The making of traditions

Hi everyone,easter bunny

 Apologies for not posting last week but life got in the way, and I had to head north and help with the my mother’s move to a rest home.  All done, but lots of emotion in such an occasion.

 This weekend is Easter and it’ll be a quiet one.   Traditionally we host an Easter brunch, but this year I’ve really left it too late.  However it got me thinking about traditions.  When we adopted our children from Russia many years ago one of the things we wanted to do as new parents was create our own family traditions, hence the Easter brunch with our close friends.

 Traditions I believe are really important as they give a sense of unity.  With that in mind I began to research the traditions of Easter.  Now I’m not necessarily talking the religious aspects, but things like Easter eggs, egg hunts, hot cross buns which our recent visitors from the USA hadn’t heard of.  So here goes.

 Firstly what I found to be interesting is that while we celebrate Easter as a Christian holiday, apparently some of the other aspects in fact pre-date Christianity. 

 The name Easter originates from Eostre an Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, which if you live in the Northern Hemisphere works, but since I live way down near the bottom of the world is a bit wonky for us as we’re heading into autumn.  According to Factmonster.com a month corresponding to April had been named “Eostremonat,” or Eostre’s month.   This term then became Easter because.  Prior to that, the holiday had been called Pasach (Passover)

 In Medieval Europe eggs were forbidden during Lent which is the period before Easter.  But so the food wasn’t wasted, they were often preserved and then became the focal point of food after lent/during Easter, often used as an Easter gift for children and servants.  Because eggs were often viewed as signs of fertility, they were also used during their spring festivals.  Eggs were dyed, painted, and otherwise decorated, used in games –parents hiding them for children to find then roll down the hill. 

 The most famous egg roll takes place on the White House lawn every year.

 Orthodox Christians and in Greece, pain the eggs bright red to symbolize the blood of Christ. In Armenia hollow eggs were painted with pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and other religious figures, while in German, green eggs are given as gifts on Holy Thursday, and hung hollow eggs on trees.

 In Poland and the Ukraine, eggs are often painted silver and gold.

 It is thought that the idea of the Easter Bunny originate in Germany, brought to America by immigrants to Pennsylvania, bringing with them the tale of an Easter hare who laid eggs for children to find.  Also they baked cakes for Easter in the shape of hares.

 The tradition of Easter cards originated in Victorian England when a stationer added a greeting to a drawing of a rabbit.

 Hot Cross Buns  are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, the cross symbolizing the crucifixion.  Although the first recorded use of hot cross buns wasn’t until 1733, they are believed to pre-date Christianity. 

Ancient Greeks may have marked cakes with a cross that is thought to have been connected with the goddess Esotre.

 In 1592 the London Clerk of Markets issued a decree forbidding the sale of hot cross buns and other spiced breads, except at burials, on Good Friday, or at Christmas. The punishment for transgressing the decree was forfeiture of the entire forbidden product to the poor.

 Sharing a hot cross bun with another person is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if “Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be” is said at the time. Because there is a cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten.    

Hot cross buns are also said to protect against shipwreck. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.

 Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, wherever you may be.

 Happy reading

Jane Beckenham

 PS – and just in case you’ve got time to put your feet up this long weekend, here’s an excerpt to read

HE’S THE ONE

Taylor prevaricated. “I should go home.”

“Do you want to?”

Did she?

“I’ll stay.”

“Good. I was hoping you’d say that.”

Taylor wiped her tongue across her lips. Kiss-swollen lips. Very yummy.

“If you do that again, I’ll have to see if your beautiful mouth still tastes as good.”

“Oh, believe me, it does. It tastes of you.” She brushed the fall of her hair back from her face, knowing the sheet would fall from her breasts. It did, and inside, her tummy did a roll of anticipation.

“You could have been one of those artist’s models for Gauguin.”

Her eyes widened in mock-horror. “He paints nudes.”

Cade’s gaze slid down her bare length. “On second thought, cut that idea. I don’t fancy a bunch of pervs getting their rocks off looking at you.”

“And why not? You’re going to spoil a girl’s fun.”

“So you want a bunch of horny old men staring at you?”

“Ew, maybe not. Anyway, back to us being ensconced in here for hours.”

“Ensconced? Big word for this time of the day.”

“Exactly. It’s 3:30 in the afternoon. Shouldn’t you be out mowing the lawn or something?”

“No lawn.”

“What about fixing that heap of rust you call cars.”

“Rust!” Cade’s chest puffed out. “I’ll have you know they’re classics. Perfection in metal.”

“That may be, but it seems to me you’ve forgotten something. You did promise to show me your etchings.”

“Okay.”

“Okay? You mean now?”

“Sure. No time like the present.” Cade lifted her from him and rolled off the bed. Standing in naked splendor, he simply took Taylor’s breath away. He was Adonis. Tanned, muscled and sculpted to perfection.

“Had enough time to get a good look, missy?”

“Oh, God.” Taylor yanked the sheet up over her head, every inch of her turning scarlet, even blushing to the roots of her hair. She’d been ogling, all right. How could she not? He was just so darn good to look at.

Cade tugged the sheet back a fraction. “It’s okay. It’s a compliment, really. I like you looking at me, and what I see in your eyes. Come on.” He threw her one of his shirts.

Taylor held it up. “I can’t wear this, it’s…not decent. I don’t have any clean underwear.”

Cade winked at her, and she began to blush all over again.

“Cade, you’re incorrigible.”

“That’s me,” he said proudly.

Taylor put one arm through the shirtsleeve. “See, it doesn’t cover anything.”

“Yeah, I know.” He wiggled his brows provocatively.

However, Cade did up the buttons, using his closeness to brush his fingertips over her already extended nipples. Then, wrapping an arm around her shoulder, he led her down the stairs from the apartment and through the bar. It was eerily quiet, the sort of unsettling silence that settles over a place which is normally so full of life and laughter. Thankfully, for decency’s sake, the bar wasn’t opened yet and they were alone.

Out through a side exit, Cade walked in front of her and down a narrow path to an area at the back of the building. The air was late-afternoon cool, and goose bumps dotted her legs and arms. “I’ll freeze in just this shirt.”

“Don’t worry, I know a few ways to keep warm.”

“I’m sure you do,” she said pettily, though her body heated with the vivid imagery his answer inspired.

Cade gave her a wicked grin. “Glad we’re on the same wavelength.”

The backyard was dwarfed by a large shed of sorts that spanned its width, with a row of three garage roller doors overlooking a cobbled yard. Taylor spied the few tufts of grass struggling to grow between the paving stones.

“And you said you didn’t have any lawn,” she admonished.

Cade shrugged. “Well, I could always get down on my hands and knees and use nail scissors and manicure it to perfection.”

“That I’d like to see.”

“Anytime, sweetheart.” He brushed her lips with a fleeting kiss.

“Not fair,” Taylor whispered.

“Why?”

“Because you only leave me wanting more.”

“That’s the idea. Tempt and retreat.”

Cade drew a key from the pocket of his jeans and proceeded to roll up one of the shed doors to expose beauty in metal.

Taylor could see exactly what he meant. Four cars lined the length of the oversized garage. “Oh, Cade.” She stepped close to the Mustang and caressed its curves, but suddenly yanked her hand back and spun to face him. “Is it okay, to touch, I mean?”

“Of course. They’re cars. Not museum pieces.”

She turned back and walked the length of each one slowly, admiring their silent strength. Each had a gentle beauty about it. The chrome glistened, the paintwork was mirror perfect; all were restored to perfection.

“The Mustang, I know, is a ’64, but what year is the pickup?”

“A ’48. It’s been rodded to go faster. And that one,” Cade said pointing to its neighbor, “is a ’66 Ford Galaxy. The soft top is a Lincoln Convertible.”

“So you’re a purist then, an all-Ford man.”

“Yeah.” He grinned down at her. “Except that the pickup’s rodded. You sure know your cars, Taylor. I am impressed.”

