In Praise of Series Bibles

I never intended to write a series.

Fifteen years ago, I couldn’t imagine anything beyond a novella, possibly a novel, about the following What-If scenario that had invaded my daily thoughts:

What if a teacher-turned-lottery winner returns to her hometown, only to find herself the primary suspect in the murders of four blondes? Can she prove her innocence and solve this case before it’s too late?

I even had a title—A Season for Killing Blondes—for what I thought would be my one and only foray into the world of publishing.

All that changed once the book was accepted and published by The Wild Rose Press. My editor, writer friends, and readers asked about the next book in the series.

Their questions and observations about the protagonist (Gilda Greco), love interest (Carlo Fantin), and several of the minor characters challenged me to come up with more What-If scenarios. I also needed a title for my series.

After toying with several possibilities, I settled on the Gilda Greco Mystery Series. I intended to keep Gilda as the protagonist and vary the secondary characters in subsequent books.

I assumed it would be easy to write the second book. I had a title—Too Many Women in the Room—and a rough scenario about a Greek restaurant, a charismatic chef, two murders, and eight women who didn’t always get along.

A linear pantser, I can start writing with even a “micro germ” of an idea. But partway through Chapter 3, I found myself at a standstill. I couldn’t recall the eye colors of two characters from A Season for Killing Blondes, an essential fact that would later identify the murderer. I had also forgotten several details about the ReCareering office, the yoga instructor’s early family life, and the victim’s past peccadilloes. I had to reread most of A Season for Killing Blondes, searching for the answers to these questions.

When I shared my frustrations about interrupting the creative flow of ideas, I discovered that many of my writer friends had series bibles.

What is a series bible?

A compilation of all the background information—character sketches, settings, plots, subplots, important dates, maps—that can be organized into a collection of handwritten notes, a three-ring binder, or electronic files.

I was impressed and a bit overwhelmed by some of the series bibles that other authors were using.

One writer friend has a bank of 50 questions that she answers for each of the main characters and some secondary characters she plans to include in future books. She covers everything from physical and personality traits to phobias to family backgrounds to hobbies to political and religious beliefs.

Another writer, who is artistically inclined, uses Corel Draw software to create a comprehensive map of the fictional town for her series.

In my research, I also discovered that some writers use series bibles to keep track of acknowledgments, contact information, and marketing efforts for each book.

I used a combination of formats in my series bible. I collected bits and pieces of handwritten character sketches and copied and pasted information about the city of Sudbury and the ReCareering office into Word documents. I then printed and inserted these documents into a three-ring binder.

Before writing A Different Kind of Reunion (Book 3), I updated the information and added details about the new characters and a new setting (Parry Sound). Feeling confident, I signed up for NaNoWriMo 2016 and completed the first draft of the novel within thirty days.

Any other thoughts about series bibles?

About the Gilda Greco Mystery Series

A cross between Miss Marple, Jessica Fletcher, and Cher (Moonstruck), protagonist Gilda Greco brings a unique perspective to the amateur female sleuth.

The teacher-turned-lottery winner returns to her hometown, only to find herself embroiled in a series of murder investigations. Before you start imaging thrillers with high stakes and police chases, pause and take a yoga breath. The three novels in the series—A Season for Killing Blondes, Too Many Women in the Room,  A Different Kind of Reunion—are cozy mysteries, written in the Agatha Christie tradition. All the crimes take place “off stage” with very few graphic details provided.

While the pace may be more relaxed than that of thrillers and police procedurals, there are no steaming cups of herbal teas, overstuffed chairs, or purring cats in these contemporary cozies. Prepare yourself for interfering relatives who don’t always respect boundaries, adult mean girls, deserving and undeserving men, multiple suspects, and lots of Italian food.

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

On Navigating the Murky Middle

By Joanne Guidoccio

I love beginnings—in life and on the page. Anything and everything is possible whenever a blank slate appears before me. That momentum can last for days, weeks, months, and sometimes even longer.

At least, that’s what I like to think whenever I begin a new writing project.

A linear pantser, I write brief character sketches, plot the first three chapters and the last, and then let the words flow. At some point, usually around Page 80, I encounter the murky middle, that nebulous place where I find it difficult to continue or sustain the tension of the novel. In short, I’m lost with no clear trail or direction in sight.

