I want to remind everyone that today is my 50 Book Jubilee over on Facebook. You can join the fun at https://www.facebook.com/events/1700850980218471
Today I’m also happy to welcome Kimberly.
Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing.
She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.
Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.
I’ve learned so much since I first started studying the craft of writing over ten years ago. The first lesson a seasoned writer ever taught me was that I needed to write a high concept story that readers wouldn’t be able to put down. I thought great. How am I supposed to do that? I’ve since discovered the key is to know your audience and what they expect in the kind of book you write.
Now that I know what is expected in my genre, contemporary romance, I must come up with story plots. For some people that is the hardest part of writing, for me, it’s probably the easiest. My mind never shuts off, and daydreaming is a constant in my life.
For me brainstorming starts with what if. What if a former actress turned restaurateur gets sucked into a children’s theater? What if a handsome man heads the children’s theater, but he doesn’t like the former A-list actress? What would happen? Do you see where I’m going? These are questions I asked myself when preparing to write An Encore for Estelle.
What if you don’t have any characters in mind or a setting, or a topic, or anything? What if you have nothing?
I would suggest you watch the news, read the paper, or sit at the mall and watch people. There are so many stories out there. I’m not suggesting writing a story ripped from the headlines, but why not use the headlines and ask what if?
The next step is to talk it out with someone and bounce ideas off of each other. Be sure to take notes. It’s difficult to remember every idea that gets brought up. Even if an idea doesn’t fit well with what you are going for, save it for the future. You never know if one of those ideas will work for a different story.
I wish much success as you brainstorm!
A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children’s theater. The writer/director didn’t anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together?
You can sign up for Kimberly’s newsletter via her website at: http://kimberlyrjohnson.com/index.html
Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2pDQweE
Amazon Follow: https://www.amazon.com/Kimberly-Rose-Johnson/e/B00K10CR6E/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1435862403&sr=1-2-ent
Darlene Franklin has just released book #50, MERMAID’S SONG, a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale on the coast of Maine.
Join Darlene on July 10th for a come-and-go party celebrating 50 books! A box of books will be given away every hour, and her guests will include author Tracie Peterson, agent Terrie Wolfe, and editor Annie Tipton.
Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/events/1700850980218471/. Hope to see you there!
Now more about the Mermaid’s Song:
Noble Prescott is drawn to the scene of a shipwreck by a sweet song sung in a language he didn’t understand. The songstress is barely alive, holding onto a piece of the ship’s railing. Her dress wraps around her legs like a mermaid’s tail.
Thus begins this imaginative retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale.
Justine Battineaux, an Acadian forced from her homeland on Cape Breton Island by British decree, finds herself adrift in the Maine colony. She doesn’t know the language and is distrusted as a foreigner.
Noble lives up to his name, providing shelter for Justine—and protection, as distrust turns into danger. For himself, his family—and the woman he comes to love.
How will Justine and Noble overcome the evil woman’s schemes to find their own love everlasting?
Darlene Franklin is busy working on nonfiction projects for Barbour Publishing. She is writing the companion prayers for the text of A 12-Month Guide to Better Prayer for Women. She will also be contributing 2 months of devotions to 2019 collection of Daily Wisdom for Women. Writers’ Digest is considering an article by Darlene about lessons learned on the journey to fifty books.
Darlene is also doing galley edits on His Golden Treasure, included in Captive Brides, to be released on October 1. Her next novella, The Christmas Child, will be published about September 1, 2017.
I want to invite you all to my 50 Book Jubilee on July 10th on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1700850980218471/ I’m doing final edits on book #50, Mermaid’s Song, and it should be published by July 1st!
Open My Heart This Christmas (includes First Christmas): http://amzn.to/
Maine: If there’s romance…it must be Maine (includes Acadian Hearts): http://amzn.to/
Now let’s meet June…
An award-winning author, June Foster’s novels include Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, Deliver Us, Hometown Fourth of July, Ryan’s Father, Red and the Wolf, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, What God Knew, Misty Hollow, Lavender Field’s Inn, Christmas at Raccoon Creek, and Restoration of the Heart. Find June online at http://junefoster.com.
June’s True Confessions
As I prepared my post for Darlene, I asked what writing tips might readers find most helpful. Then it dawned on me. Why not share tips that sum up some of my own areas of weakness. I’m sure others can benefit as well. Before I list them, I must give credit to a former critique partner, Betty Noyes, for each of these suggestions.
The first set came when I was working on Deliver Us. Betty offered hints to make my hero, Riley Mathis, more believable.
