October 31, 2012

interview with the author of 'the saint's devlish deal'

Today, I am pleased to host fellow ex-journalist Kristina Knight as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour for The Saint's Devilish Deal. Welcome, Kristina.

Change the Word: What was the writing process like for this book?
Kristina Knight: The Saint's Devilish Deal was so much fun to write! The character of Santiago came to me first with Esmerelda hot on his heels. The story flew from my fingertips to my computer in a rush! I had to peel back Saint's character a little bit at a time, and I'll admit the first draft was not his finest hour, but I'm so glad he finally opened up!

CTW: What challenges did you face while writing?
KK: The biggest challenge I had with this book was a very curious toddler at my side. My daughter was two while I was writing this. She was walking and talking and into absolutely everything. And she soooo didn't understand that the computer was my work. But, she was a toddler, what was I going to do?

CTW: How did you overcome them?
KK: My husband was a god-send. He would take her off my hands one afternoon each week for a couple of hours. I wrote during nap times and late into the night. Caffeine was my friend. Even though it wasn't the best writing environment, I'm glad I stuck with it and wrote the story!

CTW: What is the trickiest part about writing love stories?
KK: I think the trickiest part is keeping some distance between the main characters, keeping that push-pull going. Because it can be easy to say, 'Oh, they've had sex, they're good'. Peeling back those layers of backstory is what makes a great book, thought.

CTW: Writing men can be tough. How do you go about creating your strong, hunky male leads?
KK: I watched at lot of soap operas growing up. J I still love my soaps – they have the Alpha Male down, don't they? I think the key to writing a good male lead is to remember that strong is great, but giving a really strong man a little mushiness goes a long way in creating a man we would want to fall in love with.

CTW: If you could meet one writer, living or dead, who would it be and why?
KK: I'd love to meet Nora Roberts. In my head we would have this amazing conversation about books and writing and productivity…in reality, I'd probably fangrrl all over her…

CTW: Ha. Me, too. I have a total girl crush on Nora. What is your favorite book to read and re-read?
KK: There are many! But one of the books I've read over and over and always laugh with is Suzanne Enoch's Flirting with Danger – it's the first of her Samantha Jellicoe books and I just love it. I love that Sam is not a girly-girl, that Richard can't stay away from her and that Sam is dealing with her own set of rules.

CTW: What advice do you have for other writers?
KK: Keep learning and don't give up. I wrote several books before I sold The Saint's Devilish Deal to Crimson Romance. I was lucky to find a core group of critique partners who pushed and prodded me to write better. I scoured every rejection letter – the personalized rejections and the form letters – to get an idea of what I needed to do to improve, and I put that advice to work on each following book. And I'm still learning and getting better.

CTW: What is next for you and your writing?
KK: I've just turned in Book 3 to my editor at Crimson Romance, and I'm really excited about it! It's called What a Texas Girl Needs and (yes!!) it's linked to my first book, What a Texas Girl Wants. This is the story of Vanessa, the middle Witte sister, and does she have a story to tell (and a hot cowboy to fall in love with)!

CTW: Do you have anything else you would like to share?
KK: One of the best things that has happened to me in my life is publishing my first book. I've met so many amazing, wonderful people – readers and writers – who have made this journey so much fun. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who has purchased and read my books – I hope I've given you a little escape from the everyday!

Read my review of The Saint's Devilish Deal here and an excerpt of the book here.

About the Author
Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police – no, she wasn’t a trouble-maker she was a journalist. When the opportunity to write what she wanted – business and family/parenting articles – and to focus more energy on the stories in her head, she jumped at it.

And she’s never looked back. Now she writes articles for magazines and such by day and writes romance novels with spice by night. And any toddler-free, five minute break she has. She lives on Lake Erie with her husband and 4 year old daughter. Happily ever after.

Connect with Kristina
Website: http://www.kristinaknightauthor.com

Buy the Book
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Saints-Devilish-Deal-ebook/dp/B0096D6WFE/ref=la_B0081LO6DM_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1349205407&sr=1-2
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/kristina-knight

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October 30, 2012

book review: the saint's devilish deal

Childhood friends turn into business partners and more in Kristina Knight's The Saint's Devilish Deal.

The Scoop
Esmerelda Quinn has been looking for a place to belong since her parents were killed in a car crash when she was young. The closest thing to home has always been Aunt Constance's villa in Puerto Vallarta, so after a string of hotellier jobs, she's coming home to run the villa.

Santiago Cruz has called the villa home for as long as he can remember. In between surfing events, Constance has always had a room for him. Color him surprised when Constance leaves him with a joint interest in the villa - along with her niece Esmerelda.

Esme isn't thrilled to share ownership of the villa with the the youngest Cruz brother - especially as the Cruz family has been after the villa for years. But Santiago has grown up while she's been away and soon she finds herself falling for the rich boy down the hall - all over again.

Written with similar style to What a Texas Girl Wants, this was a fast read. The story starts quickly in exotic Puerto Vallarta, where the hero and heroine grew up together. After having a fling four years ago while they both lived and worked in Napa, they are thrown together to save a villa.

Of the two, I found Saint's back story the most interesting and well-developed. He is back in Mexico after a nasty surfing accident left him injured. He is at odds with his father and brother, and struggles to help his mother who continues to stay with her abusive husband. Damaged goods are always appealing.

I am also a big fan of people with history getting back together. Somehow, knowing they have a past together and old feelings mixing with new, makes the happy ending work, which was definitely the case in this one. It was easy to understand why each felt what they felt and wanted what they wanted (or didn't want).

Esme and Saint's motivations were clear early on, but sometimes each of them seemed so complicated, I wondered how they were ever going to find common ground and a resolution. But this is a love story, and they do.

I would have liked to see more development in the other characters revolving around Esme and Saint. At times it seemed like they appeared and disappeared just as quickly. Saint's brother had more of a presence in the story, and it worked well to help me better understand the main character.

The professional side of their relationship did raise some questions for me, and I found myself confused at times about how they were able to make as many changes as they did in the short amount of time.

Still, it was an enjoyable story, and an entertaining read if you're looking to escape somewhere warm this winter, but are stuck at home. I'm also excited to know Kristina is working on a follow-up to What a Texas Girl Wants. I hoped we would come back to those characters when I read it during the summer.

Rating: 3.5 of 5

Check back tomorrow for more from the author, Kristina Knight.

About the Author
Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police – no, she wasn’t a trouble-maker she was a journalist. When the opportunity to write what she wanted – business and family/parenting articles – and to focus more energy on the stories in her head, she jumped at it.

And she’s never looked back. Now she writes articles for magazines and such by day and writes romance novels with spice by night. And any toddler-free, five minute break she has. She lives on Lake Erie with her husband and 4 year old daughter. Happily ever after.

Connect with Kristina
Website: http://www.kristinaknightauthor.com

Buy the Book
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Saints-Devilish-Deal-ebook/dp/B0096D6WFE/ref=la_B0081LO6DM_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1349205407&sr=1-2
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/kristina-knight

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excerpt of 'the saint's devilish deal'

Enjoy this excerpt from Kristina Knight's The Saint's Devilish Deal. Check back later, today, for my review.

The Scoop
Esmerelda Quinn has been looking for a place to belong since her parents were killed in a car crash when she was young. The closest thing to home has always been Aunt Constance's villa in Puerto Vallarta, so after a string of hotellier jobs, she's coming home to run the villa.

Santiago Cruz has called the villa home for as long as he can remember. In between surfing events, Constance has always had a room for him. Color him surprised when Constance leaves him with a joint interest in the villa - along with her niece Esmerelda.

Esme isn't thrilled to share ownership of the villa with the the youngest Cruz brother - especially as the Cruz family has been after the villa for years. But Santiago has grown up while she's been away and soon she finds herself falling for the rich boy down the hall - all over again.

Sneak Peak
Esme ran her index finger along the neckline of her silk blouse, praying for a little relief from the oppressive heat Santiago brought into the room with him. Glancing up she saw the fan was, indeed, still moving. The air itself seemed to hold still for him.

“. . .and so Constance wants you to run the villa, with Esmerelda, for the next six months. Three with you in charge, three with Esme running things.” Velazquez’s tone said Esme running anything would end in disaster. “At the end of that time, a decision will be made as to the future of Casa. Although, I have to say, based on the bank balances and outstanding loans, I don’t see much hope for it.” Velazquez tapped the file closed and clasped his hands together on the desk blotter.

“I will not vacate my property to leave him—” she jerked her thumb toward the pseudosurfer currently slouched on the lawyer’s Spanish leather sofa “—in charge for five minutes, much less the three months mentioned in that letter.”

Since being summoned to Puerto Vallarta, Esme’s world had turned topsy-turvy. A villa employee had met her at the airport gate, delivering a single-page note from Aunt Constance, telling Esme that Santiago would help her run the villa until Con’s return from a private medical facility. Esme had barely known Constance was sick and now she was gone before Esme could even set down her suitcase.

Esme spared another glace toward the sofa. Was Santiago paler than when he’d walked in? Couldn’t be. No, his casual posture in the corner of the sofa belied any of the surprise that was currently making it hard for her to breathe. The Patek Phillipe watch on his wrist, costing more than her entire ensemble, might be the only vestige of the businessman she remembered— but that man still existed. He wasn’t surprised and she shouldn’t be. Aunt Constance always liked a little healthy competition, she reminded herself.

But a vacation resort needed stability to grow, not one manger one week and another the next.

“SeƱorita Quinn, I know this comes as a shock, but Constance was very clear before she left for her extended rest.” The lawyer’s voice brought Esme abruptly back to the present. His glance skipped from her face to Santiago’s and back again as he clenched his jaw.

Great, she’d annoyed the only man who could reverse this ridiculous situation.

“As long as we’re both on the property, though, we meet Constance’s demands, correct? So how about keeping him on in an advisory capacity, while I run things?”

“Constance was clear. She wants you and Santiago to run the villa. As I’ve said, for three months you will be in control, for three months Santiago will run things. If either of you leave, I’m to auction the property.”

“We all know the highest bidder at any auction will be Eduardo Cruz. Why would I work with one Cruz while another is already waiting to take my property?” Crossing her arms over her chest, Esme sat back. Santiago shifted and she cut her eyes to the sofa, focusing on her nemesis.

“Look, you may have conned Aunt Constance with your surfer boy routine, but I don’t buy it.You don’t want to run a hotel. You don’t even want to be here, so why don’t you go buy a coffee downstairs while the adults talk?”

The lawyer gasped but Santiago only grinned. Just like him not to get an insult when aimed directly at him. Or his feet, since she found it hard to look directly into those deep brown eyes without wanting to drown in them. God, she thought she was past the point of being charmed by The Saint.

“I see the kitten has sharpened her claws,” he drawled. Each syllable rolled off his tongue like honey. Despite the heat of the day, Esme shivered. 
About the Author
Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police – no, she wasn’t a trouble-maker she was a journalist. When the opportunity to write what she wanted – business and family/parenting articles – and to focus more energy on the stories in her head, she jumped at it.

And she’s never looked back. Now she writes articles for magazines and such by day and writes romance novels with spice by night. And any toddler-free, five minute break she has. She lives on Lake Erie with her husband and 4 year old daughter. Happily ever after.

Connect with Kristina
Website: http://www.kristinaknightauthor.com

Buy the Book
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Saints-Devilish-Deal-ebook/dp/B0096D6WFE/ref=la_B0081LO6DM_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1349205407&sr=1-2
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/kristina-knight

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October 29, 2012

interview with the author of 'suburban task force'

I'm pleased to welcome Suburban Task Force author Addison Towne to Change the Word, today, as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour.

Change the Word: How did you come up with your idea for Suburban Task Force?
Addison Towne: One night the alarm went off in our house. I was so scared I couldn’t move. The police showed up and the back door downstairs had been broken open. The very first chapter of the book is similar to that scene. It was an eye opener and a wake up call that we can’t just expect others to take care of us. We have to learn to take care of ourselves. A couple of months after the break in had happened (we weren’t hurt and nothing was stolen) we were out to dinner with friends sharing the story. Said out loud it was actually pretty amusing. The story just developed from there.

CTW: This is a book about some take charge women. Who did you use as inspiration for these characters?
AT: The characters in Suburban Task Force are a culmination of several of my closest girlfriends. Some would say the characters reflect one or two people specifically, however, I truly took different characteristics from a total of 10 of my girlfriends. I am lucky to have such a funny and strong crew of ladies to use as my inspiration.

CTW: What sort of planning did you do in advance?
AT: I had to do quite a bit of research regarding weapons and strategy. I also tried to have an accurate description and layout of Catalina Island where the book takes place. As an action/adventure comedy, I wanted to make sure the action was somewhat realistic and that I used the proper terminology. However, some of the risks the characters take definitely lends itself to a less ‘realistic side’

CTW: What was the greatest lesson you learned from this book?
AT: The greatest lesson I took from my book; just take the leap. I learned that I had to believe in myself. When I told people I was working on writing a novel, many just relayed a story about how many authors fail to get published, or how people always start writing but never finish. I had to learn that you are responsible for your own fate. Sure, life gets in the way and obstacles are always there to push you astray, but if you want something, you have to make it happen.

