Monday, September 28, 2015

Chills, Thrills, Dinner, a Show, & Authors!

Historic Northampton House, built 1903, which appears in
"It's You," my novella from the All Hallows' Eve Collection.
I'm SO excited to share some exciting news that's been brewing for a few months. It began with a research trip I took around town, which led to my ghost story in the latest Timeless Romance Anthology collection, All Hallows' Eve.

My story in that collection, "It's You," was inspired by a building I drive by regularly: the Northampton House reception center. (If you're a Studio C fan, you may have seen it featured in their "Deal Breaker" music video.)

Several months ago, before I'd come up with my All Hallows' Eve story, I drove past the building at night and noticed an arched window lit up above the west-side door. I'd never noticed that particular window, even though I've driven past the building hundreds, if not thousands, of times. 

As I drove into the darkness, my imagination drifted into that magical place where ideas s how up, and I wondered: What if the light in that window wasn't from electricity, but from a GHOST?

Ooooh, the possibilities! 

The arched window where a ghost appears in "It's You."
I was graciously given a tour of the building, and sure enough, a significant part of my story ended up taking place inside. The window is part of the story, as is the room once used as a chapel. It has beautiful stained glass windows that show up in the story too. 

Stained glass window from inside the Somerset room.

Here's where things get really cool: 

Northampton House is throwing a murder-mystery dinner, and we want you to join us! 

Murder-Mystery Dinner 
at historic 
Northampton House
Tuesday, October 20
198 W 300 N American Fork, Utah

Guest Authors: 
Annette Lyon
Heather B. Moore
Sarah M. Eden
Jordan McCollum
Lisa Mangum
Josi S. Kilpack

6:00 PM 
Doors open to the public (FREE! NO TICKET required!)
Bookstore and author reception in the Somerset room, which is featured in "It's You."

7:00 PM
Delicious plated dinner and murder-mystery to solve, all in the Courtyard room, used for most of the Studio C video. 
Ticket required. Link below.

***Additional book signing to follow after the dinner & show.*** 

For the first time ever, the **paperback** of 
All Hallows' Eve will be available!

Come get yours and have it signed by the authors! 

Snag other books by the guest authors and even bring along any of their books you already own to get them signed as well.  

Look over the delicious menu options 
and get your tickets HERE.

Join us!

(Twenties-era costumes welcomed but not required.)

Sale Alert: A PORTRAIT FOR TONI is on sale for a few more days 
for only 99 cents, down for $3.99. Grab your copy by clicking the button below. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Big E-book Sale!

Who doesn't love a sale, right? Please pass this on to your friends who might be interested. 

Help us share it on Facebook and Twitter! 


Imperfect Love, by Rebecca Talley 

Regular Price: $3.99
SALE Price: $.99  

Lauren Wilson is well on her way to her happily-ever-after. She’s passionate about her career as a middle school English teacher, she adores her handsome, hard-working husband, and with a baby finally on the way, her perfect life is within her grasp.

But then a devastating test result changes everything.

Forced to choose between her baby and her husband, Lauren makes the only decision she can live with, and she returns to her small hometown in hopes of rebuilding her shattered life.

Ethan Campbell is a gifted photographer who travels the world and has no desire to settle down. When his mother dies, he must go home to settle her estate. Then it’s back to exciting adventures across the globe.

When Lauren crosses paths with Ethan, her teenage crush, old feelings resurface—feelings she’s not prepared to face. Will Lauren have the courage to trust again or will she spend her life alone? Imperfect Love is a story about sacrifice, healing, second chances, and discovering that although love isn’t always perfect, sometimes it’s the imperfect love that’s the sweetest of all.

A Change of Plans, by Donna K. Weaver

Regular Price: $3.99
SALE Price: $.99

Audio Book (If you own the e-book, the audio book is only $1.99)

When Lyn sets off on her supposedly uncomplicated and unromantic cruise, she never dreams it will include pirates. All the 25-year-old Colorado high school teacher wants is to forget that her dead fiancĂ© was a cheating scumbag. What she plans is a vacation diversion; what fate provides is Braedon, an intriguing surgeon. She finds herself drawn to him: his gentle humor, his love of music, and even his willingness to let her take him down during morning karate practices. Against the backdrop of the ship’s make-believe world and its temporary friendships, her emotions come alive.

