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Dances of the Heart – Andrea Downing

**** Winner of the FREE ecopy of Dances of the Heart is Teressa Mirault. Congratulations, Teressa!

I am pleased to welcome Andrea Downing and her latest, a Wild Rose Press romance. Looks like a great one! Take it away, Andrea…

Hi Alicia, thanks so much for having me here today and helping me share the release of my new book, Dances of the Heart.

Where did you get the idea for your story?  

Strangely enough, the idea for Dances of the Heart came from the Texas Two-step; Texas Two-Step was its original title until I discovered there were numerous books with that title so opted to change it.  It just made me think of writing a story about two couples, mother and daughter/father and son, which took place in Texas.  Quite honestly, I have no idea how it evolved from that.

Why did you choose this genre (is it something you’ve written in before)?   

I’ve never written a contemporary book before; all my work has been historical, and this effort was really rather frightening.  I have no idea why I’m so much more comfortable in the 1800s, but I was once told I was born in the wrong century!  Obviously, in some ways, contemporary’s easier—you don’t have to think that much about language and the way they lived and how they would be dressed and so on, although I did have to have a Texan check my dialog to make sure it sounded right.

What was the most difficult thing about this book in particular? 

As I just mentioned, getting the language correct, making the Texas characters sound ‘Texan.’  I’m from the northeast and have lived most of my life in Britain so, for instance, I never say “I’m fixin’” to do anything!

What’s the main thing that you could get rid of in your life that would give you more writing time?

PROMOTION  It is such a time-suck, it isn’t even funny any more.  The book world is swamped now, and it’s difficult to know what to do, what works and so on, to sell books.  I hate it.  I would also like to get rid of waiting time in doctor’s offices.  For some reason, doctors seem to think their time is more valuable than ours.  To give you an example, I had a 3 pm appointment last week and was called to please come in for 1.30 pm because the doctor had a meeting in the afternoon.  So, what happened?  I still wasn’t seen until 3pm…  I have a couple of medical issues at the moment and the amount of time I lose in doctor’s offices doesn’t bear thinking about, although it’s good reading time.

Would you rather have a bad review or no review?    

If push comes to shove, I’d rather have a bad review than none at all although, having said that, I, myself, have opted out of reviewing a book I didn’t like rather than give it a bad review.   For me, I’d like to know why people don’t like my work, what annoyed them—I want feedback from readers basically.  If you don’t receive a review at all, you’re left wondering whether the reader just gave up or what the heck happened.  But, for goodness sake, you want a sensible, intelligent review, good or bad.

If you could change something about one of your books that’s already released, what would it be?  

Oh, I’d love to re-write Loveland and fill it out into a saga.  There is a lot that happens ‘off stage’ in that book, particularly when Lady Alex and Jesse are separated and she is in England, I would love to fill out.  And I would like to finish their story and tell a bit more of it.

What is your favorite quote?    

It comes from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig, and readers can find more of his amazing made-up words online.  Here’s my favorite:  Sonder:

“Realize that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own – populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries, and inherited craziness – an epic story that continues invisibly around like an anthill, sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.”    John Koenig

What is your most prized material possession? Why?   

I’m really not attached to material possessions.  I mean, I like having a computer to write and I like to look at photos in our old albums, but if you ask me what I’d grab in a blazing fire, I’m not sure.  If pushed, I guess I’d have to say it’s a portrait I had done for my daughter’s 18th birthday; it’s the two of us sitting by the piano, which is a big part of my daughter’s life.  When I had it done, the young artist, Alastair Adams, was virtually unknown; he has since gone on to become President of The Royal Society of Portrait Painters and paint such notables as Tony Blair, whose portrait by Alastair now hangs in The National Portrait Gallery.  I doubt I could afford his work now!  But anyway, the painting captures the two of us and our relationship so well.  I hope it remains in the family for generations.

