Tag Archives: Abbey MacInnis

Spending time with Abbey MacInnis

I want to thank April Dawn and the other contributing authors of Let’s Talk Romance for having me here today.

I love reading books in several genres. My favorite genre, obviously, is romance. Within romance, I love contemporary, paranormal, erotic, and everything in between. Historicals though, have always held a special place in my heart.

As a teenager, I fell in love with authors Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught, Johanna Lindsey, Elizabeth Lowell and many many many others, and the fabulous historical romances they penned. There’s just something about historicals that I absolutely love. It’s a combination of the characters, the story, and the setting that reel me in.

It’s easier for me to get swept away into a story that’s an historical than any other genre. There’s so much that an author can utilize to up the conflict between the characters that simply wouldn’t work in any other genre. It’s fun to see how a regency miss will get herself out of a compromising position with London’s most notorious rake. Or how a Medieval damsel will rescue her knight in shining armor. LOL

For years, I always said I’d write an historical someday. It’s extremely daunting and fun to finally do it. I love doing research, and could get sucked into it all day. I’m a stickler for accuracy, so when I finally pinned the bull by the horns, and decided to write one, first thing I did was the research. His Fifth Avenue Thief isn’t set in a setting or time readers are probably familiar with. I didn’t plan on setting it in NYC in 1850. I was aiming for twenty years prior, but once I did the research, I knew that time would be perfect. The big famine in Ireland in 1848 killed millions, and sent thousands from their homeland and turning to America as a place where they could make a new start. My hero and heroine were no different. Congress passed the compromise of 1850, or the Fugitive Slave Law, making it a crime to aid a runaway slave. This act, and the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin a few years later, would send the country down the inevitable path to war. I wanted to capture a time of peace.

I love writing books that I’d want to read. I got the idea for this book, in part, from Jenny’s character from the movie Gangs of New York. As a refresher, Jenny’s a turtle dove. She dresses as a maid, sneaks into mansions, and robs their occupants blind. Other than that commonality, that’s all my heroine, Cathlene has in common with her.

Once I established the setting, Aaron and Cathlene took over. It was their story, so I let them tell it. And boy did they. I was just along for the ride.

I have several more historicals planned. I had to get over my initial fear of writing one. LOL I had fun, and I feel my voice is more suited for historicals, but I’m not ditching contemporaries. *g* I’m so glad I confronted that fear. If you’re a writer considering writing something different, go for it. Things might turn out better than you anticipated. If you’re a reader, what’s your favorite type of Historical to read? What would you love to see more of?

I’m continuing my blog tour on Tuesday at the

Mystery World of P.A. Brown

Where I’ll be giving away an Amazon gift card. I’d love it if you stopped by.


Abbey MacInnis is a published author of Contemporary Western romance. Along with Contemporary, she writes Historical, Paranormal and erotic romance. Whether she’s being swept off her feet by a Medieval knight, regency rake, or cowboy or cop, her heroes are always strong men who’ll love their women unconditionally.

On most days, Abbey can be found at her computer, penning her latest tale. A tale where love, respect, and passion combine to create a satisfying and happy ending. She invites you to step in to the pages of her romances, to leave your worries behind and get swept up in her world.

His Fifth Avenue Thief blurb:

Two years prior, Irishman Aaron O’Connel took his life from rags to riches. Chance and wits have kept him alive in 1850’S New York City. But no amount of money or success can bring his love Cathlene back from the dead. When a thief sneaks her way into his mansion, the last woman he expects to find absconding with his belongings is his long lost wife.

Abandoned on New York’s shores, a widowed, penniless, and ruined Cathlene O’Connel was left to fend for herself in an unfamiliar world. Fear and circumstance drove her to a life of thieving in order to survive, but her heart risks the biggest danger of all when Aaron hands her a scandalous proposition: A son in exchange for her freedom.

Now that he has her back, Aaron doesn’t intend to let Cathlene slip between his fingers. He’ll do whatever it takes to regain her trust and love. But when an enemy from Cathlene’s past resurfaces, Aaron not only faces battling for Cathlene’s heart, but also her life.

