A Letter From Home- #FlashFictionChallenge #amwriting


February 13, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes a sugar report. Use its original meaning of a letter from a sweetheart to a soldier, or invent a new use for it. Go where the prompt leads!

Follow along or join in at Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch- here

Unashamed tears roll down my face, words on scented paper imprinted on my mind.

Darling Ken,

I think about you every day, but never more than now.

He’s beautiful, my darling. A full head of hair, nut-brown like yours. Ten perfect fingers and toes, and a smile that fills my heart.

The nurse says gas, but we know better. He’s thinking of the day you’ll come home and take us into your loving arms.

I pray it’s soon.

Love you always and all ways,

Sara

Three long months ago, my baby wrote me a love letter- I’m a father.

Meet the Author- #AuthorSpotlight #WritersHelpingWriters @JamesCudney4


Author Spotlight- James Cudney IV

I’m thrilled to have James Cudney on the blog today! He is as kind as he is handsome, and a darn good writer to boot. 🙂

I’ve followed his blog, This is My Truth Now, for some time and appreciate his generosity as much as the informative reviews he shares. If you need a good book to read, look no further than James Cudney IV!

About the Author

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. I can’t believe I’m already writing the sixth book in this series. Come join in the fun…

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

Social Media Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Let’s Get to Know You

What do you write?

I have seven (7) published books. Two (2) are stand-alone family drama novels (Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure) and five (5) are part of the Braxton Campus Mysteries. Both the family drama novels include some amount of romance / relationship sub-plots. The mystery series follows all the cozy rules (no graphic sex, violence, vulgar language), but they are not very light anymore… they’ve gotten complex and push the envelope. I’d deem them murder mysteries with a twist. I’m working on three books for 2020, and there will be one from each of these two genres plus a third I will share more on early next year.

Ooh, I’m looking forward to that!

What genre do you favor?

At my core, I’m a mystery guy… but I intend to write a book in all major genres within the next ten years.

I can’t help but want to try all styles and angles to fully develop my writing skills and hone my areas of expertise. There will always be twists and cliffhangers (in my series) because that’s what I love doing.

When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?

I loved writing as a child, but it wouldn’t pay the bills, so it was only a hobby. After nearly 15 years in the workforce, I took a break to begin my writing career. Almost three years later, I will have 10 books published in 2020. Now, I think about finding a happy medium – both writing and part-time work in technology and corporate operations. I don’t know how to not be busy or multi-task.

You’re well on the road to success!

What do you think is the best way to publish these days?

That’s a tough question! Couldn’t you ask my favorite drink instead? Oh, wait… that’s coming up later. LOL Let’s see… finding an agent and securing a publisher rarely happens when you look across the wider industry. I think that’s often the best opportunity to get your work noticed by the bigger sites and marketing companies; however, given the amount of time you might have to wait to even get lucky, it’s probably not ideal anymore. I tried for six (6) months, then decided to just jump in the water and navigate it myself.

Becoming ‘famous’ is fine balance of networking, strong writing, unique personality, and luck.

Sometimes you’re in a writing group and a literary agent notices you. Other times you’re writing an article or short story and the right publisher stumbles upon it. For many of us in the digital age, we build our following though book reviewing, blogging, and social media interaction. Ultimately, I think that’s the future… publishing companies don’t want to pay for expensive marketing, and if you don’t have your own following somehow, they often won’t take a big risk on you. That said, I’d suggest a compromise in between the two spectrums. Don’t do all the work yourself; you have to pay someone to help with either editing, promoting, marketing, or sales management. Know your own skills and use those first; let others with stronger talent handle the other aspects.

Good advice- obviously it’s working for you.

What are your favorite genres to read? Why?

Cozy mystery, historical fiction, and thrillers. I like suspense a lot. I’ve read a few romance novels, and as long as they are about the relationship and the drama between the lovers, I enjoy them. (Hence why I like yours!!!) I was reading something lately where the term bodice-ripper was used (any idea where that came from? LOL). I’ve heard it before, and it’s kinda funny… under the right conditions, I could be caught reading one or two. But they would mess with my head too much, so I have to balance them with lighthearted fun and massive gore! 😊

I think bodice-ripper came from historicals featuring pirates ‘capturing’ fair maidens’ hearts 🙂 This from Urban Dictionary: An historical romance where the heroine has lots of non-consensual sex, which becomes consensual. 

How do you approach starting a new book?

Outline. Outline. Outline. Outline. Should I keep going? Phew, it’s exhausting, but I first dream about it. I lose sleep until the main plot is worked out. I write it out, then edit it until I love the story. Then I can write the book based on pre-determined scenes in my chapter by chapter breakdown. Within those scenes, it’s totally on the fly. I just know where it needs to start and where it needs to end up. Whether the characters laugh, cry, cheat, or kill… it’s all up to them at that point!

Sounds like you’re a plotser- part plotter, part pantser 🙂

What are the best writing books or blogs you’ve ever read?

Oh, you won’t like my answer. Ummmm… none? I don’t mean that how it sounds. I don’t learn from reading ‘how-to’ books. I learn from experience, conversation, and reading other people’s works. I see how they write, decide what works for me, incorporate pieces into my style, and end up with my own version of an approach. On the flip side, I’ve read some of the biggies and always find advice that makes perfect sense. I just struggle to read a ‘how-to’ book without actually doing the writing work while I’m reading.

That makes perfect sense to me- I’m the same way 🙂

What are your non-writing hobbies, or what do you do to relax?

Genealogy. Cooking. Gardening. Exercising. Playing with my dog. Theater. TV. Reading. I’m more of a homebody, but I do like to travel a lot too.

Do you have any personal heroes/heroines?

Oddly enough, not really. I admire something in everyone I meet. Even when I dislike someone, they do something I think is good / acceptable enough that I figure out what I can learn from them. As a kid, I adored JFK, but as an adult, when I learned more about him, there were things I found troublesome to accept. In the end, I like personality types rather than specific individuals. For instance, JFK was a strong communicator and had amazing ideas to change the future, but if he truly had affairs, I am disappointed in some ways. I choose to focus on a person’s most common traits and actions, then I can consider them someone to admire, a hero to some degree.

I like that idea.

Have you had any unusual or noteworthy occupations?

Nothing too atypical… but I did teach people how to bowl. I worked in a bowling alley for two years and learned the entire operation from 14 to 15. My favorite job was a grocery store clerk when I was 16 to 17.

What was your best date ever?

What’s a date? I think I remember those from a very long time ago. Is that when two people do something fun before they move in together or get married? Just kidding!!! I’m not sure I have a favorite one, but I do recall my second date with W (significant other) the most. We had our first date right before Christmas in 2011, but W left the next day to visit family and then travel to Europe for two weeks. The anticipation of having our second date was intense, and I always remember how nervous I was… I worked in Manhattan but lived in Long Island. It took 90 minutes by train each way, and I kept thinking… we’re not meeting for dinner until 8… I’m not getting home until well after midnight, then I have to come right back into the city for work the next morning. It helped me decide to sell my house in Long Island and buy a place in Manhattan. And the date lasted well past midnight, so I was a very tired guy the next morning after that ridiculous commute. (Keep those thoughts clean, friends… you didn’t think I stayed over in the city that night, did you?)

