Thursday3Some: Love is a Rose by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

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Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux, Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana, is visiting with us again today to talk about a book that is a little bit different, a nonfiction devotional.

This busy author is multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Find Pamela S. Thibodeaux Online

Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter

About Love is a Rose
Instead of a novel, Pamela S. Thibodeaux brought a nonfiction book of devotionals, inspired by the song The Rose sung by Country & Western artist Conway Twitty. She says: "God opened my spirit to a deeper understanding of the abundance of His grace and mercy through the words of the song."

When did you write Love is a Rose?

I initially wrote Love is a Rose in 1995 with the hope of having it published as a gift book along with a CD of the song, The Rose.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

I’ve always been a huge Country Music fan and in 1995 the song, The Rose, sung by Conway Twitty came on the radio right after my morning prayer time. Much to my surprise, Scriptures and quotes from the Bible and other biblically focused books came to mind that coincided with each verse of the song! Well I immediately wrote those down. A friend provided poetry to go along with the scripture and text. However when I began pitching it to publishers, I found out all the legalities about using the lyrics and that the poetry didn’t actually add to the overall depth of the book. I deleted the poems and fleshed out each verse and Scripture and then included thoughts (seeds to ponder) and a prayer.

Why do readers buy Love is a Rose?

As a devotional with examples of how each scripture and verse applied to my life, as well as lined pages for reflection, Love is a Rose is perfect for those who enjoy devotional books.

Love is a Rose by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Print Book from Amazon * Kindle * Print Book from B&N * Nook * Smashwords * Deeper Shopping

Takeaway Truth

In need of some guidance or something uplifting? Try Pam's book of devotionals.

Give Readers A Grand Opening

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The opening sentence of a book, or any piece of writing for that matter, is like a Grand Opening event. It should excite you and make you want to hang around—that means keep reading to The End where you get the Grand Opening Prize: a great ending.

Next Tuesday, my latest romance Cinderella Blue, available now on pre-order for only 99 cents until April 13, will be published.

New Beginning

I took a couple of weeks off to visit family, do my taxes, and catch up on all the clerical stuff that goes along with operating my writing business. Today, I'm starting a new novella, Heat Lightning, which will be one of 21 contemporary romances in the Summer Fire Contemporary Romance Anthology. The Summer Fire Box Set will be released May 26th.

My biggest concern today is that all important opening sentence and/or paragraph. This tiny part of a book is so important because it determines whether a reader will want to keep reading.

Each time I start a manuscript, I spend a lot of time thinking up the perfect opening sentences for the story and the character. In a couple of sentences I want you to meet the character and glimpse something about her personality, attitude, and emotional condition that will make you want to read more.

What Hooks You?

As a reader, what about a book hooks you? The author’s name? The cover? The Book Description? The first sentence or paragraph?

(Leave your answer about what hooks you as a Comment on this post along with your email address, written out not as a hot link, and be entered in the March Swag Bag Giveaway. If the winner resides in the lower 48, this will be mailed to you. If the winner is abroad, you'll receive a digital Swag Bag. Prize to be awarded on or about April 3.)

Compelling Opening

When book shopping, I always open a book—whether that’s in a bookstore or online with the “Look Inside” feature—and read the first paragraph. This small amount of text should be crafted to capture a reader with an intoxicating first sentence, first paragraph, first page—followed by equally addicting pages to the very end.

I measure my opening sentence against the yardstick of great story openers created by my favorite authors. Excellent opening sentences capture the reader’s attention. They should make readers curious or elicit an emotional reaction: laughter, excitement, sadness, etc.

Here's the opening paragraph from my soon to be published romance, Cinderella Blue.

Andie Luft peered through the bridal veil, searching for the slimeball photographer who had ruined her day. She just hoped she saw Lombardo before he saw her, but looking through the white tulle was like watching television with the cable disconnected.

Other Openings

The first day of spring in New York featured the kind of weather Madeline Quinn most hated. Cold, gray, wet, and miserable— which made it perfect because that’s exactly the way she felt. (April Fool Bride)

Ally Fletcher had waited six years for this opportunity. Six long years. There was no way a mere thunderstorm was going to stop her. Of course, in Texas, calling this a mere thunderstorm was like saying a Texas tornado was a mere puff of wind. (Still The One. I’m fairly certain every woman has fantasized about what she’d do if given the chance to show someone from her past how she has grown from an ugly duckling into a swan.)

Snowflakes drifted down, falling from a black velvet sky, sliding past the concrete canyons of downtown Houston to the streets and sidewalks below. Staring out the hotel window, Noelle wondered how much longer she would have to wait. If David walked in right now, what would she do? (LuvU4Ever)

Jennifer Monroe shivered and rubbed the goose-bumped flesh of her arms. A meat locker would be warmer than a doctor’s examining room! Why do they have to keep it so cold? And why do they act as if you have nothing better to do than sit around, clad only in a piece of paper and your birthday suit, and wait? (Just One Look. Is there a woman who won’t identify with that paragraph?)

