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Are You Giving It Your All? by Kitty Bucholtz

February 9, 2021 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , ,

I went through a bad burnout period a couple years ago that took me nearly two years to recover from, so I got used to treating myself very gently during my recovery. I tried to give myself the compassion I would give my best friend. In fact, even the compassion I would give a stranger would be better than how I had gotten used to treating myself!

So I was surprised to find myself hearing over and over this idea of — am I truly giving this writing life my all?

It’s a growth mindset and I’ve been feeling myself itching to move from a stable recovery back into growth again. That’s probably why I kept noticing — but quite possibly it was also a matter of hearing what I need when I’m ready. I think God was pushing me to consider some areas of my writing life anew.

I “accidentally” had a Disney movie with Mark Wahlberg on in the background while I was working last week — “Invincible” about a professional football player who was a bartender and former teacher the week before. He was waiting to find out he was cut from the try-outs, but he didn’t get cut. However, the coach yelled at him during the first game that he needed to start giving 100% or he was out.

That was such an inspirational movie that I turned on “Miracle,” which I had already seen a couple times (meaning: so I could work and ignore it, use it as background noise), about the US Olympic hockey team that beat Russia back before they started using professional players. Again, the coach was incredibly tough on those college students, pushing them to give 100% or get out.

Trying again to turn on something I could ignore, I put on “The Blind Side.” Again, I’d seen it several times, didn’t have to get caught up in the story, and I genuinely dislike American football so…ignore, right? But these stories aren’t about sports so much as they’re about the underdog doing more than they think they can.

Fully inspired now, I turned on “The Rookie” today and specifically looked for the most inspiring parts because…the movies weren’t the only things reaching out for my attention.

We’re having a prayer and fasting week at church so I’ve been praying specifically over my writing business. The Bible verse in my Bible app was about — “are you trying hard enough?” The devotional there led me to a book about creativity (The Last Arrow by Erwin Raphael McManus), and the excerpt on Amazon ended with the author asking himself if he was trying enough, praying enough, expecting enough.

Then, because apparently God wanted to be very clear that He’s talking to me and didn’t want me to think some of these things were coincidences, I opened up a devotional book (My Utmost For His Highest) I hadn’t read in a couple years and turned to today, February 9. At this point, I can’t say I was shocked to discover it was asking, “have you given all you have?” And it reminded me to stay aware of my “why” — why am I doing what I’m doing? Because that’s what will keep me going.

By the time I’d had all of these things filling my brain, I was full of questions. Am I giving all I have? Am I giving 100%?

And you know what I decided my answer was? No.

Even though I’ve been working 6 days a week, and 3 nights, too, every week for months to build my writing and coaching business, I’d say I’m giving about 98%. Like Vince, the teacher-turned-bartender-turned-professional-football-player in “Invincible,” there is a small part of my mind that isn’t sure I can do this and is ready to lead the way out when I fail. (Vince was sitting on his bed with his duffle packed waiting for the knock telling him to go home, he was cut.)

Like Vince, it’s easier to say, “Look how far I’ve come, I should be proud of my accomplishments,” and have my duffle bag packed and ready for when someone points out that I’ve failed to build this business but boy, you sure tried hard.

But like the coaches in those movies, and the writer of the Bible verse, and the writer of the devotional — someone is pushing me to just believe and give that last 2%. Because it will change everything!

I was an A student in school. While I tried to get 100% on tests just for the fun of it (and for my pride), I was happy to get a 90 or 95 or whatever other number gave me the highest grade. Sadly, being an A student doesn’t prepare you as well as being a C student. I didn’t learn to work for it; I learned that 98% is generally more than enough.

But 98% is not enough in professional sports.

And apparently Someone is trying to show me that 98% is not going to be enough to achieve what I very much want to achieve.

I genuinely and passionately want to write books that change people and change the world, and I absolutely want to help others finish and publish books that do the same.

But it’s going to take 100% of me to do that.

What are you thinking about right now? What do you need to give 100% to?

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The Dirty Difference Between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy by Rachel Hailey

February 8, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Guest Posts, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , , , ,

Today we have a guest post from Rachel Hailey. Rachel was born and raised in the South. She’s all about that nerd life and in between writing she’s dedicated herself to raising the next generation of nerds. If she’s not online or staring at a book she can usually be found at the local game store rolling dice, shuffling cards, or planning her next cosplay.

