Friday, December 30, 2011

Starting a new year


With all the internet challenges and everything else that found me in 2011, I'm hoping 2012 will be a bit calmer in some ways and more active in others.

I'm also hoping to be more organized. I've tried, unsuccessfully, over the past couple of years to find the perfect day planner. Working from home gives us a different set of parameters than someone on the 8-4/ 9-5 gig. Our daily routine is more about a To Do list than time slots and meetings. Most of the time, unless we have a lunch meeting with our editor or an appointment to interview someone, time isn't important. But knowing the things we need to do within our work day is.

While shopping at Books -A -Million back in September, I found the Busy Office Page-a-Day notepad. As you can see in the link, it has the day/ date at the top of the page and then the rest of the main part is a list-making space with check-off boxes.

I've used my computer to print out the 12 monthly calendar pages and that's what I'm working with this year. I've already started writing in some of the blog things I do on specific days. I still have more to add as I begin putting them into play. But for now I feel as if I have a solid start on the new year.

Monday, we'll talk about Goals for 2012. What are some of your 2012 Goals?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fast Five with Historical Athor, BJ Scott!

Happy Friday, everyone!
As we fly closer to the holidays, there is still plenty of time for last minute gift buying. And what better gift then a book!

This week, I'm proud to introduce you to my friend BJ. Highland Legacy is her debut Historical Romance. Here's a little about BJ:

With a passion for historical romance, history in general, and anything Celtic, B.J. always has an exciting work in progress. Each story offers a blend of romance, adventure, suspense, and, where appropriate, a dab of comic relief. Carefully researched historical facts are woven into each manuscript, providing a backdrop from which steamy romance, gripping plots, and vivid characters—dashing alpha heroes and resourceful, beguiling heroines you can’t help but admire—spring to life. A member of RWA, World Romance Writers, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, and Savvy Authors, B.J. also writes contemporary, paranormal, time travel, and romantic suspense.

C.S. Lewis first captivated B. J.’s imagination in the fourth grade, and her desire to write sprang from there. Following a career in nursing and child and youth work, B.J. married her knight-in-shining-armor, and he whisked her away to his castle by the sea. In reality, they share their century-old home in a small Canadian town on the shore of Lake Erie with three dogs and a cat. When she is not working at her childcare job, on her small business, or writing, you will find her reading, camping, or antique hunting.

1. What did you do to celebrate when Highland Legacy came out?

Highland Legacy was released came on a Wed. Since it was a work day, I had to keep the celebration to a minimum, at least until I got home. My hubby had put a bottle of our favorite wine on chill and after toasting the book, it was back to the computer to answer emails, blogging and promoting. I think that part is harder and more work than the writing ;)

2. Do you have an idea for characters and build your plot around them or vice versa?

It varies with each story, but I usually develop a plot idea first and the characters evolve as the story is written.

3. What was the best advice you were given leading you to getting published?
Never give up your dream. Write where you can and when you can. Write about things you know and are passionate about. Rejection notices are a part of the road to publication. Use them as a learning tool to improve your work.

4. If you were going to cast your hero, Connor Fraser, what actor would get the

Since I don’t have much time for movies or TV as far as that goes, picking an Actor would be difficult. The cover model, Jimmy Thomas is exactly how I pictured Connor. Maybe Jimmy could use the roll to make his acting debut. I could picture Adrian Paul, the actor who played the highlander on TV in the role too.

5. Tell us a little about your WIP.

Faced with an abhorrent betrothal, Cailin Macmillan flees her father’s castle and quickly learns that a woman traveling alone in Medieval Scotland is an easy target for ruthless English soldiers. When Highland patriot Connor Fraser comes to her aid, his steadfast dedication to king and country is challenged by his overwhelming desire to protect Cailin—even if he must marry her to do so.

Accused of murdering one of her attackers and determined to rely on her own resourcefulness, Cailin dresses as a lad, intent on seeking refuge at the camp of Robert the Bruce. Can she elude an enemy from her past—a vindictive English lord bent on her utter demise—or will she fall prey to his carnal intent and be executed for a crime she did not commit?

Here's a taste of what you'll experience in Highland Legacy:

You can pick up your own copy of Highland Legacy at:

Please visit BJ at her website:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Post Nano

Okay, my Nano was a complete wash as far as workable word count is considered. All I managed was to get a grasp on what the book needs to be about (aside from The Wild Rose Press guidelines for HonkyTonk Hearts), who the players are and what's at stake for each one. Oh yeah, and I proved I am definitely an outline kind of gal.

I think I'm a throwback from members of my family who were all truck drivers. Dad, retired after many years on the road, taught me at a young age how to read a road map. Two of my older brothers and an older sister all drove truck at some point in their lives. Being an over the road trucker (before GPS) meant knowing how to get from point A to point B and in the shortest amount of time. On the road, making delivery deadlines, like any other deadline, is critical to making sure everyone gets paid.

I am a planner. I need to know where I'm going, how I'm going to get there and if there are alternate routes should I need them. My road map stays tucked into the back of my driver's seat at all times just in case (though I have given in to using hubby's GPS when I go to Nashville). As a planner, I need to know all of those things about a book before I can write it. That's what I did for Nano.

I take December off from writing. December is my time to close out one year and prep for another. It's the only way I can manage all of the projects I have going on 24/7. But come January 1, 2012 while the rest of the world is recuperating from festivities and celebrations, I'll be participating in JANO with my local writers group, Sleuths Ink. We do things only slightly different than the big NANO group.

1) we still have to write 50k in NEW WORDS
2) we can work on an existing project AS LONG AS IT'S NEW WORDS
3) member privileges allows for some of us to do a collection of short stories - totaling 50,00 min.
4) we have an extra day to write. That 1 extra day can make a difference
5) members who write 50k + also go into a drawing for a Kindle at the end of the year.

