W Is For Wrap Up #AtoZChallenge

W Is For Wrap Up

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

Because I’m pretty much done even though it’s only Day W in the A To Z April Blogging Challenge. I’m blogged out. But I made it almost two thirds of the way through the alphabet so I’m calling it a win.

What I’ve Learned

  • I already knew it, but this challenge reinforced the fact there are a lot of clever and interesting folks out there sharing their stories, struggles, perspectives, and information.
  • Creativity and curiosity make for passionate people.
  •  Everyone loves quotes.
  • It is not possible to wing it during this challenge. Even though I had a topic list for every day it was still a lot of work to do on the fly. For me anyway. If I were to do it again I’d spend time writing and scheduling posts well in advance. This would leave me more time for visiting other blogs.
  • If I were to do it again I would zero in on a very specific topic.

This challenge came along at a great time. I needed to set aside my work-in-progress for a bit. The A to Z Challenge allowed me the opportunity to keep writing but switch my focus. These types of challenges are another way for me to fill my creative well and interact with others. I’ve done photo challenges and Instagram challenges because I love taking pictures. I’ve done NaNoWriMo and many other writing challenges. I do well within a flock, I think.

Community is a key thing for everyone, however big or small in whatever endeavour whoever you are.

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Q Is For Q&A With Jana Richards #AtoZChallenge

Q Is For Q&A With Jana Richards

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

I so happy to have my friend and talented writer Jana Richards here answering questions about all things books and reading.Welcome to the A to Z April Blogging Challenge, Jana!

So Jana, inquiring minds what to know. What are you currently reading? and Why you picked it?  I’m reading three different books right now, in three different formats. I “read” audio books at the gym and currently I’m listening to Mary Balogh’s Then Came Seduction. Why? Because I love Mary Balogh’s books. On my e-reader I’m reading Please Release Me by Rhoda Baxter, who writes for one of my publishers. I was intrigued by the premise; on their wedding day, a couple is in a bad car accident, putting the bride in a coma. But this bride isn’t going to let a coma stand in the way of her happily ever after. Can’t wait to see how this one turns out. In print, I just started reading Somewhere in France, a WW1 romance. I saw this book on the Internet and it sounded so interesting I wanted to read it. I’m a sucker for a war romance. And it’s written by Canadian Jennifer Robson.

Those sound like great reads, Jana. I’m currently reading The Lake House by Kate Morton, part of which takes place during WW1. I’m really enjoying it! Two of the authors are new to me, but you can’t go wrong with any of Mary’s books!

Following up with the usual qualifiers. E-reader or Physical Book? Choice of Drink While Reading? Favorite Reading Spot?  I can honestly say I don’t have a preference between ebooks or print books. Both have their place. And I love audio books. They make working out at the gym, and long road trips, enjoyable.

My choice of drink – Water at the gym, and either coffee or wine at home, depending on the time of day. I have a comfy chair in my living room that I like to read in. I sometimes read in bed, but I have a tendency to nod off.

I want to know whom you’re an unapologetic fan girl for? An author you’ve read the most books from?  Lifetime, I’ve probably read more Nora Roberts’ books than anyone else’s. Mary Balogh comes a close second. I’m definitely a fangirl of both. They are both so prolific and write such wonderful books. I’m deeply in awe!

I couldn’t agree more with your picks! Love both their books! I’ve read a couple of hidden gems over the years. What book are you glad you took a chance on?  When I belonged to a book club I read some books I probably wouldn’t have read on my own. One that comes to mind is Lord of the Flies – maybe not so much a gem as an experience. Speaking of gems, I contributed a novella, Chill Out, to The Wild Rose Press’s Candy Hearts Series for Valentine’s Day this year. I had the opportunity to read some of the other stories in the series, and maybe I’m biased, but I thought they were all little gems. A couple of my favorites were Ask Me by Laura Strickland and Be My Love by J.C. McKenzie.

It sounds like a lovely series, Jana! I promise not to carve it in stone anywhere important. Three of your all-time favourite books?  In no particular order:  A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux; The Defiant Hero by Suzanne Brockmann; Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh.

