line, my agent contacted an editor about me. The editor had just read book two in my series and wanted to know if I had anything similar to submit. I’d given all my characters in the series a happily ever after since it was only supposed to be a three book series with the previous publisher.

Except for Natalie. She was the rodeo slut who hit on every hero I created, got pregnant, gave her baby up, and skipped town two books ago. I figured out a way to redeem her, which went back to what happened to her to make her the person she was. I gave her a sister and a cousin for two more books. The editor liked the concept and another three books were born.

What was your biggest misstep in your writing career so far?

It took me three tries to end up with the right agent.

Do you have a word related pet peeve?

Padding. There for a while, it seemed like all the heroines were taking off their shoes and padding across the room.

What is your junk food of choice?

Milk chocolate, caramel, and nuts together in the form of a Snickers Bar or Turtles. Or even better—a Snickers Ice Cream Bar. Yum!

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Skipped study hall. I almost got caught and I never did it again. I’m pretty tame.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Sappy Hallmark movies. They’re nice, clean movies, but they’re a guilty pleasure because I should be writing, or cleaning, or something useful.

Rodeo QueenCAITLYN WENTWORTH LOVES BEING A RODEO QUEEN

Until she starts receiving threatening letters from a stalker. The good news is, the Texas Ranger assigned to her case is none other than her former sweetheart Mitch Warren—the man who chose his career over love.

Mitch vows to focus on protecting the woman he’s never forgotten. But Caitlyn stirs up memories best left in the past. When Mitch insists on hiding Caitlyn away on his family’s San Antonio ranch, will he keep things professional or seek out a second chance?

Shannon’s books are available at christianbook.com, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, harlequin.com, and barbourbooks.com. Learn more about Shannon and her books at http://shannonvannatter.com and check out her real life romance blog at http://shannonvannatter.com/blog/. Connect with her on Facebook: facebook.com/shannontaylorvannatter, Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/stvannatter/, and Twitter: @stvauthor

Top 10 tips, quotes, and advice I heard at RWA2013

PJ Sharon here, happy to be home after a fun filled week in Atlanta at RWA 2013. It was such a busy week, I couldn’t possibly recap all the cool events, workshops, and networking opportunities I enjoyed. So instead, I thought I would share the highlights in a top 10 list. I’ve paraphrased the exact quotes, but wanted to share the amazing messages from some notable authors and industry professionals.

1)      Advice from Indie author Bella Andre. “Writing is a business. Know who your readers are and write what you can sell. If it’s not selling, change something. Put a new cover on it, change your description, or change the categories on your book’s page.” This is paraphrased, but definitely the gist of her message. I had the opportunity to chat with her and she gave me some very good career advice. She was awesome and I’m now a huge fan girl.RWA2013 me and Bella Andre

2)      Kristan Higgins in her incredibly insightful and moving luncheon speech. “What we do makes a difference. Romance novels can help people through the darkest, loneliest, and most painful times in their lives.” Really…if you ever doubt the worth of what you are writing, you need to remember how you feel after reading a heartfelt and powerful love story by one of your favorite authors.

3)      Michael Hague on the ultimate tool for understanding your character’s deepest fear and motivation. “I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve that goal, just don’t ask me to_________.”

4)      Author Carla Neggars on Writing as Work/Writing as Play: Do they need to be either/or? “It comes down to creating a dynamic dialogue between work and play. It’s about abandonment and concentration, the continent of reason and the Island of intuition. Set a schedule with intention and stick to it.” 

5)      Tips on e-mail marketing from Heroes and Heart Breakers authors.  “Create a catchy subject line that has searchable key words and offers a promise. Meet that promise. Send out newsletters on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Balance info with offers and engagement of readers. Blend editorial and marketing with a call to action from your readers sprinkled in.” There was some talk about gaining newsletter followers by using Romance Studios, adding your newsletter link to an automated Twitter response for new followers, adding the newsletter link to your Facebook page, Author Central page, etc.

6)      Mark LaFebvre from KOBO Writing Life on their now offering pre-orders for Indies. “We’re open minded in Canada.” I loved this guy and can’t wait to start working directly with KOBO to sell my books.