So yeah, I'm gearing up for January 1st. Anyone is welcome to play. But joining Sleuth's does have a couple of advantages. :-)

Wanna play?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fast Five with Jennifer Jakes

First off, I owe Jennifer a huge apology. Posting this earlier today totally slipped my mind when hubby's first words were, "I'm awake. Let's go shopping". What's a girl to do?

I've known Jennifer for about a year. We're in the same Ozarks Romance Authors group and both have our eye on country boy Jake Owens. So today, and for the whole weekend, I introduce you to Jennifer Jakes!

After trying several careers—everything from a beautician to a dump truck driver—Jennifer finally returned to her first love, writing. Maybe it was all those Clint Eastwood movies she watched growing up, but in her opinion there is no better read than a steamy western historical.
Married to her very own hero, she lives on fifteen acres along with two beautiful daughters, two elderly horses, two spoiled cats and two hyper dogs.
During the summer she does Civil War re-enacting and has found it a great research tool, not to mention she has continued appreciation for her microwave and hot water heater.
Visit Jennifer Jakes at

1. Why do you write?
I guess it’s for the same reason all writers write – we have to get the voices out of our heads!

2. I know you began writing stories at a young age. What led you to Historical romances?
My favorite stories as a young girl were those about Pocahontas and Sacajawea. As I got older, those historicals just turned into a love for Historical Romance. And I have to write what I love.

3. How did you get into taking part in Re -enactments?
My interest in Western Historicals and the Civil War era led me to attend several reenactments. I met a lot of wonderful people there and in talking to them was soon donning my petticoats and bonnet.

4. Do you have a story you’d like to tell but doesn’t fit what you typically write? Actually, I do………and I just finished it! My newest release, TWICE IN A LIFETIME, – out the end of this month – is still historical, but it’s set on a pirate ship in 1768. So the secret is out: My other writing love are Pirates.

5. What is your favorite Holiday and do you ever use it as part of the setting in your books?
I love Christmas – the decorated trees, the twinkling lights. It takes me back to when I was a kid and that magical feeling children get around Christmas.
My debut novel, RAFE’S REDEMPTION, is set during the Christmas season and includes lots of snow – enough to trap my heroine and hero together in a cabin

He rode into town to buy supplies, not a woman.
For hunted recluse Rafe McBride, the raven-haired beauty on the auction block is exactly what he doesn't need. A dependent woman will be another clue his vengeful stepbrother can use to find and kill him. But Rafe's conscience won't let him leave another innocent's virginity to the riff-raff bidding. He buys her, promising to return her to St. Louis untouched. He only prays the impending blizzard holds off before her sultry beauty breaks his willpower.
She wanted freedom, not a lover.
Whisked to the auction block by her devious, gambling cousin, and then sold into the arms of a gorgeous stranger, outspoken artist Maggie Monroe isn't about to go meekly. Especially when the rugged mountain man looks like sin and danger rolled into one. But a blizzard and temptation thrust them together, and Maggie yearns to explore her smoldering passion for Rafe.
But when the snow clears, will the danger and secrets that surround Rafe and Maggie tear them apart?

Be Careful What You Wish For. . .

No-nonsense stuntwoman Isabella Douglas will do anything to stop an unwanted divorce and reclaim the happy life she had, even allow her old friend to concoct a magical spell to turn back time. But when the spell goes awry, Izzy finds herself trapped aboard a 1768 Caribbean pirate ship with a captain who’s a dead ringer for her sexy as sin husband, Ian. Convinced he’s playing a cruel joke, she’s furious – until she realizes he doesn’t know her or believe they’re married.

Captain Ian Douglas does not have time to deal with an insane woman who claims to be his wife; he has to save his kidnapped sister. But as Izzy haunts his dreams and fills him with erotic memories he can’t explain, he’s forced to admit he feels more than lust.

Trapped in a vicious cycle of past mirroring present, Izzy knows they only have days to find Ian’s sister and prevent disaster from striking a second time. If she doesn’t, their marriage will be destroyed again – along with the man she loves.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out the Fast Five with Jennifer Jakes. Please check out her website. You can also go directly to
to pick up your copy of Rafe's Redemption!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Fast Five with Starfox Howl

Today, I am truly honored to have a writing friend as my Fast Five guest. Not only is he a talented writer but he is a Navy Veteran, stationed in Afghanistan. We're counting him among the many of our cherished men and women who will be home soon.

Starfox Howl is the pen name of a US Navy veteran who has spent the last four and a half years in various locations in Afghanistan. He’s married, twenty-seven wonderful years to the same wonderful woman who puts up with him for unknown reasons. They have one grown son and seven furry children.

When you're finished here, please stop by his blog .

1. Based on your location now, where is your favorite place to write?
My favorite place is our “sports bar” here on base. It’s called the Tora Bora Bar. Being here in Afghanistan, there is no alcohol served. But it does have food, and sodas, and somewhat comfortable chairs. I’ll get settled, kick on some David Arkenstone music, don my headphones and tune into whatever I’m writing.

2. What was it about Jason to Jessica’s story that drew you?
The first story I read that incorporated transgenderism as a story element was “I Will Fear No Evil”. I know many women who’ve lamented about how men don’t understand what they go through as women in today’s society. Combine the two, with a storyteller’s love of “What If” and you have the basic plot of Jason to Jessica.

3. What are you working on now?
I’m not a person who can focus on just one work in progress. I’m currently working on three drafts, rotating between them as I run out of steam on one. There is “Crystal’s Cat”, a follow on story to Jason to Jessica, Primal-Katie’s Return, another follow-on to a currently unpublished story. All of these stories are set in the MORFS story-verse. The last WIP is TRANSFORMATIONS, an original Science Fiction Romance story set on a colony world on the far side of the Milky Way galaxy.

