I Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way

“Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” 
Gena Showalter

Perseverance. It’s an interesting word, don’t you think?

As writers we have few qualms about putting our characters in situations that require a great deal of it.  They need that dogged determination to overcome those black moments and obstacles that make a story compelling. Through dialogue and narrative readers get to share the journey, explore the resilience of our characters and do it all from the comfort of a favorite chair.

By and large, we writer’s tend to throw a lot at our characters.  We try to keep the tension and action tight-rope worthy and the stakes high from page one until the very end.  Why?  We want a good story. 🙂  It is a challenge to keep the plot, the characters and all the sub-text spinning in the world we create.  It is gratifying when we write the final chapter and know we have done our best to tie up all loose ends with our characters and our readers get to exit the story with the promise of a HEA.

But, let’s not forget the most important part of this.  Without a writer’s perseverance, that single-minded resolve that keeps us sitting at our computer day after day, none of this would happen.  What isn’t evident to most non-writers is the hours spent at a computer, the time carved out of our busy day with surgical precision to spend writing.

Being a writer is a demanding occupation, its damned hard work even on a good day. We give up family time, social/fun activities and, in many cases, sleep while we do our best to make a story come alive. We deal with the frustration of words that fail to adequately evoke the emotions we are doing our best to describe, the dreaded writers block that attacks out of nowhere, and story lines that fizzle for no apparent reason.

How many times have you wanted to throw up your hands and quit when confronted with yet another rewrite?  When you have written yourself into a corner and now have to figure out the best way to get back on track?  Me?  Countless times.  There have been instances where I will spend weeks avoiding my computer, convinced I will never write another word, but it is a losing battle – I always end up back in my chair and picking up where I left off.  It is a compulsion, a creative outlet and an absolutely exhilarating roller coaster ride with all the highs and lows.

I love it and sometimes hate it with equal passion, but I persevere.  It’s what I do.  I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

 

Laurel Newberry’s Confessions of a Word Addict

I think my love affair with words began with the first story my mother read to me. Okay, maybe not quite that far back, but she is responsible for planting the seed. No matter how many times I heard the same story the words were always magical. Friday or Saturday nights were for snuggling in together with a chapter book. She would read a chapter or two, pausing to make sure I understood big or strange words. With an actor’s skill she wove magic, gave the characters voices and expressions and emotion, all the nuances that were embedded in rich vocabulary.

What is the point of my trip down memory lane? Bear with me I’m going to rant just a bit.

Why would any modern day author be required to simplify language before a book will be published? I understand that we live in an age that is geared toward keeping things more streamlined. Our society values the quick and easy. I’m busy, you’re busy, things are hectic and there are never enough hours in the day. Okay for a lot of things but I don’t agree that it applies in this instance.

Whether reading books or writing them, every individual brings something to the experience; a yearning for adventure or an inclination to solve a mystery. For others it is a longing for great romance, complete with the requisite: Happily Ever After. Think about what makes one book an easy beach read you set down and pick up over the course of a few days, and the next book one you stay up into the wee hours of the night to finish. What takes a generic boy meets girl story from syrupy drama to epic romance? It is all in finding the right combination of characters, plot, drama, and words. Yes, words. Big and small, inventive and enticing, it is the diversity of words that enrich the story.

With the emergence of eReaders I don’t see a compelling reason for authors to be asked to simplify vocabulary. It only takes a moment to tap on an unfamiliar word and learn it’s meaning through the embedded dictionary/thesaurus. Why miss an opportunity to elevate the experience, to refine the meaning and emotion?

What do you think? Am I alone in my quest or does it matter to other readers?

As for me, I intend to keep reading, and writing, with my dictionary and thesaurus at the ready.

Seriously, there’s an app for that 🙂

Ready…Set…Go!

 

“There’s a book in you that only you can write.” 
Chris Baty

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal is to start November 1 and write 50,000 words before the end of the month.  Basically, a whole novel. Yikes!  That is a lot of words in a very short period of time.

