Monday, June 30, 2014

What do the writers learn from the World Cup?

What do the writers learn from the World Cup?

1.       Never ever let your goalie (your leading man) step away from the net (your heroine). The results could be disastrous—such as the wrong winner.

2.       Hair gel is not a prelude to a never-ending love affair. You must rely on your footwork as well.

3.       A breakthrough performance does not guarantee the trophy. Your leading man must work for it—chapter after chapter after chapter . . .

Friday, June 27, 2014

What does it take to be a really good writer? Do you want to follow all the rules or be an outlier?

What does it take to be a really good writer? Do you want to follow all the rules or be an outlier?

There're so many rules to follow. Don't ever use those evil 'ly' adverbs. Show, don't tell. Make your readers like your characters from the page one. Model your book cover after the top ten Amazon bestsellers. Find the best selling books and theme yours after those. The list is endless. Advice never ends. Do this, and you'll be on your way to becoming a successful writer.

But do we really want to follow all the fads? While undoubtedly some of those rules are valuable, do we really want to follow the crowd if our goal is to create something unique? Doesn't the fact that we're artists dictate that we stay true to our muse and let it rule our work, rather than letting the outside world with its must-haves mold our art?

To achieve our highest potential as writers, we must stay true to ourselves. We should take each advice as a guidance, a suggestion, not as a given,  no matter how universal it may seem.

We want to create something that people remember, that distinguishes us from others, not yet another 50 Shades-like book whose only selling point is "read me if you loved 50 Shades".

Find what makes you unique, and exploit it to the fullest. Ask yourself, what is it about my writing that I really love? That my fans love? Make it even better, and never ever let anyone tell you that what you're trying to create doesn't sell.

Make art.
Love your art.
Then others will love you.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review of Roberta Pearce's "Value of Vulnerability"

All of us were a relationship that we knew was wrong for us, yet for one reason or another, we couldn’t stay away. Roberta Pearce’s “Value of Vulnerability” is about one of those relationships.

Ford is a sociopath—and the worst kind at that—but he’s sexy and he’s a smooth talker (a dangerous combo for a sweet, innocent girl Erin). It doesn’t hurt that he’s also rich, and has plenty of resources—the ones that can be bought with money and with his charm—to pursue Erin.

Besides the fact that the novel is intelligent and well-written, it talks about issues that are rarely discussed in our culture. In the age of electronic communication where everyone is constantly on their smart devices instead of actually interacting in person, what is it that makes a sociopath? How does it affect us if we’re in a relationship with one? Will it change us if we fall in love with such a person? Can we hold onto our hope that he’s ever going to change?

These are serious topics, yet the novel is fun to read—Erin’s good-naturedness is infectious and, let’s face it, it doesn’t hurt that Ford is sexy as hell. Their limo ride was hot, leaving me wanting more of Ford, even as I knew that their relationship couldn’t lead anywhere good. I understood Erin, and from that point on, every page of the novel broke a little bit more of my own heart for what was about to happen.

But What About a Writer's Voice?

As a new writer, I spent a lot of time to find my “voice”. How did I want to be called as a writer? What is the one word I wanted to be used to describe my writing?

When I completed my first novel, I thought that word was “passionate”. As a Romantic Suspense novelist, my first work was full of big words, unending love, and dramatic promises. Until an editor read it and called it “melodramatic”. Oh, no! I didn’t want to be called melodramatic, dammit!

That was my first clue that something wasn’t working. Although I did like to pursue passion in my writing, I felt something was missing.

Take two.

My second novel was provocative and dry. Filled with feminist statements from my thirty-five-year-old executive heroine, it was never going to be called melodramatic. Edgy? Definitely. Provocative? Perhaps. Passionate? Well, yeah, if you can find anything romantic in smart-mouthed encounters with Adam&Eve while dreaming about a coworker.

The novel was read by several publishers—they liked the story, if not exactly the main heroine whom they all described as intimidating. My voice? Sarcastic and coarse, after all the screaming at my computer screen whenever my main heroine did something outrageous. Was I happy? I was outraged. Delirious. Frustrated.

Third attempt.

This time I knew what I was going for. Fun. Sweet like a walk on the beach while holding hands with your high school love. Dark like the chocolate bar that melts in your mouth on a hot summer day. A writing filled with situations so unlikely to happen that a reader would keep turning pages to find out what the hell’s gonna happen at the end. And then scream at me for such a WTF ending.

I did it. I’m finally satisfied with my writing. I’m finally reading reviews of my betas who get what I’ve been trying to show in my book.

