My Guest K.N. Smith Author of The Urban Boys

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K.N. Smith Author Guest Post

Like authors of any other genre, YA fiction writers can learn many new things if they’re open to the process. One of the keys to a successful book for a young audience is character believability. This is much easier said than done. Imagine spending multitudes of hours crafting a personality out of thin air. What we do is wholly visualize the character, dissecting every single detail about him or her, with the remaining time spent articulating that to the reader. It’s part of the craft that needs a lot of attention, even being worthy of visually sketching-out or pre-determining the characters’ events from chapter to chapter, just to stay on track. Something not to be forgotten is the emotion and passion each character will need in order to bring the story to life.

For me, the reason this post is focused on character development relates to recent reviews I have received, and second, the enjoyable experience I recently had watching the movie Goosebumps starring Jack Black about the adventures of Author R.L. Stine. While reviewing some of my recent reviews, I was encouraged to reflect more deeply on character development in preparation for the next book in the series.

I felt transported to another world just by experiencing the lives of these incredible characters who are so true to life and authentic-feeling, yet unlike any I’ve met before.

When I saw the movie Goosebumps, I was immediately attracted to the excellent character development happening within the scenes. The fear, the excitement, the emotion in those characters was quite brilliant! You could see and feel what they were going through in a very real way. In particular, the “Chump” character was great! He really displayed quite a number of emotions, and was extremely believable.

I love this aspect of writing, and I implore you to dig deep when it comes to developing your own characters. They need to come to life. You should give yourself enough time to really study them, grow them, relate the dialogue to their distinct personalities, and make them believable and real. And trust me, characters have flaws. They have ups and downs, and strength and weaknesses just like you and I. Therefore, if you think about yourself and your own experiences, and those of the people around you, you will have all the backstory you need to create a memorable, lasting, and exciting narrative for your next project. Thank you for allowing me to share with you today, I hope you enjoy the excitement of The Urban Boys!

 

ABOUT K. N. SMITH:

K.N. Smith is an American author and passionate advocate of childhood and family literacy programs throughout the world. She continues to inspire students of all ages to reach their highest potential in their literary and educational pursuits.

An established non-fiction writer, Smith chose the teen fiction genre as a way to enhance her daughters’ (then) high school literary experience, and to engage other youth in literacy development. Her creative literary flair sweeps across pages that twist, turn, and grind through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narratives.

As an ardent supporter of youth and family literacy programs across the globe, she states, “My hope is that The Urban Boys will spark imagination in a wide variety of readers while elevating global literacy efforts. It’s important that we have diverse families of readers for generations to come.”

 

The Urban Boys by K. N. Smith Cover PhotoThe Urban Boys by K. N. Smith Back Cover Photo

  • Series:The Urban Boys (Book 1)
  • Paperback:300 pages
  • Publisher:Two Petals Publishing (September 3, 2015)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:0989474755
  • ISBN-13:978-0989474757

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses is an action-adventure story about five teen boys who are mysteriously exposed to a foreign energy source that gives them extremely heightened senses. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become hypersensitive gifts that forever change the world. The story chronicles their effortless interrelations and later exposes the testing of their deep bonds. It introduces the reader to an array of supporting characters who alter the boys’ lives forever.

The Urban Boys offers young and mature readers central themes of loyalty, responsibility, honesty, fear, and triumph, which become artfully integrated with cinematic-level action and high drama. The story twists, turns, and grinds through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in a diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narrative! Intriguing, intelligent, and full of action, The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses offers a memorable, emotion-packed, thrilling ride for young and mature readers alike!

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE URBAN BOYS: DISCOVERY OF THE FIVE SENSES:

Five friends do something considered taboo by the townsfolk and enter the mysterious, forest-like preserve. But something otherworldly awaits them among the trees. Yet just as the five can then sense each other, so, too, can three others sense them, and one of the trio is a killer. Smith’s book blends action and mystery with elements of the paranormal. Additionally, the novel overflows with positive thematic pointers relating to the importance of family, honesty, etc. The presence of these moments of encouragement make her story worth reading.
4-stars – John E. Roper, The U.S. Review of Books

“Author K.N. Smith uses her mastery of the written word to weave an entrancing, yet powerful tale of adventure that keeps you turning pages in an unquenchable desire to find out what happens next. The author’s matchless prose details cinematic fight sequences and fully developed characterizations especially in a final, stupendous scene that will take your breath away and leave you limp with spent emotions. Five stars for this imaginative and inspiring story, sure to be as appealing to general audiences as it will be to the YA crowd!”
5-stars – Don Sloane, Publishers Daily Reviews

“An energetic YA adventure debut with stellar action sequences. Smith’s writing is intelligent and often lyrical. Her exuberant prose never fails to dazzle.”- Kirkus Media

“Read the Prologue and fasten your seat-belts! – The URBAN BOYS: Discovery of the Five Senses is the kind of thrill ride you’d expect from a seasoned action and adventure novelist, not in a first novel by a writer just entering this genre. The URBAN BOYS really grabs you. There’s the beauty of the scenes described, the eerie, mysterious source of the boys’ new power, and the suspense you will feel in every engagement that rivets you to every page. The URBAN BOYS creates a whole new world of emotions, suspense, danger and drama. It’s a great read!” 5-stars – Melvin Tag 

PURCHASE THE URBAN BOYS ON AMAZON.COM

K.N. Smith has over twenty years experience in writing, communications, and creative design. She lives with her family in California.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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*Book Tour Media Kit provided by Susan Barton, My Book Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Starling’s Something in the Water

Something in the Water is fundamentally a love story—with a bit of adventure in the tropics thrown in too.

SITW Ben_black spot reflect double.jpg

The sealed box Teal finds in the street contains more than just a mystery…

What if to be with the man of your dreams…you had to give up your life?

On the verge of losing her job, side-lined journalist Teal is forced to travel to the South Pacific to profile a powerful businessman. But with her almost-but-not-quite fiancé Bear discouraging her every step of the way, she may not be able to save her career or her relationship.

