Guest Post — AE Jones is back!

We are delighted to welcome paranormal romance author AE Jones back to Through Heart Shaped Glasses. AE’s long awaited fifth installment to the Mind Sweeper series comes out next week! Today she talks about one of her inspirations.

How This TV Addict Became a Writer

I am often asked what influences my writing. A great question even if my answer might be a bit of a surprise. I do have a degree in English and I love all kinds of literature, but in all honesty, television is one of the major influences of my becoming a writer. Growing up, I was a TV junkie. You name it and I watched it. And when I didn’t like the way a show was written, I imagined a different ending. Actually wrote it out, so to speak, in my head. And that was the beginning of my ‘writing’. It wasn’t until years later that I started to create my own stories. Even now when I write my scenes, I see them in my head acted out like a TV show.

Where did my love of paranormal and urban fantasy and my decision to write in these genres stem from? That started with sci-fi shows which then morphed over the years into vamps and demons when director/producer Joss Whedon set the stage. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. Shows that were funny one second and dripping with emotion the next. And the humor was smart-funny and so ridiculously sarcastic that it made you laugh out loud.

Where did my love of humor, sarcasm, and angst and applying it to my stories start? See paragraph above re: Joss Whedon.

But one of the biggest influences of television on my writing is that I write series books. TV shows allow you to spend time with the characters who have become your friends and get to know them along the way. It’s not a snapshot in time. A perfect 90 minute rom-com where the hero runs through the airport to find the heroine after realizing (finally) that they are meant to be together. Well, this could happen in one of my stories, but I would have to add fangs and fur and, more importantly, these characters would be seen again in other books in my series. Just as I sat transfixed watching a show and wondering what would happen the next episode or next season (daggone cliffhangers), I write my books in a way that allows me to explore the character not only in one book, but over multiple books.

In my Mind Sweeper series I follow the life of Kyle McKinley, a woman who has the ability to manipulate memories. And that’s a great power to have when you work with supernatural to hide who and what they are from humans. For me, series books allow for the exploration of all kinds of relationships. Not just between the hero and heroine, but between the secondary characters as well. And not all of the interactions are successful or happy. They can often be painful. But the point is to allow the characters to grow, whether over one book or several.

On September 21st, Sentinel Lost, the fifth book in my Mind Sweeper Series, will be released. And in it, Kyle continues to grow and change as do the characters around her. And because I’m writing a series, I am able to delve into my other character lives as well. They want their stories told. And I will oblige them. Ultimately what makes a good book or a good TV show is characters facing conflict. They might not come out unscathed, but readers (or the audience) aren’t looking for perfection. They’re wanting to see these characters, who have become their friends, rise above it in the end.

So television has played a large role in my life as a writer, and I’m proud to admit it!

Sentinel Lost
(Book 5 in the Award Winning Mind Sweeper Series)

How many supernaturals does it take to screw in a lightbulb? For this particular case, way more than Kyle McKinley has backing her up.

When she stumbles upon a dark museum, missing artwork, and a dead security guard, Kyle and her team are thrust into a new mystery. One involving demons. But not your run of the mill demons—realm demons. Tougher, scarier, and banned from earth, they are escaping from the realm and wreaking havoc in Cleveland, Ohio, of all places.

Now the Feds have shown up, and Kyle has to deal with the one person she prayed she would never see again. Dalton. How can she keep the truth of their past from him without jeopardizing the case? Especially when the Key of Knowledge is part of the mystery. The same Key that almost cost Dalton his sanity and is now threatening hers. Kyle is just starting to get her life back together again with Griffin at her side. And now the Fates are forcing her to choose. But when a demon apocalypse looms on the horizon, her only choice is to embrace the Key to save the world, regardless of what it might cost her.

********************

AE JonesGrowing up a TV junkie, AE Jones oftentimes rewrote endings of episodes in her head when she didn’t like the outcome. She immersed herself in sci-fi and soap operas. But when Buffy hit the little screen, she knew her true love was paranormal. Now she spends her nights weaving stories about all variation of supernatural—their angst and their humor. After all, life is about both…whether you sport fangs or not.

AE won RWA’s 2013 Golden Heart ® Award for her paranormal manuscript, Mind Sweeper. Mind Sweeper was also a 2015 RWA RITA® finalist for both First Book and Paranormal Romance.

AE lives in Ohio surrounded by her eclectic family and friends who in no way resemble any characters in her books. Honest. Now her two cats are another story altogether.