Sounds like you were already committed to the relationship- a romance in the making!

Tell us something you are really proud of.

For someone as shy and nervous around other people as me, and for someone who absolutely hates conflict and being judged, I wrote and published 7 books and deal with the negative feedback in a much healthier manner now. It’s simple. If you didn’t like my book, there’s something wrong with you, right? Ha! Just kidding… about that last statement. I get angry or upset when it happens on occasion, but it takes a day to feel better now. It used to take me weeks to recover.

Readers don’t realize how much courage it takes to put our precious book babies in their hands.

Can you confide something you wish you were better at?

Relaxing. I can’t stop my mind from working in overdrive. Ever. I try to do nothing, but it never works out. I have to drink a bunch, but then I feel bad the next morning, so it’s a vicious cycle.

Chocolate or chips?

Chocolate all the way. I am a sweet dessert guy, not a salty snack guy. Feed me chocolate and I am yours forever.

Good to know 😉

If you could have a superpower what would it be? Why?

Read people’s minds or move from place to place more quickly. I don’t like not knowing what someone’s thinking, so I’d rather hear it and deal with the consequences than let the worry eat me alive. Plus, if I moved quickly enough, no one could catch me!

Fancy restaurant or picnic?

Picnic, but I do go to my fair share of fancy restaurants. I enjoy it, but there’s something comforting and thrilling about a stunning picnic in nature.

Beer or wine?

Wine. I drank beer in college. I like the occasional one now at a picnic or BBQ, but I’d rather have a glass of wine with dinner. And Jack Daniels and ginger ale as a pre-dinner cocktail. Or seven. Whatever is appropriate for the evening.

Favorite author?

Agatha Christie. Kate Morton. Henry James. Ken Follett.

Smooth or hairy?

Oh! Hmm… are you asking if I am, or what I prefer? Now this is an interesting question… Based on reading your past interviews, a majority of your interviewed authors are female. Now I’ve got a spotlight on me and have to figure out how to respond appropriately. Can we jump back to the beer or wine question?

Lol- put you on the spot, did I?

I have a little bit of hair. If you follow my social media accounts, there was a recent shirtless picture (which I hemmed and hawed over for at least thirty minutes before posting), so you know it’s just a small amount. I HATE shaving my face too, so I tend to have 3-day growth all the time. I get too itchy after a week, so the sweet spot is twice per week to shave, often based on meetings or other events.

In others… I am an appreciator of all varieties. There are days when I think smooth is much cleaner to look at and ogle from a distance. On some occasions, the rugged and rough look can really be an intense picture to drool over, right? I think I’d settle on somewhere in the middle… then it’s up to the moment to decide what to do or how naughty to be.

I think I navigated that well unless you were actually talking about furry or non-furry throw pillows on couches and beds. Did I mess up this question? Let’s see what Jacquie actually prints. I think I need to go hide now… I say with a scarlet red complexion cascading from my ashamed forehead down to my shaking toes.

You did fine, though now I want to see the shirtless photo!

Books by the Author

147 4 star ratings!

Watching Glass Shatter (Contemporary Fiction / Family Drama)

The wealthy Glass family lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. Olivia receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family. Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia must figure out which boy Ben refers to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney searches for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. When Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her. Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life-altering, but she will not rest until her family is reunited after Ben’s untimely death. We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re all a mix of quirky personalities. Will Olivia be able to fix them or will the whole family implode? What will she do when she discovers the son behind Ben’s secret? Check out this ensemble cast where each family member’s perspective is center stage, discovering along the way who might feel the biggest impact from all the secrets. Through various scenes and memories across a six-month period, you’ll get to know everyone, learning how and why they made certain decisions. Welcome to being an honorary member of the Glass family where the flair for over-the-top drama pushes everyone to their limits. https://amzn.to/2ol6IHe

Father Figure (Contemporary Fiction / Family Drama)

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly. Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown and fall in love. Contemplating her loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies. Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to find her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. Desperate to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, Brianna accidentally finds out a shocking truth about her missing parent. Set in alternating chapters two decades apart, the parallels between their lives and the unavoidable collision that is bound to happen is revealed. FATHER FIGURE is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense. https://amzn.to/2NagJiD

BRAXTON CAMPUS MYSTERY SERIES

Academic Curveball: Death at the Sports Complex (#1)

When Kellan Ayrwick, a thirty-two-year-old single father, is forced to return home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds the dead body of a professor in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Then he finds a second body after discovering mysterious donations to the college’s athletic program, a nasty blog denouncing his father, and a criminal attempting to change student grades so the star baseball pitcher isn’t expelled. Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana weeding through the clues, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. Fate has other plans. Kellan is close to discovering the killer’s identity just as someone he loves is put in grave danger of becoming victim number three. And if that’s not enough to wreak havoc on his family, everything comes crashing to a halt when his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever. In this debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series, readers discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic, and nosy residents. Among the daily workings of Braxton College and the charming Ayrwick family, Kellan weighs his investigative talents against an opportunity to achieve a much sought-after dream. When this first book ends, the drama is set for the next adventure in Kellan’s future… and it’s one you won’t want to miss. https://amzn.to/2JlmHMw

Broken Heart Attack: Death at the Theater (#2)

When an extra ticket becomes available to attend the dress rehearsal of Braxton’s King Lear production, Kellan tags along with Nana D and her buddies, sisters-in-law Eustacia and Gwendolyn Paddington, to show support for the rest of the Paddington family. When one of them appears to have a heart attack in the middle of the second act, Nana D raises her suspicions and asks Kellan to investigate who killed her friend. Amidst family members suddenly in debt and a secret rendezvous between an unlikely pair, Kellan learns the Paddingtons might not be as clean-cut as everyone thinks. But did one of them commit murder for an inheritance? Kellan is back in his second adventure since returning home to Pennsylvania. With his personal life in upheaval and his new boss, Myriam, making life difficult, will he be able to find a killer or will he get caught up in his own version of stage fright? https://amzn.to/2qGofKB

Flower Power Trip: Death at the Masquerade Ball (#3)

Braxton College is throwing the Heroes & Villains Costume Extravaganza to raise money for renovations to the antiquated Memorial Library. While attending, Kellan stumbles upon a close family friend standing over a dead body that’s dressed as Dr. Evil. Did one of Maggie’s sisters kill an annoying guest at the Roarke and Daughters Inn or does the victim have a more intimate connection to someone else on campus? As Kellan helps the school’s president, Ursula, bury a scandalous secret from her past and unearth the identity of her stalker, he unexpectedly encounters a missing member of his own family who’s reappeared after a lengthy absence. When all the peculiar events around town trace back to the Stoddards, a new family who recently moved to Wharton County, the explosive discovery only offers more confusion. Between the special flower exhibit that’s made an unplanned stop on campus and strange postcards arriving each week from all around the world, Kellan can’t decide which mystery in his life should take priority. Unfortunately, the biggest one of all has yet to arrive at his doorstep. When it does, Kellan won’t know what hit him. https://amzn.to/2Jm7E5r

