I want to preface this by saying that I was contacted by Aleksandra Lechwar, who runs a great Etsy shop called Just 1 More Chapter. Apparently, my Christmas post of great reader gifts was sending Aleksandra some traffic (yay, right?) and he wanted to thank me. He offered to let me pick out a couple of pieces for free, which I gladly did because they looked so cool.

I chose two pairs of earrings. One, Wicked, because I adore Elpheba and her story. It’s one of my favorite books. The second set, The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe, was because that was a book my English major grandmother gave me when I was a teenager. If you read my blog, you know she passed away in January after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, I miss her, but I’d missed her a long time–that will make sense to anyone who has had to live with a family member slowly descending into this horrible disease.

The earrings came quickly and they’re so cool. They not only have the book cover, they have the spine, back cover, and even little “pages” along the side. They’re very true to life.

Here are a couple of pictures of me wearing one pair and a detailed picture of the other. I also want to add that I’m allergic to nickel and most earrings make me itch, even some that claim to be nickel-free. I wore these earrings all day and didn’t feel even a twitch of itchiness in my ears.

All of this is to say that now that I’ve tried out the products, I can’t recommend Just 1 More Chapter’s products highly enough.

PS. I was in no way asked to leave a positive review of the product and have received nothing in compensation for doing so. I just really wanted to share these super-cute and well-made products.

I’m joining with several (and I mean several) new-to-you writers to put out a newsletter every other month. This doesn’t replace my newsletter, which you should totally sign up for right now.

Each newsletter will highlight four different authors. You’ll find new excerpts, books on sale, book boyfriends (<3), and author spotlights. Each newsletter will also feature contests (plural) that you’ll automatically be entered to win by virtue of just being a subscriber.

We’re having a Sign-Up Contest now. Every subscriber will be entered to win one of three (3!) prizes: a $50 Amazon Gift Card, a $35 Amazon Gift Card, and a $20 Amazon Gift Card. In addition, we have a Facebook page which will be teeming with info about us all and you should go like it after you sign up for the newsletter below.

The winners for the prizes will be drawn on December 31. They will be announced on the Facebook page and emailed.

Sign up below to discover new stories and win contests. It’s literally win/win.

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Dating Advice from Romance Novels: Magnate by Joanna ShupeI recently finished Magnate by Joanna Shupe. This first in a trilogy gripped me until the very. last. page. Like, I went and bought the prequel novella, read it in a day, then pre-ordered the other two books. This month and January will be good reading months for me.

And even though it’s set in New York City’s Gilded Age (which Wikipedia tells me is from the 1870s to about 1900), I decided a book this great had to offer some quality dating advice. So, you’re welcome.

  1. Don’t have silly, girly ideas, like thinking for yourself or working. That’s beneath the elite women. Unless, you’re awesome, and even though you are from old money, you still want to earn your keep and save your family from financial ruin.
  2. Do hit up your brother’s friends for help, even though you know it would make him, like, crazy mad. And ruin your chances to form a good marriage. Because see number one.
  3. Don’t assume that when a man invites you to a private dinner at a trendy restaurant, and then he kisses you (which means marriage, pretty much), that it was actually intended for you. Brothers are wicked matchmakers.
  4. Honeymoons aren’t for sex. They’re for being lonely and cold. And arguments. And jealousy. And a little bit of sexy kissing on the stairs.
  5. Oh. my. gosh. Do have sex with your husband, as soon as you can find a blizzard to hit New York.

I’m totally off to mine Joanna Shupe’s backlist.

What books or new-to-you authors have you discovered recently?

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revisit toolsSeveral years ago, I was working on my second manuscript and I wrote about what tools I used to get the job done. (It was a terrible story that I never did finish, but that’s irrelevant. I did mine secondary characters from it and gave them their own story, so it was useful, at least.)

What did I use then?

Paper. Fancy journal, legal pad, graph paper, steno notebook–whatever makes you feel good.  We’re writers, and if you want to be a smart writer, you will write everything down somewhere.  Might as well make it a central place.  And believe me when I tell you, when that paper is full of your story, of your imagination, your muse at work… you’ll know why you write, if only for a moment.

I’m still a paper fanatic. And I still use a plain old spiral notebook. I write down character sketches, outlines, scene notes–you name it. It nearly always starts on paper before making its way onto the computer.

A binder, preferably one-and-a-half inch, sheet protectors, and a hole punch.

I don’t really use a binder anymore. I’m more likely to keep things in Evernote or, as I’m going to discuss later on, Scrivener.

An All-in-One Printer.  First of all, they’re just not that expensive anymore.

I definitely still use a printer. I print pages multiple times for edits. I just edit better on paper (no surprise there).

So what tool do I use the most now?

Scrivener. Although I still make use of paper, I keep my entire outline in Scrivener. I didn’t for the story I wrote before my current one. I kept them on index cards. Then I got sick and didn’t write for a month. And misplaced my cards. Scariest week of my life, thinking I was going to have to recreate that outline.

