Tuesday, April 28

Well, I Was Gonna…

…write about how the world has lost a great romantic hero with the death of actor Jonathan Crombie, who died of a brain hemmorage last week. But, Lizzie, my Wrangler kindred spirit, beat me to it with her wonderful post yesterday. However, you know, I think I want to share why this young man’s death hit me as hard as it did anyway—after all there’s probably no such thing as too much Gilbert Blythe.

I fell in love with Gilbert when I was about ten years old as my mom read Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne books” to us over the course of a summer. We camped a lot because camping was a great way to vacation without spending buckets of money and our entertainment was always Mother reading to us. She was a great reader because she did all the voices and brought the books to life. Mom would gather the four us (sisters PJ and Kate, me, and little brother Bud) each evening to read to us by lantern and campfire light. We all learned to love books during those summer nights as Mom drew us into other worlds. We joined the March sisters in Little Women, Little Men, and Alcott’s other delicious stories of post-Civil War Concord; the Ingalls family on the prairie; Gene Stratton Porter’s naturalists in her amazing stories of the Limberlost; and of course, Anne Shirley and her friends in Avonlea. 

Even as a little girl, from the very beginning of the Anne stories—in Anne of Green Gables—I couldn’t figure out why Anne wasn’t falling in madly love with Gilbert Blythe. I certainly was! He was perfect—kind and smart and funny and handsome. Here’s the amazing part—the picture of Gilbert that was in my head for thirty years came to life when I first watched the CBC production of Anne of Green Gables on PBS. Jonathan Crombie was my Gilbert Blythe.

Maybe that says something for the casting finess of the creators of the series, but I like to believe it says even more about L.M. Montgomery’s ability to bring characters to life for a little ten-year-old girl. Montgomery’s storytelling ability brought Avonlea and all its citizens to life for me, allowing me to daydream about wandering the shores of Prince Edward Island, sitting on the porch of Green Gables to chat with Marilla and Anne and Rachel Lynde, and of course, moonlit carriage rides with Gilbert Blythe.

Gilbert was the high-water mark for my dream man for so many years, and when I finally found the forever kind of love, it was with my own Gilbert Blythe—a smart, handsome, funny, gentle man. Frankly, although I enjoyed my childhood vacations camping along the shores of Lake Michigan, I confess I’m not much of a camper anymore. Nowadays, I’m camping if there’s no room service in my hotel, but I loved hearing Mom read aloud to us and I’m eternally grateful to her for bringing Gilbert Blythe into my young romantic heart.

Talk to me—are there stories from your childhood that are still with you, characters who are still in your heart?

Monday, April 27

"Gilbert, I'm afraid I'm scandalously in love with you..."

        Margie wrote about movie quotes last week. I really enjoyed the post, but since I’m not a movie person, I didn’t have anything to bring to the quotes table. I could remember scenes and how they made me feel, but not quotes. However, the “how they made me feel” thing has come up a lot in my mind—and my emotions—lately.
          In 1994, I made my daughter’s wedding 
Photo by Jeremy Flaherty
dress. Also the matron of honor’s, three bridesmaids’, and two flower girls’ dresses. From March until August, I didn’t venture too far from the sewing machine. Over and over, while I sewed, I watched Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, the ones with Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie playing Anne and Gilbert.
          I loved how they made me feel while I sewed. They got me over the crying-over-beading and the many times I said, “I can’t do this,” and all the days I was much too tired to thread the needle one more time.
          Over 20 years later, the movies make me feel the same way. Seldom have I seen so much joy, laughter, sadness, beauty, and warmth in one spot. I don’t just watch them—I experience them—and each experience is richer than the last.
          Thursday, Duane and I went to see The Dixie Swim Club at the Ole Olsen Memorial Theatre. While I admit to some bias, I think Peru, Indiana’s local drama group is full of outstanding talent, and it’s never been showcased any better than it is in this play. I laughed so hard I nearly cried, and then there was a brilliant, aching point where I was crying.
          When we were talking on our way home, agreeing once again that we’d just seen the best production ever, I kept thinking of the writing mantra: Make them laugh. Make them cry. Make them wait.
          I laughed so often during the Anne movies. I’m snickering right now, thinking of the dead mouse in the cream. I waited—not quite believing even though I’d read the books and knew—for Anne to realize Gilbert really was her kindred spirit. And I cried, when Anne and Marilla held hands walking home that day. When Matthew died.
          It’s always nice when readers say something that makes you goofy-smile and happy-dance all day. Or when they let you know you got them through something that would have been harder otherwise. It means that even though they may forget your name, the title of the book, or even its protagonists, they’ll still remember how you made them feel. It doesn’t get any better than that.
            Jonathan Crombie died last week. He was only 48. He passed away after a brain hemorrhage. It is unbearably sad to think about. I hope he knew how much he gave to so many. 
            Rest in peace, Gilbert Blythe. You made me feel wonderful.


