Today it’s my pleasure to welcome author Nicki Greenwood to Work In Progress Wednesday. Nicki, what are your top three dream destinations and why?

NG: 1) England. Maybe I’m just hoping to run into Benedict Cumberbatch. 2) Ireland. My family has some roots there, and I love places with an “old soul.” 3) Australia. Because it’s just that awesome.

MJ: What is the top book on your TBR pile?

NG: Reading it now: Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.  by Diana Gabaldon. With the arrival of Outlander on Starz, I’ve finally caught up with the series. This book is one of her best!

MJ: If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be and why?

NG: I’m finally at a good enough point in my life to say I’m happy being me. I’m doing the things I always said I was going to do—mainly, writing books!

MJ: What a great attitude! Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version of the story?

NG: The Horse Whisperer, by Nicholas Evans. Totally unsatisfying ending. The movie, while still heart-wrenching, is at least satisfying.

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, or do you skip it and get straight to work?

NG: I’ll wolf down a breakfast sandwich and chug an iced coffee, and then it’s off to work for me.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

NG: My office, but with Hugh Jackman as a personal assistant. :D

MJ: As long as you keep your hands off Henry Cavill–who is mine–you can have whomever you like as an assistant. Name 3 things on your desk right now.

NG: You mean there’s a desk under all this paper? (Besides the paper, I have my ever-present Chap Stick and a stuffed Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. *grin*)

MJ: Do you listen to music when you write? Explain.

NG: Most of the time. I will compile a soundtrack for my books, and play it incessantly as I write the book. If I hear an inspiring song for a particular scene, I put it on repeat while I write. Occasionally, I have books that refuse to be written to music. Then, I just use the songs to get the spark going, and turn off the iPod during writing time.

MJ: What is your favorite genre to read?

NG: Historicals, oddly enough. I love to read them, but the idea of writing one is just mind-boggling.

MJ: How did you chose the setting for your current WIP?

NG: I knew from the start of the series that it would be Vermont. The book “decided” it would be autumn, since Vermont in autumn is just breathtaking.

MJ: Now it’s time for the lightning round. Wine-red or white?

NG: For drinking, either, as long as it’s a semi-sweet. For cooking, either, and as dry as I can get it.

MJ: Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day?

NG: St. Patrick’s Day, unless I’m at Salsarita’s on Cinco de Mayo.

MJ: Last movie you saw in a theater?

NG: How to Train Your Dragon 2

MJ: Favorite TV show?

NG: NCIS, The Walking Dead, and Once Upon a Time.

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

NG: Pepsi.

MJ: And for the main course! Please share the first few sentences of your current work in progress.

NG: This is from Fire, book 3 of my Elemental Series.

“Mommy!  Mommy!

The pitiful scream hardly reached Ethan Sutter’s ears under the roar of a flame-induced whirlwind.  He held up an arm to shield his face and strengthen the protective bubble of power surrounding his body.  His skin glowed, and the flames dampened, pushing in and then turning immediately back as though they’d hit an invisible breakwall.

Fire rushed up the wooden skeleton of the apartment building, devouring the structure, but unable to penetrate the protective sphere of his power.  “Kid, where are you?” he shouted.

MJ: Wow! That certainly left me hanging. You have a new book out now, Flashpoint,  from your Gifted Series. Where can readers purchase it?

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NG: Flashpoint is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Wild Rose Press.

MJ: And how can readers stay in touch with you?

NG: I can be reached through my website, my blog, my Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, and YouTube.

I have always been attracted to the idea of yoga. Calming mediation, spirituality, plus the physical benefits seem like a wonderful combination. Several decades ago, I signed up for a local school’s adult education class in yoga. I went once. First of all, I have a bad knee and couldn’t do many of poses. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, I was with older women who couldn’t wait to try “this yogurt stuff.” Seriously. There was no mental inclusion, just twisting into pretzel shapes. I was in the wrong venue.

Now I am an older woman myself. I’ve wanted to try yoga again. I want to be centered.

I bought a yoga mat.

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I bought a yoga DVD.

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I bought books about yoga and writing.

 2014-11-09 17.37.28 2014-11-09 17.15.23 2014-11-09 17.13.59But DVD wouldn’t play in the player in my bedroom. There was no room to roll out my yoga mat in the family room.

Then I bought a new lap top computer. The DVD plays in the computer, so I tried  doing yoga in my living room. There was enough room to roll out my mat, but that was about all.

I’m not a fan of exercise. I do wonder if I’m more attracted to the idea of yoga than actually practicing it.

