May 29, 2014

Please Give a Warm Welcome to Author, Lauren Linwood

When You Simply Have to Give in to Your Characters

As an author, I’ve tried both pantsing and planning when getting ready to start a new novel.

I’ve figured out that pantsing—author-speak for flying by the seat of your pants—doesn’t work for me. If I don’t have any firm direction to go, things spin out of control fast. I get backed into corners, or I find myself in the midst of a saggy middle, or I run out of ideas for the plot. Believe me, sitting at my keyboard, floundering, is not a fun way to pass the time.

Yet intense outlining doesn’t work for me, either. I met a New York Times best-selling author who was so anal to the nth degree that she wrote 40-50 page outlines for her books. Sure, after all of that detail was done, it made her writing job a breeze—but part of what I enjoy is the spontaneity that comes with creating characters and seeing how they’ll maneuver around whatever I throw at them. I feel like outlining in that amount of detail takes out all the joy for me when I write.

So I’ve hit on a cross between these two methods. I always do character sketches for my hero & heroine (and sometimes the antagonist). I come up with their back story, their physical description, and their personalities. I think about their internal and external conflicts and directions to go with both of these. I really put quite a bit of thought into these creations, and I know my people very well by the time I begin writing their love story.

And the plot? Well, I do outline—in very broad terms. I have anywhere from half a page to a page on a single yellow legal pad sheet. I list some of the events that I want to occur in the novel. That way, I have an idea of the direction, but it leaves plenty of room for creativity to blossom and events to change along the way. I start my characters hustling down the interstate to the finish line, but many times (okay—every single time) they get off at the state highways or farm-to-market roads. They do whatever they need to do there. I let them get it out of their systems. Then they meander back and return to my master plan.

I don’t mind them doing this. When I travel I enjoy the speed of an interstate highway, but I have taken time every now and then to slow down and get off the super highway. I might eat at a tiny diner with amazing pies or find a cool antique shop to peruse or see some breathtaking scenery that way. I always make my way back to the interstate and reach my destination, so all is well in the long run.

In my latest western historical romance, Written in the Cards, I decided to have dime novels play a part in the story. With public education growing by leaps and bounds and the literacy rate rising in the US, many people were hungering to get their hands on anything to read. Dime novels were fun, quick reads and very inexpensive.

I decided my hero Ben Morgan would be the popular author of a dime novel series, and he would somehow anger a gunslinger and have to make a run for it. But before I could begin, my heroine Maggie Rutherford totally objected to those plans. She was a bit of a tomboy from a wealthy New York publishing family.  She told me—no, actually demanded—that she be the dime novel author. She believed a woman could be just as good a writer as a man.

So here I hadn’t even put my couple on their road to romance, and the heroine was already balking at my plans!

But do you know what? Maggie was absolutely right. She’s smart and creative, and it added a great twist having a female be the author of these exciting adventure tales. First, I could bring into the story information about how many women wrote under male pen names in this era. Also, Maggie’s family owns a publishing house. I have her submit her manuscript under a male name to Rutherford House, and they choose to publish her. So it’s her big secret that she’s one of their authors, and they have no idea! More importantly, it’s the catalyst that gets Maggie to the West. She decides she needs to visit the places she writes about and experience them in person.

And Ben? Oh, he became a gambler who calls out a man who’s cheating at cards. When the man whips out a gun to kill him, Ben shoots him in self-defense—and then Ben discovers the cheater is the brother of the meanest gunslinger in Texas. Black Tex Lonnegan swears revenge on his brother’s killer, so Ben still gets to go on the run from the killer. Problem solved!

In the long run, I’m glad I listened to my character. She knew best, and it made for a fun story to write!

Date: whenever you have a slot available. This just came out May 21, so I’m open to whenever.

Prize:  a couple of copies of Written in the Cards


a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 19, 2014

It's My Birthday - Please Stop In For The Party and Welcome My Special Guest - Liza O'Connor

Today is Cheryl’s birthday, so the characters of Climbing Out of Hell want to throw her a party. 

Here’s how it went down.

