What People are Saying...

...about All I Want for Christmas is You by Lisa Mondello

"This is the first Lisa Mondello book I have read, but it certainly will not be the last. This book was a rare treat "
"I read the preview and just had to buy this book. With no regrets the word great is not enough to describe this book."
"This is a wonderful romantic uplifting novel about a young single mom and her daughters Christmas Wish."
"This is a super - fantastic - great story. Christmas wishes ...everyday wishes that can and do come true."

All I Want for Christmas is You is FREE for a limited time at Amazon.com http://amzn.com/B005KDG236

Get your copy while you can!

A Personal Journey: How writing a book allowed me to cry by Renee Pace

Hello everyone!  TGIF to you all!  Today I have a fantastic post from Indie Author Renee Pace, author of Off Leash – a boy, a dog and a complicated friendship force a teen to make difficult life choices.  I'm just going to let Renee tell you her story.

Renee is kind enough today to give one lucky commenter a free copy of Off Leash.  So don't be shy.  Join the conversation and leave a comment for your chance to win!

From Renee:

Why switch genres? Why write a hard hitting story that will leave you emotionally drained? Those were the questions my family and friends asked me because they know me. And knowing me, you would understand that being a writer means ups and downs and sometimes the downs can be a really long stretch. Previously published as a romance and erotic romance author about two years ago I hit the wall. I knew I needed to “change it up,” but no way did I imagine that the journey of me writing Off Leash would become a therapeutic outlet for me.

I started writing what I know—third person paranormal young adult and quickly realized I needed to move beyond my comfort zone. So I forced myself to move into first person narrative. Even more out of my zone, I thought I’d go first person boy narrative and give a dog a voice (I don’t own a dog but grew up with them).

Did I imagine at this time when I journeyed into developing my 15 year-old character Jay in Off Leash that I’d encounter dealing with my eldest son’s rebellious teen years? No way! Here’s what I envisioned—writing this book while applauding my teenager as he tackles making straight A’s in High School while encouraging him to go onto university. Here’s the reality—crying many nights silently in bed worried sick about the thought of him sneaking out of the house so he could get high, dealing with his in your face drama when I’d put my foot down, taking away privileges and grounding him for his inappropriate behavior. There, I said it. I wrote it. In fact it’s much worse than that but I could take up five pages to write about my motherly angst, and like many mothers there are books to read but living it is entirely its own hell. What I decided to do was add all those angry feelings he certainly was expressing to me when I laid down my rules into the development of Jay’s character.

And as I wrote Off Leash I realized something very personal. I never got over the death of my childhood friend Sissy who died of cancer, so I added those feelings into Jay and let him show those emotions when he interacted with his sister, Fay. Let me add here that in my small fishing community Sissy was my one and only friend. Life there got very lonely for me after she died. To say this was hard to write would be an understatement. Writing the scene where Fay goes back into the hospital I actually started crying in Starbucks. In fact, I wrote her death scene a few different ways but in the end I went with Jay getting the news over his phone and I think there’s that pivotal switch for the reader when you totally sympathize with him as he lets loose his emotions as he clutches Ollie, the dog, totally unaware he’s being watched.

So after one year of writing and then another year of edits I sent Off Leash out to a number of agents (15) and editors (6) and then entered it into the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. I was floored when it became a semi-finalist and had thought that might help me secure a publisher. Tried again that route and came close but one publisher folded, another agency said it just “wasn’t quite right for them but they loved my writing” and I thought I’m telling this damn story. So that’s why I went the Indie route. I really hope readers like that I’m offering alternate endings for Off Leash. Since it was so emotional I thought I’d allow readers to pick which version they wanted to read. There’s the Hollywood happily-ever-after ending and the real nitty gritty version.

(Note from Lisa:  Love that you gave alternate endings.  Now I have to read both.)

What’s next for me is another hard-hitting very personal story called Off Limits and yes once again I’m dredging up my painful childhood memories to write about a touchy subject, except this time the focus and POV is on two girls. I am hoping to have that ready for publication in December.

