Small Town Halloween

P1000311Not that many people decorated their yard this year. This display is located down the street from my house. There is this and another display similar to it on the left hand side of the yard. At night orange lights light up the area. I hope it scared some of the Trick-or-Treaters.

My son lives in a subdivision that is popular for Trick-or-Treaters, and he and his wife go all out to celebrate Halloween.

The town has a major function at the Courthouse square and afterwards the cars start lining up. This year it was held on Thursday night.

P1000313This was the first ‘batch’ of kids. Notice the delicate face paint on the two girls on the right. Some of the kids didn’t even say ‘Trick or Treat’ – they just held out their bag waiting for the candy to be dropped in. Though some parents trained their kids well and they did say ‘thank you’ and one bunch all said, ‘nice house’ which we thought was funny.

Cute CostumesI thought the little girl on the right had the cutest original costume. Note in the background the mode of transportation for the neighbors.

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I thought this costume was original as well. Note the wagon in the left background that someone pulled around with kids inside. We saw princess outfits, several Ninja Turtles, Elvis, Michael Jackson, a really gruesome werewolf and a devil with a huge red face that scared a two year old when he saw it. Most of the costumes were bought, some were homemade and surprisingly, there were a few kids with no costumes at all.

After the Trick-or-Treaters left, we started eating. Here are some of the appetizers that my daughter-in-law made.

Deviled EggsThis gives a whole new meaning to ‘deviled eggs’!  Regular recipe, except put some green food coloring in the yokes, and take a toothpick and draw squiggly lines with red food coloring.

We had seafood gumbo, and several other dishes, including my white chocolate bread pudding, then watched the Saints play football on television. And yeah! they won!!!

But the best thing was the family present. All six of my kids, some of the grandkids…in costume. Extended family. All enjoying each other’s company. That is what is wonderful!

 

You might want to check out ‘The Devil Has Dimples’ which has a Halloween funeral. With over 125 five star reviews on Amazon, it’s an entertaining book set in Boggy Bayou Louisiana.

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Adopted!

In the Deep South, one of the first questions asked when meeting someone new in a small town is, “Who’s your daddy?” The answer defines you as a person. Not knowing is disheartening.

Sara McLaughlin never knew she was adopted and is stunned to realize that if she wants to find out the questions burning in her brain as to the ‘why’ she was given up at birth, and who her father might be, she has to live in her birth mother’s apartment for the next six weeks.

Grant St. Romain, attorney, is supposed to be helping, but the hunky dimpled devil is making her mind think of other things.

Can she find the truth? Or will she break her heart trying to find out the answers in Boggy Bayou, where many secrets are hidden?

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A new Bestseller

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It’s such a pleasure to announce that SWEET CHRISTMAS KISSES is on the USA Today bestsellers list.

When I read the caption, the emotion made me speechless for a moment, then I kept mumbling, Oh my God, Oh my God. My husband saw my face pale and rush to my side. “Are you OK?” He thought I was having a heart attack. What a giddy feeling. But soon I shouted at the top of my lungs, “I’m a USA Today Bestselling Author,” and I couldn’t stop laughing and babbling. We had a drink to celebrate reaching this milestone and every author’s goal or dream.

When I attended my first RWA National Conference in 2004 and saw some 4,000 writers bustling in the ballroom for lunch, my stomach constricted. If all these people competed to be published there was no way on Earth I would succeed. And yet here I am, ten years later, standing on the top of the mountain, screaming, “TaDa!”

If I made it, you can make it. Hard work, perseverance, a lot of support, a good network, and a “little bit of blooming luck”.

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Fourteen authors are all over the moon.

 Here are links to buy the bestselling box:

Amazon  Kobo i-tunes Google Nook

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HER CHRISTMAS CRUISE, my contribution to this box, will take you on a wonderful cruise to Spain and Italy with Julia and Tony.

The perfect fiancé is a cheater and the fabulous Christmas wedding is off. But the would-be honeymoon cruise may fulfill the dreams of Julia and her unexpected companion.

More good news are always welcome.

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You can buy TEN CHRISTMAS BRIDES at:

Kindle US Kindle UK Nook Kobo iBook

An Unusual Christmas S by Mona Risk

My contribution to this coming box is AN UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS.

