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Jodie's Blogs

Books On My Shelf To Be Read

 

If I listed all the books on my bookshelf to be read, I'd have a five-page blog. No one wants that. Trust me. At art and craft shows, many people approach me and say they have so many books to read, which is the excuse why they can't buy my book. I get it. I'm a reader, and I'm in the same group! There are a ton of books on my shelf to read, but that doesn't stop me from buying more! And don't tell my husband, but it won't get any better with age.

 

Admittedly, I need to be better about where I purchase my books. Amazon makes it so easy to order a book and receive it the next day without leaving my house. I need to make it a point to visit my local bookstores in hopes they will eventually consent to carry my books. And I do buy books, or have a plan to buy books, from local authors that I know and consort with. You may notice the prominent image on the front page of my website promoting an upcoming event for a local author. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend the party but I have purchased his book!

 

Enough of that though, here are the books I have an immediate interest in reading and some that are left on the back-burner that I'll get to. Eventually.

 

The Harbinger Series by Jennifer Armentrout: Storm and Fury, Rage and Ruin and Grace and Glory. I love, love, love this author. Yeah, she's got a lot of steamy scenes, maybe a little too many of them, but the substance of her stories and the depth of her characters make up for it.

 

The same with Scarlett St. Clair. Lots of steam, but the story and the characters make up for it. I'm currently in the middle of her Hades and Persephone series. I still have to read A Game of Retribution and A Game of Gods. A Touch of Chaos is released on March 12.

 

The Serpent and The Wings of Night by Carissa Broadbent, just got this one and the next in the series, The Ashes and The Star-Cursed King, won't be released until June so I might wait to read it. I wonder how she gets away with such long titles.

 

As you can probably tell, I have a lot of fantasy on my bookshelf. That's what I've been reading the most of lately, but I do have several others still waiting.

 

I need to finish up Andrzej Spakowski's Witcher series. I still have Baptism of Fire, The Tower of Shallows, The Lady of The Lake, and Season of Storms waiting to be read.

 

The same goes for Bernard Cornwell and The Last Kingdom series. I have The Pale Horseman on my shelf, but I have yet to buy the rest of the series.

 

Classics that I haven't read that are on my list (Please don't judge me. I haven't read these yet):   

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (I just got this one)

Gone with The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (and no, I've never even seen the movie)

 

I have some stragglers sitting here, too:

Sinners of Starlight City by Anika Scott

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Homecoming by Kate Morton

 

I subscribe to a monthly club called Scribbler. Sometimes I skip, but then I worry that I'l miss a fantastic book! Once a month, I get a box of goodies, including writing tools and a book. I have read some books sent. Not all. I still have several waiting:

 

Indivisible by Daniel Aleman

Breaking All the Rules by Amy Andrews

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

The First Death by Kendra Elliot

The Quiet Boys by Ben Winters

I Walk Between the Raindrops by T.C. Boyle

All The Dangerous Things by Stacy Wallingham

 

There are a few others, but if I continue to list every single book that I have on my shelf to be read, like I said, we'll be here for a while. If you have any others I should add, let me know! I'll read anything and everything.

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Words To Avoid In Writing

My husband teases me because it makes me laugh when people use the word 'literally'. It's a filler word. It has no real meaning to it, if you think about it. There are several of those words. Like these I have listed below that I try to avoid in writing, some of them for the same reason I don't use the word literally in my writing.

 

Words that go right along with literally would be actually, basically, essentially, totally, and figuratively.

 

Non-descriptive, incredibly boring words like nice and interesting. These are words that have a broader sense of description. If you use Microsoft Word, there is a cool trick to right click on a word and go to synonyms. It will show other words that mean the exact thing. Nice, for instance, you can replace with pleasant or lovely. You can replace interesting with fascinating or intriguing. Other words that can fit into this category would be great, awesome, maybe even amazing.

 

Redundancy can also easily slip in with words like and also and each and every.

 

Words that add to word count when one word will do: as to whether (drop as to and leave whether), considered to be (drop to be and leave considered), so as to (drop so as and leave to), and try and (this doesn't even make sense–drop and, leave try). The following can all be replaced by the word because: being that or being as, due to the fact that, on account of, and the reason why is because. Replace with the word 'because' and be done with it already!

 

Other filler words adding to word count that can be removed are words such as very, really and quite. I'm guilty of slipping these in without realizing it. Remove them and your sentences will be quite fine or remove them and your sentences will be fine. Which sounds better in your head?

 

Unless you're writing a legal document, it isn't necessary to use and/or and per.

 

Almost as bad as literally in my book of no-no's is the word like. I'm not talking about "I like summer." The word like was originally used as an adjective to describe something in comparison. The sun is like a friendly smile, peeking through the clouds after so many days of gloom. Now, the word is a painful interjection dominating conversations like everywhere and like I'm so tired of it. Ouch!

 

Keep in mind, when I talk about most of these words, I'm excluding dialogue where a character may use poor grammar or slang, or even redundant words in speech. Things like this might make your character more believable and real. I'm talking about the narrative. Don't hijack your own writing!

