Friday, April 24, 2015

Romance Writer's "Research"

Can we address the absurd queries about romance authors doing "research," nudge, nudge, wink wink?  Does anyone ask mystery or horror writers how many people they had to disembowel before they could write their story?  I don't think so.

(And of course, there is the fact that if they answered, they'd have to kill you).

It's also delightfully contradictory, as others often accuse romances as being utterly unrealistic stories--that also apparently must be based on personal experience.  Hmmmm.  You must choose one or the other, but you really can't have both those complaints simultaneously.

There is a dictum: write what you know, but luckily, it's not a requirement.

Write what you can imagine.

Write what you think about, care about, fantasize about, dream about.

Write to explore what you don't fully understand.

Write to open minds, to touch hearts.

It's called fiction because you make it up...

Isabel Swift

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sister against Sister in the Civil War: Love Me Forever by Jina Bacarr

Love Me Forever is on Kindle Scout

The Civil War ended this week 150 years ago...

We hear so much about how the Civil War was a conflict about brother against brother.

What about the women of the North and South?

Sister against sister?

In "LOVE ME FOREVER," my story on Kindle Scout, two women with very different beliefs learn to accept each other for who they are.

They’re not only separated by what they believe in, but by more than 150 years when my heroine travels back to 1862.

Here is an excerpt when my heroine, Liberty Jordan, a re-enactor from today disguised as a Confederate officer, meets up with Pauletta Sue Buckingham when Liberty escapes from the clutches of a dastardly sergeant in a Union prison camp. Pauletta Sue sees her running across the field and races after her in her buggy and carriage. Believing her to be a young Southern man, she offers her refuge:

“You must be brave, sir. The cause needs you,” the woman whispered with urgency, startling Liberty.

So that’s why she helped her. She was a Confederate sympathizer. Here? In a Union camp?

Would they both be shot?

“Hurry, get in,” she ordered. “The bluecoats are coming.”

Holding onto the side of the carriage, Liberty lifted herself up when suddenly she felt her feet give way from underneath her. Damn, she hadn’t counted on the slippery step glistening with dew. It caught her unaware and threw her off balance. She lost her footing on the soggy, wet earth, staggered, then with a loud plop, landed on the ground, the wind knocked out of her.

Her officer’s wide brim hat flying off her head.

Liberty heard the woman gasp when her long reddish-blond hair tumbled down her back like a cascade of corn silk popping up out of its stalk.

“You’re a woman,” the Southerner cried out, her hand going to her mouth.

“Haven’t you ever seen a girl in pants before?” Liberty said, a weak smile curling over her lips. She was surprised the woman didn’t faint.

“Dear Lord, the soldiers mustn’t find out you’re a female,” she said, taking charge. “No telling what they’d do, seeing they have the manners of a country hog.” Holding up her skirts, she climbed out of the carriage to retrieve Liberty’s brim hat.

“Then you won’t give me away?” Liberty asked, surprised. The Southern belle was no pushover.

“You fool girl. I admire what you’re doing, but the Yankees will never understand what we women will do for the cause. Even if we suffer from a broken heart, we’ll never give up,” she said with an emotion so deep it surprised Liberty. She handed her hat back to her. “Run! I’ll hold them off. You can take shelter in the old mill down the road till morning. There’s a secret hiding place behind the pantry.”

How did she know that?

Liberty had no time to ponder the belle and her cause. Instead, she pulled the soggy hat back onto her head and muttered her thanks. She lifted her chin, the sun hitting her cheeks with its fading rays and revealing her face. Before she could pull down the brim of her hat, the woman grabbed her hand.

“Wait,” the dark-haired beauty muttered with surprise. Or was it shock? “Who are you, Missy?”'

“Nobody, ma’am—” Liberty began, her breath catching in her chest when she saw blue-uniformed soldiers on horseback racing toward them, kicking up dust. She had to get out of here, now.

“I demand to know who you are, where you’re from.” The Confederate woman pulled the veil off her face framed by dark hair. “And why you look like me.”

Yes, that's Pauletta Sue on the left and Liberty on the right in the graphic at the top of the page. The two women are twins except for their hair color. Not only are they on opposite sides, but they both vie for the same man...course, I can't tell what happens...but sparks fly and it isn't just on the battlefield...

LOVE ME FOREVER is on Kindle Scout — you can read the first 5,000 words HERE. You’ll meet both my heroines and both my heroes in the excerpt. If you nominate my story and it’s published by Kindle Scout, then you’ll receive a free copy! It’s a saga of love and romance and war. Believe me, I walked every road, fought every battle with my characters, even walked around in a hoop skirt to “get it right.”

This is a book of the heart…any questions? Please ask!!

Thank you for stopping by…………..


PS -- As I post tonight LOVE ME FOREVER is Hot & Trending!

PPS -- COMING next month: a full account of my experience with Kindle Scout.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

What About Love? by Kitty Bucholtz

After six weeks of Lent and the booming joy of Easter, I've got love on my mind. Not just the cute, mushy stuff that most of our acquaintances seem to think we write about. ;) But love with power and strength and purpose, the kind of love that changes people and changes lives.

