Month: August 2017

Win a Book, Win a Kindle

Something different for this week’s blog.  Regular readers know that I rarely do promotions of my own books, but I’ve decided to make an exception.  I’ve joined with 15 other writers of Western romance to offer readers a chance to win a huge collection of novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner.

You can win the second novel in my Prospect series,  Her One and Only, plus books from authors like  Shana Hatfield and Davalynn Spencer 

Enter the giveaway by clicking here     bit.ly/2xp7Ok8
Good luck and enjoy reading.
Alice

New Term

Orange cones blocked various lanes of the road today. There was fresh paint on the school crossing lines.

The newspaper contained a thick wad of “back to school,” flyers.

Turned on the radio and heard that B.C. is hiring hundreds of teachers. Apparently the province is advertising coast to coast for all grades and subjects.  French immersion teachers are in especially high demand.

All in all, there’s a buzz in the air. Summer is drawing to a close.  School starts in less than two weeks – a new term, a new year, new challenges, new friends to meet, new skills to master.  I always loved the return to school.  I know, I’m weird, but by the time the air turned crisp in September, I was bored with summer and ready to get back to the routine of books and classes.

I haven’t gone to school for many years now, but I still feel energized by cooler air and shorter days. I’ve been re-reading, re-writing and tweaking my collection of Christmas stories.  Many of these tales have been sent to my newsletter subscribers, so the edits have been done before, but there’s always room for improvement.  I’ve fixed a typo here and there, re-arranged a sentence to have more impact, and written new material.

I’ve worked with a red pen on a paper ms.  Very old school of me, but that is my comfort zone.  No one rings a bell at 9:00 am or demands that I present clean finger-nails for inspection, but, in my own way, I’m going back to school.  The student in me enjoys the crisp, clean paper and the sharpened pencils.  The teacher in me is quick to spot misspellings, poor grammar or awkward writing.

The new collection is titled, “The Man Who Hated Christmas – and other short stories.”  I’ve got the cover image – see photo at the top of this blog – and a deadline for formatting.  I’m happy.  I feel like I’m going back to school.

How about you?  Do you love or loathe going back to classes?  Do you prefer a new pencil box or a new ipad?  Leave a comment and I’ll enter your name to win an electronic copy of The Man Who Hated Christmas.  Winner to be announced Nov. 1, 2017.

Where Do Ideas Come From?

At some point in her career, every writer is asked “where do you get your ideas?” There are many answers, but I found a source for new story ideas at a concert at the Butchart Gardens last week.  One of the blessings of living in my part of the world is the live music hosted at the Gardens every night in the summer, or as one entertainer put it, “the best smelling concert venue in all of Canada.”  On this particular night, I heard Tiller’s Folly.  They are a B.C trio that now bills itself as “acoustic roots music.”

I went to hear them because I like Celtic music and that is part of their repertoire, but I heard much more than that. I got a lesson on Canadian and, more specifically, British Columbian history.  Tales of rum runners, and ghosts and explorers, and whales and miners and lumberjacks.

This group has done its research and brought history alive through story and song. I’m pleased to report they visit schools in our province so children are learning the history behind the names on streets, and mountain tops and waterways.

As a writer of historical romance, I was inspired. They told no tales of women on the pirate ships, but what if there were?  What if a woman joined a river exploration?  What if a woman tended a lighthouse?

If you are a writer, stuck for an idea, I’d suggest you listen to, or read the lyrics, of folk singers, or country and western singers, or opera singers. The music is full of tales of derring-do, of battles won and lost, of mighty men and inspiring women.  Sometimes they tell of small things, of a man and a woman and how they find love, of a family that loses its way, of a dream lost and found.

So, next time I’m stuck for a story idea, I’ll look up some songs by Tiller’s Folly. I’m sure I’ll be inspired.

What Makes a Good Cover?

 

I’m at a stage in my writing where I’m looking at cover designs for a new release of Christmas short stories. Wanting to do it “right,” I Googled best selling e-books, holidays  on amazon.com.    A glance at all those naked torsos made me laugh and decide I’d better try another category.  There is not a naked male in any of my stories where the tone is light, whimsical, and just a bit magical.

This time I tried “clean and wholesome.”  The tone is more suited to my stories but a lot of the covers seemed dark, to my eye.  Maybe it’s my age, but reading a title against a black or navy or even dark red background is hard work.  I know, I can magnify the image, but if I were a reader hunting through a long list of Christmas anthologies, I doubt I’d have the patience to enlarge each image.  I’m more apt to pause at the one that catches my eye without any effort on my part.

A quick search of “anthologies,” presented even more black-toned covers.  I know many best selling authors  tend toward this style and readers must like them or the authors wouldn’t be “best selling.”  Still, if I’m looking for a cover for my book, I want it to be pleasing to my eye.

The first page under “historicals,” provided a little more colour, but most had too much heat for my, as yet unpublished, anthology.

Finally I had a look at some of my favourite authors’ covers. Debbie MacComber covers have the right tone for my stories.  There is a softness about them and a sense of “home” that appeals to me, and reflects the mood of the stories I tell. Lisa Wingate has some beautiful covers, at least I think they are. Robyn Carr uses flowers and beaches and porches.  Light, cheerful colours make me want to open those books.

I found sponsored ads on the amazon pages of these writers that caught me up short. The covers were nothing like the ones the marquee authors used and I wonder if the stories were similar.  These are sponsored ads, so Debbie MacComber, etc. are not endorsing either the covers or the stories.  It behoves readers to check out those sponsored ads carefully and not assume the books are similar to the top-name writers.

It’s important to know one’s limitations, so in the end, I turned to the fabulous Dawn Charles at Book Graphics to create a cover for my stories. I know she’ll do a good job and she’s lots of fun to work with, but I’m still interested in what readers look for in a cover.

Do you like black? Do you like lots of muscled torsos?  Do flowers make you yawn?

Leave a comment and I’ll put you in a draw for the new book. Winner announced  Nov. 1, 2017.

Today’s blog is a promo for a friend of mine.  Jacquie Biggar and I are in the same critique group, so I get to read her books as they are being written.  I’m always hooked on the first page, so I’m happy to recommend her latest.  Hope you enjoy it too.

 

HOLD ‘EM:
A GAMBLING HEARTS NOVEL

by Jacquie Biggar

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