I was born with a reading list I will never finish. — Maud Casey
Just out last month – The Dating Game: Short Stories About the Search for Mr. Right.
In this compilation of dating stories, sixteen writers share tales of adventures and experiences while on the quest toward finding Mr. Right. From Tania Renee Zayid’s story of what happens when one woman becomes determined to keep the perfect man that she met online . . . to Natalie Leffall’s hilarious look into the dating world of a plus-size girl . . . to Keleigh and Gina’s rib-tickling and surprisingly dangerous, speed dating fiasco. . . and Gina Torres’ tale of love, heartache, and the power of letting go . . . these diverse stories will make you laugh, cry, and root for the characters to land Mr. Right.
Here are just a few of the included stories…
Open by Victoria Kennedy
Karim is stiff and formal. Deanna is saucy and down to earth. The come from different cultures, religions and pasts. When they answer the call of attraction, will they be able to bridge what separates them and submit to the desire they can no longer deny?
Victoria Kennedy is a writer and singer. She is currently pursing an MFA in Creative Writing and the Publishing Arts. To find out more about her, check out her website.
Mixing Business with Pleasure by Richelle Denise
Kennedi Tyler is a businesswoman who finds love in the most unlikely place…the arms of her boss. But when she makes a shocking discovery, she realizes everything isn’t always as great as it seems.
Richelle Denise is an aspiring author who has always had a passion for reading. When she is not writing, she is most likely spending time with her two sons.
A Beautiful Letter by Cheryl Ashford Daniels
Elle all but gives up on love after her husband dies. Especially since dating proves worse than being alone. When she receives a mysterious letter inviting her on a blind date, she almost throws the letter away. Who would dare invite her, the ice queen of the century, on a date? After receiving another letter from the same incredulous author, she opens herself up to the possibility of love again.
Cheryl Ashford Daniels is an aspiring writer what has a passionate love for reading and writing. She woke up one morning and decided that instead of reading another book, she wanted to write one. You can find out more about her on her website.
You can purchase The Dating Game on Amazon.
For several years now, my parents have talked about taking the family on a vacation for their 50th wedding anniversary. Well, my mom decided that is still too far away (Dec. 2017), so she decided this summer would be a good time as my husband and I celebrate our 20 year wedding anniversary in June, and my dad turns 80 in October.
So, in August, my parents, my brother and my family (me, hubby and the two kids) will be taking a Caribbean cruise. The last time the adults took a trip together was in 1997 when we went to Washington DC for my grandmother’s funeral.
It should be an interesting trip. The kids are excited about it. Of course, I first had to convince Jase that the ship was unlikely to hit an iceberg and sink.
Passports are not required when taking a cruise even though it stops in Mexico, Jamaica and Grand Cayman. You can get by with just a driver’s license, but a passport can make departing the cruise ship when we return to Galveston easier. And if there is ever a reason that you need to fly back, you can’t do so without a passport. And with traveling with Lexie, who has multiple allergies and very sensitive skin and traveling with my parents who are getting up there in years and have their own health issues, we thought it would be better just to go ahead and get passports. Better to have them and not need them than to be kicking ourselves if an emergency does come up.
Our local post office only does passports between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., which typically would mean that I have to take the kids out of school. When I called, they were booking appointments at the end of February, which actually worked well for us as the kids had early school dismissal and didn’t have to miss school.
The actual passport appointment was quick. It took about 20 minutes for all four of us. Now all we have to do wait for the passports to come in. One thing we did do is we took our own passport photos. Places like Walgreens offer to do it for $12 but when you have four of us that would be $48. Instead, I followed the direction from this website and printed our own from Walmart for less than $1.
The kids were excited about the different things that we can do in each port. I didn’t want to overwhelm them with too many choices, so I picked ten options – swimming with dolphins or stingrays, tours of turtle farms, submarine ride, trips to private beaches, horseback riding, climbing up a river/waterfall, buggy trips on the beach, glass bottom boats, and a pirate adventure.
Based on which ones they liked best – and what worked with the others on our trip – here is what we picked.
Cozumel – Trip to a private island. For the younger set (my brother and my family) we are taking a speed boat that does 360 degree spins and twists and turns – sort of like a roller coaster on the water. For my parents, there is the much calmer catamaran to the beach. It is all-you-can-eat and drink on the island. There are water sports, kayaks, snorkeling, water trampolines and slides, hammocks, kid activities and of course the beach to keep us entertained.
Grand Cayman – We are going to swim with the dolphins. Yes, we are actually going to be in the water with the dolphins and pulled across the water with them. Afterwards, we get to go to the neighboring turtle farm where you can pick up baby turtles.