When corporate criminals invade paradise, Teal teams up with a former boxer turned marine-biologist to investigate. As she discovers the true intentions behind their new canning operations, she must either accept the plum promotion that will save her career or—with Perry—defend the island with more than her life.

Hand+Whale.pngSomething in the Water, An Ocean Romance is available on Amazon. http://bit.ly/SITWbtour2am

INSPIRATION

Something in the Water was inspired by the loss of my partner at forty-five years of age to ovarian cancer in 2012, just thirteen weeks after her diagnosis. In the aftermath, an old friend challenged me to turn that grief into something positive.

Remembering a conversation with a charismatic Polynesian fisherman (I visited there once) about his people’s vision of death and the afterlife, I began to write. Through the written word, I hoped to explore and capture several extraordinary events that happened around the time of my girlfriend’s death. The novel and the series kind of took off from there…

What can we look forward to next from you?

Something in the Water will be supported by a series of short stories that reveal the backstories of the major characters in this world.

The first in the series, Something in the Air, is available now free at my website as well as free on Kobo (also available at Amazon) and the second short story in the series, Something on the Fly, will be released in the Spring!

Something in the Water available on Amazon http://bit.ly/SITWbtour2am

Something in the Air

Something on the Fly – coming soon!

 EXCERPT

Something in the Water – Chapter 1 begins…

New York, September

He didn’t look like the hotel guests, the business people, or the tourists. He didn’t move like them either.

He brushed past me as I climbed off my Vespa, stilettos in hand, outside the entrance of the Waldorf Astoria. Had he smiled at the radiance of my scarlet ball gown? Or was he amused by my battered Converse sneakers?

As a valet approached to take my scooter and helmet, I spotted my boss, Malcolm, waving hello from the lobby. He was approaching the glass doors that separated us when I noticed a small wooden box on the ground. Two steps later, I had picked it up. Who could have dropped it?

No one was close by, so I turned. The only man who’d passed me was already a half block away, gliding beside the cars that waited for the lights to change at the end of the block. Was it his?

What I knew for sure was that now wasn’t the time to be tracking down the little box’s owner. I should hand it in to reception and concentrate on the evening ahead. For a few seconds, I relaxed as I studied the hotel’s confident, soaring opulence—a world unknown to me before my arrival from Nantucket four years ago. The smooth texture of the box, however, drew my thoughts back to it. Was there something valuable inside? What if it did belong to that man, and he never returned to collect it? I turned the box over—and caught my breath.

“How on earth…?”

Malcolm emerged in front of me. “Hello, darling, you look absolutely—are you okay?”
I thrust my sparkly evening shoes into his hands, and hitched up my shawl. I was about to give chase when a convertible Ferrari lurched to a stop beside me.

“Going my way, babe?” its driver shouted, over the thrum of the engine.

But my dress was redder, and I got the better start.

You can find the rest of Something in the Water, Chapter 1 at

ttp://ben-starling.com/chapter-one/ 

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BIO & SOCIAL MEDIA

 Ben Starling is passionate about marine conservation and boxing, both central themes in his upcoming novel. His interest in marine life has taken him across three continents over the past three decades. He is Oxford’s only ever Quintuple Blue (varsity champion five years running), was Captain of the university boxing team, and coached and boxed competitively until about five years ago. He is 6’3”and 185 lbs. Ben graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and an M Phil. He was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since childhood.

 

Check out my previous interview with Ben!

Connect with Ben

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Better Not Love Me by Dan Kolbet

Better Not Love Me by Dan Kolbet Book Tour Banner.png

Better Not Love Me by Dan Kolbet Cover Photo

 

File Size: 2307 KB

Print Length: 240 pages

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

Publisher: Alfe Publishing; 1 edition (October 26, 2015)

Publication Date: October 26, 2015

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Language: English

ASIN: B0177G5LQC

 

 

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

Amelia Cook never wanted to be a corporate executive responsible for a toy business that spanned the country. She accepted the job out of obligation to her past love. The work has forced her away from her children and broken her marriage. After years of misery, she’s decided to walk away.

Single, unemployed and uninspired, Amelia rents a palatial lake cabin for the summer and attempts to reconnect with her children who barely recognize the mom they once knew. Amelia’s summer at the lake takes a surprise turn when a handsome man moves into the cabin next door. The only problem? It’s her old boss, Nate. Can Amelia forgive Nate’s past behavior, find love and forge a bond with her children all while being dragged back into the corporate life she loathes?

Better Not Love Me is the sequel to Don’t Wait For Me, but is a standalone novel.

PURCHASE BETTER NOT LOVE ME ON AMAZON

Dan Kolbet Author Photo 1

ABOUT DAN KOLBET:

Dan Kolbet lives in Spokane, Washington with his family. He is an independent author, former newspaper editor and reporter. He is currently working on his next story.

His novels include You Only Get So Much, Don’t Wait For Me, Off The Grid, Better Not Love Me, plus short stories, Five Rows Back and An Easel for Avery.

You might read romance stories to escape the humdrum day-to-day. You root for your protagonist to find the love you have at home, or the love you want to have someday. Unfortunately, we’re not all tennis pros, powerhouse attorneys or lonesome billionaires pining for each other. Most of us are pretty normal people who do normal people things each day. Love happens in the middle of all that. Love stories happen around us every day, we just have to find the patience to see them and take notice.

So when the characters in my novels fall in love, it’s not because they are in a romance novel. It’s because that’s what people in their situation should do. Yes, they might fight it. And they will probably screw it up, but isn’t that what we all do?

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

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*Book Tour Media Kit prepared by Susan Barton, My Book Tour.

An Assiduous Novel by James Faro

I am a member of the Goodreads group Swap Reviews which is a good place for Self and Independently Published books to gather some reviews by other authors.

I selected a novel, The Assiduous Quest by Tobias Hopkins, by James Faro because I like the title. And yes, I had to look up the definition of assiduous! And I must admit, this novel is definitely marked by careful unremitting attention or persistent application!

