Monday, March 30, 2009

Two Boys, A Dog, and More...

When my daughter told me that her son had been bitten by a stray dog, my first thought was fear. But she didn't sound upset and she assured me Kody was fine. Here's the story:

Kody and his younger brother, C.J., are participating in the jump rope to benefit the American Heart Association. So, yesterday they were asking for people to sponsor them in the event. A stray dog had begun following them. While talking to one man, they asked if they could pet his two beagle dogs. Like most boys, they love animals, especially dogs. Finally, they decided to check the stray dog for tags. Since this dog was running loose, Kody thought he should see who owned the dog so they could take him home. When he reached for the collar under the dog's neck, the dog snapped. Most boys would have run home...but not my grandsons. Kody and C.J. walked to the police station with the dog in tow! Yep, they took the dog to the police to report the bite and also to ask for a donation for the heart association.

The fire station is right across the street from the police station, so the paramedics cleaned the wound, which was small, although it did puncture the skin. The animal control showed up to collect the animal. They will hold the dog for ten days and told my daughter that she could take Kody in and there is a series of shots he could take as a precaution. Of course, the dog didn't run up and attack Kody, but only snapped when Kody reached near his neck, so no one really thought the dog was rabid.

I still have to smile when I picture these two boys marching to the police station bringing along a dog to report the incident. And even more so, to imagine my daughter getting a phone call from the police asking if she was the mother of Kody. After all, he's only 10. What trouble could he possibly have gotten into?

Well, you don't know my grandsons!

Thanks, for stopping by!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Writing Suspense - Workshop 5

There are several ways of writing a suspense novel. You can make it a "thriller" type novel by allowing your readers to know the villain and see them plotting in the background while your unsuspecting main character moves along not knowing the bottom is about to drop out of their world. I love these kinds of suspenses, and I love to create wicked villains. Here's a short excerpt from the villain's POV in FOXFIRE:

Damn his luck. Max threw some bills on the table and weaved his way through the restaurant toward the bank of telephones. He stood in the shadows pretending to make a call and watched as the hostess escorted Grace and her two crotchety friends to a table much too near where he'd been sitting.
Under the overhead glow of soft lighting, Grace's hair shone like the fur on a young vixen. Soon, he'd be running his fingers through it, letting the curls wrap him with molten fire. His hands would play her like a violin making sweet music. It had been too long since he'd had her in his bed. And he would have her one more time before he killed her.

By throwing in the villain's POV like this you can create a "ticking clock." While the story moves forward, so do the villain's plans until they culminate in the climax.

Another thing that can create suspense is throwing in a "red herring." In the beginning of FOXFIRE, I created a "shady" character the reader could imprint upon and like my heroine, Grace, believe that he might be behind some of the things happening to her.

Here's another short excerpt:

Kissing. Adam couldn't believe what he'd seen. She wouldn't have dinner with him, but she'd let that dog doctor paw her. Worst of all, she seemed to like it.
Adam stomped up the path, putting as much distance between the clinic and himself as possible. He'd had such plans for Grace. It had been years since a woman made him feel the things he did when he was near her. He wanted to protect her, shower her with nice things, love her.
A low growl stopped him. Grace's dog raised her head from the back porch, lifting her canine lips to show sharp pointed teeth. Warning him.
Adam continued on his way. He'd have to do something about that dog. Grace really should watch her dog closer. One never knew what dangers lurked in these woods.

Later, when Grace's dog is stabbed, who do you think did it? Sorry, I can't tell. You'll have to read the book. (See, more suspense.)

One thing I must stress before we end this workshop is that no matter how great a plot, no matter how well you utilize the techniques to create a page-turning suspense, it won't work if you have cardboard characters. First and foremost your reader must care about your characters. Really care about your characters. So before you write your story, you'll need to know your characters and what makes them tick. Then put them through torture and bring them to a triumphant ending. Your readers will be begging you to hurry up and write your next book.

Good luck, and thanks so much for stopping by this week.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Writing Suspense - Workshop 4

Writing romantic suspense means having to seamlessly weave two separate plot lines into one novel. Depending on the publisher, when it comes to romance, you must have at least 50% of the story being romance--some publishers require more romance. Make sure you research your market before you write your book.

Your goal in writing a romance is to bring hero and heroine through trials and tribulations to a satisfying happily ever after. Your goal in writing a suspense is to make your reader believe something horrible is going to happen to your characters on the next page. Your goal in writing a romantic suspense is to give your reader a great suspense with characters who have a sizzling chemistry that promises fulfillment by the end of the book.

Your first chapter is critical. Not only do you have to set the tone that this is a suspense, but also you have to bring your characters together so your reader can imprint on the attraction. One word says it all. Tease.

Tease your reader with the threat hanging over your main character's head. Use tools like a ticking clock where the reader knows that unless a bomb is diffused, someone is going to die.

