Why a Writer?

Believe me, I ask myself that question daily. I’ve always liked to write but I didn’t plan on being a writer. When I was five years old I was going to be a brain surgeon. I can not imagine what I saw on television to know that was an option.

By high school I wanted to be a lawyer. I took business law and debate. I loved it. Even being an introvert was not going to stop me from being a lawyer. I was going to put away those bad guys!! With no money for college, let alone law school, I tried to join the Air Force. Life had other plans. LOL

With a small child in my life, I knew I needed a job much quicker than college and law school. So, I went to business college and became a junior accountant/computer programmer. So not what I had planned.

Accounting and computing was not to be my field of expertise, but it did bring me my soul mate, the love of my life. There is a reason for everything. Sometimes it just takes awhile to find the reason and its meaning.

All through these years I wrote. I wrote poetry. I wrote romance novels that ignored every rule made for writing romance. I had women who cheated on their husbands and left them for their lovers. I had women kidnapped, falling for the kidnappers. Thankfully, those stories are dead on floppy discs. hahahaha No way to read those now. Thank goodness.

I wrote most of those on a typewriter and paper and lots of liquid paper. It wasn’t until a few years after my marriage that Mr. Wonderful bought me our first personal computer. A new world opened up. Cut. Paste. Move stuff. It was magic.

Through the wonders of the internet I “met” the writers and authors I’d read for years. People online today can not imagine my heart palpitations when an innocent remark on Prodigy bulletin boards about a wonderful time travel romance I’d read and loved was replied on by the author of said time travel romance. (I still have the printout of the email from Constance O’Day-Flannery)

Then . . . I discovered Romance Writers of America. Who knew there was a whole group of us who loved reading and writing romance? I was living a dream and learning so much. I’ve made friends I will have until the day I die. They’ve given my writing wings.

And I discovered that no, I hadn’t become a doctor, a lawyer, an astronaut, an archeologist, or the first female President of the United States, but I could invent worlds where a character who had a little bit of me inside her that could be all those things I had imagined. I could be everything I’d wanted to be . . . and more. I could be a writer.


Jill James, writer of romance, living the dream

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

I Need a Title!

Those words don’t usually come out of my mouth. When I settle down to write a story I almost always start with a title. The Authors of Main Street are working on Christmas stories for a new boxed set and I’m included…if I can come up with a title. LOL

It started as A Baby for Noel. But that just was not my heroine’s name. She told me so. 🙂 Now she is Krista and the story got deeper than expected. As the story changed I thought I wanted to go with Second Chance Christmas. But that just sounds overused. I’m sure without even checking Amazon that title is out there a dozen times at least.

So, I’m turning to the readers! I need a title for my Christmas novella!!

Krista Green is a godsend to Lake Willowbee’s foster child system. When an addicted baby needs a temporary home Krista is the first one called. She loves the babies in her care, but just once she would like to be chosen to become mom to one of these angels. Unable to have a child of her own, she dreams of becoming a mother to one of the babies in her charge.

Morgan Fieldcrest returns home to find he has a son he knew nothing about. With baby Max’s mother dead in a car accident, Morgan believes he is all the child has. Except, Child Protective Services has placed his addicted baby son with Krista, a woman who damaged his family and is the last woman he wants to care for his newly-found child.

Krista and Morgan will be forced to put the past behind them to care for Max and his special needs. They will need to face the lies of family and friends to give the little one a Christmas to remember and find out if they can be a family or maybe even more for each other.

Unedited excerpt:

“I’m sorry, Miss Green. There are no babies for fostering right now. With the holidays in a few weeks, that’s a good thing.”

Krista bit her lip. Of course it was a good thing there were no babies waiting for homes, but her house felt so empty without the cries and giggles of little ones, the scampering of tiny feet. Christmas was a bad enough time for her without the warmth and comfort of another to care for.

“What about an older child, Mrs. White? I know they are harder to place.”

The woman turned kind eyes her way, her glasses slipping down her nose to make her the spitting image of Mrs. Santa Claus; with her twinkling, blue eyes and snow-white hair.

“Miss Green…Krista. We need you available if any babies might come in this holiday season.”

“You mean addicted babies,” she said, a hitch in her voice at the lump in her throat.

Mrs. White reached across the desk and patted her hand. The scent of peppermint and pine trees wafted up from the older woman’s soft skin. It sent flashes of happy, childhood Christmases to her mind. Back when she’d been naïve and young and believed Santa Claus and Daddy could fix everything. Before she’d grown up and realized that miracles didn’t happen, Christmas or not.

