Wednesday, December 26, 2012

On the Red Carpet With the Guys of Splintered!!! (international giveaway!)

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway. It’s now ended, and winners will be announced on A.G. Howard’s website ( within the next few days.


Check out Splintered author AG Howard's website for a ROCKING intro to this international giveaway. This is also where you'll enter to WIN amazing prizes!!

Don't forget to head over to Bethany Crandell's for the other half of this interview with they other guy in Splintered, Jebediah Holt!

Now for our interview with the enigmatic and extremely interesting Morpheus (did I mention he has a British accent? And some very cool wings?)!!

I'm SO excited to have you on my blog, Morpheus! I really admire your loyalty to Wonderland. I know you're busy taking care of some crazy things over there and am super appreciative you're taking the time to stop by and answer questions posed by the Splintered Reviewers who were very impressed by you...*blushing and maybe throwing a wink your way*
Let's get started with Question #1:

Morpheus is a cool name. Where'd you get it?

“Firstly, I’m named after the Morpheus in Greek mythology—the winged daemon with the ability to appear in people’s dreams.” *expands wings, casting a looming shadow* “Secondly, well, you will have to read Splintered to find out what the other origin is.”

Have you read Lewis Carroll's Alice books? Who is your favorite character/creature?

“Oh, I’ve more than read them. I’ve lived them.” *pulls gloves into place on hands* “And the caterpillar is by far the most brilliant character of them all.”

Who is your favorite guest for dinner?

“I should clarify that the most respected dinner guest in Wonderland is always the main course. I do like a nice side of lamb but they can be tricky to serve. They’re ticklish and roll around the platter. Frog legs are jumpy even during digestion. I suppose my favorite would be fish eyes. Once you get past being stared at, the dining is quite civilized.”

You're my favorite SPLINTERED guy because, despite your reputation as a bad boy, you believe in Alyssa's grrrl power far more than you have a fabulous fashion sense. You don a stylish hat for every major event. What is your favorite special-occasion hat, and why is that type of occasion so special to you?

“My Seduction Hat. Perhaps you can surmise why such an occasion would be special to me.”

Are you self-centered?

*brushes a hand through the blue hair beneath his hat’s brim* “Wouldn’t you be if you had my assets?”

So, we know you've got some sweet threads. Can you reveal what inspires your wild, wonderful fashion sense?

“I could tell you, but I’d much rather show you. Are you up for some flying?" *tilts head teasingly*

What's your dream job?

“Not having a job. Why, look at that! I’ve already met my highest aspirations.” *smiles*

You're often very cryptic, why is that?

“I’m selective with what I choose to share. I believe that’s called wisdom, luv.”

On a scale from that guy who once slobbered all over me during my sixth grade rendition of Romeo and Juliet (He was Romeo, I was tragically Juliet) to Rhett Butler, how good of a kisser are you?

“Seeing you lack any otherworldly comparison subjects, your scale is not up to my standards. However, should you like to interview someone who’s had lips-on experience, I know the perfect candidate.” *winks at Alyssa who glares back while avoiding Jeb’s questioning stare*

What if I were currently undecided as to how I should cast my Splintered vote . . . why should Alyssa end up with you?

“You’re joshing, right?” *rolls eyes and points a thumb over his shoulder* “Wings.”

What makes Alyssa different from the rest of Alice's descendants? Why is she so special?

“She shared her childhood with me and proved her devotion during one violent and bloody afternoon. I knew from that moment she was the one.”

If you got one “do over” from the moment you met Alyssa until the present, what moment, if any, would you change?

“I would’ve never agreed to be away from Alyssa for so many years. Out of mind, out of heart. I was not pleased to find she’d forgotten our friendship so easily.”

One last question for you . . . Alyssa had to navigate the scary world of Wonderland. We can't talk about how it went because that would be a total spoiler. But let's just pretend for a second that the tables were turned and that you had to navigate the scary world that is our world back here above ground. How do you think you would fare? What would you most look forward to, and what would make you (yes, even you) the most nervous?

“I live in a world founded on chaos, madness, and magic. Nonsense is my native tongue. Manipulation and murderous intent are talents honed by our offspring on their playgrounds. I can’t imagine anything would prove a challenge in the simple realm of humans. As to what I would most look forward to? The expression on Mr. Holt’s face when I turn up at Alyssa’s front step.” *tips hat to Jeb and receives a furious scowl in return*

Now some questions for both the Splintered guys:

Have you ever chased a white rabbit?

Jeb: “No. But I did dive down a rabbit hole once, chasing something a lot more important than a rabbit…”

Morpheus: “Yes, one who escaped my dinner plate. For the record, he later became a delightful hasenpfeffer stew.”

True or False: All's fair in love and war?

Jeb: “There are exceptions.”

Morpheus: “No exceptions. It’s an absolute truth.”

Your choice for underclothes: boxers or briefs…

Jeb *coughs and blushes*: “Uhhh ... well, you can find out what I wear if you read Splintered—chapter fifteen.”

Morpheus *smirking*: “They can be as brief as you like. But I’d prefer to buy you dinner first.”

What are three words you'd use to describe Alyssa?

Jeb: “Tenacious, fragile, and innocent.”

Morpheus: “Maddening, loyal, and seductive.”

What’s your favorite make out song?

Jeb *dimples flashing as he zones in on Al in the crowd*: “Forevermore by Broken Iris.”

Morpheus *leaning close to the microphone*: “When it’s done right, luv, you make your own music.”

If you had only one day left with Alyssa, what would you do with her to make it a perfect day?

Jeb: “We’d take my motorcycle to the lake where I used to fish with my dad—before things went bad. We’d swim then have a picnic, to make up for all the ones she missed out on having with her family. I’d paint her a mural on the rock wall that surrounds the lake. Then once the sun set, we’d climb into a sleeping bag and I’d kiss her until every strand of starlight seeped away.”

Morpheus: “We would take to the sky and watch Wonderland’s majesty pass beneath us. I’d waltz with her on the clouds and serenade her with the wind. Later, we would dine on candied spiders and sip dandelion wine, for she does love to torment her flowers and bugs. Then, cozied by the castle fire, I’d wrap her in my wings and make her forget everything about the human realm.”

Jeb *teeth clenched*: All right, bug-rot. That’s it. Me and you, outside. Let’s go.”

Okay, guys, okay, break it up!!!
*deep breaths*

Thanks, ladies! Those interviews make me want to grab a hottie and jump headfirst back down the rabbit hole for some cuddle time! *snort/giggle/snog like crazy* SERIOUSLY THOUGH, WE'D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT WHO'S STOLEN YOUR HEART, SO LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW!

Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a FANTASTIC international rafflecopter giveaway. Also, there are more OUTLANDISH RED CARPET INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAYS that can be found HERE on A.G. Howard’s website!

That’s all from us in the studio. Thank you for coming!

Want to preorder SPLINTERED? Click HERE for ordering info…

Thanks to Jessica Nelson, Bethany Crandell, and A.M. Supinger for being extraordinary and entertaining MCs!

Thank you to Kalen O’Donnell for the spectacular Red Carpet Event banner and artwork!