4. What’s been the biggest challenge writing where you are now?
The biggest challenge? Not knowing what’s going to happen five minutes into the future. You have to remember I live in a war zone. We are subject to terrorist threats, alerts and the threat of actual attacks all day, every day. On a recent day, everything started out normally, but with one explosion, everything changed. Body armor gets uncomfortable after a while, but you wear it because it’s easier to be uncomfortable than to have an unnatural hole suddenly appear on your person.

5. What’s the first thing you plan to do when you get stateside?
That’s simple. Hug my wife and son. The second will be to stop at the Wendy’s in the airport for a double cheeseburger, fries and a large diet soda.

Thank you, Starfox... for everything!

Blessings to all of those who've served our country so well in generations past, who continue to answer the call and to the families awaiting their safe return.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nano Week 1


I've not written as much as I should have by now. But considering the story actually began to gel for me yesterday (Note, that would be Day 6), I'm doing pretty good!

I know my hero - Brent McCormack is back on his parents' ranch after being disillusioned by the commercialism of Nashville. (Have I got a lesson for him!) He has given up his dream of being the next Garth Brooks but not of playing the Texas music he is passionate about.

I know my heroine - Jessie Daniels. She's been physically and emotionally abused. She's back home where she feels safe. Safe goes right out the window when Brent McCormack walks into the Blue Plate Diner where she's waiting tables. He's not the boy she remembers hanging with her older brother back in high school. But he is still the same person who got her brother killed four years previous. Seeing him flares up a smoldering pain... and something else.

I know I'll be featuring the Texas music community I've come to love.
I know Brent and Jessie will wind up Happily Ever After.
I know where I'm going so when one scene isn't working, I can jump around and still come up with a daily word count.

What I DON'T know...
is what the pivotal scene is that HAS to take place in The Lonesome Steer.

But it will come to me. Just like the rest of this has.

I'll be busy writing the rest of this week. But Friday is Veteran's Day and I have a Special Guest for Fast Five Friday. You won't want to miss getting to know this man!

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nano Begins

Well, for the first time in eight years I'm starting without an outline. It's pretty scary territory for me. I know Chris Baty's big thing is No Plot? No Problem! But I'm also willing to bet he's a pantster. I write faster when I know where I'm going. I don't need a GPS when I know the area - don't even like them. But when I'm getting into new territory, I feel safer towards others when I have someone or something telling me how to get there.

I do know a few things about this story.
I know the Heroine's name is Jessie and that she's running back home to TX from an abusive relationship. Been there. I can write this.
I don't know the Hero's name. All I know is he's in the Texas Music business. I'm known as the 'trusted on-line voice of Texas Music' so I should be able to write this.
I do know there is a not so nice woman wanting her hooks in the Hero - so there's a bit of conflict. I also know Jessie's X comes to TX to find her and teams up with nasty woman to create more problems.
I know that at least one pivotal scene must take place in a specific honkytonk (as ordained by the submission call for The Wild Rose Press).
And I know that because The Wild Rose Press wants their Honkytonk Hearts series to end in HEA, then this story has a happy ending.

Okay... maybe I have more than I thought. Guess it's time to get this story written. The Wild Rose Press is only contracting approximately fifteen stories for this series. I'd really like to work with Stacy and TWRP team. They're good people. And I love the storyline.

So here we go!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fast Five with Gordon Warnock

Gordon Warnock is the Senior Agent with the Andrea Hurst Literary Agency. He combines his knowledge of the industry with a sharp editorial eye. He’s also fun to visit with. He attends as many conferences as his schedule allows so if you have the opportunity to meet him, GO!

1. How do you select what conferences to attend?
I’m usually asked and have a hard time saying no. I also look at conferences that have been recommended to me by other agents and editors.

2. In my pitch workshop, I encourage authors to not waste time getting a requested submission out. Then you spoke about there not being a ‘statute of limitations’ on a request. Would you clarify, please?
If they learn something at the conference that can make that submission better, then I would prefer they took the time to put that knowledge to use before sending me something. Quality is more important than Time.

3. What is the biggest mistake you see made during pitch sessions?
Not relaxing. We are human, just like you are. And being prepared.

4. Personal favorite read? Non-work related?
Stories that inspire me, shorts or flash pieces and stories that push the art form.

5. Favorite comfort food?
Carbs and cheese. I attended one of those BBQ cook-off events with friends and found I enjoy good BBQ.

I had a great time chatting with Gordon at the Ozark Creative Writers conference. He gave an informative presentation and I look forward to networking with him again. Thanks Gordon!

NOTE: The above answers are paraphrased from our quick conversation and not ‘direct’ quotes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fast Five with Marissa St. James

Welcome to a beautiful Friday in Eureka Springs AR. I love this little town. I am at the Ozark Creative Writers conference and running behind after a beautiful 3.5 mile walk through the Historic District.

So, today I'm sharing with you a talented writer. I've known Marissa for over fifteen years. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse of what she has to over then scoot over to her Website and Blog.

Here's a little bit about Marissa St. James:
Marissa St James is a lifelong New England resident. She began writing as a hobby when she was a teenager then turned it into a career after earning a degree in Humanities. She is an avid reader and when she has time enjoys a variety of crafts. Marissa has written several romance novels as well as a collection of paranormal short stories. You can visit Marissa at Marissa St. James and her blog at Marissa's Meanderings.

#1 – How long did you work on Highland Eyes before it saw publication?
Actually Highland Eyes was my second writing project but was the first to see publication. It took about a year to get it ready for submission. The Legend and the Laird was my first attempt at writing and took ten years, off and on, to complete.

#2 – McKinley’s Jewel is your newest release. What is your favorite part of the story?
I would say later in the story when David finally realizes just what Bonnie-Jean means to him.

#3 - What do you like best about writing time travel?

It’s a challenge to combine ‘old’ ways and modern thinking to come up with something that’s compatible and makes sense. I’ve always been fascinated with medieval times and I like trying to blend in some of those events with modern ‘intrusions.’ It’s also fun to have medieval characters shocked at modern day conveniences and attitudes.

