Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ridge surprised me with his passion for #veterans! Her First Knight @LiviaQuinn #IAN1

One of the things that has surprised me most as my writing has progressed is the way my characters stories are revealed. I remember when I was writing Hard Days Knight during #NanoWriMo several years ago. All I had was a vague idea and a brief synopsis of what I knew about the story. As I started writing, the characters revealed details of their lives to other characters – before they even told me!  When Luc described his family life to Del I was so shocked I found it hard to write the rest of the day until I considered his explanation.

Where did this come from? I asked myself. Well, when I started the Storm Lake East: Larue series (formerly called the Under-Cover Knights because all the heroes both male and female are either current or former military or law-enforcement) I researched for hours about everything from military issues like PTSD, MSA, problems with the VA, family life, deployment, uniforms, and more. I created a timeline to determine how the current era military campaigns would impact my characters. Then as I started writing, it events and backgrounds just fell into place.

I’d already introduced Ridge in Hard Days Knight as the owner of the Knights studios where these former military guys worked as cover models. All I’d revealed in HDK was that Buffy, a former famous runway model, had met the CEO at an unlikely event while looking for cover models for her new venture. Now, in Her First Knight, it was time to flesh out Ridge’s story.

The more I read about recent military deployments and saw the high rates of PTSD, brain trauma due to IADs, the loss of limb by so many, and the suicides, the more I found myself caring about these issues, and Ridge’s background was born.

I think a big part of the gap in appreciating the depth of the problems veterans face on a daily basis is that many of us who haven’t served can’t relate to those who have. It reminds me a Native American quote,
“Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked in his moccasins.”

At first, like many in the public, I wondered if these issues had been exaggerated but what I found appalled me, and as a result, the characters in my story. Perhaps some think it’s preachy but it’s just the facts. Our veterans have had an uphill battle making their needs known and having them met. There’s an apathy that’s perhaps a result of hearing so much filter through the media to our ears without those issues ever being addressed by the agencies that should be taking care of them. As I talked to actual vets in my community I found that, in fact, the problem was much bigger. The rate of suicide- 1 out of 22 vets per day - is thought to be low because of the inability to get statistics in some states and because many “reported accidents” are believed to be suicides. So when I found pockets of organizations that successfully addressed the needs of vets, it was often privately funded or voluntary organizations who cared and who came from the military community themselves, therefore understanding the depth of the need.
You can see where Ridge’s idea of a private consortium to take over veterans’ care from the government came from. Unfortunately, Ridge was so fervent in his dedication that he ignored his own personal happiness. Fortunately for him, Buffy is a brilliant woman who wasn’t about to let his obsessive tendencies get in the way of his happiness.

I hope you enjoy this couple’s love story and find in Her First Knight a new appreciation for our veterans and their loyalty to this country.

**The perfect way to catch up on the Larue series is to pick up the new Storm Lake Larue Box Set available at all retailers for #kobo #kindle #Ibooks and #nook and more

Note: there was one other happy coincidence in the plotting of these books – attending a romance conference strip bingo event in Las Vegas. What fun!

He’s the one, and everyone knows it but him.
Buffy Calloway is looking for the face of her new cover model agency. The man she chooses will be crucial to its success. When she spots the sexy cover model on the strip bingo stage she knows he’s the one, and not just for her business.

Ridge got on stage through a huge error in judgment and if he manages to get out of this predicament with his reputation in tact —and his clothes—he won’t wind up in the limelight again risking everything that’s crucial to so many.

Buffy wonders – who is she to argue with Ridge’s noble cause — but she doesn’t see why his goals and hers should be mutually exclusive. Could this be the first time a Calloway is wrong?


