Spotlight on Sarah & Shannen Brady

I am happy to spotlight the mother-daughter writing team of Sarah and Shannen Brady and their debut novel, Healer. Sit back and enjoy this entertaining post about their unique writing journey.

Sarah & Shannen!

sbradymotherdaughterThe plot for our first novel was scribbled longhand in a notebook in a brutally boring lecture class my sophomore year of college. My mom Sarah and I decided to form a mother-daughter writing team – apt, since we’ve been a team essentially since I was born. We eventually abandoned that first manuscript, but writing fiction got its hooks in us. After ditching our original concept (a tough, but utterly necessary step – our protagonist was an unlovable harpy), we decided that the next book wouldn’t get half-written and shoved onto a shelf for my dog to eventually discover and gnaw on. The next one, we would finish. The next one, we would publish.

Healer, our first published novel, was released with Soul Mate Publishing October 8, 2014. (WARNING: Shameless self-promotion ahead! Healer is now available on Amazon.) The publishing journey was an interesting one for us, especially given that we live on opposite sides of the state. The trading of manuscripts back and forth over email was a steep learning curve, and only caused a few headaches and face-to-desk head beatings.

A lot of the questions we get asked as a mother-daughter duo can be summed up with a perturbed expression and a hushed, “You do this with your mom?!?” Okay, so I get that writing romance with the woman who birthed you is a little weird. Fortunately for our author careers, I’m an irrepressible blabbermouth with the discretion of your average potato, so it never was a problem for us. I’d also recently moved for college, and writing a book together meant I had to call my mother at least once a week. Win-win.

As with anything, practice is the key to success, and we eventually started writing a m/m series as well. The first in that collection, Sweet Fire, is set for release January 2, 2015. Cue the patented Shannen-Brady-booty-dance. It’s crazy to think that almost exactly two years ago I texted her and said, “We should write a book.” Now, we’re looking at two traditionally published works. I think it proves that if an accountant and a college student can team up to write a book, anybody can.

Healer cover

Blurb

Alexandra Grayson is an empathic healer, flying under the radar as a Spokane Valley EMT. Protecting her family’s secret from Homeland Security’s Gifted Agenda and the bigotry of a fearful populace is the most important thing to her. Getting close to men, especially super sexy cops, isn’t an option.

Tyler Kincaid is a man who knows what he wants, and what he wants is Alex. When she outs herself as Gifted by healing a child, Tyler helps her escape, but even his love is not enough to protect her. When Alex is taken by HOMSEC agents, Tyler has to lead a motley collection of Alex’s Gifted relatives in a daring rescue.

Bio

Shannen Brady lives in Western Washington with her boyfriend and their child, a rambunctious corgi named Chubberus Maximus. When she’s not writing her latest sexy story, you can find her hiking, watching terrible SyFy movies and avoiding cooking of any kind.

Sarah Brady lives in Eastern Washington with her husband and teenage son, dividing her time between her real life and the voices in her head.

Sarah and Shannen are a mother/daughter team and together they write paranormal romantic suspense. Their first book, Healer, is book 1 of The Gifted, a series of four m/f romances, and published by Soul Mate Publishing. Their second book will be Sweet Fire, book 1 of a related series of m/m books, to be released January 2, 2015 by Dreamspinner Press.

Where to find Sarah & Shannen…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

The Right Hook

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After completing Between Land and Sea, I attended a number of workshops where the facilitators stressed the importance of a hook or logline.

What is a hook/logline?

Very simply, it is a concise sentence that answers the question: What is your novel about? An effective logline provides enough interest to prolong the conversation with a prospective agent or publisher, encourages readers to pick up the book, and creates tweetable buzz.

At first, I found it a daunting task. How could I possibly condense 69,000 words into 25 words or less?

Continue reading on Sophia Kimble’s blog.

Spotlight on Rachel Sharpe

I am happy to spotlight Soul Mate author Rachel Sharpe and Lost Distinction, the second book in the Jordan James, PI Series.

Here’s Rachel!

rachel sharpeIt’s safe to say I’ve always wanted to be a writer. While that was not my first career of choice (not that you asked, but according to my grandmother it was lion taming astronaut), it has always been one I’ve returned to. Ever since I could write, I would write down my stories. As the daughter of two English majors, it came as a surprise to no one that I decided to major in English. My initial goal was, however, to continue in law.

A post-graduation job at a local courthouse made me realize quickly that that was not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. With school finished and no idea what I wanted to be whenever I finally grew up, I decided to use my free time wisely and return to my roots: writing. My first true foray was a forty-five thousand word novella about a police detective solving a murder at a Louisiana seafood festival. It was fun to write, but I knew I could do better.