Mistaken Identity Crisis: Death on the Cable Car (#4)

A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. A string of jewelry thefts continues to puzzle the sheriff given they’re remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old case from shortly before Gabriel vanished one stormy night. When a missing ruby is discovered near an electrified dead body during the campus cable car redesign project, Kellan must investigate the real killer to protect his brother. Amidst sorority hazing practices and the victim’s connections to several prominent Wharton County citizens, a malicious motive becomes more obvious and trickier to prove. As if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud. What really happened to Francesca while all those postcards showed up in Braxton? The mafia world is more calculating than Kellan realized, and if he wants to move forward, he must make a few ruthless sacrifices. Election Day is over, and the new mayor takes office. Nana D celebrates her 75th birthday with an adventure. A double wedding occurs at Crilly Lake on Independence Day. And Kellan receives a few more surprises as the summer heat settles in Wharton County. https://amzn.to/2N67tw4

Haunted House Ghost: Death at the Fall Festival (#5)

It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival. Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing. While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost. https://amzn.to/2Pdc5TT

Coming Soon!

Frozen Ice Bank: Death at Danby Landing (#6) – Coming in 2020

A winter blizzard unlike any other descends upon Wharton County. Everyone’s so busy preparing for the four towns to shut down that they don’t realize Nana D has gone missing until it’s too late. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed psychic never could’ve prepared him for this level of massive damages. Once a dead body turns up beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must turn to April to face his worst fear of all. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother? Meanwhile, Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. April wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward with an unremitting vengeance. Between helping Kellan locate Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of a prominent Braxton citizen, April’s world explodes with more turmoil than she can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about Madam Zenya’s latest premonition—the suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

If you enjoyed this interview, show James some support by commenting and hitting those share buttons!

I love having guests on the blog. If you have a new release, a sale or just want to chat, send me an email via the contact page and we’ll set something up. Hope to see you soon!

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Series or Standalones- Does it Matter? #amwriting #Romance


Series or Standalones

That was the question posed by a member of The Story Empire earlier last week. You can read his full thoughts here– well worth your time.

I’ve read many great standalone books, (Cinderella anyone?) but have to admit I enjoy stories set in a series much more. There’s a deeper connection to a) the characters, and b) location- though either of those can, and often do, change throughout the course of a series.

From NY Book Editors:

Writing a book series can be incredibly challenging (that’s the bad news), but it’s also one of the best ways to develop a loyal fan base (that’s the good news).

NY BOOK EDITORS-2016

The books can follow one or two main characters through a variety of adventures- such as J.D. Robb’s In Death series or the Harry Potter franchise.

They can also be set around a location and the citizens within- Susan Mallery’s Fools Gold series or J.R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Some follow a progression of events and are best read in order, while others are self-contained stories within the series and can easily be read out of order.

Whichever style you prefer, series seem to be growing in popularity, some are even twenty books long and counting!, and readers can’t get enough.

I’m currently working on the third story in my Gambling Hearts series, My Girl. The series follows the lives, and loves, of three siblings born and raised on a Texas hill country ranch.

This is Aaron’s story:

Sometimes, the right decision isn’t the easiest one to make

Trish Sylvester knows her family and when they accept a week long stay at a rustic dude ranch, she is concerned- especially since it’s at her ex’s home.

Aaron is overjoyed at the opening of his family’s guest ranch, until he learns their first guest is his ex-girlfriend, her parents–and a fiancé.

And that isn’t the only surprise.

Excerpt

“I met your fiancé,” he said, his voice ripe with challenge. The outdoors clung to her skin, sun and flowers combining to intoxicate him more than the whiskey.

She lifted her chin, eyes narrowing. “What did you say to him, Aaron? I’d hoped we could all act like adults while we’re here.”

Aaron laughed, his hands doing the job his heart urged him to do, forcing her to come up against his chest with a soft oomph. “Darlin’, I’m definitely a man, make no mistake.” He leaned down and brushed her lips, setting up a warning through his chest. He was playing with fire, and if he wasn’t careful, there was little doubt who was going to get burned. Again.

“Aaron, stop this,” she murmured, though her lips parted on a sigh. “We can’t…”

He lifted his head and stared at her upturned face. “Can’t what, Trish? You invited yourself onto my territory and brought reinforcements. I want to know why.”

She moved out of his arms. He pretended not to feel the loss.

“We needed a break from the city,” she said. “Surely, you can understand that? Your sister sent an email to me highlighting the new business venture—congrats, by the way—and I thought it would be fun to come and check it out. End of story.”

He eyed her nervously tucking her hair behind her ear and knew she was bluffing. The question remained; why?


Box Set News

We have a new box set releasing August 30th!

Sweet and Sassy Baby Love 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KHEMW5

Add to your TBR list: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47873355-sweet-and-sassy-baby-love

Recommend us on Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/sweet-and-sassy-baby-love-by-suzanne-jenkins-and-jen-talty

Nine NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors offer stories of men and women who go to great lengths for the children they love.

A scent of innocence, that touch of softness, an angelic nap, and deep belly laughs. Babies and toddlers bring great joy, love, humor, and even conflict into our lives. But first, we need a passionate encounter, a romance that transcends time.

How do you feel about series or standalone stories? Let’s talk about it.

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A short Teaser from my upcoming #WomensFic #WIPWednesday


Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

I’ve had heroes on my mind lately.

From Dictionairy.com:

noun, plural he·roes; for 5 also he·ros.

a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character: He became a local hero when he saved the drowning child.

a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal: My older sister is my hero. Entrepreneurs are our modern heroes.

the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.

Classical Mythology.

  1. a being of godlike prowess and beneficence who often came to be honored as a divinity.
  2. (in the Homeric period) a warrior-chieftain of special strength, courage, or ability.
  3. (in later antiquity) an immortal being; demigod.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In my novels I try to create men/women who have many of the qualities above, along with vulnerabilities that create empathy in my readers.

It’s a fine balance to tread.

To me strength comes as much from inside a person as physicality. You have to be courageous to do the jobs they do. But more than that, is their Achilles’ heel, for want of a better name. What is their weakness? The thing that makes these strong warriors weak in the knees?

I like to think it’s compassion. Love of fellow man. Gentleness and mercy.

This week’s teaser comes from a women’s fiction novel I’m working on about two estranged sisters and the path to forgiveness and understanding.


