Friday, February 27, 2015

Last Friday of the Month Recipe and Treats For You From Author Janet Wellington


Janet is offering her book Sweet on You--A Second-Chances Spicy Romance for 99¢ through the end of March for my blog readers!!  Amazon  
And at the bottom of the post is another treat for you.


Hi Janet, tell us why you love making this recipe:

Thanks for having me on your blog L.A. Well, all’s fair in love and the pursuit of the perfect chocolate chip cookie...

Right from the pages of my latest ebook, SWEET ON YOU--A Second-Chances Spicy Romance, here is the recipe for the cookie the heroine makes (which has kind of a truth-serum effect on the hero in the story).

World Famous (Maybe Not) Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 cup or two sticks of softened butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts
2 cups peanut butter chips


Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat the butter and the sugar (brown and granulated) and the vanilla in a large mixer bowl. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each is added. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips and nuts.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets. 

Bake in 375º preheated oven for 9-11 minutes (Note: depends on how “hot” your oven is...I used 350º for 9 minutes with perfect results.).  Makes about 5 dozen or 60 cookies.

Truthfully, I’m better known for my pies (every Friday is Pie Day at my Facebook author page JanetWellingtonBooks), but I must confess I have a fondness for cookies, especially chocolate chip!  For one thing, there’s no pesky pie crust to fret over (I’ve finally settled on a lard/butter/iced Vodka crust recipe!).  And, typically cookie recipes are mostly measuring and mixing, right?  Easy Peasy!



As I was baking these cookies (so I would have a pretty photo to share), I couldn’t help thinking about some of the similarities between looking for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe and...well...the perfect mate!  In a romance novel (and in life), two people might not necessarily be looking for each other, but, especially as a reader, you know they are meant to be together, right?

It’s about the process...

One thing I love about reading a romance is that you experience each character’s journey.  You get to travel along with them and discover the wound that each needs to heal...the wound that is preventing them from being the person he or she needs to be in order to be open to the love the other has to offer.

I love watching (and writing about) characters overcoming obstacles and reaching that happily ever after.

It’s what keeps me writing love stories!

So, here are concepts that came to mind as I was thinking about the similarities between the pursuit of the perfect chocolate chip cookie and the pursuit of the perfect mate:
  • Try different recipes out until you find something really special.
  • Keep an eye on the clock--focus on the present.
  • There’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection.
  • Learn from other bakers.
  • Don’t be afraid to alter the recipe so it suits you.
  • Add new flavors to keep the recipe fun and tasty.
  • Appreciate your efforts but share the results.
So, there you have it...happy baking and happy searching!

Blurb:
Gabe Freeman never thought it was a good idea. When Celeste Parker’s Celestial Cookies was chosen to promote Valentine’s Day at the oldies radio station with deliveries of her gourmet cookies, the handsome deejay was dismayed to learn that…and what’s with those amazing cookies anyway…and why is their sugar and spice aroma affecting him like truth serum!?

And why on earth is Gabe fantasizing about Celeste, with her wild curls and multi-colored fingernails?  He’s supposed to be planning his June wedding to the boss’s suitable conservative daughter.  True, the marriage is more accurately a business merger, but that’s fine with sensible Gabe.  After all, he’s never believed in true love and romance…

Celeste meets Gabe on her fortieth birthday, of all days!  Sure, he’s cute, but he’s just another rat in the rat race and she’s had quite enough of that kind of man, thank you very much.  But, is he?  The man seems to be changing before her eyes, and why does he seem to be having fun spending time with her and riding around in her cookie mobile?

Maybe this buttoned up guy isn’t quite what he seems to be.  And maybe she’s ready to share some secrets of her own…if her heart is ready, that is…

Buy Links:

Bio:
I feel like I have been a writer all my life--as cliché as that sounds, even to me!--from childhood essays that ended up in the Sunday School bulletin, to long-ago burned journals (I hate that I did that!), to love-sick poems written on napkins while having a glass or three of wine, to newsletters and articles and press releases written on-the-job, and finally to happily-ever-after romances that I love love love writing!

