Tag Archives: Awareness as a writer

Thanks to Book Blog Hosts

I want to give a special thanks to Love Bites & Silk Ties for arranging my recent Double Audio Book Tour for The CEO and the Cowboy and For Ruby’s Love. They offer a variety of promotional packages for authors. Love Bites and Silk Tieshttp://lovebitessilkties.blogspot.co.uk/

I also want to thank the following blogs for hosting me during the tour. If you’re a reader, these blogs offer looks at some wonderful books that you might not run into otherwise. If you’re an author, these are potential places for promotion that you should check out.

A Good Book Can Change Your View For Life – http://twinkle-sugandha.blogspot.com/

Always Behind a Book – https://www.facebook.com/AlwaysBehindABook/

Amber Daulton Blog – http://amberdaultonauthor.blogspot.com/

Archaeolibrarian – I dig good books – http://archaeolibrarianologist.blogspot.de/

Books A to Z – https://booksaz.wordpress.com/

Books are my friends, come see why – http://booksaremyfriendscomeseewhy.blogspot.com/

BookSkater – http://bookskater.com/

C. R. Moss – http://crmoss.blogspot.com/

Danielle’s Domain – http://daniellesdomainreviews.blogspot.com/

Eskimo Princess Book Reviews – http://eskimoprincess.blogspot.com/

For the Love of Men – http://www.fortheloveofmen.co.uk/

In the Pages of a Good Book – http://www.inthepagesofagoodbook.com/

Liz’s Reading Life – http://lizjosette.blogspot.com/

London’s Scribbles – http://londonsj.blogspot.com/

Manlove Romances in Small Packages – https://iyanajennaauthor.wordpress.com/

Michaela Rhua Blog – http://michaelarhuaauthor.blogspot.co.uk/

Molly Ann Wishlade – https://misswishlade.wordpress.com/

Once Upon an Alpha – http://onceuponanalpha.com/

Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock – https://pratr.wordpress.com/

Sexy Romance Novels – http://sexyromancenovels.com/

Sweet-n-Sassy Book A Holics – http://sweet-n-sassy-book-a-holics.blogspot.com/

The Pleasure of Reading Today – http://thepleasureofreadingtoday.blogspot.com/

The Star Angels Reviews – http://www.starangelsreviews.com/

This Mom Loves Alphas – https://www.facebook.com/thismomlovesalphas/

Traci Hayden – http://tracihayden.blogspot.ca/

TTC  Books and More – http://www.ttcbooksandmore.com/

United Indie Book Blog – http://unitedindiebookblog.blogspot.com/

We Read With A Glass Of Wine – http://wereadwithaglassofwine.blogspot.com/

Whispered Thoughts – http://jmhoward2007.blogspot.com/

Wild and Dirty Book Blog – http://wildanddirty.blogspot.com/


Gordon Kessler with StoryMasters

StoryMasters POD Front Cover Black 9-2-2015 XI’m welcoming a special guest today and a long-time writing friend, Gordon Kessler. He is currently promoting his newest writing help book for novice to seasoned authors, STORYMASTERS – Advanced Notions in Novel Writing.

I could go on and on about this talented writer, but I will let him share some of his history himself.

When I started writing novels back twenty-five years ago, I didn’t know how to even begin or where to turn for advice.  I was lucky, after going to a writers conference or two, I soon found a mentor in a writer named Mike McQuay, author of Escape from New York, Richter Ten (developed from a short treatment by Arthur C. Clarke), and some thirty other novels.

JezebelBefore long, I had started a “free university” class in Wichita, Kansas, passing on everything I knew to fellow wordsmith wannabes—and I eventually taught a few community college classes. I queried publishers on my first completed manuscript, JEZEBEL, and I got my first book deal on the second submission back in 1992. The World was mine … nyah, ah, a-ah! Well, not quite. Let’s just say a whole lot has happened since then.

Book deals fell through, big name NYC agents came and went … and so did my beloved mentor. Mike McQuay died in 1996. Soon after, lost and seeking some kind of an anchor for my writer’s soul, I helped form the Kansas Writers Association, and was their first president.

Then along came Leonard Bishop, a wonderful writer and well-known writing instructor, to help fill the void Mike had left. The author of Dare to Be a Great Writer as well as a number of critically claimed novels (one made into a TV movie of the week), Leonard was an amazing man. I enjoyed his friendship and guidance for over five years, until, on a very sad day in 2002, he too passed.