However, fear is an emotion, too. Unaware of the sensitive waters he navigates, Braedon moves to take their relationship beyond friendship—on the very anniversary Lyn came on the cruise to forget. But Lyn’s painful memories are too powerful, and she runs off in a panic.

Things are bad enough when the pair finds themselves on one of the cruise’s snorkeling excursions in American Samoa. However, paradise turns to piracy when their party is kidnapped. Lyn’s fear of a fairytale turns grim. Now she must fight alongside the man she rejected, first for their freedom and then against storms, sharks, and shipwreck.

Salem Witch Haunt, by Theresa Sneed

Regular Price: $4.99
SALE Price: $2.99

When she finds herself thrust back in time, 17 year old Bess Martin, a senior at Danvers High, sets out on a mission to save her 11th great-grandmother from the gallows-tree. With a near-perfect knowledge of the historical events about to unfold, Bess knows the untimely fate of many. 

The problem is that Bess has inherited her grandmother’s sharp tongue—a tongue that caused her grandmother to be tried and hanged as a witch in Salem Village, 1692. 

Can Bess stop the hangings and change the course of history, or will she share her grandmother’s fate? 

Felicity: A Sparrow's Tale, by Loralee Evans

Regular Price: $2.99
SALE Price: $.99

Tales of adventure and danger have thrilled Felicity since Augustus, her ivory-billed woodpecker friend, taught her to read as a little nestling. She adores the tales of heroes and heroines who forge ahead in spite of all odds, and who always seem to succeed no matter what. More than anything, Felicity wants to be brave and selfless like them. 

But adventures are in short supply, especially for someone who’s just an ordinary sparrow. 

Until the day an unexpected visitor shows up at her tree with an unusual request…

Newbie, by Jo Noelle

Regular Price: $3.99
SALE Price: $.99

The housing market is crashing, and Sophie’s life is crashing with it. At twenty-four, her successful real estate career evaporates. She’s broke, can’t find a job, or pay her bills, leaving Sophie wondering how her successful lifestyle became so fragile.

At the urging of her roommate, Sophie accepts a job in her fallback career—teaching six-year-olds. She hopes it’s temporary. After all, how long can a tanking economy last anyway? The best part of the new job is Liam, another employee at Rio Grande Elementary. The worst part of the new job is, well, teaching.

Sophie has a surprise real estate closing from a contract she wrote months ago, leading her to a niche in the real estate market and to a new partner, Kevin. Sophie must choose between Liam or Kevin and between a lucrative career or recess duty.

Lost Without You, by Annette Lyon

Regular price: $2.99
SALE Price: $0.99

For months, Christopher Morris has been Brooke's idea of the perfect man—attractive, charming, and fun to be around. But lately he's begun acting strangely, becoming possessive, controlling, and moody. Brooke feels she has no choice but to break up with him, but Christopher doesn't take it well. He drives her wildly back home and gets into a car accident. 

That's when Brooke first meets police officer Greg Stevens. After she keeps meeting him—at the worst possible times—they begin dating. Greg confesses he's a widower and that Brooke is the first woman he has so much as looked at in years. 

But as Brooke agonizes over whether Greg will ever be able to truly love her, Christopher makes a dangerous return into her life, deciding that if he can't have her, no one can.

The Man from Shenandoah, by Marsha Ward

Regular Price: $2.99
SALE Price: $.99

When young cavalryman Carl Owen returns from the Civil War, he finds the family farm destroyed, his favorite brother dead, food scarce, and his father planning to leave the Shenandoah Valley to start a cattle operation in Colorado Territory.
But Pa does a bit more: he also chooses a suitable mate for both Carl and his younger brother, James.

With no one else in mind, Carl is agreeable to marrying the delightfully flirtatious Ida Hilbrands somewhere along the trail, but James is devastated. Ellen Bates isn't the girl he loves and must leave behind.

Making their way across the vast continent, the Owen family and their friends battle a prairie fire, internal strife, a band of vicious outlaws, and the land itself to try to achieve their goals, but before that can happen, the two brothers are fighting over the hand of one girl—and only one of them can win!

