Monday, May 31, 2010

And the winner is.....

Congratulations Fiona Chan. You're the winner of Gabi's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) ( no spaces ) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

It seems fitting this holiday weekend that we
take a moment to remember and thank
all of the people who fought for our country.

During these times of remembrance,
we usually give thanks for the soldiers who
have fought in our current or recent wars - and rightly so.
I thank these brave souls as well.

But I hope this Memorial Day, we also take time to
think about and thank the soldiers from long ago.

I'm thinking of the soldiers who fought to end slavery
in this country during the Civil War who are
often forgotten.

Also, the brave souls who fought during the
American Revolution who made this country
what it is today.

I also hope we will take the time to think
about and thank every person who gave support
to our soldiers.

War should never be glorified. It is always ugly, but
we also know to maintain freedom it is sometimes
necessary. So to all of you who have endured
the pain that comes with keeping this country free,

I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Until next week,
Happy Writing,
Tina LaVon

Friday, May 28, 2010

Interview with Gabi Stevens

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Gabi Stevens. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called The Wish List. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

THE WISH LIST is a lighter contemporary paranormal set in San Diego. When CPA Kristen Montgomery discovers her three aunts are three fairy godmothers and she’s next in line for the job, her orderly world disappears like magic. Tennyson Ritter, assigned as Kristen’s arbiter, doesn’t like the idea of playing nursemaid to someone brand new to the magical world, but soon Kristen earns his grudging respect and admiration. Good thing, because they have to work together to fight a threat to both the human and magical world.

The Wish List is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

My editor came up with the title, which once I heard it, I realized was perfect for the novel. It works on so many levels.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I have always loved paranormal. When I was a kid, I read so many stories with magical elements. Half Magic and the other books by Edward Eager, Escape to Witch Mountain, the Prydian series by Lloyd Alexander, and so many more. So writing a book with magic felt natural to me.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

Pantser, definitely, which means I have several read-throughs and revisions once the rough draft is done, but I just sit down and write. I know basically what will happen in the story, but I love the surprises that happen as I’m writing. I call that the Magic--the unplanned plot twists and story events that happens while writing.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I didn’t have to do a lot of research for this book. I went to college in San Diego, and my in-laws live there, so I get back at least once a year. And since it’s paranormal, it’s my rules. That’s the fun of paranormal. If you want to make your vampires sparkle in the sunlight, you can.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I actually had a title first. While I enjoy dark paranormals, I really like lighter books. So an idea popped into my head: How to be a Fairy Godmother in Ten Easy Steps. Well, I started writing it, but the novel turned into something that didn’t quite fit that title. So I ended up with THE WISH LIST and never did write the other book.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I have to admit that Zack and the three fairy godmothers were my favorites. They were everything I wish I was—uninhibited, candid, and witty. They were so easy to write. Interestingly, I really enjoy writing my villains as well. In this book, he was so easy to channel. Sometimes I worry about myself because I can get so into the evil side of my nature, but I guess it’s better if I put it on paper than act it out in real life (big grin).

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

Actually, my characters appear fully formed in my head and introduce themselves and then proceed to tell me their stories. I just write what I hear and see in my head. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t do revisions, but the rough draft is basically a transcription from my head.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Two authors in particular: Jodi Thomas and Lori Wilde. Both these lovely ladies have mentored me and encouraged me through some hard writing days. They helped me maintain the perseverance necessary to succeed in this business. And Lydia Parks has always been a cheerleader for me and an inspiration.

As for other authors, they inspire me with their writing. Teresa Medeiros, Connie Brockway, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jill Barnett, Nora Roberts, Julia Quinn, Christina Dodd and so many more. As for classic lit, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Mark Twain, Agatha Christie, Jane Austen.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Effective? Who knows? But fun? I had coins made up for my first series that I heard a lot about, and this time, I’m passing out fairy dust. I’m having fun doing it. I also have a web site, blog site, and I Twitter and Facebook (yes, I’m aware I am using nouns as verbs). I’ve also have enjoyed being a guest blogger.

What do we have to look forward next?

I have an essay in a book on Glee coming out in the fall, and then book two of the Time of Transition, Spellbound, in April 2011.

Thanks, Gabi!

To celebrate her book release, Gabi is offering a free book of THE WISH LIST to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you're the winner. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Check out author’s website at
Buy THE WISH LIST at[search%3A+24%2Cparse%3A+35]&searchData={productId%3Anull%2Csku%3Anull%2Ctype%3A0%2Csort%3Anull%2CcurrPage%3A1%2CresultsPerPage%3A25%2CsimpleSearch%3Atrue%2Cnavigation%3A0%2CmoreValue%3Anull%2CcoverView%3Afalse%2Curl%3Arpp%3D25%26view%3D2%26all_search%3Dthe%2Bwish%2Blist%2Bgabi%2Bstevens%26type%3D0%26nav%3D0%26simple%3Dtrue%2Cterms%3A{all_search%3Dthe+wish+list+gabi+stevens}}&storeId=13551&sku=0765365030&ddkey=http:SearchResults

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Writer U June On-Line Class

June 7-18, 2010
MASTER CLASS: "The First Five Pages"
by Mary Buckham
$55 at

Prerequisite: Bring the first 5 pages of YOUR manuscript and come prepared to dig in and have fun. You may be surprised at what you'll learn!

