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Do You Get Into Character?

I hear actors brag about other actors who “never get out of character.” They say things like “If we’re on set” or “If we’re in costume, then he is ON.” I find myself doing this a little these days. A few months back I was editing a YA manuscript about a Texas cheerleader transplanted to a tiny island off the east coast. During the months of writing and editing that work, I subscribed to Seventeen Magazine, Teen Vogue and a few others. I already read ridic amounts of YA and watch lots of shows like that, but I noticed myself absorbing details. I dared to leave home in my skinny jeans and Chucks. In gen I felt lighter and more in tune to what I SAW in the world. I worked that piece for so long Ididn’t notice the change until I got settled into my next piece.

I started writing sweet romances set in Ohio earlier this year. They were a smaller, side project and to see the one I wrote while working on the YA, I can see the YA spilling over. My heroine was feisty and trendy and hot. As the YA wrapped up, and I started digging in to the romances exclusively, I pulled from my real life. I AM Ohio. The heroine in the next novella was a whole heck of a lot like me. The “me” when I’m not writing.

Now, I’m bouncing between a YA thriller and Drop Dead Delicious (a sequel to my cupcake killers). I can only imagine where that combo will take me. I’m already on the hunt for great gourmet baking recipes and asking Hubsy to attack me when I’m not expecting it so I can see what my YA MC’s physical response might be. I think it’s a good thing I get my head into the characters so much. For one, it’s super fun to role play *no comments please LOL* and for two, how else can I write them in a believable way? I want to TRY to be in their heads. When I put on an apron and buy gourmet ingredients instead of macaroni and cheese, you know I’m on the right track.

Do you do this? Do your characters influence you? Your music? Speech? Interests?

*Hope I never decide to write about a stripper* YIKES.

Summer Giveaway Hop! Aug 1st – 7th !!!

Welcome to my YA Giveaway of AWESOME. In honor of the utterly delish YA novel I read last week, I now offer you an extra special dose of AMAZING.

This week I want to introduce you all to a couple of my favorite YA characters created by super fabu author, Sophie Jordan. Her words are captivating. Her tweets are fun. I want her for my bestie! I had the pleasure of reading an ARC copy of Vanish last week and I reviewed it here, if you’re interested in my humble opinion LOL.

NOW, up for grabs this week – in honor of this awesome ARC I had to pleasure of yumming up-

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet of her kind, she nearly pays with her life, only to be spared by a beautiful stranger sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki–a descendant of dragons whose ability to shift into human form is her best defense.

Forced to flee into the mortal world, Jacinda struggles to adapt. The one bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irrestibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will’s dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away – if it dies she will be left a human forever. She’ll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and irresistible passion ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide …

AND!!!!!!!!

Vanish by Sophie Jordan ARC COPY!!!

To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?

In bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s dramatic follow-up to Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever.

To be entered to win the prize package you must follow me on Google Friend Connect by clicking on the button at the top of my right column  —>

If you’d like to have additional entries, you can follow via twitter or like me on my Facebook author page, or with networked blogs or GoodReads. <– Find me there on Goodreads :) All those buttons are over there on the right too. But Following with GFC will get you entered. No worries.

THEN leave me a comment with your email addy or way of reaching you if your GFC profile doesn’t have a current one & let me know how many ways you entered. One entry per follow. Total of 5 possible. Maximum.

Once you’re all signed up for this amazing YA giveaway of AWESOME, click on the linky below to see all the other great blogs giving away books this week too!

Writer Wednesday Welcomes: Vonnie Davis!

Writer Wednesday welcomes my agency sista Vonnie Davis! I’m so excited to have her here and I can’t wait to share her with you. So, here she is!

Julie, thanks for having me on your lovely blog today. I’ve been looking forward to the visit. Before I start talking about my new release, I’d like to offer a few tips of encouragement to your readers. Don’t we all need encouragement from time to time? I know I do.

Keep Writing.

There’s wisdom to those two words. First, the more you write, the better you’ll become. Some things in life are rarely that simple, but this is.

Keep Writing.

You’re going to be rejected from time to time. This, too, is part and parcel of the writing profession.  When you get that rejection, thumb your nose at it and keep writing. I heard a speaker at a writers retreat give this excellent analogy. Grocery stores are loaded with shelves of bread—white, wheat, honey wheat, rye seeded, rye seedless, pumpernickel, double fiber and more. You, the customer, need a loaf of bread and reach for the type your diet and taste preferences require. Are you rejecting the others? No, but you can only use one loaf, so you only pluck one off the shelf.

Publishers only have one slot at a time to fill. They’re going to get scads of submissions. They’re going to pick the manuscript that meets their requirements and tastes. Are they rejecting you if they don’t pick you? Not really. They only had one slot and made a different choice. So, mutter under your breath or shout, “Damn their choice.” And…

Keep Writing.

