What’s this Kindle Worlds Thing?

I’ve never been a huge fan of fan fiction. I like to come up with my own story, thanks so much. But when I was invited to write in an author’s soon-to-be-formed Kindle World, I suddenly had a different thought.

Or twelve. You know me, I rarely think about only one thing at a time. And one thought leads to another and before you know it COOKIES!

Now, back to this Kindle Worlds thing.

Amazon Gets Bigger

I first noticed Kindle Worlds when an author I like (paranormal romance) released a new book in “The Runes Universe.”

Now, I’ve also read a couple books from The Runes series, and I found them good, but a little too shallow and predictable for me. They are young adult paranormal romances, after all, and they are a huge hit with the teenage girls they’re written for.

But I haven’t been a teenage girl for a few years. (Stop rolling your eyes, Darrin!)

What Amazon has done is ask some indie authors (don’t ask me how they decide but I’m guessing it has something to do with sales) to turn their fictional worlds into a place where anyone can contribute stories. The original characters can be used by these new authors, but they should not be the major players.

Furthermore, this universe is suddenly a sandbox that only Amazon (specifically Kindle Direct Publishing) has rights to play in. If you submit a story into the universe, you relinquish rights to it forever.

Most authors just shuddered. But I’m not worried about this at all. I’ll still own the characters, and if I fall in love with them, I only have to move them to a different setting and I can write about them for eternity.

The benefits of publishing in these Kindle Worlds during a targeted release blitz:

  1. A $250 bonus (to help offset cover design and editing costs-paid AFTER publishing)
  2. Amazon’s marketing power during the release
  3. Mention in the back of other books in the release linking you to the readers of many authors

For someone who hates to market, this really called to me.

Not Really Fan Fiction

This is how dictionary.com defines fan fiction:

a fictional account written by a fan of a show, movie, book, or video game to explore themes and ideas that will not or cannot be explored via the originating medium; also written fan fiction , also called fanfic

And I have to admit, I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the series of books that is the springboard for the Kindle World I’m planning to write for. That’s the biggest reason I don’t see this as fan fiction.

After all, all that happens is I put my characters into the town of Sweet Grove, Texas. The books need to be a sweet romance and since the world is called “First Street Church Romances,”  they’re probably going to explore inspirational themes or have Christian worldviews.

All of which is what I want to do anyway.

Am I deluding myself? Will people see this as fanfic?

Weighing the Pros and Cons

As always when I’m presented with a new writing opportunity, I pulled out my notebook and began scrawling out my thoughts.

Here’s an excerpt: “These are novellas-20,000 to 40,000 words-of sweet romance with some Christian influence. This could be a way to build my brand IF I’m going to write mostly inspirational romances after this.”

And with the power of Amazon behind each launch, I’ll pick up new readers. There will be people who buy everything they see, thinking it’s going to be a series they love.

Plus the author who originally invented Sweet Grove is a marketing professional, and she intends to push all the books with her considerable platform and influence.

When 100 writers jumped in with both feet at the idea, you know it’s a good one.

My lists were incredibly short:

Pros: inspirational; wide market range; connection at Amazon; free promo from Melissa Storm

Cons: romance; edit & cover costs; another distraction from “real” writing

But why isn’t this “real” writing? I have some sort of chip on my shoulder about inspirational romances which makes no sense. For a decade or more, that is ALL that I read.

Only now, I’m back to reading mostly fantasy. Romances are too predictable to me, so I don’t enjoy reading them as much anymore.

But there are millions of people who DO enjoy reading them. And they would read the ones I wrote because Amazon would make sure they knew about them.

So, what do you think I should do? Is it worth my time and effort to publish in a Kindle World?

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Cover Reveal: Poisonous Whispers

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Poisonous Whispers
Available December 5, 2016

“Don’t you ever forget about me…,” he whispers during their secret encounters. Like a curse, these simple words now haunt Leandra, a reputable psychiatrist, who finds herself in emotional chaos after the sudden breakup of her illicit affair. Unable to heal on her own and tormented by dreams in which supernatural forces create havoc with her fate, she desperately turns to David, a colleague psychiatrist, asking him to take her through past-life regression therapy. She hopes that this unorthodox and somewhat suspect technique will explain her profound connection to the lover who has abandoned her so abruptly.