The FIRST FIVE PAGES: or What it takes to break into fiction and why getting it right the first time is so important. The first five pages of your manuscript can make or break you. In this hands-on workshop you'll explore:

* What hooks are
* How to identify hooks in your writing
* Are you using hooks in all the right places
* Are you creating an empathetic character or not
* What's the goal and is it clear
* Setting the stage to anchor the reader
* Creating story questions

Mary Buckham is co-author of BREAK INTO FICTION: 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells and an award-winning Romantic Suspense author. She has hundreds of free-lance articles to her credit, a non-fiction book and is a former Magazine Editor. Currently she is a national writing-workshop presenter both on-line and at conferences and wherever writers meet around the country. Mary encourages you to visit her website at for more information about her and her current writing projects.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

PASIC June On-Line Classes

June 1 - 30th, 2010
Presenter: Max Adams
Cost: $20.00 PASIC members, $30.00 non-members - payable by PayPal

Deadline to Register: May 28, 2010


Accelerated Screenwriting : The Crash Course : One month PASIC online writing course begins Tuesday June 1st. The Crash Course is a take your foot off the brakes month long introduction to screenwriting that covers the foundations of writing for film: Format; structure; characterization; dialogue; subtext; action; description; point of view; scene structure; exposition; film openings; film endings; story; visuals; and plot. This is a no holds barred course taught by professional screenwriter Max Adams [Excess Baggage, The Ladykillers].

Max is the author of The Screenwriter's Survivial Guide: Or, Guerilla Meeting Tactics and Other Acts of War [Warner Books], has woked with Hollywood Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Universal, Tri-Star and Columbia Pictures, is the founder of two international online screenwriting workshops, Left Door and 5150, is a former AFI Alumni reader and WGA online mentor as well as a current Nicholl reader and judge, and is a 2010 recipient of the College of Fine Arts Distinguishd Alumni Award from University of Utah. Scripts and script exerpts will be provided. Some outside film viewing is required. Some short writing exercises are also required.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

FOR WRITERS: Revisions & Knowing Thyself

I shared this with my editor not long ago, and since she appeared to appreciate it, I thought I’d share this with other writers, especially for those of you who may have recently published and are getting your first set of revisions.

Spare your editor the drama.

Fortunately, my previous editor would email me any revisions, so I managed to be (painfully) aware of how I react to them. I am overwhelmed. My mind immediately starts spinning with how I’m going to incorporate them into the manuscript. Often when you change one thing, be it ever so minor, it affects events all throughout the rest of the work. Will I manage to spot them all? How will this affect the flow of my writing, particularly since I write so organically? What are the ramifications to my characters’ emotional arc when those changes are incorporated? How will the changes alter the magical rules of my world, and will this affect the logistics of the plot?

Keep in mind, I usually get very few revisions.

I am a perfectionist. This is not always a good thing, and I’m aware of it. I also have this illogical urge to make everything right. Right now. I’m given weeks to work on the revisions, so there’s no reason for me to try to work them out all in my head right at that moment. But sure enough, I do it every time.

So I have learned to read through my revisions and then put them away for twenty-four hours. My response to my editor would be, “Thank you kindly. I’ll get back to you with any questions.” And then as I let my mind cogitate on the changes, I will realize that yes, I can easily add this change here. And yes, I can top that last love scene with something like this…and yes, that’s a terrific idea to make the character more appealing to my reader.

With all of my books, there have only been one or two changes that I felt didn’t work for the manuscript, but I made sure I felt strongly about them (which meant, I gave them much thought over several days). Each time--once I explained my reasons to my editor-- they agreed with me, and the changes were not incorporated.

So, now I have a new editor, and she prefers to go over the revisions on the phone.


But I knew exactly how I would react, and prepared myself to respond with nothing but a smile and an “okay”. I would not let any of the suggested revisions sink into my little brain. I would let them roll off my back without really considering them until I received her follow-up email. I was determined. And I managed it.

My editor was kind of like, “Uh, Kathryne? What do you think?” And I would respond with perhaps a few sentences and an “Okay.” I think I kind of confused her there, until we started talking over dinner at a conference, and I explained our limited ‘revision’ conversation on the phone. But I would rather have had her confused over my reaction than subject her to the drama.

And you know what? She felt the same way.

Monday, May 24, 2010

And the winner is.......

Congratulations Shelley, you'r ethe winner of Lynette's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Leap Year - Writing the Romantic Triangle, Part 2

Writing The Romantic Triangle
Part Two

Leap Year
(Spoil Alert - I will give the movie away)

I didn’t realize last week when I wrote an analysis of The Romantic Triangle, after watching It’s Complicated, that there would be a part two. However, this weekend’s movie just happened to revolve around another triangle.

In Leap Year, our heroine, who feels compelled to schedule every moment of her life, is traveling to Ireland to propose to her fiancé. He is a cardiologist attending a convention there. They have been together for four years and he has not proposed yet. Strike one against our doctor!

What I have noticed is in writing a good romantic triangle you need to weave in the good and bad about both men so you know the decision is a tough one.

At first, we think the doctor is a fine fit because they both have well paying jobs and have a taste for the finer things in life.

On the way to Dublin, our heroine becomes stranded and meets the pub owner. A cute Irish man who likes to play jokes at her expense. Strike one for the new guy! These two couldn’t be more different and at first, I could not see how they would find their way into each other’s hearts.

