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Does a Fictional City Need a Specific Location? A Poll | #amwriting

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me post this over the weekend:

Or, you may have seen me post this on my Facebook page:

So, now that I’m deeply entrenched in creating this fictional city, I have a question for you as readers and/or writers.

If it’s made known that the city is in the United States—and perhaps a general geographic region given—does it matter to you as a reader if the state is never specified?

An #AmReading ABC List

Monday, May 14, 2018

I’m sure I’m not the first person to come up with this meme idea, but I’ve never seen it anywhere else. If you like it, feel free to re-post on your blog or Facebook page, and be sure to come back and share the link in a comment!

The Literary ABCs

List your favorite . . .

Austen (Jane) novel: Persuasion

Brontë sister’s novel: Jane Eyre

Clancy or Crichton novel and/or movie: Jurassic Park (book & film adaptation)

Dickens novel and/or film: Bleak House (it’s the only one I’ve read through, and I love the 2006 miniseries adaptation)

English class you took: History of the English Language

Frequently read author: Currently, Julie Garwood (I’m re-reading her romance novels from the early 1990s)

Grisham novel and/or movie: Novel—The Rainmaker; film—A Time to Kill

Historical novel or era*: These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
*Written at a time well after that in which it’s set.

Iconic fictional character: Harry Potter

James Joyce or Henry James? Henry James—Turn of the Screw especially

King in literature (i.e., a character who’s a king, real or fictional): King Henry V of England (Shakespeare’s version)

Lord of the Rings character: Éomer

Movie made from classic literature: Persuasion 1995

Newberry Medal–winning book: Sarah, Plain and Tall (1986)

Oldest book you own (not necessarily “favorite,” just oldest): Best Loved Poems of the American People, © 1936

Pirate in literature: Tie: “El Salvador” and “Shaw” (Ransome’s Quest)

Quiet place to read: In bed

Robin Hood version (which film/TV series?): Disney’s animated version

Shakespeare play or poem: Much Ado about Nothing

Twain (Mark) novel/story/essay: “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (short story)

USA Today Bestseller: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Villain: Voldemort

Walt Whitman or William Wordsworth? Whitman (Leaves of Grass is one of my favorite works of literature)

Xanthippe (an ill-tempered woman, a shrew): Lady Beatrice from Much Ado abuot Nothing

Yawn-inducing bedtime read: Something by Dickens

Zealously protected book you’ll never part with: Victoria by Willo Davis Roberts—I’ve had it since I was fourteen or fifteen, it was what really got me motivated to start writing, it’s taped together, and I haven’t read it in years, but I’ll never part with it.

Get Motivated: Two Truths about Writing | #amwriting

Sunday, May 13, 2018

As time passed, I saw [my] morning’s inspiration was the foundation to a successful writer’s inner life. That every one of the things I jotted down was a point at which a writer might fall off the cliff into self-doubt, questioning herself and feeling challenged. Even feeling caught in a choice between life in the “real” world and her creative life. The kind of challenges to one’s sense of self as a writer that could cause a halt to writing or pursuing aspirations. One might even put down their pen, quit writing forever without ever realizing the keys to this inner game can be filed on a shelf in the heart or mind. That we can learn to recognize them, get what we need to keep going, even when each point may be a boulder to trip on, leaving us feeling stuck in life, experiencing writer’s block.

There are two old truths we often forget. One, it’s not how often we falter or fall, but how fast we get up. And two, the creative life is our “real” life.

~Heloise Jones
The Writer’s Block Myth: A Guide To Get Past Stuck & Experience Lasting Creative Freedom
p. 18

#Cooking with #Authors: Cathy Skendrovich’s Award-Winning Chili (@cskendrovich)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Here on the blog, we love reading—and we love food. So what better than to combine them with recipes from authors? We’ll start with the recipe to whet your appetite, then you can learn more about the author and her books below!