So I’d like to know from readers here what their most valued possession is, and why; I think I’m going to ask to discount photo albums because so many people say that.  And I’ll choose one person to receive a free digital copy of Dances of the Heart.  Thanks so much for having me, Alicia.  It’s been great to discuss these things with you.

It’s been a pleasure having you, Andrea. I enjoyed the interview…congratulations on the new release!

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Blurb:  Successful, workaholic author Carrie Bennett lives through her writing, but can’t succeed at writing a man into her life. Furthermore, her equally successful but cynical daughter, Paige, proves inconsolable after the death of her fiancé.

Hard-drinking rancher Ray Ryder can find humor in just about anything—except the loss of his oldest son. His younger son, Jake, recently returned from Iraq, now keeps a secret that could shatter his deceased brother’s good name.

On one sultry night in Texas, relationships blossom when the four meet, starting a series of events that move from the dancehalls of Hill Country to the beach parties of East Hampton, and from the penthouses of New York to the backstreets of a Mexican border town. But the hurts of the past are hard to leave behind, especially when old adversaries threaten the fragile ties that bind family to family…and lover to lover.  

 

Excerpt: Ray pointed to his pickup, smirking slightly with the knowledge of what her reaction would probably be.

“You must be joking.”


He could hardly hear the mumbled comment, but it was exactly what he’d been expecting.


She glowered, a brow definitively arched in query.  “What year is this thing?”


He attempted to wipe the amusement away from his face with a hand that rubbed his stubble in a satisfying scrape. “Sorry, I left the Cadillac at home this time.” A raised brow questioned if she took him seriously. “It’s an ’89, and still runs as smooth as the day I got it.”

“Which was, what? Last year?”

Ray shook his head and proceeded to the passenger door. “You have the key, sweetheart,” he said, patiently standing and waiting.

“Listen!” Carrie put her hands out as if to stop any further conversation. “First off, I am not your sweetheart. And second, if by any chance you think you just may have gotten lucky tonight–”

“Whoa, whoa now.” Ray was truly mystified at the turn events were taking. “Not that I wouldn’t be honored and damn well pleased, but I sure as heck wasn’t thinkin’ along those lines…and truth be told, you know, I’m hardly up to it.” He considered this for a second, a fog clearing for a moment’s view of the road. “And I don’t mean I need Viagra either.” He noted her staring at the key as if it might turn into something else. “No, it doesn’t open automatically,” he informed her at last.

She shoved the key into the handle and got the door open, climbed up into the cab and reached across to unlock the door for him. Her gaze ran over the dashboard, uncertainty scrunching her face like a bitter fruit.

Ray folded himself into the passenger seat and slouched back, tipping his hat over his eyes. “Just let me know when you give up. I’ll be right here, darl…” Yeah, better not. He could almost feel her indignation, listening as she squirmed around and adjusted the seat.

“It’ll be a cold day in hell, mister, before I give up!” The key turned and the truck sputtered to life, then died again.

“You ever drive manual before?” he mumbled from under his Stetson, and sensed Carrie eyeing him. “That’s what I thought,” he answered to her lack of response. “Put your foot on the clutch, move her into first, release the brake, and get goin’, slowly releasing the clutch.”

“Who the hell drives stick shift anymore?” she muttered as she followed his terse instructions. The truck lurched forward as she spun it off the grass toward the road.

“Right,” Ray directed, feeling suddenly nauseous with the pitch of the car. Bile rising, he opened the door and spat before yanking it shut again. “Can you get the damn thing into second? Foot on the clutch, move the shift and let’s go if we’re going.”

“Fine! You don’t have to yell at me.”

Ray sat up, shoved his hat back from his eyes and glared at her, reining in his frustration and anger. “I was not yelling at you, but you know dang well we’d be far safer with me drivin’. As it is, I’m gonna need a new transmission.”

The truck staggered again. “I know no such thing.” She bent forward to swipe at the windscreen to clear it. “We haven’t got seatbelts on,” she murmured.

“We’re not going fast enough to need them.”

