Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Patrice Locke and Her Debut Romantic Comedy, Exit Signs

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 7 comments
 When Patrice Locke allowed me to read the final draft of Exit Signs, I hoped to be amused. I wasn't prepared to be blown away. 
I love this book!  I fell in love with Patrice's voice and most of all, with Tracy. To me, this a romantic comedy the way Austen books and the Shopaholic books are romantic comedies. I read till I couldn't keep my eyes open and dreamed about it in my sleep. 
I am so very happy to introduce you to Patrice. And I am gifting a lucky reader with a copy of Exit Signs.

Patrice, please tell us a little about yourself. 
I’ve lived most of my adult life in New Mexico, where the blue sky is brilliant, the vistas are breathtaking, and the air is thin. Personally, I am none of those things, so I appreciate living in their midst. 
As a former journalist, B.A. Michigan State, I know that news stories often have sad conclusions. I wrote enough of them. So when I switched to writing fiction, I knew I wanted to make all the endings happy. Real life supplies enough difficulties all on its own. 
My day job is teaching English, which I’ve done at every level from elementary to college. (M.A. Secondary Education University of New Mexico).  

I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your book.  
After a series of encouraging emails, editor Caroline Tolley with Soul Mate Publishing, wrote that she’d love to acquire my novel “Exit Signs.” I printed the email in giant type and flitted (yes, I flitted) around sharing it with everyone I know, and some innocent bystanders as well.  
In terms of exciting moments, that one ranks after the births of my two children and before the time in eighth grade when I got an on-the-air call from a major Detroit rock radio station, announcing that I had won a gold and diamond watch for decorating a turkey drumstick bone to look like Batman. My talents, apparently, know no limits.   

Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers) in your genre?  
A writer friend introduced me to Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ books and I enthusiastically read every one I could find. What I love is the dialogue and interplay between her heroes and heroines. 
I consider my genre any books about women’s lives, so I have to say that Jane Austen is my all-time favorite. It may be a cliché, but I adore “Pride and Prejudice,” especially Elizabeth Bennet. I could listen to her turn down marriage proposals all day—from the time she assures Mr. Collins that she is the last woman who could make him happy, to her diatribe when Mr. Darcy manages to insult her with his first profession of love. 
The bottom line is I appreciate is the use of language and the way words lead the characters to their destinies in fiction and do the same for people in real life.  And I appreciate your use of language. If I knew how to get your book to SEP, I would send it to her. I LOVE Exit Signs. Wait. I already said that, didn't I.

What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career? 
 It’s an internal one. I was writing two stories that were unrelated, but were meant to fit together somehow. Then a character in one of the stories ‘told’ me where he fit in the other narrative. His announcement was somehow crystal clear, though I wasn’t hearing voices. 
I’d heard other writers talk about how their characters ‘spoke’ to them, but that’s the first time one of mine did that. Elated, I told a friend I had just found out something about my story “from the hero.” The surprised/doubtful look on her face was enough to convince me that I had just experienced a bit of creative magic. Or maybe I was just a bit crazy. Either way,  it was quite exciting. I've had that moment. It's glorious.

Any advice for new writers just starting out? 
 Though I’ve been writing all my life, starting with a career in journalism, I still feel ‘new.’ What works for me is asking a plethora of people to read what I’m working on, whether they are writers or not. The key is assuring readers that their comments—positive, negative, or puzzled—are not only welcome, they’re crucial. 
Writing is like having a child—you know you’re bound to be biased, so you need to listen carefully and take seriously what others have to say about your beloved person/manuscript. If you don’t—in either case—you may miss clues about problems that could be fixed if you were aware of them. 

Tell us about Exit Signs (my new favorite book.)  
 “Exit Signs” is my first published novel. It’s a romantic comedy about researcher  Tracy Price, who becomes obsessed with a writer who vanished from New York in the 1930s. When a suitcase full of that writer’s unpublished work surfaces in present-day Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tracy’s job is to piece together what happened to the missing woman. 
At the same time, Tracy tries to apply the writer’s advice to her budding relationship with reluctant rock star Jesse Elliot, who has just arrived in town. 
Tracy doubts that Jesse can ever be honest with her, and wonders if she even wants to know the truth about him. He, on the other hand, decides that she’s crazy. 
Solving the mystery of long-dead writer turns out to be the only thing that can resolve their differences. 

Excerpt from Exit Signs by Patrice Locke (If I were you, I'd jump over to Amazon and read the first chapter on Amazon. I'm popping over to buy my sister a copy for her birthday.)

