Blog, Learning, Publishing, Romance

Louisiana Book Festival

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This year, I’m honored to be one of the many featured authors at the 12th Annual Louisiana Book Festival. The 2015 Louisiana Book Festival is Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, in downtown Baton Rouge at the State Library of Louisiana, the State Capitol, the Capitol Park Museum and nearby locations. There is live music, festival food, and tons of books! There are talks all day from featured authors, a children’s tent, activities, and a great time!

At 10:45 a.m., I will be speaking in the Senate Committee Room C in the State Capitol building. Come join me to hear about my writing process and the whole story building process behind my latest novel, PERFECT BETRAYAL. It will be a casual talk along with plenty of time for any questions. Please come by, say hello, and stay for some fun information.

I will be signing in the Barnes & Noble tent directly after. I hope to see you there!!!

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Blog, Learning

10 Notes for 20-somethings

In an effort to inspire my writing and connect with a younger crowd, I’ve been hanging out where they hang out. I’m the not-so-old-but-much-wiser lady eavesdropping in the corner, observing how they interact with each other, taking notes on words and phrases commonly used. I have to say, that after doing this, I am disappointed in what I’ve witnessed. Here are some things I think need improving. Dear, 20-somethings…

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  1. Ladies, act like a lady. You do not have to wear revealing clothes to be sexy. Teasing is an art form. Less is more.
  2. Please stop calling each other bitches, whores, sluts, and the N word. Even when you do this in a seemingly affectionate manner, it is giving others permission to call you those things too.
  3. While we’re on speech, let’s start to widen our vocabulary. Dropping the F bomb three times in one sentence doesn’t make you sound tough or cute. It makes you sound like you don’t know enough words in the English language to piece together a simple thought.Potty-Mouth
  4. Don’t tear each other down to feel better about yourself. No one reflects the kind of person you are, but you. Be someone your grandmother would be proud of.
  5. Be respectful of people in the service industry. While that employee is there to serve you, they are certainly not worth less than you. Speak to them like an equal and thank them sincerely.
  6. Don’t be afraid to say what you stand for or believe in. It’s okay, even if you are the only one of your friends who feels that way. Don’t be sucked in by group think. If something feels wrong, speak up.Quotation-Maggie-Kuhn-mind-Meetville-Quotes-175251
  7. Have compassion and be kind. Everyone you encounter has a life outside of what you see. You never know what demons they are fighting or what they have survived. Help and support people who may need it, encourage those who won’t ask for it.
  8. Put down your cell phones. There are humans in the room who want to see and talk to you. There are family and friends who only ever see the top of your head and the glow of the screen. Translate emoticons into actual feelings and expressions. Look up. Have conversations with people, without a keyboard. Watch this video if you don’t understand.
  9. Be a part of your community. Get to know your neighbors. Don’t litter. Volunteer. If you want something done, if you want change, be proactive. Don’t sit idly by and complain about how things are. Get out and do something about them. Bring awareness to those who need it. Educate yourself on issues you feel are important before getting into heated debates. Listen to others’ opinions, but always form your own. Don’t be a sheep blindly following the herd. Ask questions and always be open to learning.
  10. Listen to your elders. We know stuff you don’t. But, don’t call me an elder or I’ll beat you with my cane.

I’m not saying that an entire generation is guilty of one or all of these things. I’m not saying that I’m perfect and all-knowing. What I am saying, is that there needs to be a bigger effort at self-awareness amongst 20-somethings. You are at a point in your life where you are making education or career decisions and life-long friends. Do not take these things lightly or too seriously. Discover your true self and revel in it.

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Beautiful Addictions, Blog, Learning, Publishing, Romance

Finding Inspiration Anywhere

The question I get asked most often is, “How do you come up with your stories?” The answer is simple: ANY WAY POSSIBLE. Life is full of inspiration. You just have to slow down and look around and there are stories everywhere. Taking one simple idea and expanding it in your mind (or on paper) can lead to fantastic plots and complicated characters. You’ve simply got to find what inspires you.

if-you-dont-build-your-dreamWith BEAUTIFUL ADDICTIONS, it all started with a dream. It was a dark dream. A girl sketching in an alley and a boy comes in. He’s angry and takes out his anger against the bricks. She hides away and watches him. The moon suddenly shines down like a spotlight and they are revealed, the voyeur and her subject. The moment is intense, but disappointing when he walks away.

