#CritiqueGroup

http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett/dp/1631030035/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405879835&sr=1-7&keywords=denim+%26+diamonds

Lori L. Robinett, author

The number of people who want to write novels is quite high, but very few people actually make it happen.  I get questions fairly often from aspiring writers, and a common question is how I found my critique group. My group is close-knit and I am very fortunate to have found them. Based on my experiences, here are my suggestions for finding your own group:

  • National Novel Writing Month. We all started as NaNo’ers. That’s how we met. When you participate in NaNo, you find others in your area who share your passion for writing. Some people might call it crazy, but we prefer to call it passion. ;o)
  • Network. Talk to your librarian. Tell people you work with that you are a writer. Tell your family and friends. Chances are, you’ll find other aspiring writers.
  • Test Drive. Don’t commit to a group until you’ve had a chance to read each other’s writing. Genre doesn’t matter as much as passion, enthusiasm, dedication, and skill level.
  • Find what works for you. My group meets every other week. We send a few chapters to each other by email the week before we meet, then we talk over suggested critiques face to face. But that may not work for you – do you want a high level overview of an entire novel, or are you looking for intensive line edits?

In a future post, I’ll give some tips about how to get the most out of your critique group. If you have ideas/tips, I’d love to hear them!

 

#Relationships

http://lorilrobinett.comBooks are about relationships, right? And those relationships aren’t perfect. In my first book, Denim & Diamonds, Beth has been estranged from her father for years. Her parents divorced when she was young and she didn’t see her dad much when she was growing up. As an adult, she didn’t have to see him, so she didn’t. But after he died, she mourned the loss of that relationship. She wanted to get that feeling of home back . . . and that’s what she spent the book doing. Searching for “home.”

  • Forgive. This is easier to do when the other person leaves you a lot of $$.
  • Realize there’s more to the story. Beth finds out that both her parents had secrets.
  • Breathe. Sometimes that’s all you can do. Breathe in, breathe out.  Fresh country air is the best medicine.
  • Communicate. Be open to words from beyond the grave. Old letters can say an awful lot.
  • Give it time. Go on about your business, do your thing, live your life.
  • Move on. Literally. Beth moves to a ranch. So, it’s her daddy’s ranch . . . but the change of scenery is just what she needs.

If you want to read a light story about a woman searching for home, pick up a copy of Denim & Diamonds.

#Christians Weigh in on Religion in the #PresidentialRace

Yesterday morning, I watched Meet the Press and part of the discussion involved a question posed to Governor Scott Walker as to whether or not he thought Barack Obama is a Christian. Gov. Walker responded that he didn’t know.

As I watched, I was a bit uncomfortable. As I rolled the comments over in my mind after Meet the Press was over, I realized why. One particular word in that exchange bothered me. Christian. Does this mean that no one other than a Christian has a chance? What if, GASP, a Jew ran for President? Remember the controversy when Mitt Romney (a Mormon!) ran? I suspect some of the same people who insist that our President MUST be a Christian have no concept of how narrow that is. Apparently we can’t even conceive of a time when a humanist or atheist or Pagan would run. What would happen if someone of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s IQ ran? Does intelligence matter? Does a person’s humanity matter? What about someone’s work ethic? Compassion?

Personally, I don’t care what religion our President practices. I’m much more concerned with his/her basic values and plan for our country.

Exchanges like the one around Gov. Walker’s response does nothing to improve the way non-Christians view Christians. And whether folks in the U.S. want to admit it or not, that’s a problem in today’s world.

#FiftyShades of Reality – Part 2

That movie just opened last week and it’s still everywhere – on blogs, on Facebook, on TV, and on the tongues of women everywhere. I just watched a short trailer, and the scene showed the two characters sitting at a long dining room table, one at each end. That got me to thinking about reality vs. TV.

When I got married, I had all sorts of ideas about what married life would be like. It was all romanticized, influenced by movies and TV and books. Even though marriage hasn’t been exactly what I imagined, I’m quite happy with the reality:

http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett-ebook/dp/B00M8N210Y/

Gracie & Peanut

We sleep in a king-sized bed, but with a miniature Beagle and a miniature Schnauzer wedged between us.

No long dining room table for us – we eat in the living room on our coffee table. At least it’s one of those that swings up to table height.

No gourmet meals at our house. Most nights it’s soup out of a can or grilled cheese because we’re both tired from work.

Jetting off to an exotic location isn’t in the cards, but we did spend Valentine’s Day browsing a really cool antique mall.

While TV romancers send huge bouquets of flowers for Valentine’s Day, my hubby surprised me with a drawer to hold K-cups – and my Keurig sits right on top, so there’s no lost counter space. THAT was a perfect Valentine’s Day. For me.

As I read back over this list, I realize just how lucky I am. This marriage thing may not be straight out of a romantic movie, but it makes me incredibly happy.

