Today’s Featured Author: Jazz Singh

Today I have author Jazz Singh on my blog discussing her latest books.

Interview 

What or who inspired you to start writing?

A friend called and put me in touch with Naheed, publisher at Indireads. We chatted. She was looking for writers from the subcontinent. I’d handwritten a novella some years ago, which is still around somewhere, so I guess the writing bug was lying dormant.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

The books are about the world I’m familiar with, so there are bits of my friends, acquaintances, colleagues, etc all over. Disguised certainly and mixed with imagination depending on how the character shapes up and how he / she needs to be.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I write when I can and don’t necessarily wait to get published before I start on my next. The book I wrote after these two that are published has rape as the central theme and how it is difficult for a victim to get out of it and into normal relationships with anyone. Since I write romance, the challenge for this one was on how to end it – in keeping with the genre or in keeping with reality.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

No, I don’t write full time. I work in a media house for a men’s lifestyle magazine. My job involves all aspects – from ideating and writing pieces, to editing and production. I write when I can around the assignments, which often go into the evening.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

I usually pick a theme and build the story around it. Against All Odds, for instance, came about because the initial brief from my publisher was that there should be a social aspect o the stories. At the time I couldn’t think of anything other than caste, which is prevalent in India, and I didn’t want to write about that. So I wrote about a class division, which is also pretty ossified in society here. Only a Dream has betrayal as the central theme. Both books feature friends and family in a big way because that’s how our lives are. Romance, and all that it entails, usually unfolds around interfering family and friends.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

No I prefer not to outline. In fact, I can’t do it which becomes a problem when you have to submit an idea, then initial chapters and so on. I sketch my characters in my head and watch them do their thing. They live in my head as long as I’m writing their story and I see their lives which I write about.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Somebody’s physique, somebody’s smile, somebody’s hair, somebody’s eyes, somebody’s philosophy in life, somebody’s reactions, somebody’s situation, some fiction, mixed up with the demands of the storyline…they all come together in unique characters.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

They both started as standalone books, but the characters in Against All Odds were so strong, they begged their own story. It helped too when my publisher voiced the thought, although she didn’t push for it. I wrote a few other books (unpublished) and then came back to these. The lives of these characters were so smooth that I had to think of what would cause ripples. One of them meets a damaged person and has to learn to deal with her problems. Another one has to face the consequences of unrequited love.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

A single one, no. Too many actually. Do you really want to get me started?

What book are you reading right now?

Three simultaneously – Salman Rushie’s biography Joseph Anton. The last of the Game of Thrones quintet – Dance with Dragons and Pankaj Mishra’s From the Ruins of Empire.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Georgette Heyer, because I can read her endlessly and laugh each time. Alexandre Dumas to understand how a single person can churn out the sheer volume of work he did and with the spades of research involved in his writing and no internet.

Book Blurbs

Against All Odds 

against-all-odds coverThe first time they collide, he thinks she’s a con artist, she believes he’s an arrogant snob.

It takes several meetings to change their minds about each other, but eventually, Abhimanyu and Sanjana strike up a friendship that seems destined to turn into something more. He’s a rich successful businessman, however, and she’s a small-town girl who doesn’t fit into his glittering world; a fact that Abhimanyu’s mother has taken pains to point out.

Will they ever overcome the odds, or are their lives on parallel tracks, never destined to cross?

Only a Dream 

only-a-dreamRhea can’t believe her ex-flame Varun has shown up in her life again as her new boss! He was her first love, the man she gave herself to body and soul, thinking they would be together forever. But then, without warning or explanation, he dumped her and she was left with broken dreams and a broken heart.

Now he wants Rhea in his life again and won’t take no for an answer. But the hurt and humiliation of the past still rankle and Rhea is not ready to forgive and forget.

Can Varun convince her that his promises are for real? Should Rhea believe him?

About the Author

Jazz Singh loves to travel and takes every opportunity she gets to see a new place. She has done many things in her life, from training behavioral skills to working in the world of fashion. She believes life is all about trying the untried and her curiosity has had her rappel down a mountain face and zip-fly across deep valleys.