Taylor walked the line of the cars a second time, hand trailing over each. They were all special in their own right, but in truth the pickup was probably her favorite because it had been the car Cade used for their first date.

First date. How cool did that sound?

“They’re beautiful. You’ve done a good job,” she said.

“Thank you.”

Cade stood so close that when she turned to face him, their bodies brushed. Heat zinged through every part of her, and his stare was nowhere near any of his cars.

Words failed her. Cade had that effect on her.

He leant forward, forcing her to arch backward, and she came in contact with hard metal. Cade closed in and rested an arm on either side of her.

“That shirt sure looks good on you,” he said.

“It’s…um too short,” she said, tugging at its hem self-consciously.

His gaze lowered to the top of her thighs. “Nope. Definitely the right length. I think you’re a bit too done up,” he said, flicking one button open. The shirt sides parted, outlining the full curve of her very aroused breasts. Her heart raced a frantic beat, and blood pounded in her veins so hard she was sure she could hear its journey.

Cade pulled back a fraction, eyeing her with a teasing glint in his desire-filled eyes. “Nope. Definitely still too uptight.” He flicked another button, and another.

Taylor’s breath hung in suspension, lips suddenly dry as any desert as Cade parted her shirtfront. His gaze flared.

“So beautiful,” he murmured. Then his mouth was on one nipple, sucking, teasing her as the curl of his tongue flicked the hard bud repeatedly.

“Cade?”

“Mm, baby, you taste good, just as I remember,” he said, leaving one pleasured bud for the other.

Taylor was in heaven and squeezed her eyes shut, blocking out the world, wanting only to feel his touch. His hands lifted her easily, jolting her suddenly alert.

“What are you doing?”

“Don’t want to show the world,” he rasped against her ear. He yanked the rear door of the Galaxy open. It was made for loving. Intimate. Private. The door closed behind them and, except for the thud of her heart as it hammered, the world went quiet.

Reclining across the back seat, Cade pulled her onto his lap. She went readily, feeling his erection pulse against her.

“Much better,” he said and began dotting kisses across her eyes, her face and finally her lips.

Things couldn’t be any better. A soft sigh escaped Taylor, and she gave in to the pleasure of it all.

Cade kissing her.

Cade loving her.

Absolutely perfect.

“Cade, where are you?”

Zane! Here.

Cade’s hands stilled their journey across her breasts, and he uttered a few choice curses. “Damn, why now?” He looked into Taylor’s eyes, silencing her question. “It’s my brother.” He put a finger against her well-kissed lips and lifted her from him. He turned away and slid toward the door, glancing back at her as he stepped out. “I’ll get rid of him.”

Taylor curled into the corner of the car, buttoning up Cade’s shirt with shaking fingers. Holding her breath, she clutched her hands to her chest. Her heartbeat was frantic, pounding as if her heart were going to explode.

Fancy being caught in the backseat of a car, of all places. What was wrong with her? She wasn’t some schoolgirl—okay, so she was still relatively inexperienced, but the back seat—what was she thinking?

Nothing.

Ain’t that the truth. Thinking had flown out the window the moment he’d touched her.

Sneaking across the seat, making sure she kept her head below the window line, Taylor listened to the brothers.

“What do you want, Zane?”

“Just dropping off these car parts from Harry Fontain.”

“Thanks, now goodbye.”

“What? No time for your brother?”

“Nope,” Cade bit out harshly.

“None?”

“That’s right.”

Taylor slid a fraction higher on the seat. Dressed only in his jeans, his bare back, shoulders broad and flexed, Cade stood with his back to her. But that wasn’t the only thing he wore. Scored across his beautiful back were other marks. Scratches. Ones she’d inflicted in the heat of passion when Cade loved her.

Heat scorched her cheeks as she eyed the red love-marks. She remembered the delicious pleasure he’d given her at that moment.

Bad girl!

It seemed, however, Zane wasn’t about to budge, and Taylor realized Zane knew exactly what was going on, because his gaze kept sliding over Cade’s shoulder toward the car.

Good Lord, she’d been caught bonking in the back seat. What was she, a tart?

“Go home to your dog, Zane. I’m sure I can hear it barking.”

“Tetchy, aren’t we?”

“Busy,” Cade shot back.

“Yeah, I can see.” Zane chuckled. He turned to leave and walked a few feet away. “See ya later, brother. Oh, and bye, Taylor.”

 

 

 

 

SO YOU WANNA BE A WRITER

Hi everyone,

Yes it’s that time again… life has gotten in the way of writing this week, with an elderly parent to deal with, trips racing up and down to hospitals, forgetting a relation’s birthday… oh, and getting revisions that need to be done….

Today Elle Druskin has dropped by. Elle and I met over ten years ago via the net.  We even co-authored two books before we actually met.  It was a wonderful experience brainstorming every day, working out who would write what etc, because as writers know, it can be a lonely life locked away in your cave.

Anyway…here’ Elle….

I Wanna Be A Writer!ANIMAL CRACKERS

So you want to write a book, huh? Good for you. Assuming you have something basically interesting to say. Assuming you have a solid understanding of English grammar and spelling, (we’ll confine ourselves to English for now, never mind those tricky foreign language words or phrases which might be necessary. Don’t rely on Google Translates unless you want to be truly embarrassed), the craft of writing, how to create tension, realistic characters, appreciate the balance between narrative and dialogue and possess the requisite research skills if your story requires knowledge that is anything but common. Starting to re-think that book? Don’t give up yet.

 

What’s Required?

Writing requires all of the above but most of all, passion and persistence. Persistence pays, but only if the writer can create a distance between the person (you, the writer) and the work. By that I mean, I’ve heard a number of beginning writers in particular, talk about their book as their baby. Sorry, it is not your baby. Sure, a book requires hours of work, occasional tears and often, a sense of total investment with little to show in return but it still isn’t a baby. All writers need feedback and critique or criticism. Critique is worthless unless the writer is capable of receiving that feedback, even if negative, and addressing the issues in the book that require more time, attention, and effort. It’s a monumental challenge and if this whole darned business was easy, everyone would do it.  Criticism is meant to be constructive. It may be disappointing, difficult to accept, but in the end, that distance should allow a writer to put the work away for a while and then take a clean look at the areas that need revision. You can’t put a baby away and if you don’t like their behavior, you have to address it although plenty of parents don’t. We won’t go down that track.

Writing is a pretty solitary experience since a story exists in the writer’s head. The fundamental job is to find the words to translate the story in a way that any reader can experience it and derive pleasure in doing so. Writers, in that sense, are introverts, they live in their heads but also in the real world (even if creating worlds in our books) and at some point, other people need to get involved in the process. It is their help that improves the final version of the book which may differ substantially from the first draft. Even before attempting to submit The Book (doesn’t have a title yet) to a publishing house or agent, it can be very helpful to get feedback. Remember, criticism? This is where you stop thinking of The Book as your baby. Just checking you were paying attention. You can ask family and friends to read for you although they are probably not objective readers and more than likely, will praise your efforts no matter what product results from all those hours of writing. Should you use them? Probably not unless you are confident they will be objective. So where do you find those readers who will be honest?  Lots of places.

 

Getting Help

 You can enroll in a writing class or seminar. You don’t have to, but if you choose to do so, no reason not to do that. RWA (Romance Writers of America) offers a number of specific classes—creating characters, plotting, etc. Many writing organizations offer group classes online or group critique. SINC, or Sisters (and now Misters) In Crime is another organization that is specific to mystery and thriller writers. Just check the web and you will find them, or perhaps, a local chapter that might be suitable for you.

There are loads of creative writing classes around both face to face and online. I once attended a dinner party where the guests did not know I am writer with a number of published books. One of the guests was taking her first writing course and she insisted there is only one way to write a book.  Suffice to say, it was the method she was being taught. I never said a word other than, “That’s interesting” because the method had nothing whatsoever in common with mine.

