Denver Part 1 – If You Don’t Like the Weather, Wait 20 Minutes

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Denver and I became fast friends. Over the next few days, I plan to tell you a little bit about my trip to Denver, and notable differences from the Southeast, where I live.

First, about that weather thing… I had heard it said by friends before that if you don’t like the weather in Denver, wait twenty minutes. I thought they were exaggerating. Um no. They were not.

The shots in the gallery above were from my hotel room window. We stayed downtown for the conference, and had amazing views. On the first day, it was raining on and off. We walked from the hotel to an art fair a couple of blocks away, and listened to all of the vendors talk about how it had snowed, hailed, and been 60 degrees the day before. That day’s drizzle was nothing. No wonder everyone we saw was either carrying a North Face jacket or no less than three layers: some of them tied around their waist, or draped over shoulders like yuppies in the eighties. All of them with layers. Lots and lots of layers.

 

We do get weather in South Carolina. Our area has been known to get  tornadoes, or bad thunderstorms. But he way the land is, with rolling hills and trees, you can’t really see it coming more than a few miles. So if you see a storm, odds are high that you will experience that storm.

All of these storms were hours from our hotel, and never hit downtown. The deep dark clouds stayed between us and the mountains, but to my eye, trained by South Carolina weather patterns, I thought it was going to hit immediately.

We walked everywhere downtown, so I had to be careful of the weather. Most nights, we didn’t have nay problem. One night it rained, and we waited it out in the restaurant where we were eating.

 

Over the next few days, we explored downtown Denver, including the Capital area. One day we joined a tour that went up to Loveland Pass and the continental divide. Another afternoon I met an author who I have previously only known online and she gave us  another tour of the mountain area, came back down through Boulder canyon and showed us Boulder. We kick things off with a rainbow.

 

 

Plotting Versus Pantsing

or Why (my) Novels Take so Long to Write!!

Anywhere novelists gather, you’re sure to find a discussion of plotting versus pantsing. Do you write a detailed plot in advance, or do you wing it? There are shades along each spectrum, from pages and pages of outlines to the plot summarized on a cocktail napkin.

I have a general idea of the plot, including major turning points, but then I wing it. Here’s a better explanation.

For the Win City Lights Book Three__200x300I don’t write short stories, but if I did, envision a trip from Greenville, SC to Atlanta, GA. About 150 miles, or 233 kilometers. Having lived near both cities, I’ve done that drive. It’s fairly easy, without a lot of issues. If you set your GPS, or your phone’s map app, you might find it says it will take you two hours and thirteen minutes with no stops. That’s reasonable. If you choose to stop off halfway at the outlet malls in Commerce, that’s your choice, but it doesn’t change the drive time. You will just get there later. You arrive, short story done, crank out a few edits, and that’s that.

Some writing websites meant to encourage writers try to throw math into the equation. If you sit down and write ten pages a night, you will have three hundred pages in a month. That’s the premise behind National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) in November of each year. Thousands of people are determined to write a novel in a month, and they try to churn out fifty thousand words, no editing, and call it a novel. Some of my writer friends who don’t have day jobs or kids can do that, and their work is still good. I am not that writer.

For the Win, around 105 pages printed, about 39,000 words, took me from August to April, nine months. That was a record time. Its companion, Breaking Even, has 40,000 words and I’m not done with edits. The grand finale, Winner Take All, has about 30,000 words and there are major holes. While I’m not working on them both at the same time, I had to nail some issues down before I could finish Breaking Even.

Right now I’m doing first edits, where I review the book chapter by chapter and send it to my editor. I’m halfway done with that. Ric and Lindsey are living in separate places during a good bit of this book, which makes the writing of a romance difficult. They are also an odd couple, especially considering how they came together.