Dangerous Favor, by Joyce DiPastena

Regular Price: $3.99
SALE Price: $.99

Mathilde needs a champion.

Her father has been accused of stealing from the king, an allegation that has reduced her family to poverty. She has one chance to find and marry a man who can help her prove her father's innocence. Lord Therri, heir to a rich barony, has the wealth and connections Mathilde needs to delve into the mysteries of her father's past. Furthermore, Therri embodies all her romantic dreams.

Etienne, the younger son of a disgraced family, has neither wealth nor connections, but is smitten with Mathilde at a glance. She finds the knight intriguing, but believes he is only out to seduce her. While she seeks for a way to win Therri's attention, Etienne tricks her into granting him her favor, an embroidered white ribbon, for a tournament, setting in motion a dangerous chain reaction of events. 

Can Etienne save Mathilde from a nightmare from her past and prove himself the true hero of her dreams?

With No Regrets, by Julie N. Ford

Regular Price: $4.99
SALE Price: $.99


Living with no regrets is harder than it seems.

Finley isn’t exactly sure when her life began to feel unfamiliar. She suspects the transformation started long before she caught her husband and fellow garden club member doing the white-trash-two-step on her new Bernhardt sofa. Now free from the shackles of a loveless marriage, and with her children off to college, she’s finally able to go searching for the missing pieces of her heart.

Finley’s best friend, Cathyanne, is already working hard to ensure that Finley finds true love this time around. But when Finley is unwittingly tossed into the arms of two men—their sexy trainer and her neighbor, a popular country star—Cathyanne fears finding the right guy will be more complicated than she ever could have imagined.

For Finley, building a new life feels as impossible as flying a paper airplane to the moon. But maybe, just maybe, with the right help, she will find her whole heart—even if it’s in the very last place she thinks to look.

This Very Moment, by Rachel Ann Nunes

Regular Price: 4.99
SALE Price: $.99 

A Compelling Story of Heartbreaking Loss, Inspiring Faith, and a Newfound Love Strong Enough to Heal All Wounds.

Bill Dubrey is a sought-after plastic surgeon for LA’s prestigious and wealthy, and an equally sought-after bachelor. On the surface it appears he has it all—money, respect, and fame. Yet behind his aloof exterior lurks a tragic past that prevents him from finding lasting happiness.

All that changes on the day Kylee Stewart reenters his life. She alone knows Bill’s secret agony, and she is determined to help him face his past. During the years they’ve been apart, Kylee’s own life has been far from easy, but unlike Bill, she has turned to God in her need, finding a faith to which she desperately clings.

The tentative friendship they begin has Bill rethinking his stark future, yet he keeps his heart in check—afraid to commit, afraid to lose again. During Kylee’s darkest moment, when she needs him most, will he be there for her? 

Shooting Stars, by Philip Carroll

Regular Price: $3.99
SALE Price: FREE Sept 15-19

Chuck McWilliams is fourteen years old and had just started high school in Washington State when his father lost his job and moved them to the hot, dry, valley of Central California. Starting his freshman hear six weeks after the rest of the students, Chuck is insecure about finding his way, making new friends and overcoming bullying from members of the cross country team. 

When he is invited to the Homecoming Dance by a strange girl in his English class, Kelsey Llewellyn, he can't think of any reason to say no. Later that day Dahlia Chand, an attractive girl on the cross country team, asks him to the dance, he wonders if he has made a mistake. 

How a secretive student, Doug Le Roux, avoids the notice of the rest of the students, yet stands out so clearly to Chuck makes him wonder if something extraordinary is going on at this high school. 

Chuck will become entwined in an ages old battle with werewolves, vampires and elves that most of humankind is unaware of in their midst. Remarkably, he will find the most enchanting magic comes from romance.

Ideal High, by Valerie Ipson

Regular Price: $4.99
SALE Price: $1.99

There’s no way I’m taking Blake’s place as president of the student body. As soon as the memorial for him and six of our friends is over, I’m resigning as VP. Really.

Except people say the fire was no accident. (I say it’s way too easy to blame someone who’s dead.)