There are plenty of ways to write. I have a friend who often says there are plenty of ways to get to WalMart. I’m not going shopping but the concept is basically the same. Doesn’t matter what method as long as it works for you and the end product is great. Less than great doesn’t cut it in today’s market. Or any other market.

 

Setting up a critique

 Alternatively, you can join a critique group. One of the benefits of a critique group is getting more than one opinion. Likewise, it’s much easier to see flaws in another writer’s work than one’s own which you will have to do in order to be part of the group. Critiquing helps a writer focus on problems in terms of craft and learn to avoid them so it’s never a waste of time. Consider it a time investment. When I was starting out, I read for a publishing house for a while because I wanted to get some idea of their criteria for publication. I read a load of awful stuff, and I do mean rotten. One was so terrible, I couldn’t finish it no matter how I tried. I did approach each book with the idea that it would be wonderful so I didn’t start out with negative thoughts. Almost always, I had to force myself to read to the end of a disappointing piece of work that I am sure some poor soul slaved to create.

 

Out of all the books submitted for me to review, I think I was able to recommend one. What were the flaws? Multiple spelling errors (that’s a big red flag. While some errors get past the best eagle eye, mistakes like your when the word should be you’re, weather, when it should be whether, and plenty of other mistakes along those lines send out an alert that this is a sloppy piece (or peace, if another error) of work with many flaws other than spelling.

Some of the other things that continually arose were poor plotting or no plot at all that I could see or revealing far too much too soon so that no tension was created. J. K. Rowling stated that revealing too much too soon was one of the problems with her earlier drafts of Harry Potter. Obviously, she fixed that glaring problem and went on to astounding success. One of the biggest problems in fictional work is no obvious conflict. Conflict is the basis of any novel and the sooner it is made clear to the reader, the better. It doesn’t matter if it is conflict between a man and woman, the basis of the romance genre, a challenging landscape such as an Alaskan winter (conflict with nature), conflict as part of the background such as war with the various characters pitted against each other, or internal conflict demonstrated best by Hamlet who spends so much time procrastinating and trying to figure out what to do. Yes, I know Hamlet is not a novel, but the notion of internal conflict is so beautifully illustrated by the play. Conflict. Like I said, I learned a lot and was able to take out my own work and revise with those issues in mind.

You can find a critique partner and work together.  It’s a good idea to set ground rules. How long each critique should take, and how the criticism should be framed. Critique can be positive and should be, not only a focus on the negative. If you have a good partner, you have a great friend. You’ll probably have different strengths and weaknesses and be able to help each other considerably.

Another option is a beta reader. I still use them although increasingly, I’m confident in my work and don’t need them much. A beta reader is like a critique partner, only you don’t have to read their work in return. They just read your book and ideally, you give them a list of questions that you want them to think about while reading. Just a few examples could be, is the dialogue realistic? Can you visualize the setting? Does the story contain sufficient tension? Do you feel engaged with the characters? Most of all, did you feel that you just had to keep reading to find out what happens next?  My beta readers are great. If they point out a possible problem, I take it seriously and often take up their suggestion because they are almost always right.

 

Getting Published

Try to build a thick skin when you are ready to submit to an agent or publisher. It’s wonderful indeed if your book is accepted and you are the next bestseller. Most likely, sorry to say, that is not going to happen. What is more likely is getting many rejections. You might get requests for a sample chapter or chapters and still get rejections of your book. That’s part of the process. If it keeps happening, it’s time to revisit that book and see what might be the problem. This is a very competitive market and most agents are not willing to take risks on unknowns. Of course, that can happen, but odds are against it. Cheer up. Remember stories like Kathryn Stockett. If you don’t know the name, you know the book—The Help. Sixty agents rejected it. Something similar happened to J. K. Rowling, so who got the last laugh? But, that’s rare, do keep that in mind.

Independent publishing is quite respectable today and it is an option as long as you know what you are doing. I have not gone that route but should you choose to do so, it is necessary to get an editor and cover artist. Make sure you shop around for the ones you want who will do the job that is necessary to showcase your work. Do Indies sell books? Sure. Some of them sell very well indeed and a few have been able to take that success and land contracts with publishing houses. Again, rare, and it does require you as the author to promote the book which is a full time job, but again, this is an option to explore if it suits you or your book which may not fit neatly into any genre.

 

 Genre?? Does it matter? What about writing a series?

I’ve written a number of books, all of which could be classified as romance genre but my To Catch series is also reviewed as mystery. Personally, I never saw that but it honestly doesn’t matter. Lots of books are genuinely cross genre. It should be noted that romance accounts for about 50% of the market which is huge by any standard, mystery and thriller only about 10% but the percentages should not deter you from writing the book of your heart. The bottom line is a great story.

For the present, I am concentrating on the Liberty Heights series. I love writing this series! I started with what I assumed was a stand alone book (Animal Crackers) which showcases my voice and style. I’ve tried to write books that have a serious tone but inevitably, some humor creeps in there. It’s a personality quirk. I laugh at everything, especially myself so I decided to stop trying to fight what came naturally to me.  As I was writing this supposed stand alone book which I was enjoying immensely, scenes that had nothing to do with the story kept flashing through my head. I kept a few notes on the side, and eventually they evolved and became Life of the Party (Book 2 in the series). That pleased me enormously because I really did not want to leave Liberty Heights!

Fortunately, reviewers and readers feel the same way about the series, telling me it gets funnier as it goes along and makes them want to move to New Jersey except, they have to keep reminding themselves Liberty Heights isn’t real. Well, that’s not true. It is real to me but it only exists in my head and in the books. Still, it’s really pleasing when readers connect so well with a book, let alone a series.

Basically, Liberty Heights, that mythical New Jersey town, where things are just a little bit loony (sometimes more than a little) has become a character in a way. All the books are centered there and because there are peripheral characters in each book, they lend themselves to additional stories, thereby providing the basis of a series. In general, the stories have primary characters that were introduced in previous books, other than the first one, Animal Crackers, but then come front and center in their own story, the difference being, that the primary characters in a previous book may reverse roles and become secondary in a subsequent story. Furthermore, many of the characters are, well, just a little bit quirky which means I get to have fun with them. In context, they are eccentric but make sense, except for the primary characters who are the stable anchors with insanity whirling around them. One of my favorite characters, (and judging by the beta readers who adore this character) is LouAnn who makes her first appearance in Light My Fire (Book 4, due out in June 2013) and appears in subsequent books (Rodeo Daze, Book 5, due out in September 2013  LouAnn is more than a bit flaky; she has a dog she claims is psychic, a sister who is a witch school failure and a root beer addict. That was more than a little fun for me because from LouAnn’s perspective, this all seems perfectly reasonable.

I also enjoy some of the senior citizens in Liberty Heights who are often catalysts to stories. In Hanky Panky (Book 3) Grandma Baumgart, who is a pretty hip senior, takes a ride on a skateboard, has a concussion and recovers nicely other than an unshakeable conviction that her grandson Hank is married to Dana Fremder. Pretty soon, the whole town believes this. Grandma is busy planning a reception for people who missed the wedding which is the whole town since no wedding ever really happened and has her heart set on a new outfit.  Everyone is buying wedding gifts and Hank and Dana are forced into pretending they are married since nobody wants to upset Grandma. It’s Grandma as matchmaker! Along with Algernon the meerkat since there’s no groundhog in Liberty Heights for Groundhog Day, Algernon is the substitute.

This might all sound wacky, but in Liberty Heights, it all seems perfectly reasonable. The trick to managing these unusual characters is to ensure that the primary hero and heroine are caught up in the nonsensical fun, like the eye of the hurricane, but not the actual storm which whirls around them and eventually results in a satisfactory end to whatever conflicts exists in the story, a happily ever after ending and the chance to appear in future stories so we get to see all these characters evolve as the series progresses. That’s fun for me too. I don’t just drop them, we get to find out how their lives are progressing. I like that and so do readers which is a great benefit of writing a series.

