Emotion in Writing

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I attended Donald Maas‘s workshop and I’m just now writing about it. I almost didn’t sign up for it. The workshop was being hosted by the Richmond branch of the Romance Writers of America (VRW) and held in Richmond, Virginia–an almost two hour drive from my house. Driving far from home and to places I’ve never been to stresses me out to panic levels and I normally avoid it like the plague. But I really wanted to go to this one, so I signed up. Luckily one of my local writer friends signed up too and I was able to drive with her. I’m a much better copilot than a pilot in situations like this.

This workshop was everything I expected it to be and so much more. A huge kudos for the Virginia Romance Writers  who set up an amazing event in a great venue and for providing us all with a magical supply of food (especially the donuts which seemed to be forever reproducing themselves in the kitchen) and the awesome speaker.

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I’ve been to many workshops. Some were writing-related and others not. Some were excellent, others left me regretting the money and time invested. This one was inspirational. I came out of the full-day event revitalized, inspired, and motivated to write more and better. I also left vindicated somehow.  I’m an emotional writer. I have a tendency to neglect certain details (which in my mind seem superfluous) and focus on feelings. I thought that maybe I was writing romance the wrong way, but after this workshop I feel I’ve been doing the right thing. But I need to get better at it.

During the session I wrote a couple of the best scenes in my current project, not to mention I came up with the missing pieces of my plot. Pretty wonderful, don’t you agree?

Mr. Maas was a pleasure to listen and talk to. Nothing like being able to immediately apply what you’re learning to give you a sense of accomplishment. He took us on a journey through his last writing book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, and had us apply it directly to our current projects. It was truly magical.

I don’t normally recommend writing books, no matter how great they are, because we all write differently and what I’ve found is that one “technique” may be amazing for some and absolutely not work for others. However, this one is different. This one works with what you already have and helps you–through some pretty simple exercises–to make it better, to make it resonate in readers’ s minds and hearts. So I am totally recommending it. Further more I am suggesting that you buy it and read it as you edit your work. You’ll be amazed with the results.

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My only regret after such a great workshop is not having anything to send to Mr. Maas’ agency after he so kindly extended an invitation to all of the attendees to query him. Maybe one day, Mr.Maas, maybe one day…

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Oh, Oliver!-A Character Talk

Yesterday, Blind Magic was released into the world of readers. I’m seriously pumped about it since Marcy, the main character, is one of my favorite characters ever. She was a favorite sidekick in Loved You Always and it still is now that she has her own romance.

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I’ve written a couple blogs about this quirky witch and her winsome personality, but I’ve kept pretty much quiet about her male counterpart and love interest. There is a reason for that. I don’t know how to talk about Oliver without revealing some things about him that I would prefer to keep a secret, so I can surprise my readers.

But I decided to risk it and write this blog about wonderful, swoon-worthy Oliver. After you meet him you will totally understand why Marcy, an independent, free-thinking woman, falls in love hard for this guy.

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Oliver is one of the cops who was shot in Loved You Always while on protection detail for Marcy’s friends, Emily Rose and Jem. Oliver seeks Marcy’s help with a vexing problem at her witchcraft store and the relationship hits the ground running.

Oliver was both a hard and easy character to write. He’s complex and charming, broken and brave, sexy and vulnerable…. I was terrified of writing him, of not doing him justice, of writing him in a way I would totally betray who he is. I think I may have done a good job since I’ve had great comments from readers so far. I’d love to hear from you if and when you read it.

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His life has been far from easy and the ghosts of his past are still out to get him as he develops his relationship with Marcy. The little witch–like he likes to call her–is the light in his rather dark life and he is the missing piece in Marcy’s. He’s the classic type–organized, well-dressed, and reserved. She’s a free-spirit–open, quirky, and unconventional. On the outside they couldn’t be more different, but inside they are two peas-in-a-pod. Made for each other, true halves of one whole.

I love Oliver and I’m so excited to share him with all my readers. I can only hope they love him as much as I do.

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME

by Jolie St. Amant

Series: Chateau Rouge

Release Date: October 7, 2017

Publisher: Bienvenue Press

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Chateau Rouge is a reputedly haunted hotel. It hides secrets and stories within its walls, tales that lure guests from all over the world.

Yet there’s one story that has never been told. The story of a New Orleans bordello Madam who had to endure the pain of watching her true love die…twice.

Josey has been the owner of Chateau Rouge for the last two hundred years. She’s content with her routine existence, and has been for a long time…until Archer Grayson walks into her hotel.

He ignites a hunger in her which she hasn’t felt for over one hundred years, and this can only mean one thing…her love has returned to her.