Let me begin by introducing the author, James Faro.JamesFaro.JPG

James Faro joined the Merchant Navy at the age of sixteen, traveling extensively throughout Brazil, North America and the Caribbean. He has lived in many countries including Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Aden and The Netherlands. Now living in Brighton, on the south coast of England, he has retained his fascination with travel and the sea which is reflected in his writing. He has a Post Graduate degree in History from the University of Sussex.

I contacted him after reading his book and I am delighted that he accepted my invitation for an interview but I’ll get to that later.

First, about his novel!Linen Market, Dominica (detail) by Agostino Brunias.jpg

The Assiduous Quest of Tobias Hopkins

A step back in time to 17th Century Jamaica.

Genre: Historical Drama

Intended Audience: From Young Adults to General Fiction readers

The road curved for a good half-mile before it met the house; a steep valley, rich in wild vegetation, separated Toby from the property. The line of trees leading up to the front porch of the house cast long shadows across the carriageway. To the left and a little further up the slope, there were some more outbuildings which he hadn’t noticed on his first visit. The sun was high enough now to light up the east side of the property and the hill beyond was touched with a thin layer of mist: a scene presenting a magical picture of La Bruma.

And now for the interview:

What inspired you to write this particular story?

The initial idea for this book came to me in a dream. I rarely remember my dreams, but in this instance I imagined I was on a tropical island. I was walking along a track in the hills when I came across a farm hidden in the mist.

I, too, am often inspired by my dreams! Where do you write? 

I live in a one bedroom cabin surroundBedroom window in Winter.JPGed by woods and fields. So, at this time of year (mid-winter), I write in my bedroom: the warmest spot in the place. In the summer I like to get outside as much as possible and sit under the trees (providing the wind doesn’t blow away all my notes)

 

 

Bedroom window in Summer.JPG

That is quite a lovely view ! On a scale from Plotter being 1 and Panster (writing by the seat of your pants) being 10, Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Answer = No 1 (Plotter)

I have to admit that I spend a heap of time working on the plot before I start to write. Then, when the story takes off, the characters take over and often lead me in a new direction. It takes a great deal of persuasion to get them back on track and I usually give in and let the story take its own course, often with a better result.

Those characters can be rascals and try to hijack a story! Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

I love painting and, as I was writing a novel set in 17th century Jamaica, it led me to seek out works from that time and in that location. I then came across the paintings of the Italian artist, Agostino Brunias, who spent some time in The West Indies and whose work, Linen Market, Dominica, I have used for the cover of the complete novel.

The Assiduous Quest is divided into three parts.

The cover of Book 1 is by the French impressionist, Camille Pissarro, who, for a time, lived in St Thomas in the
Virgin Islands.

Crique avec voilier (detail) by Camille Pissarro.jpg

The Book 2 cover illustration is, again, by Agostino Brunias.

Free Women of Colour with their Children and Servants in a Landscape by Agostino Brunias.jpg

And Book 3 is by Willem van de Velde II whose maritime paintings I’ve always loved.

 

A ship in need in a raging storm by Willem van de Velde II.jpg

Beautiful paintings and they definitely fit the story. Who is your favorite character from your book and why? 

My favorite character is Beatrice. She has many qualities I admire. She’s bright and perceptive, a survivor who’s tough and determined. She’s also a risk-taker who behaves impulsively and is unpredictable. This makes for an fascinating interaction between Beatrice and Toby. They are, in many ways, opposites. And this, perhaps, is the very reason they connect so well.

I liked her, too! How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

My least favorite character is Groot; a monster, a psychopath who has no feelings for those who he destroys. He has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I have never believed in the old adage “there’s good in everyone”. If there is any good in Henk de Groot, I certainly haven’t discovered it!

I agree and you found the perfect name for him as well! Speaking of names; how important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Names often give an indication to the class, age, culture and social background of the characters. When writing historical fiction, it’s much the same. The resources I use are from records of ship passenger lists sailing to the colonies and, in the case of the sequel I’m working on now, from soldiers enlisted to fight against the Native Americans in New England.

The protagonist of The Assiduous Quest, Tobias Hopkins, is from a Royalist family in England; as is Elizabeth Thomas. However, the other characters in the story are from different backgrounds. Magdalena, originally an African slave, uses the name given to her at the time when Jamaica was occupied by the Spanish. Beatrice Somerset has a similar background to Magdalena. Here’s how she explains it in the story;

“I was interested in how your family acquired the name Somerset?” Toby said.

“Not me proper name. I get it from friend of Elizabet. He called . . . Erloff Somerset.”

“Oh, Peter Burlington, the Fourth Earl of Somerset.”

“That the one!” The girl’s eyes brightened. “You know he?”

“No, not very well. He is a friend of my uncle. So, what is your family name?”

“de Benitez.”

“Beatrice de Benitez?”

The girl made a face.

“That seems to be fine to me, why change it?”

“Aye, aye, aye. You ask so much questions!”

Thanks for adding that insert from your book. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Write from the heart. Don’t write in a certain genre because you think it’ll be popular or it will sell. Write what you want to write and don’t be swayed by anyone. Choose a subject which inspires you and which you feel passionate about. Take your time and never be in too much of a rush. Plan out your plot and your characters before you start writing. Think about how you want your story to progress and how you want it to end.

Also consider attending a writing course. I hooked up with a writer’s group where we met every week to discuss our work. This might not suit everyone, but it certainly worked for me. I also invested in a week’s course with the Arvon Foundation and met a few other like-minded writers from all over the world. Along with some great tuition, we also got to stay at, Lumb Bank, the beautiful house where poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath once lived.

Very good point! Thanks for sharing that. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I always read my reviews. I don’t usually respond to the reviewer, just accept their point of view. I think it’s a great privilege to have someone read though and comment on my writing.

As regards to advice in dealing with a bad review, I would say don’t lose sleep over it. It’s impossible to please everyone even if that’s your aim.

