What does leftist literature mean to me?

Today, the Speakeasy Scribes are hosting Leftist Literature and Libations over on Facebook, a virtual get together to celebrate the pre-launch of Rejoice and Resist over at the Final Draft Tavern, the virtual hangout for the Speakeasy Scribes and their characters. I just so happen to be one of the authors and a co-host. Interested? Click here to join and you can hangout online, on your phone, tablet, or laptop, from the safety of your home, bookstore, coffeehouse, or local pub, with the writers this evening.

Before I get into what leftist literature means to me, I’d like to talk about the mission behind the Speakeasy Scribes.

The online writing community is full of intelligent, talented, and extremely passionate people. There are groups for newbie writers, more seasoned authors, groups that focus on critique and craft, and others that focus on marketing and how to find new readers. One thing these groups have in common is support. Writers are great at supporting, encouraging, and even donating time to help their fellow writers. Another thing most of these groups have in common are rules.

Depending on the group, there can be a short or very long list of rules for joining. Most groups have the following basic rules in common:

  1. No insults. No name calling. Members are all adults and should act like it. Don’t piss off admin by being disrespectful, or some other variation.
  2. No politics. This group is for writers. If you want to talk about politics, do it on your own page or elsewhere or admin ( aka the all-powerful group overlords appointed to decide what is and is not appropriate ) will delete the post and give you a stern warning, if not boot you from the group all together.
  3. No religion. Period.

All of the above are the standard rules for the majority of the groups out there, the same rules your supposed to abide by in polite company.

Well screw that.

Let me back up for a second. The members of these groups are supportive and do share a wealth of information, and every writer or wannabe writer should join online groups immediately. You try on a group to see if it fits, if not, you try on another. And another until you find the right fit for your writing needs. I belong to many groups. Some marketing based, others craft based, other solely support based which really are the equivalent to making friends online and having a safe space to vent. And all of the above are priceless.

But here is where I start to question the rules.

Rule no 1. No insults, essentially behave and don’t be a jerk. Yes, good. I get it. Be nice. I have no reason to insult my fellow writers and no wish to be insulted. I want to befriend them, not tear them down. But unfortunately this rule is a necessity because some adults are unable to keep their inner jerks and inner toddlers in check.

Rules no 2. & 3. The next two, no politics and no religion, are a little bit harder to abide by. Frankly, a lot harder. Writers should be discussing politics and religion. Whatever your platform—fiction, non-fiction, or editorials for a newspaper, magazine, or blog—as a writer, I believe we all have a responsibility to address the important issues around the world. Are we not here to examine the world around us; to entertain, inform, and open the minds of our readers? The books we write address all sorts of social and political issues and often showcase those issues at the center of the theme or plot, so why in the world can we not discuss them in a writer’s group?

Oh yeah, it’s because there are adults that are unable to follow Rule no.1. So frustrating. And as we all know, following Rule no.1 or rather disregarding it altogether, has somehow become one of the biggest problems online. People are more ready to insult, degrade, and bully when safely tucked behind a screen. I mean, when did people become so nasty? Reading through comments on a post on Facebook can sometimes be hazardous to your mental health… but I digress.

The Speakeasy Scribes was formed to share knowledge about the art of writing, to support each other personally and via joint marketing in an effort to expand our reach to new readers, and as a place to share ideas, opinions, and our experiences. Because we are adults and embrace our own diversity within the group, we also work together on joint projects like Rejoice and Resist which not only entertain, but celebrate diversity, and encourage readers to stand up for themselves and others. We are an international group of free and progressive thinkers who write across a multitude of genres. We aim for freedom of expression, and a world in which everyone feels valued, heard, safe, and loved. We do lean left and do not apologize for it. But the only rule we have is to be respectful. Period.

Leftist literature is for people who promote self-determination and emancipation from oppression. If you’re one of these people, help us celebrate our new release, Rejoice and Resist, and join our pre-launch event on Facebook. Click here for event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1460438850660394/

Click here to keep up with the Speakeasy Scribes on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SpeakeasyScribes/

The Final Draft Tavern is the fictional home away from home for the Speakeasy Scribes and their characters and is the setting for Rejoice and Resist. Click here to check out the Final Draft Tavern: https://www.facebook.com/FinalDraftTavern/

Find out more about the Speakeasy Scribes on our website: http://www.speakeasyscribes.com/

I write sweet and spicy romance, and enjoy reading a wide range of genres. Exploring the art of the written word is a passion, and I delight in both page-turning conflict and stomach-flipping chemistry. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. My dream is to travel the world with my laptop, creating captivating characters and dreamy escapes. I sing constantly, if a bit off-key to my family’s chagrin. I’m also a klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

Website: http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/jennifersenhaji

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jsenhaji13

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jsenhaji13

Blog: http://jennifersenhaji.blogspot.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jennifersenhaji

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Jsenhaji

WordPress: https://jsenhaji13.wordpress.com/

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DACA Underexposed

In 2012, DACA provided a glimmer of hope to undocumented children. Instead of being regulated to subpar prospects, for the first time these kids could seek out a higher education, drive, and obtain more than emergency medical care. They planned and studied for actual careers, when their parents were obliged to accept menial jobs, unless by some miracle they were able to save enough money to open their own businesses.

Now, the future of all these children and young adults is again in question. Will they have to give up their education, their jobs, and their hopes for the future?

Why must these children and young adults only live the life they deserve in their dreams?

In my story, Underexposed, which takes place at The Final Draft, soon to be released in the Speakeasy Scribes anthology, the protagonist, a photojournalist named Gustavo, just so happens to be an orphan who was naturalized as a U.S. citizen. He escaped his life as a garbage picker in Tijuana as a child. Here’s a peek at his story.

“At the age of nine, I was picked up by CPS on the streets of San Diego where I was selling gum to surfers on Mission Beach after escaping my so called life as a scavenger in the heaps of Tijuana. I knew my name, but never had a birth certificate from Mexico to prove it or my birth-date. I still don’t know my real birth-date. The one on my ID was just chosen by random by my social worker, Beth. She took pity on me, watched out for me. She was the first person who ever really cared about me.” I sniff at her memory.

“She sounds like an amazing woman.”

I nod and meet Zoe’s eyes. “She must have had some crazy connections with the state department and immigration because after eight years in the foster care system, I came out of it with a U.S. passport.”