As an award-winning author of four print-published novels via traditional publishers, I have now happily embraced the ebook revolution and am delighted to be on the indie path. I'm tellin' ya, the freedom is exhilarating!

So, what makes me different than the scads of other romance writers? I think my romances offer a little "something extra"—whether it's really interesting secondary characters with their own arching subplots, unique and detailed settings, or research that translates into unexpected facts sprinkled in. Whatever it is, my stories do seem to translate into something even first time romance readers enjoy! Nothing makes me happier than to hear from a reader or read a review by a reader who was surprised by how much the story touched her.

And, do realize that your reviews on Amazon are GOLDEN to indie authors, so do leave a sentence or two after you've read an ebook!

Social Media Links:


ALSO: Janet is going to be running a contest for newsletter subscribers--a Tarot card reading via telephone of “love/relationships". You can easily sign up for her newsletter on her website or on her Facebook author page.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Eight Reasons Why I Love Scrivener by Gwen Hernandez

I am so pleased to bring you Gwen Hernandez and her love affair with Scrivener. Her CLASS information is at the bottom of the post. DO. NOT. MISS. OUT.


I was in a committed relationship with Microsoft Word for fifteen years. Together, we composed business letters, term papers, memos, technical manuals, and even a graduate thesis. The thesis took the shine off our romance, but it was my foray into fiction that killed the affair.
That’s because I met a younger, sexier, writing program called Scrivener that understood my needs in a way Word never could.
Here are eight reasons I threw Word over for a newer model.

1. Scrivener remembers your spot. Every time you open a project in Scrivener, it takes you right to where you left off. Maybe not such a big deal when writing the first draft—especially if you write in order—but when you’re in the midst of revisions, it’s a lifesaver.
2. Your structure is easy to see. Scrivener lets you write in chunks—such as scenes or chapters—called documents. The Binder, where you view all of the files in your project, gives you an at-a-glance overview of your entire manuscript and thus the structure of your work.
Change your mind about the order of scenes or chapters? It’s a cinch to move them around and play with a different story flow.

3. Color-coding. In Scrivener, you can color code your documents by whatever piece of data you want to track. For example, in the drafting phase I tag my fiction scenes by point-of-view (POV) character, using blue for the hero and pink for the heroine (original, right?). Instantly, I can see the POV of a scene and check my overall balance.
In the revision phase—and for nonfiction—I use the Label field to keep track of the status of each section (e.g. Not Started, WIP, To Editor, Author Review, Complete).
4. Saving epiphanies is easy. Got an idea for a future scene, but you’re not ready for it yet? Create a new document, write out your idea, then ignore it until you figure out where it goes. You can also add notes right into the text you’re working on. When you can’t think of the perfect line of dialogue, or you need to do some additional research, simply insert an annotation or comment and get back to writing. Annotations are also a handy way to mark sections that would make good excerpts, either for front matter or in your advertising. 

5. Auto-save protects your hard work. If you’ve ever faced the Blue Screen of Death, or lost power after writing 3,000 words without saving, you’ll appreciate that Scrivener saves your project every time there’s more than two seconds of inactivity. So while you’re pondering your next sentence, Scrivener is committing your words to memory.

6. Scrivener is like Hermione Granger’s bottomless handbag. You can import research documents, web pages/links, and photos right into your project, so even when you take your laptop on the road, you have everything you need. You can also import any writing you already started in another program.

Plus, you can keep outlines, notes on ideas for changes and future scenes, and character and setting information all within the project. No more scouring your hard drive or that pile of sticky notes on your desk for a crucial piece of information.


7. Working without distractions. Scrivener’s full screen composition mode blocks out all distractions, making it easier to focus on your writing. Change the background color or image to suit your mood.