If the review is constructively critical of my work, I consider this seriously and will usually take on board the suggestions. After all, how can we communicate through writing without the honest opinions of our readers.

If the review is complementary, and the reader has obviously enjoyed the book, it can still bring a tear to my eye.

All very good points! Do you have any other talents or hobbies?

I was an artist in my twenties and, while I was just about able to support myself on the sale of my paintings, music became my first love. Since then, I’ve been a professional musician. Travel is another passion of mine. I’ve lived in a few countries but would still love to see more of the world and explore other cultures. I also enjoy cooking and gardening.

KUDOS for you! I’m an artist as well but I can’t say it EVER a supportive source of income. I’d love to travel Europe. I’ve got a cottage on a lake in Louisiana, maybe we can do a vacation swap!

Anyway…

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Tell as many other people as you can about the book! I cannot underestimate the power of word of mouth! Reviews are also very important to authors. Even a few lines are appreciated. A mention on a blog, facebook page or twitter is also useful. Anything to get people talking about the book.

Great suggestion and it doesn’t cost them anything! What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on a contemporary psychological thriller (under a different author name) which has been an ongoing project for the last few years. I’m also working on the sequel to the Assiduous Quest. This book is set in the same time period (1675) and will take Toby to the Northern Colonies of Virginia, Maryland, New York and Massachusetts – right into the conflict between Native Americans and the settlers of New England. I have the plot worked out and much of the material has already been written. However, as so often happens, the characters will probably take the story in a new direction and lead me into situations I hadn’t previously considered. I’ll just have to see what the outcome is. I hope to get both of these projects completed by the end of this year.

Please let me know when your thriller comes out. That’s probably my favorite genre.

Now for some fun.

Are you a compulsive shopper/hoarder?

I’m not into shopping (unless it’s browsing in bookshops) but I am a hoarder. I have a drawer full of receipts dating back months (no idea why I keep them). Maybe they give me a sense of security! When the Apocalypse comes I’m convinced my boxes full of useless stuff will protect me!

At least you can use the receipts to start a fire. Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?

 

Ha! Now that question has sent me down memory lane.

On one occasion it happened at a town called Manaus, Brazil, about a thousand miles up the River Amazon.Manaus.jpg

I was eighteen at the time, out on the town with my buddy, Phil. We had both been working in this region for over a year and, although the place was familiar to us, we decided to try out a new bar in the red-light district. By 2.00 am, after a number shots of Bacardi and coke, the other customers had left and it was obvious the bar staff (a rough-edged crew) wanted to pack up and go home. They handed us the tab. But we’d already paid! (or so we thought). Determined to stop us getting away, the staff blocked our way to the only exit. But, Phil, being head-strong, shouldered the door and we all stumbled out into the foul-smelling street. Phil raced down the road, leaving me in the gutter with a knife at my throat. I cursed him. But then, just as I thought my time was up, along came a taxi. The passenger window rolled down and Phil yelled for me to jump in (which I somehow managed to do). But the driver wasn’t in a hurry to leave. He spoke a few words in Portuguese to the bar staff and they all piled in the cab to join us.

Twenty minutes later, at the local jail, we discovered we still had the same amount of cash on us as we did when we arrived at the bar earlier that night. We paid the tab with apologies and hand shakes all round.

That is quite an adventure and sounds like a great encounter for a couple of your future characters. What is your biggest fear?

Just like Winston in George Orwell’s 1984, my biggest fear is being trapped in a room full of rats. I once saw a guy corner some rats in a barn and watched, in horror, as a few of them leaped up at his face. So, I sympathize with Winston when he’s strapped to a chair in room 101; two cages of rats placed on the table in front of him. Ugh!

Thanks for bringing that image to mind! I don’t know how to segue into this so I’ll just jump to it. What do you want your tombstone to say?

“Thank God that’s over!”

Love it! If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?

I would choose to be invisible. So, like a fly on the wall, I would have the ability to eavesdrop any conversation in time and space then make use of them in my writing. So good to be able to get inside people’s heads when their guard is dropped. If only H G Wells hadn’t got there before me!

With today’s technology, I don’t think being “visible” is a hindrance. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? Provide images if you want.

I would love to visit India. Such a diverse country steeped in tradition and culture. At school I read E.M Forster’s, Passage to India, and was fascinated by the vivid descriptions of the country and it’s people.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many documentaries on India. Where I LOVE the colors and most of the culture, I don’t think I could bear the poverty. If you were any plant or animal, what would you be? Provide imagFudge copyes if you want!

I would be a cat. I’ve owned many cats over the years but the one closest to my heart was Fudge, a white and tabby who survived many travels until he reached the age of sixteen. I have many memories of him marking out new territories, leaping from roofs and stalking out prey.

 

 

 

 

He was a beautiful cat! What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

To complete all of my books; the ones I’m currently working on, and the stories which exist in my imagination. Something for my grandchildren to remember me when they’re older!

I can appreciate that. What is your favorite song?

This is difficult. It has to be, Desafinado, by Antonio Carlos Jobim. The music of Brazil has a special place in my heart, evoking memories of my time spent there in my late teens. The title of this song means “Out of tune” and the lyrics describe someone who is set apart from the crowd; someone who likes to make up his own mind and doesn’t need to conform to the norm.

I like it! I listened to it while I finished this blog post. What is your favorite movie?

I know this is cheating, but I have two favorites; Rosemary’s Baby, directed by Roman Polanski, and The Sixth Sense, directed by M Night Shyamalan. What I love about both of these movies is the portrayal of ordinary characters we can relate to, plunged into bewildering situations, unsure of who to trust. Also the antagonists, the elderly couple in Rosemary’s Baby who shock us when they reveal who they really are. The Sixth Sense also takes us by surprise; particularly the twist at the end which I did not see coming!

I do love the manipulation techniques used in Rosemary’s Baby and the “who can you trust” scenario and then, SPOILER ALERT, her resolution. And, now that you mention it, I see the similarities of the two characters. Good call!

