AuThursday – Madison Micheal

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madison michael author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Actually I just rewrote my bio for my website to share more of who I am and where I came from. It sounded so dull before, and I am not a dull person. I am opinionated and not shy about sharing my thoughts. I love to give advice – unsolicited. I adore expensive shoes, bargains on everything else and long baths with a good book. I am addicted to the movies – at the theater. Currently I am acquiring a appreciation for opera and live theater. I love dogs but like to share my digs with cats.

I am originally from Chicago but I have lived on both coasts from Boston to San Francisco, with several stops in between. I spent my career as a technical consultant or manager for a huge software company, but I retired in 2014 and got away from the 9 to 5 life. I miss my coworkers but not the job. To entertain myself upon retiring I started taking classes including one on “How to Write a Romance Novel” and with encouragement from friends, the rest is history.

I am close with my family, reside in suburban Chicago and I love to travel. I am on the board of directors of Mental Health America of the North Shore because they do good work and a member of Romance Writers of America.

How do you make time to write?

I am very fortunate because I am able to write full-time.

What genre are your books?

I write contemporary fiction, usually with some steamy sex. That is my wheel-house so far in my

“Beguiling Bachelor” series. But I did just complete “Our Love is Here to Stay”, which is a time-travel story.

I love reading mysteries, literature, and romance in every genre, so I have sprinkled small pieces of these into my books where I can. My mother was a librarian. She taught me to love reading and respect writers of every kind. Every word I write can be traced back to her teachings in some way or another.

What draws you to this genre?

I grew up on Regency romance, and I am drawn there but haven’t braved the genre yet. Instead, I write more of what I know – current times and current places. I set my books in places that are familiar and I make my characters a bit older than in some romances. Women in their late 20’s and early 30’s and men in their mid-30’s have problems to overcome, responsibilities to juggle and they have sex. That is what I like to write about – their flaws, their journeys, their struggles and the wonderful ways they fall in love.

What are your current projects?

I have just completed the first book in a new series, the Billionaire B&B series. The book, “Desire & Dessert” will be published in a collection this spring, with at least two more volumes to follow. My Beguiling Bachelors will return this summer, and I am always toying with a short story or two.

I am very excited about another new project – a blog for romance writers. Today I blog for my readers, my story every Thursday and an introduction to another author every Tuesday. But begging next month, on Monday’s, I will begin sharing what I have learned about writing and indie-publishing. Am I THE expert as I begin my third year as a writer? Hardly. But I have learned tons about being a new writer that experts have forgotten. Sometimes it is the non-expert that new writers can relate to. I hope to share my wisdom with those people.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?

My whole life I was an extravert, but once I became a writer, I became the complete opposite. Anyone or anything that takes me away from my computer is a disruption. That said, once I have made the break, the extravert in me rules again. I love being with my friends and family, networking with other authors and meeting fans. I just need that initial nudge to put down my writing.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

No feedback. No reviews. I send my books out there into the world representing my hard work and heart. They are a labor of love for me – my babies. When I have no idea how they are received, that leaves me wondering ‘do I write something similar? something different?” I don’t write only for me. I write for my readers and their feedback is priceless.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I speak with more aspiring writers than I ever could have imagined and I tell them all the same things – read more and write more. I tell them the different betwee a writer and a want-to-be writer is that a writer finishes something.

When I got ready to write my first novel I read tons of romances, paid attention to the covers, the titles, the back-cover blurbs, even the author bios. I wrote down words and phrases that I loved from my favorite books. This became my library of inspriration. Then I wrote and wrote and wrote, edited and rewrote until I finished my first novel, “Bedazzled.”

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I hope readers will visit me at www.madisonmicahel.net  where I have a blog and a wonderful giveaway for joining my insider group.

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AuThursday – Caroline Walken

How I make time to write

With little time during the week to write, you will find me camped out on my laptop from Friday evening until Sunday.  During the week, I may take the time to edit a chapter or work on flash fiction.

Additionally, I write the bulk of my novels during the winter, I hate the cold!  You won’t find me playing in the snow, I would much rather be cozied up to my characters!

 Writer’s block

I don’t know if we suffer from writer’s block or that like any form of work we become bored.  Creating a full-fledged novel may take you over a year.  It is easy to understand why we run out of things to write!  This is one reason I have started working on flash fiction, entering writing contests and similar exercises like these.  This keeps writing fresh for me, it challenges me and each time I learn more about the craft. 

