The other day, I was looking over a book that had belonged to my paternal grandfather (now owned by my brother). Granddad is #133. Cocky booger, isn’t he? Look at that tilted hat. Love it.
Earlier, I had been looking at the records of my maternal great uncles who had also fought in WWI. Turned out most Alabama boys were in the same 167th U.S. Infantry (previously Fourth Infantry National Guard of Alabama). The three uncles were in Company C while the one in the picture was part of Company A. They were on the same ship (picture) to England and later made their way to France.
A few weeks ago, Hubby and I drove through the old section of Dora, Alabama. Lots of old buildings and brick shells from a fire years ago. Fascinating for sure. I can imagine my maternal grandfather and his dad walking on the streets or sidewalks. A few pictures below. The ones in color I took on the drive. The black and white are from Pinterest. Several sites showed the same B/W pictures without copyright marks.
Speaking of my grandfather, I’ve been talking with my uncle about him a lot lately. He’s the youngest of my mom’s siblings at the age of 83. I’ve always thought of him being so cool. He is. It’s funny how we see the same man in two different lights. My uncle thinks of his dad as a stern SOB. While I grew up with my granddad as being a sweet, loving old man. My uncle finds it almost unbelievable that the man he knew being that way. My uncle left home at 18. He packed his bags one day, left with some friends for Indiana, and didn’t come back for a long time.
Anyway, here are some of my memories of Granddad.
First, not exactly my memory, but I remember my mother telling me when I was around 18 months old, I was feeling sickly and Granddad was the only one who could comfort me. Every time he tried to sit me down or hand me off to another person, I would cry and hold tight to his neck. Maybe that was why he liked me in particular. I do understand how a child can touch your heart by their unknowing preference.
When I was probably around seven (1963), we were walking to the store to get a dope. (Up to 1929, cocaine was used in Coca-Cola’s formula and since people would act dopey after drinking one, they would call it a Dope. And yes, I thought he mispronounced Coke. HA!) Along the trip, I dropped my dime onto the dirt road. He and I searched for several minutes without luck. He told me to not to worry that he had another dime for me to use. I was so relieved. And I do remember walking into the musty smelling store with him. Several old men were sitting in the back, around an old cast iron stove, and teased him–as they were laughing–but I didn’t understand what they said. The next time I came to visit, my grandfather told me he found the dime and handed it over to me. I remember being amazed. Later, my grandmother said he’d searched for days on that dirt road for the dime. What a sweet guy!
Granddad had two mules: a black one and a white one. My sister and I loved to pet them, whenever they would let us get near. One time, several of us grandkids were visiting, and Granddad decided to hitch up the mules to his wagon and drive us down to the store and back. Considering it was no more than a half of a mile to the store, it was a short trip, but we were all excited about it (some of us were city kids).
Then one time Granddad came to stay with us for a few days. I was in fifth or six grade and he gave me $20. For what reason, I have no idea at the time. You have to realize that amount of money in 1966-67 was equal to $170 today. A whole lot of money for 11-12 year old girl. Thinking about it now, that must have been about the time he was told he had black lung. He’d worked as coal miner possibly from 12 years old (the 1910 census showed at 16 he worked in the mines with two of his brothers, ages 14 and 12). He died in 1971.
In early 1971, he came to stay with us for several weeks. During that time, I would get ready for school in the mornings and would go into Granddad’s room (formerly mine), and grab my clothes for the day out of the closet. He often could be found sitting in the chair between the closet and a window that looked out over the pasture behind our house. One morning, he stopped me and said that he wanted to make sure I finished my schooling. As that he’d been the same man who told his five daughters that girls didn’t need to finish school (none graduated), my mom thought that was strange when I repeated it to her. But he also said he loved me and started to cry. I hugged him and promised to finish school, and that I loved him too and started to cry along with him. A few days later, he was placed in the hospital and then moved to a nursing home (probably hospice care). I visited once and he called me by another person’s name. The drugs they were giving him for the pain caused him to be confused. My mom said it was his sister’s name. That I may have looked a little like her. At the time, I had no idea he had a sister, no less any siblings.
I have several more memories of my granddad, but the ones above are the more personal ones. Though my uncle and his siblings have/had memories far different from mine–he’s amazed by mine–it goes to show how time can change a person. Sure, some people never change, good or bad., but I think many people do. And as I my uncle has said, his dad loved his grandchildren. To me, all of this history I’ve been discovering about my family has enriched me personally, and pushed me to reconnect with my relatives.
As a kid, we don’t understand all of the things happening around us. As writers, delving into the reasons of why people do the things they do, helps our stories. A side benefit is understanding events that happened to us or others prior or currently. Not that writers know everything, but with knowledge comes understanding.