Going back to my GPS metaphor, things happen during the first round of edits that you wouldn’t expect. If you are traveling from Atlanta to New York City by car, all sorts of things could happen. It’s 880 miles, or 1416 km. One online calculator says 13 hours two minutes. (Two minutes? Really?) Flat tire. Bad traffic. Road construction. Interesting sights that cause delays. Most people would split this trip into two days, so that adds to the time, including meals, bathroom stops…

The same thing happens when writing a novel. Real life gets in the way. Even with a first draft done, for me, things can happen during the first edit. A scene that sounded like a good idea suddenly reads flat. Or when you read it, you think Why on earth would this character do that? Or you left a hole with a note – fill this in with x, but suddenly x is the last thing you can fit there because of some other change. Or you read a scene, realize there’s no point to this particular interaction, and start cutting. This is when the GPS notices you’ve changed routes and you hear that dreaded computer voice Recalculating.

For my fans who want to know when the book will be out, I have committed to a release date of September 7. I’m hoping I can get these characters to stop arguing long enough to finish edits on Breaking Even earlier. If edits are done sooner, I will release it sooner, but I don’t want to rush it and have a bunch of errors either.

If you want to know an exact date, well, all I can say is Recalculating.

 

News:

Check out my new Pinterest board over at https://www.pinterest.com/MissLilyBishop/

I have just started using this to post inspiration and research ideas for my books, particularly with furnishings and that sort of thing.

 

If you are an author, how do you feel about pantsing versus plotting? If you are a reader, would you rather see fewer, longer works, or more frequent and shorter?

Summer Fire and Heat Lightning

Today I’d like to welcome Joan Reeves to my Writer Wednesday feature. She’s a writer that I have come to know in the past few months, and I’ve read several of her books. I haven’t read this one yet, but I will as soon as it comes out.

 

Summer Fire & Evocative Titles

by Joan Reeves

In the beginning when an author starts a book, perhaps the most important words she, or he, writes is the title. A title, those few words, can either leap onto the page or be dragged kicking and screaming from the author’s brain.

In today’s publishing world where thousands of titles are published weekly, selecting a title can often be a chore. The author wants a title that (1) says what the book is about (2) makes the reader want to get that book (3) sets a mood or tone (4) is unforgettable (5) never gets dated and a whole host of other attributes.

How do you get a title that “sings,” in other words, it rolls off the tongue and sounds good and makes the reader sit up and take notice? Oh, and it shouldn’t already be attached to another book. That last is hard to do in today’s world when so many books are being published.

 

Titles That Worked

Why do you think these titles worked so well?

Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

In the Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke

Snow Falling On Cedars by David Guterson

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson and the other books in his trilogy.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

Heat Lightning_HighRes

Why I Chose Heat Lightning

Here in Texas we have really hot, steamy summers. If you’re in the country, it’s not uncommon to see heat lightning at night. Heat lightning is what they call flashes of lightning on the horizon that aren’t accompanied by thunder. This happens because the lightning occurs very far away and the sound dissipates before it reaches the observer.

Long ago when I heard the term, heat lightning for this phenomenon, it stuck with me. I thought THAT would be a great title for a book.

In Heat Lightning, desire flashes–quickly, silently–between Tessa and her husband David whom she does not remember.

 

Summer Fire Authors & Their Titles

Heat Lightning is part of the Summer Fire: Love When It’s Hot Contemporary Romance Collection. Here are the other titles and authors. After reading the title and short description, do you think the title represents the story? More importantly, does it make you want to read the book?

SummerFire3DCover

Gennita Low, author of Sizzle. “Sizzling passion and flying bullets.”

Stacey Mosteller, author of Just One Summer. “Good girl meets bad boy in Just One Summer.”

R.J. Lewis, author of Sinful. “She’s straight and narrow; he’s sinfully rebellious.”

Kym Grosso, author of Solstice Burn. “Love and erotic temptation in the tropics.”

Victoria Danann, author of A Season in Gemini. “A breath of fresh romance–normal and paranormal.”

L. Wilder, author of Summer Storm. “Can their love survive the storm?”

Linda Barlow, author of My Mile-High Mistake. “Can she resist his temptation at 35,000 feet?”

