It’s HERE!!! Fatal Obsession

I am so excited to announce that Fatal Obsession, my new thriller, will be released on February 25, 2017!

As you probably know, Fatal Obsession is a Widow’s Web novel – an exciting series where women face challenges that threaten to destroy them, just as they begin to find the strengths within them.

Sophie grew up in the foster care system, an orphan separated from her brother after their parents are killed. After she married Blake Kendrick and gets pregnant, she’s thrilled that she’s finally part of a real family. When she learns that her husband, a brilliant cancer researcher, has experimented on their unborn child, her world shatters. The powerful man her husband works for is determined to get that child, to use the research within Sophie’s body to save his dying mother. Sophie is forced to go on the run, terrified of what might be growing within her, worried that her baby might need treatment by the very man who is hunting them. The survival skills she learned in foster care serve her well as she must discriminate between who she can trust and who she can’t, who is a real friend and who is a threat. All the while, an experiment grows within her . . . will they escape?

Fatal Obsession will be released in paperback on February 25, 2017. The ebook is available now – get your copy today! (and gain my undying gratitude.)

To celebrate the release, I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winners choice). Enter here (note – you can enter every day!):   a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Dark Side of Morning by Tierney James

Several years ago, I went to dinner with a group of aspiring authors at a writers convention. To our surprise, and the amusement of the others sharing our table, Tierney James and I ended up discussing scrapbooking and sniper rifles. We’ve been friends ever since, and I am excited she was able to take a little time to answer some questions for me to celebrate the release of her newest book, Dark Side of Morning.

This book includes a strong element of Native Americans. How did you get interested in Native American culture, and how did your experiences influence your writing of this book?
I did my student teaching on the Qualla Reservation in the Great Smokey Mountains among the Cherokee people. Years before my parents had taken me there on vacation. I told them I would return to live there. And I did. It changed my life. They experience life, nature and spiritual awakening on a higher plain. My soul rejoiced among these wonderful people. In my Enigma Series the hero is half Cherokee. His mother has the same name as my house parents on the reservation. The years have passed but my love of the culture has grown by leaps and bounds.

This book has sci fi elements in it. What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve visited the Field Museum in Chicago many times. And of course the North American Indian section is the first place I go when there. I looked into the mannequin eyes of my main character over the years and wondered if he could see and hear me. Some say it’s creepy. I say it is full of possibilities. Parallel universes started to interest me when I read Louie L’Amour’s book Haunted Mesa. He died shortly after it was published and I had a lot of questions.

Tell me about the protagonist in this book.
Dr. Cleopatra Sommers never came to terms with her father’s disappearance at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago. He had been a Native American scholar that explored avenues of unexplained spiritual paths in their cultures. The museum had been her home and playground growing up where her father spent long hours working. She was always drawn to one display case holding a mannequin of a Pawnee Indian. There was no way she could know he watched her all those years until the night he crossed over to find her.

If this book were made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
Robert Silent-Thunder for Wind Dancer
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) for Cleopatra Sommers
Detective Jacque Marquette I’m thinking Bradley Cooper

Your previous books are true thrillers, with terrorists and pulse-pounding action. Does this book contain any of those elements?
Yes it has those elements but on a spookier level. I talk about skinwalkers which is like a witch that the Navajo have in their culture. Those are super scary things. Then there is the possibility of biological agents that could wipe out the United States.

I completely enjoyed the Enigma series. Do you anticipate ever returning to that cast of characters?
I’m actually working on #4 right now! Think diamonds, Africa and Tessa’s son hacking the wrong kind of people.

Tierney, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions and share some insight into your new book. Folks, take a moment to pop over to Amazon and check out Dark Side of Morning (and tell all your friends!).

How to Edit a Draft (novel)

Writing a novel is HARD. That’s all there is to it. When you write the draft, it is exciting and fun (well, except for that mucky middle) and I always celebrate when I write those two magical words . . . the end.

After you let that manuscript rest for a bit (personally, I think you need to leave it for at least a few weeks). So, once you’re ready to edit, how do you actually do that?

I edit in a couple of rounds. Here’s my process:

ROUND ONE: Rough Edit. Go back to the beginning and read through your manuscript from start to finish, looking for echos, plot holes, passive voice, missing bits and pieces. This is what I consider the fleshing out of the novel I drafted very quickly (usually in 30 days or less), where I add layers and things like weather and setting. I also think about characters’ growth and plot arcs at this time. This is the version that I send to my critique group for feedback.

ROUND TWO: Read the full manuscript with a notebook beside you. Note any questions a reader would have as you go. Note any issues that you notice, again, looking for echos, plot holes, passive voice. Look for continuity issues. Make sure your timeline is correct. (Note: after I finish this round, I will send the manuscript to a handful of beta readers.)

