Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Monday, December 30, 2013

My Writing Process - Debra St. John

Today, I’m participating in the “My Writing Process” blog tour, where writers take turns answering questions about their writing process. I’d like to thank Jennifer Wilck for inviting me to participate. Last week, she answered questions, and you can find her answers here Jennifer and I are blogging buddies over at Heroines With Hearts.

I'd love to say I have a tried and true writing process. But unfortunately I don't. I write whenever I have the time, which lately hasn't been often enough, but I do have some irons in the fire.

What am I working on?
Let's just say it's a relief to actually be able to say I am working on something these days. I've been in a long, long drought. Right now I'm working on the 'picky' edits for a manuscript I plan on submitting to my editor at TWRP around the beginning of the year. Last week I printed out the mss so I had a paper copy to read through and made some notes and changes. I'm currently in the process of transferring those notes to the computer version. After that I need to go through and do specific edits, like searching for all of the times I used the word 'felt'. Or the word 'that'. Or the phrase 'to him' or 'to her'. Etc. Etc. Etc. I also need to add about 5,000 words to the story in order for it to qualify for print. At first I was stumped as to how to do this, but since the story has been with me these days, I am finding my muse is churning out some options. I also have a WIP titled "One Great Night" that I'm dabbling with every once in a while. At this point I'm not sure if it will be a full-length or a novella.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
The above mentioned mss is somewhat of a twist on the traditional theme of a heroine falling for an ex's brother or the hero falling for an ex's sister or so on. In "Family Secrets" my hero and heroine used to be in-laws. The heroine's deceased husband and the hero's ex-wife were brother and sister. It's the heroine's emotional attachment to her husband's family that causes much of the internal conflict in the story.

Why do I write what I do? I cut my romance teeth so to speak on the Harlequin American line when I was in high school. Every month four new shiny silver paperbacks arrived on my doorstep. It usually took all of four days to get through them. So I guess it's only natural that my writing preferences mirror my reading preferences.

How does your writing process work? Since I don't work in the summer I tend to get most of my writing done then. In general I start writing the beginning of a story, but then jump around as ideas hit me. Many times I have the ending written before the middle. This, of course, involves some revisions as I get to know my characters better, but I'm definitely not a start at the beginning and power through to the end writer. I'm all over the place. Once a mss is done, I let it sit for a couple of days and then start to tackle edits and revisions. I do like editing from a paper copy to start with. Then, as I mentioned above, I do many rounds of edits to look for different things each time. Once I think I have it ready to go, I do another complete read through and then send a query and synopsis off to my editor.

And I guess that's my writing process in a nutshell!

So thanks again to Jennifer Wilck for inviting me along on this blog hop! And thanks to Christine Verstraete for switching days with me so I could use her Monday spot!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


This Feels Like Home available now!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Annual Preditors & Editors Readers Poll!

It's time again for the Preditors-Editors annual poll to vote for your favorites.
   I am asking for votes in the Young Adult Poll for GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie. (see links on page for other categories too!)

The poll runs to Jan. 14. You vote here (a submit button will come up at the bottom of that page link - be aware the site loads a bit slow sometimes) and then confirm by email.
(Poll tally is here if you care to see how it's going.) 


Saturday, December 28, 2013

A bit of A Hotel in Paris by Margot Justes Redux

 I would like to share a snippet of A Hotel in Paris with you. Minola’s journey of self-discovery and love that began with murder.