Find AE at:
Website: www.aejonesauthor.com
Twitter: @aejonesauthor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aejones.author1
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8190719.A_E_Jones

Find AE’s books here:
Amazon
Kobo
Apple

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

Novel Settings

Today I thought I’d run with the ball that Nina threw out in her last post and talk about setting. Setting can be many things to a story–a backdrop, something that defines a character, or it can become a character itself. Think, for example, of Harry Potter–Hogwarts is absolutely essential to the story. Setting can also be dangerous–raise your hand if you’ve ever read a book in which the writer spends pages and pages describing the setting. I usually skip those scenes, as they bore me to tears. I tend to think of settings as a backdrop. They are integral to my stories in that I find it hard to imagine the characters anywhere else, but they don’t usually become characters themselves.

Durham Cathedral fall 1985

Durham Cathedral

How writers decide where to set a book is a curious thing as well. I almost always think of a setting first–inspired by something I’ve done, seen, or read–and then the story follows. Equally curious is the fact that some places–beautiful, wondrous places–spark no inspiration at all. I spent some time in Nebraska last year, and in Paris this year, and neither of them, interesting and unique (and different) as they are, gave me any ideas for a story. Not yet, anyway.

My first book, Stirring Up the Viscount, is set in Durham, England. I lived there for a year in college a very long time ago and vividly remember it, and when I sat down to write that book, Durham is where I pictured it.

Tynemouth Priory. Attribution: Chris McKenna (Thryduulf)

 

 

My second book, Secret Promise, is set in Northumberland, in a town I’ve never visited, but when I found a picture of Tynemouth online, I knew the book had to be set there.

Mansion of Sylvester T. Everett on Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH, 1885. Attribution: Cornell University Library.

 

 

I am working on two books at the moment. One is the third book in the series which started with Stirring Up the Viscount. It’s set in northern Maine–a rather drastic change from Durham, and a place I’ve never been. A fourth book, completely unrelated to anything, takes place in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1880s, inspired by a talk I heard last year about Cleveland’s Gilded Age. I’ve got ideas in the hopper for books set in Pompeii and London.

If you’re a writer, how do you decide on your settings? If you’re a reader, what is your favorite setting for novels? Where would you love to see a story set? You never know–it might give me an idea. 🙂

 

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

Summertime

This weekend marks the start of summer. ‘Tis the season of weddings (I’m sitting in the airport, on my way to Oklahoma for my nephew’s wedding, as I type this), vacations, no arguments with the kid about homework, warm and lazy afternoons spent reading by the neighborhood pool, firefly chasing, evenings on the patio drinking sangria with friends, and, hopefully, lots of writing as well.

Summer is also the season of writing conferences. I went to one a few weeks ago, hosted by my local Northeast Ohio RWA chapter. It was fun, informative, a bit exhausting. I consider it preparation for my first trip to the RWA National conference in July, which will, I expect, be like the NEORWA conference on steroids. Lots of steroids. I honestly can’t wait.

Because I’m too tired to keep writing–I had one of those nights where you wake up every 20 minutes because you’re neurotic about oversleeping–I will ask you: What’s your favorite part of summer? What are you most looking forward to this year? And if you’ve been to RWA Nationals, feel free to share some tips!

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

Guest post – AE Jones: When the Beginning Isn’t the Beginning

Our guest today is award-winning paranormal romance author, AE Jones. AE Jones

When the Beginning Isn’t the Beginning

Writers have a number of commandments. Fundamental truths that apply to any type of writing genre or medium. The commandment I’m going to talk about today is this: a good beginning is imperative to the success of your story.

Does that seem a bit too obvious? Maybe so, but that doesn’t make it any less true. If the story does not capture a reader within the first couple of pages (some say the first couple of paragraphs) they will put the book back on the shelf in the library or bookstore. Now that digital sample chapters are one-click away for readers, this truth is even more the case. The beginning needs to draw the reader in.

But hand-in-hand with the whole ‘good beginning’ mantra is another truth: beginnings are very hard to write. Well that doesn’t seem fair now, does it? So how about if we delve into some of the reasons why beginnings are hard to write. Because when we understand the why, we can then learn how to fix it.

