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Sha Renée: November Days to Remember!
Friday, November 2nd, 2018

The month of November is full of opportunities to observe, remember and celebrate special causes, events and people. Some of personal interest to me are National Radiologic Technology Week because I just received my Dental Radiology License and Veterans Day because I’m proud to have served. Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to remember what we are grateful for… in the company of friends and family, while watching football and eating huge amounts of comfort food.

But a few weeks before, we start preparing turkey and watching Charlie Brown concoct a feast of potato chips and toast, we have a day to celebrate authors and the books they write. November 1st is National Authors Day.

The idea was originated in 1928 by Nellie Verne Burt McPherson an avid reader and president of the Bement, Illinois Women’s Club. a resolution was passed, declaring November 1 as a day to honor American writers. But if you ask me, National Author’s Day should really be November 30th. You see, November 1st is not only National Author’s Day, it also marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo, a thirty-day period during which many writers bleed, sweat and cry onto the pages of their latest work. As participants race to write 50,000 in 30 days, there’s likely some frenzied hair pulling and heads banging on desks all over the world. So, the end of November is when there should be balloons released and confetti thrown wherever these writers go. Free wine and coffee should be made available in abundance to all authors to celebrate their work, dedication and willingness to present a piece of themselves to the world.

So, raise your glass, thank an author, support them if they’re participating in NaNo. Buy a book, or request it at your library or local book store. Write a review. Share a book and author’s info with a friend. Post it on social media. On November 1st, throughout the month of and any day — really, show your support for the authors who’ve entertained you, scared you, made you laugh or made you to cry.

About the Author

Sha Renée is a native New Yorker who joined the US Navy right after high school. She now lives in New Jersey where she creates stories on the pages where duty, honor and passion unite.

Sha loves meeting people and attends book-signing events and conferences whenever she can. She also enjoys networking with other writers and is a member of RomVets (military women and veterans who are writers), Liberty States Fiction Writers and Marketing for Romance Writers. She is also the creator and organizer of Emerging Authors of New Jersey.

A true nature lover, Sha enjoys spending time outdoors, usually with a camera in her hands. She has a passion for motorcycles and sports cars and is a fan of auto racing, military air shows and The X Games – pretty much any high-speed activity involving wheels or wings.

She hates cooking, loves music and believes every day should include a cup of hot coffee and a glass of chilled wine.

Her Military Romance, Forbidden Kisses, is available on Amazon.

Forbidden Kisses

When Navy pilot, Ethan Parker falls for the woman he met at a coffee shop, he knows she’s the one he’s waited his entire life for. She’s sensual, sassy and smart. What he doesn’t know is she’s also in the Navy, and her enlisted rank means a relationship with her could potentially get him discharged from military service.

While on leave from teaching at a top Naval facility, Layla Matthews tumbles head-over-heels for the sexiest man she’s encountered in a long time. The fact that he can hold an intelligent conversation is an added bonus. Her world is turned upside down when she later discovers he’s a Navy lieutenant. A senior officer. Her new boss. Definitely off-limits.

Continuing their relationship could ruin their military careers. Ending it would break both their hearts. Do they end their sizzling romance or keep it a secret… and pray no one finds out?

Get your copy here!

Look for Sha Renée on the following social media sites:

Procrastination is my middle name… (Contest)
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

UPDATE: The winner is…Michelle Levan!

My coffee’s cold…again. I need one of those cupwarmer thingies on my desk, because once I start working, I forget to drink it before it cools. Then I have to stop, head to the microwave, and… Well, I guess I just want to whine about something, and that’s the first thing I thought of. What else can I talk about to procrastinate a little while longer…

My dd met with all the kids’ teachers last week. The 5-year-old had the most glowing report, naturally. She’s a little leader in her class. She’s kind to other kids and listens. She’s smart as a whip (whatever that means). No worries there. The 9-year-old is doing SOOOO much better, behaviorally (she spent the last day of last year in ISS), and her teachers love her. Got to love those ADHD drugs. The 14-year-old girl is doing very well—and she made it into some kind of choral group. There were 700 kids who auditioned in the area, and she was one of 40 selected. Man, we were floored, because we thought for sure she couldn’t sing a note. The 14-year-old boy…? Yeah, he needs a kick in the ass to get his school work done, so we’re knuckling down on how he spends his free time…

Enough procrastinating yet?