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Catching up

I know I’ve been away much too long. I won’t be out of the loop from now on, but as they say, ‘life happens.’ I’ll do my best to give you a brief snapshot of where I’ve been during my time away from the blog. I’m only really starting to recover from all the excitement. Great thing is, there’s much more ahead.
Last month passed in a blurr. I was getting ready for my first-ever RWA National conference, (which was absolutely amazing). I caught up with members from The Greater Detroit chapter – my local chapter. I met some wonderful people, my fellow GIAMers, some fellow conference newbees, and Harlequin Romance Senior Editor, Kimberly Young in my hotel elevator. Ms. Young wasn’t wearing her nametag, but I recognized her voice from the podcasts on the Eharlequin website. By the way, those podcasts are chalked full of great stuff! If you’re a writer, and targeting Harlequin, definitely check them out.
While at conference, I spent time with chaptermate Renee Alexis and my roommate and pal, Jodi Redford I wish I had photos of the three of us at Animal Kingdom. If you haven’t yet been to Disney, IMO, you need to experience its allure and fantasy-like ambience firsthand. It really is a magical place. You don’t have to be a kid to have a good time. I’m sorry though, that I wasn’t able to check out the Magical Kingdom and meet some of Disney’s finest.
As for the conference,
RWA did a fabulous job coordinating all the workshops. The presenters of the many workshops I attended during the course of the conference provided me with a plethora of new material to add to my creative and business arsenals. I’ll mention two here, because it’s over two weeks later, and I still remember them. *g* Margie Lawson and the Carina Press spotlight with Angela James who did an excellent job giving the audience a clear picture of Carina and its mission. As a side note: I’ve just finished up Angela’s editing course with Savvy Authors If you haven’t yet taken it, you need to hurry up and get your spot for her next available class! She presents her lessons with no fuss, no frills added but with plenty examples to get her point across. And I loved that! Go ahead. I’ll wait. *g* Back to conference recap.
The Wednesday night literacy book signing, alone, was very interesting. I sat with Jodi Redford who was signing. To our left was Deanna Raybourn who is so down-to-earth and so nice to chat with. I had fun making small talk with her when she wasn’t busy with her readers.
Keynote speaker, Nora Roberts and Awards Lunch-in speaker, Jayne Ann Krentz are wonderful presenters who impressed me with their incredible amount of knowledge and sound advice, while making me laugh along the way.
The Golden Heart and Rita ceremony left me on the edge of my seat. I can’t imagine how anxious the nominees must’ve been. It was an emotional evening at times for me. I found myself tearing up when one of the winners, (any winner) would become emotional. I especially loved when Julia Quinn was inducted to the Romance Writers of America’s Hall of Fame after winning her third Rita in the category of best Regency Historical Romance with What Happens In London. And my fellow blogger, G. Jillian Stone not only won a Golden Heart, she also snagged an agent. 🙂 Go Jillian!
Since I’ joined RWA in 2006, I learned quickly that the Rita and GH ceremony along with the literacy book signing are infamous with members. Each year, up until now, I’d read others accounts of the conference and events there, and I’d wonder what it would be like to attend and experience them for myself. They were both pretty awesome! After attending this conference, I’ve gained an even greater appreciation for the romance genre, and writing in general. I’ve sharpened my own focus, expanding my dreams while narrowing my goals to the more practical few that I can control.
After returning home from Orlando, , I dove right into my family reunion, the MacInnis family reunion. My relatives from all over Canada flew in for the four-day event. I met second and third cousins, and wives/husbands/children of those cousins it made my head spin. But I had a lot of fun doing it. I heard the Harlequin party was a blast, but trust me, no one can party like my family. *g*
Next up for me, in September, is the year-long mentorship class with Lori Wilde I’m extatic for this course to start. This course looks like it’ll be a blast.
Well, there’s my not-to-concise recap. I hope those of you who attended conference had a fun time just as I did.

Let Jodi Redford Light Your Fire With Her New Release

New Release by Jodi Redford
Well, just as I promised last week, here’s this week’s new release info. 🙂
Out from Samhain Tuesday, June 29, is a new hot and kickass release from Jodi Redford And to celebrate her new release, Jodi is offering to one lucky person who leaves a comment, a $5 gift card to My Bookstore And More
Be sure to check out Jodi’s contest page. To celebrate her new release, she’s giving away an Advanced Reading copy of Light My Fire! There’s also some other cool prizes, but you’ll need to check out her contest page for the rules. But hurry, because the contest ends tomorrow.
Be sure when you leave your comments here to include your email address so Jodi or I can contact you. Best of luck, everyone! We’ll draw the winner on Sunday!

Light My Fire by Jodi Redford (Out this coming Tuesday from Samhain.)
Double the firepower, triple the heat.
Aiden Fortune’s orders are clear: Find the woman, claim her as a sexual
sacrifice-and share her with his horndog twin brother. Distasteful as it is,
the Drakoni council insists the ancient custom be honored. Or Aiden will be
One glance at Dana Cooper, and Aiden is thrown into the dragon version of a
tailspin. Claim her? Hell, yes, he’ll claim her. Problem is, she has no idea
her father signed away her destiny at birth.
Dana has dated enough whack-a-doodles to fill an insane asylum. Two gorgeous
men claiming to be dragons? Par for the course. Until they give her a
tantalizing glimpse of their inner beasts, which makes her think she’s the
one headed for a padded cell-for actually considering their offer of the
hottest sex of her life, for life.
Her resistance melts away under the onslaught of two men who pack enough
heat to set off smoke alarms in a six-block radius. Especially when she
realizes she’s falling for Aiden. But with a town full of dragon hunters and
an enemy lurking in the shadows, surviving a week of Aiden and Jace’s
double-teaming will be the least of her problems.
Warning: Contains two smokin’ hot dragons and their not-so-unwilling
sacrifice. A few wardrobe malfunctions and inappropriate use of
paintbrushes. You might want to have your local fire department on speed

Another new release by Jane Beckenham

For the next two weeks, I’m very excited to share two new releases from two of my good friends and fellow authors. This week,
Jane Beckenham
has a new release out with
Red Rose Publishing
which I’ll share with you in a moment, along with an excerpt to whet your apitite. Next week, I’ll be sharing info on a new hot number by
Jodi Redford
On with this week’s new release!
In Love With The Sheikh
Desert Rose Anthology
Jane Beckenham
Mainstream Romance: Contemporary, Interracial/Multicultural
ISBN: 978-1-60435-723-3
Cover Artist: Missy Lyons
Editor: Zena Gainer
Word Count: 49,380
Release Date: June 17, 2010

Desperate to discover her past, Lilly Duprés outbids Sheikh Kalim Raschid for an antique brooch. Her triumph is short lived. She can’t honor that bid. Accepting an offer to solve her financial embarrassment, Lilly discovers Kalim has every material thing yet spurns what she most desires. Love. Family. To belong.
After a lifetime spent watching his father hurt his mother, Kalim has vowed he would never imitate his father. But Lilly breaches his defenses leaving him vulnerable.
Faced with something he never wanted, Kalim must choose his future, and Lilly must accept her past, until life and love can come full-circle.

