Thursday, June 28, 2012

Angels and Demons Blog Hop

Welcome to my post in the blog hop! At the bottom of the post lists the prizes :)

I usually don't like paranormal anything. I don't watch paranormal anything and the genre itself scares the crap out of me. The whole ghost subject freaks me out. I believe in spirits but if something odd happens in my home I go into total denial or we will be packing our stuff. I do have a fourteen year old daughter who has a darker personality than I do. She is a paranormal and horror buff. She also writes novels already. After she finished writing her first book at age twelve she decided that maybe we should write a book together.

We set out plotting Dreaming of Him. We agreed that we'd both write it but I'd do a lot of the romance in the book because the thought of romance made her want to gag.  After we plotted most of the book, I wrote the opening scene and had her read it. "Mom," she had said, "I love it, but you need to write the whole thing." She decided that her talents weren't as good as mine (she is wrong!) and couldn't write with me.

Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) was coming up and I figured that writing Dreaming of Him would be the perfect project to do in that month and an awesome gift for my daughter. I accomplished the task of writing the novella in one month (surprising since I know nothing of the genre!), edited it, and had a contract from my publisher shortly after.

Here is the opening scene of the book:

I stood by the lake’s edge and tossed a rock, trying to make it skip across the water as my
father had once taught me when I was a little girl. My lips twisted in a frown as the rock plopped
against the water and quickly sank. Obviously, rock skipping could be added to my list of

“Hey.” The sudden sound of a deep voice cutting through the silence should’ve startled
me, but it didn’t at all.

Curious, I turned toward the sound.

He stood there with a strand of dark hair falling down against his tanned forehead. He
brushed it back and smiled, revealing a brilliant set of teeth.

“Have we met before?” I asked, trying to place him from somewhere.

Instead of answering, he stepped next to me. “Let me show you how to do that.” He
picked up a rock and twisted his wrist just right, sending the rock skipping across the water.
Once the rock sank, he turned to me again. His dark eyes stared into mine as he slid his finger
down my cheek.


The blaring alarm pulled me from my dream, jerking me straight up in bed. The
obnoxious sound came from a little blue box sitting on my dresser, set far away from my bed to
force me up from the comfort. I groaned as the day’s reality set in. The manager of Rich Chick
expected me to be there for work in an hour. I hated not only the annoying beep-beep that ripped
me from my dream, but also knowing that I’d be behind a counter pretending to be someone
different. Then again, I hated most everything about my life. I glanced over to the bottle of
prescription pills on my dresser. Should I go another day pretending everything was fine without
taking the mood-altering drug people swore by? I shook my head at the notion. No more pills.
Not today. Not ever again.


Prize time! Win a copy of Dreaming of Him by leaving a comment on my blog. 
 Each blog will have it's own giveaway, PLUS we have TWO grand prizes. ONE Commenter from the blogs will win a KINDLE TOUCH
another Commenter will win a $60 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card!


Monday, June 25, 2012

DEATH VS SEX by Sara Jayne Townsend

 “Horror, mostly,” I replied cheerfully.  The room went silent Many years ago – some point in the early 1990s, before my writing group was formed – I belonged to an amateur dramatic group.  One of the ladies in this group was also a writer, and she invited me along to her next writing group meeting.  I was in my early 20s at that point.  The lady I accompanied was considerably older.  In fact, everyone in the group was older. That was the first thing I noticed.  I was the youngest person present by about 30 years.  But I was duly introduced, and everyone was very friendly.  At least they were at first.  Then someone asked me, “so what do you write?”

 Everyone stared at me.  Eventually someone said nervously, “we’ve never had one of THOSE before.”
Needless to say, this was my only visit to that particular writers’ group.  I often wonder why my announcement that I was a horror writer shocked this group to the core.  I may as well have announced I was a serial killer with a penchant for chopping up small children.  Perhaps they believed I was.  Just because people dying rather gruesome deaths feature in my writing a lot, does this mean people make the assumption that I go around chopping people up for fun at weekends?  This is like the erroneous assumption that erotica writers have experienced personally all the steamy sex scenes they write about.  No one assumes that a science fiction writer knows how to fly a space ship.  So why are writers of other genres assumed to be writing from experience?