The sessions take Leandra through 17th and 19th century Ireland, Italy and England, where love, loss and betrayal are the leitmotifs in an ambiance of co-mingled fantasy and reality. In her hypnotic state, Leandra recounts a saga of intoxicating love, dizzying passion, flaming lust and profound heartbreak. Despite the painful answers she finds under hypnosis, Leandra still cannot let go of the hope to reunite with her lover. Ultimately, the shattering revelations from her past-life incarnations, along with the turmoil over her ruined marriage, become the stepping stones of her introspective path to healing, self-discovery and an appreciation of true love.

With its seamlessly interwoven sub-plots, “Poisonous Whispers” lures the reader from one continent to another, from past to present. The affair at the center of the story is an anatomy of the heart in which the heroine’s sorrow-laced journey reflects the universal themes of love and loss.

About Jana Begovic
Jana Vasilj-Begovic was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina where she lived until 1991. In 1991, she immigrated to Canada and after graduating from the Faculty of Education – Queens’ University, Kingston, she began to work for the Government of Canada in the field of foreign language education and training. As a subject matter expert in language training and testing, she has participated in multiple international conferences and projects, and designed and delivered numerous specialized seminars and workshops. As the result of a multinational research project she led, she co-authored an article that was published in 2015 by Cambridge Scholars as a chapter of the book, “Language in Uniform.” In addition to a B.Ed. degree in English and Dramatic Arts, she holds an M.A. Degree in Philology, as well as B.A. degrees in English and German Languages and Literature. Her debut novel, “Poisonous Whispers” is the reflection of her love for the written word and her lifelong fascination with storytelling. She is currently working on her second novel. She lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband.

Links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/J.Damselfly

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When You Want to Read Three Books at Once

The worst part of the vacation I recently took was that my Amazon book order didn’t show up before I left. Instead, three books I’d been slavering over arrived on my doorstep while I was gone.

When I got home, I stared into one of my favorite gifts-a box of books-and my eyes glazed over.

I wanted to read all of them. All three were the newest release in series I enjoyed.

How is a girl supposed to choose?

I decided based on how recently I’d read the first book in the series. It had been less than two months for one of these three books.

So I picked up The Skylighter by Becky Wallace.

The Skylighter

Love this world and these characters. Wallace ended the first book with our characters in peril and so this novel starts at a sprint and rarely slows for breathers.

I enjoyed the growing romance between Rafi and Johanna because it spotlighted their individual character and priorities. The sad truth that love is rarely convenient and often a nuisance was fun to consider.

My favorite character from book one was Leao, the immortal who was played by Legolas (ie Orlando Bloom) in my mind. His unique powers as a full mage were explored (and exploited) in this novel. There were moments I wanted to throw the book against the wall because things weren’t easy for Leao, or his love interest Pira.

A few twists are in store for readers. I don’t like to spoil anything. I will say that the “ultimate” bad guy didn’t impress me much. I never understood his true motivations, so he seemed more like a caricature than anything else.

I didn’t fully accept the “change” in Vibora late in the novel. After she had been built up so convincingly as completely evil in the first book, it was difficult for me to accept the change. Wallace did lay groundwork and make it an evolving switch, but it still didn’t sit well with me.

One part of the story I didn’t anticipate was the portion from Dom’s viewpoint. It was vital to the tension and pace and overall understanding of the story. I liked him, but felt his character arc peaked too quickly. Many of the things that happened in his portion of the story were predictable to the point of heavy sighs and almost eye rolling.

People I liked were killed. The bad guys lose in the end. These two things can be mutually exclusive, but I’m more willing to accept the first when the second is the payoff.