How about you? How different is your life than what you imagined?

#FiftyShades of Reality

Seems like everywhere I’ve gone to online for the past week has been papered with cheers and jeers for Fifty Shades of Grey. I haven’t read the book (too many of my writer friends have commented on how poorly written it is – I’m struggling to improve my writing – don’t need to read examples of poorly written stuff!) and have no intention of seeing the movie. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a prude. Whatever two consenting adults do is okay with me. But I do worry about the romanticism of what sounds like an abusive relationship. A BDSM contract? Stalking? Control?

Um, no thanks.

Instead, I love books and movies that tell the reality of relationships (but not too much reality). Everything isn’t all roses and champagne and limo rides and opera. That’s probably why I used to read LaVyrle Spencer books. Her heroines were real, lived in regular houses, and had a little meat on their bones. Her heros had baggage, sometimes did the wrong thing, but always treated the heroine with respect and kindness.

That’s what I strive to do in my writing: create a bit of romance without it being saccharine or fake. That said – it is nice to add a little money to the mix to make the reality of life a bit more fun! ;o)

But I digress. What is it about Fifty Shades that is so attractive? What is fantasy? What is reality?

  • The hero is a millionaire.
  • The hero is a hard-working man.
  • The heroine is a partner at a high-powered law firm.
  • The heroine is a paralegal at a small law office.
  • They live on a beautiful horse ranch, in a big, beautiful, rustic lodge.
  • They live in a modular home with three miniature horses in the pasture.http://lorilrobinett.com

Ah, yes. Pretty easy to figure out what is fantasy and what is reality, isn’t it? Perhaps Fifty Shades is intriguing because it is something we will never experience. But don’t confuse fantasy and reality. If you are in a relationship and the man stalks you, follows you, controls you, isolates you from friends and family. Run. Quickly.

For the record, all the reality above is MY life. And I love it. 🙂

#howtowrite: Mining Ideas

http://lorilrobinett.com

A frequent question I get is “Where do you get your ideas?”

My answer is simple. Everywhere. Look around you. Listen. Read. I’ve got several novels drafted – here’s how I’ve done it.

http://carypress.com/denim-diamonds-by-lori-robinett/

Denim & Diamonds by Lori Robinett

Denim & Diamonds is my first novel. The story began to germinate when I worked at a law firm. A client came in, needing an estate plan. She had several horses that she cared about deeply. They were her primary concern. She wanted to know how she could structure her estate so that her little farm would be taken care of. That got me to thinking . . . and the Diamond J was born.

Widow’s Web/Fatal Impulse (my next novel . . . hopefully to be released in 2015) was inspired by a story I heard when I was 10 years old. My family vacationed in Colorado, near Salida. At some point, Mom talked to a local about the mountain roads, the steep drop-offs, the dangers of driving. I remember a woman telling a story about a car that went off Highway 50, somewhere near Monarch Pass. The woman said the woman’s body wasn’t recovered until the next summer because the ravine was so steep and rugged that it was too dangerous for rescue crews to go down. The car was left there, a mangled mass of steel. The idea of someplace being so rugged that a body couldn’t be recovered stuck with me. I thought, what a great way to get rid of a body! (yes, even at 10, I thought that way – is it any wonder that I devoured Stephen King novels in my early teens?)

Alien Threat (still in draft form) was inspired by conspiracy websites that picked up a local news story several years ago when a local research scientist was killed. Apparently there have been a lot of scientists killed in unusual ways. Too much to be coincidence? Not in my novel.

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, there are several resources you can mine for inspiration:

  • Read the news (especially a couple of pages back in a newspaper)
  • Pick up a book and turn to the 3rd page and read a line, then turn to the 30th page and read a line
  • Think of a book you like, then imagine that story line in a different genre (what if Harry Potter was written as a romance?)
  • Think of two movies you like, and imagine them in a mashup (Harry Potter meets Rocky)

When you come across ideas like that, find a way to record them:

  • Keep an idea journal.
  • Jot ideas on scraps of paper and drop them in a jar.
  • Write the idea on a sticky note and stick it to your wall.
  • Write your idea on an index card and keep it in a card file box.

So . . . where do you get your ideas? When you get an idea, how do you remember it?

 

Happy Release Day! The Widows’ Gallery by Marilyn Baron

http://lorilrobinett.comToday is release day for Marilyn Baron’s new Lobster Cove Series Novel, The Widows’ Gallery. I’m happy to share the information with you today.

Curious as to what it’s about? Read on:

Childless heiress Abigail Adams Longley and three other widows bond over a Renaissance masterpiece in Florence, Italy, and find love, friendship and joy in their joint venture to open an art gallery at the Longley mansion in Lobster Cove, Maine.