Many writers who start writing young are given the advice, “write what you know”.  This is not necessarily bad advice.  But to a 16-year-old writer, it probably is.  Yes, at 16, you might think you know everything, but in reality you don’t really know anything at all.  What if you want to write a novel about someone who has the ability to fly?  Taking this “write what you know” advice to literally would mean that such a story would never get written.  But you can imagine what it might be like to fly.  Imagine how it might feel, feeling the wind against your face, high above the trees, looking down over the roof tops, nothing holding you up but your own ability.  How exhilarating would it feel?  What would you be able to see, from your bird’s eye vantage point?  Imagination is the writer’s most powerful tool.  As long as you can imagine it – really imagine it, using all your senses – you can write convincingly about it.

In many ways, writing about death is not a lot different from writing about sex.  They are both human experiences.  They are both part of life.  They both deal with a range of human attitudes and emotions.
As a horror writer, I am fascinated by the dark side of human nature.  Fans of romance stories tend to say they like the ‘happy ever after’ ending, the happy feeling that everything will be all right in the end.  For me, I’d rather explore the unhappy ending.  What is it that makes human beings do such appalling things to each other?  What is it that makes people kill?  Do you have to be a bad person to be capable of committing murder, or is this something that every human being is capable of, given the right circumstances?

When I have such conversations with colleagues, they tend to look at me nervously, the way that writing group did years ago.  But my fascination with the darkness of the soul tends to stay on the page – I’m not about to go and find out for real what it’s like to kill someone.  In many ways, being able to write about these dark feelings is a way of keeping them out of my real life.

I tend to come away from a horror story feeling somewhat relieved that my own life is actually pretty good compared to those of the characters I’ve just been reading, or writing, about.  And for that reason, I’d rather have the ‘everybody is in a bad way’ ending than the ‘happy ever after’ ending.

"Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror.  She
has two novels, SUFFER THE CHILDREN and DEATH SCENE, published as
e-books by Lyrical Press.  Her latest release is a collection of short
horror stories, entitled SOUL SCREAMS, available as print and e-book
from Stumar Press (

You can learn more about Sara and her writing from her website
( and her blog

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Writing Sex as a Beginner by Lynn Cahoon

I wander up to the front of the room, step in front of the podium, adjust the microphone, and after the static that just blew out everyone’s ear drums, announce, “Hi, I’m Lynn, I’m a romance author.”
Sometimes it feels like you’re part of a secret society.  Writing novels that people categorize before they even open the book. 

At a recent family event, I ran into a cousin who lived with us for a short time when I was a kid.  I adored this girl. As I bubbled about my just inked contract to sell THE BULL RIDER’S BROTHER, she seemed happy for me. 

Then she asked if I was planning on writing a real book.  Like Sarah’s Keys.  Something that mattered.
Since I was in public and expected to not scream at my aging cousin, I hemmed and hawed.  But what I should have said (do you ever do this-know exactly what you want to say, too late?) – was THE BULL RIDER’S BROTHER is a real book.  About real people and real problems.
Not just sex.  Especially since the book is behind closed doors sex.

My release in November for Lyrical Press – A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL is a hotter, paranormal romance.  Sex actually on the page. 

The first scene, in my mind, went farther than my characters wanted to go.  I wanted Ty to throw Parris on the bar and well, perform *cough* oral sex. The bar was closed for the evening, it was just the two of them.  But after the kiss he stole, he backed off.  He didn’t have the motivation for quick, cheap sex in that scene.  Don’t get me wrong, the characters wanted to go farther.  The situation just didn’t let them.

And then I realized my characters were running the show.  Telling me when my ‘plotting ideas’ were out of their comfort zone.  Which sometimes means I’m on the right track.  But sometimes, I need to slow the pace and find out where they want to go.

I’m still going to use that scene in one of their books.  Maybe Ty and Parris will let me get away with it in their second book I’m writing now.

So Wendy’s faithful readers?  Do you write sex scenes that put your characters out of their comfort zone?  And if you don’t write, tell me about your feelings as a reader when a character goes too far for their own comfort.  Does it work for you?

Growing up in the middle of cowboy country, Lynn Cahoon was destined to fall in love with a tall, cool glass of water.  Now, she enjoys writing about small town America, the cowboys who ride the range, and the women who love them. Contact her at her website –

Blurb for The Bull Rider’s Brother
Rodeo weekend is the start of the summer for the entire town of Shawnee, Idaho. On a girl's night out, Lizzie Hudson finds herself comparing her life as a single mom with her best friend's successful career when James Sullivan, the cowboy who got away, walks his Justin Ropers back into her life.  Seeing him shakes Lizzie's world but James is in for an even more eventful weekend, learning he has a son.  James has enough on his plate trying to manage his brother's bull riding career.  Can he learn to redefine family and become part of Lizzie's life before she gives up on him and marries another?
Buy link:  (also available at Barnes and Noble and i-tunes.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Social In Social Networking by J.M. Cornwell

The Social in Social Networking

By J. M. Cornwell

One Note Ronnie and Tessie Tunnelvision are coming. Time to hide. They have photo albums, videos, and voice recordings of their babies and are about to bore you to death with their prattle.

