DOES FRIDAY THE 13th SCARE YOU?

Are you superstitious? Do you believe unusual ‘things’ will happen to you on Friday the 13th? Personally, I do. Only I don’t think bad things will happen. Nope, for me it’s just the opposite.

You see, I’ve chosen the 13th to announce that I’ve signed another contract with The Wild Rose Press. Woot! If anything will bring me luck and fantastic book sales, this will. Although, just for good measure, perhaps I should also go drive by a cemetery and see if a black cat will come out of it and run across my path. That has happened to me and I had very good luck afterwards. (Y’all did know that I’m kinda ‘weird,’ didn’t you? 🙂 )

The name of the story is LAST HOPE ALASKA and is set in Juneau. I absolutely love Alaska and I love this story! I hope I’ve done justice to the Juneau area and have depicted the region accurately. If not, I’m sure everyone that lives there will let me know. 😉

Emily Redfern is a cute but quiet librarian from Tulsa who opened her heart to the wrong man. Now she’s on the run and has to dig deep to find survival skills she hadn’t known she possessed. Broke and exhausted, she lands in Juneau – her last hope for a refuge.

When Sam Tarkington was wrongfully imprisoned, it cost him everything to prove his innocence and be exonerated. All he wants is to regain his reputation, his business, and basically his life as he’d once known it. But when he befriends a woman with a southern accent, all of his intentions get sidetracked in a major way.

Danger lurks in the wilderness. Will the challenges facing them bring them closer? Or prove to be their final demise?

Stay tuned for more details and I’ll provide them as they come available.

(Now I’m going to go dance in the street and celebrate. BIG TIME!)

This! Friday! (Woohoo!!!)

 

Have I mentioned MAKE ME HOWL comes out on Kindle this Friday? I’m so excited, I could just scream. Even after all the critiques, edits and reads, I still like this book. Go figure. 🙂

In celebration, I thought I’d post one of my favorite scenes from the beginning of the book.

I have a question at the bottom. Post your answer here and I’ll put your name in a drawing for a prize!

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Cool air stirred my hair, tickling the back of my neck and down my spine as I slowly drifted toward consciousness. I was a bit light-headed, and my eyes were all but glued shut. And the really bad part, mouth tasted as if it were full of downtown Dallas dirty cotton.

The morning was fragrant with a light scent. Wildflowers? Unable to imagine where I was, I rolled over then stretched the kinks out of my arms. Another breeze wafted over me, swirling over my naked breasts, down my belly and along my thighs.

“Jazzy?”

Hearing Bella whisper my name, I was tempted to pretend I was still sleeping. “Um?”

“Jazzy, look at me.”

After working a moment, I was able to open my eyes. I tried to look at Bella, but her face kept going in and out of focus behind the bars.

Bars?

Abruptly I sat up, my head swimming at the sudden motion. “Bella?” I practically coughed the word, my throat hurt so.

Her gaze was filled with concern. I hated that look, as if as the moments-older twin, she was responsible for me. “Are you okay?”

“No, I’m not okay.” I paused to control the bristle prickling down my spine. Then I whispered between my clamped jaws, not bothering to use telepathy since there was no one around. “What am I doing here? Naked?”

. . . .

Bella’s mouth dropped open and her eyes grew wide with horror as she looked around. “Doc’s coming back and Norman’s with him. You’d better go primal. Quick.”

As if it was that easy. I couldn’t just wiggle my nose like some TV witch—I had to allow myself to release. And after a lifetime of learning control, that wasn’t easy.

I took a moment to settle myself, to find my center. Arranging my hair so I was well covered, I got to my knees then sat on my heels. “You know, last night, when you and Doc abandoned me, Norman became a huge pest. He kept at me, wanting me to dance with him.”

Bella’s “Um,” irritated me. Annoyance tingled my exposed skin, running along my collarbone and down the insides of my arms.