“Krista, those babies are the hardest to place. We are so grateful for what you do for them…for us.

She looked behind the woman to the Happy Wall. The pictures of babies and children with their new parents in their Forever Homes. The images wavered through her unshed tears. For every success story there were hundreds, thousands of failures. Children who slipped through the cracks and disappeared into an unkind world.

Krista yanked back her hand, snatched up her purse, and stood. “Please let me know if you need me. Please.” She winced at the pleading in her voice.

“Of course, Krista. We need you. I hope you know that.”

She nodded as best she could and walked out of the office. Not sure how she’d made it to her car, she placed her head on the roof and let the tears come. The turmoil cleared her brain. A few sniffles and a swipe of her wet face helped her put things into perspective. She could do this. How many holidays had she’d spent alone? Too many to count. The thought shot through her head. She could do this.

Krista wrapped her coat around her and buttoned it up. Pulling on her gloves, she blinked as snowflakes wafted down to fall on her outstretched hand. She stared across the road to Lake Willowbee. The lake would be frozen by morning. Flashes of red and green showed through the trees as kids cheered and broke the thin ice at the edge of the water with their stamping feet.

She turned away with slumped shoulders and got into her car. Her teeth chattered as the heater fought against the frigid temperature in the vehicle. Krista hated the cold. It brought too many thoughts of kids on the streets, struggling to survive in killing cold nights.

“Don’t go there, Krista. You are warm in your car, going to your nice, warm house. Count your blessings.”

The daily mantra did its job as her shoulders loosened and a small smile curved her lips. A swipe of the windshield wipers cleared the glass and showcased a world of fluffy white. She put the car into gear. A shiver went down her spine. The weather in the Sierras could go from fluffy to whiteout within hours. She planned to be in front of a crackling fire before that happened.


*Readers: please help me with a title for Krista and Morgan’s story!!*


Jill James, romance author
currently working on Christmas novella and ghost paranormal romance

On Writing ‘Short’…Yeah, Right.

Hello! I hope you’re having a great week!

 

Those of you reading this blog generally know the Authors of Main Street write a Christmas boxed set, right?

Well, I was honoured to have been asked to join AoMS this year…between boxed sets, so this upcoming Christmas edition will be my first with this group of lovely ladies!

Here’s a little giggle for you…

When I told my man I was going to write a short story for the Christmas Box, he laughed…again…

like the last time.

 

Picture this…

I’d just uploaded my first novel, A Long Trail Rolling,

and jumped into NaNoWriMo for the first time with the second novel in my series, A Sea of Green Unfolding…

Well, yeah… it’s now the third, for those of you  familiar with The Long Trails series.

 

 

Well, about that…

As I wrote a few months ago on this blog, my Matt, and independently, one of my other beta readers, decided there was another story between Book One, A Long Trail Rolling, and its Epilogue.”

“Oh no, there isn’t…” I argued. I tried that a few times, but noooooooooo…

SO, I tried to ignore it, which was getting a little difficult, because by now Matt and I had become an item…

So, we were at a local RWNZ branch meeting at the home of a teacher-writer member, who also did a lot of art. She’d made some LOVELY storyboards for her stories…and she is an artist. Being a primary teacher, she also had BOXES of ’stuff’ for us to play with and create our storyboards.

 

Matt looked at me. “What storyboard are you going to do?” He lifted a brow at me pointedly.

“Sea of Green,” I challenged.

He raises both brows.

I occasionally know when I’m beat. This was one of those times.

A big sigh. “Okay,” I finally murmured.

I sat down to create the storyline for what was to become the new Book Two.

 

as I worked, I became more and more excited. Soon the story was just falling out on the canvas before me, made easier, of course, by the fact that I knew the areas through which my hero and heroine were travelling like the back of my hand.

SO, thanks to Matt and my wonderful writing group, I did it. Now I was keen.

This was going to be a quickie novella, mostly to get Matt and Kate off my back and get back to A Sea of Green Unfolding.

 

Well.

Hmmm…

The Hills of Gold Unchanging didn’t turn out much like a novella…more like 510 pages, by the time I’d finished it. Nearly 170K words.

Today I finished the final edit for A Sea of Green Unfolding. It’s finished up around 122K words. Hmmm…not short either…

I redid the cover before its official release. 🙂  Here it is… complete with photos of our farm, my youngest son, and my big bay carriage horse.

 

I told Matt I was going to write Book 4, Tatiana, ‘short’.

As I expected, he laughed.

 

At a writing workshop in Auckland a few months ago, even Joanna Penn told me I needed to write ‘short’.

