Tag Archives: RWA

Welcome To The New Old West and Jacqui Nelson

J Nelson 10_139-FlipHI’m pleased to welcome Jacqui Nelson to my page today. A fellow member of my local RWA group and a personal friend, Jacqui  writes historical romantic adventures set in the American West and Victorian London.

Her love for the Old West came from watching classic Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm in northern Canada. Her passion for Victorian London wasn’t far behind and only increased when she worked in England for four years and explored the nooks and crannies of London on her weekends.

Jacqui now lives in Victoria on the west coast of Canada where she works in a bookstore. Her previous jobs have included animator, systems analyst and fundraising event coordinator. She is a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® winner and three-time finalist.

1. Who or what would you be if you could be anything you chose to be for a week? What would be your super power?

I’d like to be Annie Oakley with the super-human power of ace sharpshooting. I’d participate in as many Wild West shows as I could—from the stands with the spectators, backstage with the performers and onstage during my own sharpshooting act. I’d be sure to take lots of notes while asking Buffalo Bill Cody and his troupe all sorts of questions including what it was like to ride for the Pony Express as a teenager.

2. Why do write? And why western?

I’m currently writing historical romantic adventures set in the Old West. While growing up on a cattle farm, I watched a lot of classic Western movies. Two of those movies, The Outlaw Josey Wales and For a Few Dollars More, are still in my top 10 movies of all time. I like to include the word “adventure” because I feel that’s a big part of my stories. I guess I could use action or suspense, but I think adventure better describes a story like Between Heaven & Heaven which includes a sharpshooting and riding competition followed by a wagon train journey half-way across a continent. 

3. What would you say to anyone wishing to become a writer?

 Go for it! Life’s too short not to live your dreams, and I’ve always said, “If other people can do something, then so can I.”

4. Are you a plotter or a panster and what’s the difference?

I’m a plotter…to an extent. I usually outline scene-by-scene the 1st third of a book. Then while writing those scenes, I’m able to see the rest of the book and continue writing my outline…except for the end. For me, the end is always the hardest part.

5. How do you research your books and make them authentic for the reader when your books are set in a West no longer here?

I do a lot of my research online and at the library. I also have the complete set of Time Life Old West books which I often turn to for inspiration.

6. When you have a day job how do you fit in writing?

That’s another hard part—balancing writing with work and family and friends. In the past, I’ve cut back on sleep and exercise in order to write more, but I found that made me a bit grumpy. And an unhappy writer isn’t the most productive writer. One of the good things about my day job at the bookstore is that after I spend a day on my feet, I’m motivated to sit down…in front of my computer.

7. What’s the best thing about being a writer? About being Jacqui?

On the days when I don’t have to go to work, I get to stay home in my pajamas and turn a blank page into something that (hopefully) feels alive with words. Plus I get to hang out with my story characters and see where they will lead me. That’s a pretty rewarding experience. It’s also rewarding when I hear from readers who’ve connected with my stories. Writing is a solitary endeavor filled with an unending minefield of self-doubts, so hearing positive feedback is a gift beyond measure.

8. What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

I’ve made too many mistakes to remember them all, but my most recent one was underestimating the time it takes me to complete story revisions. But I’ve learned that I have to take my time if I want to create the best story possible, and I shouldn’t feel guilty about the speed of my individual writing process. It’s useless to compare ourselves to others. I’m me. I can’t be someone else. 

9. Do your friends and family members show up as characters in your books?

The personalities of my family and friends haven’t shown up in my books. At least, not yet! But things that they’ve done have. In the book that I’m currently revising titled Between Love & Hell, my heroine works in a Dodge City saloon where (on a particularly rowdy night when a wave of cowboys fresh off the trail enter the saloon) she decides to sing Amazing Grace. A friend told me that she sang this song in a karaoke bar one night, and afterward a man in the crowd said something like, “If I’d wanted a sermon, I’d have gone to church.” So that’s the response my heroine receives.