Chapter 1

The shrill wail echoed in the hallway, Minola Grey slammed the door to her hotel room and followed the sound of distress. She saw the maid dart out of a guest room in sheer panic.  Minola reached her in a few brisk strides and asked, "Yvonne, what's the matter?"  She didn't detect any sign of injury, just pure terror in her eyes.  This type of behavior was unlike Yvonne, who was always steadfast.  Nothing ever ruffled her.
"Mademoiselle Grey…body…blood…" she sobbed.
"Body?  Blood?  Whose body?  Yvonne, please…please sit down."  Minola led her to the plush oversized chair near the elevator.  "Tell me what happened," Minola pleaded.
"Lord Yardleigh.  In his room…dead…blood," Yvonne said, her voice shook, but the weeping now dwindled to a whimper.
"Yvonne, knock on Dr. LeBrun's door.  See if he's in.  I'll go to Lord Yardleigh's room."  Minola's voice quiet and subdued, she thought to offer comfort to the distraught maid. “Please call the front desk for help, and get Security up here, fast."
Lord Yardleigh's open door allowed Minola to walk in, and what she saw left no doubt in her mind.  Lord Yardleigh was dead.  The body splayed out on the floor did not diminish the quiet elegance of the room.  Minola’s stomach twisted in a knot, her muscles tightened and nausea rose in her throat.
She'd never seen a body, much less in this bloody state.  Think!  Don't touch anything.  She shook her head, as if to clear any lingering cobwebs.  Get hold of yourself. Where is the gun? I don't see a gun. Murder? Must be. He didn’t get up and dispose of the gun and then conveniently lay down and die. Not with that wound. A great fan of the mystery genre, Minola knew enough not to disturb anything in the room.  The crime scene needed to be preserved. 
Reluctantly, Minola looked at the body again and noted how impeccably dressed he’d been–crisp white linen shirt, gold cuff links, and an expensive watch still on his wrist–impeccable except for the bloody stain that had spread beyond the hole in the shirt and created a crimson river against the achromatic background.  To relieve her queasiness, Minola swiftly glanced at the rest of the room.  As an artist she focused on the de rigueur hotel furniture, then on the few contemporary canvases displayed on the walls. These were not hotel issue, and were good.
The colors and textures of the paintings strangely complimented the hues of the grim, yet powerful, scene before her. Contemplating the pieces on the wall gave Minola a much needed reprieve from the ghastly outline on the floor.  Her hands clenched as she began to shake.
Nothing appeared to have been disturbed in the quiet, serene room.  The curtains were open, and the sun filtered through to cast a warm dappled glow over the body.  Minola shuddered, turned and without touching anything walked out of the room.
Back in the hallway, she patiently waited for what she knew would be a barrage of questions by hotel security and the Police Nationale de Paris.
This hotel is my home.  What happened here?  To give her an essential, although temporary, reprieve from the tragedy, she focused on yesterday’s idyllic day sitting in a café, in a cozy secluded booth across the street from the Luxembourg Gardens. Through the gilded wrought-iron fence she gleaned the contemplative and everyday life of the Parisiens unlike today, where the horror of sudden death intruded on her contemplation.
As she waited for the police, she relived the relaxed pace inside the gardens, so peaceful and calm.  She remembered the old couple who sat on a bench and held hands, a woman watched her child play, and on another bench, two women sat in comfort and rolled the prams containing their precious cargoes.  Their hypnotic movements, back and forth, back and forth, helped lull Minola into utter contentment as the mesmerizing and soothing minutes flicked by. 
The image of Lord Yardleigh's body intruded on her thoughts.  So peaceful in repose…so still, so sanguine, except for the blood.  Go back to the gardens.   Go back to the gardens.
"Mademoiselle Grey…pardon, Mademoiselle," she faintly heard a voice call her back to reality.                 Art drew her to Paris, so well represented–not confined to museums, but present everywhere, and always in the gardens which peppered this amazing city.