Mike and Leonard were polar opposites in both their styles and in many of their writing techniques—still both had found their own ways of very effectively entertaining their audiences. I consider myself super fortunate to get such a broad range of understanding from two of the most wonderful writing mentors available, and these relationships helped me tremendously with my own career.

With everything I’d learned from my cherished mentors, and in leading writers organizations, attending dozens of conferences—actually heading up a few along the way—developing relationships with those in the publishing industry (including bestselling authors and big-five publishing house editors), reading hundreds of writing books and magazines, teaching novel-writing classes, studying and getting a degree in English composition with a focus in creative writing, I began writing NOVEL WRITING MADE SIMPLE in 2004. Primarily to keep me on track by gathering all I’d learned into one place one snippet at a time, I organized it into a textbook for my writing.

Indie Publishing

Lots of stories in between of the ups and downs in my writing career, but I won’t bore you anymore about that.  I found my soul’s anchor and some success in “indie publishing” my own novels and books on writing, putting out seventeen titles in eBooks, many of those in print (POD), and a few in audiobooks, as well. Of course besides editing expertise incumbent to my English degree, I’ve picked up a few other important skills along the way, including a professional understanding of eBook and print-book formatting, book-cover design and online book publishing platforms. This leads nicely into my passion for helping fellow writers—paying it forward. I’ve found great reward in assisting hundreds of other writers to hone their skills and become both “indie” as well as traditionally published.

StoryMasters POD Front Cover Black 9-2-2015 XStoryMasters, my latest book on writing, could be considered the eighth edition of Novel Writing Made Simple, as I used my old reliable novel-writing text for the basis of the new work. However, StoryMasters is a considerable rethinking and revision of the older text, updated and added to with an in-depth look at suspense, new thoughts on subtext, and visiting new areas like “free indirect discourse,” “full reader empathy and emersion” (FREE), and “story storming”. I hope you take a peek—it’s guaranteed to give even the seasoned storyteller a new way to look at a number of fiction-writing notions.


BUY LINK: Amazon

Website & Blog: http://GordonKessler.com

*  *  *

Thriller Novelist, Writing Coach, Editor & Cover Designer l Author of Novel Writing Made Simple

BRAINSTORM, DEAD RECKONING & JEZEBEL l “The E Z Knight Reports” Action/Adventure Series

Indie Writers Alliance Website: www.IndieWritersAlliance.com & Blog: http://WritersMatrix.com/Wordpress

Cowboys: Building a Western Story World

For-Ruby’s-Love-bannerI write a lot of romances involving cowboys. One of my most recent releases includes a cowboy and ranching. FOR RUBY’S LOVE, from Decadent Publishing, also includes a cowgirl horse therapist.


Many elements are involved when writing a western story. I have previously done a number of posts about various cowboy items, such as jeans, boots, ropes, and hats.

This time I want to share some links to good places for doing research on the cowboy world.

Basic Horse Care – Horse behavior, feeding, hoof care, common health problems, psychology for riders

Horse Supplies- Country Supply– Dewormers, pest control, horsewear, supplements, medications, leg protection and hoof boots, fencing, stable supplies, halters and leads, grooming and bathing, riding apparel, Western tack, farrier tools, and more

Breeds of Livestock – Cattle, horses, goats, sheep, swine

Beef Cattle Terminology – The lingo of the trade

Pedigree Cattle Breeds – The CattleSite – Beef and dairy breeds, breeders, societies and associations

Cowboy Wear-Cavender’s – Cowboy hats, boots, jeans, shirts, and more

Cowboy Hat Guide – Hat selection and care, storage, size and fitting, wearing and handling, protecting and cleaning, cowboy hat etiquette

Cowboy Lingo – The people and land, personal gear, saddles and tack glossary, horse terms, cattle terms, cattle drives

Ranch Vacations – Dude ranch rates, selecting a ranch, list of dude ranches, international ranches, ranch categories

Saddles & Tack – Chick Saddlery – Saddles of all kinds, bridles and headstalls, breast straps, reins, saddle pads, blankets, bits, girths and cinches, saddle bags, stirrups, spurs, halters, leads, horse boots, leg wraps, snaps, buckets, horse grooming aids, chaps, and more


For Ruby’s Love-110x165MINI BLURB

Rancher Calhoun Cordell and businessman Daniel Patterson have struggled for almost two years as a couple, with careers and goals often in conflict. A tragic fire, leading to a traumatized valuable breeding mare, has Calhoun sending for a well-known horse whisperer. Except the man is dead. His daughter, Ruby McMurtry, shows up for the job instead and complicates their lives even more.


