Thursday, October 13, 2016

What Eccentric Writing Habits Have I Never Mentioned? By Connie Vines

Most authors, of course, have personal eccentric writing practices. Fueled, no doubt by his or her personal muse.  Agatha Christie munched on apples in the bathtub while pondering murder plots, Flannery O’Connor crunched vanilla wafers, and Vladimir Nabokov fueled his “prefatory glow” with molasses.

Then there was the color-coding of the muses:  Alexandre Dumas, for decades, he penned all of his fiction on a particular shade of blue paper, his poetry on yellow, and his articles on pink; on one occasion, while traveling in Europe, he ran out of his precious blue paper and was forced to write on a cream-colored pad, which he was convinced made his fiction suffer. Charles Dickens was partial to blue ink, but not for superstitious reasons — because it dried faster than other colors, it allowed him to pen his fiction and letters without the drudgery of blotting. Virginia Woolf used different-colored inks in her pens — greens, blues, and purples. Purple was her favorite, reserved for letters (including her love letters to Vita Sackville-West, diary entries, and manuscript drafts. Lewis Carroll also preferred purple ink, but for much more pragmatic reasons: During his years teaching mathematics at Oxford, teachers were expected to use purple ink to correct students’ work — a habit that carried over to Carroll’s fiction.

So how do my little eccentric (or never before mentioned) writing practices measure up?  Is my personal muse quirky, dull, or out of control?

Since my quirks are normal for me, I had to think about this for a bit.

I always drink coffee that is part of my current ‘setting’.  When my setting is New Orleans I mail order my coffee from my favorite spot.

Café du Monde.  I have my cup and saucer, and a portable mug when I writing outdoors.   I have a blue coffee pot and matching tin cup when I writing westerns (yes, the coffee is VERY strong and black).  And of course, a Starbucks cup or a Disneyland mug when my novels take place in So.Cal.

My music and my menu planning also is linked to my settings.  All within the range of normal.  Though I have more than my fair share of coffee mugs and cups.

I listen to diction videos on YouTube so that I am not relying on my memory for the sound of a Cajun accent, Texan’s drawl, etc.

I visit areas on Google Earth and Zillow.  Even if I have lived or vacationed there, I may have forgotten an interesting ‘something’ I can insert into dialogue, or find a way to describe a scene.

I talk to myself.  Or not simple little sentences.  I’m talking about a two- way conversation: “Do you think that might work?”  “No.  No one is that stupid!”  “How about. . .”  This is the time my husband walks by to find out who’s on the phone, or if I’m asking him a question.  The dog even pokes her head in to see what’s going on.  I’m thinking this is a bit outside of the ‘normal’ range.

When I write I have to make certain my work space in in perfect order.  I have colored folders/pens/notebooks that match and are exclusive to the story I’m working on at the moment.

I never enroll in an online class when I’m writing—it’s guaranteed writers’ block.  I never talk about my WIP because I mentally clock that as writing time and lose interest in the story before it’s completed.

Whatever story I’m am working on is my favorite.

I survive on 3 hours sleep when I am deep in a story.  I know I drink coffee, but seem to run the story in my mind when I sleep too.

I also pick up the quirks of my heroines.  I have several friends who are in theater and said it’s a bit like ‘method acting’. Fortunately, I’m back to my state of normal a couple of weeks after typing THE END.

I think all of this part of a writer’s voice.  It is what we, as readers, look for in a story.  Hopefully, it is what my readers, enjoy about the novels, short-stories and novellas that I write too.

Happy Reading and Writing!


Visit My Author Page @ 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Ultimate Selfie: Making Videos by Jina Bacarr

Sorbet for Your Writing -- Making Videos from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

I've been doing selfies for years and I especially love videos.

So when fellow Kindle Scout winner, Fiona Quinn, asked me about making videos, I put together some info for her ThrillWriting Blogspot.

Also, check out the fab posts about the interesting worlds of many fascinating authors on her blog.

So here is “Sorbet for Your Writing” – making videos with me, Jina Bacarr.

Any questions? Please ask me...I love hearing from you.


PS -- If you want to read about the night I almost went over Mulholland with a sexy DJ . . . check out my post on Fiona's blog!