From my research, my granddad’s dad wasn’t a nice man and had deserted his wife and kids when they were needing him the most. And my grandmother never knew her father, as he left when she was little and her step-father didn’t want her or her brother. So when my grandparents married at 17 and 20, they were two souls who never had a regular, loving family. Then they had children and it wasn’t like they could get on the internet or read a book about childcare and raising children in a more understanding, kind way. They only did what was done to them. Sadly.
It appears times changed them, and I like to think their children grew up and worked at being better parents than their own. I would say most didn’t do so bad, and besides, people agree having grandchildren is so much easier.
I’ve been working SLOWLY on the next Southern Crime Family novel. Sen’s story. But for some reason I couldn’t concentrate on it like I should. So I decided to do sometime I’ve put off for TWO years! Yes. Count them. One, two whole frigging years. Crazy. I had previously replaced the ebook covers for The Circle Organization books, but hadn’t taken care of the paperbacks. Same design, but I needed to include the spine and back copy.
Then they really needed to be reformatted (the inners). That takes time. Plus I wanted to added excerpts for the other books. As in Circle of Desire to have Danger and Deception excerpts in the back and so on.
Doesn’t sound like much trouble, but that includes updating the lists of books. I do have a total of 11 books out. Of course, there are two that are still with RandomHouse. I haven’t decided when to ask for the rights back. I had gotten the rights from HarperCollins to The Circle books two years ago (thus the new covers), but I’ve been putting off the RH ones. Maybe because I hope to write for them again one day? *shrug*
Beyond the 11 for sale, I have 10 books written that are not published. One day soon (hopefully), I plan to rewrite most of them. Not counting, I have another hockey romance and a suspense book I plan to write. Then I might even try my hand at historical (1910s). Goodness, I need to get myself back into forward gear and get to writing.
And I also have plans to release The Circle in a bundle hopefully in the next month or so.
Moving on. As I like to include these on my website, here are copies of my latest ads. By the way, I’m on TikTok. Be sure to follow me! See. I doing a lot of stuff.
Hey, where do you go for your market info? I used to read RT Book Reviews. (I always wondered why she didn’t put the magazine/website up for sale.) Of course, I check Romance Writers of America’s website, magazine, and notices, but I like more than one source. The blogs I have checked out in the past have gone or they do only reviews. But here are a few I check out on occasion.
Just like most people during the last year, I found myself with a little extra time. So I decided to work on my ancestry. My sister worked on it years ago which helped get me started.
I’ve learned so much about my family. I will say it’s important to know general local and world history and pay attention to dates if you do this. It will make it easier. All of the info I came across was so fascinating. It’s like my family has reintroduced themselves to me.
My goodness, I have generations galore that grew up and were buried in Cullman (half of Cullman City Cemetery is filled with my relatives/ancestors) and Walker counties. Sure, back in the 1700-1600s and beyond, they lived in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, England, and Wales. There’s over 1,000 people in my tree. But I remember hearing stories about many of them (those from the last 100 years) when I was growing up, but the research has taught me so much.
Like that my paternal grandfather had joined the Alabama Army National Guard at 16 years old and was sent to Arizona to protect the border. This is during the time (1916) Germany was pushing Mexico to invade the U.S. and Pancho Villa was attacking U.S. cities. Be sure to look this stuff up. That’s a rough explanation of why my grandfather was there. The picture above of him (he looks so freaking young) with his first wife is on their wedding day. He was about to be 19 and she had just turned 18. Not my grandmother. Sadly, the pretty lady passed away at 23 from a sickness. She did leave behind two beautiful daughters. My aunts. By the way, I never thought of them not being fully mine.
Anyway, the crazy thing is, I could throw a rock and hit land where one relative or another owned or rented it at one time or another.
Side note: In 2019, my husband and I moved to be nearer to family. We had lived northeast of Birmingham for most of our lives. So when we moved to the northwest side of the city, you wouldn’t think that would be much of a difference. But there is. City vs country life.
Overall, there is so much to be proud of in my family though I will say some of them have the worst luck. One thing for sure, I wish I had asked my grandparents more questions.
Meet/Greet: Capital City Carnival – Food, Fun, and Games Friday May 20, 2022 7:00pm – 10:00pm Live Music/DJ, Carnival Style Food, Table Games (with attending Authors), and Cash Bar Ticket Cost: $15
Author Signing: Saturday May 21, 2022 11:00am – 4:00pm VIP Ticket Cost: $25 Includes 1 hour early entry in the event from at 11:00 am, Special VIP Swag Bag, VIP Lanyard, and 1 Scratch-off Ticket (Scratch-off prizes include chances to win Amazon gift cards, raffle basket tickets, book cash, and more) General Admission Ticket Cost: $5
When I first started writing, critique partners and contest judges would often have a problem with my heroines. When I sold my first book, my editor said I needed to make my heroine likable.
