Looking Ahead to 2016

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Wow…2015 was full of changes.

I said goodbye to a house I loved and a job, which for the most part, I enjoyed.

My kids left behind friends, and my husband and I said sayonara to a very bad situation.

Our family relocated to Wisconsin and we were lucky to have the summer to resettle.

Last year we traveled a bumpy road.

But that’s the past. I’m ready for the future. 2016 is set up to be a fantastic year.

-This year my writing is being elevated from a hobby to a career. (more details about that to come)

-I will continue to improve my craft and won’t shy away from taking risks.

-If I read a book I love, I’ll share it with anyone that will listen…even those say they don’t have time to read. (A condition I’ll never understand)

-Gratitude is not something I only embrace during the good times but I’ll remember to be thankful every day.

-I will let go of anger and learn to open my heart again to new friends.

-And I pray that the world uses this time we’ve been grated to find away to live together in peace.

Good wishes for a wonderful 2016!

 

 

Love, Lies, and Mistletoe

Book Description:
 
This small-town sheriff has big-city secrets

As a detective in New York, Jacob Marx had been deep under
cover in a drug cartel…until a bust went terribly wrong. Now posing as a good
guy is proving even tougher. Since the force sent him to Brookhollow to lie low
as a deputy sheriff, he’s been struggling to stay detached from the
townspeople. Especially Heather, the gorgeous, high-heeled bartender at the
local pool hall who asks too many questions. Tempted as he is, he can’t allow
himself to connect with her or anyone else. His career and safety are at stake.
Of course, a little flirting couldn’t hurt… Could it?

Review:
I love Ms. Snow’s Brookhollow series and this one did not disappoint. Mix together a grumpy sheriff’s deputy and a sassy bartender, add an undercover assignment and a new career opportunity with a splash of intrigue, and you’ve got yourself a heartwarming love story.
Jacob and Heather are really good together.  Of course it took them until almost the end to figure that out. If love was easy, it wouldn’t make a good story. Right? He doesn’t want to bring anyone into his dangerous life. She’s determined to leave Brookhollow in her rear view mirror. Thank goodness for fate and an expired driver’s license.
 Overall Love, Lies, and Mistletoe was a fun read for the holiday season.

Bio:

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Jennifer Snow lives in Edmonton,
Alberta with her husband and four year old son. She is a member of the Writers
Guild of Alberta, the Romance Writers of America, the Canadian Author
Association, and SheWrites.org.  She is
also a regular blogger on the Heartwarming Authors site and is a contributing
author to Mslexia Magazine, WestWord Magazine and RWR. She has also taught RWA
Chapters courses online.  Her 2013
Holiday Romance-The Trouble With Mistletoe was a finalist in the 2014 Golden
Quill Contest and the Heart of Denver Aspen Gold Contest.
Her publishing credits include two
holiday novellas, previously published by The Wild Rose Press, now re-released
or being re-released as self-published editions through Amazon. The Mistletoe
Fever was an Amazon bestseller for two weeks in the category of Kindle Short
Reads. Her six book small town, Brookhollow series is published through
Harlequin Heartwarming and she has a new MMA sports romance series releasing
through Berkley/NAL Intermix in 2015. RT Reviews has given each of her
Brookhollow series books 4 stars.
She also hosts an annual SnowGlobe
Award contest in recognition of holiday themed romance stories, with over forty
entries each year, with participants ranging from new authors to NYT
Bestselling authors, such as Brenda Novak and Sarah Morgan. More information
about the contest can be found at http://www.snowglobeawardcontest.vpweb.ca
She is active on her website,
Facebook, Twitter, and various blog sites and has a monthly author newsletter.
Web links

Twitter

Buy Links

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Why I Write

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Why do I spend so much of my time writing? Why does anyone devote hours to a project? Simple…because of the human drive to create something out of nothing.