BUY LINKS:   Decadent Publishing     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     iBooks     Kobo

by Starla Kaye

Hero-A man to fall in love with

kayevalentinescowboy500X750_72I’m an avid reader of romances, as well as a multi-published romance author. I write about heroes…and, of course, heroines.

What makes a good hero in a romance? There are many articles on the subject, many posts from talented authors. Here are some of the traits most loved in a hero:

  • Attractive
  • Talented or skilled in some way
  • Wealthy
  • More than brawn
  • His admiration, respect and love for the heroine grows
  • Maybe frustrated with the heroine, but devoted to her
  • Has flaws, but not tragic flaws
  • Loveable on many levels and unforgettable
  • Redeemable qualities
  • Unmistakably masculine
  • Driven
  • Protective



Wonk-a-Mance: Creating Dynamic Heroes

The Creative Penn: 20 Tips for Writing Loveable Romance Novel Heroes

Writing World.com: Creating Great Heroes and Heroines

Romance is My Day Job: the Swoonworthy Romantic Hero

Goodreads: How to Write a Romantic Hero

By Starla Kaye

Promotion: When is enough, enough?

rubbish-button2Writing a book is hard work, every author knows that. After that grueling process, you need to figure out the whole “promotion” thing. It’s not enough to have the book published in some form and have it listed on one or many of the book selling sites. There is too much competition out there for similar books. You, the author, need to determine how best to Promo, Promo, and then Promo some more.

I’ve been preparing to present a program for a local writers’ organization this weekend on Social Media, in other words learning all about promotion. The task of just learning about it all was daunting. And I quickly realized how many things I’ve been doing wrong or not at all. (heavy sigh here)

The basic elements of an Author’s Promotion Platform should at least include some, in truth, a lot of the following:

  1. Website with a blog, or a blog site
  2. Brief bio to use whenever your name appears online
  3. Press kit
  4. Social media accounts: Facebook fan page, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest
  5. Social book cataloging sites for mix with readers: GoodReads, Shelfari, LibraryThing
  6. E-newsletter
  7. Contributing to other blogs
  8. Public appearances: book signings, speaking engagements, readings, interviews

Does that all seem daunting? Yes. So you need to do the best you can, choose the promotion ways that you can be the most comfortable with. I’m still working on fine-tuning my Author Promotion Platform. At the moment, because I write/publish under three pen names, I have 4 websites, 3 Facebooks, 3 Twitters, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Plus I’m loosely on GoodReads and Shelfari.

This promotion stuff takes a lot of time away from actually writing. Carefully consider what works best for you and will allow you to continue your real purpose: writing and selling your work.

Stop by and leave a comment on works best for you…or what doesn’t work for you.

Timeless Love cover-Amazon    CowboyDreamin_highres-1        abigailsearl200X300-72dpi        2940016324050_p0_v1_s260x420         trialbypartnership_full

By Starla Criser

aka Starla Kaye and S.K. Fero

And now…nothing in particular (with contest)

rose_clipart_roses_vaseI was just half listening to the radio and they said, “And now…nothing in particular.” It was one of those pre-recorded blurbs the DJs inserted, and then they made fun of it. But the words hit me.

I thought that, in a way it went along with the May contest I’m running here on the website: It’s All About Me (You). The contest is asking people who stop by to enter the contest to share how they pamper themselves. So far the answers are fun and have told me that I need to work on the whole pampering myself thing. Stop by the post at this link: It’s All About Me (You)…or just roll down to the post.

Back to the “nothing in particular”…

It made me think of how few days, even hours, that I feel like I have “nothing in particular” that I need to do.  Life can be so demanding.  I (and most people) go from one task/errand/whatever to another from the time I get up and around in the morning until I crash at some point in the evening.

Remember that cliche “Take time to smell the roses”? Do I have roses to smell in my yard? Yes. I barely take the time to trim them twice a year,  let alone take a free second to stop and smell them. How sad is that?

How about you? What are you missing while you’re running yourself ragged day after day?

CONTEST: Thinking about all of this, I’ve decided to add a SECOND CONTEST. A “Just for the heck of it” contest. Take a few seconds to share about the craziness of your life and what you feel like you’re missing out on enjoying. One randomly chosen winner will win a $25 gift card from Eden Fantasys, which will give you a chance to pick out something fun to enjoy when you do manage to find a an extra minutre or two to pamper yourself. And I’ll throw in a small surprise gift too. The contest will end May 19.

