Friday, December 20, 2019

A SPECIAL HOLIDAY WISH FOR EVERYONE


I can hardly contain my excitement regarding the upcoming holidays! If you're like me, you get a kick out of gift-giving, dinner with family, and good times with friends.

After each celebration, the memory lingers until the following get together. But, I know for many, this time of year can bring sadness, especially for those who've lost a loved one, or for those who're going through heartache watching someone dear suffer from an illness.

This season, my wish for each of you is peace in your spirit. We should all keep close to our hearts, the true meaning of the season, and to cherish precious moments with those we love.

Until next year, I wish each of you a wonderful Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

FEELING THANKFUL THIS THANKSGIVING


Perhaps fall is one of my favorite seasons, because it kicks off thoughts of family, fun, and having an overall sense of gratitude.

I’m reminded often that, I should live in the moment, savoring the sweetness of my days no matter how simplistic, since there are people who'd give anything to walk in a park unassisted, enjoy a hot meal regularly, or delight in the fact a friend stopped by to chat about nothing of relevance.

This season, between the servings of turkey and dressing, the apple pie and the cobbler, I want to admonish everyone to have a bigger heart and smile into the eyes of a stranger when you're out and about, help pay it forward in some manner! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: DENISE WHEATLEY


You don’t have to spot author Denise Wheatley walking down the street or dining out to get wind of her insatiable and infectiously upbeat spirit. That comes through simply viewing her social media sites. Her persona leaps off the page, and if that doesn’t get you, her deep dimples will!

But, make no mistake, author Wheatley is more than a pretty face. She’s published several books and novellas with Simon & Schuster, Red Sage Publishing, and eXtasy Books/Devine Destinies, and has also written screenplays and ghostwritten for several publishers.

I had the opportunity to read her most recent book, Wards of the Women, which I describe as, “roll on the floor with laughter” good! Wheatley masterfully weaves in sistah-girl humor so thick, you feel you know these endearing ladies personally. I highly recommend this book!

Wheatley, born and raised in Chicago, has plenty to write about based on her surroundings there as well as Los Angeles, her favorite city which she frequents often. Writing at a very young age, her literary talents have garnered celebrity acquaintances and opportunities with some of the entertainment industry's elite.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to interview the author and hip-hop music lover.

What are your biggest challenges as an author?

As an author, my biggest challenge is oftentimes the editing process. I love creating stories, building worlds, and bringing plotlines together, etc. But once the book is written and it’s time to read it, then reread it, then reread it again, I find myself becoming burned out. And I tend to be a perfectionist, so combing through each page in search of errors can be quite daunting. Remaining motivated while writing a book can also be challenging. Once I’ve penned my outline, I’m excited to begin introducing the characters and setting up the plot. But when I reach the middle of the manuscript, and it’s time to execute the plot and subplots then tie the storylines together, that process can be overwhelming/draining. 

Where do you draw inspiration for your stories and characters?

When it comes to my writing, I am oftentimes inspired by everyday sightings, stories I’ve heard from family and friends, and various things I have personally experienced. I also adore the city of Los Angeles and all things Hollywood, so several of my books are inspired by that. My novel THE ROAD TO BLISS is about a small town woman who falls in love with a movie star. THE HOLIDAY CHRONICLES series follows an A-list publicist and her fiery, complicated relationship with a bad boy celebrity client. The influence of LA is apparent throughout all of those stories.

Do you find it easier to be part of the traditional publishing house or is it simpler to be an indie author?

At this point in my career, I find it easier to be a part of the traditional publishing houses. I’ve self-published in the past, and there’s definitely an advantage to having full control over every aspect of your projects. But there is a lot of work and responsibility that goes into indie publishing, so having a publisher that can take on the bulk of that work is advantageous.  I’m lucky in that I’ve worked with editors and graphic designers who have taken my thoughts, ideas, and opinions into consideration during the production process. So bringing my books to life has been a collaborative team effort.

What advice would you give fledgling writers on rejection?

My best advice is to always remember that creativity is subjective. We cannot expect everyone to love our work, and throughout this literary journey, we’ll probably receive more “no’s” than “yes’s.” However, that should never be a deterrent. We write because we love to do so, and it’s our passion.  Focusing on the enjoyment of the process, improving our craft, and creating good work should always be in the forefront, as well as never giving up. If we stick with our goals and remain consistent, the positive results will come.