My need to tell stories is something I’ve always possessed. It wasn’t until well into adulthood that I put those stories into writing. Whenever I had a hard time sleeping, I would close my eyes and pull together a story from my imagination. Sometimes I’d use the remnants of a dream and build on the story in my conscious mind. More often then not, I’d be asleep before I would reach the end. This is how my story HOME FIELD started. It wouldn’t leave my brain, awake or asleep. I knew then that I needed to write this one down. This one was special.

I love creating characters out of nothing. Breathing life into them and listen as they tell me their story. I love the challenge of writing and the constant drive to improve my craft. How can I explain to someone the rush I feel after spending hours at the computer, totally lost in my own imagination? Would anyone but a writer understand the visceral response to reading your own completed manuscript? Seeing your characters, the ones you’ve spent so much time with, overcome challenges (all of which you’ve created for them) to find true love.

Why do I write? Simply because I have to. I couldn’t imaging my life any other way.

-Laurie

 

Review: Pure Justice

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Book Description:
 
In an uncertain future where the Impures—genetic
defectives—are banished to a ghetto territory, Detective Ina Stone and her
rookie partner, Sam Fujimoto, constantly fight for survival. But when a
murdered Impure is discovered in the projects with only a business card in his
pocket, the clues lead them into the shadowy underworld of black market trade
and human trafficking. After Sam is kidnapped by the Yakuza crime syndicate,
Ina must hide her own defect to go undercover as a human trafficking victim.
Accompanied by a Tebori master and a new detective with her own secrets, Ina
must find a way to free Sam without exposing his role in the investigation, or
getting herself killed in the process.

My Review:

Ina Stone is labeled an Impure in Liah Penn’s book Pure Justice. In this new world, any person that is not perfect is banished to a less than ideal territory. There, food is rationed, medical care is lacking, and forced sterilization is standard practice. The goal is to breed out imperfections and ultimately be left with a master race of people with perfect genetics.

But since she was born Pure and never sterilized, Detective Ina Stone is pregnant. Her boyfriend and partner, Detective Sam Fujimoto is ready to take their relationship to the next level. While Ina and Sam try to come to terms with expecting a baby, a murdered undercover Pure detective leads Ina on a hunt that will endanger not only her life, but also Sam’s.

I am such a fan of Pure Death, the first book in this series, so I was thrilled to read Pure Justice and revisit Ina’s world. Sam and Ina can’t catch a break, but only because Ina is a pit bull of a detective who won’t take no for an answer. Her quest uncovers a dangerous underground that includes human trafficking.

I had a hard time putting this book down, and that’s saying a lot since I’ve read very few books that have had that effect. The suspense was great. Liah did a wonderful job of putting me in Ina’s shoes.

If you haven’t read Pure Death, I would suggest you start with that story, then move on to Pure Justice. You won’t be disappointed!

 

Bio:

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Award-winning
author Liah Penn is an attorney who practices law near New Orleans,
Louisiana.  A former prosecutor, she has
worked in a major metropolis, an Indian reservation and on the Mexican border.  She is an accomplished artist and is active
in numerous arts organizations and boards in the New Orleans area.
Author Links
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Cover Reveal

I am pleased to bring you the cover reveal of Poor Boy Road by James L. Weaver, a pulse pounding thriller following a mob fixer as he returns home for the first time in sixteen years.

As a mob enforcer, Jake ‘The Fixer’ Caldwell is in the dark business of breaking kneecaps and snapping bones. But each job sends him one step closer to turning into the man he swore he’d never become – his violent and abusive father. Leaving the mob is easier said than done. When his boss offers a bloody way out, Jake has no choice but to take it, even if it means confronting ghosts of old.

Arriving in his Lake of the Ozarks hometown, Jake has two things on his mind: kill ruthless drug lord Shane Langston and bury his dying father. What he doesn’t expect is to fall in love all over again and team up with his best friend Bear, the Sheriff of Benton County, to take Langston down. Racing through the countryside searching for Langston, the web of murder, meth and kidnapping widens, all pointing toward a past Jake can’t escape and a place he never wanted to return – Poor Boy Road.