ROUND THREE: Gather your notebook and your critique partners’ notes, along with any comments from your beta readers. Make all necessary revisions to your manuscript. (Note: after I finish this round, I send out the Advance Review Copies to reviewers.)

ROUND FOUR: Proofread and polish the entire manuscript, from start to finish. This is a word by word, line by line proof.

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2016: My year in review – and How to Review Your Year

For the past month, there have been year in review posts everywhere, but you have taken time to review YOUR year?

I’ve spent the last four days doing an in-depth review of 2016, and I encourage you to do the same. Life is about so much more than work or likes and follows and pins and money and stuff. Evaluate what you’ve done, and identify what you want to achieve. Without goals, you’ll plod along through life, stuck in a rut . . . and you’ll never even notice.

Think of your life like a house, built on a foundation. The foundation is made up of several things that work together, like joists and concrete and steel. In order for your house to be solid, the foundation needs to be strong throughout. Imagine if you had concrete and steel, but no joists spanning the width of your home – it would sag in the middle. All of these things are important, and all need to be reviewed.

Pull out your day planner (or whatever you use to keep track of your calendar) (psst . . . I use the Me and my Big Ideas Happy Planner and I looooove it!) and look at the following:

Family: What are your most memorable moments with family over the past year?

{2016 was a big year for my family. My husband survived a major heart attack in February. My daughter celebrated her 21st birthday in June. My stepdaughter gave birth to a little girl in November – making us grandparents for the first time!}

Financial: How did work go for you over the past year? How is your debt load? Investments?

{2016 was a big year for me money-wise, too. My day job is great – I love the work I do, and I have great co-workers, but there were no raises this year. Luckily, my writing has finally started to pay off, and I was able to pay off 2 credit cards with my writing profits. I also increased my retirement savings by 1% this year.}

Spiritual: We all need spirituality in our lives, whether that is organized religion or simply how you connect with the larger world. Are you nurturing that part of you?

{I explored mindfulness after a particularly difficult 2013, and I have continued to meditate on a regular basis. There is much to learn from the Buddhist philosophy.}

Mental: I think we better ourselves when we continue to learn and stretch our brains. What did you learn in 2016?

{In 2016, I read more than I have in many, many years (using Goodreads to keep track of my challenge – join me!). I read fiction and non-fiction, ebooks, print books and audio books. I also enrolled in a membership group which allowed me to take several online classes.}

Next time, I’ll share how I planned for ’17 and give you tips to make the most out of your year.

The Birth of a Novel

I was cleaning up my home office today (because I always feel the need to purge at the end of the calendar year), and ran across the critiques from my writers’ group on a piece that was the very first inkling of Diamond in the Rough.

Whether or not you’ve read Diamond in the Rough, I thought you might enjoy this peek behind the curtain, to see how my novel was born. Hope you like it.

http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett/dp/1631030035/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433871817&sr=8-1&keywords=denim+%26+diamondsRusty is a cowhand at the Domino Ranch, where he’s been for years. He lives in a small house, which he shares with Beau, Joe and a couple of other guys. Thursday nights he spends at a neighboring ranch, playing poker with the guys. He drives an old gray Chevy pickup that has more miles on it than he does.

He was with Beau and Beth the night that Bert’s herd was stolen by rustlers. The mutilated steer affected him deeply. A love of animals is what led him to life on the ranch. Growing up, he was responsible for taking care of the family dog and made money summers taking care of neighborhood pets. That was back when he was known as Russell Warner. He dreamed of living in the country, surrounded by rolling green hills and dogs and cats and horses. Once in high school, he joined 4-H. Other kids made fun of him for his project – he raised rabbits. It was the only project he could do in city limits. The girl he had a crush on – her name was Penny – raised a bottle calf every year. Her brother Mike was the one who had given him the name Bunny Boy. His high school years were a blur of embarrassment. He had been a country boy stuck in the city, a disappointment to his college educated parents and an outcast in the FFA / 4-H circles that he desperately wanted to join.

The day after he graduated high school, he packed his meager belongings into the used maroon Toyota Tercel that his parents had given him as a graduation present and headed west out of St. Louis. He stopped for gas in Kingdom City, picked up a newspaper and went to Denny’s to peruse the want ads while he wolfed down a Grand Slam. The girl who was waiting tables chatted him up, and told him about her cousin who worked at the sale barn just down the outer road and how they always needed extra hands on sale days. She jotted her cousin’s name on the back of his receipt and told him to go on down to the sale barn and introduce himself.

The girl’s cousin showed him around, and Bill, the owner, hired him on the spot. The crusty old man gripped Russell’s hand and give it one firm shake. “Welcome aboard, Rusty.”

And in that moment, Russell the Bunny Boy became a distant memory and Rusty the cowhand was born.