We’ll find out soon. I “reclaimed” my home office.  There is now plenty of space for yoga practice.

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 We’ll see how it goes.

Today’s WIP Wednesday guest is author Lilas Taha. Welcome Lilas! Tell us something most people don’t know about you.

LT: I like horror movies.

MJ: What’s the top book on your TBR pile?

LT: The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi, winner of the 2014 Booker Prize for Arabic Literature.

MJ: If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?

LT: Sketch with charcoal.

MJ: If you had a theme song, what would it be?

LT: “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, or do you skip it and get straight to work?

LT: Home made fruit and vegetable smoothie. Whatever is there in the fridge.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

LT: Under an umbrella by the sea shore on a breezy early fall day.

MJ: Name one writing-related website you use a lot.

LT: Thesaurus is my companion.

MJ: What book do you wish you could have written?

LT: Wuthering Heights.

MJ: Do you listen to music when you write? Explain.

LT: Sometimes. Soft Jazz or classical music. Sometimes Opera, and most often Arabic classical songs.

MJ: Do you collage your story before writing? Explain.

LT: I don’t. I just start writing and once I have the characters down the way I want them, they take me through the story. It’s not the most effective way of writing a book, but that’s how I’ve managed so far. The method, if you can call it such, works well with the way I plot my stories.

MJ: What do you love most about your WIP hero?

LT: His strive to be a better man.

MJ: What do you least like about your WIP heroine?

LT: Her struggle to find her inner peace.

MJ: How did you come up with your hero and heroine’s names?

LT: In Shadows of Damascus: I chose “Adam” to represent his humanity with all its shortcomings and beauty. I chose “Yasmeen” to represent the flower of Damascus, which translates to “Jasmine”.

MJ: Do you ever base characters on people you know?

LT: Yes, but not entirely. I may use character traits from different people in one character.

MJ: Okay, now it’s time for the lightning round. Addams Family or The Munsters?

LT: Addams Family

MJ: Last movie you saw in a theater?

LT: Begin Again

MJ: Favorite TV show?

LT: Law and Order SVU

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

LT: Pepsi

MJ: Introvert or extrovert?

LT: I think I’m somewhere in between

MJ: Favorite ethnic food?

LT: Indian

MJ: And now for the main event: will you share the first few sentences of your current work in progress with us?

LT: This is from the work tentatively titled The Sand Storm.

Sami Amara planted his feet on the hot ground and gripped the top of the Mercedes to maintain his balance. The asphalt under the soles of his shoes felt viscous. His glasses fogged, and he took them off to check he wasn’t sinking into the molten street. He used his tie to clean his glasses, adding smudges with the damp silk. This was a mistake. He shouldn’t be here. Even the environment rejected his intrusion.

MJ: Great hook! And I understand you have a current release. Where can readers purchase it?

 

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LT: Shadows of Damascus is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

MJ: And how can readers stay in touch with you?

LT: Many ways–my website and my blog, my Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Goodreads.

MJ: Thanks again for stopping by, and good luck with your books!

 

Update on my lawn transformation:

Progress continues to be slow.

pt 4 03More plants are showing up.

This makes me happy.

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The patio extension is slowly taking shape.

See the flat rocks? One of them is going to become a stone bench.

The landscaper has a vision.

Today’s Work-In-Progress Wednesday guest is author Sophia Kimble. Welcome, Sophia. Can you tell us one thing most people don’t know about you?

SK: I like to eat my chocolate frozen. Seriously, I take my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kat’s, and Ho Ho’s and stick them in the freezer until their frozen. I love chocolate, but hate the melt factor. :-)

MJ: What is the top book on your TBR pile?

SK: I’m waiting impatiently for the third book in Jon Steele’s Angelus trilogy to be released. As soon as it’s out, everything else will take a back seat.

MJ: Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

SK: A bottle of water.

MJ: Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version of the story?

SK: All movies I’ve seen after reading the book. I have a teenage daughter and she’s the one I go to the movies with the most, so the most recent was The Fault in Our Stars. The book made me cry, the movie did not, although my daughter looked like a raccoon as we were leaving the theater.

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, or do you skip it and get straight to work?

SK: I’m bad, I skip breakfast, but then devour lunch!

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

SK: Large loft in a cabin with huge windows, and all I can see is forest.

MJ: Briefly describe your writing day/process.

SK: Up at 3 or 4 am, write until around lunch time, then catch up on social media, marketing, and such. By the time the kids get home, my creative brain is usually shot, and I concentrate on my family.

MJ: That’s a long day! What book do you wish you could have written?

SK: Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. My absolute favorite book!

