Be Brave

I’m back with another tidbit of advice for all you aspiring authors out there. Be brave!

I was trading messages on Facebook this week with a reader. She shared with me that she’s a writer also, something I didn’t know. I asked about what she writes and if she used a pen name and she shared that she’s not yet published.

She said that she’s anxious about sharing her writing with people. I told her I am, too.

Every. Single. Time.

My lesson for you this week is to be brave. I’m an introvert. I’m also a people pleaser. I want people to like me. And yet I chose a career that requires me to put myself out there and accept criticism from everyone!

It’s not easy!

But every time I get an email from someone who loved something I wrote. Or read a review (the occasional reviews I read) that says something about the book that was amazing. Each one that offers a suggestion. They all mean something to me. Even the reviews that aren’t positive are an opportunity for me. Something that can help me be a better writer.

But I still hesitate when I finish a book. I still wonder if anyone is going to like a book when I hit publish. I don’t think that’ll ever go away. After thirty-four published books, I still get anxious.

But I do it anyway.

If you’re thinking of becoming a writer, or you’ve written a book but haven’t taken the leap yet, find a friend or close family member. No, a friend will not be the best person to give you criticism, but they will give you a bit of confidence. That person will tell you your story is good, hopefully, and encourage you. When you’re starting out, you need a little bit of that.

No, you don’t want someone to lie to you, but you want someone that you know will be gentle with your feelings. Or at least will be able to deliver suggestions gently.

The first person who ever read a story of mine was / is my best friend. She gave me a bunch of notes, but I knew they were coming from a place of love because she wanted to help me. Yes, an editor will want to help you also, but an editor is a paid professional. She won’t hold back. Your friend might just enough not to hurt your feelings.

 

No matter what, at the end of the day, you have to be brave to share your stories. You have to let a piece of you out into the world. To give other people permission to say something you created, something you worked hard on for weeks, or months, or years, isn’t any good. And to give them permission to say it changed their life.

Because when it’s all said and done, those are the emails, the reviews, the comments you remember. Those are the ones that will change your life, not just theirs.

If you have a question, about writing or anything else, 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!

#FiveOnFriday A Lucky 7 Anthology

Wow! We have six authors visiting us today! You will be kicking yourself if you don’t check this out!

Inspiration

When did you first think about writing a book? Did you write it then, or put it off for years? 

For Love or Money–Margo Hoornstra

Like many who create stories, from grade school on, I figured someday to write a book, but when the time was right. After I earned a formal education, launched and sustained a successful and rewarding career, married, then raised a family and became financially independent. In other words, I did put it off for years.

To paraphrase the song lyric, life happened while I was making plans. Proof of the education is in a frame on the wall, the career came and went, the husband is still with me, but the children are grown, and our vast accumulation of wealth never materialized.

After reading so many authors who inspired me, Phyllis Whitney and Kathleen Woodiwiss among them, I wrote a novel of my own. Then five others in quick succession. It was book number six I finally got published. For Money Or Love, the book I wrote for the All In For Love anthology, is my thirteenth. A number which, as it turns out, is very lucky for me.

Margo’s website http://www.margohoornstra.com

Character

How do you construct your characters? Do you have a process or do they develop as you write? 

An Inn Decent Proposal—Sharon Buchbinder

I guess you could say there are certain professions that I love for characters, since I keep writing stories about chefs and hoteliers! My husband and I dine out about three times a week (which explains our inability to shed those last ten pounds!) and travel a good deal for business and pleasure. After sharing numerous dining and travel stories with a friend, she laughed and said, “You should write a book about this!” Genie, a Culinary Institute of America trained chef, and Jim, a Cornell Hotel School graduate, were the first characters born from these stories.

Sharon’s website http://www.sharonbuchbinder.com/

Story

Where did the idea for your story come from? 