And last but never-ever least, special thanks and gratitude to the following book-reviewers/bloggers/authors who fashioned the amazing list of questions for our guys:

A. Lynden Rolland

Brooke at the Cover Contessa

Cat Winters:

Christina at Ensconced in YA

Crystal at Winter Haven Books

Gabrielle Carolina at Modpodge Bookshelf

Hannah at the Girl in a Cafe

Jaime Arnold at Two Chicks on Books

Jenny Phresh at The Party Pony

Kerri Maniscalco

Angela V. Cook

Nikki at Fiction Freak

Nobonita Chowdhury at Daydreaming Bookworm

PJ Hoover:

Rachel at Fiktshun

Riley Redgate at The Mighty Jungle

Sarah Skilton:

Suzanne Payne

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 10, 2012

Stephen King On Writing

Okay...I'll admit that I'm horrible at reading craft books. I love to learn craft and try to always better my writing, but I usually stick with articles. So after years of hearing about this book, it finally decided to bonk me on the head (actually, it was in my RWA chapter's library and I snagged it).

I wish I would have read it sooner.


EVERY page is loaded with so much. About life. About writing. Plus King is just an interesting person. His writing resonates and every other sentence contains some kind of nugget that I'd love to tape up on my wall.

Needless to say, after I finish King's memoir I'll be checking out some of his fiction.

I've asked before about your favorite writing craft book, but now I'm wondering why it's your favorite? What makes it stand out? And if you could choose to meet any author, who would it be and why?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Playing With the Blog Tour

Blog tours: can they make you or break you?

I did a blog tour (however informal) when my book came out and I can see NO drawbacks to doing one. I think blog tours are excellent ways to get the word out about your book.

Will they sell it? Nope. That's what the blurb, cover and writing are for. But at least they tell people the book is out there.

How do you get involved with a blog tour? Well, you could go the professional, cost-money route. There are a lot of companies who offer different packages and it could be worth your while.

Since I've been blogging a long time, I just asked my blogger friends if anyone wanted to have me over. I was really blessed that many of you did. :-)

I heartily recommend blog tours! In fact, I'm a guest later today at Diane Estrella's blog! (and I said I didn't have a celebrity crush, but I forgot how much I like Channing Tatum! lol).

Would you pay for a blog tour or do your own? Do you like hearing about different books when you're blog hopping?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Julie Lessman Has Done It Again! (huge contest!!!)

I just finished reading A Light In The Window, Julie Lessman's self-published prequel to her Daughters of Boston series and it is Fabulous!!!

Lessman brings her characters to life and every time I read her books, I never fail to both giggle and get teary-eyed. If you've read her other books and have always wanted to know Marcy and Patrick's story, you'll love this book!

If you HAVEN'T read her other books, then I highly suggest picking up this affordably priced e-book to get a taste of Lessman's writing. She's one of my favorite authors in the CBA market and I really enjoyed this story.

Click HERE to find out how you can win a Kindle Fire, gift cards and more!!

Who is your favorite romance author?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Quickie Promo Post!

My book Love On The Range is almost out of print!

Amazon says they have 17 copies left...I don't know what that means for the other booksellers but I think it means my print run is almost up? Hmmm.

Print runs, returns, those are things that makes this writer's brain shudder.

Amazon also has my book on sale, so if you didn't get a copy but are interested in reading it, now might be the time to get it?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Blessings

Last year around this time I was involved in a horrible accident in which I walked away unscathed while a young man was severely injured.

I asked for prayer from you all and want to let you know that I recently found out that the young man fully recovered. :-)

So this Thanksgiving, my shoulders feel a little lighter.

Many times we're reminded to be thankful for the little things in our lives. Today I am wondering what big things, what deep worries of the heart, what trials have you survived or been rescued from?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weighing The Costs

The publishing world has been evolving for a few years now. It's exciting and full of uknown possibilities.

Recently Huffington Post published an interesting article on how e-books are making print books more valuable.

Zondervan has also opened a new digital publishing venture. No advance but their e-books will be affordable and their royalties are comparable to other e-publishers.

What I would pay for a hardcover (which I very rarely buy) and an e-book is radically different. How much would you pay for an e-book?
With the advent of e-readers, is e-publishing more of a realistic publishing opportunity in your opinion?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Coming Up: Some Rocking New Titles!

My To-Be-Read list is crazy long, but I have two books that I'm salivating to read. Okay, okay, I all ready got to peek at one in manuscript format (heehee!) but my hands are itching to hold it for a reread!

Sometime before Christmas I'll be reviewing the amazing Julie Lessman's new book A Light In The Window. I'm a big fan of hers (my reviews HERE and HERE) and can't wait to read Marcy and Patrick O'Connor's romance.

Then, right before New Years fellow blogger RookieRiter and I will be hosting a SuperFab red carpet event with the boys of Splintered. This is author A G Howard's debut novel and I'm in love with it. Well...actually, I'm really in love with one of the characters. He's a little bit of a Bad Boy. *grin* You'll find out who he is when I interview him right on my very own blog!! (bonus: he has an accent)

So which books are you wanting to read? Waiting on any new works by favorite authors? And last but not least, who melts your butter more: the best friend hero or the bad boy hero?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Some Useful and Rather Unmild Advice


I read the article below and I was nodding and cringing at the same time. Nevertheless, I believe this post by author Russell Blake is a must-read for writers.

Personally, I'm a fan of having a character arc. Which guideline (aka rule) will you probably always follow?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Conscious and Subconscious Action

About a year ago I watched The Book of Eli, a futuristic/post-apocalyptic type movie that really fascinated me. I highly recommend it!

The main character, Eli, in particular was intriguing.

As I watched, I realized how deeply his characterization was based in subconscious and conscious action. The actor (I think it was Denzel Washington?) pulled off the characterization and hooked the viewer by using the smallest details to portray emotion.

The writers or producer or maybe it was the actor himself used subconscious and conscious action to make the character come alive.

For example, in the movie Eli is traveling when he hears screams. He hides behind something and mutters to himself over and over, "There's nothing I can do." This is a conscious action not to help. He is choosing to remove himself from the situation. His repetition is subconscious though. He's trying to convince himself that it's true...or he's trying to comfort himself. Either way, we feel the weight of his guilt.

Later in the movie, a female protagonist enters the story. She is also almost raped and this time Eli helps her. When she cries, he moves forward and then stops himself. When she hugs him, the camera pans in and I notice he does NOT hug her back. Those are subconscious actions that reflect his internal turmoil.

When we create characters in situations, these tiny details will really show who a character is. The details themselves may not be noticed by a reader or viewer, but their impact is felt.

How do you use gestures and thoughts to deepen your character? How would you describe your main character, and how do you reinforce that personality/character trait in each scene? Do you have any specific quirks or impulses that appear in your daily life and give a clue to who you are?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Diving Into Edits

So I finally, finally finished writing the rough draft of my new historical romance. Talk about forever!

But it's done and now I need to jump into edits.

Some things I'll be looking at:

Dialogue: Is it necessary to the story? Does it deepen tension or reveal something? Is it natural sounding?

Pacing: Are my scenes similar in length? Does the story grow progressively more taut or is there a sagging middle?

Historical facts: Is my research good enough? Do my characters sound like they live in 1920 America?

