Friday, February 28, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. 
- Chinese Proverb
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | By: Lynn

A Brave Heroine with Strength

Romance novel trends have morphed over the years, and types of heroines have broadened, too. Heroines are less likely to be dependent on others for their survival. We all like a woman who is strong and independent.

Today's heroines don’t need a man or even a family to make their way in the world in which they exist. They don’t need to criticize themselves all the time, read, "I'm so stupid he'll never look at me," or be inept at stuff, "I can't even balance my checkbook." To counteract that kind of heroine, we see many heroines who are sassy and live on the edge, proof that they are strong. For me, those qualities are just one way to express a heroine's strength and bravery. Flippant and quippy heroines can be fun to write and read, but not necessarily equated with strength and bravery.

When I think of bravery, I think of soldiers who defend the principals of the United States. I think of a little kid learning to ride a two-wheeled bike. And I think of average individuals trying to assert themselves in a world that tends to direct our actions and beliefs. Doing so is something to be proud of, according to author Dennis Rivers on The New Conversations Initiative.

"This is not an easy task. Early in life… most of us discovered that if we said what we really felt and wanted, the big important people in our lives would get unhappy with us, (and, I would add, perhaps even slap us across the face). And since we needed their love and approval, we started being good little boys and good little girls and saying whatever would get us hugs, birthday presents, and chocolate cake," he wrote.

This tendency of not wanting to rock the boat follows us until we stop caring more about that than ourselves. Not an easy task to do directly and effectively with compassion, which is why, I think, we see versions of heroines who demonstrate a "Fuck you!" attitude.

One of my favorite songs lately is one titled Brave by singer songwriter Sara Bareilles. The lyrics are simple, but profound, and challenge people to speak honestly words that have meaning for them, not others. That takes courage. It takes strength to "let the words fall out" and not be deterred or silenced by the fear that friends, family, peers, and coworkers will get upset or have hurt feelings. Of course we can say the words that are in our hearts, but we censor ourselves because we suspect the other person or people will react in anger or sorrow or something less than happy. We try to manage the conflicted perspectives by hiding ourselves, not speaking out.

Again, easy to evaluate the dynamic but hard to do in real life. It takes a mixture of strength and maturity and insight to weigh what we need to say and how to say it effectively without harm. Flippant and quippy are not necessarily signs of strength, but rather defensiveness. There's nothing wrong with that in a heroine, but it's a problem that has to be rooted in something. And the heroine who struggles with childhood or young adult trauma but goes deep to address the issue is demonstrating strength. She is brave not to project her inner chaos onto others. She doesn't have to spit expletives, though she will if it fits her moment, but can use productive interaction based on her truths. She tells the overbearing mother that, no, she's not going to run the heroine's life. Or tells the antagonist that wrong is wrong and she's not going to take it anymore. This takes an awareness of what is her truth and a brave willingness to deal with the consequences of putting her truth out there.

Portraying strength and bravery and independence is not a one-way-only type of thing, but it does mean different things for different people. Variety in heroes and heroines is nice.

Do you relate more to a sassy and flippant heroine or another kind of strong?

Friday, February 21, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe
The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled. 
- Plutarch
Thursday, February 20, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with K.M. Jackson

Today, The Write Way Café welcomes author K.M. Jackson, who tells us how she turned love at first page into a writing career.

Thank you so much for having me here today. It’s a real pleasure and an honor.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance? 
It was and yes. I’ve been a fan of romance since I was 12 and first started reading my grandmother’s Harlequins. I guess you can call it love at first page.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
THREADS OF DESIRE is the final book in my self-titled named Creative Hearts series. I’ve always loved the creative arts and I wanted to do a series of romances that featured heroines who worked in creative fields. The path was a long and windy one and I guess you can say I’ve been researching parts of THREADS OF DESIRE for half of my life (more on that in the next question).

Where did the idea for your story come from?
THREADS OF DESIRE is set in the fashion industry and my heroine, Gabby, is a fashion designer. This story had been brewing in my mind a long time since in my former life I was a women’s sportswear designer for more than ten years, so in quite a few ways I knew what it was like to walk in Gabby’s ballet flats.  I’d always wanted to write the story of an unlikely fashionista who was more of a regular woman who just had a love of fashion.

Why did you pick the setting you did? 
Well for the reasons I said above and because I’m a native New Yorker and I love this city. It’s always a never ending inspiration for me.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
Oh my goodness yes. I always face blocks when I write. I’m my own worst critic. But as writers we must power through. It’s a wonderful day when the story is flowing and the characters are louder than my inner critic. I live for those days.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after? 
I’m always surprised when I’m writing. I’m a pantser who wants to be a plotter. So I always do a loose map of the story, but in the end my characters do whatever they want and the book never looks like the map I started out with. It’s always a surprise! Welcome to the new world with me. LOL.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you. 
My writing space is not really defined. I work at home but most of my time is spent wandering from room to room with my laptop trying to find just the perfect position to get into the day’s writing groove. I usually finally hit my stride right before my husband or son is due to walk in the door at the end of the day.

What are you working on now?

At the end of last year I put out my first self-published novel called BOUNCE. It was a bigger book for me. Still a romance but it also crosses over a bit into women’s fiction. Following Sabrina Jacobs on a busy working morning as she tries to rein in her out of control life. Right now I’m excited about working on a follow-up to BOUNCE.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
I think it would be historical. It’s a favorite genre for me to read. I’m in love with the history and imagery. Though I’m not sure I’d have the patience for the research and don’t think I could pants my way through that and I’m sure it wouldn’t be appreciated. You have to get it right.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be? 
That’s hard to say. Like it says in my bio I’ve always wanted to be 1. A designer and 2. a writer and now I’ve done both so I’m pretty happy. I’m thinking if I’d add another it would be to be a film director. My stories are like movies in my head so that would be tons of fun for me.

Thank you so much once again for having it. It’s been a real treat.

Places to keep up with K.M. Jackson:
K.M. can be found on her site at
On Facebook:
On twitter

THREADS OF DESIRE can be found here:
Barnes & Noble :

BOUNCE is available on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 | By: HiDee

Communication is the Problem to the Answer

The things we do for love. 
Communication is the problem to the answer...
– Things We Do For Love lyrics

Communication is key in relationships.  We have to be able to talk, and to listen – really listen.  Sometimes that’s not easy.

We form new relationships when we are interested in people – people we’ve just met, or maybe someone we’ve known for a long time, but in a different capacity.  Getting to know someone usually means conversing, sharing thoughts and opinions with each other.  Sometimes we have a lot in common and progress to doing things together because of our shared interests.  Other times, we agree to disagree and go our separate ways.

I’m no relationship expert, but Hubby and I often talk about how important it is for us to communicate.  We make time to talk every day, and yes, sometimes that talking turns into an argument.  But disagreements can be healthy, as long as you treat each other with respect.  We have friends who do everything together (and I do mean everything) and then we have friends who do nothing together. We’re somewhere in the middle – we enjoy spending time together but we also recognize the importance of each having our own interests.

I explained it to my daughter this way:  Relationships are like pets.  You have to feed them and care for them; they have to be nurtured.  Falling in love doesn’t guarantee future happiness.  If we become too comfortable in our relationship, and we quit doing the things we used to do together, we start to drift apart.  Sometimes the traits we fell in love with end up being traits that drive us crazy.  But we still have to communicate with each other and show that we care.

So how do we do that?

Some couples leave little notes for their partner to find throughout the day.  Some couples have a regular date night, away from the kids and daily responsibilities.  Others find little ways to make things easier for their partner, maybe by trading responsibilities for a couple days.

Hubby has always enjoyed surprising me with wildflowers picked from the side of the road, or maybe a rose bloom or lilacs plucked from one of our bushes. The only time he buys flowers is for our anniversary, and occasionally for Valentine’s Day.  This year on Valentine’s Day, he left a little sweetheart rose bush on the table for me. It was beautiful!  But when I left for work, I discovered my steering wheel covered in little foam hearts. It was simple, but totally unexpected, and it made me smile all day!

Sometimes silent communication can be the best kind.  It's not how we choose to communicate that matters. What's really important is that we DO communicate.

What little things do you do to show your loved ones how much you care?  Share?

Friday, February 14, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.
- Franklin P. Jones
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 | By: Lynn

Winter Readerland

Lucky us! The ground hog saw his shadow. We get more winter. Yeah!