CTW: What is your favorite latest read?
AT: This is not a new book, but I had it sitting on my shelf and finally had a chance to read it the other day. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. The writing is simply entrancing. I could not devour enough of it. I am utterly in awe of her writing.

CTW: Who is your writing hero?
AT: Anyone who writes and takes the time to get their story into peoples hands to learn, enjoy, share and love.

CTW: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
AT: Write what works best for you. I was told to rewrite my book since it is written in the first person. I didn’t give in and I find many people enjoy the change of pace. Let your friends and family give you constructive criticism and don’t be afraid to put your story out there. Someone WILL enjoy it!

CTW: What's next for you and your writing career?
AT: I am working on a book of Essays right now called The Beginning of Why. Also, the sequel for Suburban Task Force should be out (hopefully) by the end of the year!

CTW: Anything else you would like to share?
AT: I would like to tell any and all ‘want to be writers’ out there to take the chance. Learn about marketing, learn about networking, but most importantly learn about what makes you happy and then just go for it!

Check out my review of Addison Towne's novel, Suburban Task Force, here.

About the Author
Addison Towne is a lover of fashion, foes and fun!  She was born and raised in Chicago. Her background in television, film and marketing gave her the motivation and passion to write Suburban Task Force. As a entrepreneur she has spent the last ten years developing brands and products that have earned her awards and recognition ranging from a television Emmy to a CEO of the year Women Making a Difference nod.

You can reach her via email at AddisonTowne@gmail.com. She is currently working on the next Suburban Task Force series and looks forward to reader input.

Connect with Addison
AddisonTowne@gmail.com
@addisontowne (Twitter)
http://www.facebook.com/addison.towne (Facebook)
http://pinterest.com/addisontowne/ Pinterest (help fill Jade, Suzie and Chloe's Closets with fun stuff!)

Buy the Book
Amazon

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October 28, 2012

book review: suburban task force

A group of fiesty women take matters into their own hands in Addison Towne's Suburban Task Force.

The Scoop:
It takes a home invasion scare and a co-workers brutal mugging to wake Jade from her suburban slumber.  The adventure begins when she and her two best friends forgo an uplifting spa retreat for an intense tactical, gun and self defense weekend, all without their husbands’ knowledge.

Upon their return, feeling rejuvenated and proud, the women try to re-adapt to their suburban lifestyles.   Not so easy when you have to attend a VIP party on Catalina Island with the who’s who of Hollywood and Politics.  Without warning, the island is taken hostage by a rogue terrorist group.  With the men and women separated, and all outside communication cut off, Jade and her friends feel their only hope is to use their combined talents and outlandish movie knowledge to outsmart their captors.


Comedy and daring action ensue as the three women, with one weekend of self defense training, try to lead an all out attack against those holding their loved ones hostage. 
Quirky and funny, Suburban Task Force was a clever take on the women's literature genre with plenty of action for fans of suspense. The story's greatest strength definitely came from the premise, which was unusual and fun.

I also enjoyed the dialogue. The women -- and the men in their lives -- were down right funny once they got each other going.

The story moved quickly and was an entertaining, light read. I laughed out loud plenty and would suggest this for anyone looking for a little comedy mixed with intrigue.

What made the story especially entertaining was watching this group of women bounce between their real lives in suburbia and their covert ops-like task force. Jade and her friends made for an interesting group of characters. At times, they were not always the most likeable, which is usually a problem for me. However, their shenanigans and most of their actions made up for it.

Ultimately, I found myself rooting for them, which is what matters in the end.

The style of writing -- namely the point of view and voice -- changes at times, so be prepared to switch your frame of thinking. That's not a bad thing, mind you: different can be good.

Towne definitely has a unique story on her hands, here.The mix of suspense, humor and often silly women had me flipping the pages to the end. I'd be glad to see what messes these women can get into in the future.

Rating: 4 of 5

Check back tomorrow for more from the author, Addison Towne.

About the Author
Addison Towne is a lover of fashion, foes and fun!  She was born and raised in Chicago. Her background in television, film and marketing gave her the motivation and passion to write Suburban Task Force. As a entrepreneur she has spent the last ten years developing brands and products that have earned her awards and recognition ranging from a television Emmy to a CEO of the year Women Making a Difference nod.

You can reach her via email at AddisonTowne@gmail.com. She is currently working on the next Suburban Task Force series and looks forward to reader input.

Connect with Addison
AddisonTowne@gmail.com
@addisontowne (Twitter)
http://www.facebook.com/addison.towne (Facebook)
http://pinterest.com/addisontowne/ Pinterest (help fill Jade, Suzie and Chloe's Closets with fun stuff!)

Buy the Book
Amazon

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October 26, 2012

book review: what lies behind

Cynthia Hill's What Lies Behind manages to clench the stomach with emotion while prompting a reader to flip the pages to piece together the mystery of a woman's life.

The Scoop
Every family has its secrets...Behind the clouds of dementia, Lillian holds memories of a life that her granddaughter Lisa could never imagine. From her childhood in 1920s and 30s Toronto, to a young World War II society bride, through scandal and unthinkable tragedies, Lillian kept her extraordinary life a secret, retreating into a lonely, bitter existence. Curious about her grandmother's mysterious past, Lisa unearths a long-buried secret that may finally bring the truth to light.
I'm going to throw this out right away before I get on with the review: This book had me on the brink of tears almost from the beginning. With Alzheimer's Disease a part of my family's history, it was only too easy for me to project myself on Lily and Lisa's family story. But even without my personal connection to the disease and the effects it can have on a family, the story still evoked plenty of emotion.

Told interestingly in a two-string linear format, the bulk of the story follows the life of Lillian Sullivan from her young childhood as the well-raised child of socialites through her ultimate final home in a nursing home. Beginning during the roaring 20s and ending, today, Lily lives through the Great Depression, World War II and a constantly changing world.

Faced with pressures and stigmas that come with the time period and her place in society, Lily makes plenty of wrong decisions, which negatively alter her life. At same time, she faces challenges beyond her control. Raised to always keep her emotions concealed and behave as a lady, Lily's attempts to please her parents by doing so. Ultimately, this creates barriers between herself and romantic relations and with her children and ultimately grandchildren.

Lillian has a lot going for and against her, but she is no saint. Neither is her granddaughter for that matter. But both were so relatable, it was possible to forgive them their faults and sincerely hope their strengths could ultimately help them.

The result of Lily's life leaves the once happy and bubbly child a bitter and nearly broken woman late in life. I can't say much more about that without giving away too much of the plot, but it was well done. I honestly wondered how Cynthia would manage to get the story from those extremes in the beginning to the end, but she did it and the journey made sense.