She believes there is no age for love; it can happen anytime. While she loves reading, she has no favorite genre; she goes through phases and can move from philosophy, to spiritual books, to science fiction and then on to historical dramas. Writing romance has been a long-held dream.

You can find out more about Jazz on Indireads. Her books can be purchased on Amazon.

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Promoting your novels within your (or someone else’s) book

As an independent author, promoting my books is always high on my list of things to do. One of the easiest ways – and sometimes the most overlooked – is promoting within your published book.

In print books, you can often find a list of other books by the author. This is a smart thing to do as it directs satisfied readers to your other books. With e-books you can go beyond just listing your other books. You can proved hyperlinks directly to the purchase pages. And if you don’t have a ton of books to list, you can even include thumbnail-size covers.

Note – this works if publishing directly through Amazon or Barnes and Noble but not when publishing through Smashwords. Because Smashwords distributes your book to many retailers, they do not want links that will be directing readers to other websites to purchase additional books. According to the Smashwords’ Style Guide, you should only provide an external hyperlink to a personal home page, blog or to your Smashwords author page. (Similarly, when publishing through Smashwords, you shouldn’t ask for a book review for a specific retailer.)

With the ease of updating already published e-books, you can easily go back to your older books and update your list of other books available.

When making a hyperlink, don’t just type the link in the text. Instead, use MS Word’s “Hyperlink” command to create reliable links. Highlight the word, right click on it, select hyperlink. A window will come up in which you can paste your URL address where it says “address”. This way the title of your book is the link but the reader won’t see the long web address.

CIMG2716Another popular feature at the end of books is to include a sample chapter – often from a book that is yet to be released. In an e-book, if you are including a chapter of a book that is already published, you can include a link that takes the reader right to the buy page. (This works well for my short story which is an introduction to my trilogy.)

Another idea that I have seen suggested is to list the books of another author at the end of your book in the sort of “If you enjoyed this book, you might also enjoy these books from (Author’s name).” Or of course you can include a sample chapter from their book with the buy link. The idea is that you would do this for an author and they do the same for you allowing you both to broaden your readership.

No matter if you only list your books or if you include a sample chapter, make sure you don’t miss this easy – and FREE – way to promote your books.

Scheduling Time for Family Dinners

My kids are lucky enough to live within close proximity to both set of grandparents. My parents moved to a city 20 minutes away before my son was born, and my in-laws moved to a small town about 20 minutes north of here about 2 ½ years ago.

When the kids were not going to public school, they saw my parents quite a bit – Sea World, the zoo or even just spending a day over at their house. However, now both kids are in elementary school, and our schedules have gotten busier – karate, gymnastics and homework.

The chances to see the grandparents have dwindled down to the few date nights might husband and I go on or only seeing them on holidays or birthdays. It isn’t just that we are busier but both sets of grandparents are busy with doctor appointments and other activities. (My dad is on the city council for his city and my parents are both active in their church and with the police alumni group.)

So last year as we drove back from a trip to the beach, my husband and I decided to introduce “Family Dinners” once a month.  We would set aside two evenings each month – one for each set of grandparents. We would then alternate having them at our house or going to theirs.

5298 040903 uid 1634107Both sets of grandparents quickly jumped on board with this plan. The actual idea came from the fact that my husband’s grandparents use to have everyone over EVERY Sunday. That included the grand kids so hubby and I would make the one-hour drive about every other Sunday. As college students, it was always nice to have a home-cooked meal.

So this July, we will have been at the Family Dinner thing for a year. Has it gone as expected? Well, no. We haven’t actually had a dinner every month as planned. My mom spent some time in the hospital which caused us to miss three months in a row. We also missed three months with my in-law due to sicknesses or scheduling conflicts.

But the dinners (or sometimes lunches) that we have had are great. I usually have them come over to our house about an hour before dinner to hang out and see the kids. When my in-laws have done their turn, they have always chosen lunch over dinner. They have a go-kart at their house, and they want the kids to ride it in the daylight (and when the temperature is at its best.) My parents have done mostly dinners, and since they have a huge train layout in the backyard, the kids are easily amused.

Part of the family dinners is the person hosting it gets to decide what they want to serve. I enjoy cooking so I always make something, even trying out a new dish for my monthly featured recipe. My in-law opt for ordering pizza a lot while my parents have gone both ways – picking up fried chicken or cooking a meal.