 

SO, when I told Matt I was going to write something that was twenty to forty thousand words for Authors of Main Street, guess what?

You guessed it, he laughed.

Then grinned. “I know you can do it,” he said. “I can’t wait to watch.”

 

I’m still shaking my head.

 

Three weeks ago, I started thinking of the story I’m going to write for our boxed set on one of my dog and author walks around our farm here by the river. (this pic is on the island in the middle of our river)

 

I desperately needed to finish A Sea of Green Unfolding, but I snuck into a new workbook and started scribbling down the new story… and couldn’t stop.

Fifteen half-sized pages. Not bad for a few stolen moments while my dinner cooked.

Now to plan out the rest and get it done.

 

Oh, what’s it to be about?

 

It’s a story about this horse-crazy chick in vet school and what she gets up to. It’s to be the first in a series Matt’s been encouraging me to do for ages. For years, I kept telling him I didn’t have any vet stories…and every time I told him another vet story from my life that eyebrow would shoot up again.

“There’s another story,” he’d say. Well, yes, I guess so. Now I can’t wait to get on with it.

 

It’s going to be a lot of fun…but I’m NOT going to tell which things really happened and which I made up. That would take all the fun out of it…

 

…and the names were changed to protect the innocent…and the not-so-innocent.

 

Have a wonderful week, all!

 

Take good care, and big hugs from New Zealand!

 

xx

 

Lizzi Tremayne

Is it Too Soon to Start Christmas?

2015-christmastreeYesterday I ran into one of those giant wholesale stores for a couple of things (crazy concept, right?) and I came out with a giant wreath and a barrel of Christmas tree ornaments. Aside from the fact that I need to work on my impulse control, I found the lure of the holiday with all its cheer and sparkle too irresistible to ignore.

Don’t get me wrong—I expressed my outrage to Myren, my chauffeur about the craziness of selling Christmas gift wrap and bows a full month before Halloween had even struck. As I pondered which set of gorgeous gift tags I should buy, I complained at the nerve of retailers for forcing me to fill my closets with trimmings months before I could use them.

Myren is a bah-humbug type (I know you’re shocked) so he rolled his eyes in a chaufferly manner and cleared people out of my way when called for. (Sometimes he takes his job too seriously and I wonder who he drove for before he came to work for me.)

But I drew the line at buying a tree. The stores stocked all manner of fake trees in all colors and state of dress, from bare to trimmed with lights to fully turned out. This is no time to ignore my tradition of having a real tree with its real intoxicating scent. BTW, those cans of Christmas tree scented spray do not work. I love walking in the door to a room filled with that special evergreen smell and twinkling lights glittering off sparkling ornaments and the music…

Pardon if I’m getting carried away. Part of the lure of the holiday for me is to compensate for the dreariness of dark at 6:30. Last night I was yawning and ready for bed by 8:30 and Myren told me to get a life. If this were July it would be light out until 9pm.

lovechristmascover

Pre-Order at Amazon

To answer the question, there is no answer. Christmas is a state of mind and celebrating however you do, whenever you do is up to you. I’m a fraction away from full-on holiday frenzy with Myren holding me back barely.

In the meantime, it may be still too early to read the soon to be released boxed set of exclusive new romance novellas in Love, Christmas, but it’s not too soon to pre-order this sparkling set themed around the author’s favorite Christmas songs. Mine is Let it Snow. You can imagine.

When do you get sparked into celebrating the holidays?

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It’s November in August

Yesterday, I got a fan letter about my Calendar Girls series. As trite as it sounds, I love hearing from my readers, and I do answer every fan who writes to me, whether it’s via email, Facebook or Twitter. I’m always thrilled when a reader takes the time to let me know they enjoyed my work. I delight in learning they stayed up ’til two in the morning reading. After all, it’s only fair. I had lots of long nights writing those words.

This particular reader had devoured all four of the stories available in the series in the last month and was anxiously waiting for the next installment. I hesitate to tell her, I’ve only written the first chapter of that book. I mean, the most recent book, HOMECOMING IN NOVEMBER, was only released on July 28.

If you haven’t checked out my Calendar Girls, now might be a good time. Each book features two different women from the same Long Island seaside town, Snug Harbor, at a different crossroads in their lives. In HOMECOMING, you’ll meet Terri O’Mara, a recovering alcoholic, and Dr. Jayne Herrera , the new veterinarian in town who’s struggling to get over her own sordid past.

Continue after the cover to read an excerpt:

HomecominginNovember 500x750

“What I want is for you to relax and spend some time with me.”

“Why?” Yes, my mouth often ran faster than my brain, thanks for asking.