I also keep all my research in Scrivener, as you can just drop entire web pages in there and access them from the program.

Further, all those character sketches and pictures of what my characters look like? All in the research binder.

It’s basically my go-to for everything.

What do you use to keep your writing organized or to get more accomplished?

I’m fascinated by other people’s process, so please share in the comments!

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What tools I use now to get the most bang for my writing buck. How about you? Click To Tweet

Digging Right Now 716I haven’t done one of these in a while. For one thing, I’ve been busy writing! I finished all three of my fifties novellas (and I’m in the middle of editing them right now), I’m just (like this weekend) finished with second round edits on my novel, Infamous, contracted with The Wild Rose Press, and I’ve started the second novel to follow-up Infamous.

I’ll have lots more info for you on all of that in the coming months. But for now, what I’m digging this month.

Click it.
Click it.

First, we have to talk about Game of Thrones. In my opinion, it was the best. season. ever. In fact, it was so good that when I finished it on the last Sunday, I started watching again on the

following Thursday and rewatched the entire season.

The Battle of the Bastards! Daenerys and dragons! The taking back of Mereen! Killing the khals! Bran and Whitewalkers! Hodor! “I drink and I know things,”! The Green Trial! I could go on. And on and on. The point is, it hit every structure and pacing note imaginable. Every episode was top-notch. If you’ve never watched Game of Thrones, I not only suggest you do so immediately (get HBO Now for a month or two), I’m wondering what the hell you’re waiting for.

Next, let’s talk about what I’m doing in my down time. I’m playing video games, of course. I play lots of what’s called casual games. I play Happy Street and Hollywood University on my iPad. I’m an Animal Crossing fanatic. (My AC:NL dream code is 4600-4766-5087; go ahead and visit me.) Yes, I’m blushing as I admit that.

I have lately been investing a lot of my free time in The Sims 4. In many ways, it’s not as good as it’s predecessor. I mourn the open town and the color choices, particularly. However, other than loading screens, TS4 has its own high points. Being able to do more than one thing at once and great graphics on low-end machines are two of them. All the same, it amuses me, and that’s all that matters. Maybe in a few years, when computers catch up to higher end gaming, we can have an open town again. For now, I’ll play both versions.

Finally, let’s circle back around to writing. A book was recommended in the crit group I belong to called Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes. It’s to the right there and that’s an affiliate link. This book was everything I’ve ever looked for on story structure for romance novels.

I read an article recently from BookRiot that the forumalaic elements of romance are like the elements of a sonnet. Yes, there are certain beats you want to hit if you want to write a good kissing book (what the author of the book calls them), but that’s no different than a lot of other writing that is revered. So what? It doesn’t make them any less enjoyable to read, if they’re your thing. They’re definitely my thing, and understanding why they work is, as well.

What are you enjoying this July? Also, happy birthday to me: I’ll be 42 on Sunday!

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DAFRN DukeI recently read Sarah MacLean‘s third Rule of Scoundrels book, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished. Yes, it’s a historical but I think there are still some wisdom nuggets we can mine.

  1. If you’re going to accidentally frame a man for your murder, make sure he’s not your soul mate. It makes quite the mess to clean up later in life. This is probably a good rule in general, as coming back from the dead would be challenging in any situation.
  2. Women who work for a living have rough hands. And a man falling in love can’t stop thinking of them.
  3. A boxing ring and a two-way mirror can lead to sexytimes aplenty.
  4. Brothers and lovers don’t always get along. One may steal all the money you’ve collected to care for illegitimate sons or get stabby with the one you love.
  5. If he really loves you, he’ll want you to be warm. No, literally. He will buy you a heavy cloak and gloves for your work-roughened hands.

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Dating Advice from Romance Novels: Sarah MacLean's No Good Duke Goes Unpunished! Click To Tweet

Rimrider Cover lakelley-72dpi-1500x2000Please welcome L.A.  Kelley to the blog today. She’s discussing her wonderful novel, Rimrider, which is a contender on Amazon’s Kindle Scout program. She’s going to tell you all about the book, Kindle Scout, and how it benefits you, the reader. (Click that gorgeous cover to see it in its full-size glory.)

What the heck is Kindle Scout?

A few short years ago, Amazon launched a venture for new, never-before-published books where readers help decide a contract. Selected novels are published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing. The marketing part is a huge appeal. It’s the curse of most authors’ existence (I spit on you, hateful marketing gods!) Having Amazon shoulder the burden is a major plus.

If a book is approved, the author receives a preview link to check the data submitted along with the Kindle Scout campaign launch date. All campaigns last 30 days. The more nominations a book receives the more likely it will get the attention of the Kindle Scout team and be selected for publication.

Will the requirements make my head hurt?

Nope. Submissions are taken all year long and eligibility standards are simple. The manuscript must be submitted in English and be 50,000 words or more. Authors must be 18 years of age or older, have a valid Amazon account, and reside in a Kindle Scout–eligible country. Five categories are available: Romance, Mystery & Thriller, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Teen & Young Adult, and general Literature & Fiction.