#4 – If you could travel back in time, what would you most like to experience?
This is a toughie. I think I’d like to try a little of everything. Kind of like looking at a table with all those tempting desserts. You have to have a bite of everything.

#5 – What is the most helpful piece of writing advice you ever received and how has it helped you?
When you have an idea just write. Don’t worry about it being correct the first time around. That’s what first drafts are for.

This is one of the hard ones for me yet the most important and productive. Editing is my day job so I tend to fix things as soon as I realize they need fixing. It saves a little time on the next round but you have to be very good with the basics to pick up errors as they’re made.


“Candace just told me the place is haunted. She said she heard a voice begging for help, somewhere around the portrait gallery.”
“And you believe her.” Bonnie-Jean glanced up at him, one delicately shaped brow raised in question.
Andrew shrugged. The man was nothing if not gullible when an attractive woman was involved. He wasn’t a handsome man but sometimes Bonnie-Jean wondered if he couldn’t use a bit more confidence when it came to the more devious gender.
“Look, Andrew,” Bonnie-Jean put down her notebook and folded her hands on top of it. “I know how much you like Candace, but do yourself a favor and don’t believe everything she tells you.”
Andrew’s expression was one of attempted denial, but Bonnie-Jean knew better. “Do you want to file a complaint about the supposed haunting?”
“I suppose not. The laird would undoubtedly find it absurd.”

Sunday, October 2, 2011

First Fast Five Winner!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to check out my new blog feature. You're really going to enjoy who I have on tap for next week.

This week's winner of Eliza's new release, Wicked Lord, is Jennifer! Congratulations, Jennifer. I'll get you hooked up with Eliza so you may collect your eBook.

Until next week...
Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fast Five with Eliza Lloyd

Today begins a new series where I use the occasional Friday to do a simple Q & A with an author. I give them 5 questions and they give me their 5 best answers. Sometimes, like today, they even offer up a Free Read.

Today's author is Ellora's Cave author, Eliza Lloyd . Her third 'Wicked' book - Wicked Lord - was released on September 14th. I still need to read this series, but I did read Another Lover in under 2 hours. Eliza knows her heat factor. You won't want to miss any of her beautifully crafted stories.

Today.. one lucky person will win an eBook copy of 'Wicked Lord'.

#1 – Do you have an idea for characters and build your plot around them or vice versa?
The plot “idea” always comes first. Then I’ll get a glimpse of the characters. Once I know what they want and why they can’t have it then I got back to plotting. I am a pantster who lives by sticky notes so plotting is a very fluid process for me.
#2 – Wicked Lord is the third in the series. What makes this book different from the previous ones?
That’s a tough question especially when I’m writing a themed series (see below.)
One of the biggest relationship differences is that the hero is in love with his wife before she realizes she is in love with him. Because of the circumstances of their marriage, he believes it is necessary to wait for her to declare her devotion to him first. This 19th century story is also set at a country estate rather than in London during the season – so there is only one waltz.

#3 – What is the common thread throughout the series?
The Wicked Affairs series started with a single idea, “happily ever after unless.” All of the protagonists are married but are at some great impasse in their marriage. In Wicked Desires, the hero is impotent. A great trick to pull off in an erotica! In Wicked Temptation, the heroine is married to a younger man and her naughty past comes back to haunt her. And in the new Wicked Lord, the hero is newly married but his wife is in love with another man. I like to write about married couples – it is more realistic during that time period and the hurt and emotion can be greater, I think.

#4 – I read Another Lover in 2 hours last night (I LOVE MY KINDLE!) You tell a beautiful story. What drew you to this genre of romance?
I love historical romance and read it non-stop so I was naturally drawn to that genre when I started writing. The erotica came next because I tend to write stories that are more sexual. For me, the early 19th century is just so full of romanticism, drama and wonderfully dressed men in tight breeches – what’s not to love?

#5 – What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and how has it helped you?
A couple of years ago, I met three authors at a Celebrate Romance conference in Kansas City. They told me that to get published I would need luck, perseverance and talent. I used that as my screen saver for several years to remind me that to be successful was going to take more than just the ability to string a few words together.
Secondly, learn to be your own best critic. Writing a novel that impresses your friends and family is generally not going to impress a New York editor. Look for ways to make every word count and to make them strong. Voice is a nebulous thing but we all recognize it when we read it. Find yours.

You can pick up any of Eliza's books by going to her blog and clicking the Amazon or Ellora's Cave link.

How do you win your copy of a Wicked Lord? Answer the following question by leaving your answer in the comments. Happy Reading!

Answer and WIN!
What is the common thread throughout the Wicked series?

Monday, August 29, 2011

When life happens.

I realize I've not gotten back in here as soon as I'd planned. Where does time go? I know my days stay full with writing and creating and life. Someday I'll strike a balance that will prevent me from letting some things lapse while others roll along without incident. Yeah.. right! And if you find the solution before I do, please share.

My weekly column has been well-received so far. I'm getting great feedback from the community. Partly, I think, because it's about community. So I spend some of my 'free' time knocking on doors, introducing myself to business owners and others responsible for keeping Birch Tree MO in existence.

Aside from the weekly column, I've been able to add some feature stories to the paper. I've reported on local entertainment and crime news. I guess you could say my focus has been more on Non-Fiction than on Fiction in recent weeks. It's been an interesting change of pace.

But over the past couple of weeks I've found my love for fiction again. I entered four categories in the Ozark Creative Writers competition. One of the most challenging entries, and the most fun I've had in a long time, was to write a 500 word piece of sale-able fiction, without using the letter E. Have you ever tried to write a sentence without the word THE - let alone an entire flash fiction piece? I put through it's paces over the course of two days and came away with a story I'm happy with. We'll see how it does in competition.