*Go deeper into his emotions. Allow him to feel guilt over his past and let the reader perceive it by using precise language.
*Word choice can make or break a connection with readers. Choose words wisely.
*In highly emotional or action-packed scenes, remember that simple is better. This is not the time to use flowery language, but get the point across as succinctly as possible.
*On occasion I tend to describe too much for the reader. He poked the key in the ignition and revved the motor. Putting his foot on the gas, he accelerated then turned the corner at the end of the block. The reader can fill in the unimportant blanks.
*Vary sentence structure so that every sentence doesn’t start with the character’s name or a pronoun.
The next set of suggestions came when I was writing Misty Hollow. Again, Betty’s observations worked well in my story.
*Give the reader the benefit of the doubt. I’ve always had to tendency to over explain the situation or the character’s motives. I suppose part of the reason is I was an elementary teacher for thirty years. Teachers tend to say things over and over again.
*No need to contrive sentences merely to switch things around. Readers will lose interest if they have to stop and try to figure out what I’m saying.
*In Misty Hollow, I wrote my villain, the heroine’s father, with no redeeming qualities. Even a bad guy can be good sometimes.
*In Misty Hollow, Molly came off as a dish mop at times. Probably because that was the kind of daughter I was as a teen and young woman. But I needed to rethink her and give her a bit of a rebellious attitude – even if it was only in her inner thoughts.
I hope Darlene’s readers will be able to relate to some of my own areas of struggle. Happy writing, all.
Molly Cambridge determines to bring literacy to the people of Misty Hollow, but the town’s mayor opposes her at every turn. Dirt farmer, Joel Greenfield wants to own a dairy farm, but what are the chances? He can’t read. Will romance survive in the magnificent Appalachians? When two people are cultures apart, only God can bridge the gap.
Here’s the buy link: http://tinyurl.com/m3xa9hz
Today I’m happy to introduce Alexis to you…
Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.
Three Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block
Tip #1: Free writing.
I learned this technique in college. Our English professor told us to rip out a sheet of blank paper and grab a pen. She then set her timer to a 10-minute countdown and told us to write until it buzzes. Her rules for this free writing exercise were simple: Write exactly what’s on your mind. Don’t edit. Don’t proofread. Just allow the thoughts to flow from your head, through your pen and out onto the paper.
After ten minutes passed, we stopped writing. She instructed us throw the paper containing our thoughts away and start writing our assignment for the day. It worked! My mind was clearer and the words flowed easier.
Tip #2: Exercise.
Make it fun! Go take a dance aerobics class at your gym. Try a spin class, step class, or even a boot camp. Any form of exercise that’s good for your health and considered fun by you should unclog your writer’s block and re-start the creative flow.
Tip #3: Watch a movie in your genre.
I love watching movies on The Hallmark Channel! The stories are all inspirational romance and always inspire me.
One recent Saturday night, I was feeling very uninspired so I watched the movie “All for Love” http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/all-for-love). It’s about a romance novelist who is experiencing a form of writer’s block and struggling with making her newest novel about a Navy SEAL, believable. She also struggles with creating a riveting romance. So for story research reasons, she joins a boot camp led by this really good-looking Navy SEAL and the plot twists ensue.
I related to the heroine of the movie and was swept away as I watched her love story with the hero unfold. By the end of their story, I was ready to return to my computer and work on my own.
A Second Chance is a fictional story about two entry-level journalists who are struggling to make ends meet and they both need a second chance at love.
Before I introduce you to Leeann, I wanted to share that my 49th book is officially available for purchase. Learn more about “Acadian Hearts” at https://www.amazon.com/Acadian-Hearts-Darlene-Franklin-ebook/dp/B071WQCLVQ/
Upcoming blog appearances:
Now let’s meet Leeann…
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released five titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Hidden Assets releasing the end of June. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at www.LeeannBetts.com or follow Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print.
Writing Through the Summer
The summer is well upon us, and there are many activities and opportunities calling to us. Kids home from school, family and friends visiting, vacations to plan and enjoy—where will we find the time to write?
Here’s the ugly truth: we won’t.
But all is not lost: we can MAKE time to write.
Here are some suggestions:
– Set your clock for 15 or 30 minutes earlier to get up in the morning. The days are warm, the sun will likely already be up, so it’s not nearly as difficult as it would be during the winter months.
– Bring a notepad and pen wherever you go, including the beach, the park, the neighborhood pool, the grocery store, the library. Jot down some ideas, snatches of conversation you overhear at the checkout, character descriptions you might use.
