The Peanut Butter Airplane

In the fifth grade, Mrs. Whitaker would give us a title for the weekly story we had to write. Two of my favorites, that I still remember to this day, were The Runaway Chevrolet and The Peanut Butter Airplane. I guess even back then I needed a title to get going on a story.

We had to write at least two pages in our notebooks. No writing big. No repeating the same word for a whole sentence. I always wondered why my classmates complained all week about writing those two pages. By Monday night I had two pages and then some more, no problem at all. It is amazing how freeing writing is when you don’t know there are rules!

At least one time in the school year you had to stand in front of the class and read your story aloud. I was terrified. I didn’t want to go first and I didn’t want to leave it at the end and feel the pressure. I tried to time it so some people had read their stories but everyone wasn’t bored after hearing half a dozen of them with the very same title on a late Friday afternoon.

I so wish I still had that composition book from the fifth grade. Everyone read their stories of planes made of peanut butter. Obviously, even at ten my imagination didn’t work that way. Maybe one or two of them became fantasy writers. LOL My peanut butter airplane delivered peanut butter to starving children all around the world. See, even then I wanted a happily ever after.

Thank you, Mrs. Katherine Whitaker for opening up my mind with just a quirky, little title. Thank you for believing storytelling was just as important as math and science.

Do you remember a favorite story from childhood?


Jill James, writer

Sugar Sprinkled Memories coming soon in the
Authors of Main Street Christmas boxed set.

It isn’t easy being a writer

I know Hollywood has made being a writer look so easy and so glamorous. In my head, I see that vision of Meryl Streep in She-Devil. Doing her writing and then doing the pool boy. LOL All while dressed exquisitely and not a hair out-of-place.

Reality-time. Most days, being a writer is like that Facebook video of the cat slamming the keyboard with its paws going 90 miles an hour. hahahahaha THEN, looking at what you wrote and going, “What did I say there?!!! All while you sit there in your pajamas and stress that you’ll have to get dressed to go out because there is no food in the house.

So, you sit there with Imposter Syndrome going on, wonder why you ever wanted to be a writer, until The Moment hits. The one where you read your own writing about the girl finally making her way back to the boy and they hug and they kiss and you cry. All the stress. All the headaches are nothing when The Moment hits. Writers live and die for those moments.

It’s all done. The End is typed. The cover is just right. It is edited and polished and sent out into the world and you wait for the reviews. Or lack thereof. The doubts start piling up. Maybe I should have done one more round of edits. Maybe the Beta readers were just being nice. Maybe it is all crap and I can’t write worth a hill of beans.

Then…that review comes in. The one where the reader couldn’t put the book down. She loved the hero. He was to-die-for. She says the book helped her get over her heartache. You and your book were there for her when she needed it the most.

You gather your notes. Your favorite pens. Your plotting board. You write for the hundredth time…

Chapter One


Jill James, romance writer

http://www.jilljameswrites.com

 

Retreat, Interrupted

Retreat, Interrupted is my story for the Summer Romance on Main Street boxed set. In this book, I return to my fictional town of Lake Willowbee.

Cassie Stone is a failure. At least, she feels that way. She is a writer who hasn’t written in two years. She’s lost her publisher, her agent, her friends. Now, she returns home to Lake Willowbee to bury her father and take care of her mother, who is slowly losing her mind to Alzheimer’s.

Ben Bridges is the chief of police and mayor of Lake Willowbee. His town is dying and its only hope is Cassie Stone and the book festival, the highlight of the summer. With all she has on her shoulders, can he add saving the town?

Is Cassie the teenager he remembers who ran away at the first opportunity, or has she become the woman he can rely on, he can fall in love with, who will stay?

My cover artist, Elaina Lee, of For The Muse Designs, has created another beautiful cover.

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Cassie was my funnest heroine to write so far. Making her a writer let me connect with her flaws and quirks all too well. Unfortunately, she is suffering from a case of writer’s block I hope no writer will ever have to suffer. (knock on wood)

I can’t wait to read all of the other stories in this set and to let readers experience

Summer Romance on Main Street


Jill James, romance writer

SADDLE UP AND GET GOING! Tips For Wannabe Writers to FINISH That Novel!