Like any romance, the hero proves he is worthy. Our pub owner comes to her rescue when her luggage is stolen. We see them work as a couple to make dinner. He tells her she doesn’t have to control everything. I believe a good romance includes a special gift that only these two can give each other. His gift to her is to let things happen sometimes. Trust it will all work out.

Then of course, we have the kiss they are forced into by others. You have to keep the heroine likable so she could not kiss him unless the circumstances dictated it. In this case, they are masquerading as a married couple in order to get the last room in the bed and breakfast. The owner requires couples be married to stay.

Unsure what to do, our heroine accepts the surprise proposal by her doctor boyfriend. She goes back to New York not sure she made the wise decision. The pub owner goes back home crushed. And the doctor is oblivious to it all.

Is this the end? No.

In a good romantic triangle, the wrong man says the wrong thing, sealing his fate.

Back in New York, the doctor admits he only proposed because the managers in charge of the apartment they wanted were hinting around about their marital status. He knew they wouldn’t get the apartment if they weren’t married.

Realizing her mistake, our heroine flies back to Ireland, taking a chance on true love with the endearing pub owner.

Until next week,
Happy Writing!
Tina LaVon

Friday, May 21, 2010

Interview with Lynette Eason

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Lynette Eason. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Too Close To Home. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Sure, I’d love to. TOO CLOSE TO HOME released April 1, 2010! Wahoo! But the cool thing is, I started seeing it in bookstores by the middle of March. This has been a REALLY loooooong wait. I sold the Women of Justice Series back somewhere around March or April of 2008 so this has been a two year journey. I’m so excited (and stunned that two years have passed already!) and am eagerly waiting to see this book on the shelves and in the hands of readers. The back cover of TOO CLOSE TO HOME reads:

The FBI has a secret weapon. But now the secret’s out.

When missing teens begin turning up dead in a small Southern town, the FBI sends in computer forensics expert Samantha Cash to help crack the case. Her methods are invisible, and she never quits until the case is closed.

Homicide detective Connor Wolfe has his hands full. His relationship with his headstrong daughter is in a tailspin, and the string of unsolved murders has the town demanding answers. Connor is running out of ideas—and time.

Samantha joins Connor in a race against the clock to save the next victim. And the killer starts to get personal.

Too Close to Home ratchets up the suspense with each page even as love blossoms in the face of danger. Read this one with the lights on!

“My friend Lynette has a hit on her hands with this romantic suspense. I enjoyed every minute. The plot managed to surprise and captivate me, and the romance was priceless.”—Dee Henderson, bestselling author, the O’Malley series

“A fast-moving tale filled with nonstop action. No chance to catch your breath with this one!”—Irene Hannon, bestselling author, the Heroes of Quantico series

“Eason gives the reader an exciting ride with characters you will care about.”—Margaret Daley, award-winning Steeple Hill romantic suspense author

TOO CLOSE TO HOME is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

My publishers actually came up with it. I had originally called it Seek to Devour, but I like Too Close to Home much better now.
What made you decide to write in this genre?

It’s the genre I’ve always loved. I’ve read suspense from the moment I learned it existed. I can remember reading suspense stories as early as elementary school.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I’m both. Because both publishers require me to send a synopsis of the story with the proposal, I have to plot it out. But as I write, I kind of turn into a pantser and tend to go where the characters and story take me. As long as I don’t deviate TOO much, everything always comes together in the end.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?
YES! Because of all of the computer technical stuff I had to do tons of research. What are your favorite research books or sites? For this book, I used the crimescenewriter yahoo group. There was computer forensics person on that loop that answered all of my questions. If it hadn’t been for that loop, it would have been a lot harder to get the information I needed.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

From a Lifetime movie. Seriously. Only I took the idea and twisted it so that it fit what I wanted.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I liked the villain believe it or not. Well, I didn’t LIKE him, but he was the most interesting in a way. Because I had to do so much research about serial killers, writing him was just crazy. And different and SCARY.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I have this character chart that I got from somewhere—Randy Ingermanson, I think—and I fill it out even as the story is taking shape in my mind. I can usually write a short synopsis about the story while I’m doing the character sketch and then go back and add detail to the synopsis after I know my characters a bit. I have to have a synopsis to sell anything so this process really helps me shape it and make sure I have all my details together. As I do the research, I develop the character accordingly.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Dee Henderson was my mentor. Because of her books, I realized I could write the stories I wanted. I also love Brandilyn Collins and Terri Blackstock. And too many others to list.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Hm…tough one. Probably the online stuff. My publisher has been awesome in their marketing for Too Close to Home, but I’ve lined up booksignings, sent out mega amounts of postcards and done tons of facebook and twitter announcing the release. I really haven’t been able to determine which one is most effective yet.

What do we have to look forward next?

Book TWO in the Women of Justice series. Don’t Look Back will release sometime in September, I believe.

Thanks, Lynette!

You’re quite welcome. It’s been fun! Thanks so much!