Sunday, April 26

Kate James and The Truth About Hope

The Wranglers are happy to welcome author Kate James to the round corral today. Kate is a fellow Harlequin Heartwarming author with an exciting new book, The Truth About Hope and a giveaway, but first she's answering questions!

Thank you for hosting me on your site!

1.    What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

There are lots of textbook answers but I look at it simplistically. I write to entertain readers with well-written, engaging stories, set in intriguing places and with strong, likeable characters.

For me to achieve this, I want my characters to be relatable and likable, the hero and heroine to be people you care about and would like to spend time with. I also think a well-written book will draw you in and keep you engaged. Every scene should be interesting and compelling enough to keep you turning pages. Last week, a reader sent me an e-mail that included the following:

“I brought your book along with me all day yesterday so I could read it - I didn't want to put it down. I was even reading while standing in line at the bank.”

A comment like this means the world to me! Finally, I think stories should be unpredictable. There should be enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing until the very end.

I would love to hear readers’ views on this!

2.    When did you first consider yourself a writer?

It still surprises me sometimes, especially considering that I haven’t been at it very long. If someone else were to ask me, I would say that if they are passionate about it and have started writing, they are a writer. For me, it was when I finished my first manuscript.

3.    What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I like to read, of course, but I also love the outdoors and staying active, whether spending time with our dogs, hiking, cycling our working in our gardens. Time with family and friends is also precious.

4.    Where are you from and what do you love best about your hometown?

I live in a small town north of Toronto, in Ontario, Canada. Although we’re a reasonable driving distance from Toronto, I like the more relaxed feel of our hometown, the natural beauty that surrounds us and how friendly people are.

5.    Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

This is a great question, but I have to admit that it stumped me. After considerable thought, I am sorry to disappoint but the best thing I could come up with is referring to our dogs as our “furry, four-legged kids.”

6.    If you could spend the afternoon with one writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?

There are so many fascinating people I would love to have the opportunity to talk with. I will give you an unconventional answer and say writer and philosopher Ayn Rand. I would be interested to hear her explain what drove her philosophies and—particularly later in her life—her personal choices.

The Truth About Hope
by Kate James
Adult Contemporary Romance
May 1st 2015 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Who is Hope Wilson?

Is she the girl her former hometown thinks she is? Or the girl Luke Carter once loved—and maybe still does?

When Hope returns to Canyon Creek, Texas, to honor her father’s last wishes, there’s only one person on her mind: her high school sweetheart, Luke. The boy she lied to when she had to leave Canyon Creek as a teen, finding it easier to hide what she really felt than deal with the grief of loss. Her father’s fortune could make a big difference to Canyon Creek—but Hope finds that the townspeople have a long memory about his misdeeds. With a plan to make amends on his behalf, Hope learns the truth about herself. And the truth about love.

Kate James spent much of her childhood abroad before attending university in Canada. She built a successful business career, but her passion has always been literature. As a result Kate turned her energy to her love of the written word. Her writing has been recognized with a number of awards, including first place honors for Silver Linings in both the First Coast Romance Writers' Published Beacon Contest and ACRA's Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award. Her November Harlequin Heartwarming release, A Child's Christmas, received first-place honors from Southern Magic, the Birmingham Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, for the 2015 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence!