Carrie ignored his last remark and appeared to concentrate on keeping the truck moving. It sputtered again, and Ray let out a sigh of resignation just as flashing blue lights appeared in the side mirror. She pulled over, and the motor unceremoniously died.

“Damn!” she cursed, reaching down for her bag at Ray’s feet. “Let me get my license.”

©nathandehartphotography-andreadowning copy

Bio:  Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK.   She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit.  Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC.  She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming.  Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 20 ranches throughout the west.  Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards.  Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards and placed in the 2014 International Digital Awards Historical Short contest.   Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and came out Oct. 8th, 2014, and Dances of the Heart, her first contemporary novel, comes out in February, 2015.

 

Links to Social Media:  WEBSITE AND BLOG:  http://andreadowning.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/writerAndreaDowning

Twitter:  @andidowning  https://twitter.com/AndiDowning

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6446229.Andrea_Downing

Linkedin:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=124888740&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:  http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Downing/e/B008MQ0NXS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

 

Buy Links:  Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dances-Heart-Andrea-Downing-ebook/dp/B00S46BGY6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421510959&sr=8-2&keywords=Dances+of+the+Heart

The Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepub: http://www.amazon.com/Dances-Heart-Andrea-Downing-ebook/dp/B00S46BGY6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421510959&sr=8-2&keywords=Dances+of+the+Heartlishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=195&products_id=6060

 

 

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Chryse Wymer on Colons – Writing Tips

I would like to welcome Chryse Wymer today. She’s here to help us understand colons a little better. Thank you for joining me, Chryse.

Many thanks to the illustrious Alicia Dean for allowing me to guest post on my favorite topic: colons. I was introduced to her work through a friend who assured me that it was worth the read, and I was pleasantly surprised at the writing quality and storytelling—I’m just not much on romance books or those heavy on the romantic subplots. But I’m glad I gave it a go.

Why I’m here: this month, I’ll be hopping along from blog to blog to share my knowledge on the nuts and bolts of great writing. I am a copy editor, proofreader, and author—published both traditionally and independently. I’m also raffling off Amazon gift cards to get you started on your editing bookshelves. You can contact me at chrysewymer@yahoo.com, or, for more information, visit: http://ocdeditor.weebly.com/ At the previous site, I’ll also be keeping a list of the blogs I’ve visited and the subject matter I’ve shared. The giveaway starts December 1st and ends January 1st.

Let’s get to it.

COLONS – Part Two

The first few paragraphs below are repeated from my last post; there are reasons for that: one snippet is quite important, and the video is helpful. If you have a handle on the basics, in my opinion, it’s easier to understand the specifics. I would also urge you to read the previous post on Kriss Morton’s blog: http://cabingoddess.com/ It thoroughly details the main colon usage that a fiction writer will employ.

I want to reiterate, again, that colons and semicolons are often misused. The semicolon stops the forward movement of a statement while a colon marks a forward movement, often emphasizing it.

Colons promise the completion of something just begun.

The following video is, in my opinion, helpful in differentiating basic colon vs. semicolon use: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU0x4Ipj-5Q There are grammatical errors in it, but the actual information on semicolons vs. colons is correct.

*See Kriss Morton’s blog for the first use of a colon. I am adding each blog stop to my own blog (as I go) for convenience: http://ocdeditor.weebly.com/blog.html

The second use of a colon is to introduce a list of items, often after the terms the following and as follows—e.g.: For the scavenger hunt, we need the following: rubber duckies, a 1997 quarter, and a bottle of calamine lotion.

Third, the colon formally introduces a fully self-contained quotation. Block-form quotations must take a colon, but if it’s run in with the text, a comma is also acceptable. E.g.: “Einstein said this about the mind: ‘If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?’”

Thank you for reading, and join us tomorrow for the final installment on colons at Alison DeLuca’s blog, Fresh Pot of Tea: http://alisondeluca.blogspot.com/ We’ll be covering a couple simple uses as well as common errors. The final installment will be lighter next time (promise).

