Radio & BIAW

So, I’m super excited to report on two writing activities.

Let’s talk Radio Interview first in case you don’t keep reading. LOL So, I’m a member of Texas Authors and one of the perks of belonging is you can have two interviews a year. I did one a couple of years or so ago, and it was fun. Now, however, Texas Authors has set up a YouTube channel and the interview goes out on I Heart Radio and Indie Beacon Radio. I hope you’ll take a few moments to look at least a bit of it and maybe share it on your social media. Here’s the link:

I left out two important things in the interview. One was this blog site ☹ Boo on me. More importantly, I left out the statistic that one in four women have been physically and/or psychologically abused. That’s the focus of the 4th book in the Second Chances Series, ACT OF SURVIVAL.

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Now the other thing that was going on last week was BIAW. Some of my fellow sisters here on the blog will recognize those initials. They stand for Book In A Week. We are members of the Kiss of Death, online chapter of RWA for writers of romantic suspense & mystery. Four times a year, the chapter sponsors BIAW. I’ve never participated before, but when I saw the emails, the timing seemed perfect.

I’d been saying I needed to start the next book, especially if I expected to publish it in 2020. But life just kept happening and something always got in the way. BIAW was a good kick in the pants. Before I could begin writing on Monday, September 16, I had a lot of prep work to do. Like figuring out who my characters were. I had the location. Red River, New Mexico.

I use charts to describe my characters, give them a back story, and figure out GMC. So, for several weeks before Monday a week ago, I did my planning. Those charts may change, but they form a basis from which I begin.

Well, as life would have it. BIAW fell during a week when I had lots of other things going on. The radio interview was only one small part. I committed to writing 2 hours a day as opposed to 4 hours. Thank goodness! But I’m also committed to walking 10 K steps a day, and that takes a good 1 ½ hours to pull off on top of just regular walking. Then there were church meetings and grandkids stuff. I also began working with NOOM, it’s my latest weight loss project. (I’m sure I’ll write more about that later.)

My stress levels have been high with all the deadlines, timelines, steps, and word counts, calorie counts to achieve. Yesterday afternoon, I totally crashed and slept soundly for two hours.

Here are my results. I did in fact write for at least 2 hours every day but Saturday. We were having company for supper, and it took longer to get ready or that than anticipated. But even that day I wrote almost 600 words. Most days I wrote more than 2000 words. Sometimes only a bit more, ending up for the week of more than 14000 words.

So, I’ve learned a few things from the experience:

* The accountability worked for me. Knowing I had to turn in my words at the end of the day, and that I was helping a team.

*I don’t have to have a whole day or whole afternoon of a weekend blocked off to crank out a decent number of words.

*I’ve learned that setting the timer (at least figuratively) works for me.

I’m not committing to continue to write two hours a day. Before I do that, I need to work on some time-line issues in the story that I saw but didn’t want to stop to fix. But when that’s fixed, I think I’ll set between 1-2 hours and see how that goes.

Have you been on radio or TV? Do you have your own YouTube channel? If you’re in KOD, have you done BIAW before? How did it work out for you? This is the first book I’ve started from scratch in over four years. I’d forgotten how hard that is. While I did the pre-planning, I seem to be mostly pantsing this book. Kind of magically scary for this person, who’s gone from being a plotter to a plotser. Love to hear from you.

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Entertaining?

Do you like to entertain? Do you do it often? Do you do it in your house/apartment/condo or restaurant? For you writers, do you put entertainment scenes in your stories? Usually, I put questions at the end of these posts, but this seemed right this time.

Over our married life, we’ve done more and less entertaining. As a younger married, I can remember having “dinner parties.” Six to eight of us. I did the whole meal back when I actually cooked and didn’t just set out the food. 😊 It was stressful but fun. IMG_1256

Then there were years where we were working such long hours, the idea of entertaining anyone in our home was beyond considering. Now that we’ve moved to the lake, we’ve moved into another phase where we entertain every couple of months. One of the things I missed after we left our old neighborhood, where we’d lived for over twenty years, was our neighborhood coffees. Many of us took turns having folks over for a Saturday coffee. These were lots of fun and pretty easy to do.