 When I do have the opportunity to delve into my WIP then I feel refreshed and eager. 

 My Genre

I write fiction/romance and put the emphasis on fiction.  I like female characters that are strong and feisty!  I grew tired of reading about characters that relied on the male counterparts for the solution.  My girls will keep any man on their toes.

I do have a passion for the Roaring Twenties and the Gangster age of the Thirties.  My current WIP and two other books are set in that era.  I enjoy researching real places or crimes and weave them into the story.  It is just such an exciting time and let’s face it, we all enjoy a bad boy! 

Publishing

I am an indie author and currently publish through Amazon.  Similar to others, I queried traditional publishers and agents but at the time, the market struggled since Amazon had just come on strongly.  In the end, it came down to wanting to share my stories so alas, I went alone.

 I believe in time, this will even out and traditional publishing will come to appreciate what we as Indies have learned in our craft.

 Introvert/Extrovert

I am an extrovert, in addition to writing, I show horses and I work as a consultant in a field other than writing. 

 Motivational phrase

“You learn more from you failures than from your successes.”

Advice to aspiring writers

My advice to aspiring writers is to invest in yourself, reserve your time for writing and improving in the art of storytelling. 

 Invest in a good editor; there is a variety available for all price points.  No matter how well you comb your manuscript, it is like your child; you won’t see its faults. 

 If you work more than an hour to format your manuscript or work on a cover, find a resource to help you.  Writing should be your priority; you can quickly find assistance for these basic tasks and do so very affordably.

 Lastly, know that everyone gets a bad review, and yes, it will feel like a knife through the heart.  Take away any useful information there is and grow from it.  After that never read it again! 

 Links

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/author/carolinewalken

Facebook Link

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014819192480

Goodreads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16623832.Caroline_Walken

WordPress–

https://authorcarolinewalken.wordpress.com/

Twitter— 

https://twitter.com/caroline_walken

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Caroline’s book “From Nowhere on the Map”~Tina

AuThursday – Nix Whittaker

author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born in South Africa but because of the violence and political turmoil, my parents moved the whole family to New Zealand. The best move ever. It also helped to broaden my view of the world. I work full time as a high school teacher so a little cliché that the English teacher is writing books.

How do you make time to write?

I’m single without kids so not too hard to find the time. The problem is not to be distracted by everything else in my life. Also, I have trained myself to write anywhere. As part of my job, I’m often lugging around a laptop so I write whenever I have time, a lunch break, waiting for parents at a parent-teacher interview. I think we would be surprised by how much time we waste waiting for something.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes and no. If you have writer’s block it is your brain trying to tell you something is wrong with your story. You have to figure out what is wrong before you can write again. I usually leave things to stew in the back of my mind and start writing short stories while I leave my subconscious to come up with another dilemma for my character instead of getting kidnapped for the sixth time. That is my block at the moment. Out of my 7 books that are published my character getting kidnapped is the number one crisis.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

I write Science Fiction Romance. Though really I consider steampunk to be more fantasy than Science Fiction. I love it because you can deal with serious issues with a lightness to it. I have a lot of discussion about prejudice in all my books but somehow it is easier to write about when people are being prejudiced against dragons.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)

I’m an Indie publisher all the way. I didn’t even look at Trad. I’ve had this discussion with fellow authors, some who are exploring both. I like the freedom and the speed that Indie gives me.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?

I can be both. I’m originally an Introvert but since my job literally requires me to be bubbly and outgoing I’ve learned to be the extrovert as well. The skills I’ve learned as an extrovert has given me a thicker skin to criticism so I recommend at least exploring all aspects of yourself and making yourself more flexible.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Give yourself permission to write a bad book. You can always fix it but getting to the end is more important. You can learn so much from writing a book to the finish that it doesn’t matter if it is terrible. You don’t have to know everything when you start.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.nixwhittaker.com

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Nix’s Book, Blazing Blunderbuss. ~Tina

Writer Wednesday – A few of my favorite things

A lot of writers get asked what kind of tools they use when writing and editing.  Here are a few of mine:

Books

The Romance Writer’s Phrase book by Jean Kent and Candice Shelton – It’s a handy little phrase book, used for tag lines, body language, etc.

