Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Guest Interview

Today I have the pleasure of visiting another Wild Rose Press author, Abigail Owen, as a guest on her blog. She and I share a fascination for big cats (like mountain lions), fantasy and paranormal elements, and great epic fantasy (The Lord of the Rings).

Stop by and see what information she coaxed out of me in her interview: http://abigailowen.com/2014/12/23/bloodstone/

Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Write what you know" Good Advice? Or Not?

Starting Monday, Nov. 24, I'm guest blogging on fellow Wild Rose Press author, Debbie Peterson's blog: http://debbie-peterson.blogspot.com/

I was approached by an aspiring romance author recently and that made me think about the advice often given to writers to "write what you know." I'm in general agreement with that advice. Not knowing what you're writing about definitely is a dead giveaway--and turnoff--for readers. Having read and graded many a student essay where the writer clearly did no research gives me the authority to pronounce that judgment. 

However, I began to wonder about how that advice applies to fictional worlds that have never existed--fantasy, sci-fi, some paranormal. If you'd like to find out what I came up with--and join the conversation--drop by http://debbie-peterson.blogspot.com/ and add your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween Giveaway

'Tis the season for falling leaves, whistling winds, and squirrel feet that sound like elephants crunching through dry leaves. This is the spooky time of year when magic and curses seem most likely to be real. After all, it's getting darker every day and there are those noises in the night and we sense that winter is coming and it's time to hunker down and wrap up tight and turn on lots of lights to drive away the deepening night...

Brr! Did I make you shiver? I gave myself a good shake.

Anyway, in honor of the season of magic, I'm giving away one print copy of BLOODSTONE on Goodreads. What better way to hunker down for the season than with a book about magic and a curse, and lovers that can come together only in the dark? Click on the link to the left to enter. Time is running out, as the giveaway ends on Halloween!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blog Appearance and Author Panel

This is a busy week. On Wednesday, Oct. 15, I'm guest-blogging on fellow Wild Rose Press author Barbara Edwards' blog, discussing my first book, THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE. Stop by and leave a comment: barbaraedwardscomments.wordpress.com

Then on Thursday, Oct. 16, I'll be taking part in a panel of 9 romance authors at the Marathon County Public Library, A NIGHT OF ROMANCE. Cool name! The library is doing a fantastic job of publicizing our Wisconsin Romance Writers of America (WisRWA) event at Night of Romance. I'm hoping to meet new readers and also fellow writers.

Finally, WisRWA has a new Pinterest board! My covers are up on the Fantasy Romance tag. Check it out at pinterest.com/wisrwa/

Enjoy the blustery fall weather!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Alternate Plans and a Giveaway Contest

You know how, no matter how thoroughly you plan, things don't work out quite according to plan? I'd been planning on a guest blog to publicize my giveaway of THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE on The Romance Review's Fall Into Love Party, but plans fell through.
Rather than let my preparatory work go to waste, I'm putting up two of the questions I wrote answers to because I think they're good questions.
Tell me why you wrote THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE.
THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE is the book of my heart. I conceived the storyline and characters the summer before I began college. I’d been reading THE FOUNTAINHEAD, GONE WITH THE WIND, and THE LORD OF THE RINGS. The world was full of turmoil in the Middle East (no change there) and racism in the US (not much change there either). I wanted to tell a story about a broken country and the characters that would stitch it back together again. They would have to overcome class and ethnic divisions to do so.
While thematically that was the premise, the heart of the story was the against-all-odds love that grows between my warrior prince hero and my displaced healer heroine. While everything is stacked against them, what binds them together is honor. They can—and do—trust each other with their lives.
You’re multi-published. Which of your heroes is your favorite and why?
That’s a hard one. I love my heroes, never more than when I’m writing their individual books, but they are very different people.
Prince Arn is a swashbuckler, a charismatic leader of men who puts his life on the line—recklessly, some would say—to single-mindedly pursue the lost Crown and restore the Kingdom. Having survived the assassination of his family at age 12, he loves no one, trusts but a few, and gambles daily to achieve what’s rightfully his.
Durren Drakkonwehr of BLOODSTONE was once a warrior, descendant of a long line of dragon-keepers, but his personal failure has led to his land’s collapse and the curse that makes his life a living hell. He lives in isolation, determined to protect his people from his cursed appearance and too proud to die at the hand of subhuman beings.
Flip sides of the warrior coin, one could say—success versus failure—but both scarred inside and out, with stone walls around their hearts that have to be chipped away by the heroines.
My heroes are two stubborn, prideful men whose emotional journeys are equally satisfying, but I think I had more fun torturing Durren. Still, if I had to choose, I have to go with my ‘firstborn’ Prince Arn because he’s been with me so long.
As to the giveaway, it's one day only! On Thursday, Sept. 25, pop over to TRR's Fall Into Love Party and correctly answer the trivia question for THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE for a chance to win an e-copy. (Hint: Click here for the answer in the excerpt.) 