To celebrate her book release, Lynette is offering a free book of Too Close to Home to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see who won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Lynette Eason grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. She attended the University of South Carolina, Columbia as an undergrad and Converse College for Graduate school where she obtained her Master’s degree in Education. She is the author of eight Inspirational Romantic Suspense books. She is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). In 1996, Lynette married “the boy next door” and now she and her husband and two children make their home in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Check out author’s website at Buy Too Close to Home.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Writer U June On-Line Classes

June 1-25, 2010
"Character-Driven Plotting"
by CJ Lyons
$30 at

Whether you're a plotter or a pantzer, you still need to tell a story. And to tell a compelling story, you need characters driven to take action. In this highly interactive workshop, national bestseller CJ Lyons shows how to let your character do the driving as you move your plot forward. Using simple methods that you'll not only remember but can also apply daily to your writing life, CJ will give you the tools you need to empower your creativity, amp up your plotting, and energize your writing!

* A look at Plotting 101: What is story?
* The ancient secrets of story telling
* How to build three-dimensional characters
* How to brainstorm like DaVinci
* World building and block busting
* Theme: it's not a four letter word
* Tools for a Writer's Survival Kit

As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about. In addition to being an award-winning medical suspense author, she is a nationally known presenter and keynote speaker. Publishers Weekly called her first novel, LIFELINES, a breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller." Her second, WARNING SIGNS, was published by Berkley in January, 2009, followed by URGENT CARE in November. To learn more about CJ and her work, go to

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

June 1-25, 2010
"Building The Fiction Pitch, Step By Step"
by Janet Wellington
$30 at

You've completed the manuscript of a story you love, and now all it needs is a home. Time for the next step: marketing your story to an agent and/or editor at a writing conference you've just decided to attend. The thing is, you might be the most talented writer on the planet -- but if you can't describe your story in an exciting but succinct way during a pitching opportunity or appointment, you could be in real trouble.

By taking this course you’ll learn:

* What to do when preparing to pitch
* Anatomy of a pitch; different lengths you'll need and why
* Techniques to help you analyze your story
* The biggest mistake writers make in pitching their stories
* How to craft the opening for your pitch
* The top benefit of an editor/agent appointment at conferences
* How to design a pitch for individual and group appointments
* What to say -- and not say -- if they want more

Janet Wellington is an award-winning author, writing teacher, and line-editor for both published and not-yet-published writers. She started learning the art of pitching stories in 1995 when she attended her first Romance Writers of America national conference, and hasn't stopped since! She has presented workshops on the art of pitching both regionally and nationally, and now teaches online. Read more about her at

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May/June Bootcamp for Novelists Classes

MAY 5/30 TO 6/25


How your character acts in any given situation is based on multiple variables. Here you'll learn what they are and how to use them to make your characters leap off the page. Among the areas covered are the character arcs, values and believes and deep point of view.

FEE: $25

Enroll at

Need more info?
Email Linda

MAY 5/30 TO 6/25


Action rules, introspection is dead. Not entirely true, but every author must learn how to write action and bring events to life on the page. The goal is to generate mental pictures in readers' minds so they can feel the story, live the story. This course deals with scene and sequel overview, distinguishing action scenes from sequels and gaining a mastery of the principles of cause and effect, including how to use smaller beats to produce maximum impact.

FEE: $25

Enroll at

Coming in May
May 23 — July 3

A 6-Week Bootcamp Clinic
taught by Connie Flynn

Mythology was made famous by Joseph Campbell and later applied to screenwriting and storytelling by Hollywood, yet the principles of this powerful tool to readers' subconscious common links are still only vaguely understood. Learn how the archetypes are actually placeholders and that the journey itself takes many forms. This course is six weeks long and features considerable discussion as well as exercises for employing the "Journey" method. We'll also use a textbook — THE WRITERS JOURNEY by Christopher Vogler — and take it apart chapter by chapter to discover how to use this structure to enhance our stories. It is highly recommended that you complete 1B-Characterization and 2B-Plot before taking this course.

FEE: $48
Enroll at

Need more info?
Email Connie at

The Bootcamp will be on summer break during the month of July
Courses will resume on August 1

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

FOR WRITERS: Taglines & the Query Letter

Taglines are the one or two lines that are often on the front of a book cover. They are another way for publishers to draw the interest of a reader to your book. For example, the tagline on the cover of MY UNFAIR LADY is “Who says a proper lady can’t carry a knife?” And from my TBR pile: “A novel of vampires, werewolves and dirigibles” from the cover of CHANGELESS by Gail Carriger. “Her next jump may be her last.” from the cover of GRIMSPACE by Ann Aguirre. “Four lives. Two great loves. Every expectation SHATTERED.” from SHATTERED by Joan Johnston.

Why should this interest an aspiring author? Because this may be a great way to hook an agent or editor to your book in your query letter. Sometimes you only have seconds for your query to catch interest, and a great opening line can do that. It’s always helpful to present your novel from a marketing perspective.

Recently my editor asked me to send her some taglines for THE LADY OF THE STORM, and this is what I managed to come up with:

She has hidden her magic for years, but when a warrior awakens her desires, will it ignite her power for the storm?

A lady with hidden powers. A warrior with an enchanted sword. A destiny and passion neither one of them can deny.

When a warrior's desire ignites the powers of THE LADY OF THE STORM, will their magical world survive the tempest?

When a warrior's desire ignites the powers of the lady of the storm, will they manage to survive the tempest?

The power of the storm blazes within her eyes. His passion for revenge lies within an enchanted sword. When love ignites, will it aid or hinder their quest to save England?

She's hidden her powers--but will discover the magic of the storm in the passionate arms of one darkly delicious man.