Running away from Christmas celebrations and the demons of her past, Dr. Jillian has dedicated her life to saving third-world children. In Belarus, a baby girl, four little boys, and a handsome doctor may teach her the true meaning of Christmas.

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ATTACH YOUR MEMORIES

How many times do we, as writers, brush aside our own memories to use as a base for a character? I know I have and do. We don’t base a character entirely on a particular person, but draw on traits from more than a few people to develop richer, true-to-life characters. We also draw from those traits we identify in ourselves.

Those characters must have a particular set of problems, something to learn, to grow, to become a better person from life changing events.

Unique memories of my mother, sets the mood for attaching some of her characteristics to my writings. Life was good, but she didn’t live without difficulties. I think of her strength, her love of family, her sweet spirit, her willingness to forgive. She was kind, but when a situation called for tough decisions, she rose to the occasion. There were many times she gave her last dime to the church or someone who was in need. She always lived her life as self-sacrificing.

Not all people are geared that way.

So, in walks the antagonist. The adversary will have traits that add depth and dimension to a story. A few traits include, Ugly, Evil, Cunning, or Deceptive. Of course there are many other traits that can only belong to the bad guy. This is the guy who drives your plot to keep your reader on the edge of his/her seat.

Often, overheard conversations, sometimes only a few words, will lead to a scenario that can supply facts for an entire novel. Of course we make up ninety-nine percent of the remaining plot points. The man or woman, who sits at a table across from you, may provide material for your next novel. So listen, write them down, and go forth.

Do you have memories strong enough to create a balance for characters for your story? I’d love to hear some of your memories. Please share.

A Smoky Mountain Christmas Wedding – Book Two, coming soon.

My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Diesel, Apple and Smashwords.

You can find links on my website for all My Books

My Sunday Nights in the Highlands Part 2

outlanderI swear I’m not obsessed with Outlander. But I just had to write about the wedding episode, having finally seen it a few weeks ago.

There’s a “rule” in romance that while the heroine can be a virgin, the hero must not be. After all, romance is fantasy for women, and who fantasizes about a man who doesn’t know what he’s doing? The wedding episode of Outlander turns that assumption on its head. It proves that a slightly older, more seasoned woman showing the inexperienced young man the ropes can be a sexy, stimulating scenario.

In this episode, in order to avoid being arrested as an English spy (long story), Claire is forced to marry a Scotsman. The chosen groom is Jamie Fraser, a hunky young warrior who happens to be a virgin (and she is not, having already been married to Frank). Claire and Jamie barely know each other, but sparks have been flying between them since they met.

The episode begins on their wedding night, as the newlyweds are left alone is a bedroom above a tavern. The marriage must be consummated in order to be legal, but first they spend hours drinking and talking, getting to know each other. Jamie is sweet and charming. Although it’s a marriage of convenience, he takes his role as her husband seriously. He has ensured that the hasty nuptials took place in a proper church and that the bride had a beautiful gown and a custom-made ring. For Jamie, the marriage is for keeps and he pledges to protect Claire with his life.

When the coupling finally takes place, their first encounter is awkward but passionate. I must say, I’ve never seen so much bare skin on TV! The love scenes are erotic yet tasteful—even humorous when Jamie admits he was surprised that people copulate face to face, having only observed horses in the act. Before long Claire is showing him a few tricks and enjoying herself immensely. Who can blame her? What he lacks in experience he makes up for with fiery kisses, a desire to please her, and a breathtakingly gorgeous body.

The Outlander series of books (and now the TV version) doesn’t technically qualify as romance, but it’s a story that appeals primarily to women. Thousands of female readers have fallen hard for Jamie Fraser, proving that the rules of romantic relationships in fiction are malleable—and maybe the most exciting scenarios can occur when those rules are broken.

Find out about me and my books at www.susanrhughes.weebly.com

Titles Should Be Short—Or Long by Joan Reeves

Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones

Lots of southern charm, a 10-yr old betrayal, and a man and woman who should have ended up together.

There’s a rule that says book titles should be short. There’s another rule that says book titles should be long enough to attract attention. Sheesh! That’s the trouble with rules. No one can decide what the rule should be.

Readers will tell you that a great title attracts them. So how can an author come up with a really great titles? Some authors have a knack for this, and some struggle endlessly. Some authors have editors at publishing houses who decide what the title will be based on various factors.

