The Outdoors: My Writing Inspiration

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Guest Post
By Gayle M. Irwin

I whipped the vehicle to the side of the road, put it into “park” and jammed on the emergency brake. I jumped out and joined about 50 other people along the bank of the Madison River inside Yellowstone National Park. We watched a pair of trumpeter swans gliding gracefully through the ripples of water with six cygnets. Although I had seen swans before, rarely had I encountered so many babies with their parents. I’ve not experienced such a sight since.

I relish open spaces, like those found in Yellowstone. Public lands, from parks and forests to wildlife refuges and national monuments, provide sacred spaces to still one’s soul, open one’s heart, and inspire creativity in one’s mind. I am fortunate to live near such special places, and each visit produces a piece of writing or two from the experience.

Other landscapes can stir the imagination, too, such as community parks, botanical gardens, and picturesque farms. Nature’s sights, sounds, and smells open the book of our senses and provide opportunities for creativity to flow.

Two other special outdoor spaces spark creativity for me. One is a ranch located 75 miles from my home, owned by some friends. About three times a year I travel and stay there for an extended period of time. The sage and grass-covered hills, rolling Powder River, and the distant Bighorn Mountains provide solace, and livestock and wildlife encounters bring smiles. Crimson sunrises greet me, and golden sunsets beckon sleep. The quiet relaxes me, and my friends’ generosity brings me joy. The modular guesthouse at which I stay possesses large windows from which one gazes upon the nearby fields and woods. White-tailed deer, fanned-out turkeys, and dancing sandhill cranes abound. I’ve composed many articles, short stories, and book chapters at this scenic and tranquil place. Continue reading “The Outdoors: My Writing Inspiration”

Story Length- Does Size Matter?

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Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

“Make the story as long as it needs to be.” The words from my writing coach echoed in my mind when I began my journey writing romance and continues to help me with each story as it evolves.

Storytelling is an art form that requires writers to let the tale unfold the way it needs to. Resisting can influence the quality of the final execution. I have been in situations where I tried to pound a story to fit into specific word counts, mainly based on my own capricious standards or a publisher’s guidelines. The story almost always pushed back, leaving me to streamline and coax it into the required length. Sometimes it worked–but not always.

Continue reading “Story Length- Does Size Matter?”

Authors Playing in Characters’ Closets

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#openbook

How do you decide how to dress your characters?

The characters in my romances drive the plot. Besides unfolding how a couple falls or stays in love, I like to portray them doing it while holding down jobs or running businesses. While they may not be flat broke, they still have to get up and put in the work, and their clothes reflect their ambitious and entrepreneurial lifestyles.

Readers want impactful characters that make them laugh, cry, yell and swoon. The clothes they wear when doing one or more of those things can deepen the connection as readers turn the page. In Sweet Love, Bitter Fruit, I wanted the clothes Marcus and Toni wore to reflect their complex lives. Continue reading “Authors Playing in Characters’ Closets”

#BookTeaser – Chasing Sisyphus by JL Peridot

Mis Quince Años (33)Guest Post by JL Peridot

Hey, everyone, my name is JL Peridot. I’m a sci-fi/futuristic romance writer from Australia. More specifically, “retrofuturistic” romance. I have a mild obsession with old technology, especially when it’s projected hundreds of years into the future where it really has no business still hanging around. Some writers (and readers) call them anachronisms. I call them beautiful.

Today, I’m sharing a teaser from my very first novella, Chasing Sisyphus. It’s set in a retro-futuristic city on a distant planet, where eyeball implants and sleek technology coexists with chunky handheld devices and guns that still fire bullets. I hope you enjoy!

Chasing Sisyphus [The Basilica Conspiracy] (Siren Publishing Allure) by [JL Peridot]Chasing Sisyphus
JL Peridot
$2.98, 92pp, Kindle
Genre: Scifi Erotica

Excerpt

Adria hadn’t counted on the tripwire. This kid knew someone would follow him home one day. He’d strung a line of empty soup cans across the apartment hallway. When she kicked that out, a hefty serving of iced water came down squarely on her head. Gooseflesh prickled her neck and shoulders. The muscles in her jaw seized in the cold. Against the shock, she scrambled to her feet, fired up to catch the stomping and crashing in the other room before it got away.

