Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT - Allison Merritt


Today, I am pleased to be one of the stops on The Heckmasters Blog Tour and to introduce you to a talented author from my local group, Ozarks Romance Authors. If you've not read her books yet, make sure you click on the buy link at the bottom of this post and be prepared for an enjoyable read! Also, Allison has brought an awesome Rafflecopter along.

Welcome, Allison!


You write in several sub-genres romance. Do you have a favorite?
Historicals have been my first love since I read my first one. I picked up Roseanne Bittner's In the Shadow of the Mountains when I was a teenager and I've been hooked on historicals ever since. But it's pretty clear I love adding wackiness to the Old West.

I’m always asked where I get my ideas. Where did you get the idea for WYSTAN?
This is my favorite where-did-it-come-from ever. In 2012, I was with my mom and brother at Northpark Mall in Joplin, MO when I saw a kiosk selling tombstones (that's so weird). There was one kind of sitting by itself and the name on it was HECKMASTER. I just knew the guy buried under that headstone was a serious badass. Not only that, but he was probably a demon-slaying hottie.  

If WYSTAN were to be made into a movie, who do you see a the Hero and Heroine?
You better believe I've thought this through. Henry Cavill would make the perfect Wystan and Anne Hathaway is my pick for Rhia.

Every good movie needs popcorn. Pick one – extra butter, caramel, kettle?
Extra butter!

You’ve had the experience of various publishing avenues and I’m sure you’ve come away from each with something different. What do you feel has been your most valuable lesson overall?
You actually have to make the attempt to get anywhere. I started out self-publishing, but was dumb chance that led me to Lyrical. A friend had an editor taking pitches on her blog, so I just wrote up a 3-line pitch for a book and threw it out there. I waited until Breathless was having a 5 page chapter critique, and submitted a book I'd written for them and the editor loved it. I entered Wystan in a contest and—surprise!—the editor wanted it. Take a chance.

When you began writing fiction, what was your main GOAL and have you achieved that goal?
Don't get me wrong, I love being on a best seller list and watching those numbers rise, but the main thing I always wanted was just to entertain. When The Wrong Brother's Bride came out, I did a review tour to promote it. The things people said in the reviews blew me away. Even the bloggers who didn't regularly read historical romance were saying things like 'I don't usually read this genre, but this book made me re-think my TBR list'. Knowing you've satisfied a reader is worth all the trouble of writing a book.

Do you have a writing mantra?
One hundred more words. One hundred more words. I took that from something I read when I used to run. Ten more steps, then you can finish. Works great for writing too.

What’s next on your writing agenda to close out 2014?
I've absolutely, positively got to finish Tell (The Heckmasters). Wystan's releasing, Eban is on the schedule for April 2015, and I've got to get their little brother finished. I have a good start to it though, so I'm not worried. Erm, much. I better get serious about NaNoWriMo this year.

Thank you, Allison. Here's a blurb from Wystan's story - the first book in The Heckmasters Series:


Blurb:
Her search for safety lands her in a totally new kind of danger.

The Heckmasters, Book 1

Certain that an ad for a job in a small New Mexico Territory town is the answer to her prayers, Nebraska schoolteacher Rhia Duke packs her sister into a rickety wagon and heads west.

Except when they reach the near-deserted town, she learns the truth. There is no job, no future, and no welcome in the bleak blue eyes of the handsome sheriff.

The minute Rhia’s runaway team thunders into town, Wystan Heckmaster feels the change in the air. One of three sons of a demon who dared love a human, he keeps watch over a Pit guarded by seven seals, and slays any Hellbound demon that attempts to free the master imprisoned within.

With a gut full of regret and a forgotten town filled with reformed demons, Wystan is certain of one thing: he can’t be the man Rhia needs. But when the truth behind Rhia’s flight from Nebraska comes to light, Wystan must open his soul—and pray there’s enough love between them to overcome the darkness rising from the Pit.

Warning: Contains a take-no-prisoners sheriff, a woman who can’t outrun her supernatural secrets, and a dusty town where hope is as thin as dust in the wind. Author recommends keeping a glass of cool spring water at your elbow while reading.

Excerpt:
Something changed in the air the moment the wagon crossed the town’s border. Too
early to be a supply train, and there was no way in hell it was visitors. Berner didn’t host
town fairs, theatre troupes, peddlers, or bible thumpers.
Wystan Heckmaster slapped his battered Stetson on his head, collected the keys to the
jail, then stepped out the door. The first thing he saw was a pretty woman with hair the color
of maple sugar—a rich brownish-blonde. The frown on her face spoke volumes, and the air
around her pronounced trouble. She made a straight path for him.
“Mr. Heckmaster. Or should I call you Sheriff? Or Mayor? I need to discuss the ad in
the Lancaster County Republican with you. Someone placed an ad, but your brother tells me
there is no school here. I’m sure there has to be a mistake. There’s only one Berner in New
Mexico Territory. I’m very capable at reading maps. If I wasn’t, I would be ashamed to call
myself a teacher.”
He doubted she had taken more than two or three breaths during the speech. If she
made talking in rambling paragraphs a habit, no wonder she looked so peaked.
“Teacher?” He glanced along the street, but it was deserted as usual. “Lady, we don’t
have a school here. Certainly no need of a teacher.”
Buy links:

About the Author:
A love of reading inspired Allison Merritt to pursue her dream of becoming an author who writes historical, paranormal and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She lives in a small town in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. When she's not writing or reading, she hikes in national parks and conservation areas.