A more updated version would be The Emotional Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.   I use these books when I’m in the layer process of my book.   I used to use them during the rough draft, but found I got too bogged down with particulars rather than just writing the damn book.

The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer – I have an old copy of this, but found it useful for understanding aspects of the business like Sell-thrus and royalties.   I believe he has an updated version.

And of course I have a Thesaurus, Dictionary and Two Style Guides.

Online Tools

Pinterest – I use Pinterest to store a lot of my pictures for characters, setting, clothes, etc.   Of course you can totally get lost on there.

First Draught – I have to give a shout-out to these ladies, because they cover a range of topics and they talk about everything from craft to publishing.  I love their Vlog!

Jenna Moreci – Jenna is a YA Indie Writer and she has this Vlog where her topics are humorous and based on her writing experience.   I highly recommend this if you are exploring Self-publishing or are a YA writer.

Google Keep  – I sort of stumbled across this recently and use it in place of Scrivener.    I make up all these little notes on characters, settings and scenes I need to write and then I can have it on the side of my Google Doc.   I’m sort of envious of Scrivener, but the feature I was really wanting was to replace my post-it plotting system that I learned from Cherry Adair.

Last week I covered the importance of finding your tribe, and of course my tribes are some of my favorite things.

~Tina

 

 

 

AuThursday – R. Marlaan Rush

21951433_1789429087738161_1218458456_oTell us a little about yourself and your background?

My real name is Ayneka Scott and my Erotica pen name (R. Marlaan Rush) was going to be for a 2nd daughter. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. It started off as rewriting my favorite books and movies and then grew into creating my own worlds. I’m a proud mother of a beautiful 8-year-old daughter. My full-time gig is production at a nuclear facility where I also volunteer as a firefighter and medical first responder. I have lived in South Carolina all of my life and with the exception of the seemingly perpetual summers, I love it here.

How do you make time to write?

I schedule a mandatory 1-hour writing block every day. Outside of that, I write and outline on my phone whenever I have free time. I have a writer’s app and MS Word downloaded to my phone.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes, very much so. But, I look at it as a challenge and motivation.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

Erotica is my chosen genre for my Rush persona because I enjoy sex in all its forms-romantic, smut, some of the taboo things, etc. I’m also intrigued by the power it holds over people. It can make the sanest person a stalker and can even heal a broken person when emotions are involved. It can be a beautifully dangerous thing.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)

I’m publishing as an Indie author because I like the hard work and dedication that goes into making yourself a success. I want to learn the ins and outs firsthand.

Are you an Introvert or Extravert?

I feel like I’m a combination of both because even though I’m a social butterfly and love the hustle and bustle of people, I crave alone time. I don’t want to bothered; I just want the peace of my own company.

How does this affect your work?

The extrovert is the one that researches and interacts with others to get the materials to create a good read. The introvert, in her quiet downtime, puts the materials together to give the reader the best reading experience possible.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Make the impossible possible!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If you want to be successful, come into the industry hungry and stay hungry. Help others if you can. And, when your plate becomes full and is overflowing, grab another plate and share with someone else.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?21931193_1789429084404828_1764812756_o

I’m on FB at www.facebook.com/rmarlaan

Twitter as @MzHoneypotC

Instagram as MzHoneypotC

On Amazon, I’m R.Marlaan Rush.

 

 

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us? Yes, see below.

A Dinner of Sighs
Her nipples ached maddeningly, but thankfully the water she was partially submerged in was warm.

Her lover wasn’t completely cruel. But he was cruel enough to make her his dinner’s centerpiece; here she was, blindfolded so she couldn’t see the people circling her making comments about how lucky he was to have such a beautiful and willing companion, naked as the day she was born on a table so it would look like she was floating in the water.

Her hair, done in tiny braids shocked with white ribbon, exploded around her face. Every time she licked her lips, she tasted the hooker-red lipstick he had insisted she wear because it looked naughty to him, and it was arousing…. As if a naked woman with beads of water dotting her skin wasn’t erotic enough. The only restraint present was at her ankles; girly bands of 24kt gold swirled with rose gold and decorated with hundreds of tiny but sparkling diamonds kept her legs in a slightly painful V.

He had had these cuffs specially made for her, and the matching necklace fit her neck like a thick choker, a perfect complement to her chocolate-milk complexion.