A figure ran past the doorway. Continue reading “#BookTeaser – Chasing Sisyphus by JL Peridot”

LWL #Interview – Ann Raina

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Hey, beautiful ones. I am excited to introduce the author, Ann Raina. Ann lives and works in Germany with cats and a horse. Riding and writing are her favorite hobbies. Her latest series, starting with Twisted Mind, turns around an FBI-agent, his demanding lover, and a bad case getting worse.

In all of her books, she combines romance, suspense, and humorous elements, for no thrilling story can stand without comic relief.

Her latest novel is Famous Murders, the second in the series featuring main Nicolas & Jacklyn. check it out! Continue reading “LWL #Interview – Ann Raina”

#MFRWHooks-Resisting Arrest in Romance

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Marcus Kent is a brilliant lawyer and loving son, brother and husband. He is handsome and muscular, standing at about 6’4″ tall, which can be dangerous for a man with his skin tone.

Education, economic comfort and leading the life of a law-abiding citizen doesn’t insulate Marcus from police who see his stature and Blackness as a threat. In the excerpt below , after a horrible fight with his wife, Marcus has a run-in with police while he’s minding his business in the hall of his friend, Quinn’s apartment building. 

Sweet Love – Bitter Fruit
By Lyndell Williams
$ 2.99, 332pp, Kindle
$12.99, 343pp, Paperback
Genre: Urban Professional Romance

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Excerpt

Marcus opened his eyes and jumped at the poke on his arm. He blinked and looked up and moaned. Great. Two uniformed police officers loomed over him looking none too pleased. “What’re you doing in the hall?” asked a cop with a thick mustache. “You live here?” The cop grumbled and jabbed him harder. Continue reading “#MFRWHooks-Resisting Arrest in Romance”

#IWSG – Swallow Rejection, Focus on the Work

Mis Quince Años (28)Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?

Why y’all asking people to tell their secrets?

A lot of my work as a cultural critic and author involves me asserting confidence about my abilities and talents and using them to encourage writers to form supportive networks that will help us all get our words to the world. While I am blessed to get to write for online publications and my own stories, I also take advantage of opportunities to coach, mentor and cheerlead my fellow writers to get their thoughts and stories out there. I guess that is why it is hard to accept the infrequency for substantial mutual support. Continue reading “#IWSG – Swallow Rejection, Focus on the Work”

#newrelease #bookteaser – Mad Dog By Seyna Rytes

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Mad Dog: Falling For The Johnsons by [Seyna Rytes, FoolProof Editing]Mad Dog
By Seyna Rytes
$0.99, 62pp, Kindle
Available at Amazon
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Blurb

***Strong Language***

MYNNA
“Remember me? Mynna, the fun, lively baby sister? Yeah, that was ten years ago… These days, it’s more like: Mynna the hardened divorcee.
I dated the same guy throughout high-school, we got engaged at twenty and married a year later. It took us five years to reach a point of no return: irreconcilable differences, they call it. I say he was an immature prick!
Now, I’m busy dealing with an entirely different brand of prick. For the past four years, I’ve had a big ol’ crush on my jerk of a boss…” Continue reading “#newrelease #bookteaser – Mad Dog By Seyna Rytes”

#coverreveal – Queen of the Castle by Lyndell Williams

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Queen of the Castle

Open to Love Book Two

Coming Soon through After Hours Publications

From award-winning, bestselling author, Lyndell Williams, a story of bridled desire unleashed.

Tarika is happy living single. She loves her home—her castle—and is not looking for some man to try and take over everything she has built. When her best friend, Hafsah throws Aqil her way, Tarika makes it clear that she is not interested in the shy man, who barely speaks to her. When she needs his help after an accident, she allows Aqil and his daughter into her life, making it difficult to resist his sexy gray eyes and sultry smile.  The more time she spends with him, the harder it is to keep her distance.