Getting clean ain't easy...even for a princess

Zoey's story from Royal Dare coming in November 2016: ROYAL BRIDE

The magic is in his kiss... 


She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on social media:

Sunday, October 09, 2016

What We Learn From Our Favorite Stories by Kitty Bucholtz

For years, my all-time favorite movie was Sleepless in Seattle. Even when my screenwriting teacher in a professional program gave me the stink-eye, I wouldn't change my answer. I have watched that movie so many times, I'm surprised the DVD hasn't worn out. (I've owned it so long, I used to have the VHS tape, too!)

Then Richard Curtis wrote some big blockbuster romantic comedies that I love. Love Actually and Notting Hill are my two favorites. Even my husband, John, likes all three of these movies because they are smart and funny and have great lines of dialogue that you can't help quoting later.

I love these movies so much that I'll even watch them on Netflix, even though we own all three on DVD. And oh, Netflix, how I love you. Let me count the ways. That's where I first watched The Decoy Bride with the hilarious Kelly Macdonald and the awesome David Tennant. I've watched that movie sooo many times! I bought it on Blu-ray because I wanted to make sure I could watch it in high quality forever. But then I had to buy it on DVD, too, because that's the only way I could watch it on my computer. I've never done that before, buying more than one copy!

And what's my go-to movie for sick days? The Family Man. Tea Leoni and Nicolas Cage are absolutely adorable, and those kids! And the best friends! The movie makes me laugh every single time I watch it.

I love romantic comedies. I love reading them, watching them, writing them, talking about them. Like I said, they're my medicine for bad days. And lately, I've had truckloads of bad days.

Thank God for romantic comedy writers because I found some new medicine two weeks ago. I'd seen on Facebook that my friend Sean Gaffney (same screenwriting program I was in) had written a new movie called In-Lawfully Yours. I guess I'm a bad friend for not paying very good attention because I thought it was coming out in the theater this fall, but it came out on Netflix!

I was scrolling through the New Releases and saw the title and thought, how funny, Sean's movie has that same title. And hey, the movie poster looks kind of - hey, that is Sean's movie! LOL! I was having a bad day so I watched it during lunch. It is soooo adorable! The hero and heroine really played off each other so well! And the characters seemed like people I'd probably know, people I'd want to be friends with if they were real, not like pretend movie characters.

I felt so much better after watching it, just like medicine. I wanted to watch it again right away, but I controlled myself. I waited until lunch the following day. Aw, wow, it was just as funny the second time. It had been a stressful week, so I turned it on again at lunch for the third day in a row. Still had me laughing and smiling! If you like rom-com's, you've got to watch this movie!

In addition to feeling better, watching a movie several times helps you consciously and unconsciously work through what you like about it, and why. You start thinking about what you don't like and why. And if you're a writer, you start going over your own characters and asking yourself how they can become better after seeing some other amazing fictional characters on screen or in a book.

One thing about the writing in In-Lawfully Yours. If they hadn't gotten the right actors, it could've been a little dopey. That's the risk with humor - it's got to be the right kind, in the right amount, for the right audience. Of course, that's the risk with movies in general. Wrong actor, bad movie. Right group of actors, amazing movie!

So when I watched this movie for the third time in three days, I had to stop thinking about these actors who had such good chemistry, and I had to think about the characters I write who will ever and only play out in people's heads. And that's when I remembered...

When I wrote Little Miss Lovesick, the first several drafts were aimed at Silhouette Romance (kind of like Harlequin, if you don't know) and the humor was mild, the kind of humor they'd already published. But when I took a risk and wrote the kind of humor that had me laughing as I was typing, a whole new level of fun story developed! It was no longer the kind of book Silhouette or Harlequin or several other houses were buying. (That was a problem for me until self-publishing came along.)

But the readers who enjoyed Little Miss Lovesick really loved it! My risk paid off and I found my writer voice. Since then I've had to push myself to get to the edge of my comfort zone and see what else I can do. I can't let fear or complacency take hold because I'll lose what it turns out my readers want. (Plus, it'll be way less fun for me!)

What stories do you read or watch over and over again? What are you learning from them? Are you letting those favorites push you to become a better writer? Give it some thought.

