Tuesday, September 6, 2022

FIRST LOVE - RELEASE PARTY!

Time to Fall in LOVE!
It's Release Day!

IWSG Anthology #7
Romance – Clean & Wholesome/Contemporary/Historical

And to celebrate, our authors have left you snippets about their stories. Get ready to experience the sticky sweetness of first love…


THE ART OF MAKING DOUGHNUTS by Linda Budzinski

A fiercely independent cop is softened by the guy who makes the doughnuts.

Excerpt:
    I was surprised when Pete asked me to join him for dinner tonight, and even more so to hear myself accept. Though, what choice did I have when he stood there holding that perfect little pastry, soft and warm and made specially for me?
    Half of me hoped something would force me to cancel -- a massive sinkhole downtown or a bomb scare at the station. The other half kept a watchful eye on the clock, counting the minutes until my shift ended.
    Because, well, the doughnuts.


MY HEART APPROVES by Melissa Maygrove

Will a maid who used deceit to snare a mail-order husband get a dose of her own medicine?

Excerpt:
    Addy sat in the chair nearest the head of the table with posture that would silence the harshest finishing governess, though she had lost the feeling in her backside and her legs. Her amber taffeta dress skimmed the edge of her shoulders without being too revealing, and her hair was expertly coiffed, thanks to Cara’s skill. Hopefully, her husband would find her appearance pleasing.
    She’d insisted the servants wait supper on him, even though it was a hardship.
    The candles had burned halfway down by the time his carriage pulled up.
    Addy drew a calming breath and waited. Long minutes passed while he dressed for supper, then approaching bootsteps made her palms turn damp.



MY FIRST LOVE(S) by Templeton Moss

The world’s most forgetful man tries to remember the first time he ever fell in love. We travel with him backward through his life from adulthood, to college, to high school and childhood…and then his wife sets him straight with a surprising revelation.




THE REAL THING by Sammi Spizziri

After months of chatting with "The One" online, Lola can't wait to meet her guy in real life and start a face-to-face relationship. But on the way to the airport, she gets stuck in a ride share with a stranger who breaks through her carefully-crafted persona. When the ride is over, she must decide between pretending she's someone she's not with the online friend she's worked so hard to impress or starting fresh with the unexpected, unfiltered stranger who accepts her in the real world.



CLYDE AND COALESCE by Kim Elliot

When Lizzie meets Fitz, the front man of a popular band, she is not a fan. He mocks her taste in music, wastes her time, and looks down his nose at her, literally. However, she needs his help to save the local radio station where her best friend Jane is a morning show host. As Lizzie gets to know the aloof heartthrob, she sees another side he keeps hidden from the public—a side she might even like. Will the two find a way to turn the sour notes of their first meeting into a love song?



THE CASTLE OF OHNO by S.E. White

Excerpt:
    No lights warmed any of the tiny slit windows. No one waited to welcome them inside. Indeed, only the wind soughed in her ears, as cold and empty as the castle. 
    “Why did you agree to marry me, Hippolyta?” he asked abruptly. 
    She sighed and hitched her little bundle higher. They’d been married all of six hours. She wasn’t sure she owed him the truth yet, but she also didn’t quite want to lie. “So that I could never escape, husband.”


MARMALADE SUNSET by Denise Covey

God brought them together a lifetime ago, now they are once again joined in love, entwined in their golden years.

Damon is perplexed. Cora, his Greek grandmother, his Ya Ya, wishes to visit the Greek Islands. Why wait so long? Is it related to the painting of a little blue house she has hung in pride on her walls for decades? On the island of Aghia Anna, Damon recognizes the house from the painting up the road from the taverna where they eat. Then Cora begins a lament for lost souls. The whole restaurant joins in. Is the soul she believed lost standing before her, summoned by the song? Is he the painter who lives in the little blue house?


PAPER FACES by Sylvia Ney

Helen Barnes wants the same rights as any man. Why should the pursuit of the American Dream be available only to males? Yet, just when success is in her grasp, she must question whether she is willing to sacrifice love to achieve her goals. The discovery of a man’s secret past might be enough to help her achieve her dream, but it would also turn his son’s dreams into a nightmare. Will she sacrifice her greatest desires, or someone else’s? 



