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World Book Day: So What do You #LovetoRead #amreading

April 23, 2017 by in category Events, The Romance Journey by Linda Mclaughlin tagged as , , , , ,

In 1995 UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) chose April 23rd as World Book Day and Copyright Day to celebrate books and authors. April 23, 1616 is the date when both William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes, and several other authors whose names are not household words all died.

Little Women coverAs a lifelong, avid reader, I love the idea of a special day to celebrate love of reading. I recently saw a musical version of Little Women at a community theatre production and was reminded of how much I had loved the book when I was a child. I clearly remember one day when I was re-reading the book and sobbing over Beth’s death. My mother asked in an exasperated tone, “Why do you read that book if it makes you cry?” “It’s so good,” I sobbed. I lost count of how many times I read the book but it had to be at least ten.

Like a lot of authors, love of reading led me to decide I wanted to be a writer, something my parents actively discouraged. I remember coming home in 9th grade with the results of the Kuder Preference Test, which all students were required to take. My results said I had interests similar to teachers, librarians and writers. My folks very quickly made it clear to me that only two of those vocations were acceptable. None of us realized that many writers start out writing around their full-time job.

I decided to become a librarian. At least that way I could be surrounded by books all day. Little did I know my first job would be as a technical librarian, surrounded by books on electronics which I could not begin to understand! It was very odd to preside over a library of books where I could only understand the dictionary and encyclopedia! Later I switched to public libraries and enjoyed my job a lot more.

Anaheim Public Library

Anaheim Public Library where I used to work.

While I write romance and love to read more romance, my reading tastes are actually pretty eclectic. I belong to a readers group that chooses a topic rather a book every month. This month we’ve been reading books with a Psychology element. I found three good novels to read: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler; Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick; and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg. All were excellent. Next month: Historical Fiction, one of my favorite topics.

What have you been reading lately?


Lily and the Gambler coverLinda McLaughlin grew up with a love of history fostered by her paternal grandmother and an incurable case of wanderlust inherited from her father. She has traveled extensively within the United States and has visited Mexico, Canada, Australia and Europe. She now lives near the ocean in Orange County, California.

Linda writes historical and Regency romance under her real name and spicier romance under the pseudonym Lyndi Lamont.

Connect with her at her website or on Twitter @LyndiLamont.

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April 22, 2017 by in category Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as , ,

Fireflies and a mason jarIdeas, like fireflies, swirl around my head. Which one should I catch? My eyes lose focus. Perhaps it’s best to capture them all and store them in a glass jar.

Sometimes writing is like that and I end up with a drawer full of Pulitzer wannabees. Like the flies in the jar that eventually die without air, so do all of my captive ideas. When I examine them again there is no spark. The light is gone.

I find that I’m a better writer when I am more purposeful. Instead of chasing elusive fireflies, no matter how bright, my focus becomes like a coloring book page of ‘Connect the Dots.’ You know, use a line to connect the numbers and you create a picture; what a writer might call a concept or idea.

There is so much disconnected information that zooms past us or bombards us, but it is the dots inside of us that represent the deep emotions and memorable events that have changed our lives. I discovered that writing is also a way of giving, of sharing a part of me with others.

So when I look for inspiration, I no longer reach for the fireflies. I search within myself for one of the dots that represent friendships I’ve made, issues I’ve championed, as well as events that trigger fear, anger, sorrow, or joy. Then that dot, eager to touch the hearts of others, sparks to life out of me and illuminates a page or two creating a great story.

Veronica Jorge

Practice Random Acts of Reading

Veronica Jorge

Manager, Educator, and former Social Studies High School teacher, Veronica credits her love of history to the potpourri of cultures that make up her own life and to her upbringing in diverse Brooklyn, New York.  Her genres of choice are Historical Fiction where she always makes new discoveries and Children’s Picture Books because there are so many wonderful worlds yet to be imagined and visited. She currently resides in Macungie, PA.



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A Question for The Extra Squeeze Team

April 21, 2017 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as ,

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

A few weeks ago, I read an article in the Chicago Tribune about publishers hiring sensitivity editors, especially for children’s books. From the title of the article, I assumed that a sensitivity editor would flag books and  require authors to include some sort of warning that the characters or situation depicted in that book might be upsetting to some readers–sort of like the nightly news caution before showing graphic images or The Myth Busters “Don’t Try This At Home.”

However, the article quickly set me straight. Sensitivity Editors are readers, hired by either the publishing house or the author, to examine a manuscript and point out unconscious bias. This seemed like a good idea to me. If I were writing a character or situation for which I had no direct knowledge, I would want someone who had that knowledge to read what I wrote and point out mistakes. Not fix the mistakes, but point them out.

Much to my surprise, not everyone agreed with me. Authors, editors and readers have had mixed reactions to the idea. Some see it as a good idea, research, and a way to ensure the characters or situations are well-rounded and realistic. Others see it as censorship and slippery slope leading to the banning of thoughts and ideas.