My friend and critique partner has been telling me about this month long event for years and encouraging me to give it a try.  Nope.  I have always resisted.  I didn’t want the pressure, didn’t want to write words just for the sake of writing words and couldn’t imagine how this would help me.  Besides, I have this teensy, weensy little personality quirk that makes me rebel whenever I am being told I have to do something.  The thought of NaNo always threw that personality quirk into a frenzy .

I don’t know what changed for me this time.  I would like to think I matured (Ha!), but it would be closer to the truth to say I just stuffed that pesky personality quirk into a box and taped it shut. It was annoying anyway.  Or, maybe I just rebelled against my inner rebellion – who knows. 🙂   Either way, I signed up this year.  I need to do NaNo.

I have been lazy these past months.  I thought about writing, even had scenes mapped out in my head, but I didn’t sit down and transfer them to a page.  I spent too much time flopped on my couch channel surfing for mindless entertainment.  It was like having a bag of potato chips and trying to eat just one, you know?  I got in the habit and couldn’t seem to break it.  The worst part – I got bored very quickly. The horrifying part – when I did sit down to my computer the words were elusive and everything I wrote seemed pedantic and trite. It was discouraging.

Maybe the idea behind NaNo is not so crazy after all.  Giving myself permission to turn off my inner editor and write whatever comes into my head might be just what I need.  I have to do something to break through and get the words flowing again and the brass ring of 50,000 words by the end of the month is a great stretch goal.

The novel I have in mind is going to be more in the range of 80,000 when completed.  I have a lot of story to tell, but the idea of meeting the NaNo goal does have a certain appeal.  It is a huge chunk of my story and makes the original goal (yes, I do occasionally set them for myself) of finishing the first draft by December 31 more attainable.

So, I am lacing up my running shoes and standing ready for November 1st and the start of the race.  I expect some bumps in the road and words that refuse to cooperate, but I am also hoping the path will get easier as I get those writing muscles back in shape.  Besides, remember my friend?  I am sure she is going to be nudging me along and refuse to let me quit.  Thank goodness.

If you are interested in being a NaNo buddy my handle is KylieW.  Look me up.  We can race together.

 

 

 

The Adventure Begins

You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

~ Christopher Columbus

 

imagesI like the above quote.  It reminds me that taking a leap of faith is not without risk, but the reward can be incredible. Today is Columbus Day and history would certainly be different if ole’ Chris C. hadn’t decided to leave that familiar shore.  I am sure he was more focused on the journey ahead than his place in our history books, but his willingness to risk it all, his desire to push the limits, compelled him to do something extraordinary.

We all have that potential within us.  That passion to take what we imagine and make it a reality. We see it every time someone stops talking about the novel they plan to write and actually sits down to do it.  It takes courage to put yourself out there and jump into uncharted water.  Writing a novel is not for the timid and faint of heart!

As with  every journey you have to make corrections when you drift off course and I can’t count the number of times I have been surprised by what can happen.  Sometimes I love the new direction, but there are times when I have to retrace my steps to get where I need to go.  It can be discouraging or exhilarating, but none of it would have happened if I hadn’t allowed myself to lose sight of the shore and step away from my comfort zone.

So, for all of you beginning your writing journey, for those that continue to pursue their dreams and for those contemplating their next published work – congratulations!  Like Columbus you have the courage to pursue your dreams.  What wonderful adventures await you!

Meet Jessica and Nate from Armed with Steele by Kyra Jacobs

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing two delightful characters from ARMED WITH STEELE the new release by Kyra Jacobs.  Welcome!

 Jessica: Thanks so much for having us on today. I had to drag Nate into the studio kicking and screaming, but he finally saw the light.

Nate: More like she threatened me with no se–(Jessica elbows him in side hard)—oof!

Jessica: On with the interview!

Kylie:  I can see you two are going to be fun to interview. (smiles)  Why don’t we start out with you telling me a little about your story.