After we got settled here, I asked some of the neighbors I’d met to come by on a Saturday morning, and we chatted, snacked, and drank coffee and iced tea. Folks were curious to see what we’d done with our lake cottage which had still been mostly in the 50s when we bought it. Quite a transformation. (But that’s a post for another time.) IMG_1023

People liked the idea and several folks signed up to host. The first year we had three other coffees after ours. This is the second year, and every month is spoken for. Several folks have specifically thanked me for getting these started. This past Saturday was our turn to host. It was fun to catch up on people’s lives as opposed to waving as we pass by.

The other way we entertain is with church friends. We have something called Dinner for 8 every month. People host in their homes or in a restaurant. It’s just a chance to get folks together for more time to really talk. Because we feel we have been blessed with our cottage on the lake, we frequently host at our house. This is really simple (after getting the house cleaned up), we provide the main dish and everyone else brings something. One of the things we do is take a selfie of everyone together. Always lots of laughter trying to make that happen.

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(Confession: None of these pics are from the events I’ve described. Apparently, other than taking the selfie at the end, I’ve not taken other pictures. That will change. LOL )

When I first began writing, my critique partners criticized me for always having my characters eating. I struggled to cut back, but really, we spend a lot of time with others eating. Seven books later, I don’t worry about it quite so much. 😊

So, do you like to entertain? Do you do it often? Do you do it in your house/apartment/condo or restaurant. For you writers, do you put entertainment scenes in your stories? Love to hear from you.

Pic at very top is the Book 4 in The Second Chances Series, ACT OF SURVIVAL

iTunes  https://apple.co/2HQFSxZ

Amazon Print https://amzn.to/2Drl798

Amazon https://amzn.to/2In0TRT

B & N https://bit.ly/2WiINmV

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Book Birthday & Author Event

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Last Friday, July 17 was not only the birthday of my SIL, but also the 6th birthday for my first book, VERMONT ESCAPE. I’ve been running a 99 Cent sale on most of the venues. (Something happened and it didn’t get changed on KOBO.) Today is the last day of the sale. Well, it may lop over a bit more because I have to take it off Amazon and iTunes, and I won’t start that process until Wednesday. 😊 B & N very nicely let’s you set a start and stop date. I love that. So much easier. Here are the links:

B & N https://bit.ly/2k340mD

Amazon https://amzn.to/2ShLapq

ITunes https://apple.co/2GrJGUW

If you haven’t read this book, yet, this is a great opportunity. Like all my books, this is about second chances, and my heroine turns 50 about ¾ of the way through the story, so it’s legitimately called a “Seasoned Romance.”  Here’s the short blurb:

After the murders of Jill Barlow’s husband and then her father, she flees to Vermont, but the Texas gambling syndicate believes she’s hiding damning evidence against them. To get it, they’ll kill again.

There’s no mention of the hero in this shot blurb, but he’s a Vermont lawyer and state assemblyman. Jill really doesn’t want any more involvement with a politician. Politics got her husband and father killed.

If you follow my newsletter you know that I attended a Sunday Afternoon with Authors event at an independent bookstore. (We really need to support Indie bookstores.) Leaves Book & Tea Shop (Isn’t that a clever name?) is just south of downtown Fort Worth and has been opened for just under a year.

Tina Howard, the  owner, was very organized. Before hand she let us know how it would go, and she sent us questions around the subject of “change.” All of us write different genres, and yet our answers were remarkably similar.

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Left to Right.

Claudette Esmerelda has written a children’s book, Leah is Seen. She’s trying to help kids develop a good self-concept.

I, of course have 7 books out.

Richard Gonzalez is a former newspaper columnist and refers to himself as an old hippy. Raza Rizing is about the increase of Hispanics in Texas. Deer Dancer is a fantasy set in Sonora.