The morning after…
“He’s like some kind of stripper Robin Hood,” Diane said.
“Did you see the paper this morning?” Sally asked Buffy in a low voice. Diane and her friends had the Washington Post laid out in front of them. Had she really thought she’d escape by leaving her room?
“About what?” Buffy asked pretending ignorance. She wanted to close her eyes and wish it all away.
Cathy said, “The guy that impersonated Tucker? Seems he’s a rich muckity muck who’s been testifying in front of Congress. The media has made him out to be some kind of sex pervert.”
“Ridge?” Buffy’s heart sank. “That’s terrible.”
“Yeah, and the evil congresswoman who’s been giving him the third degree for the last two days said she knew there was something suspicious about him. I quote: ‘No one is as selfless as he pretends to be.’ She’s calling for an investigation.” Diane continued, “It says here he got a doctorate in Mechanical Bionics from MIT when he was seventeen! The guy’s a friggin’ Einstein. You just don’t think of geniuses looking like that.”
Sonya said, “More like da Vinci. What else?”
“He was recruited into the Army Rangers and ended up doing classified research and ‘on-site quality control’,” Diane read.
“In his work, that probably means on the battlefield,” Sally said.
“There’s another picture of him accepting an award from the President for his work with veterans.” Sonya looked at Buffy. “What was he was doing on that stage? It's obvious he wasn't a cover model.”
Sally said, “It might be obvious now, but he was my favorite of the cover models. I was shocked when the real Tucker showed up and we found out this guy wasn’t even in the industry. Boy, what I wouldn’t give to have him on one of my Seal Team Extraction covers. He seems like such a nice man, too. Did you know he gave me a donation for my Wounded Warrior fund?” Sally’s readers had raised thousands for the WWP.
“Maybe it was a publicity stunt that had to do with this hearing, the bill he's trying to get support for,” Claranne Braxton suggested, her eyes brightening as if she was on to something.
“Wait a minute,” Sally said, suddenly alert. “What bill is that?”
Sonya leaned over Diane's shoulder, “Looks like it's a bill for some kind of cooperative, MiliCare H.R. 6159?”
Sally slapped her forehead with her palm. “Are you kidding me? That’s him?” She grabbed her purse. “I don’t know why I didn’t put it together. He's R. Romano of… here it is.” She slapped the article on the table. Claranne read it aloud.

With the passage of H.R. 6159, the new consortium group will ease some of the financial stress on the VA’s already imploding budgetary problems and provide medical care to veterans. Ridge Romano, the architect of the proposal said, “Government funds have been slashed repeatedly and our servicemen and women should not have to fight for their rightful treatment when they are fighting for their health and their very lives.”

Romano quoted President Lincoln: “The mission for government is ‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.’ I ask you, can these values be accomplished by our current government system which is stretched beyond its founders’ imaginings? The government is over burdened, and our veterans are paying the price but private companies and professionals in every field are ready and willing to fill the gap. This bill will be a step toward better lives for our vets.
They deserve it. We owe it to them. Don’t let them down.”

“Wow,” Sonja said. “I can’t believe he was the man on that stage.”

But the article only affirmed Buffy’s feelings. She’d known, even that first night, that Ridge Romano was a man in a million. And, he was the one for her.

Her First Knight Store Links

All Romance http://bit.ly/22VRJxu

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/22VRJxu

Look for the Storm Lake Box set Larue available now. http://bit.ly/1IZJ9r6

Social Media Links
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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Footprints and Baby Steps #IARTG @LiviaQuinn #youcandothis

There's an analogy that's used to describe how writers should approach the marketing of their books. A single "Footprint" vs. many feetprints if you'll pardon the misnomer. But the analogy holds true and has a great deal of merit.

Late in 2011 I decided to self-publish after a series of weather mishaps that threatened to end my writing for good. That book, under a previous pen name ultimately became Undone. It was the right decision for me at the time and I'm not sorry I went that direction, even though there have been so many changes in the market since. I seem to always be at the end of a trend. ;)

So, I published my little book expecting big things... then pretty much walked away. Not on purpose; my business required my time more than ever, but honestly, I didn't know what I was doing. Finding one little book on Amazon is like finding a particular grain of sand on that beach.  I was learning about the footprint theory, and I learned a lot from that experience. In 2014 with more books under my belt, both partials and final drafts, I decided to restart my writing career. I started fresh with a new pen name, set a goal to publish three books before the Romance Novel Convention in July and three by the end of the year. I accomplished that goal and didn't see any reason why I couldn't continue at that pace for a couple years.

I made a small spreadsheet to brainstorm my prospective minimum and maximum word counts for the year (by month). It was an eye opener. It can be adjusted on the fly when you see something coming up like a two week trip, busy summer plans, or a heavy workload. It's a wonderful tool to encourage you when you think your writing isn't getting anywhere. When I convert my smaller total into books, I get two or three novels, one or two novellas, or a possibility of 3-5 books for the year with the minimum written.