Jessica: ARMED WITH STEELE was supposed to be a story about me and my best friend, Grace. She was in a horrific car accident, and I felt so awful because…well, I won’t go into all that. Too hard to talk about. But I knew as soon as Nate described the accident scene that something was amiss.

Nate: Meaning, she didn’t think I did a thorough enough investigation.

Jessica: No, I just didn’t think you, uh, explored all the avenues. (Nate rolls his eyes) Anyway, I was all determined to figure out what happened, and then Kyra drops this gorgeous hunk of a cop into my life. Needless to say, the story took a hard turn at the intersection of Suspense Street and Romance Road.

Kylie:  I have to admit that Kyra certainly knew what she was doing when she introduced you to Nate – whew.

Nate: (broad smile on his face as he waggles his eyebrows) Thank you, Kyra…

Kylie:  (turning to Nate) Jessica did a lovely job of summing up her view of things, but now it is your turn for a question.  How would you describe Jessica?  Let’s see if you can do it in one sentence.

Nate: Stubborn.

Jessica: Hey, that’s not a sentence!

Nate: Okay, how’s this: Jessica is a twenty-five year-old beauty living in Fort Wayne, Indiana who possesses the snark of Stephanie Plum, the ingenuity of MacGyver, and the compassion of, um….

Jessica: You can stop now before you go and embarrass me any further. (she plants a quick kiss along his chiseled jaw line)

Kylie:   So, Jessica, what attracted you to Nate?

Jessica: Ooo, my turn. Hmm, that’d be his uncanny sense of timing.

Nate: It wasn’t my fault you were speeding in chapter one.

Jessica: And that time you just happened to be jogging by my house?

Nate: Hey, that visit nearly got my head cracked open with your softball bat!

Jessica: I rest my case.

Kylie:  Ahem…remember me?  You know, the one doing the interview?  Let’s get back on track here.  Did Kyra listen to music while she wrote?  If so, what songs were playing?

 Jessica: I don’t really remember Kyra ever playing music for us. Do you, Nate?

 Nate: Nope. Though, she did have Boston’s “Peace of Mind” listed in an early draft. It’s one of her favorite songs.

 Jessica: (giving Nate a flat look) And how do you know so much about what music Kyra likes?

Nate: Uh, next question, please? (Puts hand up to hide his face from Jessica and adds in a whisper) Did I mention Jessica’s also a bit on the jealous side?

Jessica: I heard that!

Kylie:  Moving right along…  What do you do when you are not writing?

Jessica: Most of my writing is just copy edits for what my clients ask to have put on their websites. Oh—that reminds me! Wait until you hear about Kyra’s next romantic suspense: FLIRTING WITH FIRE! It’s going to be awesome! And yours truly will get some page time as well!

Nate: Oh, come on, Jess—you know they’ll all watch for the second book because I’ll be in it, not you. Everyone loves a man in uniform.

Jessica: Actually, Nate, they’ll all watch for the next book because of a certain smokin’ hot fireman named Torrunn MacKay.

Nate: (scowling as he crosses his arms) Looks like I need to have a little talk with T after we’re done here. Set some boundaries.

Jessica: Now who’s the jealous one?

Kylie:  I’ll definitely be watching for the new book.  Torrunn MacKay, you say?  Sounds intriguing.   But, let’s not get too sidetracked, okay?  Jessica, do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?  Why?

Jessica: Oh, I’m definitely an introvert. Grace is the extrovert, as is Nate. I just lurk in the shadows. Oh wait, no, that’s Nate, too.

Nate: One time. I surprise you in the shadows one time

Jessica: (mumbling) …and it better be the last… (she clears her throat and flashes a brilliant smile at her host) Kylie, thank you so very much for having us on today. Truthfully, we get kind of tired being restricted to the pages of an e-book. It’s nice to get out and stretch from time to time, isn’t it babe?