Her crotch being so exposed to strangers she couldn’t see made her want to put her hands between her legs. Even though she was groomed to the gods down there, lotioned and perfumed to the high heavens, the bit of peach fuzz he let her have laid like no one’s business; she didn’t feel pretty down there. Her lips felt too small while her clitoris felt too big, and without the normal bush she sported, her vagina was lighter than the rest of her. She wasn’t pink enough for her liking, either.

“Oh Kallen, your songbird is too perfect,” a woman exclaimed beside her in awe and then nails traced the inside of her arm down to the palm. Too long to be his, and pointy—had to be the woman. The urge to shrink away from her touch was powerful, but she denied it. She must be still.

“What is this beautiful creature’s name?”

“I call her August.”

“August,” the woman repeated, tasting the name. “Scrumptious name for your bird of paradise. I knew she had to be something when you played her songs for us the other day. They were so haunting and sensual—so damned sexy.”

Kallen laughed. “Yes, I remember. You started fingering yourself before us, and then Rachel and her girlfriend started kissing. That’s when the party really began.” “Mmmm… the way you bent me over the table…. How can I forget that?” The woman purred.

Jealousy flashed, hot and burning, in August’s soul at this confession, but she couldn’t break her character on the table. Sharing Kallen was a common occurrence, but still…. “May I?” The woman asked.

“You may. Any spot you desire.” Something firm and damn near hot was placed on her left hip near her thigh, then on the top of her crotch.

August felt warm wetness drip between her pussy lips and pool in the crease of her thigh and crotch… what the hell was that? Lips first pressed into the crease with the tiniest scratch of teeth, then something flat and warm lapped at the sensitive skin, making August jump with each stroke. She drew her hands into claws, twitching, wanting to pull her left leg up to end the torture.

It stopped briefly, and now the lips and tongue were just below her waistline, where the other piece of food was, kissing and sucking on her flesh. The pleasure was terrible because she couldn’t see who the woman with the expert tongue was!

“That’s far enough, my dear. You can look, but you can’t touch because that part of her is all mine.”

“I’m not sure which was more tender, your little songbird or the roast beef,” the woman mused.

August heard the longing in her voice and smiled to herself…. Kallen may share himself freely, but he drew the line at her and that was fine with August.

“I just wanted to enjoy all of my gravy.”

“Matilda! Kallen! My favorite people in the room!” a masculine voice boomed and grew in volume…. Someone else was approaching to admire her with their hands, but this was at least a man.“Damn, who is this sexy little buffet? I’m starving all over again.”

Kallen put his arm around the brown-eyed blonde’s wide shoulders and swept his other arm over August’s prone body. “Marcus, this is August. You don’t recognize her?”

“Not with her clothes off, that’s for damn sure,” Marcus answered, his eyes roaming the table. He spotted what he wanted and grabbed a small, silver cube. He filled it with warm, oozing chocolate. “My sweet tooth is suddenly screaming.”

“Indulge yourself,” Kallen encouraged, stepping to the side. “As a matter of fact, get another cube. There are two for your tasting pleasure. And, it is shell chocolate.”

Marcus smiled mischievously and placed the cubes upside down on each of August’s erect nipples, grinning at the moan that escaped her pretty red lips. While he waited for the chocolate to harden, he slowly walked around the table, devouring August’s nakedness, turned on by the fact she couldn’t see anything. He stopped at the foot of the table and stared at the top of the V, eyeing her cinnamon-colored pussy lips, her fat, undoubtedly juicy clit (he fancied it was plump and swollen for him), and the white honey pooling at the mouth of her vagina, waiting for a reason to drop into the water below.

So vulnerable…. Marcus touched her ankle and skimmed his fingers along the instep to her pretty red toes, watching her shiver. Kallen watched him intently…. Was he mad at him for making his woman react by touch alone? Marcus hoped so… he really did. “Matilda, dear, would you bring me some of that caramel?”

Matilda snatched up the caramel and handed it to Marcus, winking. “Save a little of her for me,” she whispered just loud enough for him to hear and then turned to Kallen.

“Marcus wasn’t with us when you debuted your songbird, Kallen. How about seducing him with her expressions of lust?” She snaked her arm around his waist and led him to the entertainment center that took up a little over half the wall on the other side of the room, her head against his arm.