HOW TO SAVE A PRINCESS by Katie Klein

Excerpt:
For a few weeks post-break-up, crossing paths with that handsome stranger was almost punishing. I saw him everywhere. And though he smiled politely and I smiled politely—not a word exchanged between us—I couldn’t help but think he’d witnessed me at my absolute worst as I yelled and cried and tossed all my ex-boyfriend’s belongings into the hallway...and over the railing in one very extreme case.

High school sweethearts, my foot.



OLIVER'S GIRL by Michael Di Gesu

In his youth, Oliver fell in love with his dream girl. Sixty years pass, and he has a lifetime of memories without her. With the help of his great-granddaughter, will Oliver find his lost love and start again? 


These stories will pull at your heartstrings and give you that warm, wistful feeling. Be sure to check out the FIRST LOVE IWSG Anthology. Here are all the details and the Release Tour dates:

First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Romance - Clean & Wholesome (FIC027270) / Contemporary (FIC027020) / Historical (FIC027050)
186 pages, Freedom Fox Press, an imprint of Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

Print ISBN – 9781939844880, $14.95
EBook ISBN – 9781939844897, $4.99

Links:

“…a refreshing read! This is a gem of a book that I highly recommend.” 
- Rebecca Boerner M Ed., reviewer

 “…this collection nailed the little bites of cute romance… recommend to anyone looking for an uplifting collection of sweet romance to fill an evening.” - Hayley Reese Chow, author

“This was a sweet, warm collection of love stories.” – Angie Titus, author

TOUR DATES:
9/1 - Book Blurbs - IWSG Anthologies Blog
9/5 - Interview - Kelly F Barr
9/6 - Review - Kelly F Barr
9/7 - Interview - Diane Burton
9/7 - Book Feature - Cathrina Constantine
9/9 - Book Feature - Sandra Cox
9/12 - Article, Working on an Athology - Elizabeth s. Craig
9/14 - Interview - C. Lee McKenzie
9/16 - Review - Louise M. Barbour
9/19 - Interview - Susan Gourley

Enjoy the Fall cuddled up with a cozy romance!

Monday, August 8, 2022

How do writers do it?

PLOTTER VS PANTSER

We asked our FIRST LOVE Anthology authors to give us a glimpse into their Writing Processes - Plotter? Pantser? or a Mix of Both? Here's what they said...

On top of the world -- Oia, Santorini
I definitely began my writing career as a Pantser which is now more kindly known as a Discovery Writer. Not to say I didn't TRY to be a Plotter, but it just didn't stick. Now, like many writers, I combine both. I roughly outline chapters I'd like to write, then find my beginning, then "discover" my story as I write. Usually, I dump my ideas under forthcoming chapter headings, calling these the "bare bones" waiting to be fleshed out. During this process, I rely heavily on my critique partners and the occasional editor friend. 

As I'm very visual, my best stories have been written after immersing myself in another country, another culture. For example, the story I wrote for the IWSG Romance Anthology was based on a gem of an idea that surfaced during a trip to Santorini in the Greek Islands which was followed by lots of research into its tragic history. I find it easy to put myself into the place of my characters and suffer along with them. 
-- Denise Covey, Marmalade Sunset


I am a plotter. At least, I am now. I went in sans plan with my first novel—a vampire romance (Thank you very much, Stephanie Meyer.) Much like a creature of the night, that book will never see the light of day. Well, I say never, but who knows. Trends are cyclical. If the vampire craze finds new life, maybe I’ll dust it off and start over…with an outline this time. 
-- Kim Elliott, Clyde and Coalesce


I am a mix of a plotter and a pantser. I like to have a good foundation for the story and its structure to make sure I have an actual story and an idea of where it's going, but if I plan too much, I have a hard time wanting to write. Part of the fun of writing is discovering the characters and their journey, and I find I don't know that well enough until I start writing in the main character's voice and putting them in sticky situations. The downside is I then often have big structural revisions because I use the first draft partially as a discovery tool but, as they say, you can't edit a blank page, so having something down leads me to the final version, even if it's not the most efficient way. 
-- Sammi Spizziri, The Real Thing


I’m an outliner. It was very necessary for my five book series where I had to keep track of the overlapping stories as they moved forward in time. It was also necessary for my two non-fiction titles. (Critical!) However, the project I am working on now is a bit more free-form. Three of the stories were plotted mostly in my head and the fourth is a re-write of a very old story. 