Some of those factors might be previous use of the same title, some words in the title that the editor or someone in the editorial department doesn’t like, something in the title that was trendy or not trendy, etc. In other words, an author’s chance of using his own title was very small.

My first published book, Summer’s Fortune, which I’ll bring out as an indie published title next year, carried my title. No change. That was highly unusual.

Just One Look was my second traditionally published book. (Available at most ebook sellers; audio edition at Audible and iTunes.) That book’s title was changed 3 times. The third time proved the charm when the editor decided on Just One Look.

The only other title of mine that I was allowed to keep was Jane (I’m Still Single) Jones. I felt I had a good chance of keeping the title since it was highly unlikely that there were other published books with the same title. Plus, the editor liked the title a lot, and the title fit the story perfectly.

Popular Wisdom

The general opinion is that short titles are best — the shorter the better. Short titles can be memorable. Dean Koontz — or his editor — chose well with Phantoms, Lightning, Watchers, and so many other titles in his booklist. If you’ve read those books, you know those titles fit the books perfectly. Most of Mr. Koontz’s books bear short titles.

It’s hard to find an evocative 1 to 3 word title that gives a glimpse of even one of the important elements of a novel: the premise, plot, characters, theme, setting, etc. That’s when you start playing around with more words.

Long Titles Can Be Glorious

Forget short titles. Sometimes long titles just resonate with readers. Some authors gravitate to long titles over and over. Long, evocative titles that just sing like lyrics in a song. Who doesn’t love these titles?

Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke

Snow Falling On Cedars by David Guterson

Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Ecco

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen

and my friend Cynthia Wicklund’s In the Garden of Temptation which began her Garden series.

Let’s not forget the thrillers by Stieg Larsson that made such a splash a few years ago:

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl Who Played With Fire.

None of the books above could possibly have a short title as evocative and memorable as the name they ended up carrying.

The Short & Long Of It

For the most part, I’ve had success with the titles I’ve chosen. They all say what the book is about, and they’re “catchy” and attract attention. (Leave a comment today with your email address and win a copy of Jane (I’m Still Single) Jones, my longest-title book.) I do know that I leave no word unturned in my search for the perfect title.

What do you like? Short? Long? Somewhere in between?

( Joan Reeves makes her home in Texas with her hero, her husband. She writes sassy Contemporary Romance with the underlying theme that is her motto: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Her books are available at most ebook sellers and audio editions at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and WordPlay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Find Joan online: Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Entranced Halloween

Announcing the Entranced Box Set.

Halloween 3DI am pleased to be a part of this Halloween themed box set.

Halloween is huge for Celts everywhere, and I am no exception to that truism.

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The Celts call Halloween, Samhain (sow-in). It is one of the largest of the Celtic Fire Festivals, and it marks the beginning of the Celtic New Year – a time to honor our dead, reflect on the past year, and embrace the coming year with hope and renewed energy.

It is also a time of faerie magic.

In Scottish lore, if you had a loved one taken into the faerie realm, you could go into that realm on Samhain and retrieve them.

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My contribution to the Entranced Box Set is: MIDDAY MASQUERADE – A Shute Pond Novella. It is filled with faerie magic and lore. I love this season and its mystical, magical, and mysterious elements, many of which are woven into MIDDAY MASQUERADE.

Here’s a short blurb:

Thanks to an ancient curse, for Primrose Scott, finding love and not keeping it, could prove deadly. So, Prim chooses to hide behind the fire burning within her, behind her plain exterior and “not interested” vibe. Keeping herself in check, and potential loves at bay, is easy, if less than satisfying, until she meets Lorcan Flynn.

Lorcan Flynn loves hard when he loves, without thought and without fear – at least he used to. Left broken from his first wife’s defection, Lorcan fled Ireland and settled far away, from Dublin’s busy streets, in Shute Pond, Wisconsin. It is there he practices his eco-architecture and creates leather masks he is compelled to bring to life by a cloaked woman who haunts his dreams. Lorcan is content in his quiet life, until he meets Primrose Scott.

Can two lost people conquer a curse? Can a mask help release their inner desires? With a little push from a long-dead fallen faerie, two interfering demi-faeries, and one Irish father, will Primrose and Lorcan shed their masks and find happily ever after? Will they find a way to conquer fear, open their hearts, and let love in?