Friday, September 12, 2014


I'm celebrating this week because BLOODSTONE has finally garnered a professional review, and it's 4.5 stars!

Check out what the LASR reviewer has to say: BLOODSTONE review
"A man whose face can kill, a woman bound to him by a promise, and both haunted by mysterious, intimate dreams of each other. Bloodstones story is rich and layered, nuanced and engrossing..."

I'm also celebrating because as of June, yours truly is a member of PAN, the Romance Writers of America's Published Author Network. That's thanks to strong sales of BLOODSTONE.

When I joined WisRWA, Wisconsin Romance Writers, and RWA years ago, I had a goal of eventually being published in novel-length romance by a royalty paying publisher. It took a lot of rejections to get there in 2009 with THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE.

That was the beginning of the e-book boom, and it was harder than I thought to garner professional reviews and even harder to get the sales required to move from PRO status to PAN status in RWA. I have to say I despaired of getting there. But I put my head down and worked on my second book.

And now, voila! Quite a summer, I have to say.

To close it out, check out The Romance Reviews'month-long Fall Into Love contest. My entry appears on Sept. 25th: Fall Into Love.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why I Read Romances

#1 - I was programmed that way

I grew up reading fairy tales, and not just the Disney versions. If ever characters had to achieve true love by overcoming all obstacles, those stories are the ones to tell the tale. Those with good hearts, who are kind and generous, eventually win—however modestly—and those who are selfish and greedy lose—often spectacularly—just like in romances. Fairy tales are cultural behavior lessons, meant to teach us how to conduct ourselves in the world. I like to think some of the lessons stick.

#2 - The horse and dog stories I loved as a youth—they’re really about relationships. 

A boy and his dog, a girl and her horse—when you think about it, they’re about building solid relationships based on mutual respect and loyalty. So are romances. The main characters have to learn to respect and trust each other for the couple bond to form and the romance to last. Commitment—that’s what I love about romances.

#3 – I’ve got a thing about justice

My romance reading bent runs strongly toward romantic suspense and mystery. I’m a huge fan of mysteries in general, always have been since I found Agatha Christie’s A MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES. What draws me to both genres is the sense of justice (See #1) in both. No matter how many challenges and near death experiences the hero and heroine have to overcome, they ultimately win. Justice prevails. This may be a fantasy, but it’s a fantasy that I find myself returning to book after book.

#4 – I like happy endings

Day to day life is full of unhappy situations, and I’d get awfully depressed if I didn’t have romances to remind me that love is better than war, partnership is better than conflict, truth is better than deception, and true happiness comes from sharing with others.
So, yeah, that’s why I read—and love—romances.

If you’re not celebrating Read-A-Romance Month, you should be. There’s half a month left to check out what 100 romance authors have to say about romance at these two sites:

I'm guest blogging this week on fellow Wild Rose Press author Brenda Whiteside's Muse Monday: http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/
Stop by and see how travel translates to story.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Be My Guest--Mary Hughes, author of hot, humorous paranormal romance

Today for Read-A-Romance Month, I’m featuring the latest release by friend and fellow WisRWA author, Mary Hughes. Mary’s given me promo help when I’ve asked for it, advice when I needed it, and cheerleading all the time. Go Mary! Take it away with…

Murder at Chipmunk Lake

A Nixie and Julian Story.
Nixie's lost her mojo!
Amazon UKAReiTunes

Nixie Emerson, punk rock musician and first-time mom-to-be, has a stalker. Her band Guns and Polkas has gone national after their big stage debut, but the price of fame is the stalker trying to scare her into leaving the band.