When I read the writing on the wall, literally, the bathroom wall, I know what it means. To get to the truth I have to come out from under my paisley comforter.

But, seriously, what stage of grief says I have to be the one to fix what’s wrong at Ideal High? Maybe I’m the one who’s broken.

First Love Second Choice, by Lindzee Armstrong

Regular Price: $.99

When wedding planner Keslee gets asked on a date by her long-lost high school crush, Bryce, everything should be perfect. But Bryce mistakes Keslee for her deceased twin sister, Jadyn. And Keslee doesn’t correct him. Talk about awkward. To make matters worse, she learns they’ll be seeing a lot more of each other because Bryce is the marketing director at the venue where Keslee’s new client has chosen to get married. Keslee knows the charade can’t last much longer, and fears she’ll lose Bryce forever when she tells him the truth.

Emerine's Nightmare, by Anna del C. Dye

Price: $2.99

What would you do if one night, life as you know it changes and you are left alone in despair? That is how Emerine’s nightmare starts and now all he does is run.

His family lived at the edge of the forest until dark shadows killed them all. Now they want him, and so does a magic tree. He has never seen dark shadows or enchanted trees before. Emerine has to get to the heart of Red Forest, to the fairy people. Only then he will be safe. Safe? He has never heard of fairies before and once he gets there what?

Cassandra Jones, by Tamara Hart Heiner

Regular Price: $3.99
SALE Price: FREE Sept 16-17

What's special about Cassandra? Absolutely nothing. She's as ordinary as any other fifth grader. And yet her ordinary life is riddled with hilarious and sometimes heart-breaking mishaps as she guides herself through the world of pre-teens on the brink of adulthood. 

Cassandra Jones is the new girl at school. She's been uprooted from her beloved state of Texas and relocated to the hillbilly Ozarks of Springdale, Arkansas. She wonders if she will like her teacher or if she will have any friends. She can only hope school won't be harder than it was back home. 

She doesn't expect to have two close friends, and even worse, two friends that don't like each other. As she tries to make a spot for herself, will she keep her friendships intact? 

Monday, August 24, 2015

The IF ONLY Trap

It's so easy for writers to compare themselves and their progress/careers/successes—or lack thereof—to others' and always be found wanting. While someone else seems to have everything peachy and perfect, and you don't, the reality is often quite different.

Case in point:

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be part of a planning lunch for a friend's launch party. A photo of those in attendance was posted online.

The next day, I met with two writer friends, and we discussed and planned some business things. We posted about some funny moments of the meeting.

Shortly after that, a fellow writer posted about how "everyone" is having so much fun with other writers and having success that they aren't having. I can only assume this person saw the posts, including some from me, about both the lunch and the meeting. From the outside, I'm sure both days looked like I was living the life.

Yeah, um, no. I could go on a long tangent about the many, many (MANY!) disappointments and road blocks I've run into in the 21 years I've been writing and submitting, but for now, a little perspective that's current:

Not 10 minutes after the lunch, I received some pretty devastating career news. The lunch, of course, was mentioned on social media. But I didn't mention the bad news publicly, or the fact that it overshadowed the fun of the lunch.

Then, during the planning meeting, sure, we had our moments of laughter, but they came largely after serious and frustrating discussions about what's NOT going right, how so much is out of our control, how many disappointments and failures we've run into and are still fighting to get through. The giggles were almost an effect of the stress and made up a small percentage of the whole.


Why don't I (and others) put all of the heartbreaks and disappointments out for the world to see? For many reasons (among them privacy), but in part because professionals know when to keep their mouth shut about those things. (Note how I'm not going into detail about those disappointments and hard times.)

Just because you aren't seeing the heartbreak and stress online doesn't mean it doesn't exist. In the same way you tidy your house before your friend comes to visit, professionals don't air their dirty laundry publicly. Sure, that means that what you see tends to be one sided, just like your friend probably thinks you maintain a tidier house than you really do.