I find most readers have an opinion on committing to a series. Book series fan? Favourite? Not a fan?  I love book series! I love being able to find out what happens to other characters, and hanging out in the world the author has created for just a little longer.

We romance readers love our heroes. Your overall pick for best book boyfriend?  Tucker Longstreet from Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts. At first he comes off as this womanizing, good ol’ Southern boy. I didn’t like him at all. But then Ms. Roberts lets us find out who he really is, and Holy Smokes, I’ve been smitten ever since.

Hah, he sounds like a great book boyfriend. One of mine would be Cameron Quinn from her Chesapeake Bay Series! Time to ‘fess up. Worst bookish habit?  Perhaps, on occasion, I have been known to read the last page first, just to make sure there’s really going to be a happily ever after.

One of my mine involves a New Year’s Eve stay at cabin that didn’t have a television, let alone an Internet connection. We took turns reading the first Harry Potter book to our five-year-old son.  A dear to you reading memory?  When my youngest daughter was about six, she brought home a book from school about a child whose father had just died. It talked about the father’s funeral and what the child was going through. I got choked up as I was reading it, and Rachel put her hand on my arm and said, “It’s okay Mommy. It’s not our Daddy.” I don’t think I’ll ever forget my six year old trying to comfort me.

Ah, that’s a sweet memory! Inspiration surrounds us. The name of a book or an author who has inspired your own writing?  So many authors have inspired me, but I’ll just talk about three. I’m going to mention Mary Balogh again; I know when I read one of her books that I’m going to root for her heroine and fall in love with her hero. And I’m going to laugh and cry and feel the depths of sadness along with the highs of happiness. Her books are always an emotional read.

I love Rosamunde Pilcher. I’ll never forget crying my way through “Coming Home” and not being able to put the book down. Perhaps it was that book, as well as “The Shell Seekers” that got me interested in writing World War Two stories.

I admire Nora Roberts’ ability to always put me in her settings. She makes me feel like I’m right there with her characters, experiencing their surroundings, whether it’s Chesapeake Bay or New York City or Ireland. And she’s so prolific! As a writer, I’m in awe of the number and quality of the books she’s written. As a reader, I’m thrilled to have so many to choose from.

Oh my gosh, I remember reading The Shell Seekers and being utterly enthralled with her storytelling ability. I loved that book! I think we would make excellent reading companions!

Thanks for being such a good sport and answering my questions, Jana! I’m always curious about other’s reading habits and how it influences their writing.

Jana’s book The Girl Most Likely is a wonderful read and will be a steal of a deal at 99 cents through May 13 to May 27th.

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Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?

Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he’s eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?

Amazon * The Wild Rose Press * Kobo * iBooks * Barnes and Noble

Find Jana!

Website: http://www.janarichards.com

Blog: http://janarichards.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JanaRichardsAuthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JanaRichards_

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/janarichards

Amazon UK Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B002DEVWWG

Newsletter Signup: http://www.eepurl.com/m3UnT

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2892274Jana_Richards

Google+ Profile: https://plus.google.com/100820406211390323245

What are some of your favourite books to recommend?

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P Is For Profanity #AtoZChallenge

P Is For Profanity

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

I guess I should preface this with the fact that I very rarely swear. I confess to indulging when I was a teenager. Often, in fact, but not for a very long time. My husband doesn’t either. At least, not around me. I think the strongest word I’ve ever heard my mother say was shit. And that was one time. My father doesn’t use profanity around me either. But I suspect it might be a different story for my brother.

That doesn’t mean I think using them is right or wrong. They are words like any other. To use. Or not. Having said that, there are words that will never ever cross my lips or spill from my pen.

The reading stretch I’m on now has a decided lack of profanity. And it’s given me new reasons not to indulge in too much of it. I am loving the books I’ve been reading lately.

I think overuse dilutes the impact of cursing when it’s necessary. For myself, it’s a crutch I try not to use but I do indulge in. I never want it to come easily. Obscenities are like cheap wine, too much and it leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. I find that by rewriting and omitting, a more powerful way to convey the emotion I’m reaching for is possible and often more effective. And it’s lots of fun to develop creative ways for characters to insult each other than the obvious and the cliched.

But sometimes f-bombs and the like are necessary. They are words used by characters when developed convincingly are warranted. Too much profanity makes for exhausting reading. But I have characters that swear for reasons that I hope are evident, but swear they do.

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You might enjoy this article from the Writers Digest: How To Use Profanity And Other Raw Talk In Your Fiction.

What is your reading or writing preference? To swear, or not to swear?

 

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K Is For Kiss #atozchallenge

K Is For Kiss

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

A kiss can mean different things. A kiss on the forehead means I care. A kiss on the cheek puts you firmly in the friend zone. A kiss on the hand means I cherish you. Kiss the back of my neck and make me want more. Kiss my shoulder and tell me I’m perfect. Because I love you when you kiss my lips I’ll let you in.

kissing

Chances are you remember your first romantic kiss. That first close and very intimate contact with another human being. It might have happened in a flash. Or lasted awhile. Maybe with someone you’d just met. Or someone you’d crushed on forever. Perhaps it happened because of an arranged meeting. Or because of a shift from friends to lovers.

However it happened, it turns out the physical act of kissing starts with the eyes. We focus in on our partner’s lips. Then we move closer so we can use our nose to get a whiff of the other person. Which leads to contact. It’ll come as no surprise that our lips are very sensitive. When we share a kiss, we create a bond with another person. There’s a rush of info to our brains. Our heart rate increases. Our pupils dilate. And then the age old cliche of time standing still comes in play.

There are many ways that first kiss comes about in romance novels. A little snippet from my latest Aspen Lake novel, EXPOSED.

“I love it. It’s going to be perfect.” Engrossed in their discussion she’d slid closer until they were hip to hip on the two-seat sofa. She faced him, a huge grin of approval aimed right at him. He watched her, his amber eyes serious, careful. She tilted her head. He was so close. So different than anyone she’d come across. And solitary confinement had lost its appeal the minute she’d laid eyes on him.

His eyes flashed. She didn’t imagine it. Didn’t think either. She simply reacted, leaning in with the certainty he’d meet her halfway. Instead, he withdrew a fraction of an inch. Not far but undoubtedly a retreat.

Oh, God.

“I…” She closed her eyes in horror. Or denial. But no, it was happening. She knew this because she opened her eyes and he was still there. Close enough to smell the sweat of humiliation pooling out of her pores. He was staring at her in ear shattering silence. With nowhere to go, she stood up. Wiped her hands down the side of her skirt.

Pull it together, Kate.

She refused to gasp out an apology like a fish. “I shouldn’t have done that. I crossed a line. I’m sorry.”

You can check out what other bloggers are writing about here!

Care to share a favourite kiss from a book? A movie? Your personal experience?

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H Is For Heroine #atozchallenge

H Is For Heroine

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

Anne of Green Gables. Little House on the Prairie. Little Women. To Kill A Mockingbird. The Diviners. Stone Angel. These books contain the heroines of my childhood and teenage years.

I suppose I have a favourite type of heroine, like I have my favourite story troupes. They can have hard or soft edges. Little education or a PhD. Be child-free or buried in babies. Geeky gamers. Rudderless or driven. They don’t have to be likeable 100 percent of the time. They make mistakes.

Fast forward to crafting my own heroines and the characteristics I like to explore.

Confidence: No surprise there. Confidence is incredibly appealing. It affects how we feel, our behaviour towards others, and the outcome of any undertaking. It creates a heroine who is more powerful, more in control, and more satisfied. They expect equality, cooperation, and respect whether they bus tables or run companies. Whether they run a daycare or a country.

Passion: A heroine can be down and out, discouraged beyond belief, have lost hope. But once that fire within has been stoked it allows her to live life, experience it, and claim it. She does not live a life of temperance. When she regales her grandchildren with stories of her past, her tales are met with wide eyes and open mouths.

Determination: There is no superpower greater than determination. She will let nothing stand in her way. There is no obstacle big enough, no danger great enough to keep her from her goal. From winning. Because who can afford to lose if the life of their children is on the line? Their patient’s life? A total stranger’s?

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Strength: Often the ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ response is a luxury they can’t afford. Someone has to be around to look after the kids, the dog, the house, the neighbourhood, the community. Women are the fixers. The multi-taskers. The gatherers. They can be the hunters. The thief in the night. They can be whatever they have to be to survive.

Commitment: They know the cost of responsibility and are willing to pay it. When all seems lost they do not allow the feeling of wanting to quit to overpower their commitment. There is no ‘taking your best shot’, there is only try harder.

Purpose: The foundation for all the rest of it. To know what they are to do and why. Not to be confused with wanting power over something or someone else. It does not need to be about conquest and supremacy. It is deeply personal. It is passionate. It is backed up with thoughts, words and deeds. It will be evident in how she feels, heals, creates, and shapes her future.

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C Is For Courage #AtoZChallenge

C Is For Courage

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

Cultivating your passions requires courage and a constant refuelling of commitment to the process. The courage to dream. The courage to start.

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The courage to plan. To prepare to make that dream a reality. To learn, revel and rejoice in the process. To find like minded people to accompany you on your journey. One of the biggest steps I took along my road to becoming a writer was join a writing group. To find like minded people to learn from and who support my efforts. I put myself in front of people and own that need to put words on paper. I’m also a part of an online community of writers who are dear to me. Writers who struggle, who are always willing to listen, offer suggestions, and their time. Ones  who understand the road I’m traveling, especially as it pertains to writing romance and how little value some other authors have for my genre and therefore my efforts.

And above all it takes courage to limp along when nothing is going as planned or you can’t make out the details of the road ahead.

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It takes courage to put yourself out there to be judged. The learn how to take constructive criticisms and to deal with the haters. I’m still learning how to be a writer placing offerings at the feet of readers. Still finding my way from learning to owning my process.

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I hope you find the courage to start what you’ve been putting off. Find the courage to continue should you feel despair. Or summon the courage to end what isn’t working.

Travel your way around the blogosphere and see what others are saying about the letter ‘C’.

Maybe you want to share your thoughts? One small step you took?

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A Is For Adventure #atozchallenge

The A To Z April Blogging Challenge: A Is For Adventure

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016It’s April 1st and that means it’s the start of my adventure. It’s a 26 day event known as the A to Z April Blogging Challenge. I’ll be blogging every day except Sundays. I’m perfectly serious. That’s 26 times in April. The last time I did that was, well…never. Hopefully the joke won’t be on me.

A Is For Adventure

So this will be an Adventure for me. I don’t exactly thrive on being adventurous. By that I mean I have no desire to scale Mount Everest. Or any kind of mountain, really. Maybe a hike in the hills where it’s mostly flat on a designated trail. I know urban hiking! That’s for me. I like to write about other people having adventures. Or running for their lives. Or generally being in peril of some kind. While falling in love. Because meeting the right person and fight or flight go hand in hand, don’t they?

So, I settled on a theme for this blogging challenge that interested me. A subject on which I have strong opinions. But what is passion without a little attitude? Let the adventure begin!

2016 Blogging Theme

Now that you’re riveted to your seat (as I knew you would be) let me try and explain what any of this has to do with the word adventure. Which is to say this endeavour is more about stepping out of my comfort zone. It’s also about creativity. And facing my fears in regard to putting myself out there. I think that qualifies as adventurous, in a non-life-threatening kind of way. (You read that right, two hyphens. I looked it up).

I’m reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I don’t know about you but fear and doubt are constant companions of mine. Am I good enough? Creative enough? Talented enough? Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah.

“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together…You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”  Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Tweet: Adventure, action, the need to act! That something deep inside me searching for the light.

That’s what this adventure is about for me. The chance to make new friends, to be informed, to learn, to be inspired, and to share my passion with the romance genre with you.

You can find other A to Z bloggers here.

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

What “A” word resinates with you? What are you passionate about?

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