I've been thinking about a sermon I heard recently where the pastor told a story about an elderly woman who was kidnapped and forgave her kidnapper, asking the judge to get the man into a drug rehab program. The pastor said what I often think - I'd like to think I would be that forgiving. But he also said the other thing I think when I hear these stories - I'll probably never be in a position to know.

So he challenged us to something else. Don't worry about loving your enemies today. Start with something easier. "How about if this week you just try to love the annoying people in your life?"

And it occurred to me that that just might be harder.

Then he said, "When you get so you can love the annoying people, take a step up and try to love the irritating people."

Ouch. I think I'd rather try to love the kidnapper. At least I can blame it on the drugs and believe in his potential rehabilitation.

And then I started thinking about my writing. If I can't personally love the annoying and irritating people I come across on a daily basis, how can I write about people with a dozen layers - no, a hundred layers - of relational emotion? Because that's who we all are - people with uncountable layers of emotion covering hundreds of different relationships in each of our lives.

Love is the emotion that packs a punch. It's active. It changes things. It changes people.

Love changes us.

We're romance writers. But do we love the annoying and irritating people in our lives, let alone our enemies? If not, how can we write about love?

How does the love we write about change the people who read our stories? Does it change them at all? Are we afraid of saying too much? Too little? It takes a double dose of vulnerability to put that kind of love on the page.

We must be fearless.

We are among the bards of our generation. Bards tell tales of heroes, warn of danger, and give people courage. All in a fearlessly entertaining way.

That's the power of love.

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 Lovesick, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding and Unexpected Superhero, and the free short story, "Superhero in Disguise," are now available at most online retail sites.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Thanks for California Dreamin'

I'm not the only one who enjoyed it. I'm not the only one to thank the four wonderful Southern California RWA Chapters. But I want to express my thanks to everyone involved in the wonderful California Dreamin' Conference!

I knew it would be fun, since, as I said last month, I was on a wonderful panel about writing series with Judy Duarte and Janet Tronstad. I hoped our audience members enjoyed it as much as I did.

Even more, I found it great fun to get together with long time romance writer friends and make some new friends as well. The sessions and panels I attended were mostly about promotion, and I learned a lot there. I did some traveling between the time of the conference and now so I haven't been able to try to implement what I learned, but I hope to soon.

I also had a lot of fun at the book signing--and even sold some books.

So, again, many thanks for an absolutely delightful conference. And now I'm looking forward to 2017!

Linda O. Johnston

Linda's new Barkery and Biscuits Mystery series from Midnight Ink starts in May with BITE THE BISCUIT

 It's about veterinary technician Carrie Kennersly, who seizes the opportunity to buy a bakery from a friend about to leave town. She changes half of it into a barkery that sells treats for dogs, including some healthy ones she created as a vet tech. But not everyone in town is thrilled with her new venture and yes, since it's the beginning of a cozy mystery series a murder occurs.

Sunday, April 05, 2015


How many people are at the party in your head? Ask any writer this question and you may be surprised by the answer.

I’ve been asking myself this question for awhile now. I currently have standing room only at the party in my head. I’m writing one book, editing two, promoting another, writing mental notes on three others and reading one for pleasure.

When I decided to become a writer, it was a different time in publishing. If you put out three books a year, that was considered a lot. As the indie writing market grew, so did the desire for fresh content.

I had it all planned. I’d release my first book and take about three months and then release the next one. I figured I’d release the follow up to GENERATIONAL CURSE early next year. The problem with my original plan was the ebook.

When the ebook was born it opened the door to easier accessibility. Readers no longer had to wait months or years for follow up books. They were now able to get the next book within a couple of months, if not sooner. At first I thought this was a trap by the publishing industry to sell more books.

I hearing a writer say she really didn’t read other people’s books, because she felt she might be tempted to use their ideas. That stuck with me and I read sparingly. Then I joined RWA and heard something completely different. I love print books...I like how they feel in my hand…but I digress. I downloaded the Kindle for iPhone and then I got an iPad for Christmas and my life changed.

I began reading for research on both devices. I’m not sure how many books I’ve read in the past six months, but it’s increased tremendously.

Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this. I became like most readers, downloading every free book I could download. Once I finished the free book in the series, I wanted to know what happened next. I was hooked. I quickly downloaded the next book. I think I read six books in a month. [For some people that’s not a lot, but for me it is.]

Now I understand the formula.

When I increased my reading and understood why my old plan wasn’t going to work, I started writing and editing and reading…more. Needless to say, I wasn’t prepared for this new plan.

I wrote GENERATIONAL CURSE, while waiting to hear from a potential publisher about a different book. I figured once that series was sold, I’d have a little time before GENERATIONAL CURSE was ready to go. So I focused all of my energy on the other series. However, things changed and GENERATIONAL CURSE was released first. I was caught off guard.