I assure you, the hard stuff is still out there, it still happens, and it's brutal no matter where you are on the ladder. I don't know a single writer who has floated along unscathed—and I know a ton of writers, many far more successful than I am (New York Times bestsellers, USA Today bestsellers, and more). They all still have hard times in their careers, and I can assure you that career success doesn't mean that a fairy godmother has waved her magic wand to eliminate all challenges from a writer's personal life either.

We really need to stop envying others. Easier said than done—I've been guilty of it too, and far more often than I'd like to admit, because I know better.

Even so, I challenge writers, myself included, to deliberately go out of your way to find the joy in the PROCESS. Joy from writing doesn't—and can't—come from outside sources, even when we think it does.

How many of us have thought that we'd finally be happy if only X or Y were to happen? Wallow in those thoughts long enough, and you stop writing altogether, stop finding any kind of joy in the one thing that made you a writer to begin with.

You will have bought into the lie.

The truth: "IF ONLY" is a trap.

The real joy of writing comes from the time you spend brainstorming and researching and drafting and revising.

The joy comes when it's just you and the story—and sometimes when a beta reader can't put your work down.

Sometimes the joy comes when a beta reader finds a glaring problem, but you know exactly how to fix it.

Other times, it's when you've been over a piece so many times that you're sure it stinks, but when all is said and done, and you can step back objectively, you realize that hey, it's not so bad, and that you've grown as a writer.

If writing itself can't bring you some happiness, no accolades or bestseller status ever will. 

Don't get caught in the trap.

Get back to work.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


What's a cover reveal without a story, right?

Friends and long-time readers know that I have a love of Scandinavia, and in particular, Finland. A big part of that is the fact that my mother was born and raised there. Another is that my father did church service there for 2 1/2 years as a young man.

And no, they didn't meet then. Five years after his mission, he returned to Finland on a Fulbright scholarship to do research for his dissertation. That is when they met and courted, and the following autumn, they married.

Dad is a retired linguist (again, something long-time readers will already know). In addition to speaking Finnish, he taught Finnish literature at the university where he served as a linguistics professor. Throughout my childhood, we regularly had Finnish visitors, heard stories about the country, and so on. Christmas in particular became a time for family traditions centered around Finland.

When I was 6, my family visited Finland for three months, each in a different city for the summer. While I have some wonderful memories of that time, my true passion for the country came to life a few years later, when we returned to live in Helsinki for 3 years. I attended public school and eventually learned the language. I still have several dear friends there (and some who have immigrated to the States). And my love for all things Finnish has only continued to grow.

It was only a matter of time before that love informed my writing.

The fall of 2008, I finally had the chance to return to Finland for the first time since 1987. WOW. I felt like I'd returned home! Leaving was harder than I anticipated; I cried at the airport. But as I flew back to the States with my husband, I already had a story idea percolating in the back of my mind. I didn't know the details yet, but I knew I wanted to write a retelling of one of the stories in the Finnish mythology, known as the Kalevala.

So I did. I read large sections of the Kalevala and spent a long time working on expanding the story of Aino into a full-length novel.

And I'm thrilled to say that after many delays (a lot of them professional obligations that pushed this project to the back burner, many others family things because, well, family trumps, as well it should), my retelling of the story, now titled Song Breaker, will be released this fall!

I don't have a final date yet, as a few variables still need to be worked out, but I hope to have it available for readers no later than the first week of October (hopefully sooner!).

In the meantime, here's the amazing cover, designed by the immensely talented Sarah Beard:

Isn't it gorgeous?!

If you want to be kept up to date on the release of Song Breaker, be sure to sign up for my newsletter (do that in the white box in the sidebar).

And in the meantime, take a peek at the reviews coming in for the Annette Lyon Collection from Timeless Romance Anthologies, featuring five stories that are fan favorites plus one all-new novella.

The collection is available HERE.

A blog tour for the collection is going on right now. Here are some of the stops so far.
Katie’s Clean Book Collection
Bookworm Lisa
I Love to Read and Review Books
Literary Time Out

(Find the full list of blog tour stops HERE.)

I love gazing at the cover. 
It's just so awesome in so many ways!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Where I Get My Inspiration

Note: My Timeless Romance Anthology is now available! Get it HERE for Amazon or HERE for iTunes. Other purchase links below.