– Use every activity as an opportunity for research. Just because you don’t write historicals doesn’t mean you don’t need to research. Taking the kids for swimming lessons? Ask the swim coach what training she needs to do this job. Dropping the kids off at the library for a reading hour? Talk to your librarian about your books and the possibility of doing a reading. Grocery store? Ask the cashier about his unusual name.
– Read as much as you can.
– Watch movies.
– Go to special events such as field days at the local museum, botanic gardens, and zoos.
– When you go on vacation, look for places to see along the way.
– Watch for historic markers along the highway.
Incorporating writing time into your day will keep your story in your mind and make it easier to get back to the actual writing. Plus, if your mind is brimming over with ideas, dialogue, descriptions, and details, the writing will feel as though it’s flowing from your fingertips.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free print copy of Nuggets of Writing Gold, which is full of writing tips and exercises guaranteed to keep you busy through Christmas. No excuses!
Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, responds to a call from her friend, Anne, who is in the middle of a nasty divorce, and travels to Wyoming to help find assets Anne thinks her husband has stolen. But the mystery begins before Carly even arrives when she sees a man thrown off a train. Except there’s no body. Husband Mike uncovers an illegal scam in a computer program he has been asked to upgrade, and then Anne is arrested for her ex’s murder. Can Carly figure out what’s going on, and why a strange couple is digging in Anne’s basement? Or will she disappear along with the artwork, coins, and money?
Today I welcome Rhonda Gibson as my Fifth Monday guest. We entered the world of published authors at about the same time and tried repeatedly to work on a novella collection together with Barbour. I don’t believe that ever happened, although now we both appear in three collections from Forget Me Not Romances, including the most recent release Colorado: 2 contemporary romance novellas and 2 historical.
I was honored to speak at her local writers conference, Southwest Colorado Christian Writers. A warm welcome to Rhonda!
You can write to Rhonda at email@example.com
She hopes her writing will entertain, encourage and bring others closer to God.
How to Write for Two Publishers and NOT lose your Mind.
When writing for two houses like I do, you must be able to keep things straight. For a long time, I struggled with keeping up with deadlines, characters, book ideas, you name it. I tried day timers and calendars but all that did was give me lots of items to keep up with.
I came up with an easier way for me. I decided to organize all the things I mentioned above into one small notebook. The notebook can be any size you like but I like the ones that are at Walmart called Avery. You can buy paper, dividers, sleeves for notes and other things.
I make my own monthly calendar and put it in the front. The nice thing about creating your own calendar is that you can add to it as you please. Mine is very simple, I make one big one Jan-June on one side of the page July – December on the other. I put in book deadlines, blog deadlines, promotional deadlines and anything else that refers to my writing on the main calendar.
I also make monthly calendars as I need them. They are simple pages with the month name at the top and the numbered days of the week down the left-hand side. For a forgetful person with lots of irons in the fire, it is the best way.
My writing is another section of the notebook. I put two dividers in and label them the names of my publishing houses. Then I put paper behind each divider. I keep doing this for each section of each book. I have 5 dividers for each book. I label them: Title, Characters, Synopsis, Maps and Research.
I hope this helps you as much as it does me.
Anna Butler is escorting a group of orphan train children to Douglas Center. Anna has never traveled by train before and is taken with motion sickness shortly after her journey begins. One little girl, Maggie O’Brian sticks to Anna and refuses to let her go. Even after the good doctor, Gideon Hill, heals Anna’s sickness and adopts Maggie the child still wants Anna as part of her new family. I hope you will all enjoy their story as they learn to love and trust, all for the sake of a little girl with big dreams of having her perfect family.
Darlene here… You can also find me today visiting with Donna Schlacter about lessons learned on the way to 50 books. https://historythrutheages.
Also, Colorado Melodies will be ON SALE June 1 for ONE DAY ONLY for .99 cents. Don’t miss it!
I’m adding something new to my blog in the coming months. I’ll be hosting short devotionals here every Wednesday with the help of some guests. If you’re interested in signing up to write a devotional, visit http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090b4ea9a92fabf94-devotionals.
I recently did a Book Trailer video and discussed “Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands”. You can watch it here.
“One Lump or Two: 4 novellas of romance over tea (A Teacup Courtship Novella)” is available on Amazon right now for .99 cents. You can grab your copy here…
My big news: I’ve completed the rough draft of book #50, Mermaid’s Song. It will be available early in July.