I could say a lot more and truthfully, I always feel I am still learning. Sometimes, my characters say things or do things I wouldn’t do, but it’s their story and I have to allow them to behave in a manner that is faithful to their core values and beliefs.

All of my books are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as other sites. I hope you’ll enjoy them, especially a visit to Liberty Heights.

Check out Elle’s books at www.elledruskin.com

Twitter:

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Books and Writers Community, a great place for writers and readers. It’s free, it’s fun and everything you can possibly imagine is discussed. You’ll see some famous names there including Diana Gabaldon and Joanna Bourne.

 

Thanks to Elle for such an insight into the life of a writer.  And especially when it’s humor. 

Happy reading everyone

Jane Beckenham

 

 

Introducing Shirley and Teresa

Hello everyone.jane

Here we are into March – which is really scary, I mean nearly a ¼  of the year over.  What I’m hoping to bring you over the next few weeks are authors from around the globe and highlighting their work.  Some will be in an interview form, or just an excerpt from their work, or an article they’ve written.  And now and again there’ll be book blurbs too.  I hope you enjoy!

 

Firstly, I’d like to welcome wonderful author, and friend, Shirley Wine.   Shirley has recently entered the world of Indie publishing, and had gone from strength to strength.  Here she gives us a little advice about Indie publishing.

 

 

Indie Publishing from Shirley Wine

Indie Publishing from Shirley Wine 

I decided to Indie publish after one too many rejections. Breaking through the glass ceiling of trad publishing is difficult and becoming more so.  The main advantage of Indie Publishing is the control an author has over cover art, book content and word length, but this control puts the onus on the author to ensure the quality of the work they publish. There is a lot of tacky work out there.

My experience has been positive, mostly. One thing you learn is to grow a thick skin. Reviewers on Amazon are blunt, often offensive and at times downright nasty.  If you let them, they’d quickly undermine your self-confidence.  Sales can be very hit and miss so you need to be realistic in your expectations.

The disadvantages are that you’ll probably never strike it rich. You have to do all your own promotion, but as all authors are now required  to do a good deal of promotion no matter which way they publish…Indie or traditional, it’s just part of the game. The other disadvantages are  piracy and BE AWARE OF RIP-OFF MERCHANTS who are ready and willing to rip off unwary authors.   DO YOUR RESEARCH before you part with any money.

Indie Publishing is daunting, but I there is a great support network of authors who’ve already trod the Indie path.  Kris Pearson recommended I join the IndieRomanceInk loop.  The members are helpful and knowledgeable. Through them I have made contact with and been recommended editors, formatters, cover artists and advice on all other technical matters. Joining this group (you need to request this) is the first step I’d recommend to any author contemplating self-publishing. Also link up with anyone you know personally, who is self-publishing. Be prepared to spend money on editors, cover art and formatters so your book is as perfect as you can get it.  If I could do one thing over again it would be to hire an editor sooner. And if you self-publish you need know the business side of writing and your tax liabilities.

If anyone wants more information they can contact me through my website   http://www.shirleywine.com  and I’ll email copies of the workshop notes I put together for our chapter meeting on self-publishing.

 One-HTM-Mk-II-212x300

 SHIRLEY WINE

for feel-good Rural Romances
One Hour To Midnight 
Seven For A Secret 
Lovers’ Lies 
http://smashwords.com/books/view/249803

 

 

Have you read…

 

Knowing the Ropes

Teresa Noelle Roberts

 KnowingTheRopes_v1

 

They’ve got the sex factor in spades. But can love survive the “ex” factor?

Selene has harbored submissive fantasies most of her life, but as a domestic abuse counselor, she’s leery of giving up that much control. Until she meets Nick, a dom who offers to show her the ins and outs of ropes, paddles, and floggers.

Selene’s common sense, taste for kink, and smoking sensuality is a dream Nick never dared to have. Except they’ve both agreed to a no-strings arrangement, not long-term domestic bliss. And when an ex needs their help, there may not be time to save their love from all the things they’re afraid to say.

 

Warning:  Sexy, kinky, geeky dominant guy. Smart submissive woman. Crazy ex. A little experimentation between girlfriends. And lots and lots of kinky sex.

Samhain:     Amazon US:    Barnes and Noble:    Kobo:

And last but not least, here’s a little read from me.

 

Romeo for Hireromeo

Jane Beckenham

 

“If you’re looking for a fast-paced story that sizzles and

will tug at her your heart, Romeo For Hire will definitely hit the spot.”

Review – Long and Short Reviews – 4 books

 

EXCERPT

 

She had no one.

She was alone.

And she had lied.

What started as a joke had become Carly Mason’s living nightmare.

The words “Don’t forget!” were ingrained in gold on the glossy invitation, visible from wherever she stood in her office. It was as if they were chasing her, following her every move.

Don’t forget? “Fat chance.”

And now, as the day of departure for rest and relaxation in paradise grew nearer, the joke was on her.

Trying to bluff her way out of going had proved impossible. Her friends wouldn’t let her off the hook.

“Come on, Carly, four days on an exotic island, just us and our men.”

“Can’t wait to meet your man.”

“You mean the invisible man.”

Carly cringed, remembering their reference to the boyfriend she bragged about but never produced. Right now she wished the ground would open up and swallow her whole.

She picked up the invitation, fingers trailing over the embossed outline of a palm tree beside a blue lagoon. “I’ll be a laughingstock,” she moaned and tossed it toward the bin. She turned back to her desk, though the sight of piles of fabric, wallpaper samples and the unopened mail littering her desk didn’t improve her mood.

Barely visible beneath a stack of multi-colored chintz was a gilded frame holding a picture of her and her girlfriends—and their men.

Tania and Martin.

Maxine and Frederico.

She caressed the ornate frame, staring at the photo. Though surrounded by friends, she’d never felt so lonely. She may have been smiling in that photo, but deep down she knew the truth she’d carefully hidden, and now, every time she looked at the group, a sharp pain of something she couldn’t quite understand tugged at her heart.

Dropping the photo frame onto the overflowing desk, she returned her gaze to the mounting piles of work. She had no time for men. Besides, history told her they weren’t reliable.

 

ROMEO FOR HIRE

Jane Beckenham

 

D-Day however, was drawing near, and she still hadn’t produced the invisible man, described, unfortunately, in superlative detail after several glasses of Cabernet. Tall and devilishly good-looking, who of course worshiped the ground she walked on. Where on earth was she going to find such a specimen in less than seventy-two hours?

“Couldn’t make him a nerd, or a plain Harry, could you?” Carly eyed the invitation as if it was a summons from hell.

Her cheeks stung as she remembered the graphic details she’d spouted, and a wave of rampant desperation shook her normally serene composure. How could she have been so stupid? Perhaps she could sleep through it, say she’d caught some grisly plague and couldn’t go.

Own up.

Carly chose to ignore that piece of internal advice. There had to be a way out. She picked up the folder containing the job specifications for the hotel chain, but her mind wasn’t on the job. She couldn’t concentrate. Her mystery man got in the way—again.

Perhaps Adonis could get chicken pox, be deranged and in jail for murder. “Hell and…” She needed to work. Not think about men.

Perhaps then the problem will go away!

If only.

 

 

Adventures in Research

Hi everyone

Today, I’m very excited to have author Frances Housden visit.  Frances knows her stuff.  She’s a master (mistress?) at research which you know is that stuff sometimes we get enamored with and spend hours and hours doing, rather than the writing.  Or others of us absolutely hate!

Frances has written a great article on researching

Adventures in Research

By Frances Housden

 First let us address the ‘Write What You Know’ that is the war cry of certain teachers of the art. If I had obeyed that rule my books would have been about window-dressing and furniture making, not very exciting backgrounds for producing romantic suspense – not a lot of fun.

