Friday, July 31, 2009

Interview with Elisabeth Naughton

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Elisabeth Naughton. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called STOLEN HEAT. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

STOLEN HEAT is the second book in the Stolen Trilogy. It’s Pete’s book. As soon as I wrote him in FURY, I knew he had a story to tell. He’s gorgeous, rich and straddles the fence between right and wrong. And he’s got a history. One that changed his life forever.

Antiquities dealer Peter Kauffman walked a fine line between clean and corrupt for years. And then he met the woman who changed his life—Egyptologist Katherine Meyer. Their love affair burned white-hot in Egypt, until the day Pete’s lies and half-truths caught up with him. After that, their relationship imploded, Kat walked out, and before Pete could find her to make things right, he heard she’d died in a car bomb.

Six years later, the woman Pete thought he’d lost for good is suddenly back. The lies this time aren’t just his, though. The only way he and Kat will find the truth and evade a killer out for revenge is to work together—as long as they don’t find themselves burned by the heat each thought was stolen long ago…

STOLEN HEAT is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

I actually didn’t. My publisher picked this one, but I love it. And it fits the book…perfectly.

Would you describe your book as a cozy, mystery, suspense, or thriller?

I’d call it a suspense. But a couple of reviewers have called it a thriller.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love RS. I love the way in a good RS the suspense and romance are woven tightly together. Lose one and you lose the other. I love the way danger and mystery can bring two people together and bond them for life. And for some strange reason, murder and mayhem keep popping up in all the books I write, so RS is a perfect fit for me.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Well, like I said, this book really grew out of the first. The more I got to know Pete in STOLEN FURY, the more I realized he had a story to tell and a past that still troubles him.
As for this particular plot, I love archaeology and the search for ancient cultures and clues to our past. And I’ve always had a fascination with Ancient Egypt. Pete’s an antiquities dealer. He travels all over the world. I picked the one area (Egypt) I wanted to know more about and went from there.

Do you have all the key suspense/mystery elements thought out before you begin writing?

No. I usually know the set-up of a book before I begin writing – that action scene or scenario that gets the entire suspense plot rolling – but rarely do I know all the twists and turns of the suspense and mystery before I write the book.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

Tons. But I love research and could happily spend hours looking up facts and locations and historical information. For this book I spent a lot of time on travel websites, Egyptian historical websites and looking up info on terrorists and INTERPOL and the CIA.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Pete and Kat, the two main characters. Theirs is a brutal reunion story. Lots of emotional heartache (on both sides), lots of hurt and plenty of betrayal, but at the core, a love story that was meant to be.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I’ve tried character sheets and interviews, but they’ve never worked for me. Usually when I start a book, I just start it. I’ve found the best way to get to know my characters is to write. Their back stories and quirks come to me as I’m writing until they’re as much a part of me as I am. This generally means I have some heavy character editing to do in the first third of the book – the time when I’m feeling them out – but it works for me, so I’ve learned not to fight it.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Too many to count!!! At the top of the list would be Judith McNaught (I love the way she develops characters that leap off the page and won’t let go of the reader), Elizabeth Lowell (she’s the master of research as far as I’m concerned. I feel like I learn something new with each of her books), and Susan Elizabeth Phillips (her books are like comfort food…something you want to devour again and again).

I also love LM Montgomery, JRR Tolkien (master of world-building) and anything written by my critique partner, Joan Swan. (She inspires me daily.)

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I’d have to say online appearances like this one. Any way you can spread the word about your book is good. And letting readers get a taste of me and my books has been more beneficial than all the money I spend on ads. If I touch three people who go on to tell someone else about my books, then I’ve been successful.

What do we have to look forward next?

Coming up next is STOLEN SEDUCTION, the third and final book in the Stolen Trilogy, releasing January 2010 from Dorchester Publishing.

Here’s a sneak peek at the book:

Hailey Roarke was never interested in her family’s fortune. That’s why she became a cop. But with her father and now her cousin dead, she’s suddenly on the wrong side of a police interrogation. The only way to clear her name is to solve the riddle before the real killer. Without getting killed herself.

Detective Shane Maxwell can’t deny the spark of lust he feels every time Hailey is near. But the woman is clearly hiding something. Trusting his gut—and the heat in her eyes—he joins her on an elaborate global treasure hunt staged by her late father. Caught between a sizzling seduction and a maniacal murderer, for Hailey and Shane the biggest reward of all will be making it out alive.

Thanks Elisabeth!

To celebrate her book release, STOLEN HEAT is offering a free copy of STOLEN HEAT to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

A previous junior-high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton now writes sexy romantic suspense and paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her debut release, Stolen Fury, was a 2007 Golden Heart Finalist and has been heralded by Publisher's Weekly as "A rock-solid debut." When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ball park or dreaming up new and exciting adventures.

Check out author’s website at www.elisabethnaughton.com

Buy http://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Heat-Elisabeth-Naughton/dp/0505527944/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240720220&sr=8-1

Thursday, July 30, 2009

BOOTCAMP for Novelists Online August Class

BOOTCAMP for Novelists Online August Class


We want to announce that we'll now offer four courses each month. Because the first four courses of each learning track (Basic and Polish) are so important, we've decided to offer them each term.


The Basic Track will feature the Four Pillars of Story Structure, which includes characterization, plot, scene structure and conflict.


The Polish Track will feature the Techniques of the Pros, which includes the first three chapters, advanced characterization, escalating consequences and subplots and layers.


