AuThursday – McKenna Dean

GOAC BannerPlease welcome, McKenna Dean to the Clog Blog.   

SignatureLogo_300x218McKenna, please tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’ve done a number of different jobs over the years: worked as a lab tech, in a vet clinic, as a dog trainer, an actress, a singer. I’ve always walked a fine line between my creative/artistic side and my scientific one. When I graduated from high school, I thought I had to choose—and so I gave up writing and focused on my career. Many years later, I discovered online fanfiction archives and I was obsessed! When I began writing again, it was like opening a floodgate. The encouragement I received from fandom allowed me to submit my first story for publication, but no one was more surprised than I when it was accepted!

Since then, I’ve written over 20 stories, but in so many different genres I didn’t have a recognizable brand. In 2017, I made the decision to re-brand myself and concentrate on just paranormal romance.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I’m a die-hard panster—working from just the barest outline, a faint idea of where I want to go and trotting off in that direction. I love it when my stories surprise me! But the longer I do this, the more I realize I’d be more productive with more outlining. I’m trying to find that balance between outlining enough that it streamlines the process without becoming a story killer by taking all the spontaneity out of the writing.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

I have. Once when I attempted NaNoWriMo—it was a kind of pressure and writing style all wrong for me. But also when I’m too tired and emotionally drained to write. Sometimes a story stalls for weeks. I remind myself of Louis L’Amour’s quote to “Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

What genre do you write?

My focus these days in on paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

What draws you to this genre?

I love the world-building and the way the genre lends itself to political and social commentary. I love the magic of the supernatural, and the power of shifters.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I love snowed-in stories, so I wanted to set up a situation in which my main characters were pitted against each other but wound up having to work together for their survival. An inheritance with conditions seemed to be the ideal way to bring a fangirl with a secret and a shifter whose inner wolf is in hiding together. Add in a snowstorm, a stray dog, and a series of increasingly dangerous accidents, and you have Ghost of a Chance.

How are you publishing this book and why? (Indie, traditional or small press)?

I’ve both worked with a small press and done indie publishing before, and they both have their pros and cons. Publishers typically provide quality covers and reputable editing, and these are major perks when you are looking at paying for those services yourself. But working with a press means working on their schedule—meeting deadlines and so forth. It can take up to a year from the time you submit a story to seeing it published and getting royalties—which means you really need to be producing a new work once per quarter at the minimum.

As an indie author, I’m my only client. Yes, I have to pay for cover art and editing, but I can set my own price and launch dates. The amount of promotion is nearly the same in either case, though a well-known press can give you a leg up there too. Honestly, I like doing both. Sometimes it’s nice to turn over the reins to someone else. Sometimes you want to have total control. With the demands of my current job, indie publishing seems to be a better fit, but I intend to offer my next book to a press.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Writing is a muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Read the kinds of books you want to write. Read good books. Bad books only teach you to imitate them. Don’t read your reviews. I know, no one listens to that one, but if you do read your reviews, try not to let the bad ones derail your process. Keep a folder of all your good reviews—you’ll need them when you are promoting the next book anyway—but more importantly, read those glowing comments when you need encouragement. Read the reviews of your favorite stories too. There’s comfort in realizing there are people who hate a story you know is brilliant.

Follow Chuck Wendig’s blog—he has some terrific things to say about writing. Read about improving your craft, but above all, take what you read with a grain of salt. If advice doesn’t gel with you, no big deal. Do what works for you and ignore the rest.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

The easiest way to find me is to go to my website. There are links to my social media on almost every page, but the most complete line up (including Instagram and Book Bub, as well as my newsletter) is on my blog page: http://mckennadeanromance.com/blog

As a matter of fact, you can just subscribe to my blog there, and you’ll get all the latest news when I post it.

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

ghostofachance_finalThe light faded as they approached the dip in the drive leading down to the bridge crossing the creek. Long shadows were cast from the tree line onto the drive, and as they rode into the shade, the temperature dropped as though they’d walked into a freezer. Casey pulled Indy up as he inspected the tracks. He pointed at a trail going off to one side. “Someone made a break for it here. Didn’t want to cross the bridge, most likely.”

He urged Indy in that direction, following the tracks splitting off into the woods. Indy obliged, trudging through the deeper slow, icicles gathering on his feathered legs.