The best advice any author has ever given me was to write what you know. After my novella, I thought about what type of novel I would want to write, something I could maybe even turn into a series. It didn’t take long for Jordan James to emerge. “Cold Ambition,” the first novel in the Jordan James, PI series, took about four months to write. I also lucked out with editing thanks to the help of my super supportive parents. Now, all I needed was a publisher.

This, it turned out, was harder than it looked. It took two years for me to find my publisher and that was after two other possibilities fell through. At the time, each one felt like a devastating blow. Looking back, I can see it all happened for a reason. I couldn’t imagine working with a more amazing publisher or having the constant support of the other authors who have signed with them. My writing journey has been filled with as many twists and turns as a good mystery novel and I know it’s far from over. I look forward to not only watching Jordan’s story develop, but my own as well.

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Blurb

“It all started with a favor…”

When private investigator Jordan James agreed to search for the missing son of a U.S. Ambassador, she didn’t realize she was walking into a case one hundred years in the making. The deeper she delves into this unusual assignment, the more shocking, and the more dangerous, it becomes. With time running out and lives at stake, Jordan must race to identify the culprit of an elaborate plot while also uncovering a far more personal truth too intimate to ignore…

Excerpt

We stood there in silence, considering the significance of this discovery. Although there was still no proof, this threat suggested there could have been more to Arthur’s disappearance than we realized. If Arthur was kidnapped, we might not be looking for a missing person. We might be looking for a murderer or his victim.

I suddenly felt a new anxiety about this case. The more I considered all the unknowns, the more I realized there was only one person who could provide some much-needed answers, Ambassador Gatlin Cross.

Also, be sure to check out Jordan’s first case in Cold Ambition, available now on Amazon!

Bio

Rachel Sharpe is the author of Cold Ambition and Lost Distinction, the first two novels in the Jordan James, PI series. Although born and raised in the South, “Yankee” relatives first led Rachel to historic New England, which she has come to consider her second home and is the setting for the series.

After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in English, Rachel began dedicating her free time to her childhood passion, writing, and in the fall of 2013, she signed with Soul Mate Publishing. An active member of Sisters In Crime, Rachel currently resides with her husband in the Greater New Orleans area.

Where to find Rachel…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Table Topics for Movember

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At today’s Toastmaster meeting, I was Table Topics Master. While Movember is a popular topic, I wanted to ensure that everyone was familiar with the history behind this successful global health movement. I created a Fact Sheet for Movember and distributed a copy to each member.

Afterward, I presented the following ten scenarios (Table Topics for Movember Scenarios)

Role: Business Consultant

An ultra-conservative supervisor has made it clear that he does not approve of facial hair in the workplace. Persuade him to make an exception for Movember.

Role: Good Employee

You have volunteered to organize a Movember fund raiser. What type of event would you organize?

Role: Education Consultant

A kindergarten teacher has noticed that some of her students are afraid of moustaches. How would you explain Movember to four- and five-year-old children?

Role: Good friend

A group of ladies are complaining about their husbands’ mustaches. Two of them are actually thinking of taking vacations (without their husbands) until the Movember madness is over. Explain the importance of Movember and the need for patience.

Role: Business Consultant

In one workplace, all the employees are female. They want to participate in the fun of Movember. Do you have any suggestions for them?

Role: Social Rep

You are organizing a contest for the best moustache in your workplace. Which celebrity mustaches would you use to promote this event?

Role: Business Consultant

The men in a certain department have embraced Movember and taken it a bit too far. They have started to grow beards, wear sloppy clothes, and focus primarily on the social aspects of the event. Remind them of the rules and the objectives of Movember.

Role: Good neighbor

A group of friendly aliens have landed in your neighborhood. Bald and hairless, they are horrified by all the moustaches and are thinking of returning to their planet. Explain the importance of Movember and persuade them to stay.

Role: Social Convener

The residents of a retirement home are starting to show signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Animate them by explaining Movember and encourage them to participate. What events could you organize?

Role: Social Rep

Your supervisor is concerned about low staff morale. Remind your colleagues about Movember. What events could you organize in your workplace?

Copyright for image: amarosy / 123RF Stock Photo

What Doesn’t Kill You…

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author and editor Alison Williams sharing the difficult circumstances that led to a flourishing career and fulfilling life.

Here’s Alison!

Alison Williams (2)I have had lots of jobs, tried my hand at lots of things, but the one constant in my life has always been words, whether reading or writing. It has just taken me a while to get the point in my life where I am finally building a career on my own terms around those things.

I always wanted to be a writer but circumstances meant that I went straight to work when I left school and had a variety of office admin jobs. At nineteen, I was in a rather difficult relationship; not a nice thing to go through but it focused my mind and I went to night classes to do A’levels in English and Politics. These got me a place on a journalism course and I left that horrible relationship behind, left home and met my lovely husband-to-be.