Replenishing Your Creative Well

Burnout can, and does happen to the best of us. Sitting around day after day, not stretching mentally or physically isn’t in any way healthy. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience. [G]
I’d love to sit and write twenty-four seven if I could. With the hundreds, heck, thousands of story ideas I’ve jotted down in some shape or form, plus those jockiing for center stage in my head could keep me busy for years. I don’t write nonstop, but when I do write, I’m more focused on my task because my creative well is full.
How do I replenish my well, you might ask? How do I reduce the amount of stress in my life? How do I manage not feeling burnt out creatively and physically?
I take the time to smell the roses and engage my other senses in the world around me. I listen to music. Read a book, (or several.) I go to a movie or have lunch with friends. I love sitting and talking with my grandma in her backyard. Or taking a drive on a breezy evening with the windows down to clear my mind.
I love to sing – always have. Putting on music or singing with others helps take my mind off my problems.
Doing house work allows me to step away from the computer, while still allowing me to focus on the problem at hand. Dusting, vacuuming or doing the dishes doesn’t take much brainpower. These chores help break the monotony of my day. When I’m ready to get back to work, I try to have healty snacks at my side, such as cold water, (not caffeinated drinks), nuts, fruits and vegetables. I’m still working on cutting back starches. One thing I’ll never stop eating is chocolate. [G] As far as I’m concerned, chocolate should be given its own food group. [G]
Sitting still while trying to figure out a crucial plot point won’t get you far. However, taking a brisk walk, a run, riding a bike, doing some light weight lifting, going for a refreshing swim on a hot day might just get those creative juices flowing once again.
It’s been well-documented that physical activity is bennificial. Here’s a link to the Mayo Clinic to one such article:

Seven Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

Exercise can improve your mood, self-esteem and self-confidence. It can boost your energy level. Ever have those days where you’re just so dead tired, you just want to eat then fall straight into bed? Try taking a walk instead. You’ll sleep better and deeper that night.
One disadvantage of being sedentary for too long is packing on those extra pounds. Exercise can help manage weight and even combat certain chronic diseases.
Just for fun, I won’t give you the second to last benefit listed in the article. LOL I’ll let you discover that particular bit of info all on your own. [wink wink nudge nudge]
If you have a group of friends to exercise with, all the better. You’ll get the benefit of social interaction along with a good workout. I’m a writer, not a hermit. I have to sometimes fight my desire to lock myself in my creative cage – to shut others out. Friends aren’t just good to go on a jog with. They’re good to bounce ideas off of or to simply spend time with.
When I’m having trouble putting new words on the page, sometimes I just need to sit and take in the quiet around me. It’s very difficult, but there are days where I can go without writing a single word. And rather than beat myself up for not writing anything new, I’ll go about my life, and when I’m not expecting it, an idea will reveal itself. When it’s time to go back to work, I’ll be ready and raring to go.
Stress can be found everywhere you look in some shape or form. What’s important is how we choose to manage it. I hope I’ve given you some helpful tips on how I handle stress and burnout. Now I’d like to hear what your methods are. How do you handle stress? Do you have a hobby or activity you enjoy that helps you unwind? How do you combat burnout? Feel free to share, and happy creating!

Using Music As Inspiration

There are some days where I have to drag myself to my desk to plant my butt in my chair. Days when writing a few words seems like an impossible and monumental feat. Granted, those days are few and far between, but they’re still unpleasant. I can only wipe the counter so many times and make sure my black Lab has enough water in her bowl. *g* I need to put my butt in my chair, open my WIP file, (one of them anyway), and write.
Lately I’ve been hooked on all things Historical, particularly movie adaptations of Jane Austen novels. The very popular Pride And Prejudice, (2005 version) and Sense And Sensibility, (1995 version). The musical score can really set the mood and tone for a specific film, or provide inspiration. Either way, there’s much enjoyment to be had.
These film scores, and others, (The Duchess), for example have really given me some wonderful ideas for future stories. I don’t know how this happens. I usually don’t write with music in the background as I find it pretty distracting, particularly music with lyrics. I’ll want to sing along. When that happens, I lose my focus. Oh sure, I get ideas from song lyrics, but I haven’t always listened to classical music. I’ve always found it to be lovely, but until I initially thought of attempting to write while playing something instrumental in the background, it never occurred to me that it could add something truly magical.
Purely instrumental pieces not only keep me focused on what I’m writing, but they add a certain excitement, a richness to my scenes that until recently, to me, weren’t present.
With a waltz playing in the background, my senses are much sharper as I write. In fact, I can’t type fast enough to keep up. I can see the ballroom overflowing with bejeweled ladies and gentlemen dressed in their finest. The skirts of the ladies swirl as they glide in the arms of their handsome partners across the polished floor, the crush, along with the smell of so many bodies crammed into one room can sometimes put me in the thick of things, so vivid is the setting to me. And all this because of music. Mabye this sounds silly, but that’s amazing.
I’m curious to hear from those of you who write with music in the background, what are some of your favorite songs, soundtracks and albums that inspire you? Who are some artists you can’t write without? Whether the mood of your scene is dark, soft, menacing, dangerous, do you put together a playlist or soundtrack for your WIP to match those moods? And if you don’t quite know what song could fit a specific mood, where do you find the perfect music to complement a particular scene? I’m interested in adding to my growing list of film scores, so please don’t be shy in sharing. 🙂

Interview And New Release With Jane Beckenham

Today’s chat is with New Zealand author Jane Beckenham. Jane writes both contemporary and historical romance and next week (Tuesday May 25th) sees her 10th book released. HE’S THE ONE is being released by

Abbey: Jane. Tell us a bit about He’s the One.

Jane: Well, HTO is set here in New Zealand, actually in Auckland where I live, a city known as City of Sails, because we’re surrounded by harbor on both sides, the Tasman Sea on one side and the Mankau Harbour on the other. I wanted to write about a heroine who was a wedding planner, I think because secretly it’s a job I would love to do. And my hero, well he is just pure hunk material. He owns vintage cars, and in particular a red Mustang. When I was out ‘doing lunch’ with authors Eve Summers and Melody Knight one day, this guy drove up and parked beside us in his red mustang. He walked right by. Oh it was drool heaven!