Tease your reader with the growing attraction between your main characters. Bring them close together and throw in something suspenseful that stops them from culminating their desire with a kiss or more.

Example from FOXFIRE:

Grace and Tyler are at the site of a waterfall after hiking up a mountain. Grace has just told Tyler something about her past. They kiss and the kiss draws them closer...and closer. Just as they are losing themselves in the passion, her dog draws their attention:

Tiffany's ears pricked and a low rumbling growl rose from her chest. She raced into the thick foliage, baring her teeth.
Tyler sprang to his feet. "Grace, stay down."
"I think someone's out there."

If you've done your job and have built the suspense AND the romantic tension, you can weave them both into a sizzling scene.


Tyler sat on the edge of the sofa, placing a bag on the floor at his feet.
Grace flicked a glance at the bag. "What did you buy?"
"An alarm system."
Oh no. He couldn't possibly have bought that thing for her house. She rocked forward, placing both feet firmly on the floor. Her hands gripped the arms of the chair. "Don't even tell me that's for my house."
"It is."
"People here do not put in alarm systems. Ther are no crimes in Foxfire."
His amused glance infuriated her. She wanted to believe Foxfire was safe. That's why she moved here, but she'd brought danger to this community.
"No arguments. If you insist on staying at your place, we've got to do something to make it safe, especially with Tiffany laid up."
Grace knew he was right, but she didn't want to give him the satisfaction. "I don't need an alarm. I have a gun."
His emerald gaze met hers.
She jumped to her feet. "Damn it, Tyler. I don't need you to protect me. I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I've been doing it all my life."
His gaze never wavered. "With a gun?"
She narrowed her gaze. "I know how to handle the gun quite well, thank you."
"And you think you're capable of shooting somebody?"
She held her own. "If I have to."
"Somehow I doubt you'd be able to shoot anyone."
Her face heated. How dare he? Did he really take her for a woman who'd back down from a threat? It just showed how little he really knew her. They could never have a relationship because he was just too cocky, too macho. She didn't need him or any man to protect her. Not now, not ever. She pulled herself upright. "That's your opinion. I can do anything I set my mind to."
He grinned. "Damned if I don't believe you. So, what did Harri tell you?"
The sudden change of subject took her by surprise.
"Excuse me?"
"Harri said not to forget what she told you."
"Oh, that? You mean I didn't tell you?" she asked in a false disbelieving tone.
She hitched both shoulders up and down. "Then it must have been none of your business."
Tyler's eyes narrowed into slits and a muscle twitched in his jaw. He stood and moved toward her. She cringed, backing against the chair, preparing to flee. But something about the look in his eyes...something about his demeanor froze her in place. He looked determined and angry...intent on punishing her. Before she could make her move, he grabbed her arms, pulling her toward him and clamping his mouth over hers. The kiss was hot and angry...and breathtaking.

Now it's your turn. Look at your manuscript and see where you can up the tension by weaving your two plots together in a "teasing" scene.

Tomorrow...the ticking clock, red herrings, and a twist.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Writing Suspense--Workshop 3

So, now you have your great beginning, you've picked out some backstory that you can use to up the suspense, and now you need to learn how to keep the readers turning those pages until they send you notes that say..."I loved your latest book. I stayed up all night reading it! I couldn't put it down!"

One of the best ways is to end your chapters with a cliff-hanger. For instance, in FOXFIRE:
A thousand spiders crawled up her spine. What were the chances of her reaching the gun in time? If she dove for the bed and rolled, she'd be a moving target, but she had to try.
With a burst of confidence, she threw herself toward the bed and grabbed the gun. She rolled, holding it in two hands, her finger on the trigger, and met his feral eyes gleaming like the blade of steel resting against her throat.

My goal was to make it difficult for the reader to close the book and read the next chapter at a later time. Easy, right?

In the beginning of FOXFIRE, Grace breaks up with her creep of a fiance. In Chapter Four, she's moving forward with her life and has just accepted a job working in the vet clinic near her home. She walks up the hill happy as a clam (pun intended) and here's how I end this chapter.

Grace left the clinic floating on a cloud of euphoria but it took a nosedive when she noticed the car in her driveway. The dark blue Jaguar looked out of place and so did the angry face of the man behind the wheel.

This technique is easy to use. All you have to do is end your chapter in the middle of a scene. Caution: Don't overuse this. You don't want to end every chapter this way. If you do use this technique, make sure your following chapter begins with the continuation of the scene. Lead the reader further into your story with each scene and keep increasing the suspense.

Tomorrow we'll look at how to weave the romance and the suspense together, creating more tension and...suspense.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Writing Suspense Workshop 2 - Using Backstory

Writing romantic suspense is like any other romance and should avoid a lot of backstory. It's important to develop that backstory when you do your character development, for you have to know your characters to know how they will react to certain situations. However, don't bore your readers with all this knowledge. A lot of new writers think it's important for their readers to know all about their heroine's past or they won't "get it." Wrong. Give your readers credit.

