Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ryan Jo Summers on the Art of the Novella #Giveaway

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 3 comments
My guest poster is Ryan Jo Summers. Her novella Glimpse Eternity will be released on Feb 23rd on Kindle for 2.99. Right now on pre-order, it's 99 cents. I  pre-ordered my copy.

 Most standard applications accept a novel as over 40,000 words; a novella as between 17,500 to 40,00, a novelette as having between 7,500 and 17,500 words. A short story usually has under 7,500 words and flash fiction is below 1,000 words. My preferred specialty are novels, anything from 60,000 to reaching well over 100,000 words. On the other hand, I also like shorter stuff.

I use shorts and flash to either recharge the creative batteries if I feel I'm in a slump or feel particularly moved by something. My 740 word flash fiction "Emily" came to me as a dream. "Wishing on Time", a couple thousand word short story began as a semi-autobiographical tale which gave me permission to 'murder' the woman my husband had an affair with and still let me play with my interest in time travel. "The Lesson" was my first short story, written in first person too, and it had been geared for a dog writing contest I did not win. None of these are published, but I periodically submit them to university English departments and the feed-back is encouraging.

"Glimpse Eternity" is actually a novelette, weighing in at around 11,000 words (give or take a few with edits). This book began with me driving home Valentine's evening. It was dark, rainy and about midnight. In the center of a road cutting through a residential neighborhood was a complete bouquet of red roses-- dozen roses, baby's breath, ferns and cellophane wrapping. How could it have possibly gotten there? Lover's quarrel? That seemed so sad. The writer in me tossed scenarios around until one day, while up at my favorite forest hang out, I wrote the most probable reason as an opening scene. That scene eventually moved closer to the end of the story instead. In the meantime, I was struggling to come to terms with some physical issues and a friend suggested I write it out as therapy. So I created Kasey Griffin, the heroine in "Glimpse Eternity", gave her some devastating limitations and then gave her a love interest. Conversationally, her last name stems from my interest with mythology.

In my travels, I heard Melange Books was looking for Valentine's themed stories. In a moment of optimistic whimsy, I sent it in. Wonder of wonders, they wrote back, offering a contract. It had not been my intention, but I'm happy to see Kasey and Ben's struggles--and mine!--validated.

So how are all these different, beyond the obvious story length? First, how are they similar? Genre tends to be the same, whether they be romance, sci-fi, thriller, etc.. POV is the same. All the same grammar rules apply. Pacing is different, as you don't have as much time to hook, talk about and then end your story in shorter works. You have to plan more, having less space to catch loose ends or plot snags. Conflict is usually less in shorter works, though still always present. People fall in love in few pages, time moves differently. Backstory is usually abbreviated, if present at all. These are generalizations, of course, and there are certainly exceptions out there.

Writing shorts has inspired me to spread my wings with them more. While my heart lies with long stuff (80K+), novellas and novelettes can be fun. My current WIP is a novella, around 25-30 thousand words, about finding love in a dog park. It is also my first venture into romantic comedy. I'm finding it tough to face the complexities of conflict and tension while maintaining a light-hearted style and voice. 

         Kasey Griffin is determined to prove a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis isn't going to ruin her life or define her expectations. She is dedicated to her pregnant sister, her pets and operating her bookstore, 'The Next Chapter'. She has everything she needs to have a full and satisfying life--the daily challenges of her condition notwithstanding.
         Then hunky musician Ben Salem rolls into town. Ben's subtle charm quickly reminds Kasey she is more than a woman with a disease, she is also a woman with a heart. And Ben wants it.
         Will Ben still desire her once he learns the terrible details of her condition?

Bio:  Ryan Jo Summers is a North Carolina writer who likes to pen romances with a twist. Love stories blended as inspirational, with paranormal, suspense or time travel--or several at once. She also writes non-fiction for regional periodicals. Her dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry, so Ryan came by the writing gene honestly.
         Her hobbies include poetry, bird watching, houseplants and gardening, gathering with friends, hiking in the forest, painting canvas and ceramics, and working wiggly word find puzzles, mah johngg or chess.  She lives in a 1920 cottage with a menagerie of pets. She often daydreams of the shore and frequently uses water as settings in her stories.

       It should not be this difficult, Kasey Griffin decided, taking aim at the nail head once more. Missing, she nicked her thumb again and dropped the hammer. Swallowing another oath, she sucked tenderly at her bruised thumb, cursing the wave of dizziness that lead to making this such an impossible task. Honestly, hammering a few nails in the wall was all she wanted to do.
      Well, not today at least. Temporarily admitting defeat, she returned the tools to the box and shoved them aside. Heading to the freezer, she withdrew a small bag of blended vegetables and a pint of ice cream. Sometimes chocolate chunk caramel ripple can have medicinal benefits.

