Monday, 27 February 2017

Sage Writing Advice from C.S. Lewis

photo credit,

In a 1956 letter to a young fan, C.S. Lewis bestowed some advice to the elementary student about writing. And over fifty years later, his common sense approach to the craft is still inspiring.

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

4. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

I hope this helps your writing. Do any of these resonate with you?

Friday, 24 February 2017

Novel Spotlight: Doggone Ugly

Doggone Ugly
Cheryel Hutton

Ugly Creek Series, Book 3

She was free! For the first time in her adult life, romance novelist Shay Carpenter has no responsibilities to hold her down. Now all she wants to do is to enjoy a new life and pursue her writing in the quaint little town of Ugly Creek. But things are never that easy. Not only does Shay have to deal with her shapeshifting cousin who’s a little clueless about functioning in a human world, there’s Ace Ellison, a sexy local photographer and dog rescuer she can't get out of her head.

Despite their mutual attraction, she and Ace seem to clash over everything, especially if it concerns animals. Disagreements, dognapping, digital theft, and desire… Can Shay and Ace resolve their issues to help the special little town they both adore? Or will Ugly Creek and their budding love both end up going to the dogs?

Amazon // Wild Rose Press // Barnes&Noble


Stop, my brain cried out. Back away from the lunatic!Instead, my rebellious arms slid around his neck, finding muscles I didn’t realize he had. My fingers touched him like his skin was Braille, and I was hungry to read his story.

His hands spread over my back and he pulled me close. It felt good to be held. To be warm and secure in the strong arms of a man. Even if they were part of an annoying guy who cared more about dogs than the people around him. That’s me, no-life Shay.

I shoved him away. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Me?” His face went red and the muscles in his cheeks and around his eyes tightened. “You’re the one who kissed me.”

“Don’t blame me, you’re the one who started that kiss.”
Ace’s shoulders dropped and he closed his eyes for a moment. “We kissed each other.”

“Crap.” He was right, it had been a mutual touching of lips. My fingers, the same ones that had just caressed Ace’s neck and shoulders, touched my still tingling lips as I wondered what had just happened.

“Was it that bad?” His lips were pulled into a crooked little grin.

“Not in the least.”

We stepped toward each other. Then I reached for him, and he wrapped his arms around me. This time the kiss was gentle, careful, amazing.

The sound of a vehicle stopping near us registered, but neither of us reacted. The slamming of a car door pulled me out of the experience, and I took a step back. Ace met my gaze with an expression of longing that I knew my face mirrored.


We turned to see a tall, beautiful woman who shuffled foot to foot as her gaze flicked to Ace then into the distance.

“Yes,” Ace said. “You must be Carol.”

The woman nodded. “Sorry to interrupt, but I have to pick up my daughter in an hour. I kinda need to get this over with.”

“No problem. That’s what we’re here for.”

They moved to the back of her Honda Odyssey and I went to the other side of Ace’s SUV to lean against the passenger door. Maybe away from the problem I could get some perspective. I didn’t even like Ace. Right?

I glanced over my shoulder. He wasn’t bad with that kissing stuff. Oh hell, who was I kidding? His kisses could set a girl’s hair on fire.

About the Author

Cheryel Hutton is a Southern girl to the core. She was born in Tennessee, and spent most of her life there. There among the hills and valleys she found abundant inspiration for the stories she writes.

Recently she and her husband moved near Jacksonville, Florida, where they enjoy the sunshine, warm weather, and nearness to the ocean. Here Cheryel is discovering new inspiration and spends her time transcribing stories told to her by a muse who happens to be a dragon..

Cheryel has written three full length novels Shadows of Evil, The Ugly Truth, and Blood of the Innocent; as well as two novellas Keepers of Legend and The Secrets of Ugly Creek. Cheryel and her muse are currently working her on her next novel. More information will be available very soon!

Connect with Cheryel!

Facebook page
Twitter @cheryelhutton 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Top 11 Signs You're Living in a Romance Novel

First of all, no genre is cliché free.

And just because a plot is considered cliché, it doesn't mean no one wants to read it. On the contrary, commercial fiction is popular because the familiarity of the stories make them easy to digest. We tend to gravitate toward the cliché novels because we know we'll enjoy the story.  

So please read the following list with a grain of salt, and tongue firmly placed in cheek. ~ DD

Top 11 Signs You're Living in a Romance Novel

#1. The hot new guy in your office ignores your brilliant charisma and instead zeroes in on the shy girl with mousy brown hair who never wears make up and keeps breaking the photocopier.

#2. All of your roommates are either working late, running out the door to go clubbing, or are too sick to notice that the sexy neighbor who just moved in may or may not be a werewolf.

#3. Your best friend has been the same guy since grade one—even though no one ever stays best friends that long. Plus, you've secretly developed a crush on him.