In the early days of my writing career, I struggled to regain my motivation, wondering if I should abandon the novel. Thankfully, I have discovered three strategies that have lifted me out of the abyss.

Professional Development

During my teaching years, I would sign up for summer in-service at different universities throughout the province of Ontario. These courses would last anywhere from three days to four weeks. Afterward, I would feel refreshed and ready to tackle a new semester in the fall.

While experiencing my second prolonged drought, I searched for the right course/workshop that could propel me over the writing hump. Online courses offered through Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, Savvy Authors, Women on Writing (WOW), and Ed2Go have worked best for me. Lasting anywhere from one to four weeks, these courses succeed in inspiring and motivating me to return to the page. The key is to complete all the recommended exercises and actively participate in discussions.

Cross-Reading

In Think, legal analyst and author Lisa Bloom urges us to select books that challenge our points of view. Her argument: Our brains need a varied diet of books to stay sharp.

An avid reader of mysteries and women’s fiction, I decided to explore historical fiction written by a male author. During a cold, blustery winter, I spent the entire month of February reading the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett.

The three tomes—Fall of Giants, Winter of the World, Edge of Eternity—follow dramatic events in the lives of five interrelated families (American, Russian, German, English, and Welsh) and sprawl over nearly 3,000 pages. After that month-long reading marathon, I was ready to return to the calmer, less complicated world of my WIP.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

This is the Red Bull solution that has helped me avoid three murky middles. In 2016, 2017, and 2018,  I joined millions of authors worldwide and made the commitment to write 50K words during November.

Inspired and motivated by the online community and local meet-ups, I wrote at least 1,667 words each day and completed very rough first drafts of A Different Kind of Reunion, No More Secrets, and When It Comes Out of Nowhere. Whenever I encountered a roadblock, I typed INSERT CHAPTER and continued writing.

Any other tips to share?

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

The Right Character Names

By Joanne Guidoccio

“How attached are you to the name Anna May?”

Sandy Isaac’s question took me and six other members of the critique group by surprise. While I appreciated most of the suggestions I had received, I wondered about Sandy’s question. Anna May Godfrey is one of the villains in A Season for Killing Blondes. Having spent several years in Anna May’s company, I wasn’t prepared to change her name.

Sandy noticed my hesitation and explained her resistance to the name. Said quickly, Anna May becomes “anime,” a style of animation often featuring themes intended for an adult audience. Two of the other members nodded while five of us merely shrugged. But Sandy’s concern raised several questions in my mind.

How would my readers respond?

Would they make the same connection as Sandy?

Would Anna May’s name suit or hinder her villain status?

A well-chosen name sets the right tone for the character and, in some cases, may even suggest certain physical, emotional, or psychological characteristics. James Bond flows well and suggests excitement and wealth while Scarlett O’Hara conjures up images of plantations and Southern belles. Short one-syllable names like Jane Eyre suggest direct and well-grounded personalities while longer, multi-syllabic names like Anna Karenina and Armand Gamache are often associated with more complex personalities.

I have a preference for certain names, in particular, the apostle names, Luke and Paul. Patricia Anderson, one of my beta readers, pointed out that I had used Paolo, Paula and Pauline for three different characters in the novel. Definitely overkill. I had no problems changing the names of these secondary characters: Paula → Belinda and Pauline → Karen.

While researching, I discovered the following tips:

  • Avoid names that end in “s.” If you give a character a name like Gladys or James, you will have an awkward time when you write the possessive form.
  • Use names to fit the period or ethnic group. I had no problems coming up with Italian names. For the older characters, I borrowed from my mother’s circle of friends. And for the younger crowd, I flipped through my yearbooks.
  • Limit the use of weird or exotic names. Many science fiction and historical romance writers spend considerable time finding unusual names that jump off the pages of their novels. When they indulge their creative freedom and create names, they run the risk of introducing names that are awkward and unpronounceable.
  • Watch the flow with first names and surnames. The first name should not end with the same sound as the last name. For example: Nelson Neufeld. But combining common first names with unusual surnames (or vice versa) can be very effective. Examples: Victor Frankenstein and Sirius Black.
  • Don’t worry too much about the meanings behind names, especially if you have become overly attached to your characters. Lesson learned: Research the names before investing too much time and energy in the manuscript.

BTW…I decided to stick with Anna May.

Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the dead body of golden girl Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside her office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation.

When three more dead blondes turn up all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders. Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.

As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.

On sale for 99 cents … September 13 – September 27

To Prologue or Not to Prologue

Whenever I’ve asked a writing instructor or workshop facilitator about prologues, I’ve encountered a variety of negative facial expressions—everything from a wince to a frown to a quick shake of the head. And the following responses:

Agents hate prologues.

Readers will skip to the first chapter.

Prologues = Information Dumps.

One instructor offered a ray of hope: Use only if the prologue adds an interesting and integral layer to the narrative.

Interesting and Integral…Definitely a challenge and one I decided to tackle in Too Many Women in the Room, Book 2 of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series.

But first, I needed to get more information about the Uses and Misuses of Prologues. Here’s what I discovered:

Use a Prologue to…

• Provide information that is crucial to understanding the rest of the story. In Too Many Women in the Room, I needed to introduce the victim’s voice. Having written the rest of the novel in the first-person POV, I wanted the reader to be privy to the thoughts and feelings of the victim in his final hour.

• Provide clues. Red herrings are an important component of cozy mysteries. In Too Many Women in the Room, the initial crime scene contains vital details that form the basis for these red herrings.

• Hook the reader. If the actual crime doesn’t occur for several chapters, it is a good idea to whet the reader’s appetite with a prologue. But—and a big but—the interim chapters also need hooks to keep the reader engaged.

Don’t Use a Prologue to…

• Introduce a voice or tone that is not as engaging as the rest of the novel.

• Dispose of the entire back story. Much better to incorporate bits and pieces throughout the novel.

• Introduce an overly-dramatic voice and then switch to a much quieter voice.

From Too Many Women in the Room…

He couldn’t believe he was following his wife’s advice. After twelve years of paying lip service to deep yoga breaths, mindfulness, and all the other New Age crap she espoused, he had finally found a use for it. His midnight run usually sorted out all the stress, but tonight was different. He still couldn’t shake the venom that had been directed his way.

To make matters worse, it had come from eight women, eight very different and very annoying women. He had bedded four, but right now he couldn’t imagine having sex with any of them. As for the untouched four, well, only one interested him, and it had nothing to do with her feminine wiles and everything to do with her healthy bank account.

He would have to take something to get through the night, something a lot stronger than his wife’s herbal teas. The remnants of an old Percocet prescription came to mind. Two capsules might do the trick. The thought of a panacea, albeit a chemical one, calmed his racing thoughts.

A good night’s sleep would make a world of difference. And tomorrow, he would sort it out.

The light patter of feet distracted him. Definitely a woman’s gait. Her breath was even, neither shallow nor panting. Younger, maybe in her thirties. His pulse quickened, and a smile spread over his features. A welcome distraction. Just what he needed to erase the built-up stress. To hell with deep breathing, affirmations, and Percocet.

Any other thoughts on prologues?

 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

 

On Planting Red Herrings

When I shared an early draft of A Season for Killing Blondes, a beta reader complimented me on my use of red herrings and suggested the title could also be considered a red herring.

Puzzled, I asked for clarification.

She explained, “A red herring is a literary device that leads readers toward a false conclusion. Glancing at the title, I expected to read a thriller about a serial killer who had designated a specific time period for the Rampage.” She winked. “That’s definitely not the case here.”

A bit worried, I wondered if I was misleading my readers. Would they expect a thriller and be disappointed when my novel turned out to be a cozy?

She assured me that the title was well-suited to a cozy mystery that featured a brunette lottery winner as the primary suspect and four dead blondes killed during a two-week period. And she doubted that anyone would be disappointed at the end.

After our conversation, I decided to do more research into red herrings.

Several theories exist regarding the origin of the expression. Some believe that it refers to the use of a kipper (strong-smelling smoked fish) to train hounds to follow a scent. Another theory points to escaping convicts who used red herrings to throw off hounds in pursuit.

Many of the plots in Agatha Christie’s novels contain red herrings. In And Then There Were None, we assume a character who goes missing is the killer. Later, when his body is washed up onshore, we realize that his absence was a red herring that misled the other characters and the readers.

In The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown expertly uses the character of Bishop Aringarosa as a red herring throughout the novel. While reading, we can easily imagine him as the mastermind of the church conspiracy and are surprised when the real culprit is revealed. Intrigued by the bishop’s unusual surname, I probed further and learned that “Aringarosa” translates into English as “red herring.”