About The Author

James L. Weaver is the author of the forthcoming Jake Caldwell thrillers, Poor Boy Road and Ares Road. He makes his home in Olathe, Kansas with his wife of eighteen years and two children. His previous publishing credits include a six-part story called “The Nuts” and his 5-star rated debut novel Jack & Diane. Author note: a handful of those who’ve rated it are actually not related to him!

His limited free time is spent writing into the wee hours of the morning, playing parental taxi cab to his kids’ sporting endeavours, and binge watching Netflix.
  

Website
Twitter

How I Write

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There’s no magic formula for writing a full length novel. It just takes time…lots and lots of time. Time to plot, time to research, time to write…review, revise, etc. Each writer has their own method for how they spend that time, getting from a plot bunny to a finished manuscript. I thought I’d share the method that I’ve developed after writing four manuscripts (until I learn something new and change it up).

Every book starts with a plot idea, the beginnings of a story that won’t leave you alone. I spend hours daydreaming about my potential characters before I put anything down on paper. Once my characters become more real, like they could potentially star in their own story, I start writing down details in a notebook. Over time, my notes become more detailed, and I really flesh out who these people are: names, ages, backstory, family, motivations, good characteristics, bad habits, character arch, what’s standing in the way of them reaching their goal.

I plot very loosely. Basically, I break my story into four acts, then figure out the important plot points I want at the end of each section. It’s kind of like riding a wave, up and down, and the waves get higher and more significant as you reach the end. An example would be that half way through the MS (based on word count) I write an emotionally explosive scene, that usually involves kissing! I also start my research when I plot, but most of that comes during the writing phase, since I don’t start out with a detailed plot. I discover what I need to research along the way.

Once I have a loose plot, I start to write. I use daily word count goals and I write every day. When I was working full time, I’d write 1000 words(1.25 hours) on a week day and 2000(2.5 hours) on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, there’s wiggle room for life events. Some days I set a higher goal and others I would lower it. So for a 75,000 word MS, it takes me about two months to write the first draft. The crappy first draft. It is unpolished and full of errors, but I don’t care. I have the solid bones of a story.

Then I let it sit for at least two weeks. I don’t touch it, don’t read it, don’t open the file. It creates some objective distance between myself and my writing. Once I’m ready to work on it again, I print out a paper copy and read the whole thing within two days. I make notes about plot issues or any other issues I see. Next, I start writing my second draft. Up until now, I’ve rewritten my second draft from scratch. My first drafts are that bad. For this next MS, I think I might be in good enough shape that I don’t have to scrap the first draft, but work off it to improve.

After I’m satisfied with my second draft, usually after six weeks of working on it, I send it out to beta readers and critic partners. They have different points of view and can read the MS with objectivity. At this point, it’s a waiting game. This can be black hole of time, but I use it to start another manuscript. Believe it or not, I can write an entire first draft of my next story while I’m waiting for reader feedback.

So, it can be up to two months before I have enough feedback to start revisions again. I read the entire MS once out loud. It’s amazing the small mistakes you find when doing that. I go over it again, and again, and again. Maybe send it out to a few more people for more feedback. This usually takes another month or so, then I finally have a finished manuscript.

If you’re keeping track, you can see that it takes me about 6 months from start to finish. Yes, in that time I write the first draft of another story, but still…that’s a long time. I consider it an investment in a solid book.

That’s the method I found works best for me. If you’re a writer, how do you write?

Maggie’s Way

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Review:

Maggie Abernathy is having one heck of a summer. It was supposed to be a break from teaching 2nd graders, to have a chance to find herself again.

But her recent divorce, plus a scary cancer diagnosis have turned her life upside down. Now, a little sprite of a girl has moved in next door, and now is a frequent visitor to Maggie’s backyard. Can Maggie’s new neighbors help pave a new path into her heart?