While you’re writing, also take some online courses to improve your craft. I majored in English in college and retired as a technical writer. I knew how to write. What I didn’t know was the craft of writing. Savvy Authors is an excellent place to do this. For a low yearly fee ($30.), you can take as many workshops as you like. I belong to RWA and several of its chapters. As a member, I’m privy to a host of offered workshops. These range from $15-30 each. I’ve taken workshops on point of view, deep point of view, adding sensuality to your writing, character arc, internal and external conflict, and the hook. My writing has improved drastically.

Keep Writing.

Some days you’re not going to feel like writing. You’ve got too much to do. The house is a wreck. You’re sure one of the kids is buried under that pile of laundry. And you’re just not in the mood to face that blank computer screen. Take a couple days. Read. Enjoy life. But on the third or fourth day, set your bottom in the chair and kiss the computer keys with your fingertips.

Keep Writing.

Family and friends might scoff. “Oh, and how is the great American author today? Making any money off that little hobby yet?” Resist the urge to ask if he’s made any money playing golf or if she’s made any money hanging out at the mall. They have no clue. They don’t have a writer’s soul. YOU DO.

Keep Writing.

 

My debut contemporary romance was released on July 15th. Here’s the blurb for Storm’s Interlude:

Nurse Rachel Dennison comes to Texas determined to prepare her new patient for a second round of chemo. What she isn’t counting on is her patient’s twin brother, Storm Masterson. Despite her initial attraction, Storm has two things Rachel can’t abide: a domineering personality and a fiancée.

Half Native American, with the ability to have “vision dreams,” Storm dreams about Rachel for three nights before her arrival. Both are unprepared for the firestorm of emotions their first chance encounter ignites.

Ultimately, it is Rachel’s past—an abusive, maniacal ex-boyfriend—that threatens to keep them apart…and Storm’s dreams that bring them together again.

I got my first review—5 Stars—from Single Title Reviews on Monday. Forgive a moment of shameless bragging while I share the last paragraph of the review.

Loved every morsel of this story. Each chapter brought a smile to my face, the chemistry between Storm and Rachel is a barn burner. A compassionate story that takes a difficult subject and brings hope to a family struggling to figure out what will happen next. When they begin to live day to day, the love of each person in this story brings a warmness to every page. A wonderful book.

 

Excerpt set-up: Storm dearly loves his twin sister, Sunny, and her three-year-old boy, Sawyer. Rachel’s plan to build Sunny up physically worries Storm. He’d rather his sister stayed in bed. Rachel wants her out in the sun, enjoying life and getting some exercise. This scene takes place by the pool after Sunny swam her first lap across the narrow part of the pool.

 

After Sunny’s time in the pool playing with Sawyer, Storm came out onto the patio.  Gone were his relaxed features Rachel had seen earlier.

He hunkered in front of the child. “Want to ride with me for a while? We’ll go check on those new mustangs.”

“Yeah! Can I go wif Unkie Storm, Mommy?” The child was doing his happy dance.

“You’ll have to put on dry clothes. Jeans and a t-shirt.” Sunny was breathless as she collapsed onto a chaise lounge. “Whew, I’m tired.”

“You rest. I’ll get him dressed. Come on, partner.” Storm spared Rachel an irritated glance. “I hope you haven’t overextended my sister. She’s out of breath.”

“She just swam her first lap across the pool. Naturally, she’s out of breath.”

He grabbed Rachel’s arm and yanked her to him. “Laps? You have my sick sister swimming laps? Are you nuts?”

She winced at the pain. Her heart was beating like a bass beat on a rap song. She didn’t know if it was anger, fear or leftover desire from earlier this morning. Whichever, she didn’t like it. Her gaze went to his calloused hand squeezing her arm and then quickly swept to his hard, black eyes. “Kindly remove your hand.”

When it tightened, she glanced at Sawyer who had crawled onto his mother’s lap. For his sake, she whispered, “Not in front of the child.”

Storm’s dark eyes blinked twice and his grip loosened. He turned to his nephew. “Are you ready to get dry clothes on, buddy?”

“Are you being damned bossy to Wachel again?” Sawyer’s eyes were big as he cowered against his mommy.

“Sawyer Dalton Brentwood!” Sunny shook a finger at her son in admonition.

Storm hunkered down again in front of the boy. “It’s alright, sister. I was being damned bossy. Don’t growl at him.” He reached out to take Sawyer’s hand. The child pulled back. “I’m sorry if Unkie Storm scared you.”

“You haf’ta say ‘sowwy’ to Wachel.” Sawyer crawled off his mother’s lap and ran to Rachel, wrapping his little arms around her knees.

Storm stood and sighed, his hands on his hips. “You’re right, partner. Rachel, I’m sorry I snapped at you. I’ve always protected Sunny and, well, I’m just worried about her.”

“That’s okay.” When she had him alone, she’d tell him she didn’t like his grabbing her in anger. She’d tell him how she saw it as abuse. Not now in front of the child, but soon. She refused to put up with abuse from another man. One trip down that road had been enough.

“Now, kiss and make up.” Sunny beamed a mischievous smile.

Sawyer clapped his hands. “Yeah, Unkie Storm, kiss Wachel. I kissed her before. It was fun. Go ‘head. She don’t bite.”