Look through your character profile and pick out things you can use to create a suspenseful scene. In FOXFIRE, my heroine, Grace, likes silk things. It's something I discovered in the character profile, but not important for the reader to know...or is it?

Here's how I used that in my book:

"...Grace opened her mailbox and removed a large brown envelope. Her name and address had been printed in neat block letters, but there was no return address. She studied it for a moment, wondering who had sent it...

(Okay, building a little suspense in those few sentences)

"Curiosity got the best of her and she pulled the strip to open the envelope. Peering inside she saw a silk ivory scarf."

(Aha, part of my backstory, but how does this become important? Read on.)

"Last night, Tyler had kissed her goodnight after walking her to the door. Could this be a present from him? He said that her skin looked and felt like silk. A rush of pleasure warmed her. No matter that she had fought against it, she was falling for Tyler. He made her feel beautiful, not outside, but inside where for so long she'd felt soiled."

(Anticipation and a little breather for the reader.)

"She lifted the silk to her cheek, closed her eyes, and rubbed its smoothness against her face..."

(Grace loves silk)

"Tiffany (Grace's Dog) sniffed at the paper that had fallen at Grace's feet. Grace stooped and picked it up. The words scorched her vision. Printed in block letters was a name that made the bile rise in her throat. Gracie Jo. Only one person had called her that--the man she'd been hiding from for three years--Max Clayton. She read the note again. Gracie Jo. I know you like silk. This is for you. A gift. Like old times. How did you like the roses? Wheren't they pretty? Such a vivid shade of red. The color of fresh blood."

Okay, now we have suspense. The villain has found her. Her world is now changed. The reader's expectations are now waiting for the confrontation which is a given.

Now, it's your turn. Go back into your characterization and pull out something about your character you can use to write a suspenseful scene.

Til tomorrow...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Writing Suspense--Workshop 1

Writing suspense is all about creating an expectancy that "something" is about to happen.

Do you remember the first time you started falling in love? Perhaps you saw that special someone and instantly felt the chemistry between you. Remember that little increase in your heart rate? The anticipation of getting to know the person you couldn't take your eyes off of? You might have been afraid of rejection, yet filled with hope and anticipation. You may have started daydreaming of having that person put their arms around you, of having your lips meet in that first passionate kiss.

This is suspense. It's the anticipation of something to come. If you want to write a good suspense, a page-turner that your reader won't be able to put down, you have to create the same feelings of anticipation as falling in love.

The first step is to drop a hint that something is going to happen.

You see that special someone and your eyes meet. Aha. Something is going to happen.

In a suspense novel, the same thing is true. You first foreshadow something that is going to happen. Don't reveal too much, just foreshadow.

For example in my novel FOXFIRE, on page three, my heroine, Grace Wilkins has just broken her engagement. She is fleeing the scene and enters the parking garage to access her car and make an escape. As she reaches the floor where her car is parked she hears a scraping of metal on concrete.

Once again, she heard the sound of metal grating across the floor. For endless seconds she held her breath, listening to her own racing heartbeat. With palsied fingers, she turned the key and the motor roared to life. She glanced through the rear window and inched her car out of the narrow parking space. Her headlight beams illuminated a man standing next to the elevator. Their eyes made contact, and with a sense of unease, she pressed the accelerator and sped toward the exit.

Nothing bad happened here. She just had a "moment" of unease, that sense of something not being right. But then, the following morning, Grace retrieves the newspaper. She opens it and glances at the front page.

Her breath imploded in a painful gasp. The headline screamed at her. Another woman had been found stabbed to death last night. The hairs raised on the back of Grace's neck. Her heart thumped as she recalled the man she'd seen lurking in the parking garage--the same one where this latest victim had been discovered. Oh, my God. Had she seen the killer?

Now the earlier suspense has grown more imminent. The reader is anticipating that Grace has seen the killer. Something bad is going to happen.

And with that...I'll leave you until tomorrow. You do want to know more, don't you? Suspense...

Friday, March 20, 2009

There's a Monster Under My Bed

There are things hiding in the dark, creatures in my closet, a monster under my bed, a boogey man outside my door. The love of suspense begins at an early age. As a child I loved to hear ghost stories. I would shiver and shake and crawl into bed too frightened to close my eyes. Once I awoke screaming because a blue ghost was after me.

I'm still frightened of the dark. I don't like to go outside my house once the sun has set. And at night I still wake up and hear something creeping around in the dark--most times it's one of my cats or my hubby heading off to get a drink of water.

As a writer, all my stories, no matter how sweet and simple I planned them to be, always turn out to be suspenseful. So, I give up. I'm definintely always going to be writing about the monsters under my bed.