I did a little research and discovered there are writers out there putting a title out a month. How am I supposed to keep up. It took a while to get my first book just right. My good sense side asked my not so good sense side if I’d lost my mind.

Here’s what I found out. A title could be a short story, a novella or a full-length book. Okay, so I don’t have to be chained to a chair and only released for potty breaks. Then I signed up for the RWA “The End” Challenge. I figured this would help me finish a book I had to rewrite. [I’m half way done with that one.] In one month I wrote 20,000 words. I CAN DO IT!

I felt empowered. If I could write 20,000 words in a month, then I could write a novella. Wait a minute. If I write a novella, I can sell it for $.99.

New plan. Set up a realistic production schedule that includes novellas, short stories and full length novels. It seems like a lot, but if I could write 20,000 words in a month [not including the 9,100 on a different project] then I should be able to stick to my plan.

So how many characters are in my head? Too many to list. Smile.

Tracy Reed

Fiction for Women Who Love God, Couture and Cute Guys

Available at
Barnes and Noble
All Romance eBooks

Saturday, April 04, 2015

What OCC Has Offered Me I Have Gladly Taken

Hello OCC!

I've been a member of OCC for over eight years now and I'm still surprised at the amount of information that I get out of OCC meetings and the speakers.

Whether our speaker is an author, an editor, a publisher, an agent, scriptwriter, and the list goes on, I have found that I leave with a spark of new knowledge from each one. While I don't write inspirational, historical, mystery, or women's fiction, I still come away with at least a small token, or a writing tip, from every speaker regardless of the genre. This is something a multi published author also said to me recently and I realized how true it was.

How is that possible? Everyone has different experiences and systems for what they do. I've tried many of the writing systems from our various speakers and found what works for me. Like everything else in the writing process, it's a trial and error career. Finding a routine and a writing system that works specifically for you is a challenge but not impossible.

After learning the craft of writing, which not only includes the manuscript format, the structure of your manuscript, and how to plot and brainstorm, I've also learned about submitting, marketing, queries, synopsis, e-book publishing vs traditional publishing and so much more. Now I write with more confidence but I'm still learning.

How does this happen? It's all due to the OCC Programs volunteer members who are entrusted with the duty of finding a variety of speakers on a wide range of topics that will be an asset for our membership.

Every year new members join OCC and our membership is always looking for new speakers to entice both our new and veteran members. A duty we do not take lightly.

This year I am thrilled to be the VP of Programs. It's up to me to get speakers for the next couple of years and I'm excited to see what lies ahead. I'd love to hear from our membership if there is a topic you would like to hear or someone you would like us to consider as a possible speaker. Please contact me at with your ideas.

As writers, our work is solitary but our network stretches far and wide. We learn from editors, publishers, screenwriters, romance writers of many genres, media moguls, and even our own very talented OCC members. Everyone I meet leaves a grain of knowledge I did not possess before.

Join me in making the next two years memorable, amazing, and spectacular! Let me hear from you with any ideas you may have.

I thank OCC for the honor of serving as VP of Programs and I look forward to an amazing year.

Again as a volunteer, I get to give back to OCC for all the support, encouragement, friendship, and a push from time to time. In addition, for all the years of learning that OCC has gifted me with I thank the chapter.

Elizabeth Scott

w/a Elise Scott 
"One Weekend" a short story in Romancing the Pages OCC Anthology, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble eBook retailers.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

April President's Message

Hello OCC!

The March meeting went off with a bang with KC Burn speaking in the morning and dazzling us with a great way to build your characters. I can’t wait till I get to use that technique for myself. Then the afternoon session with Lori Perkins talking about how you can write hot, to think outside the box and to combine different tropes to be unique. What a beautiful day spent with friends.

This month we have Lisa Burstein coming to speak both in the morning and in the afternoon. The morning session she will be speaking on “Intensifying Sexual Tension in YA” and in the afternoon “Being Social on Social Media.” I hope you join us.

The board has come together and decided on a theme for this year’s October Birthday Bash! The theme will be Once Upon a Time. We’re hoping everyone will join us in costume with his or her favorite fairytale character. In that vein we also need someone to chair the decorating for this event and volunteers to serve on the committee. Please feel free to come up to any board member if you would like to do this. More information will be shared later.

I’d like to take this time to remind you all that the only way to have a well running OCC we need members to volunteer. There are plenty more positions that need to be filled and can be made into committees so that one person isn’t doing it alone.

Decorating Committee (Programs), Ways and Means (Programs), Welcoming Committee (Secretary and Membership), and Online class moderators contact Mary Kozlowski @

We’re also looking for fresh new articles on craft and the business of writing for the blog and the newsletter. In addition, we’d like to celebrate special days with you such as your birthday or anniversaries. If you’d care to submit those items please send them to Annette Macias. You can contact Annette Macias ( for articles for the newsletter and Marianne Donley ( If interested please get hold of anyone on the board and we will steer you in the right direction.

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