We plan to keep up the Family Dinners as long as we can. Now that school is about to get out for the summer, I expect we will be seeing both sets of grandparents a little more often, but it is nice to have those set days to plan for too.

Today’s Featured Author: Tiffany L. Warren

Today I welcome author Tiffany L. Warren to my blog. Please enjoy this excerpt from her book, The Replacement Wife.

Excerpt

Prologue

Chloe scanned the incredibly packed sanctuary and groaned. The only seats available were in the balcony, and that just wouldn’t do. Chloe wanted to kick herself for not gassing up her Benz the night before. That extra fourteen minutes at the gas station had probably made all the difference. Now, instead of sitting close enough to her next husband that he could smell her Chanel No. 5, she would be in the rafters with the unimportant attendees . . . unless she could convince one of the ushers to seat her in front, where she so obviously belonged.

Chloe weighed her choices. One of the center aisles was being guarded by a white-haired woman with a body like a Baltimore Ravens lineman and a glare to match. Chloe immediately decided against her. She was likely immune to any of Chloe’s charms and would probably have her removed from the sanctuary for trying to sidestep the rules.

The other center aisle was being handled by a distinguished and handsome man of about fifty years. Every few seconds he wiped tears from his eyes. He probably knew the recently departed Chandra Chambers personally. Had probably dined with the family in that gigantic mansion off West Paces Ferry Road, right smack in the middle of Atlanta’s old money. He was, without question, Chloe’s mark.

Chloe stumbled down the aisle, tears flowing freely, and soft sobs escaping every few seconds. The sensitive usher approached her and touched her arm.

“I’m so sorry, miss, but there are no more seats in the main sanctuary. You’ll have to sit in the overflow.”

Chloe nodded and placed one hand on her chest. As she’d hoped, the usher’s gaze follobosom.

“I know,” Chloe said in a throaty whisper, “but I just want to look at Chandra one more time. We were roommates at Spelman, and she was just like a sister to me.”

The usher looked unsure, so Chloe went in for the kill. “When she was sick, she asked me to look after her babies for her. How can I do that from the balcony?”

This settled it for the usher. Chloe was sure he believed every word of her emotional speech. And why wouldn’t he? Who would lie at a funeral about the wishes of the deceased?

Only a desperate person.

And as much as Chloe hated to admit it, she was desperate, and her socialite status was in severe jeopardy. She had just a couple hundred thousand dollars in the bank, which enabled her to strategize without getting a nine to five, but it wouldn’t keep her in the society circles she’d infiltrated with her late fiancé. Walter had been a billionaire. She’d met him on the beach in St. Bart’s one holiday. Although he was seventy-eight, Walter was spry and sexy, and he’d given Chloe everything her heart had desired. Well . . . almost everything. He’d never made her his bride, and when he died suddenly of an aneurysm, Walter’s children unceremoniously threw Chloe out on her behind. All she had left was the sum of the gifts he’d given her—a fully furnished townhouse, several large diamonds and other jewels, and a car.

Chloe tried not to draw too much attention to herself as she followed the usher down to the front row. She wanted to be remembered by only one person—Quentin. The lineman usher scowled, but Chloe’s friendly usher made room for her on the aisle. None of the family paid attention to the extra person in their pew. In fact, the family seemed to be in a tearful haze. Quentin looked especially hopeless, but even still, his incredible good looks made Chloe’s heart skip a beat. His caramel skin seemed to glow as tears coursed down his face.

Chloe wanted to reach out and comfort him, pull him to her saline plumped breasts and caress his pain away.

Yes, Chloe did believe she would have her some of Quentin Chambers. And his millions.

Book Description

the replacement wifeAtlanta’s most eligible widower isn’t looking to remarry—but for one woman, that’s a mere detail.  .  .

Five years after his beloved wife’s death, wealthy Quentin Chambers still hasn’t returned to the church or his music ministry. Even his home is now devoid of music, and without his attention, Quentin’s five children are getting out of control—until his mother steps in and hires him a live-in nanny. Montana is pretty, compassionate, church-going, and even has a beautiful singing voice. The children take to her right away, and soon enough Quentin finds his heart opening to faith—and love—once more. But not everyone loves Montana.  .  .

