Q&A Sunday: Writing Advice

This is going to be a long answer! I apologize in advance, but if you’ve ever thought about writing a book, you’re going to love this question from Rachelle!

What valuable advice would you give to a writer starting out?

There is a ton of advice out there. You could read all day and all night and never get through all the advice offered to new writers. Some things you’ll do right, some things you’ll mess up. Some things will be a try and see experiment. Some you’ll figure out off the bat. But my advice is here…

Read, read, and read some more.

Every writer should be a reader. Read books in the genre you want to write in. Dissect these books. How do they work. Read good ones and bad ones and compare them. What makes one better than another? What ‘rules’ are there in each? What rules can be broken and which ones are unbreakable?

In romance, the only hard and fast rule, for me, is that the has to be a HEA, or happily ever after. There should be an ending that leaves you with that warm and fuzzy feeling. Sometimes it’s characters saying I love you, sometimes it’s a wedding or proposal, sometimes it’s just a commitment. But there’s always something that makes you feel like the couple is going to be together.

Find the rules for your genre, and stick to them.

Study everything you can about writing.

Follow writer blogs. Join writer groups. Make writer friends. Immerse yourself in the world of writers. Read books about the craft of writing. Then go back and read more books in your genre and analyze how they fit the guidelines. You will start to learn more about what rules can be broken, and how to break them and make the story better.

Start to build your following.

I know, you think it’s crazy. You don’t have a book out yet. It’s hard to promote nothing, right? But you will one day. Create your pen name, reserve your web presence, and hold pages and accounts on any social media sites you might want to join. Before you have a story out, you can publish a blog and engage with people. Get to know potential readers. Some authors find an agent or editor through social media also. Don’t discount making connections. And if you already have a following, your first book will earn sales, which is always the goal!

Remember to be true to yourself.

I think this was the hardest lesson for me to learn. When you’re starting out, you want to follow all the advice out there. You want to be on every social media site. You want to run massive launch campaigns. You want to guest blog and do book tours and Facebook parties.

And then you’ll wonder when the hell you’re going to write a book.

You won’t be able to do it all. At least, not if you plan to sleep and have a life. Pick and choose what makes the most sense for you. Pick one social media site to build and when that becomes almost automatic, add a second. Or skip social media altogether if you hate it. Publish a blog, or don’t if it doesn’t speak to you. Write six books a year, or two if that’s all you can do.

This is your career. Not someone else’s. Don’t compare yourself to another writer and think you should be doing everything she’s doing. Do what makes sense for you. Be true to you, and enjoy it. 

Thanks so much, Rachelle, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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#FiveOnFriday with Mageela Troche

Please say hi to Mageela Troche! She has a great sounding Scottish medieval romance coming soon!

The Scottish medieval romance The Marriage Alliance is set for release on August 15, 2017.

What inspired you to create your heroine, Ailsa Cameron in The Marriage Alliance?

Ailsa is a lot like me. I am clumsy (though I danced ballet for 12 years) and my plans never work out the way I planned. And when I met the love of my life, I decided that he was going to fall in love with me. Hey, he put a ring on it. That’s a whole other story.

Why did you set The Marriage Alliance in Medieval Scotland?

It started with Braveheart. When I first saw the movie, I wondered about the true history and learned about King Alexander III and the peace that Scotland enjoyed during his reign. My imagination was caught and I had to write about it.

What inspired your hero, Duncan MacLean?

Duncan came to me after Ailsa had come to life for me. He came to me fully formed. I have this imagine in my head of him from the waist up with his arms crossed and a sexy scowl (if possible) on his face. Duncan is the only man from Ailsa.

What curious fact/ research tidbit did you discover?

I didn’t just learn one tidbit. During my research, I came across a book entitled Five Euphemias by Elizabeth Sutherland. It’s a biography about five women named Euphemia and women in Medieval Scotland.

Why did you write this book?

I wanted to write a light-hearted novel that was fun. It is something that is pure entertainment. I wanted to have a good time and I want my readers to have one too.