I anticipated being able to follow my "maximum" guidelines but then it was like Tom Brokaw came on TV saying, "We interrupt this lofty writing plan to announce some major changes in your dayjob, your husband's health, and the hit to your writerly budget. Oh, and by the way, did you forget to factor in the maintenance of your published books? social media? promo? newsletters? new covers, formatting and uploading revised books and new books?  Add to that, scheduling of events and followup with readers and other authors?"

Boy, did I!  In 2015, I only published 4 books (the reason for that second column ;) It took seven months to write the first one but it got done.)

In December, I decided to remove my books from KDP select and put everything on Kobo, Nook, Itunes and ARe as well to widen my readership and hopefully increase sales. This took almost three months because there was constant correcting of files, pricing, descriptions, formats, links, "also by" pages... the list goes on.

By mid March my business was in FULL swing and I was again behind on book 5 of my paranormal series. So here I am having just put my newest book, Take These Broken Wings, up for preorder on those sites for September.

Once again I'm reminded that I can only do what I can do and have a semi-balanced life. Still the long range plan is to keep adding to that footprint. As of now, I have published eleven books. Hopefully, by the end of next next year, I'll be closer to twenty, but who knows? Life has a funny way of getting in the way.

Self-publishing is very hard work. You're the "man" no matter how things go. And if you're in it for the long haul, you just gotta keep plugging until you look over your shoulder and see a nice wide footprint.

Can you share your experience with publishing either traditional or self-publishing? Do you struggle to stay on track? I'm here to tell you - You CAN do this! Just don't give up.

Baby steps are better than no steps.

See all my books at  http://liviaquinn.com/book.html
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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Guest Edward Hoornaert and #CoverReveal for Escapee

Escapee Cover Reveal

A friend of mine, and #romance author, Ed Hoornaert, is showing off his gorgeous new cover and announcing his preorder for Escapee. See the links below. I think you'll enjoy Ed's books.

Escapee -- The African Queen in Outer Space
A science fiction romance by Edward Hoornaert, author of Alien Contact for Idiots.

Cover by Eerilyfair Design

Catt Sayer, an abused peasant and a fugitive from justice on her home planet, makes a meager living flying a decrepit airship that delivers supplies to scattered military bases on an isolated, inhospitable mining moon.  When enemies invade the moon and destroy the bases, Catt rescues the lone survivor—Captain Hank Dukelsky, an upper-class army captain.  Now Hank wants her to risk her life on an impossible quest to attack the enemy headquarters…and Catt is falling in love with both the man and his magnificently quixotic ambition.

Escapee is available for pre-sale, with a release date of April 19, 2016. Rediscover the thrills and romance of one of the all-time great movies, now in a science fiction setting—reserve your copy of Escapee today.
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 
MuseItUp Publishing

About Ed Hoornaert

What kind of guy writes romance? A guy who married his high school sweetheart a week after graduation and still lives the HEA decades later. A guy who’s a certifiable Harlequin hero—he inspired Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Rita Award finalist Mr. Valentine, which is dedicated to him. 

Ed started out writing contemporary romances for Silhouette Books, but these days he concentrates on science fiction romance. He’s been a teacher, principal, technical writer, salesman, janitor, and symphonic oboist. He and wife Judi live in Tucson, Arizona. They have three sons, a daughter, a mutt, and the galaxy’s most adorable grandson. Visit him at http://eahoornaert.com.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What's your #writing space like? @liviaquinn #MFRWauthor #romance #ASMSG

Welcome to my little retreat on the bayou, affectionately named the Quinn Den. For years I've struggled to spin my southern urban fantasy and contemporary romance stories while the TV blares TV's Funniest or Top Cops or Ax Men. No doors to close in this house, so when a friend gave me the building I jumped at the chance to turn it into my writing space and private retreat. 

This is the view out the window over my desk. Let me give you the tour... The bayou (pronounced bahh) runs east and west so we get some beautiful sunrises and sunsets and in the evening the water looks just like a mirror.  
Come inside. Many of the things that hold a special place in my heart are here. Before you even enter, there's the swing made from a tree, that my friend James the master carver made, and the Aboriginal lizard (he needs a name). He also made the giant quill on the front side of the building.

And he also built my porch and used trees to make the supports. 
He dug for the crystal on my desk and carved that beautiful natural bowl out of a burl of wood retrieved from the bayou near here. 

Oh, and that table by my chair he made to fit on the 100 yr. old piano pedestal and inlaid it with malachite.