A Ghost To Die For – Keta Diablo

I’ve always been intrigued by spirits or ghosts. In fact, a Ghost To Die For is not the first ghost story I’ve written. I have several novellas that feature a ghost or a person who has died and for some reason cannot cross over. In my latest western romance novella, Comes An Outlaw, the dead spirit of the widow’s husband can’t find peace while his wife and son are in grave danger. Luckily, the ghost’s brother shows up to help the beautiful widow and her 12 year old son.

In A Ghost To Die For, the ghost was murdered and knows his brother will meet the same fate if he doesn’t find a way to warn him. Drum roll….in walks Rooney, a woman who holds seances to commune with the dead. Rooney has never really believed in ghosts until one shows up in her hotel room begging for help. Did I mention Rooney has a heart as big as Texas and can’t ignore the ghost’s heartfelt pleas for help? Once she meets the devastatingly handsome brother, sparks fly! Somehow, while running from assassins and dodging bullets, love blossoms.

How about you? Do you believe in ghosts or spirits?

Keta Diablo’s blog: http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com

Where did the idea for your story come from? 

Raising Kane—Kat Henry Doran

The idea for Raising Kane came to me during a meeting of my local RWA chapter. In the spirit of offering members options for creating interesting, three-dimensional characters, the program planners regularly invited local professionals to talk about their careers, how they came to them, the joys and the pitfalls.

I was in a particular funk in those days, not exactly a writer’s block but struggling to create a character whose career goals and motivation would automatically put them in  conflict, internal and external, with another community professional while the romantic side of things progresses. I always like the reader to think, ‘these two characters will never, ever have a HEA because of their jobs, goals and motivations.

Enter our guest speaker: an investigative reporter for one of the local TV affiliates. In her late twenties, I guessed, intelligent and well spoken. this young woman did not once use ‘ya know’ when she spoke. She was fluent in local and state politics and could walk and chew gum at the same time. My kind of heroine. As she spoke, the wheels inside my head began turning and I knew I had a heroine. Then she made the mistake of opening up the floor for questions and discussion. I am, now, ashamed to say I took over the Q and A, bombarding her with questions about a reporter’s constitutional right to protect a source, being threatened with arrest, what to do when a source drops a bombshell with political repercussions in your lap. She was at all times gracious and enthusiastic.

Kat’s blog http://wildwomenauthorsx2.blogspot.com/

Writing

Do you suffer from writer’s block? How do you get unstuck, or how do you keep from getting stuck? 

Perfect Odds – LaShanta Charles

I tend to have writer’s block on a pretty regular basis. It’s not that my mind isn’t swirling with ideas, voices, plots, and all around awesomeness (LOL), it’s that I’m a procrastinator at heart and my attention jumps from subject to subject before I can sit down and actually make myself write. When I get stuck, I tend to read paranormal or sci-fi romance. That’s my favorite genre and when I read it, I tend to want to write a good scene.

LaShanta’s Blog: http://randomlymeandyou.blogspot.com/

Future / Readers

What is it about this book that you think readers will love?

Take a Chance on Me—M.J. Schiller

I had so much fun with this book! The story flowed out of me unlike any other story I’ve written thus far. Romantic suspense has both the hot chemistry between hero and heroine, plus the thrill of danger. You’ll find both in TAKE A CHANCE ON ME, and you’ll also find humor. I like to inject humor into almost everything. It colors the characters and makes them seem more alive. I hope the reader will connect with the relationships between the characters and recognize a bit of themselves, or someone they know, in them.

Blog http://mjschillerauthor.blogspot.com/

ALL IN FOR LOVE: A Lucky 7 Anthology

An Inn Decent Proposal By Sharon Buchbinder

Perfect Odds By Lashanta Charles

A Ghost To Die For By Keta Diablo

Raising Kane By Kat Henry Doran

For Money Or Love By Margo Hoornstra

Take A Chance On Me By M.J. Schiller

ALL IN FOR LOVE

Six award-winning authors bring you seven *sweet to sensual* romances filled with suspense, thrills and maybe even a ghost or two—for less than the price of a cup of coffee—99 cents!