 "Mademoiselle Grey…Mademoiselle, s'il vous plait."  She heard that voice again, faint but urgent calling her.  Her serenity shattered, she faced the certainty of a gruesome murder in her quiet hotel.  Slowly Minola opened her eyes, and noticed the hallway was filled with police and crime investigators.  She recognized what looked like a solitary pathologist carrying a black medical bag.  The police did not block his entry.
"Mademoiselle Grey, are you all right?  I need to ask you a few questions."  The gentle yet insistent voice persisted through her hazy reality.  "Yes, of course.  I am sorry," she replied, and again clenched her hands to keep them from shaking.
"I'm  Luc Dubois with the Police Nationale.  Mademoiselle, we already have a statement from the maid.  She said that you went into the room.  Did you touch the body?" he inquired politely.
"I didn't touch anything…no…nothing at all.  I went in to see if I could help.  Yvonne had said blood…I just wanted to make sure…  I…"
He nodded his head and continued, "Did you notice anything unusual?  Did you see or hear anyone come up to this floor while you were waiting for the police?"
"The room appeared undisturbed.  So clean.  I didn't see or hear anyone, but I closed my eyes because I needed to escape. I am sorry, but I believe I drifted off a bit.  Maybe Yvonne heard or saw something.  Not a robbery…"  Her calm voice belied her distress. She looked down and tried to still her quaking hands.
"Yes, I know.  I had a difficult time bringing you out of your reverie, Mademoiselle.  The maid had gone downstairs to summon help; she could not get the phone to work.  I believe she was too agitated.  Pourquoi?  Why are you so certain that it was not a robbery?" he queried.
"You must have noticed he wore a gold Rolex.  There are also several very worthwhile contemporary art pieces on the wall.  A thief would have certainly stolen these items.  No self-respecting crook would leave a Rolex on his victim's wrist.” She said. “The Luxembourg Gardens are a far more delightful escape than seeing a murder victim." Her voice was wistful as she looked up, her eyes shimmered, but she refused to let the tears fall.
"There I would agree with you, Mademoiselle.  I am sorry you were a witness to such a tragedy."
"Merci.  Thank you for understanding."   
Minola closed her eyes and saw the sun filter through the pool of blood–a macabre scene, one that would stay with her forever.  She blinked twice and looked down at her watch. "Pardon, but I am already late for class.  May I please go, unless you still need me for any reason?  I will be back this afternoon.  I can leave my passport at the front desk."  As an afterthought she added, "If necessary."
"That will not be required, Mademoiselle.  You may go.  I understand that this is difficult for you.  There will be more questions for you this afternoon; please do make yourself available.  Merci, Mademoiselle."  He moved on to speak with another policeman.
* * *
Yves Lanier, of the Police Nationale, was a man with a mission.  His dingy grey office with matching furniture was so littered with papers and books that he couldn't find the phone on his desk.  It was here somewhere, he knew.  Damn it, I used it yesterday.  He briefly stared at the mess…then, with quiet efficiency, slid everything off his desk to the floor, and heard the ping of the phone hit the ground.  He bent down, picked it up, and dialed a London number he knew well.  A quiet voice answered: "Peter Riley."
"Bonjour, Peter.  How are you, my friend?"
"I know that tone, Yves.  Interpol at your service.  What's going on?"
"Peter, Yardleigh was murdered sometime late last night or early this morning.  I think your investigation into money laundering just veered off track."
The silence at the other end was palpable.  "What the hell happened?  He was cooperating.  What do you have?"
"We have nothing, mon ami.  He was shot once in the chest with a small-caliber gun.  No exit wound–the lab's still working on that.  Purely as an observation, it looks like he knew his killer.  No surprise or fear…there's nothing reflected on his face.  Nothing stolen.  Everything, as you English say, was neat and tidy, save for the corpse on the floor.  We secured the crime scene and did all the lovely things we are supposed to do.  The bastard was not nice enough to leave any clues."  Lanier spoke with the confidence of a seasoned cop.
"Let me talk to Clivers, my superior.  Murder is out of our jurisdiction.  I suppose that leaves Scotland Yard in the game."
"Peter, this started in England."
"Don't I know it.  I will call you back."  Lanier heard the phone click in his ear.
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Blood Art