There's a stuffed Highland coo I got on my trip, a tea cloth from Scotland a writer friend brought me, the poster from my RNC conference where I met Jimmy Thomas. My storyboard of the Destiny Paramortals sits behind my desk along with one of the last flower arrangements a dear friend of mine made me. She died of breast cancer at 54 and every time I look at it I think of her. If you look closely, next to it you can probably identify Tempe, my Tempestaerie. 

When I go home to DC my friend and I hit Annapolis and some of the thrift shops, so these things remind me of her - the handmade pen dish and holder and the odd looking turquoise lamp I got for $3. 

No retreat would be complete without my Outlander mouse pad which says, "I just want to go to Scotland, Fall through some stones, wake up in 1743, and find Jamie Fraser. Is that really too much to ask?"  which always gets the response from male friends of "Who's Jamie Fraser?"

So, surrounded by tokens which keep me close to my friends, I can settle in with my characters and write.

How about you? Do you have a special place, even a closet you can lock the noise and distractions out, so you can work? I'd love to hear about it.

Find out more about my world, both contemporary and urban fantasy at http://liviaquinn.com or check out my books here.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

#WritersTip Mac Dictation #amwriting #paranormal @liviaquinn

As a writer and a business owner I have to find ways to cut corners. I can't tell you the number of times I've tried Dragon for Mac but for some reason it just isn't accurate and actually acts funny. The cursor will just zip off on its own little journey and I'm left there screaming, "Stop. Quit." to no avail. 

But the new Mac OS has dictation built in. I tried it on my last book after I'd handwritten, oh, 10,000 words or so, and found phrases like "universal healthcare" in my paranormal romance. The problem with inaccuracies is that then you have to remember what you wrote a month ago or longer and you have to wonder what you could have written that sounded like "universal healthcare". I swore I wouldn't waste my time again.                                        
But, since I've got about 31,000 handwritten words on Take these Broken Wings, the next book in the  series, and I really, really didn't want to transpose by hand, I gave Mac Dictation another chance. I started thinking, maybe it had to do with the microphone I was using so I googled dictation and found several expensive headsets and a desk microphone that were supposed to up te accuracy. In the end, I decided to compare the two I had. Turns out this was the winner, and it was a fraction of the cost of the others. It made such a difference in the accuracy and speed of Mac's dictation that reading in all those words took only a  few hours a day for three days. 

Nuance Headset   price $34.99
Prices of the others started at $159 and went up from there.

Have you tried dictation, either on your Mac or with Dragon. How did it go?

If you'd like to know more about my books, go to my webpage where you can read all about my worlds, see a map and glossary of terms.

Monday, February 29, 2016

"You Can Do This" #amwriting #indie @LivaQuinn #writing journey

When I was deciding to do this 30 day challenge I was struck by Sarah's words just above the "commit" button, "You Can Do This!"

My exact words when my critique partner and I made the decision to self-publish in 2011. But as a writer /mentor /friend said to me two years later, "You pretty much put it up and walked away." She laughed with me as I acknowledged that she was absolutely right. But it wasn't a lost cause.

Since I created my first website with iWeb back in 2007 with the mantra "Believe" I've never stopped believing I could find some measure of success writing. One of my favorite quotes by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. 
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

This is no small thing to keep reminding yourself in the midst of writers block, family pressures, and repelling all the negatives back then for NOT self-publishing. No, I didn't do it right, but I learned a lot about rites of passage, about believing in myself, my strengths (which were greater than I thought), my weaknesses, and my abilities.

So in 2014, when I decided to restart my career, I set a goal of having four books ready by July for the Romance Novel Convention, my overall goal seven books in the contemporary and paranormal romance genres. My mantra for the months leading up to this seemingly impossible task was "I can do this". I whispered it to myself when I doubted it and when I didn't. In the end, I revamped my website, ran my business during the heaviest part of the season, revised, wrote, and published four books by July and was only one book short of my goal by the end of the year.

After that, things changed again. My day jobs became more demanding and stretched from January through August which meant my writing slowed, still, even though they were later coming out, I was able to publish four more books in 2015.  Then my heavy writing months came around again and I took a trip to Scotland. Then my husband broke his arm and I fell behind again. And once again, I've fallen back on that phrase that keeps me going no matter what, no matter how much writing space I have - I. Can. Do. This.

They were important words to remember over the holidays when I was trying to get all my books up on the various platforms and (forgive me, Mr. Goethe) I almost gave up.

