Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why Do I Keep Putting Off *The Book of my Heart?*

I have a plethora of story ideas taking up residence in my head. My muse must be tired. But with all the characters running around up there, there are a couple who stand out from the crowd. They are the *perfect couple* with the *perfect plot* and the *perfect conflict* and the *perfect resolution.* Essentially, the perfect book. Also known as the book of my heart, which translates to the hardest book to sit down and write. So instead of plunking out the tale of my hero and heroine, I studiously avoid it by writing every other story I can think of. A heroine in love with the lost spirit of her hero? Check. A knight pining over his wife who won't have him? Got that. A young lady with grand hopes of a true love match? Yup. I could keep going, the stories are endless, and yet there is one tale that continues to elude me. Oh, it's not as if I haven't tried, but how can what I write ever measure up to the perfection I see in my head? Simply put, it cannot. I have put these characters and their plight on such a pedestal that I fear I may never be able to reach them. I chase the tails of their story, desperate for a few words of... well, perfection. And when those words don't meet my standards, I hit delete and try again until I find myself so frustrated that I walk away and back to a less perfect couple, a more simple story. But why would I bother with sub par protagonists? Why bother telling any story I am not infatuated with? The answer is that these other stories are NOT actually lacking in anything. They are not imperfect, they are merely attainable. Attainable because I have not spend countless hours envisioning scenes of epic proportions. Attainable because I have not locked it away behind a shield of shatterproof glass then thrown away the key. Which is exactly what I have done with the story of my heart. That's the problem with perfection. It blinds you to anything less, but really, what is perfection? Especially compared with a completed novel that may have some slippery slopes, but that can be edited to a polished sheen. And yet I quake at the undertaking of writing anything less than *the best.*

I usually don't get on board the whole new years resolution business, but as I watch the years pass by me with no more than a series of imperfect chapters I've thrown in my computer's trash bin, I realize that maybe that's exactly what I need. I need to be resolute and brave. I need to put one word after another and not look back until I have a completed draft. It's time to take these characters and their tale from their high perch and look at it for what it truly is. Can I do it? Can I put perfection from my mind and let these characters trod recklessly over the dreams I once had for them? That's a tall order to fill, but one I have to be willing to try.

This year I will close my eyes and tread blindly to The End where I can again open my eyes and look over the beauty of a completed first draft. As imperfect as it might be, there is nothing better than having written.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Top Ten List of the Best Writing Advice Conference Style + Giveaway!

Conference Overview- Tips, Links, and so Much More!
 
#ORACON2013

Here I am at the conference. Can you find me? :)
 
Recently I came across a writing prompt that I think every writer should listen to and put together straight away. Even if they never share it with the public, it's good to have on hand. That prompt was to amass a top ten list of the best writing advice you've ever read, been offered, or learned all on your own from trial and error. How ingenious to have such a valuable list handy when the time comes time to edit, submit, and promote your book? It's as good as a cheat sheet.
 
It's been on my list to do ever since, and in honor of the fabulous conference I attended this past weekend, I thought to do a top ten list, conference style! This way I can share some of my own gold nuggets of awesomesauce and as well as a few that were imparted upon us attendees by some very sage ladies from ORACON. Without further ado, here I go!
 
 
Rule #1:
*Don't harp! This is some advice I've heard on several occasions, and was reiterated at the conference. What I mean by this is that we as writers tend to agonize over every word choice, anything spoken by the character, and seemingly every other scene we write. Sometimes this obsession for perfection stops you from writing past the first chapter! I am guilty of this, particularly when it comes to my opening chapter. Do we want our first words to generate enough interest for readers to turn the next page? Yes! Can we do that when the only thing to our manuscript is the first chapter? No. So if you are still harping on that first chapter, your first sex scene, or any other passage in your first draft, stop! Give yourself a break, realize that every author out there spits out a shitty first draft, and move on. You'll thank me later, I promise.
 