***

<SIGH> I always feel nostalgic when I come across a piece like this, that grew into an entire novel. If you want to keep up to date with my new releases and other book news, make sure you sign up for my mailing list – and if you’re intrigued by how stories like this kernel of an idea become a full-fledged novel, sign up for my WriteScouts newsletter.

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2016: Review and Reflection

There’s something about finishing up the year that engenders review and reflection. I love the idea of a fresh start, whether it be a new journal, a new day planner or a new calendar.

The common consensus seems to be that 2016 sucked. I have to say, losing Prince, David Bowie, Glen Frey, George Michael and Carrie Fisher (among others), flat out sucks. But on a personal level, 2016 was pretty good for me. Fatal Impulse sold really well in the beginning of the year, and I released Diamond in the Rough and the Novel Idea Generator. One of the biggest events, though, was my husband’s heart attack. It happened in February, as I was getting ready to walk out the door on the way to a writers retreat with my critique group. My hubs called and said he didn’t feel good, thought he needed to go to the ER. He never wants to go to the doctor for anything, so I knew it was bad. He had a major heart attack while he was at the ER. He was rushed to the cath lab. Afterwards, the doc told me it was a miracle he’d survived. That blockage was 100%, but he had another bad one. Three days later, he had another cath. And now he’s on a handful of meds to try to clear up two more blockages. The point is, we feel like we have a second chance. We enjoy life.

And the other reason 2016 rocks is that we became grandparents. Our oldest (my stepdaughter) gave birth to a little girl in November. That adorable little bundle has wiggled her way into our hearts and brought a new level of happiness to our house. Being a grandma rocks!!

So, while 2016 sucked in so many ways, we each can find happy memories. And I have high hopes for 2017. Great things will happen in 2017. Fatal Obsession will be released in early 2017, and I am putting the finishing touches on my “school” for aspiring writers (think Girl Scouts for writers). Do you want in?

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Traditional publishing vs. self-publishing

copy-of-booksWhenever writers get together, the topic of publishing nearly always comes up. Even though lots of blogs cover it, and there are lots of articles out there, I feel like it needs to be addressed yet again.

Over the weekend, I went to a book signing by multiple authors. A couple of authors approached me and asked for tips about publishing. I explained that my first book was traditionally published in 2014, and the other two (Fatal Impulse and Diamond in the Rough) are self-published. Both individuals asked me how much it cost to publish traditionally. I was shocked at the question.

Let me be clear: You should NEVER pay to publish your book. If you are paying a publisher, you are NOT traditionally published. You have paid what is commonly known as a vanity press to publish your book. You pay them, they put your manuscript together, have copies printed and sell them to you. I suppose there might be individuals who are okay with this arrangement, but I am NOT. Do a little research before you publish – with ANY company. Know what their reputation is. Find out what you are paying for. Ask around to see if others have dealings with them. There are fantastic resources out there like Absolute Write Watercooler and Preditors and Editors. (not updated, but still has links to good info). If you don’t know what those are, go to the links and read. Trust me.

One individual waved it off when I said I wasn’t happy with my traditional publisher. She said something like, “Well, you own the rights so you can take it somewhere else.”

No. You can’t. When you are traditionally published, the publisher buys the rights from you. You should have a contract that spells out those rights.

Then she asked how much I paid to have my self-published books published. She was shocked when I said I did not pay to get them published.

Self-publishing shouldn’t cost you anything, except for those jobs that you subcontract out to others (such as editing, formatting, cover art). When you pay for those things, you aren’t paying to publish, you are paying a business expense.

So, here’s the deal: If you are thinking about one of those self-publishing companies, a vanity press that promises to publish your book for the low, low price of $1,000 or $2,000 or even more (!) (YES – I had a man email me who paid over $5000 for 100 copies of his book – YIKES!!), Don’t do it. Just don’t. But sign up for Writescouts and take the class I’m offering in 2017 on how to self-publish without going broke.

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Cover Reveal: Celtic Fire by Liz Gavin

Celtic Fire
Liz Gavin
(Highland Celts Series, #1)
Publication date: January 31st 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Paranormal, Romance

REDUCED PRICE UNTIL RELEASE DAY ONLY

This is a standalone, historical/paranormal romance. Its mature themes – violence, religious war, and pagan rituals – might not be appropriate for audiences under 18.

When ancient gods ruled and Druids kept Faith alive, the Celts thrived as a democratic, matriarchal society. Then savage Roman soldiers swept across Europe, killing and enslaving. The Celts did not succumb without a fight. Their Old Ways survived centuries of ruthless domain until another menace loomed: a tortured god worshiped in cold stone buildings. The sacred shores of Avalon began to drift away, the mists threatened to hide the island from mortal eyes forever.