WEBSITE: www.ryanjosummers.com ;
BLOG: http:summersrye.wordpress.com  

Thank you for this lovely post, Ryan Jo. Love the excerpt. I look forward to reading Glimpse Eternity. Ryan is giving away either a PDF copy of Glimpse Eternity or a PDF copy of When Clouds Gather. - Winner's choice. Leave a comment to enter. Happy week, everyone.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Meet Jordan James, PI's Creator, Rachel Sharpe

Posted by Susan B James on 10:00:00 AM with 2 comments

Like Mystery? Meet Rachel Sharpe. author of The Jordan James PI series. Rachel, please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born to Baby Boomers in the Reagan era when the Cold War was still…cold. I'm an 80s kid raised in the 90s who loves life. I'm married to my best friend and we have the two greatest kids on the planet who just happen to both be under 2 years old. A lot has changed in my life in the past year and a half, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your book.
 I've been writing ever since I can remember. As a child, I always dreamed of being an author. According to my grandmother, that was one of my three dream jobs, the other two being astronaut and lion tamer. But that's another story. After graduating college and beginning my first real job, I began to write in my spare time. After writing a novella about a murder at a seafood festival set in small-town Louisiana that I couldn't get published, I came up with the concept of a female PI from New Orleans living in Boston taking a chance on her dream job. After two years of query letters and constant rejections, it finally happened - Soul Mate Publishing asked for my manuscript, and in the fall of 2013, I signed my first contract for Cold Ambition.

What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career?

That would have to be when I was named a finalist in InD'tale Magazine's Rone Awards in the Mystery category for Cold Ambition last year. To be nominated for such an award is an honor, but to reach the level of finalist, thanks to the readers, means a lot. All I've ever wanted to do with my writing is to offer a good story that is well told. That kind of recognition makes me feel like I'm doing my job right.
Congratulations. I was a finalist last year also. Truly a thrilling moment. I'm glad we shared it.

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
 Traveling. I love going to new places and trying new things. Oftentimes when I'm somewhere I haven't been before or doing something I've never done, I try to take a mental picture of it so that I can come back to it in my mind's eye and use it somehow in a story.
I love to travel to! But I have to take lots of pictures if I want to use the setting in a story. My mental ones keep getting misfiled.

How do you motivate yourself when inspiration takes a vacation? 
Keep going. Writing is no different than any other muscle and it has to be exercised to stay fit. Some days I really don't feel like writing, but I do it, even if it's just a little bit. Reading is also a very effective way to get the creative juices flowing. If you're stumped, just step away from your story and read another's. That kind of distance helps when you need to think of other ways to continue your story. Rachel walks the walk. Her second novel, Lost Distinction. came out in November 2014. five months after Cold Ambition . I wish I could write that fast. And that well.

Any advice for new writers just starting out? 
Read, read, read. And don't give up. It's hard to find a publisher, even in this digital age. But with every rejection, remind yourself it's all subjective and that was not the right publisher for your book. It's hard in the moment to realize that, but as I look back, I realize Jordan James, PI couldn't have found a better home than with Soul Mate Publishing. And neither could I.

Tell us about your latest release.

Bitter Retribution is the third novel in the Jordan James, PI series. It's set in the Rocky Mountains during the winter when Jordan goes to visit her best friend who is the head writer of the most popular sitcom on TV as they film a holiday episode on location. While she's there, someone is murdered. Jordan must hurry to find the culprit before anyone else gets hurt.
Here's the blurb:
"What started out as a star-studded vacation has turned into a sensational avalanche..."

When private investigator Jordan James decided to join her best friend on the set of her hit television series in the Rocky Mountains, she had no idea she would become a key player in a murder mystery more suited for the big screen than the slopes. With one actor dead and a killer on the loose, can Jordan uncover the culprit before another victim makes headlines on Hollywood Minute?
I want to read it!

What’s your current WIP? 
The working title is Misconception. It's book four in the Jordan James, PI series. Jordan is home in New Orleans for the Christmas holidays and while hanging out in the French Quarter, a friend is kidnapped and another is shot. Jordan knows she has to act fast if she wants her friend to be found alive. Unfortunately, there's more to this situation than she knows and if she isn't careful, the next victim could be her.
Sounds great.

And finally, where can we find  you?
Website: www.rachelsharpe.com

    Rachel is giving away an eBook of the first Jordan James adventure- COLD AMBITION.   
"It was my life-long dream to become a private eye. Little did I know that with my very first case, that dream would become a life-threatening nightmare..."