The regularly scheduled fall courses will still be offered along with the foundational courses..August 2 to August 29


5B SCENE & STRUCTURE (Basic Track) taught by Connie $22


Action rules, introspection is dead. Not entirely true, but every author must learn how to write action and bring events to life on the page. The goal is to generate mental pictures in readers' minds so they can feel the story, live the story. This course deals with how that's doneFor more information, contact Connie at bootcamp4novelists@cox.net


5P INFUSING STORIES WITH EMOTION(Polish Track) taught by Linda Style. $22


Learning how to infuse your story with emotion is one of the most important techniques, yet most writers don't even think about it until they realize something is missing in their stories. As writers we must not only know how to build emotion in our stories and characters, but how to engage the reader emotionally. In this class you'll learn techniques to do both.For more information, contact Linda at bootcamp4novelists2@yahoo.com


1B CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT (Basic Track) taught by Connie $25


This course is the first pillar of story structure and it deals with populating your book with living breathing people who will stay alive throughout the story. You'll also learn why character equals plots and plot equals character.For more information, contact Connie at bootcamp4novelists@cox.net


1P THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS(Polish Track) Taught by Linda Style $25


Writing powerful first chapters is the first technique of the proses. This course covers how to structure the vital first three chapters to set up your story and instill emotion and suspense. A must do course for anyone hoping to get published.For more information, contact Linda at bootcamp4novelists2@yahoo.com


For more details about BOOTCAMP for Novelists or to enroll in courses go to BootcampforNovelists.com

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Down & Dirty Media Training for Fiction Authors"

August 3-28, 2009
"Down & Dirty Media Training for Fiction Authors"
by Theresa Meyers
www.WriterUniv.com

This is not your average media training advice. Step up to the next level in your promotion efforts, by learning how can get and make the most of interviews. You’ll come away with advice on how to protect yourself from the “go for the jugular” journalists, down & dirty tactics for attracting attention, and tips for taking charge of any interview situation so you can sell more books. In this month-long intensive workshop you’ll learn:

* Why media don’t often want to interview fiction authors
* Changing that with three strategies to hook producers or editors
* Keys to developing message points and using them successfully
* Tips on creating a sound bite
* Strategies to avoid questions, direct interviews and capture audience attention
* Five things you should always do during an interview
* Techniques used to prepare NYT bestsellers for national media

Best known for getting her clients chosen as two out of the total seven picks for the Kelly Ripa Book Club, Theresa Meyers spent over ten years working in public relations, garnering millions of dollars in media coverage for her clients, before she launched Blue Moon Communications. A former journalist and magazine columnist, she now focuses on strategic planning for her clients, media training and author-branded media campaigns. Find her online at www.bluemooncommunications.com.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

FOR WRITERS: Affordable Bookplates

Bookplates are basically self-adhesive stickers that an author can autograph and send to their readers to affix into their books. I've wanted to provide these for my readers (who are unable to attend my booksignings) for quite a while, but I knew it would be a time investment. After I began researching prices, I was horrified to discover that it would be such a costly dollar investment as well. One very reputable site that I've heard of from several author loops offers 500 full-color stickers for $500...and it seemed like the prices didn't vary much from that (they did offer 500 for $80, but these are only single-color stickers.) So, after several hours of research, I finally found some affordable ones, and thought I'd share to save other authors some time:

http://www.psprint.com/stickers-labels

What's nice about PSPrint is that you can choose custom sizes, they charge $40 for 250 full-color stickers (I chose 3x2 inch stickers, which seemed a good size for paperback books--see picture above) and the more you order, the less expensive they are. You have to size and upload your own artwork, but if you have any problems, their customer service department is super helpful (based on my own personal experience).

If you're a reader, and would like some of my new bookplates, just go to my website: http://www.kathrynekennedy.com/

Until Next Time,
Kathryne

Oh, and if you've found an inexpensive resource for quality bookplates, please feel free to share as well. :}

Monday, July 27, 2009

And The Winner is...

We were delighted to receive this message from Tracy Madison:

"I used random.org to choose the winner of a signed copy of A STROKE OF MAGIC...

and the winner is...

TAMEKA!

I've sent you an email, Tameka...just need your address and I'll get the book sent off to you.
Thanks again to Kim and everyone else here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy...I loved visiting!"

Tameka, if you have trouble contacting Tracy, you can email Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail. com (no spaces) to receive your book.

Congratulations, Tameka!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Secret Experiment - Week Three



THE SECRET EXPERIMENT
Week Three


For those of you who haven’t read the first two weeks of my
experiment I’ll fill you in. I have been intrigued by The Secret,
knew there was something to it, and decided to try it out – publicly.
Why?
One – It’s a topic many people find interesting.
Two – I can now claim all books/CDs, etc. on my taxes. LOL
Three – Believe it or not, I am going to include The Law of Attraction
in a future humorous romantic comedy and this will allow me to
get some of the research out of the way early.

Last week, I mentioned that The Secret recommends starting
out small. Supposedly, if you think of someone you haven’t
seen or heard from in a long time someone will mention their
name or you will hear from them.
Most of us have had that happen before, but not usually
intentionally. So, I decided to think about a high school friend
I hadn’t spoken to in thirty years.

Did I hear from her?

No.

So, does that mean The Law of Attraction doesn’t work?

Not necessarily.

I admit, I had limiting thoughts that could have negated
hearing from this person. First, I pictured writing that I hadn’t
heard from her.
Why?
I think I put negative thoughts into my brain because I
initiated contact with someone who also knew her.
In my eyes, if he mentioned her name,
it would have been cheating on my part.
What if he did mention her name?
What if he had her current phone number and address?
Would the Law of Attraction have worked because thinking of
this person had me walking down memory lane and put
me in the frame of mind to contact someone else
we both knew?
The Secret does recommend taking action
when you are inspired.
Perhaps the Law of Attraction pushes us in the direction
to achieve our goals as much as it draws what you want
from the Universe and brings it to you.
Something to think about.
But for the purposes of this experiment,
I wanted to know if I could attract her to me.

What now?
This week, I will be picturing a different friend from high school
that I haven’t heard from in almost thirty years. The only
mutual friend we have has already contacted me months
ago and mentioned her then. There’s no reason for her to
suddenly do it again. Unless she reads this blog,
and I doubt she does.

Oh, crud!
I just remembered I mentioned my blog on Facebook.
She could decide to read the blog today, after all, and I just
put another negative thought in my brain because mentioning
my blog on Facebook could be considered cheating.
As they say, herein lies the rub.
Manipulating The Law of Attraction is not
always easy and that may be one of the reasons
it doesn’t always work.


What now?
I’m going to think of attracting a new laptop.
We have no mutual friends on Facebook.

