12-10 - Bonnie Paulson - "The Power of Newsletters"

Thursday, December 8, 2016

What's New In Publishing, and What Isn't

There’s always something new in publishing. New digital presses are still forming, newer formats like audio and apps are trending, and the big publishers are always creating new imprints or touting this month’s hot genres. With the use of smartphones skyrocketing, more people are reading on their phones while waiting in lines, etc., so reading in quick bites is more popular. I am guessing short stories, novellas, and episodic novels will have bigger sales in the near future.  

While those are all interesting to follow, and sometimes fun to predict what will be the next big thing, I find it comforting to reflect on the constants.

No matter what form it takes, all readers really want is a good story. Whether your favorite genre is historical romance or sci-fi or paranormal mystery, you won’t read or listen to it for long unless the universal elements are there. 

We all crave: 

  • characters we can relate to or root for 
  • in extraordinary situations 
  • doing the things we might dream of or shudder to contemplate. 

If the character is boring or the plot is dull, no shiny, new delivery system or sub-genre will make a difference. If the writing is up to snuff, then we readers can sit back and enjoy the story knowing we are in good hands. 

In this holiday season, I wish you wonderful books in whatever format you enjoy the most. All the best in 2017, too! :-)

Lynn Lovegreen grew up in Alaska, and still lives there. She taught for twenty years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in the Alaska Gold Rush, a great time for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Makeover – Literary Style

By Robin Weaver

All of us watch those shows (even if we don’t always ‘fess up).  You know the ones I mean.  A frumpy stay-at-home mom and a Goth-looking college student walk onto the set. An overly bubbly announcer introduces some wonderful product and an amazing makeup artist. Then, voila.  A curling  iron and a bottle of hair gel later, Frumpy and Dumpy are now the hot momma who could play Mrs. Robinson and the fraternity girl most likely to get an STD.

I am, of course, talking about the infamous makeover. I can’t tamp down my skepticism enough to believe Frumpy and Dumpy really looked that bad prior to the makeover.  Surely the show’s producers intentionally frizzed their hair for those hideous “before” images.  Maybe they even put gray paste on the To-Be-Made-Overs’ faces.  And I’m certain some production assistant scours thrift stores in search of the worst clothing possible.  When the assistant finds her prize, she stomps on the shapeless dress or baggy jeans with combat boots prior to dressing the poor “volunteers.” When presented in cocktail dresses for the REVEAL, like any woman who goes from Goodwill to couture, the makeover models look one heck of a lot better.

Seriously, short of surgery or drastic liposuction, how much can you really do in a short period of time to improve your looks?

Fiction, fortunately is different. Forget hair products. You, the great and powerful Oz-thor, have magic at your disposal. With a few strokes of your literary pen, you can take a bad manuscript (assuming there’s a decent plot or you have a good voice) and make the tale into a fascinating story.
Have a heroine you don’t like?  Kill her off on page one and promote the amazing sidekick to leading lady status. Are you main characters boring? Just add equal parts of tension and quirkiness and Ozzie and Harriet morph into Morticia and Gomez Addams.

You can even reshape your basic plot into a totally different story. Believe it or not, you can do this with minimal rewrite.

I originally wrote Forbidden Magic, my first novel, about vampire-type characters living in a world without warm-blooded creatures.  My vamps existed on a mineral mimicking the properties of human blood. Naturally, the mineral was becoming depleted (aka external tension). Unfortunately, no one wanted yet another vamp story.

I instigated a makeover.  First, I made my characters Dökkálfar and álfar—ancient elves.  Since my hero and heroine were no longer vampire, they no longer needed blood. Thus I needed another rare substance necessary to my characters’ survival. To keep my external conflict from disintegrating, I decided the sun on my fictional world wouldn’t have the spectrum of Earth’s solar unit.  Naturally, I made this spectrum necessary to elfin survival.  So what could emulate sunlight? What else? Crystals. And all the quartz had been mined.

I kept the same plot. My characters’ goals, motivation, and conflict didn’t change. Yet my novel had a completely different look. And since the story didn't fit my normal writing style--romantic suspense and mystery, I gave my author name a makeover, too.  With an alias--Genia Avers.

If your novel isn’t getting the attention it deserves, if your manuscript is dated, or if you just need more oomph, you too can perform the literary makeover—no license required. Remember, a good story (regardless of genre) needs great characters, with great conflict, and a goal worth achieving. The rest is just…well, hair product and cocktail dresses.

How about you?  Performed any literary makeovers on your manuscripts?

The Gingerbread Skirmish (A Holiday in Merryvale Story) by [Weaver, Robin]

Available at Amazon.com.

Available at Amazon.com.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Memories by Kristin Wallace

Christmas Eve Service
In the U.S. we just had Thanksgiving and we’re on to Christmas. Many already have Christmas trees and lights are up on the house. Are you one of those who string up lights and decorations on your house?

I recently found these in storage
Christmas always makes me think of being a kid and the excitement of the big morning. We always went to church on Christmas Eve for the candle lighting service, which is the most beautiful thing. Sometimes we’d open presents on Christmas Eve because we usually drove to see my aunt, uncle and cousins for Christmas. When I was a kid I wanted an Easy Bake Oven. Another year Cabbage Patch Dolls were the rage. I got one in the summer,
Christmas, age 5
which was a preemie in the summer and then I ended up getting two at Christmas. My parents had 
My parents had ordered them months before because the stores would sell out almost immediately. But I think my favorite present ever was a huge, stuffed bunny that I got when I was about five. I think it was over 5-ft. tall. I loved that thing! It was yellow and soft and I could sit on its lap. 