 

Starting, and finishing, a novel can be a daunting prospect, but you can do it if you’re willing to be a little disciplined and try a few different ways of doing things. I’ve compiled a few of the tips that have made the biggest difference to me in my journey as a writer. I hope something here will help you! I’ve used the tips below, some from others, and some I’ve discovered myself, to write and publish three full length historical romantic suspense/thriller novels in the past four years. They work for me.

 

 

  • Write…just write.

Get it out of your head and down on paper or on your computer, word processor or whatever you use.

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  • Plan your writing in the best way for you.

It may take some time to figure out what that best way really is. Some people are Planners (plot their novel out ahead of time), some are Pantsers (write by the seat of their pants) and some are a combination of the two, as I am. I write historicals, so I automatically have a timeline to work my story into. Once I plot out my basic story, with a solid framework offered by the real timeline (planning), I let my characters go to work and tell me the story (pantsing).

  • Let go of that ‘internal editor’.

While you write your rough draft, just write whatever comes out. It might be junk, but so what? That’s the beauty of a rough draft: you can edit it later. You can’t edit a blank page, so get on with it and progress your story, instead of getting stuck and giving up somewhere back on Chapter 1 or 2.

(Or NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, if you’re a junior)

NaNoWriMo is a fun, worldwide, online-linked program where from 1-30 November of every year participants drive towards their goal of writing 50,000 words of their own novel. Yes, 50K words. Why would anyone want to put themselves through that? For me, it’s about getting better at the first and third bullet points, above. You can’t edit a blank page. (yes, I already said that—it’s that important) J

 I wrote a large chunk of the middle of this book in NaNoWrimo. It’s the one I’ve just released!

SOG 3D

  • Find a time to write every day.

Not most days, every day.

Finding a time to write undisturbed is not always possible and you may have to get creative. I like to write in bed, before I get caught up in everything I see needs doing around the place. This required changing my bedtime so I am awake before everyone else starts moving around and needing my attention!

  • Make a Daily Writing Pact.

In his excellent book: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King suggests making an agreement with yourself to write a certain number of words every day, and keeping to it.

No, you don’t get Sundays off.

Or Mondays. This is not a restaurant.

If you want to be an author, act like one, and write.

Even at 500 words per day, in 100 days or just over three months, you will have written 50,000 words.

At 1000 words per day, in the same time period, you’ll have completed the draft of that 100,000 word novel you’ve been dreaming about. For a professional writer, he suggests 2000 words per day.

Do the maths. It works.

  • Write what you know.

It adds insights that others may never have considered, but I think it’s also good to write what you don’t know much about, using it as a stimulus to learn about things that interest you and keep yourself fresh! If you choose to do this, however, find people who do know about those things you’ve just learned, to ensure you get it right! Especially if it’s about horses. Horse owners (including yours truly–yes, we’re snobs) may be intolerant of writers who don’t know their stuff and still write about horses. For me, regardless of the intrinsic value of the rest of the story, if a writer doesn’t get the horse parts right, he or she has has lost my confidence. I simply won’t read the book.

I almost didn’t write this book…it was a request from a few beta readers…I was scared to write this part, maybe because I grew up and lived in several places in this book!  I should have known, it would make it easier! I used to run and ride where this cover pic was taken!

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  • Help: Books for beginning writers or beginning editors (or any writers or editors, for that matter).

If you’re a beginning writer, you might read through some of the books mentioned below before you get started. If you’ve already done that draft, definitely read them before you go on.

  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King.

  • The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer and Jen Talty

  • The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

 ~

 

I’ve met many wanna be authors who say: “I started writing a novel once, but never finished it.”

I’ll bet my boots they kept going back to edit. How many of these people do you know?

Ask them.

It doesn’t have to happen to you.

Only you control your writing destiny.

~

Go for it.

 

I’ve just published Book Three in The Long Trails Series, entitled

A Sea of Green Unfolding

~ When you’ve lost everything,
the only way to go is up—
isn’t it? ~

Tragedy strikes in Aleksandra and Xavier’s newly-found paradise on their California Rancho de las Pulgas. Von Tempsky invites them on a journey to a new life in peaceful New Zealand, but change is in the wind. When they reach Aotearoa, they disembark into a turbulent wilderness—where the wars between the European settlers and the local Māori have only just begun.