During the upcoming week, I'm going to be sharing my insight into how to write a page-turning suspense by relating it to falling in love and sharing that very first kiss. So, please join me from March 23 through March 27 to learn more.

Thanks for stopping by!

Castle Anyone?

I didn't get to watch the new series of Castle, but I did DVR them. Last night I watched the first two episodes. I've been intrigued to watch these because they feature a bestselling author with a female detective. And, I wasn't disappointed. I'm not into the hardcore CSI type series. I prefer humor and characters who have multi levels. Watching these two series hooked me. I love the chemistry between the two main characters and I love the humor. I laughed out loud in several parts. The surprising aspect was showing Rick Castle with his fifteen year old daughter and their great bond. The last scene in the second episode she thanked him for being her nanny and he pulled out a picture in his desk drawer. The camera panned in on him holding the hand of his then about three year old daughter as they walked to the park. Touching stuff. These are the kind of books I want to write.

I've heard lots of people who don't like the series. Me, I'm gonna watch them all. Hope they stick for next year.

I prematurely advertised the new look on my site, but my web designer had it down all yesterday morning to make some corrections to how it was redirected. Anyway, it's all good and it's live now.

Carol Ann's Website

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

First...Just Tell the Story

If your bookshelves look like mine, crammed full of "how to" books that you've read, then you've learned your craft. It's easy to get caught up in doing everything correct when you are a new writer. But be careful not to lose the spark that makes you a great storyteller.

Remember your enthusiasm when you wrote your very first story? I'll bet you didn't worry about using too many its or thats or ing words. You probably just wrote the story as it unfolded in your mind from beginning to the end. It felt wonderful, didn't it? learned there are rules you must follow if you want to be published.

Books can help with crafting, classes can help with crafting, workshops can help with crafting, and so can your writing chapter friends. But no one can teach you how to spin a story.

So, toss out those rules and drilled in "have to's" and just write. Get the story down on paper, every wonderful scene, from beginning to the happily ever after.

The rest is just a layer of icing on the cake. During the edits, you can repair the rough spots by applying the rules you've learned.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Don't Panic...Go Green

It's St. Patrick's Day...which means all the Irish and some not-so-Irish people here in the states will be partying, drinking green beer, wearing green clothing, and some even dye their hair green.

Today might be your lucky day! If you'd like to win a "pot o books" hop on over to our White Roses in Bloom blog and enter our contest!
Check it out and enter for free, and also learn all about St. Patrick!

Why not go green and save a few trees by purchasing e-books? In our technology rich world, this is one thing that I believe is a good step in a good direction. I have tons of books. I've bought and collected them over the years, and they are taking up a lot of space in my home. I can't bear to get rid of all those trees. But, I love to read. My solution...I purchase e-books. These can be read on my e-book reader or on my computer. If you haven't tried it yet, what do you have to lose? E-books are economical, too. Right now, you can purchase any of the books with my publisher White Rose Publishing on sale.

My latest book, Joshua's Hope can be purchased in e-book form this month for only $5.40. Click here to check it out.

Enjoy your day and GO GREEN!

Thanks for stopping by

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sometimes a Swan is Just a Duck

You may be looking at a beautiful white bird floating gracefully across the water and think it's a swan, but it might be just a duck. I don't think I would be able to convince my mother of that though.

I was chatting with her yesterday afternoon about her move here and we discussed whether or not to have her use the extra television we have or to bring one of her much more used televisions here instead. During the conversation, she began talking about digital cable (which she currently has) and different channels. I told her she'd be able to watch all her favorite shows through our digital cable. Then she started talking about having HD on her television set. Um, no...she doesn't have a HD TV. The cable company did put a "black box" on her set so she could get the digital stations on it without having a converter and now she's convinced she is watching her news in HD. Those faces, says she, seem like they are just coming right out at you. the corner of the screen it says HD. I tried to explain that they are broadcasting in HD, but that you have to have the HD television and tune it up to the higher band station to receive the actual HD...and that the HD she is seeing is just notifying that the station is broadcasting in HD. But, nope, according to her, she's getting free HD.

Ooooookaaaaay. If she thinks so, then I'll never be able to convince her otherwise. And I'll just bet she can see the sun come up in the west, too. Gotta love her!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Climb from the Cellar...

Today I'd like to promote a new book which I just received. The author? Wayne Lobdell, my husband's cousin. The title "Climb from the Cellar, A memoir" is very telling of what you'll find between the covers. Wayne contacted me months ago to tell me he was in the process of writing his memoir. His goal was to document his life and how he anyone can realize the American dream if they are willing to work for it. He asked me to be a reader and to give him a quote for promotion. I'm proud to do so.

Whenever we, hubby and I, travel to Michigan we like to visit "the cousins". For me, it's fun to listen to them talk about their days on the farm, the adventures, the trials and struggles. Through it all, you can hear the love and loyalty that many families lack. I'm looking forward to reading this book and stepping back in time. I hope you will be intrigued enough to purchase it, too.