Geez. She’s a cold-blooded assassin (Circle of Desire) and I understood why she was that way. Why couldn’t she?
I had explained piece by piece throughout the book how she was a dumpster baby, grew up in an orphanage and foster care. Then she was molested and became a runaway, walked the streets for a small time pimp, and then trained by a psycho to be an assassin. Why couldn’t the readers feel sympathy for her?
Well, if more than one person tells you that they do not like a character, you have to listen. And a big clue is the two words I used above. I understood.
So that means, I didn’t help the reader recognize where she was coming from when she did or said bad things. You can’t guarantee that the reader will read the whole book to grasp all of the fine details that made the heroine become that person. You have to give the reader a reason for her behavior. Of course, I do get aggravated with a reviewer when they say “I skipped through the book.” If she/he had read every word, they would have understood the heroine’s thought process. But it is the author’s responsibility to make it clear in the beginning that the main character(s) is someone you want in your life or sympathetic to their faults.
With encouragement from my editor, I went into the first chapter and added a sentence. That helped. See, it doesn’t take an info dump to get a point across. If you’re wondering, I showed in the narrative that her hands shook. Showing she was human.
I believe women often have a problem writing women because we think our readers (majority women) know the motivations behind the female lead’s actions. But that’s not true. Not every woman feels the same way about a situation. So we have to explain or show her rationale.
Funny how I forgot that lesson from my debut book when I wrote my first Brother of Mayhem book, Hidden Heat. Several reviewers felt that Cassidy was being immature by the fits she dealt the MC. She’s a strong heroine who knew if she didn’t stand her ground the club would run all of over her. I obviously didn’t make that clear enough in the beginning. But thankfully some reviewers/readers understood. Here’s one review that proved it. Debbie’s Reviews in Goodreads.
This means we (authors) have to stay on our toes and give our readers the information needed, within reason and in the most entertaining way. And readers need to give strong (or weak) heroines the benefit of doubt. If you want to skip pages, just don’t read the book.
Yesterday, I was discussing with another author the differences between a mystery, a suspense, and a thriller. I need to mention that this debate is not new to anyone and has been going on for years and years. Everyone has an opinion about it. I believe it all depends on what you read or write or both.
Now you don’t have to take my word on this. Here are other perspectives I found on the internet. I figured I would get you in the mood by seeing others before you see mine.
See what I mean? Lots of viewpoints and really no one is wrong. Like I said, it depends on where you sit on the fence. Right? Ha!
Moving on, here’s my fence…uh…opinion.
First, I want to mention all thrillers have suspense and many have a mystery entwined with the plot, but thrillers have one thing in common. The inciting event leads to a greater, dangerous event. Thrillers are normally involved with killing a lot of people or/and destroying a lot of property. Such as the Die Hard franchise. So if it starts out with one person dead and then gradually more are dead until the whole city or world is in danger, that’s a thriller.
While writing this post, I searched for “thriller movies” and none were the type I think of as the typical thriller. It appears the internet and media often referred to movies I look at as thrillers to be action movies. They are both.
People include a serial killer or serial killer-like character in a movie as thrillers. It can reveal the killer or not to the reader. The same for the hero in the story. He or she could know (or not) who is bringing up the body count. But you have to realize, this is a hybrid. A thriller with suspense. Of course, suspense is included along with mystery. Think of any movie where individuals are dying left and right, and you don’t know when the next murder will happen. I think of the movie Seven for this one. They discover who the killer is mid-way through the seven deaths, but can they stop him in time?
From a personal debate of mine, I’ve had people call my first book, Circle of Desire, a thriller. I’ve always disagreed. I do like action/adventure mixed in with my romantic suspense. So it’s like a Nikita or James Bond story. In Circle of Desire, the bad guy is trying to get rid of his competition and using a female assassin to do it. She’s captured in the first chapter by the other organization and does not kill another person until later the book. He’s not about to kill everyone in the world either. So no. Not a thriller. Romantic suspense, yes.
Here’s the blurb to Circle of Desire.
As the top assassin at The Circle, a shadowy group of mercenaries, Olivia St. Vincent can hunt down anyone. She’s been trained since she was a teenager to kill without feeling, to interact with men without love. But when she’s kidnapped by the enigmatic leader of a rival organization, she learns she’s been lied to for years. She never worked for the good guys.
Collin Ryker believes the sultry woman he’s abducted knows more than she’s telling about The Circle and its plans for complete domination. Over time, as they work together, Olivia’s tenacity and vulnerability captivate him. But if he isn’t careful, Collin will fall into the biggest trap of all: caring for a woman who can betray him to his greatest enemy.