Teresa Gabelman, author of Rodeo Romance. “Summer + Cowboys = Sexy Fun.”

Cat Miller, author of Sun Burnt. “Sophisticated city girl’s wild ride with a cowboy.”

Mimi Barbour, author of Big Girls Don’t Cry. “Why cry when no one is listening?”

Helen Scott Taylor, author of Irish Kisses. “Second chance at love in an enchanting Irish castle.”

Clarissa Wild, author of Killer. “Bitterness turns into an obsession; a stalker is born.”

Patrice Wilton, author of A Man for Hire. “She hired him for a weekend, not to find love.”

Nicole Blanchard, author of Anchor. “Guaranteed to get you wet!”

Victoria James, author of Sweet Surrender. “He wanted the sweetest surrender.”

Mona Risk, author of Husband for a Week. “Never fall in love with a fake husband.”

Lorhainne Eckhart, author of His Promise. “A love they thought would last forever.”

Danielle Jamie, author of Tan Lines and Salty Kisses. “Second chance romance sure to steam up your Ereader.”

Joan Reeves, author of Heat Lightning. “Secrets, lies, passion. Secrets can kill.”

Brandy L Rivers, author of Summer Rhythm. “Doug never could resist Chloe. Is she back for good?”

Terri Marie, author of Someone Exactly Like You. “The chase is on!”

 

Add Summer Fire to Your Library

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Dv2jy3

Apple: http://bit.ly/1CVOgih

B&N: http://bit.ly/18d9QY0

KOBO: http://bit.ly/19QsJAD

Giveaway

Leave a comment with your email address and be entered in a random drawing for a free copy of Summer Fire: Love When It’s Hot Contemporary Romance Collection. Giveaway is open until May 23 midnight. Winner will be chosen on May 24 by Random Name Picker and notified by email as well as in the Comments section of this post on Lily’s Blog. (Note that the comment feature will take the email but wont’ display it — I’ll have it on the back end so it won’t be visible to spammers — Lily)

 

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Bio Note:

Joan Reeves, whose book in Summer Fire is Heat Lightning, is a bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. Available as ebooks and audiobooks, her romance novels all have the same underlying theme: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Joan lives her happily ever after with her husband in the Lone Star State. Sign up for WordPlay, Joan’s free email list for readers: http://eepurl.com/Yk61n.

Character Interview – Meet Ric Salzana

Have you ever met a character in a book and thought He’s coming back for a sequel –

Ric is that guy. How could you not want to get to know Ricardo Salzana Toledo? He owns his own island, for heaven’s sake!!

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Let’s meet Ric. Dark hair, brushed back from his forehead. Most of the time he can be found in a suit. Olive skin, naturally tanned — living in the Caribbean will do that for you. He sits back in the Queen Ann chair, legs crossed. He’s willing to talk, to a point, he says.

So tell me about your island.

It’s mostly my island. I own the majority of the land, although the forest and some of the beaches are considered public property. It’s one of the outer islands in the Bahamas. I guess it’s a loose affiliation with the Bahamas, although they do provide police and court services if we need them. The resort has its own security, mostly managed by my colleague Xavier. We have hills, forests, a waterfall, and the most beautiful white beaches you’ve seen.

You have a casino, right?

Sure, that’s our big draw. We’re holding a blackjack tournament this weekend. A bunch of big guns are coming in from Miami.

Where are you from originally?

Venezuela. Specifically, Santa Katerina, one of the islands north of the mainland. I spent some time in the States, went to college at Georgia Tech.

I have to ask–are you seeing anyone?

All the girls ask that eventually, don’t they?

He smiled then and his whole demeanor changed. He looked more approachable.

And no, I’m not. I have a lot going on at the resort. There are a few women at the resort who have made it clear they would like to date, but I prefer not to mix business with pleasure.

Good luck with the tournament.