Finding names for your characters

Today I am sharing some useful reference sources for Finding names for your characters.

name tagThere are lots of baby name sources in books and all over the Internet.

These are some that are a little more fun, more unique.




Cowpoke Names (for deciding on your cowboy or cowgirl name)

Bad Boy Names (no description necessary, right?)

Heroic Names

Medieval Names

Names of Knights

How to find unique names for your characters

Character name generator for creative writers








Making a relaxing library area

Sometimes I get distracted from everything else I should be doing, like writing while on a deadline. I’m sure that never happens to anyone else. lol

8-25-13 Master bath window areaAnyway, this weekend I decided to make a relaxing “library” like area out of my master bathroom. I’m one of those people who likes to take a long, soaking bath and read while there. I had recently found a shower curtain at Cafe Press that looked like a book laden bookshelf. It was perfect for cutting down to fit the window over my tub area.





8-25-13 Master bath shelf over tubTaking that whole theme a step further, I previously had this little rattan shelf thing over the back of the tub area. It had held my small rubber duck collection. Don’t ask me why I had started collecting them; it just happened. I found these neat fake decorative books at Michaels and they were perfect for that shelf, adding to the library theme.





8-25-13 Master bath framed covers over tubI replaced my former framed photos from some of my travels with some of my framed book covers. They are in that tub area and at the other end of the room as well.

Now the private relaxing area is even more special to me.

Families: Creating Character Backgrounds for Series Books

hisladyashlynn200X300_72dpi   I recently went to a family reunion and met around sixty people I’ve never seen or heard of before. That’s always interesting. And I learned a lot of quirky details about the long-dead relatives that make the family unique.

For example the spelling of our last name changed constantly, which makes tracing family genealogy tricky. Sometimes there were two “l”s and sometimes there was only one “l.” Even a pair of twin brothers did that, with one using one “l” and the other using two “l”s. What’s that about?

Also, I knew my current family is stubborn (of course not me, lol), but the older generations took that trait to extremes. Remember the Hatfield vs. McCoy feud? My family was part of the bloodiest feud in Kentucky history for three years in the late 1800’s. The state militia was even called three times to the town where most of the feud took place. At one point they nearly killed off all of both families.

I have never used these interesting little details in stories that I have written, mainly because I didn’t know about them until now. But I’m trying to figure out how to use some quirky family details that I learned in upcoming books. Have you ever thought about what little odd details are in your family? Some that might help build an interesting character?

As a writer of multiple book series, I create in-depth character/family backgrounds that I refer to as I write each story. Pieces of those backgrounds eventually get woven into the series. It would be easier on me, the author, to simply dump all of the information explaining the family history right at the beginning. But a reader wouldn’t appreciate it, and they wouldn’t be able to tie certain details learned too early into later story developments. Information should be revealed in the appropriate places at the right time.

I am currently writing the second book in my Regency series for Blushing Books, Abigail’s Earl. But I still haven’t come up with a good name for the series. Basically each of the five books involve the Duke of Claymore’s grown children.

The Duke of Claymore had a complicated relationship history involving two women he married (at different times, both now dead) and the true love of his life (his English mistress, who was framed and sent to America, eventually giving him three children), who refused to marry him. All of his grown children are in England at this point. The three American-born ones struggle with fitting in and being tolerated let alone accepted.

His Lady Ashlynn was the first book in the series.


Lady Ashlynn Remington is the youngest of twin sisters born to her English father’s American mistress. She is also the most headstrong of his three daughters and two sons. She resisted coming with him to England, disliking the English ways and especially displeased with English nobility. She is determined to return to America and the man she’d hoped to marry. Her father, though, is equally determined to keep her here. When she meets a handsome, powerful duke at one of the balls, she is attracted and resistant at the same time. But he promptly asks for her hand in marriage and, against her desires, her father eagerly accepts. She won’t give up her plans so easily…

Twice married, widowed, and still without an heir, Blaine Wellingsworth, the Duke of Ashcroft, knows from the their introduction that the spirited Lady Ashlynn will be his next bride. Never has he been so drawn to a woman. He will not take “no” for an answer. It might take some doing, patience, and even a well-applied hand, but she will be his wife. And this passionate young woman will learn to love him as much as he does her.

Amazon Buy Link

Blushing Books Buy Link



Talking about Memory Quilts

I’m happy to share that I am at Alexa Bourne’s Talent Tuesday blog today. I’m talking about how I got into making small art quilts/memory quilts. And I am sharing several photos of my quilts.

I really like Alexa’s idea of letting authors share some of their other talents. Be sure to visit her site on Talent Tuesdays.

