Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Uncooperative Characters by Leann Harris

I'm working on the next book in my "Rodeo Heroes Series". I know the heroine, Kai Delong. She is the younger sister of the the heroine of my last book. Kai just finished her degree at the University of New Mexico. I know the hero, and where the book is set. It's back in Peaster, Texas, west of Fort Worth. I know the hero has a sister, but none of those folks are talking to me. They're closed mouth. Won't share anything. Both the hero and heroine are second children. (I believe in birth order.) Now I know the horse that is featured in the book that brings the hero and heroine together. The dog that the sister has (therapy dog) happily wags his tail and is willing to lick my face, but that's it.
I am not a pantser, but with this book I plan to sit down and write the first three chapters. I don't like doing it this way, but the same thing happened with my last book. Rats.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Beginnings

Keli Gwyn here to talk about beginnings.

It's the time of year when my Facebook feed is filled with pictures of students heading off to the first day of school. I smile each time I see one, recalling the joy I felt every year when I headed off to begin a new grade.

The first day of school picture at our place looked different this year. My retired teacher husband and our daughter, who is pursuing a teaching credential, are both working as substitute teachers.

To our surprise, their first guest teacher assignments of the year took place on the same day at the same school. They got to carpool to work.

Even though they had to leave the house by 6 am, I was up with camera in hand ready to capture their departure. A surge of pride rushed through me as I watched two generations of Gwyn teachers head off.

Questions for You

Did you look forward to starting a new school year?

What new beginnings are you looking forward to?

Monday, August 8, 2016

You've Got Mail

Howdy, Pamela Tracy, here and yes, I used one of my favorite movies as a title for today.

Since email became more popular, most of the mail I get from 'fans' come via Internet.  Which is cool because it's immediate.   Another plus, is it's easy to file.   I've figured out who writes me for almost every book (I LOVE YOU) and I figured out some people cut and paste their fan letters (and once they forgot to change the title of the book).

Actual fan letter to me.
By the way, I Googled Fan Letters and discovered that there's a how-to site for
writing a fan letter to Taylor Swift.  I did not find my name mentioned in a similar manner .

Used to be (yes, I've been around a long time) fan mail would be sent to the publishing house.  Many editors had files with their authors' names and the mail would go into the files.  I'm not sure whether the editors (or their assistants) would simply transfer the mail to a manilla folder once the file was full or if there were a few times a year when they cleaned all the files.  Doesn't matter.  A decade ago, a few times a year, I'd get manilla envelopes full (okay, not full full) of fan mail.

There were a few different kinds.  Some simply told me what they loved about the book and promised to read all my books (Thanks Mom and Aunt Shari).  Others told me my mistakes (I once typed ASAP instead of ASSET for a teacher heroine).  Some were amazed that I used all the names of their relatives in my book (There are lots of Brittneys, Sarahs, and Mikes in the world).

Fan letters do touch the lives of authors.  I've gotten handmade bookmarks and recipes (I've always admitted that I don't cook.  Some readers think a recipe will change this character flaw.  So far, the perfect recipe hasn't appeared.  Hmm, methinks the only perfect recipe would be one used for the replicator on Star Trek).  I've had readers share poems and ask for prayers.

Yes, I've gotten the letters from prison inmates.

My favorite, though, came not because of a story but because of a dedication.

I dedicated one of my books to my birth mother who I met a little over a decade ago.

I got a fan letter because my birth mother's name is fairly common and one reader saw the name and the sentence I wrote as part of the dedication, called her friend who had the same name, and said, "Wow, you've had a book dedicated to you!"

The second lady said, "Uh, no, there's hundreds of people with my name.  Not me."

But, she went and found the book and read it, too.  Then wrote me and said, "God has blessed your gift of writing.  Thank you for following His path and sharing your life with us."

She was right.  God has blessed me.

A long time ago, I read an article in the Romance Writers Report.  It was a list of things authors should do.  One item was "Write one fan letter a year to an author new to you."

I've done that.  Sometimes I get a thank-you back.  Sometimes I hear from an author's assistant (I want one of those!"  Sometimes I hear nothing at all.   Best of all, I've made a few friends.

So, readers and writers, what are your experiences with fan letters.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Are You a Water Baby?

Keli Gwyn here with an admission: I'm not comfortable in the water.

I come by my fear of the water naturally. Neither of my parents was fond of being in the water. My mom summoned her courage and learned to swim when I was around eight years old. My dad never did learn.

Although I can swim, I'm not a very good swimmer. I didn't learn until I was in high school.

The first day of our swimming unit in P. E. class, the teacher told us to get in the water. Being an obedient oldest child, I did. We were then told to swim a lap. I just stood there.

I'll never forget the look on the teacher's face. She stared at me in disbelief. "You don't know how to swim, do you?" she asked. I shook my head. I'm pretty sure she was shaking hers, too.

That incredibly patient teacher spent the next few weeks making a swimmer out of me. While my friends were logging laps, diving into the deep end and having a blast, I was alone in the shallow end mastering the dog paddle. Talk about humiliating.

I took lessons at the local pool the following summer, determined to avoid future embarrassment. My parks and recreation class consisted of students half my age. I persevered and mastered all the strokes. The side and back strokes are my favorites to this day. Why? Because they don't require me to put my face in the water.

The hero and heroine of my August Love Inspired Historical, Make-Believe Beau, know a lot about water. The hero, Flynt Kavanaugh, is an irrigation engineer. Jessie Sinclair, the heroine, is working as his draftswoman. They and the rest of Flynt's team are helping design the El Dorado Canal, which brought--and still brings--water from the Sierras to the Foothills below, where I live.