Welcome to La Bonne Chance Resort & Casino!

With thousands of people passing through the casino’s doors on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that a variety of lives and loves are on the line there. It’s said that you’re more likely to lose your heart at La Bonne Chance than a hand of poker. Whether you are the Director of Casino Operations or the guy who created its software, a jilted bride or a black jack dealer, a past guest’s ghost or a sous chef–when it comes to love, the stakes are high.

Thank goodness what happens at La Bonne Chance, doesn’t always stay at La Bonne Chance….

Ready to roll the dice?

An Inn Decent Proposal, Sharon Buchbinder
Can an hotelier with a past and a chef with a future revive the grand dame in a neglected old inn?

Perfect Odds, Lashanta Charles
When a jilted bride meets the man of her dreams, will she embrace the new plan, or cling stubbornly to the old one?

A Ghost To Die For, Keta Diablo
She didn’t believe in ghosts…until one showed up in her room.

Raising Kane, Kat Henry Doran
Funny how a night in jail will change a woman’s outlook on life.

For Money Or Love, Margo Hoornstra
She’s the one woman he can’t afford to lose.

Take A Chance On Me, M.J. Schiller
Who do you count on when the chips are down?

Links

Buy Link https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071V94BWM

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/allinforloveanthology/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35052000-all-in-for-love 

Everything She Never Wanted, release day

All my stories are emotional. They pull at you and make you think about life and love. This one was particularly hard to write because of the loss. I’m hoping it stays a secret who is lost in this story, but everyone knows that it’s someone in the family. Henry is upset, and Cynthia is still his best friend. Through distance and pain and love and heartbreak. She’s there for him, and that’s what I worked hard to bring out in this story.

We can get through anything with the right person by our side.

Excerpt from Everything She Never Wanted

“Should I be worried?” he asked, striving for levity in light of what she’d seen inside.

Her eyes betrayed her grin. She was worried about him. She shook her head and stood, brushing the snow from her jeans. She scooped up half the snowballs and carried them to the picnic table.

“This looked like a pretty sturdy wall,” she said, nodding to the side of the house.

“Uh, I think so. Why?”

She shrugged. “I thought you could use it.”

“For what?”

She looked at him and grinned. She grabbed one snowball and tossed it up gently before catching it. Then she turned and threw it at the side of the house. The snow exploded over the dark stone, leaving a beautiful white imprint.

Oh, hell, yeah.

“Seriously? You didn’t lure me out here for a snowball fight?”

She shook her head, that sad look in her eyes again. “You looked like you needed this.”

Henry pulled in a breath, unsure if he was happy she remembered his need to throw things when he was mad, or sad that they were basically strangers who knew each other.

She grabbed another snowball and chucked it at the wall, the packed snow bursting a foot from the first one, and Henry couldn’t resist any longer. He walked over to the pile she’d amassed and tested one. He packed it again, out of instinct, then threw it as hard as he could at the wall.

The blast eased something inside him, ever so slightly. He stood for a moment, enjoying the sight of the snow scattered across the side of his house.

Then threw another one.

And another.

And another.

Cynthia packed snowballs and Henry launched them at the wall. He had no idea how long they were out there. Long enough that the tips of his fingers started to get cold, his gloves soaked through, and he regretted wearing only jeans outside. Cynthia’s nose was red, as were her cheeks, but she didn’t complain. She just kept packing snowballs, not saying a word as Henry threw one after the other at the side of his house.

He finally stopped and looked at her. Really looked at her. She packed another snowball, oblivious to him staring. She looked beautiful with her red face, jeans hugging her lower half. Her white jacket nearly blended in with the snow around them. She finally looked up at him and grinned.

“Feel better?”

He nodded. “Thanks.”

“Any time.”

Available Now!

Ebook on Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | B&N | Smashwords

Writing Tips: Stick To Your Guns

Last night, hubby and I watched The Founder. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the story of McDonald’s and how it got started. The McDonald brothers opened their first store in California and ended up being a success. They franchised, but it didn’t work well because they didn’t have a good handle on quality. When Ray Kroc came in, he wanted to franchise and had ideas on how to do it.

In the end, Kroc ended up taking over the company from the McDonald brothers. He basically pushed them out, and in many ways, they let him. They didn’t fight him hard enough when they had opportunities to, they let him use the name and didn’t challenge him, and they didn’t foresee the ways he would screw them over.

It was a fascinating lesson in business, and also a sad story of how two intelligent, creative people were taken advantage of by a business-savvy individual.

Why does this matter to writing?

One thing I learned from this movie is that you have to stick to your guns. The brothers didn’t want to sign anything at the beginning. They did because one of them had a dream of seeing McDonald’s as a franchise all over the country. But they didn’t want to sign.

They never should have, and hindsight is always 20/20.

If you embark on a writing career, you’ll have a lot of people telling you what you should do. Write certain things, submit to certain publishers, join certain organizations, everything you can imagine and then some.

Only you know what works for you.

When I started writing, I knew I wanted to indie publish. That means no publisher backs me. I write the stories I want. I find my own editors and choose all the people I work with. I was told many times that I should submit to one publisher or another. That I should do one thing or another. That I needed to write one type of story or another.

It was hard not to listen.

That’s one of the big things about any business, but it’s even harder, in my opinion, with writing. You want to be successful. You want to earn money. You want to find readers. So when someone gives you advice, it’s hard not to listen. It’s hard to say the ‘expert’ that’s telling you what to do is wrong.

The reality is, they might be wrong for you.

When people give you advice, most of the time, they aren’t trying to fool you or harm you. They want to help, but you need to go into a career like writing, or any career where you’re self-employed, with a plan. Figure out ahead of time what you want your career to look like, then stick to your guns when all those well-meaning people try to tell you how to run your world.

If you have a question, about writing or anything else, 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 Adriana Kraft

Please welcome Adriana Kraft! I’m so excited about having this duo with us today. How fun to work with your spouse!

Five things about A Woman for Zachary #MFRWAuthor #Polyamory

A Woman for Zachary: What’s important? My husband and I write erotic romance together under our pen name, Adriana Kraft. Here’s a peek at what drives our stories:

Thing 1: PLEASURE.

Fiction writers fall under the occupational category of “Arts and Entertainment.” Naturally, we write to entertain – to deliver pleasure to our readers. This means whatever challenges we throw at our characters, we also want them to have fun. We write erotic romance to deliver a special category of fun – we hope our characters (and our readers) enjoy a range of sexual romps on the page that feed their fantasies.

Thing 2: AGE

We don’t think “fun” (sexual or otherwise) has any built-in age limit, so we often write characters well past their sleek and sassy twenties. Yes, the star of our Meghan’s Playhouse series has just turned twenty-one, but Josie is in her early forties, and Zach, with his distinguished balding head, is a handsome virile fifty-two. More power to them! We think they won’t disappoint.

Thing 3: AUTHENTICITY

We’ll let Josie answer this one. In a recent interview, she was asked what she would change about herself. Here’s her answer: “That question is more philosophical than you might intend. I like who I am, what I value, and how I live. I’m always striving to improve—to be more aware, more compassionate, more balanced. I hope that never changes.”

Thing 4: POLYAMORY

Polyamory means “many loves.” In A Woman for Zachary, it’s the experience of loving more than one person at the same time. Though the threesome in this story isn’t a “forever” combination, the love they share is real and palpable. It is because Meg stays open to loving both Josie and Zach that she’s able to see into them deeply and empowered to help them find each other.

Thing 5: COMMITMENT

All three of these characters are profoundly committed to what they care about. Meg, with a lifetime ahead of her, is committed to her career and knows she will move on. At mid-life, Josie and Zach have already lost precious time by not claiming their desires sooner. Can they commit when Meg is no longer present as their catalyst?