Reviews so far have been great….

Review from Single Titles…. “Jane Beckenham scripts
a beautiful tale woven with remarkable insight to
the emotions of a new couple finding their way. He’s
the One reminded me a lot of the emotions you feel
when you find someone special you’re attracted to.
I thought it believable and felt like I had stepped into the
story with Taylor and Cade. Curl up with a festive drink
and spend the day enjoying this remarkable story.”
Read more….

And from Romance Junkies… HE’S THE ONE by Jane Beckenham is a unique story. So many parts of the plot had this reviewer laughing out loud. The chemistry between the characters is strong enough to keep the reader turning the pages. I would recommend this book for the romantics out there that are looking for a fun, simple read to relax with.

Here’s the blurb: Taylor Sullivan doesn’t trust Cupid, but she plays one for a living. As a successful wedding consultant, she creates a couple’s ultimate fantasy—even though she’s never managed to create her own. And when her clients start asking her for wedding night advice, she’s sensible enough to know when to enlist help.
Cade Harper knows two things about women. They either abandon him, or use him as a walking bank. He doesn’t do commitment, and marriage is a dirty word—witness the string of broken hearts he’s left in his wake
Warning: Contains explicit, straight-to-the-heart sex between a hopeless romantic heroine and an abandon-all-hope hero. No need to dress up for this party—just curl up with a glass of bubbly and a box of tissues!

Abbey: He’s The One is quite quirky, I mean the opening line is out there.

Jane: The opening line Virginity is overrated came to me one night while I couldn’t sleep. My poor heroine is a virgin and her clients (the brides) keep asking her questions about sex she can’t answer. Like a sensible business gal she decides she’s going to learn a new skill!

Abbey: What do you think books set in New Zealand bring to your work.

Jane: Well I’d like to think I can bring a sense of NZ life and culture. I mean we’re upside down and when the northern hemisphere is deep in snow for Christmas, it’s summer here and all about bbqs and the beach. I think that is why I tend to set a lot of my stories around summer time, so I can showcase our different worlds. New Zealand has some spectacular native plans one of which is the Pohutukawa and is our ‘NZ Christmas tree” For example my book Always a Bridesmaid was set in Rotorua and the Ureweras – in the very heart of Nzs North Island, an area steeped in Maori culture and myth and legend which featured in the book. It’s also an area my husband and I lived in over 25 years ago.

Abbey: Do you write every day?

Jane: This is where I cough and splutter and hang my head. I should be, in fact I usually do, but at the moment I’ve been a tad slack and had some time off. I’ve even discovered the joys of window cleaning – which is incredibly sad and pathetic. But I’m slowly getting back into it, now the writing well is getting refilled with some down time, not something I do easily!

Abbey: Since you set a lot of your books in New Zealand, tell us a bit about life there.

Jane: Well NZ is a special place and of course if you saw the Lord of the Rings movies, you will have noticed a lot of our landscape. We’re 2 islands, (the North Island and South Island – not very original I know) though there is a tiny third one way at the bottom called Stewart island. Our native language is Maori and we’re officially part of Polynesia. We have a sub-tropical climate and a population of only 4 million. A nation for outdoor activities, anything from surfing and sailing to bungee jumping and skiing. Plus of course Rugby which is our national sport.

Abbey: What’s next on the writing front?

Jane: He’s The One is being released on 25th May from Samhain, then in the coming months I have a Regency, A Traitor’s Heart and a sheikh story – In Love With the Sheikh being released from Red Rose Publishing.
I have a couple of other contemporaries I’m fine tuning, plus an historical set in the late 1600s (in France/England) which is in edit mode too. No rest for the wicked.

Abbey: Thanks Jane for popping in to chat to us. How can readers find you?

Jane: Thanks for having me Abbey. You can check out my web site at Jane Beckenham.com and I am on twitter

It’s Abbey again. So Jane’s been kind enough to gift to one lucky commenter a pre-released copy of He’s The One. 🙂 So if you’d like a chance to win, leave a comment. 🙂 I’ll draw the winner on Sunday.

From Wannabe To Having The Write Success

Here’s another article I wrote a few years ago I thought I’d dust off and share. 🙂 I hope it helps you become more organized, or consider it. 🙂 I can speak from personal experience that by setting annual goals, then breaking those goals down into weekly goals is helping me immensely in moving forward and growing as a writer. 🙂

Have you ever met someone so passionate about something you can hear the intensity in their voice and words, and see it in their eyes? They absolutely love what they’re talking about. But have you ever really sat down with someone who wanted to be a writer but just couldn’t get past the idea of talking about writing—the craft, the business, what their writer friends are doing, and where they’re at in their careers? These people love the idea of what it is to be a writer.

Call me a snob if you must, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned (and it’s a very simple thing, mind you), it’s that if you want to be a writer, you have to write. Many writers have either stated these exact words, or paraphrased them in some manner, so what I’m advising here is nothing new.

I’ve met and known people who have developed their own “method” of writing, one which leads to not writing at all in the end. They use up too much energy being frustrated and worried about what others are doing, what they’re not doing. They allow their own fears to get in the way of going from unpublished to published. Or they wait for the muse to shoot some creativity their way instead of working on without her.

If you want to be a serious writer and build a career, you can’t rely on your muse. You have to put that butt in a chair or couch—wherever you’re most comfortable writing—and just do it. Writing isn’t just about creating stories, it’s a business.

It takes both discipline and consistency and yes, in my case, strategic planning regarding where I’m at, where I want to be, and how I’ll get there. I’m aspiring big, but starting small. You can do the same, but the only way it’ll work is if you stick to it.

There are, of course, no guarantees in life. Sometimes our best-laid plans go awry, but if we do everything humanly possible to stay the course as writers, we’ll always be moving closer to meeting our goals and reaching all we aspire to.