Then if we move on to what can be researched through Internet and libraries we’ll discover so many sources, especially on the Internet, the sheer scale of the information can bog us down. Books on the other hand can be more reliable since the publisher is expected to check on the information they put out there – though this still isn’t the adventure I promised in the title.

For me the adventure comes from going out there to discover the facts you’re after by yourself. I must admit that the first time I went out of my comfort zone to ask someone for information I was as nervous as hell. I soon discovered that most people – strangers – are willing to help as soon as they discover you’re a writer. My first venture was to a vineyard – there was so much to learn, but as we walked amongst the giant stainless steel vats I had this picture spring to mind of the vats on a winter’s night. Of scudding clouds playing hide and seek with the moon and the steel platforms high atop the vats pinging in the cold air, and a pale face looking down on the heroine out of the darkness. These are the light-bulb moments you don’t find in books, or on the Internet. For that same book I also visited Auckland Central police station and doll makers. Do that and you’ll find it’s the little things that add greater depth to our books.

I’ve been to stables that housed a Melbourne Cup winner – driven around the south island (of New Zealand) where I found a tiny book on the history of greenstone. Yet the information inside it was huge. I’ve gone to a boat builders, watched masses of videos about Everest. Written a book about the mountain with a map of it on my knee. I’ve toured Paris through the eyes of an Australian in her book ‘Almost French’. When I eventually visited that city there was so much I recognised from her description it was mind-blowing.

But mainly what I found while doing my research was fun. I’ve driven through France from the Pyrenees to Luxemburg – visited Brussels and the battlefield of Waterloo. As for Scotland, I’ve relied on memories of growing up with the history of that proud country and the visits I’ve made there since these memories are what I used to write THE CHIEFTAIN’S CURSE. Bald Internet facts are all well and good, but our readers deserve more than that. They deserve an adventure – so go out into the world and find one for both them and your hero and heroine. And whether it costs a lot or a little, make sure you have fun doing the research.

One last comment, how do you know if your research is successful? For me it was hearing from readers that it took a while to get up in the dark without thinking about that face in the winery. It’s having the post lady ask when you went to Everest and a RT review that thought the township in Love Under Fire was a lovely description of a typically New Zealand town when the restaurant/bar in the book came from one that I visited in Newport Rhode Island and the rest came from my imagination.

Frances Housden – The Chieftain’s Curse an iTunes and Amazon bestsellerchieftain-small

from Escape Publishing – Feb 2013

www.franceshousden.com

 

 

 

Thanks for Frances for visiting today.  And she’s right about asking people questions.  I was in regular email contact with the local president of our New Zealand Olive Growers Association who answered all my questions when I was writing Secrets and Seduction, then just recently stopped in at a local helicopter company when I needed answers.  The young and rather handsome pilot – in a uniform too – spent quite some time giving me all the info I needed so I could have my poor princess stranded up a mountain with a helicopter that wouldn’t work!

Happy reading everyone

Jane Beckenham

 Secrets and Seduction

Jane Beckenham

Samhain Publishing

 

He wants to hate her, but a little lust wouldn’t hurt…

The only emotion Leah Grainger musters when thinking of her dead husband is relief. Then she learns his gambling debt threatens her beloved olive farm and the child she must protect from the rootless existence she grew up with.

When her husband’s brother demands a meeting, the startlingly handsome, former oil rig wildcatter goes for the jugular, claiming legal guardianship of her daughter, has bought her mortgage…and he’s moving in.

Mac Grainger doesn’t trust Leah and will protect his niece, even if it means using his millions to gain the upper hand, and hardening his heart against the beautiful Leah’s protests of innocence.  Trouble is that forcers him to make a decision that exposes his most closely guarded possession – his heart.

Product Warnings

Contains tug-your-heart love, raise-the-roof lust, a marriage of convenience and hot sex that will give a whole new meaning to the word “wildcatter”.

Four Cup Review – Literary Nymphs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY WRITING CAVE…

Hi everyonejane

For this post I deserve a bravery medal.  Letting others see my office, which at times resembles a hovel of books, papers, and research materials, but today, thankfully not too bad.  And I promise I barely did any tidying up.

Generally, while in the depths of writing, the housework suffers; the family fend for themselves in the food department and shock horror, my daughter actually had to do the dishes by hand as I’d forgotten to buy dishwasher tablets!  Lucky my writer’s brain didn’t forget the laundry powder otherwise she might have to wash the clothes on a rock down by our stream!  You get the idea.  Deadlines override feeding and cleaning.  So where do I retreat to in these moments of writing hibernation?

 

S5031803

My office is where I spend hours and hours…and hours…and hours sequestered away tearing my hair out when the words don’t come, and when I yell and scream as I type – The end!  The room is my personal woman’s cave and I have really tried to personalise it.  When we moved to this house in the country on 10 acres about 2 years ago I realised that I had quite a few heart shaped ornaments.  I don’t think it was a conscious thing, though who knows the way my brain works some times.  Anyway, I have started to create a ‘heart’ wall, with all these plaques and wreaths, plus a few sayings that I hope will inspire me to put that butt on the chair and actually get writing!  And there’s also the word create written in bold script which is meant to push me on to greater efforts.  There’s wooden hearts that say ‘ Love with all my heart’, there’s a heart embroidered by my daughter with cupid’s arrow going straight through it, a wooden star that says believe, and a metal wall plaque which has photos of my children, my parents  and photos of my childhood home.  There’s one more heart to go up too.  A lavender wreath in the shape of a heart that I brought recently.

Of course there are the obligatory bookcases, but the funny thing is that of the 3 bookcases 2 of them have my husband’s books and only one mine.  There’s a shelf of writing related craft books, interior design books (my other passion), books on organizing – something I read about specifically on the 1st of January every year, but tend to fail at by the 31st of January – every year.

My desk is new, – an opaque glass top thing, but the chair is old – well modern looking but I found it in the trash – yes I skip dived!  Well, you know what they say about one man’s trash is another’s treasure!

I’d like to say  (WISH) my desk is always tidy – NOT NOT NOT – and I hang my head in shame.  At times, I’m lucky I can find the computer mouse.

The office is home to bill paying, scrap booking albums, a collection of old cameras, books on vintage cars and vintage school girl annuals that came out in the 60s – yes they were mine.

So that’s my little cave that I seclude myself in day in and day out (and nights too sometimes).  There’s a direct line to the refrigerator so that’s a relief, and the dog comes in regularly to say  “walk me mum!”

Do you have a cave at home that you burrow in?  Leave a comment below and tell me all about it.

 

Happy reading everyone

Jane Beckenham

 

PS – a little excerpt for you.

SECRETS AND SEDUCTION

In the distance, the muffled wail of a fire engine echoed, and Leah’s heart skipped a beat, her body stiffening. She wanted desperately to block the sound out, but it drowned everything, even the roar of her heart, until all she could hear was the wail of the siren, screeching, warning, bleeding her dry.

“Leah? Leah?”

A voice clawed at her subconscious, a strong, confident voice, and a hand on her shoulder. Her eyes sprang open.

Mac! He was here. Holding her safe.

 

“It’s okay.” He ran a hand the length of her back, murmuring soothing words in her ear.

“No, it isn’t.” She pulled away, shaking her head. “It will never be okay again. I heard a fire engine. There’s another fire.”

With his free hand, he tilted her face up so that she looked at him. “Sweetheart, there’s no fire here.”

The heat of Mac’s touch burned through her robe, stealing across her flesh. Dark eyes stormy with desire held hers in an unspoken embrace. Unthinkingly, she brushed the tip of her tongue across her lips.

He clasped her face between his hands, the flat pad of one thumb brushing across her mouth. Her lips parted. She wanted to taste him.

“If you do that again, I’ll have to kiss you,” he growled out.

“Is that a warning?”

“A promise. But then again,” he murmured, “I really don’t want an excuse not to.”