Let's just say I was no longer on the brink of tears during the last quarter of the book. I admit reading this book hurt. A lot. I don't think I've cried this hard during a book since I read The Five People You Meet in Heaven or maybe Catching Fire. That should give you an idea that while it pried tears out of me, they were good tears. It's good when a book can give you emotions without overtly forcing them.

Mixed between years of Lillian's life -- which transitioned amazingly well when you consider the book covered the better part of a century -- we witness a few months of her granddaughter Lisa's life. Lisa was never close to her grandmother, and begins to learn more about pieces in her family's history after finding some old papers.

Though she recognizes she can never ultimately know the whole story, because the one person who can tell it is beyond recalling, her natural inquisitiveness leads her to look. At the same time, without knowing, she seems to face similar parallels to her grandmother's life, though her end choices and end results are different.

Perhaps the most beautifully heartbreaking part of this story is for the reader to see how similar these two women are, but neither will ever know how close their connection is beyond blood. Though their story resolves as well as it could, I was still left with a little bittersweet ache that stuck with me after I put the book away.

On a lighter note, I don't think it gives too much away to say that at multiple times in Lily and Lisa's stories, the men in their lives had me saying "those dicks" right out loud.

For me this was a painful and heavy read, but in a wonderful way. I flew through the pages of these books in an evening. Though the story left my heart hurting a little and my brain working a lot, this was a well-crafted story I am glad I read.

Special thanks to Cynthia for letting me read this. Extra thanks for her patience. 

Rating: 4.5 of 5


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bonus post: chick lit chat wrap

I'll have a new book review posted later, today, but after an interesting and exciting Chick Lit Chat last night, I thought an early morning bonus post was in store.

For those of you who don't know, Chick Lit Chat "meets" every Thursday at 7 p.m. CDT on Twitter using the hashtag #chicklitchat. There, authors, bloggers and reviewers get together to discuss various topics. One week we picked our favorite book-turned movie actors and actresses. Last week we dished on what makes a love story work or flop.

Last night, we had Piper Denna, editor in chief of Lyrical Press, as our guest to answer our questions and take twitter book pitches. I was a bit of a question hogger on the chat, but to alleviate my guilt, I thought I could put together a few of my questions and her answers to share the love a little.

Here we go... I'm lmchap, by the way, if you don't know...

: Are there any big no-nos in manuscripts you've seen lately and can share with us? 
: Since we contract romance and erotica, we have to turn away mss if they don't have the elements of romance.
: Romantic conflict, both external and internal, the character arc, the dark moment, the HEA (Happily Ever After).
: Also, sadly, each romance novel really needs its own H and h (him and her), with their happy ending. No serials with same H and h.

: Not to be a question hog, but... What can we as writers do to make a blah submission a wow?
: Two words: Deep third. (or if it's 1st person, go deep with it, too)
: Put the reader IN that character's shoes so she sees, feels, hears, smells what the character does.
: We have some new eds who will quit reading if the synop sucks, but I always tell them to give the ms a shot. 
: Not everyone who can write a novel well can also write a synop well. It's also an acquired skill.

: Follow up: What do you look for I'm a winning synopsis?
: Beginning, middle, END. Conflict. Emotion. Resolution. And hopefully few typos. LOL

@lmchap: What are some of the best, most effective -- and least annoying -- examples of self marketing you see authors do?
: God. I'd love to hear other answers. LOL. I need help with this too!
: Authors need to get themselves visible in places where their target audience might see. Not blog straight promo.
: Please don't EVER blog straight promo. Or msg-bomb my FB or Twitter with your tag line. 
: We want readers to remember our name, but not in a Head On, Apply Directly to the Forehead way.
: Character interviews, author interviews, some interesting info on the setting, bonus material...
: Some readers like to "get to know" authors. Be careful about talking about yourself for EVER though, you know? LOl.
: If it's your own blog, feel free 2 talk about you. But other blogs, I think it's better 2 focus on your char's, story.

: But what if we are the MOST interesting person in the world??? lol
: I bet you are. LOL!

: Would good bonus material include epilogues, deleted scenes, alternate endings, etc. like on a DVD?
: I think those would all be awesome! Or, you know...a free firemen calendar. (LOL) 

: Adding "make complimentary and correlating firemen's calendar" to my list of things to do... 
: And I mean, policemen calendar, Magic Mike anything, military calendar... just some general ideas. *wink*


@lmchap: Oh, I'm on it. I have a great imagination when it comes to "employed topless men" calendars.
: Sometimes I edit a book with an outta-control epilogue, and I advise the auth 2 cut from book and put on website.
: I used to call them "epiladies" because they are often painful for the reader. Better 2 quit on a high, a la Seinfeld.

So, I hope you find her responses interesting and informative. I sure did.

Be sure to check back later, today, for a new book review post.

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October 25, 2012

meet your future three-peat nanowrimo winner

Vote for Laura as NaNoWriMo winner!
My name is Laura Chapman, and I am officially announcing my candidacy for National Novel Writing Month 2012.

In my third term of completing 50,000 words on a novel during the month of November, I will work harder, smarter and hopefully finish the month a little saner than in years past.

I will stay healthy by drinking plenty of water and getting my Vitamin C -- no colds for me this year. I will not fall (too far) behind on my blogs. I will make a habit of writing throughout the community with fellow NaNoWriMo candidates. I will support my fellow writers with pep talks.

Vote for me, and all of your wildest dreams will come true.

OK, seriously, I am as excited as ever to participate in NaNoWriMo for a third consecutive year. Though my attempts at Camp NaNoWriMo have been less successful (maybe there's just too much sun to write in the summer), after crossing the 50K finish line twice before, I am motivated and ready to do it again.

Part of my plan for success is just that: having a plan. If you followed this blog last year, you know some of my tips for planning. You can read about it here.

Another thing you already know about me if you follow this blog: I frickin' love index cards.

What can I say? Every writer has a crutch. Laura Ingalls Wilder needed her 5-cent notebooks and pencils. Ernest Hemmingway needed a stiff drink. And I need 100-count packs of 3x5- and 4x6-inch index cards to be successful.

Now this year, I am taking my plotting to a new level. Instead of writing down one chapter on each card, I created a more detailed scene-by-scene writing synopsis. Then, I printed off the finished synopsis and glued each scene to its own index card.

I also marked down my top 10 scenes as part of the 10-scene plotting method, which really did help me come up with the outline of the story. I came up with those 10 scenes first then filled in the blanks. Incidentally, after some last minute inspiration, a few of the 10 scenes changed, but I have an even stronger story.

Why go this detailed and kill so many trees? Well, for one, I will not be throwing away these cards. I consider them personal mementos, so think of it as me creating an art project.

