Do You Have It?

Do You Have It?

More the question, what is It? Where do you find It? Does everyone have It? Are you born with It?

It – is Charisma. Many people I admire have a personal Charisma. Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep and Sally Field have Charisma, as do other magnetic actresses and actors. Clark Gable had It. John F. Kennedy had It. My grandmother had It, and I admired her more than any other person I know.

You can find It easier than you realize. Look around, check out your family, your friends, and yes even your enemies!

Not everyone has It. You don’t need to wonder or look for It in everyone. They either have It, or they don’t. It is the missing link between someone being able to make an emotional connection to one person, a room full of people, or leave you wanting to move a little further away from them and never return to their side.

It is Sensitivity – is Charisma. Sensitive people draw you in and make an emotional connection by responding to your feelings. My son has a special expressiveness that others respond to, though I’m not too sure he realizes that about himself. That he has It.

I’m not sure everyone that has It, is born with it. I believe It can be taught, can be learned. But…it all depends on how sensitive one is to the human race. I believe that’s part of It. A huge part.

You can find more about me at www.caroldevaney.weebly.com

After All this Time—What Do You REALLY Know About Me? by Stephanie Queen

crown It’s been almost a year since the Authors of Main Street began this blog and I introduced myself to you. Since you’re still out there after almost a year of nonsense blogs, I figured I should step-up our relationship to the next level and share more about the Queen behind Stephanie Queen on Main Street. Myren, Kitten and I have enjoyed being here with all the Main Street Authors and can’t wait for year two!

More Tid-Bits:Kittyglamour

First, I don’t wear a lot of pink—only splashes here and there. Second, my new cat Kitten is the one who wears all the pink. She’s too Purrfect.  Finally–and this is key–don’t listen to anything my chauffeur Myren says about me. Unless it’s good.

Ancient History:

When I was an undergrad and my creative writing professor told me I’d never win a Pulitzer—or some literary-type prize, I said to myself (but in retrospect, I realize I should have said it to her) so what? Who said I was ever planning to enter that contest? Writing stories is a kick and I can support the Queendom doing it!

My favorite thing about writing:

I love making things up. I love making up people and having them do whatever I want—it’s a Queen thing. But seriously, the best stories are when the people stop doing what you want and get a life of their own. The surprises knock me out! (Okay, not literally…I mean, I don’t actually lose consciousness.)

My writer food:

When I’m writing, my food tends to become very crunchy. And smoky. Kind of like charcoal. I’m on first name terms with the local firemen. Not a bad thing.

What inspires me to write?GunMuse

Do threats of foreclose on the castle’s mortgage count?

My characters:

I feel like I’m related to all my characters—like I’m their mother.  (That doesn’t sound quirky-crazy, does it? Oh, who cares—I’m the Queen after all!)

This doesn’t have to be a one-way conversation—please feel free to share a quirky tid-bit about yourself!

For more on my latest Queenly-writing ventures, check out my website at www.StephanieQueen.com. It’s not too late to enter my Name the Villain contest and win a GIANT SWAG pack!

Unfair

How often have we thought that things were unfair? That life was not worth living?

I am an optimistic person and I often think that things happen for a reason. Yet last week I saw something at the airport of Buenos Aires that keeps giving me nightmares, after a happy vacation in South America.

Picture of Rio de Janeiro Beach taken from the top of the Sugar Loaf Mountain.

Christ the Redeemer, overlooking Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer, overlooking Rio de Janeiro

A young man in his late teens or mid twenty I couldn’t tell for sure because this person was more like a skeleton than a human person, half-lying in a wheelchair. The sight of his bare limbs froze me in place. They were not limbs per say, more like bones, scrambled on the wheelchair as if someone has folded them. His head lay on the side, almost flat, eyes half-open, no expression. A blanket covered only his body curved against the back of the wheelchair, leaving the bones of his thighs and legs exposed.

The contrast between the condition of this young man and the surrounding jumped at me. This was not a miserably poor or needy begging in the streets of India or Egypt because his family or government couldn’t support him. So why was he so wretchedly skinny? The man pushing the wheelchair chatted with a female companion as if he was used to push that wheelchair and its occupant in any environment.