I used to edit as I went, but now I finish a story first before going back to edit. And 99% of my fiction pieces originated from a dream. So, sometimes it’s a challenge just to write a story that make sense. 
-- L. Diane Wolfe, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.


I'm a bit of both a pantser and a plotter. I never preplan. I always start out with an idea, scene, or emotion and write until I can’t go anymore. When I run out of steam, I take a break and then write out an outline or sets of goals for the story and its characters. I never take less than four passes at a manuscript before sharing with others for feedback. 
-- Sylvia Ney, Paper Faces


My writing process looks a lot like being attacked by butterflies. If butterflies carried ten pound cannonballs, dropping them randomly and maliciously. I'll be in the middle of doing something useful, like cooking dinner, when the butterflies choose to chuck a giant idea on me. WHAM, 'What if we wrote a story based on that meme we saw? That really funny one? About beauty seeing the library and becoming an instant roommate to the beast whether he likes it or not?'. With all the ideas fluttering about, you could definitely call me a Pantser. I take an idea after it lands on my head, and run with it. Sometimes I fall flat on my face and the idea goes into the discard bin. Sometimes it works, and the idea turns into a story. I've never met such thing as an outline. They tend to avoid me. I think it's all the butterflies.
-- SE White, The Castle of Ohno


The way it generally goes is that I get an idea for a story and start writing it. Then I get bored of the idea (or I get stuck), so I come up with a new idea and start working on that until I’m bored or stuck. Now, you might think that at this point I go back to work on Idea #1, but you’d be wrong. I usually come up with a third idea. The upshot of all this is that I generally have between three and ten different stories that I’m “working on” at any given moment and it’s six-to-five and pick ‘em which one I will eventually finish. In fact, it’s genuinely surprising that I manage to finish anything at all. 
-- Templeton Moss, My First Love(s)


My writing process is painful. I cannot stop myself from editing as I go. I cannot write the next sentence until I've composed the "perfect" sentence, or the next paragraph until I have perfected the last one, or the next chapter... you get the idea. The good news is, once I've finished my first "draft," my manuscript is pretty much ready to go. Unless I think of a major plot twist, in which case I have to go back and revise all my "perfect" sentences and paragraphs and chapters. And since I'm more of a pantser than a plotter, that happens a lot. As I said, painful!
-- Linda Budzinski, The Art of Making Doughnuts


I’m a mix of a plotter and pantser. I go into the story with a baseline of who my characters are and what I want to happen, but I always leave room for the magic. I love when my characters surprise me, so if they happen to veer off course, I adjust my plans to accommodate. I suppose that makes me a plantser. :)
-- Katie Klein, How to Save a Princess



I plot the basic story, then I half-plot, half-pants the scenes. I flesh out my plot notes in paragraph form, right in the drafting document, and delete them as I go. This allows me to jump forward and write a scene out of order if I get a burst of inspiration.
-- Melissa Maygrove, My Heart Approves


And there you have it, some insightful examples of different ways to get through the writing process. What about you? Are you a plotter or a pantser or a little of both? Can you relate to some of these writing processes? Maybe you found something new to try.

Whichever way you write, keep writing!

Monday, July 11, 2022

Summer of Writing

Writers never stop writing... Here we get a glimpse at what the authors from our latest anthology FIRST LOVE are up to. I'm sure they will whet your appetite for a fantastic future read by giving you a taste of their writing personality...