When she found the person responsible for this, she would make them pay. And pay big! (JANE I’m-Still-Single JONES)

Darcy Benton wondered if she needed to check into a hospital. Her nervous system seemed to have shorted out, producing feet that felt like blocks of ice and hands that perspired as if it were July rather than December. (Nobody’s Cinderella)

If you can’t trust your friends, then who can you trust? Stormy Clarkson planned to pose that question to her soon-to-be ex-friend Libby the minute she saw the conniving woman. (Old Enough to Know Better)

By the time most people reach the eve of their thirtieth birthday, they’ve developed a philosophy of life, shaped by the experience of living. Judy Anne Palmer was no exception. She had a philosophy of life, shaped by life’s hard lessons and honed by the last eight years to a stark two-word declaration. Life sucks! (Romeo and Judy Anne)

Men looked at Amanda Whitfield and thought she was a hot blonde who knew how to have a good time. Hot? Sizzling. Sexy? Undeniably. Men figured she knew all about flirtation and lust and sex. They were wrong. (Scents and Sensuality)

Every woman makes mistakes. Susannah Quinn glared at the door to the sheriff’s private office. Yep, every woman makes mistakes, but most women didn’t have to put up with a constant reminder of their not so brilliant actions. And most women didn’t have their mistake showing up at their office, flaunting tanned muscles and polluting the environment with clouds of testosterone and male arrogance. (The Trouble With Love)

Some of My All-time Favorites

Here are some favorite opening sentences that intrigue or tease with a sense of anticipation, evoking curiosity and/or an emotional response in the reader that can’t be resisted.

“The scream was distant and brief. A woman's scream.” Phantoms by Dean Koontz

“I never knew her in life.” The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

“Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not at the subconscious level where savage things grow.” Carrie by Stephen King

“Death was driving an emerald green Lexus.” Winter Moon by Dean Koontz

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Takeaway Truth

Thank you for supporting my new release Cinderella Blue. Let me know if you leave a review of Cinderella Blue or any of my books. I'd like to send you a small token of appreciation for taking the time to promote my books. (Email me: Joan at JoanReeves dot com. Put REVIEW in the Subject Box.)

Alicia Dean's Dollar Day

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Guess what? It's Dollar Day on Alicia Dean's Blog tomorrow, March 21. It begins at 5:00am CST.

Actually, each of these ebooks is less than a dollar because these books Alicia has gathered together are priced at only 99cents.

I can't think of any other form of entertainment in today's world that can be bought for a measly 99cents.

Alicia has gathered 46 ebooks from various genres for your shopping pleasure. I plan to stock up.

Takeaway Truth

Hope to see you at Alicia Dean's Dollar Day tomorrow.

Thursday3Some: Sink or Swim by Stacy Juba

My friend, award-winning author Stacy Juba, dropped by this morning. So grab your favorite morning cup of joy and let's talk to Stacy.

About Stacy Juba

Stacy loves to write stories about Characters at a Crossroads: individuals who are finding themselves and getting on the right life path after overcoming obstacles. She has made numerous bestseller lists including GalleyCat’s Barnes & Noble Bestsellers and GalleyCat’s Mystery and Thriller Bestsellers.

Stacy has written about reality TV contestants targeted by a killer, an obit writer investigating a cold case, teen psychics who control minds, a theme park Cinderella looking for love, twin high school hockey stars battling on the ice, and teddy bears learning to raise the U.S. flag. She is also a freelance book editor for authors.

About Sink or Swim

How do you change the channel when reality TV turns to murder? After starring on a hit game show set aboard a Tall Ship, personal trainer Cassidy Novak discovers that she has attracted a stalker. Can she trust Zach Gallagher, the gorgeous newspaper photographer assigned to follow her for a local series? As things heat up with the stalker and with Zach, soon Cassidy will need to call SOS for real.

Find Stacy Online

Website * Facebook  * Twitter * Goodreads * Pinterest * Amazon Author Page

When did you write Sink or Swim?

I started writing Sink or Swim about ten years ago, and it was originally published in paperback about five years ago. Today it is available in multiple e-book formats and as an Audible audiobook.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

I was fascinated by the amazing success of reality TV shows like Survivor and Big Brother. I wanted to explore what might motivate someone to appear on a reality show and how that strange experience of being in the public eye affects her life. I thought it would be interesting to add a mystery twist. If a TV drama or sitcom gets cancelled, a diehard fan will likely see the actors again in future shows or movies. However, many reality show contestants return to their normal lives once the show is over and don't remain in the spotlight. I wanted to explore what could happen if an obsessed fan goes into withdrawal knowing that my character, Cassidy, might never appear on TV again.