“That’s incredible. See, I knew you’d be interesting.” She nudges my shoulder with hers.

I shrug. “I’ve always been grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given since arriving in the U.S., yet never felt like I quite deserved them. Why me and not the others, the kids I left behind?”

She places a gentle hand on my forearm. “Why not you?”

***

Unfortunately, most kids that arrive as Gustavo did never end up as citizens. They spend their lives observing their friends and peers succeed while they remain limited by their lack of documentation just because their parents didn’t have the money or connections to bring them here with the proper piece of paper in hand. But then, when you are fleeing a place where you decidedly have little or no opportunities, you are rarely going to be in a position to provide financial proof of eligibility. Because let’s face it, those who are financially thriving in their own countries are not a threat. They produce bank statements and a list of assets as evidence they are likely to return in order to enter the U.S. legally. Americans take for granted that we are blessed with access into most countries in the world without anything more than a passport. To obtain a passport, all we need is a birth certificate. No one asks to see our financial statements. No one questions whether or not we will overstay our expected visit. But someone who has nothing-not even a birth certificate from their own country because they were born into poverty or are from a small village where they don’t exist-what collateral do they have to provide their government or ours of their return?

It’s the dream of something better, a better life for themselves and their children that brings them here. After all, isn’t there a plaque next to our Lady Liberty, one of the most recognized statues in the world, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

Keep their dreams alive. Write to your representatives in Congress in support of the #Dreamers today.

The Speakeasy Scribes-A forum for free and progressive thinkers who write across a multitude of genres to share their art and love of the written word. Find us on Facebook and Like our page here: https://www.facebook.com/SpeakeasyScribes/

 

The Final Draft Tavern is the fictional home-away-from-home for the Speakeasy Scribes and their literary characters, who will appear here (and in upcoming box sets). The Final Draft has always been a hotbed of rebellion and dissent, its backroom a legendary locale for activists, protestors, and resistance movements. The tavern has been in existence since 1068, and is accessible from every country and continent, in every time period — past, present, and future. (Maybe you can find a portal in your neighborhood…) The bookstore, the bar, and the building, have been passed down for centuries, through generations of the Marchand family, holders of the keys to the secrets it keeps. Find us on Facebook and Like our page here: https://www.facebook.com/FinalDraftTavern/

I write sweet and spicy romance, and enjoy reading a wide range of genres. Exploring the art of the written word is a passion, and I delight in both page-turning conflict and stomach-flipping chemistry. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. My dream is to travel the world with my laptop, creating captivating characters and dreamy escapes. I sing constantly, if a bit off-key to my family’s chagrin. I’m also a klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

Website: http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/jennifersenhaji

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jsenhaji13

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jsenhaji13

Romance Blog: http://jennifersenhaji.blogspot.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jennifersenhaji

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Jsenhaji

WordPress: https://jsenhaji13.wordpress.com/

 

 

Historical Fiction Fanatics, you’ve got to read this.

Do you often find yourself browsing your local antique stores, binge watching shows like Penny Dreadful and Downton Abbey, and fondling leather-bound classics at the bookstore?

I know I can always count on Jane Austin and Henry James to lift my spirits whenever I’m down in the dumps. Give me a sunny day at the Renaissance Fair and I’m giddy for a week.

I found my love of literature by reading historical fiction and romance. Today, I’m happy to share that love with you by introducing you to three talented writers who just so happen to write historical fiction.

First up is Mari Christie, writer of historical fiction and editor extraordinaire. She has a brand new release out about a newsman that’s caught between his Southern family upbringing, his own values, and his life in the North with his wife and children just as the Civil War breaks out. I’m in the middle of Chapter 11 and completely enthralled. Here’s a peek into Blind Tribute, which just released July, 28th, 2017.

The Wentworths were founding members of the club, had contributed most of the building fund and many of the Negroes who had built it. Behind the wall to their left, on one of the frame beams, he and Edward had carved their initials when they were seven or so.

Harry’s father—Palmer Harrold Wentworth the Second, called Second since the day his son was born—came through the door from the dining room.

“You have no claim on our family history or this club. I’m sorry I gave you my name.”

His father’s tall, thin frame was tensile as a fencing foil, and his face like the dry husk of a topiary labyrinth, sharp angles and deep lines, compelling, thorny, and difficult to escape. His grey hair, the thick, wiry hair he’d passed down to Harry, and to Harry’s son, was tied in a queue and much thinner after ten years, but his suit looked exactly the same, as did the expression on his face.

“You’ll not be joining anything,” he barked. “You are a damned Yankee and a traitor to the South. Go back to Philadelphia where you belong.”

“Father. It’s lovely to see you in such good spirits.” His half-smile hid wary eyes. “I had assumed from your responses to my past infractions that the shock of my arrival might have killed you.” He raised his glass to his father’s health and took a sip.

The long veins on the sides of his father’s neck distended and began to quiver. “I am long since accustomed to your disregard for your family and position.” His tightly-wound fists were a concession to his better nature. “Your mother and sister are distraught, and you would have them ostracized rather than rein in your propensity for gossip and scandal.”

“My opinions are hardly gossip. Not a year ago, Harper’s called me a national treasure.” Harry turned to the man who had declined his cigar, now two seats away at the bar. The man stuttered and tried to look away, but Harry kept his gaze. “I’m sure you must have read a few of P. H. Wentworth’s opinions. Would you consider them gossip?”

His father was the one who answered: “Your opinions are nothing short of treason. Only your mother’s defense has kept me from calling you out already.”

“I have no such compunction,” Edward spat. Harry remembered Edward had been a hell of a good brawler in the down-rent pubs at Oxford, and he had the same look in his eye now. He might finish off hundreds of Yankees before the war was over, starting with Harry. “Unless you’d like to meet me at dawn, I’d suggest you leave.”

“I try not to do anything at dawn but read the newspaper. But,” Harry offered, “I’d be happy to meet you for supper any evening to renew our acquaintance.” Harry considered his cigar, which might not be in his hand much longer. “Either of you.”

“I am nothing but sorry we ever had an acquaintance. It’s time for you to leave.”

Harry puffed on his cigar, and waited to see if his father or Edward would be the one to bodily throw him out the front door. Before the answer presented itself, two big barmen converged and tried to grab his arms. He yanked himself away, downed the last of his drink, and thumped the glass back onto the bar. “I suppose I shouldn’t bother to come to the house.”