Friday, December 27, 2013

Analyze This!

Okay – so this was also the title of a comedy starring Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro, and Lisa Kudrow, but it all kinda fits together.  Bear with me as I explain or “Analyze This.”

My topic is actually about research, specifically research that is conducted via the internet and more specifically via search engines.  You might think that when you query via a search engine that you will receive information that is “untainted” by the process or search engine that you are using for that query.  Well, that’s mostly untrue.

Why is this so important?

Writers often depend on research for their work and stories abound about how readers have challenged writers whose research was incorrect, so writers need to be prepared to properly defend their work, even fiction writers, should a reader decide to challenge the research used to develop the written work in question.

When any of us use search engines, especially the more robust and behind-the-scenes analytical search engines, we are providing lots of information about ourselves and the topics we are interested in researching.  Based on this information and the pattern of our queries over time, the more robust search engines will actually try to help us along, sometimes to our detriment.

You have to stop and understand what the money-making agenda is for most search engine companies, and that agenda is often a strong revenue stream from advertising.  So, if someone is paying money to a company, that is providing the search engine, for the specific purpose of finding customers, then that is typically the priority of that search-engine provider.  You may still receive valuable information via the search engine you use but you have to understand that the results are ranked based on a number of variables and one of those variables is advertising.   

Yes, advertisements will be displayed to the side, along the top, the bottom, etc., but often the query results that appear to be unbiased are also part of driving customers to a sponsor’s website.  This is not necessarily a bad thing but just something you, as a writer, need to be aware of when you are conducting research on the internet.  Not all information is untainted by spin or the need for a company, or a person, to sell you goods or services.

So, what do you do?  You learn how search engines work and you use multiple search engines to compare results.  You also need to dig deep into the background of any websites you visit as a result of your search engine queries.  I routinely look at the About Us page of websites I visit. It’s amazing what information you do and do not find when you dig deep into the faces behind the web pages you visit.  It’s also telling if there isn’t an About Us page and if it is buried so deep it’s difficult to find.

It’s easy to assume that everything posted on the internet is truthful, legit or vetted for inaccuracies but this is simply not true.  If you are going to rely on the information you discover via a search engine or a website then you, as a writer, need to do your due diligence in vetting those sources.

To get started on what a search engine is and just how many different ones have come and gone, read the article at via the link below:

Notice that at the bottom of the article there are numerous references that you can further research and that were used for in support of this article.

I also found the posting at this site as food for thought:

Oh, yeah – the reference to the movie?  Well, if you’ve seen it, and it was released in 1999, you’ll know that part of the plot line is that the patient is a mobster (played by De Niro) who has anxiety attacks and approaches a psychiatrist (played by Crystal) and the mobster just wants the “doc” to fix his problem and fix it quickly, but the “doc” wants to dig deeper to resolve the real issues and not just the symptoms.  That’s kinda how researching on the internet works – you have to dig deeper to get to the truth, hopefully with less chaos than what goes on in the movie.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas To All! by DL Larson

The Christmas cards have all been sent ... well most of them! Crumbs litter my kitchen floor from the many cookies consumed and various sized feet shuffling by the dessert table.

The garbage bin is stuffed with boxes, ribbon and torn Christmas wrappings. My frig looks as if it might be a science experiment gone awry with the foil wrapped packages, pinkish baggies stuffed with veggies, fruit and other delectables. Then the clear wrap and sticky wrap are securing other edibles and I sigh in exhaustion and contentment. What a wonderful problem to have. Leftovers from Christmas!

Today it is officially "Jammie Day" at the Larson house. That means my family gathers once more to do nothing but lounge around watching movies, playing a game or two ... and consume all the leftovers from Christmas.

Right now I'm in the middle of 'Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," a classic from 1939, starring Jimmy Stewart. It's so well done it applies to today's foibles still!

So all who read this ~ I wish you a very Blessed and Merry Christmas season!! Be sure to take time to relax, reflect and above all ... stay off the scales! At least for another day!!

Merry Christmas!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas, Everyone & Check Out Next Week's Freebie

Morgan Mandel

Have a Very Merry, Healthy and Happy Christmas, Everyone!
Mark Your Calendars
Killer Career, my Romantic Suspense, with a brand new cover,
Will Go Free for Kindle/PC on Amazon - Dec 31 thru Jan 3.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas all!