Rule #2:
*Make yourself a checklist for edits. From Tish Beaty's Fifty Shades of Editing class, I have a few questions you can ask yourself or some things to ponder on the go through:
  •  Repetition. We all have our favorite words. Perhaps yours is "just," "and so," or "like." Whatever they are, search your manuscript for them and kill those darlings! Use the search/find option in Word, or read backwards. No matter how you do it, doing it and being aware of what those words are will make you a stronger writer.
  •  What is your show/tell ratio? From Tish's hand out, she says "Showing involves the use of dialogue - complete dialogue, not dialogue that has been cut away by narrative. It rouses readers' emotions through character reactions and rich writing."
  • Have you included everything? Did you make your point or did the theme of your story get lost in translation? Did every character participate to the best of their ability, or can you cut some talking heads to make it more concise? 
  • Does it make sense? This is where BETA readers and critique partners come in play. They might see the plot holes, the scenes left dangling, or the confusing dialogue that you did not.
  • Is it organized in a logical way?
  • Does the text flow?
  • Does the story have a narrative arc - beginning/middle/end?
  • Is the tense same from beginning to end? Switching from past to present and present to past is one of the most common mistakes authors make. The tense must be consistent.
  • Too many adverbs? Remember, strong verbs say much more than a string of wimpy adverbs.
  • Are your words strong? Meander says more than walk, screech says more than yell, scowl says more than frown, etc.
Rule #3:
*Feel as if something is missing? As if the story is falling flat somehow, yet the storyline seems solid? Look to your characters. Do you have one dimensional characters, or three dimensional characters?
 



 
Rule #4:
*Read wide and read often. I'll admit, I often get so caught up in my writing and personal life, that I forget all about the shelves and shelves of books waiting for my attention. But as writers, one of our jobs is to also be a reader. We need to not only stay abreast of what's going on in the literary world, we also need to get and stay inspired. That also means not confining yourself to one genre. Just because you write historical romance novels, it doesn't mean you can't crack open an erotica, a fantasy, or contemporary - or even a YA or horror! Some of the best writers don't limit themselves to the genre they are classified. While an author of historical might be restrained to certain expectancies of the genre, there is no reason they cannot borrow from other genres or sub-genres. Unless you are writing Christian, who is to say your love scenes can't get a little steamier than normal? Or that your duke can't also wield magic? Or that your villain can't be a little Machiavellian, a la your favorite horror novel? Spice things up. But most off all, be well read. No matter how busy you are, fit in the time. What good is a bath without a good book anyway, right?
 
Rule #5:
*Get away- but take a notebook. Travel, even locally, can stimulate your imagination. A day trip to the lake can bring to mind old memories, or the perfect description of rippling water. It can conjure images of a couple fishing, and the romantic escapades it can lead to. Get my drift? No matter where you go, learn from it and write it down.
 
Rule #6:
*Log off! Yes, it is important to be present in the social age, especially if you are hoping to make a name for yourself for your upcoming release, but remember, social media does not require your attention 24/7. One hour a day is plenty enough. You cannot write if you are constantly plugged in. Also, limit yourself in the spending of your time. Joining every social media outlet and writing for numerous blogs seems like a good idea in theory, until you realize how much of your writing time it eats up. Ask yourself instead which sites bring the most bang for your buck, and invest your time there. Same for blogs. Which sites give you the most visibility, or that you have the most fun participating in? Decide, then respectfully bow out of those other blogs. Remember, a fan page and ten blogs does not make you an author. Writing a book does.
 
Rule #7:
*Utilize any and every inspiration available to you. Feeling blocked by a scene? Find a theme song! Can't think of a setting for your characters, or even see the face of one of them? Pinterest is great for compiling a list of stimulating visuals for the muse. Just don't let these creative outlets consume you. Let the book do that.
 
Rule #8:
*Be informed. So you've written a book. Now what? Your friend is published through X publishing house. Does that mean you should you also submit there? Now is the time to do your research. What kind of books does this house publish? Are they eBooks only, do they do POD, eInk first and print later? This is all important. If you have hopes of seeing your book in print, you aren't going to want to go with a digital only publisher. What about what they publish? If you write sweet romances, and the house only publishes erotic, you are not going to go far with the company. Once you have a list of who publishes your genre, you need to next ask yourself what matters to you in terms of format, distribution, and visibility, then go from there.
 
