Variety is the spice of life

Variety is essential in any long term writer’s career. 

When I started my writing journey at 33 years of age, eleven years ago, I fell in love with writing romantic thrillers. 

My first story was about a pair of young sisters who escape a dangerous, religious David-Koresh-type cult. The sisters run from a horrific past, looking for a new life states away from there hidden compound in rural Oklahoma.

The eldest, Lynea, falls for a college professor, bringing an element of hope and romance to the story. Lynea’s past is nightmarish and full of abuse, making her new romance difficult. 

At times the plot grows as dark and disturbing as an episode of Criminal Minds. 

This novel is called Violation of Faith.

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I loved the fast paced nature of that plot. And since you’re reading this, you probably like this suspenseful type of writing, too.

But one thing I discovered after getting published was that writing the in the same dark and intense vein for my second book didn’t appeal to me. 

I kept trying to write a sequel and couldn’t seem to make it work. But when I chose a lighter, sexier tone for a different project, I completed it quickly.

I also went from being traditionally published for my first novel to self-publishing my second project, which was a Christmas novella called A Midnight Clear. 

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It was incredibly liberating to be in complete control of my plot and editing. It left me feeling free and happy with my end product. 

My next four projects were of a whole other variety in that they were nonfiction ebooks called the Writing in my Jammies series. These were brief, easy to consume in one sitting self-help books with exercises at the end, written with spirituality and personal development in mind.

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All this variety – a dark and intense thriller novel to sexy suspenseful novella to little nonfiction ebooks – kept my creative muse very active in 2016.

In 2017, I found more inspiration in adding even more variety to my writing by creating blogs that corresponded with a recorded podcast. 

By adding the variety of audio content to my writing, I’ve discovered an entirely new audience for my writing. 

Listen to this post as a podcast

So now variety isn’t just igniting my creative sparks, it’s allowing me to use a fresh new medium to share my stories. It’s also making my listeners aware of my endeavor to serve as a Creative Inspiration Coach assisting other writers struggling with their muses. 

It’s as exciting as it is rewarding. 

Variety is a wonderful thing.

Another beautiful example of variety is the Sisterhood of Suspense. 

This amazing sisterhood of authors write everything from straight suspense to spine-tingling thrillers. Everything from traditional mysteries to supernatural romances. 

Some of the Sisterhood also write nonfiction like I do. 

This variety means we can offer our visitors, followers, and readers a uniquely wide variety of genres and voices.

That is the extraordinary gift joining together provides us as authors and you as readers. 

Variety

Variety

Not only is it the spice of life, it’s the joy of camaraderie, the combining of resources, and the ability to share individual talents and abilities with all of you.

If you’re looking for romance and mystery – or just really love Las Vegas – check out Pat Amsden.

For multiple romantic comedies featuring unique handbags, Vicki Batman is the author for you.

Want a romantic suspense with a tough alpha male or something a bit more supernatural? Look no further than Jacquie Biggar.

For emergency room romances, go to Sam Bradley writing as McKenna Sinclair. She also has her own long-running disaster podcast here.

Author Veronica Forand is where you’ll want to look for romances with thriller edges to them. 

If you like your romances to make you both laugh and cry, Claire Gem would be perfect for you. 

In the mood for a series of cozy mysteries, paranormal romances, or inspirational literature? Try Joanne Guidoccio.

Like a mix? Kathryn Jane writes novels full of mystery, suspense, adventure, psychic abilities, and romance often featuring animals. 

For contemporary romance and romantic suspense, be on the lookout for Mia Kay.

Marian Lanouette writing as Merry Holly is a multi-published author of both mystery and romance. 

Julie Mulhern writes mysteries, historical romances, and romantic suspense – including the Country Club Murders.

Want high emotional stakes balanced with a touch of humor? Check out Stephanie (S.A.) Taylor’s contemporaries and romantic suspenses. 

If you like your romantic suspense flavored with second chances at love, give Marsha West’s Second Change series a looksee.

Are stories of adventure, suspense and love your cup of tea, grab Sharon Wray’s Deadly Force series. 

I consider it a privilege to work with such a fantastic group of authors, and I know you’ll enjoy their books, as well. 