To his credit, Max just laughed. How about that? I made Max Trayham laugh.

“Do you know why I sat next to you at the meeting?”

This time, I sipped my juice before answering. “Now that you mention it, umm, no. Why did you?”

“Because, right now, I need a friend. And out of everyone in that room, you looked like the one person I could trust.”

“I did?”

“Yes. And I sensed you could use a friend, too. You had this air of desperation about you that called to me.”

“Gee. Thanks.”

“I don’t mean that the way it sounded. We’re all freakin’ desperate at those meetings. I saw you race inside, and I felt this need around you, like you were hoping something or someone could fix whatever sent you there. And I realized I was in the exact same situation. Then I thought, ‘what if she and I could fix each other?’ I’m new to the program, new to this town, but I wonder if you and I might become ‘sober buddies.’ Not a sponsor relationship. I’m too much of a rebel when it comes to authority figures. We would be two people, two equals, who help each other stay straight. No judgment, just support, encouragement, and a sympathetic ear. You know what I mean?”

Throughout his speech, I gaped at him, sure this was some colossal joke my friends were playing on me. This wasn’t the real Max Trayham, but a celebrity lookalike. Any minute now, Siobhan and Pan would jump out of the kitchen and shout, “Gotcha!” But no one did. And he really did look like the real Max Trayham, a Max Trayham waiting for my answer.

“I think so. But here’s the thing.” There went my mouth again, leapfrogging over my brain. I drained the last of my juice to buy time for my gray matter to catch up, but when it did, it agreed with my mouth. I owed Max the truth. No matter how crushing the fallout would be. “I’m only forty-nine days sober myself.”

I expected him to realize he’d misjudged me. And when he leaned forward, I prepared for his speech about how he suddenly had an appointment he’d forgotten about. I even had my no-big-deal face ready to slip on. But, instead, he reached for his glass and sat back to sip, completely at ease. “That’s perfect, actually. You and I can find our way together. We’ll keep each other honest and on the straight and narrow. What do you think?”

What did I think? That he was either insane, or I was. My mind couldn’t get past the idea this television star wanted to be “sober buddies” with me: boring, small-town, ne’er-do-well Terri O’Mara.

“Don’t you have close friends or family you’d rather spend time with?” Curse my wicked mouth and empty juice glass.

“Honestly?” He offered me a wry grin, the one his television character wore whenever he was about to outwit a business rival. “That’s part of my problem. All my friends are what dragged me down. I need to find new friends—people outside the spotlight who can help me stay sober. People like you, who are also struggling and understand what I’m going through. People with their priorities in order. People who aren’t caught up in the Hollywood game. People who are down-to-earth, grounded, and fighting some of the same demons I’m facing—without the glitter. People who won’t sell me out to the tabloids for a quick buck. What do you say? You feel like doing me a solid?”

“So…we’d…like…call each other and stuff?”

“Absolutely. Any time. You get that itch in the back of your throat—you know the one I’m talking about—at three in the morning and don’t think you can fight it off, you call me. And I’d be able to call you in the reverse situation.”

“You’re going to call me. And I can call you.” I knew I sounded like an echo chamber or some robot on repeat, but I couldn’t fathom how I’d managed to get a television star to want to be my new buddy. Believe it or not, this kinda stuff didn’t happen to me on a regular basis. Still, there was only one answer I could give him. “Deal!”

HOMECOMING IN NOVEMBER is available now from Amazon.

 

Advice to Romance Readers by Stephanie Queen

WRitingLetterToday, I’m going to take the opportunity to spout off pontificate preach delight  whatever communicate to readers of romance. I love to talk, but since I’m a writer, I’ll write you all a letter. Of advice. With my sincerest crazy expert opinion about reading romance novels. (My ridiculous chauffeur Myren had no input whatsoever in the writing of this letter. In case you were wondering.)

 

Dear Reader,

First about me my credentials: I’ve been reading romance novels since I got out of college and discovered sexy popular novels after years of being so tremendously bored with tomes about internal rates of return that I considered becoming an agriculture major because they at least participated in calf-birthing and such   intellectual stimulation. I had to rest my fried  enormous brain over-worked mind. I became hopelessly addicted to the point of spending the laundry money on books  instantly enthralled by romance novels. Now, seemingly a century several years later, I feel tired impatient confident that I can trick you into thinking I have valuable input for you. So here’s a few pointers on how to maximize your enjoyment of reading romance novels from a long time old writer reader and reader writer:

  • Pointer #1: Never skip to the end because you know what’s going to happen anyway—of course they live happily ever after because it’s the tense moments of the journey that count the most. You must give the story and characters at least 5 pages a chance to simmer for that slow build to the climax. (I’m talking about READING here).
  • Pointer #2:   Never Always Judge a book by it’s cover. Clearly I’m conflicted certain full of baloney an expert about this. The cover can tell you a lot  nothing at all the basics about what’s inside. But beware of the surprise especially the misleading annoying  surprise.
  • Pointer #3: Always find a closet where the kids can’t find you place to read where you can relax and have five stinking minutes some uninterrupted time to read the juicy parts entire novel in one sitting if possible.
  • Pointer #4: Always write a fan letter to the author!