Jane Alvey Harris’ book, Riven (a dark YA) has been optioned for film. How cool is that! It’s part of a trilogy. The second book is out, too. They are about finding yourself again after abuse.

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Besides asking us questions, we also got to read from one of our books. I read from Book 2 of The Second Chances Series, ACT OF TRUST. The heroine lost her husband on 9/11 and because my younger daughter and her husband had just moved to NYC, this book really touches home for me and is one of my favorites, right behind VERMONT ESCAPE.

I was surprised how many people showed up to listen to us—approximately twenty. Each of the authors had  3 or so  friends attend, and then there were just random folks there. I was grateful to have the MIL of one of my daughters, a good friend from NTRWA, and another friend.  This was the first event like this for the bookstore, and the owner has one scheduled for the next several months. I will attend to see how the others work out. Tina is also willing to carry our books for a 70/30 split. I’m going to try that with three of mine and see how it works out. I’m also going to talk to one of the other Indie bookstores to see if they will consider doing something like this.

Lastly, I want to go by and take a flyer to all three Indie Bookstores with information about the first ever Independent Bookstore Celebrate Bookstore Romance Day, Saturday, August 17. I learned about this from the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA. What a great idea. Here’s the link https://bookstoreromanceday.org/ Share with your local bookstores.

Writers, do you like events where you get to (or are expected to speak) more than where you’re just sitting there signing?

Readers, what do you think of this kind of event? Love to hear from you all.

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Graduations!

On Memorial Day, a part of my family and I drove two hours up to Lake Nacona, TX to celebrate the high school graduation of our great niece and cousin. She is the first of her generation to graduate from high school. There will be two more in her family, and we’ll have three more, but not for quite a few years. 🙂

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The experience made me nostalgic about this event. You know your high school graduation is like no other. In college some people decide not to walk, and even if they do, they can have several college graduations, so they lose some of their significance.

I’ve been fortunate to take part in and attend a lot of high school graduations—literally too numerous to count. I was a high school teacher in a former life, and a school board member for eight years in another former life where I spoke and made presentations at graduations. Not to mention my own high school graduation and those of our daughters. I was on the stage for my oldest daughter’s ceremony and my husband was on the board of regents for the state college form which she graduated. (He actually handed her the diploma.)

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So high school graduations have significance to me. “Bittersweet” was the word I heard mentioned today. My great niece and her friends have been together since early elementary school, and now they will be going their separate ways. Oh, a couple are going to several different colleges together, but it will never be the same.

I love the opportunities stretching ahead for these young people. They have their whole lives ahead of them. To quote Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places they will go.”

Not only have the girls been long time good buds, but their moms have too. In their 40s and 50s they’ve juggled jobs, spouses, kids, volunteer activities, and older parents. Such a lot on their plate. Several moms are done now and are empty-nesters.  Others still have one or two more to graduate. What lies ahead for them? Who knows?

The heroine in many of my stories are like these women. They have children, parents, jobs, sometimes spouses, and then I throw in a bit of suspense, a murder or two, and the possibility of a new love. Stir until they can have a happily ever after. Check out my stand-alones and The Second Chances Series.

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What about you? Anyone graduating this year? Children, Grands, Nieces or nephews? Maybe yourself?

I love graduations from any perspective. Such joy, excitement and “bittersweetness.” Love to hear from you.

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Texas Brags

Most of you know I live in Texas. My books for the most part take place in Texas, and my characters are mostly Texan. Texans are known for bragging. We have the biggest & best of everything: hair, tall tales, honky tonks, roads (these really do surpass most other states and not just because we have more of them LOL), and football (well, all sports). We have the scariest springs with hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. We also have the most beautiful springs.

This past weekend, Bob and I went with friends to the Texas Hill Country and got to observe another of the state’s great brags: our wild flowers! Not just bluebonnets which were the best I’ve seen in several years. They are the first talisman of spring.