I’d love to hear from readers and authors. Drop me an email at renee@reneepace.com or visit my site at www.reneepace.com. I’m a twitter bug at ReneePaceYA.

Off Leash:Hollywood Ending (Nitty Gritty series)

Off Leash: Nitty Gritty Ending (Nitty Gritty series)

Thank you so much for being with us today, Renee!  Remember, leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Off Leash!



Just checked last night and saw that Amazon has reduced the price of ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU, the first book in my Fate with a Helping Hand series.  To get your FREE download for Kindle click on the link below.


Enjoy!  I'm not sure how long it will be FREE so don't delay!


The Appeal of the Cowboy in Romance - Rodeo, Rancher or Dude.

It's no secret that readers have been having a non-stop love affair with the cowboy.  Just think of all the great movies out there that featured sexy men in their ten gallon hats riding off into the sunset.  Even Joan Wilder (Romancing the Stone) couldn't resist Jesse, the dark and sexy cowboy from her imagination.

There aren't a whole lot of cowboys in New England.  So I "met" my first cowboy way back when I was 21 years old and on a business trip in Tucson. My boss, Patricia, and I had just come back from a client meeting at IBM and were having drinks, sitting in front of a floor to ceiling window watching the sunset over the mountains.  It was truly beautiful the way the sun make the red mountain terrain seem to glow.

As we were talking, I saw a pick-up truck pull into the parking lot of the hotel.  A cowboy got out and propped his hat on his head.  As he moved from the back of the parking lot to the front door we made eye contact.  Patricia said, "He's staring right at you!"  I smiled and he smiled back as he walked.  (Remember, beautiful sunset behind red mountains in the background.) And before his hand touched the door to go inside, he stopped and turned to me, tipping his hat and giving me a beautiful grin.  I was done for.

Patricia wanted me to run right downstairs and say hello to him.  I said, "Why?  Is it going to get any better than that?"  Well, maybe it would have.  I'll never know.  But it's been a pretty wonderful memory for all these years.

That began my love affair with the cowboy.  And although the story may be different, I know I'm not alone.  Lots of readers email me about cowboy heroes.  It's hard to pinpoint the true appeal, but I'll try.

1.) The cowboy wears a uniform.  And readers love men in uniform.  Just check out the book covers at Romantic Times or any other romance website.  The uniform is a symbol of strength.  And we do love strong heroes!

2.) The cowboy is determined.  Whether he's a rodeo cowboy or a rancher, he's determined to get the job done.  I don't know about you but any man (or woman-I don't discriminate) who has the guts to get on the back of a snot spewing, sweaty 1100-1200lbs. bull has my respect.  The idea of a rancher tending his property, taking care of the ranch and thereby taking care of his family also touches the heartstrings.  Both sexy.  Both very appealing.

3.) The cowboy is just simply a cool dude!  I don't know how else to say it.  Wouldn't you want to hang out with a cowboy?

I've written 4 books with cowboy heroes.  I can guarantee they won't be the last cowboy books I write.

Right now NOTHING BUT TROUBLE is 50% off at Smashwords.com for TODAY ONLY.  This was the first cowboy story I'd ever written and I'd love to know what you think of it.

Nothing But Trouble by Lisa Mondello 50% off http://alturl.com/rm69i with coupon code MU43H

What do you think?  What's the cowboy appeal?  Leave a comment and let me know and you may win a copy of NOTHING BUT TROUBLE.

Also available at:

AMAZON: http://amzn.com/B005O549IA
BARNES AND NOBLE: http://alturl.com/hvcr4

Interview with Barbara Phinney!

Hello everyone!  Fantastic Friday to you.  Before you go off and get ready for the weekend, I want to introduce you to a wonderful friend from Love Inspired who is also a fabulous Indie Author.

Her romantic suspense, SOUVENIRS, is currently available at Amazon.com, Smashwords.com and BN.com.

