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.

TheGirlMostLikely_w6227_300

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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O Is For Outside #AtoZChallenge

O Is For Outside

And Other Writing Distractions

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

It’s that time of year again. The time when the need to be outside is strong. After months of being cooped up after winter. Even the winter that wasn’t, as is the case here in southern Saskatchewan Canada. It’s spring! Keeping my butt in my chair, my hands on the keyboard so as to type away madly is proving more and more of a challenge. The outside beckons. But it’s not only the warmer weather and the job list that goes along with it. There’s energy in the air and I’m breathing it in. I’m coming out of hibernation mode with the accompanying need to rearrange, reorganize, and – horror of horrors – tidy up closets and the garage and all manner of other strange inclinations.

Just this morning I had the bizarre notion to go through my entire closet, pull everything out and decide what stays and what goes.

O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; No more of that.

Shakespeare, King Lear

I think I have Shakespeare on my mind after seeing Romeo and Juliet last week. I have to assume his distractions were very real and great in volume. And certainly he was no stranger to tragedy. He lost his son at age 11, as well as three sisters and a brother. But he managed to write 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and two narrative poems over his lifetime. FYI, the 400th anniversary of his death is on April 23rd. I know this because I looked it up.

writing

Time to turn on some music. Loud and pumped directly into my brain through earbuds. Because, damn it, the birds are chirping their little hearts out outside my window.

reading

Easy peasy. Except it kind of is. Because I can do ten minutes. Can you?

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M Is For Must Have Writing Tools #atozchallenge

M Is For Must Have Writing Tools

At least for me!

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

My Top Five Writing Tools

Scrivener. A writing program geared towards organizing long documents. Ideal for first drafts of books. That’s what I primarily use it for, writing the first draft. It allows me to write in a nonlinear fashion but still see at a glance where I am. I did take a class to help me make the most use of it and I’m glad I did. Scrivener Classes given by Gwen Hernandez was very helpful. A very low maintenance course with great information.

Karyn Good

The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Words, words, and more words.

The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale

A journal. And pretty pens. Some place to jot down and keep track of ideas. I’ve recently started bullet journaling and find it very helpful for keeping track of tasks, notes, questions, etc. I’m also a fan of colour and colour-coding which makes coloured pens essential.

My Journal

Music. Some days to get any writing done I have to turn off the noise in my head first. In go the earbuds and then the music comes on. Having music playing quiets the other noises in my head.

Music Playlist

And there you have it! My list of essential writing tools. What are some of your essentials?

Find out what other bloggers are saying here.

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The Winter Not-So Blues: Reading, Writing, and Photographs

Sexy Suspense

Off The Grid will be touring around in February and the first part of March on a review tour.

NBTMR_TourBanner_OffTheGridimage001 (1)

Come join the party at The Romance Reviews for a chance to win great giveaways including books and gift certificates, play games and meet authors. The Grand Prize is a $100 gift card.

*****

On the homefront, January was filled with books and writing. The sun is rising earlier and setting later. But there is still much writing to be done and many books to be read. The weekends are for reading the paper, omfort food, and shoveling snow. It is for digging in and perserving against harsh conditions. At least, in my neck of the woods. Although to be fair, the conditions have been rather pleasant for January.

Over my Saturday morning cup of tea I open the Weekender section of my local paper and head to the Books page. I check out the best sellers in hardcover and paperback. Then I read the article of the week which is usually an interview with an author. I love learning where other writers get their ideas, what their process looks like, and I love it when they share their opinions. On occasion they are forced to defend their writing.

One such interesting article stayed with me. It was an interview with Val McDermid, a crime novelist who addressed the notion of female crime novelists and the voilent subject matter of their books. Or more to the point, the suggestion that because she is female, it is somehow wrong for her to write about such matters. These questions arose, perhaps in part, due to the backlash against the overwhelming number of faceless female victims in books in which their only role is to be beaten, violated, and then hacked to pieces.

What I found interesting, however, was her perspective on the psychology of females writing crime fiction.

“It’s because of the way society conditions us growing up. We’re told that there are bad men out there who will hurt us given half the chance. We are brought up to imagine our victimhood even before it happens to us. I don’t think there is a woman alive who hasn’t walked down a street late at night and heard footsteps, who hasn’t immediately thought about the terrible things that can happen to her. So when we come to this subject (violence), we have  imagined it already. We have lived it in our heads. Men don’t grow up with that sense of themselves in the world.”