Jeannie Hall is a multi-published author, blogger, podcaster, YouTuber, and Creative Inspiration Coach specializing in helping authors reignite their creative sparks. You can find her (and her various social media links) at WritinginyourJammies.com

Blogging- Why all #Writers should be Using this #Free Venue #Writertips #RSsos @jacqbiggar

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To blog or not to blog; I hear this question often. There are many demands on a writer’s time. Most of us have families, day jobs, pets, houses to clean, yards to maintain, the list goes on and on, so how are we supposed to keep up a regular blog as well?

And why should we?

 

 

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I get it, I really do.

But, on the other hand, as authors we want to be recognized, right? There’s no sense (other than personal satisfaction) to waste our precious time writing those stories if we aren’t going to do our best to get noticed.

 

WordPress Now Powers 26% of the Web

The most recent stats are showing that since March 2016, WordPress is actually powering 26.4% of the Web, and it’s on the rise. It is still by far the most used CMS, with 59.4% market share. Also interestingly on a daily basis there are over 500 sites being created on WordPress.

https://managewp.com/blog/statistics-about-wordpress-usage

 

 

As you can see, these numbers are already a couple of years old, but it’s safe to say blogging is a crucial– and often under-utilized– tool in marketing our product.

One of the best things about blogging– it’s free!

Just think, all those users out there, all you need to do is provide them with content.

 

 

In this post, Nicholas Rossis shares a graphic made by Websitebuilder on the phenomenal growth in the blogging world.

18.7 million blogs on WordPress alone! That’s a lot of people and possible eyes on your books. (You have your blog connected to your website with a listing of your books, right?)

 

“But what am I going to say?” you ask.

Well, that’s the beauty of it, your blog, your rules. 🙂

 

 

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The biggest thing is that you’re going to make connections around the world. And if those people like what you have to say, chances are, they’ll check out your books, mention you to their workmates, their friends and family.

See?

All that because you took the time to #blog.

Come on, what are you waiting for? Let’s get connected!

 

Speaking of spreading the word, here’s some shameless self-promotion on two new releases I have coming in the next few weeks. Shares appreciated 🙂

 

 

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Available 01.30.18

 

What happens when two of Tidal Falls’ most beloved citizens have second thoughts just before they get married?

Jared Martin can’t wait to tie the knot with the woman of his dreams and become a real father to his son, Chris.

Annie Campbell is finally going to marry the man she’s loved for most of her adult life and she couldn’t be more excited–and anxious.

An unforeseen event will test their devotion to each other and bring the entire town in on the action. Will Jared and Annie’s love stand the test, or is their relationship doomed?

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0788BB53H

International: https://books2read.com/WithThisHeart

Add to your TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37830620-with-this-heart

 

Excerpt

She yanked the door open and then jumped backward with a shriek as a brown and white shape hurtled through the gap and stumbled in the drive.

“Dad, save Bambi,” Chris cried from inside the cab.

“What was that?” Annie whispered, hands clenched to her chest.

Jared was torn between taking her into his arms or checking on the injured animal for his son. A further cry from Chris as he scrambled to get out of the pickup cemented his decision. He sent a quick glance Annie’s way before hurrying to kneel beside the fawn and stop its frantic movements. “Son, bring that blanket with you. His scent is on it now, it may reassure him some.”

“Is he okay?” Chris hopped down from the crew cab, tugging the blanket behind him. “Hi, Mom,” he chirped on his way by, “guess what Jared did? He hit a baby deer.” The last was said with a mix of nervous tension.

Jared looked up in time to see Annie’s scowl turn to concern. He held out his hand for the quilt. “Here, I’ll cover him up and then you keep him still while I call the vet. Deal?”

“Deal,” Chris agreed, plopping onto the grass and startling the fawn. He scrunched his shoulders and shrugged. “Sorry.”

Jared smiled. “Just take it easy around him for the first few days. You have to remember he’s not used to people. This is all very strange for him.” He wrapped the trembling body, careful to avoid the bad leg. “Pet his head like I showed you before and I’ll be right back, okay?”