Her husband, master vampire Julian, whisks Nixie away to the Wisconsin north woods--where they meet the stalker on the pier of their cabin and he again threatens Nixie.

Julian punches him out and the couple walks away thinking the problem is over. But when the next evening the stalker is found dead, they find out the trouble is only starting.

Warning: contains a cranky pregnant lady trying to control her swearing, a master vampire appeasing his wife with food and creative sex, murder, mayhem and several arguments over what to name the baby.

Read-A-Romance Month! What does it mean to be a couple? Mary’s tips for long-lasting love here: http://maryhughesbooks.blogspot.com/2014/08/1t-olio-celebrate-romance.html

As a girl, Mary Hughes spun romantic, happily-ever-after stories to get to sleep. A husband, family, two degrees and a blackbelt later, she's delighted to spin them for readers.
She's lived with love and loss, in bright times and dark, and learned we can all use a break from reality every now and then.

So join her for action, sparkling wit and red-hot love. Strong men. Stronger women.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August is Read-A-Romance Month!

Join me during the month of August to celebrate Read-A-Romance month.

Authors participating in the celebration are asked to first answer three questions and then spread the word about our personal favorites.

Describe the most daring, adventurous, or inspiring thing you ever did.

That would be travelling almost 1,000 miles towing a U-Haul containing all our worldly goods to a small town in Montana we’d never heard of and without a clue as to where we’d find housing. Fortunately, it was just the two of us, and we were young and eager to embark on the first great adventure of our married life. I’ll never forget Forsyth, Montana, but it was a shock to the system for us Midwesterners.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

I always knew I was going to be a writer. From my earliest memories, I was creating stories in my head and writing some of them down. I put it aside for college, but I picked it up again when my children were small and I started reading Harlequin romances. “I could write better than this,” I decided. Of course, I couldn’t—not at first—but I persevered, and look where it’s gotten me.

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

The first romance I read was Mary Stewart’s AIRS ABOVE THE GROUND because it had a horse on the cover. (I loved horse books.) That led me to her NINE COACHES WAITING, a gothic suspense/Cinderella romance that whetted my appetite for more such stories. Then Nora Roberts’ IRISH THOROUGHBRED came along and I was hooked on romantic suspense and adventure.

Of course, now I’ve broadened my reading, but I still seek out a great romantic suspense like that currently being dished up by Shana Galen (LORD and LADY SPY series) and westerns by Lori Handeland/Lori Austin (BEAUTY and the BOUNTY HUNTER) and regencies by up and coming author Amy Sandas (REBEL MARQUESS). For a laugh, I’ve got to have something by Christie Craig (DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS series), Lani Diane Rich (THE COMEBACK KISS) and Mary Hughes (BITING NIXIE).

If you’re wondering how other authors have answered these questions or just want to discover more fabulous romance novels and new authors, check out these links:
Curious about the paranormal/humorous side of the romance genre? Check out what Mary Hughes is posting Tuesday, August 5th, about her new novella MURDER AT CHIPMUNK LAKE, featuring my favorite Meier’s Corners’ residents, punk musician/civic savior Nixie and her hot lawyer/vampire husband Julian: http://maryhughesbooks.blogspot.com/

Give me a shout back. I’d love to hear what you’ve put on your romance reading list!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fall into Romance

While the beach season heats up in August, the reading never stops. The Romance Reviews will conduct their Fall into Romance promotion and contest Sept. 1-30, and I plan to take part. Keep your eye on this site for a giveaway date for THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE. Click on the link at the left for more information on the upcoming contest.

In the meantime, my reading list has grown to include what I'm waiting for in September: Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Victoria Abbott, plus my October must-read from Rick Riordan!

Friday, June 20, 2014


BLOODSTONE will be featured on the Sizzling Summer Reads site (http://www.theromancereviews.com/event.php) on Tuesday, June 24th. 

For a chance to win an e-copy, hop over to the contest and correctly answer a trivia question. 

(Hint: the answer is on this very blog. Just navigate over to my Bloodstone page: http://helencjohannes.blogspot.com/p/bloodstone.html)

If you're still filling out your summer reading list, check out works by the huge number of incredible authors participating in the month-long event at The Romance Reviews site.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Hooks--Not Just for the Opening Page

What keeps a reader reading?