Many evenings she and Susan would sit at his feet and listen enthralled, as he regaled them with tales of pirates and princesses, mischievous elves and buried treasure. As with every good fairytale, a dashing hero would arrive just in time to save the day. It was probably then, listening to stories at her father’s knee, that Holly began to dream of her own hero. He’d need to be strong enough to slay dragons. Charming and kind, yet able to make her laugh. Handsome and gentle; a father as perfect as her own. A good kisser; that’s as far as her nine-year-old mind would go at the time. And above all else, someone she could talk to, share ideas with.
Even then, she’d known the value of a true friend.
The rattle of a key in the front door lock jerked her back to the moment. Self-conscious, she dropped her hand from where it had been resting and turned to greet her parents.
Except it wasn’t her mother and father.
Susan hesitated on the threshold, their gazes fusing across the distance. A cold draft knifed its way between them filled with ugly words and betrayals.

© Jacquie Biggar 2019

What does a hero mean to you? Let’s talk about it!

Teaser Time #WIPWednesday #amwriting


WIP Wednesday

I enjoyed the new Wednesday theme Staci Troilo and Joan Hall came up with for sharing either a teaser or something relevant from our WIP- check them out in the links above.

I thought I’d give it a whirl and share a short teaser from my upcoming contemporary romance, My Girl. This will be the third book in the Gambling Hearts series. If you’ve read Hold ‘Em or Crazy Little Thing Called Love you’ll be happy to know this is Aaron’s story.

Photo by Alexandria Baldridge on Pexels.com



Plans for the upcoming Harvest Ball moved along at a steady pace, with Sophia in her element. Aaron did his best to stay out of the way, but his sister knew all his hideouts and eventually tracked him down in the horse barn.
“There you are, I was beginning to think you were avoiding me,” she said, entering Dickens’ stall. “I need help.”
Aaron finished filing his horse’s back hoof before patting the smooth flank. He looked at Sophia over the broad back. “I knew it couldn’t last,” he sighed. “Okay, what do you need?”
She huffed out an exasperated breath. “Don’t sound so excited. I’m doing this for the ranch, you know.”
He did know. Unfortunately, it didn’t make having their home overrun by strangers any more palatable. In all fairness, Sophia had gone over and above on the website and the hacienda. He was no tech guru but even he would pay the astronomical prices to stay as their guest. Her sales pitch was nothing short of genius.
But she looked tired.
If only the agricultural firm he’d shown his ideas to would call back with a contract—none of this would be necessary. He ducked under Dickens’ neck and came up next to his sister. “Shouldn’t you be taking it easy?”
She patted her growing baby bump and smiled. “You sound like Tony. I’m fine. It’s just there’s a hundred and one things to get done and only a few days left before the big event. This ball will give us the free advertising we need to get the guest ranch off the ground. I’ve invited some of my old contacts from New York and Trish promised to put the word out, too. She’s been great, Aaron. I would have been lost without her.”
The mention of Trish sent the now familiar fluttery feeling to his stomach. He’d spent the last few days rehashing that kiss by the fountain; the near-desperation in his voice when he’d begged her to come away with him. Her negative reaction.
He was an idiot to keep bashing his heart against the stone wall of Trish’s soul.

My Girl- Jacquie Biggar

Aaron is the middle child in a family of strong, independant siblings and he’s had trouble getting his voice heard. I come from a family of three siblings as well, and though I’m the oldest (and therefore, the boss :)) I can see now, with the wisdom of time, how hard it was for my brother to show his individuality.

Has anyone else noticed this within their families? Let’s talk about it!

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Spinning Tires #WritersLife #amwriting


Spinning My Tires

Lately it feels as though my writing has come to a standstill and I’m just spinning tires without going anywhere.

We were talking about this at my local critique group meeting and I realized- thankfully- that at least I’m not alone with this dilemma.

Some call it writer’s block or writer’s slump, maybe winter doldrums, but whatever you name it, it can lead to depression and feelings of anxiety. I know I’ve been questioning why I put myself through this lately.

But, this is the thing… If you’re a writer, you write. It’s almost as important as breathing, so I’ve decided to search the internet for some inspirational quotes to help me (and you) feel better.

Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors – it’s how you combine them that sets you apart.

Wolfgang Puck
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Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.

Benjamin Franklin
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Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

E.L. Doctorow
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You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

Ray Bradbury
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Today, I’m celebrating a landmark birthday and rather than allowing myself to dwell on getting older, or the fact my pen seems to have temporarily run dry, I’m going to concentrate on the positives- I have my health, a supportive family, fantastic writing friends, and it’s spring- anything is possible!

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Something a Little Personal #Goals #Inspiration #FamilyFirst


Time to Make a Change

Do you ever look back and wish there were things you could change? I’m sure we’ve all been there at one time or another.

2018 is a blur for me. I was caught up in the write more/ write faster hampster wheel and took the things that are the most important for granted. I wrote and published six books and participated in twelve box sets and book bites.

I’m so proud of these accomplishments, but they came at a steep cost.

Time.

Time to spend with those important in my life. My daughter and grandson, who moved across the country in August. My husband, who works nights and therefore has limited daylight hours awake. My mom, who lives next door. My cat and dog, who would appreciate a little one-on-one time. My overflowing Kindle, filled with stories I’ve yet to read. My garden, that got by mostly by luck and little care last year. My family back home, who I rarely call. My friends, whose lives I’ve lost touch with.

A couple of months ago, I lost a relationship with an online book promoter who I’d considered a friend. Her reasoning: I hadn’t remained in contact with her. This hurt more than probably warranted, but it also served as a wakeup call.

Time is a precious commodity for all of us. We can’t afford to waste it, even if we are chasing our dreams. The cost may be more than you want to pay. One of my critique partners lost her husband not long ago. A friend lost her husband and her father this year, while another had a stroke on Boxing Day. These are all signs telling me life is precious, don’t waste a single moment.

I’m making 2019 my year to slow down.

I’m going to spend less time worrying and more with enjoying life and what a true blessing it is.

Instead of a resolution, I’ve picked a word to live up to: BREATHE

Do you have a word to inspire change?

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Finding Your Voice #Writertips #amwriting


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When I first began my writing career I took a LOT of online classes on craft, editing, revision, grammar, technique, and the one thing that kept coming up was the need to discover your voice. The unique something that distinguishes your work and keeps your readers coming back for more.

But how?

What do the experts mean by voice anyway?

Do you have a favorite author? One whose pages you could read without seeing the cover and you’d STILL be able to say without a doubt, yes, that is definitely their book?

I thought so 🙂

That’s voice!

 

It’s a distinctive style that sets the writer’s work apart from anyone else. Some use setting, such as bestselling and award-winning author Louise Penny. Her books are set in and around the scenic mountain town of Three Pines, Quebec. If a fan were to read a brief passage from any of her books they would know who wrote the novel.

Other writers have a certain way with characterization that’s a dead giveaway, such as Jill Shalvis. Her writing style is part sass, part angst, and a whole lot of heat!

 

 

One of the best styles of voice comes with deep POV (point of view).

Military romantic suspense author Suzanne Brockmann does this better than most. Deep point of view is when the character acts, thinks, or talks and there is no need to add a name tag because we know this character. He/she is as real as if we were watching them on our favorite television series. Suzanne does this by creating distinct mannerisms that we immediately associate with that person. She does this so well, she can write entire passages without a name/ and frequently does, and yet it’s easy to know who is talking at any given moment.