Chris nodded without looking away from the delicate face of the deer. “Sure, we’re friends already, see?” He proceeded to rub between the fawn’s ears. “He likes me.”

“Well, sure he does. What’s not to like?” Jared rumpled his son’s red hair—so like his mother’s—and rose. After making sure the fawn was content, he turned to Annie. “Sorry we couldn’t call. Reception was bad out there.”

“What if you’d been injured?” Annie sniped under her breath so as not to alert Chris. “I had no idea where you’d gone. Where to search. It was an irresponsible thing to do.” She folded defensive arms across her chest.

“Whoa, where is this coming from?” Jared grasped her forearm and pulled her resisting body to the front of the truck. “Sweetheart, it’s not like I planned on driving home in the dark and clipping a fawn during our first father-son road trip. You’re not being fair.”

“Fair?” she cried. “Chris is my son, Jared. I have the right to know he’s safe.”

Stunned, he released her arm. “Actually, I thought he was our son. What’s going on, Annie?”

She stared up at him with tear-drenched eyes. “Maybe we’re a mistake.” She looked at his dented vehicle, and at Chris caring for the injured deer, before meeting his gaze with a defiant lift of her chin. “I don’t think I can marry you anymore.”

 

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Available 02.13.18

 

Take two humans who pretend they can’t stand each other and one matchmaking canine and the fun is nonstop!

Val Hodgins is on the road to success. His architect firm handles some of the biggest contracts along the western seaboard. He doesn’t have time to babysit his aunt’s aging house or her pain in the butt dog, but when she falls ill with pneumonia he drops everything to go to her aid.

Sierra Johnson’s dreams of owning a catering company go up in smoke thanks to a bad choice in boyfriends. Now, she’s stuck working for a tyrannical boss, care-taking an aging townhouse, and being tormented by the owner’s aggravating, caustic, way-too-attractive nephew.

Will these two get over their prejudices in time to realize love comes without a price tag?

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078QFJH4H

Universal: https://books2read.com/Valentine

Add to TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38088692-valentine

 

Excerpt

Val stepped closer to the crazy woman guarding her virtue with a kitchen utensil. He’d been enjoying the view for the past five minutes as she swayed to the music, her back to him while she worked at his sister’s kitchen sink. Even though she wore the required hair net, he could see she was a fiery redhead, her body slim and compact beneath the wraparound apron. He should have announced himself sooner, but he hadn’t expected to freak her out so badly. Normally, Sam’s kitchen was a hub of activity; he was surprised to find it empty except for the pint-sized warrior.

“You can put down the weapon.” He hid his amusement behind a placating smile. “I’m harmless, though my sister might be tempted to disagree. Is Sam here?”

When the woman stared at him like he was the creature from the black lagoon, Val waved a hand in front of her eyes and grinned at the resultant snap of temper. He was right, she was a feisty one. “Sorry, I’m in a bit of a hurry. Is there a chance I could get you to answer me any time soon?”

She glared at him, threw the rubber spatula unto the counter, and swept the net from her hair, allowing the coiled layers to flow down her back. “You have a bad habit of sneaking up on people,” she snapped, reddened fingers moving to untie her apron.

What was she…?

Oh.

He snapped his fingers and pointed at her. “You. The klutz that destroyed my dinner the other night. What are you doing here? Don’t tell me my sister was foolish enough to hire someone who can’t even hold onto a pot without it becoming a catastrophe.”

Her eyes narrowed and she stared past him to the big block of knives sitting on the stainless-steel countertop. Val hurried to block her view. “Uh, uh, uh, temper, temper. You don’t really want to stab me, just think of the mess.”

 

JACQUIE BIGGAR  is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. 

Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her web site:

http://jacqbiggar.com

You can follow her on at http://Facebook.com/jacqbiggar, http://Twitter.com/jacqbiggar

Or email her via her web site. Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!