And finally, please describe something (significant number of words/a character/entire scene) you “deleted” from your work and why. Because a real writer knows when to hit THE DELETE KEY!

There are so many – I hit the delete key every other sentence! Today, I’ve just deleted three big chunks from the book I’m working on now. Here’s an example deleted from today’s work:

With a further six miles to go, he trampled through the unforgiving drifts; each snow-clad step an act of obstinacy. . .

The problem is that since writing this passage the protagonist has been delayed in getting to the location – it’s now April and the snow has gone.

Good choice!

For more information on James Faro, check out these links.

Website: http://www.jamesfaro.com

Blog: http://james-faro.blogspot.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/james.faro.73

And you can check out my review here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/review/R2R9KUCNKRCIW2?ref_=glimp_1rv_cl

Thank you, James, for being a guest on my blog. I truly enjoyed your book and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Sincerely,

Geri

A SPECIAL THANKS for Reading The Kitchen Dance by Geri G. Taylor

I want to thank all my friends, family, fellow authors, and readers who have supported me on my first novel, The Kitchen Dance.
I just received the rights back from Melange Books, LLC, and, at this time, the Kindle version is no longer available on Amazon but the ebook can still be purchased directly from me for $2.99 (via PayPal) in a mobi file that can be read on a Kindle.

Plus, I still have paperback copies for $14.95 (via PayPal) that I will personalize and autograph.

Also, you can still find good deals on used books on Amazon as low as $4.75 (including S&H)!

I appreciate you reading my book and I sincerely hope that you enjoy it and find it entertaining. If so, please take a few moments to share your opinion on Amazon and, if you are a member, Goodreads or other sites you like to visit.

Please visit my website and watch my book trailer.

Also, if you haven’t already done se, please visit and “LIKE” my Facebook page for The Kitchen Dance.

Feel free to post an encouraging comment. 😀

I enjoyed writing this book and I am busy working on my next novel, but the promoting can be overwhelming. This why it is so wonderful when readers like you spread the word.

GE+TKD+Cover

Promoting Your Book by Blogging

I was supposed to lead a discussion at the North Louisiana Chapter of Sisters In Crime: Grave Expectations but a week of dealing with sciatica and a few sleepless nights made traveling a bit unappealing.

So, I decided to use my handout that I put together for my blog. I found a great blog post by Steff Green that laid out what I wanted to discuss with the group in a very organized manner.

Excerpts from “Using Author Blogs to Promote Your Bookswritten by Steff Green

Write for your Readers

Your readers don’t read your blog to find out how you market your book; they read it because they want to know more about the author and the world of their books. I actually have three blogs. This one, Creative Daze with Geri where I blog about my creative adventures, and 365 Days of Santa where I blog about my Santa crafting and collecting.

  • Write a list of your favorite books in your genre. (I also recommend writing reviews or posting reviews that you’ve written for Amazon.com or Goodreads.)
  • Share some book excerpts.
  • Create a playlist of songs that inspired the book.
  • Create a book FAQ.
  • Articles about historical details in your books (if applicable). For example, the history of the type of sword used by the hero, or 10 little-known facts about the city your book is set in.

Make your blog awesome

  • Geri VampireMain pages load properly and have no errors.
  • Add and update book links, and included your book in the sidebar.
  • Obvious button encouraging mailing list signups.
  • Forms on contact page and newsletter signup page work.
  • About Me page is up-to-date.
  • Posts are free of spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Images on posts are clear and interesting. (Is THIS one interesting enough?)
  • Got any popular posts on topics relating to your book? Why not republish them with new dates so they are some of the first posts a new reader sees?

Plan your strategy

What you’re going to do on your own blog and what you’re going to do on other websites and platforms to draw attention to your blog.

  • Excerpts from your book.
  • Clippings from reviews.
  • Inspiration for the book.
  • Interviews with your characters.
  • Bonus material such as free downloadable short stories.
  • 10 interesting facts about one of your characters.
  • A discussion about one of the central themes of your book.

GeneratE Readers

  • Post cool images inspired by your book’s setting on Facebook or Pinterest.
  • Run competitions on social media or other sites, like Goodreads or Librarything.
  • Run a blog tour.
  • Tweet quotes from the book (works well if your book is humorous).
  • Write guest posts on popular blogs.
  • Host guest bloggers
  • Interview other authors in your genre
  • Write articles for magazines on topics related to your book.

Funnel readers into an Advance Reading Copy (ARC Readers) list

Using Mailchimp, set up an auto-responder on your primary mailing list.

After 3 days, all new signups are invited to join a second list – the ARC list.

Anyone on this list will receive a free Advance Reading Copy of your next book as soon as it’s ready, at least a month before it is due to come out. They can offer feedback and suggestions, and post early reviews on their preferred vendors. This a great tool for early reviews.

A gentle reminder to everyone on your ARC list the day before your launch will often result in several new reviews being posted – a clever way to shine a spotlight on your new release.

Create an FAQ for your book

  • Why pre-order the book?
  • When will I receive my pre-order book?
  • Is the book available in paperback?
  • Will the book be available on <insert vendor here>?
  • Why is this book under a pen name?
  • When will the second book in the series be released?
  • I love this book! What can I do to help spread the word?

Share book excerpts

Choose your excerpts wisely. Don’t give away major plot points or surprises, and remember that your readers haven’t had a chance to develop a connection to your characters, so you can’t ask them to care deeply about them in an excerpt.

Choose 3 excerpts from the first act of the novel. One from the opening chapters sets up the story and the main character. The second introduces the antagonist, and the third showcases awesome action or shows off something cool about the world of the novel.

Create a BOOK related list

  • My 10 favorite books in <insert genre here>
  • 10 of my favorite romance heroines
  • 20 of the coolest future technologies in science fiction novels
  • 10 of my favorite murder mystery cases

Organize a book tour

Gone are the days when authors packed boxes of books into the trunk of a car and set off to sign their way across the country, fueled only by whisky, bad truck-stop food and a desire to reach as many readers as possible.