This one is simple and most agree on the definition. Usually, there is one person—though others might help– investigate a murder or locate a missing valuable. I always think of stories about Sherlock Holmes or those written by Agatha Christie—Murder on the Orient Express, anyone?—when someone talks of mysteries. But keep in mind National Treasure is a perfect example of a mystery involving an object. I do enjoy them all.
The dictionary says, “a quality in a work of fiction that arouses excited expectation or uncertainty about what may happen.” That sure sounds like the two above too. Right? If you search for “suspense” movies, thrillers will come up instead. See, even the media is confused. I guess thriller sounds more exciting.
But what makes a book (or movie, etc.) a suspense,is that the killing or/and danger is personal and slower to come about. Maybe someone is shooting at the hero and he does not know who it is. Even the reader may not know. Or someone is planning to kill a person by setting a trap. And the reader may (or not) know about the trap and is waiting for (or surprised by) what happens. To keep it simple, and yes, tooting my own horn, my books are suspense (with the exception of the hockey romance books – they are not).
Like I mentioned, thriller, mystery, and suspense can be mixed together into a book. You’re probably thinking about the book you’ve written and it has all three. How would you market your book? I would suggest looking at your plot. If the dark moment involves something big, like blowing up a building or having a sniper in a tower killing people for several chapters or the whole book, that’s mainly a thriller. If a death happened in the first three chapters or before chapter one started, and no one knows who killed the person, that is more mystery than anything else. Or if you have a killer after the main character and most of the other bodies showing up were from people getting in the way, you have a suspense. The other elements are icing on the cake. You don’t want to confuse your agent or editor. So it’s best to pick only one. That way they will know how best to market your book.
Wow! I love it when I’m writing and something that had been bothering me from nearly chapter one finally solved itself.
Well, okay. You twisted my arm. I’ll tell you a little about it. First, let me say, in book one (Jake) of the Southern Crime Family, the hero’s kink is that he likes to spank the heroine. Totally consensual.
In Ethan’s (book two, unless I change my mind again), I’ve already decided his kink will be that he likes to be tied up during the act. Nice twist, for the women are usually the ones, right?
The heroine is what I refer to as a real woman. She knows what she wants and she’s not shy in going after it. And he’s a real man because he isn’t scared to tell his woman that he has problems that only she can solve with a little discipline. By the way, she has a young daughter. I don’t normally have children in my books, but like I said, she’s a real woman.
Then there is Sen, the middle brother. The one I was having a difficulty in giving him a kink. See, he’s in love with an heroine who is deaf. Most of everything I can think of would appear to be taking advantage of her disability in the hearing world or maybe even cruel.
So here I was writing a scene where she’s angry at an old friend (male) and suddenly she remembers the big crush she had for him long ago. She’s getting turned on as her old friend and her new friend (Sen) argue about her, and she’s literally standing between them. She’s short. They are tall. Hot. Hard. Bam!
Let’s say, she’s going to have a fantasy to come true a few times in the book. Sen loves her enough to share. Well, at first. He is an alpha.
Here are the latest covers for Sen and Ethan books.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about blurbs. You know, the kind on the back of books (or on bookseller sites) and the kind needed for BookBub and ads that don’t want it to be so wordy. It’s important to draw a reader’s attention.
I can’t say I’m great at them, but heck, I see some pretty sad ones. This one I came across in an ad and thought it needed help. I bet the book is awesome, but someone needs to work on the author’s blurbs. Of course, there could be people who would think the same about mine. Anyway, this is my blog and my opinion. HA! You will note I did not leave in character names and I don’t say who the author is. This is not to embarrass the person, just to help other authors who might come across this post.
“When a hit man targets [heroine’s name], gorgeous cop [hero’s name] comes to her defense. But the more time he spends with her, the more irresistible she becomes!”
There were several things I would change and I’m sure more to do with personal preference. What bothered me the most was the word “BUT.” BUT is used to contrast a prior phrase or clause per the dictionary on my computer. What is being contrasted? If the short blurb said, “cop comes to his enemy’s defense” or something like that, I could understand the BUT.
I also want to know why “gorgeous cop?” What does gorgeous have to do with the plot? And really, most of the heroes in romances are gorgeous, even if it just the heroine feeling that way.
By the way, when writing a longer blurb, remember to keep to the basics of what will pull in the reader. Telling a lot of backstory or explaining the whole book will not work. Think of what are the hero/heroine’s goal, motivation, and conflict (GMC)? You can use the following to help fill in those points: want, because, but. Here’s an example from Darynda Jones’s First Grave on the Right. The GMC is pointed out in brackets [ ]. Note that she has actually two conflicts [buts].
“Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. [WANT] And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” [BUT] But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), [BECAUSE] sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. [BUT] Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.”
She/publisher did pretty good, heh? Short and hits a lot of hot spots for readers. I hope this helps when you plan to write your next blurb.