I have two editing jobs I need to get out the door soon, because I have three more that will hit any day now. I can’t seem to get motivated unless I’m drowning in commitments. Adrenaline gives me focus—or, at least, that’s my excuse.

And as for new words for new projects of my own? I have three chapters of Wolf completed. I just need to edit them to remind me what I wrote months ago, then push forward to finish the story. I really want to get a Stepbrothers short story done, too. The cover is just too sexy not to find a story to go along with it, don’t you think?

Stepbrothers Stepping Out: With His Client
Now, if I can just figure out what the story is about…

Hey! So, maybe you can help me figure that one out. Give me ideas for a story to go along with the cover. Maybe I’ll use it as a jumping off point. I’ll give away a free copy of any of my recent releases to one commenter! Your idea doesn’t have to be wonderful, just have fun with it!

In the meantime, I need to make a trip to the coffee pot for a little “cup of ambition.”

Holly Bargo: A Good Idea’s Not Enough
Sunday, October 21st, 2018

I make my living as a freelance writer and editor. Therefore, I find that my standards for professional quality content differ from that of many self-published authors, because I cannot separate the quality necessary for my clients from the quality necessary for my own stories.

Being an avid reader as well as a writer and editor, I encounter far too many self-published books that make me cringe. From misused apostrophes to malapropisms to incorrect grammar to tense switches between past and present so frequent as to give H. G. Wells whiplash, these writers lack understanding of what I call the mechanics of language.

However, correct grammar in itself does not translate into good writing. Writers who commit the sins attendant upon poor language mechanics also and often fail to grasp the intricacies of good storytelling: minimize passive voice, avoid information dumps, use adverbs sparingly, reduce expository description to only that which is necessary, and eschew obfuscation. (If you didn’t get the two instances of irony in that last sentence, then you probably shouldn’t consider yourself a professional writer.)

The hallmark of a professional writer lies in the skill with which he or she executes an idea.

If one subscribes to the literary authorities regarding story plots, then one must also admit that every overarching plot has already been written. In his 2004 book, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, Christopher Booker declares that literature has only seven basic plots that storytellers everywhere and in every medium continuously recycle: 1) overcoming the monster, 2) rags to riches, 3) the quest, 4) voyage and return, 5) rebirth, 6) comedy, and 7) tragedy. (Yes, the plots can and do overlap within a story.) Other authorities cite the number of distinct, archetypal plots to six, nine, and thirty-six. The Guardian reported on an academic study, conducted in 2016, that analyzed commonalities among the plots of 1,737 stories. According to the article, the two most popular plot archetypes basically fall into two general story arcs reminiscent of Oedipus and Cinderella.

For those who write romantic fiction, the Cinderella archetype reigns. Look at practically any story within the umbrella genre of romance or its myriad sub-genres and you’ll find that requisite happily ever after or HEA ending. Sometimes, the HEA is temporary, labeled in the industry as happy for now or HFN. Regardless of whatever tragedy befalls the protagonists throughout the story’s journey, the story ends on a note of hope and happiness.

Those who write romance then ought to understand that their overarching plots are not original. What is original is how the author treats that selected plot. The permutations upon a well-used plot often fall within the parameters of certain sub-genres, of which the most obvious copy of the Cinderella story is the billionaire romance. The tired old plot becomes fresh with the addition of unusual circumstances that affect the characters, with the writer’s skill in creating witty repartee, and the writer’s ability to convey emotion and ambiance such that that reader shares the main characters’ experiences.

Great storytelling requires more than a good idea, because all the good ideas have already been used. Great storytelling demands expert execution and manipulation of language to refresh the old idea and give it new vigor.

Bear of the Midnight Sun

After a thousand years, immortal polar bear shifter Sindre finally finds his mate—on a talk show. In the city where anything goes, an impromptu wedding is just a taste of what’s to come. Startled into going through the ceremony, Miranda can’t stop the big, virile man from staking his claim on her and releasing her bear. Sindre can’t believe his good luck and will do anything to keep his mate at his side, up to and including taking marital advice from Atlas Leonidus. An independent woman with a successful career, Miranda melts at his touch and shuns his control, except she can’t control her bear.

Pre-order your copy here!

About the Author

Holly Bargo has over 25 years of professional writing and editing experience. She has published 20 books spanning the fantasy and romance genres and writes from the perspective of having made all the mistakes and helping other writers learn from those mistakes. Her latest book, Bear of the Midnight Sun, will be released on October 31, 2018, in both e-book and print format. Holly lives on a small hobby farm in southwest Ohio.

Viviana MacKade: How to Kill an Author in 7 Questions
Monday, October 8th, 2018

Meeting and introducing myself to new people is always a struggle. I’m not really a people person, I’m rather shy and, more days than not, I have a bad disposition. But now, as the age of 40 is not on the far horizon anymore, I can say I’m not as bad as I used to be. I can ever stretch it to enjoying meeting new people. Of course, those new people I come to meet have passed my husband’s first approval, and I’m more inclined to know them.

Still, the moment inevitably comes when they ask the question. Defining and unavoidable. And with the potential of crushing an Author’s ever-fragile self-esteem.

“What do you do for a living?”

What happens next can make or break a writer’s night (and the next few days, the time it takes to snap out of it).

To be clear, this is not a post about how an Author survives it. It’s a half-serious guide on “How to Kill an Author in 7 Questions.” The hope behind it is that nobody asks these anymore (yeah, right).

Oh, and BTW, some of the following apply to Romance Readers as well! Who’s never hidden a romance book because she/he didn’t want to get caught with it? Or lied and said she/he read only Chaucer and Hemingway?

So, here it is.

– Are you making any money?
Sure, a truckload. Artists of any kind are known for how much money they make.
Why it hurts: Because we’re not making money, man. At least, not enough to survive with it. So we have other jobs to keep us physically alive, while something inside us dies because we can’t give our art all we’ve got. Thank you for reminding me, asshat.

– Aw, that is so sweet.
Is it? Really? I think making pink cupcakes with a rainbow frosting and a glittery top is sweeter, but whatever.
Why it hurts: because there’s nothing sweet in doing it. There are blood and pain (not literally, but it just as bad) and tears. And the tone in which is usually said implies that it’s a very nice thing we like to do when we have time to spare. You know, between farting glitter and sweating honey. Because it’s so sweet.

– Nice, but what is your job?
At that, I usually retreat into A) making up a profession – don’t use this strategy if you know you have to see this person again. B) I say I’m a homemaker – don’t use this option if you have already guessed you’re talking with a stupid snob who thinks only a job outside from the house deserves recognition. C) Go with the truth, which is also why it hurts 
Why it hurts: Because it is our job. Even if it’s not what we exclusively do for an actual living, it still feels like our job. The most important one, as far as jobs go, and one worthy of being taken seriously.

– Nice, your husband must be happy.
The implication here is that because I write romance, and romance has sex in it (as life does), then I’m either an insatiable beast under the sheets, one that knows every little bit of the Kamasutra, or a famished maid (in the sense that I don’t get any, despite being married and all)

– Oh, you write Romance.
I do.
Why it hurts: Because the genre is always, and has always been, seen as a second-class genre. Never mind all the research that often goes into it (I’m looking at Historical, but also suspense and pretty much all of them). The effort. Never mind the message of empowered women and smart, good men. It’s still not literature. It’s still not serious enough.

I hope this will help some! Is any of those situations happened to you, either as a Romance Reader or Writer? How did you react?

Thank you all for reading, and I look forward to hearing your stories about it.

His Midnight Sun

Tormented, fierce, and broken, sculptor Aidan Murphy has judged himself guilty. He yearns for love but pushes everyone away. He longs for acceptance but has lost the key to open his heart. Until he meets Summer Williams. Beautiful and smart, Dr. Williams promises haven for a man who believes he deserves none. All he has to do is let her in and risk his heart and soul.