BIOGRAPHY

Chryse Wymer is a freelance copy editor and proofreader whose main focus is on indie writers. Her clients have been well reviewed, and one was recently chosen as a top-five finalist in The Kindle Book Review’s 2013 Best Indie Book Awards in his category: mystery/thriller. For some years, she has been particularly obsessed with William S. Burroughs’s writing, who happened to coin the term heavy metal … her favorite music. You can contact her at chrysewymer@yahoo.com, follow her on twitter: @ChryseWymer, or like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChryseWymer

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The Generation for Writers by Nikolas Baron

There has never been a better time than now to be an author. It is simply amazing how many doors are open, especially since the rise of eBooks. Big-name publishers are at their wits end, particularly if they stubbornly insist on the good old print-centric gatekeeping. Penguin Books publishing recently got burned in the self-publishing business due to their shady partnership with Author Solutions. However, even Penguin Books is realizing the importance of this new market. Evidently, the migration toward greener pastures was in the hope of keeping away from being on the top of the endangered species list.

Since the start of the year, I’ve been working at Grammarly, a natural linguistics start-up in San Francisco, understanding how writers write. Inevitably, this has given me countless opportunities to engage in rather fascinating conversations with authors from a myriad of backgrounds. Not surprisingly, much of their lament with writing had to do specifically with editing and publishing. The thing is, publishing a book has never been easier. With the current offerings, amateur writers have more say over what is sold on the market. This generation of eBooks has turned the tables on publishers. Let me share the major approaches some successful amateur authors have used to break into the scene.

Firstly, regular writing on public platforms is paramount to getting heard. More than 1.4 million blog posts are published every single day. This gargantuan amount of posts might leave you baffled; your ego must have died a little inside knowing what a pointless tease blogging might be. However, here’s the astonishing bit–every day, 57 million people in the US alone read blogs. Quite predictably, these platforms are the perfect place for gaining a fan base for your writing. What’s more, you cannot discount the need for serious practice before you jump full-swing into the realm of self-publishing. Test your ideas here; see how your audience responds, and go back to your workroom to create a unique voice for yourself. At this stage, consistency in posting on your blog every few days and responding to readers’ comments are vital for your success.

At the same time, you will want to be actively marketing your blog. The easiest and perhaps fastest way to do this is through social media. Post on Twitter and Facebook every time you write a new post. Keep your titles short, thought-provoking, or pleasantly witty to grab the attention of the social media community. Plonk in the link to your blog in your e-mail signature, and take the initiative to promote your blog; Google will not be doing the work for you just because your writing is in cyberspace. Social housekeeping takes hard work, but if you get it right, you will be elevating yourself to another level. Your readers will bring in other readers, and the exponential increase to your fan base will be worth it.

Another issue always discussed around the writer’s table is ideas. It’s amusing to see writers picking each other’s brains, hoping to get inspiration for their next big piece. Interesting topics don’t come by every day, yet it is essential to keep writing. One article I find very helpful to poke me into the right direction is ‘105 Author Blog Prompts’, an article presented by Duolit. Reading their list from marketing posts to creative writing prompts always gives me hints of inspiration.

However, perhaps the most daunting task for any writer is immaculate language. There is a reason why professional authors place so much emphasis on editors. To join the ranks of top writers, having anything less than perfect grammar is just unheard of. The secret weapon many authors have turned to in ensuring perfection isGrammarly, an online proofreading system. Not only isGrammarly a fraction of the cost of a professional editor, it is also more accurate and much faster than any humanly-possible rate.Grammarly has the ability to grammar-check the entire manuscript, picking out precise errors 10 times more consistently than any conventional word processor. Grammarly can also be functioned to suit every document type, ensuring appropriate language for academic essays, presentations, creative writing, reviews, and blogs. Trust me–once you try Grammarly, you will not understand how you ever survived without it.

From speaking to authors of the round table, I have definitely learned a whole lot more about writing, self-publishing, and marketing. Let us know some tips and tricks you use to get yourself heard.

By Nikolas Baron

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