Here's the back page blurb:

Wayne Lobdell views himself as a very lucky guy. He was born in a basement apartment, grew up in the humble environment of a little farm and survived a move to the hood when his father became ill. The inspiring example of his father's hard work and meeting the special person in his life in junior high pointed him on a path to finding his way to a better life.

Wayne's recollection of his childhood years on the farm with his brothers is intriguingly revealing of fifties life on a little farm; adventurous, amusing and sometimes sad. They were educated in a one room school of thirty students from K through eighth grade under the tutelage of a militant teacher who pegged them at the bottom of the country's social hierarchy. The brothers faced culture shock when circumstances forced them to move on to city life where caring but uneducated and naive parents left the boys dangerously exposed to life's choices of good and evil.

Two of the brothers chose a difficult path; a frequently dark path that led them each to a challenged life, disappointment and misfortune. Although Wayne experienced some temporary darkenss as well, he found his way to the American dream; a wonderful family, success in business, contentment and the ability to give back to his community.

The ISBN for the book is: 9787770050763. The best part about the book is that not only will you be entertained and inspired, but all the proceeds are being donated to The Boys and Girls Club of America.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Interview with Pamela Thibodeaux

The Blog Studio Band performs the last notes of a lively tune as the curtain rises and Carol Ann walks on stage.

"Good morning, Blog Studio audience!"


"I can't believe this weather. My mother says it's because our world is being flip-flopped and soon we'll be having the weather from the North Pole while they have ours. I'm not sure I agree with that, but two days ago it was 80 degrees, and today I'm wearing a heavy winter coat."


"I was afraid the weather might keep my guest from showing up today, but she's very brave. It is my pleasure to have inspirational author, Pamela Thibodeaux join us. Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana and a member of White Roses in Bloom Authors. 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.” Please put your hands together to help me welcome, my friend, Pam Thibodeaux!!


CAROL ANN: Hi Pam. So glad to have you here in the studio today.

PAM: Thanks for inviting me.

CAROL ANN: (Holds up a book and the camera pans in)

CAROL ANN: I love this cover. Tell me about WINTER MADNESS.

PAM: Actually the premise for Winter Madness came with a scene of childhood sweethearts meeting up in a coffee shop on a cold, winter day. I knew from the opening they were complete opposites - he a pessimist, she an optimist. What she considered lovely, he thought madness. The story developed from there.

CAROL ANN: And the old cliche is that opposites attract. Tell me, for you, what is the hardest aspect of being a writer?

PAM: Balancing writing with the time necessary to promote and the fact that I’ve been so busy editing my existing work for publication and promoting my current titles, I doubt my ability to write a full-length novel from scratch.

CAROL ANN: I have to agree. Balancing everything is sometimes a difficult task. What comes first in your writing process? A scene, characters, title? Are you a plotter?

PAM: As a seat-of-the-pants writer, writing starts with any or all of the above. I’ve had stories develop from a scene, a simple thought, or characters just appear and start talking. Rarely have I had a title come first, but hey, anything is possible.

CAROL ANN: I often wonder what non-writers think when they hear us say we hear people in our heads. **grin** What stumbling blocks have you encountered and how have you overcome them?

PAM: The greatest stumbling block I’ve encountered is that my writing doesn’t fit the genre for which I write. The CBA/EPCA publishes conservative Christian fiction – I write “Inspirational with an Edge!” I’ve overcome by staying true to myself and finding publishers who appreciate my work for what it is.

CAROL ANN: I admire you for staying true to yourself. Many of my writing friends have conformed to fit what is currently popular trends. Staying true is what makes a good author, in my opinion. So, tell me, who can you always count on to make you smile, even if you are feeling down?

PAM: My grandchildren and great nieces & nephews – innocence has the innate ability to make one laugh.

CAROL ANN: Isn't that the truth! Nothing makes me laugh like picking up the phone and hearing another funny story about my grandchildren. Here's a question I ask every author I interview. Do you believe the pen is mightier than the sword?

PAM: Oh yes, the sword maims and kills, words have the ability to soothe, heal, teach, and entertain.

CAROL ANN: I'm going to put you on the spot. Imagine that you are sitting in a restaurant with several friends when someone thrusts a microphone in your hand. You have one minute to give a message of hope to the world. What will you say?

PAM: Hope is the life-blood of existence, faith is the substance of things hoped for, and Jesus is the answer to all circumstances.

CAROL ANN: **claps** You did great. Now, let me ask you something personal. We really like to know the good stuff about our guests. So, what do you have under your bed?

PAM: **laugh** Dog hair and dust bunnies – regardless of how often I clean.

CAROL ANN: **laugh** At least you are honest. Tell us about the hero in your life. Who is he?

