Good bye Summer,

WoMS 3d finalGood bye Weddings on Main Street. The weather in Northern California takes longer than most places to get the message that summer is done. Especially since it is over 90 here today. LOL But I always see Labor Day as the end of the season.

Weddings on Main Street, the summer boxed set from autumn leaves 3Authors of Main Street had an amazing run. It went up on June 9th and came down after Labor Day. Just like white shoes and bikinis; it is time to pack away summer and to move on to colorful leaves falling on the grass, cool mornings and crisp evening air.

LoveintheTimeofZombies smallMoving on to other projects is always exciting. So, I will dig into Love in the Time of Zombies hoping to have it up for pre-order sometime in September, releasing sometime in October and also, to work on Ghostly Intentions which finaled in a contest recently. Looking forward to getting to know zombie hunters Emily Gray and Seth Ripley and ghost releaser Jack O’Malley and my haunted heroine Megan Trent.

Fall into Romance this autumn!!  Jill James

 

I was going to blog…

about Hachette/Amazon, JA Konrath fisking everyone, the usual us vs. them of it all. Then I decided to go edit the zombie book and play Candy Crush Saga! LOL

pile of booksHappy writing to all my writer friends and happy reading to everyone, because in the end that is all that matters; the writers and the readers. Everyone else is just in the way.

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Jill James, contemporary and paranormal romance writer and reader of all things romance

And the survey says…..

Recently, I replied on an interesting survey. The questions were related to what you read, what you write, and words you use or like in books and the ones you don’t. Here are the results.

http://jillblake.blogspot.com/2014/05/survey-results-how-do-you-say.html?zx=6e17fdd61a455359

Enjoy and come back here to comment if you want or comment on the Jill Blake blog.

Jill James, writer of paranormal and contemporary romance
The Reluctant Bride, coming June 1st.
Weddings on Main Street boxed set, coming June 9th.

The Fun of Research — Jill James

Recently, I had the privilege of reading a fellow writer’s current story. It was a great story and you could really tell that she did her research. Her book included sign language, bee-keeping, and photography. She did an excellent job of weaving the research into the story without an info dump. An info dump is when an author shows off that they did research and wants to include every little tidbit they found in the story. LOL

Even a contemporary story can make a writer do insane amounts of research. You could set your story in Texas and you better know where and when the bluebells bloom. Have a story set in San Francisco and you need to know monthly weather like February is a great month to visit, cable car routes and where they go, and whether the sea lions are at or have left Pier 39.

A science fiction romance still needs science fiction facts to make it believable. Distances between planets and galaxies can make your story real or implausible. If interspecies relations are allowed and how they are possible. Like they said in a Star Trek movie, not all genitals are located in the same place.

Once you get all those facts right, then you have to weave them seamlessly into the story so the reader doesn’t notice that you did so. You can show small places in your story with a fact that adds to the richness of the story, but doesn’t overpower with hit-you-over-the-head factoids. Don’t mention the whole history of matches, just have the hero use one of those newfangled things. Don’t tell the whole history of shipping, let the heroine marvel at how fast she is getting from England to India on a steamer.

Writers love research. Sometimes we love it so much that you have to drag us back to the story. We can spend hours checking facts and discovering new ones. That is the fun of research.

Do you know any fun facts to share?

Jill James, writer of romance and lover of research.
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The Eyes Have It by Jill James

Your eyes are very important for everyone, but I really like to have them for writing on my computer. Today I have my annual eye doctor appointment and I can feel that it is time. The screen is starting to get fuzzy if my head isn’t exactly in the right spot and angle. (I have tri-focals)

I’ve noticed that many writers suffer from migraines. Not sure if we are pre-disposed, or we are just asking for them with the hours spent writing, reading, editing, and social networking. But a good pair of glasses is priceless. 20/20 vision would be priceless too, but I haven’t had that since I was 14. LOL

I started out with the big plastic frames and coke-bottle bottom lenses. The only reason the lenses aren’t still as thick is because optometrists have gotten more talented at grinding them. 🙂

Take care of your eyes and get regular check-ups – Jill James

(secret project coming along!!)

Who is reading YA (Young Adult) books?