“He wouldn’t leave me alone. It was so gross.” I straightened as angry lightning strikes marched down my back. “Then he insisted I finish my drink because he wanted to buy me another. Bella, I thought I was going to have to decapitate him to get him to leave me alone. I decided to just take off and let you find another way home. But after I finished my drink—and I only had the one Doc bought me—I don’t remember anything. It’s as if I got lost in the night.”

I gathered my fury like a fiery orb in my chest.

“You know I never have a memory lapse except during a blood moon phase or if I lose control. I wasn’t that angry.”

A simple full moon hadn’t done that to me since I was three years old.

“That son of a cur must have slipped me a roofie. Why else would I have been out of control?” I allowed my rage to explode as I thought about the man putting a date rape drug in my drink.

My body stung as the bristles burst through my skin, but I exalted in the sensation as my face narrowed, then lengthened. I loved the feeling of my body shifting from human to wolf shape. There’s never anything better than the power surge as it filled my muscles.

It’s exhilarating.

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I love it when Jazzy shifts to Wolf. She has so much fun!

So here’s your question: Have you ever wished you could be a shape shifter? If you were given the choice, what animal would you become?

Writers’ Academy 2013

Last month I attended the WTAMU Writers Academy and it was AWESOME! Yes, that’s an overused word, yes, it’s a cliché. But folks, there isn’t any other way of saying how great it was for me.

I have to admit, I didn’t do very well last year. My fault. My head wasn’t in it. This year? Whole different story! I took Alexandra Sokoloff’s class again.

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Only this time I was excited about my story idea going in. I didn’t have a lot of the plot, and of course, several things changed before we were done plotting. But that’s why I coughed up good money to go…to find out what worked and what didn’t. I have to tell you, I am SUPER excited about this story! Now all I have to do is get it written.

By the time we were through going through my story on Wednesday and Thursday I didn’t even want to stay for the rest of the class…I wanted to go WRITE! But I didn’t. The whole point of the class was to not only get input from the instructor, but from other class members…a give and take, if you will.

For those of you who know me, you know I’m not much of a plotter. So to be able to walk away after (basically) four days with a complete plot line is practically unthinkable. I did it, though. So did every other person in the class. Alex paid us the biggest compliment when she said every single story was viable and marketable. Woot!!

 

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Here we all are the last day. Alex is next to me with blond hair. Notice there’s only one guy in our class. Bless his heart, he didn’t turn beat red when we talked about hot flashes, etc. {snort}

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This is a wonderful (and forever) friend, Jolene Navarro and her daughter, Storm. Jolene’s 1st book will be out this October through Harlequin Love Inspired. I KNOW it’s great! Storm writes paranormal and has a bit of a different twist on angels and demons. Can’t wait to read the finished product.

I’ve already dived into the writing full speed and making great progress. We’ll see just how fast I can write a complete manuscript. Keep your fingers crossed while I try to type mine off. 🙂

Fair Weather Writer?

For some Fair Weather is the key.

For some writers Fair Weather is the key.

You know what a Fair Weather Writers are, don’t you? They’re those people who can only write when all circumstances are right.

I honestly don’t know any, (hand in the air) but I’ve read about them. They’re the writers who can only get words on paper when

  • There’s no one else in the house.
  • When the muse knocks three times.
  • During the rain.
  • When the sun’s shining.
  • Only on weekdays.
  • Only on weekends.
  •  Only after the house work’s finished.
  • Or the laundry.
  • When the kids are in bed.
  • With their pets are in their laps.
  • (Name your own poison.)

Okay, I’ll admit it. (Hangs head.) I’m a Fair Weather Writer. (Sorta.) My personal thing is I can only write in the morning, maybe until noon. But when the day starts winding down, so does my brainpower. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.) I blame it on my internal clock.

Maybe you aren’t a FWW. You could be an ALL Weather Writer. That’s a writer who can write anytime, day or night–it doesn’t matter who’s around or what’s going on, who’s waiting or what anyone expects.

When they’re on a story, they’re writing.

Louis L’amour said he could write in the middle of Time Square. Just give him a typewriter and stand back.

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Marilyn Pappano can write all day and all night and start over again. And what she writes works!

A HERO TO COME HOME TO author (and all weather writer) Marilyn Pappano

A HERO TO COME HOME TO author (and all weather writer) Marilyn Pappano

I roomed at a writers’ retreat once with a woman who went directly to her computer and wrote each time we had a break. She was a great influence on me, and I started writing each time she did. And sometimes before she did.

All Weather Writer Jackie Kramer

All Weather Writer Jackie Kramer

Maybe I should just move in with her. 🙂

I’d give my eyeteeth to be an AWW, but I’ve tried. I can do a little in the evening (like now) but mostly, pfft. And what I do write late in the day takes a lot of fixing the next morning. Sigh. (Five fixes so far this morning.)

So . . . how about you? FWW or AWW? Do you know?

Creative Wells

Man does not live by bread alone.

No, we need more. In fact, we creative types have to keep those creative juices flowing. One way or the other. Right now, for me, it’s attending a workshop founded by NY Times & USA Today Best Selling Author Jodi Thomas and Random House Publishing’s Upcoming Star Tim Lewis at West Texas A&M University’s Writers’ Academy in Canyon, TX all this week.

I’m taking the Screenwriting Structure for Novelists class taught by Best Selling Author and Bram Stoker Award Nominee Alexandra Sokoloff. I’m starting a brand new project and I have to tell you, I feel really good about this story! It’s sort of a sequel to Shattered Promises, my story in the anthology Romance – The Spice of Life. The new story is titled Deadly Promises. Does that give you a tiny inkling of what you’ll get when you read the book? I hope so. 🙂

This takes place during the same timeframe as Shattered Promises, only with different characters (naturally). There’s the plane crash and a lot of flawed characters, including: a new sheriff in town, a struggling widow and a stalker. I’m also going to address some social issues.

Like I said, I’m super excited about this. We’ll see what comes out of the class and if they can help me fill in a BUNCH of holes in the plot. I have faith that Alex will be able to see what I’m completely overlooking. Or even go a direction I never would’ve thought of going.

I can’t wait to reconnect with old friends as well as make new ones. Spending a week immersed in writing with other writers is so uplifting and inspiring, it’s unbelievable. I’ll come home completely wiped out and drained, but it’ll all be good. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t crash and burn during this class because she definitely puts you through your paces. Regardless, I’ll have all the plot points worked out by the time I leave on Friday. Yay!

Btw, wish you were here as they have other wonderful instructors, such as: Margie Lawson, Jennifer Archer, Dian Curtis Regan, Mike Bellah along with tonight’s banquet speaker, Linda Castillo. Now how could you go wrong with a line-up like that? 🙂 ♥

Synopses–ugh.

Don’t you love, love, LOVE writing synopses?

Snort.

In my mind, if you do, you must be nuts! (JOKING!)

Honestly, I’ve only met one woman the entire time I’ve been writing who said she really liked writing the little buggers. (And yeah. She might have been . . . )

Maybe short story or non-fic writers have a gas writing them, but as a rule (my rule, anyway) people who write fiction over 50,000 words hate them.

Why? Because as a rule, a novel author can’t tell you her name in less than ten pages. 😉 How could she tell you about her great story in that space?

Maybe, if we stand back and look at the how, it’ll be easy. (Snort, again.)

Here’s some great advice from Writing the Smart Synopsis by Nancy J. Cohen:

Open the action with a hook. You already know this is crucial in your manuscript, but it applies to your synopsis as well.

Use action verbs. Your story should be engaging as you convey it to the reader.

Make sure the story flows in a logical manner from scene to scene.

Include your character’s emotional responses and stay in her head as you would in the story. Use transitions if you switch viewpoints.

Show your character’s internal struggle as well as her external conflict. What’s inhibiting her from making a commitment to the hero? What is causing her to doubt her abilities? What lesson does she need to learn about herself in this story? Motivate your character’s actions so her responses seem logical.

Explain the ending. In a mystery, this means you tell whodunit and why. In a romance, it’ll be your dark moment and the resolution of the romantic conflict. You’ll want to describe how your character has changed or grown from this experience.

Okay, that SOUNDS easy peasy (clears throat, rolls eyes) but it’s more than that.

  • Let your voice shine through. (And when it’s a long-winded voice, that ain’t easy.)
  • Include the tone of the book. (You don’t want it to sound humorous if it’s a dead serious suspense.)
  • Make sense. (That’s the hard part.)

The best advice from Nancy’s blog on writing the smart synopsis? “Let your critique partners read your synopsis.”

Believe me, it’s easier to see problems from the outside looking in than it is to see what you didn’t include, even though you think its there. And to make sense. 🙂

Please pop over to Nancy’s place and read the entire blog. She’s a real help!

A Hero to Come Home To

A re-blog from Marilyn Pappano.

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I’ve got my first review for A Hero to Come Home To (coming 25 June), and it’s the kind of review that makes an author jump up and down with joy!  First, it’s a great one!  Second, it’s a great one from Publisher’s Weekly!   Third, it’s a Starred Review  from Publisher’s Weekly!   They just don’t hand those Stars out too freely, so I’m absolutely thrilled to get this one!  Read on and share my happiness!

“Pappano shines in this poignant tale of love, loss, and learning to love again. Teacher Carly Lowry wants nothing more than to find peace after her husband, Army Staff Sergeant Jeff Lowry, is killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Two years later, what’s sustaining her is the Fort Murphy Widows Club, aka Tuesday Night Margarita Club, based at Fort Murphy, Oklahoma. On one club outing, Carly meets a man who captures her attention: Sergeant Dane Clark, who lost a leg in combat and who can’t quite believe anyone will want him again. Can the two overlook their losses and build a new life together? Pappano creates achingly real characters whose struggles will bring readers to tears. Well-placed secondary plots seamlessly set the stage for additional books in the series.”

And it got a STAR!!!!!

 

 

Writing Conferences – The Ups and Downs

I’ve been extremely quiet lately. There’s a reason. I attended the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc’s (OWFI) conference May 3-5 in Norman, OK. Wow. What a rush! Not only did I meet with my first line editor, but also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press. I hung out with them on Friday night after the Famous Author’s Banquet during a Buzz Session.

Oh! Speaking of the banquet, I hit the ‘big screen’ by announcing the publication of my books last year, GRAVE SECRETS and ROMANCE-THE SPICE OF LIFE. DSCN0670_706

DSCN0673_709I wasn’t alone, by all means! Lots of OWFI members had books released last year. Our pictures were displayed along with the book cover and a short blurb about the story. Each author stood when their name was called by Alaska Yup’ik Storyteller Jack Dalton. Then we waved (enthusiastically, I might add) as the audience cheered us on. DSCN0674_710My good friend, Kathlyn Smith, did her best to get a good picture of me. Wasn’t meant to be, though. *s*

I also got to hang out with friends from the West Texas A&M Writers Academy as well as others from Amarillo, including: Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyllis Miranda. Jodi was one of the speakers, and let me tell you, she told us in no uncertain terms what it takes to make it. Yet, here I sit. Writing a blog and not writing on my story. The good news is I came up with another storyline while there. Woot!

So all in all, I got my money’s worth out of this conference. Will I go back in the years to come? You betcha’! This year there were four other members of Smart Women Who… attending the conference. 931229_10151632008947456_1977057717_n[1] T.D. Hart, Jackie King, Kathlyn Smith, myself, and Susan Shay. I think everyone had a fantastic time.

What about you? Do you go to conferences? If not, why in the world not?! Even though you may come home exhausted—I know I did—it’s a great opportunity to connect with other writers, pitch your story to an editor or agent, reconnect with old friends and make a ton of new ones. How can you lose?

You can’t.

Saving Cats

Save a cat or dog

So I have this hobby. It’s called, “Learn to plot a book.” Yeah, I know. I’ve had three books published, the third of which is about to come out. (No pub date yet, boys and girls. Sorry.)

So for the last month, I haven’t been writing. (Gasp!) Instead, I’ve spent my limited writing time working on the above mentioned hobby by making my way through a book called, “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder.

I had to check the book cover and make sure I had that right. Usually I call it Hang the Cat. (Don’t ask. I’m weird.)

This is a great (GREAT!) book. (I know, every other writer under the sun read it eight years ago. What can I say? I’m a slow learner.) It’s so good, I’m giving back the book I borrowed and buying my own.

BTW: I don’t write screen plays.

But screen plays are pretty darn close to being books, and he has a great plotting system, suggestions and how-tos. The only problem I see is if a writer tries to use math to translate what he’s saying to use for a book.

What works on the screen won’t work math-wise in a book.

Here’s what I mean: If he says you must have the Jabberwobby happen on page 10 of the screen play and your book is 5 times longer than the screen play, you can’t put the Jabberwobby on page 50 and expect it to work. (10 x 5 = 50.)

Why? Because, reading something in print and seeing it on the big screen is two different things. In a good book, when we’re in a person’s POV, we get to crawl inside a their skin, learn what scares them, what makes them happy, what cheers them and so on. We hear their thoughts, understand their reasoning, even if it’s bad reasoning.

In a movie, we don’t get all that. You have to understand the characters through seeing what they do and hearing what they say. So naturally, the timing is going to be different.

But even though it doesn’t translate exactly page number wise, everything Mr. Blake has to say about writing/plotting/selling is excellent. I might not take everything he suggests in his book as my exact style, but it has certainly mapped out a path for me to take.

I might just have to find a new hobby. 😛

 

My Heroes Will Always Be . . .

Wanted - Dead or Alive

Wanted – Dead or Alive (Photo credit: twm1340)

Have you ever been asked why you’re a writer? I’ve thought about it a lot. It’s not because I can’t not write. (I’m tops at procrastination.)

I’m a writer because I enjoy making up stories, but I’m a romance writer because I watched TV as a kid. Weird? LOL. Probably.

To understand that, you have to get my definition of a romance novel: a romance as a book with one hero, one heroine and ends with Happily Ever After.

So when I was a little girl, my family watched (and loved) All Cowboy TV with good guys such as Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, Annie Oakley, Wild Bill Hickok and the Cisco Kid.

Whether they were new or reruns, we rarely missed shows such as The Rebel (♪♫ Johnny Yuma was a rebel, he roamed through the west . . . ♪♫) Wagon Train, Rawhide, Have Gun Will Travel, Wanted Dead or Alive and the big daddy, Gunsmoke.

Because I experienced that time of All Cowboy TV (and I believe we learn everything we need to know about life at our mother’s knee) I’ve found I go there to create characters.

♪♫ My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys ♫♪

🙂

Think about it. Book heroes can be tough or even a bad boys, but one thing every romance has is a hero that, deep in his heart, is honorable.

Think Roy Rogers, Matt Dillon or Rowdy Yates.

Heroines might be self-centered, flighty or feisty, but when you get to know them really, they have a heart of gold, and they’re honorable.

Remember Annie Oakley? Dale Evans? Miss Kitty?  🙂

The good guy wears a white hat and takes good care of his horse. The bad guy doesn’t. (Not quite that simple, but you get my drift.)

So . . . every hero I create is a cowboy, whether he rides a horse or not.

And when he meets his heroine, no matter how wrong they are for each other, love will find a way, and in the end they’ll ride off into the sunset.

Happily. Ever. After.

So at its very heart, a romance novel is in truth a cowboy story.

Who knew?