Inspiration is like a pile of Lego blocks.
Recently on Facebook, someone (Im forgetting who, unfortunately) tagged me and several other writers to ask where we find our inspiration.

I wasnt sure how to answer because the term inspiration can be defined in so many ways. Did she mean how do I find ideas? How do I find the inspired rush that drives me to the keyboard? Something else?

I never did get around to answering the question when it was posted, but it’s been tumbling around in my head for some time, so I thought I’d tackle it here from the perspective my 20+ years of writing seriously (plus another 15 of dabbling in it).

Finding things to write about is one type of inspiration. Finding ideas isn’t the hard part; they’re everywhere. Finding good ideas with a fresh angle that are interesting and worth pursuing is a big trickier. In my experience, the good ideas are the ones where at least two very different things suddenly come together in your head in a new way.

The trick is making yourself open to absorbing all kinds of input and then letting your brain play with the resulting stack of Lego idea bricks to see what kind of thing you can make with the new blocks you found.

The magic of a shiny new idea, at least for me, often happens when my brain takes two pieces of information that seem utterly unconnected, clicks them together like Lego pieces, and I suddenly have a shiny new “what if” scenario that gets me so excited I can’t stop thinking about it. 

And you can’t plan for the kind of sudden click (or collision, however you look at it) of ideas. It happens unexpectedly, unpredictably. That’s part of the magic of the creative process. 

So if you can’t pencil in that youll have a flash of brilliance at 1:34 PM on Tuesday when you need an idea, how exactly do you make sure you’ll have great ideas when you need them and that you won’t run out of them?

(1) Constantly Fill Your Well
Be aware of what’s around you. Soak it all in. Keep up with current events where you live and abroad. Read up on weird trivia. Read a lot: novels in your genre and outside it, nonfiction, magazines, and more. I’m not a fast reader, but I do read regularly and a wide variety of .

People watch then think of ways to describe that mannerism the man over there made. Or come up with a good (non-clichĂ©) metaphor to describe the way the lake looks right now. This mental kind of game is especially big when I travel to a new place. I go out of my way to notice colors, smells, and sounds. I pay attention to how people behave. What the food is like. And so on. My creative inner child have fun with the building blocks. I have no way of knowing which details will eventually show up in a story, so I drink it all in. The more that’s in the well, the more variety of Lego blocks my mind has to play with and land on an unexpected combination.

When I’m in a new place, I take pictures to trigger my memory. I take notes that day but often after the fact rather than in the moment so I don’t miss noticing anything, and so I can immerse myself in an experience.

By filling your well up with outside stimuli, you’re giving your creative subconscious the Lego blocks it needs if it’s going to build something cool. Be sure to give it plenty of supplies for the job. 

Other ideas: Read and watch the news and imagine scenarios from the victims’ perspective and from the perpetrator’s. Law enforcement’s, too. Watch news magazine shows and imagine what really went on in those people’s lives. Sometimes I get ideas from songs, but that’s usually on road trips when I’m listening to the same album over and over because a child insists on it, and because the long hours of open road let my mind wander.

Mental wandering, Ive found, is key to landing on great ideas. Mundane chores and activities are fabulous for letting the creative mind meander through the creative well so it will come back with ideas. That kind of wandering rarely yields fruit if you’re stressed out and trying to force it. 

I’ve had ideas (and even solutions to big plot problems) pop into my head while mowing the lawn, doing dishes, vacuuming, sorting laundry, drying my hair, taking a shower, and (as mentioned already) driving long distances. Note that in all of those activities, chances are, I am in a relaxed state, and in many of them I am physically moving. For me, those elements are often key for the best brainstorming.

In contrast, the more I try to force an idea to show up RIGHT NOW, the more likely my creative brain will panic and retreat. 

(2) Make Yourself a Small Box and Get Inside It.
A completely different way of being inspired with new ideas came about for me after I joined forces with Heather B. Moore and Sarah M. Eden with the Timeless Romance Anthology series. Each story I write for the series has a specific theme on top of being either historical or contemporary (very different animals themselves). We’ve consistently put out 3 to 4 collections a year for some time now, so I always have another novella deadline around the corner.