What can I do to increase the chances I will get my laptop?
First, I’m going to save my spare change.
Taking action should help build the energy toward manifestation.
If the Law works, the Universe will bring me my laptop through a
fantastic sale or some other miraculous means.
The Secret recommends visualizing and staying in an
Attitude of Gratitude.
Feeling happy creates the attraction,
so I’ll picture myself typing at Barnes and Noble and
feeling wonderful while I drink my white chocolate mocha.

We both know I’ll attract that mocha first.
I’ve done it before. A teacher across from my room
was accidentally given the wrong drink at Starbucks so they
let her have both. Unbeknownst to her,
the unwanted drink just happened
to be my favorite
and she gave it to me when she got to work.
Now that’s the Law of Attraction at its best.

Next week I’ll go more into being specific versus just
staying in a happy state of mind.

Have a magical week,
Tina LaVon












Friday, July 24, 2009

Interview with Tracy Madison


I’d like to welcome our guest today, Tracy Madison. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called A STROKE OF MAGIC. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

The blurb:

You know how freaky it is, to expect one taste and get another? Imagine picking up a can of tepid ginger ale and taking a swig of delicious, icy cold peppermint tea. Alice Raymond did just that. And though the tea is exactly what she wants, she bought herself a soda.

One Stroke of Magic and Everything Has Changed.

No, Alice’s life isn’t exactly paint-by-numbers. After breaking things off with her lying, stealing, bum of an ex, she discovered she’s pregnant. Motherhood was definitely on her “someday” wish list, but a baby means less time for her art and no time for recent hallucinations that include this switcharoo with the tea. She has to impress her new boss, the ridiculously long-lashed, smoky-eyed Ethan Gallagher, and she has to deal with her family, who have started rambling about gypsy curses. Only a soul-deep bond with the right man can save her and her child? As if being single wasn’t pressure enough!

A Stroke of Magic is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

It was actually fairly simple. The first book in the series, A TASTE OF MAGIC, set the stage for the second book: both in the actual story and in the title. The first book focuses on Elizabeth, and how her magic manifests in her baking in the form of wishes…hence A Taste of Magic. In A STROKE OF MAGIC, the focus is now on Elizabeth’s sister, Alice, who is an artist, and she discovers that her power exists in her artwork, i.e. drawing, painting, etc.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love empowering my heroines, and I love magic, so it seemed to be a perfect fit for me. I’m a long time fan-girl of shows like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and Charmed, so that also
added to the appeal. Besides, magic is fun and filled with endless possibilities.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Alice’s story evolved naturally from Elizabeth’s. I knew by the time I finished writing A Taste of Magic that I really, really wanted to write Alice’s journey. I’m thrilled to have been able to do so!

What are your favorite paranormal research books or sites, and why?

I am so boring! I don’t actually use any research books or sites. The magic in these books follows a set of rules I created, so I haven’t had a need to search out information related to the paranormal elements.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Because I “hear” the heroine’s voice in my head more than any of my other characters, I’d have to say Alice. I really became attached to her and her story. So much so, that it stuck with me for months after the book was finally finished, making it difficult to get into my new heroine’s head.

I’m still a fan of Grandma Verda, though! Every time she pulls one of her antics—and gets away with it—I love her even more. I truly hope when I’m her age, I’m a lot like her!

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and/or world affect your character development?

Ah, the characterization question! I stay away from character sheets, interview questions, and any other type of in-depth character development strategies with a passion. I learned a long time ago that I’m just not wired to come up with interesting characters by using a chart. Doesn’t work for me. Instead, I begin with a few basic facts about my characters, and then I’ll write myself a letter from the character’s point of view. Sounds silly, maybe, and at first, it feels a little silly. But always, at some point in the writing of the letter, nuances begin to show themselves. Those little things that make a character tick. I am also surprised by what I learn.
The rest of my characterization evolves naturally as I’m writing the book.

How do you go about building your world if you use one? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

My world is the normal, everyday world for the most part, so mostly I focus on following my “rules” for the paranormal element—which is the gypsy magic. Naturally, I try to make sure that anything I share about the locale (Chicago) is accurate.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

There are so many amazing authors who have inspired me that mentioning names feels very wrong. I couldn’t possibly name all the books and authors I’ve read who have made me want to write better.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I’m still trying to figure that out! Promotion is such a fuzzy area. What works for one author might not work for another. I’ve focused on doing what I can within my budget (both money and time), and trying to connect with readers, booksellers, and reviewers.

What do we have to look forward next?

Book three in the Gypsy Magic series, A BREATH OF MAGIC, will hit the shelves in May, 2010. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but anyone who reads A STROKE OF MAGIC should easily be able to figure who’s next to receive the family’s gypsy magic!

Thanks, Tracy!

To celebrate her book release, Tracy is offering a signed copy of A STROKE OF MAGIC to one
lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio.

Tracy Madison lives in Northwestern Ohio with her husband, four children, a bear-sized dog, a snobby cat, and a loud-mouthed bird. Her house is often hectic, noisy, and filled to the brim with laugh-out-loud moments. Many of these incidents fire up her imagination to create the interesting, realistic, and intrinsically funny characters that live in her stories.

As a successful freelance writer, Tracy writes all day, every day. She has the most fun when she’s knee-deep into a new story, figuring out who her characters are and breathing life into them. She’s active in her local RWA chapter, reads several books a week, and is addicted to
reality television.

Check out author’s website at www.tracymadison.com and her group blog at www.thenovelgirls.blogspot.com.

Buy A Stroke of Magic at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Stroke-Magic-Tracy-Madison/dp/0505528118/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247174513&sr=8-1

Buy A Taste of Magic at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Taste-Magic-Tracy-Madison/dp/050552810X/ref=pd_sim_b_8.





Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Up for a New Covey Trailer Award

I'm really excited to share that my company, Bella Entertainment, did the trailer for Tia Dani's Color of Dreams, and it has been nominated for a New Covey Award. Color of Dreams is a wonderful paranormal romance, and I am honored that Tia Dani wanted me to do their trailer.

Voting ends on midnight the 24th of July. Just around the corner.