8. Exporting to e-books is a snap. Scrivener is your one-stop publishing program. When your masterpiece is done, you can compile (export) it to an EPUB or MOBI (Amazon) file for easy self-publishing, or for perusing on your e-reader. You can also export to DOC/DOCX, RTF, TXT, PDF, HTML, direct-to-printer, and other formats, including Final Draft (screenplay software).

The beauty is that you can write in any format/font/color you want and then compile it into something completely different without affecting your original work. Produce a PDF, then turn around and create an EPUB. Totally different formats with a few clicks. Print chapter or scene titles in one version, leave them out in another. It can even auto-number your chapters or sections.

Getting the output right the first time can take a bit of trial and error as you learn how it works, but once you have it set up the way you want, you can save the settings for future use.

My process for an EPUB?
1. Import the cover art into the project (anywhere outside of the Manuscript/Draft folder).
2. Go to File—>Compile.
3. From the Format As dropdown menu at the top, choose E-book.
4. On the Contents pane I choose which front/back matter items to include (because I use different links depending on the retailer) and uncheck my Part folders (since those are just for my own organization while writing).
5. Click the Cover tab and select my cover image (this is for inclusion inside the book only, so it doesn’t need to be as high quality as what you upload to the retailer).
6. On the Formatting tab, I deselect the Title checkbox for the folders so my chapter names don’t print. Chapter auto-numbering is on by default.
7. Check the Footnotes & Comments tab make sure comments aren’t being included in the final output (if I had any comments in my project).
8. Select the Meta-Data tab and enter my book’s basic metadata.
9. Click Compile. Scrivener will produce an EPUB. That’s it!
A MOBI is basically the same, but you have to download Amazon’s Kindlegen converter software, and tell Scrivener where you put, it before you create a MOBI for the first time.

But there’s so much more. I could wax poetic about my fabulous writing partner all day. The ability to set word count goals and track your progress. The Corkboard where you can view each document as an index card (perfect for storyboarders). Advanced searches that help you find anything, anywhere in your project. Snapshots for saving old versions of scenes…

That’s just a small list of what makes Scrivener—available for Mac and Windows—too hot to resist. So, if you’re tired of your stodgy, inflexible word processor, hook up with a program that puts your needs as a writer first.

There’s no commitment with Scrivener’s free trial, but you just might find your happy ever after.  Hit me with your questions.

Gwen is teaching her incredible classes soon. 
I can say that because I've taken them.
Info below:
Class info:
- Scrivener I: The Basics and Beyond, Feb 23-March 11, 2015
– Scrivener II: Intermediate and Advanced Concepts, March 30-April 15, 2015
– Scrivener Master Course: Compile, May 11-19, 2015
All are offered in a forum environment and can be done at your own pace. For more information, visihttp://bit.ly/ScrivenerCourses.


Bio:
Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies, Productivity Tools for Writers, and Blind Fury (romantic suspense), and teacher of popular online Scrivener courses for Mac and Windows. She lives near Boston with her Air Force husband, two teenage boys, and a lazy golden retriever. Learn more about her books or classes and get free Scrivener tips at gwenhernandez.com.


                                               Buy Scrivener for Dummies




                                                  



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Take Five and Meet Author Katherine Valdez



I'm pleased to introduce you all to Katherine Valdez, who is a powerhouse, fun to be around and generous with her time and knowledge. 

Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Katherine. Tell us, what inspired you to write your short stories “Little Red Riding Hood Seeks Vengeance” (Open Doors: Fractured Fairy Tales), “The Monster In Her Bedroom” (Havok Magazine Issue 1.1), and your essay “Voice Lessons” (Pooled Ink: Celebrating NCW's 2014 Contest Winners)?

Thank you for having me as a guest, L.A.! My personal life experiences inspired these stories. All the main characters move from a place of feeling powerless to one of strength, wisdom, and self-respect. I especially like that Little Red gets to kick wolf butt. That may have been the influence of writer-director Joss Whedon's TV show “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” in which we see the Buffy grow over seven seasonsfrom a high school student and reluctant superhero to a leader of other slayers who saves the world.