All in all, this was a satisfying sequel to The Storyspinner (which is the best book I’ve read in 2016). I give it 4.8 out of five stars.

A Daring Sacrifice

The second book I picked from this stack of three “I can’t wait to read” novels was A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund. This is a sequel – sort of – to An Uncertain Choice, which I read last year.

Here we have Juliana, a female Robin Hood, robbing a man we were introduced to as an amazing knight. Her backstory is interesting and convincing, although this novel could have been longer to explore that more.

Collin has inherited his father’s massive estate which borders the estate where Juliana was born and raised as a noble for the first ten years of her life. He has a spoiled sister and very little interest in being tied to an estate. He’s enjoyed his adventures with The Noblest Knight.

Collin immediately sees through Juliana’s disguise as a man when she robs him. He follows her with his unbeatable tracking skills and takes her back to his estate.

If Juliana hadn’t been gravely injured, I wouldn’t have accepted her staying with him for nearly a week. Of course, he does pay her in gold and jewels. I found this somewhat belittling, but Juliana accepted it as a way to provide for her band of peasants in hiding.

The politics behind Juliana’s forced hiding were hardly touched upon. The romance was enjoyable without knowing all these details, but the broader story suffered because of these omissions.

Collin was the one of the three knights I chose in the first book, so it was nice to see him find true love. It isn’t an easy path. It’s complicated by cruel and greedy men, a spoiled lady and a headstrong woman.

This novel earns four out of five stars from me. It’s fairly short, a quick read, but perfect for fans of the Robin Hood trope. As the first book ended with a hint about the danger of the second, this one ends with a preview of the danger awaiting Sir Bennet in the next book.

Calamity

This is the final book in Brandon Sanderson’s The Reckoners series. And just because I read it last doesn’t mean I was anticipating it any less than the other two books.

Sanderson impressed me with his Mistborn trilogy and has become my favorite fantasy author for adult books. He’s been exploring the young adult fantasy genre, as well, and this series is proof that he’s a man of many talents.

Calamity is the name of the so-called meteor that appeared a decade ago and transformed some humans into super-humans. Notice I didn’t say super heroes. In fact, nearly one hundred percent of the time, the powers drove these people to do heartless and despicable things. In fact, this abuse of power has transformed the United States into the Fractured States.

David Charleston watched one of these Epics kill his father. From that time, he made a study of every epic to learn how to destroy them. In the first book, Steelheart, he was recruited by The Reckoners, a rogue group whose goal was to dethrone the Epics, in order to help them carry out a plan to kill Steelheart, the Epic who murdered his father and held all of Newcago (yes, Chicago in our world) hostage.

While David mourned the loss of his father, he channeled that grief into hatred for Epics. Until he realizes the girl he loves is one. And the man he works with and respects.

This final installment of the series deals with David’s plan to save his friend Prof, whose powers have subverted him to become the evil overlord of Atlanta, Limelight. And carry out a plan to destroy Calamity, which is at the heart of the problem. After all, if there was no Calamity, there would be no powers. Or at least the powers wouldn’t turn people to darkness.

I still haven’t decided if I can buy into the fact that Calamity is actually an Epic himself. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, so I won’t explore my doubts in this review. However, it seems highly unlikely that the way Calamity came onto the scene would have ever been accepted as “a meteor” or some other anamaly. But this is what the author wants us to believe.

David spends too much time revisiting his past with his father, which is something that was lost beneath the plans of the day in the second book. In the end, this also seemed contrived to me because of the way the story wraps up.

I’ll be the first to admit that the idea of paralell dimensions and random superhuman powers is beyond my realm of comprehension. Still, I expect the explanation of these things to follow a form of logic that I CAN understand. My brain is still working over the nuances of this story to see if Sanderson did that.

I may have to re-read the entire series before I decide.

These conundrums didn’t keep me from enjoying the story. It was well-planned with a suitable number of twists, turns and cliff dives. The pages kept turning, and I wasn’t ready for it to end when I got to the last page.