It's number 5 on the list of entries. So drop on by http://www.thenewcoveyawards.blogspot.com/ and see all the wonderful entries!

Carol Webb
http://www.bella-entertainment.com/

I is for Iron, R is for Revisions-Nary the two shall meet?

I hate to iron. Let me count the ways. Pants, shirts, dresses, skirts, underwear….Underwear? Yes, I’ve heard people iron their underwear. Don’t worry, I’m not one of them. I know, TMI, but how many writers do you know that haven’t exposed a piece of themselves for the betterment of a story? So this morning, with a lack of any pressed work clothes, I had to drag out the monster iron that always seems to do more damage than making clothes any more presentable, if I wanted to wear something that didn’t look like I slept in it all night. The boss has a problem with that. No kidding?


Did I mention I hate to iron? I must have been a laundress in a former life. So once I cleared off the hideous ironing board that contained every wrinkled pair of work pants and tops I own—I’m still waiting for someone to create fashionable clothing that never wrinkles no matter how long it’s left in the dryer—I got down the dirty task of ironing. I really, really, really hate to iron. Can I possibly say that enough? Okay, the first pair of pants is on the board. I get the squirt bottle out because I’ve discovered it’s easier to get the deep wrinkles out while the pants are wet. Too bad this tactic doesn’t work on the face. I’m grouchily pressing away on the first leg. Top side done. Yes. Flip over. Drat. Several deep creases down the back. Grab water bottle. Wet clothes. Press the living daylights out of back side of leg. Flip over. ACK! More creases on front side. There is now more steam coming out of my ears than the pants. I really hate to iron.



Which brings me to revisions. Very few writers I know can spout out a virtually clean, coherent manuscript the first time around. So what does that mean? Revisions. Revisions remind me of ironing—although I actually like to revise. You smooth out a wrinkle here, and create another wrinkle somewhere else. You change something in one scene; you need to make sure you’ve made the corresponding changes in the rest of the manuscript. No one said it would be easy. Eventually though, you will have creaseless pants and a well polished manuscript.



I tend to agonize over certain things, and it takes me a lot longer to make sure the final product is ready to go out the door. So in the time it would take a normal person to go through the entire pile, I’ve successfully pressed one pair of pants—if you don’t look too closely—and a shirt. Now is not the time to discuss the fact that I spilled coffee on my brand spanking new ironed pants today that will now have to meet Mr. Washer and Mr. Iron instead of Mrs. Hanger before they grace my feminine curves again. I really hate to iron, but throw all the revisions you want my way. Because in the end, I sold that manuscript, and I can now afford to pay the dry cleaners to iron for me!



On Wings of Love will be available from Steeple Hill in February 2010.



Kim Watters

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Win $100 plus great prizes in a new contest!

A fellow author is having a contest where readers can win wonderful prizes for entering, so I thought I'd share the details. I had the honor of reading an ARC of Haunting Beauty, and it's a fabulous book that will earn a place on your keeper shelf to treasure forever, so don't hesitate to enter!

Order a new* copy HAUNTING BEAUTY by August 30, 2009 and I'll enter you into a grand prize drawing for books, merchandise and other great stuff. To enter, email me a copy of your proof of purchase and you will be entered to win $100 dollar gift card to either Borders, Barnes & Noble or amazon.com (your choice of one) AND 20 books--many autographed by author-- AND a Haunting Beauty tote, coffee mug and mouse pad and a photo album! Right now Haunting Beauty is on pre-order sale (30% off cover price) at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

(*must be a new copy to qualify)

Monday, July 20, 2009

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations, Crystal. Betsy picked you as the winner of a free copy of her book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

THE SECRET EXPERIMENT - Week Two



THE SECRET EXPERIMENT
Week Two



Last Sunday, I wrote about my experiences buying my condo and how I knew there was something to The Secret (the Law of Attraction) because of the unusual events that took place once I was determined to live here. Today, I want to discuss how I am easing into this experiment.

First, I have to tell you I have used The Secret to some degree so I am not a complete newbie, but I am no expert either. For the past year, I have implemented The Attitude of Gratitude and it has changed my life. If nothing else, this is worth doing. You will be a much happier person.

The Secret recommends you tell yourself what you are grateful for every day. In Mike Dooley’s CD/Book Leveraging the Universe and Engaging the Magic, he says if you stay in a state of happiness, you will attract more of what makes you happy. You don’t have to ask for anything specific. I’ll talk more about that next week.

Every day, I look around and express thankfulness for all that I have. At first glance, my life might appear dull – no mansion, ritzy car, or romance male cover model to show off at parties (not that I would want one), but I do have an awesome daughter, family I love and adore, a best friend I can discuss anything with, writing friends I can relate to – some of which I now walk the mall with five or more times a week, a home in a nice neighborhood, a good job, and a car that works. I have a lot to be grateful for. Even if you are going through a rough financial time, you can find beauty in the world around you. I often get a great deal of pleasure from admiring nature and thanking God for the colors of trees and flowers, the cloud formations, sunsets, storms, ponds… I’ll watch kids playing and I’m thankful for the sounds of squealing and the smiles on their faces. No matter what your life may be like at the moment, you can find something to be grateful for. I even give thanks for the design on the wall next to the freeway near my home. It’s interesting and much better than a plain solid wall – probably sounds silly to you, but I’m grateful since I pass it almost every day.

The Secret recommends holding a rock when giving thanks. Some people keep it in their pocket. A good friend gave me mine and I keep it on my desk. The rock is a reminder. When you see it, give thanks. You’ll soon find you feel good just picking it up, which is helpful if you are feeling down at that moment. I don’t always use the rock, and you really don’t need one, as long as you remember to give thanks more than once a year in November.

I found that being in “an attitude of gratitude” for over a year has helped me to heal in many ways. I lost weight, rebuilt my relationship with a relative, got through the loss of my father, and attracted some wonderful experiences I’ll explain another day.