10. When you’ve had a hard day and characters just won’t do what you want what’s your reward for powering through?

I don’t set daily rewards, but now I’m thinking I should! In the past, I’ve bribed myself with the treat of a new purchase (like a pair of shoes) if I reach a bigger milestone (like a first draft or final revisions completed). Right now, I have my eye on a brightly colored pair of winter boots.

My next novel, Between Love & Lies, is set in Dodge City during the heyday of the cattle drives. It will be released…as soon as I get these revisions done 

So in the meantime let me share a blurb and excerpt from one of my already released books. I have Between Heaven & Hell (set on the Oregon Trail) and Adella’s Enemy (set in Kansas during a cutthroat railroad race).

Adella’s Enemy was inspired by the AMC’s historical Western TV series Hell on Wheels. It’s part of the “Steam! Romance and Rails” series where it can be read on its own or as one of three interconnected novellas in the Passion’s Prize anthology featuring fellow 2010 Golden Heart® finalists E.E. Burke and Jennifer Jakes.

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Blurb for Adella’s Enemy

Can the pursuit of an old enemy lead to a new love?

 The War Between the States ended five years ago, but she still pursues her enemy…

Rebel spy turned government rabble rouser Adella Willows receives her mission straight from a Washington senator—play havoc with the Katy Railroad and derail its bid to win the race. The senator craves wealth. Adella craves revenge against the man responsible for her brother’s death. But her plans crumble into chaos when she enters a battle of wits with the railroad’s foreman.

An ocean separates him from his failures in Ireland, but he’s still haunted by those who died…

Seasoned railroad foreman Cormac McGrady’s sole desire is keeping his workmen safe and employed, which means keeping the Katy ahead of its rivals. But the beautiful spy bedeviling his railroad needs protecting as well. Cormac must choose between winning the race and winning Adella’s heart, while Adella must choose whether she lives for revenge or dies for love.

Excerpt from Adella’s Enemy

New Chicago, Kansas—March, 1870

(The last town at the southern end of the Katy Railroad)

“Sorry to be such a bother.” Adella lowered her gaze and tried to appear contrite, which wasn’t difficult as she truly regretted seeing anyone involved in such back-breaking labor. But being a bother was her job. Now she must become even more bothersome. She must embrace every opportunity to delay this construction crew from reaching the border.

Her Irish rescuer exhaled a weary breath and said in a much gentler tone, “’Tisn’t your fault. Don’t worry about us.”

Oh, but I do. And to apologize for seeing your men’s lives made more difficult, I promise to buy each and every one of them a drink tonight.”

A round of hoorays went up.

“Now, lass, you needn’t—”

“I must.”

“Miss, it’s not necessary—”

“It is.”

“Look, lady, I can’t let—”

You can. And you can call me Miss Willows.”

Stubborn English,” he muttered.

Annoyance made her squeeze her valise’s handle even tighter. “I’m not English. I’m American.”

“Isn’t Willows an English name?”

She opened her mouth, then snapped it shut. She wondered if she might wrench the handle from her valise, so tight had her grip become.

His eyes narrowed even more. “If you’ve got something to say, Miss Willows, say it.”

“You’re overbearing and opinionated—an Irishman I heard all about in my youth.” Her mother’s tales of her home country hadn’t always been admiring.

Behind him, the McGrady Gang hooted in mirth. “She’s put ye in yer place, Mac.”

She felt no pleasure in the accomplishment. It served no purpose. Unfortunately, she was struggling to recall her purpose. Her befuddlement had arrived with the big Irishman, the one the men called Mac. Her reaction to him was dangerous. He was dangerous.

Refusing to look at him, she stared at the train. She was here to delay construction of the track, so Levi Parsons lost the race and his ill-gotten gains. She was here for Declan.

~~~

Buy Links

Adella’s Enemy (my novella): www.amazon.com/dp/B00EE1UW5E

Passion’s Prize (the anthology): www.amazon.com/dp/B00EDSCZK8

Between Heaven & Hell (my full-length novel):  www.amzn.com/B00L3AW2XE

For paperback books, visit my Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/jacquinelson

~~~

You can learn more about me and my writing at…

Website: www.JacquiNelson.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Jacqui_Nelson

Facebook fan page: www.facebook.com/JacquiNelsonBooks

Facebook friend page: www.facebook.com/JacquiNelsonAuthor

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/JacquiAuthor

Be sure to sign-up for my newsletter for a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite on December 1st…

www.JacquiNelson.com/Newsletter.html

Thanks so much for having me as your guest, Pat! It’s always a treat to hang out with you.