Story and character, obviously. If a reader is engaged in the story, she/he wants to know what happens next. But how do authors hook the reader into turning those pages well past bedtime or the end of lunch break/commute?

The answer is scene and chapter hooks.

The strongest hook comes at the end of a scene or chapter. The obvious hook is to end a scene or chapter by leaving a character literally or figuratively hanging by his/her fingertips off a ledge. Of course the reader has to know how the character gets out of this one. Then, the savvy writer starts the next scene with some other character, making the reader consume that scene before being rewarded—and re-hooked!

For instance, consider this from BLOODSTONE:

Rees halted and stood in his stirrups, head turned like a hound scenting the wind. “Krad,” he said. “There’ve been Krad through here.”
An unearthly howl rent the air. Stones cascaded down from above, pelting the ground, the horses, Syryk’s head. He reeled in his saddle and saw stars before Rees grabbed his reins and shouted, “Ride!”

Not all end-of-chapter/scene hooks need to be that dramatic. All they have to do is create a tantalizing question in the reader’s mind. Here’s an example from THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE:

A battered leather bag with many pouches thumped onto the table, inches from the letter. “What in the name of the—!” Arn sputtered, turning.
            A pair of slanted cat’s eyes, brilliant blue but red-rimmed and swollen, pinned him to his stool with a glare of pure defiance. “‘Tis your healer I be, m’lord, for once and no more, for ‘tis my fault you be injured, and ‘tis my duty to make you well.”

These end-of-chapter/scene hooks are the bread and butter of pacing.

However, not all pacing is created or driven by the end of a scene/chapter. The opening lines of a chapter/scene can and should hook the reader too. One hook sets up a story/scene question in the opening lines, one that the reader—and the character—will learn the answer (or part of it) by the end of the scene.

Here’s an example from my WIP, THE LORD OF DRUMARWIN:

Lady Vyenne of Tumin sat before her mirror and regarded the parchment lying on her dressing table. Her name on the outside was writ not in the flowing script she’d longed to see when she heard she had a message from Druemarwin, but in careful lettering made by one who found ink and quill unfamiliar. Not Naed, though she could’ve expected a missive from her youngest son by now. No doubt her husband thought it was from the child she favored and had ordered the letter brought to her chambers straight away.
But he was wrong.
And so was she.

If this chapter opening works properly, the reader should want to know who wrote the letter, what’s in it, and how she will react.

Another technique is to set up a goal for the character in the opening lines. What does he/she hope to achieve in the next minutes/hours? If the reader knows what the character is determined to do, the reader can ‘keep score’ as the character bobs and weaves through whatever obstacles are thrown into his/her path:

Vyenne paused at the foot of the stone staircase where guttering torches had nearly surrendered to the night. She’d come down from the living quarters with the wolfhound at her side and her winter cloak concealing her traveling clothes. One last obstacle remained on her path to the stables where her maid waited—the chamber in which her husband conducted the affairs of court. She guessed he might be working late this eve, and the occasional murmur of voices issuing from the open door confirmed that. If she could time it correctly, she’d traverse the pool of light thrown into the corridor before her husband noted her presence. Gathering her resolve, she strode forward.

In this scene, we want to know—does she make it and, if so, at what cost?

If we can master these types of chapter/scene hooks—both at the beginning and ends of scenes/chapters—our books will be the ones about which readers rave, “I couldn’t put it down!”

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Guest blogging 'across the pond'

Starting Wednesday, May 28th, I have the privilege of visiting a fellow Wild Rose Press author in the same Faery Rose line as my books. What makes this visit even more special, Hywela Lyn lives in the UK! I am a total Anglophile, so I'm thrilled to be online in Wales. Please stop over and leave a comment: http://hywelalyn.blogspot.com/

Also, check out my new pages! I've added a page for excerpts for each of my books. See the links on the right side of the page for taglines, blurbs, and excerpts. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sizzling Summer Reads "Beach Party"

Believe it or not, summer is less than two months away. Time to gear up for summer reading either in print or on e-devices. What better way to make your choices than to check out The Romance Reviews Sizzling Summer Reads contest and giveaways running June 1-30: http://www.theromancereviews.com/event.php

What's on my reading list? REBEL MARQUESS by Amy Sandas, LORD OF DARKNESS (a Maiden Lane book) by Elizabeth Hoyt, Mia Marlowe's PLAID TO THE BONE and STROKE OF GENIUS, and THE SPY WORE BLUE by Shana Galen to name a few. I can hardly wait--for the warm weather and the great books!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

“Where do you get your ideas?”