Characters involved in this silliness:

Liza: Hey guys, today is Cheryl’s Birthday, so let’s fix her a really nice cake.
Dani: I’ll bake the cake.
Trevor: I know a great recipe for turtles. All we need is some safe chocolate.
Dani: What is ‘safe chocolate’?
Trevor: Chocolate that is really chocolate and doesn’t have some lunatic Russian mobster following it about.
Dani: Okay, just so you know, you’re not making any sense.
Sam: No he made total sense, and I’m with you, Trevor. Here’s my contributions to Cheryl’s birthday.
Dani: What is it?
Sam: Pure Pot Whiskey. Cost nearly $200,000 a bottle.
Dani: *chokes* Sam! That’s crazy! You spent $400,000 on two bottles of whiskey? I’m pretty sure Cheryl would have preferred you paying off her mortgage instead.
Sam: Hey, it’s my money. I’ll spend it like I want.
Trevor: It’s the thought that counts.
Dani: Does Cheryl even drink whiskey?
Liza: Nope. She likes Tequila.
Sam: Not a problem. My source has a bottle of the best tequila for $1.5 million.
Liza: Okay, I have to object. I am a frugal person and you are my character. You cannot spend $1.5 million on one bottle of tequila.
Sam: I’m a billionaire. I make that much in interest in a day.
Trent: Not quite. You probably earn ten thousand a day, which means it would take about 5 months to pay for bottle.
Sam: What are you? A math genius?
Liza: *chokes* Doesn’t matter, I find it incomprehensible how characters in my head could think of paying $1.5 million for a little bottle of tequila.
Sam: Then don’t make us billionaires. I’ve more money than I could ever spend. You heard Trevor. It only takes me 3 days to exceed the average salary in this town. 3 days! And I don’t even have to work a single minute to do it. My money just self-propagates. And still, I’m the one who gets all the tax breaks. Go figure! Cheryl will have her Tequila, end of discussion.
Dani: Tequila is Tequila. How can someone possibly justify selling it for so much?
Trevor: Most of the cost is in the bottle. While they use 100% agave and age it for 9 years, it’s the bottle that justifies the price. It has 6,000 diamonds sprinkled into the hand blown glass which is dipped in platinum and silver.
Sam and Dani speak at once: How do you know that?
Trevor: *shrugs* I must have read it somewhere. It kind of hard to forget.
Dani: Yea, I’ll have nightmares about it.
Sam: Good thing I’m giving it to Cheryl then.
Dani: Yes, it is. I wouldn’t be able to sleep with that bottle lying about. So answer me this. If you can afford to buy ridiculously priced bottles, why won’t you pay for the beers you drink in my bar?
Sam: It’s a beer. I don’t pick up pennies either.
Trent: Sam, you digging another hole. Why don’t you help me load this cake in the pickup?
Liza: Oh, sorry, I just learned Cheryl doesn’t like cake.
Dani: I know. So instead it’s a cardboard cake fill with bars and bars of dark chocolate.
Trevor: But not the Russian mafia type.
Sam: Did I tell you that story?
Trevor *laughs*: Yeah and now I’m terrified of chocolate.
Liza: Well Cheryl isn’t so let’s get it on the way.
Hours and hours later…
Dani: I can’t believe how long it took to drive here.
Sam: Trevor drives like an old lady.
Trevor: I was going 55mph
Sam: I would have driven 90. *Bangs on door* Sheriff Lancaster. Open up!
Dani: Sam behave! The neighbors are staring out their windows now.
Cheryl: *Opens door*
Dani and Trent: Happy Birthday!

Sam: *Hands her bottle* I’ve brought you tequila, but I’ll want the bottle back.
Dani: Sam, that’s rude.
Sam: I never said I was polite.
Cheryl: *grabs tequila and lets them enter* Didn’t Liza tell you I don’t like cakes?
Dani: It’s not a cake. It’s three hat boxes filled with dark chocolate and turtles.
Cheryl *turns and frowns* Not Carrie’s turtles…
Sam: No, this is quality real dark chocolate.
Trevor: And I pasted all your book covers on the hat boxes.
Cheryl: *Laughs* This is going to be the best birthday yet.
Sam: We can drink whiskey with tequila shots.
Trevor: That will give you a terrible hangover.
Sam: That’s with the ordinary crap. We’ve got $200,000 whiskey and $1.5 million tequila.
Dani: Oh dear, Cheryl fainted. What are we going to do?
Trevor: Let’s talk about Liza’s book until she recovers, then we’ll have turtles and tequila. I’ve never actually eaten a turtle before.

Climbing Out of Hell
Book 4 of the series
A Long Road to Love
Romantic Comedy

Billionaire Trent Lancaster has destroyed his relationship with the only woman who ever loved him. Now we discover the full truth of what happened.

He actually had reasons for his behaviors.
Still, there is no going back. Trent has lost Carrie forever, but he would rather die than marry Coco, so he does just that. Trent gives away most of his possessions, fakes his death, and starts over with a new face and a better attitude in a small town in Iowa where his half-brother Sam is sheriff.

Losing his true love has fundamentally broken Trent to his core. His only chance for happiness is to become the better man Carrie had always seen inside him.

True change is not easy. Can Trent grow up and become a man we can love?