I woke from that dream feeling heavy and overwhelmed. I wrote down everything I could remember. It was then tucked away in a notebook for a few months until I stumbled across it again. As soon as I revisited this dream, I was able to see these two characters. I imagined a connected past and dangerous love. I wrote a story and then fleshed out the subplots and details with a friend.

How the dream of one tiny scene morphed into an entire novel, I’ll never be able to say. There was no process set in stone, there were no rules to follow or map to guide me. I wrote it and then wrote it again. I added characters and intertwined them in the most interesting way possible. I erased the middle and wrote it again.

For me, writing is a lengthy process of layering. I’m not an outliner. That seems too rigid and formal for me. I write a basic draft. Then I rewrite it and add emotions, reactions. Then I’ll rewrite it and add details and scenery, descriptive imagery to put you in the story. That’s just me. Every writer has their own process.

Once you’ve found your inspiration, that tiny nagging feeling that tells you “this moment is bigger than it appears,” then all you’ve got to do is get it out of your head and onto paper. Embrace that notion and hold on for dear life. Before you know it, you won’t be writing the story, it will be writing itself.

Write on!

Learning

Jambalaya Writers’ Conference – Houma, LA

photoLast year, I attended the JWC with what I thought was a completed manuscript and an open mind. After a day of education and a little bit of truth, I left knowing that my novel was not quite ready.

This year, I came prepared. I had query letters, synopsis and even an entire manuscript printed out. I’d practiced my pitch and was confident that I’d written the best book I could.

I woke up early, enthusiastic and feeling prepared. However, once I arrived at the conference, I learned that all of the meetings with agents/editors had been taken. I was a bit bummed, but was still ready to attend sessions and learn.

Session 1 – Intro to Online Book Marketing
by Farrar, Straus & Giroux Publishing‘s Online Marketing Manager, Nicholas Cage
Here I learned so much about online marketing, who to target and effective ways to target them. With social media growing, word of mouth is the #1 way that books get recommended. Nicholas taught us how to target our demographic, how to get fans and keep them.

Session 2 – The Pitch
by NY Times Best Selling Author, Heather GrahamHeather had a great way of explaining all aspects of pitching, from writing your query letter to verbally pitching in meetings. I was lucky enough to get to practice with her. She made me feel comfortable and most importantly, I realized that my excitement for my book can be contagious.

Session 3 – DIY Book Publicity
by Literary Agent, Rachel Ekstrom
Rachel gave us some great tips and fantastic resources to get your name and work out there. Social media and retaining fans seem to be the most common themes.

Keynote Speaker – Tim O’Brien
Tim was a likable guy who entertained us with personal stories while teaching us to focus on the simple things.

Session 4 – Meet the Agents: Q & A
Rachel Ekstrom of Irene Goodman Literary Agency and Paige Wheeler of Folio Agency
Both of these ladies explained what they do as literary agents. It’s mostly about being an advocate for the author while performing seventeen tasks, answering emails and solving world peace.

Session 5 – Meet the Editors: Q & A
Rose Hilliard & Monique Patterson of St Martin’s Press
Again, we were granted inside knowledge into what editors do on a daily basis. They were very helpful, answering questions honestly and informatively.

Session 6 – The American Idol of Opening Pages
Heather Graham, Molly Bolden, Rose Hilliard, Monique Patterson, Rachel Eckstrom & Paige Wheeler
This session is always exciting. This panel of industry professionals critique the first page of author’s work. It is anonymous, so they don’t know who they are critiquing. I love to brag, so I’ll say that among some pretty great writing, mine did very well!

The day ended with a wine & cheese social on the roof of the library. We drank, ate and got to network with fellow authors and professionals. With mild temperatures and a cool breeze, the sun set on the bayou and a day of fun and learning. Until next year…