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

Hi everyone,  Happy Valentine’s Dayjane

Well you know what they say about best laid plans and all that… yep, well, my plans for my blog post for today kinda went out the window when I realized it was Valentines Day this week!

Forget about Valentines Day you ask, shocked.  Yes, well, I did.  Tres bad for a romance writer I know.

Anyways…., given that it is the day of love tomorrow, I thought I would blabber on about romantic moments.  Apart from the moment my hubby of nearly 30 years asked me to marry him (this is after we met on a blind date 5 months earlier which in itself is pretty darn romantic), the two other most romantic moments also involved the same man.  And the very first was…yes, you guessed it, Valentines Day.  We’d been married about 7 months when this romantic day was fast looming.  I of course kept reminding him all week that it was coming, and what did I get when I woke up that morning, a lovely red rose on my pillow. He’d remembered.  How sweet.

And what did I get my beloved, after hinting all week – a big fat zero – yep I FORGOT!  But obviously he forgave me, since we’re now thirty years down the track.

The next nice romantic gesture was for my 30th birthday, and again I woke up to a gift on the pillow.  A beautiful garnet ring.

Nine years later – yep took a while – we’d actually been married for 13 years by that stage.  Well, I’d just got back from Russia, where we adopted our two children from, and the day after we got back, after an exhausted sleep … I awoke up to find on my pillow … yep I definitely think there’s a theme going on here…a ring… double whammy that theme.  This one had four sapphires.  But what I think was the most romantic thing of all of these moments, was what hubby said.  “There are four sapphires, one for each of us in our new family.”  So heartfelt!

I’d love for you to leave a comment below, let me know what your most romantic moment is.

And… to make it even more of a moment, to celebrate Valentine’s Day, make sure you do leave that comment, because I’m going to pick a winner (well I’ll get hubby pick, and the lucky winner will receive a download copy of each of my books (pdf)  So as they say, you gotta be in to win, so make sure you leave that comment.

Author Elle Druskin talks about a character’s romantic moment…I did kind of like a scene in Animal Crackers. Hayley walked out on Jake only to realize he’s the best thing that ever happened to her so she grabs the bus back to New Jersey.  There he is sitting in the bleachers coaching a Little League baseball game, not too excited to see her back. He’s eating Cracker Jack and Hayley isn’t sure he’s forgiven her for walking out. He offers her the box and she starts eating only to find the prize – it turns out to be an engagement ring.

Lee Christine, one of Escape Publishing’s debut authors says about her romantic hubby…My husband organised a surprise weekend. Told me to pack on the Friday morning and we got in the car. I had no idea where we were going. He stopped at a little cafe on the way for morning tea. In the afternoon we arrived at Kims at Toowoon Bay on the NSW central coast. He’d booked their ‘deluxe’ tree house style apartment with small pool, hot tub and the works. We spent all weekend eating, drinking and …

And with that…. Wishing you a wonderful week and a very special Valentine’s Day!

Happy reading

Jane Beckenham

PS – adding one tiny excerpt – who wouldn’t want their very own Romeo for Valentine’s Day

RomeoForHire_v31

ROMEO FOR HIRE

“If you’re looking for a fast-paced story that sizzles and 

will tug at her your heart, Romeo For Hire will definitely  hit the spot.”    

Review – Long and Short Reviews 4 books

 

EXCERPT – ROMEO FOR HIRE

She had no one.

She was alone.

And she had lied.

What started as a joke had become Carly Mason’s living nightmare.

The words “Don’t forget!” were ingrained in gold on the glossy invitation, visible from wherever she stood in her office. It was as if they were chasing her, following her every move.

Don’t forget? “Fat chance.”

And now, as the day of departure for rest and relaxation in paradise grew nearer, the joke was on her.

Trying to bluff her way out of going had proved impossible. Her friends wouldn’t let her off the hook.

“Come on, Carly, four days on an exotic island, just us and our men.”

“Can’t wait to meet your man.”

“You mean the invisible man.”

Carly cringed, remembering their reference to the boyfriend she bragged about but never produced. Right now she wished the ground would open up and swallow her whole.

She picked up the invitation, fingers trailing over the embossed outline of a palm tree beside a blue lagoon. “I’ll be a laughingstock,” she moaned and tossed it toward the bin. She turned back to her desk, though the sight of piles of fabric, wallpaper samples and the unopened mail littering her desk didn’t improve her mood.

Barely visible beneath a stack of multi-colored chintz was a gilded frame holding a picture of her and her girlfriends—and their men.

Tania and Martin.

Maxine and Frederico.

She caressed the ornate frame, staring at the photo. Though surrounded by friends, she’d never felt so lonely. She may have been smiling in that photo, but deep down she knew the truth she’d carefully hidden, and now, every time she looked at the group, a sharp pain of something she couldn’t quite understand tugged at her heart.

Dropping the photo frame onto the overflowing desk, she returned her gaze to the mounting piles of work. She had no time for men. Besides, history told her they weren’t reliable.

 

D-Day however, was drawing near, and she still hadn’t produced the invisible man, described, unfortunately, in superlative detail after several glasses of Cabernet. Tall and devilishly good-looking, who of course worshiped the ground she walked on. Where on earth was she going to find such a specimen in less than seventy-two hours?

“Couldn’t make him a nerd, or a plain Harry, could you?” Carly eyed the invitation as if it was a summons from hell.

Her cheeks stung as she remembered the graphic details she’d spouted, and a wave of rampant desperation shook her normally serene composure. How could she have been so stupid? Perhaps she could sleep through it, say she’d caught some grisly plague and couldn’t go.

Own up.

Carly chose to ignore that piece of internal advice. There had to be a way out. She picked up the folder containing the job specifications for the hotel chain, but her mind wasn’t on the job. She couldn’t concentrate. Her mystery man got in the way—again.

Perhaps Adonis could get chicken pox, be deranged and in jail for murder. “Hell and…” She needed to work. Not think about men.

Perhaps then the problem will go away!

If only.

 

ROMEO FOR HIRE

Jane Beckenham

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be in to win a download

copy of each of my books (pdf)   

Winner drawn – Sunday 8pm EST

WHAT I’M READING AND A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

Hello everyone.jane

Firstly I have to fess up…I’m struggling to find the time to read.  But that’s all going to change because one of my new year’s resolutions was to MAKE THE TIME.  The idea is that I write in the a.m. and read in the p.m….now all I have to do is put that into practice!

But thankfully my  book shelf and my bedside table are a little clearer these days and that is all because of my Kindle which some lovely friends gave me when I came out of hospital last year.  So while hubby sleeps I can now put on my little kindle light and snuggle down and read.

So what am I reading?

In print…  I have the gloriously wonderful writer – Sophia James’ Lady with the Devil’s Scar just underway.  A Medieval Scottish story of a strong woman intent on defending her keep and her people, until a war torn stranger enters her keep with betrayal on his mind.

I’ve read many of Ms James’ books and can recommend them all.  Ashblane’s Lady is  one of my top reads ever.

One book I am just about finished is author Jennifer St George’s  debut novel The Convenient Bride  Sienna De Luca will do anything to save her family’s hotel, and ruthless Italian businessman Antonio Moretti knows it. With problems of his own, he proposes a marriage of convenience and plans to use Sienna to secure his next business deal. But things don’t quite go according to plan.

This hero is really an Alpha male but while Ms St George hints at a softer side for this determined to get what he wants kinda guy, there is also something deeper that we see every now and again…  Can’t wait to find out what what it is.    This story is well woven with hints of intriguing backstory.

Next up are several books I’ve just finished.

Operation Cinderella by HopeTarr.  Great read, good dialogue, smart and sassy heroine and a guy who really gets tangled up by his own petard.  Loved this story.

Not the Marrying KindNicola Marsh.  Fun and flirty too, something I think Ms Marsh does really well.   As her book Crazy Love  – about the quirky characters in a town called Love, really had me chuckling at time, but in its heart it is a great love story.  And guess what..there’s more coming – can’t wait.

