Friday, June 29, 2012

Welcome Author Leigh Duncan

Please welcome my local RWA STAR chapter author and friend, Leigh Duncan! She is a great writer and such an encourager. I feel so encouraged after being with her.

Her newest release, Rodeo Daughter, was a Romantic Times Top Pick! Well, I'll let her tell you about it.

 Rodeo Daughter Summary:
Amanda Markette’s years on the professional rodeo circuit led to dreams of a home without wheels with a family-first kind of guy.  That man is definitely not her old boyfriend, Mitch Goodwin, rumored to become the county’s next District Attorney.  His demanding job has already cost Mitch one marriage. But Amanda’s plan to keep her distance falls apart when a bad-tempered judge permits the doting father only supervised visitation with his child…under the wary gaze of the one woman whose trust Mitch fears he’ll never win.Rodeo Daughter Reviews:“Readers better hold on to the tissue box.”
--- 4 ½ stars, RT Book Reviews June TOP PICK!

 Rodeo Daughter is a nostalgic tale of two adolescents falling in love and later finding their way back to each other…I hung on every word.”  

--- Kay Quinton at Fresh Fiction.
 BLOG:  Where Did You Come From?It’s summer in Florida.  The heat index is climbing and the humidity, whew!  Let’s just say everything is soggy and let it go at that.  At our house, the air conditioner runs full time.  The cucumbers in my garden have died back; the first tomato harvest is over and I’m getting ready to start a new crop.  And tiny baby birds chirp from nests in the Chinese Ting that grows outside my office window. So, with all this new life bursting on the scene, is it any wonder that I’ve been asking, “Where did you come from?”  No, this isn’t a lecture on the birds and the bees.  It’s a question about the heroes and the heroines in the stories we write.
Where do they come from? 
For me, every new book starts with the characters.  And because I write romance, I usually “see” the hero or the heroine first.  I’ll be going about my business—shopping, cleaning, cooking, whatever—and one of them will pop into my head.  Sometimes, they wave and keep on going.  There’s a woman in an orange grove who’s been doing that lately.  But she doesn’t stop, so I wave back and let her go, knowing her story isn’t quite ready to be told yet.  When it’s time, she’ll come back and stay a while.  She’ll start talking or she’ll do something that catches my attention. 
That’s how it was with heroine in Rodeo Daughter, my third book for Harlequin American Romance.  Before I even started working on the book, I caught a mental glimpse of a young woman running the barrel race in a rodeo.  At the time, I was knee deep in edits for my second book (The Daddy Catch, June 2011), so I just gave her a nod and went back to work.  She didn’t leave, though.  She hung around.  She’d pop in at the oddest moments.  Each time she did, I got to know her better.  I learned that her name was Amanda Markette, that she and her father had problems they needed to resolve.  She’d given up the rodeo scene and turned her attention to family law.  Recently, she’d moved to Melbourne, FL where her latest client was a prodigal mom determined to win back custody of the daughter she’d abandoned four years earlier.      
All well and good, but what’s a romance without a hero?
Mitch Goodwin took his own sweet time making himself known.  But one day, as I watched Amanda prepare for a case, I noticed this tall, dark-haired man in a business suit cutting through the courthouse.  Right away, I knew my hero had arrived on the scene. Of course, Mitch didn’t think he needed a woman in his life.  He was a workaholic, and he pretty much thought he had it all.  In fact, he’d just received the nod from the outgoing District Attorney and was excited about his prospects of becoming the lead DA.  The only shadow on his bright horizon was the custody suit his ex-wife had filed.  She claimed he didn’t spend enough quality time with their daughter.  She was right, but with his focus set on his career, super-confident Mitch couldn’t see it. 

Clearly, Mitch had lessons he needed to learn.  That’s where my job came in.  The result was Rodeo Daughter, my third book for Harlequin American Romance, one that I hope you’ll enjoy.Bio:
Author Leigh Duncan

Leigh Duncan writes the kind of books she enjoys reading, ones where home, family and community are key to the happy endings we all deserve (The Daddy Catch, June 2011 and The Officer’s Girl, June 2010.).  Rodeo Daughter, her third book Harlequin American Romance.  Leigh is a long-time member of the Romance Writers of America.  When she isn’t busy writing or helping aspiring authors, Leigh enjoys curling up in her favorite chair with a great book. To learn more about her, visit

Monday, June 25, 2012

Beautiful Brides: Author Crystal Miller

I had been teaching elementary school and coaching basketball and track for a year when I married Chris at the end of the school year, June 20, 1981. 