When Jordan James decided to embark on a career as a private investigator, she never could have imagined that a chance encounter would lead to her staring down the barrel of a gun on the roof’s edge of a high-rise building. As she begins to investigate her first case, the puzzling murder of a prominent businessman that has left Boston’s finest mystified for more than two decades, she finds herself suddenly immersed in a treacherous underworld brimming with betrayal, raw greed, and political subterfuge of international proportions. In the midst of this, she discovers she is falling for her mysterious client despite the hints of his dark past. Can this feisty Southern girl with a penchant for trouble solve this baffling case or is she doomed to become another tragic chapter in an international conspiracy?
   Thank you for being here. You know the drill, friends. Rafflecopter below. Happy Reading.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Meet Aidan Donnelly Rowley and The Ramblers

Posted by Susan B James on 2:00:00 AM with 3 comments

Aidan Donnelly Rowley is a new author for me. I fell in love with The Ramblers which goes on sale today. AND I have a copy to give away. So read on, please.
The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—its glittering moments and the magic and wonder that are waiting to be discovered in some of its secret corners. One hectic one Thanksgiving week, three lost souls bound together by friendship learn to let go of their pasts and make room for hope and their futures.
Clio Marsh, an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History, has found solace from her broken childhood by studying the ways in which hummingbirds adapt to harsh environments. The Ramble in Central Park is the only place in Manhattan that has truly ever felt like home in the city, and she’s dedicated to introducing other New Yorkers to the beauties of the natural world on her popular bird-watching walks there. But then Clio meets someone and the solitary world she’s carefully constructed threatens to crumble as she struggles to come to terms with her past.

Smith Anderson has been Clio’s best friend since their first days as undergraduates at Yale, when a painful secret bound them together. As a professional organizer to wealthy Manhattanites, Smith’s career is centered on order and peace for her clients, but her own life has been falling apart ever since her fiancĂ© mysteriously called off their engagement and quickly married another woman. Now, with her younger sister’s wedding just days away, Smith is spiraling out of control, grasping for answers from her family and from herself.

Tate Pennington, an aspiring photographer, is going through a bitter divorce. The iPhone app he created on a whim made him a millionaire nearly overnight, but his failed marriage has left him reeling and he’s returned to New York for a fresh start. Tate finds himself desperate for a real connection and wonders if he’ll have a sense of truly belonging somewhere, with someone, again. 

That interest you? It did me. I loved every moment of the book. The Ramblers is intelligent, humorous and heartwarming. And I adored the little-known pieces of history Aidan added to my life.I discovered places I never knew about in New York City. This is one of the few novels I've read that is written in first-person-present tense. The style fascinated me. I was absorbed into Clio and Smith and Tate's lives. This beautifully written novel engaged all my senses and led me into a world I'd only experienced peripherally. I can't wait to go back to New York and visit the Ramble. I have a whole list of places I need to see.

Aidan Donnelley Rowley was born and raised in New York City; graduated from Yale University and received her law degree from Columbia University. She is the author of a previous novel, Life After Yes, and the creator of the Happier Hour Literary Salon. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three daughters.
I asked Katie at Little Bird Publicity if Aidan would be open to an interview. Aidan said yes.

Q: I love firsts. Please tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your first book.
A: I remember getting the call from my agent that we had an offer on my first book Life After Yes. It was 2008, just before the holidays, and I was in a children’s boutique near my home on the Upper West Side looking for clothes for my two young daughters. My second girl was just months old and I’d recently lost my father to cancer and the stock market had just suffered its whopping crash, so I was exhausted and distracted and not expecting anything, so hearing that a publisher wanted to publish my book was extra-sweet and meaningful. Goodness, I will never forget that moment.
Q: I've looked online, but I can't find the answer.
What inspired you to start a literary salon? How often do you meet?
A: I started my salons in 2010 before the publication of my first novel as a way to engage with other authors and book-lovers. I was in the trenches of new motherhood at the time, with two tiny kids at home, and an important part of me longed for my more intellectual days when I’d sit around a seminar table for hours on end discussing books and ideas. So, I had professional motivations but personal ones too; I was craving these social, but smart book-centered evenings and was thrilled to learn that others were too!