I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to be inside Megan’s head in this book. She had become one of my favorite parts of this series, and has plenty of ghosts of her own to battle. Instead, her ability to subdue the darkness is trivialized, which it shouldn’t have been. But since the novel was all written from David’s perspective, we couldn’t really grasp the battle. And Megan isn’t the type to bleed emotions all over the place.

I will say the aspect that Sanderson might have considered his biggest surprise, really didn’t shock me too much. However, I couldn’t comprehend the underlying logic of the villain. And the purpose of his visit to Earth wasn’t satisfactorily explained.

This is still a four-star story. Whenever you blend all these fantasy elements, some of them won’t measure up in the mind of readers. I’m sure the young adult and new adult readers, the target audience for this series, will be quicker to take all of this at face value.

And since I’m talking about re-reading the entire series, you know I’m not disappointed I read it the first time.

What about you? Have you ever picked up or recieved in the mail a number of books (or something else) and faced the dilemma of deciding which one to read first (where to begin)? Do you have a fantastic decision-making strategy to share?

Five things you should never say to an author

*This post was first published on May 4, 2016 on the Roane Publishing Blog.

If you’re an author, you’ve heard these platitudes before. More frequently than you want. For those of you who meet and talk to writers, you may have said one of these five things.

Authors aren’t the only ones to suffer from people’s gross inconsideration. How many times did I hear unsolicited advice from strangers when I was pregnant? Yeah, I have better things to do than keep track of that.

Still, if I didn’t ask for your input, could you refrain from offering it?

It’s a tad easier to accept hearing these things from strangers on the street. Unfortunately, friends and family are often just as guilty of being nosy and unkind. People mean well, right? They are clueless about the writing process and ignorant about a published author’s required skills.

That said, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. But after you read this post, you’ll need to step up and stop belittling the work of writers.

What are these five things you should never say?

Here they are along with an explanation of what an author hears when you say them. AND why you shouldn’t say it – or anything close to it – to them ever again.

  1. “I’m going to write a novel some day.”

What I heard you say: “What you do is easy. Anyone can do it.”

Really? You’ve written 70,000 (or more) words in less than thirty days and then spent three months rewriting, revising, editing and polishing them? During that time, you cried and screamed, laughed and danced. Afterward, you attempt to find a publisher who likes this piece of your heart and soul.

The fact is most sane people would give up on this after their first attempt. Or spend ten years reworking the same story. Authors write, rewrite, revise, edit, polish and ship.

Then they get to work on the next project.

2. “What’s your real job?”

What I heard you say: “Writing books is a hobby. Get a paying job.”

For some people, writing books might be a hobby. For me, however, it’s my full-time career. I head down the hall to my office five days per week. I spend three to five hours working on my current project(s). Most days, it takes another hour to beef up my online presence (called an author brand or platform) and cruise through my email (queries, rejections, connections, and blog comments).

Sounds like a real job to me.

But you’re right, I would make more money slinging burgers at McDonald’s. But my soul would shrivel.

3. “Everyone writes books these days.”

What I heard you say: “There’s nothing special about what you do. Anyone can get published.”

Everyone can publish their own work, sure, but that doesn’t mean anyone reads it. I might have only a handful of people who aren’t related to me reading what I write, but that’s not my dream or goal.

Furthermore, everyone can’t get published through traditional means. In fact, it’s harder to get a publishing contract than it is to get a speeding ticket.

4. “I’ve never heard of you.”

What I heard you say: “You must not be a decent writer because you’re not famous.”

If I listed the authors with the most books on the market today, I bet you wouldn’t recognize even half their names. It’s not all about Stephen King, Nora Roberts and James Patterson.

I’ve heard of many of these authors but haven’t read their books. In fact, I will NEVER read a book by Stephen King because horror gives me nightmares. No thanks. I need my sleep.

Fame isn’t even the goal for most authors. Most of us would like to make enough to pay the bills and take a nice vacation once a year. And, no, we don’t care if someone who’s never read our books knows our name.

5. “What’s your book about?”

What I heard you say: “Explain in one minute what you’ve poured your heart, soul, mind and time into for the past three months.”

My first thought is “Which one?”

For the record, I’m working on two or three projects at the same time. I’m not sure which one of these you want me to talk about. Most likely, you’re asking about the one I most recently published. I’ll have to think a minute (or five) because that story has already been told.

I might give you my elevator pitch. Or maybe I’ll talk about the premise or underlying theme. Asking an author what their book is about is like asking a psychologist what she did at work or a heart surgeon to explain a triple-bypass.

So-now you know what we don’t want to talk about. And this isn’t to say we don’t want to talk about our book, believe me. But with a general question like that last one, we could be here all night without satisfying your curiosity.

On the other hand, authors love when people say:

“Will you sign my copy of your book?”

“Oh my gosh! You write books? I know a real live author.”

“I loved your book more than The Hunger Games.”

So the next time you’re chatting up a perfect stranger, and you find out they’re an author, you’ll know exactly what to say (and what NOT to say).

You’re welcome.

So, author friends, what other things do you hate people to say to you about your writing? Or what do you love to hear?

Time to COLLIDE with Melissa J. Crispin

I’m an author and sometimes I get lucky enough to hang out with other authors.

Such is the case with my guest today. I met Melissa in a critique group on Scribophile. We chatted about life-type things before discussing writing stuff. Well, maybe talked about both at the same time.

I’m thrilled to announce that Melissa is living my dream. Her young adult romance novel is being released by Evernight Teen (these people rejected a short story I sent them, but all is forgiven since they are publishing Melissa’s novel).

Let’s hear what Melissa has to say about her characters, her writing life and what she hopes to gain through this whole writing thing (and it isn’t money or fame).

ME: The main character in your novel COLLIDE is a ballerina. Do you dance? Why did you choose ballet over another kind of dancing? Why dancing at all, since it isn’t something most teenagers do?

MELISSA: I love this question. I took ballet for a few of years when I was little, but I wasn’t good at it. Not by a long shot.

Both my daughter and my niece attend the same dance school, and there’s a big show at the end of every year. When a senior graduates and is getting ready to move on, the owner of the school always does a recap of the person’s history. Many of them dedicated a lot of time and effort, and it showed in their performances. Some started their journey when they were four years old, kept at it through high school, and a few chose to continue with it even after that. My main character, Kayla, was inspired by a mixture of the stories I’ve heard while sitting in the audience.

ME: What motivates you to write for young adults?

MELISSA: Since the protagonists in YA stories are so young, it allows me to create characters that will truly develop and grow as he or she is thrown into a difficult situation. There are so many possibilities when you’re around that age, and so many hardships that you need to work through. I especially love writing about people who discover emotional strength in themselves that they didn’t know they had, and I think that’s a theme that lends itself well to YA.

,ME: What would be your ideal interaction with a reader?

MELISSA: As a new author just starting out, it would bring me great joy just to know that someone read my work and liked it. Whether that’s through some form of social media or someone telling me something along those lines in person, it would definitely bring a big, dorky smile to my face.

ME: How long have you been writing? Can you give us a glimpse into the publishing process for this book?

MELISSA: I started writing about six years ago. I was tearing through a ridiculous number of books, reading like crazy, then decided to try my hand at it. I’ve been doing it ever since.

It took a long time to get to this point with COLLIDE, and I’m so happy that I never gave up. I spent about a year getting the first draft written. I remember thinking that it was taking forever, but I work full time, so finding the time to write can pose interesting challenges. I went through two rounds of beta reads and then worked with a freelance editor. I did another round of revisions after that, and was over the moon when Evernight Teen accepted my manuscript for publication. I went through edits with them as well, and now this baby is finally ready.

ME: Name a Young Adult book/series that you think all teens should read. Why?

MELISSA: Is it okay if I name two?

ME: *quirks and eyebrow before granting a single nod*

MELISSA: First, the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor is awesome. I think any teen that reads it can learn a lot. I know that Fantasy isn’t a genre for everybody, but the subject matter tackled in each of the books is relatable to real life. The main characters endure warfare, love, and loss in this incredible world that is brought vividly to life by the author.

I’m showing that I’m no spring chicken with this next suggestion, but I think every teen should read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I loved this book as a kid, and I still find myself watching the movie whenever I catch it on TV. The story highlights that people shouldn’t be judged based on where they came from, but who they are. I find the display of loyalty and love the Greasers have for each other moving as well.

ME: Young Adult books have been getting turned into movies right and left in recent years (HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT, MAZE RUNNER). Why do you think this genre draws people into theaters?

MELISSA: I think several of the YA books that have been adapted to film share a common thread. Though the stories are very different in nature, the main characters seem to be ordinary teenagers thrust into extraordinary situations. They’re called upon to rise to the occasion and fight. Whether they’re fighting for life (Fault in our Stars, If I Stay) or for a greater good (Divergent, Hunger Games), they are seemingly average people that need to find the courage to go on. I think the ability to watch this kind of struggle and witness the characters transform is empowering for all, whether you’re young or old.

ME: I hereby grant you a movie deal. What actors will play your main characters?

MELISSA: Well, wouldn’t that be awesome. *sticks her tongue out*

For Kayla, I would choose Elle Fanning. I loved her as Princess Aurora in Maleficent and I could picture her in a role as an aspiring ballerina.

I had a tough time deciding on the male leads! This is harder than I thought it would be.

For Alec, I think a younger version of Scott Eastwood would be perfect. Okay, so he’s not in high school, but neither am I, so you’ll have to work with me on that one. 😉 He strikes me as a swoon worthy guy who would be good at protecting his lady.

I’d love to see Theo James, Four, from the Divergent movies, play Luke. Again, not of high school age so it would have to be a younger version of him, but I love how he shows both a tough side and a gentle side in those movies, which is a lot like Luke.

What’s COLLIDE about?

Collide-CoverPreviewWhen the balance between Earth, Afterlife, and Heaven are threatened, the fate of the universe falls on a selfish girl who must sacrifice everything to save it.

Kayla has a plan. She’s moving to the city after graduation and Luke’s coming with her. He’ll eventually become a doctor, she’ll be a ballerina—and they’ll live happily ever after. That is, until dark forces, led by a sister she never knew existed, start hunting her down for a power she never knew she had.

When Kayla starts working with a boy named Alec to learn how to defend herself and to stop the evil from eliminating the worlds, she finds herself falling for him. Hard. Torn between two loves and struggling to do what’s right for Earth and Afterlife, Kayla must decide if she’s fighting to keep her life together, or letting it go to save everyone else’s.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf now by clicking here!

Get your copy of COLLIDE

At Amazon or Evernight Teen website:

A little bit about Melissa

MelissaJCrispin-AuthorPicMelissa J. Crispin lives in Connecticut with her husband, two kids, and an adorable Siberian Husky. She spends her days in the corporate world, and pursues her passion for writing in the late nights and early mornings.

From micro-fiction to novels, Melissa loves to write stories in varying lengths. But, no matter the story, it’s almost always about the romance.

You heard it from her own mouth. Melissa wants to hear that you read and liked her story and promises to do a goofy grin in exchange. Here’s where you can connect with Melissa:

Website: http://melissajcrispin.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelissaJCrispin

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melissajcrispin/

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

Summer’s Sweet Embrace – Blog Tour Stop

SummerEmbrace_CVR_FinalToday, I’m thrilled to introduce you to SIX great romance authors. Each of these ladies has a short story in the recently released Summer’s Sweet Embrace romance anthology. Most of them also have other publishing credits. (Clicking on a name will link you with all that information.)

One of them was published with me in Accidental Valentine. Two of them are friends of mine through a fantastic online critique website. I’m happy to have all of them here today.

So, ladies, do tell. What is your most romantic summer memory?