 

A Slice of Life and More

lisa 4

As a writer I remain fascinated by how other writers write. I think this is because I secretly hope to find the hidden code that makes me able to immediately write wonderful books that are literary and commercial successes. But I digress.

Today I have a guest from my local RWA chapter (Romance Writers of America for the un-initiated). Lisa has two writing persona’s – ‘Lisa McManus Lange’ writes sassy and inspirational slice-of-life articles for her blog www.lisamcmanuslange.blogspot.com and is multi-published with Chicken Soup for the Soul (5 books – 7 stories) and other anthologies. ‘Lisa McManus’ writes fiction for kids and teens, and is contracted with Lycaon Press for her young adult novella, ‘Newbie Nick’ available wherever ebooks are sold. She can be found at www.lisamcmanus.com

How did you start writing?

I daydream – a lot. I read – a lot. As a kid I did both – a lot. I knew at a young age I wanted to be a writer, and had a first-attempt at it by writing a short story – a ‘thriller’ – about an acid-spewing spider that attacked people as they slept.  Needless to say that story was never published – but to this day I wish I still had that story. I wrote poetry in my teens, and then didn’t ‘really’ start writing until I was in my early 30’s. My first publication was a slice-of-life story about an old woman I would see on my daily walks who always picked-up trash during her own daily walk.

What is the best part of writing?

The best part of writing is when a reader comes to me saying that what I wrote changed their day, their perspective, or their life (I have been blessed to have all three).

 Why do you write?

I write because I love being able to entertain or inspire. If someone laughs at what I wrote (even if it’s in the wrong places!), I am happy.

How do you come up with ideas?

From daily life. I enjoy the obscurity and absurdity of everyday stuff. I love things that make me think, ponder and wonder – and then I think, “What if?”

If you had one super-power what would it be and why?

To run fast. I am busy and always on the go, and if I could run faster to where I needed to go, I would be happier (never mind having the ability to outrun zombies, a secret obsession of mine).

One wish?

Funny you should ask about wishes as I have been thinking about them for a story: the possibilities, the problems they can cause (if they came true), the good they do (if they came true), and the power they have over a person who has been granted just one wish.

So what would I wish for? As cliché as it sounds, to have happiness and health for all my family. That’s all. It’s simple, really.

 What would you say to someone wishing to become a writer?

Read. Read. Read. Read.

Write. Write. Write. Write

Read what you want to write about.

Write anything.

Read what you love.

Write daily.

Read outside your ‘norm.’

I’ve heard too many people say ‘I want to be a writer’ (of books) but they don’t know what to write. When asked what kind of books they like to read (a writer can write books, magazine articles or poetry – the list goes on), they say ‘I don’t have time to read,’ or ‘I haven’t read a book in years.’  One fuels the other – reading and writing – and you can’t have one without the other.

And then when asked if they are writing, they say no. Everyone has to start somewhere, why not NOW? So get writing, and get reading!

 Lisa has recently written a YA book called Newbie Nick which is available wherever ebooks are sold.

Newbie Nick

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All 14-year-old Nick Zinsky wanted was a guitar of his own and a necklace for his mom, and he wanted to buy both without anyone’s help. Too young to get a real job, he came up with a plan to get the money.

Using a guitar loaned from his high school, he spent the summer and weekends playing the guitar while busking downtown. But he had to keep his “job” a secret from everyone—from his mom, his music teacher, the other kids at school, and especially from the school bully, Beau. 

But when a music competition is announced where the prizes would solve all Nick’s problems, Nick lacks the confidence to enter the competition. Having a nickname like “Newbie Nick” doesn’t help, either.

Does he find the courage to enter? Will he ever get his guitar?