But when they begin to fade, we are blessed with all kinds and colors of wild flowers. Vast fields rolling out as far as the eye can see. Our highways and byways are anchored with lovely splashes of color that look like an artist took a paint brush to the fields. So today, I’m sharing pictures of Texas wild flowers. I don’t even know all their names; I just know they are pretty, and they make me smile. I hope they do you, too. If you’re interested in where we went, my Thursday blog will tell all. It was gorgeously restful. Do you have wonderful wildflowers along your highways? Love to hear from you.

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IMG_1115  IMG_1112My pictures don’t do these flowers justice. You just gotta plan to come see them next year. 🙂

Book 4 in The Second Chances Series, ACT OF BETRAYAL released this month it’s available at all the sites and in print from Amazon.  And today you can find a post all about the book on NN Light’s blog https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/book-promos I’ll try to add the actual link Tuesday.

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Book News!!

I’m excited to announce that ACT OF SURVIVAL, Book 4 The Second Chances Series releases April 16, and right now it’s available for Pre-Order at Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and KOBO. Unfortunately, you can’t get a Pre-Order at Amazon for this book.

Here are the links:

B & N https://bit.ly/2WiINmV

KOBO https://bit.ly/2TVasOi

iTunes https://apple.co/2HQFSxZ

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This is the first book I’ve done entirely through Draft 2 Digital. Aside from the Amazon Pre-Order glitch, I’ve been happy with them. They’ve been quick to respond to my questions. (And you know I’ve had some.) LOL

Previously, I put up ACT OF BETRAYAL, Book 3 The Second Chances Series and my first published book, VERMONT ESCAPE. I did those specifically to get my books up on iTunes. One of my very good friends reads books that way. Not sure why VERMONT ESCAPE wasn’t on iTunes, because I think I used a formatter who did that. At least that was the case for all the books after that.

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Now, I use D 2 D for formatting, and as I said, they’ve put the book up everywhere. Please stop for a minute and imagine how much nicer this is for me. Yes, I did upload to all the venues individually for the books before BETRAYAL (except iTunes), but oh my goodness, it was sooooo stressful!!! So many moving parts and opportunities to mess up. LOL This is soooo much easier for me. Now I know some of you format your own books. Well, good for you. I’m impressed, but that’s not something I want to learn to do. This would not be a good use of  my time.

I’ve only had two problems with formatting with D 2 D, and they were both pilot errors. 😊 On ACT OF BETRAYAL, I’d apparently added extra spaces to the ends of lines and when I uploaded the document, the result was odd spacing and gaps between lines. This was one of those times when the staff was great and helped me fix it. Act of Betrayal

The second problem was with the center **** dividing markers being in odd places rather than the center. That I fixed myself when I used a different formatting option. (I would tell you exactly what that is, but I’m afraid if I go into that section to check the wording, I’ll somehow unpublish the book!) It is the last option under the basic heading. There is an option to pay something, but I don’t do that.

I learned about D 2 D from a fellow writer at an NTRWA meeting. Writers helping other writers is cool. 😊

This is book is over six months later than I originally planned, but life happens. For me, that has involved taking on some very time consuming (but needed) leadership roles at my church. I kept pushing off the book. When I took on the jobs, I knew that was going to happen and just accepted the consequences. We all make choices.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled to have reached this point. I hope many of you will Pre-Order and when the book releases, you’ll read and write a review. Thanks in advance for those.

If you’re a writer and you’re the publisher, how do you publish your works? How do you do that? Do you handle the formatting?

I hope Spring is close to arriving wherever you live. In Texas, we’re right on the cusp of seeing huge fields of bluebonnets. 🙂

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I’m So Excited!

If all goes well, my seventh book will release in late March. ACT OF SURVIVAL is the 4th book in the Second Chances Series. (The other books are pictured below.) Waiting to hear back from Beta Readers to see what fixes I need to do before sending it off to the editor. Think I may do the whole thing on Draft 2 Digital. I normally upload directly to the various venues except for iTunes which I do through D 2 D. But this time, I think I’ll let D 2 D do all of them and see how that works.