You can also join her street team on Facebook: Biggar’s Book Buddies

Or her exclusive Review Crew: https://jacqbiggar.com/join-my-review-crew/

And sign up for her newsletter-

http://www.subscribepage.com/jacqbiggar

 

Disasters, 2, 3, & 4…

Wow! What’s Mother Nature so angry about? The last post I wrote on Aug. 30 was about Hurricane Harvey hitting the Gulf Coast of Texas.  Now here we are not quite two weeks later and Hurricane Irma has torn up the Caribbean and the entire state of Florida, followed close on its heels by Jose and then Katia. That doesn’t even mention the category 8 earthquake in Mexico, or the never ending horrific fires engulfing our friends in Western Canada and the US. Whew! 2017 will be in the record books for sure, but not in a good way.

Can we just go back to watching Disaster Movies instead of experiencing them?

I do realize this is hurricane season, and it’s common to have a number of them hurling themselves around, but WOW! This is bizarre and scary.

(And yesterday was September 11 and the 16th anniversary of that disaster. Here’s a link to offer support for the museum site. info@911memorial.org   You can also  listen to podcasts of people’s memories of that day., Our City, Our Story.)

Amongst the horror are all the wonderful stories of heroism and people helping others regardless of who they are, the color of their skin, or their religion. Those behaviors are the only thing that make these disasters at all bearable.

Plus, as I said on Aug. 30—a good romance book to take you away and to give you hope in a happily ever after.

So into all this mess, on Sept. 21, I’m releasing my sixth book, ACT OF BETRAYAL, Book 3 in the Second Chances Series. Right now, you can pre-order it for $1.99 before it goes live for its regular price of $4.99. It’s on three major sites, Amazon, B & N, and KOBO.  The print will be available soon thereafter. ACT OF BETRAYAL Pre-Sale

Here are direct links:

Amazon  http://amzn.to/2wuqPFc  

B & N        http://bit.ly/2wAWqnT

KOBO    http://bit.ly/2wkBfGW

The setting for this book is Dallas, but my characters are much nicer than those in the TV show named for the city. Oh, I’ve got a really bad guy, of course, and my usual generational thing going. I did not grow up in that kind of situation, but as an adult that’s the life I’ve experienced. So, family is important to me and that shows up in my stories. When I began writing, I didn’t realize I’d write about older characters or that families would play such a strong place in my stories.

Do you like stories about families or do you prefer reading a story just about the guy and the girl? Do you read or write disaster stories? Have you or your family and friends been impacted by this rash of recent  disasters? I hope you take advantage of all the opportunities to give support, and I hope and pray all your family and friends are okay.

Don’t forget our fall Giveaway.

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And check out my links:

Newsletter http://eepurl.com/bBcimz , marsha@marsharwest.com  http://www.marsharwest.com 

https://authormarsharwest.wordpress.com/ Blog

https://www.facebook.com/marsha.r.west @marsha.r.west

http://www.twitter.com/Marsharwest  @Marsharwest

https://www.pinterest.com/marsharwest/

https://sisterhoodofsuspense.com/blog

My Fascination with the Devil #amwriting #Suspense #RSsos @jacqbiggar

It’s not what you’re thinking. Okay, maybe it is.

I’ve fallen in love.

He’s Handsome, smart, charming, and oh yeah, he’s the devil.

And I’m not alone.

Thousands tune in every Monday night to watch what is quickly becoming a craze on Twitter and various other social media platforms.

That’s right, it’s Lucifer.

So what is this phenomenon all about?

Based on characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg, this series follows Lucifer, the original fallen angel, who has become dissatisfied with his life in hell. After abandoning his throne and retiring to Los Angeles, Lucifer indulges in his favorite things (women, wine and song) — until a murder takes place outside of his upscale nightclub.

For the first time in billions of years, the murder awakens something unfamiliar in Lucifier’s soul that is eerily similar to compassion and sympathy.

Lucifer is faced with another surprise when he meets an intriguing homicide detective named Chloe, who appears to possess an inherent goodness — unlike the worst of humanity, to which he is accustomed. Suddenly, Lucifer starts to wonder if there is hope for his soul.

Like Lucifer-played by the amazing Tom Ellis, I think we all go through phases where we don’t feel good enough (He thinks he was sent to Hell as punishment from Father. His older brother, Amenadiel- played by D.B Woodside, tells him it was actually because He trusted Lucifer to keep the evil ones down there and so protect humanity.)

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Lately, I’ve been struggling with personal self-esteem. That’s the problem with being an introvert, you spend way too much time in your head.