Today, a book tour can be done on a fraction of the budget.

A virtual book tour is a great way to increase exposure for your book during its launch, as well as gain more traffic to your blog and, ultimately, your book page.

You can set up a blog tour yourself, or use one of the many companies that offer such services like Enchanted Blog Tours. .

REACH OuT to Niche Bloggers

Niche bloggers are sites that cater to a specific aspect of your audience. For example, if you’ve written a romance set in a specific city, you might find lifestyle bloggers from that city who would love to write about your book. If travel features heavily in your book, contact travel bloggers. If it’s domestic abuse or disability, contact bloggers who deal with those topics.

Introduce yourself and your book and ask if they’d be interested in a copy for review. Mention that you’d be happy to be considered for an interview or to submit an article. You will soon find yourself active in these niche communities, where word of your book will quickly spread.

(I have had more bloggers that I have asked agree to feature me and my book on their blog than those who I never heard back from or said no.)

Make your BOOK Prominent across your Blog

People coming to your website aren’t just reading your most recent post. Many come from search engines to look at old posts, or might be linked to an old article from a friend.

If you want to get your book in front of their eyes, you will need to do add your book cover as a big clickable button in your blog sidebar. It s the most prominent sidebar image.

  • Add book covers to the footer at the bottom or side bar of your page.
  • Add links to your books and mailing list at the bottom of your posts.
  • Create individual pages for each of your books with links to your book-related content (excerpts, FAQs, etc).
  • Ensured your book pages are featured prominently in my navigation bar.

 

 

Jennifer Blake, “Icon of Romance”, “Grande Dame of Romance, and a True “Southern Belle”

15 FREE KINDLE ROMANCES

by JENNIFER BLAKE

OCT 1-3 ONLY
Amazon Only

I have very fortunate to have the met Jennifer Blake and I have gotten to know her better through a critique group that meets in Ruston, Louisiana. I was delighted when “Pat” agreed to be featured on my blog.

Blake-Author-Florida-ReverseJennifer Blake has been called a “pioneer of the romance genre”, an “icon of the romance industry,” and a “grande dame of romance.” A New York Times and international best-selling author since 1977, she is a charter member of Romance Writers of America, of which I a member. She is a member of the RWA and Affaire de Coeur Halls of Fame, and recipient of the RWA Lifetime Achievement Rita. She holds numerous other honors, including the “Maggie”; the Holt Medallion; multiple Reviewers
Choice awards; the Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews Magazine, and the Frank Waters Award for literary excellence. She has published 70 books with translations in 20 languages and more than 35 million copies sold worldwide.

Today we are talking about her works in The Italian Billionaire series, “The Tuscan’s Revenge Wedding,” “The Venetian’s Daring Seduction,” and “The Amalfitano’s Bold Abduction.”

Italian Billionaires Trio

Contemporary romance

Love, Italian style…three young women are seduced by passion, adventure and handsome Latin males in romantic Italy. Now that’s amore….

Readers and lovers of contemporary romance who enjoy stories with exotic settings and Latin Lovers.

Jennifer, please tell us about your work.

When I began these three stand-alone stories, I’d just finished two different complicated historical series for Mira Books that were 100,000 words each. I’d also left traditional publishing after many years of being restricted in what I could write, and started an online publishing venture, Steel Magnolia Press, with my niece Cyndi Drolet. We had put 37 of my older titles online with new covers, and I was ready to write something to be published as an original e-book. A series of contemporary romances of about 50,000 per book looked like a fun project.

But added to that, I’d been to Italy several times and loved it – and I’d had a few brief encounters with Italian men. Nothing racy or momentous as I was very much married! But on one occasion, a waiter I’d summoned hurried to my table and leaned to whisper, “I always come when you call, Madame!” Then there was the night outside Rome when the large group I was with was served their pasta course on ordinary white plates—but mine was presented with a warm smile and great ceremony on a golden one. Another time, in the Cinque Terre region, I walked into a small wine shop wearing a blue and white print skirt, blue sandals, lace-edged white tank and white over shirt embroidered in blue. An older Italian gentleman, elegantly dressed as only Italian men can be, looked me up and down with a tender smile and indicated my outfit with his fingertips closed together in that continental gesture of something exquisite. “Very nizzze,” he said. I smiled and said “Grazie” to all these overtures. How could I not? Suffice it to say the Italian Billionaire series is my love letter to Italy, and salute to the appreciation for women that makes Italian men special.

Obviously, this isn’t your first book. How many books have you written so far?    

I’ve published 70 books if I count the novella collections.

THE AMALFITANO’S BOLD ABDUCTION, Steel Magnolia Press, 2014

THE VENETIAN’S DARING SEDUCTION, Steel Magnolia Press, 2013

THE TUSCAN’S REVENGE WEDDING, Steel Magnolia Press, 2013

ROYAL SEDUCTION, Steel Magnolia Press, 2012

SEDUCED BY GRACE, Mira Books, October 2011

BY GRACE POSSESSED, Mira Books, September2011

BY HIS MAJESTY’S GRACE, Mira Books, August 2011

TRIUMPH IN ARMS, Mira Books, 2010

GALLANT MATCH, Mira Books, 2009

GUARDED HEART, Mira Books, 2008

ROGUE’S SALUTE, Mira Books, 2007

DAWN ENCOUNTER, Mira Books, 2006

CHALLENGE TO HONOR, Mira Books, 2005

WADE, Mira Books, 2002

CLAY, Mira Books, 2001

ROAN, Mira Books, 2000

LUKE, Mira Books, 1999

KANE, Mira Books, 1998

GARDEN OF SCANDAL, Mira Books, 1997

TIGRESS, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1996

SILVER-TONGUED DEVIL, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1996

SHAMELESS, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1994

ARROW TO THE HEART, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1993

WILDEST DREAMS, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1992

JOY AND ANGER, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1991

SPANISH SERENADE, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1990

LOVE ANLove and Smoke Audible CoverD SMOKE, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1989