As a fantasy romance author, I’m often asked this question. My response is—do you want the quick answer or the deep answer?

In the case of my current release BLOODSTONE, the quick answer revolves around these two photos and panning for gold.

The first picture is the Rock of Cashel in Ireland. This site dates to St. Patrick, and the roots of the place go deep into unwritten, ancient history. I was mesmerized by the empty windows and roofless walls. The image became Drakkonwehr, an ancient, ruined fortress with deep, mystical roots.

The second picture is from a spring day in a mountain forest. I was entranced by the quality of light and the promise of the opening in the trees ahead. It became the Wehrland, a place of danger and mystery, teeming with the potential of magic. Both pictures accentuate the light vs. dark imagery of the story.

The panning for gold was something my father did for several summers in Alaska. His stories and pictures laid the groundwork for an early scene of my hero panning for, not gold, but the ultimate prize of gem hunters in the Wehrland, bloodstone—petrified dragon’s blood.

That’s the quick answer. You’ll notice it covers setting, a hint of imagery, and the title object. Not a thing about the people who are, after all, the heart of a romance.

That would fall under the deep answer.

I wanted to tell a story about trust, about ignoring the illusions we surround ourselves with and seeing into the heart of a person—because that’s what true love is really all about. We might be attracted by the illusions, but the truth is what either deepens the relationship or drives us away. That meant I was going to tell a Beauty-and-the-Beast story, and because my mind works in mysterious ways, it was going to revolve around a snatch of scroll lore my characters rely on at various points in the story: “True hearts and no fear, against a mage’s power, hold dear.”

With a setting and a kind of story, my characters popped up, as they are wont to do, and carried on ‘living’ out the adventure. I just had to write it down.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BLOODSTONE - Spring Deal on Amazon

I don't know how Amazon makes these decisions to reduce prices on Kindle books, or what the exact pricing formula is, but BLOODSTONE is currently reduced to $4.61 for the Kindle edition.

Maybe it's a Happy Spring deal?

We can hope, anyway, after the winter we've had--the winter that never seems to end. I'm looking at a snowscape today, on April 16th. Our high won't even reach the average low for the day. My rhubarb's coming up and I hope it doesn't freeze out. About the only thing we can do is wrap up warm, hunker down inside, and read books.

Give me a shout out if you're as tired of winter as I am.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Gemstones and Story Icons

When I was a child, my pockets were always full of colorful and uniquely shaped stones. I still have an assortment of rocks collected over the years. It’s no wonder unique stones play a part in both of my published works.

In my first book PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE, gemstones have personal and political significance. In the icon the Prince is seeking, the Crown of Tolem, there were once four gemstones. The Kingdom Stone, a triangle-cut blue topaz, remains in the icon, the Crown. The other three princely or territorial stones have been broken out and the whereabouts of only the Tolem Stone, a round ruby, is known. The other two are believed to be a tiger-eye and a milky quartz. In addition, my heroine is a believer in the power of the birthstone, the one she wears around her neck that connects her to the deities.

In my current release BLOODSTONE I indulged my fascination for rocks and gems by making my hero a gem-hunter and my heroine’s father a gem-cutter (something like a jeweler). Consequently, my hero uses the properties of gems to describe the heroine, and the title object is desired for its unique properties. Besides being petrified drops of dragon’s blood, it reacts to sunshine with a burst of fiery red light, and my hero has a mystical connection to it. I called it bloodstone—for obvious reasons—but it isn’t at all like the real bloodstone gem. My bloodstone is actually inspired by a piece of volcanic glass known in the Southwest as an Apache Tear. The Apache Tear is droplet shaped and looks dull until you hold it up to a source of light. Then you realize it’s translucent. However, it doesn’t throw out bursts of fiery red light when exposed to sunlight like my fictional bloodstone.

When I was a child, I loved stories and stones. I had no idea I’d later be able to combine both loves in books. Even though “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” what gems are you fascinated by or drawn to?