This story was a perfect miss of sweet and sorrow. Maggie’s having a real tough summer. Linda Bradley doesn’t hold any punches as she walks the reader through Maggie’s radiation treatments. The little neighbor girl, Chloe, was a scene stealer. Maybe an unwelcome one at first, but it didn’t take long for Chloe to worm her way into Maggie’s daily life (and our hearts).

I enjoyed the slow build up of romance between Maggie and John. I look forward to the continuation of their story.

True Horizon is a contest finalist!

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I was so happy to learn over the weekend that my unpublished manuscript, True Horizon, is a finalist for the Pages From the Heart Contest.

If that wasn’t exciting enough, the hero of the story, Heath Carter, is a Hero Of Our Heart finalist!

True Horizon is a very special story to me, and Heath is one of my the favorite heros. His story was inspired by the many stories of our country’s veterans who are trying to rebuild their lives while combating PTSD.

Heath’s story is a reflection of the service men and women who have given so much to our country. They deserve our unconditional love and support.

In honor of True Horizon’s finalist status, here is a brief excerpt from one of my favorite scenes of the story:

“Seriously though,” Heath said. ‘Thanks again for last night. The events are somewhat hazy, but I do know that I’d still be wandering the countryside if it wasn’t for your persistence.”

“You can make it up to me,” Grace said with an innocent smile. The spark in her eyes told a different story.

“Is that so?” A slow smile emerged as he crossed his arms. “Name it.”

“Do you know how to ride? A horses, that is.”

“That’s a negative, ma’am.”

“Well, I guess it’s time you learn. The ranch is fun to explore on horseback.”

“As grateful as I am that you sprung me from jail, I’m not interested in death by horse. Is there anything else I can do? Wash your car? Paint your nails? I’m building your wedding gazebo don’t forget,” he said, starting to panic. The thought of riding on top of one of those huge beast made the nausea revisit in full force.

“You were in the Army, right?”

He nodded his head, afraid of where this line of questioning was heading.

“You jumped out of planes? Fast roped out of helicopters? Were shot at?”

“Positive.”

“But you’re afraid of riding a sweet, tame horse?” Grace couldn’t hide the smirk forming on her face.

“I didn’t say I was afraid,” he defended, then realized that assertion was tad amount to surrender.

“Great! I’ll go change and meet you in the stables.”  She smiled victoriously and took off towards the house, her spry legs moving quickly across the lawn. He forced his eyes to look away from her and walked to the stables. “I survived multiple tours in a war zone only to be ensnared by a bewitching siren and lured to my death on horseback,” he muttered to himself.

“Ain’t that the way it goes,” Bruce said as he exited the stable and gave him a hearty pat on the back. “If you’re lucky, she won’t let you escape her net.”

parker

Good Luck Heath!

Writers’ Police Academy 2015

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Last March, I learned about a wonderful event called the Writers’ Police Academy. Even more exciting was that it was going to be held in Appleton, the city I’d be moving to in June. Luckily for me, they had a few drop outs, so I was able to register. (This event sells out fast!)

Since it was my first time doing a workshop like this, I didn’t know what to expect. I write romance and my work in progress features a heroine who is a police officer. I had some doubts about the realism of my police action scenes. Another reason for going is that I’m interested in learning more about our police and fire men and women.

You never know when a nugget of information will grow into a full blown plot!

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First off, let me say how impressed I was with the Fox Valley Tech College Public Safety Training Center. They have a freakin’ Boeing 727 parked in the back lot! I am very proud of this top notch facility that’s right in my back yard. The staff and instructors were great. Special shout out to the food service staff for accommodating my gluten free diet. During each class, the instructor’s passion for his or her career shone through (even Franz, the police dog). They were all happy to answer questions and engage with the writers (except for Franz, he just barked).

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The K-9 demonstration was impressive. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of Franz’s mouth! Note to self – Never threaten a K-9 handler.