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Both of these were taken last weekend. Left, I’m with my daughter at a Samhain celebration in Madison and on the right, I’m dressed to go to the pumpkin farm with my son.

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Every year I wear a Witch’s hat. This is my newest complete with butterflies underneath and on top. I love it!

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For a chance to win this lovely Entranced wine glass, join Leigh Morgan’s Minions on Facebook and tell me about your favorite Halloween tradition, memory, costume or anything else you love about this last harvest festival. In the alternative, in honor of the Celtic New Year, join Leigh Morgan’s Minions on Facebook and tell me your goal, desire or hope for the coming year and what you wish to leave behind from the past year.

Good Luck! Happy Halloween! Much love to you all! Blessed Be!

Leigh

How to Write a Review

Authors need reviews. We need to know that our time behind the computer screen matters. A good review is like warm, gooey chocolate—savored and enjoyed. A poor review is like a water balloon to the face—it hits like a rock and soaks you with chills from head to toe. You might dry quickly, but it’s hard to forget.

That’s why, personally, I never give less than a four star review. I know how hard it is to write a book. I know how long it takes. I understand the dedication and discipline.

I think of the star ratings as a report card.

5 stars an A

4 stars a B

3 stars a C

And so forth.

If I think a book is less than a 4 star, I keep those thoughts to myself.  Unless I really hated the book, then I might spout off.  I think I’ve done that once. If I find mistakes, but still enjoyed the story, I will find a way to let the author know, because I know how easy it is to fix mistakes.

As a reader, I don’t believe that an author owes me a thing. This is especially true in today’s world of free, or nearly free, books. Every story is a gift that someone took the time to share. If I wanted to be a part, I stayed to read. If not, I put the book down.  Life is too short to waste time reading something I don’t love.

For some, writing a review is hard, and for those who struggle, here are a few basic templates. Fill in the blanks.

For a romance:

I _____ (loved, liked, enjoyed, relished, adored, savored) this story. I found the hero ______ (scrumptious, delish,  yummy.) And the main character was ______ (delightful, brave, heroic, charming.) The plot kept me _____ (riveted, captivated, enthralled.) I found the dialogue ____ (witty, entertaining, heartwarming.) I thought I would swoon when______. And I was sad, but happy, when it was over.

For a mystery:

This story kept me _____ (on the edge of my seat, awake all night, captivated.) I thought the main character was _____ (resourceful, clever, ingenious.) The plot twists kept me ______ (in constant suspense, tied up in knots, in a sweat.) And when I close my eyes, I imagine the villain _____ (coming at me with a knife, lurking in dark corners, leering at me from the shadows.) I love it when the good guys win!

For a fantasy:

I found this world to be _____ (totally believable, fascinating, mesmerizing.) I loved the ______ (magical, legendary, mythical) characters and their quest for the_____ (mysterious, elusive, fabled) ______.

For a literary novel:

I found this story _____ (haunting, heartbreaking, inspiring.) The message stayed with me for days and colored my perspective in new and _____ (life-affirming, provocative, meaningful) ways. Because of this book, I now see life ______(differently, with a fresh mind set, with more compassion.)

The literati take reviews very seriously, but you are free to _____ (extoll, laud, praise, applaud.)

Or not.

Here are snippets of three of my favorite reviews:

5.0 out of 5 stars

I read this through the night. As I read kept reading, I lost all track of time and only resurfaced at the end. I can’t wait to see more adventures from this set of characters. Well done!

This review is from: On Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent (The Beyond series)

Buy now: http://amzn.to/1iuAs7U

5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling and fun historical romance

I thoroughly enjoyed Ms.Tate’s book. From the very start I was held spellbound by Mercy’s adventures. From beginning to end I was captivated by the suspense and romance.

This review is from: Stealing Mercy (Seattle Fire series)

Buy now: http://amzn.to/1mipzqp

5.0 out of 5 stars fast becoming an author for me to watch for in the contemporary mystery genre

In the second book that I have read from this author, she is fast becoming an author for me to watch for in the contemporary mystery genre. The Rhyme’s Library is a clever murder mystery, rife with family and small-town secrets and an engaging, intelligent heroine at its center.

From The Rhyme’s Library

Buy now: http://amzn.to/1mb0iRr

Author friends, do you have a great review? Please share! Feel free to leave a buy link.