Friday, August 29, 2014

Carole Brown: Why Learning New Things Is Well Worth The Trip

Everyone's Story welcomes back now multi-published author Carole Brown. It's been exciting to see Carole growing as a published author, and I'm not surprised by her success since she always makes me think on different levels. I hope you enjoy your visit with Carole. Please check out the blurb on her newest release, HOG INSANE, which she's offering as a lovely Giveaway incentive for you to say a hello in a comment. Both Carole and I look forward to hearing from you.

Carole is offering 1 copy of her new release, HOG INSANE, either a print or e-edition, to 1 randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, September 5th, between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

            Here's a blurb of HOG INSANE:
A dead body, a missing motorcycle, a strange key, and dope are at the bottom of the trouble Denton and Alex Davies, and Taffy, their Jack Russell Terrier, run into when they head for their first stop in the Smoky Mountains immediately after early retirement.

All Denton wants is to fish and recapture his wife’s love. Instead, they find the body of Anthony Risler. Denton figures Risler’s missing bike has to hide some kind of evidence that incriminates the murderer. None of the campground people, or even the sheriff, pretend to like Denton and his snoopy questions, and everyone seems to be lying.

Denton wrestles with his personal demons of self-blame over his nephew’s death while riding a bike. But if he doesn’t find the young man’s murderer, his marriage may stretch to the breaking point.

On Bikes and All Such Research Stuff . . . By Carole Brown

My husband once sold a motorbike for a nickel and loaned his brother the nickel.

Yeah, that’s how aggravating they can be, and yeah, he and his brothers have loved them way before I met my husband.

When I first wrote Hog Insane it was a short story for some kind of contest. It didn’t win (thank God!) but I let it live on in one of my folders. Two things about the short version:
1.     At the time I emphasized the person’s ability in riding the bike.  
2.     I wanted something to get people’s attention when I titled it (even then) Hog Insane.

Carole's brother, Lloyd
When I chose to develop Hog Insane into a longer story, I kept the title and began the work. I love mysteries, but as I soon learned, writing them is a bit harder than reading them. Suspense is usually my easy cup of tea, but I thought, “Why not delve into mystery writing and see if I can do it?”

The problem with mystery writing, the antagonist must not be revealed until the end. Suspense is different in that most times the reader will know who the bad person is. So hiding the murderer and providing legitimate clues to lead the protagonist (and reader) to the solution/guilty party is WORK. I found that out quickly enough.

So how could I use a motorcycle within this story, besides having the murdered victim riding it? Was there anyway to bring it into the plot of the story? Without giving too much away, I tested several angles of where to hide clues on a bike. Of course, I had my husband as a backup source!

One funny item I’d included in the short story that had to “go out” in the novel: I’d written a small flag with writing on it waving from the back of the bike and Denton Davies seeing it from his RV and being disgusted. Both my son and husband laughed (me to scorn, as the old saying goes) with that one. Their reasoning?

Carole's grandson, Jonathan
You could not read a small flag flopping around in the breeze a bike would create zooming down the road. Who’d ‘ve thought?

Then there’s the problem of suspects. How many do you include? Should everyone look guilty including the amateur sleuths? Can the sheriff be a suspicious guy? And what about the nice lady at the diner? What on earth could she do to make her look guilty as all get out?

Then there’s the amateur sleuth him/herself? Should they be a bumbling ignoramus who falls into the solution? Or better still, a scaredy cat who’s forced into finding the bad guys because of fear, threats or worse? Or can he be another Agatha Christie sleuth who sees far more than he reveals to the secondary characters who act as his/her helpers? Or even worse be one of the female human strong women who conquers all because, after all, that’s what’s expected from today’s women?

My final decisions:
1.  Ditch the flag; only made sense and was totally unnecessary.
2.   Use the bike but find something reasonably able to hide an item
3.   Create the character and his personality that fit with what I wanted him to be. In this case he became a middle-aged man who loves fishing, his wife and his way. Combine those traits with a love of words, a desire to travel and his fear that Alex, his wife, will be harmed, and I think I came up with a amateur sleuth that is a little different, interesting and fun.
4.   Suspects? I hoped I created several that not only fit that category but who acted suspicious and cast several red herons in the way of the solution!