Since the death of her husband, Abigail has been lonely and drifting in a house that’s too big and a town that’s too small. When she literally runs into sexy widower and whale-watching excursion captain Tack Garrity on the dock, she’s entranced by his adorable five-year-old daughter.

But will Tack, who has harbored a secret crush on Abigail for almost two decades, be able to capture her heart? A secret pact her husband made with Tack could either tear them apart or bring them closer together and change their lives forever.

And I’m delighted to share an excerpt to give you a taste of The Widows’ Gallery:

Abigail Adams Longley looked around at the three women flanking her in Hall 10/14 of the Uffizi Gallery. They were all staring at The Birth of Venus like wide-eyed art students. Admittedly, the painting was as compelling as when the Medici family originally commissioned the tempera on canvas in the fifteenth century. But for Abigail, seeing the painting again wasn’t cathartic. It was beautiful, but that wasn’t the feeling she was going for. Peace. Why couldn’t she get some goddamned peace in this life?

Abigail glanced at the square-cut, four-carat diamond on her finger, gazed at the sparkle of the ring she hadn’t removed since the day Louis had proposed. And now, a whole year after his death, she still hadn’t taken it off. Conventional wisdom dictated that you weren’t supposed to make any major life decisions until a year after a spouse’s death. Well, it had been a year already, and she hadn’t wanted to make even one decision—major or minor—about where to live, where to go, or what to do. Whoever said money can’t buy happiness had devised another dead-on axiom. She had all the money in the world—in fact Louis had left her a big chunk of the globe. He’d left her set for life, monetarily. But she would have traded every cent for the chance to be with him again. Louis was gone, and the sooner she faced the fact that she was alone on this planet, the better off she’d be.

Now . . . go get your own copy!

Amazon ebook

Amazon (Paperback)

The Wild Rose Press

AllRomanceeBooks

Barnes and Noble and other outlets: Available after Feb. 11, 2015

IMG_1172 (2)

Marilyn Baron

And now a little about the author:
Marilyn Baron is a corporate public relations consultant in Atlanta. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers (GRW), recipient of the GRW 2009 Chapter Service Award and winner or finalist in writing awards in single title, suspense romance, novel with strong romantic elements and paranormal romance.
Marilyn writes in a variety of genres, including: Humorous women’s fiction (The Widows’ Gallery, Stones, and Significant Others; a psychic suspense series (Sixth Sense, Homecoming Homicides and the soon to be released Killer Cruise); and historical (Under the Moon Gate and the prequel, Destiny: A Bermuda Love Story) for The Wild Rose Press; and humorous paranormal short stories for TWB Press (A Choir of Angels, Follow an Angel, The Stand-In Bridegroom, Dead Mix and The Files Death Forgot).
Marilyn is a member of the Roswell Reads Steering Committee and belongs to two book clubs. A native of Miami, Florida, Marilyn now lives in Roswell, Georgia, with her husband and they have two daughters. She graduated from The University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism [Public Relations sequence] and a minor in Creative Writing.
When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, going to movies, eating Italian food and traveling. She often sets her stories in places she’s visited, including Bermuda, Australia and Italy, where she spent six months studying in Florence during her senior year in college.
Connect With The Author:
Facebook
Blog Marilyn blogs with Savvy Authors on the 22nd of every month
Twitter
Goodreads
Website

Happy Release Day! One More Second Chance by Jana Richards

perf5.000x8.000.inddPlease join me in congratulating Jana Richards on the release of her novel, One More Second Chance! I’m happy to have Jana joining me.

Wondering what this new novel is about?

Dr. Alex Campbell has an agenda—finish his contract to provide medical services in Maine, pay off his medical school debt, and head back to his real life in San Diego. But when he meets Julia, all his carefully laid plans are put in jeopardy.

Julia Stewart, Lobster Cove’s high school principal, swears she’ll never let another man drag her away from the home she loves. Her aging parents need her, and the Cove is where she wants to raise her daughter. When her mother’s illness brings her and the big city doctor closer together, panic sets in. Her marriage taught her men don’t stay.

Can she put aside the heartaches of the past and trust Alex enough to accept the love he’s offering? Or will her fear of abandonment mean she’ll send him away forever.

Read on for an excerpt from One More Second Chance:

“What did the x-ray find?” she asked.

“A spiral fracture of the right arm.” He paused for a moment and took a deep breath as if trying to control his emotions. “I’ve seen this kind of injury before. A fracture like this can be the result of a fall, but it can also be an indication of child abuse. An arm as small as Ava’s will break like a twig if it’s twisted hard enough. I’m obligated to contact the authorities if I suspect abuse.”

Julia stared at him in mute shock, her brain struggling to process his words, as if trying to translate some unintelligible language. The words child abuse rang in her ears. Finally she found her voice.
“You think someone deliberately hurt her?”

“Her injuries are consistent with abuse.”