Another famous red herring example appears in The Final Problem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. While walking through the Swiss mountains with Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson receives a message that an Englishwoman at their hotel is in urgent need of health care. He rushes back to the hotel and discovers there is no Englishwoman. The message was a red herring sent by the villain Professor James Moriarty as a ruse to isolate Sherlock Holmes at the edge of a cliff.

To keep my readers guessing while reading A Season for Killing Blondes, I introduced a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga teacher with anger management issues, a lecherous photographer, two “50something” mean girls, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.

From the reviews, I gathered that I had succeeded in maintaining the readers’ interest until the final chapters. My favorite comes from The Romance Reviews: “A well-written, character-driven murder mystery that genuinely had me scratching my head until the very end wondering who dun’ it!?”

Do you have a favorite red herring to share?

 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

In Praise of Affirmations

During my cancer journey, I read Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life, and developed an interest in affirmations.

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation states an outcome or truth you wish to impress upon your mind. While the affirmation doesn’t actually make things happen, it can raise your vibration so that you are more receptive to the desired outcome.

At first wary, I slowly warmed up to the topic and adopted several of Louise’s suggestions:

Every cell of my body radiates health.

I relax and let my body heal itself.

I lovingly do everything I can to assist my body in maintaining physical health.

I also liked using the following mantra-like affirmation from French psychologist Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie:

Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.

Having experienced success with these health-based affirmations, I decided to use this technique to help achieve my writing goals. And I wanted to create my own personal affirmations rather than piggy-backing on someone else’s success.

Here are the affirmations I’ve used during the past eleven years of my writing journey:

My words flow easily.

Each day, I write with confidence and enthusiasm.

I submit a manuscript that is well received by a publishing house.

Joyful and creative, I delight in inspiring and motivating others with my written work.

Tips for Writing and Using Affirmations

1. Use the first person and the present tense.

2. Keep the affirmations brief and limited. Focus on one or two until you’ve incorporated them into your psyche.

3. Don’t sabotage yourself with an unrealistic goal. For example, “My book achieves best-seller status” is too much of a jump for an unpublished writer who is struggling with the first draft of her book.

4. Practice your affirmations each day. You can say them first thing in the morning, while looking in the mirror, or while exercising.

5. Write down your affirmations. You can stick them on your mirror or bulletin board, post them on your computer, or carry them in your purse or wallet.

Any affirmations out there? Please share.

 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

 

The Secret Art of Journaling

“Everybody allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female. Nature may have done something, but I am sure it must be essentially assisted by the practice of keeping a journal.” ~ Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey.

Despite Miss Jane’s quotation above, what do Marcus Aurelius, Louisa May Alcott, Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Epictetus the Roman Slave have in common? They all kept extensive journals, recording their wistful desires, their secret needs, and the history going on around them. Journals that historians have found, read, and preserved for future generations.

While it’s fun to read other people’s words, especially those written during epic historical times, the beauty of these scribblings  is that they were never meant to be public. They were private conversations between the writer, his head, and his heart. I’m sure if Epictetus knew one day, over two thousand years after his death, that his journal would be one of the most important primary historical sources regarding Ancient Rome, he probably wouldn’t have bothered searching for ink and papyrus.

But if people didn’t journal for posterity, why did they bother?

To heal the mind.

A 2011 study in Science  found that students who journaled about their upcoming math exams had less anxiety about their tests and received higher grades. Why? The researchers believe that “…by acknowledging their fears, students were able to tame distracting emotions.”

Perhaps because writing slows down the mind, it’s a perfect way to examine your day, your worries, your joys, and all of the things going on around you. Journaling offers the writer a chance to lay out the disparate points of her life and make sense of it all. Often, when journaling, I realized I was happy/mad/annoyed/etc about a certain situation that on the surface seemed trivial. Writing things out by hand can be the best form of therapy, it helps you find patterns in your life that are both helpful and hurtful. Journaling releases unresolved or repressed emotions and fears.