That sounds pretty terrifying, but as it turns out, the thematic requirements haven’t been restrictive; they’ve been utterly freeing

It reminds me of a board game that some family members were chosen to be beta testers for. They brought it to a family dinner, and we all played. The game had cards with abstract shapes and lines all over them, and depending on how things went, sometimes you could get points for finding any object on a card, or you had to find objects belonging to a specific category (fruits, vehicles, school supplies). At first, we assumed that the free-for-all turns would be easier because no object was off limits. But without exception, the free-for-all turns were when we all choked, unable to see much of anything. 

But give us a specific category, and we could spot pictures everywhere (Look! Grapes! Thats a pineapple. I found an apple, orange, and strawberry. Ooh, a pear!) And on it went. The more specific the requirement, the easier it was for our minds to see patterns.

My experience with the anthologies has been similar: If someone were to tell me to write a short story or novella about anything at all, in any genre, right now, that could be tricky. But give me clear parameters (e.g. a paranormal historical romance set during Halloween, like our next Timeless collection will be), and suddenly, ideas start popping up all over the place. 

Case in point: A few months ago, knowing I needed to write my All Hallows’ Eve story, I drove past a cool old church at night. I noticed a light on above a door, coming through the window above it. Immediately, I thought of how cool it would be if there were a ghost in the building, and I was seeing its light through the window. 

As I drove on (likely to pick up a child from some activity), I knew Id landed on the seed of the story that will be in that collection. The story itself didn’t show up until later, after I toured the church and another local historic site, but I knew the story would involve a ghost and that church window. (See the news below about when to expect that collection!)

Quite often, the smaller the box you must work inside, the easier the ideas come to fill it. If you don’t have a box given to you from an outside source, create one. Look online for writing prompts to create a box. You may find a new book idea, or you may have fun with a writing exercise. Either way, its worth your time. 

This is another way of defining inspiration, and it’s a different ball of wax entirely. I’d go so far as to say that for the most part, it’s a myth.

Sure, writers all have moments of feeling drawn to the keyboard, and those moments are probably what first lit the excitement inside us about writing in the first place. But those moments are usually fleeting and spaced far apart. 

Life gets in the way (so does the internet and so many other things), and then the writing doesn’t happen. If you write only when inspiration strikes, it’ll take you fifteen years (or more) to finish the first draft a project. Along the way, you’ll probably take several detours by starting ten other shiny new projects . . . without finishing any of them, either.

A truth: Often getting a writing session started is the hardest part. The muse, the inspiration, simply isn’t there. Even after writing for as long as I have, getting down to work can be a battle. I know that if I force myself to start pounding out words, and especially if I give myself permission to have those words be garbage instead of feeling the pressure to make them all perfect, then within fifteen minutes, I will almost certainly slip into the magic of flow. The inspiration will show up, and the writing session will become productive and even fun.

The order of those events is key: Before inspiration to write strikes, you have to start writing without it.

I have to work without out any inspiration or excitement, at least at first. I have to force myself to write, knowing that the only way out is through. Sometimes I’ve put in the work, and every word was dragged out of my fingers kicking and screaming. That can happens for days or weeks or months at a time, so I start thinking that I really do suck at this thing, and I’ll never feel the creative rush again.

But if I keep showing up and producing words, the inspiration eventually does show up, and suddenly, I never I remember why I do this crazy thing, and I never want to leave the keyboard.

That feeling is pretty darn amazing. But it’s not something I can sit around waiting for. It won’t come that way. You show up first. The muse will eventually see that you really do take your writing seriously. As a result, it will start to show up at a certain time because she knows she can count on you to already be there.

For more on inspiration and writing, I highly recommend Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on the subject. I’ve watched it several times over the years, and I get something new from it every time.


FIRST: On August 3, watch for the release of the All Hallows Eve collection from Timeless Romance Anthologies, featuring guest contributors Elana Johnson, Jordan McCollum, and Lisa Mangum, in addition the three of us who appear in each volume (Heather B. Moore, Sarah M. Eden, and yours truly). Find its beautiful and creepy cover HERE. This is where my ghost story will published!