PAM: My husband – he is strong yet gentle, hard-headed yet kind, stubborn and sensitive. He is my biggest supporter and greatest fan. He is truly the wind beneath my wings.

CAROL ANN: I hope he's in the audience to hear this! THE BAND BEGINS TO PLAY Oh no, our time is up already. Pam, thank you for coming by. Before we go off the air, do you have links you’d care to share?

PAM: Link to my TWRP page:


Member White Roses in Bloom Authors:

Co-Founder/Member Bayou Writers Group:


I belong to numerous networking sites – check my blog for links to all!

CAROL ANN: Thanks, Pam!

PAM: Thank you!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bad Hair Day

I'm having a bad hair day. One of those days where I wish my hair was longer. I'm stuck in the "in between" stage.

That happens to me a lot with writing, too. It can happen especially during the "dreaded middle," but also during scenes. I have a tendency to move along with the story--quick action, fast reaction. Move on to the next. And so on. When I'm emotionally charged and finish that scene, I print it out, read it is good stuff...but not enough. That's when editing comes into play. For many editing means changing or cutting. For me, it's adding. Adding description, internal reaction, and more showing.

So, I have to compare editing to having a bad hair day. I need length on my hair, and I need to add length and body to my writing.

Stop by tomorrow when I'll have another "live" interview in the Blog Studio with author Pamela Thibodeaux.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

FOXFIRE Revisited and an Upcoming Contest

I am working on naming the main character in my novel. This is the first time I've begun writing and developing a heroine without naming her first. Actually, I will be writing this story with Jake Scott as the hero. He was Tyler Sandford's brother-in-law and boss in FOXFIRE. I thought it would be fun to do another book set in the fictional town of Foxfire, with some new and some old characters.

If you read FOXFIRE, you might remember Jake. Would you like to help me choose a name for the woman he'll be paired with in this new book? I'm having my website professionally designed, and for the big unveiling, I'll be hosting a contest. I'll be asking for names for the heroine in my new book. So put on your creative hats and start working on names. You just might be the big winner!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Interview with Sharon Donovan

Announcer: "It's Thursdaaaaaaaay!!! Welcome to The Blog Studio! And now, heeeeere's Carol Ann!



"Good morning, Blog Studio Audience! It's great to be back in the Blog Studio again. I'm so thrilled to be able to showcase another fantastic author today. This amazing lady is an inspiration to me and to many others who know her. Sharon Donovan has been writing for the past several years since the loss of her vision. Prior to her blindness, she was an artist. Painting was her life, her passion. Devastated when she could no longer paint, a new dream resurrected. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, she paints her pictures with words.

Sharon is an author for The Wild Rose Press where she writes stories of suspense and inspiration. Three of her short stories, Touched by an Angel, The Claddagh Ring and Lasting Love will be released in 2009. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Pennwriters. She is currently seeking representation for her memoir, a narrative non-fiction about her struggles with diabetic retinopathy. Two of her suspense novels are under review.

Please put your hands together and welcome my special guest, Sharon Donovan!



CAROL ANN: Sharon, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm so excited to have you here with us.

SHARON: Hi Carol. Thank you for interviewing me today.

CAROL ANN: It's my pleasure. Which of your books are you going to tell us about?

SHARON: I’d like to talk about The Claddagh Ring which is available now from The Wild Rose Press as a St. Patrick’s Day story.


CAROL ANN: Beautiful cover. Tell us about THE CLADDAGH RING.

SHARON: A few years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland, the home of my ancestry. The Emerald Isle is truly an enchanting land, rich in culture and tradition. Whimsical castles loom high above heathery mountains and rocky headlands, giving way to green rolling hills and long stretches of coppery beaches. And with the sheep grazing high on the hillsides of the misty mountains, it’s like stepping back in time.

A lot of writers come from Ireland, including James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde. With its green hills and rugged landscape, major movies have been filmed here. The Irish take great pride in pointing out the farmhouse on the Dingle Peninsula where Ryan’s Daughter was filmed. Inch Strand Beach, shaped like a sandy half moon, is one of the most remote areas of the island. But the best part of the trip was learning the significance of The Claddag, which has an ancient history dating back three hundred years.

According to legend, the first Claddagh Ring originated in a small fishing port off the coast of Galway. Truly a land of legend and lore, the Irish are known to spin a wee bit of the “Blarney” from time to time. Some say the original Claddagh Ring was blessed by St. Patrick himself. Others believe the first ring was dropped into the lap of a woman by an eagle. And others say the original ring was brought back to Galway by a man who was captured by the Algerians and sold to a Moorish goldsmith.

But whatever the case, the tradition of The Claddah has lived on for the past several centuries. And in today’s materialistic world where love and friendship are taken far too lightly, the significance of The Claddagh Ring has strengthened.