Aqil planned to stay focused on rebuilding his life with his daughter after a messy divorce until he saw Tarika. He tries to maintain a respectful amount of space, but her confidence and beauty draw him in. He knows he has everything Tarika needs and gets closer to her, bringing them into a passionate abandon that can break down the walls of her inhibitions but may also shatter their lives.

cooltext357118732343216 Continue reading “#coverreveal – Queen of the Castle by Lyndell Williams”

#Bookteaser, New Release ~ Don’t Forget the Dog By Linda O’Connor

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Don't Forget the Dog (Dr. Brogan Corkie Matchmaking Doctor Book 2) by [Linda O'Connor]Don’t Forget the Dog
By Linda O’Connor
$7.99, 151pp, paperback
$0.99, 158pp, Kindle
Genre: Medical Romantic Comedy

Available at Amazon

Blurb

Don’t Forget the Dog (Dr. Brogan Corkie Matchmaking Doctor, Book 2)
Dr. Brogan Corkie is happily semi-retired from medicine and now has time for other hobbies. Her passion for food is second only to her skill at matchmaking!

Blaine McKinnon, owner and executive chef of an upscale restaurant in Mapleton, has an adorable Old English sheepdog named Tacos. Brogan is roped into dog-sitting Tacos at Blaine’s house. The upside is the spectacular kitchen at her disposal.

Dr. Sabrina Langfield, a newly minted doctor, is in a bind when her mom, Rue, falls and fractures her wrist. Brogan offers to help and does double-duty looking after Tacos and Rue.

Blaine and Sabrina were high school sweethearts but parted ways when Blaine pushed Sabrina to pursue a career. Sabrina hasn’t seen him since, but Rue is a huge fan and frequents his restaurant. Rue’s biggest regret is her part in Sabrina and Blaine’s break-up, and with Brogan’s help, she’s determined to get them back together. It might not be that easy – Sabrina is wary of Tacos and, more pressing, she’s decided to move a four-hour flight away to do five more years of training in emergency medicine.

Will meddlesome matchmaking, Blaine’s persuasiveness, and – don’t forget the dog – Tacos’ sweet nature be enough to convince Sabrina to stay?

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Continue reading “#Bookteaser, New Release ~ Don’t Forget the Dog By Linda O’Connor”

Writing Characters in Real Places and Spaces

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#openbook

Talk about the setting of your book. Is it entirely imaginary or is it based on a real-life place?

I love writing stories that allow readers to tap into the fantasy and escapism that fiction provides. At the same time, I like to include points of reference from my environment. Similar to integrating real-life characters experience, my story plots also contain geographical references to position readers in characters’ environments, potentially essential to reinforce arches and allow them to relate.

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Settings in the romance genre tend to be at economic and geographic extremes. At a Popular Cultural Association conference, romance scholar Jodi McAllister pointed out that romance plots frequently unfold between female protagonists and rich men in cities or small-town bearded hunks.  She posed a question asking why people didn’t seem to fall in love in the suburbs. She made a great point. I spent my teens and early adult life reading about ridiculously wealthy men taking their love interests to bed. Not necessarily a bad thing, I enjoyed the escapism, but not everyone lives like that way, nor do they exist in tiny towns with one traffic light. I want my readers to see themselves in my stories. Continue reading “Writing Characters in Real Places and Spaces”

LWL Interview: Sara Allen on Writing and the Power of Language

A fellow Muslim romance writer? I am here for all of it! I was thrilled to learn about Sara Allen and her extensive work writing in a genre often frowned upon by Muslims, despite the rich history of sensual literature in Islamic culture. She has written seven books, including her latest, Disposable. Check out the blurb.

Disposable

Blurb
Available at Amazon

Disposable by [Allen, Sara]When Caryn Blake, a prominent, black litigation expert, walks in on her cheating husband entertaining his latest girlfriend, she goes a little crazy. After everything she’s done for him; giving him the space to live it up, while she makes the moves securing a name for herself and fame for both of them, the betrayal is just too much. However, revenge is bitter-sweet, especially when it’s taken too far.

Caryn decides to take a much-needed break in the most remote state she can find. With nowhere to go and no one to take her. Caryn makes the most of a bad situation, finding friends and a lover she never thought she deserved. Continue reading “LWL Interview: Sara Allen on Writing and the Power of Language”

Author Interrupted – Dealing with Distractions

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What are your top three distractions and how do you deal with them?
Note: I am writing this post on the road. Please forgive any typos.

A writer’s life is full of all kinds of distractions, which can make finding the time to develop ideas and getting out of one’s head and onto paper (or the screen) difficult. I have mentioned that time management can be an external factor hindering writing.