I'm sure everyone is busy-busy-busy today wrapping, cooking, last-minute shopping, and getting ready for the arrival of family (and Santa).

Don't forget to relax and enjoy the holiday lights and colors. And spend a few moments in reflection.

For fun, here's a link to part 1 of the annual miniatures-illustrated Christmas story, "Thief of Christmas Present" by Rob Walker. Don't forget to go back to read part 2 tomorrow.

Merry Christmas! 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

All I Want for Christmas... a really good Christmas story to read.

I love everything about this time of year: hanging with family and friends, cookies, decorations, even the snow. And I love cuddling in with Christmas stories. I have a file on my Kindle especially for holiday stories and I couldn't wait to dive in this year.

Sadly, I've been a bit disappointed. I just can't seem to find one that evokes the warmth and coziness of the season. I've read five Christmas stories so far: One was really cute, so I saved it for another read-through at some point. One was good, but probably nothing I'd pick up again. One or two have been okay in the sense that the Christmas aspects were there, but the writing left something to be desired. And one really had nothing to do with Christmas other than there being a Christmas tree in the hotel room. This one was at least well-written, but a bit too erotic for me. Now, I do like my romance on the spicy side, but erotica isn't really my cup of tea.

The irony of this is I've been participating in Melissa Snark's "Twenty Five Days of Christmas Stories" (In fact I'm featured over there today.) and there have been some awesome books that have come through. But I figured I should read what I already have, before downloading anything new. Turns out I'm thinking that was a bit of a mistake.

Oh well. There's always next year, right? And I can probably squeeze in a few more stories for this season as well.

If you have any holiday recommendations, I'd love to hear from you...

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!
Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Friday, December 20, 2013

What Makes a Book a Bestseller?

So, there are lots of books-of-the-year lists being released and I always take time to look at these lists because as a writer I’m always curious about what people are reading and what is selling, especially what is selling well enough to be labeled a ‘Bestseller.’

What always surprises me, about these lists, is how many books on these lists - including the bestseller lists throughout the year - I’ve never even heard of.  Now you have to understand that I receive all kinds of emails about writing; I look at many, many websites about writing, I’m in writer’s groups that talk about writing and books; so, I’m not approaching this lightly.  If a book is a bestseller for a day, a week, a year, then how is that determined?  I’ve always been curious about this because for writers it is quite a feat to be a “Bestselling Author” as evidenced by the words plastered across their book covers, their websites and their promotional material.

Now, you might think that sales would determine whether or not a book is a bestseller but that apparently isn’t always true, or at least how true it is varies from list to list.  Apparently it has more to do with how the bestselling list in question is developed.  Talk about spin.

The term ‘Bestseller’ is relatively new according to an interesting article posted at Wikipedia – here’s the link:

This article indicates that the term ‘Bestseller’ was first recorded in print in 1889 but what you might find most interesting is the section in this article about the differences among the lists.  According to the article, Book Sense – a program of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) – only uses sales numbers from independently owned bookstores, and of course those are dwindling.  The article further indicates that because of this and the fact that there are many other outlets for a book to sell such as gift shops, etc., a book could land on the New York Times Bestseller List and not on the Book Sense Bestseller List.  Amazon apparently only uses sales from the site and it is updated hourly.

The differences in how these lists are constructed helps to explain why we also see the specification that an author is a New York Times Bestselling author.  It is easy to understand why those extra three words mean quite a lot in the publishing world.

So, the term ‘Bestseller’ truly is a relative term but I suspect it is a label most writers want to have assigned to them, or their books.  However, the next time you see it, maybe you might just want to research which list has granted them the label of ‘Bestseller.’

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Welcome Award Winning Author, Dyanne Davis! by DL Larson

Dyanne Davis is a Multi-Published, Award Winning author of 16 novels. She has written dozens of articles for on-line magazines. She was one of the authors for the Premier Edition of, New Love Stories, magazines. Dyanne lives in a Chicago suburb with her husband of 43 years, William Sr.

She has been a presenter of numerous workshops.
She hosts a local cable television show in her hometown, “The Art of Writing,” to give writing tips to aspiring writers. Interviewing some of her favorite authors, LA. Banks, Robin Schone, Donna Hill, Melody Thomas, Ann Marcela, Cathie Linz, Jade Lee, Jenna Petersen and many more has been the highlight of doing the show. You can catch some of the clips on Youtube.

Her first novel, The Color of Trouble, was released July of 2003. The novel was received with high praise and several awards. Dyanne won an Emma for Favorite New Author of the year.

In February 2007, Misty Blue was a finalist for best cover and best romance sequel. Dyanne was a finalist for author of the year. Misty Blue garnered an Emma win for best book cover.

Dyanne writes under a pseudonym for her vampire series. Her first vampire novel, In the Beginning, was released in June of 2007 under the name of F. D. Davis.

Dyanne has a local cable show in her hometown to give writing tips to aspiring writers.

Dyanne also writes a vampire series under the name of F. D. Davis. You can reach her at:

An Interview with Dyanne:
1. You were a nurse for many years, what inspired you to turn to writing?

I've always written in one form or the other. I started reading at four and always wanted to be able to create my own stories. I tried many times to submit badly written work to magazines and book editors. After receiving rejections, there would be huge chunks of time where I wouldn't write at all. It wasn't until I joined RWA and Windy City that I learned the craft of writing. And more importantly, I learned how to develop a thick skin, how to take rejections. I was where I needed to be, with a group of writers who were going through the same things. We also had published authors in the chapter who gave us encouragement and the drive to continue. Not to name drop but I'd like to pay homage to a few of them, as they were very important in my writing career and to many of the other writers in our chapter who went on to become published.

Cathie Linz, the self proclaimed mother hen of the group who has given so much encouragement to all of us. I respect her and love her probably more than she will ever know. Then there's Lindsay Longford (aka Jimmie) When I sold my first book the editor wanted me to take something out, I refused because Jimmie had loved it. Later when I told Jimmie about it, she called me crazy, and advised me to always listen to my editor. Myrna Mackenzie and Margaret Watson were very giving of their time. Then we have our three time Rita winner, Susan Elizabeth Philips. At one of my very first meetings she asked me what genre I was writing and who I was targeting my work to. To me she was speaking Greek. I was just writing. LOL.

Of course that was almost seventeen years ago. Hopefully you can tell how influential ALL of the members of Windy City were in my career. They were my learning center, my support, and my inspiration.

2. Tell us about your TV show. How did you come up with the idea of interviewing writers?

The Art of Writing, is a cable show that is done in a state of the art studio, in Bolingbrook IL. My husband, Bill, is the producer. About nine years ago, Jennifer Stevenson of Chicago North was at an author fest in Bolingbrook, and Bill was filming it. She asked Bill to develop a show for romance writers. Several of us thought it was a good idea. I was assigned to badger Bill into doing it. At the time, then Chicago's number one female D.J of WGIC, Niki Woods, young and beautiful was going to be the host. I would pull guests from Windy City and Chicago North. Bill thought it best that I co-host just in case. During that time Nikki was super busy and much sought after so I reluctantly agreed. LOL. Turns out Bill had been seeing into the future on that one. Nikki was only able to do three shows. I've been doing the show for eight years now.

It has been one of my greatest joys. I am in awe of the amount of talent and never tire talking to writers. I love how their minds works, how their creative process mimic or differ from mine. And I totally enjoy showing my little corner of the world, that romance writers are so much more than viewers may have thought.