These days it’s harder to figure out what I want. What I really want is to be a world-famous author and make my total living off my writing, lol. I’m not sure anyone can give me that present, not even Santa Claus.

What are your favorite Christmas memories from growing up? Was there was special present you really wanted?

Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. She is the author of two bestselling series, Covington Falls Chronicles and Shellwater Key Tales. Look for her latest releases FALLING FOR YOU AT CHRISTMAS, on sale now for on Amazon, B&N, iTunes & Kobo. For more info on her books, visit Kristin Wallace Author.

Want a FREE book? I’m on Instafreebie where you can download my previous holiday novella, FINDING YOU AT CHRISTMAS. DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE BOOK! 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Holiday candy-making and a good book by Paty Jager

Growing up, Thanksgiving to Christmas, our house has always been filled with aromas of baking. Spices, chocolate, sweetness. The counters overflow with baked goods cooling, piled on plates, and carefully layered in airtight containers. The freezer becomes a booby-trapped appliance with bags and containers of goodies shoved in every available space.
The wonderful smells mingle with pumpkin pie, turkey, ham and at Christmas the tang of pine and cinnamon.  I’ve heard it said smells can trigger memories. Any time I smell the nostril tingling scent of cinnamon I’m taken back to the two story farm house my parents, siblings, and grandparents lived in when I was young.

My grandmother’s claim to fame at Christmas was her cinnamon candy. 

Here is the recipe: Old-fashion Cinnamon Candy
1 pint Karo syrup
2 cups sugar
1 bottle cinnamon oil
6 drops red food coloring
powdered sugar, desired amount for coating

  1.  In a sauce pan, bring syrup and sugar to the hard- crack stage—about 300 to 310 degrees.
  2. Add cinnamon oil and food coloring.
  3. Stir quickly and pour into a well greased cookie sheet. 
  4.  Let candy harden.
  5. Crack into pieces and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

In my Christmas Story, Christmas Redemption, the hero has been in prison for ten years for something he participated in as a young man. When he returns home to confront his father, he finds his mother in her kitchen baking. The smells take him back to his childhood. 

Blurb for Christmas Redemption a story in the Silver Belles and Stetsons Christmas Anthology.

Van Donovan returns to Pleasant Valley, Oregon where twelve years earlier as a boy of fifteen he left in handcuffs after standing guard for a bank robbery. He's learned a trade and excelled at it and is ready to prove to his father and the town he can amount to something.

Upon his return he learns the fate of the daughter of an innocent man who died in the robbery crossfire. To make amends he takes her out of the saloon and gives her a job, not realizing she'd been squatting in the very building he'd purchased for his business.

Can two battered hearts find solace or will the past continue to haunt their lives?

The leafless cottonwood trees appeared stark and ominous hovering around the farm house. The two-story structure held pleasant memories. His mother’s cooking and laughter. Would she welcome him back or follow her husband’s lead? His stomach knotted, and he once again wished Tessa were by his side.
A multi-colored mutt ran out of the barn barking. Half-way to the wagon, he stopped and looked back toward the barn. A girl of about eight strolled out of the building wrapped in a heavy coat, scarf, and mittens.
“Button. Stop barking,” she said when he stopped the wagon in front of the house. His mother’s eyes stared at him from the child’s face. This was his sister Grace.
“Is your ma or pa home?” he asked uncertain what to do. He wanted to pick her up and hug her, but reasoned she wouldn’t care for a stranger grabbing her.
“Ma’s in the kitchen. Christmas is coming.” She put a hand on the dog’s head.
“It sure is. How about you take me to the house then rustle your ma out of the kitchen so I can talk with her?” He started walking to the familiar front door.
Grace grabbed his hand. “We can’t go in that door. Ma doesn’t like snow on her wool rug.” She tugged him to the back of the house.
Van smiled and allowed his sister to haul him around to the back of the house. The garden patch looked larger. And the cellar which he’d help dig was grown over sprouting pale weeds through the six inches of snow.
Grace pulled the screen door open, then shoved the door into the kitchen. Familiar aromas wafted around Van’s head. He sniffed and savored each spicy nuance.
His ma turned. “Grace, shut the door, I have bread ris—”
Ma was the same other than gray wisps in her dark brown hair. She blinked, and her hands clasped in front of her chest.
“Hello, Ma.”
“Van?” She took a step toward him. He smiled and nodded, and she lunged into his arms, crying.
He hugged her tight as tears burned his eye sockets. His heart, that had been torn in two when he never heard from her, slowly melded back together. “I’ve missed you,” he said, holding on, wishing he had all those years back.
She drew out of his arms and studied him. “My, you turned into one handsome man.” She wiped at the tears on her face with her apron. Then motioned to Grace. “Come say hello to your big brother.” His mother’s smile warmed him like a toasty fire on a cold day.
“My brother? I thought pa said—” Grace stared up at him quizzically.

This is one of the 9 heartwarming Christmas stories you'll find in the Silver Belles and Stetsons Christmas Anthology.  

Paty Jager writes murder mysteries and steamy romance starring cowboys and Indians.
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