My husband squeezed my hand. “Don’t stare like that.”
I just couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe from shock. Tears flooded my eyes.

What was this young man doing in a crowded airport?  Why was he sitting in a wheelchair?  Why wasn’t he in a hospital bed with medical staff helping him?  How could the man and woman just chat so casually? Were they his parents? Have they given up hope on him ever improving?

I have seen some horrific sights during my many trips abroad, but none that affected me so strongly. I’m trying to convince myself that maybe he was flying to the U.S. to be treated. Help me find an answer to the above questions.

Every time I fly abroad, I return more convinced that we are very, very lucky to live in a great country, whether it’s the U.S. or Canada.

I don’t want to leave you with heart-wrenching feeling. There were many beautiful things I’ve enjoyed in Brazil and Argentina.

Monumento of Los Espanoles in Buenos Aires

Monumento of Los Espanoles in Buenos Aires

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Tango in Argentina

I like to set my stories in the various countries I visited.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international
romances.

Her last trip leads her to a life-altering mistake.Can he love a woman expecting another man’s baby? Heartwarming story. From KY, FL. & GA to Iraq and Germany.

Her last trip leads her to a life-altering mistake.
Can he love a woman expecting another man’s baby?
Heartwarming story. From KY, FL. & GA to Iraq and Germany.

It’s All About Character

When I woke up this morning I had no idea what I was going to blog about. Oh, I’d thought about it, albeit in the back of mind, all month. I’ve been hitting the edits and re-writes for Defending Destiny pretty hard the past few weeks and honestly I was gearing up to begrudge the time blogging takes…yea right…it’s fun and it only comes around once per month, sometimes twice if I’m feeling engaged in the process. That’s when it hit me, like a SHASZAM LIGHTNING BOLT, to the brain.vatican

It’s in the rewrites that I actually fall in love with my characters. TAH-DAH…BLOG!taking a bow

About a third of the way through any Work in Progress — WIP — I begin to really feel who my characters are. Their motivation for what they do, and don’t do in some cases, gets more nuanced and textured as I get into the rhythm of the story.

I begin with a rough character profile for every character…before I ever start typing. Some characters get added as the story goes because they write themselves in. I know I’m the one writing, and yes I know they aren’t real, but sometimes these characters push until they are on the page. For me that generally means a future book of their own and I welcome them. They get a profile too.

Profiles for me include: Name, sex, age, race, distinguishing characteristics (scars, tattoos, etc.) body type, educational background, social/family background, hobbies, employment, fears (if I know them), aspirations (short & long-term), financial status, favorite food (sometimes this plays into quirkiness), favorite shows/entertainment, religious alignment/spirituality, eye color & shape, facial structure, voice, languages, prejudices, what they love…  This list can go on, but basically it’s less than a page and gives me an idea of who they are before I start and it also makes keeping track of details easier. Most of the time I find a photo or image that represents my hero to me as well. Here’s Magnus in Defending Destiny. YUM!

Magnus in Defending DestinyThese profiles I make at the beginning are rarely who my characters turn out to be when the edits and re-writes are complete. Most of the physical description is the same, but that’s about it. I learn as I go, I guess. Not the quickest way to complete a novel, that’s for sure.

So as I’m gearing up for deep edits, something that’s more conducive to a deep sigh and a “here we go again, when ARE you going to get this right the first, second or third time, Woman?” This morning I’m thankful that this is when I really get to fall in love with these larger than life, flawed, yet sincere characters. This is when the magic happens. And magic is hard work, my friends!

So, I’m curious. If you’re a writer, what’s your process? (I’m hoping that book five finds mine more streamlined) If you are a reader — and we all are — what makes a character worthy of your love? Is it the small quirks? Is it his or her kindness or sense of humor? Who are your favorite characters? What makes them resonate with you? As you can tell I write character driven stories…I love a good plot, but character is why I turn the page when I’m reading, so it’s why I write like I do.