All the month of March, I'm participating in The Romance Reviews March Anniversary Party. A total of 450 authors are giving away books and other prizes at http://www.theromancereviews.com/event.php or click on the poster on the left. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Monster as Hero--What's the Allure?

Beauty and the Beast. Cupid and Psyche. The Donkey Prince. What do these myths/fairy tales have in common?

A time-tested romantic archetype—the monster whose humanity must be restored through love.

The fairy tale Beast has made himself a monster. He’s committed acts so inhumane, he’s cursed with an exterior as ugly as his heart. Cupid, the Roman god of love, falls in love with the human Psyche, but like all ‘rock stars’ he’s afraid she’ll love him only because of who he is, his incredible beauty, and not for himself. He pretends to be a horrible monster and keeps her literally in the dark to see if he can win her love by his actions. The Donkey Prince is cursed at birth with a donkey’s body due to his parents’ actions. Determined to be accepted, he learns to play beautiful music, wear fine clothes, and behave with princely manners, but nothing will hide his donkey features.

They’re monsters, regardless of the reason, because that’s how they show themselves to the world.

How do they deal with it? The Beast withdraws, drowning in his misery and guilt. Cupid hides behind darkness and deceives his bride and her family. The Donkey Prince picks up his lute and seeks solace in his music.

What can save them? A woman courageous enough to withstand everything the monstrous exterior can throw at her because her compassionate heart detects the spark of humanity within.

With patience and prodding, Beauty digs the Beast out of selfish misery to selfless caring. Psyche pursues her man/god through all the trials his mother Venus throws at her to convince Cupid (and his mother) she fell in love with the beast long before she knew he was a god. The princess falls in love with the heart of the donkey who can make such beautiful music, and he sheds his animal skin.

Why do we love these monster-heroes?

Because each of us yearns to be seen for who we truly are rather than what we look like. We don’t want to be books judged by our covers. Look inside. Read our pages. Discover our stories. Every time one of these monster-heroes is redeemed and revealed, it’s an affirmation that love truly does see with the heart and not with society’s eyes.

Obviously, I’m fascinated with the monster-hero since I featured him in BLOODSTONE, but what about you? Who’s your favorite monster-hero? Why?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Book Spotlight and Giveaway!

BLOODSTONE is featured now through Feb. 21st on Riverina Romantics. In the run-up to BLOODSTONE's worldwide release on Feb. 21st, I'm giving away one e-copy of BLOODSTONE as well as one e-copy of my debut fantasy romance, THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE. Hop over to Riverina Romantics to enter the rafflecopter giveaway:

Leave a comment! I'd love to talk about fairy tales with you.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mistakes...or not?

This is a post about baking, but it's also about writing.

I love my bread-making machine. It makes delicious cinnamon rolls with half the work they used to take using my old stand mixer. When my DH suggested I make cinnamon rolls for dessert, I pulled out my recipe. Unfortunately, it's not written in the sequence designed for use in bread-makers. So I revised the sequence in my mind. (Note to self: Do NOT do this mind-revising thing again.) There are 13 ingredients. I put them in, liquids first, then sugar, flour, spices, raisins and dried cranberries, and turned on the machine. Ninety minutes later, I turned out the dough, added filling, and cut into rolls. I put the pan in the oven to rise.

They didn't rise.

I forgot ingredient #13, yeast.

Now what?

Well, I didn't want to waste the work or ingredients, so I baked the rolls and frosted them. Do they taste good? Well, yes. As good as they should? No. They're solid, heavy, and chewy without any leavening or yeast. Did I learn anything? Yes, I rewrote the recipe with the ingredients in the sequence required for a bread-making machine.

So what does this have to do with writing?

Sometimes, despite all our best intentions, a scene or story or character doesn't go the way we planned or intended. We may overlook or forget some key ingredient. Does that mean we have to junk our work and start over? Not necessarily. The result may still be viable. Different, indeed, but not necessarily bad. We need to be open to the possibilities of a serendipitous mistake.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Guest Interview

Vacation is over. The holiday ornaments are cleared away and the treats are gone. It's time for a new year, and I'm starting it with an interview featuring BLOODSTONE at the blog, You Read It Here First. I'm discussing the origins of the story, character challenges, and my writing process. Stop by and leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.