7)      Bella Andre says that audio books are the latest big thing and SEO is the key to attracting your readership!

8)      Author Barbara Freethy recommends at least three proof readers for Indie-pubbed books. I agree!

9)      Agent Christina Hogrebe recommended book bloggers for promoting your YA titles. “If a high traffic blogger loves your book, it can go viral in no time.” Here’s to hoping she’s right!

10)  A quote from award winning author and RITA Awards emcee, Christie Craig. “The difference between northern writers and southern writers is that northerners start their stories with ‘Once upon a time,’ while southern storytellers start every story with ‘You ‘aint ‘gonna believe this sh**.’” Christie Craig was hilariously funny and did a fine job as emcee. WTG Christie!

RWA2013 me and Katy Lee Beyond all of these excellent tips and so many more from people like Cathy Maxwell, our keynote speaker, and the excellent agent/editor panels, the best part of the conference for me was the new friends I made and the wonderful companionship of my CTRWA peeps (other than D.S. who it turns out is a terrible covers hog).

Please feel free to share some of your highlights in the comments section below. And speaking of favorite conference highlights, check out all the spectacular shoes! Can you guess whose they are?shoe pic

Top 10 tips, quotes, and advice I heard at RWA2013

PJ Sharon here, happy to be home after a fun filled week in Atlanta at RWA 2013. It was such a busy week, I couldn’t possibly recap all the cool events, workshops, and networking opportunities I enjoyed. So instead, I thought I would share the highlights in a top 10 list. I’ve paraphrased the exact quotes, but wanted to share the amazing messages from some notable authors and industry professionals.

1) Advice from Indie author Bella Andre. “Writing is a business. Know who your readers are and write what you can sell. If it’s not selling, change something. Put a new cover on it, change your description, or change the categories on your book’s page.” This is paraphrased, but definitely the gist of her message. I had the opportunity to chat with her and she gave me some very good career advice. She was awesome and I’m now a huge fan girl.RWA2013 me and Bella Andre

2) Kristan Higgins in her incredibly insightful and moving luncheon speech. “What we do makes a difference. Romance novels can help people through the darkest, loneliest, and most painful times in their lives.” Really…if you ever doubt the worth of what you are writing, you need to remember how you feel after reading a heartfelt and powerful love story by one of your favorite authors.

3) Michael Hague on the ultimate tool for understanding your character’s deepest fear and motivation. “I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve that goal, just don’t ask me to_________.”

4) Author Carla Neggars on Writing as Work/Writing as Play: Do they need to be either/or? “It comes down to creating a dynamic dialogue between work and play. It’s about abandonment and concentration, the continent of reason and the Island of intuition. Set a schedule with intention and stick to it.”

5) Tips on e-mail marketing from Heroes and Heart Breakers authors. “Create a catchy subject line that has searchable key words and offers a promise. Meet that promise. Send out newsletters on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Balance info with offers and engagement of readers. Blend editorial and marketing with a call to action from your readers sprinkled in.” There was some talk about gaining newsletter followers by using Romance Studios, adding your newsletter link to an automated Twitter response for new followers, adding the newsletter link to your Facebook page, Author Central page, etc.

6) Mark LaFebvre from KOBO Writing Life on their now offering pre-orders for Indies. “We’re open minded in Canada.” I loved this guy and can’t wait to start working directly with KOBO to sell my books.

7) Bella Andre says that audio books are the latest big thing and SEO is the key to attracting your readership!

8) Author Barbara Freethy recommends at least three proof readers for Indie-pubbed books. I agree!

9) Agent Christina Hogrebe recommended book bloggers for promoting your YA titles. “If a high traffic blogger loves your book, it can go viral in no time.” Here’s to hoping she’s right!

10) A quote from award winning author and RITA Awards emcee, Christie Craig. “The difference between northern writers and southern writers is that northerners start their stories with ‘Once upon a time,’ while southern storytellers start every story with ‘You ‘aint ‘gonna believe this sh**.’” Christie Craig was hilariously funny and did a fine job as emcee. WTG Christie!