Voice is something a writer gains with time. It can’t be forced, but for readers it’s that magic thing that will make them your fans. If you have a backlist take another look, you might be pleasantly surprised 🙂

I’m currently working on a summer romance set on an island in the Pacific Northwest. A theme that runs through my stories is the value of family, and this one is no different.

Here’s the blurb for Sweetheart Cove:

Josie Sparks is looking for escape after a disastrous relationship. A summer job on a small Pacific Northwest island seems perfect. That is, until she meets her irascible new boss. She thinks she can help his sweet little girl–he’s another story.

Jacob Samuels needs someone reliable to care for his special needs daughter, but is sorry he trusted his sister with the task when help arrives in the shape of a too-young, too-tempting therapist with pain-filled eyes he can’t ignore.

Sand, surf, and soft island breezes bring two lonely hearts together in this heartwarming tale of second chance romance and a love that lasts forever.

 

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Exclusive excerpt

Josie wasn’t sure how she got through the next few days. She must have acted reasonably normal because no one questioned her absentmindedness, even when she set the puppy’s food in the refrigerator instead of the pantry where it belonged. Jacob’s kiss lived front and center in her thoughts, and his hard, masculine body encompassed her dreams. A moody, short-tempered grump who made her pulse skyrocket.

How could she feel this way about him when she’d been hours from marrying another man a month ago? She added fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies to the picnic basket she’d prepared and glanced down at the pup sitting quietly at her feet. “If you’re looking for handouts, you’ll just have to wait. No offence, but I don’t trust your stomach in the car.”

“Is it time yet?” Jane wheeled into the kitchen, her face expectant. The dog, thinking it was playtime, crouched, nose on his front paws, butt in the air and tail wagging a mile a minute. He let out a couple of excited yips, then raced around the room and jumped against Jane’s short-clad legs. “Ow, Mischief, that hurts,” she cried, then stopped in shock and stared at the red marks already fading from her skin. “It hurt,” she whispered.

Josie pushed the dog out of the way and crouched at the little girl’s side. “Honey, this is great. I’m so happy for you. We better tell your father, so he can get you into the specialist for a checkup.”

Jane shook her head and gripped Josie’s wrist. “No. Can we keep it a secret? Please, Josie? Just for a while. I want to get better and surprise Daddy by walking. Please?”

Her pleading eyes undid Josie. How was she supposed to say no to that? She nodded. “Okay, but if you have any pains at all, you tell me, understand?” She patted Mischief’s silky head. “Guess your dad knew what he was doing, getting you a dog. Maybe we should name him Miracle instead of Mischief.”

Jane giggled. “It’s not Mischief, Josie. It’s you. You’re the miracle.”

 

 

I’d like to think I’m gaining a voice, but you the reader are the only ones who can tell me whether I’m right. What do you think? 🙂

Help, my secondary character is taking over the book! #amwriting #Romance #mgtab


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Have you ever started to write a book and had a secondary character try to take over the story? It doesn’t matter how hard you work at putting them on the sidelines, they keep popping up at the most inopportune times.

I’ve found it’s better to go with the flow and see where it takes me– usually into another book and thereby creating a series I hadn’t actually planned on writing!

When I was working on The Rebel’s Redemption, book two in the Wounded Hearts series, the hero’s best friend stepped up and insisted I do his story at the same time! I had a lot of fun with those two and the side benefit was interlocking stories that practically wrote themselves. I wish it was always that easy, but truthfully, most books take a lot of blood, sweat and lots of CHOCOLATE before they begin to take shape.

 

Maybe it’s because I’m a pantser. I never know what’s going to happen until it does, and then I say, “That’s brilliant!” lol. Sometimes, it’s a great first line. One of my favorites is from The Beast WithinHer skin was tender as the belly of a kitten. And just as fragile.
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And other times, it comes from a picture I’ve seen:

 

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Like this one I used as inspiration for Missing: TheLady Said No, a mystery set around the Kentucky Derby.

 

And then there’s the ones that emerge from a cover you fall in love with. This one was made by Michele Hauf.

 

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This is Sophia Shaughnessy’s book. She first showed up as the cute sister of Matthew Shaughnessy in Hold ‘Em, but her character became important to the story and readers connected with the young woman desperate to prove herself in a man’s world.

Here’s a short excerpt:

Sophia lightly flirted with Rico—as they’d done all their lives—and pretended not to watch every move Tony made. She absolutely didn’t notice his tough farm hands closing into fists when Rico grasped her waist, or sense the tension emanating from his powerful body as he watched the two of them acting like frisky colts. She’d feel guilty, except the big jerk should know there hadn’t been anyone but him for her since she’d reached puberty.

Damn him.

“I thought I’d take Cleopatra out for a ride,” she said to Rico, making a conscious effort to ignore Tony’s glower. “Do you have time to join me?”

“Sure.” Rico nodded. “Just give me a few minutes to finish these stalls, bueno?”

“Weren’t you supposed to exercise the yearlings today?” Tony growled. “Just because the princess deigned to visit, doesn’t mean the ranch is on holiday. Get to work, Juarez.”

Rico bristled. “I can do that later, they aren’t going anywhere.”

Tony took an aggressive step forward and Sophia hurried to step between the two men. “Stop it,” she hissed. “It’s my fault, I wasn’t thinking.”

She turned and forced a smile for Rico. “I’ll meet you later and we’ll catch up. It’s been too long.” She squeezed his arm in reassurance. “See you at dinner?”

Rico glared at his boss, then gave a slow shrug and dragged his attention back to her. “Yeah, sure. It’ll be like old times, ?”

Sophia saw his intentions in the mischievous glint of his eyes. She braced herself for the fallout as he leaned in and gave her a big, smacking kiss on the lips before jauntily wandering away with a tip of his hat. She’d get even with him, the tease.

She glanced up at Tony and cleared her throat, subduing the instinct to rub suddenly sweaty palms on her pants. “I didn’t mean to create problems, I know this is a working ranch.” That much was true, anyway. She’d tried so many times to insert herself into the business, to be a valued member of the team, but her ideas were brushed aside as the dreams of a young idealist. After a while, she’d given up trying.

Tony met her gaze and sighed. “I probably overreacted. I tend to do that a lot around you,” he admitted. Sophia didn’t have time to enjoy the warm glow his words wrought, before he added, “But you should know better than to come down to the barns dressed like that. You’re distracting my men.”

She wasn’t sure which rose faster, outrage or pleasure. She went with outrage, it was safer. “I’m wearing blue jeans, they’re hardly haute couture. And most of your men have known me since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, you’re exaggerating my appeal. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to see my horse. At least she doesn’t judge me.”

She’d stomped past three stalls, the horses within staring at her with inquisitive eyes, before Tony caught up to her. “It’s been a long time since you’ve been on much of a ride, I don’t like the idea of you going out alone.”