I'm taking a break before starting my next novel and writing a novelette that will be free to my newsletter subscribers. I don't write insta-love romance, so it has been both a challenge and a delight, drafting a shorter, less-complicated book.
~ Melissa Maygrove, "My Heart Approves"


I’m currently working on a screenplay. Lately, I’ve been writing screenplays and then using them as a treatment/foundation for a novel. This will be the third project I’ve completed like that. It’s a romance, of course, and while I haven’t quite nailed down the logline yet, the gist of the story is: a celebrity musician suffering from a very public/humiliating break-up returns home to hide out only to fall for her best friend from high school, who’s now a single dad. 
~ Katie Klein, "How to Save a Princess"


I’ve spent six months editing book two of my YA superhero trilogy, Heart of a Hero. The more I change, the more ideas I get. It’s a totally different (and better) book now. My characters had it too easy in the first draft, so I added some PAIN. I won’t give spoilers, but readers should prepare to shed tears! My beta readers will receive the manuscript by the end of July, and I aim to publish late summer. Then it’s on to book three…
~ Kim Elliott, "Clyde and Coalesce"


I have three projects started, and I hope you will help me decide which one to focus on completing first. Please let me know in the comments which one you would like to see the most. I welcome feedback, questions, and ideas!

Story #1: “Moving On” is a contemporary romance. Zach Sanders is tired of being fixed up by his best friend Joe. He isn’t enjoying the dating scene, and in fact, can’t get over his forbidden crush: Joe’s sister Katherine. When Katherine moves back to town and sparks fly, will they be able to create a meaningful relationship, or is he doomed to remain single forever? 

Story #2: “Praying for Death” is a murder mystery. Detective Henry Spence is looking into a string of seven murders that have all happened over the course of the last year. The only connection between all seven victims is a single woman who has an alibi for five of the deaths. Is Sabrina Heigel merely unfortunate enough to know these victims, or worse yet, is she somehow becoming a serial killer? 

Story #3: “Saving Grace” is a fantasy short story, a series about empaths. While excavating an ancient cave, archeologist Grace Marten uncovers a hidden treasure. Now the brotherhood, a centuries old enemy of the empaths, will stop at nothing to retrieve one item in particular and silence her forever. Damon De Santis offers her aid, but does she dare trust him with her life? 
~ Sylvia Ney, "Paper Faces"


I'm super excited to say that my current work in progress is... The Art of Making Doughnuts! I fell in love with the characters in my short story for the anthology, so I'm working on turning it into a novel! I am expanding the story (obviously) and also writing it in dual point of view, so we can learn more about Pete and his backstory and experience his emotional arc as well as Gina's. My day job is particularly busy these days, so the writing is going very slowly, but I'm taking my time
and enjoying the writing.
~ Linda Budzinski, "The Art of Making Doughnuts"


I have published 6 books, and this is the book that has excited me from the get go. I’ve been playing with taglines to encapsulate the story, working title, Le Petit Paris Kitchen Cookery School. Let me share what I have so far…

“Drama, romance, and passion are layered, flavoured, tasted, left to simmer, not unlike the traditional French recipes scattered throughout the book.”

“Food, love, passion for Paris, combined with characters layered with shades of darkness combined with a good measure of charisma.”

“More than cooking goes on in this kitchen.”

“Absolutely delicious … like a warm hug.”

“If you love reading about food, Paris, love, feisty characters, this is a book you will relish.”

~ Denise Covey, "Marmalade Sunset"


My last book release was 2013 – How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now, based on my experience as a publisher and the book publishing and promoting seminars I teach. (And I’ve since updated it, too.) However, my next book project has been in the making since 2015 since I have been so busy with Dancing Lemur Press book releases. Those come first, so time to work on my own stuff has been scarce.

After the release of Alex J. Cavanaugh’s book, CassaDark, I’ve had some time to revisit my project and work on it. I’m happy to say the novelettes that comprise In Darkness are coming together. The Vampire is with our editor. The Werewolf is next. I am on the second draft of The Shark. Then I will finish and polish The Alien. And who knows? Maybe I can solve the saggy middle issue and The Ghost will become a reality, too. Either way, it is such a joy to be writing again!
~ L. Diane Wolfe, owner of Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.