Why do readers buy Sink or Swim?

Sink or Swim is a fun beach read. Readers buy it when they are seeking a light and entertaining book to help them escape the stress of daily living. Readers are typically drawn to the book if they enjoy cozy mystery novels and clean romance.

Buy Sink or Swim by Stacy Juba

Amazon Kindle * Nook * iBooks * Kobo * Audio Edition from Audible

Takeaway Truth

The weekend is coming. Grab a fun book like Sink of Swim and get ready to read.

Fight the Fear: 5 Steps

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A friend recently asked me this question: Is it normal for writers to think their own work is never good enough?

My Answer

OMG, yes! I don't know of a single GOOD writer who finishes a manuscript and thinks, "Wow. This is fantastic." We are all creatures of insecurity.

I've been published by 5 different publishers including my French publisher, and I still doubt everything I write. I've got more than a million books in print floating around the planet, and I don't know how many ebook sales, and I still feel that way. I can finish a chapter and be satisfied with it. Overnight I get this gnawing anxiety. The next morning when I sit at the computer, I know what I wrote the day before is pure crap.

When I finish a book, it's so hard to just click the PUBLISH button. That's the way it used to be when I sent a finished manuscript to my editor. I'm was always convinced it was terrible, and that it would never sell.

Not Just Me

Guess what? It's not just me who thinks this way. I personally know enough "household name" authors who feel the same way!

I think we sometimes just get to the point of "oh, hell, just publish the damn thing and move on" stage. Otherwise, there would never be any books published. *LOL*

The oddest thing is that the people who brag about how good their books are--and I don't mean some kind of marketing statement or obvious promotion statement--but an honest to God conviction that their writing is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Those people are the ones whose books are crap!!!

I think you have to tread the fine line of perfectionism, knowing that your work will never be what you want it to be in your eyes, and the reality that it really is good enough to publish.

Emotion Married to Fear

Feeling insecure about your writing, feeling a lack of confidence--that's emotion and fear bound together. You will find no joy with your writing career if you are controlled by emotion and fear.

Instead, one must learn to intellectualize about the writing. That's using your conscious brain to work for you rather than against you. Doing this will help muffle the little editor inside you who screams, "You and your writing suck."

5 Tips to Fight the Fear

1. Accept that there will be a certain amount of fear, but work to keep it at a manageable level.

2. Instead of doubting and being depressed by every sentence that you see as inferior when compared to others, cut yourself a break.

Say: I am a good writer. I love my work. I've written, published, and sold books. Readers like my books. I've successfully written before, and I will this time. Say it. Write it. Think it. Internalize it until it is your first response when the going gets tough.

3. Become conscious of your self-defeating thoughts so that you can DEFEAT them.

With each of the above affirmative sentences, you'll find the evil person inside you refuting them. For every negative thought that crops up, immediately replace it with a positive message. That's how to fight the fear and win.

Make your positive messages to yourself a mantra and say it as many times as you need so you keep moving forward.

4. Accept the truth that any writing is hard if done properly.

Quit thinking it's easy. An accounting job is hard if done properly, so is a legal case, a nine-to-five clerical job, or any other worthwhile demanding job.

5. Relationships are important.

Don't lose sight of the people in your life because you're so obsessed with writing successfully. Being a writing workaholic is as rewarding as being any kind of workaholic--you may get a lot of work done, but are you happy? Take time to live your real life, and it will pay rewards in your writing life.

Takeaway Truth

Repeat after me. "I am a good writer. I deserve to succeed."

Thursday3Some: The Heartbroken Cowboy by Melissa Keir

I'm happy to welcome Melissa Keir, author of The Heartbroken Cowboy, part of the Cowboy Up 2 Anthology available now on Amazon Kindle.

About Melissa Keir

Melissa loves to write small town stories that sizzle. Her stories are character driven and feature men and women who could be your neighbors or friends.

Melissa and her family live in the wilds of Michigan. In addition to writing, she's a full time elementary teacher and has a movie review show on a local radio station.

Find Melissa Keir Online

Website * Facebook * Twitter *
Visit The Facebook Page for Cowboy Up 2 Boxed Set

About Cowboy Up 2

Saddle Up with the best-selling authors who brought you Cowboy Up... And fall for Six more Cowboys ready to steal your heart!

1. When did you write The Heartbroken Cowboy in the book bundle Cowboy Up 2?

The Heartbroken Cowboy was written this January as a follow-up to my novella The Heartsong Cowboy in Cowboy Up.

2. What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

I wanted to give Johnson a chance at a happily ever after. The poor man was so cranky in the first book.