Secondly, by having each scene on a card, I will be able to focus more specifically on what needs to be written each time I sit down. Once I finish it, I can put that index card in the discard pile (which is actually its own section in my index card holder). I think I'll feel an even greater sense of accomplishment by being able to regularly put a card in the discard slot.

That's another new twist for me this year. Instead of focusing completely on word count each time I sit down to write, I am going to focus on completing scenes. I've had a few authors suggest it to me, and it makes sense. They say it allows them to better think about what they are writing. It also removes some of the angst associated with, "I need XX pages or XX words, today." In return, they are producing more content than ever.

If I find this not working, I'll go back to daily goals of specific word counts, but I am already a fan of this approach.

With that, I'll leave you with best wishes for your own writing endeavors, and a few links for you to check out if you are looking for plotting ideas that might help you. Quick note: Don't let the plotting keep you from writing. It's easy to get too detailed too soon and never start writing that first chapter. Use these as a tool, not a hindrance.

•  Character Sketch: Give your character a name, description and back story. I cut out pictures from magazines and write out key facts to know about them. Well-developed characters are important. Readers will follow a story if they care about what happens to the character.

•  Before and After: This is a good resource for developing both your characters and plot. By determining where each main character is before and after the story will help you fill in the plot points in the middle. That is your story. Story is what happens to a character

•  The 10-Scene Tool: I first read about this in James V. Smith Jr.'s The Writer's Little Helper and have loved it ever since. Most commercially successful books have 10 key scenes to move the story along. This includes the opener, conclusion and conflicts that set the rising action. Knowing your 10 main scenes will help with pacing and ensure you drive your story in the right direction.

•  Sell It: Write down what you imagine will appear on the back cover/inside flap of your book. Whatever you put there is the purpose of your story. Consider it a thesis or mission statement.

•  Working Synopsis: Write a paragraph or three about the main action that will occur in each chapter in your book. Doing this legwork in advance will give you more freedom to focus on generating quality word count during the month. And this is called a working synopsis, because it is not set in stone. If something in the story changes as you write it, let it happen. Just go back and update your working synopsis to reflect the changes.

•  The Ultimate Plotting Kit: To make this you will need index cards, an index card holder, pens
 and a highlighter. Using the note cards, create an abbreviated version of your character sketches, 10-scene tool, working synopsis and anything else you might need. Once complete, you will have a mobile novel kit.

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October 23, 2012

interview with the author of 'november surprise'

I'm pleased to welcome Laurel Osterkamp, author of November Surprise, to the blog, today for an interview. You can read an excerpt of the book here and my review here. Laurel, thanks for joining us.

Change the World: What kind of planning do you do before writing your books?
Laurel Osterkamp: Once I come up with a general idea I work on developing the characters. My novels are always character-based, with plot being secondary. Once I know who I’m writing about, I like to leave the events of the story up in the air. It’s more fun to be able to make discoveries as I’m writing the book.

CTW: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
LO: I have always been a political junkie, so I created a character that is even worse than I am! I thought, what could be more fun than writing a parallel between the changes in our times and the emotional growth of a woman, from the ages of 17 to 37? But at the base of it all, I’d put in a love story. I think I was taking my baby daughter for a walk when these thoughts ran through my mind.

CTW: What is the biggest lesson you learned while writing this book?
LO: The 2000 election was even more messed up than I had thought! I had to do a lot of research, and what I found out surprised me.

CTW: How do you keep your motivation up and going to write?
LO: For me, being motivated to write is easy, because I really enjoy it. I have more trouble staying motivated for the marketing side. I get very frustrated when my efforts don’t work.

CTW: What is the best writing advice you ever received?
LO: Commit to writing 500 words a day, every day, and in a few months you’ll have the first draft of a novel.

CTW: How about the worst?
LO: Honestly, I can’t think of anything. I like to take advice for what it’s worth, and if it doesn’t work for me, I disregard it pretty quickly.

CTW: What books would we find on your bookshelf?
LO: All the Harry Potters, the Hunger Games trilogy, lots of Emily Giffin, Jennifer Weiner, Curtis Sitenfield, Douglas Coupland, and Melissa Bank.

CTW: What's your favorite latest read?
LO: April and Oliver by Tess Callahan

CTW: What is up next for you and your writing career?
LO: Right now I’m focusing on writing a blog about Lucy and the 2012 election. I see it as a free, extended epilogue to November Surprise. Interested readers can find it at www.novembersurprises.blogspot.com.

After that, I plan to write my next novel, which will be inspired by my stint on a federal jury, and the television show Survivor.

CTW: Anything else you would like to share?
LO: Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog!

About the Author
Laurel Osterkamp was a comedy writer in Minneapolis before she began writing novels. Her first novel, Following My Toes, has been a Kindle best seller and won the 2008 Indie Excellence Award for Chick Lit. Starring in the Movie of My Life received honors in the 2011 Indie Excellence Awards for Chick Lit, and in the 2011 International Book Awards for Women's Fiction and Young Adult Lit. Both books are indie approved at indiereader.com. She currently teaches high school, and is working on her next book, which is inspired by her recent jury duty.

Connect with Laurel
Website: http://www.laurelosterkamp.com/
Blog: http://www.laurelosterkamp.blogspot.com/
Blog by "Lucy," which continues the story of November Surprise: http://www.novembersurprises.blogspot.com/


Buy the Book
Amazon

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October 22, 2012

book review: november surprise

Disclaimer: This review contains plot spoilers. Please proceed at your own risk. I do try to flag them in here, though, so you can scan it without seeing too much.

Laurel Ostekamp's November Surprise offers a more than entertainment in her girl meets boy meets presidential candidates story. A laugh-out-loud, heart tugging and fast read, November Surprise has to be one of my favorite reads of the year as it delves into the story of a woman figuring out her professional, political and romantic life.

Now, I'm going to shake up this book review. If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter (and if you don't, but like the blog, you should), I shared a photo of what a typical Sunday looks like for me. (When I say typical, I mean probably 75 percent.) Most Sundays you'll find my at my sister's bar reading a book and taking notes for a review. If I'm not doing it there, then I'm probably following the same procedure at home sans drinks. The outcome is always the same. I read a book (and as a terrible procrastinator, it's usually for the next day's blog post), I make a bunch of scribbles with my God-honest impressions and takeaways, and somehow I write a review of it before the next day.

Well, after sharing some of my thoughts from today's read with my sister, she thought I should review this book using the seven note cards (front and back) I used to make notes on this book. I liked the idea, and I hope Laurel and Samantha, the tour organizer, are cool with me trying out this approach with her book.

Before I do that, here's the gist of the book...