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I learned handcuffing and arresting techniques. Proud to say that was the first time I’ve ever been cuffed.

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Four members of the Neenah SWAT team gave a great presentation about their duties. Also, learned that they don’t have a sniper dog (inside joke).

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Let’s not forget the Fire Department! The Fire Training Center was wonderful. After trying to drag around the 160lb dummy and wearing some of the gear, I have a new appreciation for the physical demands of their training and job. The ride in the fire truck made me feel as excited as a little kid!

The entire experience of WPA was great! I can’t thank Lee, his staff of volunteers, and Dr. Joe LeFevre enough for their time in putting this together. I made some good contacts with local law enforcement that I hope will help me with the accuracy of my writing.

Oh…and in case you were wondering…the hotel pool closes at 11:00.

Can’t wait til next year!!

Breaking Her Rules

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Book Description:
Walker Adams was supposed to follow in his lawyer father’s
footsteps, but instead he’s training to be an MMA fighter. And while he works
for his chance to make it in the Maximum Fight League, he’s bunking on his baby
sister’s best friend’s couch. Gracie Andrews is all grown up—in all the right
places. But she’s engaged to the fight match-maker who holds Walker’s career in
his hands…

Gracie had almost convinced herself that she’d put her silly
childhood crush on Walker to rest. But the sight of him sleeping in only a pair
of boxer briefs makes it clear that some things never change. And as old sparks
turn to flames, Gracie is forced to decide between the future she thought she
wanted or the man she’s never stopped loving…

Review:
What could go wrong when Gracie Andrews agrees to let the brother of her best friend crash on her sofa for a few weeks…the brother who she grew up having a crush on…the brother who is now a hunky MMA fighter. Or should I ask…what could go right??

While Walker Adams is trying to breaking into the UFC, he is totally reliant on Grace’s ‘good graces’. She gives him a place to stay, helps him find a job and a gym to train at, and leaves his head spinning. Grace is now engaged to a powerful Vegas fight match-maker and has no interest in turning her back on a stable relationship for one with Walker, a man with no career and no money. (Don’t worry Walker, I’d take you regardless)

The chemistry between Grace and Walker was red hot! I loved the push and pull as they tried to figure out how to make it work between them. Jennifer did a great job of creating believable characters, ones that I was cheering for in the end.

I loved this book and I can’t wait for the next one in the series.

**I was given an ARC for an honest review

Bio:

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Jennifer Snow lives in Edmonton,
Alberta with her husband and four year old son. She is a member of the Writers
Guild of Alberta, the Romance Writers of America, the Canadian Author
Association, and SheWrites.org.  She is
also a regular blogger on the Heartwarming Authors site and is a contributing
author to Mslexia Magazine, WestWord Magazine and RWR. She has also taught RWA
Chapters courses online.  Her 2013
Holiday Romance-The Trouble With Mistletoe was a finalist in the 2014 Golden
Quill Contest and the Heart of Denver Aspen Gold Contest.

Her publishing credits include two
holiday novellas, previously published by The Wild Rose Press, now re-released
or being re-released as self-published editions through Amazon. The Mistletoe
Fever was an Amazon bestseller for two weeks in the category of Kindle Short
Reads. Her six book small town, Brookhollow series is published through
Harlequin Heartwarming and she has a new MMA sports romance series releasing
through Berkley/NAL Intermix in 2015. RT Reviews has given each of her
Brookhollow series books 4 stars.

She also hosts an annual SnowGlobe
Award contest in recognition of holiday themed romance stories, with over forty
entries each year, with participants ranging from new authors to NYT
Bestselling authors, such as Brenda Novak and Sarah Morgan. More information
about the contest can be found at http://www.snowglobeawardcontest.vpweb.ca

She is active on her website,
Facebook, Twitter, and various blog sites and has a monthly author newsletter.

Web links

Buy Links

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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