Jamaica – This is the one location where instead of going as one big group we will be splitting up. My parents, the kids and I are going horseback riding, which includes riding the horses in the ocean. My husband and brother are going on an adventure package. They are going to ride a Jamaican bobsled and zip line over the trees.
This is shaping up to be quite the adventure. (And with all these cool excursions, it is shaping up to be an expensive one too.) I am sure over the next couple of months I will have some more posts about our upcoming trip and the fun of taking the kids on a cruise.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Richmond, Virginia and grew up in nearby Powhatan. Now my family resides in Prince George. It’s a rural county and I’m surrounded by eleven wooded acres. The great part of living in central Virginia, I’m one and one-half hours to the beach, two-hours to Washington, D.C., and two-hours to the mountains. It’s great to have so many options.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
Since I write contemporary erotic romance, I’ll tread lightly. I do believe it’s impossible to write a 25,000-word series, and it not reflect anything of its author’s personality or experiences. I’ve always been a rather open-minded person. So, I’ll leave it to the reader’s imagination.
In the series, there are some locations my family enjoys. Since it’s based in Richmond, Virginia, local landmarks like the Jefferson Hotel, The Boathouse Restaurant, Lewis Ginter Botantical Gardens, Tobacco Company Restaurant, Maymont Park, are all places uniquely Richmond, and well recognized. It thrills me to leave little clues throughout my books, hoping someone may catch on to the meanings. There are however some facts readers would probably never guess. For example, Jack Loving’s life is held hostage by the Bowes Family Trust, initially set up by his farmer grandfather, Rudy Bowes. My grandfather’s last name was Bowes and he was in fact a farmer. My dad’s name is Rudy. Another example is the location where Lizzie works, and the location where she is a Madame: 111 East Main Street. In the book, I mentioned it was the former location of Moestas’s Bakery. In fact, because I am a genealogy geek, my great-grandfather immigrated from Germany, and opened Moesta’s Bakery at the exact spot on 111 East Main Street. The only difference is it’s unfortunately the only address on the block which is a parking lot. Huge disappointment for me! There are quite a few other references in the books like names, which are personal to me. My plan is to mention at least three authentic sites in each book because it’s fun and I love my city.
Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?
It’s interesting, I oftentimes wait for the story to come to me. It’s almost like a movie playing really fast in my head. When I do brainstorm something relevant, I’m immediately met with a multitude of new ideas. So, I allow the flow to come organically because if I press too hard, I fear it will not flow. So far it’s working for me, strange but true. Then, I tend to binge-write my manuscripts. Normally, I can visualize the entire series’ beginning, middle and end. Then, I write a very loose outline of where I want to end in books one and two. Since I prefer to write in first-person, it allows me to feel the characters very intimately. I absorb myself to the point I’m so emotionally connected, I can feel a scene for days after writing it. There are certain scenes no matter how many times I read it, I cry. For example, the boardroom scene in The Good Samaritan where Jack confronts Victoria, I can’t help it. I cry every single time. The ending of book two, dominated my thoughts. I prefer to write my chapters in order, but Chapters 34 and 35 were written nearly mid-point of the book. Even though I dreaded writing those chapters, my mind almost blocked until I did. Quite a few tears were shed and I was very depressed. Since I do not share my work with anyone until my betas read it, no one could understand exactly what I was feeling. There are drawbacks in my opinion for writing first person, at least for me, but it’s that same connection that can also be extraordinary.
Book three in the series, which publishes this summer, I anticipate will be a longer book. Quite a few questions remain for multiple characters, so I need to tie everything together. I want to announce that I intend to write two standalone novels using characters from The Good Samaritan series. Even though it’s not necessary to have read the series, I believe you will appreciate it more if you do. Additionally, in book two, The Unlikely Samaritan, I laid the groundwork for my next series which publishes April, 2016. There will be a few crossover characters making appearances. So, that’s eight books in total by the end of 2016. For now, my books will center around Richmond, Virginia but may include Washington, D.C and south to the coastal areas of North Carolina.
Please tell us about your current release.
This series is definitely not your cookie-cutter romance novel. No offense to the amazing authors we all read and love, I decided to approach this series uniquely. Oftentimes, we begin a book with or without a prologue. When we do see one, I have found myself often wanting more—to know more, about the backgrounds of my favorite characters. Therefore, I intentionally designed this series with a fresh new approach. Book one, is essentially a prologue. I view it as a platform, or jumping off point for the remaining characters going into books two and three. As one reviewer stated, “so you’re getting a two for one story. What author does that?!?” I felt in order to fully explain the seasoned lives of the main characters, the reader needed to experience their lives firsthand. This series has many, many suspenseful twists and turns. Just when you think you have it figured it, there’s a twist.