Summer’s managed to keep her inner light alive, even through tragedy. She’s created a new life for herself and her daughter in Crescent Creek with loving, caring and fun friends–well, except brooding, breathtaking Aidan. She’s used to keeping away from his type, though. All she has to do is ignore the pull of a man who’s turning up to be much more than snarls and storms. Will her compassion and medical instincts let her?

Love can heal a broken soul and shake up a timid heart. Or it can unleash devastation and revenge.

Will Aidan and Summer survive the hurricane?

5 Star Read
FREE with KU

Get your copy here!

About the Author

Beach bum and country music addicted, Viviana lives in a small Floridian town with her husband and her son, her die-hard fans and personal cheer squad. She spends her days between typing on her beloved keyboard, playing in the pool with her boy, and eating whatever her husband puts on her plate (the guy is that good, and she really loves eating). Besides beaching, she enjoys long walks, horse-riding, hiking, and pretty much whatever she can do outside with her family.

Find Viviana:
On her website | On FB | On Twitter
Amazon Author page

Mary Kennedy Eastham: Why I write short fiction…
Monday, October 1st, 2018

Writing short fiction suits my personality. It’s kind of episodic. You gotta get in quick and figure stuff out fast. I approach it the way I do my daily work-outs. I try to mix them up. Example, today I shot a bunch of hoops, then in between, ran through an obstacle course, did some weighted hula hooping and finished up with a bunch of push-ups, all while throwing frisbees to my three Golden Retrievers. I just finished a two-week flash fiction class where we wrote a 500-word story every day then posted it online so members of the class could make comments. At first, I was so stressed. That’s just me. I’ve been writing a long time, but to do new things under a quick deadline with strangers commenting on your work can be scary. The surprise was that I got such wonderful feedback.

One writer said my work was beautifully cinematic. Another said I was a sentence-level writer. I had to look that one up. I took it to mean I love putting words and phrases together in a lyrical way, which I do. Someone else said my writing had beautiful movement, a quick rapid-fire pace and startling imagery. I was lucky. This was a really kind group. If any of you are wondering what the definition of flash fiction is, the instructor described it as combining the prism of the poem with the just slight indulgence of a short story. For the past year I’ve been working on my third book, a collection of short fiction called Little Earthquakes. Here’s an excerpt from a story I’ve titled “Teyana Lee”:

She spits her gum out in my hand. I don’t know how old she is. She could be 20, she could be 17. Her father/director/boyfriend/captor hands me his gunmetal grey suit jacket. No eye contact. Mr. GQ flies First Class often. My work husband James gives me the side-eye when we both realize the girl is barefoot with a brand new white band-aid on her pretty face. With much work to do for both of us on this New York to London flight, I forget about them.

The take-off is shaky, storm winds, a flock of birds maybe. I struggle to push my cart of drinks down the aisle. James will follow with warm nuts and exotic cheeses. Mr. GQ asks for two glasses of Champagne. It’s late. 

The girl came onto the plane with no carry-on, so probably no ID. I pretend both drinks are for him. The girl looks at me, her eyes waxy raw, her body turned into itself. Her feet are filthy. She’s not a girlfriend or his daughter. I sense this girl is playing a dangerous game. ‘I was the Trivia Dancer today on Kelly & Ryan,’ she tells me. Mr. GQ smiles. His eye mask is around his neck, ready to block out the world for the next eight hours. ‘They let me co-host during the Win-A-Trip segment,’ she says. ‘I wanna be a co-host for real someday.’

The plane hits a bit of weather.

‘She’s got quite the imagination,’ Mr. GQ says.

The girl lifts her hand to her face as if suddenly the overhead light is revealing too much. She quickly turns it off. Before their mini-suite goes midnight dark, I read the word SECRETS on her see-through skin. James snatches the drinks off the tray table. ’That’ll be all, miss,’ Mr. GQ says to me, covering himself and the girl with a blanket. In our stewardess training program, the instructor said to think of turbulence as angry air wrestling its demons. Smooth air is never far away. The girl pokes out from under the blanket, lights a match, holding it very close to her face. 