Jesse Elliot raked some strands of his blue-black hair away from his forehead. The hair fell right back onto the shoreline of his face like a wave on a beach. I thought of the cliché movie scene where the action cuts to an agitated ocean to symbolize sex. I cleared my throat, and ordered myself to get a grip. 
Instead, I surprised us both by asking him my name. “Tracy Price?” 
Yes.” He confirmed my identity. “It’s nice to meet you.” 
He was all-business; I was all over the place. 
When he sat next to me I wanted to leap up and run away. Instead, I asked, “How do you like Albuquerque?Very original, Tracy. What I wondered was, How does it feel to look like you do? 
“I like it,” he said, answering both my questions. “I like it so far.” 
I felt a surge of power. “I bet. And how long are you staying?” Or, more to the point, would it be too forward of me to sit on your lap? 
“I can’t say yet. Maybe six weeks? This was kind of an unexpected trip.” Bingo. Both questions addressed. 
This was working. Let me know when you decide about the lap thing. I covered my mouth for a fake cough to clear my head. 
He told me he was working on a soundtrack for a movie about a Billy the Kid-like character who time-travels into the future to clear his name. 
I nodded. “Billy’s still got charisma. People are drawn to the legend.” Much as I am drawn to you and your amazing high, sharp cheekbones. 
“That’s true, isn’t it?” he said. 
Yes, it certainly is. 
And then, as if he had heard me, he drew his right thumb and forefinger together across the bottom half of his face, calling attention to the sharply carved facial planes. Yes, those cheekbones. Exactly right. Women are supposed to have those facial planes. Don’t worry, though, you’re too handsome to be pretty. 
We were silent. I was contemplating his perfection. Maybe he was, too.  

What’s your current WIP? 
 My work in progress, “Ghost Sitter,” is a romantic comedy about a woman struggling to change, after lying and cheating her way to rock bottom. 
The narrator, a renowned beauty, who may or may not be named Lisa, is literally afraid of what she sees in the mirror. She’s also worried about losing her latest conquest, a man whose eyes have begun to reflect an unexpected side of her character. 
She swears she has changed, but then she succumbs to the temptation to perpetrate a giant deception, insisting to herself that her motives are selfless. 
Eventually, this woman who can’t even tell the truth about her own name, has to decide whether one last lie will save her or ruin any chance she has to redeem herself.  Do you need a beta reader? I'm available.

And finally, where can we find  you? 
Author Facebook Page: 
 Thank you for being here, Patrice. But more than anything, thank you for Tracy and Buni and Jesse and all your other wonderful characters. I'm so happy to have met them. 
I was going to give away a copy, but Patrice has offered a kindle copy of Exit Signs to one lucky reader. If you don't have a Kindle, she'll give away a PDF instead. Enter below. (Or just go buy it. The book is 2.99 and so worth it.) Happy reading.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Stars of Our Destiny by Janie Emaus #Giveaway

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 15 comments
Guest poster Janie Emaus writes for a wide variety of publications including the Huffington Post and the Washington Post.

Her delightful YA novel is called Mercury in Retro Love and I'm giving away a Kindle copy.

If your life has been in a bit of an upheaval for the last few weeks, it is because the planet Mercury is in Retrograde. For those of you unfamiliar with this phenomenon, it appears as if Mercury is going backwards in the sky. It happens three to four times a year. This current period started on August 30th and will end to be precise, on September 21st at 10:31PM on the west coast and on September 22nd at 1:31AM for those living on the east coast.   

Since Mercury rules communication, during retrograde all sorts of things go haywire.  For instance, it’s not a good time to sign contracts, start a new job, or make important decisions concerning your love life.  Cars can break down.  Planes get delayed.  Computers crash.   

According to fifteen-year-old astrologer, Emma Seigel, the protagonist of my young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love, “Mercury in retrograde is like an astrological PMS.”  Definitely not a good time for her to start a new relationship.

Unfortunately, Emma sees a boyfriend alert in her forecast and must act quickly to land the boy of her dreams before the retro period starts.  Her plan backfires and she is soon faced with breaking up with her “not so perfect star-match.”

While writing this book, I went through at least a dozen retrograde periods. I had my computer guy and my astrologer friend on speed dial and I can’t even tell you how many times I needed both of them.

In fact, since I started writing seriously with the goal of getting published, I’ve lived through over one hundred retrogrades. 

So, you can see how long it’s taken for me to get to this point in my career.

But I’ve never given up.  I’ve been through five agents (one ended our relationship during retrograde) gotten very close to a sale in several editorial meetings, and have received enough rejection letters to cover the Zodiac. 

Whether Mercury was retrograde or not, I’ve always persevered. I’ve stayed focused, believing in myself, my stories and my writing. And you know what?   Perseverance really does pay off.  (So does backing up, but that’s another story.)    
During retrograde periods, I am always mindful of how I communicate with those around me, charge my cellphone and iPad every night, and always leave the house wearing clean underwear.         

But through the years I’ve learned  it doesn’t really matter what day it is, what time it is or how the planets and stars are lined up in order write the best book that we possibly can. 

We just have to do it. Because we are the stars of our destiny. 

Thank you for being here, Janie. You can find Janie at her website www.janieemaus.com Enter below for a chance to win Mercury in Retro Love 
A story about crushes, conflicts and astrological confusion. 