Michelle Ziegler says:  “Who is going to believe that my life has been rather uneventful during the summer months?  I never had any romantic summer flings in high school or college. Most of my boyfriends were pretty sad and non-romantic also. Growing up has some benefits.

I got married in summer, and I can’t think of anything else more romantic than walking down the aisle. It’s most every little girl’s fantasy to pick out a white dress have walk towards a man that is so happy he looks like he might burst. I really don’t think my husband had ever looked so happy, not even on the day he proposed.”

*sighs* Ah, yes, weddings are SO romantic.

Laurie Treacy says: “My most romantic summer memory is attending summer concerts with one particular boyfriend. Since music was so important to both of us, spending time together, being outdoors under the stars, with him holding me couldn’t have been more romantic. Later on, I married him. ”

Holding each other beneath winking stars on a summer’s night is romantic indeed!

Christa MacDonald says:  “Summer was just beginning and my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Nova Scotia.  We decided (after much cajoling on my part) to leave our secluded spot and travel to Prince Edward Island.  I’m an Anne of Green Gables fan so this was like a pilgrimage to me.  I was probably annoying the entire time we were there, dragging him all over the island, fan-girling at every turn in the road.  After hours of exploring, instead of demanding we go home, he took me for a walk down Lover’s Lane. Since it was so early in the season, there wasn’t a soul around us.  He held my hand and gave me this soft, half-amused, half-sweet look, and I knew this whole day had probably been a complete bore for him, but he’d stuck with it, because he enjoyed my happiness, because he loved me.  It was as perfect, storybook moment.

(And yes, my husband is totally a Gilbert)

My husband would do the same thing. You have a winner there, Christa. Don’t let anyone tell you Gilbert isn’t romantic.

Jaylee Austin says: “In college my boyfriend at the time, Chris, lived in Newport Beach. We spent almost every day together. He worked in an exclusive DVD/CD store, which in the eighties was a new concept. Records were the norm. We’d sit and talk for hours. He lived close to the beach so we’d spend time there. Music, dinners, and each other made it a delightful romantic time before school started in the fall.”

Summer romance at it’s best. That’s what this anthology is all about, right?

Niki Mitchell says: “My most romantic summer memory was a night at the beach. I took a stroll along the beach with my date, and he kissed me under the moonlight for the first time.”

First kiss beneath a summer moon on the beach *swoons*

Melissa J. Crispin says:  “One summer morning, I hopped on the back of my husband’s sport bike and we rode up to the Bear Mountain Bridge area in New York. For me, there’s nothing quite like the contentment of being on the motorcycle with him. It’s always too loud to talk, impossible even with our helmets on. So, with my arms wrapped around his waist, I leaned in close and enjoyed the ride. He took us through a fun mix of twisty streets and wide-open roads, and with it being so early, no one else was in sight. It felt like it was just me and him, and it was as if the rest of the world was still sleeping. The views of the Hudson River were gorgeous, and we were able to stop and take a few pictures.

After we were finished admiring the beautiful scenery, we made our way to a small place off the beaten path that served an awesome brunch.

Perfect weather, good food, and the best guy a girl could ask for—it doesn’t get much better than that.”

You’re right, Melissa. Sounds like a perfect day all around.

Sheryl Winters says: “There is a hotel on the beach in Homer Alaska called ‘Lands End.’ My dream vacation would be a room on the second floor. I could write to my heart’s content peeking out the window every now and then at Kachemak Bay. The hotel has tiny balconies where you can sit and watch the Eagles swoop by. Boats drift into the harbor, seagulls fly, it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.”

Sounds like a perfect writing retreat, Sheryl. And what’s more romantic to a romance writer than a writing retreat? Nada!

SE Tour Button

Check out Summer’s Sweet Embrace and hold onto the romance of this sultry season just a little bit longer.

Click on the button at the left to check out the other stops on the tour.

Thanks so much, ladies,  for stopping by today and chatting with us.

What’s your most romantic memory (summer or otherwise) reader? Anyone remember which of these ladies co-authored with me? Any of my guests want to claim me as your “writer friend” via Scribophile?

Share the Love: Avoid the Haters

The purpose of this blog is to connect with future readers of the young adult fantasy series I’m writing. In reading my words here, you get to know me as “the person behind” the stories. If you like what you get here, you won’t mind parting with hard-earned cash to read a book I’ve written.

So goes the theory. Successful entrepreneurial authors tell me this, so I believe them.

In order to keep from offending my fan base, I’m supposed to avoid the following topics: religion and politics.

Not a problem. Neither of these subjects has much to do with what I’m writing (although there are both politics and religion in my fantasy universe). Who wants to start an argument anyway?

Apparently, quite a few people.

In checking out blogs with large followings, I’m realizing that most of them have 500 comments when they ask a question about a “hot button” topic or rant about religion or politics. Or, more specifically, how religion is misrepresented by the media and politicians.

I am eager for my readers to leave comments. Ask me to clarify something or share a similar experience.  Even a simple, “thanks” would probably get me dancing in my seat.

Do I want hundreds of comments? Duh!

What I don’t want is a bevy of haters to show up at my blog and tell me how wrong, stupid or hateful I am if I happen to disagree with their philosophy. This, I have noticed, makes up a bulk of the conversation on these controversial blog posts that go viral and get hundreds of comments.

I admire the people who disagree with the author of these rants with finesse and sound arguments. If a person can’t present their views in this way, I wish they wouldn’t comment.

Of course, I don’t know these bloggers personally. Maybe having an argument in their comments is the goal of their controversial posts.

If a person disagrees with me, I don’t jump down their throat in real life, so why would I do it in cyberspace? In fact, I know only a handful of people who react vociferously when you disagree with them. I’ve learned to keep my dissention to myself when speaking with these folks.

I love turquoise, aquamarine and teal. “I hate those colors,” you say. I shrug. After all, you’re entitled to your own opinions.

I despise tofu. Every time I’ve eaten it, it’s like choking down a piece of rubber. “I love tofu” you exclaim. I’m happy to let you have it. I’m not going to call you crazy because your palate is different than mine.

Yet, for some reason, when people come to deeper beliefs (those involved in politics and religion), this “agree to disagree” mentality flies out the window.  If I’m right about religion and you disagree, then you’re wrong. Only one of us can be right.

Maybe. Maybe not. I’m certain that if I approach our conversation with this “I’m right and you’re wrong” attitude, things will get ugly rather quickly. There’s no chance I’ll convert you to my side of things.

So, is the point just to argue – be the loudest voice – when religion and politics enter the conversation? No one really expects to change the views of the person they’re demeaning, do they?

If that’s the case, there’s no point in having the conversation. I have entered such arguments in times past about abortion, drinking alcohol, premarital sex and even homosexuality. I’m done with such topics if it isn’t going to be a two-way street of sharing ideas. Communication involves speaking and listening.

communication.quoteListening doesn’t happen when the person who isn’t talking is just formulating their next rebuttal. The process will break down completely when the name calling starts.

Furthermore, if my answer to your stand on an issue is “well, that’s just stupid,” I’ve proven to you that your argument is sound and I have no rebuttal. Seriously.

If you present me with proof that chocolate will kill me, I’ll scream “say it ain’t so.”  I might even give up eating chocolate (or just comfort myself with more of the stuff accepting that everyone dies and I don’t mind dying with dark chocolate melting on my tongue). However, if you snatch the chocolate covered almond out of my hand as I’m getting ready to pop it in my mouth, I’m going to be ticked. The conversation isn’t going to go very well because it started out on a negative note.

I think the real reason I’ll avoid blogging about controversial topics in this space is because I want to start a conversation. I don’t want to fill my comments with name-calling and hateful rhetoric.

It makes me sad. I feel strongly about many things. I won’t write about most of them on this blog. My readers won’t really get know me in a deeper way. Some people might even call me
unprincipled, spineless or wishy-washy.

It’s a no-win situation. Name-calling tends to be the only route some people know when expressing their opinion.