I reach over and blow it out. The girl pinches my cheek hard. ‘Hey,’ I say, ‘that hurt.’ I push her arm away. ‘It means I like you,’ she says defiantly. Something keeps me standing there. ‘Should I worry about you?’ I ask the girl. ‘No one ever has,’ she tells me as if she was a piece of sky…

Thanks for having me, Delilah and readers! Find out more about me on my website:
I’m on Twitter #Word Actress or on Instagram @wordactress

BONUS: If any of you like entering writing contests, check out the Soul-Making Keats Literary Contest:
Deadline is November 30th. I’m the Flash Fiction Judge.

Other categories include: Novel Excerpt, Short Story, Poetry, Humor, Memoir, Young Adult Poetry & Prose.

Winners come to San Francisco to read from their winning stories. I’d love to see you there!

Free Reads, Contests… Plus, My “Lazy” Sunday
Sunday, September 30th, 2018

Three Quick Reminders!

The offer of a free book, Stepbrothers Stepping Out: With His Pack, is still live! Get your copy here! I’ll be closing it down very, very soon!

Diana Cosby’s tote and mug giveaway is still open! Be sure to head here to enter: Fall —  A Magical Time of Year

My giveaway is ongoing, too! For a chance to win a free Night Falls story, enter here: Coming Tuesday…

My Lazy Sunday

typewriter keyboard in retro style

This morning, I rose at 6:00 AM, late for me, actually, since most mornings I’m up between 4:30 and 5:30. The extra half hour was nice.

I didn’t have to make breakfast for the house. That was nice, too. So, I reviewed my email, updated a couple of my work/schedule charts, then started editing.

No new words, today, so that’s a bit of a break, too.

Since my dd and my SIL are doing yard-work at my place this morning, I packed my laptop and headed across the street to her place to baby-sit the little ones while their parents work. They are watching Jurassic World, and not asking for my attention, which I usually give in spades, so a break again. I can complete this blog, and then head back into edits.

I hope to close down when their parents come and enjoy a blissfully aimless afternoon. We’ll see.

My issue is I’m a writer. I work from home, so I never escape my work. Ever. And that’s how I like it. I chose this life. I don’t have a job as a ______ (FILL IN THE BLANK). I am a writer/editor/teacher of writers. My work is never done.

Kind of like being a mom, huh? We work from dawn to dusk—and beyond. I wouldn’t chose another life, would you? But if you do crave the occasional, REAL break from work, how do you manage it? I’d really love to  know… 🙂

Writing like my hair’s on fire…
Saturday, September 8th, 2018

I’ve been crazy busy for nearly a month. What with dad hurting himself—for those of you who didn’t know, he broke his hip, had surgery, and is now in a rehab facility—my schedule was hit hard. And I didn’t have wiggle room to begin with, not after putting books up for pre-order that weren’t already written.

Luckily, I finished the first one, S*x on the Beach. Now, I have to wrap up Hook by next Friday, get it edited, formatted, and uploaded before my KDP deadline hits. I haven’t taken any time off and barely have time to spare to have a cup of coffee with my dd or a meal with family. If I got sick right now, I’d be toast. (I’m knocking on wood, because I don’t want to jinx myself!)

On top of all that, I have a plotting bootcamp starting on Monday and a classful of writers ready for me to lead them. I’m just a little stressed.

Things I don’t worry about and won’t until I reach THE END? Cleaning house, cleaning the pool, wearing makeup, blow-drying my hair, washing clothes, clipping my nails…you get the picture? I’m pretty scary-looking when I’m in deadline mode.

The five-year-old sighs when she sees me. “Do you always have to write?” Yes, baby, I do. Or at least for the next week, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I just have to get there!

So, be thinking happy thoughts for me. Tell the universe I have grit (not that I’m gritty!), I’m fierce, and I’m going to do this!