Her childhood was most prominently shaped by the works of R.L. Stine, Stephen King, Anne Rice and the Brothers Grimm.

The Dirty Difference Between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy

Rachel Hailey

I’ve been in love with monsters since I was a little and got angry when Belle turned the Beast into a boring old prince. As I grew older and more obsessed with fairy tales, I found two genres that truly spoke to my black heart. Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.

These powerhouses rose to popularity fast during the late ’90s, and early 2000s. Those years exploded with amazing stories of dazzling monsters. Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton were among the first and are still synonymous with Urban Fantasy. But around the time Anita was toying with the notion of staking Jean-Claude, Sherrilyn McQueen (Kenyon) introduced us to Acheron and his band of tortured but scorching hot daimon slayers. While Harry rides an undead dino, J.R. Ward first showed us the wicked streets of Caldwell where the Black Dagger Brotherhood protects their race against the Lessening Society.

Anyone who has read a good Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy will agree that there is magic in the ink. But what is the difference between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy? Both include the same elements: mystery, action, adventure, supernatural, and yes, sexy times.

So what are the differences?

All four of these series feature creatures that don’t just lurk in the shadows – they’re at home in the dark. The stories bleed tension, and the only thing higher than the number of pages are the body counts.

With so many similarities, it’s the technical details that define which side of the aisle a book gets shelved.

One of the easiest difference to spot is Point of View. Black Dagger Brotherhood and other Paranormal Romance stories are usually told in third-person, giving readers the full experience by switching perspectives among many characters. Urban Fantasy authors, such as Hamilton and Butcher, rely on first-person, fully immersing readers in the heads and hearts of their protagonists.

As Paranormal Romance series unfolds, they often maintain this same energy with each book centering on a new couple, while in Urban Fantasy a single protagonist continues to shine center stage, no matter how many books follow.

The next difference can be a little tricky to identify. Paranormal Romance are more character-driven. It’s the emotions, the development of the characters, and their relationships that keep us turning pages. The relationships are the main focus. The tension comes from the need to see a couple (or more!) handle their issues and find their happily ever after.

Urban Fantasy, on the other hand, are plot-driven. Investigating the murder, solving the case, saving the world are the defining moments for these tales. That’s not to say relationships aren’t important in Urban Fantasy. Usually, they provide much-needed motivation for the protagonist to get off their ass and do their job or save the world, pushing them to be better, stronger, harder.

This brings us to my next point. Sex. The pages of Paranormal Romance blister fingers and leave readers dry-mouthed, but so too can Urban Fantasy. Usually, the scenes are shorter, less descriptive. The relationships form slowly over books and culminate in a scene that begins scorching and ends with a closed door. (Damn you doors.)

But these rules are often shattered with impunity which continues to leave readers a little confused. Anita arguably has more sex in one book than the entire cast of the Dark Hunter universe, and it’s twice as graphic. There’s also the matter of POV. Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series is told in first person and focuses on the same characters through all seven (wonderful) books. The Night Huntress series is also heavily plot-centric but undeniably falls into the realm of Paranormal Romance.

So what is the difference?

My answer?

Marketing.

I’ve heard Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy referred to as cousins, but I disagree. I think they’re much closer than that, and deciding where they are listed comes down to opinion.

There’s an ugly side to this – The great disdain the Romance genres garner even within the publishing community. (Which makes no sense as it is the highest-grossing genre. Don’t believe me? Google is free.) Often this contempt leaves agents and authors slapping Fantasy on a book instead of Romance to appeal to a wider audience.

It starts with the cover. They replace the image of the muscled hero with a detailed, gritty image of the heroine holding a blade as she scowls fiercely into the night. I was told recently this was because Urban Fantasy readers are so much choosier about art. But are they really, or is this just another stereotype rooted in the belief that romance readers and authors are somehow less than?

In the end, it doesn’t matter where a book is shelved, or whether the cover has a half-naked man. Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance stories speak to some of the darkest corners of the human soul. Whether you read for the action or the action, remember, genres are labels, and like all labels, they can help or hinder. Don’t be afraid to cross the aisle and reach for a new author. What you find may surprise you.