Cathy Skendrovich’s Award-Winning Chili
Cathy says: I’ve been making my mom’s chili forever. It’s my sons’ favorite meal. Every fall our church has a chili cookoff. One year my younger son suggested I enter the contest. “Your chili is the best, Mom. You should enter it.” I thought about it and decided he was right.

I was nervous the day of the cookoff. I don’t normally enter contests. But as it went on, and more and more people returned for seconds and thirds, I began to feel excited. Even the pastor whispered to me, “I voted for yours.”

At the end, I won first place in the contest, taking home the prize of a kitchen mitt, pot holders, and apron! My family cheered. Even though it’s all in good fun, the fact that my home cooking won makes me proud. I can truly call it an “award-winning recipe.”


  • 1½–2 lbs. ground beef or turkey
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (more or less, to taste)
  • 1–2 Tbsp. green bell pepper
  • 15-oz. can chili beans (1 or 2 cans, if preferred)
  • 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Grated cheddar cheese (optional)

In a large soup/stock pot over medium to medium-high heat, brown meat with garlic, salt, pepper, onion, and green pepper until meat is cooked through. Drain off fat and return meat to pot.

Add beans, tomatoes, chili powder. (You can use your stirring utensil to break up the tomatoes, if desired.) Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1½ to 2 hours. Add sugar near the end.

Serve with grated cheddar cheese and corn bread, if desired—and with Cathy’s Undercover with the Nanny on the side!

Undercover with the Nanny
DEA agent Sawyer Hayes came to California in search of a drug cartel leader who slipped through his fingers in El Paso. The link to finding him is Kate Munroe, a nanny for one of his henchmen. The problem? He didn’t expect to be so drawn to a possible suspect. How is he supposed to do his job when his growing feelings for her are clouding his judgment?

Interior designer Kate Munroe’s life is a train wreck. Her parents’ deaths left her with their mounds of debt, she can’t get a job designing even a cubicle, and she’s bunking in her best friend’s spare bedroom. To make ends meet, she’s a nanny to a lonely little boy whose rich father works all the time. Romance is not on her radar. But her hot new neighbor could change her mind, with his broad shoulders and Southern charm. Too bad his secrets could destroy her.

See more about this title and Cathy’s other books on Goodreads.

Meet Today’s Cooking Author
Cathy Skendrovich has always loved a good story, and spent her formative years scribbling what is now called Fan Fiction. The current heartthrob of the time featured heavily in all her stories. Unfortunately, once she went to college, her writing took the form of term papers.

Upon graduation, Cathy took a job as an English teacher in a middle school. Along the way, she married her husband of now thirty-three years, had two sons, and moved to southern Orange County, California. She chose to work part-time in the school system there.

Now she has returned to writing. Prisoner of Love is her first published novel, followed closely by The Pirate’s Bride. The sequel to The Pirate’s Bride, The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade, came out Oct. 1, 2017. Undercover with the Nanny, came out on April 23, 2018.

She likes writing romance because she feels it’s lacking in today’s technological world. While she enjoys writing contemporary stories, creating romance in bygone times fascinates her. She hopes her ability to write in both genres will be the beginning of a long and satisfying writing career.

You can find Cathy cooking up more great stories at:
Cathy’s Facebook Author Page
Twitter: @cskendrovich
Cathy’s Website
Cathy’s Author Page on Amazon

#TBT: Brainstorming ‘The Art of Romance’ | #amwriting

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Originally published August 31, 2010

Okay, y’all know me and my different methods—all visual—of working out my story ideas.

First, there are the notes I made about the characters when originally coming up with the story idea, as well as things that came up when writing the first book of the series:

And of course, there’s the synopsis I wrote that the publisher bought the series from.

But still, I somehow always manage to get myself lost after starting the book. Sometimes it’s about 1/3 of the way through. With The Art of Romance, it’s at the beginning of Chapter Three!

So, since I’m going to have a few hours of alone-time with my laptop in the car this week and a lot more than a few hours in the car next week, I decided I needed to know where the story is going.