The Claddagh is said to bring eternal love and lasting friendship to its wearer. The design consists of two hands holding a heart and a crown on top of the heart. The heart represents love, the hands friendship—and the crown designates loyalty. But in order for the ring to cast its mystical spell, it needs to be worn in a certain way.
If worn on the right hand with the heart facing outward, this means the heart is open to love. If worn on the left hand with the heart facing outward, it means the wearer is taken. But when the ring is worn on the left hand with the heart facing inward, the wearer has found true love for all eternity and will be forever blessed.

Being part Irish, I was born with a superstitious nature. Totally awed by this legend, I was inspired to write The Claddagh Ring, a White Rose rosette of 34 pages. Because I had the pleasure of touring the Atlantic Breakers and the Cliffs of Moher, part of my book takes place in County Clare.

The Atlantic Breakers pound the west coast of the county, sculpting the grey limestone into a myriad of shapes, the most notorious the Cliffs of Moher. A rich plethora of birdlife as puffins and shags dominate these rugged cliffs, adding to the savage grandeur. Beneath the rocks, the waves have spread a thin dusting of golden sand, said to be sprinkled by angel wings. Standing on these cliffs with the wind at my back and the sun on my face, I truly enjoyed writing The Claddagh Ring. May I read the blurb and an excerpt?

CAROL ANN: Yes, please do.

SHARON: “To live in the hearts we leave behind is to never die.”
Thomas Campbell

Struggling with her faith after her mother’s death, Meghan O’Malley finds comfort in wearing her Claddagh Ring, said to be blessed by St. Patrick. And when Meghan meets Rork, she finds love, loyalty and friendship. But before everything comes full circle, Meghan must face the biggest challenge of her life.

Rork McGuire is ruggedly handsome, sings Celtic music straight from his soul—and has a deep secret. When he sees Meghan O’Malley tending bar at her club, he falls hopelessly in love with her and wants to give her his heart. Will the secret he harbors pull them together—or break them apart?


As Meghan mixed drinks from behind the bar of The Wild Irish Rose, the fiddle and violin captured the true essence of Ireland. The tantalizing aroma of Irish stew, corn beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread wafted through the room.

Suddenly, all activity came to a halt as the eerie wail of bagpipes keened through the bar. The lead singer took center stage with his rendition of Danny Boy, the haunting lyrics crawling into Meghan’s skin. Mesmerized by his hypnotic blue eyes, she stopped what she was doing and met his penetrating gaze. With the exception of her mother, she’d never heard anyone pluck the strings of the harp with such finesse. The Claddagh Ring on her right hand felt hot, the heart pressing into her skin. By the time the song ended, Meghan’s green eyes were misty with tears.

“Well now, darlin’,” he touched her cheek. “If I knew Danny Boy would make you cry, I’d a sung When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”
Meghan Shannon O’Malley lost herself in pools of midnight blue.
“I’m Rork,” the corners of his eyes crinkled when he smiled. He took her right hand and kissed the heart on her ring. “Single and looking, are ya?”
“The Claddagh Ring, darlin’,” he kissed it again. “On your right hand with the heart facing outward, means you’re single and looking for romance.”
“Ah…I have no idea what you’re talking about; it’s just a ring, a gift from my mother.”
“Ah, come on now, darlin’ girl,” he got a little closer, staring into her eyes. “Ya can’t fool an Irishman. My mother bought one for each of my sisters. I’ll have ya know they’re all married.”
Meghan felt lightheaded. “My mother gave me this ring the night before she died. It’s a family heirloom, said to be blessed by St. Patrick himself. Mama promised me by wearing the Claddagh, everything in my life would come full circle. So before you go thinking I’m wearing it to find a husband, think again.”
“Do you believe in love at first sight?” his blue eyes seared into hers like lasers. “What do ya say, Meghan, darlin’ girl of my heart.”

CAROL ANN: Wonderful!


CAROL ANN: Sharon, can you tell me what you believe is the hardest aspect of being a writer?

SHARON: For me, the hardest aspect of writing is finding the time. I don’t do well under pressure and hate the feeling of being rushed. When I begin a story—even a short assignment for my writing group, it takes me far too long to write the opening paragraph. I lost my vision nine years ago after a long battle with diabetic retinopathy. Prior to the loss of my sight, I was a legal secretary where I prepared cases for court. But painting picturesque scenery was my passion and when I could no longer see, my world fell apart. But after a long and winding road and the use of a computer with adaptive software, a new dream has resurrected. Today, instead of painting my pictures on canvas, I paint my pictures with words.

Imagery is a vital part of my writing. When I describe a desert sunset or a Tuscan landscape in my stories, I visualize the colors I would use when painting—and make it work for me.

CAROL ANN: What comes first in your writing process? A scene, characters, title? oR Are you a plotter?