Rachel Hailey’s Dark Paranormal Romance



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Sins in Sunlight Book Tour

February 8, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , , , , ,
 
 

 

 

Of Courts and Desire, Book 2

 

Dark Paranormal Romance

Date Published: January 18, 2021

Publisher: FyreSyde Publishing

 

 

The Sunfire Queen, Sierra, has waited for her chance to rule, thinking life would be better with her mother dead. She was wrong. The Court of Light is in Shambles. Her people are terrified and despise her. She has no friends, no love, and no hope. When a new war hovers on the horizon, Sierra must find the lost beastkyn Mikhail or her court will perish, and she’ll lose her shot at redemption.

 

Quick to grin and quicker to kill, Mikhail has made his share of mistakes–being imprisoned has given him time to ponder each poor decision. But when Sierra frees him, he earns the opportunity to make some more. She’s gorgeous and despite her fiery nature, as cold as the snow-capped mountains of Russia. He can’t wait to see how fast he can make her melt.

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

About The Author

 

 

Rachel Hailey was born and raised in the South. She’s all about that nerd life and in between writing she’s dedicated herself to raising the next generation of nerds. If she’s not online or staring at a book she can usually be found at the local game store rolling dice, shuffling cards, or planning her next cosplay.

Her childhood was most prominently shaped by the works of R.L. Stine, Stephen King, Anne Rice and the Brothers Grimm.

 

 

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Excerpt

Sins in Sunlight

Rachel Hailey

Mikhail leaned down, giving her plenty of time to turn her head or pull away. The orange specks bloomed in her eyes. He closed the minuscule gap, capturing her lips. They were as soft as rose petals. He stifled a hiss of pleasure as her mouth opened under his, and when his tongue swept over hers, her entire body shuddered, and she moaned. 
He deliberately kept his hands where they were, but how they wanted to roam down her body. Too soon, the song ended, and she broke the kiss. 

He opened his mouth to apologize, but stopped. He wasn’t sorry about keeping secrets. This was how his life was. Yet, when he looked up and found her brown eyes leveled on him, the scent of sadness rolling through the car, he was sorry this was the life he had to offer. 


“How many other secrets are you hiding?” she asked, but not accusingly, more like she was as tired of his issues as he was of hers. 

“Enough.” 


“So, where does that leave us?” Sierra asked, voice low. 

He smiled, baring his teeth. “The closest thing to friendship two Kyn royals can have.”

The pink lightkyn made a strangled sound, her back pressed harder against the door. He expected her to disappear into the glass.


Scalded by shame again, his talons shrank. He ran a hand through his hair. None of this was the girl’s fault. He opened his mouth to apologize, but before the first syllable left his lips, she exploded into laughter. The sound was like chiming bells and as lyrical as a child’s rhyme. Although beautiful, it was joyless and manic, the kind of sound the condemned might make as they laughed on their way to the gallows. 


Reassessing her threat level, it was his turn to take a step away. Was she dangerous or merely unbalanced? Any creature who laughed like that needed to be handled carefully. 


“Are you well?” he asked as the loud peals continued to ring out.

 
“No, I am most certainly not,” she said between gasps. “Are you?” She collapsed against the door, dropping her injured arm.


Wary of the lightkyn and her bizarre reactions, he shook his head. “No.”


She sobered and looked at him with soulful brown eyes. “I suppose you wouldn’t be. Would you like to come inside?”


“Who are you?”


“Sierra.”


“Sierra,” he said, tasting the name. It rang with power and depth, matching this girl with wild laughter and sad eyes. “Will you help me escape before the new ruler finds me?”


She smiled, revealing even white teeth, and tilted her head. The last of the sunlight fell across her face like a mask. “I’m afraid it’s too late for that. I am the new Queen of The Court of Light.”


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The Extra Squeeze Team: February Featured Author

February 7, 2021 by in category Featured Author of the Month, The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , , , , ,

Each week in February we’ll be featuring The Extra Squeeze Team.

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

 

Have you a question for The Extra Squeeze Team? Send them to us by using this handy link.

Do I have to write in the same genre? | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Dear Extra Squeeze Team: Do I HAVE to Keep Writing in the Same Genre?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

Switching genres is not a black and white issue but a function of the writer’s objective.

 

Writers by nature are a curious, opinionated and creative bunch. That means there is a tendency to write about whatever inspired them. Sadly this impulsive creativity wars with, and can undermine, the business of being creative.

 

So, if you are a writer whose primary concern is to explore all levels of your craft, writing in many different genres will be fulfilling. But if your primary concern were to use your writing to build a creative business, it would be wise to stick to one genre. Here is why:

 

1) Concentrating on one genre creates a dedicated fan base.