Book Blurb:

Her hand in marriage could secure peace and safety for those she longs to protect.

Lady Ailsa Cameron is not the most patient of souls. She has even slept through a few high masses. Still, this gentle lass never did anything wicked enough to deserve her father’s pronouncement that she must wed the dread Black Duncan, Laird of Clan MacLean.

As leader of the Spartans of the North, Duncan MacLean has inspired many a gruesome tale throughout the majestic highlands and beyond. Duncan accepts Laird Cameron’s offer of his daughter’s hand in marriage and pledges to make war against their shared enemy, Clan MacKinnon.

Duncan aches to possess his ravishing bride as passionately as he vows never to lower his defenses again. Love blooms between them nonetheless, until betrayal incites a war. Clan MacLean is in danger as are Ailsa and Duncan – but the thing in most peril is their love.

Can past enemies become lovers at last? Or will the flame in their hearts be consumed by the fires of war?

Excerpt: The Marriage Alliance

Scottish Highlands, 1256

Surely, Ailsa Cameron never managed anything in her score of a lifetime so wicked to deserve this cruel punishment. She never took the life of another. Admittedly, she dozed through a few masses in her lifetime. Others were guilty of such sin and never punished so harshly. Maybe, it was the many times she took the Lord’s name in vain. That vile curse hadn’t passed her lips for some time, not since her last penance forbade her from speaking for a sennight. She had remained silent until the noon meal but her guilt still lingered. Even that did not warrant her wedding the dreaded Duncan MacLean.

Nay, she journeyed along the stone-littered tract to the MacLean fortress because of men and one in particular, her father—Laird Cameron. His fierce desire to merge with the Spartans of the North appointed Ailsa the maiden sacrifice to appease the ferocious dragon. Who was the dragon—her father or her husband-to-be?

Either way, Saint Peter would throw open the pearly gates for her since she behaved as the dutiful daughter, pledging the rest of her days to Laird MacLean.

Not that she had many days to live.

MacLeans would rather kill a Cameron than share the air…of course, after they cut out her tongue.

Especially since bloodthirsty MacLeans enjoyed a savory meal of human flesh.

Would her tongue be roasted before consumed or eaten raw?

No doubt raw.

That meal probably accounted for the clan’s immense proportions. Few men towered over highland men yet most highlanders struggled to stand shoulder to shoulder with MacLean men. Muscular forms of others appeared scrawny beside the mighty MacLeans. And the women were no smaller, just about the height of an average highlander, convenient since both sexes lugged around basketfuls of enemies’ fingers. Ailsa strained to reach her brother’s wide shoulders. She’ll never fit in.

She wanted to escape to the mountains rising in the distance behind her. If she veered her mare around, she could gallop away to freedom in the harsh environment, where she could starve to death or, if luck were on her side, be eaten by wild animals.

Maybe, it wasn’t too late to be a bride of Christ. She could live in a convent and not starve or have her flesh ripped from her bones by the sharp fangs of wolves. Then again, the nunnery might not be the best place. Even though Ailsa perfected the serene visage her talents rested elsewhere. Besides, she had slumbered through quite a few more masses than she admitted. Another sin she added to her mental count. Taking the veil would be a disaster for her and the nuns.

So, Ailsa rode onward, up the cresting hill. The impressive fortified castle soared on the rocky outcrop overlooking the loch at the path’s end. A towering curtain wall hugged the craggy contours as the loch’s water lapped gently against the rocks. Harsh highland elements weathered the structure’s limestone to a mixture of grays, browns, and whites cloaking the structure with a dismal aura Ailsa believed her life would become once behind its walls.

Even her gentle mare, dismayed by the sight ahead, stumbled on a stone strewn on the trail meandering to the gatehouse and her doom.

“We shall be well, Joy.” Her mare tossed back her head and neighed, not believing her.

Patting her lean crest, she peeked through the veil of her hair to her father. He wore a pleased looked on his face that bode ill for others. She glanced at her elder brother. Alec sent her tentative smile then turned his gaze. He was as happy about this marriage as she was. As the heir, Alec tried to persuade their father from his determined course but to no avail. Father had a plan, and his children must submit to his commands.