  • Backstory. Both a writer’s friend and enemy, backstory is necessary to establish the reason why the characters act the way they do. However, that doesn’t mean that the first chapter should be chock full of what they have done in the past. With backstory we often fall into the trap of telling rather than showing. And telling equates to passive writing, which is not what we want at the beginning of our stories. Often for many writers (myself included) that first draft of chapter one is really a character analysis. If that is the case, then move that chapter into a folder marked ‘characters’ and start again. This time don’t give the reader paragraphs of hearsay or what has happened in their childhood, instead tease the reader with hints of the character’s life through dialogue and action.
  • Starting at the wrong place. This one happens a lot. Some of this goes hand in hand with backstory since as authors we have a misplaced belief that everything needs to be explained up front when it can actually be layered into the story later. Often it’s a matter of finding when the writing starts to ‘click.’ No one is going to immediately write snappy, full-developed scenes when they first sit down and start a new story. But maybe after a few pages or chapters, the story finally comes alive and starts to flow. Don’t be surprised if that’s where your story truly begins.
  • Trying too hard. There is a lot of pressure to write the perfect first line, first paragraph, and first chapter. When sitting down in front of our computer and watching that blinking cursor flash on that empty page, we panic. To help with that panic tell yourself that the first words you write, heck the first couple pages you write are a warm up. They will be re-worked or discarded before you finally have the ‘right’ beginning for your story. If you keep that in mind, typing those first words isn’t as daunting a task.

What I find often happens is that as the story progresses and the characters come alive on the pages, the beginning no longer fits with the rest of tale. Don’t be afraid to go back and rework those first scenes so that they are now in line with where your story has evolved. Any way to make those pages memorable means that you have a better chance of a reader NOT putting your book down until they read ‘the end’. And that’s every writer’s wish. Another commandment, if you will.

AE Jones’ newest release is a box set of two novellas from her Mind Sweeper series:

novellas 3d boxset copyThe Fledgling – A Novella

Vampire Jean Luc Delacroix has been alive for nearly four hundred years. Alive, but not really living. This changes when he meets newly turned vampire, Talia. Feisty and beautiful, Talia is the first female Jean Luc has been attracted to in centuries. But when he finds out she is also a bounty hunter who is interfering with his investigation of a supernatural serial killer, he pushes her away for her and his own good.

Bitten and thrust into the supernatural world against her will, Talia wants nothing more than to do her job. She doesn’t have time to deal with an overbearing, ridiculously sexy vampire. But Jean Luc and Talia butt heads on their single-minded crusade to stop a murderer. And unless they can set aside their troubled pasts and learn to trust each other, they may never have an opportunity to explore their true feelings. Especially when they face off with the killer.

The Pursuit – A Novella

Thirty years after their initial meeting, Jean Luc Delacroix and Talia Walker once again cross paths. After seeing Talia again, Jean Luc’s feelings reignite. This time he will do whatever it takes to make her a permanent part of his life. Talia learned everything she knows about love—and about being a vampire—from Jean Luc. And when she comes face to face with Jean Luc again, she wonders if her continued independence is as important as being with the vampire she still loves.

Before either can acknowledge their feelings, they are embroiled in a deadly case of a vampire draining humans. In the midst of an investigation that threatens the very foundation of the vampire nation, can Jean Luc and Talia finally find the courage to follow their hearts? Or will the killer destroy them first?

Buy links:
Amazon
iTunes
Kobo

You can find out more about AE Jones here:
Website: aejonesauthor.com
Twitter: @aejonesauthor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aejones.author1

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

Plotting vs Pantsing: How Does Your Garden Grow?

So the other day I came across this quote, attributed to George R.R. Martin: “I’ve always said there are – to oversimplify it – two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running, and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up. I think all writers are partly architects and partly gardeners, but they tend to one side or another, and I am definitely more of a gardener.”

photo 2

I love this. Not only is it a different take on the whole plotter vs pantser debate (plotting a story vs flying by the seat of your pants), but it provides wonderful imagery to explore.  It is spring here, and plants are popping up all over the place. All the bulbs I planted last fall (except for the ones the chipmunks ate) are springing to life. I planted an assortment, so there was no telling whether a white or a yellow daffodil would come up, or a red or purple tulip.

 

photo 4

I definitely tend to the gardener side. My writing is a bit like my bed of bulbs. I know the story will have lots of daffodils, but many times their height, color, and style have yet to be determined until the story starts to flow. Other places will have herbs–their traits and purpose clear. Then there is the occasional ornamental shrub, which blooms for just a few days, overwhelming you with its glorious beauty and fragrance, before it turns green and a bit boring for the rest of the year.  Still other plants in my garden stay green all year–no flowers, no scent, no purpose except to occupy space and provide some color and contrast even on the drabbest of winter days.

photo 3

 

But even herbs and shrubs can surprise you, and there is always the bulb the chipmunk stole and buried in the middle of the lawn–writers and gardeners always need to be ready for a surprise.

photo 1

 

 

What type of writer are you?