Any downside with Kindle Scout for the author?

Isn’t there always? The author is responsible for the book’s cover art. It must look professional, be ready to go when the manuscript is submitted, and satisfy Amazon’s specifications. Unless you’re a professional graphic designer, you’ll have to shell out money for an artist. The manuscript should also be professionally edited, free of typos and grammar errors. Paying for a good editor is a must. Kindle Scout doesn’t offer hardcovers or paperbacks, so if an author wants something to hold in his or her hot little hand, the printing cost are shouldered alone. For some, the lack of marketing decisions can be irksome. Amazon has total control. An author can’t run a 99 cent sale or post the first book in a series for free to drum up interest in the rest. Finally, the terms of the contract state that the book will only be available on Amazon, so bye-bye Barnes and Noble, any other site, and all ereaders who can’t open a MOBI file.

What’s the benefit to the reader?

You’re allowed to vote for three nominations. If your choice is a winner, Amazon will send a free copy of the ebook upon publication. No muss. No fuss. The only cost was a few minutes of your time to check out the book. You also get to proudly strut around the room and brag to others about supporting indy writers.

Who the heck are you?

I’m a fantasy/science fiction indy writer with five published books with a small press and a book now a Kindle Scout nominee. I live in Florida, slathered in sunscreen, and prefer air-conditioned comfort to heat and humidity. On the plus side, my skin will never look like badly laid roofing shingles. Here are my lurking spots if you care to lurk with me:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/l.a.kelley.author

Twitter: @AuthorLAKelley

http://lakelleythenaughtylist.blogspot.com

Be honest. Do you think you really have a shot?

Let’s put it this way… Amazon labels the popular Kindle Scout nominations in the smoking hot category. Even as a teenager I was only found in the dorky and peculiar category. The odds aren’t great, but if you don’t try, you can’t succeed. That being said I would greatly appreciate a vote for Rimrider by L. A. Kelley. It’s a science fiction space opera about a teenage girl who becomes a space pirate. Imagine the American Revolution with Earth as the redcoats and the colony planets as Yankee rebels and you get the idea. Intrigued? Click on the link and heartfelt thanks for taking a peek.

Kindle Scout link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1135KKAY4C6QF

I wanted to share my post from the HSG blog this month because it’s about writing accountability. I have quazillioned my output this year and if you want to do the same, go read my post!

DAFRN Queen MabI read Queen Mab by Kate Danley in less than a day. (BTW, I also read her book The Woodcutter and both are divine.) Naturally, a story with Romeo and Juliet at its center lends one to learn some awesome dating advice.

Dating Advice from Romance Novels: Queen Mab

  1. Don’t let some dude talk you into moving your sacred bull or other sacred farm animals, because that just makes a whole century-long, life-or-death kind of mess.
  2. Don’t make wagers with aforementioned dude-who-already-tricked-you. Clearly, your bitterness will be your undoing.
  3. UNLESS, of course, you meet a guy who can only see the good in you because chicks and demigods really dig that shit.
  4. If a woman asks what you’d like to dream about, the correct answer is her. Duh.
  5. If people call you ugly, just tell yourself they’re haters. You know you look fine.

Then

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The Importance of Pre-Writing

I tried looking at pictures. Incidentally, Apartment Therapy is an awesome site.  So I bought a graph paper pad and I just drew the dance studio/apartment in no time.  I then described the way the rooms looked.  I included whoever’s viewpoint popped into my head, because different people see different things.  This helps me in two ways: 1) I can visualize these important places and the events that took place there easier and 2) I’ve got ready made description when I write scenes in those places.

I was amazed at how much such simple pre-writing work actually ignited my imagination.


Now

I still pre-write like it’s a lifeline to storytelling.  I call that creative time when you’re first planning a story, and the ideas are flowing like Niagara Falls, creative crack. It’s amazing and fun. And so much of writing isn’t all fun–it’s hard, hard work.

Using Pre-Writing as a Tool for WritingIn that post, I talked about planning out spaces to make our fictional places more real. Since then, an incredible tool has taken over the internet. You can look on the right and see it’s become a passion of mine: Pinterest. Obviously, I don’t just use it for writing.

But, with Pinterest, I can see my characters, interiors & exterior places, and even crucial items. And it’s “in the cloud,” accessible to me from any device, anywhere I can use the internet (which, let’s admit, in this age, is everywhere). In the novella I just finished writing, I used Pinterest for character placeholders, info about Vegas in the fifties (the setting), and clothing trends of the time. I deeply needed my research to make that story happen.

I’ve also noticed a trend: other writer’s are using it, too. I went to an online book release party, and all the authors shared their Pinterest story boards. Are readers interested in these? I was. I loved seeing the historical clothing, the shipwrecks, the cool clubs.

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Pinterest has become the author's new best friend, letting us pile up valuable research. Click To Tweet