“Come along,” Laird Cameron demanded, placing himself between the two siblings. She sucked in a lungful of crisp highland air, slowly exhaling until the straining muscles in her face eased. Unlike the countless other times, her calming technique failed so she decided to ignore him.

Glancing upward to the lofty battlements, she spotted two heads. Oh God’s eyes, she forgot that gruesome tale! She gawked and swallowed her squeak.

MacLeans decorated their parapets with their enemies’ heads on spikes as a warning to those foolish enough to attack. For the rest of her short days, she’d have to see ghastly heads…until she was propped next to them.


An Air Force brat, Mageela Troche landed in New York City and wanted to leave the same day she arrived. Yet, with her stubbornness, she learned to like the place and the libraries were the main reason.  Once she learned to read and write, she decided to be an author and an actress. Once in college, she changed her life plan in the pursuit of money. After all, college loans must be repaid.

With life’s twists and turns, she returned to writing and focused on the romance genre. Mageela Troche’s first break came when she sold a short story to a magazine. She sold two more before the publication of her historical romance novel. She has gone on to write four more novels and a novella.

She is currently writing in the cramped corner of her Big Apple apartment. She is the proud owner of a Black-masked lovebird named Boobula. She loves to hear from her readers and can found online at MageelaTroche.com.


Website: http://www.MageelaTroche.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMageelaTroche

Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/MageelaTroche

Pinterest: http://www.Pinterest.com/MageelaTroche

Amazon Pre-order link: The Marriage Alliance 

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Love At First Fight, reviews

Love At First FightLove At First Fight was such a fun book to write. Andie was complicated, but I wanted her to be. She never did what was expected and she made things a lot harder on herself, but trust me when I tell you I’ve known a lot of people like her! People who unintentionally sabotage themselves. Who you love, but really just want to slap and tell them to knock it off! It looks like readers saw the same thing!

Lynn said…

There was so much more to Andi then I thought. I loved Cody, what a sweet man. To wait that long for someone and to finally have a chance. Made my heart melt.
I love this series, the characters and the vineyard. It draws you in and makes you feel a part of the story.

Next week I’ll introduce you to the next book in the series, Everything She Never Wanted. You’ll get to know Henry, but tragedy comes to Amavita Estates. Grab your tissues before you read the next one, trust me.

Q&A Sunday: Process

Welcome back for another question! Rachelle has a good one for me today!

How long does the writing process take from the original idea to publishing the book?

I think I have to answer this question in two parts because it’s different things for me. I have so many ideas that I can write for years, honestly, and not run out. I have books planned through the next three years, with potential ideas to get me into year four. If a new idea popped into my head today, it would be many years before it would become a book or a series.

That’s another distinction for me. I plot a series at a time. I have an idea of how many books a series will be. Each series gets tied together in one way or another, like Raise A Glass where all the books are linked because the characters are cousins. I had the idea for Raise A Glass three years ago. I knew it was going to be nine cousins. That they would all have to work on the vineyard in order to inherit it. I knew who each cousin would fall for and how they would all come together.

But it took me three years to publish the first book.

The second part of the answer is actually writing the book. Once an idea is in there, and the book fits into my schedule, then I can start writing. Start to finish depends on how long a book is, obviously. The Raise A Glass books take me about five weeks from start to finish. The Big & Beautiful books take a little more than three. In that time is also two to three days of plotting the entire story. When it’s done, it has to be edited, and the time that takes can vary, but in general, after a book is written, it’s published within a few weeks. There are always exceptions, but that’s pretty typical for me.

If you’re thinking of writing a book, stay tuned for next week’s question!

Thanks so much, Rachelle, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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#FiveOnFriday with Patricia Preston

Please welcome Patricia Preston to Five On Friday with us today! It sounds great, plus read the first chapter!