My sales are down. My writing is slo… ow going, each word is like pulling teeth, and my family has been having medical problems.

Hard to stay positive in the face of all that adversity.

But, then hope appears (much like Lucifer’s guiding light, Chloe). A good review here, a kind word there, and the darkness falls away. Maybe I can finish this story. Find new readers. Make my mark in this crazy world of writing.

Maybe.

If you haven’t watched Lucifer yet, you should. It’s surprising what the devil can teach us. 🙂

By the way, I have a new release coming out!

July 1st 2017 is the one hundred fiftieth birthday of Canada’s Confederation and our local writing/critiquing group decided it would be fun to do an anthology to celebrate.

My contribution, My Baby Wrote Me A Letter, stems from a news segment I watched. A woman bought an old desk at a yard sale. After bringing it home she began the process of refinishing the wood and happened to find a letter taped to the back of a drawer.

When she read the message, she realized the note could be important to someone, and with little more than a faded name to go on, began a search for the writer of the mysterious letter.

It was placing a picture on Facebook that led to the son of the man who had written that long ago message to his family. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer and feared he would never survive to see his children grow, so he wrote them a letter from the heart.

The news story had a happy ending; the man survived the cancer and lived not only to see his children to adulthood, but several of his grandchildren as well.

His story was an inspiration to me,

Jacquie

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Older Characters

What do I mean by those words? For some people, 35 is older. I’m sorry, I really have a hard time wrapping my mature mind around that concept. 40? Yeah, I can go there. Except I was really in my prime during my 40s and 50’s. I ran for the school board for the first time when I was 40. (and lost–not fun, but ran again when I was 44 and won. Much more fun. 😊)

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I was in my 50’s when I went back to school to get principal certification. And I didn’t begin writing until I was in my 60’s. Maybe I’m just a late bloomer? Well, yeah pretty sure. But I’d argue age and our perception of age has changed. Even for women.

Women in the real world anyway, perhaps not in Hollywood. But the last I checked, I don’t live there. 😉

I write romances with heroes and heroines in their 40-s and 50’s. Second chance love, but always with danger thrown in. My tag line is “Romance, Suspense, Second Chances. Experience Required.” My stories almost always have the parents of the main characters in them, too, as supporting characters, so folks in their 70’s. I like the generational thing.

I remember attending my first RWA convention. It was in Dallas, and I’d just retired from being an elementary school principal. I went not knowing a soul, not even belonging to a local chapter. Everyone was welcoming and friendly. One of the sessions was put on by Harlequin, I think, and they were touting their new line of romance with older characters. I can’t remember its clever name, but I do remember thinking, Yea! There’s a place for me. LOL Remember, I was very green.

I didn’t even know that I don’t write category romance. I believe that line fell by the wayside. But as we’ve all grown older (a thing, if we’re lucky. we do), the idea of reading about folks who are closer to our own age falling in love and solving problems and getting into scrapes and getting out of them has grown in popularity.

On Facebook, I belong to a group for writers of Seasoned Romance. I understand at RWA this summer there will be a panel on this subject as there was at the recent RT conference.

This makes me happy. Partly because maybe there will be more readers for my books, but also because there will be more books for me to read.IMG_3926

My husband read a recent NY Times article about the importance of reading and raising kids to be productive adults. The author accepted a challenge to read 100 books a year—of all kinds. He and his wife challenged their teenagers to accept the challenge. They haven’t yet made it, but that’s one of those goals that even if you don’t make it, you accomplish a whole lot with the attempt.

I confess to not reading a wide variety of books, but even when I was laid up all last summer with my broken ankle resting above my heart, I didn’t read 100 books in that year. That’s a huge goal, but a worthwhile one for a person of any age to set.

So, where do you fall in your reading? Only read books with younger heroes and heroines? Do you read multiple genres? How about the number. Are you in the 100 Club?  Love to hear from you.

Please sign up for my Newsletter http://eepurl.com/bBcimz , contact me at marsha@marsharwest.com ,and follow me on my social media sites.

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https://sisterhoodofsuspense.com/blog

Mother's Day Giveawayw Sisterhood of Suspense