“I don’t give a damn what they’re consistent with. Ava has not been mistreated. My mother said she fell down the stairs, and if that’s what she said, then that’s what happened.”

“I believe there’s more to the story than a simple fall.”

“If it comes down to believing you or believing my mother, I’m going with my mother.”

“Perhaps you don’t know your mother as well as you think you do.”

Julia sucked in a breath and stared into Dr. Campbell’s dark, accusing eyes. The idea that her mother would hurt Ava was ridiculous. She adored Ava, would do anything for her…

She blinked and looked away, remembering an incident the other day. She’d heard her yelling at Ava about the milk she’d spilled on the kitchen floor, making such a huge deal of it that Ava had cried. It had struck her as strange, since she couldn’t remember her mother yelling at anyone, ever. She wasn’t as patient as she used to be. And how did she explain her strange phone call telling her Ava had been hurt? Of course she’d been upset, but her mother had been nearly incoherent with distress. Was something going on she wasn’t aware of? She was seventy-one now. Maybe looking after a rambunctious five-year-old was too much for her.

No. She shook her head to reject the disloyal thought. Dr. Campbell was the one who was wrong.
“I know my mother. She didn’t do this. It was an accident.”

“We’ll soon find out. Sharon is questioning Ava now.”

Julia stared at the door. “She’ll be scared, all by herself.”

“Sharon’s very good at what she does. She has a way of making kids feel comfortable.”

Julia turned on him, the anger and despair she’d been holding inside spilling out. “And you? Do you enjoy upsetting five-year-olds and turning families’ lives upside down? Does it make you feel powerful to sic the authorities on us?”

“Look, Mrs. Stewart, I take no pleasure in bringing in the authorities. But I’ve seen child abuse, up close and personal, and I can tell you it’s damn ugly. The things parents and caregivers are capable of doing to defenseless children…”

He stopped abruptly, his chest heaving. Closing his eyes, he averted his face and took a deep breath. When he turned back to her, his steely control was back in place. “So yeah, if I have even the smallest suspicion that a child has been abused, I’m going to ask questions. And I’m not going to apologize for it.”

And now for a bit about the author . . .

When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

Social Media Links:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon Author Page
Newsletter Signup
Goodreads
Google+ Profile

Pre-order Buy Links:

Amazon

The Wild Rose Press

Kobo

Chapters/Indigo

ibooks

How People Respond Differently to Scandal

The Superbowl is today, and the country has been talking about DeflateGate. Oh, the scandal! There’s something about scandal that generates buzz – we seem to like tearing people down, and take delight when we learn that someone who is up can be torn down. Most of my stories include some sort of scandal – something that causes outrage, the topic of gossip. Some big, some small. Why do I include them? Because scandals are a great motivator. Part of writing a layered character involves making them realistic. They need to have motivation for what they do. For instance, if one character kills another, there needs to be a reason for that death to happen. It could be out and out murder, or it could be a justifiable homicide. Regardless of which it is, there has to be a believable reason for it. That reason could vary greatly, depending on the character. Your characters become living, breathing individuals, and their actions have to match their personalities.

Let’s play with a character and see this in action.

  • Helen is the president of her garden club. Her husband is the CEO of the biggest company in town. She is the queen of the local society types, and takes great pride in her status.
  • Tamara is a paralegal, active with her kids’ school activities. Her husband works construction. Her life is work, then kids, then sleep. It may not be a glamorous life, but she has no complaints.

What happens when we add scandal? Imagine Helen and Tamara. How will each react when her husband announces that he’s having an affair? Tamara will likely take it in stride. They may get divorced, but life will go on. Helen, on the other hand, will be more desperate. It will be more embarrassing for her. In fact, she might even go so far as to let that desperation drive her to do something horrible . . . like murder. Her victim could be her husband or his mistress.

Let’s take another example:

  • Dr. James Whittenhaus is a well-known researcher, credited with discovering the cure for cancer.
  • Dr. Grant Gibbons just graduated with his doctorate, excited that his article was selected to be published in a trade journal.

What happens when we add scandal? Imagine James and Grant. How will each react when a national news reporter exposes the fact that the research was not original? Who will be more desperate? What lengths will each go to in order to keep this story from going public?

Another thing to consider is the environment. In a small town, scandal can rip someone to pieces and destroy an individual’s life. In a large city, scandal may be easier to escape. What motivates the person behind the scandal? Every time a story breaks loose and goes viral, someone is driving it. A story doesn’t have legs all on its own. Someone has to expose the wrongdoing, and publicize it. With social media, that doesn’t take much. A simple mistake can grow and morph into something barely recognizable, and the truth can be lost along the way.

Pay attention to the stories you hear this week, both by major news organizations and by regular people on social media. Think about the scandals and how those involved might react, based on their backgrounds.