Against the bleak backdrop of war, the gorgeous Scottish Highlands stood tall, sheltering its inhabitants from greedy invaders. Yet the reach of the eagle banners was long and the highlanders turned to the Goddess for protection. However, the sacred groves felt silent and grim as Avalon faded away. Once sad, pealing bells began to sound strangely comforting while the high walls of monasteries offered an alluring barrier from violence. Caught in the middle of this centuries-old war, a young High Priestess might be Avalon’s last chance.

Wise beyond her years and powerful like no other Priestess in her lifetime, Rowen had served the Goddess faithfully, forsaking her family and the company of her soulmate. When the Lady of the Lake asks for another sacrifice, it might be one too many for her scarred heart. How could she obey the Goddess without betraying Caddaric? Could she trust Eochaid, who embodied everything she despised and hated? Would she be able to fulfill her duties without losing her soul?

Caddaric had been Rowen’s companion in countless lives; but, now, they existed in different realms. Beautiful Rowen lived in the mortal world while sweet Caddaric remained in the sacred isle of Avalon, watching over her. Could he step aside to allow another man – a flesh and blood man – to become her protector?

Eochaid had sworn to protect the Old Ways. The rude warrior never quite understood his faith yet his loyal heart belonged to the Goddess. A gorgeous, fiery High Priestess was not in his plans. He would risk his life to protect Rowen; but, would the Goddess safeguard his heart? Could he defend the bewitching maiden from himself?

When stakes were so high that a simple mistake could cost their very world, a priestess, a Druid, and a warrior must learn to trust each other and the mysterious ways of the Goddess. Their success would save Avalon. Their failure would tear the island from the human realm forever, condemning it to oblivion.

Failure was not an option.

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Author Bio:

When Liz Gavin was in Second Grade – just a couple of years ago, really – her teacher told her mother the little girl should start a diary because she needed an outlet for her active and vivid imagination. She was a talkative child who would disrupt the class by engaging her colleagues in endless conversations. She loved telling them the stories her grandfather used to tell her.

Apparently, the teacher wasn’t a big fan of those stories, and Liz’s mother bought her a diary. She happily wrote on it for a couple of months. Unable to see the appeal of writing for her own enjoyment only, she gave up on it. She missed the audience her friends provided her in class. She went back to disturbing her dear teacher’s class.
Since then, she has become a hungry reader. She will read anything and everything she can get her hands on – from the classics to erotica. That’s how she has become a writer of erotica and romance, as well.

As a young adult, she participated in a student exchange program and lived in New Orleans for six months. She fell in love with the city and its wonderful inhabitants. NOLA will always hold a special spot in Liz Gavin’s heart. Nowadays, living in Brazil, Liz’s creativity has improved many times because it’s such a vibrant, gorgeous and sexy country.

Welcome to her world of hot Alpha males and naughty, independent women. Add a touch of the paranormal in the presence of some wicked souls and you’ll get the picture.

Sit back, fire up your Kindle and enjoy the ride!

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Social Media: The Art of Listening

Social media is overwhelming right now. I can literally feel my blood pressure rising when I look at Facebook and Twitter. Here is the problem: Everyone is talking and no one is listening. We have one mouth and two ears, but social media is nothing but spewing out. We’ve forgotten how to listen. We’re dismissive of other views or, even worse, hateful.

So, the next time you’re faced with a viewpoint that you do not agree with, do not dismiss. Do not hate. Listen. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but it costs you nothing to listen. (just remember to breathe!) (oh, and remember, you don’t have to respond to everyone who disagrees with you – it’s okay to keep scrolling.)

If you need me, I’ll be over here breathing. 🙂

Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense

vertigoIn honor of Halloween, I’m spending the day as a couch potato, watching an Alfred Hitchcock marathon. Vertigo is on now. Jimmy Stewart is an actor I never tire of watching, and Hitchcock is a director I never tire of studying.

I’ve studied the craft of writing for years and, as a writer, you’ll find inspiration and nuggets of wisdom flying at you from every direction. I saw an interview with Hitchcock many, many years ago where he described HOW to create suspense. He said imagine you have two men sitting at a table in a cafe. If the writer/director knows there is a bomb under the table, the writer/director feels the suspense, but the key is to show that bomb to the reader/viewer – without showing it to the character sitting at the table. Instant suspense.

I try to follow Hitchcock’s advice. In Fatal Impulse, I wanted the reader to know who the bad guy was, to see where the danger was, but I wanted Andi to miss the clues. She is a broken individual, who doesn’t look at things the way most of us do. She has been abused for so long, she can no longer see things clearly. Relationships are skewed in her mind. But the reader knows she is walking into danger, and wants to scream at her to stop.

The same thing is happening in my new novel. Sophie is totally different from Andi, though. Sophie is a tough survivor, who grew up in foster homes. But the reader sees danger where Sophie does not.

I’m certainly not comparing myself to Alfred Hitchcock, but I hope I’ve learned something from his methods.

Have you ever watched Hitchcock? If so, what’s your favorite movie (or episode)?