Finally, after years of making love predictions for her friends, fifteen-year-old astrologer, Emma Seigel, sees a boyfriend in her future. But there’s one big problem. Mercury is heading for Retrograde in four weeks, and she sure knows what that means. It’s like an astrological PMS. A disastrous time to start a new relationship. 
Using her school newspaper column, Emmastrology, she sets a plan in motion and within a week lands hottie Evan Randolph as her boyfriend. She’s a Taurus. He’s a Capricorn. Both earth signs. What could be more perfect? But is he as perfect as her prediction claims him to be? The stars are telling her it’s right. But her heart says it’s all wrong. 
Everyday her feelings are growing stronger for someone else, a Leo, so totally not the sign for her. And to make matters even worse, Emma’s actions, caused by her unflinching belief in astrology, get her in trouble with her best friends in the whole world. 
Time is running out. Can Emma straighten up this mess she’s in before Mercury goes Retrograde again? 

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Time Travel

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 2 comments
If you love time travel, you are one of my people. My first adventures in time travelling came with Robert Heinlein's A Door into Summer. Since then I have loved many time travel stories and discovered many methods of time travel.
From Doc Brown's Mr. Fusion Energy reactor set into a DeLorean in Back to the Future, to Jack Finney's Time and Again 'recreate the past method', to Lynn Kurland's time gates in her A Dance Through Time series, to Jude Deveraux's calls from the past. A Knight in Shining Armor and Legend.
 I loved time travel so much I ended up writing one myself.

And that's when I discovered a very important truth: It doesn't matter how or where you send your protagonists. Your job as the author is to make your reader believe your way is possible.

I sent my two heroines back to London in 1969 by way of a virtual reality game.

I researched time travel theories. The scientific  ones and the non-scientific.
My two favorites:
Time protection theory: You cannot change the past in in such a way that you would not be born. Time itself would prevent it.
Time probability Theory: Your travelling back sets up infinite timelines in
where your future is significantly changed.
In Time and Forever, I used both these theories.

Now I am writing another book in the Time and Forever world and I've run into a new set of problems. A series of events results in my protagonists disappearing from time. I have to reinsert them into the past in  a way that the reader will believe possible. And I am having so much fun. My logic brain is getting a real workout. I'm weaving in and out of time like a demented Wookie. My constant prayer is please let this story work.

I'm giving away a copy of Time and Forever to celebrate making it two-thirds of the way through the fifth draft of Maybe This Time with my critique group. (Bless them!) You can read the first five chapters on the of Time and Forever on the Romances tab. (It ought to say My Books But I can't figure out how to change it.)
1969. Love was free, man walked on the moon, and Sherry and Lorena found the loves of their lives. Sherry shared a kiss that dreams were made of, with a stranger on the tube in London. And ran away. Lorena found the love of her life in Los Angeles and married him.
The present. Sherry’s a successful businesswoman with two grown sons. Lorena’s an actress on a popular sitcom. Sherry’s husband dumped her for a younger woman eighteen years ago. Lorena’s husband died of cancer.

Sherry wants a second chance at Love. Lorena doesn’t believe that’s possible. But when a glitch in a Virtual Reality Adventure game sends them back to the real 1969, anything can happen.

Enter below. You can use the Rafflecopter, or you can choose to leave a comment. Please use the Rafflecopter if you are new to this blog. That way I get your email so I can contact you if you win. I wish you all an amazing week full of problems solved.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Linda Lael Miller's Always a Cowboy. Review and Giveaway

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 6 comments
Always A Cowboy is the second book in Linda's newest series, The Carson's of Mustang Creek. And I have a copy to give away.

Slater, Mace and Drake Carson may be brothers, but that doesn’t mean they are alike. While all three of them can handle a horse, Slater’s interests lie in documentary film-making, Drake runs the ranch and Mace runs the family winery.
Book two follows Drake.
Drake has always know what he wanted. Running the family ranch suits him to a T. The only flies in his ointment are a big cat attacking his cattle, a wild stallion who keeps making off with his best horses and a pesky graduate student who's come to the ranch to study wild horses. And him. It doesn't take long for the graduate student to become his biggest problem.

Luce Hale has her life planned out. She's going to write her thesis on the interaction between wild horses, domesticated animals, and ranchers, and take up her dream job in California, making her mark in the world of Ecology. Being invited by Drake's mother to stay at the ranch is a plus.  The horses draw her, but studying Drake is even more intriguing.

And it's hard to fight their mutual attraction when everyone in the household decides to take up matchmaking.

The dialogue's and the interaction between characters is great. The scenery is beautiful. I would have preferred a little more onstage action with the capture of the wild horses and the cougar. That aside, I enjoyed the read.
This book has a bonus feature - a personal essay by Linda Growing Up Western. The essay had some wonderful stories and I loved reading it. There is also an excerpt from the next book in the series. Forever a Hero.

If you would like a paperback copy of Always a Cowboy. please leave a comment with your email. If you don't leave your email, I won't know how to read you if you win.
Have a happy week. It's September. My favorite month of the year.