But with his return comes the curse of their fate, and Josey refuses to survive a broken heart for a third time. Unless…what if this time is different? What if there’s a chance for them to change their destiny?

Could it be that their love finally has a different fate written in the cards?

Or is history bound to repeat itself?

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Purchase Dream a Little Dream of Me:

Kindle: http://a.co/cw0ttji

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jolie St. Amant fell in love with all things New Orleans after reading Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. Now, a frequent visitor to the Crescent City, she can often be found getting inspiration from ghost tours, or sipping café au lait at Café du Monde. Dream a Little Dream of Me is the first in the Chateau Rouge Series.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JolieStAmant/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JolieStAmant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inked Hearts-New Release

 

 

Title: Inked Hearts
Series: Lines in the Sand #1
Author: Lindsay Detwiler
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 21, 2017
Blurb
“Six years, a
complex about my freckles, a love for pastrami, and a fear of failure.
That’s what he
gave me before slaughtering my heart and my faith in men.”
Suffering from the
sting of betrayal, twenty-eight-year-old Avery Johannas quits her job and moves
hundreds of miles away to Ocean City, the beach town of her dreams. With the
help of her zany roommate, Jodie, Avery finds a new career, home, and freedom.
Throughout her self-exploration, she makes only one rule: She won’t give her
heart to a man again. She’s living for herself this time.
But then she meets Jesse.
A tattoo shop owner,
the green-eyed Jesse Pearce is wild with a touch of mystery. As Jesse and Avery
explore Ocean City and their friendship, they’ll have a hard time drawing a
line in the sand between their hearts.
When summer nights
get a little more heated than either expected, they’ll have to ask
themselves: Can they let go of their notions of love, or will their
hearts be permanently inked by past pain?
Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Excerpt
There’s some soft rock music playing when I open the door to
Jesse’s apartment. The distinct smell of teriyaki sauce permeates the room,
dancing in my nose as soon as I walk through the door.
“Hey. That looks amazing on you,” he says. He’s wearing
black jeans and a button-up shirt. He’s gelled his hair, and hints of his
cologne permeate the room.
“Thanks. I love this. You didn’t have to do it.”
“I like to treat my artists well.”
“So you do this for all of them?” I ask, setting down my bag
on the counter.
“Only the good ones.”
He leans in to kiss me, and I realize how natural this has
become. It hasn’t taken long for us to settle into couple status. In
retrospect, it seems now like it was always coming. It seems unnatural for us
not to be like this—comfortable, kissing, and together.
I’m so glad that for once in my life, I broke my own rules.
Jesse leads me to his kitchen table, which is adorned with a
dozen pink roses. I smile, gently touching the petals of one.
“This is beautiful. Thank you.”
“Have a seat. Dinner is ready.” Jesse brings out a few
casserole dishes with rice, teriyaki chicken and vegetables, and even some egg
rolls.
“Did you make all this?” I ask coyly, pretending to be
impressed.
“Yeah, it was sort of rough because I’m not that great at
cooking.”
He stares for a moment as he sets the dishes down. I can
tell he’s trying to see if I believe him.
I look directly from him to the top of the refrigerator, at
a large take-out bag with a familiar Chinese restaurant’s name. I raise an
eyebrow.
“That’s an old bag,” Jesse says, waving a hand but smirking.
“Yeah, okay. I just have a feeling this is going to taste
just like it.”
“Only because I worked so hard to get the secret recipe.”
I dig into the dishes, serving myself, laughing at the
trouble he went through. “You know, you didn’t have to dirty dishes on my
account. I would’ve been fine with takeout. I’m not a food snob.”
“That’s a good thing, because I’m not much of a cook.”
“Oh, and I am,” I say, referring to the pasta debacle.
“What a pair, huh?”
I shrug. “Could be worse.”
“I’ll drink to that,” he says, holding up his bottle of
beer. We clink bottles as we finish eating. To an outsider, I’m sure it looks
ridiculous. My fancy dress and necklace, sitting at a table eating take-out
Chinese food.
To me, though, it’s perfect. The man I’ve fallen for sitting
beside me, Chinese food, and a comfort I haven’t had with anyone else.
As much of a mystery as Jesse Pearce was a few months ago,
he’s become as familiar as my new self.
I like this new Avery. I like Jesse’s Avery. I like the
Jesse and Avery we are together.
So when we finish eating and he gives me the look I’ve come
to recognize, I lean forward, kissing him with a fervor I’ve reserved for this
moment, telling him wordlessly that I’m all his.
As he leads me back to the bedroom and hastily unzips the
dress he painstakingly picked out for me, I smile.
For a long time, I didn’t think I wanted to belong to any
man. For a long time, I thought this part of myself was shut down.
But as Jesse’s hands travel down to the familiar hot-pink
underwear I’m wearing, I feel myself let go of all of those ideas I had before.
I’ve come to realize it’s okay to be his, because Jesse
doesn’t hold me back. He makes me who I want to be. He makes me the best
version of myself.
Loving him might be a risk, and losing myself completely to
him tonight might be my undoing. Letting him go, though, is not an option, not
when he tosses me back on the bed, and I feel every part of my being succumb to
the tattooed hunk moving perfectly on top of me.
And so, after a night of learning what adult sleepovers are
actually all about and mastering the sex-hair look, I let go of my rule.
I’m all in. I’m all his.
Author Bio

An English teacher, an author, and a fan of anything pink
and/or glittery, Lindsay’s the English teacher cliché; she loves cats, reading,
Shakespeare, and Poe.

She currently lives in her hometown with her husband, Chad (her junior high
sweetheart); their cats, Arya, Amelia, Alice, Marjorie, and Bob; and their
mastiff, Henry.

Lindsay’s goal with her writing is to show the power of love and the beauty of
life while also instilling a true sense of realism in her work. Some reviewers
have noted that her books are not the “typical romance.” With her novels coming
from a place of honesty, Lindsay examines the difficult questions, looks at the
tough emotions, and paints the pictures that are sometimes difficult to look
at. She wants her fiction to resonate with readers as realistic, poetic, and
powerful. Lindsay wants women readers to be able to say, “I see myself in that
novel.” She wants to speak to the modern woman’s experience while also bringing
a twist of something new and exciting. Her aim is for readers to say, “That
could happen,” or “I feel like the characters are real.” That’s how she knows
she’s done her job.

Lindsay’s hope is that by becoming a published author, she can inspire some of
her students and other aspiring writers to pursue their own passions. She wants
them to see that any dream can be attained and publishing a novel isn’t out of
the realm of possibility.

 

Author Links

An Author’s Betrayal

It’s no secret I’ve always been a bookworm. I used to gulp down books like water. My library–even as a child–has always been large. Many of my books are now electronic but the library, virtual or not, just keeps growing. Authors have always been my friends. They’ve given me such joy, I often think of them as family even though nine times of ten I have never met them. I could never understand how some people treat writers as celebrities and keep tabs on all the dirt they manage to dig up on them. I prefer to think of them as ethereal beings, not quite fictional but not quite real either. I don’t want to know the dirt and the skeletons they keep in their closets–because let’s face it, they are humans like everyone else. I want to focus on their writing and the characters and worlds they create. So you can imagine how I feel when a writer betrays their own writing, their own creation.

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I used to read a lot of fantasy and years ago I picked up a book in the store which would become one of my favorite fantasy series ever. I fell in love with the characters, the world she built, the story than unfolded. Maybe because the two main characters were gay, the author developed a specialized following. LGBT characters were not common at the time. These wonderfully three-dimensional characters develop a romantic relationship which was both sweet and realistic with ups and downs, doubts and moments of insane happiness. All while partnering in some seriously dangerous adventures. I fell in love with the characters, the way the author told their story, and the intricate world she created.

A few years later, maybe pressured by her publisher or the fans, she wrote and published an anthology of short stories about the characters. According to her, the fans had requested more details about the characters’ relationships, a sort of behind the scenes glimpse at their romantic lives. It seemed intriguing to this romantic fool, so I bought the book. To date, this was the only book I have ever thrown away. I was utterly disgusted by it. It was hard to believe these sordid, crude stories had been written by the same hand who had written such lovely prose before. Filthy language, terribly graphic sex scenes, well-loved heroic characters that were now being portrayed as bottom-of-the-barrel creatures concerned only with bodily pleasures. She effectively destroyed the beautiful images I had created in my mind of these wonderful, rich, multi-layered characters. I was mad! I felt betrayed. I felt the author had somehow betrayed her own characters.

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When the last book in the series came out shortly after, I bought it but I couldn’t read it. I couldn’t erase the images her short stories had placed in my head and couldn’t face the characters I had once loved so fiercely. The book is still on my bookshelf waiting to be read.

We all have different levels of tolerance for different things. I stopped reading The Outlander series midway through the first book because of something Jamie did to his wife. I just couldn’t “face” him after that so I never finished the book and have no intentions of reading the rest of the series. What’s your threshold of tolerance? Have you ever been betrayed by a favorite author or favorite character? What would–in your opinion–make you stop reading a series you loved?