Damn those twenty-four hours in a day. They just won’t listen and become more. Authors have professional (novel writing is not the main source of income for most) and personal lives, each demanding energy and time. Finding sufficient time to develop a plot, construct character arcs and write content can be difficult.  One cruel irony is that creative often burgeons when there is no time. Authors scramble to find a moment to weave a story, but frustration usually sets in when the brilliance blazing in their minds flickers into embers because that’s how it often works. Write right now or risk losing everything.

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Continue reading “Author Interrupted – Dealing with Distractions”

#BOOK REVIEW: Marriage of Time

Review by Lyndell Williams
MARRIAGE OF TIME
By Mariah Stone
$12.99, 194 pp, paper
$3.99, 196 pp, Kindle

What is a pregnant woman to do when cornered by her mafioso ex? Why she gets some help from a magic-packed old lady with the ability to catapult her through time.  In Marriage of Time by Mariah Stone, the main character Mia is smart, beautiful and very fertile. She had finally escaped her abusive Goodfella boyfriend Dan only to find herself knocked up. She tries to keep him from learning about the little bundle of joy, but we all know that never works out. Continue reading “#BOOK REVIEW: Marriage of Time”

LWL Interview: Tiffani Velez Writes History, War and All That Good Stuff

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As people wrap their holiday presents, I am posting the final Layla Writes Love author interview for 2019. I am thrilled to introduce readers to Tiffani Velez. I met Tiffani through a mutual author acquaintance via social media.  I became an immediate fan after reading her bookA Berlin Story, which was called “hauntingly beautiful” by Geekwire.  Her ability to write a solid stream-of-consciousness piece garnered my respect. So much so, that I passed my first novel to her before publishing.  Continue reading “LWL Interview: Tiffani Velez Writes History, War and All That Good Stuff”

Male Authors, Female Characters and the Wonders of Writing Sex

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I have read many social media posts and articles from women expressing shock and frustration on the ways some male authors describe female characters and sexual encounters in their writing.

Here is one example.

Yeah, the dude wrote that women’s insides are “mazes” and men “conjure up” pee.  There are far worse. This one just gave me so many giggles when I read it that I had to share. Some of my other favorites include: Continue reading “Male Authors, Female Characters and the Wonders of Writing Sex”

The Non-negotiable Writing Exchange

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What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

For people dedicated to the craft, writing is an impactful part of their lives and identities. I mentioned in another post, “I acquired and honed skills to interpret and craft words, using a range of prose (and a tiny bit of poetry) to harness the resilient power of language for liberation and resistance.”

Endeavors to generate words can be powerful and empowering, making writing a tool and art form requiring commitment. 

Dedicated writers pick up their pens [or fire up their keyboards] to share their perspectives and stories. The better ones know that wordsmithing involves layers of composition, drafting, editing and revising—all of which require development. Only deluded writers think that their skillsets are fine and they don’t need to hone them. 

Two mistakes many new writers make are thinking that all writing is the same and it will not take that much work.  Continue reading “The Non-negotiable Writing Exchange”

Book Writing, A Numbers Game

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#openbook

How many hours a day do you write? How long on average does it take you to write a book?

When I saw this week’s Open Book Blog Hop prompt, I laughed because it coincides with some realities I have had to face while participating in NaNoWriMo this month. The month-long writing challenge is meant to get writers to sit themselves down and finish a set goal during November.

Although I signed up for NaNoWriMo years ago, I had not participated. Why? That’s for another blog post. This year, someone encouraged to consider using NaNoWriMo as a tool to complete book four in the Brothers in Law romance series. Brandon and Hawwah want their story out there,  so I agreed.  I am half-way through the challenge and only have a little over 4k of my 50k goal achieved. I have been writing but not just the manuscript.

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Continue reading “Book Writing, A Numbers Game”

Word Aversion–Conquering Reader’s Block

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Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Okay, I had no clue what the term reader’s block meant. Once again, Open Book afforded me an opportunity to explore a new area of literature. Thanks, guys.

After a few Google clicks, I got the gist of the circumstance. Reader’s block is when one finds it hard to read, sometimes even making picking up a book difficult.

Your eyes glaze over, and you can’t get past the first paragraph on the page. Or perhaps you can’t will yourself to pick up a book in the first place. – Mental Floss

The reasons for reader’s block may include layers of motivation, comprehension, time constraints and volume. Continue reading “Word Aversion–Conquering Reader’s Block”

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