A “friend” of Quentin’s first wife, Chloe has been scheming to become the next Mrs. Chambers since the funeral. Chloe is convinced she’s just one seduction away from a marriage proposal. Now she’ll do whatever it takes to get rid of Montana—including blackmail, theft—and digging up a troublemaking man from Montana’s past. But Chloe forgets she’s got secrets of her own, and the tables may turn with a twist she never sees coming.  .  .

Author Bio 

Tiffany WarrenTiffany L. Warren is an author, playwright, songwriter, songwriter, cook, and bargain shopper, mother, and wife. Her debut novel What a Sista Should Do, was released in June of 2005 and has ministered to over 50,000 readers. Her second book, Farther than I Meant to Go, Longer than I Meant to Stay was a national bestseller. She has gone on to pen fifteen novels including two young adult series (So For Real and The Fab Life) under pen name Nikki Carter.

In 2006, Tiffany and her husband, Brent, founded Warren Productions and released their first gospel musical. What a Sista Should Do – The Stage Play debuted in Cleveland, OH at the famed Allen Theatre. The play has appeared to sold out audiences in Dallas, TX and starred R&B stars Christopher Williams and Gary “Lil’ G” Jenkins.  Their second musical The Replacement Wife debuted in Dallas, TX and starred Gospel and R&B legend Shirley Murdock and Tommy Ford from Martin!

Tiffany is also the visionary behind the Faith and Fiction Retreat, a yearly conference where readers get the opportunity to connect with some of their favorite faith based authors.  The retreat’s Pitch Session is a hit with aspiring authors, because they are able to present their book ideas to industry deal makers.  The retreat has been in existence since 2007 and has been hosted in Dallas, TX; Atlanta, GA; St Simons Island, GA; Orlando, FL and Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

Tiffany resides in northern Texas with her husband Brent and their five children.

You can find out more about Tiffany on her website or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

The Replacement Wife is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and from all major book retailers.

Romance and sex in your non-romance novel

As a writer of fantasy novels, romance is not in the forefront of my plots. So when it comes to writing a bit of romance into the story, I begin to wonder how much to include and what exactly to do with the sex scenes if any come about.

This topic can come up for any author – mystery, thriller, historical – and well, even the romance author. There are tons of books out there that include fiery sex scenes but do you need to do that too?

Not necessarily.

romanceBasically, you need to write whatever fits the overall plot. Even in a romance novel, there is no hard-and-fast rule about when the characters should be having sex, or how much you want to show. The romance of a story – and any sex scenes – should flow from the events of the story. Remember that every scene needs to advance the story forward or expand the character. So hot, passionate sex just for the sake of adding sex to your story is not a good idea (unless you are writing erotica).

When I wrote my trilogy, the most risqué thing was just a little kissing. If anything else happened, it was never mentioned in the story. In that series, I think adding sex – or even just more romance – would not have added to the story.

In my current work-in-progress, there is an attempted rape at the beginning but the main character fights off her attacker before anything graphic can happen. As for romance, I have one building but nothing but a single kiss has happened so far. I expect more to go on later. And that leads me to wonder how much to show the reader and how much to leave up to their imagination?

Tips for writing sex scenes

1)      Decide how much you are comfortable writing. Just because others write steamy sex scenes that leave nothing to the imagination doesn’t mean you need to follow suit. Don’t force yourself to write out of your comfort zone. Your discomfort will show in your writing.

2)      Let your characters decide on the level of intimacy. Don’t worry about publisher guidelines or what is popular. There are readers out there who like all sorts of levels of romance and descriptions (or lack thereof) in regards to sex scenes.

3)      However, do give the readers what they expect. When reading a romance novel you expect romance and at least the hint of something more. If the romance is secondary to your story and doesn’t progress, your reader won’t feel cheated. But if they are expecting a steamy book and there is no steam, then your reader will be upset.

4)      You don’t always have to focus on what is physically happening. Write about what the characters are feeling rather than what they are doing.

Remember there is a difference between sex and love. You can write a story about finding love without having sex in your story. You can have a steamy scene with nothing more than a kiss. It is all in how it is written. Remember sometimes less can be more.