MJ: Name three things on your desk right now.

SK: My feet, coffee, favorite pen. Yes, my laptop in on my lap.

MJ: Do you listen to music when you write? Explain.

SK: No. I like to have absolute quiet so I can see and hear the movie of my book in my mind, and then I type what I see/hear.

MJ: What do you love most about your WIP hero?

SK: Immortal, gorgeous, tormented, Highland warrior. What’s not to love?

MJ: What genre is your current WIP?

SK: Paranormal Romance

MJ: What is your favorite genre to read?

SK: Paranormal romance, and historical. If they’re combined-all the better.

MJ: How did you chose the setting for your current WIP?

SK: My current WIP is the second book in The Druid’s Curse series, therefore the setting of a castle in the Adirondack Mountains was already decided for me.

MJ: I love the Adirondack Mountains. Now it’s time for the lightning round. Wine: red or white?

SK: Red

MJ: Beer: can or bottle?

SK: Bottle

MJ Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day?

SK: St. Patrick’s Day

MJ: Last movie you saw in a theater?

SK: The Fault in Our Stars.

MJ: Favorite TV show?

SK: Blacklist

MJ: Favorite band when you were in high school (Marching band doesn’t count)?

SK: The Smiths

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

SK: Coke.

MJ: Introvert or extrovert?

SK: Introvert.

MJ: Favorite ethnic food?

SK: Thai.

MJ: And now for the headliner: your Work In Progress. Can you share the title and the first few sentences?

SK: Yes! This is from Avenge Her, part of the Druid’s Curse series.

Why can’t I be like everybody else?

Izzy Alexander stared at fish swimming in their virtual aquarium across her computer screen while she sat at her desk in Malcolm Campbell’s castle. The soothing scene didn’t calm her as it sometimes did. No, the poor creatures were forever stuck in purgatory, they’d never get anywhere, never accomplish anything. Kind of like her and her infatuation with Malcolm.

God, how had she fallen head over heels with a man who was in love with someone else and who couldn’t stand what she was? Why couldn’t she go through life with blinders on, not knowing what people were feeling, what people thought by touching them? Why did her life have to be so strange?

Well, let’s see. Maybe because I’m a witch and an empath, and fell in lust with a thirteenth century Highland warrior who’d been cursed with immortality by Lailoken, a Druid High Priest. Yup, that about summed it up and equaled weird as hell.

MJ: Oh! What a great hook. And you have a book out now? How can people purchase it?

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SK: Protect Her is available at Amazon.

MJ: And how can your readers stay in touch with you?

SK: I have a website and a blog. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads and Google+.

MJ: Thanks for joining me today, and good luck with your books!

“Help!” author Emma Cane wrote to our brainstorming group. “I need names of bands for a music festival in my current work in progress!”

“I have a band in my book, Call of the Wilder, author Kris Fletcher responded. “They’d love the exposure!”

Then I said, “Oh! I have band in my book, Moonlight Serenade. Feel free to include my guys.”

“There’s a band you can use in Dream of Danger, too,” Maggie Shayne said.

Christine Wenger then reminded us of her band in  A Second Helping of Murder.

And that’s how it began.

When Emma Cane’s Sleigh Bells in Valentine Valley came out on Tuesday, October 28, each of the aforementioned bands were mentioned in the story.

So we’re having a contest! BOOK THAT BAND!.

 

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Details are on this website or any of the other websites listed (and linked) above.

First prize: A $100 gift card.

Second prize: Free books from each of us.

The contest is running through Nov 10, so be sure to get your entry in now!

Today’s Work In Progress Wednesday guest is Lauren Linwood. Welcome, Lauren. Can you share your top three dream desitinations?

LL: #1 would be seeing New England and Canada in the fall with all the lovely foliage. I’ve been to New England in the summer, but I’d love to see it at this time of year. #2 is Germany and Switzerland. They both are scenic and have a lot of history to see. #3 on my dream list would be outer space. I’d love to explore what’s out there in the universe!

MJ: What’s the top book on your TBR pile?

LL: Michael Connelly’s The Burning Room.  I read everything he writes, and this comes out in November.

MJ: Other than writing, what would be your dream job?

LL: I’d enjoy being a movie producer because you have a hand in every aspect of filming. You locate the script, hire the director, usually have casting approval, scout locations, work with the budget, and even select the catering services. I love that overall aspect of helming such a major, creative project.

MJ: If you had a theme song, what would it be?