Rule #9:
*Make a game plan. You have a contract and a release date, now what? It's time to gear up for promotion. And don't be fooled into thinking promo is done the week before release. Even if most of your promotion is crammed into the week prior to release (think blog tour, giveaways, etc), there is still a lot of planning involved in seeing that week is concluded successfully. Your release might be six months away, but it's never too early to start. Here are some venues to consider in promoting your book:
  • Ads in newspapers and magazines (think smaller presses if you are a newbie author).
  • Blog tours or blog hops.
  • Review giveaways - This is when an author hosts a giveaway (say, for a gift card) in return for a review of their book. Authors will also often add the incentive of extra entries if you tweet, FB, or blog about their book.
  • NetGalley and Edelweiss are great venues for reviewers to see your books.
  • An ad in magazines hosted by your genre (such a RT or RWA if you write women's fiction/romance).
  • Give away books, bookmarks or other swag at writer's conferences. Even if you won't be attending said event, sending your goodies is a great way to promote your book. Remember, the same women who write in your genre, also read your genre.
  • Offer free chapters or excerpts (with publishers permission of course). Scribd.com offers the ability to upload free chapters.
  • Offer copies of older books to hook readers and sell a series (again, with publisher's permission).
  • Offer a free or appropriately priced short story, such as a prequel, to incite interest about your upcoming release (with publisher's permission).
  • Offer an Amazon preview if applicable.
  • Keep up with or create an Amazon author page (aka, author central).
  • Start a website and make information easy to access.
  • Think about starting up a newsletter and incentives you can offer for those who sign up.
  • Host Facebook and Twitter parties for your release, both of which require some ahead of time planning.
  • Recruit a street team.
  • Offer free reads to book reviewers. Research the top players of the game in your genre.
  • Feel free to copycat the ways you see other authors promote their books. What works for them could very well work for you.
  • Look into securing a review blurb from an author in your genre, or from a reviewer to include on your cover.
  • Also, you have the option of hiring a professional. Depending on what you have to spend will depend upon what services you get, which could mean you will still need to do your fair share of promoting, just with a little bit of help.
  • Take off from the day job the day of release. You should be present all day to promote, interact, and overall stay connected with the community.
Rule #10:
*Relax! A stressed writer cannot do her job properly. No matter if you are just starting to write the book or are in the process of promoting it, keep a level head and enjoy the ride!
 
~~~~~~~~~~~
 
BUT WAIT! THAT'S NOT ALL!
 
Want to win a Hot Damn Designs calendar full of yummy man chest? I happen to have one from the conference I would love to give away. Rules are as follows:
  • Be sure to promote this contest and include all links in the comments field for extra entries. Your word of mouth is important. This contest will not end until we have at least 10 comments (with valid email address).
  • For one entry, comment on this post and make sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner. For each venue you share this contest at, you will receive another entry. So say you include links to your G+, Twitter, and FB shout out in your comment on this post, you will receive a total of four entries.
 
Good luck!!
 
Follow me on Twitter: @ThoughtfulPen

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Interview with Jamallah Bergman

Hi and welcome to my blog, Jamallah.  Please make yourself comfortable and enjoy some virtual chocolate on the house. ;)

 
To get us started can you tell us what inspired you to write The Admission?
Well I’ve always loved old movies, from the silent era up until the 50’s and 60’s, and one of my favorite movies happens to be “The Heiress” (which starred Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Cliff). I loved the movie so much  that I thought to myself that wouldn’t it be neat to write about the idea but make it more modern, since the story was set in the 1800’s. Plus the fact that I mainly write in the Interracial genre, I knew that it would make for a great story since the movie and the story itself has been told and filmed for years on end. It’s probably the most interesting stories I’ve ever seen about how one person’s resentment towards their own flesh and blood because of something that wasn’t their own doing while that one person tries to find herself as well as finding love. Even though I wrote the story, I did have to tweak it a bit to make it more modern and things were changed a bit. But all in all, I hope that those that do read this story will love how Cathy and Rodrigo are able to surpass all that comes their way to find love. I know that when I wrote this story, it was very emotional. Actually it was TOO EMOTIONAL for me to be writing because it took me from being sad, being angry, being happy and falling in love and everything in between. I know that once a reader grabs hold of this book, they will feel the same emotions that I did when I wrote this story.

 

If you could live/write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I’ve always wanted to live in Italy. Actually I’ve always wanted to travel Europe like England, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Greece…..the list can go on for days. But Italy has been a place that I’ve always wanted to go and just live there for a couple of months. The food, the people, the atmosphere and the culture…EVERYTHING about Italy is beautiful and I would love to be able to go there and see it for myself.

 

If someone hasn't read any of your work, what book would you recommend that they start with and why?

Well I would start off with my first published book, “If…Only You Knew”, it’s a story that honestly is heartfelt as well as funny at the same time. A lot of people will be able to relate to the characters in this book because it’s something that many people nowadays go through in life…..when we want to let that special person who has made such an impact in our lives how much they really mean to us and we never do until we think it’s too late. I wrote this from experience because at one time in my life when I was young, I had  a friend who meant the world to me because he made me laugh when I was at my lowest and never judged me no matter what. He treated me like an equal and even to this day, I am blessed for that reason alone that he was that way to me when others treated me so cruel when I was a teenager. I never told him my true feelings for him because I thought that if I did, I would lose him as a friend. To this very day, he never knew how much of an impact he was in my life. So I think that once people read that book, they will go down memory lane and remember that one special person that made a difference in their lives like he did for me.

 

Is music an inspiration or a hindrance to your writing process?

I have to say that music is a great inspiration for me. I love music from all the eras, especially during the 80’s and 90’s where music honestly to me MEANT something. Most of the slow songs back then really hit home for people my age that grew up listening to those songs on the radio late at night or during the day. I know that my first book titled was inspired by a song by Patti LaBelle. If you listen to the lyrics of the song and then you read my book, then you can completely understand it for sure.

 

How would you describe yourself using only five words?

Funny

Sentimental

Caring

Compassionate

Shy

 

How do you get yourself in the mood to write?

Well I have to say that it depends on what mood or what idea might pop into my head. I can get an idea for a story by just looking at a picture or by talking with a friend about anything. As of late, it’s been with talking with people I’ve met online and picture of very handsome men.

 

What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help you concentrate?

Mainly I have my cup of hot tea and I sometimes often have the television on. I dunno but I seem to work well under distraction UNLESS that is I am really into a story that I am writing and need to be left alone. So I turn off the television and sometimes (not very often though) I do get off of Facebook and other distractions when I am trying to write. But most often I let folks know that are trying to contact me not to bother me because I’m in the midst of writing something good.

 

BLURB FOR THE ADMISSION:

All she ever wanted was her father’s love.

Cathy Sanderson tries her best to impress her father despite his resentment over her. She seemed to contemplate most days, "Why me? Why do you hate me so daddy?"

He'd belittle her about every little thing. The pain and anguish she felt as his only child had her day dreaming that one day he would treat her special.

Cathy loves her father and tries to make him proud of her, but everything she tried, never seemed to work.

Her shyness plays against her, and makes her a prisoner within her own mind.

She feels nothing in her nonexistent life could be made any better.

Until, she met him.

Rodrigo “Rod” Coram lives the life that most men fantasize about. He's the owner of a fabulous club, The Orchid Lounge. He has great clients, great friends and the eyes of every woman around.

One thing Rod didn't have was a woman to love.

Rod's best friend Frank asked him for his help. He needed an extra groomsman for his cousin’s wedding.

That's when fate brings an unloved woman, and a man looking for love, together.

New Love.  Secrets.  Regrets. Two people find each other, but their personal lives may keep

 

EXCERPT:

Rodrigo wanted her to feel comfortable so he quickly introduced her to some of his friends. He knew sitting in the lounge was making her totally uncomfortable, but he couldn’t help but be humored by her. The way she never really made any eye contact with him but he could see her eyes as scared and beautiful as they were. She was extremely shy, but still so cute, he thought. He had noticed when she smiled the cutest dimples he had ever seen, so deep that they brought out her cheeks. This only made her even more adorable because for some silly reason he had wanted to pinch them. Now he really must have been crazy for thinking up something so silly but it was true. He could tell she tried not to be so shy but as the night progressed, the shyness was slowly going away as she opened up a bit. At least he knew that he was doing a good job of making her at least a bit comfortable. While they had been talking with his bud Jeff, he told a joke Rodrigo knew embarrassed her completely just by her expression. He decided to leave the group since Jeff was known for his racy jokes. “Sorry about that, Jeff can tell a joke or two.”

“Oh I bet he could,” Cathy said.

Rodrigo laughed.

 

BUY LINKS AND OTHER LINKS:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/The-Admission-ebook/dp/B00C11J188/ref=la_B006HT16WY_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1364567840&sr=1-3

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Admission-ebook/dp/B00C11J188/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364567905&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-admission-jamallah-bergman/1114921620?ean=2940016390833

ARE: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-theadmission-1148163-168.html

SCP: http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=book_info&products_id=557

Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/the-admission

 

CONTACT INFO

Webpage: http://jamallahbergmansstoriesoflove.weebly.com/

Twitter: @silentbutloud1

Email: jamallahbergman73@gmail.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/jamallahbergmanauthor

My Romance Novel Center Profile: http://www.romancenovelcenter.com/jamallahbergman

Thank you so much, Jamallah! It's been great getting to know you better. :)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Release Day Fun for Heart's Desire