About the Book
Twenty years
Six presidential elections
Two brothers
One consuming love affair

For Lucy Jones, the distinction between love and politics is hazy at best. Both can be all-consuming, and either can lead to a heart-breaking loss or an exhilarating win. Whatever the case, if you're seen as a loser, you probably are one. Lucy first learns this lesson in 1988, when she's a shy girl, battling a high school bully and rooting for Dukakis. Through the years Lucy will experience stunning victories and agonizing defeats as she makes the choices that define her. Meanwhile, she also struggles to define her relationship with Monty, who comes in and out of her life like the changes in public opinion. Is Monty simply a one-night stand, a kindred spirit, or the love of her life? And by 2008, can he offer her a change to believe in?

Over the course of twenty years and six presidential elections, Lucy grows and adjusts with the times. Filled with snarky political and pop-culture references, November Surprise is about the journey we take to believe in a candidate, in love, and in ourselves.

November Surprise is a companion piece to Campaign Promises, which is free on Amazon. They can be read in either order.
Now that you know what the book is about, I should take a quick moment to warn you that this unconventional review will contain spoilers. Consider this a DISCLAIMER. If you'd rather not see this bit, scroll down until you see my note "Regular review."

Another disclaimer: I'm more than a little nervous about this, because you'll not only see how nuts I am while I review, but you will likely detect my political leanings. Just know I'm by no means trying to sway your own opinion one way or the other. If you read this and are upset by any of my opinions, just know that my father is even more disappointed than you. The only reason I include any inkling of my beliefs is because the bulk of the book is about Lucy's, and when I read a book like this, I basically have a conversation with the main character. She shares her thoughts, I share mine.

So with that... I give you a transcription of my review note cards, and the random thoughts I have while reading a book for review. If you read carefully, you'll detect the moment my second cocktail kicked in:

1988 Election:
  • Even though he's a dick, I love her classmate Reggie's comment about apathy... it is worse than love or hate. Love or hate are passionate opinions. Apathy means you don't care. I don't remember this election, but it echoes true now... So much apathy.
1992 Election:
  • During the 1992 Clinton vs. Bush election, Jack says, "I live in the real world inhabited by flawed people." What an awesome comment? I totally relate to this statement, and it's like a thesis for the book or my life. I DO live in a real world inhabited by flawed people -- and I'm one of them.
  • Story really picks up during 1992 election -- '88 makes a nice intro, though. I LOL'd several times in this bit.
  • I love her conflict with her bestie turning Republican after college. Her sense of betrayal and indignation is too funny. Politics aside, her BFF Sharon is right about politicians: no one candidate is all good or bad.
  • Her feelings about Clinton bringing hope and change during his election reminds me of the high emotions in my generation during the first Obama candidacy.  
1996 Election:
  • Love how she captures the pop culture trends of each election. I hadn't thought about Dolly the cloned sheep in years since she mentioned her in the 1996 election section. I feel like I'm watching "I Love the '80s" or "I Love the '90s." NOSTALGIA! I miss my misspent youth.
  • Lucy totally cracks me up when she talks about her excitement voting for president the first time, calling it "losing her civic virginity." I confess I felt much the same way when I voted in the 2004 election at 18. I thought I was such a bad ass who had life. Figured. Out.
In Between:
  • Liking this Monty plot. He's there or mentioned every election and in between. Nice to see it through the years.
  • "I'm about to do the homecoming king." Classic line, though I'll never relate to this one. I don't even remember my homecoming king...
2000 Election:
  • I LOVE LUCY.
  • LOVE early morning call from Monty regarding the 2000 election. I mean, DO YOU REMEMBER THAT? I was a freshman in high school but sat on pins and needles for more than a month waiting for the results.
  • I do not know if I have ever wanted a male character as badly as I want Monty when he proposes mobilizing to defeat Bush in 2000. Action and passion in a man is SO F-ING HOT.
  • "Do you really think I'm hotter than Tom Brokaw?" Monty asks. She says yes. He must be gorgeous. Brokaw is even older now, and I still think he is a TOTAL HOTTIE.
  • All they can think about in 2000 is election results for weeks. The 18-year-old idealist Laura GETS YOU, Lucy and Monty. Even though I couldn't vote, I was totally that obsessed with the election. Suppose journalism killed my caring. :(
  • OMG: Monty's shocking Nader confession! I did NOT see that coming.
2004 Election:
  • Lucy's relationship with political wannabee: I briefly considered being a political wife when (DELETED EX'S NAME) said he wanted to run for office. It didn't match with my plans, either. I get you, girl.
  • "Can a woman who is helping African rape victims be selfish? I hope so." YES, Lucy. I am a dick who thinks like this, too.
  • Totes relate to being in late 20s with married friends with kids and being single, figuring out life and plotting major changes.
  • "If I had to pick between John Kerry and Harry Potter, I'd pick Harry Potter every time." Who wouldn't, Lucy? He may not be a naturalized citizen, but he's awesome.
  • She's tired of feeling challenged. I am SO with you, Boo.
  • She re-meets Reggie, and I wonder: Who didn't get in fights in Civics? Was that just Lucy and me? His quote to her slays me: "I never pegged you to be a waitress." She's a grad student, bro. You better back off.
  • More than half-way through the book, I really see this as a story about a woman constantly having her political views challenged, even more than her personal. I can relate, and can only imagine other people do, too.
  • As a Nebraska girl, I feel so close to this Iowa Girl. Big X than Big XII... It may not have much to do with plot, but I get it like I get her.
  • I love this quote more than words can say, "Consider all the ways that we as humans divide ourselves... One significant way is in how we fight. There are the people who will win at any cost, there are those who would rather lose than get their hands dirty, and then there are the people who refuse to fight at all." This story is beyond politics. I love that her political journey reflects her personal.
2008 Primary and Election:
  • SHE MOVED TO SEATTLE TO TEACH?!?!? What a bitch?!?!? I love, envy and want to be her. :)
  • Her first lines about Obama in this section are so reflective of how most people in his camp felt. People wanted to believe in him. However... like Monty, I loved Hill Rod. Until I saw Obama speak in Omaha, I said, "Hilary 2008, Obama 2016." After the speech, and watching people react, I knew he would secure the Democratic candidacy.
  • I super love this quote: "The beauty of obstacles lies in overcoming them." Then Monty calls... again... And I'm stuck thinking this is a good life lesson.
  • Insert Cathy comic "Ack!" Geography is finally on Lucy and Monty's side...
  • Beautiful line about their complication in life, "Maybe we are way too familiar way too soon."
  • Total LOL: "One person's terrorist fist bump is another person's gesture of love." I am dying.
  • He's loved her for years? I love him.
  • Like Lucy, I also used to fight with my high school boyfriend's parents about politics. If I had a dollar for every time I told them Reagan was dumb or heard Clinton was the devil, I wouldn't have any student loans from college.
  • No one. NO ONE, will ever know how much I would've loved to get engaged the night of Obama's win. In hindsight, I was only 22, and I am a wild spirit that cannot be tamed. No, a post-election proposal would not be ideal.
NO MORE SPOILERS!!!
Final Thoughts (also from note cards):
  • I cannot express how much I get and love this book. I'm beyond ecstatic to follow her blog update. 
  • What a frigging well-created story?
  • I love how she shows people coming in and out of the MC's life. That's how reality is. It's not always neat with a person being present and important for more than a chapter.
  • This is a beautiful, beyond complicated and ultimately adorable love story. More than a story about boy meets girl, it's about the girl's love, disillusionment and eventual hope in America and democracy. We've all been there, no matter our politics.
  • My big takeaway from this book came from that dick, Reggie. He said apathy blows. Love and hate are better. Doing or feeling nothing ruins life. Being passionate is what it's all about. What a powerful message from a book?
So with that, I'll leave with you saying this was a super fast and worthwhile read -- especially in election season. Whether or note you agree with Lucy's politics, I hope you'll appreciate her passion and desire to believe in people.