The next step is to start small - if you are like me and need to see it in action before you dream big. One of the speakers on The Secret DVD says he almost always gets a great parking place. I decided I liked the spot next to the cart return at the grocery store and now I get one of those spots about 99% of the time. Someone into statistics might tell you that the odds are in my favor. I don’t care. I just don’t like walking a long way with an empty cart and I am actually surprised if one of my favorite spots is not available to me.
This next small step is the first part of this experiment. Bob Proctor said if you hold the image of someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time you will hear from that person or someone will mention them. So… I am thinking of someone I haven’t spoken to in many years. Since I hear from someone from my past on the Internet about every six months, it is not inconceivable to me that this person would write just to say hi. Now, if Bob is right, I should hear something before too long. We'll see what happens. Of course, I will keep you posted.

Next week I’ll discuss being specific about what you want versus just staying in a state of gratitude.

You can follow my progress on Facebook and Twitter, too.
Have a magical week,
Tina LaVon





Friday, July 17, 2009

Interview with Betsy St. Amant

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Betsy St. Amant. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called RETURN TO LOVE. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Hi there! Thanks for having me, and yes, I’d love to. RETURN TO LOVE is a story about a woman named Gracie who works at the Aquarium of the Americas as a penguin keeper. She is planning a fundraiser gala event to raise money to house displaced penguins from upstate. Unfortunately, Gracie’s only hope at a successful gala is her childhood best friend and famed musician, Carter, who still holds the pieces of her broken heart.

RETURN TO LOVE is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Easy. My editor suggested it, and I said “okay”. Haha! The original title to this story was RECLAIMING HARMONY but when we did revisions and eliminated part of the music thread, it no longer fit the story.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’m a romantic at heart, and no matter which direction my books go in the future, there will always be romance in them – whether it be contemporary romance, romantic suspense, or romantic comedy.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I used to be a little bit of both but more so of a plotter—especially now that I am selling on proposal. I HAVE to know where the story is going and have the details to show my editor before contracting. But every other area of my life is organized and detailed to a fault, so I guess it only makes sense this is too. =)

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I did call several places in New Orleans to keep my details accurate. I’ve been to New Orleans several times in my life (my husband proposed there!) but not since the hurricanes. Once I called The Gumbo Shop twice in one hour to ask questions like “is your floor concrete or tile?” and “is the wall outside your front door brick?” It was fun. =) Then of course, there was my penguin research. Tom Dyer, current penguin keeper at the Aquarium of the Americas, was invaluable with his help. He answered question after question about his beloved birds—and even let me use the name of the real penguins at the aquarium for the story. (with one exception my editor suggested. Gumbo is the only fictional penguin in the story)

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I just knew I wanted to write a love story between friends. I love relationships that begin from friendship, since my husband and I started that way ourselves! The setting and details came to me as I brainstormed. I’ve always loved New Orleans and I thought being a southern girl myself, it made sense to set my story there. Also, I’ve collected penguins over the course of my life, so it seemed right that Gracie would be a penguin keeper. =)

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I would say Carter. I really enjoy writing male POV’s, I guess because it’s more challenging to make accurate. Also, I liked diving into Carter’s motivation and former music career, and exploring all his buried emotions. He’s quite the catch, girls! ::wink::

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I have before but not always. Character sheets help if I feel “stuck” or like something is missing from their development, but otherwise I keep it all in my head as I go. Sometimes the characters reveal things to me as I’m into the story that make me say “ohhhhhh now that makes sense!”. When that happens, I just go back and work that thread or motivation into the existing chapters and keep going.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Soooo many! Robin Jones Gunn, Susan May Warren, Deb Raney, to name a few. Their talent and friendship has meant so much. They are true mentors! I also have several not-yet-pubbed author friends who help critique my work and keep me encouraged. My girls are the best!
What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book? I guess we’ll find out soon! Haha! Seriously though, I have high hopes for the blog tour going on the month of July. I think word of mouth (or word of blog!) is still the most effective tool for authors and their promoting.

What do we have to look forward next?

Several things! The sequel to RETURN TO LOVE will be released February 2010, and is titled A VALENTINE’S WISH. Then, look for a new western story titled RODEO SWEETHEART in April, 2010.

Thanks, Betsy!

To celebrate her book release, Betsy is offering a free book to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group. Betsy has been published in Christian Communicator magazine and Praise Reports: Inspiring Real Life Stories of How God Answers Prayer. One of her short stories, 'Kickboxing or Chocolate', appears in a Tyndale compilation book, and she is also multi-published through The Wild Rose Press. Betsy has a BA in Christian Communications and regularly contributes articles to Crosswalk.com. She is a wife, author, new mother and an avid reader who enjoys sharing the wonders of God's grace through her stories.

Check out author’s website at www.betsy-ann.blogspot.com or www.betsystamant.com
Buy http://www.eharlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=19735&cid=236.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2009 Hot Prospects Contest

2009 Hot Prospects Contest Sponsor:

Valley of the Sun Romance Writers

Looking to sign your first book contract, switch from a small press to a large publisher or simply explore another genre of romantic fiction? Turn up the heat on your writing career with the Hot Prospects Contest.



Fee: $25 for Valley of the Sun RW chapter members

$30 for non-chapter members



Postmark Deadline: September 1st, 2009

E-Submit Deadline: September 1st, 2009



Eligibility: Any uncontracted work by an RWA member in good standing. This includes both published and unpublished authors.



Enter: 3-5-page synopsis and up to 25 pages of story (30 pages max). Entry or synopsis may be shorter, but neither may be longer than specified.



Categories/Judges: Trained judges for preliminary round

Editors and Agents for final round.



Historical/Regency

Editor-TBA

Agent - TBA

Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal

Editor – TBA

Agent - Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency

Romantic Suspense

Editor - Deb Werksman, editor, Sourcebooks

Agent - JL Stermer, agent, Donald Maass Literary Agency

Contemporary Long/Single Title

Editor - TBA

Agent - TBA

Series Contemporary

Editor - Johanna Raisanen, Harlequin Enterprises'

Editor - Leanne Morgena, Senior Editor, the Wild Rose Press

Erotica Editor - Theresa Stevens, editor, Red Sage Publishing

Editor - Kelli Collins, editor-in-chief, Ellora's Cave



GRAND PRIZE: The winner can choose between a book trailer, static banner and active banner from Bella Entertainment for the book of their choice (a $300.00 value) or $100.00 USD. For More Information, entry form, and rules, see website at http://www.valleyofthesunrw.com/.