PERFUME OF PARADISE, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1988

SOUTHERN RAPTURE, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1987

LOUISIANA DAWN, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1987

PRISONER OF DESIRE, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1986

ROYAL PASSION, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1986

FIERCE EDEN, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1985

MIDNIGHT WALTZ, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1985

SURRENDER IN MOONLIGHT, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1984

ROYAL SEDUCTION, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1983

EMBRACE AND CONQUER, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1981

APRIL OF ENCHANTMENT, Signet Books, 1981

GOLDEN FANCY, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1980

CAPTIVE KISSES, Signet Books, 1980

LOVE AT SEA, Signet Books, 1980

THE STORM AND THE SPLENDOR, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1979

TENDER BETRAYAL, Popular Library & Fawcett/Ballantine, 1979

SNOWBOUND HEART, Signet Books, 1979

BAYOU BRIDE, Signet Books, 1979

THE ABDUCTED HEART, Signet Books, 1978

NIGHT OF THE CANDLES, Fawcett Books, 1978

SWEET PIRACY, Fawcett Books, 1978

LOVE’S WILD DESIRE, Popular Library & Fawcett/Ballantine, 1977

MURDER FOR CHARITY, Manor Books, 1977

HAVEN OF FEAR, Manor Books, 1977

NOTORIOUS ANGEL, Fawcett Books, 1977

BRIDE OF A STRANGER, Fawcett Books, 1974

DARK MASQUERADE, Fawcett Books, 1974

COURT OF THE THORN TREE, Popular Library, 1973

THE BEWITCHING GRACE, Popular Library, 1973

STORM AT MIDNIGHT, Ace Books, 1973

STRANGER AT PLANTATION INN, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1971

SECRET OF MIRROR HOUSE, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1970

NOVELLA COLLECTIONS

QUEEN FOR A NIGHT, Steel Magnolia Press, 2014

WITH LOVE, Berkley, 2003 (Reissue of “Pieces of Dreams” from the QUILTING CIRCLE collection)

WITH A SOUTHERN TOUCH, Mira Books, 2002 (Contains ADAM, one of the Louisiana Gentlemen)

SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN, Mira Books, 1998

UNMASKED, Mira Books, 1997

A JOYOUS SEASON, Kensington, 1996

QUILTING CIRCLE, Berkley, 1996

A PURRFECT ROMANCE, Harper, 1995

HONEYMOON SUITE, St. Martin’s Press, 1995

STARDUST, Avon, 1994

SECRETS OF THE HEART, Penguin Topaz, 1994

A DREAM COME TRUE, Penguin Topaz, 1994

What does your writing process look like?

It’s a basically an organized progression of words on paper. I begin by brainstorming the story, turn these random notes into a chapter-by-chapter outline, create simple character sketches and then start at the beginning and go on to the end. I don’t write scenes or chapters out of order because the emotional and sexual tension in romance needs the steady escalation provided by a linear structure.Desk

Where do you write?

I normally alternate between the desktop PC in my office and a recliner in the living room with my laptop, but occasionally work outside in warm weather.

Inspiration Wall

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

I’ve always been a plotter. My first published books were Gothic mystery-suspense stories that required several suspects as possible villains, along with clues, red herrings and actions and motivations to lend credence to their possible guilt. It’s easier to write this type story if you plan the details in advance. After turning to historical romance, I had back-to-back contracts for decades. This kind of output is faster, and turns out better, if you’re sure of where you’re going with the stories.

There’s nothing formulaic about plotting, however, and nothing innately more creative about writing by the seat of your pants. In fact, all fiction uses both methods. Plotters and pantsters are like two people heading into unknown territory toward the same destination. One has a road map with a few five pitfalls marked, the other has vague idea of the general route and the knowledge that pitfalls exist. Yet both still have to plunge into the wilderness.

Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

Not really. Every scene should have a definite reason (or two or three) for being in the book. If you know what you’re trying to accomplish and how you intend to get there, all scenes are about the same. On the other hand, I do grumble and gripe about the love scenes after having done several hundred with various degrees of heat. Once I figure out what makes the current couple unique in their approach to intimacy, however, they’re no harder than anything else.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

The death of a child as a major plot point.

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

After deciding to do a series similar to the Harlequin Presents novels, it seemed natural to choose titles common to that particular romance subset. It was also an experiment of sorts. I was curious to see if the titles made a difference. As far as I can tell, they’ve made very little to none.

What book do you wish you could have written?

Kathryn Falk at Romantic Times once said she thought I should have be tapped to write the sequel to Gone with the Wind. I thought at the time it would be a thankless task, that nothing could ever live up to the original. In hindsight, I believe it would have been a fascinating challenge.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Names need to suit the personalities of the characters as I see them in my mind; I often close my eyes and repeat a name to see if it fits. That they are appropriate to the tie period and place is also important – a Tiffany in 1850s Louisiana would be ridiculous, for instance. In general, I don’t care for unusual or weirdly spelled names as that seems an amateur’s effort to be different. I do like hero names that start with an “R,” and was even a bit superstitious about that for a while after several with that naming method became best sellers—I was afraid NOT to give them an “R” name. And after using several of those, I came across a magazine article that said many people favor “R” names, feeling they extra strong and masculine.

As for sources, I have a couple of books with the nationalities, historical origins and meanings of both given names and surnames, also a couple that are meant for choosing baby names. But I mostly combed the indexes of Louisiana history books for authentic character names for my books set in early Louisiana. When I started my six-book Masters at Arms series about the sword masters of old New Orleans, however, I visited St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 near the French Quarter to jot down names to mix and match for future characters.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

The fact that I’ve survived as an author, that I’m still writing and being read after so many years in this game!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Retired and puttering with writing as a hobby. If my muse will back off and let me.

Have you always enjoyed writing?