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What's The Hardest Thing About Being A Writer?

There are a lot of things hard about being a writer, but there are also a lot of hard things about being a mom, being a wife, being a Proposal Writer. Being a writer does not differ from any other job. It just has different scenarios.

 

Writers who want to have their work published through traditional publishing have to work extra hard to pitch their work to agents, then have to work on contracts, deadlines, etc. Self-published writers set their own work schedule and deadlines, but we have to work hard on marketing and selling our own work. There are pros and cons of both. It just depends on the person and how much you want to put into it. With self-publishing, you get out of it what you put into it. I love writing, and I love when people give me great feedback after they've read one of my books. I guess you could say; the reward outweighs the risk.

 

After Saturday's show, I would like to say selling and marketing are the hardest, having the worst sales during a show I've ever done. But you know what? I sold more books at the show than I would have sitting at home not doing a show, so there's that. Complaining will do no good, and I would have done the show, anyway. I enjoy talking with people (even if they don't buy a book), talking to other vendors, and talking to the show coordinators. Networking can do a lot of good. Someone might know someone who might enjoy my books, you never know.

 

Many writers would probably say negative reviews or negative feedback, and I can't say I've had a lot of that. I had a woman stop at my booth and voice her opinion about having sex in my books. She didn't buy a book, wasn't about to buy a book, but felt the need to tell me I didn't need to put that in there. Her companion apologized on her behalf, but she didn't need to. The woman was absolutely correct in that a book does not have to have graphic sex to make it a good book, but I like to think that my books (so far) are not all that graphic. I've read much steamier books, and mine have some spice but are not that graphic. I like to live by the words a sales guy once told me years and years ago on a business trip: Be Bold, Be Brief, and Be Gone. Some scenes might need a bit more steam, while others can do well enough with some brief description and get the heck out of there.

I write romance. It's not Christian. It's not Amish. It's not YA. It's romance. There's going to be sex. Love it or hate it, it will not be for everyone and we writers know that our work is subjective.

 

So at this point in my writing career, I would think the hardest thing is balancing a full-time job and keeping my writing career afloat. I wrote about that a few blogs ago. That is my hardest thing about being a writer. The rest of it, the good, bad and the ugly, I absolutely love.

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Interview Q&A

I may kick myself for it, but a not-well-known international magazine contacted me to do an interview on influential authors redefining literature. It immediately screamed scam to me for several reasons. First, they wanted me to pay $250, not the other way around. Second, it was a quick turnaround (five days). And the last reason is I don't consider myself an influential author. Yet. After digging into it further, I found some magazines will ask for payment because they don't rely on ads for income. But I also found information from other authors about being led astray after paying money for interviews, and decided that at this point in my career and how they contacted me, I would rather not take the chance. As the wise old adage states . . . if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I did, however, think it might be a good idea to answer their interview questions and post them in a blog. Based on these questions, it seemed like someone at this magazine had read The Gangster's Daughter. Why the heck not?

 

Your books, "The Gangster's Daughter" and "The Duke's Daughter", fall under romantic suspense novels. What draws you to this genre, blending romance with elements of suspense? I want my readers to keep telling themselves they need to read just one more page, just one more chapter, before putting the book down and, ultimately, they need to keep coming back to the book to find out what happens. This is an engaging genre. Many books have a great story, but no pull. Not mine.

 

In "The Gangster's Daughter", Regan faces peril due to her father's dangerous connections. What inspired you to create a character navigating the complexities of family ties and imminent danger? To be honest, I didn't set out to write it that way. It just happened when I wrote it, and the more I wrote, the more the complexities started popping into my mind. I often tell people at festivals and signings that I couldn't write it fast enough. The ideas were coming at me that fast.

 

Regan's unexpected encounter with Cameron Moretti adds another layer of comlexity to the story. How do you develop the dynamics between your characters to heighten suspense and romance? I put a lot into my characters. That is the one thing I start with and I fully delve into every single character. Regan needed to be strong, as all my heroines are, but she also needed to have a protector–and that was where Cameron came in. And to do that, she needed to be stubborn about it.

 

The book delves into the challenge of balancing love and duty. How do you approach crafting characters who are torn between their heart's desires and obligations? The approach is there has to be something at stake. It would be too easy to for Regan to tell her father that she wasn't sticking to the contract and continue her relationship with Cameron. But the suspense would be gone, the danger would be gone, and I'd have one heck of a boring book.

 

Could you share insights into your writing process when creating tension-filled scenes or moments of emotional depth in your novels? I have to ask myself the what-if question when crafting my scenes that have a lot of tension, or a lot of emotion. Balancing out these scenes takes organization and planning on my part, and I'm good at organization. You can't have too much or the readers will be too overwhelmed. It's all about the balance.

 

Regan's journey seems intertwined with danger and unexpected turns. How do you maintain a sense of unpredictability and keep readers engaged throughout the storyline? I didn't see some of the unexpected turns myself when I outlined the storyline, which is part of the reason I couldn't write it fast enough. They were coming to me like flashes of light, but it had to be realistic in addition, so I had to rely on my balance, too.