Village Quilt-finished

Finished quilt

Having fun with your writing

Easter dress 2  Basically I’m a romance writer and I write in many sub-genres. There is so much sadness in the world around us, but I don’t write about that. Yes, my characters (like real people) have ups and downs in their lives. But I guarantee that my stories all end with a HEA (Happily Ever After) or at least a HFN (Happily For Now).

Sometimes I like to get away from my actual romance writing and have some fun with writing. Maybe I’ll write a poem (rarely), but I’m really bad at them. If a poem doesn’t rhyme, then I don’t know how to write it. And I can only think of so many words that rhyme.

I dabble with writing short stories about romantic relationships for people over age 60. Romance, believe it or not, isn’t only for those in their 20s or 30s. There are some beautiful relationships that can be witnessed all around us. My particular favorite people to observe are older couples who have been together what seems like forever. You can see it in the special way she takes care of her husband, tolerates his “selective” hearing, ignores the way he grouches around sometimes. Or you can see it in the special things he does for his wife, holds her arm to steady her as she walks, gently pats her hand at times when she is fretting over something. There are so many little things to observe about people and how they get along.

When I’m really in a fun-loving mood with my writing, I write a short story about Blossom and her bullfriend Ferdinand. She is an adventurous, curious, and loving cow. He is the bull who tolerates her occasional off-key “singing,” helps her with adventures, and adores her. There is no real genre for these stories, but they’re great fun. If you’re curious about reading some of Blossom’s stories, they are on my other website: Starla Criser.



Applying Real Life Experiences to Your Fiction Writing

I love the holidays, even the craziness that surrounds me. Admittedly, I don’t buy as many presents as I once did because the kids in the family are now grown up. There are grandnieces now to spoil. Still, Christmas just isn’t the same without little ones around to see the wonder of it all on their faces.

But there are holiday get-togethers with family, friends, and co-workers. These can be enjoyable times or teeth-grinding times. Is Aunt Ruth going to play matchmaker again with the single members of the family? Will Ted sneak a bit more liquor into the already spiked punch? What do you buy for the “white elephant” exchange at the office this year?

Along with that thought, gift buying problems have changed over the years from what new toy to buy a child who already has far too many toys. Now the problem is more of what kind of gift card do the teenagers want? Or what do you buy for your adult siblings or parents who already have everything they want or need? Again, which gift card will they actually use?

Even more of a problem can be getting something special for your mate. They probably already buy whatever they want or need throughout the year. Or they like books, but you don’t know which ones they haven’t read or which ones they would want. Or they have a hobby or play a sport, but you aren’t sure what they need for it or what they don’t already have. The list goes on and on.

If I wasn’t so determined to enjoy the holidays, I’d be very frustrated as I face these mounting problems of what to buy for people I care about. Personally, I hate giving gift cards because they seem so impersonal, but sometimes I give them anyway out of pure desperation.

I also love to find a really unique present, something people would never think about getting for themselves. My daughter and husband have come to expect receiving these “Oh really?” gifts. They take it in stride and eventually the gifts get hidden away or donated. But they understood I meant well, and I had fun with finding that special gift and with seeing their initial expression at unwrapping it.

As a writer, I draw on my life experiences and try to incorporate versions of them in my stories. In Holly’s Big Bad Santa, I hint at the frustrations of hanging Christmas lights and mention some of the familiar plastic lawn ornamentation we often see in yards.

In “Snowed in with Her Cowboy” from my Cowboys in Charge anthology, the couple was having marital problems at Christmas time. The wife has lost her usual holiday spirit and the husband is desperate to help bring it back. He puts up a tree and digs out their decorations, hoping he assembled everything just right, wanting to please the woman he loves.

Another example of how I drew on familiar holiday experiences was in “Too Much Red at Christmas” also from Cowboys in Charge. The wife is basically addicted to shopping and can’t seem to stop buying gifts.

My purpose behind this post was to remind you, as a writer, that there are things that happen in your life and around you every day that can be used in your stories. As a reader, hopefully you can identify with some of what I’ve mentioned and remember reading stories where real life experiences have been incorporated.

Cowboys in Charge

Publisher: Black Velvet Seductions

Genre: Contemporary holiday erotic romance anthology

Buy Link: Amazon

Buy Link: Barnes & Noble


Holly’s Big Bad Santa

Publisher: Black Velvet Seductions

Genre: Contemporary holiday erotic romance

Buy Link: Amazon

Buy Link: Barnes & Noble