Nate: That depends—do these “stretches” involve Torrunn MacKay?

Jessica: Okay, looks like I’d better get back to ARMED WITH STEELE before Officer Steele trumps up another imaginary traffic violation on me.

Nate: The light was red, Jess.

Jessica: Orange. Burnt sienna at most.

Nate: *sigh* See you around, Kylie. And do me a favor—don’t run any reds in my city, alright? I’ll be watching.

Kylie:  No red light running.  Got it.  Although, I have to admit the temptation is a little hard to resist.  🙂  Just kidding, Jess.  Seriously.  You can stop frowning at me.

 

armedwithsteel

Blurb:

What happens undercover, stays under covers.

Jessica Hartley is looking for answers surrounding the mysterious car accident that nearly claimed the life of her best friend. She’s willing to risk it all, even her fledgling business, to find the person responsible and bring them to justice.

Nate Steele is more than willing to help Jessica, but for reasons all his own. He’s been watching the infamous Maxwell Office Solutions for some time now, convinced there’s more going on than meets the eye. When his chief issues a cease and desist order yet again, Nate has no choice but to accept inexperienced Jessica as an undercover partner outside the letter of the law.

Will Jessica and Nate be able to flush out Maxwell’s elusive villain, or will their growing attraction for each other sabotage their undercover ploy? Motives aren’t always what they seem when Jessica finds herself armed with Steele.

CONTENT WARNING: Beware drool-worthy men in uniform, touchy-feely coworkers, and vindictive ex-girlfriends.

Kyra Jacobs on the web:

Website: http://bit.ly/AuthorKyraJacobs

Blog: http://indianawonderer.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://bit.ly/KyraJacobsFB

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KyraJacobsBooks

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/19r2j1Z

ARMED WITH STEELE links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/18J8IUG

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/16j0Z1U

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1d4FYK8

iTunes: http://bit.ly/17XrmHd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music to Write By

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination

and life to everything.”

~ Plato

I’ve been on the hunt for new music just lately.  I have hundreds of songs on my iPod and have listened to them so frequently it isn’t always necessary to have the iPod on to hear the tunes in my head. I think we have all experienced having a song run through our minds in a continual loop.  Hey, they don’t call them earworms for nothing 🙂

Just the other day I was sitting in another endless meeting and all of sudden I am hearing Adam Lambert belting out For your Entertainment.  I am sure you can appreciate the irony of that song as much as I did. Thank goodness I wasn’t doing any head banging to the music only I could hear.  I had to hide a smile by ducking my head because I was totally amused by the whole thing.  Yes, my sense of humor does lean towards the ridiculous.

Music is a constant companion when I write.  It helps me tap into emotions I am trying to express through the limitations of the written word.  Sometimes it is the haunting notes of classical music that accompanies a poignant scene between characters or the driving notes of rock-n-roll to pump up an action scene.  I have found some wonderful country artists whose romantic ballads have been touchstones for more intimate encounters in my books.

My tastes are wide ranging, but in every instance the music strikes a cord with me.  Quite by accident I found a cover by 30 Seconds To Mars of Rihanna’s Stay.  I liked her version, but was blown away by theirs.  Trust me when I say that song will definitely be on my playlist while I work on my latest WIP.

I am not sure what artists or songs will eventually make the list for this new book.  Quite possibly some of my old favorites will turn up, but I am ready to explore the unknown.  After all, this will be the new soundtrack for my latest story and a vital character in building this new world.

What are some of your favorite songs?

The Mystery of Attraction

“He drew me like gravity.”

~M. Leighton

Attraction doesn’t always make sense.  Why that slightly dorky guy standing in line to buy coffee will appeal instead of the hunk at the table is a mystery.  Have you ever gone shopping in a crowded mall and met the gaze of a complete stranger and felt a tug, an unexpected awareness that makes you take a second, longer look?  C’mon, admit it…you know you have.