Allison graduated from College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri with a B.A. in mass communications that's gathering dust after it was determined that she's better at writing fluff than hard news.

You can follow Allison on her various Social media links:
Blog 
G+ 

If you like FREE Stuff then make sure to check out this Rafflecopter for your chance to win a FREE copy of Wytan's story and a $10 Amazon Gift Card! ~ Thanks for visiting!



Monday, September 22, 2014

CURRENT PROJECT - September 22-28


Yes, it's me. No, I did not fall of the face of the earth. I have been writing. What I feel like doing right now is turning off the computer and taking a leisurely stroll through my property, on a path very much like this one. Though the leaves have not changed color yet, with today being the first day of Autumn, I know they will soon.

I put work aside last week to try and finish the first draft of Jayson's Range. I was not successful. But I wore myself out in the attempt. This week I am back to business during the day, then sprinting to work on Jayson's Range only for a couple hours at night. With no real deadline in sight maybe the story will flow better. Less pressure to write what isn't there.

Autumn begins at 9:29 p.m. CST. I hope you'll take a few minutes to welcome in the new season.

Off to write!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

FAST FIVE with Ashley Ladd

Ashley Ladd lives in South Florida with her husband, five children, and beloved pets. She loves the water, animals (especially cats), and playing on the computer.

She's been told she has a wicked sense of humor and often incorporates humor and adventure into her books. She also adores very spicy romance, which she weaves into her stories.

I've known Ashley for years so I was thrilled when she contacted me to see if she could be a guest in The Writers Studio. 
Please welcome Ashley Ladd...

1 – What draws you to write romance?
 I'm a born romantic, imagining romantic connections everywhere I go. There's a rare story I like that doesn't have a love story involved. I always hope for a happily ever after, even though I'm infamous with my family for also loving "end of the world" stories such as Night of the Comet, Armageddon, The Stand, Left Behind... If you're familiar with those stories, humanity triumphs in the end and there's a love story in every one of them.
 
2 – Are there recurring themes in your stories? And if so, what are they?
 I consciously try to change my stories so they're all different. However, I often have action-adventure and/or comedy in my stories. If not straight out comedy, there will be a humorous tone to at least a character or two in my stories.
 
3 – Writing is a business. What kind of a writing schedule do you keep?
 I have a full-time day job, so I get about 2-3 hours every evening after work to either write or promote. Lately, the time I was writing has been taken up by promotion as I just had two books release and there are two more books releasing in the near future.
 
I also try to write several hours on the weekends.
 
4 – Where is your favorite place to write?
 That's a really sore point. Borders WAS my favorite place to write, but of course they went out of business. I liked it there because they had power I could plug into in their café. Then of course there was the café in case I got hungry. Also my daughters liked to go to Borders with me so they could read all day.
 
Now that Borders has passed onto that big bookstore in the sky, I write in my bedroom. It's not my favorite place, but the best I've been able to find. We moved too far away from Barnes and Nobles to drive there often, plus they don't provide power so my computer dies too fast to make the trip worthwhile. I would go to the library more, but my youngest daughter doesn't like to hang out there as they don't have enough manga to keep her satisfied. I tried to write at Panera Bread but that got to be a little expensive plus I got tired of people wanting my table.
 
5 – What is your favorite promotional tool?
 Lately, I've been hosting other authors on my blog and also I've been doing blog tours for my own books. I hired My Family's Heart to help me set up blog tours, but I don't stop there. I also seek out bloggers who are willing to host me. Unfortunately, I don't have a large marketing budget so I have to do my own promotion. I can't wait for the day that I earn enough to hire a publicist so I can write full-time and let someone else worry about the marketing.

Here's a bit about Ashley's new book: Business or Pleasure


Guy Rogers is extremely attracted to his new realtor, Tom Beaudreaux. As a passionate vegetarian and animal activist, he’s ecstatic that Tom is a kindred soul. He could never be with a carnivore. Unfortunately, Tommy isn’t really a vegetarian or animal activist. He never said he was either, he just didn’t eat meat when he was with Guy. And maybe he emptied his house of all meat and dairy products before inviting Guy over. In fact, Tommy’s family owns the most popular barbecue restaurant in town and if his family has their way, he’ll manage the new location.

When Guy finds out that Tommy eats meat and his family owns a restaurant that is a monument to eating meat, he’s livid and doesn’t know if he wants anything else to do with Tommy.