Not exactly sure where you want to be in a year or two, five or even ten? Or how you’ll get there? Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure of where to even begin? Sit down at your computer or grab a pen and paper, and brainstorm for five or ten minutes. Write down every idea you have, no matter how simple it seems.

Here are some ideas:

Write three books, get an agent, obtain RWA Pro status, get a website, build a social network by creating a MySpace, Twitter, FaceBook page, get a post office box, make business cards, create book trailers for your books along with other promotional items. Write for your dream publisher; hit the New York Times, USA Today or other major bestseller lists; start a blog, join a critique group, enter writing contests, judge writing contests, learn and understand the specific publishing models, and determine which is best for you. Get published. Study up on craft and the business of publishing. Sign up for online workshops each month, read books on writing. Read and dissect books from publishers you plan on targeting, familiarize yourself with the legal side of the writing business, and how to interact professionally with editors and agents. Learn how to research agents and publishers. Network with other authors. Attend book signings of friends; attend the RWA National conference, the Romantic Times Convention, or other smaller writing conferences. Design a workshop of your own to present, volunteer in your local RWA chapter or online chapters, and join any other chapters, and Yahoo groups to network with even more authors and potential readers.

Then, once you’ve written down all of your ideas, decide which ones are the most important now. Which goals do you need to accomplish before you begin tackling the others on your list? Do you really need a P.O. Box before you’re published? Order your goals by importance and divide them up into 3-month segments. Some goals might take longer than others, so be reasonable when allocating the amount of time to achieve them.

Break down your writing goals and decide where they fit in your big plan. Can you really write an 80,000 word manuscript in three months? Depending on your writing style, whether you’re a plotter or seat-of-the-pants writer, and if you’re a busy parent with family, kids, day job, you’ll know how to answer this. Be reasonable. You won’t meet your goals if you don’t make them achievable and give yourself enough time. You’ll only end up discouraging yourself.

If you don’t meet a goal as you planned, just move your deadline back by another three months. Even if you don’t meet all of your annual goals, save them for the next year. You’ll have other goals you’ll want to add as you move forward.

Keep your goals in a place where you can view them frequently. Review them often, and be proud of yourself when you cross one of them out. You met it and you’re on your way to success.

My Creative Process

Earlier this week I completed a manuscript. I feel equal parts relief that I’m done, excitement because I can start another project, and sadness because although they’re not real, I know the characters just as well as I know myself. I’ll miss them because it feels like I’m leaving them behind.
I’ve had some people ask me where I get my ideas. Truth is, I don’t have an answer for that. I get them everywhere – from the news, from overhearing conversations around me. I love playing the “what if” game. I mostly get ideas when I’m not looking. Song lyrics can spark an idea, and sometimes it’s difficult for me not to abandon my current project and switch to another. Writing with two names it’s easy to do. I’ve gotten much better at sticking with my current WIP, only starting something new once the other is completed. One thing I can feel assured in is that I’ll never run out of ideas.
Before I start something new, I look through my long file where I’ve compiled ideas. Here I have potential titles for future books, ideas where I just write a sentence or two, or in some instances, entire paragraphs devoted to the story. I’m constantly adding to this file. Whether I’ll use the idea or not all depends on what I’ve written down. Thankfully I’m the only one who reads this messy file with all my odd notes and blurbs. LOL I’ve been fortunate enough to remember the jist of the original idea. Even if I don’t use it, I might flesh out an idea before moving on.
Once I find something that holds my interest, the real fun begins. I love fleshing out my characters. I’ll write an autobiography for my hero and heroine letting them tell me their story. It’s amazing the things you’ll find by just closing your eyes and letting your characters guide you. It’s a fun way to learn their back story, their values, and experiences with past relationships. This information is good in helping you discover their goals, motivations, and conflicts.
I’m neither a plotter nor a panser. I tend to fall in the middle between both. Therefore, after I’ve fleshed out my characters, I move on to working out the main points of the story. While writing my hero and heroine’s life stories, I have a pretty good handle on their goals, motivations and conflicts (both external and internal.) Since I like letting the characters guide me through the story, I only figure out the main points, which for me are when the HH first meet, first kiss, first love scene, points of rising conflict, (which for me there are 3.) The turning point for the main character, (when either the he realize their original goal really isn’t what they truly wanted,) black moment and finally, the resolution.
I then write a rough draft of a synopsis. Some of you are probably cringing, but including a synopsis is required for many publishers depending on story-length and publisher. For me, writing one before I start the story acts as another guide for me to follow. I don’t revise and add more detail to the synopsis until after the story is done.
I know it seems like a lot, but I have to know where the story is going. I use this structure as a guide, but I let the characters tell the story. I have the freedom to create as I will, without feeling confined to one plot. If the story changes as I’m writing, I must, on a subconscious level, know where it’s going. However, as long as I stay on track with the plot points I’ve set down, anything can happen. It took me a while to understand this, and to not let it frig. I’ve had to learn, and am still learning through trial and error. What makes writing fun is we all have our process. The amazing thing is, with all our creative ways specific to each of us, we all manage to create wonderful stories that entertain and satisfy.
So, what’s your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panser? How do you familiarize yourself with your characters? Does your process change with each project? The process I’ve shared is the one I use for novellas and longer works, but if I’m going to write a short story I write a little down for the characters and get their goals, motivations, and conflicts. What is the most difficult part of the creative process for you? Is it your characters? Plotting?