Harry’s father took two threatening steps toward him. “If you contact your mother or sister, I will run you through.”

Harry held his ground without flinching, but a sense of finality imbued his father’s words, such as Harry had never heard in more than fifty years of animosity between them. He drew on his cigar one last time and strategically retreated before his father decided to murder him in cold blood, in broad daylight, before witnesses.

“Anne and your grandchildren send their best,” Harry called over his shoulder. The manager handed him his coat and hat as he reached the door.

Harry had answered his own question, with less trouble than expected. If his own family would cast him out, he couldn’t count on anyone in the Confederacy remembering him fondly.

 

Every newspaper editor may owe tribute to the devil, but Harry Wentworth’s bill just came due.

As America marches toward the Civil War, Harry Wentworth, gentleman of distinction and journalist of renown, finds his calls for peaceful resolution have fallen on deaf—nay, hostile—ears, so he must finally resolve his own moral quandary. Comment on the war from his influential—and safe—position in Northern Society, or make a news story and a target of himself South of the Mason-Dixon Line, in a city haunted by a life he has long since left behind?

The day-to-day struggle against countervailing forces, his personal and professional tragedies on both sides of the conflict, and the elegant and emotive writings that define him, all serve to illuminate the trials of this newsman’s crusade, irreparably altering his mind, his body, his spirit, and his purpose as an honorable man. Blind Tribute exposes the shifting stones of the moral high ground, as Harry’s family and friendships, North and South, are shattered by his acts of conscience.

Mari was “raised up” in journalism (mostly raising her glass at the Denver Press Club bar) after the advent of the web press, but before the desktop computer. She has since plied her trade as a writer, editor, and designer across many different fields, and currently works as a technical writer and editor.

Under the name Mari Christie, she has released a book-length epic poem, Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness: Poetry of the Mayan Underworld, and under pen name Mariana Gabrielle, she has written several Regency romances, including the Sailing Home Series and La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess. Blind Tribute is her first mainstream historical novel. She expects to release the first book in a new family saga, The Lion’s Club, in 2018.

She holds a BA in Writing, summa cum laude and With Distinction, from the University of Colorado Denver, and is a member of the Speakeasy Scribes, the Historical Novel Society, and the Denver Press Club. She has a long family history in Charleston, South Carolina, and is the great-great niece of a man in the mold of Harry Wentworth.

All links to purchase Blind Tribute may be found here: www.books2read.com/blindtribute

You can find Mari online at www.MariAnneChristie.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MariChristieAuthor

Next up we have Quenby Olson, writer of historical romance and historical suspense. I have read several of her books, and each and every time I fall more in love with her writing. A master of prose and imagery, I’m always eager to get my hands on her next release. Here’s a peek at The Bride Price, available August 1, 2017.

“And if I do marry this man you’ve chosen, do you promise—” She stopped herself there. All her life, she’d known how well her father had kept to his promises. “Will I still be able to see Katie and Sarah? Will they be allowed to visit with me?”

He eyed her for a minute, and she wondered what thoughts he was choosing to entertain. “You may see them as often as is convenient,” he said at last, and in that moment she knew that he was keeping something from her.

“I see.” She needed time to think, a day, a week, perhaps an entire year. But she knew her father and she knew that he would not give her the single tick of a clock if she asked for it.

Her sisters. . . If she was still allowed to see them, to have teas and outings with them, maybe even to have them over to stay at her new home, then perhaps she could still have some influence over their lives and prevent their father from using them as pawns in the endless game he played to regain the fortune he’d already lost.

“Make your choice, Emily.” Her father had turned back to the fireplace, his fingers sliding over the elaborately carved woodwork with the caress of someone who would pinch the entire house and place it in his pocket if he could. “The sooner we can sweep up this mess you’ve made, the less tarnish we’ll have to scrub off the family name when we’re trying to dupe a few fellows into picking up Katie and Sarah, eh?”

She heard the sound of footsteps above her, followed by the opening and closing of a door beneath her feet. It was almost profane, she thought, that the day-to-day activities that burdened other people’s lives should be allowed to continue while she stood there and watched as her own life, her future, was so swiftly and irrevocably demolished.

To save her family from scandal, Emily Collicott must marry.

Ruined in her first season in London, she is given no choice but to wed her father’s pick for a husband, or be cast out from her home. Emily agrees to marry William Hazlitt, a man she hardly knows. But William remembers her. Growing up as a tenant on her father’s estate, he admired her from afar, their lives kept separate first by class, and then by loss.

Emily seeks to begin a new life with this quiet man to whom she finds herself wedded. But the scandal she escaped in London soon finds her again, the very man who destroyed her reputation threatening to tear down the happiness she’s found with her new husband. To keep from losing everything, she must either make a deal with a devil… or learn how to defeat one.

 

Quenby Olson lives in Central Pennsylvania where she spends most of her time writing, glaring at baskets of unfolded laundry, and chasing the cat off the kitchen counters. She lives with her husband and three children, who do nothing to dampen her love of classical ballet, geeky crochet, and staying up late to watch old episodes of Doctor Who.

You can purchase The Bride Price on Amazon here: http://a.co/1BWn24d

You can find Quenby online at https://quenbyolson.wordpress.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/QuenbyOlson/

Last, but not least, we have Lawrence Hogue, writer of historical romance as well as other fiction and non-fiction. As a member of The Speakeasy Scribes, I have read a couple of his shorter works, and can vouch for his mastery of ink on a page. In a nutshell, he’s awesome. Here’s a little peek at Daring and Decorum, also available August 1, 2017.

At last Anthony broke the silence. “Elizabeth, I have been meaning to apologize for my behavior when the highwayman assaulted you.”

“Apologize? For what should you apologize? We were all of us in danger.”

“Yet I should have prevented his outrageous behavior toward you. It is a moment I will regret for the rest of my days. When I think that we used to play games of chivalry in this very spot, and then when the opportunity for true chivalry arose, I was not up to the challenge. You stood up for yourself more than I did.”

I stole a glance to see him staring dejectedly at the lane before us. “Perhaps, in such a situation, a woman can get away with what a man could not. Had you provoked him more than you did, he might have shot you. And you did challenge him to a duel.”

“Empty bluff and bluster. I knew he wouldn’t honor such a challenge. No, it was my duty to protect you, and I failed. And now Father bids me to follow him to London.”

The silence lengthened once more. “You depart today, do you not?”

“We leave within the hour. I wanted to pay my respects before leaving.”

“It is most appreciated,” I said, employing that cautious reserve through which I had always hoped to safeguard both our hearts, though now my preoccupation with the highwayman also played a part. I was searching for a different subject for our conversation when he went on.

“Elizabeth, is there no chance your father will send you to London for the latter part of the season?”

I allowed him half a smile, careful not to let my gaze linger too long on his bright blue eyes or the smooth skin of his high cheekbones, tanned from his recent outings afield. “I’m sure he’s worried that an eligible bachelor would capture my heart and take me far from home.” Anthony knew as well as I that Father had not the means to send me, along with Mrs. Simmons, to London. “No, he is happy that I content myself with Devonshire society. It does not trouble me.”

He was silent for several moments more, then said, “I wish I could stay in Devon. Town is not for me — too crowded, too many people to know and their ranks to keep track of. I prefer it here in the country. I don’t see what London has to offer, and I grow tired of having my every move directed by my parents.”

I kept my attention on the lane ahead of me, unwilling to lead him farther into danger. “What is there to occupy you here, now that the sporting season has ended?”

But my efforts were of little use. He stopped in the lane and placed a hand on my arm, his voice low and filled with meaning as he replied, “More than you know, Lizzie.”

That was the moment at which, to please Father and Mrs. Simmons, I should have turned my pleading eyes upon him and asked, in all innocence, whatever could he mean? Following which, he would no doubt pour out his heart and kiss my hand, pledging that he would stand up to his father in choosing a mate.

But I knew how that would end, for I was sure that Anthony had not the heart to defy his father for long. And even if he did, where could it lead? For it was well known that the bulk of Holbourne’s lands were free of entail, and Lord Highdown could dispose of them as he wished, leaving Anthony the poorest Earl in the kingdom when he took the title. Would Anthony commit himself to a life of relative poverty and humiliation in order to marry me? I was certain not. The inevitable result would be heartbreak for us both, the loss of our friendship, and my own reputation sullied as the foolish girl taken in by the frivolous romances of a nobleman.

Now I was glad for all my father’s training, as it allowed me to steady myself for what I must do. “Come now,” I said, masking my true feelings with more playfulness than I felt. “I haven’t a doubt that you will be a great hit in the ton. Half the eligible girls will be falling over themselves to capture your attentions. You will make your parents very happy and proud.”

For a moment he seemed to consider defying his parents’ wishes, proclaiming allegiance to his own heart, but then his expression grew more determined as his upbringing as a gentleman and heir to the Earldom asserted itself. “You have always been my greatest friend, Lizzie. You always have much better sense than I do.”

“You sound as if you are off to war! I hope we will be the best of friends for years to come, when our children are playing together on family visits.”

I gazed at him as calmly as I could, then we continued our walk, maintaining our silence until we reached the joining of the lane that led to his family’s estate, where we bid our farewells. I continued toward the village, conscious of a certain hypocrisy in urging my friend to ignore the demands of his own heart, when I could not quiet my own thoughts after one kiss from a stranger, and a rogue at that.

Elizabeth Collington, the twenty-year-old daughter of a country vicar, longs for more than the circumscribed life of her 18th-century Devonshire village. When a highwayman steals a kiss along with her mother’s necklace – provoking feelings of which her father would never approve – she suddenly has a secret no one must know. But the highwayman also has a secret: “he” is actually a woman.

Will the story of the highwayman’s past – complete with a tyrannical husband, a gloomy castle, and a daring escape into London’s underworld – persuade Elizabeth to abandon propriety in favor of passion? In the end, can the lovers make an independent life in a world where women are little more than property, evading both the redcoats and the jealous young lord who would tear them apart?

Daring and Decorum is comedy of manners wrapped around a gothic tale; a mashup of Jane Austen, Alfred Noyes’ poem The Highwayman, Robin Hood, and Moll Cutpurse; and a passionate case for the freedom to love whom one chooses.

Buy Links for Daring and Decorum:

Amazon | Amazon UK | B&NWebsite | Smashwords

Lawrence Hogue’s writing is all over the place and all over time. He started out in nonfiction/nature writing with a personal narrative/environmental history of the Anza-Borrego Desert called All the Wild and Lonely Places: Journeys in a Desert Landscape. After moving to Michigan, he switched to writing fiction, including contemporary stories set in the desert and fanfiction based on the videogame Skyrim. He’s a fan of folk music, and got the idea for Daring and Decorum while listening to Loreena McKennitt’s outstanding adaptation of Alfred Noyes’ poem, The Highwayman. When not speaking a word for nature or for forgotten LGBT people of history, he spends his white-knighting, gender-betraying energies on Twitter and Facebook, and sometimes on the streets of Lansing, MI, and Washington DC. He’s been called a Social Justice Warrior, but prefers Social Justice Wizard or perhaps Social Justice Lawful Neutral Rogue.

That’s three fantastic books for all you histfic fanatics. That should keep you busy for a while.

So tell me, what’s the last historical fiction or historical romance you read that knocked your socks off?

 

I write sweet and spicy romance, and enjoy reading a wide range of genres. Exploring the art of the written word is a passion, and I delight in both page-turning conflict and stomach-flipping chemistry. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. My dream is to travel the world with my laptop, creating captivating characters and dreamy escapes. I sing constantly, if a bit off-key to my family’s chagrin. I’m also a klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

Website: http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/jennifersenhaji

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jsenhaji13

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jsenhaji13

Blog: http://jennifersenhaji.blogspot.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jennifersenhaji

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Jsenhaji

WordPress: https://jsenhaji13.wordpress.com/

Romance Scavenger Hunt

scavenger-hunt1

If you enjoy romance and free gift cards to ebook retailers, this is the contest for you. Follow the link to the Rafflecopter Giveaway and hunt through author websites to answer the listed questions. Those answers are entries to a raffle for one of 5 gift certificates. You’ll also be asked if you want to join the participating author’s mailing lists. Answer yes or no and you have another entry. Good luck and much love.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e8df5c9815/?

jennifer-senhaji

I write sweet and spicy romance, and enjoy reading a wide range of genres. Exploring the art of the written word is a passion, and I delight in both page-turning conflict and stomach-flipping chemistry. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. My dream is to travel the world with my laptop, creating captivating characters and dreamy escapes. I sing constantly, if a bit off-key to my family’s chagrin. I’m also a klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

Website: http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/jennifersenhaji

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jsenhaji13

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jsenhaji13

Blog: http://jennifersenhaji.blogspot.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jennifersenhaji

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Jsenhaji

WordPress: https://jsenhaji13.wordpress.com/

Today’s Featured Author – Jennifer Senhaji

Into Another World

Please welcome author Jennifer Senjaji to my blog. She is busy writing two different books but took a break to give us some insight into her writing. Her latest release was Angels in Disguise, a novella released in December. You can purchase it on Amazon.