2) One genre allows the author to create a cohesive personal brand

3) Readers will know where to find you on the bookshelf whether it is in a brick and mortar or a digital bookstore.

4) Writers usually excel in one genre. To write in a completely different genre that is not as strong as your primary one only serves to dilute your brand.

 

This is not to say you can’t have diversity in your writing career. If you’re a thriller writer, it can take months to craft a 100,000-word novel. Writing shorter genre romantic suspense might satisfy your desire to write in a separate genre, allow you to bring out more books each year, and your output will still appeal to your fan base while growing a cross-over fan base in romantic suspense. Do you write fantasy? Then try magical realism. Do you write romance? Cross over to women’s fiction or sagas. Just remember to make your secondary market tangential to your primary.

 

New writers may want to try on different genres for size to find out where their strengths lie. Established authors who want to try a completely different genre may want to consider a pseudonym. Either way, the first thing to do is decide what your career objective is and then make a genre plan to meet it.

 

[tweetshare tweet=”Dear Extra Squeeze Team: Do I HAVE to keep writing in the same genre?” username=”@A_SliceofOrange”]

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

No, of course not. You can write in any genre you desire. The outcome of that would depend on how much weight you place on each side of art vs business of writing equation.

 

If you weigh in about equal between writing as your expressive art and the business of making that art pay (either recognition or income) you’re well aware of the importance of branding your work for a particular audience. You know the effort involved in creating an online author presence, beginning with a body of solid work, which is publicized and supported by blogs, reviews, interviews, twitter, newsletters, Face Book etc.  It takes time and consistent work to build an author platform and a fan base. Your fans find you and stick with you because they want to read the genre you’re writing in, they expect to read that genre and because you are good enough at that genre to either be building, or have built, a solid following.

 

Traditional publishers shy away from letting an author branch out into a different genre. They don’t want to upset an established cash cow. In that respect the traditional marketing model is similar to the Indie model. Poor A. A. Milne — he really wanted to write murder mysteries (he published one: The Red House Mystery) but his publisher would never let him taint the image of Christopher and friends.  There are major exceptions; J. K. Rowling and Anne Rice are two. Both of these fabulous authors had a huge, loyal fan base before they made the genre jump. When you write that well most of us will follow blindly! I know I do and I’ve not been disappointed.

 

If you know you have great stories in you that cross genre typing you can always publish one genre under a nom de plume. That’s very common. Eventually a well-known writer gets outed as the person behind the false moniker but by that time she’s hooked a whole new audience so everyone is happy.

 

Writing in different genres is, I think, an excellent way to exercise and grow your writing skills. Just the difference in voice between the lady of an Edwardian romance and the female warrior of a dungeons and dragons fantasy would require a major stretch of skills. Add plot mechanics, atmosphere and secondary characters and you’re running a writing marathon. That’s the kind of practice that really sharpens a writer’s eye. I’d never discourage that.

 

The important thing to remember if you want to successfully write in more than one genre is to be sure you can excel in one of them first.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

No, you don’t have to keep writing in the same genre. But, why would you leave?

 

Over the years, authors have privately shared many reasons for making big shifts in their writing careers.

 

  • Sometimes you start out in the wrong place, and your efforts just aren’t working.
  • Sometimes you change so much as you grow professionally that your story interests carry you to a new genre.
  • Sometimes the original genre changes and you no longer feel at home creating the types of stories you once enjoyed.

 

As a writer, you are a talent-driven brand, and talent-driven brands are fueled by passion.  So, it always makes sense to follow your passion.  However, passion can sometimes be mistaken for a whim.  So, think hard about the shift you are contemplating.  Prepare for what could be ahead.

 

From a PR, Marketing, and Sales perspective think about desired outcomes before you decide to leave your readers and move.

 

  • Consider the risks and the benefits to the business side of your creativity.
  • Take a critical look at what you are building—there is more than your written work at stake.
  • In addition to the books you are creating, you are also steadily building a community of readers.  Jumping ship to another genre will be like moving from your beloved neighborhood to a new community.  The readers you got to know over here may not go with you over there when you leave.  They may like you enough to come visit, but it is likely that they won’t come by often.

