Tuesday, October 14, 2014

CURRENT PROJECT - October 13- 19

Although this is a morgue file pic, you could just as easily be looking at my morning routine. However, today my desk location is the oversized lapboard with the built in mouse pad. I'm comfy on the couch with my feet up on the hassock and toes tucked into the fleece Pooh Bear blankie for warmth. But the laptop and the coffee mug are a matched set. Especially when I am behind on work as I am today. I doubt I'll catch up until hubby has gone back to work a week from today. I have two routines - one for when Bob is home and one for the twenty-one days he is gone.

Aside from him being home the past two weeks, I have been gone both of those weekends. The first for a ORA writer's meeting in Springfield then the OCW conference last weekend. This weekend Bob and I will scoot away for a couple days to celebrate our birthdays. He was gone for mine in September and will be gone for his next week.

After Bob leaves on Tuesday morning, my life will become 10-hr work days subsidized by 2-hr fiction shifts. At least until Nov. 1st. Then I strive to do a 6 and 6 shift on Fridays and full Nano days on the weekend.

While I had hoped for 1K per day, I fell horribly short. Between the travel schedule and a story that refused to move forward like a stubborn mule I just could not get a handle on four pages a day. There is hope for a fresh start on Nov. 1.

Are you Nanoing? Don't have any clue what I'm talking about? Check out NanoWriMo for a full 30 days of abandonment. A community where you are given license to spew a story that may or may not make sense. The point is to get the story out of your head and into a format that can be edited into a publishable story - like Somewhere Down the Line. Or L.A. Cinderella by Amanda Berry.

How is your week shaping up?

Monday, October 6, 2014


 Note: I offer an apology to Allison Merritt for my oversight last week. This review was suppose to run on Wednesday of last week. I dove into a deep cleaning frenzy around the house before my husband got home (he'd been gone 21 days) and I totally spaced doing any computer work last week.

WYSTAN Book 1 of The Heckmasters

The cool thing about reviewing books is often times you will be asked (or in this case offer) to review books out of your normal genre or comfort zone. WYSTAN was one of those books for me. While I read Western Historicals and Romance, I am not a demon kind of girl. Okay.. I did make the exception for the reaper series by Lisa Medley. What I have found out in both instances is that if the author gives you a well-crafted story, genre may not be an issue. After all, aren't we all just looking for a GREAT READ?

Author, Allison Merritt gives the reader everything they could want in a story. From the Heroine with a problem and the Hero with issues to overcome. There are secondary characters that while not the focal point of the story, do play key roles in how the Hero and Heroine find their way to one another. In this case, even if it means stepping over the remains of a barghest (you'll have to read the book to find out what that is) or living in close proximity to half-demons. 

I found the story a book I could not put down until the very last word. I am waiting anxiously for Tell and Eban's stories... and by the time you've finished WYSTAN, you will too. 

You can purchase your copy at:

Allison loves to hear from readers:






While in the grand scheme of things 4 pages per day does not seem like a lot, apparently they are for me. This is Day 6. By the time I take up the keystrokes towards Jayson's Range tonight I should have written 5,000 words aka 16 pages on the novel. 

I have written 
400 words and some editing.


But true. I had three days at a hotel without household interruptions. I had a meeting on Saturday  and did some clothes shopping for an upcoming conference. Normally, I HATE to clothes shop but I found myself enjoying the experience this time and even came away with some purchases I was pleased with. Trust me, on this body that is a difficult task. 

I THOUGHT I had energy when I got back to the hotel. Instead, I found myself dozing over the keyboard. Sunday morning I even put the laptop aside and slept for 2 more hours - at 9 a.m.! Blessed with a noon check-out, this was not a problem. Except for two wasted hours I could have been writing!

I have a 4-day workweek then I'm headed to Eureka Springs AR for the Ozarks Creative Writers conference. This will be my 18th year.

So between the day job and trying to make sure hubby doesn't feel neglected, I hope to pound out the words. 

Now... to make a fresh cup of coffee.

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:

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.

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:

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.

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.