Interview

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

There is a little bit of me in every character I write; of who I am or want to be.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes, I’m currently in the thick of writing two different novels. One, will be the third book and the finale to my Sunset Dreams Series. The other is the first book in a new series that starts where my last novella, Angels in Disguise (a prelude of sorts), leaves off. Both…

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Are you paying attention?

all-human-beings-are-equal-in-dignity-and-rights

Michael Douglas in The American President said, “Being president of this country is entirely about character.” This statement couldn’t be more accurate.

He goes on to say, “America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve got to want it bad because it’s going to put up a fight. It’s going to say, you want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a life time opposing at the top of yours.”

My fellow humans, now is not the time to hide under a rock. Yes, I understand you feel anxious, overwhelmed, and are sick and tired of political posts clogging up your social media news feed. Yes, I too would like to read about the next big romance novel and watch a few cat videos. But the simple truth is the U.S., and by default the world, is in crisis. If you still think it’s all talk, you haven’t been paying attention.

U.S. Constitution-Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

You don’t want to get involved… The change in policies won’t affect you… What about your family, friends, neighbors? Will you look the other way when the person standing next to you is taken into custody and shipped off to a detainment center? Or worse?

Your human rights are in jeopardy. The environment, this place we call home, ya know, earth, is in jeopardy. This isn’t something we can pretend will go away. Naiveté in this matter is not endearing or acceptable.

If you are unfamiliar with what exactly human rights are, I direct you to the UN website and a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html which I have also copied below.

How many of these freedoms will we lose before everyone stands up and says, “Hell No!” The United States is a government by the people for the people; that means majority rules, my friends. I have to believe that the majority of people out there still know the difference between right and wrong.

One of the best things to come from all of this craziness are the number of people who are paying attention. People that had absolutely no interest in politics before. But this isn’t just about politics. This is about life.

I do not want to end up living in a place that limits my freedoms similar to any number of the dystopian novels I’ve read. The whole purpose of those books is a warning of what could happen when certain freedoms are taken away by a tyrannical government. It’s f**king terrifying.

Now more than ever you need to be informed and aware of what is going on in the world. That being said, we still have to work, eat, take care of our kids and ourselves. So take a break from the news and read a book. Enjoy your hot bath with a glass of wine. Feel free to watch that comedy tonight. We all need time to regroup and just be. But make no mistake, we are living through a very crucial moment in history. If you want to survive, you will need to defend yourself and your fellow human beings.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Preamble

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, therefore,

The General Assembly,

Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article I

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11

  1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.
  2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
  2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14

  1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
  2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15

  1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16

  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17

  1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21

  1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
  2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.
  3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23

  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25

  1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26

  1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27

  1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
  2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29

  1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
  2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
  3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

These are your rights. Now you know them. Be prepared to defend them.

I write sweet and spicy romance, and enjoy reading a wide range of genres. Exploring the art of the written word is a passion, and I delight in both page-turning conflict and stomach-flipping chemistry. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. My dream is to travel the world with my laptop, creating captivating characters and dreamy escapes. I sing constantly, if a bit off-key to my family’s chagrin. I’m also a klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.Author Pic Final 2016

Website: http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/jennifersenhaji

 

Are you sacrificing quality for speed?

Are you sacrificing quality for speed-My peeps over at The Cerulean Project recently hosted a writer’s round table discussion (which you can watch here on YouTube) on writing faster vs. slower, a topic I’m particularly passionate about when it comes to exploring the art of writing and self-publishing. I’ve decided it’s time to vent my feelings on the subject. Most of my thoughts apply to my fellow self-published indie authors and/or writers who may be submitting to traditional publishers, but are not currently under contract. Remember, these are my thoughts based on my experiences. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments.

Since I started writing with the goal of publishing, I’ve learned many lessons, some of which have been harder than others to swallow. What continues to fascinate me is why writers believe they need to rush to publish. As a new writer, I thought I needed to write fast and publish multiple books a year in order to be a successful self-published author. In fact, I was seriously considering writing several books in advance with the goal of stacking the releases. After all, many authors do exactly that. Many marketing coaches tell authors to do exactly that. I’ve since changed my mind.

When I first dipped my toe into the waters of the self-publishing community, I was overwhelmed with information. Some good. Some bad. But there was no mistaking the encouragement from my fellow “swimmers” to jump in. “Write faster! Get your books published as quickly as possible.” I soon learned that was one of the biggest mistakes I could ever make as a new writer.

If you’re a seasoned writer, with a backlog of finished, unpublished books, you could decide to dust them off and polish them up with a professional edit. This I understand. However, I am no longer of the opinion writers need to push themselves to publish multiple books a year to be successful. Consider this, in the long run, could you maintain that type of publishing pace without slap-dashing stories together?

Writing is an art. An art I’ve come to love and respect. An art that takes time to learn and hone. It takes time to learn story, character development, plot, and how to weave them together to create an engaging read. So why are most self-published writers pushing to publish 3-4 books a year? (See my blog post When did writing become a quick-buck business? for more of my thoughts on making money self-publishing.)

Interacting with your audience and participating in the reading and writing communities are part of a writer’s life. An enjoyable one. It also makes good marketing sense. Those that love books, love talking about them. This is the essence of your local book clubs and the idea behind Goodreads. We all know the single best way to sell books, other than making sure your book is fabulous, is through word of mouth. The more I think about it, the more I believe the theory writers must publish several books in quick succession or else risk losing readers is nonsense. Engaging with fellow writers and readers does not mean you need to shove a book in front of them every 2-3 months. How on earth would you be able to provide quality books at such a rapid rate?

“I’m a fast writer,” you say. Great. Getting a first draft down on paper can be one of the most fulfilling experiences we have as writers. But a first draft, is a first draft. How long are you spending on research, rewriting, and self-editing? And what about your professional services: editors, proofers, formatters, and designers?

If you’re a new writer and thinking, “But I can do all those things myself,” you are sorely mistaken, my friend. You cannot edit your own writing. Let me repeat… You cannot edit your own writing.

Nora Roberts with her bestseller status and dedicated fans, does not edit her own writing. Her publisher employs teams of editors to get her manuscripts ready for publishing. One article I found online says it takes her about 45 days to write a book. That makes her a full time writing machine. Granted, over the years, Nora has probably streamlined her process and can bang her stories out faster than the rest of us. Most of us don’t have the experience to even attempt it. If you search her published books online, Nora Roberts averages two published books a year. Two. So unless you have a staff of full time editors on call, and have enough writing experience to submit first drafts to your editing team (which you should never do), how in the hell are you able to publish more books a year than the great Nora Roberts?

The only answer I can come up with is books published that quickly are crap. There. I’ve said it. Agree or disagree, feel free to voice your opinion in the comments. The fact of the matter is, even if you’re a full time writer, with a team of editors on staff, writing a good book and editing it to make it ready for publishing takes time.

I’ll give the naysayers the benefit of the doubt and agree that these books may not all be total crap. There may be a few entertaining ones (not great) lumped in with the bad. But how do you grow as a writer if you leave yourself no time to do so? When do you have time to explore themes, language, plot, social issues, tension, emotions, and all the other aspects of this art?

And what’s the rush? If you publish a subpar book, it will follow you forever. Are you really going to miss out on millions by taking the time to write a quality, unforgettable book? I doubt it. A quality book actually increases your chances to make a few dollars.

New writers/authors make this mistake all the time. I did. We’re excited. We’ve finally completed this epic task of writing a book and are ready to send it into the world. It took me 10 months to go from first draft to publish with my first book, Sweet Dreams, and I definitely rushed it. I ended up going back and getting professional editing after the fact. I will never make the mistake of publishing without professional editing again.

So when new writers and not so new writers hold their hands over their ears as they tread water and ignore the lifeguards on the shore offering good writing advice in exchange for marketing strategies, it drives me a little nutty. Those that have rushed to publish and learned our lesson are here to reel you in, not drown you.

There’s also the argument publishing too quickly can turn readers off. I’m a fast reader. I can average 2-3 books a week, but I don’t read at that rate all 52 weeks a year. There are times I take a break from reading. There are other times, when I’ve read several books by the same author, I need to take a break from the author to read other books on my list. At some point, a reader will be in the mood for something different than your voice. We can’t eat potatoes, potatoes, potatoes everyday. We crave variety. Why not build some buzz or anticipation around your work as you strive to improve each book over the last?

Good advice, IMO, I’ve received and agree with:

  • Get your first draft down on paper and let it rest
  • Don’t write in a vacuum. There are many great writing communities out there. Join in and network with your peers. Get advice. Get feedback. You are not alone.
  • Whether you outline prior to writing or not, layout your finished manuscript on an outline to identify plot holes and review pacing
  • Rewrite and let it rest
  • Rewrite and let it rest
  • Rewrite and let it rest (as many times as it takes until you have done everything you can possibly do to make it great)
  • Self-edit and let it rest
  • Send to professional editor for full edit
  • Incorporate developmental changes into manuscript
  • Let it rest
  • Self-edit for language
  • Send to editor for second pass: line-edit
  • Incorporate changes
  • Send to editor for final copy edit
  • Send to proofer
  • Let it rest
  • Read through your finished manuscript with fresh eyes, once you’ve let it rest long enough to forget the words you wrote, to identify any remaining issues
  • Repeat any of the steps above if additional work is needed

That is a lot to do in three months, and I didn’t include personal critique, alpha readers or beta readers, not to mention the availability of your editor and proofer, who may take several weeks to edit your first pass alone. It all takes time.

Bad advice, IMO, I’ve received and am no longer fooled by:

  • Once you’ve finished your first draft, it’s ready for the editor (Nope. Please respect your work and your editor’s time. Both deserve your best effort. See above.)
  • I can start self-editing as soon as I finish writing my first draft (Probably best to let it rest. Your eyes will not pick up on issues right away that will be glaringly obvious a month later.)
  • I don’t need or can’t afford a professional editor (I call BS. I was naive and believed the same when I wrote my first book, knowing next to nothing about the publishing world or even where to look. Those of you reading this, who are just joining the writing community, I understand this misconception. But there are enough of us chanting, “Hire a professional editor,” now that it’s really hard to ignore. If you haven’t heard it yet, here it is… Hire a professional editor. You cannot edit your own writing. Put aside money while you write and save up. If you have questions about how to find an affordable editor that fits your needs, leave a comment. This bullet point is already too long to go into it here.)
  • I need to release a book every four months (or faster) so I don’t lose my audience (IMO, you actually run the risk of burning out your audience faster that way and you leave yourself no room to actually work through the good practices above. It’s a marketing strategy, but can it be maintained over time without sacrificing quality? I think not.)
  • I’m a fast writer. I pay for copy editing. That’s good enough (Why are you selling your abilities and your story short? You’re not giving yourself a chance to see what you can really do when you put all your effort into it. It should never be just good enough. It should be your best.)

These are all my opinions. If you disagree, leave a comment and tell me why. For my part, I care about the craft. I care about the art of writing. I want to learn and grow and discover. I want to write a book my readers will continue thinking about days later. There’s a huge difference between doodling and studying to become an artist. This takes time. Practice. Patience.

In short, write your heart out. Get that first draft out as fast as you can. Then, take the time to really mold that rough draft into a work of art you can be proud of. Put time and effort into your book. Respect your writing and your readers. Do the work.

Everyone is different. Writing fast can be a great way to get the basic story down, but do not sacrifice quality for speed. Your audience will wait. Make sure your book is worth it. #WriteBetterBooks

Thoughts???