Sincerely,

Stephanie Queen

Stephanie Queen’s latest novel, Beachcomber Trouble, is Book 5 of Beachcomber Beachcomber Trouble Book 5 Cover1000x1500Investigations, a romantic detective series about a soul-weary special ops legend, Dane Blaise and his reluctant partner, the ambitious and stunning Shana George. Dane has no idea why he talked Shana into quitting Scotland Yard to join him—and no idea why she agreed to do it.

Here’s an excerpt from Beachcomber Trouble:

Dane punched in the fail-safe number only Oscar knew—or only Oscar should know. The flick of concern screeched along his back between his shoulder blades. After a beat, the trill of the line ringing on the other end shrilled through him in a pulse, one ring after another. Six times. He hung up.

It was the way they’d planned it. Oscar would call him back. Or not. The sharp slicing between his shoulder blades throbbed in time with the seconds. Shana watched him. Silent. She knew him well enough to remain blessedly mute and not ask questions. He ought to appreciate that more. A tic in his left jaw now accompanied the pain in his back to track the seconds until nearly a minute went by. A long slow excruciating minute during which he met Shana’s stare.

She scowled back with a mere hint of concern—and maybe a little guilt—shadowing the familiar look. None of it marred her goddamn gorgeousness. She must have sensed his snapping point because just as he was about to reach out and touch her hair, she spun around.

“How about a drink.” She went into the kitchen, reached into the cabinet, pulled two glasses out, and slammed them on the counter. He followed her.

The jaw tic intensified into a clench as he opened the freezer and yanked the bottle of tequila from the crusty ice tomb. The only tension he showed—aside from the almost invisible muscle tic—was the slamming shut of the freezer door.

Sign up for the scintillating SQ Newsletter for info on New Releases, Contests, the Monthly $5 Amazon GC Giveaway and a FREE serial novel, Dane Blaise: Flashback.

 

Why Should I Know About the Women of Scotland Yard

by Stephanie Queen

BeachcomberFirstSeriesFree FB AdIt’s all because of a story, more precisely a character named Shana George who happens to be a Special Investigator with the Scotland Yard—also known as the Metropolitan Police—in their Specialist Operations Counter Terrorism Command. Before I wrote the story, The Beachcombers, a romantic suspense novel, I had to do some research. I moved Shana to Martha’s Vineyard as part of the Scotland Yard Exchange Program with Boston (that’s a whole other story), but first I had to find out all about women in the Scotland Yard.

What do women really do at the Yard?   The answer is: Everything.

From Matrons to Women’s Police Service to their current day status as Officers, women can now be found in every role in the Metropolitan Police Service—more commonly known in the states as Scotland Yard

It all started in 1883 when a female visitor was appointed by the then Metropolitan Police Force to attend to female convicts. Six years later, fourteen more women were hired and they were called the Matrons. In 1914 Scotland Yard set up women patrols known as Voluntary Women Patrols to control all the women coming to town to hang around army camps. Then in 1918 when women were given the vote—women over 30 that is—the Met started recruiting women officially to deal with female criminals and children.

In 1922, When women officers were cut, Mr. Shortt M.P. said in the House of Commons that policemen’s wives could do Women Police Work. Lady Astor retorted that police did not choose their wives for patrolling streets or escorting prisoners. . In 1923 fifty officers were re-sworn, and this time with full powers of arrest,

Fast forward to the 1970s, with attitudes toward women changing, women officers were mixed with the men on all shifts and departments and new specialist mixed gender teams. Today women officers are assigned to every role within the Service including some of the highest ranks.

Of course Shana George is a superstar with “skills” and you can read all about that in The Beachcombers, which is currently FREE, and in the Beachcomber Investigations series books including the most recent release Beachcomber Trouble.

Visit Stephanie Queen’s website at www.StephanieQueen.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Stephanie-Queen-198484900209330/timeline/.

Links for a FREE copy of The Beachcombers:

Amazon         KOBO          iBooks