 

Both of your titles features strong female protagonists. What do you hope readers take away from Regan's character and her experiences? I hope my readers take away that a woman can still be kind, sensitive and even stubborn, but strong. Be courageous. Regan was willing to walk away from Cameron because of the career she had worked so hard to create for herself and to protect a friend who had tried to protect her. That took courage.

 

You've ventured into both romantic suspense and historical romance. How do you navigate the differences between these genres in your writing approach?

It's difficult, but I love history and it flows just as easily as suspense does. The Duke's Daughter, even defined as a historical romance, has suspense in it. I honestly didn't know The Gangster's Daughter was going to be so popular. It's easy for me to build off that for future storylines.

 

Your technical writing background contrasts with your creating endeavors. How has your professional experience influenced your storytelling techniques or writing discipline? The influence has been huge because technical writing is much more structured. But while storytelling has a bit more flexibility, you still have to have correct grammar, punctuation, clarity, etc. My professional experience has been a big help there. It's helped shape my storytelling to flow better, but I have to watch out so my dialogue doesn't sound robotic.

 

"The Gangster's Daughter" received acclaim with three 5-star reviews from Readers' Favorites. How do you handle feedback, and has it impacted your writing process or future projects? I thrive on feedback. Without it, I wouldn't learn. Receiving such high acclaim in my first book, I was afraid I'd struggle with my future storylines to live up to it. When I received only two 5-star reviews on The Duke's Daughter, I felt a little disappointed, but the third one received 4-stars so still not bad.

 

As an author working on multiple novels simultaneously, what challenges and advantages do you encounter in managing and balancing different storylines? The challenge is to keep organized enough to keep track of where I am with each novel. I keep a checklist for every novel so I know where I am, and I also have my planner. The advantage is I keep moving when I get writer's block. I take a break and move to something else in the meantime.

 

Can you offer a sneak peek or hints about your upcoming novels or any themes or characters readers can anticipate in your next works? Subscribers to my monthly email got the first sneak peek at The Gangster's Mistake, coming out in April. I followed it up with a Facebook and Instagram post at the end of the year to those who follow me on social media. I can promise you will not see the last of Regan and Cameron.

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Juggling a Writing Career with a Full Time Job

How do you juggle a writing career with a full-time job? I wish I had the answer! It takes a big planner and dedication to stay on task. It's not for the faint of heart. Knowing that I am naturally organized, I understood the importance of being even more organized when I made the commitment to publish my work seriously. I've also learned along the way, and that means learning from mistakes, too.

 

Planning

When I worked for the local newspaper, I purchased a planner from Blue Sky. It was  8x11 and had a full 2-page calendar of each month and each week with enough space to write important information. I could write appointments along with keeping track of my assignments for the newspapers using this type of planner.

 

After I stopped working for the newspaper, I wasn't sure what to do with the planner until I realized I would need it to keep track of when I should have things done for my book (i.e. edits from the editors, reviews were due back, order author copies by, etc.). The need to have a planner only increased the more activities that came up throughout the year, such as arts and crafts fairs, signings, as well as having another book in the works. Now, I'm not sure what I would do without it! It's my crutch! If you are a writer, or if you are planning on publishing, whether self-publishing or going to traditional publishing, I recommend getting a planner like this or similar. Like I said, I use Blue Sky planners www.bluesky.com, which are durable and cost-effective at $20. In addition, they have a pocket inside to tuck important information and recycling instructions.

 

Timing

Obviously, I can't have my writing infiltrate my full-time job. I work from home, which many people do. It wouldn't be fair to my employer if I used the company's paid time to work on writing, so I have to be conscious of when I work on my writing career versus when I'm logged into my day job. To do this, I get up early enough to use the time before work to take care of or writing business like finances, orders that have come in overnight and posting or updating website or social media. Sometimes I run out of time that I have to do my updating or posting during a work break. That's okay, as long as that's all I do and not getting sucked into doing other writing career tasks. Once I'm logged out for the day, I take care of personal things and then I get into my writing career tasks that need to be done. Writing my bi-weekly blog, research, working on writing a current book or editing a current book, working on my newsletter, etc. It all takes an extreme amount of time that I have to use my time in the evenings and weekends the best I can. I have to work around art and craft shows that are typically booked on weekends. Again–that's where the planner comes in handy, too! Scheduling my time to do tasks is a must!

 

I've been working on my writing career for over a year, having started writing my first published novel, The Gangster's Daughter, in September 2022. Not only do I have to juggle my writing career with my full-time job, but I also have to juggle a personal life. That has not been easy to juggle all three. Luckily for me, and not so lucky for others, my children are adults, leaving me more available than some mothers who have young children with appointments, school happenings, sports, etc. But I have a husband, who also has a teenager that I lend a hand with. I never hesitate to help where I'm needed there, but sadly I have neglected my own personal life and that I very much need to work on. Now that my writing career is on the move, I can schedule in personal time as a much deserved reward!

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