Author Pic Final 2016

I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and have a husband and two children. Music is an addiction. I can often be found in the car, singing along at the top of my lungs to whatever is playing. I work full time, and I split my spare time between family, reading, blogging, and writing. I’m a habitual quoter. Lines from films and TV shows constantly pop into my head—my kids are the only ones that really get it. I’m an only child, and so of course I married a man who is one of ten children. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. I love to travel, but don’t do enough of it. Reading has been a passion for most of my life, and I now love writing. I’m klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

Find me at http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1

Who’s the boss of your story?

Learned MFI learned something this past week: My writing process, for each and every book, has been different. Which begs the question: Who’s the boss when it comes to story?

Well, let’s review.

First book, Sweet Dreams, a full length novel and the first book in my Sunset Dreams Series, came to me like lightening. My outline was written longhand in a notebook. The first draft was written by hand over a few days at a coffee house. That’s pen and paper, many a hand cramp, and many more hand cramps when transcribing said first draft into the computer, which of course then became my second draft. Several (more than ten, a few less than one hundred) drafts later and many more hours of self-editing and proofing, the book was born.

With the second book, Angels in Disguise, (in this case, a novella), I was writing within certain parameters and had a theme only: holiday romance, less than twenty-thousand words, bad boy/girl. I started writing the first chapter on my laptop with only NYE in mind. Then the story came to me. I created a very loose outline by hand in a notebook. I wrote the story on my laptop, including the first draft, and I finished the final draft of said novella in a month. My first experience with a professional editor and proofer was an eye-opener. I embraced it. Revised, edited, proofed, and published as part of a holiday anthology with twenty other writers. (Not currently available as a standalone, but will be winter, 2016.)

First book, Sweet Dreams, (you read that right.) I went back and had professionally edited and re-published, happier with the finished product. Lesson here: never, ever publish without a professional editor.

Third Book, Sea Breeze, (in this case, another novella) I created a more concise and professional outline, researched locations in depth. Created inspiration boards. Wrote the first draft on my laptop in about two months. Submitted to my editor for full edit. Revised. Submitted for a second edit. Revised, proofed, and published as a standalone novella.

With my fourth book, Choosing to Dream, a full length novel and the second book in my Sunset Dreams Series, I created character sheets, a timeline, and a scene by scene outline on my laptop. I reread its predecessor several times and created a list of important information to use as frame of reference for book two. I wrote the first half of the first draft by hand in a notebook, then transcribed it into the computer. More hand cramps and cursing of old school writing ensued. I finished the first draft in about four months and allowed it to sit, untouched for a month before starting the first rewrites, all while incorporating the information I learned from my first three experiences with my editor. After several rewrites and self-edits, I submitted to my editor for my first round of editing. I revised. I submitted for the second round of editing. I revised. I submitted for proofing. I proofed two more times myself, and finally I published. This book, by far, had taken the longest to write, but is, by far, the best out of all the books above.

Fifth book and current work in progress, is a full length novel. This book will be the third book in the above mentioned series and is taking me even longer to write than my last. I perfected my outline over three months during which I also spent a lot of time mentally plotting and writing key scenes out by hand in the old notebook. I updated my character sheets, and reread books one and two above to keep it fresh. I’m writing the first draft on my laptop and concurrently writing a chapter by chapter synopsis after each chapter is complete, so I can have an easy access summary of the chapters as they are written to refer back to. I started the first draft in January, meaning I’ve been working on this first draft for about three months, and I’m about 1/3 of the way through the story. I have the entire story plotted out, so there’s no confusion about what comes next. But with all that I’ve learned from book one until now, there’s a lot more to incorporate into my writing. And I’m paying attention. I’m writing slower and taking more care with this story. This is to be a finale of sorts, at least for the main characters of my series, and I want it to be the best it can be. That means making sure my plot and subplots are all hitting the mark. That means making sure the rise and fall of tension keeps the reader engaged. That means really working on crafting the language. I’m putting to use all the tools I now have at my disposal and making this one the best it can be. At least, that’s the plan.

With my sixth book— wait, what? I know. I’ve never worked on two projects at once. I always thought it was impossible and could never understand how other writers were able to do it. However, I now have a second work in progress. It’s a full length novel, and will be the follow up to my first novella, Angels in Disguise (book two mentioned above) and officially the first book of its own series, or the second. Not sure how that works; if the novella becomes book one, once I publish it as a standalone and the first novel is book two, or if the novella is a prequel and the novel is book one. I’ll have to figure that out when I get there. With this story, the scenes came to me like lightening again, just like with my first book. I created a story board and wrote a summary of each scene. This will eventually become my outline. But guess what? I’ve already written the first draft of four of the pivotal scenes, totally isolated and out of chronological order. Crazy right? But the words are flowing like mad. So I will be striking while the iron is hot. I will, of course, go through several rewrites, revel in the guidance and assistance of my editor and her awesome way of making me better, and eventually get it ready for publishing. But this process has been so different from anything I’ve experienced before, I had to write about it.

My goal is to make each book better than the last. So far, I think I’ve succeeded. With each book I’ve written, my process has been slightly different. This newest project is way out in left field. It’s making me question everything I thought I had to do and everything I thought I could never do. Is it me that’s growing, changing, and implementing a different process with each book? Or is it the story itself that drives the way I write? Not sure. I’m having fun figuring it out.
Who’s the boss of your story?

Author Pic Final 2016I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and have a husband and two children. Music is an addiction. I can often be found in the car, singing along at the top of my lungs to whatever is playing. I work full time, and I split my spare time between family, reading, blogging, and writing. I’m a habitual quoter. Lines from films and TV shows constantly pop into my head—my kids are the only ones that really get it. I’m an only child, and so of course I married a man who is one of ten children. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. I love to travel, but don’t do enough of it. Reading has been a passion for most of my life and I now love writing. I’m klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

Find me at http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1

No More Excuses

CellRecently, I came to the realization that my excuses for not having time to write were… poppycock. Yeah. I said it. I love old-timey swear words. I could have gone with horsepucky or shite… but I digress.

What really gets my goat (ha, there’s another one) is when writers preach about writing every day. Every flipping day? I don’t have time to write every day. I barely have time to go to work, eat, and sleep let alone give my children and/or husband any sort of attention. Oh and I’ve been sleep deprived for years. On average I go to sleep at 1am and get up at 6:30am. So there’s no getting up before the crack of dawn to write. If I could, I’d be out getting the exercise I desperately need.

But you know what? Those writers are 100% correct. I’m the one who is full of it.

A little background: I work full time and spend about forty-five minutes commuting each way to work. My job is high-stress and I vary rarely get an actual break, usually opting to shovel food into my mouth while continuing to work at my desk. I sneak out for a cigarette or two every five hours or so (I know they’re bad for me, don’t judge) at which time I catch up on social media or read on my Kindle app. When I get home, I’m bombarded with “Mommy, I’m hungry,” or “What’s for dinner?” before I’ve even closed the front door. Writing time comes in the form of either blocked time on the weekends in which I have more than five minutes to sit down and concentrate, or isolating myself at a coffee house. That’s what has worked for me in the past. That’s what I’ve been doing thus far.

Last week, I had a breakthrough. I’m part of a few writing groups that I’m deeply grateful for. They offer encouragement, share knowledge, and are full of genuinely giving people. Last week, my peeps over at The Cerulean Project were sitting down for some silent writing time as a group, which I’ve taken part in before. I’d been stuck, mentally plotting a scene in my current WIP for about ten days. And so even though I had yet to arrive home from work, I thought I’d experiment with writing the scene a few different ways to see which way would work best with my current outline. The commute train I take every day leaves its passengers just enough room to squeeze in like sardines and hold on for dear life. Getting a seat and opening up a laptop is out of the question. But I managed to write about 900 words anyways.

How did I accomplish the amazing feat, you ask?

I tapped out the words with my thumbs on the notes app on my cell. Yep. On my cell. As far as writing goes, I’d only ever used my cell for quick notes before, opting for anything longer to be handwritten in my notebook when away from my laptop, which is also impossible to pull out on the train. But I did it. Cell phones are not the devil. In fact, I was so encouraged, the next day I chucked my social media time on my morning commute in favor of writing again. I did the same on the way home. End result: Over 2700 words written on my cell during three train rides. Amazing. Of course, I didn’t know how much I had actually written until I went home that second night and transcribed it all into my WIP, but still…

So to all the naysayers, who claim they can’t find time to write, I call bullshit. You can write anywhere. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Stop making excuses. If you don’t have time to write, it’s because you’re not making time. Turn off the T.V. and social media. Make time. If I can do it, you can do it. Now, go write.
Author Pic Final 2016

I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and have a husband and two children. Music is an addiction. I can often be found in the car, singing along at the top of my lungs to whatever is playing. I work full time, and I split my spare time between family, reading, blogging, and writing. I’m a habitual quoter. Lines from films and TV shows constantly pop into my head—my kids are the only ones that really get it. I’m an only child, and so of course I married a man who is one of ten children. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. I love to travel, but don’t do enough of it. Reading has been a passion for most of my life and I now love writing. I’m klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

 

 

Find me at http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1

Diversity in books is not just black and white

Live For This

Diversity is a hot topic amongst authors and readers who are tired of not being represented or being misrepresented in fiction. But diversity is not limited to the racial background of the hero and heroine. It’s so much more than that. We should consider not only race, but religious backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, economic backgrounds, and people with emotional, physical, and mental disabilities. Everyone deserves love and happy endings.

Recently I was given an advanced reader copy of Live for This by Kathryn R. Biel. Check out my Amazon Review.

Here’s the official blurb:

Samirah Lundgren is living the party girl life. While she’s trying to forget about her past and put off having a meaningful future, her lifestyle catches up with her, leaving her in a wake of personal destruction. Alone and homeless, she encounters Michael Salinger, a man carrying his own baggage in the form of a spinal cord injury, not to mention his former fiancé is marrying his former best friend.

Can a man with a broken body and a woman with a shattered soul help each other find the redemption they need to become whole again?

Samirah comes from an Iranian/British background, one she has totally disconnected with. She masks her heritage behind bleach-blonde hair and her nickname Sam, allowing her acquaintance to think of her as Samantha. The sad fact is, I believe this is true of many people. We all try to fit into the accepted concepts of what’s considered beautiful or perfect. But in whose eyes?

Tall and handsome, Michael had no problem approaching women. Until he was paralyzed. Now women won’t even look at him. All they see is the chair. His fiancé leaves him, unable to cope with the reality of his day-to-day, even though he is totally self-sufficient. Even women he would normally not find attractive regard him with contempt. The sad fact here is while ideally we can all say a disability would not change how we feel about someone, how many can say they would consider dating someone who was paraplegic?

This book hit the mark on so many levels. I stayed up reading until almost 2am to finish it knowing I had to get up the next day for work at 6am. This well written emotional read knocked my socks off. This piece of fiction matters. It will change your view of life, love, and the power of the human spirit.

My takeaway: Love may not be blind, but we shouldn’t let stereotypes blind us to the potential for love.

More about the author, Kathryn R. Biel.

Author Bio:

Telling stories of resilient women, Kathryn Biel hails from upstate New York and is a spouse and mother of two wonderful and energetic kids. In between being Chief Home Officer and Director of Child Development of the Biel household, she works as a school-based physical therapist. She attended Boston University and received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from The Sage Colleges. After years of writing countless letters of medical necessity for wheelchairs, finding increasingly creative ways to encourage the government and insurance companies to fund her clients’ needs, and writing entertaining annual Christmas letters, she decided to take a shot at writing the kind of novel that she likes to read. Her musings and rants can be found on her personal blog, Biel Blather. She is the author of Good Intentions (2013), Hold Her Down (2014), I’m Still Here (2014), Jump, Jive, and Wail (2015), Killing Me Softly (2015), and Completions and Connections: A Romantic Holiday Novella (2015).

KRBiel-Photo

Kathryn R. Biel, Author Telling Stories of Resilient Women

Website: bit.ly/KRBOnline

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kathrynrbiel

Twitter: @KRBiel Instagram @krbiel

 

I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and have a husband and two children. Music is an addiction. I can often be found in the car, singing along at the top of my lungs to whatever is playing. I work full time, and I split my spare time between family, reading, blogging, and writing. I’m a habitual quoter. Lines from films and TV shows constantly pop into my head—my kids are the only ones that really get it. I’m an only child, and so of course I married a man who is one of ten children. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. I love to travel, but don’t do enough of it. Reading has been a passion for most of my life and I now love writing. I’m klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

Author Pic Final 2016

 

Find me at http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1