The Importance of Nurturing Friendships And You

This past Tuesday, I attended my local Romance Writers of America’s chapter meeting. Due to personal commitments – work, family and life in general, I’ve been unable to attend any prior meetings this year. Normally when I enter the room, I feel this underlying thrum of energy, which was still very much present, but there was something else in the air too. I felt like I’d come home from a very long absence, and waiting for me were all my friends. It was as though I’d never missed a meeting.
While away, I’d forgotten how much interacting with everyone there really fed my creative spirit. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy sitting around chatting before the meeting came to order. And, I’d forgotten how, after every meeting, I’d walk away feeling enriched and invigorated by all I’d learned. I didn’t realize, until after the meeting adjourned, how much I missed well…everything.
This meeting was no different. I left feeling positive and uplifted by our speaker and I was so happy to see many of my friends again that I haven’t seen in a few months. I had a blast catching up with everyone. I loved celebrating with those who made a sale, or who had great news to share.
I think sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the many responsibilities we all have, we forget how doing the simplest, smallest things for ourselves can be more beneficial than we realize, and we take many things such as friends and acquaintances for granted. We have obligationns to family, work, household chores, and kids. If we write, our writing alone can take up dozens of hours each month. And if we’re published, add promoting to that, and for some, that takes up even more time.
When all is said and done, where does that leave us? We need to get away, to do something for ourselves that is unique to who we are.
I joined Romance Writers of America four years ago, and made some great friends along the way. I have many online friends who, like my local RWA chapter mates, enrich my life just as much. But there’s something to be said about personal interaction.
I love seeing the excitement of someone reaching a career milestone. Everyone there can share in that member’s euphoria, or give a hug when someone is struggling through hard times.
This month I was glad to climb from my little bubble and venture to somewhere familiar. Lately, I’ve allowed myself to get rapped up in the craziness that is my life, and I neglected doing something so simple, yet so fulfilling.
So whether you’ve missed your local organization’s meeting, catching up with friends over coffee, calling an old friend or acquaintance, renewing an old friendship, or just taking time for yourself, don’t do what I did. Take that first step, and set aside everything crazy in your life for a few hours. Put you first. Keep those friends you hold dear close. In your own way, show them you care. You never know what could happen. Your experience could be just as rewarding. 🙂

Tips For Surviving Rejection And Criticism

I posted this post on another blog a few years ago, but I think this is a topic worth visiting every so often. I wanted to come up with a more inspiring title, but then decided to not call it anything other than what it is. I hope it helps. 🙂
As writers, we face numerous challenges and hardships. It’s so easy to become discouraged – to give up before you even really try.
We face rejection from editors and agents, sometimes caustic and cruel remarks from people who don’t understand us – think we’re wasting our time at this writing thing. Comments from critique partners telling us that this isn’t how we should have written this chapter, all the rules we’re breaking when all we’re attempting to do is tell a story. Then, there’s all the crap we throw at ourselves. If you’re anything like me, it can be so easy to beat yourself up over the slightest thing. We’re our own worst critic and harshest judge. We can do more damage than any of those other three scenarios I mentioned with just a simple negative thought, a thought that can stop us where we stand.
I take my work very seriously, but I also value feedback from others. I used to feel like I didn’t have any control over any of these scenarios, but I’ve learned that I’m holding the reins eighty percent of the time. And that, I have to say, is a wonderful feeling. It took me a while to realize that I was the one in control – that I didn’t have to just let rejection, criticism, and comments get me down. It was all in how I reacted to them.
I’m a very sensitive and stubborn person. I’m Scots, Irish, English and German. Lol Is it any wonder why I can get my back up? I’m human, and to simply say I’m not affected by rejection or criticism, I’d be lying through my teeth. Simply telling yourself to suck it up and move on isn’t healthy. You need to work through those negative feelings in order to truly be able to move forward. Having a positive mindset can help.
Rejection isn’t something I can control. It’s the nature of the business – something all writers who want to be published must deal with eventually. You can sulk and cry and vow to never write again if you interpret the rejection as something bad. But what if the editor or agent took the time to make it a personal rejection? Yeah, it sucks I know to have your baby rejected, but on the flipside, what suggestions or comments did they mention that could possibly help you improve your manuscript? Sometimes, we get the standard form rejection, but it’s a wonderful thing when we’re told how we can make our work better. So, give yourself a day to sulk, and then get back to work.
As for those who don’t understand why I write romance, and who may criticize, I simply smile and move on. There are some who will never understand, and that’s fine. They might not be happy with their lives or career – just speculating here. Lol But I couldn’t be happier doing what I do. We hold our lives in our hands. It’s up to us what we make of it.
Finding the right critique partner or group can be a blessing. Cherish them. If you take their comments to heart in a bad way, they won’t help you at all. But if you step back and have the understanding that they’re only trying to help you make your book be the best it can be, than they could be the best thing that ever happened to you. Of course, there are times when we find ourselves in a situation that doesn’t work for us. That’s fine. Some writers don’t mind harsher, more direct critiques. I’m not one of them. Constructive criticism is what I aim to give when I critique, and it’s what I want in return. Find what works for you.
Finally, there’s ourselves. Staying in a positive frame of mind can be one of the most difficult things to do. We have negative thoughts and feelings that creep up on us without us even being aware. We’re not realizing we’re thinking negatively until that thought is already planted in our brain. Getting that thought out of our consciousness is difficult. But what’s even more difficult is changing our attitudes and behaviors that accompany these negative thoughts and feelings, i.e., procrastination, perfectionism and fear of failure, or fear of success. So how might we banish those self-destructive dragons and act positively?
I’m a huge supporter of Margie Lawson
and her workshops. I learned this method of banishing those negative thoughts and feelings from a workshop she presented to the Greater Detroit chapter of RWA a few years ago. Margie emphasized to help prevent negativity from creeping up on you, or to consciously stop yourself from heading down that path, you need a physical representation of that nagging voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough, you’ll fail, be afraid to succeed etc.
I went to a local Hallmark store and purchased a few critters to keep me company. The brown snake I purchased represents those negative thoughts and feelings I find myself having. This is really important. We have to silence that voice. So, Hortense, my snake, has her face covered so she can’t see or smell my fears. And just so she can’t slither into my thoughts or coil around my creativity, she’s tied up in a nice little knot. When I’m feeling particularly frustrated or angry, I simply give her a whack against my desk, and I feel much better. I’ve silenced her. She can’t bring that negativity to me.
Just as silencing the nagging negative voice is important, it’s also important to have something that represents the good and positive thoughts and feelings you have. Along with Hortense, I also purchased a cool pink dragon already named Whimsy. I love that name. It’s so fitting. *g*
So if you find yourself having a hard time getting back into a positive frame of mind, go get your own Hortense. Naming it isn’t necessary, but I honestly don’t like that name. lol Hope there aren’t any Hortenses’ out there who’ll read this. *g* I don’t find her cuddly or cute, and that’s the whole point of doing the exercise. Now Whimsy on the other hand, with her wings, scales and neat tail rocks. She helps me fly my dreams.
You have to be tough if you want to become a writer. I’ve heard that mentioned many times. Although methods on finding that resiliency and thick skin are conveniently left out when that sage advice is offered. We’re all human, despite how tough we try to act. Don’t lose that part of yourself. 🙂 Learning how to move forward when you feel you can’t, and how to cope with rejection, and criticism are key if you want to go anywhere, not just where writing is concerned, but in life.
So go find your Whimsy and fly your own dreams.