Meanwhile, I'm going to go watch In-Lawfully Yours again. Thanks for writing such a fun story, Sean! And thanks, Chelsey Crisp and Joe Williamson, for making me laugh with and fall in love with a new favorite couple! I'm such a happy Kitty!  :-D

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss LovesickA Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and Unexpected Superhero are currently available on Amazon. The free short story "Superhero in Disguise" and the new short story "Welcome to Loon Lake" are available wherever ebooks are sold. You can find out about her courses on self-publishing, marketing, and time management for writers at her website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


Unless you’ve been under a rock, chained to your computer or simply didn’t care to read my past posts, let me fill you in. I’ve been doing a writing challenge, “12 TITLES IN 12 MONTHS.”

When I set out at the first of the year, let me back up. I came up with this idea late last year. So when I started 2016, I had a production schedule. Some of the months had book titles and covers, and the others had suggested formats. At first, I thought I’d do a mix of novellas and full-length. Then I made some adjustments and settled on a mix of novelettes, novellas and full-length. So far, I’ve yet to do a short story although, I thought last month’s book was going to be a short story.

So here’s what happened…

I had a book scheduled for September. It was originally supposed to release in August; I wrote about how it got pushed back to September. This is so funny, because it makes it seem like I haven’t written the book…but I have. The problem or glitch came up when I received it back from my beta readers. They liked it. Cool. However, I noticed there were a few things I needed to fix. Especially after having attended RWA. I spotted a few tense and tone things that needed to be cleaned up.

I didn’t expect it would take me as long as it did to clean it up. When I finally finished my edit, it left me with very little time for my editor to do her job and me still make my release day. All the books in the challenge are release at the end of the month. No particular reason, other than it gives me more time to polish and do some marketing. In this case, if I’d tried to get the book out, there was a good chance I’d miss my release day, and my challenge would go from 12 Titles to 11. I couldn’t have that.

I looked at my production schedule and saw I had two possible titles for November. One was lacking about 1500 to 2000 words and a good polish. The other, needed about 5000 words, a very good polish and a title. The title I had no longer matched the story. Why should you care about those books, when neither of them is Title No. 9?  Because in my original plan, I asked my editor if she could edit a short story and get it back to me within my time frame. She said yes. I was ecstatic because I knew I had these two options. WRONG…WRONG…WRONG. I reviewed both titles and realized there was no way to get either one ready and to her. Seems I spoke out of turn. Things weren’t looking good for Title NO.9.

Every day in my prayer time, I thank God for words. A few days earlier, I asked God for a title for the book with 5900+ words. On Thursday, September 15th, I woke and started my prayer time and this title popped into my mind. I shrugged it off, and it immediately reappeared. I got up, kept repeating the title as I made my way to my computer. Once the computer was on and my teeth were brushed, I started writing.

I couldn’t believe how fast the words came. By the end of the day, I had over 4000 words. I proofed those and the following morning, I made the corrections and was over 5000 words. I was hoping for short story length. Then the words kept coming, and I was at 7100+ words. The thought of a novelette was right there. I did another proof and soft edit. I had promised this short story which was now a little longer to my editor on Saturday evening. I sat in from of my computer only taking potty and food breaks. By Friday evening I was looking good. I was well over 9000 words. Now all I needed was an ending.

I got up Saturday with my 9000+ words proofed and ready to finish. I emailed my editor I was almost done and that she would have a completed project by Saturday evening. It was around eleven-thirty when I went to bed with a completed novelette. PRAISE GOD! But I was still not out of the woods. I emailed my editor and said, “I finished late. Here’s a rough draft. I didn’t want to break my word. Give me one more day to proofed copy.” She understood, and we were good.

The draft was my new best friend. I took it with me on Sunday and read in the car on the way to church, then while I was at a charity function working on the check-in desk, and anytime I had a few free moments. When I got home, I went into my library, the toilet with a pink pen and my draft. An hour later, I came out and implemented all the corrections. I emailed my editor and said, “I got home late. Here’s the book.”