Ronnie and Tessie used to be such interesting people, full of opinions and views on current events, and they always remembered birthdays and anniversaries. Now all they do is talk about their babies—in detail, excruciating, mind numbing detail. Ronnie brings charts that show his baby’s milestones and Tessie is obsessed with her baby’s intake—and output.  What happened to them? Do Ronnie and Tessie really believe they are the first people to have babies and must regale the rest of the world with their excitement?

Substitute book for baby and the result is the same, if the statistics and conversation are a little different. 

With the rise of social networking and email, writers now have the opportunity to inform friends, family, and strangers with the latest news about their book. It could almost be tolerated if it is a first book and the author is unsure of how to go about social networking, believing that more is better, but more and more authors, determined to become the next Amanda Hocking or John Locke. What most writers do not understand about social networking is the social part and how annoying they become when they forget that being a person is as important as being a writer.

One writer complained on Facebook earlier this week that another writer he barely knows bombarded him with email advertisements to buy his book. The writer didn’t bother to get for duplicates on the email list and sent out the email blast to quite a sizable list, irritating a healthy segment of the indie publishing community with the thoughtless marketing strategy. That writer is one of thousands engaged in the same kind of guerilla book marketing that is heavy on the hammer and light on any kind of personality or common courtesy.

Like One Note Ronnie and Tessie Tunnelvision, both of who are happy to discuss the contents, quantity, and quality of baby’s diaper, too many writers treat social networking with a cavalier attitude, sure that more is better and hitting people hard and often is the trick to selling a million books. Not so. If only authors would remember how fast they run and hide when the Ronnies and Tessies appear, they would treat social networking with a little more respect, and their targets with a great deal more courtesy.

One thing I noticed about Amanda Hocking’s blogging and tweeting is that she talks about herself, and not just the writing process or her new books. She did unconsciously what more writers should do—get to know people and keep it real. Hocking wrote about movies, books, and music she loved and she tweeted about her favorite movie stars and places to eat, all the while continuing to write and throwing in information about her books from time to time. She also wrote every day, treating writing like a job, which it is—or at least should be. Tweeting and blogging were ways to get to know people and to market her books, even to the point of talking about what she did wrong and when she decided to go with a traditional publisher.

That is what most writers fail to realize. People are interested in other people because they want to get to know them, to find out what commonalities are shared, and what it is like to publish a book, traditionally or by self-publishing. Social networking should be as much about the personal touch as it is about books being published. The key is people. 

There are companies that specialize in email blasts and marketing strategies that will do the work for you, but if your budget doesn’t extend to cover such expenses, there are plenty of books on how to—and how not to—market books. They are affordable for everyone, since the prices range from free to about $10. There is a price for every budget.

What social networking comes down to is common sense, which is—or at least should be—at the heart of everything we do. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Get to know your readers. Talk about yourself, but only what is comfortable for you, and keep the book talk for important occasions, like a new cover, the debut of a new book or a new book in a series, and getting that one millionth sale. Make a big deal out of that one millionth sale because it is a big deal, but don’t forget to give readers and other authors a chance to put in their two cents’ worth. Promote other writers, books you like, and even talk about books you don’t like and why, but treat your audience like real people—because they are.

Advertising is important, but if all you can talk about is advertising, think how many people will hide when you come visiting. Remember Ronnie and Tessie and keep them firmly in mind when you get read to press the button to send out another email blast with nothing to say but another sales pitch about your book. Save it for later when you have something new to talk about. In the meantime, how are your friends doing and what happened to you today away from the keyboard? People want warts and all, but especially warts.

J. M. Cornwell is a social networking novice, preferring to spend time getting to know people to use as characters in her latest novel. She is the author of Past Imperfect and Among Women.  The upcoming novel, Among Men, is the sequel to Among Women, and will be out summer 2012. Check her out, warts and all, at  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

When A Plan Goes Awry by Sandra Carey Cody

Did you know that the chocolate chip cookie was invented by accident? In 1930, at the Toll House Inn in Wakefield, Mass., Ruth Graves Wakefield substituted broken pieces of semi-sweet chocolate for regular baker's chocolate in a cookie recipe. She thought the chips would melt into the batter. We all know how that turned out. I wonder if Ms. Wakefield was disappointed that things didn't go according to plan. When she pulled her cookie sheet from the oven and saw solid brown chunks sticking up like rocks in her golden cookies, was she upset? Did she think she had failed?  I like to imagine her looking at the cookies, shaking her head, and thinking something like, Oh, well, a lesson learned.  Did she take that first taste reluctantly? If so…what a pleasant surprise!. Whatever her reaction, there's a pretty good chance she didn't realize that she had just created an American classic.

What does this have to do with writing? If you're a baker, probably nothing, but, if you're a writer, everything has to do with writing.

My plots rarely turn out exactly as I plan. Sometimes I introduce a character, thinking I know exactly how he or she fits in the overall plan, only to have the character take over and re-write their part, giving themselves a more important role in the story. In my most recent work, LOVE AND NOT DESTROY, the victim demanded to tell his own story. I thought the manuscript was finished and was starting the editing process when (in the very first chapter!) this dead man seemed to guide my fingers to certain keys, spelling out words, stringing themselves into sentences and paragraphs. Turns out he needed to explain how he came to commit the act that started the sequence of events that form the backbone of the plot. I couldn't have been more surprised. Come to think of it, he was surprised himself by the turning of events. He may have guided my fingers to explain himself, but what he needed to explain was a plan that didn't work out. Long story short, I let him have his way and there are fourteen short scenes told from the victim's point of view. (I guess it's a small enough favor to grant someone you've just stabbed through the heart and left in the corner of a shed.)

I knew all along that the information in these scenes was necessary, but I had planned to reveal it in a different way. However, once I stopped fighting with my character and let him tell his own story, he became much more vivid to me and his death more poignant. (I can only hope readers feel the same.)

Characters with minds of their own are just one example of the surprising twists that occur during the writing of a novel. A book left open on a table can take a scene and, ultimately, an entire plot, in an unexpected direction. A line of throwaway dialogue can suggest a secret that leads to a subplot.

As a writer, I love it when these little surprises pop up. I think readers like surprises too. I know I do. However, as much fun as surprises are, once they have occurred, they should seem inevitable. John Irving is a writer who does this well. Dickens is another, maybe the best ever. And Jane Austen. I doubt any reader can anticipate all the twists and turns in her stories. Did you anticipate that Lydia would elope with Wickham? Once it happened, didn't it seem inevitable?

So, if you're a writer, and your story won't follow your plan, maybe you need to need to let the elements blend (or not) according to their own needs. Who knows? Maybe you'll create an American classic.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday- Confessions

As soon as her knuckles hit the wood, the door swung open. Dark eyes widened with surprise.
He stepped into the door frame. Dressed in a pair of jeans, shirtless, and his curly hair still wet
from a shower, she couldn’t help but admire him as a man and not the boy he’d been when she left.
The scent of aftershave and soap wafted out. No cologne. Just deliciously clean.

“Hi,” she breathed, sliding her fingers through her messy hair and looking down at the porch.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Some news

In February of 2008 I started my writing career. I sent out a batch of query letters for Jesse's Brother. By March of the same year I received a request from an agent and a publisher. I was so excited. Some authors wait years to get requests. I was amazed about this! I sent out the requested material and opened my mailbox one day to find the rejection from the agent. I didn't give up hope because the publisher seemed really interested in my manuscript. But then they lost it. I sent them another one, but their lack of professionalism kept going until January of 2009. I decided to end the crap I had been going through with that publisher who "would probably give me a contract" if I let them have it exclusively until they had time to read it. I said no. Then I sent it to Lyrical Press.

A week later I was checking my email to see if my critique partners had sent back my new work. Lyrical Press had sent me an email. I assumed it was a rejection, opened the email, and screamed. Inside the email was my very first contract. I had made my way from "writer" to "author".

Jesse's Brother was released in September of that year.

I'm writing this post because I was checking the bestseller status of another one of my books. I noticed that Jesse's Brother had been taken off my publisher's site. I emailed her and she said that my contract with their company is up in September. I have mixed feelings about this. My award-winning book has reached its time with Lyrical, but the story needs to reach more readers!

That is why I need to put it back out on the market! I'm on to a new phase of my writing career. The thought both excites and scares me, but here I go anyway!