Excerpt

“Whatcha doin’?”I stopped playing and looked up. Even though I was wearing sunglasses, I had to shield my eyes against the sun.
It was that little girl again. “I’m playing the guitar.” I wasn’t about to be a rude jerk to her, but I didn’t have much time to talk. She hung around me yesterday, but was too shy to talk. Her dad, or uncle, or whoever from the shop next to me kept a watchful eye on her, peeking out the store door every few minutes. I figured if I ignored her, she would go away. Traffic wasn’t busy on the street, which meant less noise, but the sidewalks were busy with tourists and shoppers. If I was gonna make some decent cash today, I needed to keep playing, but not with the attention of a little kid. I had just started strumming, remembering how my grandpa taught me to place my fingers, when she spoke again. “Why are you playing?” she sing-songed. Her whiny voice bugged me. How do you explain being a street busker to a kid who looks like a kindergartener? As she picked her nose, some guy threw a dollar into my guitar case. “Thank you!” I called out. Some might laugh at getting only a dollar, but it all adds up. Not only was I saving money for a sleek guitar for me, but also a necklace for my mom. And I didn’t consider what I had been doing all summer as charity. She always worked hard for us, and taking nothing for herself. I wanted to do this for her and was determined to do it all on my own, without help. I worked for every dime I got. My mom always says money doesn’t matter when you have people in your life that care as much as they do. Whatever. I looked at the little girl, stalling to think about how to answer. “Jessica, are you okay?” Her father or uncle or whoever called from the store. “I’m fine, Daddy!” 

Oh, so that’s her dad. When I first started coming downtown at the beginning of summer, he would scowl at me from the store’s doorway. I was afraid he would call the police, but he didn’t. I always try to move spots, but there are only so many sidewalks I can use. I have to be seen and heard, but I also have to be careful to not be seen by anyone I know. 

Her dad went back inside. Jessica was still waiting, so I gave the easiest answer. “I want to buy a guitar and one day play like my grandpa.” 

“Whyyyy?” This time she sat down on the sidewalk beside me. 

I strummed a few chords. The people passing by ignored us. I was losing business chatting with her. I figured I would just get my story out quick. I knew she wouldn’t care and probably wouldn’t tell anyone. And besides, a little twerp like her wouldn’t understand, anyways. 

Sweat dribbled down my back, and I knew the peanut butter and jam sandwich in my backpack was gonna be warm and soggy. 

I looked at her again. “Because he was the best guitarist ever. He was a music teacher and taught me how to play when I was a little kid like you.” Before I knew it, I was babbling on. “If I want play like him, to be like him, I need my own guitar.” 

I barely registered that someone had thrown in a few coins in my case as I kept talking. “Someone stole his old guitar from my grandma’s house, and I haven’t been able to play unless I borrow a guitar from school. So I want my own.” I stopped. Why had I gone on and on like that? 

“Doesn’t he play the guitar anymore?” she asked, as if I hadn’t rambled on about any of the other stuff. 

“He died a while ago.” And I miss him so much, I wanted to add, but didn’t. I didn’t want to sound like a freak, even if only to a stupid little kid. 

“Is he in heaven?” She looked fearful for a second. 

“Yes, he is,” I said, and she sagged in relief, as if worried he wasn’t. 

She picked at a worn edge of the guitar case, looked at the money inside, and then said, “Why don’t you work at a store to get money? If you have a store like my daddy, you could make lots of money!” 

She was really starting to get on my nerves, though I couldn’t blame her for my frustrations. I strummed again. After being without a guitar for a year, not only had I gotten rusty and lost my touch, but I had forgotten how playing made any mixed-up feelings disappear. 

But it was missing my grandpa that had me wanting to play again. My grade nine music teacher, Shark, had loaned me a guitar for practicing on the weekends. He knew my mom couldn’t afford to rent one. But it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted my own. I hated not having something to play during the week, and I hated feeling like a charity case and borrowing one. 

