A Writer’s Life, by CiCi Cordelia (aka Cheryl Yeko and Char Chaffin)

Writing is a lonesome job. Sitting in your home office, plugging away day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute, every second a struggle to put the perfect words you’ve been striving for on the page. Some days your muse is flowing, other days, not so much.

Your family and friends don’t understand what you do.

Multiple months out of the year we spend our days trying to write that one great book that’s going to make us rich. Or at least make us proud. When we’re not writing, we’re marketing. Today, you don’t need to be published to get your marketing going. It’s as important for an unpublished author to tell the world about their book, as a published author. If you don’t market, you’ll never succeed as an author.

Seldom do we get a chance to meet with other authors, unless you’re lucky enough to have an active writers group in your area, and then it’s usually no more than once a month for a few hours. Otherwise it’s online or at a conference.

Summer is usually big-conference time for authors. It’s playtime, our chance to meet up with our fellow authors. A non-stop celebration where we discuss our books, craft, and marketing. We high-five each other’s successes and commiserate over our struggles. It’s like entering a different world, a more glamorous world where your talent is valued. Not that it isn’t at home, just not at the same level. Attending conference is like walking down that red carpet to the biggest party of your life.

Summer season will soon be starting, and plans are being made. The internet is already abuzz with excitement as authors begin registering for their favorite conferences. They’re making plans with other authors for dinners and drinks and plays and sightseeing. Regional conferences. National conferences. And reader conferences where authors get a chance to interact with their readers.

So much fun.

So much to do.

So little time.

Soon, summer will be over, and we’ll go back to real life where we sit at our desk and plug away day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute, to put the perfect words we’ve been striving for on the page.

We wouldn’t have it any other way. 

CiCi can be found: https://ccromance.com/ & http://www.facebook.com/HeartfeltRomance

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Posted in Char's Thoughts, Cheryl's Corner, CiCi Cordelia, Marketing, Networking, Publishing, Social Media, Soul Mate Publishing | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Coloring across the lines

Continuing on the theme of genre writing from Claire yesterday, I want to talk a little bit about what it’s like to write in a niche cross genre like fantasy romance.

Early in my writing adventures I ran across the advice to write the book I most want to read, because if I was longing for that book then there must be other readers out there longing for it too. I’ve taken that advice deeply to heart, which makes writing a joy and marketing a challenge!

The books I most love to read are romances, first and foremost. I’m very attached to the promise of a happy ending, and a focus on the emotional journeys of a character. The deeper the emotion, the more I can root for and identify with the character, the more I love the book.

Yet, I also like some fireworks with my stories, something different and unexpected. A new way of looking at the world, or a new world to explore. Reading is still my greatest escape, and sometimes I really want to leave this world of ours behind entirely.

As a young reader, before I discovered romance, I gravitated towards fantasy and loved books that made me think and wonder and imagine what if…?WhatIf

I still crave that sense of wonder and the immersive feel of a good fantasy world, but I’m not satisfied without the deep emotion of a romance novel. So I write fantasy romance and try to blend the best of both genres.

It can be a tight rope walk and requires an awareness of the expectations of fans in both genres, since ideally some readers will be there for the romance and some will come for the fantasy elements. Fantasy demands much more in terms of world building and how central the setting is to the story, which can lead to different pacing and word counts. Fantasy novels are notorious for running long by the standards of other genres. Romance tends to be written quicker and tighter, and sometimes quite short. My books skirt the edge of both genres, tending a little long for romance and a little short for fantasy.

Tropes (defined as common plot elements or character types) is another place where coloring cover of Taxing Courtship by Jaycee Jarvisoutside the genre lines can be tricky. Both romance and fantasy are heavy on tropes but not always the same ones.  What is new and fresh to a fantasy reader, may be old hat to a seasoned romance fan, and vice versa. My current WIP involves a warrior woman—a common archetype in both fantasy and romance—and a charming bard—a character type more often seen in fantasy though I hope he is well received by romance readers. I put my own twists on both characters, and bring them to life in a unique way, as I crisscross the line between genres.

If you want to see exactly how I execute this dance, be sure to read my debut fantasy romance novel, Taxing Courtship.


Jaycee Jarvis is a Golden Heart® finalist JL_027who 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. Book two, Deadly Courtship will be available in the spring of 2019.

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 www.jayceejarvis.com or by following her on Facebook, Twitter, BookBub or Goodreads.

Posted in Chatter-Time With Jaycee!, Creativity, Fantasy Romance, Soul Mate Publishing, Writing | 3 Comments

Switching Genres . . . Ahhh!!!

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My writing has been undergoing a transition this past year, and I must admit, I’ve been struggling with my present work in progress. I’ve outlined it, I’ve written character profiles. I’ve done tons of research on the topics within. I’ve actually started the blasted thing over—from page one—three times now. I’ve even considered putting it aside and starting something new . . .

But I’m not a quitter. Plus, I’ve invested almost a year on this novel, and I refuse to have let all that time and effort go to waste.

So, what’s the problem? I’m switching genres. Well, not drastically—this novel will still have a supernatural element. But I’m reaching beyond the label of supernatural romantic suspense and trying for something a little more mainstream. Something that may or may not have the love story as the main focus.

Yikes. It’s like standing on the edge of a very deep pool–an abandoned one–and having forgotten how to swim.

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This morning I did an Internet search: Switching Genres. It didn’t take long to discover I’m not the only one who’s gone through this. I also uncovered a treasure trove of advice and guidance.

One article by author Juliet Blackwell (who happens to be a favorite of mine) was published in Writer’s Digest in 2015. Ms. Blackwell describes her challenges when she decided to leave her trademark genre—mystery—to write the standalone mainstream novel, The Paris Key. Here are some takeaways I found particularly useful.

1.      Just because it’s not strictly a “mystery,” you still have to drop clues to keep the story moving forward. That’s the key to keeping any novel properly paced: drop clues about what may or may not happen next. Leave the reader wondering what’s on the next page.

2.      Even though the stakes may not be as high in a mainstream novel, there should still be a ratcheting up of the drama as the story unfolds.

3.      Setting is everything! This is particularly meaningful for me because I love the settings in my novels—they become characters in their own right. In mainstream novels, settings play a bigger role than in some other genres. (Yay! I don’t have to worry about over-describing my settings anymore. Well, maybe not as much.)

4.      The structure, or bones of the story are not as uniform in mainstream as in genre fiction. In other words, the author has more flexibility to develop the story at their own pace. As Ms. Blackwell states: “In mainstream novels the story is allowed—required, even—to meander a bit, giving the reader a chance to explore the minds of the characters and to dwell in an alternate reality.” It’s all about the arc of the main character, so the pace is not as intense. In short, the reader really gets a chance to get inside the character’s head, and to live in his or her world.

Thank you, Juliet Blackwell! You have just addressed just about every stumbling block I’ve encountered in trying to eke this story out of my fevered brain. You’ve given me permission to write it as I felt it should be written, and not according to the pattern to which I’d become accustomed.

Like I said before, I love the Internet. 🙂

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A Writing Moment with Michelle Libby

Happy Friday!

You know how they say “better late than never”? That kind of explains my life. I’m always running in 20 different directions and trying to get from one place to another, that I’m consistently late. So why would it be different with my first blog post of 2019?

I’m writing from the Rhode Island Romance Writers’ Annual Retexcited-23789_1280reat in Middletown, RI. Terri Brisbin is the speaker for Saturday and Annette Blair will present on Sunday. It’s been a while since I attended my last conference/retreat and I’ve missed the camaraderie that you get from other writers. These women come from all different backgrounds and write all different types of romances from fantasy to suspense and historical to contemporary. It’s exciting to take the energy they have for their projects and use that to propel your project forward.

I’m excited for tomorrow, but this retreat is only part of my February journey. I’ve joined a writing challenge from one of my RWA chapters. 30K in February. This will hopefully thrust me forward with my new book project. I will be doing that challenge while on the road with my husband. From Rhode Island, we will travel south until we reach “The Mouse”. We rented our first VRBO in Kissimmee so we could spend a warm week without snow. We even had the pool and hot tub heated so we could still swim when it’s 60 out. After, three days at Disney, and a few days relaxing, we will head south to South Carolina, but not before I attend the Master Class for the Spacecoast Authors of Romance where the topic will be marketing indie publishing.

When my husband and I planned this trip, we had no idea that I would be able to fit in two different writer events, but I’m so excited that it can be a part of our vacation. I will know at least one other writer when I go to the Saturday class in Cocoa, Florida, a friend originally from Maine. That helps make going to a new group more comfortable.

South Carolina will have three stops. One to visit our daughter at a training facility in Charleston. The second will be in Easley, where my parents and sister and brother-in-law will be moving within the year and we can have lunch with my cousins who live in that area. Finally, we will drive to Myrtle Beach to visit with my parents who are wintering at the beach. They will have just arrived and we plan to take them to a dinner show one night.

From there we will drive north to visit our son at college. He’s still on his first year away from home and we can’t miss the opportunity to visit. We might even bring him a souvenir from Disney before returning to Maine and the snow.

What does all this have to do with writing? A lot actually. We can write from anywhere when our jobs, homes and lives don’t interfere with our passion. I’m looking forward to seeing if it can be done, writing 30K in February, while on vacation. I’m hoping so.

I hope you all stay warm where ever you are.

Until next time.

Michelle

Visit me at http://www.MichelleLibby.com

 

 

Posted in Soul Mate Publishing | 5 Comments

Are your beauty products laden with harsh chemicals?

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Triclosan

This blog is the third in a series about skin care products. I believe that beautycounter (one word,) a young progressive company, has made a difference in waking up an unregulated industry. I am pleased to represent beautycounter. My most important job is to share with my friends, family, colleagues and everyone I meet about using skin products that are not laden with harsh chemicals. Naturally, beautycounter manufactures products with no harsh chemical. For your perusal, the NEVER LIST.

Those with chemicals such as parabens (a preservative widely used in cosmetic products), benzophenones (used as UV filters) and bisphenol A in their urine were found to have abnormal amounts of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone.

The mixture of chemicals found in beauty products could harm women’s fertility or even cause breast cancer, a new study has found.

Researchers at George Mason University, in Virginia, discovered links between chemicals widely used in cosmetic and personal care products, and changes in reproductive hormones.

Excessive estrogen has been linked to fibroids and irregular menstrual periods, while too little prevents eggs maturing and being released from the ovary.

Too much progesterone is associated with both breast cancer and unusual vaginal bleeding, while it is thought bisphenol A (BPA), known as the ‘gender-bending’ chemical for its effects on male breast growth, could cause fertility problems.

Dr Anna Pollack, assistant professor of global and community health at George Mason University, said: “This study is the first to examine mixtures of chemicals that are widely used in personal care products in relation to hormones in healthy, reproductive-age women, using multiple measures of exposure across the menstrual cycle, which improved upon research that relied on one or two measures of chemicals.

“What we should take away from this study is that we may need to be careful about the chemicals in the beauty and personal care products we use.

“We have early indicators that chemicals such as parabens may increase estrogen levels. “If this finding is confirmed by additional research, it could have implications for oestrogen dependent diseases such as breast cancer.”

A chemical mixture approach, was recently published in the science journal Environment

Readers Digest: Matthew Cohen/Rd.com

Sure, synthetic fragrances might make your products smell undeniably delicious, but they’re one of the top contenders to cause an allergic reaction to your skin. “Fragrances are usually made up of other harmful chemicals, like parabens, benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and more that are linked to cancer and nervous system issues,” explains Dr. Engelman. “Short term, they can cause irritation and redness on the applied area.” She recommends looking for these terms to clue you in that a product contains a fragrance: parfum, perfume, linalool, limonene, eugenol, citronellol, geraniol or cinnamal. Fragrance-free products are mostly labeled as so. “Eight Hour® Cream Skin Protectant Fragrance Free is a great way to boost moisture and strengthen the skin barrier without putting yourself at risk,” says Engelman.

https://www.rd.com/health/beauty/toxic-ingredients-beauty-products/

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Planning to write – or writing to plan?

A new year is always a time of reflection, with the chance to review the year past, and plan how to make the new year better. But new year resolutions often fade into an embarrassed silence by February, and another year slides into regret and lost time. It’s a grim reality – time lost is never regained. Each moment is fleet of foot, and gone before we can grasp it. William James once said “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” A man called the father of American psychology is probably worth a listen.

smp planning

So what’s the secret to a goal that can be achieved? What magical process separates those with jobs ticked off, from those that rack up the likes on Facebook? From my reading, it is setting achievable goals, and breaking them down into small steps – which you can then set to  a timetable if you wish.

How did last year go? Did it feel a success, or do you know you fell short of what you could have achieved? I’ll talk writing here, but you will no doubt have personal goals of health or family. Make a list of three goals – and make sure that they can be achieved, and are within your power to do so. For instance, finishing a book to query status is, while getting an agent is not.

Now, dig out a calendar, and mark out holidays, events etc. if you have a date in mind as a target, add another month on to give yourself leeway when life intervenes. If you wish, you can work out how much time you have to devote to the goal – this will also give some reality to it. Finishing a draft in a year may be impossible if you only have an hour a week. Can you make more time – is watching Netflix more a priority than your goal?

Break your goal down into three main parts. For example, if a book is the goal, then finish draft, edit, beta read and edit might be good targets. But these are big targets – break it down until each day you can work on your goals – in the time you have set yourself.

But the key is making the time work for you. Each minute you spend on the goal should be on the goal – no cheating and checking facebook in the name of research, or whatever your favorite form of procrastination might be. Now, I know I am not perfect with this –  far from it – as social media can be a huge time suck. My Nanowrimo word counts have been consistently lower since I joined Facebook, and I’ve checked my email twice while writing this blog. But at least be aware of it – use the screen time monitor on your phone, and turn off notifications on your computer. Reward yourself for each achievement!

So one final quote: “The reason you are not getting things done is because you are not doing them.”

Good luck with ticking off goals in 2019!

About Cindy

Cindy Tomamichel is a first time SMP author, with her novel Druid’s Portal the first in a series of time travel romance set in Roman Britain. Druid’s Portal: The Second Journey will be out in 2019!!!

Short stories of fantasy, scifi and romance can be found on her website, where she blogs on aspects of world building. Her Instagram account is devoted to tranquil scenes of nature and flowers, and experimenting with graphics.

Contact Cindy on

Website: http://www.cindytomamichel.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CindyTomamichel

Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/cindytomamichel

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16194822.Cindy_Tomamichel

Pinterest:  https://au.pinterest.com/cindytomamichel/

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

 

Posted in Soul Mate Publishing | 2 Comments

Who Was Viola Russell?

Who was Viola Russell?

 

I must begin this blog post with a revelation: I am not Viola Russell.  I write as Viola Russell, but the original Viola died in 1979 during my senior year in high school.  She was my grandmother.

 

Why did I choose her name? My reasons were twofold: first, I wanted to hide from my students. The last thing I needed was those curious people reading my sex scenes, but more pointedly, I wanted to capture and re-create the woman my grandmother was, and exactly who she was remained a mystery to me.

 

Viola Russell Zimmerman was a fiery, no-nonsense blonde of German and Irish descent.  She reared her six children during the Depression and ran her home with an iron fist.  I only knew her as an old woman, but I remember all too vividly a picture of the young but worn Viola. The picture had caught her after she’d been cleaning, and she looked frazzled.  However, she was beautiful.  My grandmother was modest to a fault, Victorian almost, but she had a salty tongue and loved her cigarettes.  I never knew my grandfather George, but I often wondered about their relationship. My grandmother rarely talked of him. My mother and her siblings, however, described a loving and very tolerant man who adored them and their mother.

 

Since my mother’s passing, I’ve thought often of her mother, the taciturn but gorgeous Viola who could lift a mattress over her head when she cleaned, A Deutsches Haus Frau. What emotions raged within that woman’s heart?  She buried three children before her death—one son by suicide, one through war, and one to drowning.  When I was a child, Viola seemed kind but distant.  She’d lost a husband, sons, and the promises those lives brought.  Who was she?

 

I make no secret of the fact that I channel family lore in my historical fiction.  Love at War is the embellished story of my mother’s family.  From Ice Wagon to Club House is the story of my father’s generation.  But—who was the woman I channeled?  Was she the rather aloof matriarch of the family I remembered or did a woman of passion burn beneath that exterior?

 

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