Did I succeed in writing this book? I hope so. Several have enjoyed it, although not all. But it’s a fun attempt and I hope to continue trying. Perhaps by the time I’ve hit the second or third book, I’ll be in full swing with my writing pen for mysteries!

Always remember, that we never stop learning, as many wise men know and state. Every aspect should be enjoyable and learning new things is an adventure well worth the trip. 

What special experience in your writing have you had struggles with and persevered through?

Carole's previous segment on Everyone's Story: Stirring Readers To Act With A Heart

Carole's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Like #motorcycles? Think they’re easy to write about in fiction? See what author Carole Brown says. (Tweet This)

Everyone’s Story: Author Carole Brown shares lessons on writing mysteries. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Carole Brown lives in Southeast Ohio and is always on the lookout for catchy titles and suspenseful plots. She has written her whole life as newspaper reporter, editor of journals and newsletters, and research manuscripts. When not penning her own novels, she enjoys mentoring beginning writers and founded a writer’s group called Circle of Pens where she can mentor to her heart’s content. Her passion for serving continues in her secretarial work and coordinator for the state of Ohio with ACFW.

She and her husband have traveled extensively throughout the United States ministering and counseling. They have particularly enjoyed the western states where they’ve labored with the Native Americans and many other specific places where she gathers fodder for her writings. They continue to enjoy traveling, their grandsons, the country life and city lights, gardens, and good food.

Places to connect with Carole:


Friday, August 22, 2014

Lisa Watson: What's That Whisper You're Hearing About Your Writing?

Everyone's Story welcomes multi-published author Lisa Watson. When Lisa contacted me to ask about appearing on this blog and I saw that she wrote romances (her guideline is creating a story that her mother would enjoy reading) and novels with a Christian bent I couldn't wait to host Lisa. In addition to writing, Lisa's exciting background includes hosting a radio program and a co-publicist for RT BookReview Magazine's annual RT Booklovers Convention. Lisa shares her beginning adventures into the world of writing, and offers a fun BookGiveaway. We're both looking forward to hearing from you.

Book Giveaway:
Lisa is offering several different Giveaways to  randomly chosen commenters: a choice between 1 autographed copy of HER HEART'S DESIRE or a Kindle download of either HER HEART'S DESIRE or LOVE CONTRACT to 2 lucky readers. The winners will be announced here on Friday, August 29th, between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Be still…be open…be listening by Lisa Watson

I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t completely in love with reading, and writing. In fact, my journey from aspiring to published author can literally be summed up in four words: Right place, right time. In 2002, I was a stay-at-home mother of two small children. A closet writer, it was my love of the popular 1980’s television series, Remington Steele that prompted me down the road to publication. Discovering several websites where people wrote original fan fiction based on the characters from the show was like finding an unlimited supply of pancakes—and I love pancakes. Something clicked inside me, prompting me to write my own stories, put them on the Internet and see what happened.

What happened next scared me to death. I began receiving emails from readers all around the world that were enjoying my stories, and prompting me to continue writing them. I was stunned that people were not only reading what I had to say, but also eagerly awaiting my next chapters. During that time, I also stumbled across information on the Romance Slam Jam Writers convention. I’d never gone to a conference before, but couldn’t ignore my sudden and overwhelming urge to attend. When I discussed it with my husband, he said go, have a good time. What!? That’s when I knew there was more to this than my husband’s surprising thumbs up. This gentle prompting must’ve been Heaven sent.  

It was one of the best decisions I’d ever made, and it changed my life. Aside from having the time of my life and soaking up as much knowledge as I could, I met other aspiring writers, published authors that I’d always read, but never dreamed I’d meet. I learned valuable ways to improve my craft, made lifelong friends, I was given the opportunity to write a novella for an anthology that would later be published.