Interested in learning more about Ric Salzana? He shows up as a secondary character in No Strings Attached (Book 1) and in Under His Protection (Book 2).  For the Win (Book 3) picks up with Ric and Lindsey’s story, which happens to take place at the same time as book 1. If you are reading chronologically, read Book 1, Book 3, and then Book 2.

Interested in being a part of my mailing list/fan club? I don’t send out many emails. You can join here.

Happy Birthday Will!

Happy birthday yesterday!

William Shakespeare, that is, the old bard himself, was born April 26, 1564. To celebrate his birthday, Grammarly created this awesome Shakespeare quiz.

Granted, I took two full classes on Shakespeare in college, but it’s been too long. (We won’t say how many years) I only got three right. How many can you get?

Quiz courtesy of http://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check

Cube Steak with Blue Cheese

I love some cubed steak. When I was younger, I lived with my grandparents, and they loved cubed steak on Sunday morning before church. I remember lying in bed and hearing my grandfather beating the steak with a meat tenderizer. My grandmother dusted it in flour and fried it crispy. She would serve it with homemade biscuits and sawmill gravy.

I make cubed steak at my house about once a month, and it’s one of our favorites. While I can make homemadecubed steak biscuits, usually these days I buy frozen. I don’t make gravy, but sometimes my husband does.

We love cubed steak, but with the flour and frying, it’s not the healthiest, and it takes a while to get the oil hot, bread the cube steak, and then cook. Not to mention the mess.

Here’s a yummy alternative. Spray a broiler pan with nonstick spray.  Cut the cubed steak in small pieces, about two or three inches square, or a slightly larger rectangle. Lay the cubed steak out over the broiler pan. Dust with coarse cracked pepper.

Broil on high for about five minutes, until the top darkens and is edged in black. (You have to get past the gray stage). Take out, flip each piece over with tongs,  top with blue cheese crumbles, and broil again. Take out after about five minutes, when cheese has melted and edges look crispy.

To make this work, you have to like blue cheese. It’s good with cracked pepper alone, and I usually leave some that way for my son. I think you could top with Heinz 57 or a thicker steak sauce if you didn’t want the blue cheese but wanted to add flavor.

For the Win is Live!!!

Ever wondered what happened to Lindsey on the island in the book No Strings Attached?

Laura asked her, but she wouldn’t tell.

Lindsey TodFor the Win City Lights Book Three__200x300d has perfected a system to win at blackjack, but she doesn’t want her sister Laura to know how much she has been gambling on-line. Her sister’s boss threatens to spill her secret if she doesn’t go with him to the Bahamas and play in a blackjack tournament.

Ric Salzana owns The Castle Resort and Casino, and he knows something is up with the beautiful girl who keeps winning at blackjack. When he finds out that she and her partner have been playing with counterfeit chips, he has the man arrested, but he has something else in store for the pretty young graduate student.

Locked in his tower, at his mercy, will she admit that she was cheating? Or will she beat him at his own game?

In For the Win, you’ll find the sweet beginnings of a romance…Find out what really happened on Calliope Island. Steamy will come later.

This book takes place chronologically at the same time as No Strings Attached, Book One of City Lights.

If you’re in Kindle Unlimited or an Amazon Prime Member, you can read this one for free, or only $2.99.

Grab on Amazon at For the Win (City Lights Book 3). This one will pop over to the other retailers at the end of June.

A Universal Disclaimer

I’m married to a lawyer, and we often joke about the warning labels, or the warnings that they include at the end of commercials for a new drug treatment.

For one of her school projects, my 12-year old daughter wrote I now believe is the universal a disclaimer.

Stop_sign_us

 

The product above does not reflect the opinions of me, my friends, my parents, or my cat. Safety goggles may be required for use. Keep in a cool dry place. If ear irritation occurs call your local doctor. If ear irritation persists call your mom. Slippery when wet. Not responsible for a refund if the following happens: Fire, water, volcanic eruptions, gas leaks, sunburn, stickiness, pain everywhere, pimples, zits, skin discoloration, comas, seizures, breaking of bones, loss of mental awareness, loss of physical awareness, wetness, explosion, inability to turn off, inability to come off, inability to breathe, inability to move, inability to change facial expression, inability to talk, inability to write, inability to read, or death.

There you have it, folks. If you need a disclaimer, feel free to grab this one.

I’m getting ready for a big announcement, so if you want to be one of the first ones to hear, sign up for my newsletter here.

 

Stop sign us” by DoriOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Writer Wednesday – Kate Hill

I am pleased to welcome author Kate Hill to my blog to talk about her latest release, St. Augustine’s Silhouettes.

staugustinessilhouetteskatehillIn St. Augustine’s Silhouettes the hero has a murky past and he’s not concerned with being accepted. In a world that fears those who are proud to be different, Alister St. Augustine is the first suspect in a series of murders that have taken place in a small town. People who aren’t afraid to stand out in the crowd are often mistrusted, excluded and even mistreated by others while those who blend are easily accepted, even if their motives aren’t pure.

Katherine is also an outcast in town for similar reasons. She’s drawn to Alister. Despite warnings from the townsfolk, she trusts him and appreciates his uniqueness and courage.

 

What draws you to a romance hero? Do you tend to mistrust those who don’t follow the crowd or do they stir your interest?

St. Augustine’s Silhouettes

by Kate Hill

A killer runs loose in a small American town. When free-spirited Katherine allies herself with a man dubbed Satan by the townsfolk, has she found the man of her dreams or has she fallen into the hands of a murderer?

Excerpt:

At the sound of rustling in the trees, she spun, squinting in the dimness. A cloaked figure crouched in the shadows of wild shrubs. Stifling a scream, she threw her skirts over her arm and raced toward the town square. Terrified of stopping, she didn’t pause to glance over her shoulder, though she heard heavy footsteps and the rasp of another’s breath close behind her. Hoof beats sounded in the distance. Katherine imagined the killer’s accomplice galloping toward her on a dark, fiery-eyed steed, ready to carry her body deep into the woods. She tried to leap across a narrow brook, but her boot slipped on the wet rocks. Screaming, she crashed into the muddy water, fully expecting her stalker to fall upon her.

The horse shrieked and its cloaked rider leapt off its back before it came to a complete stop. Hands covered in black gloves reached for her. She slashed at them with the scissors. Her attacker caught her wrist before the scissors struck home. The hood fell from dark hair streaked auburn in the moonlight. Dark eyes flashed at her from beneath arched brows. Katherine gasped. Alister St. Augustine’s fine lips narrowed into a grim line. His face looked ghostly against the darkness of his cloak.

“Be still,” he ordered, squeezing her wrist in his steely grip until she dropped the scissors. “Who was chasing you?”

“I don’t know. You just lost my best cutting shears in the bottom of this brook!”

“Sorry, but I don’t take kindly to nearly being stabbed.”

“If you didn’t frighten a helpless woman walking alone on a dark night, then you’d be in no danger of that.”

“I would hardly call you helpless.” He stood and offered her his hand.

After a brief hesitation, she took it and he tugged her to her feet, then released her.

He continued, “As for being out after dark, you shouldn’t be, at least not until the killer is caught. Aren’t you the dress shop girl?”

“Katherine Sinclair,” she said. Standing this close to him was almost as unsettling as being chased. She’d only seen him through his shop window. Up close he was even more handsome than she’d realized. Despite his good looks, she sensed he could be as dangerous as the man who had stalked her.

With feline grace, he mounted his charcoal gray gelding and extended his hand to her, palm up. “Are you coming, Miss Sinclair?”

She stared at him, stunned at the suggestion that she should share a horse with the man dubbed Satan by the entire town.

http://www.kate-hill.com/staugustinessilhouettes.html

About Kate

Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels. When she’s not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out and spending time with her family and pets. She also writes as Saloni Quinby. Visit her online at http://www.kate-hill.com.