Happy Birthday, Desert Jewel

This time last year I was celebrating the release of my second book, Desert Jewel. This book is very important to me for different reasons.

One of the reasons is that I absolutely poured my heart out building the world of Desert Jewel and its characters. In a way, Desert Jewel is my humble homage to Africa and its people. I spent a lot of my childhood and teen years in different places in Africa and I wanted to somehow honor the magic of a world where the modern mixes with the ancient and science mingles with myths and superstition. Princess Milenda and her ex-slave, Jaali will always hold a special place in my heart. I recently finished writing the second in the series and will be starting the third and last one very soon.

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The other reason–and likely the most important–is that the publishing of this book in particular saved me from a very dark place. I have struggled with bouts of mild depression off and on all my life, but last year I went through one of the worst ever. I had to literally drag myself out of bed every morning and couldn’t take pleasure in anything at all. In fact, the morning I received the email from my publisher offering me a contract for this book, I had done just that–dragged myself out of bed, already in tears for no apparent reason and sat down to look through my emails just for something to do. I was on vacation in the mountains with my husband, but my mood was so low I hadn’t been able to enjoy any of it.

That email changed my life that morning. I’ve never told this to anyone, not even my family, but the kind words in that message just brought joy back to my life, the life I was beginning to believe to be worthless. Which goes to show you never know when a kind word may make all the difference in someone’s life.

So today I celebrate the one year anniversary of Desert Jewel’s release and a professional relationship that has enriched my life and given me great joy (and a LOT of work, lol). So let’s hear it for Hot Tree Publishing (hoot and holler)!!!

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I’m running a celebratory giveaway in my Facebook page. Go check it out for a chance to win an autographed copy of the book.

P.S.- Depression isolates. When you’re depressed you feel all alone, which in turn prevent those suffering from depression from seeking help. Keep an eye on those you love for signs of depression–withdrawing, frequent tears, lack of energy, indecision…my family thought I was just being difficult, couldn’t read the signs, an all too-common reaction. Don’t just assume they are being a pain. Dig deeper.

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Marcy Spellman-An Interview

Today I ‘m interviewing Marcy Spellman, the main character in my upcoming new book, Blind Magic.

Me: Good to have you with us, Ms. Spellman. That’s an awesome polka dot dress you have on.

MS: Thank you, you can never go wrong with polka dots. But please, call me Marcy. I’m not one for formality.

Me: I understand you have a pretty unconventional job. Can you tell us about it?

MS: I’m a witch. A garden variety of witch. I own a witchcraft shop called Polka Dots and Eye of Newt just down main street in town. You should visit. I have just the thing for your droopy aura.

Me: My aura is droopy? Never mind that–I wanted to ask you a very important question.

MS: Go right ahead. I’ll try to answer it the best I can. (she stares at me with her big, smoky blue eyes)

Me: Why should I buy Blind Magic when there are so many other awesome romance books out there?

MS: Who told you Blind Magic was a romance? (she giggles) Just kidding… not totally though. It has so much more than just romance. There is mystery and intrigue, drama and heart-wrenching emotion. You gotta read it.

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Me: Do you cast many spells in the book?

MS: I’m not that kind of witch. I help people in different ways, but I don’t have a cauldron or anything. (she stares bashfully at her polka dot high-heels)

Me: But didn’t you meet your man because of a magic potion?

MS: Hardly a magic potion. It was a simple tea, that’s all. A very efficient one by the way.

Me: Come on, fess up! You do cast a love spell in the story, don’t you?

MS: (blushing furiously) Yes, I confess. I did something very unethical for a witch: I concocted a love spell for myself. The thing is, I fell hard for Oliver right away. I could feel the connection between us as soon as I laid eyes on him. I couldn’t resist the temptation .

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Me: Your face just opens up when you talk about Oliver. Tell me a little about him then.

MS: Oliver Dawson… there are no words to describe him. He’s my heart, my soul, that piece of me I didn’t know I was missing until I met him. He’s also handsome and sweet and has the most gorgeous blue eyes you can ever imagine. I go all gooey inside when I look at him.

Me: Last question for you. Hypothetically speaking, if I was to put a love spell together for me what ingredients would I need?

MS: (looking vaguely suspicious) Are you trying to trick me? (she relaxes) Rose petals and lavender. I’d throw an amethyst in there for protection and healing. You can never go wrong with amethyst.

Me: You drink that?

MS: Of course not, silly. You have to perform a little ritual with it. You really should read Blind Magic and find out (she winks at me again). I have to go now. My store is unmanned.