#4. The most gorgeous girl in the office is also the meanest.

#5. Your best friend from #3 starts to date the girl from #4. You're upset, but not enough to tell him the truth because that would make NO SENSE AT ALL. Instead, you plan an elaborate ruse to win him over that blows up in your face the night of the Christmas office party.

#6. Your other best friend is a fashion diva, loves 80's music, and always has cookie dough in her fridge. Plus, she curses a lot.

#7. On vacation you have an impulsive yet mind blowing affair with a mysterious stranger, only to return to work to discover he's your new boss.

#8. The seductive, sex crazed trainer at your gym suddenly decides the nondescript girl from your local coffee shop is the one for him and turns into an overnight Romeo, swearing off sex to prove his true love to her.

#9. All it takes to make you over into a super model is a pair of contacts and a hair straightener—and of course the right dress borrowed from best friend from #6.

#10. You hate him and everything he stands for, but because you're broke (and secretly need to flee the country) you agree to marry your best friend's brother in order to comply with the stipulation of his late father's will.

#11. While on the ski trip your sister won through a singing contest, you get separated from her during a storm and end up stranded inside a remote cabin with a chiselled ski instructor with amazingly minty breath.

BONUS!!!! Every hot guy has amazing abs and green eyes, however statistically suspicious that may be.

I hope you enjoyed this quirky list! 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Novel Spotlight: TRAVELLER

by Abigail Drake

A martial arts beauty queen isn't a typical love match for a time travelling mercenary gypsy, but when a vicious attack puts them on the same team their romance can't be denied. Will they risk it all for each other?

Former Junior Miss Kentucky Emerson Shaw won pageants using martial arts as her talent and Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” as her guide, but a painful secret leads her to the University of York, and puts her in the path of tattooed and pierced bad boy, Michael Nightingale.

Michael is a Traveller, part of an ancient line of mercenary gypsies who protect the world from vicious monsters called the Moktar. When Emerson gets attacked, she has no choice but accept Michael’s offer of protection or face certain death.

Traveller society, full of outdated rules and ridiculous superstitions, isn’t a good fit for the headstrong Emerson. Traveller women aren’t allowed to fight. Traveller women aren’t allowed to win. Traveller women aren’t allowed to leave. But Emerson will do what she must, even if it means losing the one person who matters most.

Amazon // Wild Rose Press  // Kobo


Michael stared at me like I’d just whipped off all of my clothing and danced on the table in my bra and undies. Not in a good way. In a “Jeepers, this gal is crazy, get me away from her” kind of way.

It almost made me feel bad for him. Yes, he had been extremely rude, but it was also adorable how he nibbled on the small silver hoop that pierced his lower lip as he watched me. I’d seen him do it while studying, and had grown a bit obsessed with nibbling on that hoop myself.

He surprised me by reaching for my extended hand and holding it firmly. His hand, large, warm and rough, had cuts and bruises all over the knuckles. He had faint bruises on his face, too, and some small wounds still in the process of healing. He’d been in some kind of fight recently.

It didn’t surprise me. He had the look of a warrior about him, the lean strength and watchful eyes of a predator, and he was lethal. Sun Tzu would have seen it, too. He would have recruited him without a moment’s hesitation.

“Michael Nightingale.” He stared at me with those hypnotic eyes as he continued to hold my hand, using it to pull me nearer to him.

“I know. Mrs. Burke told me.” I couldn’t focus on what I was saying while he touched me, not that I’d done such a great job up until now with my witty repartee.

He tilted his head to one side, studying me the way a lion studies a gazelle before he eats it. His face was only inches away from mine.
“Do you like to flirt with danger, Emerson Jane Shaw?”

“Not usually, but today I can make an exception.”

The touch of his hand sent an electric current through my body that made my heart speed up and my brain slow down. He was intoxicating. I almost had to fan myself.

Abruptly, Michael let go of me and stood up, shoving his books into his backpack. I stood up, too.

“What’s wrong?”

Michael glared at me, threw some bills on the table and stomped out of the shop. Like an idiot, I grabbed my backpack and followed him.

He walked quickly through The Shambles, dodging pedestrians and umbrellas with ease. I wasn’t quite as lucky. The rain poured down, filling the street with puddles. Michael wore combat boots and jeans. I had on a useless pair of flats and no jacket. It only took seconds for me to be soaked to the skin and miserable. In minutes, I looked like a little blonde drowned rat.

I’m pretty fast, even in slippery shoes, and I was motivated. I kept him in my sights until he reached a side street at the end of The Shambles that led down a narrow lane. I was only half a block away when he turned and looked at me, his eyes locking with mine, and disappeared.