The other tracks crossed the bridge. That way led to the road. The thought of Athena or the other mares potentially ending up in traffic turned Sarah’s stomach. The horses aside, some driver could get killed if they rounded a corner and found the mares in their path.

Sarah closed her legs around King’s sides and urged him across the bridge. He didn’t want to leave Indy and balked at crossing the wooden structure. The bulk of the missing horses had gone that way, however, and Sarah thumped her heels against the reluctant gelding to follow their trail.

Ghost exploded out of the brush to block her path, barking furiously. The Shepherd favored one foreleg, and as Sarah watched, drops of blood flecked the snow around the dog.

King rocked back on his haunches, preparatory for a spin for home. Sarah pulled up on the reins and closed her legs around the spooked gelding. Behind her, she heard Indy crash through the vegetation. Casey must have turned him around.

“Go home,” she shouted at Ghost. “Bad dog!”

She clapped her calves against King’s flanks and the

gelding sprang forward. Ghost scooted to one side as the horse charged, flinging snow behind him in his wake. Sarah leaned across King’s neck as he galloped across the bridge, belatedly considering the slickness of the wooden planks. Too late now. Once they were across, she’d pull up and wait for Casey.

Halfway across the bridge, a terrible shriek rent the air. Wood splintered and failed. Boards separated under the weight of horse and rider and came apart. King screamed as the footing beneath him gave way, and he plunged into the icy stream below, carrying Sarah with him.

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AuThursday – Mary Martinez

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MM author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I live in Utah, just west of Salt Lake City. I love to travel, go to concerts, read and of course hang out with family. I haven’t always loved sports, they were okay but now I love sports, most. We have season tickets to the University of Utah Football and Gymnastics. We love baseball and whenever we get a chance we go to a Yankees game.

I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I started one when my kids were little, that didn’t go over well. Before the internet. Yes, I’m old. LOL. But when my kids started moving out I decided it was time. That was in the early 2000’s. I’ve learned a LOT the hard way.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I just write a bit of backstory to get the feel of the characters, do an outline of characters and then write by the seat of my pants. I add things to my backstory doc as I go.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Not often, it’s usually just problems with a scene so I can move forward. I take a walk or clean to clear my head when that happens.

What genre do you write?

I write more than one. I started with Romantic Suspense, I’ve added Romance, Women’s fiction, one middle grade I wrote with my three oldest grandsons and currently I’m writing a fantasy complete with Wizards, Witches, faeries, Deamhans, Warriors, and Dragons.

How did you come up with the ideas for your books?

WatchingJenny_MaryMartinez300I do not know. The ideas pop into my head at weird times. I was driving to work when Alanis Morissette came on the radio and for some reason, the idea of a stalker came to mind and the idea for Watching Jenny was born.

ChickMagnetFinal300

 

 

My son used to take his nephew to the grocery store with him to pick up girls, hence my idea for Chick Magnet.

RomanceAndMisconceptionsFinal300I am not sure of the others. With Romance and Misconceptions it started out as a romantic suspense but then I liked the twin that was supposed to die so much I turned it into a romantic comedy.

 

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Join a book club of readers, not other authors. You’ll read books you’d never have picked up on your own. You’ll have firsthand experience of what a reader likes and dislikes about how authors write. How they react to certain situations. I have found it very valuable. Especially since there is always wine.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My website: www.marymartinez.comwww.marymartinez.com

Mary’s Garden Blog: http://marysbooksblogger.blogspot.com/

The After Work Cook Blog: http://theafterworkcook.blogspot.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authormarymartinez/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/marylmartinez

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMaryMartinez/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTww3B2ofa11UPFrSe0WGAg

Pinterest (my fav) https://www.pinterest.com/marylmartinez3/

Mary’s Book Group News: http://www.marymartinez.com/marys-book-group-news.html

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

Excerpt from Classic Murder: Mr. Romance

ClassicMurderMrRomanceMaryMartinez300“Would you like to come up for a drink?” Katie asked and then hiccupped loudly. Placing a hand over her mouth, she looked around. Adam watched her cheeks pinken with embarrassment. Then another giggle escaped. God, she’s cute.

“Come on, Katie. Let’s go to your apartment and get you ready for bed.”

Katie straightened up and looked up at Adam. Adam watched as she started to lean to the side, he hurried to place a steadying handout, but before he could, she started to teeter the other way. He finally grabbed her by the shoulders. Walking her backwards until they reached the side of the building, he propped her up against the brick. He leaned down and took the ridiculously high-heeled shoes off her feet, one at a time. Shoes in hand, he stood up.

“Okay, I think you can walk to your apartment. Come on.”

Adam was glad they didn’t have to take the stairs. He would have had to pick her up and carry her. Not that it wasn’t a tempting idea, but he was having a hard enough time controlling himself without the added temptation. At her apartment, he kept one arm around her waist and half propped her against the wall. He waited while she fumbled in her minuscule silver purse for her key. Then he unlocked the door.

“In you go, Katie. Now which way to your bedroom?” Adam asked.

Before she could answer, Oscar barked from the kitchen where Katie had left him for the evening. First things, first; someone had to take care of the poor dog and then he could deal with Katie. He led her to the sofa, helped her sit and smiled at the silly grin she had on her face.

Standing at the door, Oscar waiting to be let out, Adam looked at Katie. “I’m talking the dog for a walk. Will you be all right?”

Katie blinked and her head rolled to the side to look at him. She grinned wider, then hiccupped. “Yup.”

Adam sighed. He couldn’t just let the dog out; he had to be on a leash. Hoping she stayed on the couch, he let himself and Oscar out.

When Adam let himself back into the apartment a few minutes later, Katie was still sitting where he had left her. Her eyes closed and the same silly grin spread across her face. He walked over and, as his face came level with hers, her eyes popped open and her hand came up quickly. Before Adam knew what was happening, she’d put her hand to the back of his head and pulled him in. Her warm lips locked with his. Desire shot through his body.

Reminding himself that she wouldn’t remember it in the morning, he forced himself to pull away gently. Taking both her hands, he pulled her to her feet, where she slightly swayed.Reviews by Crystal button

Writer Wednesday – Writing tools I use

So I’ve prepped a bit for Camp NaNo and getting The Alchemists of Archangel completed.

Some authors Love Scrivener and there are some wonderful features, that can be very helpful when developing characters, plot lines, timelines for series, etc.  I actually debated purchasing it, but have opted to use Google Keep in conjunction with Google Docs and Word.

I find myself looking back at tools I’ve used in the past.    Here are some tools I use during my rough draft phase:

  1. Cherry Adair’s – Plotting with Post its.   I admit I loved this when I learned it, but I still found it daunting.  The Pantser in me fought it, hard.  I still use a form of it today in Google Keep.
  2. My friend Arden uses an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of Character Profiles and Plot devices, Chapters, etc.   It is daunting.  And I admit I never mastered it the way she did.   Bob Mayer uses an Excel Method as well.
  3. Google Keep – So this is where I use a bit of Cherry’s technique and start mixing in my own blend of stuff (research, worldbuilding, character profiles, setting, and plot)
  4. Source Sheet – I keep a word doc of where I find all my research for the novel.  I also include worldbuilding notes in here.  My outline may not survive the process but this almost always does.  I usually turn in a copy with my manuscript when I begin the editing process, to help the copy editors.
  5. Sex in Romance Website – I don’t use this as much as I used to but it is still a great place when you want variety in your manuscript during a love scene.
  6.  Word Counter – I got this idea from Allie Pleiter’s Chunky Writing Method.   She has some freebie’s on her website for this.  Basically, you are counting words whenever you work on your ms.   I made some modifications to mine. 🙂
  7. Pinterest – Before Google Keep I would create character profiles for my stories.  I actually found looking at pictures beneficial to driving my description of clothes and setting.  Once my book is published, I’ll make the pages private.  The Courtesan of Constantinople is the first book I did this with so Y’all will have to wait. 🙂
  8. Pandora – I love listening to music without words when I’m writing.  Usually, I pick a channel based on the mood of the scene.   I’m sure part of this has to due with the fact that I learned to type to music in school.   Nothing like typing words to the William Tell Overture.

And I haven’t even started on the Reference Books I use regularly…

Writer Wednesday – Editing

book-editingI’m not talking about dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s here, or finding spelling mistakes, although those are important.

I’m talking about looking at your work as a whole and saying to yourself – is this working or why isn’t this working.

I’ve finished up my 2nd round of layering and usually when I do the layering I find other issues.  And I’ve found some frivolous plot lines that need to be dealt with.  I can still use them, but they don’t make sense so I need to dig deeper.