Sometimes the path you’re supposed to take, or the gifts you’re meant to receive don’t arrive with large fanfare, flashing lights and hoopla. Sometimes it’s a subtle whisper in your ear, a thought that pops into your head, or a gut feeling. It’s these moments where you have to be still…be open…and be listening.

We all have spiritual gifts. Whether we use them is up to us. The key is to be open to what comes your way, and to have a positive attitude. When you’re open and receptive to life’s possibilities, everything falls into place and there are no limits to what you can do. Each blessing I’ve received has been about my being in the right place, right time. I’ve trusted that if it was presented to me…I was supposed to go with it.

When my agent asked if I wanted to write Devotionals for the popular Guideposts publication, Mornings with Jesus 2013, I had a moment of panic because I’d never written devotionals before, but I realized that I was supposed to accept it, and I did. I trusted that when the time came, I would be guided to write what I needed to and from the heart … and I was.

For the last ten years, I’ve been the co-publicist for the RT Booklovers Convention. In this capacity I’ve been surrounded with people I never imagined I would meet and yes, I still get star struck when I meet authors that I’ve been reading since I was a teenager. My dream of writing for Harlequin has come true, I’ve become the new host of Reader’s Entertainment Blog Talk Radio show, and my newest novel, Her Heart’s Desire hit Number One on’s bestsellers list and I know this is just the beginning of my blessings.

My advice to aspiring authors? Surround yourself with like-minded people. Go to writers conventions. There are plenty to choose from, and some may be coming to your area. There are workshops, meets and greets, book signings, agents, editors, publishers that attend that are always looking for new talent. Editors are not going to come knocking on your door for you to give them your manuscript to publish—you’ve got to go to them. 

Be still…be opening…and be listening.

Lisa's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Meet Lisa Watson: a multi-pubbed author who followed God’s nudging. (Tweet This)

#BookGiveaway of Lisa Watson, author of Harlequin’s #Kamani line. (Tweet This)

What advice does Lisa Watson, co-publicist for RT Booklovers Convention, have for authors? (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
A native of Washington D.C., Lisa Watson writes multicultural novels.  Having her debut novel nominated for Best Contemporary Fiction, sparked Lisa to continue creating engaging storylines, strong characters with universal appeal, and a keen sense of humor. 

Lisa loves traveling, so weaving beautiful destinations into the pages of her novels as lush backdrops, or the heritage of her characters is not uncommon.

Lisa's first series for the Harlequin's KIMANI™ line, The Match Broker series, introduced readers to Love Contract, and matchmaking guru, Norma Jean Anderson, aka The Love Broker.  Her goal is to have her son, Adrian, and everyone in his immediate circle of friends, happily married—period.  Book two in the series, Her Heart’s Desire, was released in May 2014, and hit #1 on the Amazon Bestseller list.  Look for book three, Love by Design in October 2014.
Lisa works at a technology-consulting firm, is the co-publicist for RT BookReview Magazine's annual RT Booklovers Conventions, and the host for Reader’s Entertainment Radio show.

Married for eighteen years, with two teenagers, and a Maltipoo, Brinkley, Lisa lives outside Raleigh, NC and is avidly working on her next series.

Places to connect with Lisa:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mary J. Forbes: Why Family And Strong Women Are Necessary Elements In Fiction

Everyone's Story welcomes best-selling multi-published author Mary J. Forbes. I've been blessed to know Mary for years now, having met her back in my RWA days. I just wish we lived closer than the 3,000+ miles that separate us, but then again, this is true of my many incredible, talented friends. Mary, having written romance novels for the Silhouette Special Edition line, is now not only writing women's fiction but is self-publishing. Please join Mary this week as she shares an excerpt, her thoughts on family and strong women characters, and answers a few questions. Both Mary and I look forward to hearing from you.