I’m in seventh heaven and deep in writing my book number four. What will it be? Something you’d never expect.
I'd love to hear from you. What were your attempts at finding your voice?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Unveiling secrets about The Secret Wife

I’ve been tagged by the talented Cathrina Constantine to write 5 things about my WIP, The Secret Wife. Here it is:

1.        The idea was born after watching too many FBI movies where a tough, sexy FBI agent gets a sweet, soft-spoken girl whose life he saves. They’re the most unlikely couple, yet they end up walking into the sunset to their happily-ever-after. Is this realistic? My Romantic Suspense novel is about such a couple, already married. She’s an obstetrician who wants to cook homemade meals and start making babies, and he’s an FBI agent who’s constantly away on dangerous assignments. He wants to keep her out of his “professional” life and the mistakes he’s made in the past, while she demands complete trust and transparency in their relationship. Will their marriage work out? Well, his past does come back to bite him, and it will not only endanger them both, but also put strain on their marriage.

2.        I spent as much time creating supporting characters as I did my main ones.

3.        The novel features the spandex-assisted escape scene, a cake fight, and a penis mutilation

4.        You will hate me when you read the ending.

5.        The novel is complete, and it’s currently with beta readers! I’m excited to get their feedback and make final changes.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Interview with Michele Stratton, bestselling novelist of The Storm Series

Who doesn't like a sexy rock star moving in next door? After the first two books in "The Storm Series" left us hanging (and wanting more), we're finally getting another dose of Noah, the elusive Anthony and Jackson.

Forget the unlucky 13—this time June 13th is bringing us M. Stratton's third book "Caught in the Storm," and it couldn't have come at a better time. I don't know about you, but I'm in desperate need of good books for my beach reading. Will my heart be able to handle all the suspense? I'll just have to wait to find out.

So who is M. Stratton? How does her brain come up with these twists and turns that makes us stay up—sleep be damned— until we find out what's going to happen next.

Note: there's a special pricing on the first two books in "The Storm Series" from June 12th through June 15th. It's a great opportunity to read "After the Storm" for free, and "Eye of the Storm" for only $0.99.

First things first. Please tell us about Noah. Where can we find such a guy? Why can't he get his caffeine fix at my local Starbucks?

A: Actually I married a long-haired heavy metal rocker, so Noah is kind of based on him. Of course, he’ll deny it to the end, but yeah, it’s him. And yes, he also drinks a lot of coffee; it’s one of our major expenses.

I know you started working on a new novel. What is it about?
A: My next romantic suspense novel is Fade to Black. This one is set in a small town in Maine and a handsome movie star meets a single mother raising her son. Then there is woman in the background who thinks their relationship hasn’t ended and will do whatever it takes to get him back.

You said you've always loved storytelling. What was the first story you've ever written?
A: When I was in high school I wrote a lot of poems and short stories. I have hundreds of them. It wasn’t until I decided to get all of these stories out of my head that I actually wrote down a full story, and that was After the Storm.

How do you create imperfect characters? How do you thread the fine line between being too strong and too vulnerable?
A: Oh man, that is really tough. I know a lot of people had a problem with Lexi in After the Storm. She went through something traumatic and how she dealt with it then and even now when things start happening around her are it’s how she would react. That is not how I would react, or how you might, or even someone down the street. If you continue with the series you will see how someone else deals with it completely differently than Lexi. It’s all on how that character would react and there is a time when that is going to be too strong or too vulnerable.

When do you write? What puts you in the mood to do it? How do you overcome writer's block?
A: I write in the evening, some nights are easier than others. I either listen to music I think fits the mood of the story, or I’ll just dial up some random radio station for something in the background. I’m really lucky because I have an author friend, Evelyne Stone, who I can talk things out with. Stories I have, or if I’m stuck. We work really well together she has helped me think through all the twists and turns, and kicks me in the ass when I need it.

If you could have dinner with any author, which one would you like to meet and what would you ask him/her?
A: How long is this interview supposed to be? Seriously, there are so many I’d love to meet and be able to ask questions. If I had to pick one it would have to be Nora Roberts.  I’ve been reading her for the longest time and she has the most books I have re-read. The first question would have to be how did she juggle writing and family? That happens to be a big problem for me.

Follow Michele on Social Media

Facebook - M. Stratton’s group:

Playing #LuckySeven

It's summer and time for fun posts.

I've been tagged in #LuckySeven by the very talented Cathrina Constantine, whose snippet from her WIP "Beyond and Back to Tallas" is posted on her blog.

The rules:
Go to page 7 or 77 in your current WIP
Go to line 7
Post on your blog the next 7 sentences or 7 lines--as they are!
Tag 7 people, who'll do the same.
Now back to beach and to writing.

Here's a snippet from my Romantic Suspense WIP THE SECRET WIFE:

First off, I want to set the record straight. It wasn't my idea to sneak into the load area of Taylor's pickup truck and hide under the heavy linoleum. I was ready to patiently wait for his safe return with my husband. I had plans to try my hand at tiramisu baking, something I've never quite mastered  to get right. I bought all the ingredients, dug out my recipe, prepared the kitchen. Fast forward to two hours later, and I'm lying in Taylor's pickup truck, dressed in the ridiculous black leather-imitated tights and skin-hugging black turtleneck. My shoes, slender ballet flats, is the only item of clothing that came from my closet. I'm carrying a black messenger bag because there're no pockets in my clothes, and I carry items that definitely can't be displayed in the open.

Note: I'm so bad at following directions. My snippet is actually from page 177 because I liked it better.

I will tag:
Camilla Monk
Roberta Pearce
Lyssa Layne
Melissa Huie
Cory Scott
Mecca Cerny 
Emerson Shaw

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

On failure, kindergarteners' math and pursuing your dreams

Asynchronous clapping. Discordant singing. Giggles and flushed cheeks.

I’m in the front row seat of end-of-school-year kindergarteners’ presentation.

Watching six-year-olds sing on stage and recap their journey made me realize just how much we, adults, have forgotten about the basics.

Is failure the end result or is it a necessary part of a journey to get us where we want to be? Science experiments don’t produce the desired result the first time around? There’s always another try, and another after that. Do children blame themselves for failing even if the third attempt doesn’t work? They don’t. They run to the playground and hang from the monkey bars with their friends. Then, they finish their science experiment.

It’s all about support. A school is a network of students, teachers, and parents who work together to ensure success of each and every child. When we unite together—not only pursuing our own individual goals, but also supporting others, we create something truly powerful.

A smile fixes everything. Those forgotten words while singing on stage? A toothless grin can save the day. Give yourself some room for making mistakes. Have fun while at it.

Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. It doesn’t matter if it is with paper clips or toy lizards—never lose your freedom of expression.

I love kindergarteners’ math. It’s the only time when fifteen dollars plus seven dollars equals gazillion dollars. Wouldn’t it be nice if this also held true in “grown-up” world?

But most of all, I’ve been impressed with children’s dreams and how faculty nourishes each and every one of those—whether it is to build a sandcastle on the moon or put a new twist on Frozenmania. After all, the only sure way to make it truly unachievable is to discourage a child to pursue his or her dreams.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Interview with Melissa Huie, Romantic Suspense novelist

Melissa Huie is a Romantic Suspense novelist of The Broken Road Series. The first two books “The Broken Road”, and “Broken Promises” are available on Amazon, and Melissa is currently working on the third one.

"I should have stayed in bed. I really should have just stayed in bed."

Who wouldn't love a novel that begins like that? I've read these lines and I had to buy "The Broken Road". Good-bye sleep, hello Shane. 

This weekend (June 7th and 8th), you can fall in love with the bad boy Shane for free (one day only on Amazon). Who'd want to miss out on that?

Please tell us what made you decide to become a writer? What does it mean for you?

A: I’ve always love to tell stories but I didn’t really put thought into writing my own book until I was helping a friend with his fan-fiction. I was imposing a lot of my own ideas when he finally got sick of me and told me to go write my own damn book. So I did.  The fact that I published – and I have FANS – is freaking amazing. I never in a million years thought I would have someone that not only read my story – but loved it! My fans are truly the reason why there is a series – they gave me the support and encouragement I needed to put pen to paper (truly finger to keyboard!)

What should the readers know about the series? Will there be any major surprises in the third book?

A: Book three is called Broken Rules – and it’s going to kick ass. There are some surprises – some new characters, some more twists and turns. Broken Rules will be from Kate’s  point of view. You’ll learn more about her background, what makes her the cool-as-ice chick she is. And if a certain someone can melt the walls around her heart.

Shane (The Broken Road Series hero) is a real bad boy—sexy and dangerous, he’s every woman’s dream. How did you come up with his character? Is there a Shane in you life?
LOL – YES!  I took bits and pieces from my husband, ex-boyfriends and friends, to create this guy.  The Broken Road is loosely based off characters in my own life – but the situations are definitely not!

Which actors would be playing your main characters?

A: I have a massive obsession with Charlie Hunnam, he would be my Shane. As for Megan, Camilla Luddington is pretty fly. She’d be awesome as Megan.

Check out my pinterest page to see more dream casting -

What were you like in high school? 

A: Oh good gracious. Although other people would probably beg to differ – I was a sweet and kind person. I had a lot of friends from different groups (and I’m still friends with most of ‘em!) and I was a little crazy.  I’d like to think I haven’t changed much – just calmed down a bit!

Please give us a brief synopsis of a must-read novel that includes an Internet crime, water boarding, a frog, and a Christian Grey-wannabe.

A: When a video of a BDSM alpha male water-boarding his sub goes viral, the public goes crazy. The next biggest thing since some sort Fifty-shades book, the women downloading the video don’t realize he’s secretly obtaining their deepest, darkest secrets by installing a  data-mining virus called “Frog”. But with Rebecca on the hunt for the elusive Logan Gray, there is only a short amount of time before the water-boarding Dom is caught.

Follow Melissa on Social Media: