Great News!

Marilyn Pappano has a new book, available April 1, 2013. It’s called Copper Lake Confidential and should be available everywhere Harlequin is sold. You can also buy it on Amazon.


I’m not telling you about Marilyn’s book because she’s a warm and caring friend. (She is!)

I’m not telling you about her book because Marilyn has helped me and many of my fellow Smart Women writers so much. (She has!)

I’m not telling you about her book because Marilyn is a ton of fun and a joy to travel with. (That, too!)

I’m telling you because it’s an excellent book (out of five stars, I give it at least a ten!) and I wouldn’t want anyone who enjoys romance or suspense to miss it.

Why, you ask, is it so good? Glad you asked!


Marilyn always writes wonderful characters, but this time there are a couple of them that step off the page to live in your memory as well as your heart. The first is a three-year-old little girl.

As I said, M always does a fantastic job with her characters,¬†but this little girl is real. Her actions and responses so honest-to-goodness, you’d swear you’d seen her just a few moments ago. M just might have done some hands-on research for Clary. (Don’t you love, love, love that name?)

The second is a dog. He’s smart, cute, mischievous, and not unlike some of the critters who live and have lived in Marilyn’s home. He acts like a real dog–one I think Molly would enjoy having as a brother. ūüôā

Of course, I have several questions I want to ask Marilyn about her book. Her research. Her life growing up and how she knows everything about the rich and infamous. ūüėČ

I’m nearing the end of CLC.¬†Usually, when I read a suspense, I can tell who antagonist is long before this point.¬†¬†But not in her book. She has me suspecting everyone of being the bad guy except Clary and Scooter the dog.


And I’m not absolutely positive about the dog. LOL.

Just like her other Copper Lake books, Marilyn has me wishing I could move to CL just to live near the people there. Fingers crossed this series will go on For! Ev! Ver!

BTW:¬†I’m¬†9/10 finished with this book, and while the heroine and hero want to be together, so far it’s G-Rated. (That’s a hot with sexual tension, absolutely nothing explicit G-Rating, which ain’t easy to do, folks.)

Copper Lake Confidential will be available in print and¬†digitally on April 1st, but only for a few weeks in print. Don’t miss out!

Ps: Buy your books new. When you buy them used, the author doesn’t get paid.

Better Sex, Part 1

Susan here. Today I’m introducing a “new” writer, blogger,¬†Smart Woman and¬†friend, T. D. Hart. And although she doesn’t know it, she’s part of one of my Small Town Worlds! ūüėČ

I love watching T. D. while she learns and grows as a writer. I thought y’all might enjoy her, too.

Her website is: . Keep an eye on this woman. She’s going places!

Take it away, T.D.!

The Professional Writer (or: Better Sex, Part 1)

 How does one go from being a professional-something-else (in my case, a veterinarian) to becoming a professional writer?
The answer: It Depends. On what, you ask?The journey depends entirely on the type of writer you  want to become.If blogging is your thing, the path is simple: Study your target audience (a.k.a.-future revenue source), decide on the best topics to attract said audience, create a killer web platform, then
compose-measure-refine your message based on the results.Repeat until you’re¬†sick of blogging or have become the next¬†Pioneer Woman.

If you’re a left brain sort, maybe your¬†future lies in¬†non-fiction. Say¬†you’re an expert at growing garlic the size of baseballs or a whiz at organizing socks. Perhaps you’ve produced eleven children and delivered them into adulthood without so much as a single detention slip or snotty eye roll. If so,¬†condense those wisdomy pearls into something called a book proposal,¬†then query agents who represent your particular flavor of non-fiction. Based on what I’m seeing¬†on the grocery store racks these days, you shouldn’t have¬†much trouble

Kicked your embarrassing butternut squash addiction? Lost half your body weight¬†on¬†a diet comprised of¬†dill pickles,¬†kale,¬†and Diet Mt. Dew? Tell us how you did it in 1200 words or less (don’t forget the bullet points) and send it to¬†Men’s/Women’s/Kid’s Health magazine.

Want a sure thing? Use the words ‘Better Sex’ in the title, regardless of¬†topic.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand how difficult it is to blog regularly and successfully. How tough it is to write (and sell) non-fiction books¬†or magazine articles. In my veterinary practice I¬†devoted long hours to writing client brochures and how-to handouts.¬†In deciding to sell my practice to write full-time, I¬†considered¬†writing¬†articles for equine publications in order to pay the bills. (And even now haven’t completely ruled it out.)

But if you really want a tear-your-still-beating-heart-out-of-your-chest thrill, try becoming a
professional writer of fiction.

To start, you find–and fall¬†hopelessly in love with–characters who exist solely in your imagination. Maybe (like me) your first book¬†begins as a lovely, vivid dream¬†you can’t shake. Just to clear your head, you write the scene down in a ratty spiral notebook. When it’s done you shove it under the bed, then¬†get up the next day and go back to your real job.

But when you come home that¬†night,¬†you can’t wait to dig out the notebook and see what happens next. Soon, you’re stealing moments¬†to work on your story: sick days, lunch hours, that magic time in the morning before the kids get up. Your characters feel real, as if they’re telling you what to write.

Before you know it, you’ve bought two more spiral notebooks and a package of really good black pens. Then, like a junkie with an ever-worsening need,¬†you¬†spring for a used laptop and download Word or Scrivener to keep track of all your¬†chapters, character descriptions, and plot points.

At¬†this point it hits: You don’t¬†want to just write this story. You¬†want people to read it…and thinks it’s good.

Problem is, you don’t actually know how to write a book. Sure, you’re a voracious reader, but appreciating a thing isn’t the same as knowing how to do it. (Karaoke, anyone?)

Enter the next phase: Soaking-up-information-like-a-Brawny-towel-on-steroids.
(to be continued.)

What a Character!

Gray wolf. Français : Loup. Nederlands: Wolf T...

Kathleen Y’Barbo Turner mentioned on Facebook yesterday that her character, Sadie,¬†wasn’t speaking to her. I nearly laughed out loud!

A¬†memory hit me. A long, long time ago, I decided to take a class on writing romance. During that class,¬†the teacher mentioned she thought it was ridiculous when a writer said she couldn’t get her character to do this or that. “After all, the writer is writing. She can make the character–a figment of her imagination–do anything she wants.”

I didn’t agree with the teacher then (I was too chicken to tell her, though) and now after writing umpteen¬†manuscripts and selling three books, I still don’t.


Because when you create a character, you give them a¬†certain history. They have a specific place in the sibling line up. They’ve had one set of experiences and have developed specific traits.

For a writer (well, this writer, anyway) her character is like having a living person in her life. They will surprise you from time to time, but¬†they have to be true to who they are. They don’t have a¬†choice and the writer doesn’t have a choice.

That character can’t suddenly morph a new characteristic or change from a loner to a social butterfly because the writer has written herself in a corner.

So how does a writer develop a character?

I’m not sure how the big boys do it, but here’s what I do. To make it easy on myself, I’ll use my book, MAKE ME HOWL (soon to be published) as an example.


BTW: There are some very intensive and excellent Character Fact Sheets out there, but I can’t don’t¬†use them. I have to think about my story and what specific things I need to know about my characters.

  • Story Idea. What if some¬†people were born werewolves because of a gene rather than being bitten by another werewolf? (After all, the first werewolf had to come from somewhere. Right?)
  • Heroine. I like strong heroines, I made the werewolf of the story my heroine named Jazzy.
  • Characteristics: What characteristics would a werewolf need? If a¬†wolf became human, what would she want? As an animal, she’d definitely¬†think about food. How she’d get places.¬†And in this modern world, how to attack without physically attacking.
  • Since Jazzy was born¬†a werewolf, she’d be self-assured because, after all, she can take care of herself in just about any situation.
  • And because it’s me writing this character,¬†she’s snarky and¬†tends to be a little mouthy. (I got to release my inner wolf!)
  • Family? Jazzy has a twin sister who isn’t a werewolf. (Jazzy got the werewolf gene, her sister got straight hair, so it all evens out in the end.) Their parents are still living, but no grandparents, cousins, aunts or uncles in this story.
  • Favorite food? Steak, nearly raw (wolves + food¬†= raw meat. Right?)
  • Car? Power! Small, fast, two seater.
  • Career? She wouldn’t be able to tolerate having a boss telling her what to do all the time, she might have to eat his face, so I made her a very successful personal shopper in an ultra nice shopping center, who also acts as a buying office for some of the stores in the mall. (Sets her own hours and deals with large amounts of money–her own and others.)
  • Hero. A hero has to match the heroine, so Chase is as strong a character as she is, if not stronger.
  • Chase is smart, very determined, plain spoken¬†but not as snarky. (Snarky is too girly for a great hero.)
  • Career? Since Jazzy is¬†a werewolf and loves being one, Chase has to be a veterinarian.¬†A good character is part of the conflict, so he believes in werewolves and he’s doing research to wipe out the gene that causes it. ūüôā
  • Food? A good couple has a lot in common, so his favorite food is steak, rare.
  • Car? He has a choice, since his family is extremely wealthy and his dad likes cars, they keep a full stable of them. ūüôā
  • Family? He’s the oldest,¬†has three brothers and great parents. They live together but separately in houses that are next to each other.

There’s much more to a character’s character. Her life that she lived before the story starts has a lot to do with who she is. As Doctor Phil says, to predict the future, look at a person’s past. ¬†The interesting part about that is learning how to enhance the story with just that portion of her life only when we need to know. Never before. But the writer has to know it so she knows how the character will respond to things.

Now you see why Kathleen’s character wouldn’t speak to her. There’s something in her life that makes her very secretive. (I have a feeling it’s more than just a snoopy sister.)¬†Now it’s Kathleen’s job to find out what it is.


    Writing Your History

    How much of ‚Äėyou‚Äô do you incorporate into your stories? Is there a familiar setting from your past that you find¬†showing up out of the blue¬†in your writing? For me, I like houses with rock siding.

    Why? Because the home I grew up in had rock siding so I’m drawn to them. Love the look. But there’s a downside. Scorpions. Nasty little critters that lived in the cool crevices, coming out to torment us when least expected. It’s amazing how fast you wake up when one of those suckers stings you, too. Ugh.

    But I digress. I wanted to talk about writing.

    In my first book, Grave Secrets, I have a scene where the hero and heroine visit an elderly couple on their farm, giving the heroine a glimpse into his past. A critique partner told me she didn’t think it added anything to the story and to consider cutting it. I listened, nodded my head, and seriously thought about following her advice. For some reason, though, I couldn’t leave the scene out. I didn’t know why, just that my gut told me to leave it.

    So I did.

    As it turned out, that scene played a major part in the ending of the book. Something I hadn‚Äôt seen coming. (Y’all do know that I’m not much of a plotter, don’t you?) LOL

    The elderly couple were actually my great aunt and uncle. I changed a few things about them, except their deep and abiding love for each other…and the fact that he had Alzheimer’s. Sadly, they’re both gone now. I miss the lessons they taught by their actions as well as their words of wisdom.

    I guess sometimes we just have to follow our gut instincts and drop those jewels from our childhood into our stories. If you do, I’m sure the story will have a much richer flavor. I know mine did.

    Tell me, have you used something, or someone, significant from your past in your writing? If so, how do you feel it impacted your story?



    Here’s Jackie again, off topic and on her soapbox. This time it’s about right-of-way for emergency vehicles. You know, those noisy, flashing-lights, weaving around cars machines that speed down the road you’re trying drive on? Yeah, those vehicles.They consist of police cars, fire engines, ambulances, and Mark Harmon’s car if he’s on his way to my house.

    The law says if you see/hear an emergency vehicle, you are to pull over to the side of the road and STOP. It doesn’t matter if the vehicle is behind you or in front, the law says what it says. It doesn’t mean to pull over and slow down. It doesn’t mean business as usual if the vehicle is going in the opposite direction. And straight from the horse’s mouth (ambulance drivers, but it’s also true of the police and firemen),it is vital that everyone obey this particular law.

    Why? Because it means lives.

    When there’s an emergency, time is important. When an emergency driver is running “hot”, they need to know that you as a driver really see them. Even more important, You don’t have to guess if they’re going to turn in front of you or not. And if you can’t move over, then just stop. That tells the emergency driver you are aware of him; he’ll signal you if he needs you to move.

    Doing this simple thing can save lives…yours or your family member’s or even some stranger’s who’s important to his/her family.

    And I was just kidding about Mark Harmon…almost.

    S&N–Too Much Fun!

    Social Networking.Holly, Lynn, Jen & Susan. Wonder what they're plotting.

    Two words that can make your stomach hurt or make you shout, “Woohoo!” And they can do both in a span of nanoseconds.

    Being a big believer that, “Words Have Power” I have to say I LOVE¬†SN! Which is really weird, since a lot of my friends from school and in my life wouldn’t be caught dead there.¬†I understand their reasoning. It’s a time suck. (A HUGE TIME SUCK if you¬†aren’t careful). It takes time away from other things you should be doing. It’s just one more thing for me to have to do.

    But I’m flabbergasted when I meet a writer who doesn’t at least Facebook.

    Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

    Image via CrunchBase

    When I first heard about FB, it was through my college kids, and it sounded like f-u-n! I wanted in! But they told me I had to have a college email address to do it. Before I could devise a sneaky way to get one, FB opened up to the world.

    Why would anyone want to get into Social Networking?

    • To stay in touch with friends and family in this crazy/busy world.
    • To find old friends.
    • To make new ones.

    Co-Authors Linda, Kathlyn & Lynn

    Why would a writer want to waste what little writing time she has SNing? ūüôā

    • Get to know other writers
    • Learn from other writers
    • Encouragement from other writers
    • Build your platform.
    • Learn who your audience is.
    • Build an audience.

    It’s easy to do. Go to Facebook dot com or twitter dot com. ¬†And there’s a way to set it up so your FB comments go to Twitter, and vice versa. (If you have them set up both ways, will your comments echo back and forth forever? I. Don’t. Know. LOL.)

    The one thing I haven’t done is set up a Facebook Author’s Page for myself. I know a lot of writers do that, but since I don’t write using a pen name, and I’m not in any real danger of going over 2000 friends any time soon, I haven’t bothered with it.

    I did, however, set up one for my writers group. Kind of accidentally. ūüôā

    We’re called, SMART WOMEN WHO. And I thought there might be a way to set up the FB page for only the members of our group. So I picked out a picture that had most of our group in it and set up a page.


    Then I added a few pictures from our retreats and meetings over the years.

    I didn’t realize right away that it was open to the public. If I wanted privacy, I had to go back to a friends page. But with a friends page, you can only have one administrator. (I think.) I got ready to delete the silly thing, when I realized, this might be a great tool for our group.

    So I asked if anyone objected to the thing, and when they didn’t, I told everyone to send me their book covers. Most did, and you can go over and see them. (Okay, not all of Marilyn Pappano’s books, but one or two of them.)

    If you FB, come on by and say hi. (I popped over to look up something just now, and got lost in the fun. I was reading a cornbread recipe on a friend’s blog before I realized I’d drifted away.)

    If you don’t FB, Twitter or Pinterest (my newest way to¬†lose myself)¬†why don’t you? It’s fun!

    If you haven’t yet, come by Smart Women Who, like us, and say hello. We love our friends!