Me: Are you telling me you left the store open and alone? Aren’t you afraid of being robbed?

MS: (laughing) Who would steal a bunch of rocks, candles and teas? Besides I have a protection shield going while I’m gone. No worries. (her bright red hair bounces around her head as she nods)

Me: Thank you, Marcy, for coming and talking to us. A pleasure, as always.

MS: Well? Are you going to buy the book?

Me: I wrote it, so– (she gives me the evil eye) Okay, I will. I will most definitely buy the book.  (she smiles) Be sure to tune in again later this month when we interview more characters from Blind Magic, releasing November 18 and available for pre-order right now.  Thank you, Marcy.

P.S. Marcy just informed me that if you have any questions for her, she will be more than happy to answer them. Leave your questions in the comments. Thank you.

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Random Thoughts

The complete title for this post is actually Random Thoughts of a Romance Writer at a Book Festival and I collected them during my latest stint at a local Indie Book Festival. Not my first rodeo but same outcome, lol. The only thing that has changed is my attitude. I no longer feel depressed after an event, deciding to laugh about it instead.

Note to self: bring a fan next time. This is fall in the South. Holy crap, it’s hot!

Did I bring enough books? Did I bring too many books? OMG, am I going to sell ANY books?

My banner is crooked. I am not going to look at it. I am not going to look at it.

My table display looks too cheesy. My table display doesn’t look cheesy enough.

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The porta-potties smell like crap. Can’t wait to see how they smell after a couple hours in the sun.

This dragon pen I’m writing with is so freaking cool. OMG, I’m such a geek!

Forgot the sunscreen. Where in heaven’s name if fall weather?

Coffee! Yes, yes, yes. God is good, there is a coffee stand.

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No, it was not this big! Just a table with thermos.

Please, stop by my table, please, please…shit! Walked right on by.

One hour in, zero interaction… Do I smell bad?

Will I get to use my new Square? I want to play with it.

Look at it from the bright side: I’m getting a lot of vitamin d today.

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No, it’snot me!

OMG, I’m so hot. And not in a good way.

Yes, someone has actually signed up for my newsletter. Score!

Great informal romance panel. Made me feel better.

Awesome meeting other authors. Lots of romance writers. Represent!

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Yes, they were all there!

What a cute little guy. I wonder if he would like one of my books when he grows up? Oh,no, he’s trying to eat my book.

I sold two books. I sold two books.

I was told my display looks very professional. Proud little moment.

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Yes, it’s me.

Why are my book earrings always a lot more popular than my books?

I have no moisture left in my body. I think I may be slowly mummifying.

Aahhh…air conditioning. Another rodeo done!

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Also not me.

Hooray For The Characters

I recently had to write the acknowledgment page for my latest book and I realized that I have never thanked my characters. “What?” you may say. “Have you totally lost your mind?” Possibly, but in this case I mean it. I owe my characters a serious token of my undying gratitude.

Characters are more than made up people in a story, figments of an author’s fertile and often feverish imagination. Once created and developed into the pages of a book, they become real–real to the author who made them up and real to the readers who love them. Most of my friends growing up were fictional characters in books.

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Likewise, the characters I created in my romances are very real to me. I feel toward them with the same intensity that I feel toward flesh and bone people. Some I love, some I hate, and some may even leave me a little indifferent.

Marcy, the witch, from Blind Magic has carved a very special place in my heart. I’ve written about her before, about how she started as just a funny side kick on Loved You Always and developed such a big personality I had to write her story. Well, it is written. Blind Magic, which will be released in November, tells Marcy’s story.

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Marcy is at first glance very different from me, but if you dig deeper you’ll find that there is a lot of Natalina in the quirky witch. Like her, I was always the oddball growing up, even within my own family. I never wore the same type of clothes my school mates were wearing, admired artists who everybody thought were weird, and was always the one people came to with their problems. I was a good listener, a problem solver, and yes, I even liked polka dots just like Marcy. Believe it or not I even had strawberry blond hair when I was younger–and not from a bottle.

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Me aged eighteen.

Her man in the book, the dashing Oliver Dawson, reflects–without going into details so I don’t give up any spoilers–a deep, irrational fear of mine. One I still often have nightmares about. Writing it into the swoon-worthy and oh-so-brave detective helped me face and fight that fear.

I may just begin adding my characters to the list of people I often thank for their support because they so deserve it. They fill my world with friendly faces, something to look for, and they are the best therapists a girl could ever wish for.

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What do you think? Do you ever feel strangely attached to a fictional character and find yourself thinking of her/him as if a real person?