His hand dropped to her ass. “We’re somewhat alone now, August,” Marcus murmured, walking back around the table to stare at the shape of her mouth, the sparkles in the red lacquer on her lips catching the light like the diamonds in her cuffs and necklace, her skin flawless in the bright-white light pouring across her body. He grasped the chocolate cube and pulled it gently, watching the nipple and breast stretch like taffy.

Writer Wednesday – The importance of options

Since starting my Agent Quest at the beginning of September, I’ve sent out 11 queries and received 5 rejections and 1 No response (although the website said if I don’t hear from them in 3 weeks, it was considered a pass).   I’ve only had one agent request a partial, all others have been rejected simply on Query or the first few pages. I currently have 5 queries out there and am prepping another letter to send off, as I like to have 6 queries out at once, since this is a time-consuming process. 

I admit I wish I was getting more feedback, like “we aren’t searching for a Steampunk Romance”, or “No one is looking for this,” or “You’re writing needs work specifically in these areas.”   Unfortunately most have simply been, “we are going to pass on this project.”   

“Why?  Why are you passing?” I wonder. 

Last week, I talked about my looking for Beta Readers and this is why.  So I can find out if its something in my writing that isn’t working.   My concern is that the writing is fine, and I’ve missed the market on Steampunk.  If that’s the case, even if I decide to go direct to the publishers, I may have a difficult time finding a home for this manuscript.   It makes me question if I should write something saleable for NaNoWriMo or work on the next book in this Steampunk series.   

I have been researching Indie publishing for the very concerns I listed above regarding the market for Steampunk.  I personally love the genre mixed with romance and feel there aren’t enough books, but maybe I’m in the minority on this one.  Although by all accounts, this seems to be a loyal fan base if you get “it” right, and there is a significant amount of self-published (indie) books in the genre.  I feel if I did go the self-published (Indie) route that I’d at least have a chance to succeed (or fail) based on readers. 

But I digress as this post was about Options.   Even though this process has been long and tiresome, I do still have a good portion of my agent list to work through and then after that my editor list.  I’ve decided to give my agent search until January and then I’ll be querying publishers directly.  That list is pretty long too. 

To give myself options when I go to find either an agent or publisher I make an excel spreadsheet of what they are looking for and what is important to me, so I can expedite the list, so really when I can the rejection I’m not so dejected. 

I admit my experience with publishers (especially digital presses) is that they know exactly what they want and the turn around on query, and usually the manuscript is much faster.   Many publishers now take the full manuscript so there is very little waiting.  

Well I should write that next query letter, so I can hurry up and wait. 🙂 

~Tina

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer Wednesday-Beta Readers

Beta Readers are becoming more popular as authors go Indie and want a reader to look over their work rather than an editor.

As I’m looking at a more traditional publishing model via an agent, I’ve considered looking at Beta Readers as well.

When I digitally published, this wasn’t as much of a concern as there was enough editing done in-house, I worried less about content as there were so many eyes looking at it, and I had really good editors. 🙂

I’ve asked my fellow authors who use beta readers how they go about finding them.   There seem to be a number of ways to do this:

  1.  Post to FB, Twitter, etc and ask for Beta Readers to read your latest book.  I think there are Beta Reader Groups out there.   I plan to post to a Local Steampunk group as I think they might be interested in reading my story. 
  2. Readers you meet randomly – I actually found a reader at a Con last year, and I think she will work out well.  I’d like more beta readers, but one will do for now.
  3. Friends and Family – I’ve heard reason’s not to use friends and family, but my argument would be that you are looking for continuity in your story.  That being said, make sure you pick a friend who is an avid reader.   Also,  if you write Mystery and your sister is a hard-core YA reader, you may want to take that into consideration when reviewing her feedback.  She can likely still provide great character insight, but may not enjoy the read as much as she might a YA read. 

I’ve heard Indie authors who use Beta Readers prior to Editing and some use them after.   Obviously I will use them before hiring an editor.  I’m looking for Beta readers to review for content, character likeability, plot holes to some extent and the like.   I’m looking for an overall critique, not editing.  I believe that should be done by the publisher, as I’ve experienced in the past.  Honestly, if an agent tells me to hire an editor – I will likely skip the agent process all together. 🙂 

Until next Writer Wednesday, be naughty. ~Tina 

P.S. If you are interested in being a Beta Reader for a Steampunk novel, go ahead and comment below. 🙂