I know know I have walked and listened and wondered. Now I’m wondering how much my gender affects my writing, perhaps not when it comes to my vicitms but when it comes to the villains in my story. To this point, they are one hundred percent male. All dominant personalities in positions of power with violent tendancies. Not that women can’t be all those things. But maybe the things I’ve been conditioned to fear and protect myself against manifest themselves in these characters. Something to think about…and maybe think about mixing it up a little!

How about you? Any book recommendations with regards to crime fiction? Have you read any books with a fascinating female villain?

TheSkeletonRoad

Set in McDermid’s hometown of Edinburgh, The Skeleton Road centres on a Cold Case investigation. A skeleton is discovered, hidden at the top of a soon-to-be renovated Gothic building. Detective Karen Pirie is tasked with identifying the decades-old bones and soon finds herself unearthing a series of past conflicts, false identities and secrets that have long been buried.

This month I’m happy to be visiting the Laughing Ladies Literary Book Club who’ve chosen OFF THE GRID for their January read. I’ve had a blast oming up with discussion questions and anticipating more questions about the characters and the setting and the inspiration behind the book. I’m also hard at work writing the third book in my Aspen Lake Series. Mike and Grace’s is coming along. For me, the hard part of writing is getting down the first draft. I love revising. Taking the bare bones of a story and turning it into something someone might want to read someday.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 10.58.44 AM 2

 

I love taking photos. I’m not very good at it and definitely fall in the amateur department. But I decided to take part in a photo challenge this year. You can read more about it here. There is a prompts to help you out every day. Here’s a sampling of mine and you can find me on Instagram @karyngoodauthor.

Prompt: Circle So...me in a circle.

Prompt: Circle
So…me in a circle.

Prompt: Morning My desk!

Prompt: Morning
My desk!

Hope the weather is being kind to you. And if you’re being subjected to nasty weather and storms I hope you have plenty of good books to keep you entertained.

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Ready, Set, Write!

pumpkin1

Today it’s all about the ghosts and goblins but National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow. And that’s all about the writing.

nanowrimo

November is also about mustaches and raising money for a good cause.

kim coatesAnd that’s a random picture of Kim Coates who plays Tig on the TV show Sons of Anarchy which I love and don’t know why. He sports some pretty awesome facial hair. Anyway…

I’ve never written a story about a guy with a ‘tache. But I’m writing a story about a guy with a Dodge Demon he calls Veronica.

dodge demonHe’s into grunge rock and wood carving.

travisfimmel1And he’s falling for Kate. Who lives in this tiny apartment above her boutique.

Kate's Apartment4So while I won’t be doing NaNoWriMo, I will be writing. I’ll be participating in a writing challenge along with other members of my writing peeps, The Saskatchewan Romance Writers. They’re an awesome bunch. And November is the perfect time to get some writing in before all the Christmas festivities start. Although I’m Canadian and therefore have already celebrated Thanksgiving. Some of you will have to write and cook a turkey.

When Kate Meets Seth…

Kate’s quick scan started at his scarred work boots, past cargo pants with more pockets then she had good intentions, she lifted a brow, and not in favor, at his Pearl Jam t-shirt. Great hair. Six feet plus in height. His stance made it clear he didn’t give a crap about any of it which added a little bit of wild to the Mr. Long and Broad look he had going on. Her fingers twitched. That made her nervous. And nervous didn’t project the right image.

“Can I help you?” She plunged into the Kate Logan act. Relished the comfort of the fit. The shaky Kate disappeared behind a raised brow and the strut that had made her famous.

My second Aspen Lake novel is taking shape. Happy writing, Everyone!

 

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Tuesday’s Table: The Scent of Cinnamon

cCinnamon Toast was a treat my Mom would make on those extra-cold winter nights. Chances are the smell of buttered toast sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon found me either hiding with a book or hunkered down in front of the television. Time to put down Anne of Green Gables or taken a break from watching Little House on the Prairie and go to the kitchen to investigate. There’s also a chance Mom might have found me studying Charlie’s Angels instead of math.

I bet everyone has a cinnamon story of their own. These days I enjoy it swirled on top of my Chai Tea Lattes. It’s amazing what a barrista can do with foam and cinnamon. But it’s the scent that takes me back to the cozy feeling of being safe and warm.