For book purchases and staying connected to this author, check out the following links:

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

EXCERPT FROM: NEVER TOO LATE


“Honestly, David.  You’re really going to make me do this?” I asked my husband of three years.  He sat two feet across from me on the bed as he flipped his hand toward his face. “Come on. Hand it over.”
            Negro tried to appear serious, but he grinned broader than a crooked car salesman. I lifted an eyebrow at him. He enjoyed this way too much, eyes practically danced with anticipation over my enlarged breasts and swollen belly.
            I play-pouted, removed my shirt, and flung it onto his head. “How do I know you’re telling the truth, huh?”
            “Because, babe, Shmetcher is not a real word.” He sniffed my shirt before tossing it with my footies which became wedged against his backside. Evidence of another word I’d lost. Funny. Every game David chose ended in strip something. Strip Monopoly; strip Pictionary, strip Name-That-Tune. And usually I lost.
            “Bren, you should know better, being a writer.” He eyed me as though he’d won a large sum of money.
            “I never claimed to be a pro speller or writer. I don’t want to play this game anymore. Cheater,” I teased, giving a coy smile.
            He chuckled, ogling my boobs darn-near busting out of my ill-fitted bra.
            “You’re the one cheating,” he said. “Speaking of which, did you call Shana? I know you did after you promised you wouldn’t. Admit it.”
            Can’t do it. I can’t look at him.
            I lifted my eyes to meet his sparkly brown ones, but my chin dipped, which was a straight up giveaway. David pushed the board game aside. We’d played it for close to an hour while sitting in our candle-lit room, nestled in our unmade bed. The smell of strawberries had long departed, and traces of cracker crumbs and cheese shavings rested on a tray by the corner of the nightstand.
            “What happened?” he asked.
            I held my palms in the air. “She got upset when I asked why she didn’t come to the baby shower. She said I didn’t have a right to disrupt her day with foolishness.”
            “See, babe. I told you. I knew she’d have a lame excuse. Stop setting yourself up.”
            “You’re right. Shana claimed some phony illness I never heard of.”
            “What?” David leaned back and brushed his big toe across my stomach.
            I arched my upper lip and smacked his ankle. My mood switched that quick. Not because of David’s hobbit foot, but the mention of my stepmother, Shana. I heaved a sigh so tough my chest nearly deflated. It had been a year since my dad’s death and instead of my relationship with Shana growing chummier, our distance intensified. “She said she gets a dizzy condition whenever she has arthritis in her hand and a sore hip at the same time.” I rubbed my stomach.
            David repositioned himself, his weight now on one elbow, and his face close to my thighs. “You have got to be kidding? The woman is never going to change. You do know this. Cut your ties now, before our son is born.”
            “Son, huh?”
            “Son.”
            “You’re one to talk. You allow your babies’ mama—”
            I couldn’t finish my ugly remark before his hand flew up in protest. Any statement that started with baby followed by mama guaranteed mild irritation from David.
            “First of all, you equate what I do for my kids as watching out for Julie.”
            “But, Shana is my mother.”
            “Stepmother.”
            “She’s my mother,” I emphasized. “After all, she raised me. That’s why I continue to try.”
            “She raised you, all right.” His tone slammed my position. “People treat their dogs better than she treats you.”
            He’d uncorked my fractured youth, the part that wanted Shana to look at me and smile because she thought I was pretty and smart and good.  
            As grown as I was, thirty-six and close to being in the “old mamas” club, my heart longed for the warmth of her touch, to be seen by her, and to have her stroke my back.
            I wanted what my younger sister, Sherrie, got. But, of course, I didn’t come from Shana’s womb.
            I’m gonna be different with my baby. I’ll give every ounce of love I have.
            My eyes glazed over by the time my thoughts returned to David. He leaned in and kissed my knee, then my thigh, and my belly. He traced it with his fingertips to the point it tickled, although I didn’t flinch. My baby—our baby—moved. I stared down at David. He tilted his head up at me and gave a side grin. It was genuine and full of promise for our future.
            I had everything I needed.
           


Never Too Late will be available October 23rd, on Amazon!


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: KRISTINA LUCKEY







Detailed to a fault, screenwriter turned author, Kristina Luckey, was an animation writer and story editor on a number of popular series such as The Pink Panther, Pup Scooby Doo, and The Smurfs. Look her up in Wikipedia and her name surfaces among a few elite writers for Disney, Hanna-Barbara, MGM and more.

Author Luckey, a Californian through and through, managed to switch hats effortlessly, delving full force into contemporary romance with her debut novel, Pleasure Cove.
This self-proclaimed foodie who has tangled with well-known and obscure eateries from a laid-back Jungle Cry drink to Japanese cuisine, (kimchi, buta shumai toko-ten, tempura, pistachio puree) has applied that same delicious, mouth-watering flair to her writing.
Steamy scenes practically drip off the pages of her multi-layered and well-plotted stories. They would easily make Papa Smurf shift from blue to bright red. There’s no doubt, Luckey’s characters, most of whom are world-traveled and often indulge in the finer aspects of life, are for the adult, savvy reader.
Pleasure Cove centers on Keely Mack, a past professional surfer and her former, yet painful, romance with Brett Garrett. Together, these two ride a tumultuous wave, gliding in and out of old wounds, leaving readers on an emotional edge as to the turnout for the heroine and hero.