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

IreAnne Chambers on Using Social Media, and a Giveaway!

IreAnne ChambersToday’s guest is my friend and NEORWA chaptermate, IreAnne Chambers.

Welcome, IreAnne! We are delighted to be your first foray into guest blogging!

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EXTRA!  EXTRA!  READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Getting the word out has come a long way since the early 1900s.  For a new author, finding a readership can be challenging.  Using all the social media available today may feel like these words are screaming out across the internet.  Many avenues are available, such as websites, social media, book trailers, author interviews, podcasts, book readings, to name a few.  All of these are created with the hope of attracting readers.

I have found the quest for readership both fun and sometimes a bit discouraging.  If you are an author reading this, no doubt you have too.  If you are a reader, maybe you didn’t know about all the places you may be able to connect with your favorite authors.  Below are some things I have tried and my experiences on my journey so far:

  1. Wattpad – This was the first place I went. I found it a great place to interact with other writers and readers.  It is also a way to get feedback on what you have written.  As it turns out, my first draft of my debut novel still gets votes and reads.  Yes, I actually posted my first draft and for now, it is still there.  I decided to leave it up until the final is published.
  2. Facebook – I love Facebook. There is no limit to the number of characters you can post in a comment.  You can post videos and pictures and I find it to be the most commonly used among authors.  The drawback with Facebook, as many of us know, is the lack of control on who we reach.  Facebook only allows us access to about 10% of friends.  So, I find myself reaching out to other forms of social media.
  3. Goodreads – My experience with Goodreads is really just limited to sharing what I like with others and sharing some reviews. You can choose to belong to different groups of interest as well.  I have found some “good reads” here.
  4. Website No. 1 – The design of my own website using WordPress. This first attempt at a website revealed the need for a more professional look.  More on this below.
  5. Twitter – Twitter is much different than the Facebook realm – trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Keeping tweets to only 140 characters is challenging.  Learning the significance of hashtags is also challenging.  I’m still learning those.  I found out the hard way you can only follow 2,000 people before Twitter doesn’t let you follow anyone else if you follow more people than follow you.  I tried to find help on Twitter.  Of course, there are no email contacts for exactly what I was looking for help on.  So, I tweeted and emailed different help contacts.  No one from Twitter responded.  A Facebook friend recommended Manage Flitter.  I tried the free version.  So far, this has been wonderful!  Manage Flitter helped me get my Twitter account under control and manage it.  I found out it is important to keep your follow/following ratio close and follow less people than follow you or Twitter will consider you a spammer.
  6. Google – I have been told this is the place to be for the future. I have a profile.  It seems similar to Facebook and for now I am just posting updates on blog posts.
  7. Website No. 2 – Adventures in Guernsey Interactive Blog Series. As noted above, I took on the challenge of designing my own website using WordPress.  This was a learning experience.  But, clearly, as time went on, I realized I needed a professional.  So, I hired one who helped me get the job done.  This, by far, is where I hope to interact the most with my readers.  Here is where I will feature new releases and book trailers as well as continue my current Adventures in Guernsey blog series.  I want to encourage readers to comment on what they think will happen in the next chapter of this series.  I want to incorporate some of the ideas and keep the story going.  I thought it might be a fun activity for readers to suggest what they think happens next and then see if it does.
  8. Guest Blog Posts – This is the newest addition to my quest. My first guest blog post is here at Heart-Shaped Glasses!  To celebrate, at the end of this blog I have a rafflecopter giveaway set up for a $25 Amazon gift card.  It will run through the weekend.

I have also joined Tsu and, as noted above, Google, but I have not been able to cultivate those yet.  There are so many ways to reach out and find people.  The question is, does it work?  I have had some tell me absolutely yes and others tell me no, not so much.  While I have a presence on the major social media networks, I am focusing on my Website, Twitter and Facebook for now.

So, what have I concluded?

  1. If you want to find readers, you need to write a good book. If you write a good book, readers will find you.
  2. It will rarely be an overnight success. Building a readership will take time, patience and perseverance.  Focus on writing and don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth.
  3. There needs to be balance when it comes to social media. As authors, you need time to write that good book.  Find the balance that works for you.

So, my friends, if you are a reader, where do you like to connect with your favorite author?  Writers, what have you found to be the most successful way to connect with your readers?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

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