Q: With three children, a loving and humble husband, and a second career as attorney, where and how do you escape to write?
A: I left practicing law in 2005 to write full-time, but with three kids underfoot and a husband I love and want to spend quality time with, it’s a constant challenge to carve out enough time to write and think. Writing is very important to me, and central to my well-being, so I just fit it in. I literally carry my laptop everywhere and yank it out if I have any time at all, even if it’s only to scribble a sentence or two. When I’m really in my writing or editing groove, I wake up at the admittedly insane hour of 4:30am to sneak in a few hours of quiet time before the chaos commences.
Q: Given your schedule I don't think I should ask for a recipe. How bout the name of your three favorite take out places for the next time I visit my sister-in-law? She lives in the East 70's.
A: Love this question. And you’re right not to ask me for recipes; I aspire to cook one day, but am not holding my breath! I’m certainly more fluent in Upper West Wide offerings, but I’d recommend Gina La Fornarina for pizza and pasta, EJ’s Luncheonette for burgers and omelets and other diner yummies and Haru for sushi. It’s remarkable how many places deliver and how delicious the food can be!
Thank you, Aidan. I linked those places in case anyone wants to try them.
I have a paperback copy of the Ramblers to give away. Enter below. Hope you fall in love with a book this week. Give yourself a treat. Remember. Be your own Valentine.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Meet Laura Sheehan and her Sweet, Funny, Erotic Romance Novella

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 6 comments
I don't usually read erotic romance, but Laura Sheehan's description of Hidden Fortune in our  Los Angeles Romance Writers - LARA yahoo group intrigued me. Sweet, funny, erotic? Really? I asked her to send me a copy for review. Her description was right on. I loved it! This delightful well-written novella is sweet, funny, and has a couple of well done erotic scene. It also has a treasure hunt and a mystery. 
Ava is a lawyer who doesn't take chances - in life or in love. But one summer night at a carnival, her best friend makes her promise to do something spontaneous before the night is over. And she does. She visits the Carnival's fortune teller, whose words send her on an adventure she could never have imagined. 
I love good writing and I asked Laura to appear on the blog. 

Laura, please tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Los Angeles with my husband and precocious daughter, both of whom have an insatiable curiosity, love to cause trouble, and are quick to laugh.  Each day is a chaotic, glorious adventure, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

I love firsts, so tell me about the first time you kissed your true love?
I met my husband at a house party when
I was a freshman in college. The place was packed with people drinking and laughing and generally being young. We spent the first half of the night flirting outrageously until my girlfriends proclaimed to the crowds that it was time for us to head back to our dorm.  Upon hearing of my impending departure, and in front of throngs of partygoers both friends and strangers, he spontaneously grabbed me and kissed me.  Although I’d been hoping for a kiss for most of the night, the suddenness of it was the most delightful shock I’d ever experienced!  The whole room went silent for a moment (or perhaps I couldn’t hear anything beyond the pounding of my heart?), and then erupted in hoots and hollers.  That was almost 17 years ago, and we’ve spoken to each other every single day since the night we met.

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
I am a semi-professional dancer, and love to perform on stage whenever I can.  Now that I have a toddler, it’s been hard to find the time to rehearse and perform in a real show, but I try to keep dancing by teaching and attending classes whenever I can.  My favorite is Musical Theatre/Broadway dance, but I’ll happily take a ballet, jazz, or tap class too, depending on what fits my schedule.

Got a recipe you want to share?
Funny you should ask!  I have never been much of a cook, but one of my resolutions for 2016 is to start making more food at home.  In addition to being a newbie at this whole kitchen business, I’m also a vegan with very limited time/resources/skill and I have a toddler.  So talk about making it challenging to find good recipes!  But here’s a link from a friend of mine, it’s a great recipe for Spinach Tofu Risotto which I managed to make all on my own without burning anything down: http://thespianlawyer.blogspot.com/2011/09/sunday-dinner-spinach-tofu-risotto.html

Any advice for new writers just starting out?
If you write romance, I recommend joining Romance Writers of America (RWA).  It’s a fabulous resource for new writers, with access to tons of articles about the craft and business for writers.

What genre or genres do you write?
I primarily write romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and fantasy.

Tell us about Hidden Fortune.
I wrote this novella in 2013-14 when I was pregnant with my daughter, which was a challenge all in its own! It is an erotic romance novella, a sweet and funny story (with some steaming hot sex scenes) about being bold enough to break out of the every-day patterns that hold us back from discovering new things, like true love.
Blurb: Ava has always played it safe, but after a midnight run-in with a handsome stranger, she discovers that perhaps fortune favors the bold. Can she find the courage to seek the ultimate treasure?

What’s your current WIP?
I’m currently working on a fantasy/paranormal romance, although I also have an idea for a new romantic suspense that is waiting impatiently for me to nurture into a manuscript. With a toddler also pulling at my leg for attention, I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to write, but I’m looking forward to getting the stories out of my head and onto paper soon.

And finally, where can we find you?
You can find me at my blog, www.ReadLaura.com.  And if you liked Hidden Fortune, I encourage you to check out my romantic suspense novel, Dancing with Danger

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Susan!
Thank you for being here, Laura. Laura is giving away an ebook of Hidden Fortune. I loved it. Try a sample for yourself. Click on the link.
Happy Week to you!

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