I hope you enjoyed this sampling of what's up and coming. May you be inspired to read and write to your heart's desire this summer!

Monday, June 13, 2022

Writing Contests - Worth the Effort

Have you ever entered a writing contest? How did you do? If not, why not?

Writing contests can be a great source of inspiration, feedback, and creative exercise. Here, the authors of the First Love IWSG Anthology expound on the pros and cons (mostly pros) of entering a writing contest.



From Kim Elliot...
I’ve entered a few brand-sponsored contests on Wattpad.com. I was thrilled to win Hilroy’s #startwriting contest and Tim Hortons’ #timscoldbrewstories contest. Each of those earned me a nice cash prize which I’m using to finance my novels. Contests are a great way to spark creativity and compare your style to other writers. I plan to enter many more!



From Linda Budzinski...
For me, contests provide a great source of inspiration. I love having a prompt, a specified word count, and a deadline. A blank page can be daunting, but the parameters inherent in contests make the creative process more manageable. "The End" is in sight before you've even set pen to paper! And while the result--potentially winning and/or having my story published for others to read--is exciting, I try to allow the joy of writing and creating to be an end in itself.



From Denise Covey...
I don't enter writing contests as a rule. The IWSG Anthology was different as I'd wanted to see a romance genre contest ever since it started. So when the romance contest was announced, I felt duty bound to write a story seeing I'm a romance author. It was great to win a place and I'm really excited to see the Anthology published. 

From S.E. White...
I enter writing contests because apparently I really enjoy pain. Sorry, bit of sarcasm sneaking in. Really, I enter writing contests for the honest editorial feedback from unbiased readers (i.e. not my friends and obligated to sugarcoat anything). I firmly believe that editors and beta readers are my best friends, catching my plot holes, boring moments, and downright embarrassing mistakes. Sometimes I don't have a trusty, brutally honest beta reader to turn to. Editors can get quite pricy, and occasionally they aren't in my budget. But a writing contest is usually pretty cost-effective (ranging from free to 20 or 30 dollars to enter) and gives me at least three different judges feedback. Well worth the occasional sting, in my recommendation.


From Michael DiGesu...
I enter writing contests mainly to sharpen my skills and to hopefully have a strong enough entry to be published. This was the first time one of my stories has been chosen, and I am thrilled. Contests force you to write, polish, and submit. They are a wonderful way to have your stories read by professionals, and that can lead to bigger and better things. I generally submit to at least five contests a year. Several have been through Writer’s Digest and others through mainstream magazines like the New Yorker or GQ. My advice on them is to be select. Submitting to smaller publications or through writing blogs may be best to way to start. Contests like the ones through Writer’s Digest can get costly and they are extremely competitive. 

None of my stories have ever made it into even the top 50. They must get thousands of entries and they take months to read through them all, and once they finally do select the winners, it can be a huge let down. Anthologies are also a great way to submit because several stories are chosen and you have a much better chance. Contests are good training for querying your works to publishers and agents. Most of us know how tedious this can be, but if you are selected, it makes it worth your time and effort.


From L. Diane Wolfe, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. ...
The best advice for entering writing contests: be sure to follow the guidelines. Submit the correct genre and proper word count. If there is a theme, adhere to it. Send exactly what the contest requests and be sure to include all of your contact information. Failing to follow the guidelines just means your story will be rejected. After all that hard work, you don’t want to blow your chances.
http://dancinglemurpress.com


From Katie Klein...
I think contests are a great way to gain exposure and build credibility. Anyone can host a contest, though, so my advice to writers would be to make sure to do your homework. A little research will go a long way in determining if the contest is reputable and the winners deserving. Also, entry fees can be high, so be sure to prioritize.  