Mary is offering one $5 Amazon Gift Card, which is perfect for either purchasing her novel HOME SECRETS or any other e-book(s) of your choice, to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, August 22nd, between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Excerpt from HOME SECRETS, Book 1 of the Hawkes Landing Series:

 HOME SECRETS by Mary J. Forbes

        The sky had lightened to a clear blue when she closed the door, stepped onto the stoop and inhaled the perfume of white lilacs crowding the corner of her little house. The sun had burned away the low-lying fog, and conveyed a fecund odor of warmed earth. Lily hurried down the stoop stairs and headed for the warehouse. At the entrance of the wide roll-back door, she discerned movement within the murky interior. I have an excuse to hide in the gloom. What’s yours, Mr. Montgomery?
         Her steps faltered. She waited for her vision to adjust. Ready or not, here I come.
         He leaned against the hood of the old, white Ford 150 Joy had parked there so Lily could use the garage for her glasswork. Ankles and arms crossed, he was a tall rangy man with large hands and wide wrists, and an eagle’s head tattooed on his right forearm. Prison residue?
         Once, years ago, Effie had mentioned her son lived an exemplary life in California. What that entailed neither she nor Joy disclosed, and Lily had never asked. Grey Montgomery, it seemed, was a blemish his family wanted to hide.
         Until Effie begged Joy to call him home before it was too late.
         “Looking for me?” he drawled.
         Lily tensed. She stood backlit by the sun, her outline clearly visible to him. Squaring her shoulders, she asked bluntly, “Have you decided?”
         “About what?”
         “Selling the farm? That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”
         He pushed off the truck and ambled toward her. The image of a big male lion sizing up a gazelle flashed through her mind.
         From somewhere he’d located a blue bandana—likely a hip pocket—and was in the process of wiping his hands. “My mother,” he said, “wants it producing again.”
         “And you?”
         “Doesn’t matter what I want. For now Mama holds the deed.”
         “But she won’t be—” Around much longer. Had she nearly spoken the words aloud? Had she become calloused to Effie’s inevitable death? Effie, who had given Lily a home on her quiet ancestral land when no one else would.
         Montgomery’s gaze softened. “I know.” The emotion in his tone surprised her. “That’s why I’m home.”
         “Forgive me.” Shoving her hands into the pockets of the hoodie, she headed back outside and started for the field road through the maple thicket. Up by the big house, the garage and Scene-In-Glass waited.
         “Ms. Wheaton.”
         He had wandered out of the doorway and stood bold and stunning as a storm rolling over the mountains. “If I decide to revive this,” he swept a hand toward the raspberry canes and apple trees, “and the place yields again, things might change.”
         She didn’t dare ask what that change might entail. “When would you begin this...revival?”
         In four days.
         Lily scrutinized the fields which hadn’t known a tender hand in years.
         “Don’t know much about fruit farming,” Montgomery remarked, following her gaze. “Didn’t pay much attention growing up.” His grin was sudden and crooked. “Maybe I should buy Farming for Dummies.”
         Lily didn’t laugh. Rather, she pictured him at eighteen. Cocky. Brash. Girls on his arm. Beer dangling between his fingers. No, he would not have cared a whit about pruning and harvesting, packing crates and marketing.
         “Well, then,” she said. “Your work’s cut out for you. I won’t stand in your way. Nor will my daughter.”
         “Likewise. It’ll be me. No crews. But it will take a couple of months. You okay with me working around here every day?”
         “Do what you want. It’s your land.”

Why I Write About Family and Strong Women by Mary J. Forbes

Elaine, thank you for inviting me to guest blog on Everyone’s Story. It’s such a pleasure to talk to your readers about writing, a topic dear to my heart, and especially when you asked what I hope to convey in my books.

Where to begin? I’ve always gravitated toward fiction that deals with dark issues and people who are splintered emotionally and/or spiritually. Reading stories that make me cry and laugh and feeling the beauty of healing within the characters is an allure I can’t resist.