He hadn’t walked away. He hadn’t moved. He’d been there one second, and gone the next. Running as fast as I could, I reached the spot where I’d last seen him and looked down the lane and on either side of the street. My ribbon flew out of my hair, blowing away in the wind as I slid on the wet cobblestones and nearly fell. I skidded to a halt, realizing I hadn’t been fast enough. It was a dead end, and he was gone.


Abigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy. She teaches writing classes for young people, and is a member of Romance Writers of America, Three Rivers Romance Writers, YARWA, Women’s Fiction Writers, Mindful Writers, and PennWriters. Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.



Monday, 13 February 2017

Make Your Own Writer's Nest

Every writer should have a proper work area just for them, with everything they need only an arms length away. I prefer my big comfy couch in the living room with lots of pillows. By the time I've surrounded myself with a few essentials, I have a nest that would make Big Bird green with envy.

Here's my list of essentials:

1. Java. And lots of it, sister. Whether it be latte, espresso or americano, everyone knows a cut writer bleeds coffee.

2. Dish full of CHOCOLATES. Goes well with above mentioned java. Even a bag of baking chips will do.

3. Woolly socks. When the butt is in the chair, the blood flow can be compromised to the lower extremities. And everyone knows cold feet inhibit imagination.

4. Picture of Alex Pettyfer. We all imagine him as our main character, am I right, ladies? Yeah, I'm right.

5. iPod and ear buds. Soundtracks are great inspiration for specific scenes. Here are a few of my favorites.

Mysterious scene.

Chase scene.

Scary scene.

Smooching scene.

6. Hand wipes. See #2.

7. Lucky Troll Doll Necklace. Don't judge me. It works.

8. Pizza Delivery on speed dial. You've hit your word count for the day, hooray! But now it's supper time and the kids are starving.

BONUS! Elastic band. Wear it around your wrist. When self doubt creeps in, SNAP it, then keep writing.

Do you have a writing nest?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Novel Spotlight: A SWEETER SPOT

by Donna Simonetta

She's looking for an escape, he's looking for an ever after...

Magda knows a 28-year-old shouldn’t run away from home, but Rivers Bend is the ideal escape. Helping out her best friend will get her away from her uber-wealthy, controlling grandmother and duplicitous ex. She doesn’t expect the quirky little town to feel so much like home. Add in hotter-than-the-sun Jeff and his daughter, and leaving seems as unthinkable as it is inevitable.

Raising Sam alone, Jeff knew he wanted her to grow up in his supportive hometown. The arrival of a feisty new tenant sends Jeff's world spinning. Magda fills a void in his life that he’d like to make permanent.

Will love triumph over the most powerful woman in the country, and can they figure out how to make this happy-for-now in Rivers Bend into their happy-ever-after?

Now available!

Amazon // Wild Rose Press // Barnes&Noble 


“How would a regular guy even meet Elizabeth Mallory’s daughter?”

She chuckled. “My mom went to Yale. One night she went to a concert at a club in New Haven. My dad was there that night with his buddies. One look at each other across a crowded, smoky club, and it was love at first sight.”

“That’s the second time today someone mentioned love at first sight to me. I’m not sure I believe in it. Lust at first sight—that I’ve experienced. But love? I don’t know.”

She smiled and looked out at the river. “I’m a believer. I have my parents as an example. And Bethanne and Francisco. But I don’t have any firsthand experience of it either.”

“Not even with Pierce?”

The calm left her face at his question. At the sight of her frown and sad eyes, he felt bad for spoiling the mellow mood of the afternoon. “Sorry for asking. It’s none of my business.”
“It’s fine. I just feel like a world-class idiot for falling for his line of bull. I should’ve seen through his pretense to the real him.”

“Been there, done that,” Jeff drawled.

“Really? You don’t seem like the sort of person who’d be easy to fool. I have the feeling under all that laid back good-old boy charm, you’re one of the sharpest people I’ve ever met.”

“Thank you.” He chuckled. “I think. There was a compliment buried in there somewhere, wasn’t there?”

She tossed back her head and laughed. It sounded as pretty to Jeff as the music of birds in the woods around them. “There was supposed to be. I meant that I think you’re very smart.”

“I’d like to think I’m pretty savvy about people, but when you give your trust to someone, if they really want to deceive you, it makes it easy for them to do it. That’s what makes a relationship scary. It really exposes all your weaknesses and leaves you open to serious hurt.”

“It’s mainly my pride that’s hurt. I guess that means I wasn’t that emotionally invested in Pierce.”
Jeff plucked absently at a long piece of grass next to him. He wasn’t one to pry into someone else’s business. If Maggie wanted to talk, then she would without his poking and prodding at her open wounds.

After a long moment of silence, Magda said, “He cheated on me. Among other, even worse things that I don’t want to talk about.”