I hadn’t heard from her to make sure she got the file, so I texted her on Monday. She sent me a message, “Got it. Give me a few days.” I breathed a sigh of relief. But I didn’t have a cover. When I write, I usually get cover ideas and will ofter have the cover before the story is finished. Not this time. I had the story first and was looking for a cover. I knew I didn’t want to burn one of my free image downloads on such a short project. Then I was reminded, I had a lot of images for a marketing campaign for my lingerie business. I pulled up a couple and went to work.

Later Monday evening, I got a text from my editor, “I got on a roll, here’s your book. Nice story.” I was shocked. PRAISE GOD! My deadline was looking doable. If I only had a cover. I mocked up two options. One I liked and the other was okay. I needed a second opinion. I ran both by my mother and took her suggestion.

So in a matter of one hundred and forty-four hours or 5 days, I wrote, proofed, had edited, and designed a cover for my latest book…number 9 in my challenge and my twelfth book over all. The final word count was over 10,000. And the title is: THE NIGHT I FELL IN LOVE.

I made my release day for the end of the month and here’s the bonus, on release day, it hit #42 in one of my categories on Amazon and remained in the top 100 in that category for four days. Because of the unorthodox way this book came about, I wasn’t able to do any pre-orders, but that’s okay. PRAISE GOD! YEAH!

Here’s the cover and blurb…


I WANT A DIVORCE...would you give into your spouse's request for a divorce, or would you fight for your marriage?

Cicely has given her husband Tariq, thirty days to recall the story of the day he fell in love with her. If he can’t, she’s filing for divorce.

Tracy Reed
Fiction for Women Who Love God, Couture and Cute Guys

Monday, October 03, 2016

President's Message

Hello Again OCC!

September was a fun filled meeting with lots of roses and a pin being given out. It is always a pleasure to see members receive recognition for their hard work. Now we are looking forward to our October meeting (10-7-2016 to 10-9-2016 if you’re staying at the hotel), which is our annual birthday bash! We will have Margie Lawson as our keynote speaker! I don’t know about you but I’m definitely looking forward to her speaking on, Writing Fresh Visceral Responses: Beyond Hammering Hearts (Morning Workshop) and Top 20 Rhetorical Devices for Fiction Writers (Afternoon Workshop.

Remember the birthday bash theme is “Writing is Our Super Power!” So come up dressed as your favorite superhero or supervillain! It starts on Friday night (October 7th, 2016) with the Write In that will be in the conference room from 8-whenever and then the Bash all day on Saturday (October 8th, 2016), with the PJ parties later in the evening starting at 7:30. It will be wicked fun for all and promises to be a great weekend.

It’s almost time for our annual elections. Thank you to those who have stepped up for the following elected positions!
  •  President\
  • Vice President of Communications
  • Vice President of Programs
  • Treasurer
  •  Secretary

Voting will take place at the November 2015 meeting and elected members will be announced at the December 2015 meeting.

Also thank you for those who have stepped up to volunteer for the non-voting positions. We appreciate you!

Once again, my fellow authors thank you for all that you do and your commitment to OCC RWA where our motto is: “One hand reaching forward, one hand reaching back, in a continuing chain.”


Nichelle Scott-Williams
Aka Nikki Prince

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

OCC RWA Birthday Bash: Writing is our Superpower

OCC RWA is proud to welcome internationally renowned speaker and writing instructor Margie Lawson as the keynote speaker at our 2016 Birthday Bash mini-conference scheduled for Saturday, October 8 , 2016 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Embassy Suites in Brea.

The theme of the Birthday Bash is "Writing is our Superpower" and attendees are welcome to come dressed as their favorite superhero or villain. This special event, part of OCC's October general meeting, will also include raffle baskets, critique giveaways and awards for the winners of the Orange Rose and Book Buyers' Best contests. 

Margie Lawson —editor and international presenter – teaches writers how to use her psychologically-based editing systems and deep editing techniques to create page turners. Margie has presented over 90 full-day master classes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and on cruises in the Caribbean. Writers credit her innovative deep editing approaches for making their writing stronger—for contracts, awards, and bestseller lists.