So when summer came, Shark secretly loaned me the guitar for the summer. The school wouldn’t approve if they knew. Even though having a guitar with Mattheson High School in black ink down the side of it wasn’t exactly cool, at least I could play. But if Shark knew what I had also used the guitar for, I don’t think he would exactly approve either. 

Jessica still watched me. Waiting. 

I gave in. “I can’t get a job because I’m fourteen, almost fifteen,” I was quick to add. “Maybe next year I can get a real job. But for now, my mom won’t let me. She says school is too important.” Just thinking about it was starting to irritate me. I had to get rid of the kid somehow. 

In a nice, fake, happy voice I said, “Hey, I think your dad is calling you. I think you better go now.” 

At the mention of her dad, her eyes widened and she jumped up. She stared at me for a moment, and then skipped away. Thank God. 

A leaf fell at my feet, reminding me I didn’t have much time left. Soon the crappy autumn rains would start, and my days of busking downtown would be over, along with days of making money. If I wanted to play, if I wanted a guitar of my own, I had to make money. I had already put down $50 toward theperfect guitar I had on layaway at Mike’s Music store, but I had a long way to go. It was a vicious circle—playing a guitar to make money to play a guitar. It sounded stupid thinking about it that way, but it was true. 

But none of that mattered right at that moment. 

Because as I looked up, I saw him. My sweat from the summer sun turned to ice. 

It was that stupid jerk, Beau, from school. 

  I can personally say I loved this book and cried happy tears at the end.

 Newbie Nick, available at Lycaon Press

http://www.lycaonpress.com/index.php?main_page=product_free_shipping_info&cPath=6&products_id=38&zenid=685304d8c9d7c84c0e6d69eebcf5b2f3

Find Lisa at:

Thank you for having me, Pat. I wish you much success in your own writing, and thank you in advance to your visitors for stopping by!

Fall Writing Workshop in Nanaimo, BC, November 2, 2013

Author and speaker, Vanessa Grant

Author and speaker, Vanessa Grant

 

 

WritingRomance

For the second year in a row I’ve volunteered to coordinate our VIC RWA’s Fall Workshop.

Why? Well, I like going to writing workshops. I think most other writers do too. Certainly many of the writers I know do. So this year when it looked as if no one would step forward and there would either not be a workshop or I could step forward, I did. And I think ours is incredibly good value since we’re keeping the cost down for the second year in a row.

For forty dollars at the door and even less if you’ve already registered it’s a fun-filled day with award winning author, Vanessa Grant,  giving two workshops. Not only is she the best selling author of over 29 novels written for Harlequin and Zebra, which have sold over ten million copies world wide, she’s the writer of, Writing Romance by Vanessa Grant, which is now in its third addition. We are very, very, lucky to have her as our workshop speaker. She’ll be giving two workshops over the course of the day. In addition there’s a chance to pitch to either an agent or editor via Skype and Lunch is included in the price along with coffee and tea.

Held on the beautiful campus of Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC it will be a fun filled day giving writers, published and aspiring, a chance to enjoy a day in the company of fellow writers while honing their craft with two incredible workshops.

It’s all good but why do I always think I have things well in hand and I’m ahead of schedule? By early spring this year I had Vanessa Grant lined up as a speaker and a venue chosen. Life was good. Yet somehow with the workshop only a week away I find myself going over lists and double checking everything. I’m promising myself next year I will get more publicity out earlier (Note to self – did I not say this would be my last year as coordinator?)

Fellow members are signing up to bring salads, desserts and door prizes while Thriftys will be providing trays of sandwiches. I personally plan on bringing something chocolate. Fortunately there are numerous volunteers helping with tech support, registration, transportation and a myriad of other details needed. Yet I can’t help thinking I’ve missed something. Something vital. And dozens of people will find themselves disappointed on the workshop day. So I’m double checking lists. And counting my blessings in the knowledge that I have great writer friends who will be there to help out and make sure that anything that falls through the cracks gets caught. I hope.

Last years workshop was a fun filled day and everything worked out. I’m sure this years will be too. So if you’re in the neighborhood feel free to join us. It’s going to be a great day. And now I just need to check that list…