Thursday, 15 June 2017

Confessions of a Romance Writer: The First Time I Touched 'It'



The first time I touched a penis I was eighteen. There were three of us in the room, two standing and one lying down.

I remember shaking and thinking, "This is it. I'm going to see a real naked penis." I was terrified, but I felt I was on the cusp of a monumental shift in my life, as if I was passing over a tangible line in the sand.

An epiphany, indeed. Everything that had happened to me up to that moment would be forever knows as BP; before penis.

When I was a teenager, if you wanted a sneak peek at the mysteries of the opposite sex, you had to rely on
National Geographic or the Encyclopedia Britannica for a glimpse at nudity. I still remember the first volume—A for anatomy—had these cool transparent overlapping pages detailing the multiple layers of veins, organs, and then finally the skin.

Ew. Penises were ugly. And don't even get me started on the hair. The shock of that picture was enough to make me take down my
Duran Duran poster—after all, that would make five dangling, hairy penises staring at me from the bedroom wall.

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Fast forward a few years and I find myself only a fraction of a body width away from a real one. There was no turning back, I would have to touch it...I knew that much.

Some people enter the pool by diving in and some take the stairs, inching themselves into the water, trying to convince their bodies to keep going deeper. For me, touching the penis was going to have to be tackled with the jumping-in-before-I-chickened-out technique.

I wrapped my hand around the spongy protrusion and waited. And waited.

Is this it? I wondered. Is this rubbery thing what all the love songs are about? Is this what I'll be married to one day?!

"Hold it taut," she said. Her voice was soft, but commanding. "Now gently insert the catheter, taking care once you reach the hub of the bladder." There was a pause. The nursing instructor leaned closer to the head of the hospital bed. She raised her voice and asked, "Are you all right Mr. Kline?"

The grey haired man lying on the bed nodded that he was all right, despite the fact a shaking student nurse was sweating under her gloves and querying the meaning of life while performing his catheterization.

Poor Mr. Kline—that wasn't his real name—I doubt his seventy-five-year-old penis found the moment as definitive as I did.

Once his bladder had been accessed and drained (actual medical terminology on my skills check off list) and the task was completed, my shift came to an end. I marched back to residence in my white, soft soled shoes a little taller. I'd seen a penis, even touched one—heck mauled might be a better word.

And I survived.

I had solved one of the great mysteries that had hung over my head since those days of flipping through the encyclopedia. There was an immediate essence of wisdom within my conscious, but there was also an underlying cunning, like I was harbouring a fantastic secret.

The world seemed a little less scarier or maybe I was a bit more brave.

That night, I decided to do something that terrified me even more than touching a penis. I walked into the local pharmacy, picked up a box of tampons and got in the checkout line that had a male cashier. I even made eye contact with him when I handed over my money.

I was invincible. Hear me roar.

Rest in peace, Mr. Kline. I hope you had many happy years after our brief encounter. Thanks for the memories.

Congratulations! You made it to the end of this post. Please enjoy Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman"



Sunday, 11 June 2017

Novel Spotlight: Bitter Legacy


BITTER LEGACY
by
C.B. Clark

She only ever wished for two things, a red dress
...and her father's death.



Sharla-Jean Bromley returns to her hometown after a seventeen-year absence with vengeance in her heart. From the very beginning, her plans go awry when she meets devastatingly handsome Josh Morgan, the man to whom her father left half of his multi-million dollar lumber mill.

Josh, suspicious of Sharla-Jean’s reasons for returning to town after such a long absence, vows to keep control of the company he feels is rightfully his. She is equally determined to prove she can run her father’s mill, even though it means working side-by-side with Josh, a man whose very presence evokes an attraction that is increasingly difficult for her to ignore.

In the process, they must overcome a villain who’s determined to destroy both the lumber mill and their lives. Will Sharla-Jean succeed and heal the anguish that has long filled her soul? Will she and Josh find the passion of a lifetime?

BUY LINKS

Amazon // The Wild Rose Press //  Nook //  Kobo //  iTunes


EXCERPT

What the hell?

A rock the size of a baseball was jammed in the opening, preventing the door from closing. The thud of her heart amped up until all she heard was its frantic pounding. She fumbled in her pocket for her cell phone, drew it out, but dropped it. The tiny phone clattered across the tile floor and slid under the reception desk. She scrambled after it, but spotted the storage room door and froze. The door was half open, the tiny room beyond a dark void.