Welcome Barbara!

Lisa: Tell us how you got started writing in your genre. Did you always know you would write romantic suspense?

Barbara: Absolutely!  I love figuring out mysteries, and I love a happy ending. Growing up on the likes of Victoria Holt’s books, who wouldn’t?

Lisa: What inspired you to write Souvenirs?

Barbara: Going to the beach!  I love the beach, and sitting there one day, the same beach featured in my story, made me ask some questions that would eventually become Souvenirs.

Lisa: What was your favorite part about Souvenirs?

Barbara: Okay, here is the fun part. I offered it to Silhouette Intimate Moments years ago, but they declined. It was just too different for them. As it was! But I loved it, anyway. So, one day, the local newspaper contacted me. They’d featured an interview with me when I was first published with SIM, and now they were asking if I had a summer beach read they could serialize. Instantly, Souvenirs came to mind. Why not? It was set right here in this area.

But other local authors expressed concern that I wouldn’t be paid enough. Me? I was just thrilled to share my book. So it was serialized that summer, a chapter a day.

Before that, however, the paper sent out one of their photographers to take some photos that would match each chapter. He asked his friend to play Brent Stirling, my hero. It turned out that the actor was also a local paramedic, and son-in-law of a friend of mine, and exactly as I imagined my hero to be. I ran into him once at the grocery store, and felt as though I was meeting a celebrity! All giggly and girlish. I cringe now thinking of it.

Now, the heroine was a woman the photographer hired, and knew vaguely, I believe, but she bore a striking resemblance to actress Donna Murphy, and her poses really captured the essence of Anna’s delicate character. I have yet to meet her, but I loved each photograph.

Another wonderfully fun part came about halfway into the serialization. I couldn’t go downtown, or even to church, without someone coming up to me to say how much they loved the story. Or asking me who the killer was, all wanting the inside scoop! But I was deliciously mum about that part!

The paper reported the serialization of Souvenirs as a phenomenal success, and many wrote in to say how much they enjoyed the experiment. But it took longer to serialize than the paper wanted, and they didn’t do it again.

Lisa: Did you identify with any of the characters on a personal level? Or are they completely fictitious?

Barbara: The characters are fictitious, but any writer who claims that their characters are completely from their heads would be lying. We weave characteristics from our lives and experiences, and the people we meet, into our stories and characters. One writer friend of mine has a tee-shirt that says, “Be careful, or you’ll end up in my book!” That is so true!!

Lisa: Is Souvenirs part of a series? What is your next project?

Barbara: Souvenirs is a stand-alone book, but like most of mine, the setting is atypical. I have other projects on the go, all with unique settings, with realistic characters facing, and sometimes being dragged and pushed into emotional and spiritual growth. Just like we all are. Despite the fact I love atypical settings, I think it’s not just the setting that interests readers, but also the story as a whole. My next two books will probably be set in South America, unless my muse grabs me and takes me for another trip to the beach!

Lisa: How has your experience with self-publishing been?

Barbara: Like I inferred before, I am traditionally published, and will continue to pursue that line, but I think there is a place for both in a writer’s life, just as there is a place for independently and traditionally published books in a reader’s life. My experience is so new, I am hesitant to mention it. I have been electronically published before, with All For A Good Cause, so I know the ropes, but it’s still very early to say how I’m doing. I am enjoying promoting books, and I am learning things in leaps and bounds. Didn’t think my brain could hold that much info!

Lisa: Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out or for authors who are interested in taking the plunge into self-publishing?

Barbara: I was recently chatting with a new writer, and I will repeat my advice here. Keep writing. Keep learning, and most of all, keep polishing your prose. Some authors can mentally filter their words and their first drafts are far smoother than mine. But editing, critically thinking about your story, and polishing are vital to any story being prepared for publication. If you’re thinking of going the self-publishing route, have a really great cover made, first by studying the covers of the genre you want to delve into, and then get professional editing advice. I did, and it helps tremendously.