The answer might surprise you. Adults 18 and older are buying the majority of YA books (those intended for ages 12-17). When YA book buyers were asked, a large percentage said the books were purchased, not for a child, but for themselves to read.

Click HERE for the rest of the article at Publisher’s Weekly.

I know that I like to read some YA, like Twilight, Unwind, and Harry Potter, but I was amazed and amused by the idea that lots of quality YA books are available and being read by adults.

Question: Do you like to read YA? Or do you think it is just for kids? Do you or would you write a YA novel?

Jill James, author of contemporary and paranormal romance
Tempting Adam, Divorce, Interrupted, Dare To Trust, and Dangerous Shift
Defend My love, coming soon!

Read an E-Book Week

March 4th – 10th, 2012

This week my debut book, Tempting Adam is 10% off or $2.69 at The Wild Rose Press http://tinyurl.com/3gagsf6

My first Indie book, Divorce, Interrupted is FREE at Smashwords for the week. Just go to the book page and put the discount code: RE100 at checkout. http://tinyurl.com/3pbwmkm

Book 1 Divorce, Interrupted and Book 2 Someone to Trust are still 99 cents everywhere else Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/3c3fvng http://tinyurl.com/7txssb5  Barnes & Noble online: http://tinyurl.com/3o864py http://tinyurl.com/85rtjxk

Book 3 A Family Again is in progress.

Blogging tomorrow at 99 cents eBooks about Someone To Trust and giving the code again for Divorce, Interrupted at Smashwords.

Enjoy the week! Read an E-Book!!

Jill James

Guest Blog – Cynthia Woolf

Today I decided to hop over to Maree Anderson’s blog. But before I left I had a nice chat with Cynthia Woolf. Enjoy a peak into Cynthia’s world and see her beautiful cover for Centauri Midnight and please leave any questions or comments for Cynthia, she will be visiting all day.

Jill: What was the idea that started your story?

Cynthia: When I was about fifteen and going through all the angst that teenagers go through, I had a dream.  One night I dreamed I was a princess from Alpha Centauri brought to Earth and raised by a family here in order to save my life.

Sound familiar?  If should.  It’s the storyline of my first book, Centauri Dawn.  The other two books in the series grew from that premise.

Jill: I love stories that come from dreams. I wrote my first manuscript that way. OK, so the question all writers get asked, are you a plotter or a pantser?

Cynthia: I’m a pantser all the way.  I do start out with a few paragraphs describing the story line but that’s all.

I keep taking plotting classes hoping that one will stick but so far…nada.  I know it would be easier on me if I plotted.  I’d end up with a lot fewer sagging middles.  But when I try to plot out the book I get tired of the story before I’ve even written it.  It’s like I already know what’s going to happen so why write the story.

Jill: I’ve heard a lot of pantsers say that. So, for a fun question, if you got a million dollar deal tomorrow, what crazy thing would you do? 

Cynthia: I’d by two first class tickets to Hawaii and stay there at our favorite resort for a month while we decide what to do with the rest of the money.  I know it’s not too crazy but what can I say?  I’m not a very crazy person.

Jill: Sounds like a crazy and fun thing to do. I could take Hawaii for a month. Wait, after a month I might decide to stay there. LOL  Readers want to know, what books did you love as a child?

Cynthia: I loved all books.  Still do.  My mother was a librarian so I had access to every book in the library, actually any book available to the library because she could order it from other libraries if ours didn’t have it.  I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time and loving it.  Also the Nancy Drew mysteries and anything by Emily Loring and Victoria Holt.  I devoured everything they wrote.

Jill: Wow! A writer’s dream come true, free rein in the library. So, along with reading, writers must have food. What is your must-have food or treat for writing?

Cynthia: When I’m home I have to have coffee flavored with French vanilla creamer.  It doesn’t matter if it’s regular or decaf as long as it has the creamer.

If I’m at Starbucks I drink a venti, skinny, Caramel Macchiato.

Jill: Ahhh, Starbucks. The nirvana of writers everywhere. Thanks for stopping by for the interview.

Cynthia’s Bio:

Cynthia Woolf was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden.  She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends.

Their closest neighbor was one-quarter of a mile away, so her little brother was her playmate and her best friend.  That fierce friendship lasted until his death in 2006.