The cleaning staff stored their supplies in the closet, and the office manager ensured the door was closed and locked. She studied the gaping door. The wooden frame was gouged. Small chunks of wood lay scattered on the floor below as if someone had pried open the lock. Why would anyone break into the storage room? Who’d steal paper towels and liquid soap?

She dropped to her knees and scrambled under the desk for her phone. Where was the damn thing?

A whisper of sound leaked from the storage room. A small pop, followed by crackling.

Heart hammering, she rose to her feet and backed toward the front doors, never taking her eyes off the dark storage room. A familiar odor stung her nostrils, and she halted.

Fire!

Even as the dreaded word reared like a monster inside her head, a thin trickle of smoke crept out of the room. Terrifying images of flame, smoke and searing heat threatened to overwhelm her. For a nightmare second, she was back in the midst of scorching heat and roaring flames.

Using all her strength of will, she tore free of the chilling memories. Instead of fleeing, she placed one wobbly step in front of the other and inched toward the storage room. Her nostrils flared at the acrid tang of gasoline and smoke. With a shaking hand, she gripped the door handle and opened the door wider.

A figure burst out of the darkness, crashing into her, knocking her back.

She yelped at the pain of the blow and the shock of falling. A jolt of agony and blinding light as her head hit something hard.

Heavy boots pounded across the tile floor.

Cold air washed over her. And then, darkness.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR











C.B. Clark has always loved reading, especially romances, but it wasn’t until she lost her voice for a year that she considered writing her own romantic suspense stories. She grew up in Canada’s Northwest Territories and Yukon. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Archaeology, she has worked as an archaeologist and an educator. She enjoys hiking, canoeing, and snowshoeing with her husband and dog near her home in the wilderness of central British Columbia.

CONNECT WITH C.B.!


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

How To Survive Querying


Querying is sending an enticing blurb to a prospective agent/publisher in hopes they'll request the rest of your manuscript.

It's also a lot like being at a high school dance wishing the cute guy on the other side of the gym would notice you.


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I have to confess, I love querying. Every time I hit that send button I get an endorphin release. Seriously. I'm so full of anticipation I actually write the query before I've finished the book.

BUT I NEVER QUERY BEFORE THE MANUSCRIPT IS SUPER FANTASTIC AND REALLY, REALLY AWESOME.

Ahem...

However, sending out a lot of queries also means a lot of waiting (boring) and a lot of rejections (boo). I've discovered it's more fun to dream while I wait.

Here are the top five things that help me survive querying

1. Instead of waiting for agent news or a book deal to celebrate, treat yourself each time you get a rejection. It doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate, just enough to make you smile.

2. When you're reading the latest deals in Publishers Marketplace, remember all of those success stories were years in the making. Did you hear that? YEARS.

3. Keep writing. It helps distract you from the first book, and it may end up being your favourite story. Plus, when your new agent/publisher asks what you're working on now, you'll have an answer! 

4. Step away from the computer. Engage in the life around you. Family and friends are the best balm after a rejection and they're a reminder your happiness shouldn't only be determined by your writing successes.

5. Cupcakes. See number 1.

Bonus. DREAM BIG!

So hold the shampoo bottle while reciting your Oscar speech for 'Best Screen Play' in the shower. 

Create a Pinterest board with actors who will star in the movie adaptation of your book.

Smile secretly when the guy at Starbucks looks exactly like your MC's love interest.

And always, ALWAYS pick up the lucky penny you see on the sidewalk.

Consider New Radicals, "You Get What You Give", substitute 'music' with 'stories' you've got the perfect writer's anthem.




Psst...learn how to write an amazing query here!
What are some tips that help you survive querying?


Saturday, 27 May 2017

Novel Spotlight: The Ghost and Mrs. Miller


THE GHOST AND MRS. MILLER
by Sandra Tilley

Dating is hard for a widow, especially when your dead husband's ghost insists on playing chaperone.






Libby Miller is a good Southern girl, and good Southern girls know the rules. But fate has no rules. On her nineteenth wedding anniversary, fate whips up a tornado of turmoil when Libby finds her husband Neil in the arms of his assistant. But the storm’s not over. Neil flips his BMW, and Libby comes home to find his ghost in the dining room. How is Libby supposed to grieve and move on with Neil’s ever-present, meddling ethereal presence in her life?

With her twentieth high school reunion looming, Libby finds herself torn between two men from her past. One man promises passion and a new beginning, and the other wants to pick up where they left off. Neil stirs up a maelstrom of mischief, making it almost impossible for Libby to sort through the rubble. Libby anticipates a confrontation between her two suitors–not a shadowy stalker who chooses the reunion as his setting for a showdown.

