Saturday, August 31, 2013

Random Thoughts on Writing -- Why I Write

I'm popping in here between my How I Became A Writer guest blogger posts to share some of my own thoughts on this whole process of writing and becoming published. I've been at this now for a little over nine years and have sixteen books published, a story in one anthology, a novella scheduled for release in November, two more books under contract and one ready for self-publication in the spring. Whew! I've finaled four times for an EPIC eBook Award and won the fourth time with Love, Sam. I've been named Author of the Year once (2010) at Champagne Books. I'm not blowing my horn here but, rather, summarizing for myself what the past nine years have rendered.

I began writing women's fiction because it was a genre I had begun to read after many years of just not reading for pleasure. I'd gotten away from books, put my energy into music and then into graduate school. Who had the time to read for pleasure? But one day I picked up a novel by Elizabeth Berg. And I was hooked. I eventually ventured into writing romance, as well. (I'm a romantic at heart, as I've learned.) Having read every book by Berg, I then searched out other women's fiction writers and some romance and mystery/suspense authors--Sherryl Woods, Elin Hilderbrand, Lisa Scottoline, Janet Evanovich, Kris Radish, Claire Cook, Karen Robards, Nancy Thayer... Well, the list goes on and on. 

I wanted to do for readers what these authors did for me. They entertained, captivated, tugged on my emotions, made me think and, mostly, introduced me to characters who seemed real and engaging. For a long time, I wanted to write. I finally began to talk about wanting to write. One day I was sitting in the counseling office I'd established for a non-profit in Mississippi bemoaning the fact that my clients had either canceled or simply decided not to bother showing up. In fairness, it was an unusually warm and sunny January day in the mid-south. I didn't blame them. My friend and co-worker, Shari, encouraged me to, "Go to your office and write that book you keep talking about." (I think she may have just wanted me out of her office because, unlike me, she did have work to do.)

I sat down and, not knowing where to begin, thought up a title: And The Truth Will Set You Free. The rest, as they say, is history. Owning that truth--that I wanted to write a book--and taking a leap of faith to actually do it opened flood gates. Images filled my head, words poured out, and characters took shape. That experience, taking that risk, that leap of faith in myself, changed me. I've felt passion in my life for several things. But never the passion I feel for writing. It's my life's breath.

Now, seeing those sixteen published novels might cause one to think, "Wow, she's made it. And the money must be rolling in." Here's the fact: Relatively unknown authors who publish with small, independent presses aren't rolling in money or in fame. Some are able to pay the rent and others buy a latte with their royalties. So why do we do this? Why do we sit for hours, alone with a computer and open a vein to let our life's blood pour out onto the page--or the screen, as it were? Because we can't NOT do it. Sure we might believe that big break is just around the corner, that next book that will take us onto the New York Times Bestseller List. But that's not why most of us continue to write. 

We write because we have stories in us to be told, characters only we can bring to life. We write because, at some point, some moment, a reader will be touched by what we write. My first book got good reviews. It finaled for an EPIC eBook Award. But the one thing that meant so much to me that it brought me to tears was an email from a reader that said, "Thank you for writing this book. I recently lost my job and went into a depression. Reading Kate's story, even though I know it's fiction, helped me to not feel so alone and to look past the loss to where I go from here."

Sure, royalty checks are nice. But notes from readers, notes like this one, are what make it all worthwhile.

If you're a reader, let your favorite authors know what their writing means to you. And if you're an author and get notes from your readers, respond, thank them for taking the time to appreciate your work.

Happy reading--and writing!


To read excerpts and reviews and for links to my books, visit my website at


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wendi Zwaduk - How I Became A Writer

I'm pleased to welcome author Wendi Zwaduk who shares with us her love for NASCAR and for writing, and how blends the two.

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How did I decide to venture into this crazy world called writing? Wow. Loaded question. I’m a believer in do what makes you happy – within the the constraints of the law. I had another job after college and it was a good one. I thought I was happy, but really I was spinning my wheels. That said, I loved to lose myself in books. I’ve always been that way. I was the kid who jumped up and down when the reading challenges came out. I did projects for the summer reading programs before the theme came out. Why? Because I like books.
So one day I was reading a book with two of my favorite things in it—romance and racing. Except, I didn’t like the end. I also didn’t like the way the book was supposed to focus on the sport, but the sport of racing seemed to get lost in the background. IMHO, racers eat, sleep and breathe racing (hence Tony Stewart broke his leg while racing in his off time). I thought, I’ve got a vivid imagination. I can write fairly well. I’d spent enough time in college writing papers and lesson plans, I can do this.
Except I had a LOT to learn. I thought, okay, put pen to paper and write it. Except I didn’t know about point of view, head hopping and not venturing into omniscient point of view. I also had to develop a thick, thick skin. The words were my babies and it  hurt to think I hadn’t written the story properly.
So I learned. I read even more and wrote reviews. Writing reviews helped me to see a wide range of what was out there beyond the books I liked. I’m glad I did. I learned and honed my craft. Little by little, I got my feet under me and figured out my characters. I submitted earlier on and got bit by more than 40 rejections. Yep. 40. After my journey of learning, I upped my chances of getting accepted and I’m glad.  Now I’ve got stories like Saturday Night Special – showing my love of racing and romance – to share with you.  