I also entered the first chapter and a 5 pg synopsis of the Western Romance I've been playing with. I entered it in another category last year, sponsored by Western Author - Dusty Richards. I thought the chapter was good. But when it didn't place at all, I went to Dusty and asked if he'd do a critique on it for me. The one thing he found most lacking was INTERNALIZATION. I wasn't in my character's head enough. Okay. I can do that. But my biggest question was, Why in all these years of critique sessions has no one else ever pointed that out? I know I don't write a lot of it because it's the part I will skip over in a book. I love dialogue and it is my strength.

So with Dusty's critique in hand, I fine-tuned the first chapter yet again and submitted it in a different category. I'm anxious to see if it fairs any better. We'll know on October 8th when the awards are handed out.

I also had the pleasure of speaking to the Springfield Writers Guild on Saturday. I've known the current president for over fifteen years and this is the first time we've had the opportunity to work together. I was asked to give my Pitch workshop. With conferences still popping up through the end of October, I think some of them will have the opportunity to put the tips into practice. I wish them luck and would love to hear how they do.

I've been lining up more guest authors beginning in September and hope to fill the calendar out to keep the guests coming in this door through the end of the year.

As to my writing...
I'm writing every day on something. I'll try to be better at keeping you posted.
What are you writing today?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Busy Week

Good morning, everyone!

It's been a busy couple of weeks around here. As most of you know by now, when my husband comes home after being gone for three weeks, my world centers around him - at least for the first of the 3 he's home.

This time he brought a friend with him. Kassie has been a part of our lives since the day she was born.... she's now 14. But every couple of years she wants to come spend time with us. Having a teenager around the house wasn't really an issue. But I don't get to spend much time with her. When she comes down, I try to show her places she might not otherwise get to experience and she enjoys that.

The third week she was here, we also had the grandtoddler. Man, is that little girl growing. She'll be 4 in November. This time she was all about 'grandpa'.

So as you can tell, writing wasn't really part of my agenda. When you have the babies home, you just want to enjoy them.

By Tuesday, the house was all mine again and I had news in my email. I will be writing for our local newspaper on a weekly basis as a reporter for our small town - one of many small towns included in the paper's readership.

So I have lots of writing in my future. I won't be forgetting about the novels but short story competitions loom and now the weekly byline. As a result I need to reassess my GOALS. So give me a couple days and we'll get back to speed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Barb H. was the big winner in out Win It Before You Can Buy It give away. Thank you to Vicki Lewis Thompson for this generous gift. I know you're going to LOVE the book!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thank You, Vicki!

Just a quick Thank you to Vicki Lewis Thompson for stopping in today and sharing her love of cowboys with her readers.

Tomorrow I'll announce the winner of Cowboy Up! from our Win It Before You Can Buy It Give away!

Happy Reading!

Cowboy Up! with Vicki Lewis Thompson

The very talented Vicki Lewis Thompson is joining us.
A romance writing career has brought Vicki Lewis Thompson many wonderful things –New York Times bestseller status, an appearance on LIVE with Regis and Kelly, the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award from Romance Writers of America, thousands of readers, many dear friends, and the cutest little yellow convertible in the world. Her career has also given her work
she loves.

Although she’s written more than 100 books, she continues to be fascinated by the many ways that a man and woman fall in love. The age-old story remains a challenging puzzle to be solved anew with each book. That makes her a very lucky person, indeed.

When you've finished chatting with us here, please make sure to check out her website at VickiLewisThompson She has an AWESOME contest going on and you can sign up for her newsletter - offering up another opportunity for FREE great reads!

Today, Vicki has a topic near and dear to a girl’s heart – COWBOYS! So cowgirl up and get ready for some ‘sizzle in the saddle’ with her Sons of Chance series.

Thank you for joining us today, Vicki!

Happy first Tuesday of June, everyone! And thanks to Angela for inviting me here today to talk about my favorite subject, snug jeans . . . um, I mean cowboys. Well, and snug jeans,
which is part of the whole cowboy allure, don’t you think? I live in Arizona, where the cowboys run wild and free, because we still have a reason for them out here. It’s called dude ranches.

Also in Arizona we have a fair number of men who haven’t made a career of cowboying but still love climbing on the back of a horse and cantering down a dry desert wash on the weekends. In my mind, these guys count as cowboys, too.

I live near one of these dry washes, and it truly brightens my day to hear the sound of hoofs on sand and then glimpse a Stetson-wearing cowboy riding a fine-looking horse. The cowboy doesn’t bounce on that tooled leather saddle, either. I know because I watch to see if his buns come off the leather. Research, you know. Somebody has to do it.

All that heavy research goes into my Sons of Chance series from Harlequin Blaze, which continues with another three books this summer.

The June book,
is out now, but I’m giving away the July book, COWBOY UP, to
one lucky commenter today! These books are worth it just for the covers alone. Yummy. Although the books are part of a larger series, each one stands alone, so you don’t need to read last summer’s group to understand this batch.

Sons of Chance celebrates my fantasy image of a cowboy – the scuffed boots, the worn jeans that mold to his thighs, the yoked shirt that emphasizes his broad shoulders, the hat that shades his eyes and gives him an air of mystery . . . whew. I need a moment.

Yes, cowboys have considerable physical appeal, but that’s not the main reason I love writing about them. For me, cowboys represent an ideal similar to the knights of old. Part of it might be the horse.

There’s something about a man on a horse that stirs the blood and inspires admiration.

But cowboys also have a code of honor, a sense of chivalry that marks them as modern-day knights in shining armor. Like knights, they protect the weak, show respect for women, and stand up for what they believe. What could be sexier than that? A modern cowboy might have a smart phone tucked into his jeans, but his values are centuries old.

And that, in my opinion, is what’s so great about cowboys.
What’s your favorite thing about cowboys?

Friday, May 27, 2011

To Enter or Not to Enter

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of emails from authors and editors I know. All of them contain information about anthologies. I’ve known several of these talented writers have been published in anthologies and trust their judgement. Until recently, I’d not given much thought to entering into the opportunity to be selected as a contributor.

According to, ANTHOLOGY means… ‘a collection of selected literary pieces or passages or works of art or music’.

Well, I’ve never considered myself ‘literary’. I weave plain, simple words together in hopes of forming a story someone wants to read and can enjoy or relate to in some way. The anthologies I’ve been directed to recently seem to fit more my style.

So why get published in a collection, in the company of other authors? Why not just put together a collection of my own works? Though I’ve won awards for several of my short stories, I don’t believe there are publishers out there waiting with anticipation to print the ‘Great Works of Angela Drake”. So are anthologies a way to market those stories? Or would I be better off marketing them individually to print aka paying markets?

One thing I have learned over the years is if you don’t know something, find someone you know who’s been there, done that. So I contacted long-time acquaintance and multi-talented author, Laurie Wagner-Buyer. I thought she would be the perfect person to give me the ins and outs of anthologies, benefits or pros and cons of submitting and being included in an anthology. She’s been in several.

Here’s what Laurie had to say…

I believe any kind of exposure, any opportunity to get your work and your name out into the world is a plus. Of course there is a selection process involved, sometimes a rigorous choosing war as the editors try to decide which authors fit the style and theme of the anthology the best. An author should never be discouraged if their work isn't chosen because most often the editors have a very keen sense of the type of writing (including voice, topic, and length) they are looking for.

However, does being part of an anthology really do much for a writing career? I'm not sure there is an answer to that because each situation is different. I know that it really helped me flesh out my resume in the beginning, before I had any books published. If you want to submit work to an anthology you should follow the same basic rules that you would submitting your writing anywhere else. Choose only your best work. Make sure it has been professionally edited (not only by you but by someone else who has strong credentials). Make certain you follow the submission guidelines for formatting, etc... Once your work is submitted and chosen to be included do not ask for the chance to change your work in any big way. Most editors will send you a galley or proof copy of your work to make certain that you agree with any final editing that has occurred. In most cases, as well, those editors know what they are doing so a writer shouldn't be resistant to making changes which will enhance their work or take it to a higher level. I've never had an editor lead me wrong.

I have never been paid for work of mine that has appeared in anthologies, but I have received complimentary copies (usually one or two). Then I try to support the publisher and the other writers by purchasing a number of the anthologies at an author's discount to sell at my performances and events. What benefits you also benefits everyone else involved.”

I want to thank Laurie for giving us the voice of experience. Please take time to stop by her website… Laurie Wagner-Buyer

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Choosing A Pseudonym

Deciding what name to publish under is something a writer takes very seriously. There are two things to keep in mind. 1)Where alphabetically it will sit on the store shelf 2)Something that will stick with the reader.

For me, the first name was easy. I’ve always wanted to use some form of Angelica, but it sounded too prissy for my tastes. Anyone who knows me understands ‘prissy’ isn’t even on the list of characteristics to describe me. So I shortened it to Angela.

For the last name, I turned to one of my favorite writer resources – The Character Naming Sourcebook - Writers Digest Books . I needed something that paired well with ‘Angela’. Drake means Dragon in English. My husband (never mind he is of German heritage) collects dragon figurines and is my MSP – Most Supportive Person. Drake seemed a perfect fit.

But wait. Is another author already using the name? I pulled up GOOGLE to find out. At the time, the only Angela Drake I could find was the victim of a cold case murder. No author’s in sight.

And so I began building my platform as Angela Drake.

Oh oh.. this past week it was brought to my attention there IS another author out there. As it turns out, there is a U.K. romance author. She has titles from 1997-2007 listed on through a publisher called severnhouse. A cruise through their site didn’t bring her up as one of their authors. I did find an article about her posted on a blog back in May of 2009 - historicalromanceuk. Nowhere did I find a personal blog or website for the U.K. Angela Drake.

So my decision is to continue building my platform as Angela Drake. There isn’t a US Angela Drake and for whatever reason, Angela Drake UK isn’t an active author. Is there room for two of us? I'm not sure. I understand she came to this party first and I’m willing to make a subtle change if it becomes an issue.

Until then, I thank you for following this Angela Drake :-)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Musings

Happy Monday everyone!

It's going to be a busy week around the house but I hope to still be in frequently to throw some new things your way.

Contest entries are coming slow. There are days I think I should have named the blog Writing Through Life.. or not. It seems like since I cleared everything out of the living room and ripped up the carpet in here in prep for the remodel, I've lost the urge to work on fiction. I'm doing plenty of non-fiction but the desire to work on contest entries just isn't there. I HAVE to find it - and FAST!

My husband will be home on Wednesday night and then the huge remodel of the living room begins, disrupting my 'routine' yet again.

But there is good news on the horizon. I've finally made the jump and am having Hughes Net installed on May 2nd. Anything has to be faster than this dial-up. Every day is a struggle to get everything done in a timely manner. If it will help me cut my non-fiction aka freelance writing time by one third, I might have time to do ALL the writing I want to do.

I guess today's post is a good example of how the writers life really works. Life gets in our way, we have days where writing just isn't what we want to do. Although we are lucky enough to have a job that allows us to do what we love, it is a job and a business.

So I guess I need to quit taking sick days and get back to business.

Happy Writing & Reading

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Awesome Read Recommendation

A while back, Western author Jodi Thomas was kind enough to stop by for a chat about her contemporary Harmony series.

Last week I received a note from Jodi telling me Love Western Romances is featuring her as Spotlight Author of the Month, due in part to her most recent release, Texas Blue

If you've not picked up a copy of this book, I highly
recommend it. A comfortable read with characters you'll fall in love with... just like we do all of her characters.

I hope you'll go by the Love Western Romances blog and check out some great writing tips!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Back in the swing!

I made it!