Sophia huffed out a strangled laugh. “I was born on this ranch, I’m pretty sure I know my way around it. Besides, it’s your own fault I don’t have a companion, you got rid of him, remember?”

Tony grabbed a couple of bridles on their way past the tack room. “That idiot would be too damn busy showing off to protect you,” he snapped. “And I wasn’t worried about you getting lost so much as getting bucked off and, if you were lucky, landing on that delectable keister. I’ll go with you.”

“No.” She swung around to face him. “I want a fun, relaxing ride. You’ll just mess with my Zen.”

“You want to go, princess, then I go too. End of story.” He opened the stall for his bay and entered, mumbling sweet nothings to the horse while he swung the bridle over the gelding’s head.

Oh, yay.

 

 

I have a secret; I love secondary characters. They have a sense of mystery about them. You need to find out their story and they leave all sorts of possibilities open for future books. 🙂

Crazy Little Thing About Love releases Tuesday, May 15th. I hope you’ll buy a copy and see if you can pick out the next character who needs his/her story told.

What about you? Do you have a thing for secondary characters? It’s okay, I won’t tell 🙂

You Are My Sunshine #LazyDaysOfSummer #amwriting #mgtab


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I don’t know about you, but when the warm winds and indigo blue skies of summer appear on the horizon, the last thing I want to do is sit in a chair forcing myself to fight past the sticky middle of my current WIP (work-in-progress).

It’s literally like pulling teeth.

I’d much sooner have my hands buried up to the elbow in fine black planting soil, or daydream on the end of a water hose watching the hummingbirds and butterflies play in the breeze.

 

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But, I also realize if I want to take this writing career seriously, and I do, I need to sometimes make sacrifices.

One thing I’ve learned is better time management. I’m a late riser, mornings are not my thing :), so I usually sit at the computer with my coffee and go through the social media platforms sharing and promoting.

Then I spend an hour or two visiting my mom next door before FINALLY waking up enough to begin my day!

I take the computer outside to our gazebo where I can work on my story while watering the flowers, and occasionally catching a glimpse of a friendly hummingbird or two.

 

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Sometimes, I don’t get much writing done, but that’s okay. It’s a WIP, just like me 🙂

If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to lately, you can check out the new anthology written by members of my critique group to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary!

 

My Baby Wrote Me A LetterA family's brush with the past will threaten the fabric of their lives.

 

Dreams and Promises

Dreams and Promises includes six short stories and novellas written by authors who live in beautiful British Columbia.

It’s our way of honoring Canada’s Sesquicentennial.

Some of Canada’s major cities were founded in the seventeenth century, but July 1st 2017 marks 150 years since our country became a Confederation.

Our stories range from the era of the fur trade, to a commercial enterprise that opened up the Canadian and American West, to present day James Bay, a thriving neighborhood in the garden city of Victoria, British Columbia.

Universal link: http://books2read.com/DreamsandPromises

 

Amazon: 

 

Add to your TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35387646-dreams-and-promises

 

 

 

Celebrating my first featured @Bookbub #Sale #mgtab


For an indie author, the tough job of writing a book, editing, choosing covers (all of mine are done by the fabulous Kim Killion), learning how to format (if you’re doing your own I highly recommend Vellum!) and uploading to your chosen vendors can seem overwhelming.

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Fortunately, there are many informative blogs, such as Kristen Lamb, Writer Unboxed, and Bookbub to guide our tottering steps through an unfamiliar territory.

One of the main pieces of advice I’ve heard over and over again is the importance of building a backlist. It only makes sense; how can you keep a reader’s interest if you only have one or two books to share with them?

To this end, I’ve been hard at work the past couple of years and just listed my ninth book, Missing: The Lady Said No for pre-order!

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Another tip I’ve learned thanks to the mentorship of two special ladies, Mimi Barbour and Anna Markland, is the importance of building connections in the writing world. One of the best ways to do this is multi-author box sets.

I’ve been blessed to be involved with some very fine authors in these sets and made friendships that I treasure. I can’t recommend this enough-if you get the opportunity to join a box set, go for it!

One caveat I have to make to this- do your research. I went into one set where I didn’t know the coordinator, but was familiar with some of the other authors. A few months later, after many unanswered emails and Facebook messages, we found she had taken our money and our manuscripts, and skipped out on her obligation to the group. It was only through the hard work of some of the other members we received our money and a legal letter that she would never publish our books in any part.

So now, how do you get the word out about your new book babies?

One way is to post on blogs like this. Another is to promote on the many Facebook reading groups and tweeting five or six times a day (yes, they recommend at least that much!), or you can apply to book promotional sites.

Some are easy and not too expensive, but they also don’t have the benefits you can reap from the granddaddy of advertising: Bookbub

There are many different rumors about the difficulty of landing an ad with Bookbub, and to be honest, I tried a LOT before they finally accepted me, yay!

One thing I can say, it’s NOT true that you need a bunch of reviews (I heard everything from 50-150) I have 5, yep, 5.

It’s also NOT true that you need to be on all vendors sites before they will accept you. I’m loyal to Amazon.

It IS true that a professional cover is critical. As is a good blurb- one without grammatical errors and isn’t five pages long 🙂

It IS true that Bookbub is expensive to advertise with, but then, they have hundreds of thousands of followers and almost always propel a book into the top hundred in Amazon (Fingers crossed!)

It IS true that you can advertise internationally for a minimal upgrade. (I did, hoping to gain a new readership)

I’ve tried to benefit from this promotion by booking some smaller sites before and after the big day. I also set one of my other books to #Free during that period, The Guardian.

#FREE Feb 5-9 2017

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And don’t forget the pre-order for Missing: The Lady Said No. The book doesn’t release until April 25/17, but I thought this would be a good chance to gain early interest 🙂

So, I bet you’re wondering what book made it through the rigid Bookbub criteria?

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Available for a limited time at just .99 pennies

BUY NOW!

And watch for it February 6 as Bookbub’s featured sale!

How about you? Any advice on writing or promoting you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you 🙂

The Secret Letters by Abby Bardi #MFRWauthor #mgtab #Fiction @abbybardi


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The Secret Letters

by Abby Bardi

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BLURB:

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When thirty-seven-year-old slacker-chef Julie Barlow’s mother dies, her older sister Pam finds a cache of old letters from someone who appears to be their mother’s former lover. The date stamped on the letters combined with a difficult relationship with her father leads Julie to conclude that the letters’ author was a Native American man named J. Fallingwater who must have been her real father.

Inspired by her new identity, Julie uses her small inheritance to make her dream come true: she opens a restaurant called Falling Water that is an immediate success, and life seems to be looking up. Her sister Norma is pressuring everyone to sell their mother’s house, and her brother Ricky is a loveable drunk who has yet to learn responsibility, but the family seems to be turning a corner.

Then tragedy strikes, and Julie and her siblings have to stick together more than ever before. With all the secrets and setbacks, will Julie lose everything she has worked so hard for?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt:

The casket was a double-wide, with painted flowers on the side like a circus wagon. Pam said it looked like hippies had scrawled on it with crayons while tripping.