Book one is about the lives of two couples: Jack and Victoria Loving, and Jeremy and Lizzie Macintyre. The book begins with a prologue detailing early lives for Jack and Victoria individually. There is a joint prologue for Jeremy and Lizzie. As I stated, the book is written in first person, and Jack, Victoria and Lizzie each have their own chapters. Jeremy has one chapter in the end. For clarity, I would suggest the readers keep in mind the names of the couples, as each chapter sub-heading clearly details the character speaking. In minimal terms, this is a story of the haves versus the have-nots. And, it ponders the age-old question: Does money really buy you happiness? Also, how far would you really go for your family? However, it’s really so much more when their lives collide in a most unexpected way. As the series unfolds, I want the reader to have those moments of shock, suspense and frustration, over missing my well-hidden clues. Just when you think you know how you feel on certain subjects, you begin to question it.
What inspired you to write this book?
Honestly, what inspired me was truly not the story at all. It was about writing with a different, unique approach, to the traditional 3-part romance series. After reading over 250 books per year, I decided the approach was off—at least for me. I think readers want more backstory, with complex-themed contemporary romance. We’re in the post-Fifty Shades world. Readers are clamoring for books that make them think. They want those moments of “I didn’t see that coming!” Once I decided to alter the concept, I thought about living near a city full of history. Knowing I wanted to showcase my city, the idea for the series came to me very quickly thereafter.
How did you come up with the title?
Oh, the title!! I really appreciate the opportunity to discuss this subject. What a HUGE mistake it has been to call it “The Good Samaritan”. Even though it perfectly represents the authenticity of the series, the problem is my genre and the word Samaritan vs. samaritan. Let me explain…when you type the word “samaritan,” every program wants to capitalize it. In the dictionary, the primary word Samaritan, refers to a group of people (from the Bible) from the area of Samaria. The alternate use of the word, means philanthropist. I’m absolutely using the alternate use of the word. You can imagine the challenges I’ve faced when Samaritan, i.e. a biblical reference is used in combination with an erotic novel…ah, no. Not well received. In the future, I will most definitely research the definitions of my book titles, considerably better.
Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
Most people will dislike Victoria. I think she’s misunderstood, and by the end of book one, it’s very easy to have some compassion for her. Another character commonly disliked is Cindy Hall. I think we’ve all known a partial version of Cindy in our real lives. She’s the person that meddles in other people’s lives, gossips, and has entitlement issues. I’ll admit, Cindy was inspired by a real person.
What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?
Book two, The Unlikely Samaritan, Lizzie has a series of confusing dreams throughout the book. It was very important these dreams were written in a precise way. Many hours were spent strategizing and making sure the flow was exactly perfect. I don’t want to give too much away, but technically speaking the culmination of these dreams were a challenge to write in order to make the right impact.
Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?
In book one, Victoria’s character was named Laura. Even today, when I think of her, I still call her Laura. One of my betas suggested it could be confusing to have two “L” name female characters. After much deliberation, I agreed. I put out a request to a few friends at the last minute, to give me a list of names that sounded bitchy. I was shocked how many times it kept coming up. The decision was made just before formatting to call her Victoria, which was inspired by the television show “Revenge.” I just kept thinking about that show’s character sitting in her wingback chair.
If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?
- Hillary Clinton, hands down. It doesn’t matter whether or not you agree with her politics. She’s a trailblazer for all women, and those cracks she put in that glass ceiling, will one day shatter because she made it easier for those following her.
- Now this is harder to pick, because I’d like to meet both of these women for different reasons. Nicole Edwards and Kristen Ashley are well regarded romance authors. Nicole has proven Indie authors can be successful and I’d love to pick her brain, (plus I really love her books!). Kristen has an amazing ability to draw readers in and I adore the way her characters crossover between her series. So, both of these romance authors are amazing!
Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
- I love genealogy and have traced my family tree back to the early 1500’s on multiple lines.
- The common phrase around my house is, I’m a “plethora of useless knowledge.” I love learning random facts and sometimes try to dazzle my family with my brilliance. They’re unimpressed.
What would you do to support your family?
The Macintyre family faces struggles of alcoholism and severe financial hardship after having it all and losing everything. Jeremy is forced into the ranks of the long-term unemployed, destroying his family with his alcohol addiction, and leaving Lizzie Macintyre to provide for the family in a most unconventional way. Just how far is Lizzie willing to go to save her family?
Jack Loving Jr., of the Loving family, is sole heir to Richmond’s most philanthropic family’s Trust. He and wife, Victoria, work hard to honor his family’s long-standing tradition of serving the less fortunate, forcing Jack to sacrifice his lifelong dreams. Jack faces serious challenges when someone close betrays him, turning his world upside down. Can Jack create happiness for himself?