Voice Lessons received honorable mention in the 2014 Northern Colorado Writers creative nonfiction/personal essay contest, and describes recreating my life and finding my voice after leaving an emotionally and verbally abusive husband. I hope readers who know a friend or family member in such a relationship will encourage him or her to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-SAFE (7233) to take steps toward escaping the situation safely.

Some of my stories have been dark, but I love writing humorous pieces, too. My secret dream is to do standup comedy. I loved Aisha Tyler's memoir Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation.

Expiration Date, to be published in the anthology BabyShoes: Celebrating Flash Fiction, starts on a satirical note with marriage becoming a one-year contract because life expectancy has increased so much. The idea came from a conversation with a friend.

My guest posts “CloseEncounters with David Sedaris” (Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents' Blog/Writer's Digest) and “TheEffect of Andrew McCarthy on the Female Brain” (AprilJMoore.com) detail my embarrassing encounters with famous authors. It was fun to turn these experiences into what I hope were entertaining stories. The best part was that friends and acquaintances opened up about their own awkward moments when meeting authors they admire.

What were your experiences as a child that contributed to you becoming a writer?

A love of books, reading, and the local library, instilled in me and my sister by my dad. He built bookshelves to hold his collection (which included everything from White Fang by Jack London and Notes from The Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky to Carlos Castaneda's books). There were more books than towels and bedsheets in the linen closet. At the library, I checked out the maximum allowed 10 books almost every time, and loved novels by Madeleine L'Engle, the Choose Your Own Adventure series, teen romances, and Trixie Belden mysteries. My parents' home to this day is filled with my dad's eclectic collection of fiction and nonfiction books, and my mom's biographies of famous women.

I never outgrew my love of Young Adult books, and am glad to hear that a large portion of the YA audience consists of adult readers. You have parents discussing books like The Fault In Our Stars by John Green and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins with their teenagers. These authors tackle heavy duty topics related to identity, family, friendships, and relationships. Besides the authors named above, I love novels by Rainbow Rowell, Veronica Roth, Todd Mitchell, Donna Cooner, and Laura Resau, to name a few. I hope to write and publish YA novels one day.

Do day-to-day life experiences influence your stories?

Oh, definitely. Real life offers great inspiration and ideas for character's personality traits and story ideas. Like many writers, I like to eavesdrop when I'm in public place. It's easy. People don't realize how loudly they talk on their cell phones. Real-life dialogue can be funny, but sloppy and halting, so we have to make it more concise in fiction.

What is the first thing you do when you begin a new story?

For flash fiction, I start with a character or plot idea, and just start writing. I usually don't outline. For example, the idea for my 450-word story “Expiration Date” came out of a conversation with a friend who said our society needs to rethink marriage, for various reasons. One is that life expectancy is a lot longer than it was in, say, the early 1900s. If you get married in your 20s and life expectancy is in the low 70s, isn't that a hell of a long time to be married to someone? Especially if you made a mistake and married someone who isn't your soul mate?
If I'm starting a novel, I review the notes I've made in a journal devoted to that book. Sometimes the journal is a simple spiral-bound notebook that I bought for 15 cents during back-to-school sales. Other times, it's a nice journal that a writer friend gave me with an inspiring quote and picture. I also sketch out the plot using the beat sheet from Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder. I sometimes practice recognizing the various beats (plot points) when I watch movies.

If you were a TV, film or book character, apart from one you've created, who would you be?  And why?

Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games series. She's real. She has flaws. Katniss may not be the nicest person, but she's honest, physically and mentally strong, and is sure of what's most important to her in the world: her sister. Her loyalty to and love for Prim is unwavering. Love makes her brave. And, of course, [SPOILER ALERT] she gets Peeta in the end. Not that she tried to. That's another great thing about this series. The protagonist's main goal is not to win over a boy; it's to save her sister's life.

If I were in a different mood, I might choose The Black Widow in The Avengers, because she's smart, strong, and not intimidated by anyone. And she kicks a lot of bad guy butt. (She has commitment issues, but I don't require my superheroes to undergo therapy.)