From Sylvia Ney...
I only rarely enter writing contests. I refuse to pay for entry into a contest so I only enter free ones - either because I support those putting the contest together, I support what they are trying to accomplish, or they are offering FREE feedback by credible sources. I really value IWSG so I have submitted to a couple of their anthology contests. This is the second time I've had a story chosen for the group anthology. I also have a piece called "WIN" in the first anthology: Parallels. I have also had work chosen for publication in multiple other contests including; "Forgotten Memories" which appears in It's in the Gulf - a disaster relief fundraiser, "Homegrown Love" which appears in The Searcher: Spring 2014 - a publication that focuses on raising awareness of the importance of genealogoy, history, and libraries, and "An Interview of Tim O'Brien" which appears in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors Volume 2 which is an annual anthology contest put on by Southeast Missouri State University Press and the Warriors Arts Alliance.


I've entered my share of contests and had some published, some not. Whether you're in a slump, need to take a break from your WIP, or just in the mood to try something new -- Look for a writing contest! You can always give the prompt a go and whip up a short story, then decide later if you want to submit it or not. The writing is the important part. The more you write, the better you get!

Happy Writing!

Monday, April 11, 2022

Help! I need somebody!

Not just anybody...

Writers shouldn't work alone. The IWSG Anthology #7 Authors share their thoughts on how they don't suffer through the process alone.


Writing is a collaborative process. Few of us do it alone. A bit like it takes a village to raise a child, often it takes a team to write a book. Sure, the author comes up with the premise, the beats, the first draft, but depending on the author's process, then the collaboration begins. Some authors may call for help/input earlier, but I usually discuss my story idea with my critique partners, then don't show them any more until I'm happy with my draft. Then the fun begins. We meet face to face, sometimes we Skype, and often I just share chapters via email (especially those all-important opening chapters) to gauge reactions. Yes, I use beta readers and editors, but my critique partners are the most crucial element for me in writing a book.
-- Denise Covey, "Marmalade Sunset"


A handful of trusted author friends serve as my critique partners. We exchange manuscripts with each other and provide the first layer of critique. I also have a group I call on for beta reading, which is the next step in the process. This group is a mixture of authors, avid readers, and members of my street team. They have the advantage of reading my books for free in exchange for giving me their opinions about the story and--though it's not a requirement--hopefully leaving a review. 

After that, the book goes to my mom. She has her own editing business, and I hire her to do a proofread. I freelance as an editor, but I still get a professional copy edit. It's impossible for authors to edit their own work. Our eyes gloss right over the mistakes, because we know what the story is supposed to say. The final layer after those corrections are made is having the book files formatted (Kindle, Nook, Paperback). Once that's done, I read through them on their respective devices, to make sure the formatting looks as it should and to make one last pass to catch any missed errors. (I'm sick of my book by now. LOL) Lastly, the files get uploaded to the retailers, and I click publish. -- Melissa Maygrove, "My Heart Approves"



While I have been a member of some great critique groups in the past, I have not had that pleasure for quite some time. However, I recently returned to school to work on a Master's degree. A few fellow classmates as well as my professors have been providing some great feedback and inspiration. I highly recommend all writers attempt to connect with at least a few others that you can share and learn alongside. Writing can be such a solitary and frustrating experience. The craft can be much more enjoyable if you have someone to share your pains, losses, and accomplishments with you. -- Sylvia Ney, "Paper Faces"


After I finish a draft of a story, I print it up, then take it to the woods. There I perform an arcane ritual involving burning sage, twenty-two candles and a half-dead goat to summon Kilogard, the Proof-Reading Demon. It’s complicated, dangerous and every time I do it, it costs me one year of my life. But it’s still easier than getting my friends and relatives to give me feedback. -- Templeton Moss, "My First Love(s)"



A friend from college and a former coworker read my work and offer suggestions. The two of them have very different literary tastes, and their input gives me a lot to think about! My writing has improved so much thanks to them. After several rounds of edits based on their feedback, my mom proofreads my final draft. Sometimes my husband agrees to look over my manuscript, but romance isn’t really his genre. His contribution is keeping the kids out of my hair. -- Kim Elliott, "Clyde and Coalesce"


I had to redo the whole thing, but I think we have it fixed!