Upcoming blog appearances:
Now let’s meet Helen…
Helen Brown grew up in a small town and changed colors when she married her pastor and became Helen Gray. They have three grown children and still live in their native Missouri Ozarks. She thanks God for the opportunity to spin Christian fiction, and considers it an added blessing if it should touch others in even a small way.
Visit her at http://helenbrowngray.com/
Choosing a Title
The first thing to consider is what your book is about. The title should reflect that. It can be as simple as the name of a person, place, or thing. Or it can be an event, a line from the story itself, or an association of ideas.
After publishing several romance novels and novellas, I have ventured into a new genre—mystery. While writing the first one, I began tossing around ideas for a title. My heroine is a teacher in a small town high school, a world of familiarity to me, so the words Schooled in Murder came to me. But then I did a search and found another book (in a genre far different from mine), as well as a series, by that title.
Yes, I’ve read that titles are not copyrightable. But I wanted an original title. So I pondered about it and settled on Educated in Murder.
When I started a sequel, I decided to stay with the same pattern, with a new word at the beginning. That story is about a preacher (a praying man) who was preyed upon. I titled it Preyed in Murder. The victim in the third story is a coach, so I titled it Coached in Murder.
At the time, I didn’t know about “trademark” titles, those that follow a pattern unique to their particular series. Some examples of famous writers who have made their titles follow a unique pattern are Janet Evanovich with her numbers; Sue Grafton with letters of the alphabet; James Michener with one-word titles of locations; John D. McDonald with colors; and James Patterson with nursery rhymes.
Have fun with your titles. But make sure they’re not dull, and that they are appropriate and easy to remember. Also, I read somewhere that most titles on bestseller lists are no longer than three words long.
Toni Donovan teaches science in a small high school in the Missouri heartland. As a devoted wife and mother of two young sons, she leads a quiet and orderly existence—until she discovers the district’s missing superintendent, a woman she hated, in the body farm kept by her forensics class. The victim was a tyrant and manipulator, and Toni senses there are secrets in the halls of academia that no one suspects.
When, with the instincts of a scientist, Toni delves deeper into the murder investigation, she finds herself facing more problems than just preparing for classes and dealing with unruly students. When her younger son, whose dream prompted her to the location of the body, is threatened, Toni learns that danger and terror do happen in a small town, and that she must not allow hate to overtake her life. Determined to stop a killer, her quest leads her into a series of discoveries that could cost Toni her own life.
Here’s the covers to my upcoming releases.
It’s a classic rich girl and poor boy story–set in the beauty of the future Acadian National Park.
Justine Battineux loses her voice when she is shipwrecked on the shores of the English-speaking Maine colony.
Celebrating 50 Books! July 10th on Facebook! Tons of prizes.
Guest blog posts this week:
Both on May 16th:
Now for this month’s Review Feature…
The Pony Express Romance Collection: Historic Express Mail Route Delivers Nine Inspiring Romances
Join the race from Missouri, across the plains and mountains to California and back again as brave Pony Express riders and their supporters along the route work to get mail across country in just ten days. It is an outstanding task in the years 1860 to 1861, and only a few are up to the job. Faced with challenges of terrain, weather, hostile natives, sickness, and more, can these adventurous pioneers hold fast, and can they also find lasting love in the midst of daily trials? Find out in this exciting collection of nine historical romances.
Learn more at Amazon
“The Gambler’s Daughter by Darlene Franklin – 1860…near Fort Kearny, Kansas….Caroline Adams arrives at the Chelan Swing Station where she will finally be reunited with her father, the stationmaster there—or so she thought. Instead she finds stationmaster Martin Green. In the days that follow, Caroline and Martin find themselves unraveling a mystery while searching for her father and in so doing uncover secrets that shed light on the life he had lived—not all pleasant—after he left Caroline and her mother all those years ago. Crushed and heartbroken, Caroline considers what her next steps are, she really has no choice but remain in Fort Kearny. As the days turn into weeks, Caroline settles into her new life, work, an unexpected romance and growing faith, forgiveness and restoration. Surprises are just around the corner, danger, forgiveness, miracles and love. Fun story.
“There are nine stories in this collection of novellas, but the one by Darlene Franklin was my favorite….
Since I read the one by Darlene, I have read six more novellas and so I cannot remember the names of the characters involved, but what I liked most about Darlene’s is that her protagonist had to fight his demons and wrestle with the Lord to come to the place where he was strong enough for the young lady who had stolen his heart. She described in detail the struggle he encountered in overcoming his temptation, much as Jacob wrestled with the angel of God. I appreciate her ability to put into words, the daily struggles of living the Christian life and yet give hope to one who struggles so.