Writing has always come fairly easy—book reports and essays in school were never a problem. Nor were stories a problem; I often put myself to sleep as a child and young teen by making them up in my head. But I loved to read far more than I liked to write—that was until I started writing as a hobby at about 19 or 20.

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

The same classic advice heard a thousand times before: Never give up on your dream. Never, ever give up.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I don’t usually respond, whether good or bad, since this is supposed to be unprofessional. I really prefer not to read the reviews, particularly those posted online; people can be so stupidly cruel when protected by anonymity. However, reading them can’t be helped at times, as quotes from good reviews must be collected for promotional purposes. I bask in the good one but skim over the bad as fast as possible. The best way to deal with the last is to refuse to let them matter. And then go write something so great it will prove these bad reviewers were clueless idiots.

What (when not writing) do you do to support yourself?

My writing income has been more than sufficient since the late 1970s.

Do you have any other talents or hobbies?

I’m not sure I have talent, but I enjoy painting with watercolors now and then, also knitting, crocheting, beading, quilting, antique hunting, gardening and travel. Not necessarily in that order!

What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

Editing. Unfortunately, I can think of a dozen different ways to say practically anything. Though I’m a thorough editor, it’s always an agonizing process of thousands of minute decisions. Beyond that, the dialogue, emotions, character actions/reactions, narrative flow and scene transitions are interwoven so completely as I write that making a single change can mean rearranging or deleting things in several places. Not fun! I’d rather write two new books than edit one.

What can readers who enjoy your books do to help make them successful?

Recommend the series to their friends, discuss it at book clubs. Post about it on Facebook or Twitter. And of course, follow me on those sites as well as on Pinterest.

What is your best marketing tip?

The #1 way that readers discover an author is through the recommendation of friends. The best way to influence this give and take is to produce good, solid stories. You can make yourself accessible thought social media and other avenues, if you like, but the best use of your time is always to write another good book, and another, and another…

What are you working on now?

I’m seeing a nonfiction book titled “Around the World in 100 Days” through the publication process. This is a day-by-day chronicle of a fantastic world cruise I took with my grandson lastyear, but gives tips and insights into this form of long term travel. It should be independently published in March or April, 2015.

What is your next project?

I’m working on a continuation of my Louisiana Gentlemen series that was set in contemporary Louisiana and published in the 1990s: These stories were “Kane,” “Luke,” “Roan,” “Clay” and “Wade.”. Books one and two of the new group, titled “Beau” and “Jake,” should be out later this year.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I have a good half dozen story ideas spinning around in my brain, some contemporary, some historical, and at least one futuristic. What will come out on top, no one knows, least of all yours truly. The wonderful thing about being independently published these days is that it doesn’t matter. My next project can be whatever excites me when it’s time to start it.

And now for some FUN…

What do you wear while writing?

Jeans, T-shirt and sandals are my summer uniform, with the same in winter except for a long-sleeved over shirt of some kind along with Easy Spirit Traveltime clogs and socks. Boring, but comfy.

Have you ever dyed your hair an unusual color?

I’ve been golden blond and had highlights, but don’t really like the texture change caused by bleaches and dyes, even the temporary ones.

What is your biggest fear?

That my Bucket List may turn out to be longer than my life. But I’m working on it!

If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?

Astral projection, the ability to go wherever I choose at the speed of light while using nothing but brain power.

Do you make up your bed every morning? What is on your bed right now? (pillows/quilt/crocheted bedspread?) Is it romantic or functional? Provide images if you want.

I do make my bed, though more because I hate crawling into a rumpled, unmade one at night than from any OCD neatness. My latest edition of this important piece of furniture is an adjustable mattress with remote control I love it for reading and watching TV in bed.

Where is one place yth (58)ou want to visit that you haven’t been before? Provide images if you want.

Egypt. The Pyramids of Giza are at the top of my Bucket List since I’ve marked off much else. I was supposed to see this monument on the world cruise, but State Department travel advisories prevented it.

Please describe something (significant number of words/a character/entire scene) you “deleted” from your work and why. Because a real writer knows when to hit THE DELTE KEY!

I enjoy description and like painting scenes with words for my books. I also love Italy, the landscape, culture, and general ambience, so sometimes went a bit overboard with description in the Italian Billionaires series. Some of this sort of thing was deleted during the editing process, particularly where I felt it slowed down or interfered with the main story action.

I hope this questionnaire has helped you to come up with some clever answers, but is there anything else you’d like to add?

One of the best things about my venture into independent publishing has been the ability to expand into other venues with the titles to which I own reverted rights. Audio books are a great example. Around 40 of these backlist titles are now available on Amazon from Audible.com

http://jenniferblake.com

http://www/steelmagnoliapress.com 

Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Blake/e/B000APHHS8/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Amazon Kindle Ebook Pages:

http://www.amazon.com/Tuscans-Revenge-Wedding-Billionaires-Collection-ebook/dp/B009QO5V8W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1423489074&sr=1-1&keywords=the+tuscan%27s+revenge+wedding

http://www.amazon.com/Venetians-Seduction-Italian-Billionaires-Collection-ebook/dp/B00CKVCZG4/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1423489074&sr=1-2&keywords=the+tuscan%27s+revenge+wedding

http://www.amazon.com/Amalfitanos-Abduction-Italian-Billionaires-Collection-ebook/dp/B00HCW0XCO/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1P2KBS4RJF6E0M0ZSEFK

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/128235.Jennifer_Blake

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.blake.3914

Twitter

https://twitter.com/JenniferBlake01

Pinterest

http://www.pinterest.com/jblakeauthor/

 

A Post Worth Reposting about Louisiana Writers and Resources

Gray Photo Geri QuoteEven if no one else reads my posts…I do!

And re-blogging is a great way for me to keep a “file” of my favorite posts I find on the internet.

I am a member of two writing groups that meet in Shreveport, and I was hoping that I could find something happening closer to my hometown.

Just check out the link below!

Write By Night Resources for Writers in Louisiana

They might have some resources and groups in your states and area.