For the Birthday Bash, Margie will present the following:

Writing Fresh Visceral Responses: Beyond Hammering Hearts (Morning Workshop)
This workshop teaches writers the importance of including visceral responses when emotions run high, and how to write them fresh. We will cover the full range of visceral responses, writing fresh, using the Four Levels of Powering Up Emotion, how to crescendo emotion, stimulus/response patterns, ideomotoric shifts, cliché twists and cliché play, and how to hook your reader viscerally. 

Top 20 Rhetorical Devices for Fiction Writers (Afternoon Workshop)
Learn 20 rhetorical devices—why, how, and when to use them to add the most power to your scenes. Learn how to strengthen your writing with rhetorical device combos. Learn which rhetorical devices compress time and expand time. Learn how to use some rhetorical devices to slip multiple hits of backstory into one eloquent sentence. Learn which rhetorical devices are frequently used by some NYT bestselling authors to empower their openings and turning points. 

Make the Bash a getaway weekend and mini-conference by staying at the hotel. OCC RWA President Nikki Prince will host an Evening Write-In at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 7 (room number to be determined). She’ll provide drinks and snacks, you just bring your laptop or notebook.

After the Bash on Saturday, grab dinner at the hotel bar or one of the nearby restaurants and then come back to assigned hotel rooms for Pajama Parties to be held from 

"Spread the Word" with Ophelia Bell:
Bestselling author Ophelia Bell gives tips on building a newsletter or an entire onboarding campaign. Resources, etc. How to reel in leads. What she’s done, what other writers do that works and what her readers respond to.

"Instagram" with Christina Alexandra:
Social media is growing by leaps and bounds. One of the more popular platforms these days is Instagram. Instagram is a way to connect and interact with readers, followers and fans.

While it can be a little intimidating at first, there is no reason to be afraid of it. With a handful of tools and a few simple steps you can turn Instagram into a marketing tool tailored to your needs.

The party will cover the use of Instagram and its filters and layouts, word swag, aviary and ripl.

"Wild, Wild Whist" with Alanna Lucas and Julie Rief:
Fill your pockets with chocolate coins and get ready for some wild historical card playing! The hosts will shuffle up some tricks and tips for fun from yesteryears.

Cost for the Birthday Bash is $40 for RWA members and $55 for non-members. It includes lunch and dessert. To register or for more information, visit

Friday, September 23, 2016


You know how myths and legends are actually early stage psychiatry?  

They are stories that illustrate behaviors, offer life lessons and explore the dynamic between certain personalities.  They demonstrate the impact of misunderstandings, the consequences of acting hastily and the importance of not dismissing people because they don't meet your assessment of being a valuable player.  They remind us of the need for courtesy to all (really, you just never know), and countless other helpful guideposts to better understand and survive in this complex world.

Jealous Hera, mischievous Loki, the old beggar woman asking for alms, the simple son, witches, goblins, vampires, werewolves, zombies....

Zombies! Yes, it sounds a bit ridiculous.  Despite Haitan folklore, Vodou, Voodoo, or whatever spelling or incantation you choose—or even the possibility that the Undead do indeed walk—our present Zombie craze is highly stereotyped and stylized.  

But you perhaps never thought of the Undead as a valuable life lesson—an accurate explanation of what life is actually like. 

Think again.

It all starts innocently enough, you're living your life, hanging out with your classmates, co-workers, colleagues, spending days, months, often years together, cordial, close, connected.  You chat, share meals, share stories, share your life, your dreams, your experiences.  

You think you are surrounded by humans, but all it takes is a change to clarify who in your group are the living dead—surviving off flesh or brains—and who are actually human.  You graduate, your kids go to different schools, you move, you change jobs, you retire.  Suddenly, you no longer have a brain or flesh worth eating—you have nothing to offer.  

In fairness, you can't stay friends with everyone & the drifting apart is often mutual, but it's still an odd feeling to achieve invisibility with people you may have seen every day for years. 

Retirement may be the most challenging adjustment, as other changes often just trade one group of the Undead for another.  Opting out of the workforce can often eliminate your usefulness to others quite dramatically.  Suddenly, you have nothing worth eating....

Visiting the old workplace you realize you are a ghost in the machine—invisible to most.  Though it can sometimes be quite surprising who you are visible to, and to whom you have disappeared.  

Just like in a Zombie film the humans are often not the ones you would expect.