Here’s this month’s giveaway!

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If you’d like to go into the draw to win a copy of the regular print edition of newly-released A Sea of Green Unfolding (when it’s available, soon!), leave a review of A Sea of Green Unfolding where you purchased your eBook or paperback.

The digital version is available on Amazon right now for just $2.99 USD! It’s also available to you if you’re on Prime or Kindle Unlimited!
Just send me your email address and the site where you left your review and you’ll be in the draw!

Amazon

My email: lizzi@lizzitremayne.com

What reviewers have to say about

A Sea of Green Unfolding

“As usual in this series, the historical research is excellent and extremely detailed, and…well-integrated into the narrative. The description of the environs through which Lizzi Tremayne’s characters travel are particularly good – lush and vibrant. In the New Zealand section of the novel she makes our country sound like paradise. Which it is. There is one more volume to come after this, Tatiana, and I’m looking forward to it.”

   –Deborah Challinor, number one bestselling author and historian

“I was lucky enough to read A Sea Of Green Unfolding prior to release and really enjoyed this beautifully researched and engrossing story.
This is the third book in the Long Trail series and follows on nicely from the other two, though if you’ve picked this one up and are keen to read it first you’ll find it stands alone well. Author Lizzi Tremayne has developed an exciting tale which kept me on the edge of my seat throughout as Aleksandra and Xavier faced one issue after another, first of all at their Californian ranch and later on their journey to a new home in New Zealand.
I loved the way that this story was interwoven with New Zealand’s turbulent mid-19th century history as European settlers and Maori tribes battled over disputed land. I loved the imagery too. Most of all though I loved travelling with Aleksandra through the Waikato countryside in her bid to be reunited with Xavier.
Lizzi Tremayne has stamped her mark as an excellent story teller who does her homework well and puts her knowledge to good use in her writing. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.”

   –Shelagh Merlin, NetGalley Reviewer

 

Reviewers are saying of the rest of the series:

The Hills of Gold Unchanging:

“The pace is fast, there’s plenty of action and adventure and a few twists I didn’t see coming. Lizzi Tremayne writes good characters, and that definitely includes the horses. For me, though, it’s the history that’s the star in this story. Good characters plus excellent history equals a great read, which is what this is.”
–Deborah Challinor, number one bestselling author and historian

“…superb storytelling. As Aleksandra and Xavier faced and survived human malevolence, natural disaster and accidents, and their own doubts and insecurities, I kept turning pages to find out what happened next. I love books in which adversity sculptures character and where challenges to relationships bend them to breakpoint and rebuild them stronger. This is one of those books. I can’t wait to read the sequel.”
–Judy Knighton, editor

“There are so many things to like about this story. Lead characters, Aleks and Xavier, are well rounded and strong. Aleks has a stubborn streak and a determination to survive, no matter what. Both inspired me to cheer them on as they faced one problem after another along the way from Utah to California. The plot is well developed, and I particularly liked the attention to historical detail along the way. This is an author who does her homework, and it shows. I was intrigued by this story, and wish I’d read the first in the series before venturing onto this one. Despite that, this story does stand alone well, and is a cracking good yarn.”
  –Shelagh Merlin, NetGalley Reviewer

And about A Long Trail Rolling, Book One:

“vivid, light and fast-paced…it will appeal in particular to anyone interested in American…history, and in general to those looking for a ripping good read. I’m looking forward to reading The Hills of Gold Unchanging, the next volume in the Aleksandra and Xavier saga”
   –Deborah Challinor, number one bestselling author and historian

“The mystery, adventure, and danger of life in Utah in the 1860s is beautifully described…an authentic, emotional story of one woman’s fight for survival in an unforgiving landscape. I couldn’t put Lizzi Tremayne’s book down.”
  Leeanna Morgan, USA Today bestselling author
 
“An impressive debut from a New Zealand (ex-American) author…a romance, a western, and an adventure story, all rolled up into a compelling read…I devoured this one and am hungry for more.”
   –Booksellers NZ

Awards for A Long Trail Rolling

With this debut novel, Lizzi was:

Finalist 2013 RWNZ Great Beginnings;
Winner 2014 RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award
Winner 2015 RWNZ Koru Award for Best First Novel
Third 2015 RWNZ Koru Long Novel
Finalist 2015 Best Indie Book Award
Click here to go to my website to read the rest! 