For several years I wrote contemporary romances. Home Secrets is my first venture into the more complex arena of women’s fiction. While there still is a love story plaited into the plot, it is not the main focus. Rather, the story embraces the relationships between two damaged women who at first become friends through necessity, and then discover the true meaning of “sisters of the heart”.

All my books—including the shorter romances—reflect real life issues. They zero in on everyday relationships between friends and family as they find the courage to struggle through complexities and individualisms in their home and their community. These issues often are not easy. I’ve included dyslexia, autism, divorce, artificial insemination, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and prejudice, in my works. Such issues lead to long hours of research—which can be intensely rewarding! I’ve learned a great deal about the heartache and distress some people have endured. And what amazed me most in the real life cases I researched was the strength and power of the human heart. In a couple instances, the simple belief in overcoming adversity was astounding.

It’s that strength and belief I try to convey in every book with every heroine. She embodies the ‘woman’s journey’ in a dozen ways. She is the soul of the story, the rock on whom others rely even while she combats her inner demons. And in its midst she gains confidence, laughter, and the anticipation of something good and stable on the horizon. Something that can evolve into a home and, most importantly, a family.

And so, the old adage family comes first has become my inner mantra while writing each of my books. The characters may be fractured emotionally, they may face overwhelming odds, but when they need a soft place to fall they look over and over again toward home and family. It is the place where healing conquers, hope is nurtured, and love is found at last.

Questions for Mary J. Forbes:
Mary, you’ve shared with us about why you create strong heroines and tell of the “woman’s journey.” Has one specific character you’ve created ever surprised you with a major life lesson or insight you’d like to share?

All my heroines surprise me with the strength they exude in their particular problem or conflict. Sometimes they “write themselves.” By that I mean they show a side I didn’t expect, be it humor or courage in a specific situation. Case in point, I’ve had a heroine become outright audacious when she was known as the ‘quiet one’. And for good reason! More recently, one of the women in Home Secrets displays a beautiful and daring spirit that came out of nowhere when facing the man who changed her life forever at age fourteen.

For me creating and writing heroines is not easy. Too often they don’t truly show themselves until I’m far into the book. That can cause some angst in the process but, more likely, have me banging my head on the keyboard, lol. Truth is I don’t want even the tiniest part of me in the heroine. I want her to be herself. Yet we all know fiction is based on a hodgepodge of human emotions and personalities that flit in and out of our lives.

What similarities and differences have you discovered in writing longer women’s fiction from your shorter romances?

Women’s fiction allows me to dig deeper into my characters. It gives me the freedom to write plots that are darker and perhaps more daring with issues that wouldn’t make the cut in romance. And I love delving into more points of view. In my shorter works, I found it constricting at times not to give a specific character their say when I felt he/she had something important to add to the story. That said, I learned a great deal writing 70,000-word romances. Specifically, how to painlessly cull sentences and words—no matter how much I loved them!—that slowed the pace or didn’t move the plot forward. And I learned how to weave a story chapter by chapter and tie up loose ends in the plot when it was done. 

Any tips on self-publishing you’d like to share with writers who are contemplating the venue of publishing?

Do as much homework as you can on the industry. It won’t be easy, but it will be immensely rewarding. And be prepared to have a LOT of patience! There are only a handful of authors who make it big right out the gate. The rest of us know it will take any number of books for readers to find us. So write that next book and get it out there. Then write another one. And another.

Mary's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Author Mary J. Forbes: Why Family And Strong Women Are Necessary Elements In Fiction. #Giveaway (Tweet This)

Award-winning author Mary J. Forbes shares jump from category to women’s fiction to self-publishing. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Mary J. Forbes writes stories with an emotional depth that is reflected in each of her characters. Several of her (Harlequin) Silhouette Special Edition books were Waldenbooks bestsellers, and reached BookScan and Amazon’s respective top 100 lists. Mary loves to garden and especially enjoys the color and fragrances of the flowers she plants each spring and summer. The rain of the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her family is often portrayed in her stories. But once the clouds roll away, her heroes and heroines always find their rainbow waiting on the horizon.

Places to connect with Mary:

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