I also really liked the character of Monty. Their relationship complications seemed reasonable to me, and ultimately I found him adorable. I also liked the friendship she had with his brother, Jack. The final scene with all three of them together is so sweet, and ultimately shows the power of friendship and family.

Told unconventionally, it had a big impact. I liked the format, I liked the voice and I liked the takeways. All were approachable while making for a thought-evoking and entertaining read.

This book is a bargain buy for all of the entertainment it provides. If I were one of the TV personalities referenced in this book, I would list it under, "BUY, BUY, BUY."

Now, I feel a bit naked after exposing all of my raw thoughts to you, so I think I'll go hide under a pile of paperwork at the office.

Rating: 5 of 5

Read an excerpt from November Surprise here.

Check back tomorrow for my interview with the author of November Surprise, Laurel Osterkamp.

About the Author
Laurel Osterkamp was a comedy writer in Minneapolis before she began writing novels. Her first novel, Following My Toes, has been a Kindle best seller and won the 2008 Indie Excellence Award for Chick Lit. Starring in the Movie of My Life received honors in the 2011 Indie Excellence Awards for Chick Lit, and in the 2011 International Book Awards for Women's Fiction and Young Adult Lit. Both books are indie approved at indiereader.com. She currently teaches high school, and is working on her next book, which is inspired by her recent jury duty.

Connect with Laurel
Website: http://www.laurelosterkamp.com/
Blog:http://www.laurelosterkamp.blogspot.com/
Blog by "Lucy," which continues the story of November Surprise: http://www.novembersurprises.blogspot.com/

Buy the Book
Amazon

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excerpt of 'november surprise'

Blogger's Note: I will review Laurel Osterkamp's November Surprise later, today, but first, enjoy this excerpt from the book.

About the Book
Twenty years
Six presidential elections
Two brothers
One consuming love affair

For Lucy Jones, the distinction between love and politics is hazy at best. Both can be all-consuming, and either can lead to a heart-breaking loss or an exhilarating win. Whatever the case, if you're seen as a loser, you probably are one. Lucy first learns this lesson in 1988, when she's a shy girl, battling a high school bully and rooting for Dukakis. Through the years Lucy will experience stunning victories and agonizing defeats as she makes the choices that define her. Meanwhile, she also struggles to define her relationship with Monty, who comes in and out of her life like the changes in public opinion. Is Monty simply a one-night stand, a kindred spirit, or the love of her life? And by 2008, can he offer her a change to believe in?

Over the course of twenty years and six presidential elections, Lucy grows and adjusts with the times. Filled with snarky political and pop-culture references, November Surprise is about the journey we take to believe in a candidate, in love, and in ourselves.

November Surprise is a companion piece to Campaign Promises, which is free on Amazon. They can be read in either order.

Excerpt
Monty and I have been dancing together all evening. The slow songs are the best, but we also do the Macarena and even the Chicken Dance. I can’t stop laughing the entire time I’m quacking my hands.

Jack and his new wife, Petra, have fed each other cake. Petra has thrown her bouquet, and all the toasts have been given. The night is winding down, and Monty leads me off the dance floor.

“I’m really glad neither of us had dates,” he says.

“Yeah, me too.” My heart beats just a little bit faster than normal.

“And I’m sorry about earlier. Hitting on you like that. It was clumsy. Will you forgive me?” His face is flushed and his tie is loosened. I’m sure I’ve noticed before how good looking he is, but this is the first time I’ve let myself appreciate it.

“There’s nothing to forgive.” I look around, make sure nobody is watching, and then I stand on my tip-toes and plant a kiss on his cheek. When he doesn’t flinch or pull away, I give him the barest whisper of a kiss on the lips.

It’s all the encouragement he needs.

With a conspiratorial smile, he takes my hand and leads me outside the reception hall. I follow willingly.

When we get to a dark, hidden spot, he wraps his arms around my waist and kisses me deeply. I can feel it everywhere, my entire body is tingling, my knees are weak, and I’m sure that at any moment, my heart will explode.

I don’t want him to stop. But he does.

“Where are you staying tonight?” he asks.

“I was going to drive back to my parents’ house.”

“Hmm…” he leans in and kisses me some more. I press up against him like I can’t get close enough. He tilts his head back ever so slightly, so he can talk. “That’s a long drive. Do you want to stay with me, instead?”

“You have a hotel room?”

“It’s close to the airport,” he whispers. “I fly back to New York really early tomorrow.” Then he baby kisses my eyes, nose, and chin.

I don’t answer immediately. I’m trying to steady my breathing. “So you can make a clean get away?”

“It’s not like that.” he smiles. “And you haven’t even said yes, yet.”

But he knows I’m going to. “You can’t ever tell Jack,” I say.

“He just got married, Lucy. Do you really think he’ll care?”

I rub my hands down his back and across the taut muscles in his arms. “I never had sex with him, and we dated for months. If he finds out you and I had a one night stand…”

Monty cuts me off with another kiss. “I promise I’ll never tell him,” he murmurs, between kisses.

We make out a few seconds more, but our kissing is interrupted when I’m consumed with a fit of giggles.

“What’s so funny?” Monty asks.

I shake my head. “Sorry. It just occurred to me. I’m about to do it with the homecoming king.”

Monty chuckles. “Does that turn you on?”

“Yeah,” I admit. “Kind of. Is that okay?”

He kisses my neck. I tilt my head back and sigh in pleasure.

“Are you kidding?” His lips are a mere centimeter from my skin as he mumbles, and his arms tighten around me even more. “If I had known, I would have worn my crown.”

Now we’re both laughing.