Storm chuckled. “No, but I might.”

A duet of “Kiss her, kiss her,” erupted from Sunny and Sawyer.

Storm rolled his eyes and stepped closer.

Rachel shook her head. “No.”

He cupped her face in his hands, his eyes locked on hers and he lowered his head. Warm lips pressed a kiss to her forehead. She reached up and placed her hands on his forearms, torn between pushing him away and pulling him closer. He laid his forehead against hers. “I’m sorry I was so rough earlier.”

Perhaps now was the time to tell him how she felt, when he seemed open and receptive. “I don’t like abusive men. They frighten me. I avoid them at all costs.”

Storm went still, a muscle bunched in his cheek. His voice barely a whisper when he spoke, a whisper so sensually tender it spun a web of privacy around them as if they were the only two souls in the vast, beautiful hill country of Texas. “You think I could be abusive?” He stepped closer so their thighs touched. Her stomach fluttered in response.

Their eyes locked. Their breaths mingled. His one hand lightly stroked her neck. Warmth rushed through her. “Never, honey. Especially, never to you. I don’t abuse my animals and I don’t abuse women. God treasures both, and so do I.” He cupped her face. “I’m finding I treasure you.” His gaze swept to her open mouth. “Treasure you more than I have a right to, my sweet mouse.” He brought his mouth to hers and showed her how sweetly gentle and tender he could be.

“Wow, Unkie Storm, you kissed her a weally long time. You must be weally, weally sowwy.”

 

Just Tell ‘Em “I’m a Writer”

I’ve always been a bit on the devious side LOL. Sure, it comes wrapped in a cute Midwestern smile, but don’t you believe it. I was my parents’ worst nightmare, only they didn’t know it. Part of it has always been my ridic amount of self esteem (only child syndrome) and the other is my powerhouse curiosity. I just can’t say no to it. I am so NOSEY. I gotta know I gotta know I gotta know! Things catch my eye and I need answers. Sadly, something super lucrative like rocket science or brain surgery never caught my attention. No, for me it’s mostly people. I guess as an only child life was kinda dull – or in my opinion – it was what you made of it. I have done many things and committed my share of petty crime in the name of curiosity.

As an adult, and especially as a parent, I have a better hold on my curiosity. As a writer, I can write it out to be whatever I want it to be. As a kid I was “trouble”. As an adult I am “a writer.” My regular Leave-it-to-Beaver style friends only recently quit sliding their eyes at me and wondering how I graduated with honors and got a great job at 22, just to “give it up to write.” They all warned me “Writers are weird.” I guess I had them all fooled. I’m weird, or at least not like them. They must’ve missed that part. So, I can add “good at blending” to my list of accomplishments.

Thing is, a couple years and a few novels later, they gave up warning me and I’ve embraced the writer in me. I now covet the sliding eyes and jab comments. I want it on a tee shirt for their Pampered Chef parties and proper patio barbecues. Hey, you might be talking about making pinwheels and tortlettes, but I’m wondering if I stick a potato in an exhaust pipe, will it kill the driver? Under what factors? Will the car run?

What can I say? *shrugs* I’m a writer.

Do any of your friends think you need to give up the crazy and step back into their normal? Cause I get that A LOT.

Revisiting a Past Manuscript

The writer life is packed to the gills with everything from social media to blogging, reading and crit groups, editing and branding, there’s barely time to write. And don’t even mention the real life with tangible people hanging around. For these reasons and about a million more, writers MUST spend their writing time wisely.  I have several WIPs and completed manuscripts in the archives. I know it can be difficult to know which to toss out and which to polish. Sometimes the work served its purpose by allowing you to see it through.

FINISHING A FULL MANUSCRIPT IS A MONUMENTAL EVENT

Absorb that. No matter how many rejections you get, you must be proud you finished. Do you have any idea how many perople “Have a great idea for a novel” or “Are gonna write a novel one day – when they get time.” ? OMG I’ve met hundreds. Everyone has a great idea. Few really write it. You have already succeeded.

Other times the concept is legendary but the execution was weak. But, how do we know which are worth the time? The decision is tough. No one wants to waste precious time. Have you asked yourself:  Do you love this one enough to give it the time it will need? Why do you love it? Do you love the setting, the characters, the PLOT? Plot is key. Do you have something new, fresh, inspiring, intriguing to offer? The best characters won’t matter if the book’s about the day in the life of an average mailman. No one cares.  But if you’ve got something that fell flat once before, it doesn’t mean it will again. Maybe the execution needs some help. Maybe with what you know now, you can deliver it in a way that gets attention.

I made rookie mistakes on early work. I dumped the backstory, buried  plots, covered everything with words like “that” and “just.” But lately a specific script is back in my head. It’s a great story and I think I’m going to try it again. I really love everything about it, but it wasn’t my best writing.

How about you? Have you been there? Do you ever revisit novels with 1000 rejections? Is it tough to know which are worth the time? Do you have a success story to share?! Share! Share!

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