 

I hope you’re having a great start to August!

Good luck in the draw!

Regards from NZ.


Lizzi

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(This is my son Elliot and I in a Combined Driving competition, driving Maya, or Blue Mist Shemaya. The wee lad is much taller than I am, now!)

 

…and now I’ve done this post, I’m off to work on my book for the Christmas Boxed set with Authors of Main Street!!!!

xx

Lizzi

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

Depression and Empathy – the writer connection

The views in this post are solely my own and are in no way a scientific or medical paper. –Jill


Go to any writers group loop, bulletin board, or meeting and you will find a plethora of ailments; mental and physical. I don’t think it is a coincidence that writers suffer from a host of illnesses that I do not find in my non-writer family and friends.

I believe the connection is empathy. The better the writer, the more empathy they contain. Or that could be vice-versa. We don’t just write words. We write people. We write feelings. We have to feel the feelings to write them.

When you read a story with a character who had their heart ripped out, know that the writer got inside that character’s skin. She lived that moment, she felt that moment. She could tell you every nuance of the heart-ripping time.

Belinda pressed her hand to her chest as if it would stop the breaking of her heart. She gasped, the air trapped in her lungs. Gray hovered at the edge of her vision. If she could just hold on for a few more moments it wouldn’t happen. Is she could just turn back time and unhear the words from his lips. He didn’t mean them. He couldn’t mean them. If they didn’t drum in her head until she tried to rip them from her brain. He was leaving her. The thought pinned her in the middle of the room like a statue as the slamming door ripped a picture from the wall and it crashed to the floor. The glass shattered like the jagged edges of her heart. If she moved the pieces would cut through her ribs. She fell to the floor, her knees cracking on the tile. It would be hours before she knew she wasn’t dead, she just wished she were.

Been there, done that, have the T-shirt to prove it.

Empathy is great to write a story, it isn’t so great to wallow in day after day. I cry at Hallmark commercials. I can’t even watch a Hallmark Lifetime movie. To this day, I swear they were produced to rip my heart to shreds. I cry at happy movies. I cry at sad movies. I wear my heart on a sleeve. Sometimes it is so painful to FEEL everything, all the time. I have a friend who wonders where I put them all. That is why I really feel that writers suffer from so much mental anguish and all the ailments that accompany it. We need those emotions to put into our writing. We can’t just turn them off. They are with us, 24/7.

So, next time you are reading a book or watching a movie and the emotion overwhelms you, know that the writer is right there with you, feeling every tear, every laugh, every emotion on the page before you did.

Enjoy the read–tears and all!  Jill James

 

 

 

 

How Did That Bridge Get There?

As a writer I have the choice of using a real place in my stories or making up a fictional one. But what is a writer to do when the real place they are using undergoes BIG renovations?

constructionWhen I started Love in the Time of Zombies in 2011 in my real hometown of Brentwood, California we were in the middle of the Recession and our town was like a frozen slice of time with roads to nowhere and bridges and overcrossings half-done. There were several subdivisions with lights and plumbing but no houses or half-completed houses with no utilities. It seemed the perfect place to put my zombie apocalypse.

Unfortunately, the book took 4 years to complete and publish. So I was left with a choice; leave it as is and have local people know our town didn’t look like that anymore with the recent booms in building and tax funds to finish the roads or change it as the town changed. Both were decisions that would mean making changes or not making changes and having people know that I hadn’t made the choices. What to do?

I loved the idea of a town in the middle of changing and forever stuck. So I went with writing it as if it was always 2011 in our town and putting an Author’s Note in the book. I think it was the right choice, but the reader has the final say, as usual!!


Do you like to find real places and locations in the books you read? What if they don’t match up exactly?


Jill James, writer of romance
Book 2, The Zombie Hunter’s Wife is now available to preorder!