Thanks to the efforts of the real men who built the canal, I enjoy water in my glass or in the tub. I give swimming pools and other bodies of water a wide berth to this day.

Questions for You

Do you enjoy swimming?

If so, what is your favorite stroke?

Are you a swimming pool person, or do you prefer lakes or oceans?

(Swimming pool credit here. Canal image is in the public domain)
The Courtship Charade

As a draftswoman in a man’s world, Jessica Sinclair causes a stir as her new male colleagues vie for her attention. And the company manager has an ultimatum: fake a courtship with her boss, Flynt Kavanaugh…or lose her job. But pretending to be smitten with the handsome engineer unleashes a real, complicated attraction—and could reveal the past she hoped to keep hidden.

Jessica is certainly the best person for the job. But as their make-believe romance escalates, Flynt knows that’s not the only reason he wants her on his team. However, with his past shrouded by a shameful secret, Flynt has always focused his ambitions on building a career, not a family. Now he has designs on Jessica’s heart, but can they trust each other with the truth?
Copyright © 2016 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Cover art and cover copy text used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
or its affiliated companies, used under license.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tardy by Leann Harris

As I was standing in the kitchen this morning, it occurred to me this was my day to blog, thus my title "Tardy." Now I don't have to tell you what I did in a previous life. Only a teacher would think in terms of tardy, instead of late. Well, I was in the teacher mode, since on Saturday night I went to a reunion of the first class of students I taught. There were a handful of new teachers, deaf ed, hired to bring the school district up to Plan A, regional day school for the deaf. It was fun seeing those students, seeing how their lives changed. It
didn't take long to start thinking in sign, but reading the other person is what's hard, but isn't that how it is in any language? Now when I saw the picture I took, I told me daughter I looked mad. She told me I had on my teacher face. Also my latest Indie book is out, Stolen Secrets. It happened around the time I started teaching, but there's lots of murder, mayhem, and old secrets coming to light .

Monday, July 25, 2016

Living in Tune with the Seasons by Marta Perry

In today's world, it really is possible to live insulated from the changing seasons. Thanks to air conditioned homes, cars, and businesses, central heating, indoor malls, deliveries from Amazon, phones and Facebook and texting and Twitter, sometimes I think many people have no idea what the weather is like outside their doors!

That's not true of the Amish, certainly, and it's also not true, for the most part, of those of us who live in the country. A few years ago, at about this time of the summer, I was chatting with some women friends at a reception, where I'd been introduced to a newcomer in our community. Our conversation turned, as always in summer, to what our gardens were producing, what jams we'd made, which orchard had the best deal on peaches, and how many quarts of tomatoes we should can.

Finally the newcomer couldn't stand it any longer. She looked at us in astonishment and said, "Haven't you people ever heard of getting your vegetables in a can at the grocery store?"

Well, we had, of course. But to us, our way of life was normal and natural--if not, we probably wouldn't live where we do!

So I've continued to follow the seasons in my cooking and to take an interest in everybody's gardens. Here in Pennsylvania, the progression of pies is inevitable throughout the growing season: rhubarb, then strawberries, then raspberries, then blackberries, then blueberries. By the time we're picking blueberries, the peaches are ready, and there are plenty of orchards close at hand where we can get them fresh from the trees, followed by pears and then apples.

As for the gardens, our suburban grandkids love eating tomatoes fresh from the plant! Who needs them washed and sliced?

We're at the height of zucchini and yellow squash season right now. They don't last long, and I've never found a very good method of preserving them, so we eat and enjoy every day while they last.

Here's one of my favorite squash recipes, guaranteed to appeal even to picky kids, as long as you don't tell them it's squash!

Squash Chips
Thinly slice tender young yellow squash or zucchini, leaving the skin on if desired. Dip each slice in beaten egg and then in a mixture of equal amounts of Bisquick and Italian crumbs. Bring about an inch of canola oil to medium heat in a large skillet. Drop each slice into the oil. They'll brown very quickly, so flip them as one side browns. Transfer to paper towels to drain and keep warm, and continue to do batches until reaching the desired amount. Serve immediately, while they're warm and crispy.

What's your favorite fresh from the garden or farmers' market treat? Your top recipe?

If you'd like a copy of my brochure of favorite Pennsylvania Dutch recipes, just e-mail me with your address at marta@martaperry.com or sign up for my newsletter at www.martaperry.com/lists/?


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Messy Manucripts

Keli Gwyn here to talk about making messes. Not just any messes, mind you, but messes of the manuscript variety.

I'm racing to meet a July 25 deadline for my fourth Love Inspired Historical, Her Motherhood Wish, which will be released in March 2017.

Until a couple of days ago, the manuscript was a mess. I have a hunch some of my fellow authors can relate.

I handed that messy first draft to my bright, beautiful daughter, who proofreads for another author, too, and is a line and copy editing whiz.

When Adriana completed her editing pass, I was reminded of a recent "catastrophe" she experienced when she accidentally flung cat food all over the bathroom floor--and counter, too. She had lots of little pellets to pick up; I had lots of little oopsies to address.

Adri returned the story full of notes telling me (nicely) about the many niggling ways I'd muffed up. Things like the heroine being blindfolded by the bad guy but not bound. Can you say oops? I'd made poor Callie look pretty clueless, since she could have just reached up and removed the bandana blocking her vision. Not to worry. That mistake has been corrected.

I'm happy to report that I've cleaned up the manuscript. There are only a few fixes left for me to make. I'm on track to hit "send" Monday. A huge sigh of relief will follow.

Questions for You

Think back to a time when your plate was overfull or your life got a bit messy. How do you handle such times? What works well for you when you're feeling overwhelmed? This fuzzy-brained, deadline-pressured writer welcomes your wisdom.