Give us a brief summary of “Expiration Date” in the upcoming anthology Baby Shoes: Celebrating Flash Fiction.

I'd be glad to share the opening lines.
    When life expectancy hit 95 years of age, married people around the world shouted, “Enough!”
   And just like that, the institution of marriage was reinvented.
   Marriage licenses became contracts you could renew on your anniversary. Or not.
   If you opted out, it was “good bye and good luck.” No hard feelings, no divorce fees, no guilt. The marriage simply expired.
   Attorneys protested, of course. So did politicians.
   But no one paid any attention to them.


Buy Links: 
“Little Red Riding Hood Seeks Vengeance” (OpenDoors: Fractured Fairy Tales)
“The Monster In Her Bedroom”
(Havok Magazine Issue 1.1)
“Voice Lessons”
(Pooled Ink: Celebrating NCW's 2014 Contest Winners)



Bio: Katherine Valdez grew up in Southern California wanting to be an astronaut or Vicky Austin in A RING OF ENDLESS LIGHT by Madeleine L'Engle. She settled for newspaper reporter and nonprofit communications director (and 14er peak bagger/backpacker after moving to Colorado in 2002).

Katherine now spends her days hiking, reading, writing, and embarrassing herself when meeting famous authors (which you can read about on her website.) She throws emergency dance parties and wants to be Rainbow Rowell when she grows up.

Find Katherine:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest  | Amazon Author Page
and at her blog. Type your email address in the Follow box and watch for the confirmation email to complete the process. About two posts per month.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Am I A Bad Girl...........?




I admit it, I didn't write during the holidays, at least not adding to my word count on Viking Gold. Now, I know some of you will think that's blasphemy...a writer writes, right?

But you know, when I hit the manuscript a few weeks ago, I realized being away from it allowed me work on it with...
  • Renewed effort and enjoyment in my craft 
  • I could see my holes and fill them easier this time, I wasn't scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas 
  • And I fell in love again with my characters and the plot 
But I also realized that...
  • I felt at first like I was slogging through mud to get back on track with the story, to  write anything that didn't feel like poop  
  • My writing muscle had atrophied
  • Sitting at my desk was uncomfortable, so obviously not only my writing muscle had atrophied.
I wonder now if I can afford to take this break annually, or even a few times a year. The pace for having work out there seems to have picked up, more books are being published, there is more choice than ever for the reader. Can I afford to take time off?

And then I think that maybe the old adage about cream floating to the top is true, even in a saturated market. So if I produce a better product by taking a break, am I doing my career a favor?  

And then the horrifying thought came; will readers forget about me if I only produce two books a year instead of three or...gulp...four?

Tell me what you think.

OH...Then, as providence will rule, into my inbox dropped my February Newsletter from Cathy Yardley of Rock Your Writing fame. (Definitely check out her site and sign up for her newsletter!)  

Her post seemed to coincide with my musing, so with her permission I'm posting a bit of it. 

"Ah, February. The month when the shiny, sexy promise of New Year's resolutions turns into the dreaded "morning after" of everyday life... when the dream meets the routine.

Suddenly, getting up at five a.m. every morning to bang out a few pages isn't as enticing as staying under your warm covers.  You'll do the pages at night, you promise yourself, tapping the snooze button.

But you have a hell of a time at the day job, you find out your son's book report is actually due tomorrowand he hasn't started, you're out of dog food, and you've got no idea what you're making for dinner.  

By the time everyone who needs to be is fed and in bed, it's nearly eleven, you've got all the energy of a dead car battery and your creativity resembles a fossilized raisin. 

Next thing you know, you rationalize: I'll just double the pages I write tomorrow.

After "doubling" to the point where you'd need to write twenty pages in one day to catch up, you find yourself passively or actively avoiding writing altogether.  

You've fallen off the writing wagon -- and you're not quite sure how to get back on..."
~Cathy Yardley, Rock Your Writing




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