But then Guy’s life gets crazy –his dad’s paranoia blossoms into violent dementia, he gets arrested for picketing a doggy mill, and then he winds up in even more legal trouble. When Tommy sticks by him through all his trouble and does everything he can to help him, Guy wonders if he’s been too militant and narrow-minded. Perhaps he can learn to live with people who have opposite views.

Excerpt:
Guy finished his meal, wadded up his napkin and dropped it on his plate. “Do you think it will take long to find more houses for me to look at?”
“I’ll make you—it—my priority. Just give me a couple days.” Damn! A Freudian slip.
Guy reached over as if to put his hand on Tommy’s, but stopped in midair. His eyes softened and hope flickered. “I’d like it if you made me, not my business, your priority.”
Tommy’s throat went dry and his heart flipped over. “Do you mean what I think you mean?”
Guy lowered his hand and took Tommy’s in his. “I think so. I like you—a lot. You’re handsome and charming and I feel a connection. I know it’s quick, but I’m a forthright, fast kind of guy. Besides, if you find me a house as rapidly as I want, you’ll be out of my life before I can do anything about it. Do I have a chance with you?”

Like what you've read so far? Then check out the Buy Links below to grab a copy!

Ashley loves to hear from her fans. You can find her at any of the links listed.





Monday, August 18, 2014

CURRENT PROJECT - August 18-24th


Doesn't this porch look inviting?
While this is not the porch in my story - nor my own, I would love to be there right now.
I think sitting there with a cold glass of tea and this laptop would make writing so much easier.

I did not write any new words on my story last week. Thought about the direction the story needs to go. But I've been dragging my feet at writing a funeral scene. Sometimes, selecting the best way to approach a scene is more difficult than the actual writing. While I mulled over the challenge, I spent time polishing the first 2 chapters to perfection. My main focus was to remove all of the passive voice possible. Editors prefer 1% or less. Getting below 1% is difficult in that sometimes a character is remembering an event or has to describe something in a past tense.

Passive voice takes our readers out of the present story we want them involved in so reducing the percentage to that 1% is crucial to keep them turning pages.

I'll be talking more about Passive Voice Percentage, how to find out where your manuscript stands and how to fix later in the week.

For now.. I'm off to write a funeral. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

CURRENT PROJECT - Week of August 11, 2014


Welcome to the Old West...

For the next few weeks I'll be traveling back in time to 1884 in the first book of what I plan to be a trilogy - The McCracken series. The first is Jayson's Range.

Here's a sneak peek
When Kathleen Kennedy steps off the train in Merkel, Texas as a mail order bride with her young son she expects to meet the man she has come to marry. Instead, his oldest boy, Jayson, greets them. The tall man with the firm jaw is the farthest notion of a boy and where is Jay? Hearing her betrothed has been murdered, Kathleen refuses to show desperation. She and Charles have no place left to turn. Jayson’s temporary solution begins a journey for the three of them in a land where only the strongest survive and love is the tie holding everything together.

I can't remember how this story came to me but the characters began forming in time for Nanowrimo 2009. And here the WIP sits with only one polished chapter, the rest outlined and lots of work to do in between. Later in the week I hope to have a word count meter set up. My plan... to finish the rough draft of Jayson's story so I can pitch the series to Liz Pelleteir of Entangled Publishing at the ORA Conference in late September.

So hang onto those reins... we have a long trail drive ahead.


Friday, August 1, 2014

WEEKLY RECAP - Good week



Okay.. BUSY Week!

Wow. Let Bob leave for Chicago and my schedule turns into a traffic jam. Suddenly promotional opportunities came from all different directions. I am NOT complaining. LOL But WOW!

I'm slowly getting caught up on the tech stuff. Still need some studio time if my promo items are to be ready for ORACon2014 coming up in September.

Speaking of ORACon2014, today is August 1st. My Zone group has BIAW for the next seven days but I plan to use the entire month to hopefully get the rough finished of the western historical - Jayson's Range. The first chapter has placed well in the last two competitions. I want to pitch the book to Liz Pelleteir from Entangled Publishing at the conference. She is looking for historicals and this book is the first in a 3-book series.

I want to put a word widget on the blog sometime this weekend so we can track my progress together.
Creative Blessings
~Angela

Monday, July 28, 2014

CURRENT PROJECT - Week of July 28th


Monday's are usually crazy but today is more so. I'm participating in a 6-day Facebook party launching Ropin Romance. This is a fabulous new site for romance authors and their readers. While the site is still in the early stages of life, there is so much promise here.

The Facebook party started on July 22nd and is going through today. I have a spot this morning. So I hope you'll come join me from 11 a.m. - Noon CST.  I'll be talking about my novella, Somewhere Down the Line, as well as giving away some prizes. Going to be a packed hour of fun!

I'm also spending time today and tomorrow on Facebook with Entangled Publishing's Christmas in July event. Another great opportunity to network with a publisher I'm planning on pitching to during ORACon2014 in September.

Bob leaves tomorrow morning and I dive in to long days trying to get ahead of some things plus finish the rough of Jayson's Range.

Hang with me this week. We're going to have FUN!