He was in medical school and we got married on Saturday and he had to report in to a summer internship on Monday. When we moved to Indianapolis where he started his 2nd year of med school, he threw this country girl a map of the city of Indianapolis and said, “I don’t have time to show you around.” That was the beginning of many sad and sometimes funny adventures for me.

But, my dress! My mother didn’t have a wedding dress or even a wedding photo. She eloped to Mississippi with my dad. So, I had this grand adventure of shopping for a wedding dress. Only I was not rich and was paying for almost all of the wedding myself, including my dress. 

I tried on oodles and one dress made me feel like a princess—it was so beautiful. Sadly, it was over a $1000.00 and I couldn’t afford that! So, at last I found the dress I’m wearing in a very small shop in the shadier side of town. 

It was a size 14 and I wore a size 6. Gah. It was going to be a major workover. It was a discontinued dress and I thought it was beautiful, plus, it was antiqued-looking, and by a famous designer. The dress shop owner got on the phone and found a size 8 in New York City. And yes, they’d ship it to her. I tried it on just days before my wedding! Phew! And it was exactly the money I had allocated for a dress. Thank you, God!

It had this beautiful Juliet cap & veil, and fabric-covered round buttons all up the back, with seed pearls all over the bodice. I never thought I would have such a dress

The day before our rehearsal, my mother was helping me bring some boxes up to our 2nd floor apartment in this old house. Across the street lived a teacher I had worked with the year before. 

I hear him calling me from the door downstairs and he says my mother has fallen and is hurt. Her arm looked wrong and her face was scraped from forehead to chin—skin gone and bleeding! 

She insisted she was ok, but Tony (his name) looked at me like, “Are you kidding me?” and I told him to help me get her into the car. (She was soooo stubborn!) 

We walked into the very ER that my husband-to-be was working. Yeah. Ok, so that afforded me a first class pass to get her in right away. While I’m standing there waiting for the doctor to call in a surgeon, every single staff member, including the nurses and doctors came by to meet me! It was a glimpse of what was to come in my marriage, little did I know!

The doctor wanted to take her to surgery to set it, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She was going to be at our wedding if it killed her. (I’m an only daughter.) 

So he loaded her up on pain pills, set it best as he could and sent her home. On my wedding day she was on pain pills and my aunts had covered her scraped face with the thickest pancake makeup ever. 

You could barely tell in the photos that she was in pain or that all the skin was gone from her face! She was so stubborn—I miss her terribly. 

She wanted so much to be at the wedding and to have all those photos of the family all dressed up.

But the best part was that our families not only got along great, but my mom and dad loved my husband as their own. The pastor said some words at the rehearsal that were poignant and loving and each person came up to me to say that he had spoken especially to them. And that made me happiest of all. 

And that dress…I have it tucked away since I have four sons and I’m not sure anyone else will wear it. But it represented something better, as my mom said and she wanted to be there to see it! 

Crystal Laine Miller spent ten years as an elementary classroom teacher, P.E. teacher and coach before turning in her meticulous lesson plans and whistle for marriage to a gritty, joyful life with an ER doc and staying home with their four sons--band mom and school board duties included.

She’s amassed over 900 published book reviews, articles and columns, was a paid acquisitions reader for agents and editors and has been a judge in the ACFW Genesis Contest for many years. 

She’s served the ACFW Indiana Chapter as vice president, president and advisor and was nominated for the 2008,2009, 2010 and 2011 ACFW Mentor of the Year. Married 31 years with four sons (aged 20+ now,) she has plenty of material for the novel she currently is working on—a contemporary romance laced with humor.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Diary of a Writer: Worthy interruptions!

Goofing on iPhoto with my niece!

Yep, I'm in love.

She's a hoot.

Okay, she landed in the "weird" zone.

Auntie love. I was loosing her attention here.

Wild eyes!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Diary of a Writer: Butt in Chair

Butt in chair
No distractions
Yet they beckon...

Friends, appointments, Facebook, Twitter, email, music, the sound of my own thoughts...

Butt in chair
No distractions
Dreams coming true.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Diary of a Writer: From Lips to Hips - Working Out An Idea

They were too irresistible. Publix cupcakes. So I ate one. After all, I was at a bridal shower, celebrating the upcoming nuptials of a good friend.

White cake with vanilla cream icing. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Yum is not a powerful enough word. 

It was the kind of cupcake you want to savor but after the first bit all you can do it take bite after bite. It's gone so fast you hardly feel full. You're tempted to quick, grab another cupcake and savor it too before the first cupcake calories take effect.

And I so enjoyed eating that cupcake. All five bites it took to wolf it down.

In less than sixty seconds.

I consumed, what, 250-300 calories? Just in a cupcake. And I'm trying to keep my calorie consumption around 1200 a day. Ooops.