Linda AndrewsValley of the Sun Hot Prospects Co-chair

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

FOR WRITERS (and readers): Why are heads cut off on book covers?

Now, this wasn't something I thought much about, until I received my new book cover (Isn't it beautiful?). I've always assumed that publishers cut off the model's heads so that readers could imagine the faces for themselves (our imaginations are often times much better than reality). But I found out that there is a subconscious marketing technique at work here. Publishers know that they only have seconds to capture the interest of a reader, whether he/she is looking through books in a bookstore or on the internet. So if you glance at an image that is incomplete your brain registers that within seconds...and you're more likely to take a second look. Then you might be tempted to read the cover, the back blurb, and hopefully, purchase the book itself. But those first few seconds are the most crucial, which is why publishers invest a great deal of research in producing an eye-catching cover.

Monday, July 13, 2009

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations Dina. Candace picked you as the winner of a free copy of her book, Dragons Prefer Blondes. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

THE SECRET EXPERIMENT - Week One




THE SECRET EXPERIMENT
Week One
July 12, 2009



I believe it was two years ago when I first viewed The Secret DVD. My friends and I were intrigued by the concept. Writers tend to have open minds - you never know where the inspiration for your next book may originate. Although the Law of Attraction revealed in the video, based on the bestselling book, may sound New Age, I recognized it as being very close to The Power of Positive Thinking. Norman Vincent Peale's book, The Power of Positive Thinking has sold more than 20 million copies in 41 languages. I wasn't even employed in the sales/business world and I had heard of that concept. If you believe you will succeed, you will. It could also be labeled Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.



I wasn't the only person intrigued by The Law of Attraction. After The Secret caught Oprah's attention it sold millions of copies.



Of course, the book does have it skeptics and critics. I knew there was something to it immediately because the Law of Attraction had already shown itself to me when I bought my condo. The Law basically states the Universe (God, the Heavens, etc...whatever your spiritual belief may be...) will make things happen when you truly expect an event or object will come into your life.



Ten years ago, I picked out the neighborhood I wanted to live in and I knew I wanted a condo. There were only two complexes in this area and I chose the one with an open-floor plan, which was not for sale because the builder had gone under. Peeking through the window of one of the units, I made my decision. I would sell my house and move into an apartment across the street from the complex until it was sold at auction. I had no clue when that might occur, and neither did my realtor, but I was willing to wait.



Over the next few months, I went through a seller's drama. The first attempted sale of my house fell through because the buyer's buyer didn't show up at closing. The second attempt did go through, but the buyer wanted me to rent back the house until the end of the month. Since the condo complex hadn't gone to auction yet, I agreed. THE VERY DAY I was on my way to sign the lease at the apartments, the flags were out announcing the sales office for the condos was open. They didn't have their paperwork to sell yet, so they agreed to rent me the condo until we could close, something I had never heard of before. Then they lowered the price of the unit by $16, 000 even though I had already signed I would pay the higher amount. Then they lowered my homeowners association fee. (Remember this was ten years ago when the housing market wasn't in crisis like today.) Life was great! I knew what I wanted and it did appear as though the Universe/God had paved the way for it all to come my way. It reminded me of the mustard seed of faith mentioned in the Bible.



I have played with the concepts revealed in The Secret over the past few years, but recently I decided I wanted to learn more and record the manifestations I had already witnessed and those yet to come.



I’ll post daily through Twitter http://twitter.com/TinaLaVon
and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/TinaLaVon#/profile.php?id=1048627641&ref=profile
then go into detail here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy on Sundays.




I hope you will take this journey with me. If nothing else, I think it will be entertaining.
If you haven't read The Secret, I suggest you do.
The Secret is also available on DVD and in audio book version.
Have a magical week,
Tina LaVon

Friday, July 10, 2009

Interview with Candace Havens

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Candace Havens. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called DRAGONS PREFER BLONDES Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Thanks so much for letting me hangout here. Let’s see, this one is about Alex Caruthers, who is a wealthy club owner, who also happens to be a Guardian Key. She is a warrior who protects our world from dragons. When a certain dragon sets his sights on her, she turns to the one man she can trust, Jake. He promises to be her “pretend” boyfriend to help out and Jake and Alex discover their relationship is not so make-believe after all.

DRAGONS PREFER BLONDES is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

LOL. I didn’t. My editor always comes up with my titles. She’s playing off of old movies and musicals. The first one was THE DEMON KING AND I.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’m fond of magic, and I love tough chicks. I think the paranormal genre sort of opens that book wide on what you can do. I love it.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Alex is one of four sisters and the idea for this came from wanting to explore those sibling relationships. And this book in particular was about what do you do when all the odds are stacked against you in every part of your life.

What are your favorite paranormal research books or sites, and why?

Hmmm. I don’t know that I used any research sites for the paranormal side of things. These girls are all over the world, the universe for that matter, so I did a lot of research/Googling on travel destinations.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

This is such a tough question. This is my third series, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. Besides Alex and Jake in this book, there’s a very interesting character Graves, I’d like to explore him more in another book. (Smile)

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and/or world affect your character development?

I don’t do any kind of research. I’m panster (write by the seat of my pants) so I get to know my characters as the readers do. When I’m finished with that first draft, I’ll go back and make sure I have continuity with all of the characters.

How do you go about building your world if you use one? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

I hadn’t done a lot of world building until this series. I’ve been keeping copious notes on what the different worlds look like, the people/creatures there, and I refer to those often.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

In my early days Janet Evanovich, Laurell K. Hamilton and Nora Roberts. I’m a big fan of authors in general. Everyone inspires me now.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Using the Internet, Twitter and Facebook. And I’ve been doing a big blog tour this time, and had a great response.

What do we have to look forward next?

My next book comes out Feb. 2010. It’s called Take Me If You Dare and it’s for the Harlequin Blaze line. It’s my first book for them, and it’s a romance with lots of intrigue. Fun stuff!