Life got in the way of my career again and I married and had my two children while supporting my husband as he built his own career. He became a successful journalist and then moved into public relations. Meanwhile, I took a job at my children’s school and began a degree in literature and language with the Open University. I also began to build a small freelance writing career and was so thrilled to see my name in print.

As I finished my degree, one of the worst times in our lives began. My mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I felt at a real crossroads in my life and wasn’t sure where to go next. My colleagues were all encouraging me to become a teacher and my mum was keen for this too, so I applied for a place on a Post Graduate Certificate in Education course.

Christmas 2008 was a horrible time. My mum was getting worse and my dad had a heart attack. I felt like I spent most of my life in hospitals. In January 2009, a week after my mum died, I had an interview for the PGCE. A week after that I was offered a place. A week later my husband lost his job.

That summer passed in a blur. I left the school and the friends that I had made and worked with for the past six years and stepped into the unknown at a time when I really needed support. My husband was struggling to build his own business; my kids were coming to terms with the loss of their lovely Nan and dealing with the pressures of school. I felt like I was walking around with a massive weight on my shoulders. Then in September I started my course. It went well, I made some wonderful friends, and my first teaching practice was a real success, but as Christmas drew near I became ill and went down with a nasty case of bronchitis.

I dragged myself back to college in January and started my final placement just after Easter. I look back at those weeks now and still shudder. The teacher I was assigned to hated me on sight. Nothing I did was right. She withheld help and advice, bullied rather than supported me through difficult times, on one occasion deliberately finding things for me to do to make me late for an interview for a teaching position I really wanted. I was so low that I cried every morning when I woke up and every night when I got home. My husband, whose business was taking off, couldn’t have been more supportive but he couldn’t really do anything. I remember calling him from the staff toilets one day, sobbing because I just couldn’t go on.

It all came to a head when I was due for a lesson observation. My teacher offered no help, no guidance. She said I had to do it all myself to prove I was capable. The night before the observation, I went home and my sister, an assistant head in a local infant school, came round to help me plan. She took one look at me, bundled up my files and told me I wasn’t going back.

Ask my family or my friends if I’m easily put down, easily picked on, an easy target and they will say, unequivocally, no! I’m known for standing up for myself, for speaking out, for being a bit gobby even! But I was so beat down, so vulnerable, so low after a couple of terrible years that I just didn’t have the strength to fight back. So I walked away.

And it was the best thing I did. I took a Masters in Creative Writing, wrote and published my novel ‘The Black Hours’, went back to freelance writing and researching, began working for my husband’s now thriving communications consultancy and began my editing business. I’m working with writers, reading loads of wonderful manuscripts, writing articles and editing for my husband and, best of all, writing novels.

And I’m sorry, I have to admit that I’m not one for Karma or forgiving and forgetting ; I’m a sceptic, an atheist and I’m happy to live my life for my life’s sake. Forgiving won’t make me feel better, because I feel fine. I’m happy, forging a career doing what I love. And I don’t cry when I wake up any more. I smile.

The Black Hours book cover (2)

Blurb

‘Look upon this wretch, all of you! Look upon her and thank God for his love and his mercy. Thank God that he has sent me to rid the world of such filth as this.’

1647 and England is in the grip of civil war. In the ensuing chaos, fear and suspicion are rife and anyone on the fringes of society can find themselves under suspicion. Matthew Hopkins, self -styled Witchfinder General, scours the countryside, seeking out those he believes to be in league with the Devil. In the small village of Coggeshall, 17–year-old Alice Pendle finds herself at the centre of gossip and speculation. Will she survive when the Witchfinder himself is summoned?

A tale of persecution, superstition, hate and love, ‘The Black Hours’ mixes fact with fiction in a gripping fast-paced drama that follows the story of Alice as she is thrown into a world of fear and confusion, and of Matthew, a man driven by his beliefs to commit dreadful acts in the name of religion.

Where to find Alison…

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Joanne here!

Alison, I am inspired and impressed by your courage and perseverance in the face of so many personal and professional challenges. Thank you for sharing your story and best of luck with all your creative endeavors.

Lessons From an Air Cast Boot

invertedbootIn early September, I limped into my doctor’s office and described the muscle spasms in my right calf that had morphed into excruciating ankle pain. While speaking, my mind raced through possible remedies: physiotherapy (my preferred choice) or anti-inflammatory medication (I would grit my teeth and endure the nausea and upset stomach).

“You’re having problems with your Achilles tendon,” he said after inspecting my calf and ankle. “The boot will do the trick.”

“Excuse me?”

“An Air Cast Boot,” he said while writing out a prescription. “You can pick one up at the Home Health Care Center across the street. Wear the boot for four to six weeks and your tendon will be back to normal.”

“What if I just rest and take it easy for a week? Maybe take some Tylenol 3…or something stronger?”

“Do you want to limp for the rest of your life?”

Continue reading on Karen Ingalls’ blog.