How Saying No Won’t Kill You

I always marvel at people who can have their fingers in ten or more pies and never break a sweat. They make volunteering appear effortless, and they should be applauded for giving so much of their time and expertise. I am not one of them. Does this bother me? Since I’m the type of person where saying no is difficult, yes, it can, but I am learning where to draw the line, and just say NO.
There are always volunteers needed, in particular, with writers. If not enough help is found events such as workshops, conferences, contests, RWA and it’s chapters, critique groups, book reviews, various Yahoo loops would not run smoothly or at all. So when do you finally say no, and how can you do it without feeling guilty for believing you let others down?
Part of being a writer is being able to write. The more time you give to others, the less you have to dedicate to your own work. Once your published, you’ll have even more to add to your plate. Things such as promotion, networking, revisions, and galleys will need your time and attention. They WILL need to be done.
Do you sometimes feel rushed or stressed out about not having enough time to get everything done? You not only have demands of your family, day job, and other outside obligations to meet, but the jobs you volunteered to fulfill that revolve around your writing. Do you wonder where the time goes? Hours can pass, and you’re still checking emails? Or you’re playing catch-up with critiques, or cutting it close to finish judging those entries for the three contests you agreed to judge?
Keep track of what you’re doing with your time. Keep a log or a journal, where you record what you do on a particular day, and how much time you spend on such things as email, critiques, moderating workshops or Yahoo loops, fulfilling your responsibilities as a board member of your chapter, presenting workshops, coordinating or judging contests, and contacting speakers for workshops or conferences. Do this for a week, then look back and see how much time you spent not writing.
If it was email that hogged your time, unsubscribe from those groups where you’re just lurking and not participating. If its critiques, tell your partner or group, instead of doing ten a week, you’ll do three, or how ever many you feel you can handle. Same with contests. Critiques and contest entries take time and effort. The feedback you provide is important, and if you can’t give either the time they deserve, than cut back. Your critique partners or those contest entrants shouldn’t be short-changed just because you felt rushed to get them off your to-do list.
Am I sounding harsh? Maybe. But honestly, if our goal is to help other writers, are we really meeting it by hurrying to do all that needs done? Instead, are we doing them more harm than good? Think about this when you feel the urge to volunteer. Can you REALLY dedicate the time that’s needed?
Force yourself to be more selective when the opportunity to volunteer arises. There are always benefits to offering your time. You can make new friends, find new critique partners, network with editors and agents, promote yourself and your books if you’re published, and if you’re pre-published, you can still get your name out there.
If you’re asked to help out with something, and you honestly don’t feel you can take the time, then just say so. You don’t have to explain why, or apologize, a simple, “I’d love to, but I’m not able to right now” will do just fine. Let the coordinator or organizer know to keep you in mind, and contact you when the next opportunity comes around. You might be able to help out then.
It’s difficult at first, to say no, when you’re so used to saying yes to everyone around you. Once you become more selective and yes, selfish with your time, it becomes easier. It feels wonderful and rewarding to help other writers learn and grow, but when you find your own work suffering as a result, it’s time to make a change. Your time is precious, so treat it like the gem it is.

Time: Is There Ever Enough?