And I’m healthy again. Kind of hard to believe considering we’re moving into allergy season. I can always tell because our local weatherman always reports the pollen/ mold index as directed by the Green County Health Dept. I’m waiting for the mold spores index to go up, signaling it’s time to go hunting mushrooms 

In the mean time, I’m keeping busy writing a little of everything. For those of you who don’t know, when I’m not writing fiction and entering short story competitions I am a freelance journalist for the Texas Music community. We’re at the heighth of awards season with the Texas Music Association so I’ve been busy doing interviews and writing about the roots of Texas Music.

For the fiction venue, I have contest entries do for the Arkansas Writers Conference due to be postmarked by April 30th. There are 10 categories out of the 20+ available to me I’d like to enter. A couple are for Haiku poetry, which I haven’t written since middle school. But one of those categories is sponsored by a dear lady by the name of Peggy Vining . Peggy is the Arkansas Poet Laureate and one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet in the writing community. I first met Peggy fifteen years ago at the Ozark Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs Arkansas. She is a true southern gentle lady on the outside but full of spunk for all of her petite size. I’m not concerned with whether I place in her category or not but it would be nice. I just want to play in Peggy’s world for a little while.

Today I’m researching for an essay on The War Years from 1941-1945. I’d hoped this would be a short story category and was already playing with a paranormal idea when I reread and was reminded it was for an essay. I’ll do the research and see what jumps out at me.

I haven’t forgotten about Death By Design. The novel work comes in the evening. I’ll fix me a Cowgirl Quencher and curl up with the critique comments my sister sent back.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting Conference news so stay tuned!
I’m also going to be guest blogging at Chris Redding's blog tomorrow. I’ll be speaking on Pitching at a Conference. Come by and say hello!

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Changed GOAL

Yes, you read that right. I'm in the middle of the second week with our granddaughter. And has always been the case with me, if I get around a child for any period of time you can bet I'm going to catch a cold. Factor in it is Spring cold season and you guessed it, I have a doozy of a cold. Needless to say I've not written 250 words in the last eleven days. And at this point, I'm not even interested in doing anything above updated a blog now and then. I just want the cold to go away so I can enjoy the remaining three days with my precious granddaughter.

Okay, that's part of the Changed GOAL.
The week before my granddaughter was to arrive, The Knight Agency posted their 2nd Annual Lottery for a chance to be one of 3 finalists to submit a completed manuscript to them. They started by having you post to their blog in a 1-hour time span. From over 500 posts, they used to select 125 people to begin the elimination process. In anticipation of being one of those 125, I decided my best 'sell' would be Death By Design. Erotica sells. That simple. Throw in a serial killer and you have something they will look seriously at. My best critique partner to get the manuscript ready should I be selected would be my older sister. It's her genre and she's currently job searching so has time to devote to edits.

I didn't make the 125 but still want to take advantage of my sister's eye since I don't know how long I'll have her semi-undivided attention. I'm still battling this cold and can't figure math right now so I'll post the Target Deadline in a few days.

For now, I just want to get over this cold and enjoy the few remaining days with my granddaughter.

Until then,
Keep Writing! Keep Submitting!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Starting with the Top 5

Last week I told you we'd talk about prioritizing the GOALS and breaking them down into manageable units. The Top Five were:

1 - Finish rough draft of Winter's Peace
2 - Finish rough draft of Autumn's Healing
3 - Finish rough draft of Death By Design
4 - Finish rough draft of Gangster's Lady
5 - Enter/ place in Arkansas Writers competition (multiple categories)

I'm going to reverse #1 and #2... putting Autumn's Healing first.
Autumn’s Healing was my Nano 2010 Novel (see pretty button to the right). It has a ways to go from being finished, but it’s closer so I want to do it first.

Before I go any farther let me explain something I learned by trial and error last year. Some writers can write all day, some early morning and others late into the night. Me, I’m an Evening Writer. I can work on shorter pieces throughout the day, but my novel-length comes later in the day. I don’t know if it’s because I have to get the daily stuff out of the way so I can focus on the other world or what.

I word sprint with a group of writers on Yahoo Instant Message. That means we meet in a conference room, someone is in charge of the timer and we write for a set period of time. We take a health/ stretch/ food break at the end of the period and then go again. You can find out more about how this works at Endurance Most recently our time sprints have run in 45-minute increments with 15-minute breaks. When we would do these all day on Friday – beginning at 9 a.m. CST and ending twelve hours later (with a lunch/ dinner break somewhere in there), I documented my word count for each sprint. The later the day, the higher the word count would climb.

So I work on short pieces like blog entries and short stories for contest entries during the day. Then about 4 p.m., my brain switches to longer length mode. I pull up the manuscript file and will sprint from about 4 p.m. if I’m home alone (6 p.m. if Bob is home) until 9 or 10 o’clock. Sometimes I sprint with the group. Other times I just bury myself in alone. I do know that I get a much higher word count during sprints. Sprinting is like Nanoing in minutes. You don’t take time to puzzle things out… you just write. The puzzling things out comes later.

So this will be my process for the Top 5. Short stuff like those contest entries during the day and noveling at night.

Now the big thing. I said we’d talk about a Time Line. Time Line’s are important. If you don’t set a deadline for something you’re more apt than not to do one of two things. Either you’re going to drag it out, thinking it still needs ‘something’. Or you’re going to keep putting it off, never finishing it so you can move on to something else. But how do you set a deadline?

For editors, this is easy. They know when things have to go to print. With that date in mind, they know when they must have it in their hands. Setting SELF-IMPOSED DEADLINES are great practice for when you have to meet that editor’s deadline. If you don’t train yourself to meet a deadline, it is my opinion you’ll never see publication. That simple.

Autumn’s Healing needs approximately another 15,000 words. If I make myself pull up the file and work five nights a week, at a minimum of 1,000 words per night, that’s only 3 weeks. Less than 1 month to finish the rough draft of Autumn’s Healing.