3. Why do readers buy Cowboy Up 2?

The readers love the sizzling cowboys. Who doesn't love a hard-working man who loves nature and who is willing to do anything for you? Cowboy Up 2 features six novellas by the same authors as the best-selling authors of Cowboy Up!

Buy Cowboy Up 2 from Amazon Kindle

Takeaway Truth

Want a fun read? How about 6 of them? Then grab Cowboy Up 2 which includes The Heartbroken Cowboy by Melissa Keir.

The Grand Gesture by Ines Johnson

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Today, SlingWords welcomes Ines Johnson, author of Pumpkin, A Cindermama Story.

Ines has written about that staple of romance novels: The Grand Gesture. I think you'll like her article.

About Ines Johnson

Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

Find Ines Johnson Online

Website * Goodreads * Facebook * Twitter * Publisher

About Pumpkin: a Cindermama Story by Ines Johnson

Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairy tales after she fell for a toad. Now she believes she’s not cut from the storybook heroine cloth and searches for Mr. Good Enough amongst the sidekicks and supporting men of the town.

Love at first sight isn’t a cliche for town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne. For generations the Charmaynes have spotted their soulmates by seeing a golden aura the first time they laid eyes on The One.

When Manny meets Pumpkin he sees…nothing, but sparks fly off the Richter scale. The more he gets to know her the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.

The Grand Gesture
by Ines Johnson

Traditionally the Grand Gesture is known to be a common plotting point in romance stories where the hero does something bold or gives up something big in order to show the heroine that his love is true.

In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy puts aside his contempt of Wickham to help save Lydia’s reputation. This grand gesture is what finally convinces Elizabeth to take his hand.

In Twilight, Edward’s grand gesture, the thing that shows his true love of Bella, is when he sucks the poison out of her wrist without killing her.

For more on grand gestures, we’ll turn to the hero of my latest release, Pumpkin: a Cindermama Story. This romance is a fairytale retelling of--you guessed it--the Cinderella story.

* * * Excerpt * * *

The Mistress of Ceremonies hurried through her introductions and then the microphone was in Manny's hand, but he didn't take out the notes of his prepared speech.

"Many of you knew my mother," he began. There was a murmur of nostalgic assent throughout the crowd.

"You may not know that after her diagnosis, she spent most of her days watching romantic comedies. She believed she could laugh the illness out of her body. Her favorite moments in these films were something called the Grand Gesture. That scene just after all hope is lost because one of the lovers, normally the guy, has done something stupid that's led to the end of the relationship. So he thinks up this bold, romantic move to get the woman back."

A glance around the room told Manny that he held the largely female crowd in rapt attention.

"An example of a grand gesture would be a guy telling his estranged wife that she completes him in the midst of an angry mob of women. Or rescuing her underwear from the class geek and returning it to her at her sister's wedding. Or holding a boom box over his head, in front of her bedroom window, early in the morning, while blasting the song that was playing as he deflowered her."

A different wave of nostalgia swept through the crowd this time as they remembered these treasured moments of Hollywood cinema.

"In the real world, some people might call these behaviors creepy, or stalker-ish. But not my mother. She loved them. She believed in love, believed that when you loved someone you said it loud, you showed it often, and you never gave up."

Manny paused here, partly for effect, mostly to collect himself as visions of his mother's joyous face played in his head. He rubbed the heel of his hand against his chest.

"The national divorce rate is 50 percent."

There was no surprise in the room, where most of the men were older and the women on their arms were younger.

"There's never been a divorce in the Charmayne family. Not one recorded anywhere in our family line."

The sparkle of young women's eyes threatened to blind Manny from where he stood on the stage.

"What that means is when a Charmayne gives you their pledge, they are committed."

The decision was a split second one, but once Manny made it he stuck with it. He stepped around the podium, mic in hand and dropped to one knee. The gasp of every woman in the room was near deafening.

"To earn your vote, I will do whatever I have to, including blast Peter Gabriel in the streets. Charmaynes don't quit. I'm committed to this, to the people of this town. I hope that I can count on your vote."

The room erupted in thunderous applause, and the women's eyes sparkled even brighter.

* * *

We’ve seen literary heroes perform the feat of a grand gesture near the end of the tale. In Pumpkin: a Cindermama story, my hero Manny talks about this moment in the first act.

I take a moment early in the book to teach the reader the rules of the grand gesture in this speech so that they are prepped for later in the book when I break these rules in favor of a more non-traditional grand gesture near the end of the story.

To find out who messed up and how they declared their love in a grand way, I hope you'll pick up the book.

Buy Pumpkin: a Cindermama Story by Ines Johnson

Amazon Exclusive

Takeaway Truth

The weekend is near. Why not pick up a book that so eloquently explains the Grand Gesture?