Here’s a little about my latest release, Saturday Night Special:
Contemporary, M/F, Racing, BDSM, Fem Dom, Toys, Spanking
From Turquoise Morning Press
She makes his motor run.

Blaine Haeferle drives fast and lives on the edge. He’s not afraid to risk it all for the win—unless his heart is in the mix. He loved once, but things ended in disaster. Can he accept the woman who holds his heart, despite all their jagged past?

Mallory Sweet never intended to leave Blaine without a word. But one night changed everything for her. Instead of facing her past, she ran. Is coming to terms with her past the key to winning the love of her life back?

Anything can happen on a Saturday night under the lights.
Available here:
And a litle about me:
I’ve always dreamt of writing the stories in my head. Tall, dark, and handsome heroes are my favorites, as long as he has an independent woman keeping him in line.  I love playing with words and letting the characters run wild.
NASCAR, Ohio farmland, dirt racing, animals and second chance romance all feature prominently in my books.  I also write under the pen name of Megan Slayer. I’m published with Total-E-Bound, Resplendence Publishing, Changeling Press, Liquid Silver Books, Turquoise Morning Press, Decadent Publishing and The Wild Rose Press. Come join me for this fantastic journey!  
If you like my work, tell your friends and email me. I love hearing from readers!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jane Toombs - How I Became A Writer

I'm very pleased to welcome author Jane Toombs to share her story of becoming a writer. As you will see, Jane is serious about her writing and pulls no punches.

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          I think my father’s (he was a nonfiction writer) early and gentle critiquing made me understand that a critique wasn’t a criticism and listening to what he had to say always improved my stories.  I’m sure it toughened me up some so I’ve been able to listen to critiques, understand they’re meant to be helpful, and consider them carefully.
          He encouraged me to write little stories and always found something good in whatever I wrote. So I learned to believe in myself as a writer. Which I suppose is at least part of the reason why I became one.
          But not seriously until I reached my late thirties. By then I was an RN, married to a doctor and had five kids. Little did I know how my beginning to write again would threaten him. 
          I began to take evening classes when the oldest girl (the oldest boy was in college) was old enough to watch the younger ones in case my husband had to go out on a call. When the elderly published mystery writer I was taking the class from told me my gothic was good enough to be published and offered to edit it, and then send it to his agent, I naturally hurried to finish it. And, no, he had no ulterior motive, unlike what my husband believed.
          Anyway Tule Witch got finished with me paying attention to his edits and he did send it to his agent. Who promptly sold it to Avon. Whoa!
          My husband was furious.  He’d read part of it and told me I was writing trash.  Our relationship began to deteriorate. Finally, after he told me it was writing or him, I got a divorce. We sold the house and went our separate ways, me with the kids.        
          When I finally married again, it was to a guy who liked to write. His theory was if I could sell a gothic, he could. So he wrote one and I sent it to my agent who did sell it.  We both were working at other jobs, but mine was only part time. We had our problems, but the glue of both being writers held us together.
                After we retired to his home town in upstate New York, with his kids and mine all grown, we got along a lot better. We edited each other’s work and sold everything we wrote. Which came to an abrupt end when he died suddenly and unexpectedly during a trip to Arizona.
          Incidentally, Samhain is republishing both his and my gothics. Tule Witch, my very first book, will be out October 15, 2013, with the rest coming out in 2014.
          Fast forward to this year. My SO, the Viking from my past, now has Parkinson’s and I’m his caretaker.  He’s in a W/C but able to propel himself around and even help me by loading and unloading the dishwasher and other odd tasks. Which gives me some time to write? Currently I’m scanning old rights-back books into the computer for Books We Love, Ltd. to publish. Since I’m no techie, I wouldn’t dream of trying to do this myself.  Besides, BWL does edit them and provides striking covers.   
          I have some series unfinished books I need to get finished and am beginning to work on those as well now that I have care the caretaker routine down pat. My SO totally supports my writing efforts and is proud of me for being a published writer. We’ve known each other since second grade, when I “skipped” there from first grade and the only empty seat was the one in front of him. I was really scared because everyone was strange to me, but he smiled at me and that helped. Am I glad I became a writer? Seems to me I was fated to be one.
          Although we never were a couple all through school, we were always friends. And when we reconnected in 1994, we've been together ever since. 
          And I’m still writing. Up to around a hundred books now. But old age is catching up to me via my hands and so I seriously doubt I'll ever reach the two hundred mark. 

At the cost of his own safety, Adrien saves Romell fom the King's Men who've killed her uncle.  He takes her to her relatives in Holland, then finds himself on the same ship that's taking her to Java, a ship that's wrecked on an island.  He's separated from her before they're rescued and doesn't see her again until  he finds out she's been captured by a Chinese pirate. Adrien is a master swordsman, but is that enough to rescue Romell from her dangerous captor?