Scene setting: Are my scenes clear? Did I involve all five senses?

What do you look for when editing? Care to add anything to my list?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Giveaway Winner and a Kid Who Takes After His Momma

Congrats to Loree Huebner!! You won the giveaway for an autographed copy of Stacy Henrie's debut historical Lady Outlaw. Send me your snail mail and we'll get that out to you.
jessica_nelson7590 AT yahoodot COM

And now here's my youngest with a request that mirrors my own (although his asking skills need some work).

Ever wanted something so bad you threw a little fit to get it?

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Irascible WIP

I have maybe 3k left to finish my WIP and I'm going nuts.

This manuscript has taken me almost a year to write and I'm not sure I have a good excuse for it. Sure, I've had a lot of things happen in the last year but there were also times I was just lazy. *cringe*

What is driving you nuts today? Is there anything you can do to change it?

Monday, September 24, 2012

The So-What? Factor

I ran across a great article the other day HERE.

It mentions a bunch of cool things but a particular idea caught my attention. It's the SO WHAT factor.

From the post:

"It's easy to confuse concept with plot, and that's not it. Because that leaves out something that Lisa Cron's recent book WIRED FOR STORY calls the "'so what?' factor." She goes on to explain that the "so what?" factor is what clues a reader in on the point of the story, the relevance of everything that happens in it, what the story is about."

Basically, why should we care? Empathy is SO important in books. I think empathy and curiosity are the two biggest things that will keep a reader turning pages.

If you've got a WIP, check out your first page and ask yourself if it piques curiosity or empathy.

Think of a book you couldn't put down. What kept you reading? How can you work that "So What" relevance into your WIP?

FYI Love On The Range is on sale at Amazon for only $3.77 today!! (cheaper than the e-book)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review/Giveaway For Lady Outlaw by Stacy Henrie

I am finishing up Stacy Henrie's debut Lady Outlaw! The first things that drew me to this story were the cover and the premise. Stacy created a heroine who steals from thieves in order to make her ranch payments. But then along comes this handsome stranger in need of a job (read our Hero) and the heroine begins reconsidering how she supplements her living, especially when she finds out about the Hero's past. His gentle ways and faith in God affect her too.

So far I'm enjoying the story. The premise is unique and I love that the heroine is so completely imperfect. I find internal sins a lot in Christian books (attitude, pride, etc) but rarely do I see such blatant external wrongdoing. It's a nice change and makes for a strong character arc. Stacy is a good writer and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books! Hopefully the covers will be as awesome too!

Today Stacy is graciously offering a signed copy of her book. Leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway!

Question: What hooks you hardest, first page or premise?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Nancy Drew is Back...And She's Hawaiian

I'm so excited to announce the release of Cheryl Linn Martin's debut middle grade mystery series, The Hawaiian Island Detective club!

Any kids who like mysteries in exotic settings are going to love this series. The first book is Pineapples In Peril. Cheryl's writing is crisp and suspenseful. Her characters are loveable. Leilani is the Nancy Drew of the series. She has a thirst to solve mysteries and lets nothing stop her, not even her pestering little brother, Kimo. I'm looking forward to reading all the books in Cheryl's series!

You can find Cheryl at her website, her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Do you write or read Middle Grade fiction? Have any questions for Cheryl?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Learning From the Indies

I learned a cool little trick the other day.

I'm on a self-pub loop mostly for information's sake. Times are changing and it's good for authors to be aware of what's going on, what works, what doesn't work, etc. Writing for publication isn't just an art, but a business.

Anyway, I found out Amazon likes to match prices, so when my book Love On The Range went on sale at Harlequin for $3.45, guess what I did?

*grin* I told Amazon! And sure enough, about a week later, my Amazon price started dropping lower and lower. It was a fun experiment and good to know for the future.

Have you learned any cool tidbits recently?

Oh, and on Wednesday I'll be hosting my fabulous critique partner Cheryl Linn Martin. She's a middle grade writer whose first series is fixing to release. If you love Nancy Drew and have kids who like mysteries, Pineapples in Peril is for them!

Monday, September 3, 2012

And the Winners Are....

Woohooo, the giveaway has ended and there are goodies to dispense!

Godiva Winners:

K. Victoria Chase
Karen Lange

B&N Gift Card Winner:

Nick Wilford

Sweet Caroline and Sweet Baklava Winner:

Sandra Orchard

Send your snail mail addys to me at jessica_nelson7590 AT yahoo DOT com and I'll get these out to you. :-)

Thank you for participating!!

Happy Labor Day!

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Rockin' End of Summer Contest

Summer is almost over! Even though autumn is my favorite season, I'm sad because I'm going to have to start getting up early (I know, I know, don't throw a book at me!)

So since I don't have anything new coming out yet, I thought it might be a good idea to have some kind of contest. I've never done the twitter/fb/post type of contest but I think it might be fun.

Heeheee, especially since there's chocolate involved.

So here are the deets (that's for you, Lindsay!):

1. If you want to be entered once to win a prize, let me know in the comment section.

2. Mention Love On The Range on Facebook OR Twitter, let me know in the comments, and you get two entries.

3. Mention Love On The Range on BOTH Facebook and twitter, let me know in the comments, and you get three entries.

4. If you have another cool promotional action that I don't know about, let me know in the comments. If it's combined with FB/Twitter, then that's four entries. :-) If not, then that's two entries.

5. EACH time you tweet/post/FB something, let me know!!! I'll keep tallying things up so I know how many times to enter you.

This is a THREE week contest. It ends midnight September 2, 2012 and I'll announce winners on Labor Day. (I won't be posting anything new until then)

So you all will have plenty of time to do whatever you're comfortable with doing to be entered. :-)


Two people will receive Godiva in the will be awesomely delicious. :-)

One person will get a B&N $25 gift card

One person will get a critique by another author (I don't know who yet but will put it up when I know)

One person will get Sweet Baklava by Debby Mayne and Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck, 'cause this is a sweet contest. Teehee!

So what do you think? I hope this makes sense but feel free to ask questions. Okay, let the contest begin! :-)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Winner and Some News

First, congrats to the lovely Susan who won Katie Ganshert's Wildflowers From Winter! I'll be contacting you to get your addy. :)

Now for some news:

Lady Scribes and author Lily George are interviewing me today. I'll be giving away a copy of my debut. :-)

I read all your comments and think Monday sounds like a good day to blog, so I'll be changing things on that front.

Also, I'm planning a completely rocking End of Summer contest to promote my book Love On The Range (which isn't available in physical stores but is still available online). There will be big prizes involved, including Godiva, books, gift cards and maybe some author critiques? I've never done a contest like this that will involve tweeting and stuff, but I've seen other writers do it and it seems to work for them? So I'll announce the deets next Monday and go from there.

Summer is going by way too fast. My eight year old just told me the other day that he thinks this summer went faster than the others. LOL I'm inclined to agree.

How is your summer going? Any cool news?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Due to some family changes, I no longer am working Mondays and Fridays. The summer has been more busy than I anticipated so my poor blog has languished a bit.
I'm wondering if I should move to posting on Mondays...

What do you think? When do you post? What days do like to read blogs the most? Should there be chocolate? (grin)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Assumption is Not Sustainable Conflict

I've been in the writing world for over five years now and I've known for a long time that if characters can have a good, honest talk and work out their troubles, then the plot conflict isn't strong enough.

But I hadn't thought of this in the form of assumptions until a reader made a comment about a book and how she enjoyed that the characters didn't just assume things about each other.

A character's goal has to be impeded by more than her thinking the other character (antagonist/hero) wouldn't like the goal. The internal conflict should be more than her thinking the other character will disapprove or hate her.

I adore internal conflicts but they have to have a concrete external conflict to make them believable. If the conflict isn't believable, or worse, could be cleared with an honest conversation, then this hampers the tension of the story in a big way.

The reader might not care about turning the pages to find out what happens.

I know for a fact that one of my manuscripts relies too heavily on assumption as the basis of conflict. That's something I need to change.

Have your characters assumed too much? Do you like it in books when there's a misunderstanding or would you rather there be definite stakes/goals driving a wedge between characters?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What I've Been Reading (and Giveaway)

I've been eagerly awaiting this book and Katie's writing didn't disappoint! The characters were interesting but I really enjoyed Katie's prose the most. It's strong and unique. I'll definitely be picking up her next book.

I whipped through this book! Williamson is a new author to me but I thought the pacing of the story was great. Have I read/watched clone stuff before? Sure, but the characters came across very real and I enjoyed the dialogue. Looking forward to more by her!

This was a sweet story. I particularly loved the secondary characters, esp. the jilted fiance. I'd love to see him with his own story because I think he'd have a great character arc. The best friend was a lot of fun too. I'm looking forward to reading more of Beth's work. What drew me to this story, besides her being a blogging buddy, was the premise. :-) Very hooky!

The two books below are not my normal type reads but I enjoyed both of them. Besides being drawn into the plots and interesting characters, it's always fun to read genres where the writing "rules" are much different (pov, for example, is played with more loosely).

So today I'm going to be giving away Katie Ganshert's debut novel Wildflowers From Winter! Just let me know in the comments if you'd like to be entered. :-)

What are you reading today? Anything outside your preferred genre?

P.S. I've got a short post over at Craftie Ladies of Romance today if you feel like stopping by.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Theme of it All

I read a wonderful article in the RWR recently about theme and how it plays into books/stories.

According to the article, theme is the passion and question inside the writer that finds its way into all her stories. Beneath voice and plot is theme.

I'm not detail-oriented and I'm not a plotter, but after having a few manuscripts of different genres and tones under my belt, I have an idea of what the overarching theme of my stories is (note: love is not necessarily a theme).

Do you think about Theme in your writing? Do you analyze it in books?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


My writer friends and family know I have a soft spot for "bad boy" heroes in fiction. I've tried to analyze why and have had some interesting insights into myself, but recently I had a major breakthrough.

I'm watching a series which is out of my norm, but have found myself hooked by the storyline...and the "bad boy". One night while watching a scene between "good guy" hero and heroine, I became aware of this odd feeling in my chest. A discomfort.

And then I recognized what it was.


That's right. I prefer "bad boys" because I distrust Knights in Shining Armor. You know, the good boy heroes who live atop a shining steed, so high in fact that I know their fall is going to be a hard one.

What I like is that while a "bad boy" starts in one place (usually empty, lonely, and ugly), I know that by the end of the story, the "bad boy" is going to have redemption. He's going to be happy at the end, and healthier.

The only place a bad boy can go is up. A shiny knight? Down. Takes the hope right out of the story for me.

So yes, it's twisted and I would never recommend a "bad boy" in real life, but in fiction I truly do adore that redemptive, finds-peace arc. Not to mention the excitement and challenge of it all. :-)

Which fictional "bad boy" do you love? And if you prefer "good boy" heroes, who is your favorite? Ever wondered why?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Butt On Chair
Butt In Seat
Butt Glue

This is what writers should do. Sit down and write. For many of us, especially if unpublished or without a contract, we tend to procrastinate. Right when we're about to write, we remember that our blinds need cleaning.

Back in the day, I used to pound out 1k a day. I'm trying to work back up to that but it's been pretty challenging.

Do you have daily goals with your writing? What area in life do you find yourself procrastinating the most?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stakes, And I Don't Mean the Vampire Kind

Finally I got to see this movie I've been wanting to see for months. The previews rocked and I'm happy to say that I loved the movie too. :-)

As I was watching it in the theater (yay!), I was processing the format of the storytelling, the characters, the dialogue, even how the director used the setting and visuals to create mood.

I immediately connected to the heroine because she was a little girl imprisoned by a wicked queen. I rooted for her to be free and cheered (inwardly, of course) when she escaped.

Then came my AHA moment.

A hero is tracked down, a guy who can follow the heroine into dark places and bring her back. I didn't want him to. I wondered why he would.

Then the evil queen offers him something that made my breath clench and immediately hooked me into the story.

You see, the hero is found drunk and careless. He's a widower who lost his way when his beloved wife was murdered.

The wicked queen sees his loneliness...his pain. She has evil powers and offers to bring his wife back from the dead if he'll find the heroine.

HIGH Stakes.

He has everything to gain if he does this thing. Who couldn't relate to missing someone so badly you'd do almost anything to get them back? Who couldn't empathize with the hero's pain?

And that was when I was hooked for good. The conflict was set. I wanted the heroine free, but I also wanted this hero to get his wife back.

I'm torn...and I'm perched on the edge of my seat to see what will happen next.

This is what having high stakes in your story can do. It creates believable and seemingly insurmountable conflict that will cause the reader to flip pages. Not only that, but high stakes create empathy.

I haven't done a whole lot of high stakes writing in my books so far. I'm still learning and will definitely be incorporating this into my future works.

If you're a writer, what kind of stakes is your protagonist facing? How can you heighten them? Readers, do you know what movie I'm referencing? *grin* If you've seen it, who did you root for and why?

Friday, June 8, 2012

I've Been a Bad Girl

I missed my Wednesday posting! Of course, that's not the end of the world for anyone but I still felt guilty.

Not only that, but I also need to confirm what the writers who read my book all ready know: I head hop.

I head hop, and the editors were okay with it. How is this possible?'s been my experience so far (and subject to change) that editors don't care about all the same "rules" writers do. Head hopping seems to be something writers obsess about but in reality, when it's done well, neither readers or editors notice. When it's not done well, then a scene may be confusing, etc. (disclaimer: I am not claiming to be a good head hopper, just that I do it).

In a few weeks, I'm going to hold a Godiva contest. *grin* That's right, Godiva to the person who can find a certain spot in my book...I'll post the rules later. If you haven't read Love On The Range, I'm doing a GoodReads giveaway this week (did I mention I adore GoodReads?) or else you can always buy it here. :)

Also in the news, Amazon bought Avalon Books! Verrrry interesting.

Summer is starting. Any interesting news in your neighborhood? Do you notice head hopping in books?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Learning From Reviews

I'll be honest.

I've really enjoyed reading reviews on my debut Love On The Range. Many authors don't read reviews and I'm sure someday I won't either. But because this book was written so long ago, and been through so many revisions, I feel very objective toward it now.

Reviews from friends and fellow bloggers are amazing to read. Thank you to everyone who posted one for me!! It was much appreciated. Reviews from people I don't know are exciting. Someone I don't know read my book and cared enough to write about it and/or rate it.


So I read these reviews and I learn. What worked for people, what didn't. Some reviews touched on things I knew I wouldn't be able to change in the future with my books, though I might refine my way of writing it. Other reviews hit on things that I know I'll be keeping in mind for future books: Things like pacing and head hopping (yes, I'm a natural head hopper and am working at curbing that tendency *cringe*).

Reviews are like critiques...except I can never revise this manuscript. Good thing I have lots of other stories brewing!

If you're published, have there been any reviews that struck a chord with you? If unpublished, what has been your latest helpful critique? And if you're a reader only, did you think about the author reading your review? Have you ever left one on a public site?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sweet Summer

Summer is almost here, and I can hardly wait! No more six o'clock alarm blasting me from my comfy bed. :-) I plan to finish the WIP I've been playing with for five months and submit it to LIH. Maybe in the fall I'll have another contract? I'm also thinking of going to the American Christian Fiction Writer's conference this year too.

What are your summer plans? What do you look forward to in summer?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rolling in the Royalties

In case you don't all ready know...most authors don't roll in much. I'm blessed that my fellow authors established a loop where newbie authors like me can ask questions and get great answers from more veteran writers. Royalties seems to be something that comes up every so often.

It sounds like I'll be paid twice a year, and that the second royalty check will have more in it. But no one really knows for sure. There are bunches of factors involved with how much I'll earn, like what month the book released in relation to when the royalties are calculated, if the book made it into the book club (in my case), and how much the publisher holds back in reserves. It's pretty fascinating and a little scary.

Here are some good links.

Agent Rachelle Gardner gets detailed about royalty rates

Author Rebecca Brandewyne on royalties

Sabrina Jeffries' Money Chart

Brenda Hiatt's amazing list of average advances

How much do you hope you'll make someday when you sell your book? If you're a reader only, were you aware how little authors make? Or how much?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Post-Publication: The LowDown

So it's over.

My book (that huge cover on the right sidebar) is officially off the shelves. There's so much to share that I think it might take a couple of blog posts.

First thing: Love On The Range is a category romance, published by Harlequin, who puts out different sets of book every month. It's a book club thing. That's why mine is off the shelves. Its month was April.

Secondly: Now that the book is off the shelves, it feels like a dream that happened. I feel like I'm starting over.

Thirdly: Reviews are both nail-biting and exhilarating, especially when they're from someone you don't know.

Fourth: AuthorCentral is a cool Amazon site that logs your sales. It shares all sorts of info, like where your book has been selling in the US (with a map and everything).

So whew. April was awesome and tiring. How was your April? Do you read category romances? Did you know about AuthorCentral?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Welcome Jeanette Levellie, Humorous Devotional Author (Giveaway!!)

Two Scoops of Grace With Chuckles On Top
What do drive-by diaper stores and God have in common? When is blabbing an acceptable habit? Why should you beware of moths and sligs? In her entertaining, uplifting style, award-winning author and humorist Jeanette Levellie weaves 72 amusing stories with affirming Biblical truths. These soul-nourishing examples of God’s favor and grace will help you:
•Laugh when you find cow patties in your field instead of daisies
•Discover the bottomless heart of God
•Grow in your acceptance of yourself and others

Welcome a vacation from stress as you discover the sweetness of Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top.

You can buy the book here.

A spunky pastor’s wife of thirty-plus years, Jeanette Levellie authors a bi-weekly humor/inspirational column, God is Bigger, a popular feature in the Paris Beacon News since 2001. She has published stories in Guideposts anthologies, stories in Love is a Verb Devotional with Gary Chapman, articles in Christian and secular magazines, greeting card verses, and poems for calendars. She is also a prolific speaker for both Christian and secular groups, and loves to make people laugh while sharing her love for God and life.

Jeanette is the mother of two grown children, three grandchildren, and servant to four cats. She lives in Paris (not the French one), IL. with her husband, Kevin. Her hobbies include dining out, talking baby talk to her cats, avoiding housework, reading, and watching old classic movies.

Visit Jeanette on her blog, On Wings of Mirth and Worth, at

My Review

I've been reading Jeanette's blog posts for years now. I've always loved her honesty but also her encouraging heart. While I don't normally read devotionals, when I opened her book, here's what I found: A Bull and a Realization.
This first chapter devotion was so funny and yet so true. I could completely relate in more ways than one. I also think the 20 yr old Jeanette was probably a very fun person (kind of like the Jeanette I know now.) Anyway, while devotionals aren't normally my thing, funny stories that point to spiritual truths are. I love the conversational, easy style of Jeanette's devotionals as well as the depth to them.
Need a devotional for 2012? This one seems perfect. :-)

Jeanette’s Giveaways

You can win one of ten free downloads of my debut humor devotional, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top for your eReader. Here are the very simple rules:

For each share of this post link on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog, you will receive one entry.

For each like on Jeanette’s Author Page or my Two Scoops Book Page on Facebook, or follow on my Twitter page or this blog, you will receive one entry. If you already like and/or follow me, mention that and I will count it.

Please send me ONE comment at the end of this post to tell me how many times you shared, liked, or followed, so I can give you the correct amount of entries. I reserve the right to verify all information given me, and disqualify anyone from the drawing who falsifies information. (Do not leave comments here to be entered, you MUST go to Jeanette’s blog post for the giveaway.)

Contest starts today and ends midnight, May 10, 2012. Jeanette will announce the winners in a blog post Sunday, May 13, 2012.

….and a $100 Gift Card Drawing~~~WOWZA!!!

After you have read/reviewed Two Scoops, check out my blog at for a contest to win a $100 gift card by answering ten easy questions about the book! After I receive your entry, your name will go into the hat for a $100 gift card to one of the following places (your choice): Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD, Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-A, Wal-Mart, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, or Ruby Tuesday. This giveaway will run until August 10, 2012 so there is PLENTY of time for you to enter!

The author sent me the above book for review purposes. She will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Jeanette Levellie. The entire blog tour can be found here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview with Debut Author Katy Lee

(Please forgive the format, I'm trying to figure out blogger's new thing) Hi, Jessica, and Jessica’s readers! I am really excited to be hanging out with you today in Jessica’s virtual home. Thank you for having me!
Katy Lee writes higher purpose stories in high speed worlds. As an inspirational author, speaker, home-schooling mom, and children’s ministry director, she has dedicated her life to sharing tales of love, from the greatest love story ever told to those sweet romantic stories of falling in love. Her fresh and unique voice brings a fast-paced and modern feel to her romances that are sure to resonate with readers long after the last page. Her debut novel Real Virtue is a finalist in many writing contests, and took second place in the 2011 Georgia Maggie Award of Excellence. Katy lives in Connecticut with her husband, three children, and two cats. 1. How many manuscripts have you written, and did the one that sold feel different? How many years have you been writing? I’m going to answer these two questions together because they kind of follow each other. I started writing in the fifth grade. I can remember the thrill I got from researching for that story. I set it on the coast of California—I’d never been to California, and this is before Internet. I had to rely on Encyclopedias and reference books from the libraries, many of which weren’t allowed to be checked out, so I spent many hours, practically living at the library before I was satisfied that I had enough info. But even with all that info, I struggled with writing because my stories were always filled with huge info dumps. I guess I wanted to show the reader all the research I did. Except, the pages of my stories were filled with all these details, and the story lacked feeling. Which leads me to your question about how Real Virtue, the book that finally sold, felt different than all the others. I put more emphasis on the heart of the story rather than the research. I wrote the feelings first. I focused on the characters and their plights, then folded in details that my characters would notice while in their POV. (Point of view) I learned that I didn’t have to set a scene with all these details unless these details were important to my character or my character was noticing them. And I also learned that my hero will notice a scene differently than my heroine. For example, he would never say, “Sweetheart, I love your magenta silk wrap blouse.” It just wouldn’t feel natural. So, it was the first time I put the characters first and let them tell me their story and why they hurt or what they loved most in their own words and actions. And the end result: When my beta readers read Real Virtue the first time and called me crying I knew I finally did it. 3)Tell us a little about the events leading up to your first sale. The events that led up to selling Real Virtue were contests. RV came in third place in the Faith, Hope and Love’s Touched by Love Contest and second in the Georgia’s RWA Maggie Award of Excellence. That was the affirmation I needed to send my manuscript off. My acceptance letter from my publisher said I had a talent for world-building. (That’s my love for research shining through) But the letter also said I created fascinating characters that broke the mold. 4) What is your biggest piece of advice to writers wanting to get published? My advice to unpublished writers: Don’t be afraid to break the mold. Write from your heart, from your characters’ hearts. Don’t just research details and setting, research your characters as well. Thank you so much for inviting me to hang out with you today! I love comments, and I would also like to stay connected with you all, so please check out my website at You’ll see links for Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, where we can stay in touch. Real Virtue is available in ebook now, (Paperback in the fall) at and I would love to hear what you think of Mel and Jeremy’s story! And now, here is a bit about my romantic-suspense, Real Virtue: In a virtual reality game where she can fly, someone’s aiming to take her down. Mel Mesini is a New York City restaurateur and an avid, virtual reality world traveler. But her successful life—both online and in reality—takes a swerve the night her father is seriously injured in a hit-and-run. To make matters worse, Officer Jeremy Stiles, the man who had once cut her deep with his harsh, rejecting words, is heading the investigation. When Jeremy realizes Mel is the actual target, his plan is to protect her—whether she wants him to or not. What he wants is answers, especially about this online game she plays. Is it a harmless pastime as she says? Or is she using it to cover something up? As a faceless predator destroys the things that matter to her, Jeremy knows he’s running out of time before she loses the one thing that matters most—her real life. Thank you so much for joining us, Katy Lee! Katy talks about breaking the mold. How are you doing this in your writing? Your life?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Next Debutante Up to Bat: The Lovely Keli Gwyn

I met sweet Keli Gwyn when I first started blogging. She was the first person who ever interviewed me about writing.
Keli Gwyn writes stories that transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. A California native, she lives in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. When she emerges from her fictional world, she enjoys strolling past the stately Victorian houses in her hometown, drooling her way through the Coach factory outlet store, and fueling her creativity with frequent trips to Taco Bell.

Not only that, but she is a creative and generous person who sends out hand-written notes, gifts and has a real flair for scrapbooks. I won a First Sale scrapbook which I'm still working on, but it's incredible!
Keli's book sold last year and will be releasing in June. You can pre-order A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California HERE.
Publication can happen to you!

Here she is:

1. How many manuscripts have you written, and did the one that sold feel different?

I’ve completed six historical romance manuscripts and part of a contemporary. The latter is a sorry excuse of a story that proved my “old” voice lends itself to the historicals that were my first love. I get a kick out of using words like addlepated, gewgaws, and smitten.

After I’d been writing for two years and had five completed manuscripts, I spent a year studying craft. Armed with my newfound knowledge, I took a look at my stories to see which of them showed the most promise. I loved them all, but Miles and Elenora told me theirs was the story I should pick, and I listened. I’d rewritten it once, but I knew it needed more work, so I got busy.

That rewrite proved my characters were right. Miles and Ellie’s story won several contests, earned me requests from some editors and agents, and led to my offer of representation from Rachelle Gardner. I love the story and the characters and hope readers do, too.

2. How many years have you been writing?

I’d dreamed of being a writer since I was seven, but it wasn’t until 40 years later that I dusted off that dream. In January 2006 I plopped myself down in front of my computer, full of ideas but knowing next to nothing about fiction writing. My degree is in mass communication/journalism, but creative writing is much different, as I soon learned.

3. Tell us a little about the events leading up to your first sale.

I’d love to tell you I accepted Rachelle’s offer of representation and that she sold my story right away, but I still had more to learn. Rachelle made her offer on the eve of Christmas Eve in 2009. Talk about an amazing Christmas present! I soared in the stratosphere for six glorious weeks.

And then reality returned. Rachelle called to prepare me for my first set of Revision Notes and the shocking news they contained. While she loved the beginning of the story, I’d let out the tension a quarter of the way into it. In order to fix the story, I needed to delete the final three-quarters and start over.

I spent six months rewriting the story and sent it to my critique partners, who told me the beginning and end were good but the middle was slow. Two more months of work netted me a new middle that no longer sagged. I sent the story to Rachelle and held my breath. To my surprise and delight, she said she liked it and was ready to submit it, which she did. Six weeks later we had two offers, and I got a contract for Christmas.

4. What is your biggest piece of advice to writers wanting to get published?

If I were to offer a new writer advice, I’d say three things.

• Have fun writing your first story. There will be time to learn the rules later. A realistic goal when you’re getting starting is to reach The End.
• Realize that it takes time to learn craft. Just as a doctor spends years before practicing medicine, writers need to learn how to craft a marketable story.
• Be willing to rewrite and revise. First drafts are called rough drafts for a reason. In many cases they aren’t pretty, but with work, we can transform them into beautiful stories readers will enjoy.

Encouraging advice! Keli mentioned she started writing in 2006, just as I did. And now we both have our debuts releasing within months of each other. Do you remember when you started writing for publication? How long has it been? How long do you think it will take to see your book published? And if you don't know, since Keli loves unique words, what kind of words do you like to play with?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You Can Be Published! Interview with Katie Ganshert

Today we have debut author Katie Ganshert. I met her a few years ago while we were both querying. She is awesome and dynamic and has a huge heart for God/love. Thanks for joining us today, Katie!
1.How many manuscripts have you written and did the one that sold feel different? I've written six. The one that sold was my third manuscript and it definitely felt different. It was the first manuscript I wrote after I read a whole bunch of craft books. I felt so much more knowledgeable about story telling and the craft of writing as I wrote that one.

2. How many years have you been writing?
Well, I've written stories ever since I could pick up a pencil. But somewhere in my teen years, I stopped. I didn't come back to it until I went to Nairobi, Kenya six and a half years ago. I came home with a story exploding inside me, so I wrote my very first novel.

3. Tell us a little about the events leading up to your first sale.
My manuscript was going to pub board. That's all I knew. My editor liked it. The editorial team at Waterbrook liked it. Now it was a matter of waiting to see if it would pass pub board or not pass. I didn't know I'd have to wait so long. Seven months after hearing it was going to pub board, I got an email from my agent saying it made it through, but it still had one more level of approval before a book deal would come. A week later, I got the phone call from my agent, only I couldn't answer because I was teaching a room full of 5th graders at the time. So I listened to her message (that this was the phone call I'd been waiting for) and tried really hard not to jump and scream and freak out my students. (For the record, it's important to know that Katie really would jump and scream. She's fun like that!)

4. What is your biggest piece of advice to writers wanting to get published?
Persevere! Rejections are inevitable. Waiting is inevitable. Persevere! See it as part of the process. If you're passionate about writing stories and you want to share those stories, then keep at it. Keep writing. Keep studying the craft. And keep believing God has a plan and a purpose for the words He's given you.

You can pre-order Katie's book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (or anywhere else, really).

Katie mentioned being in committee for a long time. Are you prepared for the waiting that comes with getting published? Where are you waiting right now? What do you do while waiting in life?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Interview With Naomi Rawlings, Debut Author

Today is the first day of the month of debuts! I'm excited to host debut authors, some of who I began blogging with years ago. The great thing is that no matter where you're at right now, it's important to know your path can change if you keep moving forward.

Not only is my first book out in April, but so isNaomi Rawlings's! She very kindly agreed to be my guest today.
1. How many manuscripts have you written and did the one that sold feel different? To date, I've written five complete manuscripts. And yes, the one that sold, Sanctuary for a Lady, felt completely different. I'd been working with a critique group, and the critiques improved my writing 110%. Plus I'd worked really hard on the plot, thinking up a twist that I hadn't seen done before and cementing it into my character's struggles in a riveting way. In the back of my mind, I had the feeling that if Sanctuary for a Lady didn't sell, I'd probably be done writing. Because I knew this novel was as good as anything else I'd be able to write.

2. How many years have you been writing? Three and a half as of today. Two and a half when my novel sold. I started writing in August of 2008.

3.Tell us a little about the events leading up to your first sale.
I'd had some signs that I was close to being published. I was finaling in contests and getting comments from published writers like "you'll get a contract soon." Plus I'd had a request for my full manuscript from the publisher I'd been targeting, Love Inspired Historical. I didn't want to drive myself crazy with wondering, so I told myself I wouldn't hear back from the publisher until the middle of July, if not longer. At the beginning of June, I went away on an anniversary trip with my husband. You can imagine my surprise when I returned home to find I'd missed a phone call from the editor who wanted to buy my novel!

4.What is your biggest piece of advice to writers wanting to get published?
Work hard and don't settle for anything less than your best. There are so many talented writers out there, and I think the thing that makes the biggest difference is not giving up or settling. It takes hard work to find that interesting twist in your story, hard work to write that setting in a new way, or come up with that original cowboy when so many cowboys already populate the shelves of bookstores. I finaled in the Genesis Contest for unpublished writers last year. There were over 70 entries in my category, and I was one of the top three. Do you know how many revisions I gave my opening? Probably 15. Maybe more. I worked and worked and worked until I had an opening scene that grabbed readers. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it.

Thank you so much for this wonderful interview, Naomi!

Her debut, Sanctuary For A Lady, can be found on Amazon, Walmart, and anywhere else books are sold.

How many revisions has your opening had? What is your fave opening ever? Do you have any questions for Naomi?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

For Realz, It Could Happen To You

You can get published.

It can really happen.

Wherever you are right now, you need to know it's possible and that for those who are persistent, who hone their craft and choose to write the best story they can, your odds of getting published dramatically increase.

Next month, I'm going to interview a debut author every week. This month, I know of at least two debut authors whose first books have recently released.

Eva Maria Hamilton with her inspy historical romance, Highland Hearts
Tori Chase with her romantic suspense Serial Games

Do you think it could happen to you? Do you have a game plan? Do you know any debut authors this month, and who are they?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reviewing Shades of Truth by Sandra Orchard (giveaway)

I really enjoyed this book for several reasons.
Sandra is currently writing a series of books based on Undercover Policemen. The underlying theme is how living a double life can affect their Christian walks and their relationships. This premise has really intrigued me and I reviewed Sandra's first book HERE.

Shades of Truth (March 2012 LIS)
Big city detective Ethan Reed is working deep undercover at a Christian youth detention center. The kind of place he spent some harrowing time in as a kid. Ethan’s mission: ferret out who’s recruiting resident teens for a drug ring. He expects help from the lovely, devoted director of Hope Manor. But Kim Corbett won’t tell Ethan anything— even when she’s threatened and attacked. When Ethan discovers what Kim is protecting, his guarded heart opens just a bit wider. Enough to make this the most dangerous assignment of his career.
This is the second book in Sandra’s series, Undercover Cops:
 Fighting for justice puts their lives—and hearts—on the line.
The heroine is Ginny’s friend from Deep Cover, but her career and character were inspired by the passion of Sandra’s pastor’s daughter for her work at a faith-based youth detention facility.

When I opened this book, the first thing I liked was the chemistry between the characters. Who wouldn't want to be rescued by Hotness Himself? I loved that the main character Kim has this "thing" for policemen. She was a very likable character for me, especially in her interactions with her best friend. Besides the great attraction between the characters, I also loved that I couldn't figure out who the villain was or what exactly was going to happen. Sandra did a great job of keeping the reader guessing and the plot moving. I'll definitely be reading more of her books!

Sandra loves to connect with readers, and has created “novel extras” to enhance readers’ experience of her books. Check out these and other resources for both readers and writers at her website:

If you’d like to receive updates on her new releases, special subscriber-only reads and giveaway opportunities, sign up for her newsletter.

She’d also love for you to connect at Facebook and join in the conversations about characters on her blog.

Link to book on Harlequin.

Have you read this any of Sandra's books? What do you think about using deception to bring about justice?

One commenter will win my gently used copy of Sandra's book :-)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


The self-promotion madness has started!

Many of you know I sent out some of my book copies to those who wanted them for review purposes. Some sweet ladies have already posted their reviews so here's the linkage to that, as well as a guest post.

My memories of my grandma's silo (and a giveaway) at Anita Mae Draper's blog

Brandi Boddie gave an awesome review. I loved her breakdown of my characters. :-)

Rebecca Miller also did a sweet review of Love On The Range

Then, I came across some interesting articles.

Abingdon editor Ramona Richards on what can happen at a conference

Women on Writing dish out critique group advice

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

That Time I Walked into the Boy's Bathroom

Let me preface my post with this: It's happened more than once.

That's right.

I, Jessica Nelson, have unwittingly walked into the men's bathroom. Worse. I've used it without realizing until too late where I was. (That was a mad scramble out, actually, it was very strategic, involving much peering beneath the stall for a clear coast).

But in this particular time, daydreaming or rushing was not my reason for pushing the wrong door. And I was in the worst place possible to make this mistake.

Middle school.

I have this little habit that I do quite well. It's called Ralking (I just made a word for it up *grin*). As you might have guessed, the definition of this word is reading while walking.

There was a book in front of my nose when I pushed the wrong door.

What is the funniest, weirdest or stupidest thing you've ever done or said while reading a book? Have you seen any crazy stuff happen while someone was reading?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dangerous Times in 1918

Today I'm posting at the Craftie Ladies of Romance about what I think of the early twentieth century and how it influenced my book.
Danger and excitement, oh my! *grin*
Pop by if you have a chance.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Got Garbage?

(this is a repost)

Compost: a combination of decomposed plants and animal materials and other organic materials that are being decomposed largely through aerobic decomposition into a rich black soil.

Ever think your daydreaming might be a waste of time? The procrastination that strikes suddenly and with paralyzing force a loss of opportunity?

Maybe not.

Deb posted a fascinating account of a conference she attended. In it, author Ursula LeGuin spoke about compost, and how it's similar to what happens in our writing lives.
LeGuin is quoted as saying,
"Compost needs silence, darkness, time and patience."

Which ingredient do you find easiest to find? Which is more elusive? Is the soil of your writing garden dry or rich?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Never Say Never

Recently as I was traversing the blogosphere, I came across an author post that stated "Never blah-blah-blah." As in never do such-and-such when you write.

I didn't read the whole thing. I'd read this author's work before and felt that the craft guideline being espoused was too extreme and perhaps breaking it a bit might've benefited this author's work.

So I moved on, knowing that I'll never say never when it comes to my writing.

The reason I'm writing this is because I love to give my opinions on this blog about how to write a great story and to share craft tips but...I'm not perfect.

This is my official disclaimer. *wink*

If you read my book and you're a writer, you'll see places where I employed active voice, kept tension on every page, and used deep pov. On other pages...well, let's just say I'm better at dishing advice than following it sometimes. :-)

Do you worry about people reading your book and being disappointed? What was the last craft rule you broke? What is your favorite one to follow?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Keep'n it Tight, Keep'n it Real

If there's one thing every great book needs, it's tension.

Recently I was reading a book where, although I didn't really like the heroine, I empathized with her and the story even caused me to get some prickly eyelids (you know, the almost-cry?). Imagine my surprise though when fifty pages from the end all the tension suddenly dropped out of the story. The last part of the book was a tying up of plot threads. I almost didn't finish because the sigh-worthy moments had already happened.

So how do we keep a reader turning the pages to the very end?


But it's gotta be tight. I happen to think there should be some form of tension on every single page. Whether in the form of dialogue, actions or narrative, there needs to be something that makes the reader say, "oooh, this is going to be interesting" or "uh-oh".

Not only that, but the tension has to be real. It has to be believable. It's possible to create paper-thin conflicts. Imagine tension as a tight thread stretched from one page to the next. If the conflict/problem becomes something the reader thinks is silly or not believable or easily solved, then the thread is cut and the tautness is gone. And the reader will probably stop reading.

Do you like page-turners? What do you find harder to do in your story, tension on every page or believability to support that tension?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

If You Like Inspirational Historical Romances...?

I think I'm supposed to get author copies soon. Yay!!

I'm looking for some honest reviews and blog stops. Is there such a thing as a "bad" review? Maybe hurtful ones but most provide a learning experience, in my opinion.

If you like to read inspirational romances or historicals or if you're just curious and would be interested in reviewing my book, I think I can send out about 20 copies. Send me an e-mail at jessica_nelson7590 AT yahoo dot com. You can find an excerpt of Love On the Range HERE.

If you'd prefer to have me as a guest poster or over for an interview, let me know. :-)

Also, I'd just like to say that I appreciate all of my blogger friends so much! You guys are wonderfully awesome and are such a part of my writing journey.

So...what do you think about reviews? Have you ever reviewed anything or been a part of a blog tour? Do you think there's such a thing as a bad review?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adios Estados Unidos, Bienvenidos Costa Rica!

As you read this, I might be soaking up the southern hemisphere rays, or traipsing through an exotic jungle, or eating sushi...nope, I don't eat sushi. :-)

I'm in Costa Rica blogger friends!!! Will be back next week. Have an awesome end of January everyone.

What's the most exotic place you've ever traveled to? The strangest food you've eaten?

(btw, the chocolate in Costa Rica is absolutely delicious)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Same Bait, Different Hook

I used to watch NCIS...until I realized Ziva and DiNozzo weren't going to hook up.

Turns out my real interest lay in the tension between these characters, and when their attraction seemed to take a backseat, so did my attention. I still like the show, but it no longer hooks me.

Sometimes what one person loves in a story is completely different than what someone else loves. Same story, different draws.

This is why it's so important that we have more than one hook in our books. Every plot has more going on than just action, or just romance. My husband's favorite movie is Braveheart. He loves the action. That's his hook. Mine is the lost love, but also the new love with the queen.

What is your fave book of all time? Why? What is it about that story that hooks you? Do you have more than one hook in your WIP?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What I've Been Reading

I had the privilege of meeting debut author Henry McLaughlin at the 2011 ACFW Conference. He's such a nice, interesting man that I had to pick up his book. I'm glad I did. While there's a romantic thread to this story, ultimately it was the writing and the wonderful Old West feel to the book that grabbed me and kept me. Check out his first line: The crowd was small for a hanging. I definitely recommend this book to readers who like historical fiction.

I really enjoyed this read by Noelle Marchand. This is her first book and she sold it at a super young age (I think 16?). Sometimes category romances get a little formulaic but this one felt very fresh to me with vivid characters and an interesting premise.

If you didn't know it, this book has become popular posthumously. The author, Stieg Larsson, passed shortly after handing in the third manuscript. I enjoyed the writing in the book. It was different than my norm. While the pacing felt off, ultimately I liked the main character enough to start the second book.

I'd heard of this book for over a year but didn't get around to reading it until I saw the movie trailer and realized there was romance involved. I really enjoyed the writing and story. The premise/setting was really intriguing, the characters (most of them) were well-rounded and the way Sara Gruen set up the story was interesting. Now I'm ready to watch the movie!

What have you been reading? Any recommendations for 2012?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Put Your Character in a Box

The irony of characters, in my opinion, is that in order to make them real, we have to make them unreal.

What I mean is, no real person can be put in a box and labeled. But to write a character that stands out, we must give that character overarching qualities (labels, even) in order to make that character real and memorable.

When I was in middle school I went on a retreat and we did an intriguing exercise. On the outside of a paper bag we wrote words that described how others thought of us (or how we feel we appear to others). On the inside of the bag we wrote words to describe how we felt on the inside.

I think this is a great exercise to do with our characters. For example, I'm reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo right now. One main character, Blomkvist, doesn't stand out to me at all. He's okay but he doesn't capture my interest. The other character, though, is Lisbeth Sanders. She's intriguing.

This is how I think the author made her intriguing.

On the outside of Lisbeth's box (other characters' perspectives or her outward actions) is written Aloof, Cold, Difficult, Smart.

But on the inside is Tender (evidenced by the scene with her mother), Fragile, and Persistent.

What makes a character intriguing is when the outside words juxtapose with the inside words. When they're opposites or don't seem to match.

Which word is on the outside of your character's box? What is on the inside that surprises the reader? Does this theory fit for your favorite character in a movie or book?