Kate married her husband, Ken, in an elegant, ocean-front wedding on a tropical island. When they are not traveling, they split their time between their properties in southern and central Ontario in Canada, with their beloved black Labs, Harley and Logan.

Kate’s next novel is the first book in her K-9 Squad Trilogy, and is scheduled for release on October 1, 2015.

Follow Kate's Tour:

April 24th - 
April 26th - Word Wranglers & Write & Rewrite
April 27th - Underneath the Covers
April 29th - Zerina Blossom's Books
April 30th - I Am A Reader
May 8th - Grand Finale

Tour Giveaway

$30 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
5 Print Copies of The Truth About Hope (US/CAN Only)
1 ebook of The Truth About Hope (INT)
Ends May 15th

Friday, April 24

Magazine Publishing

Today's guest in the round corral, Debi Stanton, lives in Scipio, Indiana with her husband, Ray and their four miniature dachshunds. Debi is the Publisher/Editor of 
Pen It! Magazine, a magazine for Writers which she started in January, 2009.  Currently the magazine has columnists and subscribers from across the United States.  Pen It! is a bi-monthly periodical that has developed a good following locally and across the US. 

To Print or not to Print….

In today’s world, almost anyone can be a magazine publisher if they hav e a great idea and determination.  Magazines are popping up all over today’s market.  Most people publish a magazine
for love, because unless you have a huge circulation, there sure isn’t much money in it.  The larger circulation you have, the cheaper it becomes.  But, how can you grow your circulation, if you can’t afford to print the magazines?     E-Zines can be the answer.

If you are passionate about a topic and want to share that information with the world, or at least your local community, then by all means, give magazine publishing a shot.  Look at other local magazines and see if there are similar periodicals already in print.  If so, ask yourself what you will be able to offer that would pull readers to your magazine away from those already out there.
Some things to keep in mind when you are first looking into magazine publishing:

1.       Do I want a printed magazine or an e-magazine?
2.       What will my costs be if I print?
a.       Does the magazine need to be in color or just black and white? There is a price difference for printing
b.      Print type; stapled or bound spine, postage and other distribution costs.
3.       What is my market?  Who will be my subscribers?
4.       Will it be possible to secure advertisers for the type of magazine I am publishing?  In other words, who else would be interested in marketing to your readership?
5.       What are your state’s requirements to get a business checking account started?  Some states require a legal business name or at the least a d/b/a.  Paypal is a great way to handle payments and you can obtain a Paypal debit card.
6.       You need help, so solicit other writers to submit articles, stories, etc.  It is too difficult an undertaking to try to do it all yourself.  Believe me, I tried for over a year.
7.       Advertise:  List your magazine on Facebook, Twitter, the local newspaper, and anywhere you can get your name out there.
8.       Edit! Edit! Edit!   This is so important.  Your magazine must be edited and it must be as flawless as you can get it.  Once you have edited, it is a good idea to have someone else run it through with another edit, just to be sure.  
9.       When editing, try not to do too much to edit another person’s work.  Writers will stop submitting work to you if you change their work too much.  Once edited, send the work back to them to let them approve before publishing it in the magazine.
10.   Keep a database of subscribers, expenses and advertising sales for tax reasons.

I am the publisher of Pen It! Magazine, which is a quality literary magazine for writers.  We are in our 6th year of publication.  A couple of years ago, we had to make the leap from exclusively printing and mailing our magazines to offering an E-Subscription.  The cost to print and mail each magazine was so astronomical that we were losing money. 

We had to send the magazine out to a printing company and it would take a week to get them back.  When you are on a deadline that is not good.   So, about three years ago, I moved the magazine to exclusive E-Zines and reduced the price of a subscription substantially.  I saved a bunch of money, but also lost subscribers.  Writers want to see their work in print.  They are proud and they want to show it off.  So once their subscriptions expired, many did not sign back up for the E-Subscription.