Now, you’ve seen me post the picture of when I use Post-it Notes to do scene cards to work out the direction of a story by figuring out what scenes I’ve already planned for still need to be written:

Scene cards from Ransome’s Crossing

But even after reading the synopsis for The Art of Romance, I still didn’t have a clear picture of the scenes/conflicts (other than the main story conflict) that need to happen in the story. So, since I was preparing to teach a session on writing synopses using Billy Mernit’s Seven Story Beats, I decided I needed to go back to the beginning with this story and outline the synopsis in the way I was getting ready to teach forty other writers to do it.

So, I pulled out the trusty Post-it Note Flip Chart Pad (down to only three or four sheets—yikes! Time for a new one!) and started outlining:

(The Post-it Notes along the top and on the page are questions and ideas for the characters/settings.) And this week, I’ve got two editing projects clamoring for my attention in addition to needing to get moving on this manuscript (only 46 days left until deadline—which means I need to be writing at least 2,000 words a day on this thing!).

Here’s the story summary:

      English professor Caylor Evans moved in with her grandmother five years ago when Sassy’s eyesight became too poor to get her driver’s license renewed. Though she is now writing sweet/inspirational romance novels, Caylor still draws inspiration for her heroes from the portfolio of covers and sample images drawn/painted by Patrick Callaghan for the steamy romances she used to write (as “Melanie Mason”), and dreams of meeting a man like that cover model.

      After losing his teaching position at a prestigious art college and being shunned by the fine-arts community in Philadelphia, artist Dylan Bradley has returned home to Nashville to regroup and determine the next step for his life. His grandparents offer him their guest house for as long as he wants it—along with plenty of opportunities to meet young women. Though it was years ago, Dylan is uncomfortable with the fact that his face—slightly disguised—is on the covers of half a dozen steamy romance novels by Melanie Mason, the artwork he did to put himself through college under the pseudonym Patrick Callaghan. Especially after he meets Caylor Evans, a woman who has her life together in a way he only dreams of. Will Caylor and Dylan learn that the true art of romance is grounded in honesty and truth?

And here’s the first draft of Chapter One.

2018 Writing Challenge–Prompt: It’s a Secret | #amwriting #writingprompt

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Writing Prompt—May 9, 2018

Character says: “I’ve never told anyone this . . .”

Word Count Goal: 300 to 1,000 words
You can write it as a scene or notes or an outline or even an epic poem worthy of a minstrel in the king’s court. Just write!

Dreams vs. Goals — Do You Dream of Being a Writer? | #amwriting

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

We all have dreams—things we want, things we hope for.

But will the dream of “being a writer” actually get you there? Is it something that’s as nebulous, as insubstantial, as the stories that run through our heads when we’re asleep? Or is the dream attainable?

Dreams are hopes. Dreams are wishes. Dreams are visions of an outcome . . . without a visualization of the steps needed to reach that outcome.

Goals are what we need in order to figure out how to reach the end we’re dreaming of.

You may be a best-selling author or just getting started with your writing. You may dream of getting published by a big New York publisher; or you may want to self-publish. In this course, you’ll turn your dreams into specific goals . . . and then use those goals in order to work on making your dreams come true.

Click here to learn how to get started.

This is a premium course on Skillshare. You can sign up for a no-obligation 30-day free trial membership in order to access my class. If you’re not familiar, Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of classes on everything from business to graphic design to fashion – it’s the Netflix of learning.

I’m proud of what I’ve created, and I’d really appreciate if you’d help me out by watching my class.

By using this special link — — to sign up for a free trial Skillshare Premium Membership, not only will you be able to enroll in my class, but you’ll also gain access to all other classes on Skillshare. (Cancel before the end of the 30 days, and there’s no cost to you.)

Your enrollment will help my class trend on Skillshare, which means that more students will be able to discover it.

If you know of anyone else that’d be interested in learning how to set goals to reach their writing dreams, I’d appreciate if you’d share the link with them, too.

Thanks so much!

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