Cynthia was and is an avid reader.  Her mother was a librarian and brought new books home each week.  This is where young Cynthia first got the storytelling bug.  She wrote her first story at the age of ten.  A romance about a little boy she liked at the time.

She worked her way through college and went to work full-time straight after graduation and there was little time to write.  Then in 1990 she and two friends started a round robin writing a story about pirates.  She found that she missed the writing and kept on with other stories.  In 1992 she joined Colorado Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America.  Unfortunately, the loss of her job demanded the she not renew her memberships and her writing stagnated for many years.

In 2001, she saw an ad in the paper for a writers conference being put on by CRW and decided she’d attend.  One of her favorite authors, Catherine Coulter, was the keynote speaker.  Cynthia was lucky enough to have a seat at Ms. Coulter’s table at the luncheon and after talking with her, decided she needed to get back to her writing.  She rejoined both CRW and RWA that day and hasn’t looked back.

Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and the great friends she’s made at CRW for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.

You can find Cynthia at http://www.cynthiawoolf.com

Going International

One of the most amazing thrills is seeing your book selling in other countries. Via Smashwords I have sales to the Netherlands and now via Amazon.de I have sales in Germany. How cool is that?!

I was thrilled to see my first few sales when I first put my book out by self-publishing. Now I am seeing people on the other side of the world purchasing my book. Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how thrilling that would be. These aren’t people I know, they just saw my book, or Tweet, or Facebook page and decided to try my writing.

I sit here in awe of the power of writing and reaching readers across the entire planet. The world has changed so much since I wrote The Runaway Chevrolet in the fifth grade with paper and pencil, and my first attempts on an old Royal typewriter, and nothing shows that more than a sale on Amazon.de or Amazon.UK. The wonders of this brave new world are amazing.

Thanks to the power of ereaders writers can reach the whole world.

What do you find amazing about this new ereader and Indie Publishing world?

Jill James

The Climax

This is the moment in your story when the reader gets the big payoff. It only works if you skillfully lead up to it. For instance; it isn’t just the time of the big fight between the hero and villain. The climax leads up to a struggle on a cliff and the fall and demise of the villain. The climax is not just the villain falling off the cliff and dying. It is all the action that gets us to that point.

The hero realizing the heroine didn’t show at the rendezvous spot because the villain kidnapped her. The hero rushing to save her before the villain can get the heroine to a shady preacher who will marry them even if the heroine is gagged. To add tension we can have the couple married but our hero arrives before the heroine can be deflowered. The big fight between the men is just the culmination of the climax.

Don’t think of the climax as when the hero and heroine kiss and say I love you…..finally. Have it be those moments leading up to that big event. In the Princess Bride, Wesley storms the castle, finds Buttercup, fights a war of words with the Prince, and wins the fair Buttercup. All of that is the climax. The kiss at the end is the reward for living through the climax.

If you set up the climax right it is so tension-filled that the reader will need a break afterward to enjoy how traumatic the moment was and how lovely everything worked out now.

Remember to ratchet up the action or emotions to a peak before the actual climax to make the payoff worth more. Keep them turning until the very last page.

Jill James

A job is a job.

Or is it? In most romance novels these days it seems like all the cool jobs; cop, firefighter, Navy SEAL, Sheik, are taken. What’s a writer to do? I say, go back to basics.

Sometimes a hero is an accountant or a house painter. Your strength of character, your moral fiber, is not defined by your pay check.

In Tempting Adam, my hero is the CEO of a Hollywood movie studio because originally I was writing the story to send to Silhouette Desire. In Divorce, Interrupted I mention that Todd works long hours and ignores his family, but I don’t really mention what his office job really is. In Trust In Me, my current work in progress, Jackson Brady is a carpenter with a construction company. He is very much blue-collar, down to earth, and mostly truthful. He has some skeletons in the closet that will wreak havoc with his budding romance with Evie Grimes, antique store co-owner.

Any job can be exciting for your characters if you dig deep and make it real. Any small detail can make the story brighter, bolder, more lifelike.

Readers: do you like exciting jobs in your reading? Writers: how do you make your characters jobs exciting?

Jill James

Book Reviews – eBooks vs. Paper

I spent Sunday afternoon catching up on leaving book reviews for my recent reads. I leave them four places; Amazon, BN.com, Goodreads, and Shelfari. On Fridays I’ll do a review on my blog for a book I have read that week.

I’ve noticed something strange. I keep forgetting to leave book reviews for the reads on my Nook. When I see the pile of books on my desk I know it is time to leave some reviews. I enjoyed the books and I want the authors to know that. But, with my Nook off, I totally forget what I read this week and forget to do reviews. I have a bad habit of finishing a book and going straight to My Library and starting another book.

Do you do reviews for your favorite reads? How do you remember to do ones for your eBook reads?

Jill James

Alpha vs. Beta

I know all about Alpha males. I’m surrounded by them; my husband, my son, and my grandson. I even have my Alpha female moments.

Alphas in romance novels are firefighters, police officers, Navy SEALS, Green Berets, any position where they have to be in charge.

Betas are a little harder to find; professors, computer geeks, intellectuals and those in non-traditional male roles; kindergarten teacher or male nurse. Once an author mentioned NBC’s Chuck as the perfect Beta. He is a computer geek who does not go looking for confrontation and will run away from it if at all possible. BUT, he will step up to the plate if necessary.

Add Falling Skies, Tom Mason as played by Noah Wylie to the list. He starts out as a true Beta, a history professor at a college. After the aliens attack he steps up to the plate. He will die to defend his sons and the people he is put in charge of by the military leader. I think this show is going to show excellent character development of his role.

A true Beta will try to use diplomacy, tact, logic. When those fail he will learn to kick ass to defend what is his. Not too bad of a guy to have in a fight.

Do you like Alphas or Betas? In books or movies? In real life?

Jill James

The Keeper Shelf

Any reader knows of the keeper shelf. Any romance writer is a voracious reader and aware of the keeper shelf too. The keeper shelf is the shelf or shelves of books you have to keep, to re-read over and over again.

I have several bookcases of hard covers and a giant bookcase in the garage of paperbacks that number probably in the hundreds. I love books. I started reading at 2 1/2 years old and I’ve collected tons of books since then. I have my childhood classics; Black Beauty, Little Woman, Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, and so many more. I have all the books of my favorite romance writers; Jennifer Blake, Shirlee Busbee, Joanna Lindsay, Bertrice Small, and so many others. I have all my friends who are now published; Karin Tabke, Tawny Weber, Amy Atwell, and now Sharon Hamilton and P.A. Moore.

So now we have the age of e-readers; the Kindle, the Nook, and others. So, how do you decide what to save on a “keeper shelf” on an eReader? Do you collect hundreds of them and have several memory cards? Do you only keep series or favorites?

What will be on the “keeper shelf” of your eReader? What is on your physical keeper shelves?  Jill James

Steampunk

Steampunk – the word is heard everywhere. Fashion, movies, and books.

From Wikipedia:

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s.[1] Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; in other words, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne or real technologies like the computer but developed earlier in an alternate history.

Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” for such technology as dirigibles, analog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace‘s Analytical engine.

Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk. They have considerable influence on each other and share a similar fan base, but steampunk developed as a separate movement. Apart from time period and level of technology, the main difference is that steampunk settings tend to be less dystopian.

Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical “steampunk” style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.

This weekend I went to the movies to see Source Code and there was a preview for The Three Musketeers, definitely Steampunk-inspired with dirigibles, fire shooting cannons, booby traps and such, all mechanically operated.

What do you think of this rash of Steampunk inspiration? Do you have a favorite Steampunk movie or book?

The Golden Globes

I love award shows. I love seeing how everyone is dressed and who is with whom. Although it does not have the prestige of the Oscars I love how much the actors seem to have fun and enjoy mingling with their peers. I think it is great that you can get acknowledgment for your work.

Writers don’t always have such tangible proof of their hard work. We can get great sales numbers, on a list like the New York Times or USA Today, and romance has the Rita, but those are things the general reader may not know, understand, or care about. The best way to show our hard work is to write the next book.

Having the next book coming soon or a backlist to direct readers to is the only thing a writer has to give to a reader. A good story is the best present you can give.

I’m working on the next book right now. So back to work.  Jill James