Well ladies and gentlemen, it's finally here, the day you've all been waiting for... Heart's Desire is available to donwload to your eReader! As the mother of this lovechild, I can tell you that I am very excited about today. I truly hope those who the book touched take a moment and email me --lindsey (dot)writewords(at)yahoo(dot)com-- or leave a review with their thoughts on the story. I love to know what my readers think, and since this is such an emotional book, I hope it reaches you guys on the same level it did me while writing it.


What inspired me to write Heart's Desire?

You know, that's a tough question because there wasn't a dream or a burst of brilliance in the shower like how many of my other stories are born. There was  just the thought of how a man and wife would deal with premature labor and the loss of a child in the medieval ages when causes and cures were unknown. When that thought popped into my head, I knew I had a story and it was one I had to write. Even though I have not personally dealt with such losses, the tale seemed wrenched from me and I felt keenly the pain and confusion of both my characters. Thus how Heart's Desire came to be.
Blurb for Heart's Desire:
During the three years Gareth Havelock was away in France fighting the crusade, his only thought was of the bride he left behind. When the turrets of Waverly appear from the mists, heralding his homecoming, he no longer has to live with only the memories of her. But when her warm welcome suddenly turns cold, Gareth can't help but jump to conclusions.

Katherine Havelock can hardly believe her eyes when her husband returns home after all this time away at war, but love and loss threaten the happiness she feels. Can she find a way to tell him the truth of what happened in his absence? And is their love strong enough to endure it?
 
Excerpt from Heart's Desire:
Rising to her feet, Katherine poured the water the fire had warmed into the basin at her husband's side. She dipped her cloth in the water, then gently cleansed the nasty gash atop his thigh. It appeared as if he had worked with it himself, but the injury was a far cry from healed. With the blood rinsed away, she set to the binding of it.
“You have been quiet,” Gareth said softly. Reaching out, he cupped his hand around hers, bringing it to his mouth.
The feather-light kiss did dangerous things to her, causing her to yearn for that which could not be.
“Pray tell why that is,” he beseeched.
Katherine looked up, finding herself ensnared by the heat of Gareth’s slate green eyes. Her breath hitched, and quickly she looked away, afraid of what would become of her strength of will if she fell prey to his hypnotic depths.
Gareth’s hand enveloped hers, so much larger than her own. The heat of his breath fanned the back of her hand as he brushed his lips across her skin, awakening a flush of color that rushed across her entire body, warming her to distracting heights.
“I—” Katherine stammered, not entirely sure what he’d even just asked. She was too mesmerized by the way her husband’s mouth moved over her skin.
Lowering their joined hands, he pressed her palm against his chest, where she felt the steady beat of his heart.
He took the wet cloth from her other hand, dropping it back in the basin before taking that hand and joining it with the other.
Nerves fluttered in her chest like butterfly wings. She glanced down at his injury, grasping for excuses. “I fear you need a salve. I will call for a physician,” she said.
“Are you anxious, love?” he asked. “I admit, it has been awhile, and in all that time, you have been the one thought keeping me going. You have haunted my every dream. Now that I am returned, here before you, I find my imagination is lacking.”
Katherine’s lashes fell over her cheeks, a rush of crimson burning her face. “No. 'Tis not nerves,” she replied softly, her eyes still averted. “I have missed you overmuch.”
Gareth gently brushed the hair back from her forehead, then his touch dropped to trace the line of her jaw with one finger. Running the pad of his thumb across the curve of her lower lip, he stared, transfixed at her mouth.
“And I you,” he murmured. “I’ve missed the sound of your voice, the touch of your hand, the taste of you…”
The sweet pull of desire lulled her, reminded her of all they once had, while veiling all they could not.
The pallet moved beneath her as Gareth shifted, throwing her off balance enough to slide into his embrace. He was all heat and hard lines, giving her a sense of protection she’d missed so dearly. With the palms of his hands, he made languid, swirling strokes up and down her back. For a moment she abandoned herself to the whirl of sensations the gentle motion created, closing her eyes to fully enjoy the sensation of Gareth touching her, holding her, saying such intimate things. She’d waited so long for this.
“You are a vision Katherine Havelock.” His voice turned to a raspy burr. Everything about him in that moment seemed to change.
Katherine’s lashes fluttered up, and she was immediately aware of what that change was. Her back stiffened, but he tightened his hold. She knew all too well where this was headed, and what he wanted of her. But she wasn’t ready—they weren’t ready.
She lay her hands against his chest—a gesture meant to stop him—and felt the way his muscles rippled under her touch.
“We can’t—”
“My dear wife, you did an exceptional job of wrapping my wound,” he replied, voice deep and sinfully rich. “So if that be your only worry, you need not concern yourself.”
He leaned toward her, and she felt the breath of his kiss against her lips.
“It’s not that,” she argued on a sigh. “We—”
But then his lips were against hers, firm and persuasive, and just like that, the last of her resolve was shattered.
Purchase links:
(as well as where any eBooks are sold)
Other books avail: Twice Tempted (contemporary romance)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Quote of the Week

"I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had courage to go forth into its expanse..."

~Charlotte Bronte, from Jane Eyre