Writer Wednesday – Meet Andrea Cooper

I am pleased to bring back Writer Wednesday and welcome Andrea Cooper to my blog. Her new release Stolen Hearts released in the past few weeks. Here she is to talk about it.

Stolen Hearts Book 1 – Contemporary Romance Suspense

Tagline: She stole a cop’s heart… will this thief pay for her crime?StolenHeartsThumbnail

Blurb:

Crystal was raised as a thief, bent on revenge. She uses her talents to target the corporation that destroyed her family and her innocence.

When a handsome undercover cop enters her life, Crystal worries she’ll be caught before her mission can be completed – or lose her heart to the one man she can’t trust.

Kade lost his partner in Texas and is looking for a fresh start in the NYPD. Catching the thief whose been targeting the Westridge Corp. will help his transfer become permanent.

Will Kade discover the truth, or will he blame Crystal for stealing his heart?

 

Excerpt: 

Crystal shimmied down the drainpipe with her trophies tucked inside her backpack and computer files loaded onto her USB, hung around her neck disguised as a locket. This was too easy. Not like the Warren job where the COO kept changing the menu and supervised their catering to ensure they had followed the strict rules of kashrut.

She landed on the concrete with a thump, then removed her mask. Usually she worked at night when the catering gig didn’t provide the necessary cover, but she had a date this evening.

A blind date.

Her sister’s fiancée had called earlier that day to let them know his cousin from Texas would join them for dinner and would Crystal come along? As far as Crystal was concerned, it was the closest thing she’d come to as a real date in a long time. She’d take it.

Thankfully, her catering appointment with Westridge canceled yesterday. While she enjoyed cooking, it was only a cover for her and her sister’s illegal activities. What she excelled at was computers, but having a career in that field, now, would be too suspicious. Her IT skills far exceeded a Level One Help Desk worker. She despised working for Westridge, the man who had her mother killed and her dad thrown into jail, but catering was the easiest way into her target’s homes without suspicion. And she refused to pose as a cleaning lady and scrub their filth.

Years ago, Dad found what he thought was a series of accounting errors. For his honesty trying to help Westridge correct the problem, he was thrown in jail to rot. Westridge and his company framed her dad for embezzlement and sharing confidential information with preferred suppliers to obtain favors. Now she and her sister were halfway toward exonerating him and exposing Westridge and his corporate crimes. To see the look on Joshua Westridge’s face when he was convicted would make all her and her sister’s sacrifices worth it.

Thunder boomed as she weaved through alleys, stinking of rotting food and urine. She barely made it to her car before thunder rumbled.

Crystal checked the time on the dashboard, almost seven. No time to waste. Paul and his cousin, Kade, were picking up her and her sister at seven-thirty. Her car hummed to life as she stashed her backpack behind her seat. The stolen cash, including a recently purchased blood diamond necklace, lay inside. Hopefully the money and necklace would throw off Westridge’s Sales Manager to the fact that computer information had been the real prize. And hopefully, they wouldn’t discover the truth until it was too late. For now, another piece of the puzzle to exonerate their dad and lock Westridge away lay on her chest inside her locket.

She whipped into traffic and hit the wipers as fat drops of rain slapped against the windshield. Great. Ahead, a red light flickered as taxis and cars lined up behind it. She debated taking Ninth, but decided against it. Construction was still ongoing and traffic would be worse than this.

Maybe squeezing in a job before dinner wasn’t such a great idea.

 

Like the sample? You can grab it at Amazon here: Stolen Hearts

About Andrea:

andrearcooper_1361058981_140Andrea R. Cooper writes fantasy, paranormal, historical and romance suspense. She traded in Nancy Drew books for Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie novels at the age of nine.

Her real life hero brought love and magic into her life and showed her that true love never gives up. Today, she is happily married with two sons and a daughter.

Andrea believes in the power of change and delighting in each moment. But most fervently, she believes in the magic of love.