My mind is on those kinds of details these days. I’m putting the final touches on my work-in-progress. This next pass through is about adding those little details, channeling the five senses, imagining a specific experience and describing it on paper.

A little like cinnamon toast, it’s about mixing the exotic with the everyday.

FYI: That’s not all cinnamon has going for it. It’s also good for your health and useful in lowering blood sugar levels and increasing alertness. There are a bunch of other benefits but I’ll leave that for you to explore.

But just in case you’re interested here are some yummy ways to consume cinnamon. Besides the most delicious of way of all which is a cinnamon bun smeared with cream cheese icing. Because you don’t even want to know how many calories are in one of those bad boys. Or perhaps this is one of those cases where denial isn’t a good thing. You may enjoy rolling up the rim to win at Tim Horton’s but adding a glazed cinnamon roll will cost you 340 calories. Yikes.

  • Instead add a tablespoon to your pancake batter.
  • Stir 1/2 teaspoon into plain yogurt. Add the same amount of maple syrup.
  • Sprinkle over sweet potatoes or carrots. Add to thick curry flavored soups.
  • Add to chicken stews, grilled chicken or pork.
  • Coat 2 cups of raw nuts with a mix of 1/4 cup honey and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and roast at 350F for 15 minutes.
  • Use a couple of shakes in your favorite smoothie.

Go ahead, eat tree bark.

Remember Big Red Gum? Enjoy Hot Tamales? What’s your favorite cinnamon flavored treat?

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Sunsets and Paulo Coelho

I cry very easily. It can be a movie, a phone conversation, a sunset – tears are words waiting to be written.  Paulo Coelho

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Carnivalesque: The Value of Conferences

This week our Carnivalesque Travelling Blog heads to Joanne Brothwell’s blog where we’ll be talking about attending conferences and whether it’s worth the money? So come join Hayley LavikJanet CorcoranJana Richards, Joanne Brothwell and myself over at her place as we let loose our opinions. You can also find us on Twitter: @karygood, @jscorcoran, and @hayleyelavik and follow the discussion using hashtag #blogshow.

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Why They Can’t Be Together

 

Internal conflict and Character Growth

We all know falling in love involves drama. I don’t think there’s been a romance in all of history that did not involve some kind of conflict. There is no romance without it. In the romance genre it’s about how the characters overcome conflict to end up together. The real life relationship of King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson come to mind. Though their relationship was mired in controversy they certainly encountered some pretty large obstacles. The fictional couples of Jamie and Claire and Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Abdication, time travel, and social standing make great conflict. Dealing with these issues makes for lots of internal angst.

All but the most minor of characters need goals, motivation and conflict. Goal is the future. Motivation is the past. Conflict is the present. It’s what characters want, why they want it and why they can’t have it. It’s the backbone of the romance novel. Creating it takes skill, planning and careful thought.

Conflict (Why They Can’t Have It)

Conflict, of course, should exist on two levels: external and internal. I’m going to stick to internal conflict because as always I’m working through revisions and trying to amp up the emotional stakes. The tricky part is creating an emotional (internal) conflict strong enough to carry an entire book. For readers of the romance genre, emotional conflict is the point. It’s why we pick up a book. It needs to be strong and not easily overcome. We want to see them suffer first.

Conflict is the clash between wants and needs. Ask yourself: What stops a character from doing what he/she must versus what he/she wants? Another important question to ask is this: Why is loving this person the worst thing this character can do at this moment? Your hero and heroine want to be together but there are obstacles in their way. These obstacles need to be HUGE. They need to evoke fear and dread. They must expose vulnerability and escalate emotional risk. They must repudiate strongly held beliefs. Conflict is the reason the hero cannot have what he wants. Conflict or obstacles force an emotional confrontation and lead to achieving goals.

Things to think about when upping the emotional conflict:

Choosing both positive and negative beliefs and values. A strict code of honor. You know, something along the lines of “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Deciding which of these beliefs or values will undergo a change in order for the character to grow and commit to a long standing relationship.

An honest-to-God inner torment that is so close to second nature it’s next to impossible to expunge.

Having to act against those long standing values. Forced to run instead of staying to fight.

Picking a weakness. Deciding what makes the character vulnerable and rubbing their faces in it.

We shy away from huge drama in our own lives, at least I do, but we do want to see in books, in the movies, and on TV. What fictional struggles appeal to you? Reunion stories, revenge stories, fairy tales, myths and legends? What famous romance in history is your favorite?

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