In Libby’s quest for independence, she rejects the one man who can save her. Can she compromise the price of her freedom, or will it cost her a second chance at love and put her life in danger?


AMAZON // WILD ROSE PRESS // GOOGLE PLAY


EXCERPT

Jesse tapped my watch. “What’s your rush, Lib? I wanted to talk about Neil’s office building. My real estate guy said he’s been trying to get you to show him the property.”

Neil’s diaphanous form grew more solid, and he shook his fist in Jesse’s face. “It’s not for sale.”

“Why are you annoyed?” Oh, my God. I’d asked Neil a question—out loud.

Jesse answered. “I’m not annoyed. Now my real estate guy is a little pissed because you won’t return his calls.”

“He’s wasting his time calling. I haven’t made a decision on selling Neil’s building,” I said.

The air crackled and swelled. A cloud of Neil hung heavy over Jesse. “Why’s he so interested?”

Eli’s plastic cup crunched in his hand. “Not a cool time to talk business.”

“Still protecting her.” Jesse leaned back and then an ah-ha look sparked a grin. “Wait a minute. Are you two together?”

Before I could answer, Neil jumped in my face. “Well? Are you together?”

“Don’t be stupid,” I said to Neil.

Eli smashed his coffee cup flat and shot Jesse a deadly look. “You heard the lady.”

Jesse was being Jesse—making trouble. I answered Neil, but my response hit a nerve with Eli. They were too close and pressing in. I wanted to run away from the memories. From the three musketeers. From everything. The air felt thick and clogged my windpipe. I pulled my shirt from my neck and rested my hand at my throat. My pulse beat out an SOS. I pressed my fingers to stop the dots and dashes and warned my feet to stay put.

“Uh-oh.” Neil said.

If I thought things couldn’t get worse, I was wrong. A woman I hated worse than rattlesnakes walked by wearing a white blouse a size too small tucked into a black skirt a foot too short. Flanked by two little boys, her hands held fast. She walked past and long red curls bounced on her shoulders. Breathing ceased. Blackness pinched my vision to a pinpoint.

Neil swooped in front of me and hovered on his knees. “Please, please, please don’t say anything.”

I pressed my chest, forcing air up through my trachea and breathed in. I uncrossed my legs and wound them around the chair legs to hold me down. All of my anger and rage streamed at the woman who’d ruined my life, and if looks were lethal…But then the smaller of the two boys started crying and pulling away from the line to see Santa. She bent down, dried his cheeks, and hugged him.

“Maybe I should introduce her.” I said.

Eli and Jesse gave me confused looks. “Huh?”

I couldn’t look away from the Santa display. The other little boy helped his mom console his little brother. “See that redhead in line with the two little boys?”

“She’s hot,” Jesse inspected her from top to bottom. “You know her?”

I wanted to scream and throw my coffee cup at her, but she wasn’t a monster. She was a mom. A single mom. Like me.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR





Sandra Tilley grew up in a small town near Birmingham, Alabama, where friends always entered through the back door and where everyone spoke the same language—Southern. After a successful teaching career, she packed up her pearls and headed toward her inspiration: the sugar-white beaches of Orange Beach, Alabama, on the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

CONNECT WITH SANDRA

Website
Twitter



Monday, 8 May 2017

The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received


Writing can be a solitary adventure— which is exactly the way we writers like it!
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By nature, most writers are introverts and enjoy the company of being alone with their characters. But every once in a while we need a little wisdom to help us along this winding path to the bookstore shelves.

I’ve been writing for ten years and have published seven novels. Over this time I’ve collected a few tidbits of advice. Some I’ve found through others and some are from my own experience. I hope one of these resonate with you.

1. Try to write every day even if it’s only one page. All those pages add up and it helps foster the habit of getting words on paper in a timely fashion.


2. Write the book of your heart and take as long as you need.


3. Ignore trends. Write what you love, what you want to read.


4. Don’t edit while you’re writing. This is the most free your writing will be, let it flow. Even misspelled words, leave them there. It’s all about moving forward.


5. You are writing for your characters. You are the only one who knows their story.


6. Be grateful for the gift of imagination.


7. Writing is hard. Respect it as such.


8. Even though it may appear differently, there is no such thing as an easy success, no matter how famous the writer. Remember that we’re all in the same industry and we want it to be thriving.


9. Don’t forget about the weather.

10. When in doubt, add a food scene.

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Do you have any writing advice to share?


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