Whether you’re new to journaling, or an expert, here are a few tips to up your diary game:

Best Time:

It may take practice to figure this out, but finding your optimum journaling time is key to making this a successful habit. In Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, she suggests morning pages. The writer writes first thing in the morning and fills three journal pages without stopping. The sentences can be non-stop, there can be off-color words and thoughts, it can even be a grocery or to-do list.  On the other hand, the Roman philosopher Seneca wrote every night after his wife went to bed. Supposedly, Seneca once confided, “I examine my entire day and go back over what I’ve done and said, hiding nothing from myself, passing nothing by.”

Best Journal:

Since this is a notebook where you’re going to bare your soul on a daily basis, it’s important you love what you’re writing in. That doesn’t mean it has to be fancy or expensive. It could be a legal pad or a college-ruled notebook. What it looks like doesn’t matter. What matters is it fits who you are and your writing style. The same goes for pens. Use what you love, not what’s in style.

Write Fast:

What this really means is as soon as you start writing, write as fast as you can to kill your inner editor.  If your inner critic can’t keep up as you skim along the pages, he’ll go away. The same advice works on your handwriting. If it’s messy, let it go. This is for your eyes only. Some writers I know say they never reread what they’ve written in their journals. They write their souls onto the page and move on. Neatness doesn’t matter.

Be Kind.

…to yourself. Your journal is your friend. If all you have to say one day is “I’m tired”, be kind to yourself and say “that’s okay.” Keeping a journal isn’t a race or a competition. It’s a private collection of thoughts that help you make sense of all the good and bad things you’ve experienced in the last twenty-four hours. The great thing about friends? They don’t expect you to be perfect. So let the perfection go.

Be Creative.

You can journal morning pages, or night-time reflections. Or you can keep a gratitude or prayer journal. I know others who keep vision journals where the write about the things they hope for in their lives. Then there are those who track their mood and health. What that Science journal found was that it didn’t matter so much what you were writing about. It was the act of writing that subdued a person’s anxiety.

It was the act of writing that brought peace.

And who doesn’t need more of that in their lives?


Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets meet their match in smart, sexy heroines who teach these alpha males that Grace always defeats Reckoning.

Her acclaimed debut book EVERY DEEP DESIRE, a sexy, action-packed retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is about an ex-Green Beretdetermined to regain his honor, his freedom, and his wife.

EVERY DEEP DESIRE is available on: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | IndieBoundKobo|  Google

Adding it to your Goodreads TBR list is also always appreciated!

Will a Change of Venue Help Writer’s Block?

Rosslyn_Chapel

Well, it’s not exactly writer’s block … sort of. In 2015, my cousin and I took a trip to Scotland to follow some family ancestry as well as for me to do some research for the fifth book in my series, “Partners, Heart of the Phoenix”. For my main character, AJ Donovan, it took years to find the Scots-Irish father he thought had abandoned him. Now a father himself for the first time, he and his wife, Quin, chose to take a trip to Scotland where Ethan Donovan and his family currently lived. AJ was excited to meet his many half siblings and introduce his son, Reilly to his grandparents.

Ethan’s landscaping business had made him quite wealthy and that wealth bought him enemies. Unfortunately, some of his enemies were within his own family. He had to determine which of his children were embezzling funds from the family business. AJ’s siblings welcomed him warmly … except one. This brother perceived AJ as a threat to his inheritance – to the point he was willing to eliminate him.

2015-05-12 16.48.46 (1)

At the RWA conference last year I roomed with a friend who was retired military and had spent much of her life in Scotland and Ireland. She pointed out several flaws in Irish-Scottish relationships that made the background for my story somewhat implausible. Changing those details would require changing background facts going back to Book I. So, I pushed the book aside and went on to other things. Not a good way to enhance a successful writing career.

So, one of the annual writing conferences I attend is “20 Books to 50K”, the focus of which is indie authors supporting indie authors. They are in Vegas every year but have also been doing conferences in Europe. This year, in July, it will be in Scotland. I was immediately interested. It’s time to go back and seek my muse. I need to work through the story issues and come back with the ideas I need to fix them. Not to mention that Edinburgh, Scotland is one of my favorite places in the world.

2015-05-12 16.52.53 HDR-2 (1)

I’m curious if other writers find new energy when doing research in countries where your story takes place. Do exposure and new facts make you more zealous to get back to your story?

Ending on the Right Note

By Joanne Guidoccio

Last summer,  I read several books with unsatisfying endings. In one case, I wondered if the novel had been worth my time and attention. The author had started with a compelling opening, the characters were well-developed, and each chapter ended on a suspenseful note.