Sam burst into the kitchen, frowned at Trent, then focused on Dani. “Leroy is at it again. I thought you said you were going to hide the damn thing?”
“I did. But there aren’t many places one can hide an AK-47 rifle.”
“Well, you hid it worth shit because it’s raining lead again at the downtown square!”
She gripped her head as if it might explode.
“What’s the problem?” Trent asked.
Sam rolled his eyes. “Iowa passed a law allowing blind people to carry guns in public. So her grandfather, who is blind as a bat, sits on a bench in the square and shoots his AK into the trees.”
“What’s he trying to shoot?”
“Pigeons,” Sam and Dani answered at once. She glared him into silence and continued her reply. “He likes pigeon soup. A Pakistani doctor told him it would prevent strokes.”
“Well, he’s giving me a stroke,” Sam snapped. “You have to make him stop!”
“I’ve talked to him until I’m blue in the face. He won’t listen to me. Most of the time he thinks I’m three-years old. Who listens to a three-year-old?” She threw her hands up in frustration and turned back to the grill.
Trent didn’t care for the way Sam pushed Dani. Grandparents were impossible to boss around…at least his had been. “Why don’t you talk to him?’
Sam released a hurricane of air. “Because the mayor told me to stay away from him, since he is not breaking any laws, and any attempt on my part could result in a lawsuit against the town.” He eyed Trent. “You should talk to him.”
“Sam, Trevor’s been in town an hour. You know Gramps doesn’t trust people right off.”
“Neither do you, yet here he sits, like an old friend, watching you cook him dinner.”
She rescued the burgers off the grill, slapped them both on buns, and shoved one at Sam. “This is your hamburger. Trevor is holding out for braised lamb.”
“Point still stands. Look, I think he can do the job. I intended to hit him with a ticket but he was so nice I sent him to you instead. He’s a likable guy. Let’s send him out and see if he can stop this madness.”
“Then I’m shutting this bar down for safety violations.”
She stared at him in shock. “What violations?”
“Don’t worry. Mr. Olsen will find something. He owes me big time after last night’s poker game.”
Trent stood up. “Sam, you’re digging yourself into a hole. Your initial solution was excellent, and frankly I’m honored you think so well of me. I’ll go talk to him right now. Just tell me how to get to Pigeonville.”
Sam grinned and slapped him on the back as he led him out of the kitchen. “Way to man up. Seriously, I’ll owe you one if you can get the gun away from Leroy and bury it six feet under.”
Trent just hoped being a nice guy didn’t get him buried six feet under as well. 

Just Released May 1, 2014
Book Four of the series:
A Long Road to Love
Climbing out of Hell

Other books in the A Long Road to Love series:
Book One
Worst Week Ever
“Love this book and couldn't stop laughing from beginning to end.” 5 stars – Alves - Amazon

Book Two
Oh Stupid Heart
“Be warned though, this book is completely different from The Worst Week Ever. Yes, there is still humor, dry wit, situations that you would think...NOT AGAIN but this one humanizes Trent more.” 5 stars - Brian’s Mom – Amazon

Book Three
Coming to Reason
Once again, Ms. O’Connor has written a brilliant book about the complexities of relationships, good and bad. Again, to me, the book is the best break up book EVER and it left my heart singing in the end. Best.Book.Ever…

Other Books by Liza O’Connor
Saving Casey
Ghost Lover

Liza O’Connor - Author Bio:
Liza lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels. She loves to create interesting characters, set them loose, and scribe what happens.


Liza's Blog and Website Facebook Twitter

Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter for the $50 Gift Card.
Plus, at each stop 1 commenter who requests a book and leaves their email will win one of the following:
Worst Week Ever
Oh Stupid Heart
Coming to Reason
Ghost Lover

Link for Word Press:

Link to my rafflecopter on my blog

May 5, 2014

The Power Of Three - May Newsletter - Giveaway

The Power of Three Newsletter is out. Today we have a special guest, Audible narrator, Alan Taylor. Be sure to enter this month's contest for a chance to win a professionally narrated voice mail greeting from Alan. How fun is that?

I'll also be giving away 1 audible download of my Milwaukee Series: Protecting Rose/A Man To Trust/Shielding Her Heart.

We would love to see you there.


  Powers of three, when combined, 
triples their power, and more.

  Romance~Love~Forever: One story at a time.

Char Chaffin, Callie Hutton and Cheryl Yeko are three romance authors on a mission: to create and write romance in all its ecstasy and sometimes agony, to learn and grow together, and to support each other. BFFs forever and dedicated to our craft, we offer a monthly newsletter, contests and giveaways, and hope what we learn can be of benefit to other authors who are just starting out. Come and join in the fun!

Sign up for The Power Of Three Newsletter - Click the tab above and join. We would love to see you there.