How is it that we consider a ground hog a prognosticator of weather? Each year in Pennsylvania, poor Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his hole, whether he wants to or not, and is held up in front of television cameras and a gathering of thousands of people and group of town dignitaries, who pronounce his prediction. That show, er, tradition is based on several ancient and modern customs, including Candelmas, a derivative of the Celts' Imbolc celebration of coming spring, according to the History channel website.

"In certain parts of Europe, Christians believed that a sunny Candlemas meant another 40 days of cold and snow. Germans developed their own take on the legend, pronouncing the day sunny only if badgers and other animals glimpsed their own shadows. When German immigrants settled Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, they brought the custom with them, choosing the native groundhog as the annual forecaster," it reads.

The first official Groundhog Day was held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, in 1887as a marketing endeavor for the town. Since then, the celebration has been presided over by the "Inner Circle," men in formal clothing who speak "Groundhogese," otherwise known as Pennsylvania Dutch. Other parts of the United States have adopted similar events, but use other kinds of animals.

What is most notable is that Groundhog Day is February 2, a place in the calendar that sits about 6 or 7 weeks before the spring solstice, or first day of spring. If Groundhog Day is sunny, hence a shadow prediction, does it mean more winter? The History channel reports, well, yes. Not because the groundhog saw his shadow. It's simply still winter. The same would be true for a cloudy day.
Stock Photos: Looking Out From The Hole Picture. Image: 79633" border="0"></a><br><strong>© Photographer: <a href="">Galina Dreyzina</a> | Agency: <a href=""></a></strong>

"While sunny winter days are indeed associated with colder, drier air, we probably shouldn’t trade in our meteorologists for groundhogs just yet. Recent studies by the National Climatic Data Center and the Canadian weather service have yielded success rates south of 40 percent for the animals. Last year, Punxsutawney Phil cheered winter-weary onlookers when he failed to see his shadow, but spring arrived no earlier than usual," writes the History channel.

So hunker down for just a bit longer, and in the meantime cuddle under a warm blanket with a good book. It's one thing that makes winter lovely -- a winter readerland. You could go out, but why? Stay warm inside and out with a good read. Book in one hand, you can be cozy, completely covered with a favorite blanket. Every now and then your other hand can slip out from under the blanket as you sip a cup of hot coffee or tea or hot chocolate without missing a beat in your reading. If you're lucky enough to have a fireplace, add that dimension to your winter wonderland – inside. Summer reads are special, but winter reads are delicious in their own rite.

What books are you reading this winter and how do you keep warm when it's blustery outside?
Friday, February 7, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe
One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.
- Cassandra Clare
Tuesday, February 4, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Reducing New Author Angst – 5 Tips For Marketing That First Book

Today, The Write Way Café welcomes Jo Grafford, who shares tips for climbing the daunting slope of promoting books.  Be sure to complete the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win a copy of Breaking Ties!

Breaking into the world of publishing isn’t for the weak-kneed or faint of heart. Let’s face it, almost everyone we know is going to write a book someday, but how many actually get around to it? Writing a book is hard work! For the few of us who succeed in climbing that euphoric peak, we suddenly and shockingly discover there’s a whole new slope to climb. Daunting at first, a Book Marketing Plan is the next and possibly most vital step to growing our writing careers.

A Five-Step Approach for Beginners (much of which I did not know the day my first book was released, so jump in with both feet and start catching up if that is you):

1. Create a Web Site. It’s no longer optional. An author must have a website complete with book excerpts, buy links, a media kit, and contact information. Not a web design guru? No sweat. Use a template where you can just click and drag or cut and paste your content onto the page. Start with FREE options like or Heck, just Google the phrase “free web site builder” and let the website designing party begin! Need some ideas for content? Visit the website of your favorite bestselling author. Apparently they are doing something right. **wink wink**

2. Schedule a Book Tour. A well planned out book tour will sell books. Make a local tour around your town’s bookstores, book clubs, and libraries. Then blast out a virtual one complete with blog stops, review stops, and giveaways. You can plan your own or pay a marketing company to organize it for you. Try searching online under “planning a book tour” for endless options.