So my question for The Extra Squeeze Team: What do you think about Sensitivity Editors?

Come back to A Slice of Orange on April 30th to read what The Extra Squeeze Team thinks. 

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I Won’t Apologize For Being A Logophile!

April 20, 2017 by in category A Bit of Magic by Meriam Wilhelm tagged as , ,

I am a full blooded, totally committed Logophile. It’s something I practice everyday and everywhere. In fact, I am so addicted to Logophilia that I carry a small floral notebook in my purse at all times to support my addiction.

Not familiar with the term? Neither was I. However, I was searching for the right word that would clearly define something that I do daily. The term Logophile comes from two Greek words – Logos which means words or speech and Philos which means dear or friendly. In short, a Logophile is someone who likes words very much. And I do.

However, my addiction to words centers more around the gathering of names. I am a dedicated name collector; not just normal names, but rather the unusual, ear catching ones. Whether I am in the airport, the hospital, the grocery store or my doctor’s office I am always listening for and recording unique names. I’ve even been known to collect a name or two off the billboards that overhang the Las Vegas Strip. As a writer, I use these names when I am searching for the perfect moniker for one of my characters.

For instance, Dr. Barleycorn is the nickname of my character, Matt Maxwell, who is a horticulturist in my book, Morning Magic. He’s an expert in growing things and since barley and corn are grown in the fields I decided to retrieve this name from my BookO’Names. I actually heard the real Dr. Barleycorn being paged at my local hospital years ago and I wrote his name down. Of course, I had numerous other options like Dr. Peachbottom, Dr. Driven and Dr. Roebust. But none of them seemed to fit Matt just right. I can’t wait to use the name Penelope Pendergast in my next book. I instantly fell in love with that name when I heard it in the airport in Europe. Penelope, if you’re out there – I love your name!

In my latest book, Sea Dreams, one of my central characters is named Thor Hudson. I adore the name Thor and was hoping that someday one of my kids would name one of their kids – Thor. We had a rousing discussion one night during which all but one of my children voted down the name. Since I guess I won’t have a grandson named Thor any time soon, I can at least have a favorite character with that name.

I also love to play with names by not spelling them in a traditional or expected way. I don’t do this to confuse, but rather to draw attention to the character themselves. Brady is a rather boring way of spelling a last name but Braidie certainly draws your eye and attention and that’s what I wanted my character to do.

My quest to gather names continues. As I was walking by the beach last week I heard a guy call out to his friend whose name was Templeton. Hmm, I like it. Not sure when I will use it, but it now holds a place on page 12 of my notebook. Can’t wait to dream up a character who will step up and own that handle!

Meriam WilhelmMeriam

The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it.  When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.

I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.

I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.

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On writing…Getting Started

April 19, 2017 by in category On writing . . . by Jenny Jensen tagged as , , ,
John Atkinson cartoon, Wrong Hands

Thank you Mr. Atkinson

E.B. White (co-author of Elements of Style) said, “An editor is a person who knows more about writing than writers do but has escaped the terrible desire to write.”

OK, I’m certainly not E. B. White but I am an editor and I’ve worked with writers of every genre for 20 challenging and enriching years. There is nothing more exciting than helping a writer move through the process of writing. With no skin in the game I can be objective about where a story has taken a wrong turn, hear a particular turn of phrase or a plot point that doesn’t ring true, see inconsistencies in characterization — and spot the typos and those pesky homophones that get overlooked to the great peril of publication. I ask the hard questions, I offer possible solutions. It’s a grand give and take.

You’re a writer. Your head is filled with bits of story: the perfect setting — a women watches in her rear view mirror as the wedding cake dumped on the highway recedes in the distance. A character — Mistress Renfrew is overly tall and awkward and harbors a secret passion for Lord Dumfrey’s collection of assassin’s knives. Odd events — the deadly rivalry for Miss Abundance at the Apple Valley fairground, a lake in summer, tidbits of history, the perfect love triangle ripe for explosion. But where to start? How to corral all those creative bits into a cohesive whole?

One method: start with a simple premise.

Can you express the premise of your book succinctly? If you can write the essence of your story in as few as fifteen words you are on the road to writing a novel. What happens next? The plot will come from the premise.

It’s the way you dress up that simple premise, populate it and move it forward in narrative form that makes the story emerge. Starting from a succinct premise gives you a foundation on which to build a great story. Whether it’s the characters that drive the action or action that drives the characters, the premise provides the blueprint to keep the work moving forward.

The premise should be carved in stone, but only as long as it supports the creative effort. Stone can be reshaped; Michelangelo did it all the time and look at those results.

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned writer I look forward to sharing On Writing again here at A Slice of Orange to explore methods, tools and tricks of writing that can help your story shine.

Jenny Jensen

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