The Dreaded Blurb

One of the hardest things for a writer to write is the dreaded blurb. How does one condense several hundred pages into a few paragraphs? How to capture the essence of a complicated story, your labor of love, and compel the reader to make that purchase? The “dreaded” blurb has the power to make or break a book. If you get it wrong, if you don’t capture the reader’s attention you’re toast.

The pressure is immense, and there can be no avoidance of the task, no getting around it, and no easy way out. In many ways writing the book is easier than writing the blurb. In the actual manuscript, there’s room for error, a bit slow here, a bit underwritten there can be overcome by the next exciting passage or character interaction. The reader once committed to the book is likely to forge on and if the pace picks up the few pages not up to snuff are forgotten. Not so the blurb, where every word matters. This is your back cover and the reader will only give you a minute to win your case.

My new novel is titled The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci. It’s the first book in my Out of Time series, a romance/paranormal/time travel/thriller. My hero is a cocky art detective named Alex Caine and my heroine is Angela Renatus a Ph.D. art historian doing her internship at the Getty Museum.

My blurb, which went through numerous edits and rewrites was a daunting task, but I’m hopeful that it will entice readers. I thought I’d share it with you in hopes that you’d give me some feedback. So put on your thinking caps and let me know what you think.

My “Dreaded” Blurb

In the spirit of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and Shadows of the Stone Benders by K. Patrick Donoghue, The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci by Belle Ami unravels an unforgettable mystery.

Three destinies, one remarkable painting.

Will her visions lead her to the truth?

Art historian Angela Renatus is haunted by dreams of Leonardo da Vinci and a mysterious painting of Giuliano Medici and his mistress Fioretta Gorini. A painting that, as far as the world knows, doesn’t exist. Compelled by her visions, Angela is determined to find out the truth.

When Angela is contacted by art detective, Alex Caine, she’s shocked to learn that he too is seeking the same painting. Alex’s client, a wealthy German financier, is determined to clear the name of his late uncle, Gerard Jaeger, an art historian, who went missing in Florence, during World War II. In letters written before his disappearance, the historian describes his love affair with a beautiful young Italian woman named Sophia Caro and the discovery of an extraordinary painting by the great master himself—a painting depicting Giuliano and Fioretta.

Alex and Angela journey to Florence in search of the priceless treasure. Is it a lost da Vinci, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, or a wild goose chase that will only lead to a dead end? But someone else is searching for the elusive painting—Alberto Scordato is a powerful man in the art world and a sociopath who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even murder. Scordato knows something about Angela that even she doesn’t know, something that could threaten both Angela and Alex’s lives forcing them into the crosshairs of fate.

The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci has been a breakthrough novel for me and I’m currently hard at work on The Girl Who Loved Caravaggio. It looks like the blurb worked.



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Rediscovering the Muse

wine, drink

Like many authors, this is often the time of year when I run out of steam. By the time I’ve written a year’s worth of newsletters, blogs, and Facebook posts, everything begins running together and I find myself fresh out of ideas. This month’s post will definitely not be rocket science since many of my writer colleagues are far more experienced and savvy than I, but I would like to take the opportunity to mention some things that work for me when I’m in a bit of a funk.

The “what if” game is one many writers use. That question has been the premise of many a book. When we visited Alaska in August, the guide pointed out an island that a millionaire had purchased. He was the only person who lived on it but ended up leaving because taking a boat out to pick up food and supplies every day proved too much for the elderly gentleman. As we passed the island, I kept thinking, “What if some young woman inherited that island with only one house on it and she was from New York City, unaccustomed to the rugged terrain of the Alaskan wilderness?” Before we finished the tour, I was always plotting a book in my head.

When my book sales slump, and this happens more than I care to admit, I pour myself a nice cup of coffee, hunker down with our two dogs, Gypsy and Bella, and take a deep breath. Sometimes I discover that my characters in a novel are too much alike and are all blending together. In that event, I pick up my favorite book on character development and head back to the drawing board. I remind myself that even very successful authors fall into the trap of creating the very same characters with different names. As writers, we definitely don’t want to do that!


But sometimes even when the muse returns, I’m filled with self-doubt, wondering how I can possibly compete with all the other authors out there-authors who have written a hundred books-authors with thousands of fans who don’t have to do giveaways to gain followers. And that’s when I pull out my “good luck charm.”

My good luck charm is a picture of me at my first book signing. Forty people attended and people began calling my husband Mr. Gray (my pen name is Tessa Gray). I remember the rush I received as people opened up my book and said, “This is awesome. Please sign a copy of my book so I can show my friends that I know a real author.”

The very last thing I do to get the muse going is to study the photo taken at my 50th year high school reunion. Some of these ladies and I went clear back to fourth grade. Back then I was a foster kid, scared to death of attending a new school. But as nine-year-old children, they welcomed me with open arms, and through it all, they always believed in me. When you’re a writer, you find out quickly who your true friends are. And sometimes those friends can go back decades.


As the year begins coming to a close, I encourage you all to reach out to the people to support you, to continue being your very own cheerleader, and write the best damn book that you can.










































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Family Traditions, New and Old

Good morning soulies. Today I’m going to share some special family moments with you.

When I was growing up, my family had several traditions and until I became a parent (many years ago), I never really thought too much about them.

Most of them were around the holidays: my mom dressing up for Halloween with us every year, my mom staying up all night to start on Thanksgiving dinner, my dad putting the star or angel on top of the Christmas tree, my sister and I having hot cocoa while we were read The Night Before Christmas.

These were things that helped to build my childhood. Special moments that I still hold dear now that I’m an adult. And they are also things I pass along to my own kids.

* I dress up with them every Halloween.

* I don’t stay up late making Thanksgiving dinner but I do get up early to start it.

* My husband now puts the star or angel on the tip top of the Christmas tree.

* The kids and I settle down before bed to hear my hubby read us The Night Before Christmas.

These are traditions I grew up with but there are new traditions to our family as well. Our own special memories that hopefully will follow our children into adulthood.

For example: (In no particular order)

* The kids are allowed to open 1 present on Christmas Eve. (They don’t get to choose the present but it is something we have done since they were little and now look forward to.)

* Making cookies for Santa and handwriting a note. (Sure my kids no longer believe on Santa but they believe in the tradition.)

* We watch Christmas movies together while sipping hot cocoa. You know, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, and Frosty.

* We decorate the house for Halloween every year.

* We try to watch 1 movie a week (3 weeks out of a month). But not just any movie. It has to be a childhood favorite. One they couldn’t get enough of when they were small. (I love this one 😁)

{Just for reference: daughter-16 years loves Peter Pan, the 2003 vetsion, son-14 loves Cars, daughter-13 loves Bolt.}

* Now that they are older, they each get to make a special dessert for Thanksgiving.

* Even though they are all teenagers (or mostly) they expect to be tucked in every night. (I love this one too 😁)

* Hand made Valentine cards for family members.

These are just a few traditions we have, both old and new. And each one is cherished and loved. One thong i have learned about traditions: They don’t have to be big, fancy, or expensive. They just have to be sonething thay you hold close to you. Something that has special meaning to youband those you share it with.

If you would like to share a few of your traditions, I would love to hear about them.

Posted in Ambling Along With Amy!, Soul Mate Publishing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Scent of a Scene by Cari Davis

Tautumn-avenue-benchhe earthy aroma of fallen leaves. Pies baking in the oven. Chimney smoke filling the crisp, cool air. Pumpkin and spice. The scents of autumn bring to my mind cozying up with my husband, spending time with family, and an end to the long, hot days of summer.


The fragrance of flowers in bloom, freshly mowed grass, and burgers cooking on a nearby grill stir up different emotions and different memories.

Over the summer, I posted a blog about using the sense of hearing in your writing. Today, I want to talk about the sense of smell. Let’s call this part two of what I imagine will be a five part series. The scents of a scene can often bring an otherwise two dimensional setting to life.

In each setting, what would characters smell? Tobacco? Books? Sweat? Imagine your hero is strolling along a road. You can give your reader a sense of where he is without ever describing what he sees. Does he smell car exhaust fumes? Does he smell food? If so, what kind? Does he smell trees, flowers, fertilizer? The stink of a nearby paper mill or oil refinery? You get the idea.

In romance, you often find the hero and heroine noticing the scent of one another. This is a great place to be creative and make your characters unique. Not every man smells like cedar. Not every woman smells like roses, or any flower for that matter. In my current WIP, Tarnished Copper, my heroine wears perfume scented with orange water and cinnamon. Be original!


Our sense of smell often evokes strong memories and plays a large part in determining our emotions. There’s a whole field of science behind aromatherapy and perfume chemistry for this very reason, but I won’t go into that here. Luckily, you don’t need a science degree to use scents in your writing. What smells linger in your protagonists memories? How can you use them to arouse emotions and propel the story forward?

You can find Cari Davis at any of the links below:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Google+

Fool's Gold #16 Final 400x600

Fool’s Gold ~ Forged Hearts Book One

Posted in Cari Shares!, Settings, Soul Mate Publishing, Writing | 2 Comments

It’s time to party–author style!!

As a debut author this has been a year of exciting firsts for me, and I’ve got another one coming up on October 27th…(drum roll, please)…I’ll be attending the Passport to Romance  reader appreciation event as an author for the first time!


20171014_ECWC_PassportIn past years, I’ve enjoyed this free event as a reader. Hosted by the Greater Seattle RWA chapter at the Bellevue Westin, the Passport to Romance is billed as a “booktail” party with lots of fun games and prizes, as well as an opportunity to meet over 40 romance authors. I had a great time last year mingling with other authors and readers and posing with a charming cover model.

The evening includes a cover contest, which I’m lucky enough to be a part of this year. The top four covers from the online round of voting move on to the finalist round, with the winner selected at the event by the attendees. Check it out and cast your vote for your favorite in the preliminary round —I’m very proud of the beautiful cover for Taxing Courtship, but the competition is stiff!

IMG_6244I’m thrilled that an evening I’ve enjoyed so much in the past will be my first live author event. I look forward to standing on the other side of the table, handing out swag instead of filling my goodie bag. I’ll have bookmarks and candy (chocolate, of course) and hope to offer a little game to draw readers in. I even have a limited number of advanced print copies of Taxing Courtship  to give away. The official print release is in December, but Soul Mate arranged for me to have a few books on hand just for this special event!

If you live in the Seattle area, I hope you’ll stop by the Bellevue Westin on October 27th between 6 and 8pm—it’s going to be a great time!

Any advice for my first chance to meet readers? What are your favorite or most memorable book events, either as a reader or a writer?

JL_027Jaycee Jarvis is a Golden Heart® finalist who writes lush fantasy novels with plenty of heart and magic. Book one in the Hands of Destin series, Taxing Courtship, is available now through KindleUnlimited.

When not lost in worlds of her own creation, she resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children and a menagerie of animals.

You can learn more about her and her books at her website or by following her on Facebook, Twitter, BookBub or Goodreads.

Posted in A Little Note From Lynn, Chatter-Time With Jaycee!, Readers, Soul Mate Publishing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Don’t judge me by my…ears.


Petey gives sweet kisses.


Penny loves neck rubs.

There’s a sharp brain between those beautiful, velvety ears. I learned fun facts about miniature donkeys and full-sized mules in the last few weeks for my two upcoming books,  Torn By Vengeance and the Romantic Mule Thriller (temporarily titled by default). My hoof trimmer invited me to meet Shelley, her client, and owner of Whistling Train Organic Farm. Each of her mini donkeys loved baby carrots and scratches. Petey definitely won points by gently nudging for pets. I’m fairly tall, so don’t equate this version of miniature with poodles or pinschers. These equines measure about four inches taller at the shoulder than a Saint Bernard. They were curious, frisky, and lovable enough to worry my husband after I returned home grinning. Like other animals, they need a job to stay healthy. If you’re considering one, teaching them to pull a cart could provide exercise, and you’d be the talk of the neighborhood.  In Torn By Vengeance, my heroine loses her fear of horses (and outwits a stalker) by trusting a handsome doctor and a determined miniature horse, Whinny.

 IMG_20180910_113319IMG_20180804_122202Mules deserve respect. Pictured above left is Frieda, a 21 year old female mule, or molly, owned by one of my new Facebook friends, Deb. Notice how flat Frieda’s back is from shoulder to rump. My Quarter Horse gelding on the right, Lance, is 28, and you can see the slope to his topline. Mules are built with a wider rib cage than horses, and Deb has an array of mule-specific saddles and packs for when they ride in the back country. Deb’s mules were curious and very smart. I carry baby carrots in a doggy pouch clipped to my belt. It may take a horse two to three minutes to figure out where my treats are stashed. Not the mules. They had my number within seconds of nibbling the first one. Deb told me that during a pack trip a mule will watch the one walking ahead and swing wide to avoid trees. Her farrier, John, commented that an old saying relays that a good mule will let you pick up the front and rear hoof on the same side, at the same time, and stay balanced. I didn’t ask for a demonstration.

Gwen on Jenny in Bryce Canyon

Fun-loving, 75+ year-old friend, Gwen, riding in Bryce Canyon.

Mules are extremely sure-footed, so if you’re offered one on your next trail ride, I’d recommend you hop on and enjoy a slightly different gait. Deb’s recuperating from hip surgery, but promised I can ride one of her mules this spring. I’ll take her up on that offer, but probably not tell Lance. In the meantime, you’ll find me at the computer, drafting Big Red’s backstory, prior to his appearance in The Hitman’s Mistake. In The Romantic Mule Thriller I’ll highlight Red’s curiosity, intelligence, and agility.  Happy trails, Sally.

If you’d like to read a romantic suspense story with a mule, but without intimate scenes, try The Hitman’s Mistake.

Posted in Simply Stated By Sally! | 4 Comments

Which type of garden do you prefer?

flowers-2324252_640I love walking through my neighbourhood admiring the gardens. I’m more of a “tidy” gardener. I like it when the flowers are neat and are given plenty of space. I figure it encourages them to grow – and any boost to help my not-so-green thumb is a plus. The tallest plants are carefully planted at the back, with the squat snapdragons at the front. Mulch is used as ground cover, and weeds are ruthlessly pulled (well, at least, in an ideal world).

But I can also appreciate the beauty of a messy garden and always love the look of a garden with cosmos haphazardly towering above the roses and dahlias in a big colourful jumble. Wild strawberries are left to weave among the flowers providing ground cover, and the weeds and wildflowers, especially ones with pretty little flowers, are left to enjoy the sun. There always seems to be something new in bloom from early spring to late fall, with movement and colour in abundance.

One homeowner on my street has created a fairy garden around an old tree stump. They’ve added a gnome house, tiny toadstool furniture, a shimmering rock river, and a mossy courtyard. At night, it’s lit up with fairy lights. So cute!

In my neck of the woods, it’s time to clean up the garden to prepare for winter as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder. Most gardeners are already planning what to plant next year, but to tide you over until you can get back into your garden, here’s a fun quick read!


Cover PerfectlyHonest400Perfectly Honest

You never know where your words will take you…

When Mikaela Finn agreed to be Sam’s “fiancée” for a weekend, she probably should have told him that she’s a doctor. Sam O’Brien, aka “Dr. Eye Candy,” is trying to shed his playboy reputation and convince a small town hospital that he’s ready to settle down. But when his “fiancée” helps deliver a baby in the middle of the meet and greet, it’s a bit of a shock. If he’d known the whole truth, he might have done things a little differently because somehow his “fiancée” ends up stealing his job and his heart. Not exactly the change he wanted. Lies and deceit – it’s a match made in heaven!

Get it here:

Award-winning author Linda O’Connor started writing romantic comedies when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at a local home décor store. Her books have enjoyed bestseller status. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic. She shares her medical knowledge in fast-paced, well-written, sexy romances – with an unexpected twist. Her favourite prescription to write? Laugh every day. Love every minute.




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Posted in Soul Mate Publishing | 4 Comments