But, I already know I’m having my granddaughter for two weeks in March. Grandpa can occupy her part of the time in the evening, but she likes her TV time with grandma before bed –and we’re sleeping together on the hide a bed. So my nights will be cut short.

Because Bob will be home he can help sometimes, but we’re also going to be going/ doing stuff with her so my daytime writing will be hindered too.

So I’m going to say Six Weeks to finish Autumn’s Healing. That takes me to April 2nd.

See how I did that. Don’t groan but it was all MATH. I knew how many words I needed to finish, how many words I average in an evening AND knew ahead of time of an obstacle I’d have to over come. I entered everything into the equation and came to a solution I can work within.

But what if you don’t know about an obstacle? One that drops into your path like a reindeer on a bad test flight?
Unless it’s something critical, you can count on something coming down based on how your life usually runs. Factor in a cushion. Tack on an extra week if you think you might need it… but try to stay to the original configuration. Remember; short of a death in the family, editors don’t have time for whiney excuses. Practice now how to work around obstacles and still meet your SELF-IMPOSED deadline.

So here I am.
Autumn’s Healing by April 2nd
Arkansas Writers Entries due postal April 30th
I’m hoping to enter 9 categories. That gives me 1 week per entry INCLUDING polishing.

Stay tuned for my progress. On April 4th, I’ll set the new deadline for Winter’s Peace.

Until then….
Keep Writing! Keep Submitting!

Friday, February 18, 2011


I know most of you set New Year Resolutions or Goals about six weeks ago. So did I, in a way. I mentally decided in my head what I wanted from 2011. But I never wrote anything down. Which is odd because I've always been very GOAL oriented and a visual person.

When I sold Christmas Around the World, House of Lloyd, and UndercoverWear Daywear and Lingerie I always made a big poster to hang on my office wall. The poster would coordinate with whatever promotion the company was having at the time. I'd have a big graph or pie chart depicting what I needed in sales per month and how many bookings it would take (based on my previous sales figures) to reach my target. For me, although the commission was nice, it was always about the INCENTIVES.

My first incentive with Christmas Around the World was earning a 7' Blue Spruce artificial Christmas tree. Live trees always made me miserable during the holidays so artificial had to be my tree of choice. If it was going to be fake, it needed to at least LOOK the part. That was 25 years ago. We finally retired the tree this year.

My other top incentive was a White Fox fur coat from UndercoverWear. I worked really hard to earn the coat. Then my mom got sick and I had to cancel several shows to care for her. My supervisor knew how bad I wanted the coat. She worked to earn TWO. One of them she sold to me over the course of 4 months at $50 a month. She made a little extra money and I was still EARNING the coat. I still have the coat but it doesn't fit the same as it did 15 years ago :-D It will again, someday. That is another GOAL I have.

So how do I go about accomplishing my GOALS? By breaking them down into manageable steps.

Take the coat for instance. I intend to be back in it by next winter. Where I'm going to wear it in the Ozark mountains, I have no clue. But you can bet when I get down to size again, I'll find a place LOL To do that, I need to lose 1 pound per week. That isn't a lot of weight in the grand scheme of things. But we all know shedding pounds is never as easy as it sounds. So I'm watching my portions, trying to eat healthier and posting my thoughts on another blog... Living Through Weightloss because it is about LIVING through anything we set out to do.

But what about my writing GOALS?

There are several things I want to accomplish this year. So today I'm going to list them. Over the next few days/ weeks, I'll break them down and we'll talk about progress.

1 - Finish rough draft of Winter's Peace
2 - Finish rough draft of Autumn's Healing
3 - Finish rough draft of Death By Design
4 - Finish rough draft of Gangster's Lady
5 - Enter/ place in Arkansas Writers competition (multiple categories)
6 - Enter/ place in ORA competition
7 - Enter/ place in Ozark Creative Writers competition (multiple categories)
8 - Get staff position with Scrapbook News and Review
9 - Speak to at least one group or conference (I'm scheduled for 2!)
10- Win Nano
11- Polish one of the rough drafts.
12 - Publish at least 4 freelance articles in the craft and/ or historical travel genres.

That should keep me out of trouble, don't you think?
In my next post we'll break the top 5 down into manageable GOALS with a timeline to accomplish each.

I'm counting on you to keep me on track. I'm always happy to return the favor. Tell me what I can do to help you.

Write like your life depends on it - for a freelancer, it does!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Getting back to business

Nano is over for another year, the holidays are behind me and now it’s time to think about my future. 2011 is already starting out promising with offers for me to speak, the potential for freelance in an area I love and the light at the end of the tunnel for the first two books in my Seasonal Sisters Series.

I almost completed the first draft of Autumn’s Healing, the second in the series, during NanoWriMo. It was an AWESOME feeling to write over 51,000 words in twenty days. I wrote on a blank page every day. The temptation to edit was almost non-existent. There’s always something you want to ‘tweak’. Temptation is a fact of life. But being in the moment of the story made it less of an issue.

Now I’m taking part in my local writers’ group JANO project. Just like NanoWrimo, we are expected to write 50,000 words over the course of the month. The two variances are that we have an extra day (meaning our words- per-day goal is slightly less) and that we can work on an existing WIP. We only count the NEW WORDS we’re tacking on to the existing project. Sounds easy, right? HA HA HA

With over fifty thousand words into Autumn’s Healing, I realize I only need about another twenty-five thousand to finish it. With that in mind and being seventeen days into JANO, I find myself wondering where to go. I’ve not written but about two hundred words towards the completion of the WIP. Do I start the next book in the series? Do I keep going with the positive outcome of having the completed first draft – don’t worry about hitting the 50k mark?

Every evening I sit at the keyboard with the intention of adding words to the story. Yet I find myself frozen. Not by writers block (something I don’t believe in) but what I’ve decided is more about a defeatist attitude. I’m focusing too much on JANO and not enough on what I do – Write a Good Story!

So with that in mind, I move forward… I think.