When I came home, I decided it was time for a run. So off I go. On a hot, muggy Saturday evening around 5:00.

2 miles run. Plus a mile and a quarter walk, I was on the pavement for 50 minutes. (Hey, I'm s slow runner!)

Fifty minutes of heat and sweat to burn off that cupcake. One minute of pleasure, fifty minutes of grinding it out.

Got to wonder if it's worth it.

But writing is a lot like a really great Publix cupcake. An idea hits! It feels good. Feels right. Pieces of the story spark. You hear the heroine speak. See her move across a crowded room or through the high waving grass of a meadow.

Dialog floats across your mind. Perhaps you develop a high concept line. "Aliens from another world invade an Amish village and take them captive so they can work the land on their home planet." 

Oh, you can see this story just "writing itself." You can't wait to sit at the computer and start pounding it out. I mean, can you imagine? Aliens with no natural knowledge dealing with a people who have no technical knowledge. Move over Konrath, you're going to need room on the bestseller list! 

You sleep on it a day or two. Tell a few writer friends. Jot a few notes. Hash out a few characters. Map out the plot

Finally, emboldened you sit down to write. And what seemed like a smashing, amazing idea goes dead with the first line.

Wait, that sounded so good in my head but now that I see it on paper, it's stupid. There's two "was's" and "a could've been."

But, it's a rough draft. So you power on. But at the 2000 word mark, you're starting to have your doubts. 

Who's going to want a story about Amish and space aliens. Women who read Amish don't read sci fi! And sci fi readers don't care who the aliens capture as long as it's some other race! Oh, what a stupid idea.

But if you don't write it, you have nothing. After a day or two of posting more tweets than is natural for any writer, let alone any human, you give up on the story and wander the kitchen...

In search of a cupcake. In search of your next great idea.

Anyone can get a cupcake of a story idea. But it takes devotion to get that cupcake "off your hips." Sweat. Heat. The grind. You don't feel good. You feel tired and weary. Shaky even.

But if you give up, you'll never finish that story. If you give up, that one great idea will never even have a chance let alone a shot at any kind of success.

I never like my stories when I'm in the throws of writing. I can tell you tale after tale about Sweet Caroline and Love Starts with Elle. Oh mercy. I hit Send to my editor with Love Starts with Elle after getting up at 4:00 a.m. to finished editing the last few page and crawled back in bed, balling my eyes out.

My career was over. I just knew it. 

Dining with Joy... wore me out. Took forever to find the rhythm of that story. But I'm so glad I stayed with it because all of those books have blessed me in one way or another. And blessed readers.

Books are mostly about a marathon race. You have to stick with it. Run every day. Push past the pain. Past the UNinspiration. It's eating broccoli instead of a cupcake.

But oh, you will be so glad you did when the book is finished and you type THE END.

So today, no matter where you are in your writing process, no matter where you are in your life journey, keep at it!

Maybe for you it's about another discipline, another dream you're chasing. Keep at it. Don't give up! 

Quitters never win. Winners never quit.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Diary of a Writer: Spitting out words

That's what I'm doing... spitting out words. I'm on a tight deadline and I started with a Ready! Fire! Aim!

Sometimes that's what you have to do. I'm working it out as I write, thought I've done some plotting, some planning, some character work.

While writing, I'll hit upon moments that feel very real, then write myself out of the moment and wonder what happened.

But I keep writing. It's key to finding the story. Keep writing.

Ignoring the lump in your throat-chest-stomach when the days and time tick by and even 3000 word count days feel like failure.

It's the price and privilege of writing a novel.

Ray Bradbury died today. He encouraged writers with this: “You fail only if you stop writing.”

So true! You can't change what isn't there. That's the best part to me... changing what's there! 

Summer plans are sneaking up. My sister wants to gather at my mom's at the end of the month, but my husband's family is having a get together the first of July. Neither families live near us so we have to decide what to do, when, where and how.

I'm attending the International Christian Retail Show in Orlando later in July, then heading to Portland for the Oregon Christian Writer's Conference.

And there are books to be written.

We've been in our house one year. And the Lord continues to makes adjustments and changes in our lives. Blessings. Moving us forward.

My turret tower is feeling more and more like home. As is the rest of the house. Our neighborhood is peaceful and friendly.

The Wedding Dress is doing well. Thank you all for reading and spreading the news! 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Winners of the Hunt

Hey all,

Thanks for "hunting" with us this week! Hope you all had fun. Lisa announced the winner over on her site but here are the winners from my personal giveaway...

Shelby Lauren
Tzigane Gryder Monda
Tina Meeker
Susan Stahly