SHARON: It’s actually the plot that comes first. An idea blooms in my head and just takes off. Sometimes a brief flash will come to me in a dream kind of like a book trailer, glimpses, bits and pieces of a story. And it might be a personal problem haunting my subconscious. So I’ll let it germinate until it blossoms in my head like the first spring crocus. Then I’ll create atmosphere and the scene. The characters come next and I often use friends, relatives or acquaintances as role models. By using real dialogue and dialect, characters come to life on the page. The title is rarely the same at the end of the book. Often times the story outgrows the original title and needs a better fit.

CAROL ANN: What stumbling blocks have you encountered and how have you overcome them?

SHARON: I guess a stumbler for me is point of view—although I have gotten much better. Because I always want to know what everyone is thinking, I have a tendency to incorporate this trait into my writing. Naturally all my characters make perfect sense to me since they live in my head! But going back and forth with pov can be jarring to the reader as well as confusing. And it is ultimately the reader the author must please. I have learned to deal with pov by sticking to one for three to five pages. And when two characters are in one scene, I make one speak his or her thoughts and the other think them. I must be getting better with this stumbling block as my editor hasn’t brought it to my attention lately.

CAROL ANN: That's always encouraging. I always dread edits. **BIG GRIN** To change the subject, who can you always count on to make you smile, even if you are feeling down?

SHARON: I can always count on my fellow authors to make me smile. No one understands a writer like another writer.

CAROL ANN: Do you believe the pen mightier than the sword?

SHARON: I can speak from personal experience as far as the pen being mightier than the sword. I have been through so much in my life and have found writing to be great therapy. Blogging is a personal journal where I can share my triumphs and burdens. I write in two different genres, suspense and inspiration. Writing stories of inspiration makes me feel good, a way of giving hope to those reaching out. And when I feel shall we say less than inspired, I just run out and kill someone in the wonderful world of fiction!


CAROL ANN: I love it! Okay, let's do some imagining here. Picture this. You are sitting in a restaurant with several friends when someone thrusts a microphone in your hand. You have one minute to give a message of hope to the world. What will you say?

SHARON: Never give up on a dream. Dreams come true for those who believe in magic and miracles. Take a lesson from the Irish and spin a tale of Blarney once in a while. Laughter is good for the soul. Keeping traditions alive from generation to generation is the greatest gift we can leave when we depart this earth. Treasure family and friends by making your house a home. Make guests feel welcome with a pot o tea or a cup o Irish coffee. Regale over good times, count your blessings—and never lose sight of the simple things. But most of all, never forget to count your blessings. They far outweigh the burdens.

CAROL ANN: I always like to learn something about my guests that most people wouldn't know. So here's my question. What do you have under your bed?

SHARON: **LAUGH** Besides dust bunnies? Shoes. I love shoes and love to collect them. I also keep a penny jug which also has a collection of buttons, seashells and single earrings that have lost their mates. I have several boxes with “stuff” that I might even sort out one of these days! Old cards and keepsakes, gifts from old boyfriends, some old CDs and many many pictures and albums from different vacations. Oh…and my fluffy purple slippers…perfect for these frigid Pittsburgh mornings!

CAROL ANN: Purple is my favorite color! I have some fluffy slippers too, but they are pink. Okay, now one more personal question. Who is the hero in your life?

SHARON: My hero is a heroine. She is my guardian angel—a gold charm I wear around my neck. She never left my side in my darkest hour. I had a fatal illness and was not expected to survive the scheduled brain surgery.

A prayer chain was started the day before the surgery. After being sedated and wheeled down to the operating room, there was a lot of fuss. Nurses were concerned because my neurologist was very late. These were the last words I remember before dozing off from the initial sedation. When I opened my eyes, my doctor was standing over me, smiling. He said he was up all night going over my MRI and decided against the surgery. He said in his professional opinion, I would not have survived the operation. He decided to combat the massive infection raging through my brain with an aggressive antibiotic, to be distributed intravenously for six hours a day for one month. The side effects were worse than chemo.

I got through, never once taking off my angel. But still, my prognosis was very uncertain. Doctors gave me six months. That was 1996. It took three years to regain my strength, but I beat the odds. I had the endless support of family, friends and an incredible team of doctors. But mostly, it was through God’s healing and my guardian angel. I am living proof miracles happen.

CAROL ANN: Wow, that gives me goosebumps. What a wonderful story about faith and God's healing miracles. Thanks for sharing that with us.


CAROL ANN: I can't believe our time is up already! I have so enjoyed having you share with us today. You are a true inspiration in so many ways. Before we have to leave, would you share where the audience can learn more about you and your books?

SHARON: My website is Please visit my website for a sneak preview of what I’m working on including a memoir about the loss of my vision. You can also read about my stories of suspense and inspiration. And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter on my website. Thanks so much for the great interview, Carol! It’s been a pleasure.

CAROL ANN: The pleasure is mine, Sharon. Best of luck to you. Audience, don't forget to check out this book for St. Patrick's Day!