Where did she go wrong?

Two-thirds of the way through the book, she introduced a character who had no connection to any of the other characters. In fact, I would suggest she literally pulled him out of thin air so she could pin the murder on him.

Afterward, I started to wonder about the conclusions to my own books. Had I made an impact on the reader and encouraged her to buy the next book in the series? Or had I disappointed her with a contrived or unsatisfactory ending?

I reread my editor’s comments and checked with several beta readers who reassured me that I had ended on the right note. I also reread notes from workshops and seminars. Here are five tips to consider when writing that final chapter:

1. Decide on an ending that is appropriate for your genre. If you are writing a thriller or murder mystery, a strong build-up with plausible suspects and fast-paced action should lead to the resolution of major plot points. Romance readers expect an HEA (Happily ever after) or HFN (Happily for now) ending. If you are not comfortable with that expectation, write the novel as women’s fiction. With fantasy and science fiction, endings that leave room for the imagination can be very satisfying. Literary fiction tends to have endings featuring all degrees of resolution.

2. Refrain from moralizing or delivering a hard-hitting lesson to make a point or teach a lesson. Instead, let your characters reveal what they have learned through their actions and situations.

3. Avoid improbable endings. Some authors get tangled up in plot lines and introduce a fantastical or outlandish event such as the sudden appearance of a ghost with homicidal tendencies or a dream sequence that negates the entire storyline. These endings work only if groundwork has appropriately been established throughout the book. For example, missing items and unexplained events could justify the introduction of a ghost or other supernatural being.

4. Structure books in series such that your reader will want to continue reading. Decide which subplots you intend to wrap up and which you will leave dangling to create anticipation for the next book in the series. You may also wish to introduce a complication (appearance of an old flame, job offer or firing, marriage proposal) that needs to be further developed.

5. Pay particular attention to the final sentence, image, or line of dialogue. A vague closing line can cast a shadow over the entire novel while a powerful one will linger in memory.

Here are my favorite closing lines:

“After all, tomorrow is another day.” Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

“He loved Big Brother.” 1984 by George Orwell

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

“We sat there for a long time, till the crowd around us thinned, till the sun shifted and the light changed. Till we felt our eyes could meet again, without the tears.” Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

“Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at seas as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.” Life of Pi by Yann Martel

What is your most memorable closing line?

 

 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

Celebrating a Milestone- Anniversary Edition #amwriting #Romance @jacqbiggar

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Celebrating a Milestone

Five years ago, I decided to quit feeling sorry for myself and do something about it. You see, I’d recently moved away from home and was lost and lonely.

But, I had a dream.

One I’d carried in the back of my mind for years. I wanted to write a book. Deciding the genre was the easy part. Romance. I was an avid reader of romance novels. They took me to faraway places, fed my spirit and thrilled my heart.

Yep, romance it was.

Okay, now what?

I had a computer that I used for my bookkeeping, but had no idea how to use it as a writing tool. I needed to learn though, my lefty handwriting was atrocious- that wouldn’t work.

I searched online and found RWA® Romance Writers of America, a group of thousands geared toward helping authors better their craft. I also managed to find a local writing group and gathered up the courage to go to one of their meetings where I immediately felt at home. I joined both and began to take classes to learn the art.

It took time (I’m still a work-in-progress) but finally, FINALLY I published my first book in September of 2014.

Pride.

I could barely contain the excitement blooming in my chest to see a book with MY name on it for sale. But then came the realization. People were going to read it. My heart and soul on those pages and they were all out there– I felt sick.

The reviews trickled in, some good, some not so much, but the addiction was born. I loved to write!

This week I’m celebrating that momentous moment by sharing my first book with you- free!

Jan 11-15

Click the picture to go to Amazon

Excerpt

Nick jogged through the early morning streets, Jake trotting by his side, enjoying the peace and quiet before the town woke for the day. Little songbirds greeted him as he passed a cedar hedge on his way to the park. The air was fresh and cool at this hour. He was glad his strength had returned, his breathing even and stride long. It’d been an uphill battle. For a while after the ambush he’d shut down. Closed everyone out. He wished now he’d made it his business to keep in touch with all his old teammates. The faint sounds of a dog’s bark had Nick looking down at Jake, loping alongside. He’d healed up well, and only flinched at sudden loud noises these days. His hip had taken the brunt of the damage. When the explosion had thrown them, Nick worried he’d need to put him down, but he’d pulled through. Tough mutt.