I have interviewed New York Times, and USA Today best selling, authors. I have interviewed Emma award winners (of which I am one. YEAH) and every writing award you can name. I've interviewed writers whose work I've loved, L.A, Banks, Robin Schone, Jade Lee, DL Larson. I've interviewed every writer at Windy city published and yet to be published who were brave enough to come on the show. I had Todd Stone, author of Boot Camp for writers, in a kilt, Philip E. Clark, a wonderfully gifted numerologist. Cindy Muntz, with so much positive energy it makes me smile just writing her name. She's a psychic medium and clairvoyant. She's also writing a book. There has not been one guest I haven't enjoyed. I even had Sarah Stone, the only guest who did a concert. If I continued on with the names I'd be writing until next week. Oh, what the heck. LOL. These are some of the authors who have graced me with their presence. And I want to publicly thank them and all of the rest. Seriously, I was told I didn't have a word count….but…..

Simone Elkeles, Barbara Keaton, Lisa G. Riley, Deadri King Bey, Earl Sewell, Ann Clay, Kathy Thigpin, Cathie Lintz, Ann Macela, Adrienne Giordano, Wendy Byrne, Luisa Buehler, Jenna Peterson, Jess Michaels, Melody Thomas, Kelle Z. Riley, Jackie (Wallis) Blythe Gifford, Tracey Devlyn, Denise Swanson, Mary Jo Burke, Margaret Watson, Allie,a Keena Kincaid, Susan Gibberman, Tom Hernandez.

3. You're an award winning novelist with 16 books to your credit! Tell us about your writing career and what book is your most memorable for you?

Make that seventeen novels, and eight novella! I was trying to think which so far would be most memorable and I think I'll say my second novel, because as writers we stress so hard over being a one book wonder. Also I learned a lot of great lessons from that book. I got lost in the telling of it and gave it over to the secondary characters. My three brilliant critique partners pointed it out to me, and of course by then I knew it as well. But that was the way my muse was giving it to me and I liked it. When my editor received it she politely told me the same things my critique partners had, but she also said the publisher had contracted for a romance, not a story about a brother and sister and that if I wanted the sister to have a story I should write her one. (I thought I already had) LOL. Anyway, because of my editor's forcing me to give all the great scenes to the heroine I received a contract for the third book, which was my first 4 star review from Romantic Times. My lesson: Do not allow secondary character to run away with the story.

4. What is your writing regimen? Do you use an outline or let your characters take you on a journey? Do you write everyday? Are you a morning or evening writer? Tell us!

Hmmm. My writing regime? Generally I work on at least two things at once. I'm a pantser so I almost never use an outline. The exception: My paranormals. I was forgetting who was in it and details about the characters. Because of it being a series, I had to have some continuity, especially about things such as eye color.

5. How do you reward yourself for your accomplishments?

I don't really reward myself I just start another project. I guess I should answer that by saying I don't deny myself anything before the accomplishment.

6. What are you reading right now? Who are some of your favorite authors?

Right now I'm reading a novel written by the son of my all time favorite vampire's writer's (Anne Rice) son, Christopher Rice. I'm only two pages in. Oh I just thought of a reward I give myself. When I write so many hours I reward myself by reading larger chunks of whatever book I'm reading instead of the snippets I do during little breaks. And I always have a book to read. I don't know how to survive a day without reading. Books are all over my house, in my car and in both bathroom. TMI…but I don't like idle time. I have to read.

7. How did you make the transition to sci-fi romance? Did you have to change your name or did you want to?

I don't really write sci-fi per say. I hate the idea of world building, for me it's too much info to remember. I write paranormal, vampires, demons, ghosts, and psychics. I use F.D. Davis because my readers were used to me writing romance. Readers will become very angry if they buy your book expecting one thing and get something else. It was because of L.A. Banks that I decided to go with my initials. Some readers of her vampire series may not even be aware that she began her career writing romances.

8. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

For aspiring writers I would say first and foremost to finish the book. Then try as hard as you can to get a thicker skin.

9. Any other comments you'd like to share?

As a writer, it's not a necessity for you to attend, workshops, conferences, or to join RWA and a local chapter. But the support, the love, the learning, and to be with other writers who know the pain of rejections and will share in your hard won victories, is something that is worth more than the cost of belonging to RWA, It's like being in a family.
Thank you Dyanne!