RWA2013 me and Katy Lee Beyond all of these excellent tips and so many more from people like Cathy Maxwell, our keynote speaker, and the excellent agent/editor panels, the best part of the conference for me was the new friends I made and the wonderful companionship of my CTRWA peeps (other than D.S. who it turns out is a terrible covers hog).

Please feel free to share some of your highlights in the comments section below. And speaking of favorite conference highlights, check out all the spectacular shoes! Can you guess whose they are?shoe pic

Multi-Author Signing

PJ here. First things first.

Thank you to those who shared in the launch celebration for WESTERN DESERT last week! I had fun entertaining the party-goers who stopped by to chat and wish me well. I can’t tell you how much your support means to me. Congratulations to Lysette Lam who won the Nook Simple Touch! I am in the process of contacting the other winners, so a big thanks to those who entered my contest and shared my celebration with the world!

Now that I’ve had a few days to breathe and take a break from all the hustle and preparation of the book release, I’m gearing up for another busy weekend. Technically, I’m off from my day job, but this weekend I’ll be doing what authors live for. Along with a host of other authors, I’ll be at the Enfield 4th of July Celebration in Enfield, Connecticut, meeting readers and signing books. Everyone’s books will be available all day on Saturday and Sunday, but we’ll be rotating shifts to spread the coverage among us. I’m scheduled for Sunday from 11:30-5:30, but I’ll be around to help out on Saturday as well.

I hope you’ll join me, Katy Lee, Casey Wyatt, J Monkeys, Susannah Hardy, Rebecca Rose, T.L. Costa, Marian Lannouette, Gerri Brousseau, Jesse Hayworth, Belle Calhoun, Kourtney Heintz, Lon Unghire, Tammy Young Cote, and Renata Bowers at the Town Green on Enfield Street right in front of the town hall, Saturday, July 6th and Sunday, July 7th. And huge KUDOS to Katy Lee for organizing the signing for us.

I grew up in Enfield, so this event will have special meaning for me. If you haven’t attended a 4th on the Green, you’re missing a great time. From the live bands to the awesome parade, and the fabulous eats to the fantastic fireworks on Sunday night, there is tons of fun to be had. I participated in a few of the pie eating contests over the years, but my favorite event was the opportunity to dunk a local high school teacher who was sporting enough to take the plunge for a good cause. It’s supposed to be a great weekend weather-wise, so if you’re looking for a fun family event to attend and you’re in the area, stop by and meet some of your favorite authors and hang out with the Scribes.

I hope to see you there!

Making of a Hero Father by Katy Lee

father'sHappy Father’s Day to our daddy followers. This is a day set aside to honor the dads in our lives, but may it also remind you of the important role you have taken on…because it is quite an important role and needs to be taken seriously. So important, you could be dubbed a hero by little girls and boys, alike.

You see, a little girl’s daddy is responsible in showing her how special she is. This critical time will set the stage for how she views every boy for the rest of her life.

So Dads, take every opportunity to treat her the way you would want her future husband to treat her. Take her out on dates. Hold the door for her. Listen to her. Show her that her opinion, thoughts, and feelings are valid and important. And teaching her a few kicks and jabs for those “just in case” moments could be good bonding moments for the two of you, too. So bond away. Teach her not to stand for anything less than you are giving her, and she won’t. Just make sure what you’re giving her is hard to beat.

Now a little boy also takes his cues from Daddy-O. Typically, it’s pretty easy for fathers and sons to bond. A camping trip. A steep mountain to conquer. A few cuts and bruises to reminisce about. But these are not what I’m talking about.

What I’m talking about is training up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

Dads, it’s your job to shape your boys into the men you would want for your daughters. The types of men who are hard to beat. Men who hold that door and listen to their lady with respect. But the problem is: these behaviors can only be taught through modeling. Your sons will learn best by watching how you treat the most important lady in their life.

Their mom.

The Unlocked Secret: I know Mother’s Day was last month, but a man who honors the woman of his life as though every day is Mother’s Day, is revered and will be lifted up as a hero father. And NOT just on Father’s Day, either. He is a hero to the little girls who learned never to settle for anything less than their daddy gave them, and he is a hero to the little boys who are proud to grow up and be just like their dad. (And p.s. their wives will thank you for it, too)