I can’t wait to share Defending Destiny with you. Here’s a sneak peek at my cover in progress:Defending Destiny Cover

Happy Writing. Happy Reading. And here’s hoping that we create magical worlds readers want to return to again and again! Happy Wednesday, my friends! May February find you steeped in romance :),

Leigh

Winter in Ottawa by Susan R. Hughes

OttawaRiver_courtesy_city_of_ottawa

I’ve lived in this city most of my life, so you’d think I’d be used to our long, brutal winters. But I think I hate winter more every year. Maybe it’s because I’m more crunched for time than ever. It takes too long every morning to bundle reluctant preschoolers into snowsuits and then scrape away whatever snow, frost or ice has accumulated on the van during the night. Plus I hate being cold. I can’t stand the way my nose hairs freeze when I step outside. I hate it when an icy wind whips my hood off my head, as if to say “Hah! You think you can beat me by dressing warmly? Guess again.”

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Beavertails pastry – Heaven sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon

When my sister and I were kids winter wasn’t so bad. My dad often took us skating and cross-country skiing. I complained constantly about being tired and cold, but the effort was worth it when we stopped to rest and Dad would pass out hot chocolate and warm our feet under his sweater. Sometimes we built snow forts in our yard or went sledding on the local hill. When my girls are a little bigger maybe we’ll do some of those things and winter (weekends at least) might seem more tolerable. After all, who can resist the Beavertails they sell on our famous Rideau Canal skateway?

At least it’s the right time of year to be working on my sequel to Sense of Touch. It takes place in the winter of 1947/48 and I decided to set it in the neighbourhood where my dad grew up. Britannia has since been swallowed into a suburb, but in those days it was a cottage community on the outskirts of the city. Some of the cottages were winterized for year-round residents, but they had no indoor plumbing. When I quizzed Dad about his childhood I wondered how the heck my grandmother coped with winter. She had to walk three blocks to fetch water from a spring for drinking and cooking. Bad enough having to trudge out to the back yard to use the toilet! Even on the coldest days she had to hang the wet laundry outside, where it would freeze stiff, and her hands would get chilblains (itchy blisters caused by exposure to cold). Having grown up on a farm, she was probably pretty tough. A lot tougher than me, I guess.

All I can do is hang in and wait for spring – there’s nothing like the euphoria of watching the snow recede and the irises in my front garden poke out of the ground. Just thinking about it, I can already feel the sun warming my shoulders.

For now, you’ll have to excuse me while I shovel the walk.

Get Your Flirt On by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan ReevesThis was not only the week with Valentine’s Day, but it was also International Flirtation Week. That’s right, from Feb. 13 to 19, it’s time to get your flirt on.

Outrageous and Courageous

Flirting isn’t just for attracting a man or woman and/or making that initial contact. Flirting should be part of the ongoing relationship. Just because you’re settled into a relationship doesn’t mean you can’t add sizzling sexiness to the mix.

In my new novel, Scents and Sensuality (on sale soon), heroine science geek Amanda Whitfield gets some lessons in flirting from her free-wheeling best friend. Too bad her BFF didn’t give her the tips below! (Maybe in my next book!)

Here are a couple of ideas to help you get your flirt on using my favorite kind of book: the romance novel. I mean, who knows better about sizzling, sassy, sexiness than romance writers and readers. As a card-carrying romance author, trust me. I know what I’m talking about.

3 Steps To Flirtation Using Romance Novels

1. Have your lover read to you. Aloud. A love scene from your favorite romance novel.

Did you ever see the movie, In Her Shoes (written by Jennifer Weiner), starring Toni Collette as Rose, Cameron Diaz as Maggie, and Mark Feuerstein as Simon? There’s a scene where Simon, pursuing spinsterish Rose, finds the romance novel she has stashed away. He picks it up and begins to read this torrid love scene aloud. He finishes the passage, turns to her, and says: “I don’t know about you, but I’m officially turned on.”

Priceless — and hot!

Then there’s the scene in Jane Austen Book Club (written by Karen Joy Fowler) where Prudie, played by Emily Blunt, gets husband Dean, played by Marc Blucas, to read aloud from Jane Austen‘s Persuasion. There is nothing explicit or graphic about that book, but, wow! Their reading aloud a love story about persuading two people who once loved to love again unlocks the passion simmering beneath the surface.