BOOK DETAILS

A Woman for Zachary

Meghan’s Playhouse, Book Two

Erotic Romance Ménage

Novella, 28,000 words

eXtasy Books, August 4, 2017

Four Flames: Explicit Sex, MF, FF;

Ménage, FFM, FMF; Sex toys

BLURB

It’s New York! Broadway beckons, but Meg has more fun keeping an erotic triangle going with her current flame, Zach Cullen, and her drama coach, Josie Patrice.

Zachary Cullen has ignored Josette Patrice’s overtures for years, but she agrees to take on his latest protégé-slash-arm-candy Meghan Keenan in her off-Broadway workshop theater. Though the girl has incredible talent, Josie would stake her reputation on that little thing being a switch-hitter, like herself, and she doesn’t want Zach to be duped. Josie sets out to seduce Meg and expose her for what she is, but all bets are off when Meg turns the tables on Josie to hook her up with Zach.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Extasy Books

EXCERPT

“Your latest protégé does show promise, Zach.” Josette Patrice focused on the group of actors rehearsing onstage and avoided looking at Zachary Cullen as they stood shoulder to shoulder in the back of the small, semi-darkened playhouse.

“Hmm.”

Josie smiled. Was he pondering Meghan Keenan’s thespian talents, or her bedroom talents? Josie was certain the petite twenty-one-year-old would excel in both venues.

Not for the first time, Josie wondered why the highly successful fifty-something entrepreneur invested so much time and money trying to find the next Broadway star. Was it his ego, his desire to take young struggling actresses and help them make their way to New York City—specifically, to her?  Or was it the side benefit of sex with gorgeous young women that kept Zach on the lookout for talent as he traveled from one business interest to the next? Meghan was the third young woman he’d brought her over the past ten years.

“She seems more wooden, less natural than when I first saw her in that little community playhouse back in Wisconsin,” Zach said, breaking the silence.

Lost in her own thoughts, Josie startled at the gravelly sound of Zach’s deep voice. It was that slow, strong drawl that had appealed to her since the first time they’d met. That, and his burning eyes that seemed capable of peering into her soul.

Josie wet her lips watching the stage lights bounce off the girl’s auburn hair, as if setting her afire. Had Meg been caught up in Zach’s vision for her, or in his nearly overwhelming air of masculinity? She had to admit his broad shoulders and tapered hips triggered her own lusty imagination. Damn. She hated the fact that she had difficulty ignoring his manliness, and he never even looked at her as a woman. Apparently, he only saw her as a conduit for helping his protégés advance their careers.

Josie squared her shoulders. At forty-three, she was hardly over the hill. She’d had her share of lovers. Given Zach’s lack of interest, she’d flaunted her female lovers before him. She felt her nipples pebble—maybe that had been a mistake. Zachary Cullen was not a man to be toyed with.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

We are a married couple writing Sizzling Romantic Suspense and Erotic Romance for Two, Three, or More. With backgrounds in criminology and counseling, we combine our expertise in the criminal mind, trauma, healing, and human nature with a passion for robust sexuality and life-long vitality.

One man, one woman, danger and intrigue – always a happy ending, but oh, what a ride! Our Romantic Suspense line delivers “warmth, blazing hot sex, and well-developed characters” (Romance Junkies Reviews) as our hero and heroine battle outer threats and inner demons to stay alive and fall in love.

A man, a woman (or two), or another man, threesomes, foursomes, what’s your fantasy? We write our Erotic Romance stories to entertain, of course, but most of all we write them because we believe in happy endings for all who fall in love, whatever their gender, sexual orientation or numerical combination.

LINKS

Website: http://www.adrianakraft.com/

Blog: http://www.adrianakraft.com/blog

FaceBook Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Adriana-Kraft/182846025133440

Twitter http://twitter.com/AdrianaKraft

GoodReads http://www.goodreads.com/author/list/1578571.Adriana_Kraft

Newsletter http://eepurl.com/uRvCr

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/adrianakraft5/boards/

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/author/adrianakraft