LL: Definitely Mission: Impossible. As a writer, creating unique characters and interesting plots can be fun—but it’s also a LOT of hard work! I like to think of myself as an agent, on a mission, and that every time I finish (or bring the book home to my editor), that I’ve chosen to accept and I’ve completed my mission.

MJ: That’s a great analogy! Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

LL:  My iPhone—usually because I need to use it for directions on where I’m heading! I also like to check my email. And yes, I’ll admit it—I’m a serial texter!

MJ: Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version of the story?

LL: The one that immediately comes to mind is The Last of the Mohicans. As a book it was fairly dry, with the language a bit difficult. But seeing a very hot Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye and all the action brought to life? Priceless!

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, or do you skip it and get straight to work?

LL: I almost always eat Greek yogurt with a spoonful of oat bran stirred in, and I’ll have either hot herbal tea or a cup of coffee, preferably hazelnut, caramel, or French vanilla.

MJ: Name one writing-related website you use a lot.

LL: I like Timelines of History. It’s one I used when I taught high school history, and it’s invaluable when I write historical romances.

MJ: What book do you wish you could have written?

LL: To Kill a Mockingbird. The prose is so lyrical. The characters and story are so compelling. The descriptions are magical. I read it once a year.

MJ: Do you listen to music when you write? Explain.

LL: Absolutely no music can play when I write. I always start humming or singing along, whether in my head or aloud. When that occurs, it takes me out of the story I’m writing. Instead, I prefer it quiet, or I’ll put on my white noise machine and write to the sound of a gentle rain or waves coming in and out.

MJ: What is your favorite genre to read?

LL: I love to read thrillers! Most of them have a “ticking time bomb” plot, where the stakes are high and the characters must save the day in a limited amount of time.

MJ: Do you ever base characters on people you know?

LL: Not at all! When I start a new book, I start first with the hero & heroine’s names. Once I hit upon the right name, I start seeing physical characteristics. From there, I develop their personalities. By the time I finish, I have a brand-new person!

MJ: How did you chose the setting for your current WIP?

LL: I went to Seattle on vacation last summer. It was my second visit there, and the beauty of the city stayed with me. When I sold my first romantic suspense (after writing and selling 6 historical romances), I thought I’d try my hand at another romantic suspense, and I thought Seattle would be a terrific setting for my story.

MJ: And now for the lightning round. Wine: Red or white?

LL: I’m a red girl. There’s nothing like a good cab.

MJ: I  Dream of Jeannie or Bewitched?

LL: Samantha from Bewitched. My birthday is on Halloween, and I’ve always wished I could be a “good” witch and twitch my nose as she did!

MJ: Last movie you saw in a theater?

LL: Gone Girl.

MJ: Favorite TV show?

LL: Lost.

MJ: Favorite band when you were in high school (Marching band doesn’t count)?

LL: The Eagles

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

LL: Coke.

MJ: Favorite ethnic food?

LL: I love Mexican food, whether it’s Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex, or New Mexican cuisine.

MJ: And now for the main event. Can you share the first few lines of your current WIP?

LL: Yes! This is from Recipe for Love.

Linley Peterson locked the door to the restroom stall and whirled just in time. The entire afternoon’s cake samplings came up over the next minute as she knelt next to the porcelain bowl, clutching its sides. Finally, her retching ceased, but the nausea did not subside.

Neither did the hurt in her heart.

How many times had she wished she were in the same situation—except under happier circumstances? It seemed everywhere she turned, she saw pregnant women, the radiant bloom on their cheeks advertising to the entire world that they would soon become mothers. She gladly would put up with the dreaded morning sickness and swollen ankles and burgeoning belly if the end result would be a child.

And yet that seemed unlikely at this moment. Or at least with Steven.

MJ: Ooh. Sounds wonderful. I understand you have a book out now, plus another due out in December, and yet another in January . You’re one busy lady!

LL: Yes, I am! Written in the Cards is currently available from Amazon.

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LL: My medieval historical romance, A Bit of Heaven on Earth comes out December 3, and Leave Yesterday Behind will release in January.

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MJ: And how can readers keep up with all you’re doing?

LL: My website, my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, About Me, and my Amazon Author page.

MJ: Thanks again for joining me today, and good luck with your books!

 

 

26
Oct

Several weeks ago, I started writing this blog as a tribute to my favorite Canadian musicians. The scary happenings north of the border this week skewed the timing.

I have a great affinity for our northern neighbor. My grandfather came from there (according to some family legends). I have many Canadian friends. My home town Triple A baseball team was affiliated with Toronto for three decades. The Canadian flag still flies at the ball park. I’m not fond of hockey, snow, or cold, but I adore Canadian musicians.