3. Get active on Social Media. Join sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Goodreads and start building relationships with authors, agents, publishers, reviewers and – most importantly – your readers! Make sure you provide links on each of your site pages so that your followers are encouraged to find you elsewhere online. For example, they might discover you on Goodreads, but follow you to Youtube to watch your book trailer, and **fingers crossed** click on your Amazon buy link before moving on.

4. Ask for Reviews. As our marketing rep at Astraea Press once said, “Reviews are author gold.” Unless you are self-published, always check with your publisher first on contractual guidelines. Then search for reviewers online and fill out their e-application or email them a highly polished, personally addressed request. Wait a week and respectfully follow up if you don’t hear back. Be prepared to provide a complimentary copy of your book in exchange for an honest review. Honest is the key word. You have no control over the review. It is what it is. Hang it on the fridge and promote it on social media if it’s 4 or 5 stars. Then move on. No matter how much you may disagree with the review, never engage the reviewer. Negativity can only hurt you. Ask friends to help move a bad review to the bottom of the pile by “liking” and clicking “this was helpful” on the good reviews. Here’s one list of reviewers to get you started: There are thousands more. Always visit the reviewer’s site and read their guidelines to make sure your book is a good fit for their taste in genres.

5. Network, network, network! Building relationships is key to your ongoing marketing efforts. When possible: attend writing conferences, guest speak at book clubs, make author appearances at libraries and book stores, join a writers support group or book club, write guest blog posts and do interviews, create joint marketing campaigns with fellow authors, send out press releases, consider starting a marketing street team of your own, seek out high traffic sites and become a regular commenter or contributor, and...yeah…whew! Keep your eyes peeled for new and innovative ideas. Once you try out a bunch of networking tools, then focus the majority of your time and energy on the ones you enjoy most, create the best visibility, and (of course!) generate the highest sales.

It’s a life-long journey not a 50-yard dash. Most authors do not become one-book wonders and do not “get noticed” by the world overnight. It takes persistence to break through the white noise of a market flooded with thousands of new books each day. One last thought. After you establish a book-marketing plan, then get back to the most important task of all – writing the next book.

JO GRAFFORD is an award-winning author at Astraea Press who loves to indulge in marathon showings of CSI, NCIS, and Castle. From St. Louis, Missouri, she holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, college finance instructor, and high school business teacher. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter. The mother of three children and the wife of a soldier, she serves as a literacy volunteer for elementary school students.

Contact info:
Twitter: @jografford
YouTube Book Trailer:

ROSE PAYNE'S world is shattered after a secret betrothal to the duke’s son ends up costing her job as a clerk in his father's household. Without a letter of recommendation, Rose becomes an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Desperate for work, she signs up for a risky overseas venture and sails for the New World, hoping for a fresh start and vowing to never again fall for a wealthy gentleman.

Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, CHIEF MANTEO is bewitched by the fiery-haired ship’s clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – one that forces her, honor bound, to serve as a slave to his tribe – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in BREAKING TIES.

SPECIAL NOTE: Based on real people and real events, Breaking Ties is the "rest of the story" of the Lost Colonists from Roanoke Island. Recent laser technology and archaeological discoveries by the First Colony Foundation support the premise of my book - that there were survivors.

BREAKING TIES is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, and Astraea Press.


     July 26, 1587 - Roanoke Island
     If it had not been for the barking of the dogs and chattering of the lads who scampered at my side, I might have heard the shot - the low vibration of the string as the thin, wooden shaft was released, the faint whistle of the arrow as it sliced its invisible yet deadly path through the air, the scattering of wildlife as the forest itself braced before the world’s most fearsome predator. Instead, all I felt was the gentle lifting of my late father’s top hat as the arrowhead sank into the aged leather and pinned it to the heart of the oak behind me.
     The men assigned to guard me fired their muskets wildly into the perimeter of trees. For a moment, my ears rang with their gunfire and frenzied oaths. Then the slow burn of anger took over.
     I pivoted to yank the arrow, top hat and all, from the trunk. Separating the two, I jammed the damaged hat back on my head and tapped the lone arrow against my gloved hand. The miss was deliberate, intended as a taunt. Had the shadowy creature intended to kill me, I would already be dead.
     I glared over my shoulder as the gunfire ceased and shouted, “Show yourself, knave!”
     He was still out there, I was certain. Watching. This was merely a reminder that he was the hunter. I was the hunted.

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