Being a writer gives you the opportunity to explore the attraction between your characters and make sense out of the inexplicable – at least in your book.  From the first time they meet until the HEA we delve into their emotions, dance around their confusion and resistance to each other and help them understand why that sizzle of awareness exists.  We don’t leave it as a passing glance and mild curiosity.  Where would be the fun in that?

Most of us like to put complete opposites together.  The resulting fireworks can be fun. We take characters whose lives have been so completely different there is little common ground and root for them to find their way.

In Rayven’s Keep I took a naïve young woman and threw her in a situation so far outside her experience she didn’t know how to cope.  Add in a cynical, driven man, an instant attraction and throw them alone together onboard a ship traveling to the end of their star system.  Ahh, now it gets interesting.

They can’t hide from each other, can’t walk away or slam a door for privacy.  Petty grievances can fester, feelings can be hurt and underneath it all is that simmer of attraction making it impossible to ignore the ache of unfulfilled desire.

Below is an excerpt from my book.  Tru is struggling with the knowledge she is attracted to Nick.  I hope you enjoy 🙂

Excerpt from Rayven’t Keep:

Tru edged away from the callscreen. She hated being caught between two powerful, determined men. Even Callen and Seth watched intently, their stances showing they were alert to every nuance. It made the hair at the nape of her neck stand on end.

“I’m also sure you know my reputation and it means more to you than any official report, which can be easily manipulated. You also know I’m going to put a serious dent in your funds to protect Tru. I don’t work for free. Let me do my job, Creighton. I’m very good at it.”

Tru uttered a small, shocked protest before clamping her mouth shut. She glanced at Nick, but his attention was focused on her grandfather.

“It seems like we understand each other.” The smile dropped from his face to be replaced with something more genuine. “I assume you have a plan for protecting my granddaughter and flushing out the bastards at Lodestone?”

Tru didn’t stick around to hear the details, slipping unnoticed out of the room while all attention was on Nick. She resented being the topic of conversation without any consideration being given to her opinion. To think Nick thought of her as just another job to be done with a hefty payout at completion stung. The fact she’d intended to hire him herself didn’t matter and was beside the point.

What she was feeling wasn’t logical, but her emotions were in turmoil and logic was a distant memory. Confused and off balance, she sought a peaceful place to think and, if she were being honest with herself, to sulk. Muttering unladylike imprecations under her breath about Nick, and men in general, she went outside to get some fresh air.

Sundown set the sky on fire with streaks of deep purple and scarlet. The humidity had lessened along with the oppressive heat of earlier in the day. Night creatures stirred, their rustling in the shrubbery drawing her attention and making her nervous. She wasn’t familiar with the wildlife on Alludra and opted to remain close to the house. She wandered along the path she’d walked up earlier in the day surprised to realize it hadn’t been that long ago. So much had changed in such a short time and she acknowledged her rash decisions had put her here. She couldn’t blame Nick. He’d been direct and honest with her from the beginning.

Miserable, she clasped her arms around her waist and stared unseeing at the darkening landscape. She’d never met anyone quite like him before and the attraction she felt had been immediate. She didn’t know why her heart insisted on skipping a beat whenever he was close, or why she found the scar near his eye charming. He didn’t smile, ordered her about without compunction and treated her like a nuisance.

But, he’d also shown gentleness on the ship when she cried and offered gruff comfort when she told him what happened on Lodestone. His touch sent shivers down her spine, while warmth pooled low in her abdomen. She had no control over her reaction, didn’t fully understand all it meant, but there was no denying what she felt.

Sighing, finding no solution to her mixed emotions, Tru turned to go back to the house and ran smack into an immovable, solid wall. Strong arms grabbed her and pulled her close, preventing her fall. It took a moment for her brain to catch up and recognize what her body already realized.

Nick. Warm, solid and holding her too close. Her heart stuttered once before settling into a steady rhythm and her forehead dropped against the hard wall of his chest. She relished the contact even though she knew she should move away.