When Jack has a chance encounter with Lizzie, never could they imagine their families would eventually need one another.
“I just pray that our children ultimately learn the real joy and satisfaction you receive from having money can be very comforting, and comes when you can spend it not on yourself, but by making a real difference in someone else’s life.”
By…Jack Loving, Jr.
About the Author
Jolie Mae Miller is an independent author, living in Prince George, Virginia, with her loving husband and amazing children. Her busy home also includes a Yorkie, a Poodle, and a St. Bernard. Her favorite job is being a Mom and Meme (because she’s too young to be a “GRANDMA!”).
She grew up in Powhatan, Virginia, working in her family’s auto parts business for many years. After her sister received a life-saving transplant, she pursued and was hired by Richmond-based, non-profit, United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). She enjoyed thirteen years working in the Accounting department managing various functions. Today, she has the best job, Mom.
In her free time, she enjoys reading and watching baseball. Whether it’s her husband who umpires, her son or the Orioles. Additionally, she’s an ancestry junkie, knowing quite well it’s a never ending project. Jolie Mae is incredibly blessed to have a supportive family behind her while she pursues her love and passion of complex-themed writing. She credits her amazing parents for continuing to be positive, guiding forces in her life. Her love of reading definitely came from her Mom and is constantly inspired by her Dad’s outgoing personality and knack for great storytelling.
This week is Spring Break for my kids. As we have activities planned each day, I am going to take the easy way out and instead of writing something new, I am going to do a recap of some of my posts on editing your novel.
First Draft: Editing and Writing at the Same Time – One of my past posts was about writing your first draft. My advice to new writers was to just begin writing and not worry about editing until you had everything down. And this is great advice, but it isn’t how my first draft goes. (To read more, click here.)
Working on my second draft – I finished the first draft on my current work in progress at the end of September. Now to many a first draft is just getting the story down.
If you use an outline and plotted out your story, it might be in good shape. Or you may have just written whatever came to you and have a lot of work to do before reaching the final product. (To continue reading, click here.)
Trimming unnecessary words during my third draft – In October, I wrote about starting my second draft, which was all about fixing story errors and concentrating on the continuity of the storyline. In November, I began the third draft which is mainly about tightening my writing. (To trim unnecessary words, click here.)
(This is obviously an important topic as I have written on it twice – once when completing Destiny and again when I finished up The Heir to Alexandria.)
Trimming excess words from your novel – As I am editing my latest work, Destiny, I noticed that my word count keeps decreasing as I polish the sentences and remove many unnecessary words.
I have found that one word I used a lot in my original draft which is totally unnecessary is “that.” Now there is nothing wrong with this word, but often it can be cut without any loss of meaning to the sentence. (To read more, click here.)
Focusing on Content Editing – I have discussed writing your first draft and even doing some editing as you write, but today I wanted to talk about content editing. This is where you aren’t fixing just wording or punctuation but looking more at the plot and characters. (To learn more, click here.)
Using a revision outline to guide editing your novel – Last week, I posted about content editing your novel. In the post, I mentioned that I use a revision outline, so I wanted to share that with you today. (To see the revision outline, click here.)
Picking stronger words – Today’s blog topic comes from helping my son do his homework last week. One of the assignments was to replace the verbs with stronger ones. (For help choosing stronger words, click here.)
Using beta readers to improve your novel – You have written your novel and been through it many times tweaking and perfecting the plot and scenes. You just know it will be well received. But if you think it is ready for publication now, you are missing a valuable step in the self-publishing process. As a writer you have been too close to your work. You may have not caught plot inconsistencies or realized the characters aren’t staying true to themselves. One of the best ways to catch these errors before submitting your work to an editor is to have your manuscript read by a – or better yet several – beta readers. (To continue reading, click here.)
Hopefully, you will find some useful information in these posts. And I promise a new post will be up next Thursday.
Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up. ~ Jane Yolen
This Tuesday and Wednesday, you can download my fantasy novel, The Heir to Alexandria, for FREE!
Available only at Amazon.
Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Download the Kindle App for free here.
The Heir to Alexandria: Book Description
Now as the world rushes toward a period of unrest, the nations’ Kings continue their 200-year-long-search for the Heir to Alexandria – the one person who can bring peace and stability through divine power.
Alista has her own search – for the parents who abandoned her as a baby years ago. When her only lead proves to be a dead end, she heads to the capital with a reluctant escort. Grayson is just following his aunt’s order, but he would rather be on one of his solitary scouting missions for the Landra Guard. However, when Alista unintentionally curses a guard in front of the King’s court, everything changes for both of them.
Now forced to travel to Covington for testing, danger lurks at every turn as a secret society strives to prevent the return of the Alexandria line. Are Alista’s visions of the future enough to save herself and those traveling with her?