Thanks, Candace!

To celebrate her book release, Candace, is offering a free book of DRAGONS PREFER BLONDES to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Check out author’s website at http://www.candacehavens.com

Buy http://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Prefer-Blondes-Candace-Havens/dp/0425227804.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Saying Goodbye

by Donna Delgrosso

“I stood there with the envelope dangling from my fingers. I could not open my hand to let it go. I was ready to turn around and take it back home, when my dear husband yanked the thing out of my hand and threw it in the slot.” That’s what Jennifer Ashley remembers about sending off her first manuscript.


I wish I could tell my own spine-tingling story. Some nail biter kind of thing about how everything around me went on in slow motion as I walked into the Fed-Ex store, heart knocking against my ribs. And how the cold breeze of the air-conditioner blew against my neck as I slowly unclenched my fingers and dropped the two pound package in the slot. Double checking it to be sure it made it in of course. Then, I would blink away tears as I turned away and silently said goodbye to my characters for good.


But I can’t.


So, I decided to live vicariously through my friends and ask them their feelings about saying goodbye to their manuscripts.


I have to admit, their answers shocked me. I fully expected everyone to talk about loss. Instead, their responses were inspiring.


Vicki Gaia remembers this about letting go of her first manuscript. “I felt elated because I finally 'did it'. I felt sick to my stomach, because rejection is never, never fun. I just knew who ever was going to read it would be thinking – ‘Sheesh, and she thinks she can write!’"


I’ve discovered in my time in Desert Rose that at some level, we all feel sort of the same, like a cosmic writer E.S.P. or something. Time after time, I heard the same kind of comments. We’re all a little nervous; we want everything to be flawless and we’re all a little anxious.


Donna Hatch, whose first book is The Stranger She Married, offered this. “When I finish a manuscript and send it off, I'm relieved it's finished, and I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I'm also terrified because I fear it's not perfect and I can no longer make changes which means it will be immortalized in its imperfection.”


Donna isn’t the sole owner of those thoughts, though. Connie Flynn related almost the same feelings. I have two reactions when I send off a manuscript. “The first is relief. Huge relief, because I'm one of those authors who works like wildfire the last few days before the due date. …I remember every small detail I failed to correct before the manuscript left my hands. I can't look at a computer, I know I just sent out the worst manuscript ever and it will ruin my career.


Imperfection? Small details? I’ve heard horror stories about re-writes and wonder, how can anything that you’ve re-written So. Many. Times. be anything but the best it can be? Then again, a final printing lasts forever. And if your lucky, forever and ever.


So…We’ve finally sent the manuscript away, what comes next?


Connie Flynn put it simply, A good night's sleep and a heavy meal (or is it the other way around) and I'm over that and on to my next book.”


Is it really that easy??!!


I’ve come to realize that saying goodbye to characters isn’t just about drama and self criticism. It’s about hiking over one mountain and moving on to the next. Positively. Letting go of a manuscript is really about embracing success.


Remember Jennifer Ashley’s struggle at the mail box? She doesn’t do that anymore. She e-mails her manuscripts. That would be nice wouldn’t it? “It's still not easy, though. I *always* want to change something. When I read the page proofs of each book, I'm always thinking I should have done that differently."


I’ll take that. But when I do drop my manuscript off for the first time, I’m going to bring a crowd, then we can all go somewhere and toast to our successes!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

FOR WRITERS (and readers): Do you love fairies?

Then I have such a treat for you! While I'm recovering from surgery I've been working on some fun stuff for my readers, and have updated my e-store with new fairy logos. You can check out all the original artwork here: http://www.cafepress.com/KathryneKennedy (There's also a direct link from my website.)

Since this is advertising for me, I make no profit on the sales so the prices are very reasonable. I will be using my e-store for contest prizes and more, so stay tuned. And if you're an author, do you have an e-store for your readers? It's great fun and totally free! Click on the link in my store to start your very own. (One caution: check with your publisher before using your book cover artwork on any merchandise. Most publishers do not purchase the rights from the artist for this sort of venture.)

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations Loretta Rogers. Dara picked you as the winner of a free copy of her book, Round The Clock. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

You’re Never Too Old




“You can’t teach an old dog a new trick.” Or can you?


Like many of you, I had that message firmly planted in my brain. I assumed it was true until I was in my mid-twenties. At that time, I went through major changes in my life. I wanted to feel better and grow as a person, so I decided to take the lemons and make lemonade. (I’m into clich├ęs today.) Since I had a little extra free time on my hands, I made a list of things I had always wanted to do. Over the next couple of years, I took various lessons and tried ceramics, horseback riding, piano, speaking Spanish, and then finally went back to school to get my masters degree in education. At 29, I became a teacher.
I discovered I like ceramics, but you can only make so many vases. I enjoy horseback riding if I’m on a gentle soul who forgot how to run. One day, the rather large horse I sat on was spooked by a sudden gust of wind. In what seemed like an hour, but was probably only a minute or two, I learned what it’s like to be on the back of a bucking bronco. Did I mention Big Red used to be a race horse? He spun, I hung on for dear life, then spotted the bush I was probably falling into. Somehow, I managed to stay on the back of that Goliath. The following year, I learned that although my short stubby fingers can hold onto the reins like a rodeo cowboy, they were not made for the piano. As for speaking Spanish, I’m still trying to conjugate those verbs. But…I do enjoy teaching-not the politics however.

In my mid-thirties, I decided I wanted to learn to draw and oil paint. I’m the least talented artist in my family, but with a good eraser, pencil, patience, and a lot of time, I can impressively copy a picture free hand. I did even manage to paint a desert scene I decided to keep. I believe working on my right brain helped when it came time to write.

When I was turning 40, I came across the address for Romance Writers of America and decided to learn to write. I had written a humorous speech in college that qualified for Nationals and witty Christmas letters that have garnered their own fan mail. I had always felt like there was something missing in my life. I spent twenty years trying to figure out what it was and once I started writing, that feeling finally faded. I like to think that constant craving for more was Devine intervention – a message from above telling me I needed to keep looking for my purpose. The point is, I may not have been a puppy any longer, but I did learn how to write and I love it!