“Being cheated on is no fun. It happened to me once. Up here,” he tapped his forehead, “you know it’s not your fault. But here,” he tapped his chest over his heart, “you feel like it has to be your fault—like you could’ve done something to prevent it. But you couldn’t have. It’s all on him, Maggie. Not you.”

She picked a dandelion, whose flower had turned into a puffball, and blew on it, scattering the fluff to the wind. “Maybe. Maybe not. But thanks for the support.”

She pushed to her feet and took a couple of steps toward the river. Jeff rose and followed.
How could he be so angry at a man he didn’t even know? How could this Pierce jerk have slept around on a woman like Maggie? And the prick even made her doubt herself in the process. It was written all over her anguished face.

He stood behind her and gently kneaded her shoulders. He turned her to face him and cupped her face in his big hands.

“This Pierce guy is the biggest fool on earth to go to someone else when he had you at home, Maggie.”

She blinked away tears, and he felt his heart constrict. Before he could think it through and decide it was a really bad idea, Jeff dipped his head and captured Magda’s lips in a gentle kiss.

About the Author

After years working in the business world, my love of reading led me to get my MLS, and I currently work part-time in a school library, a job which allows me lots of time to explore my other love - writing romance! I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

Connect with Donna on twitter! @donna_simonetta

Friday, 10 February 2017

How To Deal With Rejection

I have been writing for over ten years (my nerves, no wonder I'm tired). And over that time I've written nine novels—seven are published. And for each novel, I probably accrued over a hundred least. You do the math, that's a lot of rejection.

I blame my slightly addictive nature toward querying. I can't help it! I'm inherently hopeful by nature and after each book I think, Wow, this could be the one that: a) gets me an agent b) gets picked up by a major publisher thereby throwing a spotlight on all my previous darlings c) gets me a move deal—hey, girl's gotta dream. Plus, I love writing query letters.

Even though the sting of rejection still exists (even after a decade) I've never let those rejections stop me from writing the next story, and in turn send out the next query because *winky wink* movie deal.

Anyway, while I'm waiting for fame, I thought you might enjoy some of my tips if you need a little boost for your writing soul.

1. DON'T take it personally. Truly, when they write 'it's not a good fit for me', it's because they didn't connect with the story. It doesn't mean you can't write. And really, you only want someone working on your novel who is totally in love with it.

2.  Be grateful for the response. Seriously, I don't know how agents manage to even read queries let alone send a reply. Take a deep breath, file that rejection away, and send out a few more queries.

3. DON'T Google how many rejections Stephanie Meyer or JK Rowling received. It's ridiculously low. I think Twilight got eight in total. Eight! I got eight rejections in one day! It's great when success happens so quickly for some authors. Take comfort that the pressure is off you, and that you're meant to find your agent/publishing contract/movie deal through a little more time and effort.

4. Check out websites for aspiring writers. My favorite haunt is Query Tracker. Also, you may want to join a local writing group. Sharing rejection stories with other writers is good therapy, and you might get a few beta readers.

5.  Lastly, you are your characters best advocate. If you quit, then who will tell their story? 

Do you have any tips on handling rejection?

Now stop reading this and go write something amazing!

Thursday, 2 February 2017


I'm absolutely thrilled to help reveal the cover for Black Tie Optional by the lovely and fragrant, Ann Marie Walker. The first in the Wild Weddings series, Black Tie Optional promises to be witty, sassy, playful, and definitely sexy. 

First a little bit about the book before the eye candy...

Everything about Coleman Grant III oozes power and sex. And not the perfunctory kind either, but the sheet clawing, heart stopping, gasping for air after you’ve screamed so loud you can’t breathe kind. From his dark wavy hair that stands in an artfully rumpled mess, to the blue eyes that sear your skin, to his full, sensual lips - on the surface he’s pure perfection.

Too bad he's an asshole. An arrogant, uptight corporate raider hell bent on destroying the environment one species at a time. 

Everything about Olivia Ramsey screams hippie humanitarian. From her blond hair tied in a sloppy bun, to her faded jeans with the Bonnaroo patch sewn on the thigh, to her combat boots still splattered with mud from the previous day’s site visit.

So it makes perfect sense that they would get married. In Vegas. Stone-cold sober.

Cole needs a wife. Olivia needs to save an endangered species. But what starts as a marriage of convenience soon turns into a battle of wills and sexual tension. Love is a game, and Olivia and Cole are ready to win.

I love that last line!

Now scroll down for the fabulous!

Available for pre-order

About the Author

Ann Marie Walker writes steamy contemporary romance and is co-author of the Chasing Fire series (Remind Me, Release Me, Reclaim Me). Ann Marie attended the University of Notre Dame and currently lives in Chicago.

Connect with Ann Marie!

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