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Five Things with Shana Galen

Bestselling author Shana Galen is visiting the blog today. She writes fast-paced, adventurous Regency romances, the newest release being The Viscount of Vice. Welcome, Shana!

Color Shana Galen L-R-21181) Did you have a nickname growing up? My real name is Shane, so my family often called me Shaney. In middle school, I wore pink all the time, and my friends called me Pinky. In high school, I turned Goth. That was the end of Pinky.

2) What’s your strongest/most productive writing habit? It’s definitely writing early and first thing in the morning. I can’t do this everyday because I have to get my daughter to school, but on Saturday mornings I go to Starbucks at 5:30 and work for 5 or 6 hours. I get so much done and then I have the rest of the day to relax.Viscount of Vice-300

3)If you were not writing, what job would you have? I’d be an animal cop. I would like to rescue abused and neglected animals and slap the bad owners with tickets, fines, and send them to jail.

4) If you could time travel, what time period would you most like to visit? I’d definitely visit the Regency. I write about it all the time and sometimes I feel like I live there in my head. I can’t imagine how amazing it would be to meet some of the people who really lived then.

5) What is the most embarrassing song/app on your ipod. I have about a dozen songs from Barbie movies. My daughter loves them. Confession: they are pretty catchy. On any given day you might catch me with the sunroof open singing along to Princess and the Pop Star.

You can find Shana on her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

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One Step, One Page

When I use the app MapMyWalk for my daily walk, I love it because it says I climbed stairs rather than walked my 2 miles. The reason being I live in a very steep neighborhood. And my daily haul is nearly all uphill. So, stair climbing it is.

And I realized as I was huffing and puffing up the first hill, that my walk was a lot like writing a book. One step at a time, one page at a time. Some days the writing is level and I churn right along. Other days it is like trying to hike up what is affectionately known in our ‘hood, as “Goat Hill.” Because only a mountain goat would want to climb it.

Yeah, there are writing days like that. Where you bang your head on the keyboard, furiously and laboriously write and then toss it all out a few hours later as crap.

Crap. Crap. Double crap.

As I get to the second hill, I curse my weight, burdening me down, slowing me down, but at the same time, know that every step is helping me along in leaving it behind. In writing, that extra weight, that burden can be an internal editor nagging that those pages are horrible, that idea is so flawed. That we should just turn around and give up.

But about the point where I get to the top of that hard, long hill, the Olympics break out over Puget Sound (on a sunny day) and I pause for the merest of moments to revel in the beauty. Listen to the birds. Then I turn the corner and continue onward in my daily exploration of my neighborhood and my latest project.

Writing, like my walk, is a daily reminder of all that is familiar and then totally surprising. Like the sudden appearance of daffodils poking out of the cold dirt. That house on the corner that I realize has been painted. The character moving through the scene just as I envisioned and then the hook that comes to me at the end of the scene that I’d never imagined.

When I walk, I do so without headphones, without my phone stuffed in one ear. I trod along alone, with my jangled mish-mash of thoughts for company. I let them be punctuated by the caws of the crows on the power lines, the rakish squawk of a Stellar’s jay, and the merry peeps of black-capped Chickadees in the bare branches. The unexpected barking of a dog might wrench me out of a bothersome, peevish reverie and thankfully send my ideas in a new direction.

And when I get home, invariably I grab up my notebook and pencil and dash off at least a page or so of notes. And the other day as I watched one of the neighborhood bald eagles high overhead and drifting by on a breeze that only those with wings would ever feel, I let go of all the things that left me grounded and stuck and soared a bit along with him.

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5 Things with Samantha Grace

Today we have bestselling Regency romance author Samantha Grace visiting. Her newest novel, One Rogue Too ManPose 12y, first in a new series, just came out on January 7th. Welcome to the blog, Samantha!

1) Since romance authors always write about falling in love, when and how did you discover you were in love? I knew I was falling in love with my husband (boyfriend at the time) when he helped me find homes for a litter of kittens the stray I took in had. He made me laugh the whole time by joking and writing goofy signs to get everyone’s attention. Where we lived, the shelter didn’t take cats, so we sat outside a store in 90-degree weather to find them homes. The kitties had shade and water, but we didn’t. It wasn’t pretty! LOL. My husband was so sweet with the kitties. I think a man who loves cats is pretty awesome.

2) Did you have a nickname growing up? My friend’s obnoxious younger brother gave me the nickname Moose Wobblesam1r when I broke my foot and was on crutches. All my friends jumped on board and started calling me Moose. I hated it! Looking back, it’s funny now. I was a 5’ 2”, 110-pound teen girl called Moose. I guess he was being ironic.

3) Where is the most beautiful/romantic place you’ve ever been? Without a doubt, it’s Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. I’ve always loved the outdoors and hiking, and there is a short hike to get to the falls. A beautiful mist rose from the base of the waterfall, and there were three rainbows. Locally it’s known as Mosi Oa Tunya, which means, “the smoke that thunders”. At the time, someone in the group said it meant “where angels live”. Either description fits.

4) What are your top three favorite movies? The Shawshank Redemption, Silver Linings Playbook, and Where the Heart Is.

5) What is the most embarrassing song/app on your iPod? I was a latecomer to Candy Crush. I’ve stopped playing it since level 107 became the bane of my existence. Unfortunately, I moved on to Pet Rescue and Farm Heroes. I never post anything to FB or ask friends for help, because I don’t like being manipulated by corporations. I refuse to pay anything or harass friends to play a silly game. All are great mindless activities when I need a mental break, though.

To connect with Samantha…
Samantha Grace Author | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

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I Resolve to Write

Every New Year each of us makes resolutions about our writing. “I’ll write 5 pages every day.” “I’ll sell my first book.” “I’ll snag that great agent.” And while each of these is admirable and there is nothing wrong with them, I think they miss the point of what it takes to be a published author and to continue to be a selling author. Here is the resolution I propose: I want to become a better writer.

There isn’t a writer who would be unable to make this resolution. We all have areas in our writing that could stand some improvement. So if you were willing to make this resolution (and really who doesn’t want to improve their craft?) let’s look at the steps to make the next year your own personal Year of Craft:

1) Take a self inventory of your writing and decide what are your weak points. If you don’t know, ask your critique group or someone who has read your writing. Ferret out whatever it is that keeps your manuscript from making the leap from the slush pile to bestsellerdom, and then conquer it. Plotting your weak point? Emotional depth in your characters? Sagging middles? Pinpoint the problem (or problems) and get to work. Read how-to books, (Need some recommendations? Here are 21 fabulous, author-endorsed, awesome books on writing) take online classes, find authors who excel at your weakness and read them voraciously. The point is to learn how to overcome a weakness.

2) Discover your strengths. Find out what makes your storytelling unique and learn how to capitalize on this skill or skills. It may seem redundant or a waste of time to improve what you are good at, but what you are good at may be the skill that becomes the very foundation of your voice and work. Train like it is for the Olympics.

3) Resolve to finish a book. You will never sell a book if you don’t write it. Consider this: write one page a day and in a year your book will be done. One measly page. 250 words. They don’t have to be perfect, they don’t have to be great—that is what revisions are for. But a completed draft is a far sight closer to publishing than a pile of blank pages. Besides, writing is a craft, like any other art and it isn’t mastered the first time you type the words to the page. It is mastered through writing thousands and thousands of words. Through practice and study. Through writing touching scenes, and page turning hooks, and black moments. By shoring up weak plot points. By sometimes forging ahead without a solid path behind you. But finish the book. You will learn more finishing than you will ever learn starting project after project.

4) Master the craft of revisions. Learn to self-edit. Learn to craft your story, either with a finished draft or one page at a time—whatever works for you. Again, there are wonderful books on this subject, as well as online classes to help.

5) Find your people to get you through the dull days of winter, the bright promise of spring, the beckoning rays of summer and the cool breezes of fall. Join a critique group, attend a writer’s conference, take an online class, join a loop that encourages you. Find that monthly, weekly, daily motivation that keeps you writing the same story from “It was a dark and stormy night,” to “Happily Ever After.”

And the best way to keep any writing resolution? Keep writing. With every word you only get better.

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5 Things with Deb Marlowe

USA bestselling Regency Romance author Deb Marlowe is here today. Welcome to the blog, Deb, and thanks for answering these five questions…

1) Do you celebrate when you finish a book and what you do? I know this is going to sound weird, but the first thing I do when I finish a book . . . I clean the refrigerator. What fun, right? But people—I live with boys! Most days I am the only thing standing between them and a microbial war zone. And when I’m in the last throes of a book, I abandon the fight. There’s just something about the end of a book, you have to surrender yourself to it—and that means letting the men in my life handle the home front. I usually write The End and look up to find chaos. So I pick up my trusty spray bottles and enter the fray… and I start with the fridge, move on to the kitchen and the rest of the house. Shrug. It’s not the champagne and chocolate most people expect, but it’s become my ritual.

DebM2) What is the most embarrassing song/app on your iPod? Most embarrassing song—Pikagirl. I shamefacedly admit that I’ve heard this enough times in the car with Youngest that I know most of the words. I even get most of the Pokemon references. Hangs head.

3) If you could choose any 3 people in history to meet, who would they be? Ooh! First—my historical figure man crush—Giovanni Batista Belzoni—fascinating man! Second—Jane Austen. I think I’d like to bask in all that wit for a day. And third…? Today I think I’ll say Genghis Khan.

4) Where is the strangest place a story idea came to you from? An invitation to my High School Reunion. It immediately dragged forth thoughts of my unrequited high school crush. I then started thinking about how a Regency heroine would handle a similar situation. That started me off on a friends-to-lovers second chance romance that became my first book.

5) What is the very first romance novel that you read? The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I was instantly hooked. I went on to read lots of historical romance, sharing them with my mom and my grandma. We devoured Jude Devereaux, Dorothy Garlock, Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood. For me, Romance has always been about female bonding.

You can find Deb on her website, Facebook page, or Twitter. Have a great Tuesday!

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