One more piece of advice for anyone who writes anything. Before you publish it, let it cool, then read it backwards. I mean it, backwards. You’ll find mistakes and won’t get wrapped up in the story and have your brain accidentally, or automatically, fill in the missing words. I had to do that with Souvenirs again, as I reread it before self-publishing it to Amazon and Smashwords. It is so necessary!

Thank you, Lisa, for hosting me. I hope as readers choose my book, Souvenirs, they will not only be able to learn to trust and forgive, as my characters must learn, but also be able to see the bridge, feel the breezes and sand and water, and picture their own ‘photos’ of each chapter, just as that newspaper photographer aimed for. Just don’t corner me at the bank or grocery store asking who the murderer is, because I’m not telling!
Thank you so much for visiting me today, Barbara!
Readers can buy SOUVENIRS from Amazon by clicking on the book cover below. 

Polar Opposites: The Linear and Puzzle Writer

Ever wonder if you'd benefit from writing a different way with a different process?  I wonder about that all the time.  And I've tried.  And failed.  I am what I am.  A puzzle writer.  The polar opposite of the puzzle writer is the linear writer and I've always wished I could write like that.  So I'd like to talk today about the benefits and challenges of being either a Linear or Puzzle writer.

To recap:

A linear writer is someone who writes their FIRST draft of a novel or screenplay using a strict road map. Unlike the plotter, who knows what your hero had for breakfast 10 years ago, the linear writer knows just enough about the characters, the story arc and resolution of the story in order to write. They start on page one, finish a chapter, revise it and then move on, following their little map until they reach the end. Many times linear writers will review what they wrong the previous day and fix whatever problems they see for adding to the story. They can't move on to Chapter Two until Chapter One is as good as they can make it.

A puzzler is a writer who uses a road map, but that map has holes it in.  They maybe know the opening scene, a scene or two in the middle and know exactly how they want their story to end.  As a result, they write out of order so they can get the bones of what they know down and fill in the blanks later. A scene here and there and then they piece the entire manuscript or screenplay together, layering and adding as needed until they come out with a completed story.

Linear and puzzle writers are polar opposites of each other. Ask a linear writer to skip ahead when they get stuck on a scene and they'll start hyperventilating. Ask a puzzler NOT to move ahead and just keep writing straight through and they'll stare at the screen paralyzed. I should know. I'm a puzzler. That's the fastest way to get me to STOP writing.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both types of writers.  For instance, as a puzzle writer my drafts come in short of word/page count.  This is good for me because I have holes I need to fill and I have room to add scenes and layer the story with emotion, description and more action if necessary.  A linear writer usually has a rhythm set up by their road map.  When they get to the end of their story, they're pretty close to word/page count.  If they need to add anything after the fact during the revision stages, it hard for them to do it without having to cut.

A benefit that linear writers have is that when they are done writing their first draft it's pretty clean.  They've spent the time to revise along the way and make changes where necessary.  So when they get to the end, all they need to do is read through and tweak here and there before sending it out.  Puzzle writers need to build in time to their writing schedule to make sure they have plenty of revision type between the finishing of a draft and submitting the manuscript.

Another benefit that puzzle writers have is the way they look at story.  I know that I can see arc of the story and character journey because the high points are pretty clear to me during the writing of the draft.  So when my editor asks for changes, I'm not thrown by having to cut out something or redo a scene.  I can see how it fits and how it's going to change the story arc.  Linear writers see the story in a straight line.  They're so used to writing in order that changing something major on page 150 can throw them. 
One type of writer isn't necessarily better than the other. It's just a process.  Don't let anyone try to tell you the way you write is wrong.  Regardless of what type of writer you are, we all start on page one and finish when we type THE END. 

I'm a big advocate of using writing tools whether their software programs to plot or graphic organizers.  But I'm going to leave you with that for another post because I have a feeling I'd be here all day talking about them.

What kind of writer are you?  What is your process?

WORKING ON: The Piano Tuner
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