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Joanna Campbell Slan Presents a Winning Recipe for Writing a Series

It's with great pleasure that I present Bestselling mystery author, Joanna Campbell Slan, who offers a winning recipe for a series. Morgan Mandel

Joanna Campbell Slan
Joanna Campbell Slan is the author of twenty-three books, both fiction and non-fiction. She is the 2013 winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence for her historical romantic suspense series. Paper, Scissors, Death, her first novel, was a finalist for the Agatha. For her work on the first FarmAid, she was awarded a Silver Anvil by the Public Relations Society of America. She has taught writing online and as an adjunct professor at Illinois State University. Her college textbook on public speaking has been endorsed by Toastmasters, International. 

A Winning Recipe for Your Series
By Joanna Campbell Slan

I grew up in the Golden Age of television sitcoms. We watched Gilligan’s Island, The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and of course, I Love Lucy.
            Sitcoms entertained us, week after week, because the mix of personalities in the characters generated tension. As an author, I rely on that same recipe—a mix of personalities—to keep my mystery series interesting.
            In I Love Lucy, we have Lucy and Ricky, who lead with their emotions, and Ethel and Fred, who think things through. Lucy goes charging into the unknown, while Ethel begs for caution. Ricky gets angry, and Fred pleads for peaceful resolution. By juxtaposing these different impulses, the writers of the series managed to milk plot points for all they were worth. Each character “pushes the buttons” of others, so that their foibles stand out in stark relief. Ricky wouldn’t get so angry if Lucy was more cautious. Ethel wouldn’t get so frantic, if Lucy didn’t go barreling into troublesome situations with such regularity.
       Here’s how this recipe works in Tear Down and Die, the first book in my new series featuring Cara Mia Delgatto. Cara is impulsive, hot-headed, a control freak, and somewhat insecure. She hires MJ Austin to help her at The Treasure Chest, a home décor store Cara buys on a whim. (Cara thinks the store is vacant, but it turns out to be occupied by a fresh corpse.) In many ways, MJ is the ideal employee. She is methodical, secure, and unemotional—but she also likes to be in control.
            There will be times when their control issues will cause problems, as each woman tries to run the show. Cara will find herself confused by MJ’s lack of emotion. On the other hand, MJ will have little patience for Cara’s insecurity.
When I’m writing a scene, I mentally picture these two women, their unique reactions, and the havoc that ensues because they are so different. If I “make” them both feel a lack of control, they’ll go ballistic. If I confront them with an emotional situation, Cara Mia will have a hard time understanding MJ’s cool response. There will be times when MJ will find Cara Mia’s insecurities puzzling, to say the least.
            Predictably, their actions and body language will mirror their personalities. While Cara is stomping around and fuming, MJ will cross her arms over her chest and stare off into space.
            At some point in the series, they will blow up at each other, because their vastly different approaches to life will cause problems.
            But that’s a story for another book.

About the Book—
Tear Down and Die (#1 Kindle Bestseller) is the first book in a new series that’s a spin off from the Kiki Lowenstein Mysteries. After her parents die within six months of each other and her son goes off to college, savvy entrepreneur Cara Mia Delgatto decides to construct a new life for herself. A road trip leads to her grandfather's home on the picturesque Treasure Coast of Florida, where she impulsively snaps up a "tear down," a building scheduled for the wrecking ball--only to discover it's already occupied by a fresh corpse. While Detective Lou Murray tries to nail the killer to the wall, Cara Mia enlists the help of two new friends to open a store specializing in one-of-a-kind, recycled, and repurposed items. But before she can get down to brass tacks, Cara Mia decides to help Lou figure out "whodunit," because she's been painted into the picture as one of the prime suspects. To make matters more complicated, tensions are building with Cooper Rivers, an old boyfriend. Cara Mia wonders whether her second chance at love will pan out--or if her carefully constructed fantasies will lead her to a new life behind bars. 
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