“She’s at peace now,” one of our idiot cousins said to someone I half-recognized from when my mother used to drag us to West Virginia, where she was born. “Just a bunch of goddamn hillbillies in the Mountain State,” she always said, like she was Martha Stewart.

“Shut up,” Pam muttered in the cousin’s general direction, smiling like she was saying something nice. I hoped she planned to provide snark during the funeral, since I didn’t know how I would make it through otherwise. My other sister Norma was in the front pew sobbing. We were keeping our distance from her, not because of anything in particular, but because we always stayed out of her way if we could. It didn’t pay to try to comfort her, since anything you said would be the wrong thing.

The casket was closed, thank God. Our mother had left strict instructions about this and everything else when she was still conscious. Even while dying, she was a control freak, and amazingly vain for someone who weighed just shy of 400 pounds, even with terminal cancer. “You’re beautiful,” we always said to her in a Hollywood voice, “don’t ever change.” She knew we were just messing with her, but she always smiled and patted her hair.

“That’s a hell of a casket,” I said.

“Sure is purty.” Pam’s eyes were red. I hadn’t looked in a mirror since early morning when I’d slathered on eye makeup, but I’d been crying all day, too, and probably looked like a slutty raccoon. “Is Timmy here yet?”

“Haven’t seen him. It’s so crowded.” I scanned the room.

“Did any of these weirdos actually know her?”

“I don’t know. I bet those fat guys were football players at her high school.” I wiped my eyes, though I knew it was a bad idea, smear-wise.

“Oh, there he is.” Pam pointed to the back of the room and I spotted our older brother. He was wearing a dark suit that made him look like a Mafia don, talking to some blond guy. She tried waving, but he didn’t notice. His eyes were on the casket. He hadn’t seen our mother in almost a year, and I was sure it was hard for him to believe she was gone. Tough shit for him, I thought. He could have come here when it would have made a difference. Now it didn’t matter to anyone what he did.

“Is The Asshole coming?” I asked, referring to our father.

“No, he says he has a schedule conflict.”

“Probably golf. You’d think he could at least manage to show up for this.”

“At least he’s clean and sober.”

“So he says. He’s probably still banging down Zombies at strip clubs.”

“Try not to be bitter, Julie. It’s unattractive.”

“Bitter? You think I’m bitter?”

As the minister cut in and began to read the eulogy my mother had probably written for him, my mind started wandering like I was in grade school waiting for the bell to ring. I tried to concentrate, but I couldn’t. Every so often I’d tune back in and hear things that weren’t true. Her devotion to other people. Her service to the community. Her wonderful family life—I could just about hear her voice coming out of the guy’s mouth. I didn’t know where she found him, since she never went to church. I figured he was an actor she hired to play a minister, and made a mental note to mention this to Pam.

As he droned on in his phony actor voice, I closed my eyes and imagined walking through the woods on the hill behind our house. Most of it was gone now, bulldozed to make room for the townhouse development just over the ridge. I made a path through the old trees, and the dogs ran in circles around me. Ahead of me was the pond, though in real life it wasn’t there any more either, except for the hints that sometimes bubbled up in people’s driveways. I was going to dangle my bare feet in the water. I could hide there all day, and no one would know where I was. Then I would run back through the trees to our house, with the dogs behind me, and my mother would be there, and Frank, and Donny.

When I opened my eyes the minister was gone, and some cousin who hadn’t seen my mother in years was reading from a wrinkled piece of paper. She was stumbling over the words, maybe because it was Mom’s loopy handwriting, or maybe she couldn’t read. It was Mom’s life story minus all the bad parts and made going to high school in East Baltimore, meeting The Asshole, and having five children with him sound like an E! True Hollywood Story. Norma was born six months after the wedding, and it didn’t take a mathematician to figure out the facts, but the cousin glossed over that, and the ugly divorce, and finished with the happy ending, my mother finding true love with Frank and then having little Ricky. Ricky, on my left, burst into loud sobs. I put my arm around him and he cried onto my shoulder. I could smell he’d been drinking again. I would have pulled him onto my lap like I used to, but he was a big boy now. When I looked at him with his tattoos, dreadlocks, and piercings, I still saw that cute little blond guy

and felt how much we had loved him. We still loved him that much, but it was complicated.

Pam leaned across me and held his hand. “You’ll be fine, sweetie,” she whispered to him, though we were pretty sure he wouldn’t.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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Abby Bardi is the author of THE BOOK OF FRED. She grew up in Chicago, went to college in California, then spent a decade teaching English in Japan and England. She currently teaches at a college in Maryland and lives in historic Ellicott City with her husband and dog.

https://twitter.com/abbybardi?lang=en

http://www.abbybardi.com

Buy Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Letters-Abby-Bardi-ebook/dp/B00VPOCZ2G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438116811&sr=8-1&keywords=abby+bardi

 Interview with Abby Bardi:

What do you write?

I write mostly novels, though I’ve also written short stories. My stories have been published in several anthologies and journals, and I recently published a short-short in Monkeybicycle http://monkeybicycle.net/when-we-lived-at-the-y/ . For the past few years, I’ve been writing a lot of poetry, but so far no one has seen it.

What genre do you favor?

I don’t write in a specific genre, though right now I’m working on a novel that seems to be speculative or science fiction. I didn’t really intend it, but that’s how it’s working itself out.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing more or less constantly since I was first able to hold a pencil, but I didn’t decide I wanted to be a writer, professionally speaking, until I was about thirty and I started being able to finish novels I’d begun. Before that, I’d get about fifty pages in and then fizzle out. When I started finishing novels, I got to thinking maybe I could publish them, but that ended up taking a while. By the time I published my first novel The Book of Fred I was already on my third agent.

What do you think is the best way to publish these days?

I’m not sure what the best way is, since things are changing so rapidly, but I have loved working with HarperCollins Australia in publishing The Secret Letters as an e-book. They’re been wonderful to deal with, and the whole process was incredibly efficient and smooth. And it’s fun doing a virtual book tour instead of actually traveling. I’m in my pajamas right now!

What are your favorite genres to read? Why?

I was a graduate student in English for a long, long time, and my favorite genre, if it is a genre, is nineteenth-century British literature. For the past few years, I’ve been kind of hooked on books that are sort of chick-thrillers, I guess you’d call them—Gillian Flynn, Tana French, novels with mysteries and atmospheric settings. I like books that are kind of plotty, which is why my favorite authors are Dickens and Shakespeare. You can’t beat their plots.

Do your characters talk to you?

Well, they talk, but they don’t seem to realize I’m listening. I feel like I’m eavesdropping on their conversations, as opposed to actually interacting with them. They talk a lot to each other.

How do you approach starting a new book?

For me, each book has begun with an image I can’t get out of my mind, and then, a first line. If I start writing and I get a tingling feeling, I continue. I write continual plot outlines and synopses from the very beginning, then deviate from them.

What is your writing process?