Then I discovered CreateSpace through Amazon.  What a fabulous mechanism to get your work out there.  I had self-published several books on CreateSpace and finally began using the site to publish the magazines.  I saved about a dollar per magazine, even with shipping, and was able to return to offering printed magazine subscriptions.  So, now I offer both.  An E-Subscription runs $15.00 and a printed subscription runs $40.00.  (I am running a special through April for $10.00 for an E-Subscription and $35.00 for a print subscription). 

You can solicit advertisers to help offset costs.  How many magazines do you look at today that are more advertising than they are quality information?  I did not want that for Pen It! Magazine.  I wanted it to be writer-focused.  We have a few advertisers, but for the most part, the advertising we sell is to local authors trying to promote their books.  Since writing is normally not a lucrative profession, I try to keep the costs reasonable and charge $15.00 per year for a business card sized ad.  Very reasonable!

So, above all else, before you decide to publish a magazine, but sure it is something you are passionate and knowledgeable about.  Is there an interest out there for your magazine idea?  Will you have enough information to sustain your publication for years to come?  Will advertisers be interested in placing an ad in your type of magazine?  Who is your target audience?  Once you have answered those questions, then go for it, take a chance…but above all else, have fun!

I would love to hear from you. You can contact me at debih7606@frontier.com.  Thank you.

On the fiction front, her latest release is The White Sofa. Rebel Ink Press, available on Amazon,
Barnes & Noble, Omni Lit and All Romance.

Flipping on, the next canvas was just as eerie, although the scene was different; a dark house, late at night with only one window illuminated. Scary, Sam thought. She immediately flipped to the next canvas. She nearly jumped out of her skin as a red-faced demon glared back at her. With wide eyes and mouth agape it seemed to be lunging at her. He had horns that were twisted so the points were prevalent and seemed to draw your attention to the fact that this creature could gouge you to death. 

Quickly moving on, the next painting was a single iridescent moon in the middle of a solid black canvas. The moon appeared to be oozing into the background. That was enough! Sam shoved the paintings back against the wall and looked at the portrait of the little girl again. “What the Hell happened to her that she could move from painting the innocence of a child to pure evil?” she muttered. “What went through my sister’s mind? I just don’t understand what drove her into this madness.”

Thursday, April 23

Life, In a Movie Quote

I am a movie person. And a movie quote person. I can find a quote for almost anything. No. That's not a challenge.

When I was looking up a meme to post with this, I found this quote by Nora Ephron..How great is that?

But, back to my movie quotes. I've been thinking about one from When Harry Met Sally a lot lately. Unfortunately, there wasn't a meme for it.

When Sally finds out her ex-boyfriend is getting married to the girl he started dating immediately after they split up, she cries, "She wasn't supposed to be the one. She was supposed to be the transitional one."

I've been thinking how that quote kind of applies to other areas of life. Like my job. Last summer, I left the company I'd worked eleven years for. It was the first job I'd had in twenty years after being a stay-at-home mom and daycare provider for many kids.

I spent July and August enjoying my summer. Then I got hired for a new store opening in Vancouver. And truth be told, I'd missed being in the public and putting a good day's work. But, a little over six months later, I'm thinking that this isn't my lifetime job--this is my transitional job. The job that got me through until I find my career job.

I think manuscripts can be like that sometimes, too. Maybe that's why a good many writers have a few started and stalled manuscripts in their files. But, like a relationship or a job, they teach us the skills we need to do better in our next attempt.

And in that vein, I quote Commander Taggert from Galaxy Quest. "Never give up. Never Surrender."

I think of that often. Two weeks ago, I decided to give Bix another shot and sent him off to a new Beta reader. I'm still waiting her comments, but since I opened that door, Bix has begun to talk to me again. And I think I'm working towards a solution to at least one of the problems one agent had with the manuscript. 

And finally, I close with one of my favorite go-to quotes from The Princess Bride. Because this just applies to life in general.

Have fun storming the castle!

PS--You're welcome, Kristi