Bio:    Jane Toombs has approximately one hundred books to her credit, but then she's an old bat. But not too old to be the caretaker for her SO, who has Parkinson's
and is confined to a W/C. They both are owned by an elderly calico cat named Kinko who sincerely believes she's the most important one in the house. Jane writes in most genres, but her favorite is paranormal. They all live across the road from Lake Superior's south shore in Michigan's beautiful but cold Upper Peninsula

Links to all my books can be found at my website:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sylvia May - How I Became A Writer

I'm very pleased to introduce author Sylvia May to share her story of how she became a writer.

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Thank you, Linda, for having me as a guest on your blog. I’m pleased to be able to share with your readers my journey as an author.

I’d have to say that I’ve been a writer since I was a child, when I wrote poems about my family and about the snow, stories about cats, and I filled school workbooks with novelettes about orphan pioneer girls. In high school, my writing became more sophisticated, so much so that my senior English teacher suggested I send a story out for publication. Which I did not do.

In adulthood, I journaled and participated in a few creative writing workshops, but I wrote for fun and because it fulfilled something within me. I never expected that I would ever publish a book. A career in computer programming, marriage and motherhood, several years as a music educator—all that took precedence over my writing.

It wasn’t until I was in my fifties, with my children grown and independent, that I finally heeded the calling to which I should have paid attention long before. In 2005, a relocation with my husband from Canada to the United States caused me to leave my job, and I found myself living in Virginia with no work permit and nothing to do. In a magazine for new residents, a listing for the Virginia Writers Club jumped out at me. In that club, I bonded with four other writers and we formed a critique group. With their encouragement and support, my journey to authorship finally began. Another person in Virginia who guided me on the path to authorship was Ellery Adams, who lived down the street from us. She was (and is) a published cozy mystery author. We became friends, and when I finished writing my novel, she offered advice and encouragement to send it out. Also, we came up with an idea for a cozy mystery series to write together and started work on that project.

In the midst of querying out my novel and collaborating on the mystery series with Ellery, my husband and I relocated twice more, finally settling in Bermuda where we’ve been residing for almost four years. It was difficult to stay focused on my writing during that period of upheaval, and hard to remain enthusiastic about it all when I received several rejections, from both agents and publishers. Eventually I did find an agent who believed in my book, and soon after my husband and I established ourselves in Bermuda, she called me with the exciting news that a publisher was interested in my novel. THE UNRAVELING OF ABBY SETTEL was published in August 2011 and re-released with a new cover in January 2013. I was thrilled when in 2011 it was awarded a Readers Views Reviewers Choice Award.

Recently I completed my second novel, BREATHING SPACE, for which I’ve just signed a contract for publication and it will be released in early 2015.

I have another author identity. Ellery and I co-author A NOVEL IDEA mystery series, writing as Lucy Arlington. The first two books in the series (BURIED IN A BOOK and EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK) were on the extended New York Times Bestseller list. The third in the series (BOOKS, COOKS AND CROOKS) will be released in February 2014.

My journey toward authorship has been one of challenge, disappointment, but mostly joy. Being a writer and a published author involves hard work, however, no matter how much I love to write. Two qualities I constantly have to draw upon to achieve my writing goals are determination and self-discipline. I find that I’m always learning, always finding ways to improve. I love the contact and feedback from readers, and I enjoy telling the stories that crowd my imagination. One thing my life has taught me is that it is never predictable. Life is full of tales waiting to be written down.

You can find me online at these sites:

The Unraveling of Abby Settel

Abby's well-ordered life is falling apart. Her son’s behavior is worrisome, her aging parents are deteriorating, and her husband loses his job. He finds a new position that compels them to move hundreds of miles away, where Abby is plagued by guilt and loneliness. When she discovers a group of women facing similar challenges, together they seek a way out of their unhappiness. This is a story of midlife reinvention, letting go to embrace the present, and the importance of friends.

Buy links:

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Nancy Henderson - How I Became A Writer

This week I'm very pleased to welcome author Nancy Henderson to share her journey into writing.

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 I don’t remember the exact moment I became a writer.  I suppose I could say it was when I first wrote something…obviously.  However, I’ve always written.  As a kid, I wrote short stories on chalkboards or in little notebooks.  As a teenager, they turned into long sagas on the dramatics of being thirteen.  I suppose I didn’t start seriously writing for publication until the mid to late nineties.  I first became published in 2003 with Blackbird, a historical romance.  I caught the writing bug and I’ve been at this crazy career ever since.

Blackbird did go out of print, but this year it was re-released by DCL Publications.  Here’s a quick blurb:

Adahya, a Mohawk warrior aiding the British, wants no part of love--especially not with the chattering white woman he has just taken captive. 

Katherine St. James, a teacher at a frontier mission, will stop at nothing to return to the man she has always loved, Reverend Joshua Knox. 

Adahya’s attraction for Katherine is threatening his plans to kill Knox.  Katherine is determined to save Joshua’s life…but Adahya is just as arousing as he is dangerous. 

In a fortnight’s journey wrought with danger and deception, Adahya and Katherine make the trek of a lifetime…and sleeping with the enemy might become a very distinct possibility…

You can purchase Blackbird here: 

Thanks for reading.  I love hearing from readers.  Ways to find me are:
My website: