Thursday, February 25, 2016

Humor & Inspiration in Writing: Life Inspires Art

I'm slightly obsessed with England. (Okay, sometimes, I refer to the BBC as my boyfriend. Happy now?) 

The gifted  & gorgeous Terry Tyler
Today's guest, Terry Tyler, is my English counterpart. She loves American culture as much as I love the UK's. We've chatted about everything from Wayne's World to Downton. It's odd if I pull up my Monday feed without finding an adorable or thought provoking comment from her. “We're not worthy” doesn't begin to express how I feel about Terry. She's warm, kind, funny, and a gifted writer. I hope you appreciate her special brand of humour as much as I do.
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First of all, many thanks to Sarah for inviting me to take part in her new series, a broad subject that forced me to think about where my writing inspiration originates from. After much consideration I realised that it comes not from real life events, or from film or beautiful scenery; it comes from people.

My books are character driven. As I'm fairly ancient these days, many friendships, relationships and acquaintances have entered and departed the miniscule part of time and space that is my life, and it's from these I draw so much, often subconsciously.  Humour? Well, I've always loved writing and watching funny stuff, and have many amusing friends!  So in my novels' dialogue I might slip in a clever quip from an old boyfriend, an annecdote from a friend that I can re-work, or some horrendously pretentious uttering from a work colleague of two decades ago. Even the most serious of my books contain a certain humour; I'm a great observer of people, of how they interact, how their aspirations and fears manifest themselves (and, in the case of those with whom I was perhaps less friendly, their affectations and pomposity!), and these can inspire some good comedic moments.
So, basically this, Terry?
I've recently finished a 40K word novella called Best Seller, about three writers. One is already successful, two are struggling to be so, but please expect the unexpected; the only person to read it so far is my first proof/beta reader, who said that even when she got to the last ten pages she hadn't a clue how it would end!  Despite her asking things like “Is Gretchen supposed to be so-and-so?”, the characters in the book come purely from my imagination; what I've taken from real life are some situations and emotions I've observed in my world of writing and writers. As this article is for Sarah from across the pond, I shall talk in US English and say that there's a modicum of 'snark' in it (smiley face with wink). I promise, though, that nobody in Best Seller is 'meant to be' anyone I know—honestly! 

Best Seller should be out some time in March, cross fingers and touch wood—here's the blurb:

Three women, one dream: to become a successful author.

Eden Taylor has made it—big time.  A twenty-three year old with model girl looks and a book deal with a major publisher, she's outselling the established names in her field and is fast becoming the darling of the media.

Becky Hunter has money problems.  Can she earn enough from her light-hearted romance novels to counteract boyfriend Alex's extravagant spending habits, before their life collapses around them?

Hard up factory worker Jan Chilver sees writing as an escape from her troubled, lonely life.  She is offered a lifeline—but fails to read the small print...
In the competitive world of publishing, success can be merely a matter of who you know—and how ruthless you are prepared to be to get there.

BEST SELLER is a novella of 40k words (roughly half as long as an average length novel), a slightly dark, slightly edgy drama with a twist or three in the tale.  Enjoy!
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Cover reveal! 
Terry Tyler has published eleven books, all of which are available via Amazon and Amazon UK. She writes “contemporary (women's) fiction, a little bit romantic suspense, a little bit edgy, a little bit dark sometimes, always real life.” She's amazingly dialed in to British history and has a gift for making it live for her readers. Her blog is a constant source of laughter, deep thoughts, and inspiration. 

Follow Terry Tyler online:
Amazon UK 
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Oh my gosh, she's so fabulous! Maybe we get along so well because we're both people watchers who use anyone and anything as inspiration for the next story. Uh...I mean, no, I'd never do that! Whatever. I totally write character driven fiction, and I'm glad to have Terry around to pave the way. Carry on, Terry! Best of luck on your new novel!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Best Friend Love Story

Back when we dreamed of tiarasbetrothals, and overused italics, my friends and I imagined the boys who'd court us. My friends fancied broody, romantic types. I vowed to marry my best friend. 
Courtesy of
In literature and on the big screen, the Best Friend Love Story skips the awkward getting-to-know-you season (really, who wants that?) and drops the reader into the best friend relationship. It allows for witty dialogue, inside jokes, and shared experiences that wouldn't be plausible otherwise. It's the Monica and Chandler of relationships, where conversation is more like a tennis match.
Awwww...the Bings!
For me, the hook is the transformation of that friendship into a bonafide romance. Maybe the female sees his manly physique and brilliant mind in a new light. Maybe our hero realizes that date after date ends with him going home to her. As they recognize their true feelings and face the questions, “Will I lose him?” or “Will she hate me?”every hint of closeness, every thrown away word, and every casual caress is brought under inspection.

I love that! 

It's the push and pull between Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe. It's the tie binding Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester that threatens to snap with too much distance. It's the reason movies like Made of Honor and My Best Friend's Wedding are so much fun. And it's why Always Will is my new favorite book.
This calls for a #BookSelfie!
Author Melanie Jacobson has a flair for creating relatable female leads. Until now, sassy Pepper Spicer was my favorite, with girl next door Lia Carswell as a close second. But conniving Hannah Becker takes the cake! She has all the sass of Pepper Spicer and depth not unlike Lia Carswell. Despite Hannah's attempts to squelch it, her attraction to her brother's best friend Will Hallerman has only grown. But he refuses to see her as the woman she has become. And he keeps giving her noogies. Blech.

Will Hallerman has finally had enough of the dating world. He's ready to find a wife and settle down. This announcement is catastrophic in Hannah Becker's world. After knowing Will her entire life and adoring him from afar since junior high school, she realizes her chance at love with him is in grave danger. 

Hannah's problem? To Will, she will never be more than his best friend's little sister. Determined to open his eyes to her charms, Hannah sets out to sabotage Will's wife hunt by placing nightmare dates in his path and taking his search on a wild goose chase. Her plan is risky, but she's willing to take a chance to catch the eye of her soul mate. (Source: Amazon)

See what I mean? Compelling stuff! I swayed between wanting to a) punch Will in the face or b) pin him to the wall and smooch him to pieces. Now if only I can find someone worth playing dirty for...

Never fear, dear readers, I'm on it!

If you'd like to learn more about Melanie Jacobson or any or her books, visit her on Amazon or Facebook, or click on any of the links embedded above to read my reviews and/or purchase her novels. Happy reading!

Need another book recommendation?
The Masculine Mystique 
A Proper Romance 
Confessions of an Austen Addict 
Book Hangover 
Author, Ninja, Fangirl 
Tragically Flawed or Not

Thanks for dropping by! Feel free to share your favorite Best Friend Romances below. I love to pick up something new! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Humor & Inpiration in Writing: When Words Behave Like Toddlers

Cover art for Sugar and Snails
I think I've found my calling. Hosting the Humor & Inspiration features ranks right up there with writing 10K words and/or bagging an adorable pair of shoes at 50% off. 

Anne Goodwin is my first, Humour & Inspiration feature. Known to Twitterdom as @annectdotist, she describes herself as a writer, blogger, slug slayer, and recovering psychologist. I'd describe her as a lovely person, a talented writer, and a mentor to others in her field. I never suspected that she fights a different battle than most writers, which is a compliment to her professionalism. But she'll fill you in on that. Just be prepared to laugh and be inspired!
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When Sarah invited me to contribute a post about humour and the writing life, I wondered if it might be a case of mistaken identity. I tend to frequent the dark places and I’m not known for my capacity to raise a laugh. But never one to forgo the opportunity to strut my stuff on someone else’s blog, I agreed to give it a go.

Due to repetitive strain injury, all my fiction and all my blog posts are produced with the assistance of voice recognition software. I say assistance, but it’s much slower for me than typing ever was, as the programme has a mind of its own and every other phrase requires checking and correction. Because the errors are proper words, they can easily dodge my radar leading to a catalogue of embarrassing blog comments and tweets. On more than one occasion, I complimented the author of Black Lake on her novel Black Lace; an entirely different animal altogether.

It’s as frustrating as a toddler who wants to examine every crack in the pavement when you’re already late. But in the right mood, as with a toddler, its perspective on the world, and in particular its indifference to logic, can raise a smile.

I don’t know if it will evoke amusement, or sympathy, but I thought I’d share some of the nonsense that has recently appeared on my screen. With the erroneous words in bold, I’ll leave you to do the translation; the words in italics how I’d reply if the blasted thing could be relied upon not to mangle my words.

but it’s much lower for me than typing of awards             
though higher for you, perhaps, as I am rather too short to get the prize

balancing blog comments            
with the weight of bananas, perhaps?

my off the platform                        
definition of a somewhat unstable author platform

the author flanking the publisher in the acknowledgements       
Hello! Paula mentioned that you might be interested in doing a feature on my website next year. I'm pretty sure the theme would be right up your alley! On Humor and Inspiration in Writing and Life 500 words or less. Keep it brief, fun, and interesting. Feel free to go in any direction you'd like. (For example: what inspires you, keeps you going, how humor influences your writing, keep you from jumping off a cliff...or throwing your laptop off the balcony, etc.) Attach a fun head shot and any other pics, memes, and gifs that are pertinent to your post. If you're an author, a clean cover art image is always welcome. Attach links to your blog/website and any purchasing links you'd like to have featured. Feel free to add a brief book blurb, bio, or whatever you'd like promoted. Plugs are great! I'll take care of all the editing, snarky asides, and formatting. Totally my forteHello! Paula mentioned that you might be interested in doing a feature on my website next year. I'm pretty sure the theme would be right up your alley! On Humor and Inspiration in Writing and Life 500 words or less. Keep it brief, fun, and interesting. Feel free to go in any direction you'd like. (For example: what inspires you, keeps you going, how humor influences your writing, keep you from jumping off a cliff...or throwing your laptop off the balcony, etc.) Attach a fun head shot and any other pics, memes, and gifs that are pertinent to your post. If you're an author, a clean cover art image is always welcome. Attach links to your blog/website and any purchasing links you'd like to have featured. Feel free to add a brief book blurb, bio, or whatever you'd like promoted. Plugs are great! I'll take care of all the editing, snarky asides, and formatting. Totally my forteI know it can be a close relationship, but shouldn’t they give each other some space?