Because I teach, I can really only write in the summer. During the school year, I’m devoting all my energy to grading papers and avoiding committee meetings (kidding!), and I can’t seem to get into the “zone” of inhabiting a novel, where the novel starts to seem more real than my own life and I wander around talking to myself. They frown on this in a workplace. So every summer, I begin work on a novel on May 15. Sometimes I spend the summer break actually writing, sometimes rewriting, sometimes editing, and sometimes just wasting my time, but summer is when I get in the zone.

What are the best writing books or blogs you’ve ever read?

For me, the best book on writing was not a book on writing at all: The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. It’s a twelve-step course in enhancing creativity and a magical journey through the creative mind.

What are your non-writing hobbies, or what do you do to relax?

I belly-dance and walk my dog. Not simultaneously. Well, okay, sometimes it’s simultaneous.

What was your best date ever?

My best date ever was my first date with my husband. We went to an open mic where we both performed (we’re singer-songwriters) and then kissed. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Navy SEAL or cowboy?

Cowboy.

Chocolate or chips?

Chips.

If you could have a superpower what would it be? Why?

Invisibility. I think the “why” is obvious: so I could eavesdrop on people without their knowing.

Fancy restaurant or picnic?

Fancy restaurant. Stop, you’re making me hungry.

Beer or wine?

Beer.

Favorite author?

Tie between Dickens and Shakespeare.

Smooth or hairy?

I assume you mean dogs. Here’s a picture of B.B. Look at that sweet face.

Secret Letters Dog

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION 

 

Abby will be awarding an eCopy of The Secret Letters to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour, and choice of 5 digital books from the Impulse line to a randomly drawn host.

Enter to win a copy of the featured book – a Rafflecopter giveaway

THE ART OF DEEP POINT OF VIEW


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found on etsy.com

Through my critique group I’ve been learning the art of deep point of view. For those that don’t know, this is when you remove the words that distance the reader from the scene. Deep point of view lets the reader view everything around them through the eyes and thoughts of one character. You BECOME the person you’re reading about. Therefore, every smell, every emotion, every sight they see, is heightened for the reader, making for a fulfilling journey through the story.

Here is a passage through my own work in progress, Tidal Falls, before edits:

“Hey, Annie, it’s me. How’s my baby girl doing?”
“Oh she’s great, I haven’t seen the two of them all morning. They’re in the back room painting, hopefully not the walls!” She laughed.
Sara smiled at the thought of Annie going back to a room painted all the colors of a rainbow. Jessica had just started mixing paints to see what new and exotic color she could come up with, poor Annie.

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Not bad, but I think I can make it better.

“Hey, Annie, it’s me. How’s my baby girl doing?”
“Oh, she’s great. I haven’t seen the two of them all morning. They’re in the back room painting up a storm, hopefully not on my walls!” She laughed
A picture of her friend going back to a room painted all the colors of a rainbow sprung to mind and a shit-eating grin spread across her face. Poor Annie.

Tighter, cleaner, better. What do you think?

WRITING PROCESS BLOG HOP


Today I’m hosting a good friend of mine as she shares her writing process with you, Sylvie Grayson. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome, 🙂

My name is Sylvie Grayson, and I was so pleased to be invited to take part in the Romance Writing Process Blog Tour to talk about how I write. Jacquie Biggar generously asked me to join her in this effort. Jacquie is one of my writing critique partners and I love to read her work. I am always excited to find out where her characters are going next. She also gives me great feedback on my own work, a generous writer friend.
You can find Jacquie at –http://jacquiebiggar.com

And now a little about me, Sylvie Grayson, and why I write!

What are you working on?

My current work is a story called Suspended Animation, where an ambitious young hockey player is reluctantly dragged home because of a crisis to discover his father is too ill to run the family trucking business, and it’s about to go under from a load of debt. At the same time a young woman has loaned her money to be invested in a trucking business but when her fortunes plummet, she needs it back. Her only option is to approach the business owner. The scene when these two, the hockey player and the young woman, meet really tickled me because they are polar opposites and the air crackles with tension.

How does your contemporary romantic suspense different from others in the genre?

My heroes are busy guys who are trying their best to make a go of their careers. They aren’t perfect but they work hard and play hard, knowing life can throw them a curve unexpectedly, and it always does. My heroines are smart, usually independent minded women who like to do things their way and have a plan for their lives. When these two meet up, the sparks fly, especially if they are already driving on a collision course. Then I mix in a bit of intrigue and suspense in the shape of a bad character and unforeseen events to up the ante and make things really interesting.
I try to stay away from the classic scenarios – big businessmen who enter into shady deals to make a lot of money, or high flyer politicians who work for their own interests to gain wealth or influence. I feel those have been overdone, and it’s time to look for more interesting and inventive plots.

Why do you write what you do?

I have a varied and out of the ordinary background and I think that comes through in what I write. My father was a story teller, played the accordion and mouth organ, and loved to sing ballads. My mother was a painter, writer and a respected poet. So I come by the wish to tell stories honestly. I also have a background in business, entertainment, travel, startup companies, you name it. So I like to write about those things.
Life is never easy, I don’t know anyone who has sailed through without a hitch. So when I begin to throw the hitch into the mix, the leak in the lifeboat, or the thief in the scenario, it just gets more interesting and exciting. The suspense in ‘romantic suspense’ gives the love story a special impact.

How does your writing process work?

I’ve written about five or six books now, and the process has evolved. Because I also have a job, I write when I can find the uninterrupted time to do so. I usually start with an idea about the characters and the situation they’re in. As I mull it over in my mind, their personalities evolve and I start to see why they are doing what they do, and how their goals are at cross purposes. Then I work on getting them together.
When I write, I usually know where I’m going with the story. But the story can surprise me, and take me in a different direction then I planned. I find the characters come alive and soon have a mind of their own. It takes some special handling as the book evolves to stay on course but allow the hero and heroine a voice in their own story. It’s what I love to do.

Next up –

Now please let me introduce one of my fellow authors, Helena Korin, who has agreed to follow on this blog tour. Helena loves to write about the Regency period and she does it well. When I read one of her scenes I feel I am there, in the stifling ballroom with the overdressed attendees and the rigid social rules.
Helena Korin was born in the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic. At the age of four she came to Canada and grew up in Toronto and Vancouver. She completed a B.A. degree in history and English, then married a fellow student, a forester. She saw much of Canada and lived in forestry camps in Alberta, the Maritimes, and B.C.’s north. After eleven years of marriage and two children she and her husband divorced. This led to another move to Kamloops in B.C.’s cowboy country.
Working as a reference assistant in a public library she navigated the challenges of single parenting and read every historical romance that came her way. She longed for the time to write her own. Retirement and a move to Vancouver Island finally made this seem a possibility. Joining the Vancouver Island Chapter of Romance Writers fueled her dreams and provided practical lessons in the craft of writing. Trips to Prague, England and Turkey in the last few years have added inspiration and fanned her love of history and fascination with life in the past. She has written one Regency novel and two novellas but is unpublished as yet.
You can reach Helena at helenakorin@gmail.com