But what I’m really excited about is that I have an idea for the next book! For the longest time, I’ve had no idea. “NO IDEA!” For a writer that is heart stoppingly scary. You wonder if you’ll ever write another book. Maybe there aren’t anymore books inside of you!

I’d kind of settled on a location, which is what I always need to begin with, but I had no idea who or what was going to be happening. What is the conflict? Now I need to do lots of research, but I have the idea. (It could be possible after I do the research, I may not be able to use my location, which is Red River, NM, a place we go frequently on vacation in August, and I truly love. I hope that’s not the case.)

Are you afraid of anything? I am of several things, but one of them is going to prison. Odd, since I’m a real rule follower, but the threat of going to jail just terrifies me. So, what happens if they man you’ve been married to for a long time is arrested for grave crimes? The authorities think you should’ve known what was going on. Is there stuff you know, but didn’t know you knew? Would you testify against him, even though technically they can’t make you? But if you don’t testify, you’re going to jail! What about the rest of your family?

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Of course, at this point, I don’t know what the heroine’s family looks like, nor do I know her name, but I sure do have empathy for her. So, I have an idea, which is a little like when you meet someone for the first time, and you get that little trill of excitement in your middle. Will a relationship develop?

Act of Betrayal

So where do your ideas come from? Real life or completely out of whole cloth? What do you need in order to begin? How long does it take you to write a book form the kernel of an idea to publication? Love to hear from you.

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Happy Holidays

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We are in the middle of major holidays at this time of year.

The first day of Hanukkah happened on December 3. Our Jewish friends celebrated “the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt. It is also known as the Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, called a menorah.” Thanks to Wickipedia

Kwansaa

Kwansaa developed in the mid-sixties with the rise of Black Power and is celebrated in January. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles:

Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work & Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. Seven candles are lit on each day. Thanks to Wickipedia

Ramadan for our Muslim friends is “a month of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts.” Thanks to Wickipedia. This year this holiday was celebrated in May in 2018. So why have I included it? Because the holiday moves around the calendar, and while I was a principal, there were many years when all of these holidays fell at roughly the same time of year.

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Buddhism also commemorates in early December the Day the Buddah (Siddhartha Gautama the first person thought to have reached enlightenment) reached that stage.

photo(25)Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25 commemorating the birth of Jesus beginning with lighting Advent Candles and culminating in Christmas Eve candlelight services. Candles and light are a big part of all these celebrations

The US secular culture with Santa Claus, Christmas carols, and baking, dominates our media. It’s good to remember we are an eclectic society and to make room for all faiths.

So however, you celebrate this season of light at the darkest time of our year, I wish you Happy Holidays. We at the Sisterhood of Suspense are grateful for each one of you.

(Previously published in my December, 2018 Newsletter.)

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Overused Words

I think I’ve written about this issue with editing before, but it bears repeating, and it is how I’m spending  all my time now except for celebrating Thanksgiving, of course.  photo (2)

From Margie Lawson, I’ve learned the value of checking my manuscript for overused words. Margie’s original list of about 40 words and phrases has grown to over 70. Some words I’ve learned to eliminate when I’m rough drafting. Others despite my best intentions creep in. Each book has it’s own special words I  add to the list.

One thing I like about this tedious process is it makes me read read each sentences as a stand-alone and not  get caught up in the story. In making changes, if I don’t delete the word, I use more specific words, growing the word count.

Examples and how I changed words follow.

Going to 73 down to 2 (Seems like a lot, but it’s fewer than in previous works.)

“So, Kim, what are you going to do over this waiting period?”

“So, Kim what are your plans for this waiting period.”

Well, I can take care of that. I’m going to come pick you up, and we’ll go shopping and eat dinner out.”

“I can take care of your problem. I’ll pick you up, and we’ll shop till we drop before eating dinner at a restaurant.”

“No, I mean after. What are you going to do after?”

“No, I mean after. What will you do with your life after the divorce?”