Okay, so I did one of my dumb blonde moves, and I’m not even a blonde. And for those blondes out there, I still love ya. LOL
This post was supposed to go live last week, but somehow…somehow…it didn’t because I forgot to simply publish it. Yeah, really, really smart move, huh?
So here is my post once again. I probably forgot to mention I’m technologically challenged. So any problems I can’t explain, it was the computer’s fault. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂
I’ve been so happy to be blogging every week at A History of Romance. I try to be a good little blogger and post my blogs a few weeks in advance, but this week, I came in just under the wire if you’ll pardon the cliché.
That’s not like me at all. I’ve been working very hard at not procrastinating, since it can get me into some trouble. However, with a five-day workweek, writing and other commitments, it’s been difficult to stay on task.
I honestly didn’t have a clue what I’d blog about until I sat down and just started typing. Time’s been on the forefront of my mind. I’m working so much, (with a workload that keeps getting bigger), singing, (the Easter holiday approaches), and writing, (this book won’t finish itself.) My mind’s a jumble of thoughts, ideas and tasks. I feel like the little engine that could is running out of steam. *g*
I want to accomplish as much as possible in the twenty-four hours I’m afforded each day, (wishing I didn’t need sleep of course, and food? Ha, uh, my fellow super human beings of the world, we can sustain ourselves with pure mental strength). LOL
Therefore, if you’re pressed for time as I am, here are some tips to help you not go too crazy. These are some things I do to remain organized while plowing through the chaos that is my life. I’m expanding somewhat on the blog Tabitha Blake posted earlier this week on how she uses a schedule to help get her through her week. That’s not something I do personally. I use lists to help keep me organized among other methods which I share below.
Keep a calendar or date book on your person and near your writing space. I always have a calendar handy. It helps keep me focused as to what needs to be done each week. I have annual goals that I break down by weeks and then into days. It’s easy for me to see the big picture
Have a note-taking device or pen and paper close by. Who knows when you’ll have an idea for the next bestseller, or when your boss will call you with an important assignment. So it’s best to be prepared.
Make to-do lists. Some of you are probably shaking your heads if they’re not spinning already, but making lists for writing, shopping, even lists within lists works. I don’t throw anything away or delete any kernel of an idea that I jot down, because who knows when it might come in handy.
Wake up early or stay up late to help take items off your to-do list. I don’t care how exhausted I am, I write at least a page a day. And when I don’t, it’s rare. I’m a night owl. I get a lot done when my house is quiet and there aren’t any interruptions. If you’re an early bird, more power to you. *g* Seriously though, if you think you don’t have any extra time, make it. You’ll be surprised what freeing up five minutes can do for your creativity, (and sometimes, in my case, my sanity). *g*
Relax and reward yourself! Be sure to take time for you too. That is important. Stay healthy; eat right, exercise. Go get a manicure or pedicure, a facial or massage. Go to the movies or lunch with a close friend or two. Read a book. Your mind and body need a breather. Going non-stop will only make you feel tired and stressed out, which in the end, won’t allow you to achieve all your goals/deadlines, whether they’re yours or someone else’s.
Have a strong support system. This is my last point, but it certainly isn’t the least important. You’re probably wondering what this has to do with time management. I have many people who add a sense of fullness to my life. Family and friends, (both ones I’ve never met and those in person), enrich my life by doing more for me than I could even begin to express. They’ve all made me the person I am by their support. Whether it’s my critique partner encouraging me to keep pushing forward with a particular project, or a family member pulling me from my cave and dragging me out for a drive or something fun. All these people are my biggest cheerleaders. They hold me up when I want to fall, and push me on when I want to give up. They help me live day-to-day, help me manage my time and take the twists and turns life throws me.
I have several techniques that assist me in managing my time effectively. Maybe some of these tips will help you too. Or, perhaps you have your own methods for achieving your goals and meeting your deadlines. If so, I’d love to hear them!

Shake It Up!

A few weeks ago, my mom went out of town on a work-related assignment. Living with her as I do, we spend a lot of time together. Her business will keep her away for nearly three weeks. I love my solitude, but I also love being around people. So being the wuss, or smart person that I am, I’m staying at a relative’s house with my service dog, Tess.
When we first arrived, it took us a few days to get settled. Sometimes, there’s a lot of activity that goes on with my two cousins who work and coach a local sports team. My aunt works and so do I, so everyone spent a few days getting used to living together while following their normal routines. Tess and I got settled in, but it took a few days for me to get back on the writing wagon.
I’ve found though, that a change of scenery has really helped get my creative juices flowing. My relatives were kind enough to give me a room of my own for the duration of my stay, and I’m using an old desk that’s just the perfect size for my laptop and calendar.
Tess loves it here too. The backyard here is larger than the one at my house, and squarels have been seen running throughout the yard.
On our first day here, Tess made a b-line for the fince where the squarels have been seen – her Labrador instincts kicking in. She might be ten-years-old, but she plays like she’s three. She has a perfect bill of health, and she’s the best companion I could ever have.
Yes, I’m a proud mistress. *g* But we’ve both enjoyed this change. For Tess, our yard is just a yard, but here, it’s a totally new environment that needs exploring. For me, I’m feeling refreshed, the cobwebs clouding my imagination lifted.
If you’re stuck in a story, or just feeling as my grandma would say “ho-hum”, perhaps take your laptop or pen and paper to a coffee shop or to a park and see what happens. A new change in scenery might rejuvenate your creativity. The fresh air and white noise around you might help you with that scene you’ve been writing for two days.
You might (by accident, of course) overhear a conversation you shouldn’t, which could send your imagination down an entirely different path, giving you a completely new story to work with. It might happen while seeing a couple interacting, a mother or father with their children, or someone walking their dog. Who knows what could happen. That’s what makes shaking things up fun!
Now that Spring is almost sprung, you have no excuses. Break away from the norm, and do something totally out of character for you, even if it’s just for an hour. Go shake up your creativity. Add fresh air and a new environment to the mix, and I just bet you will stir up more than you ever thought possible!

New Release

This week, I’m posting info regarding my erotic alter ego

Eve Knight

Writing as Eve, I have a new release out today with

Cobblestone Press

My story, The Angel, is part of The Pleasure Club series, and I’m thrilled that it’s out! I have to thank
Anna Leigh Keaton

for allowing me to participate in her series. 🙂

I really enjoyed writing this story. Amira is a woman with a lot of baggage. She has a chance for happiness, and she finally decides to banish some of those demons that have haunted her for years.
Here’s the blurb:

Amira Grayson is a broken angel who lost her wings. She needs the love and strength of Archangel Michael to help her regain the confidence lost one night and forever imprinted on her soul. Guilt for past mistakes carried since she was eighteen has forced Amira to seek the expertise of the Pleasure Club to embrace the love she desires. Will Michael’s gentle compassion and love be enough to rid her heart of its burden and return her wings so she might fly free to go after the man she loves?
If you want to read an excerpt, go to:
Cobblestone Press
Abbey and Eve 🙂