My personal music collection is filled with:

  • Neil Young
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • Kate & Anna McGarrigle
  • Terri Clark
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Loreena McKennitt
  • Michael Buble
  • Robbie Robertson

My children grew up listening to Raffi. I’ve been exposed to Arrogant Worms and the Guess Who.

Here’s to Canada!

 

Today’s Work-In-Progress Wednesday guest is Susan B. James.

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Welcome Susan. What are your top three dream destinations, and why?

SJ: When I was a teen I dreamed of being rich and famous and I collected in my mind the houses I would own as a part of this rich famousness.

I had a flat in London, A small castle in the Highlands, and a pied-à-terre in New York overlooking Central Park. I also had a villa in Rome and of course a place in Los Angeles.

I already have a house in Los Angeles, though not the Hacienda I originally envisioned. I’ll swap out the villa in Rome for a beach house in Ventura as long as I can find a secret admirer who has a villa in Rome that he longs to place at my disposal.

MJ: What is the top book on your TBR pile?

SJ: In Your Dreams by Kristan Hannah.

MJ: If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?

SJ: My problem is too many creative outlets. I write children’s and adult books. I also act and do improvisation comedy – both musical and non musical. I’ve given up designing costumes. That’s one good thing.

MJ: Other than writing, what would be your dream job?

SJ: Second banana in a half hour TV series filmed with a live audience. Think Rhoda in Mary Tyler Moore.

MJ: LOL! If you had a theme song, what would it be?

SJ: “Fly Me to the Moon”.

MJ: What book do you wish you could have written?

SJ: Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

MJ: What genre is your current WIP?

SJ: Contemporary with a touch of magic.

MJ: What is your favorite genre to read?

SJ: Contemporary with humor or magic or both.

MJ: How did you come up with your hero and heroine’s names?

SJ: Michael is Sherry’s son from Time and Forever. Kate came into my head fully named. Kind of like Minerva.

MJ: How did you chose the setting for your current WIP?

SJ: Two years ago, I read about a matchmaking festival in Ireland in a town called Lisdoonvarna. I knew I had to go there and see it. And I knew that my next book would feature a journey to Lisdoonvarna. It seemed to call for some magic.

MJ: That sounds fascinating! And here we go with the lightning round. Addams Family or The Munsters?

SJ: Addams Family.

MJ: Wine-red or white?

SJ: Red.

MJ: I Dream of Jeannie or Bewitched?

SJ: Bewitched.

MJ: Beer-can or bottle?

SJ: Don’t drink it.

MJ: Stephanie Plum or Eve Dallas?

SJ: Both!

MJ: Favorite TV show?

SJ: It’s about to be Jane The Virgin since my son, Christopher Corbin has a recurring role starting in episode 4

MJ: That’s pretty awesome! Coke or Pepsi

SJ: Coke.

MJ: Introvert or extrovert?

SJ: Introvert with a great extrovert disguise.

MJ: Favorite ethnic food?

SJ: Is fudge ethnic?

MJ: Can you share the first few lines from your current work in progress?

SJ: This is from Kate’s Hero:

His long aristocratic nose twitched with impatience.

“Not one of my better sentences,” Kate shut her ears to the blaring horns and jackhammers and concentrated on the maples flaming along the paths of Madison Square Park. Parks usually inspired her. Finding nature in New York City always felt like magic.

Kate held her breath and let the word Magic float in her mind. Children’s shouts echoed from the playground. Dog walkers passed her, focused on their pets and each other. Old men in brown shoes and delivery people on their lunch hours crowded the benches. She exhaled with a huff of air. Nope. Not feeling it.

Kate bent over her legal pad and tried again.

Lord Rotherham fixed Cressida with a fulminating stare.

MJ: Oh, this sounds good! And you have a current release. How can people purchase it?

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SJ: It’s available on Amazon.

MJ: And how can readers stay current with you?

SJ: Through my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, or Goodreads.

MJ: Thanks so much for joining me today, and good luck with your sales!

 

 

 

Oh, it has been a week.

There were many highlights, including a trip to Watertown, NY with a couple of writing friends for a booksigning and preview screening of a new Public TV show focusing on local authors. I got to be their entourage; it was great fun!

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Authors Kris Fletcher and Gayle Callen (Emma Cane)

TV Stevie and I went to the Capitol Theater in Rome, NY on Friday night. The Amazing Kreskin was there. It was quite an experience.  Saturday night included a lovely get-together with some of TV’s former co-workers. We really had a great time.

There has been very little progress on my lawn recovery or my office reclamation project. And I’m too tired to care.