So how’s your to be read pile.  Big or bigger!!

Before I leave, a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT – next week, starting February 14th – very appropriate since it’s Valentine’s day, I’m going to be giving away one pdf copy of each of my books – that’s a bunch, believe me!  So all you’ll have to do is pop on in, leave a comment and wait for the prize draw.  But wait…there is more.  From that week onwards there’ll be a giveaway each week.  So it’s worth popping in.

 

Excerpt

SECRETS AND SEDUCTIONsecrets

In the distance, the muffled wail of a fire engine echoed, and Leah’s heart skipped a beat, her body stiffening. She wanted desperately to block the sound out, but it drowned everything, even the roar of her heart, until all she could hear was the wail of the siren, screeching, warning, bleeding her dry.

“Leah? Leah?”

A voice clawed at her subconscious, a strong, confident voice, and a hand on her shoulder. Her eyes sprang open.

Mac! He was here. Holding her safe.

 

“It’s okay.” He ran a hand the length of her back, murmuring soothing words in her ear.

“No, it isn’t.” She pulled away, shaking her head. “It will never be okay again. I heard a fire engine. There’s another fire.”

With his free hand, he tilted her face up so that she looked at him. “Sweetheart, there’s no fire here.”

The heat of Mac’s touch burned through her robe, stealing across her flesh. Dark eyes stormy with desire held hers in an unspoken embrace. Unthinkingly, she brushed the tip of her tongue across her lips.

He clasped her face between his hands, the flat pad of one thumb brushing across her mouth. Her lips parted. She wanted to taste him.

“If you do that again, I’ll have to kiss you,” he growled out.

“Is that a warning?”

“A promise. But then again,” he murmured, “I really don’t want an excuse not to.”

 

 

Happy reading

Jane Beckenham

 

 

QUOTES AND HOW THEY AFFECT OUR LIVES

Hi everyone,  jane

I’ve been reading quotes on line lately and realized that they really are things that make you stop and think.  I have to say I’m not so knowledgeable about quotes, but recently I wanted to Tweet something regularly that wasn’t blatant promo etc, and I came up with #lovequotes.  I mean what is more romantic and true for a romance author to write about than love. There are lots of quotes – here are a few of my favorites.

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

― Dr. Seuss

 

There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.”
― Sarah Dessen

 

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.”
― William ShakespeareA Midsummer Night’s Dream

 

“The real lover is the man who can thrill you by kissing your forehead or smiling into your eyes or just staring into space.”
― Marilyn Monroe

 

Love is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it.”
― Nicholas Sparks

 

The heart was made to be broken.”
― Oscar Wilde

 

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.”
― Zelda Fitzgerald

 

Over the years only two quotes I have heard had been told to me and both had very specific parts to play in my life and both told to me by the same person – a man who had a huge part to play in my life.

 

The first quote…

 

Two men looked though prison bars, one saw mud, the other saw stars.

 

Now this quote was really appropriate.  At the time I was in hospital – again – actually something I repeated a lot as a child and teen for months at a time, but the quote was said to me by my orthopedic specialist.  It makes you stop and think, and turn whatever it is in your life that’s angst filled and look at it from a different perspective.

One of these prisoners saw only the crass of life, and hopelessness from behind his prison bars.  He saw the mud.   While his cellmate saw the stars he intended to reach for.  This tells us to look up, look forward, be positive no matter what the circumstances.  All those years ago I was not racing around with my teen peers, I was stuck at home. No videos, DVD or MP3 gadgets way back then, but I did have books and I read voraciously.  Fast track some 30+ years (lots and lots of years LOL), and what do I for a living – I write books.  So that mud turned into my own personal stars.

The second quote was said to me when I was about to head out on the proverbial NZ OE – to non down unders that’s Overseas Experience, a kind of travel rite of passage for young New Zealanders where we head overseas for year or two mostly to England and Europe.   The quote was…For the first six months you’ll wonder why you ever left home and for the 2nd six months you’ll wonder why you never left before.

This of course addresses the old age homesickness and sure enough when I was having accommodation problems in London, I would wail about wanting to go home to what I knew and understood.  Mind you, it didn’t last – thankfully and I stayed overseas and traveled far and wide.

 

I’d love to know what some of your favorite quotes are, and what they’ve meant in your life. Please, drop a comment below.

Happy reading.

Jane Beckenham

 

He’s the OneHestheOnesmaller

Taylor Sullivan doesn’t trust Cupid

Cade Harper doesn’t do commitment, and marriage is a dirty word

Taylor wants to lose her virginity

Cade knows two things about women. They either abandon him, or use him as a walking bank.

Taylor doesn’t buy anything sight unseen and wants to test the waters with a kiss.

 

Virginity is definitely overrated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO IS IN CONTROL HERE?

Hello everyone,jane

We’re well into the New Year now.  How are those resolutions going?  Or are they just plain gone.   I’ve been working right the way through  the holidays (writing work).  Guess the adage of no rest for the wicked’ is being applied to moi.  

Anyway…I realised something today  – that there’s something to say for stopping writing when you have a conundrum. In September/October last year I sold my contemporary The Bachelor Prince to Entangled Publishing. (Release June 2013).  Currently I have a couple of other stories there for consideration, but I’m now writing the Bachelor hero’s sister Princess Marina’s story.  This story of Princess Marina and Jonas Wilder (a hunky guy on horseback from down under in New Zealand) has been an interesting one so far.

Now at best I’m a partial plotter, with pantser tendencies.  But this story is one at which moi, the writer, is not in control.  That it seems belongs to my characters who are patently wringing their hands with glee as they feed me morsels of their story at a time.  I mean, really.  Who is the author here?

On Friday I hit the 31k mark and I was stressing because there had been no real sex scene –nearly, but not quite LOL.  Anyway, do I change this, go back, wipe out 5-10 pages and re writer?  The pain of just thinking that is nauseous-making.

Another adage … a change of scene is good as a rest.  Well, that seems to be true when I write.  I’ve been known to write in the car waiting for the kids from school, sitting at the beach, a café, in the library.

But what happens when the characters are in control?  I did what any sensible girl does – I went shopping. Okay so it was only grocery shopping, but… well, that was the best I could do at short notice.

What I have found over the years is the physical act of removing myself from my writing environment i.e. the home office or just home, seem to give me permission to actually think ‘outside the box’, and as I drove to the store I found myself asking the heroine what and why etc.  Whether I should carry on from where I  (she was – which at that time was lying semi-naked with the hero – and if I had my way I’d get that guy butt naked pronto!).  Or do I scrap the lot?

Eggs, bread… the aisles were slowly traversed, check out loomed large.  I had to come up with an answer as my escape from the writing cave was nigh on ending.

Speak character.  Princess Marina tell me what you want to do and like a good author I’ll do as you command, oh royal one.

She said…offering that royal wave of hers… “Carry on.”

So I did what I was told.  Back at the computer I carried on, then all of a sudden when I closed my eyes at the computer the sex scene came to mind and I wrote exactly what Marina felt, saw, and did.  So I just wrote what she said, then life got in the way

Long story short.  Use whatever means necessary to get that story to the page.  If you need to escape….run over the hill for a change of environment.

Later that evening as I soaked in our spa pool (hot tub for USA-ites) and gazed up at the starlit sky her royal highness spoke up again (and yes this is true and no I’m not mad) but that gal fixed all my problems, told me to go back and put that sex scene in because that is where it fits and…because she said so, so there!

Well, this writer is going to do what she’s told!

Conundrum over! Yippee!

Now I mentioned this saga to a few writer friends and asked them what their characters said…

 Frances Housden says…I’m very linear in my writing – I never write scenes out of order. The first few chapters of writing my initial idea is spent discovering who my characters are though I’ve probably thought about them for a while before I start. As I get into the story and they suddenly do something unexpected, I ask myself what would make someone do that, and as always I go to their backstory.

This is the part that brings out the detective in me. No matter how strange – why would anyone act like that in this situation? – I can always find some good reason for their actions in their past. I’m a great believer that everyone’s character is shaped by their past and that if you dig deep enough you will find a reason that the reader can understand and empathize with. I’m an instinctive writer, not analytical and occasionally I’ll write something and not discover why until later in the book.

My first books were all romantic suspense and in its own way The Chieftain’s Curse is a romantic suspense as well though with a Scottish medieval setting. It has many layers and they evolve from the variety of characters who inhabit the story. I must say that I enjoyed every moment of discovering who they were and received a few surprises along the way.

And author of Holiday Jinx, Abbey MacInnis, says – Sometimes, while writing a manuscript, it’s as though I’m not the one putting the words on the page. Physically, yes, I am, but my characters can come with such strength, such vividness, I hear their words, their tones, even their voices. I’ll re-read a scene and wonder: “Did I write that?”

 

So today as I get back into the writing, despite beautiful weather outside and the swimming pool beckoning (yes it’s summer downunder), I keep telling myself “I am the author, I’m in charge.”

Yeah, right.

And just for your reading pleasure:

secrets

 

Secrets and Seduction

 

He wants to hate her, but a little lust wouldn’t hurt…

The only emotion Leah Grainger can muster when thinking of her dead husband is relief. Then she learns his gambling debt threatens her beloved farm and the child she is desperate to protect from the rootless existence she grew up with.
The last straw? Her husband’s brother demands a meeting. But Leah won’t let another Grainger screw up her life.  Trouble is the startlingly handsome, former oilrig wildcatter goes for the jugular. He’s claimed legal guardianship of her daughter, bought her mortgage…and he’s moving in.
The final email from his suicidal brother blames Leah for everything and Mac Grainger plans to protect his niece, even if it means using his millions to gain the upper hand. And hardening his heart against the beautiful Leah’s protests of innocence.
Yet Leah is nothing conniving woman his brother described. She’s warm, loving…and when a new threat to her child surfaces and she reaches out to him his body won’t let him say no, even when her secret forces him to make a decision that exposes his most closely guarded possession. His heart.

 Product Warnings

Contains tug-your-heart love, raise-the-roof lust, a marriage of convenience and hot sex that will give a whole new meaning to the word “wildcatter”.

 Four Cup Review – Literary Nymphs

 

Catch you next week.   Happy reading everyone.

Jane Beckenham

 

www.janebeckenham.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WELCOMING A FRESH START

Hi everyone,

 In the last few weeks there’s been the traditional countdown to Christmas, the rush and roar as we shop till we drop for gifts and food for the festive season, then once it’s over it’s collapse time…for an hour or two, then there’s a new challenge.

The New Year is racing up to meet us and of course the next challenge.

A new year often means new goals, things we want to achieve in the coming year.  One wonders sometimes why we set these challenges for ourselves, because often our over enthusiastic nature kicks in –  we’re tired of the old ways, the new way will be better, more efficient, successful, and so we lay down these goals and challenges often one on top of the other, and also more often than not we overload ourselves.  We’re invigorated.  We can do anything, do it all, and okay so we’ve given ourselves four, five, six or more challenges. 

Easy.  We’re fresh, it’s a new year and anything is possible.

Really?

Now, I’m not one to stop you, really.  I’m the worlds worst at overloading myself, believe me.  I’m married to a workaholic, and after thirty years of marriage, I’ve kind of morphed into a replica of my beloved’s work habits.  It’s really (really really) hard for me to stop and breathe, even stop and read, which is awful since I’m a writer.  The only thing that in the last year that made me stop was having major surgery.

Anyway…back to 2013 and what goals we will set ourselves.  My list looks something like thisWrite 3-4 books – the stories are there, waiting to be written, so all I have to do is…well write the darn things. 

 Figure out Facebook properly – do it every day

Work on other social media thingys (you can see I’m really technologically adept right?  Wrong!)

Blog baby.  Blog and more and more blogging, that’s the next agenda. 

Then of course they’ll be edits for my coming releases.

And wait…there’s life too.   They call it balance apparently and somehow, I must figure that one out and where you find it.   But find it I must, and therefore I suppose I should put FINDING BALANCE on the top of my goals for 2013.

 So what are your goals for the coming year, and how do you find balance?

 Happy balancing!

Jane Beckenham  – click here to check out my new and improved web site!

 PS – my heroine in He’s the One had one goal in mind – to find out all about sex!

HE’S THE ONE

 

HestheOnesmaller

 

Excerpt

 “Virginity is overrated.” Easy words? She’d said them often enough.

Yet when Taylor Sullivan whispered them, the swell of panic threatened to take hold.

She had to do this.

It was time.

Taylor exhaled every emotion she’d bottled for the past twenty-four hours, ever since she’d seen him: Mr. Perfect-for-the-Job.

As she stood outside the bar, her bravado waned and panic set in. Who wouldn’t panic when they were about to make an off-the-wall suggestion to a stranger?

She gripped her assistant’s arm. “I can’t. This is a mistake.”

“No, it’s not. You said so yourself, he’s the one.”

“What do I know? I mean, who is he?”

“Cade Harper. Bad boy made good—and one sexy hunk. Is that enough for you?” Nita gave her a suggestive grin.

Oh, yeah.

Taylor wiped her sweaty palms down the sides of her skirt. “The fairy godmother sure did hand out good looks at his bassinet.” He’d been the best man at a wedding she’d planned recently. Haloed by the light streaming in from the stained glass window, he’d taken her breath away.

But now, twenty-four hours after that wedding, as the throbbing beat of music threaded its way out onto the kerb where she and Nita waited, Taylor’s wayward nerves vaulted into overdrive. “I should never have told you.”

Nita shrugged. “Probably not, but, hey, I get those calls too.”

“But you can answer them,” Taylor countered.

“So, what are you going to do about it?”

Taylor bit down on her bottom lip, chewing it as if it afforded her the luxury of time. “I don’t want a relationship.”

“Who said anything about a relationship? This is a fling. A one-nighter. Get you past first base, so to speak.”

First base! Taylor swallowed the lump that choked off her breathing. The icy chill that slid along her bones had absolutely nothing to do with Auckland’s balmy May evening breeze.

He’s the One www.samhainpublishing.com 7

Her fingers grazed the side of her handbag and snapped back as if scalded when she remembered exactly what her bag contained.

Condoms!

An appropriate reminder: preparation and safety first.

She could do this. She could. She grabbed Nita’s arm. “Okay. Let’s go.”

Nita stalled mid-step. “What? You expect me to come too?”

“I need you. I can’t do this on my own. I need…”

“Cade Harper is who you need, Taylor. You said so yourself. Cade’s a love ’em and leave ’em sort of guy. Now go.” Nita gave her a push toward the entrance and waved goodbye.

Love and leave. Definitely perfect credentials. Cade didn’t know it yet, but he was the answer to Taylor’s prayers.

Battling the raw panic lodged in her gut as every second edged her toward turning and running, Taylor surveyed the patrons. Her hands shook. She wanted to forget the idea. Forget sex. Forget Cade Harper. If she could.

Instead she focused on the entrance, and her pulse quickened.

The best man. How appropriate.

Cade hadn’t been at the wedding rehearsal; otherwise she would have noticed him. But at the wedding, dressed in a black tuxedo that molded his broad shoulders and a crisp white dress shirt with diamond stud buttons, he absolutely stood out and, within seconds, she’d made her decision. He was perfect for the job.

Squaring her shoulders, Taylor shoved the bar door open. For a moment, she stood motionless, eyes adjusting to the dim lighting, the noise and heat hitting her in an undulating wave.

This was it.

Taking a deep breath, she clutched her bag and ventured in.

 

 

 

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