I was able to draw a bit more from author Luckey in this eye-opening interview:

How did the story for Pleasure Cove come about?

All my life I’ve spent a lot of time on the coast either in, on, or above the water and love anything to do with the ocean. My family and I go to the Vans US Open of Surfing every summer in Huntington Beach. I was mulling a trope in my head and watching the pros surfing when I started asking myself questions about this lifestyle. There is a real athleticism, beauty, and strength to both the rider and the environment that led to Pleasure Cove. The idea grew like a small swell that turns into a large wave I had to ride. Instead of grabbing a surfboard, I grabbed my keyboard and turned the idea into a second-chance romance. I didn’t want the hero to be the surfer and my heroine some surf bunny. I needed her to be as strong as the hero. Keely, a professional surfer, was born and she’d need a conflict to conquer. I thought about loss fear and what it takes to overcome them, then I decided Keely would be a young widow who lost her husband in a surfing accident. Now, what she once loved is the source of her pain and she’ll leave that world to raise her daughter. Brett, her first love, who blew it the first go around seeks another chance at being her hero. He knows he can’t approach her directly and sets up a surf team to woo her back onto the water and him. I had my story.


What process did you apply to create memorable characters?

I always start with setting and careers for my hero and heroine. Once I have that, I focus on my heroine, who will always be strong, smart, and independent. With a strong heroine, you need an equally strong hero to create the conflict and friction needed for a great romance. Good conflict comes from within the characters. Each will need something personal to overcome and a goal they must complete. Usually, these goals are opposing and add to the conflict between the hero and heroine. In Pleasure Cove, Keely’s internal struggle is about being true to herself and weighing the risk involved in surfing and being safe and present for her daughter. Brett must overcome his playboy past and prove he’s a changed man who can be trusted by Keely. Then I add the layers to my hero and heroine. I ask myself questions like what is their background? Ethnicity? Education? Social status? Finances? What do they look like? Do they have a quirk? And on and on…once I have all the ingredients, I drop the characters into the setting and career I started with and let the sparks fly.

What are some of the pitfalls in this industry?

I think there are different issues depending on the route to publishing you take. Traditional publishing requires the writer to seek an agent or query smaller publishing houses. The pitfalls start with querying. Agents and publishers are receiving thousands of queries a week. The writer is lucky if they get a response. Many agents and publishers will state on their submission forms that a time period without a response is a no. Those times vary from 2 weeks to 3 months. If you get a response, then there is the waiting time for them to read your partial or full. That read can take 3 to 6 months before you’re either accepted, rejected or asked to rewrite and resubmit, and at this point, the writer is nine months into the query process.

Time is the big pitfall. If the writer has all the time in the world then this is the route for them. I’ve found that the traditional publishing world likes to ask for certain tropes and genres. Say paranormal is selling big or chick lit. If the writer bends themselves to these requests before they’re done with a manuscript or the querying process the fad may be dead and publishers are now looking for something else.

A pitfall of Indie publishing is that it requires the writer to be a businessperson. The indie writer does everything a publisher would do for the traditionally published writer.

The indie writer must provide their own funds to produce the book. If the indie wants success then they must have professional looking covers, formatting, and editing. That costs money. The indie needs to master marketing, which means understanding how to advertise, which also means money out of the writer’s wallet. The indie takes all the risk on themselves but when successful, the writer keeps more income produced by the book than they would have if they were traditionally published. Another pitfall is that many readers have been trained by indie writers to expect books for 99 cents or less. So, a writer’s ninety thousand word work of art is now worth less than a latte that will be drunk in ten minutes. This is a writer’s livelihood, not a hobby, and writers should value themselves, their work, and charge a fair price.

What advice do you have for fledgling writers?

After you’ve discovered what genre stokes your fire, find writers who have a similar style to you. Study their structure, description, voice and then use that as a jumping off point to create your world. Be open to criticism. Learn story structure and the rules of your genre and then know when and how to break those rules. Read, read, read. Also, if you’re seeing dollar signs and someone else’s success as motivation to become a writer, then it is a disservice to the readers. I like to remind myself that the next big thing isn’t being written by those emulating the last bestseller, it’s being written by a writer who is creating their own world.

To contact this author and/or purchase her book, check out these websites:

Other sites include: IMDb