PR-wise, you are starting over when you begin to write in a new genre.  Even if you keep writing for your original genre, you will still be starting over reader-wise with your new work. Still, just like in the real world with an apartment or a starter home, a simple move can be just what you needed to live happily ever after.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


 

When you find out, please let me know because I am about to publish a(n) historical fiction novel (after years of writing in fantasy!).

 

There’s no reason why an author wouldn’t have the *ability* to write in another genre, as long as the enthusiasm and skill for it is there. The main thing that I’d be concerned about is audience. The audience you build up whilst writing for one genre may not enjoy your new genre, and it may be that only die-hard fans will want to make the crossing, so to speak. And if they did, the resulting reviews and sales could go either way. Essentially you’d be back at square 1, or perhaps square 1.43, in building a readership for your books.

 

I wonder if JK Rowling’s endeavour with crime fiction (Robert Galbraith) might serve as a useful source of information. The books were released under a different pseudonym (just as Nora Roberts’ publisher insisted), although this was at JK’s behest since she wanted to “go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback.”

 

On one hand, she received positive reviews as a ‘debut author’, but only sold 1,500 copies in the three months before her true identity was revealed (I say only – that’s not bad going for many authors out there!).

 

When it was revealed that Galbraith was Rowling, sales shot through the roof, but still only half as many people have written reviews for those books as have done so for the Potter series. From that, I would suggest that if your performance in your first genre is good, then it can only help build a readership for your new genre, but don’t expect sales to match those of your first genre. However, if your foray into your new genre is flawed for any reason, I suppose *potentially* it could negatively affect your existing reputation.

 

Without having published my non-fantasy book yet, I say go for it. It’s a great way to learn and explore new techniques, approaches, worlds and really grow as an author. I’m really enjoying doing something different.

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Send them your writing and publishing questions 

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And Then Comes. . .

February 6, 2021 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston tagged as , ,

A post from our archives . . .

For the last couple of months, my posts here included some of my take on what was happening with the Corona virus and how it was affecting my life–and how the changes had become my new normal.

Then there’s the economy, and all the people suffering because we mostly need to stay at home.  Businesses are closing. People are losing their jobs. Where’s the money??

My new normal now also includes worrying about the protests occurring in many places in our country–including areas of Los Angeles, which is where I live.  Oh, I sympathize with the protesters who are out there marching peacefully against racial inequality. The death that precipitated it all this time shouldn’t have happened.  But now looters are using the protests as an excuse to get out there, break into stores, and steal a lot.  And injure others. A lot of businesses in areas near me that haven’t experienced the riots are all boarded up, just in case.

And now here, and in other blog posts I’ve done, I’m wondering what’s next.

I’m writing, of course.  Right now I’m working on my third book in the long-running Colton series for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, featuring characters in one of the many branches of the Colton family spread all over the country. I keep thinking about the second one I wrote, when much of the action was precipitated by an earthquake–Colton First Responder.

Are we due for an earthquake as yet another major issue in our existence, like a pandemic and riots? After all, as I said, I live in Los Angeles. And there was an earthquake worth noting in Ridgecrest, a location not far from here, this week.

Other areas may be deluged with hurricanes or other storms.

Or will our next problem–no, read “disaster”–involve something else?

Well, I am a writer and my imagination never stops.  And I keep telling it to calm down and imagine instead what things will be like when there’s at least a small semblance of a return to normal.

Although what normal will be next…?

Anyway, I hope that all of you who are reading this are well and safe and not subject to any of those or any other major issues.

Who knows? Next time I post here, things may be quite different… again!


A Few of Linda’s Books

BAD TO THE BONE

Buy now!
BAD TO THE BONE
COLTON 911: CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE
COLTON FIRST RESPONDER (The Coltons of Mustang Valley)

COVERT ALLIANCE

Buy now!
COVERT ALLIANCE

FOR A GOOD PAWS

Buy now!
FOR A GOOD PAWS

PICK AND CHEWS

Buy now!
PICK AND CHEWS

PROTECTOR WOLF

Buy now!
PROTECTOR WOLF

SECOND CHANCE SOLDIER

Buy now!
SECOND CHANCE SOLDIER

TO CATCH A TREAT

Buy now!
TO CATCH A TREAT

TRAINED TO PROTECT

Buy now!
TRAINED TO PROTECT

UNLUCKY CHARMS

Buy now!
UNLUCKY CHARMS

VISIONARY WOLF (Alpha Force)

Buy now!
VISIONARY WOLF (Alpha Force)

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