She's hidden her magic--but will discover the passion of the storm in the arms of one darkly delicious man.

She's hidden her powers…and only true love will ignite the magic of the storm.

She'll discover her magic in the arms of a cursed lover.

Hidden magic. Hidden desires. A quest that may save their world.

Hidden magic. Hidden desires. A love that may save their world.

Now, for taglines some of these may be too long and will have to be shortened. But can you see how a tagline can be taken from that all-important first line hook of your query letter? Or used as the first line all by itself? You can study the taglines from your favorite books to help you craft your own, and expand on them (if necessary) to use for the opening line of your query letter. One day soon, you may very well be using it in an advertisement for your own novel…or seeing it on the cover of your book.

Monday, May 17, 2010

And the winner is.......

Congratulations Anna (s7anna) you're the winner of Erin's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, May 16, 2010



I decided this was a fitting topic since I did so much of this today. I started out trying to write on the porch, but didn’t type a single word. I went to Starbucks and realized I forgot my earplugs. I can’t write with background music. I was going to try to write at a table in the grocery store and remembered they had background music as well. Finally, I went home, put on a DVD I’ve seen a hundred times, blocked it out and wrote a new scene.

So, why do we procrastinate? I think fears creep up into our subconscious. Possibly the fear it won’t be good enough.

Is all procrastination bad?

If procrastination keeps you from finishing a book, then in one sense it is bad. But I have found it is also sometimes productive.


Before I became a writer, I used to procrastinate from cleaning by watching movies or reading novels. These activities ultimately became research. I learned back then what went into a good story.

Today, when I procrastinate from writing I clean. I find that ironic. I find that when my home is clean I am more productive when I do write. When my condo is a mess, I feel like the walls are closing in on me. Proponents of Feng Shui say clutter blocks your energy flow and leads to frustration.

I generally save movies for the evening, which is my least productive writing time. I have learned to analyze them for good story writing techniques and often report them back to you on this blog.

So, yes, procrastination can be bad if it inhibits you from reaching your ultimate goal, but in moderation may not be so bad overall.

Until next week,
Happy Writing,
Tina LaVon

Friday, May 14, 2010

Interview with Erin Quinn

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Erin Quinn. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called HAUNTING WARRIOR. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

HAUNTING WARRIOR is the story of Rory MacGrath, who readers met in the first book of my Haunting Series, HAUNTING BEAUTY. The night Rory’s father disappeared from his life, Rory disappeared too . . . .but only for a few moments. He was just five at the time, but Rory—as children will—has always felt responsible for what happened that night. In his heart, he feels that something he did, or didn’t do, caused his father to vanish.

Twenty-five years later, Rory is a man now, and not one to dwell in the past. He’s sealed up his memories and put them into long term storage. Living in the US, Rory has turned away from his family, his heritage—and the very magic that has defined his people for centuries. But all that is about to change when Rory MacGrath meets his fate head on.

What made Rory so special for me is the fact that he begins so completely broken. He’s disconnected from everything he loves. He’s convinced himself that he doesn’t mind being alone and that he doesn’t long for more.
But I didn’t believe him. I knew what was in his heart.

It took a very special woman to mate with this incredible man and Rory had to travel through time to find her. His journey to meet his destiny spans only a few days, yet in it he and the woman he was meant for find the love of a lifetime.
What made you decide to write in this genre?

I have always been fascinated with the paranormal, whether it’s time travel, psychic connections, ghosts or past lives—I love it all. I don’t think I could NOT have some element of it in my stories.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

For me, writing is a very organic process. I start with the seeds of an idea or a question. In this case, “What happened to Rory in those few moments he disappeared?” and I go from there. I often have no idea what I’m going to grow until it starts to sprout—and then I’m still in dark until it begins to bloom. Ha, how’s that for a metaphor?

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and/or world affect your character development?

See above. I don’t do all the sketches and interviews because I like to learn my characters as they interact with my story. I’ve tried a more structured approach, but it just doesn’t work that way for me and after five books completed and the sixth almost done, I’ve learned to trust and respect my own process.

How do you go about building your world if you use one? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

All of the above, but I usually have a very clear visual in my head and somehow I can keep it straight up there in that scary place I call my brain.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

More than I can count. There are so many mega talented authors out there that I’m inspired and humbled on a daily basis.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Sigh, I wish I could answer that but it’s hard to say if ANY promotion is effective. Does it work? I dunno. I don’t think anyone knows. I mean, seriously, if publishers knew exactly what sold books, they’d be doing it for all of their books wouldn’t they? There’s a reason why authors carry the burden of promo and that is because it’s not an exact science in any way shape or form and publishers know that you can sink a lot of money into with little results. What makes a reader pick one book over another varies from reader to reader and changes with the wind.

I will say that once I asked NYT Bestselling author Jennifer Ashley that exact question and she gave me some really good advice. She said the only thing that sells more books is more books. I think that is true. If you look at the authors that are topping lists, they are all producing more than 2 books a year.

What do we have to look forward next?

HAUNTING DESIRE comes out in March 2011 and the next book, currently untitled will release in October 2011.