“One of the things I’m going to help Kim with is recognizing what her skills are.”

“I will help Kim recognize her skills.”

That from 335 to 53

She pulled into a garage that went with the condo, not that she needed all that space.

She pulled into a garage connected to the condo, though she didn’t need all the space.

Most remaining “that”s are pointing to something and not the connection (that) we use that is grammatically correct but unnecessary.

Began 14 to 3 (A word I used to use all the time but have mostly eliminated.)

Cooper set his sacks on the table and began to remove the items.

Cooper set his sacks on the table and removed the items from the bags, setting them on the counter.

They all exchanged hugs and exclamations and began chattering like they had only seen each other last week.

They all exchanged hugs and exclamations and chatted like they had only seen each other last week.

Darkness began to crowd the outer edges of her vision.

Darkness crowded the outer edges of her vision.

This change especially makes the action more immediate.

What I find with this editing process is my writing becomes tighter and more specific.

Really went from 80 to 7. Some went from 88 to 7. Watch went from 7 to 2. I seldom use watch or see anymore. Again, there’s an immediacy to the writing you lose when you say, “Jane watched the band.” As opposed to “The drums reverberated in Jane’s chest as the band marched down the street in perfect step.”

A few phrases from the list I don’t use are: in order to, by means of, for the most part, as a matter of fact, and so forth and so on.

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I’m fortunate to have four Beta Readers for the last book in The Second Chances Series, ACT OF SURVIVAL. When I’ve completed this word check, I’ll send it off to them. Then I’ll contact my cover artist Charlie Volnek. She’s done all my covers, and I love her work. Following that I’ll get the book edited. Shooting for not later than March. Had hoped to get the book out in late January or February, but I keep pushing the date. Life happens. 😊

If you’d like to have a copy of my list of words, I’d be happy to send it to you. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It was one of our best, despite one daughter being sick and one grand sharing her germs with me.

I’m running a $.99 cent sale through Nov. 29 on all sites for my first book.Vermont Escape 300dpi (1)

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Writing Rules

When I began writing people told me to follow the rules. I’m a rule follower, so that should’ve been easy, right? Tell me the rules, and I promise to follow them. Problem is, I can always find folks who are very successful (like award-winning) who don’t follow the rules.

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One of the rules I worked hard to learn and to follow is “no head-hopping.” You know what that is. When you’re in one character’s head (POV) and within the same sentence or paragraph you hop over to another character’s head. In the old days, authors wrote this way. It was called the omniscient author. Nobody thought anything of it.

Well, at some point between “the old days” and when I began writing eleven or so years ago (wow, can it be that long?), the rules changed, and head-hopping fell into disfavor. So I took on line-classes, attended conferences, I practiced, I submitted to contests, worked with critique partners, and eventually I cut out the head-hopping. (Oh, occasionally a hop will slip in now, but I catch it on edits and rewrites. 😊 ) IMG_0248

So, why you wonder am I writing about this particular rule? I recently bought a book by a well-known, award-winning author, whose name I don’t remember right now. OMG! The author head-hopped all over the place. Not just having paragraphs switch back and forth. No within paragraphs. The process threw me out of the story, which was pretty good. I had to stop to see if the author had really head-hopped. And the author had.

Here’s my question for readers: Are you aware of POV when you’re reading a book? If so, does it bother you if the author bounces around between characters’ POVs? Does it bother you to have more than tow POV characters?

And for you writers out there: Has the rule changed, and I haven’t kept up? I confess to not attending a conference in a while. When you’re reading, are you aware of head-hopping? If so, does it bother you?

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The reason you have fall pictures scattered throughout this blog is because I couldn’t think of a graphic for this topic. These pictures from my recent trip to  Belfast, Maine, which I did promise you last month. Hope you enjoy. them 😊 Love to hear from you.

Two of my books are set in New England: VERMONT ESCAPE,  and ACT OF BETRAYAL, Book 3, The Second Chances Series, which is set in Maine.

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