I hope these bits of wit and wisdom were helpful and/or entertaining!

Keep writing.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Feeling Lucky?

Where do writers get their inspiration?


That's what we asked our IWSG #7 FIRST LOVE authors this month, and here's what they said...

"I find inspiration and ideas in so many places: while dreaming, exercising, reading a great book, watching a good movie, listening to music, traveling – anything that gets me away from work and relaxed. I try to read and write every day. I read a variety of fiction genres, books on the craft, and blogs of other authors. I have a variety of interests and hobbies. I love learning about the history of other cultures, and studying people. There is so much inspiration in the world. The human race is an astounding species and we've been capable of some of the most amazing and horrific acts. Those universal traits can inspire so many tales - both fiction and nonfiction." -- Sylvia Ney, Paper Faces


"Inspiration for stories can come from anywhere. All it takes is something to make me imagine a scene, and my writer's brain runs with it. If I feel it's worthy enough to turn into a book, I jot the idea in a folder of story ideas and save it.

The inspiration for my debut novel, Come Back, came from a nonfiction book I was reading with my daughter. It was about a teen girl traveling on the Oregon Trail. It mentioned the many possessions -even furniture- that westward travelers threw out along the side of the trail to lighten the weight of the wagons. I thought, "Hm... If I can find a way to get the heroine left behind, she could use that stuff to survive until the hero found her." I felt so clever, until I remembered I had to come up with the rest of the plot." -- Melissa Maygrove, My Heart Approves


"Once a year, I mount an expedition to the Caves of Samalando, wherein is located the Lake of Krambastallah, home to the Great Spirit Fish, Ted. I speak to Ted the ancient, sacred words (“Murfreesboro, Tennessee”) and in return, he gifts me with a Stone of Inspiration, providing me with all the creative ideas I need for the next twelve months. It’s a dangerous and complex process, but the upside is I can claim the whole thing as a business expense and write it off my taxes. Ted is a dependent." -- Templeton Moss, My First Love(s)


"I’m inspired by books, movies, TV, real life…pretty much everything. Usually it starts with finding a character or scene that I can’t get out of my mind. If I’m still thinking about it days later, I start asking “What if?” What if that character were evil instead of good? What if the story happened in a different time period? Before long, I’ve gone down so many rabbit holes that I’m left with something brand new and exciting!" -- Kim Elliot, Clyde and Coalesce


"Old Europe has always been my favorite destination and became the inspiration for my stories, from flash fiction to full-length novels. From my six months of living in France, and countless visits to Paris, I have so many story ideas filling my head and my notebooks. I've published my first Paris novel, a womens' fiction/romance, Paris Dreams, which combines my love of fashion and art. I am working on the next which highlights traditional French cooking. My vampire romance series is set in Renaissance Italy, which combines my love of history with my deep love for Italy. Writing stories inspired by my travels means I can vicariously visit any time I wish." -- Denise Covey, Marmalade Sunset


"I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve come to believe that writers co-create with the universe—that it offers us bits and pieces of information/inspiration because it wants us to do something with them. It’s happened when listening to music, while watching movies, when a character’s name fell right into my lap…. It’s never just 'thinking' about something; it always feels like more, somehow. So I take these bits and pieces and ruminate on them, adding and subtracting in the best interest of the story, and draw on whatever additional insights the universe is willing to toss my way with gratitude as I work toward 'The End.'" -- Katie Klein, How to Save a Princess




Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. Writers have a special ability to find a story from the smallest whisper to the most powerful bang, from past reality to future fantasy. Let your imagination run wild!

Monday, February 14, 2022

Love is in the air...

Happy Cupid Day!

Time to spread some love... a few of the authors of FIRST LOVE, IWSG Anthology #7 would like to share some lovely thoughts about how they and/or their characters romanticize Valentine's Day!