Thanks, Erin!
To celebrate her book release, HAUNTING WARRIOR, Erin is offering Reader’s Choice of either ECHOES OR WHISPERS by Erin Quinn, writing as Erin Grady to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see who won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...
Check out author’s website at

Buy: Amazon:
Indy bound:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


By Connie Flynn

Many people who read Chris Vogler's THE WRITER'S JOURNEY for the first time find themselves forgetting it's about writing. Vogler's world seems so real. We know these people–the threshold guardians who block our way, the shapeshifters who betray us, the mentor who guides us. We've experienced the hero's reluctance to start, the setbacks on the journey, the moments when all seems lost.

By the same token, many writers puzzle over how to apply this material to their own writing. The possible reason is that we take a literal approach and think of archetypes as characters and the stages of the journey as plot points.


The Archetypes
The Campbell archetypes are story roles and placeholders more than characterization. Many of the archetypes can be held by more than one person. Some of them can be held by an animal, an object or even a place.

A character could be a feisty nine-year-old boy and still alternately assume the role of shapeshifter, threshold guardian and mentor through his actions and dialogue. Writers must still build a unique personality for the characters and overlay them with archetypes as the story dictates. By using the roles to aid or present obstacles to the hero as he travels, we can combine their function with other characterization techniques that create rich and textured characters.

The Journey
The stages of the journey are events that should meld into your story, rather than become plot points themselves. It helps to divide the journey into four stages.

In the first stage the Hero, transitions from the known (ordinary) world to the unknown (special) world. The archetype used to create the call to action (Herald) doesn't necessarily require a character. It could be a letter, a dropped object, a barking dog that draws the hero from his bed into a pack of monsters.

The second stage has the Hero fully entering the special world to face tests and enemies, and gains allies. Here, the Mentor is most visible, and the Hero will never depend on him more. A trusted ally or love interest may become a betraying Shapeshifter, the Trickster may show up as capricious weather or the town idiot. The Shadow pops up to test the Hero's resolve. The Hero is beaten down.

In the third stage the Hero faces the Supreme Ordeal. Escape comes only by seeing the danger through. An old ally may return. A loved one may die. The Hero experiences a near-death or a psychological death. Something will be lost, a sacrifice made. Reward comes in the form of new knowledge or a weapon that foretells success.

In stage four the Hero escapes. Guardians and Shadows are hot on their heels. The Hero again stares death in the face and is resurrected through a new skill or perspective. The prize is seized. The love interest is won. The Hero's acts have transformed the ordinary world and he returns to accolades.

During all these events the archetypes and stages of the journey exist only as pressure points to create story conflict and contrast. If they don't serve that purpose, they should be skipped.

Endings do not have to be happy or details nicely tied up. The journey itself is circular and can lead into a new journey. But in classic romance fiction, the Hero always gets the girl. And the bad guy always gets punished. Unless, of course, there's a sequel in the works.

Connie Flynn is a co-founder of Bootcamp for Novelists Online and will teach Applying the Hero's Journey, a six week clinic, beginning May 23rd.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

FOR WRITERS: Never fall in love with your title.

Why? Because it’s part of your marketing package, and is subject to change by your publisher.

The thing is, while you’re madly at work on your book, there’s a marketing team madly at work on positioning it in the marketplace. That entails not only the cover and tagline (a post will follow on this as well) but the title and back cover blurb and author quotes. They want new readers to pick up your book. They want booksellers to place orders for it.

Think of the outside package of your book as kind of like a present. If you get one that’s covered in old newspaper, it might have the gift of your dreams inside, but you probably wouldn’t open it first if another present sat right beside it that was covered in shiny foil paper with a huge glittery bow atop.

You want readers to unwrap your book first.

My working title for book 2 in THE ELVEN LORDS series was THE STORM LORD’S DAUGHTER, and my editor asked me to give them several more title options. It startled me, because it made me realize that they were already working on the marketing, and I haven’t even finished the book (you’d think I’d be used to this by now).

The good thing is, I love brainstorming titles, so I happily set to work coming up with more options. I tried to factor in the historical, fantasy, and romance angle, which is always a challenge. Here are the titles I presented to my editor:

Sorcery & Seduction
Lady of Sea and Sky
The Storm Lady's Seduction*
Lady of the Storm* (No romance angle, but I love the similarity to Lady of the Lake.)
Seducing the Lady of the Storm
Loving the Lady of the Storm
Seducing the Storm
The Storm Lady's Lover*

I put stars by the ones that I preferred, because I’m fortunate to have a publisher that values my input. The title they eventually chose was: THE LADY OF THE STORM (adding ‘the’ to the final title). I have to say that I love it much better than my working title, and I’m grateful to have such a motivated marketing team.

So try to keep in mind that the title of your manuscript is a working title, because when your publisher works on wrapping your book, they may want a different colored bow.

Monday, May 10, 2010

And the winner is......

Congratulations Professor Stacy. You're the winner of Donna's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

It's Complicated

It’s Complicated
Writing the Romantic Triangle
(Spoil Alert – I will give away movie details.)

Our family spent Mother’s Day at our mother’s house for a delicious roast dinner followed by movies. Being a writer, it is almost impossible for me not to analyze a story. What did the writer do well that could help me with my own stories?

In the movie It’s Complicated Meryl Streep’s character, Jane, sends her youngest child off to college and soon finds herself immersed in a “complicated” situation. She ends up at the same bar with her ex-husband, Jake (Alec Baldwin). They have more than a few drinks and end up in bed together. To make the situation more complicated, since their divorce he married the woman he had an affair with during their marriage. Then, to make things even more complicated, she starts dating Adam (Steve Martin), the architect working on the addition to her house.

The hardest part of writing a love triangle is making the heroine sympathetic to the audience/reader. Affairs are generally frowned upon. In this case, the fact she constantly feels horrible, the man was once her husband, and her shrink tells her it’s okay to explore this, makes her actions forgivable. She also needed a valid reason for being involved with two men. In this situation, Jane feels as though she hasn’t resolved the issues in her marriage. Okay, we can understand that, but why involve the innocent architect? She doesn’t start dating Adam until Jake stands her up for a dinner date and she decides she isn’t going to see him again. Jane soon discovers it’s difficult not to follow the heart, especially when the family is together and it feels like old times. Her emotions waver, but she doesn't fall back into bed with the ex after she begins dating Adam.

I found myself wanting Jane to be with both men at times. And neither one at times too. This made the story more compelling. When Jane’s family spent time together with Jake, I felt warm all over and wanted the family reunited. But, her ex would soon say something crass and I thought she could do better. As a couple, I didn’t believe he added to her life. On the other hand, we have the architect, Adam. He is nice, but still getting over his divorce which could be a problem. He’s also a bit nerdy, which I found endearing, but some women may not. As the movie progresses, he shows he is a wise, responsible man.

The writer did a great job of gradually showing Adam as the better choice, so we were happy with her choosing him. Of course, the reader knew the audience would still want that family unit to exist, so the addition of a few lines near the end proved she made the wise choice. Jake tells Jane he doesn’t regret giving it a second chance and she says it would have been better if he wasn’t married. Jake says it might not have ever happened if he wasn’t married, proving he can’t be faithful.

At the end of the movie we are glad she got the answers to her questions regarding her former marriage and she ended up with the better man. Well done.

Until next week,
Happy Writing,
Tina LaVon

Friday, May 7, 2010

Interview with Donna MacQuigg

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Donna MacQuigg. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called The Dragon’s Secret. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?
It’s my first fantasy romance set in 975. I think the advance praise or blurb given by my dear friend and critique partner, and a member of the Desert Rose chapter, Kathryne Kennedy bests describes it. “A beautiful tale of predestined love and the power of a dragon’s tears.”

The Dragon’s Secret is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?
There are several secrets revealed throughout the story and one of the most important is known by the spirit of the old dragon that ‘haunts’ the castle.

What made you decide to write in this genre?
I have to give Kathryne credit again. Kathryne is a well known fantasy historical author. She read the first draft of Dragon, which was a straight historical at the time and suggested that I add a little magic. She gave me some ideas which were fairly easy to incorporate into the story and waalaa, I created a fantasy full of sorceresses, mystical dragons, and an evil wizard.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?
I love medieval times and also stories about Druids, their culture and the various tribes of ancient Wales.

What are your favorite fantasy research books, and why?
I love books and usually end up buying them rather than checking them out of the library. I have quite a selection, but the three that influenced this story were The Sacred World of the CELTS, by Nigel Pennick, Myths and Legends of the Middle Ages, by H.A. Guerber, and lastly I picked up a “Living History” book entitled The Vikings. Although “Living History” books are geared for young readers, they are full of pictures and descriptive text that I find very useful. I highly recommend them.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?
Gosh, that’s a hard one. I love to write about villains, but I guess I’d have to say my heroine, Sayrid is my best character. In the story, her powers as a sorceress are just beginning to unfold. It was lots of fun writing about her reaction to the changes she’s going through.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and world affect your character development?
I don’t use charts. I usually jot down descriptions and personality traits on a steno pad on my desk. I often go back and tweak my characters as the story unfolds.

How do you go about building your world? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?
Since I use real places, I use history books and the internet to help me with descriptions and locations. After I’ve chosen my location, and looked though as many pictures of the area I can find, I let my imagination take over. In Dragon, I wanted the castle to vaguely resemble a dragon’s head, yet still have towers and walls to incase the out buildings.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?
Well, at the risk of repeating myself, Kathryne Kennedy was and is my biggest influence.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
I like to do library mailings, bookmarks and sending out ARC’s for reviews.

What do we have to look forward next?
I have several things on the burner, but nothing that I can say at the moment. I ask that my readers stay tuned for previews of next week’s show!

Thanks, Donna!

To celebrate her book release, Donna is offering a free book of The Dragon’s Secret to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see who won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio..Donna MacQuigg has previously published six historical romances and one contemporary western romance. The Dragon’s Secret is her first in a series of fantasy books.

Check out author’s website at

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rudy's Blog

Winters's Over Yay!
Hi, everyone. Sorry to be so late filling you in on what mom and I’ve been doing, but it’s been a wild couple of months. The weather here in February was crazy. We got snow...lots of snow. I know, I know, you got snow where you live, too, but hey, we’re down on the eastern shore of Virginia. We’re supposed to be protected by water on both sides. Of course, every once in a while a storm gets crazy and heads our way. This year, we got the biggest and longest lasting snow mom and the gang have had since we moved here.

Buckley and Belle as small, so they could walk on top of the snow, but Sasha, well she just sunk in and stayed put. Mom didn’t get angry, because she knew Sasha was raised in a crate and that was probably her first time dealing with the big white flakes, so she and dad were patient, trying to teach her what to do in the snow.

The beginning of March was busy, too. Mom and her sis, Nancy, headed out to the Hamptons to do research for boom FIVE in the dog walker series. They stayed in the Montauk Manor and drove around for two days, searching for the celebs and their houses. They got a glimpse of the homes of Martha Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Joel, and Christie Brinkley. They even saw that sleazeball Bernie Madoff’s house, which gave mom the inspiration for the home featured in book five. And they had a true taste of living in the Hamptons, which is quite a snazzy place.

We didn’t see many dogs, but Montauk Manor is pet friendly, so check them out if you ever decide to go ‘out east’ on Long Island. And don’t forget about book FOUR, BEGGING FOR TROUBLE , due out in March of 2011. This is a totally fun story about the world of cross-dressers. Can you figure out who the star of the book will be, beside me, of course?

Keep thinking. If you’re a loyal reader, you’ll figure it out. For now, add DEATH IN SHOW to your reading list. You can order it on Amazon right now, and they’ll ship it out first day it’s available.

Me? I’m scheduled to go for a walk with a couple friends I met up here, like Teddy and Big Bear. We’re lookin’ for new trees to um...well, you know what dogs need trees for, don’t’cha?

And if you get a free minute, drop mom a line. She still misses me somethin’ fierce, still cries every day because I’m not with her, too. But she knows I’m there next to her as she writes MY stories. That will never change.

Talk to you all soon,

The Rudster

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Chocolate Diamonds!

I’m happy to announce that we have a winner for the first contest for THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER. Congratulations to Ron M. of Fair Haven, Michigan! I’m sure his wife will love her gift. :}

Ron had the eighteenth entry, chosen by the site below:

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:18
Timestamp: 2010-05-01 14:16:03 UTC

Thank all of you so very much for your support! The entries were fabulous and I appreciate you spreading the word about my new series! And here are the details for the second contest (you can view the prize here:

SECOND jewelry contest for


What two words are a perfect combination for the romance reader? Chocolate. And diamonds. So to launch the first book in my new series, THE ELVEN LORDS, I will be having three contests that feature chocolate diamond jewelry. See below for a photo and description of the sparkling prize for this second contest.

This contest is all about your friends. Just send your friend an email telling them about the first book in the series, THE FIRE LORD'S LOVER, and 'cc' or forward a copy of that email to: I will keep your friend's email address confidential and I will only contact them to verify that it's a valid email address.

You can enter with as many different friends as you'd like.

A winner will be randomly chosen from those with a verifiable email address using RANDOM.ORG. Entering the contest automatically signs you up for the author's newsletter. Your information will be kept confidential. Contest ends June 30th, 2010. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years or older to enter. No prize substitution permitted. Odds of winning are determined by number of entrants. This contest is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations.

My Very Best Wishes and Good Luck!

Monday, May 3, 2010

And the winner is.........

Congratulations deenar116. You're the winner of Donna's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Redeeming the Bad Boy

An Affair to Remember
My mother used to watch the 2:00 movie every week day afternoon. I would often come home from school to find her eyes and nose red from crying. On one such occassion, I came home in time to see the end of the movie, An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. I have never forgotten the scene where he realizes she is the woman who bought his painting - the woman who cannot walk. This is the same scene discussed in Sleepless in Seattle. Deborah Kerr's characer is supposed to meet Cary Grant's character at the top of the Empire State Building if, after six months, they still love each other and plan to run off to get married. He waits there in a thunderstorm not knowing she has been hit by a car.
I watched the movie again as an adult, as a writer, wondering how they transformed the hero from a playboy into a likeable man worthy of our heroine's love. Most of the small steps taken were shown in the scene where the Deborah Kerr character meets his grandmother.
1. They show animals and children like him, so he must be okay. We are often told that animals and children are instinctually correct about a person's character.
2. His grandmother adores him and we get to see him through her loving eyes. If someone else loves a person we tend to believe they must have some redeeming qualities.
3. He dotes on his grandmother, thus showing his softer, loving side. He even gives her a painting he made of his deceased grandfather knowing how much she loved him.
4. The grandmother tells the heroine her grandson was once an altar boy. We tend to think he can't be all bad if he has roots in the church.
5. He gazes upon the statue in the chapel and then admires the heroine praying. We see signs of some religous beliefs lingering and his growing affection for our heroine.
6. The grandmother tells us he is a talented artist but gave it up because he is such a harsh critic of his own work. We feel a bit sorry for him here.
7. He later tells the heroine that he wants to be worthy of marrying her, so he is going to spend the next six months trying to earn a living. During an interview with his current fiance, he announces he is getting married in six months and he plans to support his wife with his painting. We are shown here that he is still committed to the heroine and the plans they made. (But he still needs to get out of his current relationship. The heroine is watching the interview with her fiance, whom she still needs to leave.)
8. The hero becomes more likable yet when he refuses to sign his own name to his paintings and thus capitalize on his playboy image.
9. We know he has changed his ways when he no longer acts like the playboy even though the heroine did not show up for their meeting.
10. His most heroic move is when he shows he still loves the heroine even though she cannot walk. That is the scene that stole our hearts.
Although we are told repeatedly our hero must be likable, this movie shows you can have a bad boy if you show early on that the character has redeeming qualities. The reader needs to know our hero will be worthy in the end, just like Cary Grant's character did in An Affair to Remember.

Until next week,
Happy Writing!
Tina LaVon