I need to make these plot points stronger to thread through this series on a bigger level.  I have a lot of side notes like “Needs to be more significant” or “what are you trying to say”

This is an interesting process – I have to be objective looking at these items and I’ve been fortunate that I’m usually willing to change plot lines if necessary and I think this is necessary.

I’m off to it.  ~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

 

 

 

Writer Wednesday – Find your tribe

Writing-GroupOn my writing journey, I know I would not be where I am today without the tribe of writers around me.

Having a supportive partner and family is important too, and I’m fortunate to have that as well.

But when I write myself into a corner, cuz I’m a pantser and we do that, DH is of no help.   But I can call my friend Arden Richards, whose not yet published but is the best plotter I know.

I belong to a number of tribes –

The F-M Word Weavers – This is my local critique group.  Arden is a member as well.  Also in my group are published Authors Maddy Barone and Mary Jean Adams.  The wealth of knowledge in this group is wonderful, and my writing has greatly improved over the years thanks to these ladies.   I found this group on Meet-up and It helps that most of the group is made up of Romance Authors.

Romance Writers of America – I highly recommend this group if you are looking to establish a career in the Romance Writing Industry.   I’ve been a member since 2004 and belong to an online chapter.   I met my first critique partner Holli Winters through RWA.    If you want to learn more about this particular tribe I recommend, if you have Netflix, that you watch “Love Between the Covers”.  First time DH watched it with me he said, “Sounds like your writer friends.”  Yes, yes it does.

Of course there is also Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers or America.  As I do not write in these genres, I’m unfamiliar with their membership. 

Romance Divas – I’ve recently joined Divas, but I have friends who have been members for years and rave about the mentorship and learning there.   It seems too that Divas is on the leading edge of trends within the Romance Industry.    Also they are FREE, so that is helpful for those watching their budget.

Marketing for Romance Writers – Despite the name, more than Romance Writers belong to this community.   If you follow my AuThursday interviews, many of the writers are from this group.  This group is also FREE. 

Writer Zen Garden – I’ve been with Writer Zen Garden for about five years, brought in by my friend and founding member, A. Catherine Noon.   Writer Zen Garden has authors of different genres.   They are wonderful for writers just starting out and maybe not so Romance focused.   To me the focus is very creative and  wonderful  cheerleading group. And Guess what – also FREE.

I continue to join groups as I see what they have to offer and if it is a good fit for me.   I highly recommend that if you aren’t a member of a tribe that you join one.   There is something about the writing journey that shouldn’t be done in a bubble.   I mean you can, but there are so many options to connect with people and learn, why wouldn’t you. 

The groups above have helped me through Writer’s Block, Rejection, Plotting, Marketing, Networking, and supporting me through my writing journey.   I can’t imagine writing without my tribes. 

~Tina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AuThursday – Izzy Szyn

IS author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Well I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Worked in customer service jobs most of my life, currently work in a call center for ATT in iphone tech.

I’ve been a bookaholic since I was ten. I’ve been involved online with writers ever since I first came online. At the time, I had web tv and the first thing I did was search for Jayne Ann Krentz and Diana Palmer.

I’ve been a reviewer, book promoter and author stalker, known for locking authors in a closet so they can write faster.

Started writing three years ago, while in a chat I was dared by a friend to write. You can either thank her or ask her what was she thinking. LOL Email me and I will tell you who.

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

I’m an Introvert until you get to know me. Then I’m a bit of a smart ass. I think some of it comes through in my writing.

How do you make time to write? 

I make time. I work full-time, so I write in between phone calls, during breaks and lunches and after I get home from work.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I couldn’t work to an outline to save my life. I just let the characters tell me their story.

How did you come up with the idea for your book, BELLA AND THE BEAST?

I had just finished Wendi and Tink when Beauty and the Beast was coming out. I thought what if?

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

I’ve done a few boxed sets.

I see you write Gay and Lesbian fiction.  What do you think is the greatest misconception about LGBT Romance?

That it’s all erotica. It’s simply two or more people that find their way to each other.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Just write. I wish I could have started earlier.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I live on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/izzyszynhome/

Twitter: @izzyszyn

Instagram and Google Plus J

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Izzy’s book, BELLA AND THE BEAST. ~Tina

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