This is a five star book, with two thumbs up, and a pony express outpost.”
Authors are always grateful for reviews and I appreciate every review I receive for one of my books. Thank you to these ladies for sharing their thoughts. Happy Reading, everyone!
I’m excited to announce 2 upcoming releases. In June, Acadian Hearts will be available. It’s a classic rich girl and poor boy story–set in the beauty of the future Acadian National Park.
In July, Mermaid’s Song will be released. Justine Battineux loses her voice when she is shipwrecked on the shores of the English-speaking Maine colony.
May is also a busy month for my guest appearances online. Here’s where I’ll be this month visiting with author friends and talking about my latest books.
May 8 – Lena Nelson Dooley’s blog
May 10 – Renee Blare’s blog
May 16 – Amber Schamel’s blog
May 16 – Australasian Christian Writers
May 20 – Amber Schamel’s blog
May 22 – Kim Johnson’s blog
May 29 – Donna Schlacter’s blog
Now let’s meet Valerie…
Valerie Comer is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner, writing contemporary romance with engaging characters, deep faith, and strong communities. She hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily-ever-afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Visit her at http://valeriecomer.com/
Writing Tip: Writing a Multi-Author Series
About a year ago, six Christian contemporary romance authors met in a secret Facebook group to brainstorm an independently published continuity series. Some considerations:
- Setting: we created the fictional town of Arcadia Valley near Twin Falls, Idaho.
- Series Length: each author agreed to write one novella of about 30K and three novels of 48-55K.
- Series theme: we agreed on a thriving local food theme, and each chose an aspect for her own mini-series.
- Timeline: we agreed to publish the six novellas in one volume then release a novel a month for 18 months, rotating through the group.
- Continuity: we agreed to submit our manuscript to the group 90 days before publication for beta reading and deeper immersion in the story world.
- Editing: we discussed hiring one editor for all the stories, but agreed that each author could hire her own usual editor. The beta read step will help keep continuity.
- Covers: we agreed to brand by using one style from one cover designer.
- Website: we purchased a URL to point readers to at http://arcadiavalleyromance.com
- Promotion: we agreed to promote our six-novella collection, Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley, via paid advertising, and to promote each other’s novels as they release.
- Pricing: we agreed upon a standard pricing strategy, with no discount during pre-order, and no sales until/unless the group agreed.
- Vendors: we agreed to have all books available on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks, with each author to upload/control her own books.
- Paperbacks: we agreed to create paperbacks of every release, including the 6-novella collection.
- Longevity: we agreed to uphold the above agreement for two years from the onset of publication, which is six months after the last release.
Many other details were discussed as well, but this serves as a decent summary. What about you? Would you ever consider being a part of a project like this? What additional parameters would you want in place?
Single mom Evelyn Felton takes on a third part-time job managing a greenhouse and garden project for Grace Fellowship. Formerly homeless, she’s thrilled to offer truckloads of fresh produce to the Arcadia Valley food bank.
If only Ben Kujak weren’t running Corinna’s Cupboard singlehandedly, he’d be delighted to be on the receiving end. But Evelyn and her dynamo daughter, Maisie, won’t take no for an answer, even if it means restructuring Ben’s charity.
Soon Ben finds himself wishing they’d transform his personal life, too, but can true love sprout when their pasts collide with the present?
Congratulations to JAYNE NOBLE and FRANKIE JONES, winners of Pony Express Romance Collection and To Riches Again from last month’s drawing.
Cinderella’s Boot is part of the Runaway Brides Collection. Years ago I saw a worn boot on the street. My writing antennae went on alert, demanding an explanation for its presence. People suggested various scenarios—a murder! A kidnapping! Alien abduction!
The boot also reminded me of Harry Potter, but as a romance writer, my thoughts flew to the story of Cinderella. When my publisher put out a call for runaway bride stories, I knew exactly what I wanted to write. Cynthia Ellen “Cinderella” Cooper ran away from her wedding, leaving only a boot on the ground.
Visit colorful Colorado through the stories of three couples longing for love’s sweet song. One couple’s compassion for orphans will either draw them closer or tear them apart. A young woman in survival mode will be swept off her feet by a true “knight.” And two people needing to rebuild their lives will find their hearts need renovated, too. Watch as these three couples’ stories intertwine with friendship, faith, and love in the presence of the majestic Rocky Mountains.
Leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win this month’s book giveaway. The winner can choose either Romanian Rhapsody, Plainsong or Knight Music—or the collection, if it’s in print by then.
Next month, come back for Acadian Hearts, a national park romance.