That's the thing. The mark of a really big challenge is the feeling that there's no way we'll be able to accomplish it. And the reward is always knowing we did.
One of my favorite worn and patched posters says it best:

This is day #3 of the 30 day blogging challenge. I'm not even going to tell myself I can't complete it. I'll just try to keep writing and plan as many titles for my posts as I can each day along with one pertinent blog. I hope you'll come back.

To learn more about my books, visit my website at http://liviaquinn.com/books.htmlhttp://liviaquinn.com/books.html http://liviaquinn.com/books.html or sign up for my newsletter to get release alerts and be entered to win prizes here

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Character driven #romance from life #MFRWauthor @liviaquinn

I remember sitting at the Salt Lake airport watching a young mother and her child interact while secretly took note of their dialog. What can I say? I've not had the pleasure of having children and when I get around them, I'm fascinated by how they think. I guess I thought they would be babified or something. I'm always shocked by little ones who express such forthright opinions about their surroundings. Did I do that? I seriously doubt it.

When I am building my story - because I'm a pantser, which means I write by the seat of my pants, literally, from start to finish - the characters come to me and take the lead. It's like I'm a biographer to them. Naturally with this organic style of writing, characters from my own life always show up and inform the story, so to speak.

One such character is Freddie, the unhandy-handyman who was an inevitable addition to Storm Lake. He appears in all the Storm Lake books and is crafted from Mr. Quinn who is unfortunately challenged in that department. There's so much fodder there, but don't tell him. He probably wouldn't recognize himself in the character who falls down chimneys, builds crooked shelves, and inevitably breaks something in the process of repairing it.

As Ridge Romano says in Merry Christmas, Baby "If it can be done backward, inside-out, upside-down Freddie's a natural."

Years ago, Mr. Quinn and I attempted to build a dog house. It just kept getting bigger and bigger until it was too big to even move it from the spot on which it was built. It was more like a guest house, ;)

The DH's ex has also stormed onto the pages in the Destiny books and Hard Days Knight. If you've read those books I'd be curious if you could recognize her. Let me know if you do!

Does life imitate art or vice-versa? What do you think?

See the Storm Lake pages on my website to find out more about my books or to sign up for my newsletter and be entered to win prizes.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Save time. Put your toolbar to work for you. #IARTG @liviaquinn #IRINK #writerstip

Take a look at the two toolbars above. That long slender line of abbreviations above is my Safari bookmark toolbar. Notice how many bookmarks that one has in comparison to the second? 

No matter what you go online for - bill paying, doing your job, checking out your kids' soccer schedule, looking for recipes - making your toolbar work for you is one of those things that will have you smiling every time you use it, if you follow this simple procedure. 

With slight adjustments, this will work for any browser or operating system, and making the effort once (it's easy peasy) will save you SO much time and effort.

The first time you go to a site you visit often, do this:
Click in the address bar so the little icon is displayed to the left of the actual URL as shown below.

  Left click the icon and drag the url down to the toolbar and release it. In Safari it will look like the screenshot below. Then you simply type in your short abbreviation for it. I chose "30d". 
(In Firefox you'll right click on the new bookmark and go to properties to rename. In Chrome you'll right click and choose edit but still easy.)

    Renamed "30d'

If you can't remember what the abbreviation stands for the first time, just hover over it and you'll see the full link. As you can see on the left, I've created a short link for most of my books on Amazon. I use simple easy to remember abbreviations, HDK Hard Days Knight, HFK Her First Knight, SC Storm Crazy, etc. This one trick has saved me soooo much time. When I'm creating blogs or filling in the link to my books all I have to do is right-click the bookmark and either copy it or click edit and copy the link, and then paste it into my form or blog. Before I'd have to leave the page, either go to the Amazon site or open a Spreadsheet with my links on it. This takes all of three seconds, literally.

The same is true of this image. A simple MC bookmark for my MailChimp newsletter address gives me quick access to that URL to add quickly to an email, blog or form.

This is a handy trick for writers but imagine if you had your child's school site, his soccer schedule, your facebook page, Amazon and Walmart all bookmarked, along with your other ten most wanted links and they are all right there in view. You don't have to go to Bookmarks, then scroll through all the bookmarks until you find it.
How might you put this technique to use? If you need to fill forms and return to internet sites on a regular basis, I hope you'll give this a try. And let me know how it works for you.