Don’t let anyone ever tell you, “You can’t teach a dog a new trick.”
If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to try your hand at a new genre – go for it! If you don’t think you have talent, keep reading and practicing your craft – you’ll overcome any deficiencies you might have.
It’s your life! The only limits are the ones you place on yourself.


Until next week,

Happy Writing!
Tina LaVon



Friday, July 3, 2009

Interview with Dara Girard

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Dara Girard. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called ROUND THE CLOCK. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

ROUND THE CLOCK is the fourth and final book in The Black Stockings Society series. It’s about Anna Marie Williams, a people pleaser who gets a new lease on life when she receives a large inheritance and an invitation into the society. She uses this opportunity to capture the heart of Desmond Rockwell a former bad boy who was her high school crush.

ROUND THE CLOCK is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

When I first proposed the idea I had the blurb ‘By day Anna Marie is a quiet unassuming woman, but by night she’s something else…’ from that premise I came up with the title.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I like to describe myself as a happy feminist and once I read a book that eradicated my prejudices about the romance genre—wimpy women and controlling men—I was a convert. I like that in romantic fiction the female is the ‘hero’ not the sidekick, love interest or the victim to be rescued. She is the one who fights to attain what she wants and she succeeds. I also love the fact that the genre is so broad that other elements (i.e. mystery or fantasy) can be incorporated. And of course, I like happy endings. I read enough about women killing themselves or being killed by family, lovers or disease in ‘literary’ novels that I knew that wasn’t for me.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I’m a strange mixture of both. I don’t outline, but I don’t jump in either. You could say I approach writing like a visual artist does a painting or sculpture. First I sketch out the idea, the same way an artist does when she is beginning a major piece. Then I decide what media I’ll use, oils vs watercolor, in my case will it be a straight romance or a romantic suspense? Once this is decided, I then begin to ‘paint’ the story and complete the details as I go along. Sometimes I’ll create a collage as a visual reference or at times I’ll go back to my theater roots and jot everything down as a stage play and just give characters dialogue and stage directions, which is how I approached this book. My first draft looked something like this:

‘Stage left Anna Marie. In the office. She says…
Sandy at the desk. She says…’

It’s not pretty, but it was a start.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

Yes I did. As most of my readers have found, I love including a ‘pet’ or animal in my stories, and in ROUND THE CLOCK, I had to do some research on the turtle Anna Marie finds. What does it eat? Where does it like to sleep? What are its needs? The best place for me has always been the Internet and the Children’s section in my local public library. That’s where I’ve found excellent books on many subjects not just caring for pets, but settings, history etc... I also have an enormous library of books from Understanding Forensics to discovering Different forms of Love, to understanding ‘empaths’ (which I used for the heroine in my novel, ILLUSIVE FLAME).

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

To me ideas are like dust--they’re everywhere. So I have no problem finding them—dare I say they just land on me? Anna Marie appeared on the page as a fully formed character with a story to tell. Fortunately, her story fit into the series framework and I went from there. She was a woman in search of real love and finds the perfect opportunity to attain it.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Both Anna Marie and Desmond were fun to write because they both escaped painful pasts and yet have a sense of humor about it. But I must admit I had the most fun writing about Anna Marie’s awful boss ‘The Cobra’ because she’s so dreadful and the kind of individual many, if not most of us, have come in contact with sometime during our working career.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

Again I think of myself as Michelangelo when he said David came out of the marble. I approach writing in a visual way. I sketch a character on the page with words or sometimes through dialogue like a play. And once I have a bare bones character down I flesh him or her out from there. I’m also influenced by music I’ll think of a character as a rock or country song and his/her movements and rhythms will emerge from that.

As I write I can tell whether a character would respond this way or that way and as the story progresses more often than not they surprise me. For example, I might be writing a scene and a character will whisper in my mind “This reminds me of when I stole my grandmother’s earrings and blamed it on my sister” and I’ll run with that thought. Another trick I sometimes use to get to know a character is to imagine what’s in their pockets or purse? That tells me a lot. For example, in my novel THE SAPPHIRE PENDANT, the hero always carried nuts in his pockets to feed the squirrels and as the story progressed you understood why.

In terms of research there are no hard rules for me. Sometimes it will affect the plot and how the character responds to it or sometimes my research will define what a character does.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

When I was a child I remember one day standing in the library and watching all the people with books and seeing the joy on their faces and thinking to myself ‘I want to give that kind of pleasure one day’. As a child I was a voracious reader and I still am. I believe every author I’ve read has inspired me in some form. Stories feed my spirit and I thank all the storytellers out there who have filled my days with pleasure from Ray Bradbury to Langston Hughes to Jayne Ann Krentz, Jennifer Crusie and Mark Twain. Playwrights, poets, songwriters, essayists--the lot has shown me the power of ‘voice’. That’s where true originality emerges. So all those aspiring authors out there don’t worry about a story plot being taken, use your voice to tell a story and it will be uniquely your own. That’s my mini-lesson for the day.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I honestly, can’t put my finger on just one, it’s a cumulative effort. My marketing efforts are three dimensional and includes utilizing numerous opportunities over the internet, my website and offline efforts. However, I must admit that opportunities like this interview are also a key way to get the word out—thanks! (No. Thank you KW)

What do we have to look forward next?

I’m presently working on a new series about three novelists who learn that passion goes beyond the page. The first book, WORDS OF SEDUCTION will be released March 2010 and it’s about a former housewife turned hot-shot novelist who returns to her small town and stirs up trouble with a former bad boy who has an agenda of his own.

Thanks, Dara!

To celebrate her book release, Dara is offering a free copy of ROUND THE CLOCK, the fourth book in her Black Stockings Society series, to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio. Dara Girard is an award-winning author of twelve novels that feature strong heroines, sexy heroes, family dramas and romance. Her writing has been praised for its deft plot twists, witty dialogue and humor.

Dara is also the author of an award-winning non-fiction book for writers, The Writer Behind the Words (Ilori Press, 2007). Dara lives in Maryland.

Check out author’s website at www.daragirard.com