SECOND: The next volume after that celebrates the Christmas season: Under the Mistletoe will be released mid-October, in time for readers to enjoy it in the weeks leading up to the holiday season. Here's the link to the cover reveal. We have some great guest authors on board for it!

The Annette Lyon Collection from Timeless Romance Anthologies is LIVE, and the reviews are starting to come in. Snag it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or iTunes, and watch for the blog tour later this month.

Monday, July 06, 2015

$50 Giveaway & the Awesome Rachelle

A little over 5 years ago, I hosted Rachelle J. Christensen in an author interview right here on my blog. In the time since, I've come to know her a bit better, and I've been impressed with her savvy-ness as a writer and business woman on top of being one of the most genuinely  nice and sincere people you'll ever meet.

On top of all that, she's writing a ridiculously fun mystery series centered around wedding planner Adrielle Pyper, who ends up entangled in the mystery and sleuthing.

The second book comes out Tuesday July 7. It stands alone, so you don't have to read the first one, Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things first (but get it at that link if you want to!).

You can pre-order the Kindle version (only $2.99!) or the paperback already. Check out the details of her book below and then enter the $50 giveaway!


Veils and Vengeance, book #2 in the Wedding Planner Mystery Series from award-winning & bestselling author Rachelle J. Christensen.
Available July 7th with an ebook sale price of only $2.99!

Veils and Vengeance (Wedding Planner Mysteries Book 2)
“Author Rachelle J. Christensen has created likable and realistic characters. She blends the drama of a mystery with the allure of weddings mixing in a good dose of humor, suspense, and of course, a touch of romance.” –Mason Canyon, reviewer

Veils and Vengeance
Here's a blurb about the book. Be sure to enter the giveaway and the goodreads giveaway below!

Veils and Vengeance by Rachelle J. Christensen When wedding planner Adrielle Pyper goes to Hawaii to orchestrate a destination wedding, she isn't prepared for what she finds. After the trauma of her previous event, the beautiful isle of Kauai is the perfect place for Adri to unwind and do what she does best – plan. She even lets herself indulge in the attention of the groom’s handsome brother. But just when everything seems to be perfect, an afternoon snorkeling trip turns to murder when Adri discovers the body of a young woman. Shaken, but unable to let it go, Adri’s sleuthing leads her into more danger than she could imagine. When a number of “accidents” threaten her own life, it soon becomes apparent that someone will do anything to keep Adri from interfering with their vengeance.   add to goodreads Enter the Goodreads Giveaway here:     

What's that? You haven't read book #1 yet? Never fear, check it out here Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things: A Wedding Planner Mystery (Wedding Planner Mysteries) !

Praise for Rachelle J. Christensen

“A fun walk-down-the-aisle cozy mystery!” – Shauna Wheelwright, reviewer

Fans of award-winning author Rachelle Christensen will be standing in line for her latest release. With tension, action, danger, and definite hints of romance, this book represents everything we love to read.”  Tristi Pinkston, author of the Secret Sisters Mysteries

Author Rachelle J. Christensen has created likable and realistic characters. She blends the drama of a mystery with the allure of weddings mixing in a good dose of humor, suspense, and of course, a touch of romance.” –Mason Canyon, reviewer

Heres the exact way to turn an improbable plot into a rollicking suspense novel, full of surprises and twists, and wonderful characterizations. Jeff Needle prominent book reviewer from the AML

Don’t expect to get a lot of sleep . . . . If the thrills of the chase don’t get you, the thrills of the heart will.
–Jeffrey S Savage, author of the Shandra Covington mystery series and the Mysteries of Cove series

Photo by Erin Summerill

Author Rachelle J. Christensen Rachelle J. Christensen is a mother of five who writes mystery/suspense and solves the case of the missing shoe on a daily basis. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in psychology and a minor in music. She enjoys singing and songwriting, playing the piano, running, motivational speaking, and, of course, reading. Rachelle is the award-winning author of six books, including Wrong Number, Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things, and What Every 6th Grader Needs to Know. Her novella, Silver Cascade Secrets, was included in the Rone Award-winning Timeless Romance Anthology: Fall Collection.

$50 Book Blast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 7/21/15. Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized and sponsored by Rachelle Christensen. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
a Rafflecopter giveaway