So, put your favorite romance novel and your husband in the bedroom with you and a bottle of wine and lock the bedroom door. That’s some serious flirt going on!

2. A variation of the above: you be the reader. Same result.

3. Don’t want to read? Buy an audio book. Queue it up to a scene you love. Run a bubble bath for two, turn on the iPod, and dive in.

(By the way, if you have small children, it’s probably best to wait until they’re asleep. There’s nothing that takes the sizzle out of a romantic interlude like a child banging on the bedroom door and hollering, “Mom, Fido barfed on the rug.”)

Post Script

Flirting with your significant other is akin to “dancing like no one’s watching.” It takes courage. Carpe nocte. (Seize the night.)

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romance Novels. For your consideration, get your flirt on with any of her novels, available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks,  a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay,  a free subscription newsletter for readers. Visit SlingWords, Joan’s Blog, or her Website.)

Love is in the Air

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, which should be a happy day for those in love. But what about those don’t have a special someone, or have lost that someone? For them, Valentine’s Day can be especially depressing. I, for one, am not a fan of what I call Hallmark holidays. Being a romantic at heart, I used to build up all kinds of expectations that my husband, being the down-to-earth, practical sort, could never meet.

I’ve learned to pare down those expectations to a bag of Hershey’s Nuggets and maybe lunch out. I’ve learned to stay off of Facebook until posts of beautiful flowers, fancy jewelry, and romantic dinners have faded away. And I’ve learned to pour my craving for romance into my writing instead of taking it out on my poor hubby, who has no clue what he did wrong.

We’ve been married 40 years now, and I love him and he loves me. He just doesn’t believe in spending our life savings on a day made popular by television commercials and the greeting card and candy businesses. And I’d probably shoot him if he did. LOL. Talk about damned if you do and damned if you don’t. He’d rather build me a garden than buy flowers that will die in a week. He’d rather grill steaks and eat dinner at home than spend a day’s wages to eat out. And he’d much rather watch a movie on TV than go out and spend $20 to watch one at the movie theater.

So I write heroes who are a little more clued in than my hubby, heroes who understand, at least by the end, how much a woman’s heart craves feeling special. They may not start out that way at the beginning of the book, but somewhere along the line, they learn that love is the most important thing in life and they figure out what their very special woman wants. It’s also why I read romance. It gives me a few hours to put myself in that heroine’s shoes, to feel like the most desired woman in the world.

I don’t think I’m alone. Yes, there are some men out there who are incredibly romantic, but the norm is more likely that most are like mine. It’s just another day. They stress out, knowing they should do something, but really have no idea what and so they do nothing or fall back on the same candy and card year after year.

So for those of you who don’t have a special someone this year, remember. We’re all in this together. I’m not getting diamonds and roses, either. I won’t be jetting off to Paris or eating at a five star restaurant. I’ll probably have my nose buried in a good book at some point during the day, lost in the fantasy of a hot hero who wants nothing more than to make me feel like a million dollars.

I did do something for myself this year. I finished my latest book and got it out in time for Valentine’s Day, so someone, somewhere, who needs a lift and needs to feel special can lose themselves between the pages of The Bluest Eyes in Texas and enjoy the fantasy of a hot cowboy falling in love with them and sweeping them off their feet.

thebluesteyesintexas

Bull rider Cooper Saunders has a shot at the PBR championship until a bull not only shatters his body and puts him in danger of never walking again, but it also tramples his spirit. Cooper is ready to give up on life, not wanting to be a burden on others, until his neighbors in Morris Springs, Texas, show him how much he has to live for.

Physical therapist Nancy Phillips is not about to let Cooper give up, not after she worked so hard to get him back in shape for the finals. Now she must not only help him find the will to live, but also give him the motivation to get out of that wheelchair. With the help of newly-orphaned Becky McCallum and Nancy’s friends in Morris Springs, Nancy shows Cooper how much he still has to offer, to his family, the community, and to her.

The Bluest Eyes in Texas is Book Three in the Lone Star Cowboys series, with return appearances by many of the characters from Blame it on Texas and Blue Moon over Texas.