Let’s start with a few questions for Patricia…

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Writing is like my everything. Isn’t that romantic? Anyway, I love to write and I’m happiest when I’m working on a story. I love the creative process and how the story develops in my head. I live alone and I think of myself as a loner and yet I am never lonely or alone because of all my story people who run amuck in my imagination. I probably should get a cat.

Which 3 Books would you take to a desert island and why?

If they were available, I’d take the following and why is self-explanatory

BOUNTIFUL: The Guide to Eating What Nature Provides

JUNGLE LIVING: How to Decorate Caves and Tree Houses Artfully


Learn how to make coconut-shell bras and grass skirts

How to bathe in a waterfall without drowning yourself

Swing on a grapevine gracefully

What five people would you invite to dinner and why?

Marilyn Monroe:  I’d like to know if she really killed herself over JFK.

Cleopatra:   I’d love to know more about her life and her culture.

Rick Bragg:  Because it would be a great dinner with cornbread, fried okra, sliced

tomatoes, etc. We’d both pig out and talk writing and I’d sit there being oh so envious

of his wonderful descriptions.

Rhett Butler:  Scarlett O’Hara?  Seriously?

Have you ever used an incident from real life in one of your books?

Many times, all cleverly disguised.

In regard to your new release, what are some of the best things about it?

The characters in NOT THROUGH LOVING YOU were great fun to write. Aaron’s brother, Stevie, is the comic sidekick. He just kinda appeared in the first chapter and as soon as he showed up, I knew he was going to play a role in the book, plus bring a ton of humor with him. I loved creating Gilda, who is a hippie from the 60’s turned spiritualist and the heroine Lia’s surrogate mother. Gilda brought a lot to the story in the way of wonderful oddities. It’s one of the most romantic books I’ve written. Lia, a singer songwriter, is such a lovely heroine struggling with the illusions in her life. Of course, Aaron, who has been a character in my other books, is a pediatrician and a man who really wants a family and his bond with the unwanted baby he is going to adopt is heartwarming. He loves that baby so much. The copy editor wrote me note when she was reading the scene when Aaron did kangaroo care with the baby, she was like swooning. Lia loves Old West outlaws, which Aaron doesn’t understand at all.

If you want, you can Read Chapter 1 where Lia crashes the bachelor party at Aaron’s house and upends his life.

Not Through Loving You

In the Southern town of Lafayette Falls, a new life brings together a woman with everything to lose and a doctor with everything to prove.

When a sickly infant is surrendered at the Lafayette Falls Medical Center, and orphaned soon after, pediatrician Aaron Kendall arranges to adopt him. After a painful divorce, the busy baby doc is about to realize his own dream of becoming a father when the baby’s beautiful estranged aunt turns up. She doesn’t exactly approve of the Kendall bachelor pad complete with Aaron’s cranky dad and wacky brother, forcing Aaron to form a risky alliance with her.

Country singer-songwriter Lia Montgomery barely knew her half-sister, but she’s determined her tiny nephew goes to a good home. If only she fit the bill herself, but her stressful life on the road is no place for a baby. Yet despite her misgivings, as she gets to know Aaron, she realizes the smart and sexy doctor is everything a child could want in a dad and more unsettling, everything she’s ever hoped for in a man. After all she’s put him through, is it too late to form a family and maybe put a song in the good doctor’s heart?

Amazon  http://amzn.to/2p0U63y 

Barnes and Noble   http://ow.ly/vuIs30brDgY

Kobo    https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/not-through-loving-you

Author Bio

Award-winning author Patricia Preston writes mainstream humorous romance, historical romance and comedy. She is represented by the Seymour Agency. Her newest titles are part of a standalone series, Love Heals All, for Kensington Books/Lyrical Press imprint. She has several other e-book titles available including a historical romance, TO SAVE A LADY, set in the French Quarter during the Battle of New Orleans. She also has a comic short story anthology, DIXIE DARLINGS, available in print. Besides writing she loves music, photography, graphic design, and visiting her favorite historical locales including the French Quarter and the Natchez Trace.

You can visit her website at http://www.patricia-preston.com

Follow her on Amazon  and BookBub 

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