After his run, he would head over to Sara’s and have a look at those files, see what they were looking at here. Nick had a bad feeling that Tommy boy was into some heavy shit. They needed to solve that first, before there could be a chance for him and Sara.

A sudden sharp pain stabbed him behind the eyes, causing him to falter. Jake whined, sensing his distress. Squinting through slit eyes he spotted a nearby bench, and slumped onto the seat. He pushed a shaky hand through his hair, and then using his thumb and middle finger squeezed in towards his nose, relieving the pressure. “It’s okay, boy. I’m fine. Let’s just take a little break, hmm.” The doctor had explained in excruciating detail while he lay in that hospital in Germany, how lucky he was. The explosion had hit him and sent him flying right up against the stone wall of a nearby house. Shrapnel had gouged a deep line on his forehead, right above his old bullet wound. A centimeter farther to the left and it would have been lights out, of the forever kind. Unfortunately, it’d taken his short-term memory away from him. He’d been told it would come back in dribbles, or one big slam––or maybe not ever. Nice. It angered him that he couldn’t break through the fog to discover the truth of what happened to him and his team. There was something there he could feel it.

He supposed he should be grateful he could remember his childhood, though those memories he could have lived without. Years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of his old man had sent him down nothing but a path of trouble during his high school years. Alcohol, substance abuse, vagrancy, you name it he tried it. His motto had been if you’re not living on the edge, you’re just taking up space.

Then he’d met Kendra in one of the few classes he’d decided to show up for and they’d fallen in love. She’d been the only child of lawyer parents, sweet and innocent. The odds had gone against him when they’d had unprotected sex on a hot summer’s night. She’d gotten pregnant. At least he’d done the right thing and proposed. And though her parents of course hated him, they agreed the marriage should take place. Maybe if they’d stopped it, or if he’d just walked away, Kendra and his son would still be alive today.

They’d been too young, and in the end, it tore them apart. He couldn’t even recall what the fight had been about––no doubt his lack of a ‘respectable’ job. He’d been working at a local garage at the time––all he did remember was getting up to answer the door, only to see two uniforms on the other side. Devastated, blaming himself, he spent the next couple of months shit-faced drunk. Coming out of an alcohol-induced daze one day he saw a poster for enlisting in the marines. Not caring much whether he lived or died at that point, he’d signed up. They sent him to Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio, where he met Jake. They’d been inseparable ever since.

The searing pressure eased enough for him to open his eyes. Jake sat with his head cocked to the side, his ears laid back in commiseration. Nick nudged him with his knee and gave his sides a good hard rub, Jake groaning his thanks. “Okay, big guy, what do you say to finishing our run?” He’d learned a long time ago that pushing through the pain was often the best medicine.

He had that in common with Sara. She’d gone through both a physical and a mental trauma that would have crushed most. She was doing great, but he bet a violation like that was something from which no woman ever fully recovered.

It humbled him that she had trusted him enough to allow him to make love to her last night. Nick would never hurt a hair on her head, but there was no real way for her to be sure of that. He hoped and prayed no one would ever crush her again, and swore to do everything in his power to make sure of that, starting with Sheridan. If those files contained half of what Sara had intimated they did, he’d need some help. Checking to make sure no one was around, he pulled his cell out of his sweats and made the call.

“Hey, Chief, how are you? It’s Nick, Nickolaus Kelley. Long time, sir, too long. Shit, I’ve missed the team. How’s the whizz kid?” A big grin split his face as he listened to Frank describing Jared’s latest and greatest.

“No kidding, trust Martin to take the term, Land of opportunity, to a whole new level, right?” He laughed. Man, it was good to talk to the chief again. Why did people always let the important ones in their lives fall to the wayside, while they went about the business of life?

He could well believe Jared had almost shut down the strip; the man was scary good with electronics. “I understand that you’re out of the loop these days, sir, but I was hoping I could ask you, and Jared if he’s still with you, for a helping hand. I have a situation here and could really use your input.”

Relief coursed through his veins at the quick response to his plea. “I’ll tell you all about it when you arrive. Tomorrow then, and thanks—Frank.”