“You know this isn’t the sort of thing I usually do…”

He raises his face so he’s looking me in the eye. “I know,” he says, and he smiles. Crinkles form around his green eyes, and I feel a moment of panic. There’s no way I’m casual enough to be with him for just one night.

“Let’s make it special, okay?” He reaches down and clasps my hand, and I let him lead me somewhere, again. This time, I follow him to the parking lot. Tonight, I’d follow him anywhere.

Check back at 8 a.m. CDT for a review of November Surprise. Return tomorrow for an interview with the author, Laurel Osterkamp.

About the Author
Laurel Osterkamp was a comedy writer in Minneapolis before she began writing novels. Her first novel, Following My Toes, has been a Kindle best seller and won the 2008 Indie Excellence Award for Chick Lit. Starring in the Movie of My Life received honors in the 2011 Indie Excellence Awards for Chick Lit, and in the 2011 International Book Awards for Women's Fiction and Young Adult Lit. Both books are indie approved at indiereader.com. She currently teaches high school, and is working on her next book, which is inspired by her recent jury duty.

Connect with Laurel
Website: http://www.laurelosterkamp.com/
Blog:http://www.laurelosterkamp.blogspot.com/
Blog by "Lucy," which continues the story of November Surprise: http://www.novembersurprises.blogspot.com/


Buy the Book
Amazon

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October 18, 2012

interview with the author of 'dangerous woman'

I'm pleased to have p.m. terrell here for an interview to promote her book, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, as part of her Goddess Fish book tour. Be sure to check the end of the post to find out how to win a prize from the author.

Change the Word: How do you stay organized?
p.m. terrell: I have always been a highly organized individual. In 2012, I was committed to writing three books and co-chairing a huge annual writer’s conference and book fair. I couldn’t achieve all that I do without being highly structured. I rise at 5:30 seven days a week and I work until 5 or 6 p.m. each day with a one-hour lunch break to run errands. It works for me, because I love what I do.

CTW: How did you come up with the idea to write Secrets of a Dangerous Woman?
pt: It seemed for a long time as if every time I opened a newspaper or turned on the television, another politician had done something immoral or illegal. Having been a computer specialist before I was a full-time writer (my specialty is in computer intelligence and computer crime) I knew that no one should have any expectation of privacy in this day and age. So it astounded me that politicians thought they could hide such behavior. I came up with the computer hacker in the Black Swamp Mysteries series finding the same things I had and establishing a list of politicians who could be bought, bribed or destroyed because of their own actions. That became the plot for Secrets of a Dangerous Woman.

CTW: What is the biggest lesson you learned while writing this book?
pt: How much easier a series is than stand-alone books! I’d been writing stand-alones for years and the first few chapters were always needed to lay the groundwork: introduce the characters and the backdrop while moving the plot forward. Without the need to do that in Secrets (it is the third book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series) I could focus on the plot—which is like the reader boarding the roller coaster at the top of that first peak!

CTW: What was the greatest challenge while writing?
pt: Publicizing and promoting the previous book, Vicki’s Key, which was launched while I was writing Secrets of a Dangerous Woman. More and more of the responsibility for marketing and promotion falls to the author these days, which splits my time between what I want to do and what I need to do.

CTW: What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
pt: Take the ego out of the work. When a writer thinks their work is the best thing since sliced bread, they leave themselves with no room for improvement. And there isn’t a writer alive who can’t improve in some way or another. I always try to listen to constructive criticism and glean what I can out of it.

CTW: How about the worst?
pt: The worst piece of writing advice I ever received was from a New York Times bestselling author who told me after my first suspense/thriller had been rejected by three publishers to give up. Obviously, I didn’t heed his advice!

CTW: What's your favorite latest read?
pt: The Haunting series by Erin Quinn. I read all four of them this past year and love them. She can’t write fast enough for me!

CTW: What is up next for you and your writing career?
pt: I am finishing up Dylan’s Song, the fourth book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series. It is scheduled for release in the spring of 2013. After that, I am scheduled to write the second book in a new series (no release date yet on that series) and then the fifth and sixth books in the Black Swamp Mysteries series. So next year I will be writing another three books and starting on a fourth.
My agent is shopping film rights to all my books and I am hoping 2013 will be my lucky year!

CTW: Wow - that's amazing news. Congratulations! Is there anything else you would like to share with us before we say goodbye?
pt: Yes—if any of your readers find themselves in the North Carolina area in February 2013, I hope they’ll make plans to visit the Book ‘Em North Carolina Writers’ Conference and Book Fair on Feb. 23. It is free and open to the public. We have more than 75 authors, publishers, literary agents and book promoters—along with one awesome Hollywood producer—who will talk about their work and the publishing industry. All book sales benefit literacy campaigns in our community. More information can be found at www.bookemnc.org, including a bio on each author and links to their sites.

About the Book
In Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan Maguire is back in his first assignment with the CIA: to interrogate recently captured Brenda Carnegie. But when she escapes again, it's obvious she's had help from within the CIA's own ranks. With Vicki Boyd's assistance, Brenda is back in Dylan's custody. And now he must find out why some in the highest levels of our government want her dead while others are willing to risk everything to help her. And when he discovers Brenda's real identity, his mission has just become very personal.

Excerpt of Secrets of a Dangerous Woman
“Who are you running from?” Vicki asked.

Brenda took a deep breath. “I am in trouble. Big trouble.”

“What did you do?”

“Depends on who you ask.” She took a deep breath. “I’m tired, Vicki. Really tired. I need to get off the street. Stay inside for a day or two. Regroup.”

“I’m living in Lumberton now. The woman who owned the house where I’m staying passed away. Her nephew inherited it.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Yeah? Where’s he?”

“I live with him. Come home with me. It’s a big house, three stories.”

Brenda frowned as if she was deep in thought. “It’s just you and him there?”

“His name’s Dylan. I’ll tell you all about him on the way.”

She half nodded. “He won’t be taken aback by you bringing me home? I’m a bit more to handle than a stray cat.”

“He’d love to meet you. I promise. He’ll take care of you.” “He will, will he?”

Vicki blushed. “He’s got a strong sense of family. Besides,” she said as she started to rise, “it’s suppertime and you need to eat. We’ll get something in your belly and you’ll get a good night’s sleep.”

Brenda hesitated only briefly before she rose from the table. “You sure you can handle the intrusion?”

“Positive.”

As they made their way toward the door, Brenda whispered, “I wouldn’t be too sure about that.”
About the Author
p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 16 books, including Vicki's Key, a 2012 International Book Awards finalist, and River Passage, 2010 Best Fiction & Drama winner. She is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation whose slogan is "Buy a Book and Stop a Crook" and the co-chair of Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference & Book Fair.

For more information, visit www.pmterrell.com.

Connect with p.m.
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www.pmterrell.blogspot.com
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