Delicate Delights from Sylvia Ney
In 1912 Louisiana at the turn of the 20th century, postcards became a popular way of sending Valentine greetings. So, it's very likely they would have sent their loved ones something like what you see here. They also traded flowers, fat red hearts full of chocolates, heart-shaped cookies and cakes, stick candy, and even nuts. As socialites, the main characters in PAPER FACES, James and Helen would be extremely busy on Valentine's Day. They would have held a themed party that included dinners with favors, sweet treats as mentioned above, plus the exchange of those cards. However, they would also have found some private time to celebrate just the two of them.

Love at Third Sight by Templeton Moss
For me, Valentine’s Day is Jack Benny Day because one of my all-time favorite comedians was born on February 14th, 1894. And here is a favorite true life love story concerning this star of stage, screen, radio and television:

    It all started in 1921 when Zeppo Marx invited fellow vaudevillian Jack Benny to a Passover seder for his for fourteen-year-old cousin Sadie. The young girl desperately tried to appear grownup and kept fawning over Jack, who was twice her age and found her attentions embarrassing. 
    Five years later, they were set up on a blind date. Sadie was about the most beautiful girl Jack had ever seen, and he didn’t make the connection to the annoying young seder. Sadie remembered Jack and treated him coolly. When Jack found out where she worked, he went to see her every single day. But she told him he had to buy something if he wanted to hang around, so he bought stockings from her each and every day, helping her set all-time sales records for her department. Finally, they were married, and Sadie asked her new husband if he remembered attending a seder with Zeppo Marx.
    “I’ll never forget it,” said Jack. “There was some silly little girl…all dressed up in her sister’s clothes.”
    “That silly little girl is your wife, Jack.”

Timeless Romance by Melissa Maygrove
Mr. John Harding is the hero of MY HEART APPROVES. He would do the same as any wealthy man in 1865 and order an exquisite Valentine's Day card from The New England Valentine Company run by Esther Howland. Mr. Harding would spare no expense choosing a card with lines of verse as well as ribbons, hidden doors, and layers of gilded lace. It would cost an entire dollar, but John wouldn't care. He would happily purchase it and present it to his beloved Adelaide on a moonlit terrace at Lindmoor, his Portland estate.

Sweets & Snuggles with Kim Elliot
My husband knows me better than anyone, which is why I suspect he’ll give me a dozen assorted Krispy Kreme doughnuts for Valentine’s Day. For his gift, I usually bake a batch of his favorite shortbread cookies cut into heart shapes with strawberry jam centers. Our gifts may sound like a lot of sugar, but we have to share with the kids too. After putting the little ones to bed, we’ll order from our favorite sushi place, cuddle on the couch, and watch Star Trek: DS9. I love being married to a fellow nerd!

Love Every Day from Denise Covey
When you're in a loving relationship, Valentine's Day is every day, not just one day of the year. My characters have never celebrated Valentine's Day, perhaps because I don't, but at WEP (Write...Edit...Publish), an online writing community I co-run, we always offer a prompt in February which can be an ode to Valentine's Day... or not, depending on the writer's attitude to romance.

We hope you enjoy your Valentine's Day
Be with those you love and show them love every day!

via GIPHY

Monday, January 10, 2022

Sweet Sensations!

We have a New IWSG Anthology!
Can't believe we are on lucky number SEVEN. And there was a record number of entries this year. Fantastic! It's exciting to see so many writers keeping their creativity flowing and in the fray.

So CONGRATULATIONS to the New IWSG Anthology Authors in FIRST LOVE, The Art of Making Doughnuts...  A fun, fitting title for this year's Sweet Romance and First Love Theme.


The Art of Making Doughnuts - Linda Budzinski
Paper Faces - Sylvia Ney
The Real Thing - Sammi Spizziri
My Heart Approves - Melissa Maygrove
Oliver’s Girl - Michael Di Gesu
Clyde and Coalesce - Kim Elliot
My First Love(s) - Templeton Moss
How to Save a Princess - Katie Klein
The Castle of Ohno - SE White
Marmalade Sunset - Denise Covey

Looks scrumptuous! Can't wait to sink my teeth into some Sweet Stories.

Stay tuned to meet the authors and hear more about their tempting first love tales.