But if you read Philip living, there’s an advantage            
preferable to reading Philip dying, perhaps?

with disgust choir bit on your blog           
what’s your problem? I wasn’t trying to sing at you

a mere two has la                            
appropriate baby language for a toddler

how I’d reply if the plastic thing                                
okay, a writer shouldn’t have to rely on expletives, but who are you to censor my output?

as Orion crudity was to the Nazis             
obscene stargazing among the fascists

You get the idea? Somewhat paradoxically, given the expectations of greater professionalism, the publication of my novel has left me less anxious about the toddler in my computer. Not only because I’ve had editors and proofreaders checking my words, but because my title has a tendency to bring out other people’s inner toddler. Maybe that’s inevitable when Sugar and Snails is adapted from a nursery rhyme, but it always makes me smile when it’s quoted as Sugar and Spice. I’m not proud, whatever tempts you to read it is fine by me. Although it addresses a serious topic, it’s definitely not devoid of humour.
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Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, is scheduled for May 2017. Anne is also a book blogger and author of over 60 published short stories. 
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Anne Goodwin:
Author, Blogger, Recovering Psychologist
Catch Anne Goodwin online: 
Website: annethology 
Twitter @Annecdotist

Grab a copy of Sugar and Snails

A snippet of Sugar and Snails:
At fifteen, Diana Dodsworth took the opportunity to radically alter the trajectory of her life, and escape the constraints of her small-town existence. Thirty years on, she can’t help scratching at her teenage decision like a scabbed wound.

To safeguard her secret, she’s kept other people at a distance ... until Simon Jenkins sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, and he expects Di to fly out for a visit. She daren’t return to the city that changed her life; nor can she tell Simon the reason why.

Sugar and Snails takes the reader on a poignant journey from Diana’s misfit childhood, through tortured adolescence to a triumphant mid-life coming-of-age that challenges preconceptions about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be. 
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Isn't Anne a gem? Reach out to her online and you'll see what I mean. Just like the other Humor & Inspiration writers (see their links below), Anne has been a pleasure to feature.

As always, thanks for dropping by! If you're a writer, author, or blogger and you'd like to be featured in a Humor and Inspiration post, leave a comment below. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Red Lipstick

Author Sacha Black posted the writing prompt The Red Lipstick on her website a while ago. Just reading it set my girly brain whirling. It didn't take long before it settled on something completely different than Sacha's eerily brilliant short story. So, here's to laughter, drama, and a bold red lip!

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The boots zipped over my skinny jeans with a zzzzt and a whiff of leather. The boots were only slightly unsuitable for winter weather. It was a small price to pay for great legs.

Once last look in the mirror. Eyeliner in place. Another fluff to my curls. One more spritz of hairspray. (Okay, five more.) My 'do hadn't reached auburn helmet proportions yet, though it would stand up to a stiff wind. Or the seizure-like moves that passed for dancing.

I drew the cap off the lipstick. My fashion guru friend had sported a red lip for over a year now. But this tube looked more brazenly scarlet than I remembered. Scarlet the Harlot, wriggled through my mind, a throwback to too many nights of Clue. I ignored the rhyme and daubed red onto my lips.

Coat on. Ridiculously expensive handbag at my side. Keys in hand. One more bracing breath. If I blew my friends off again, they'd never forgive me. And I'd be one step closer to a deep and lasting relationship with Netflix.

The white bag slouching against the wall stopped me in my tracks. Thirty seconds, I told myself, that's all it would take. Thirty seconds and I'd be in the car speeding toward a night of schmancy drinks, dancing, and, the girls had assured me, super cute boys. I looped a finger through the plastic handles, careful to touch as little of the bag as possible. Eau de garbage wasn't my preferred scent. 

Ten seconds. The efficient click-clack of my boots on the walk. Twenty seconds. I considered how to pop up the lid on the dumpster with the least amount of physical contact.

At twenty-five seconds, my boots skidded on a patch of ice. The flailing elbows and thrashing feet resembled nothing Kristy Yamaguchi had ever done. With a plop, my skinny-jeans encased bottom hit the ice and the garbage bag flew into the air. So much for sticking the landing.

The plump bag hovered in midair, then plunged toward the ground. I lunged for it, skittering across the ice. It landed in my lap and I hugged it to my chest. A newspaper crinkled and the aroma of rotten banana puffed into the air. 

I executed a butt scoot off the ice, still clutching the bag to my chest. Once I was upright, I hitched my handbag back up to my elbow, and slipped a palm into the red handles of the trash bag.

I made it exactly one step before riiiip. And crunch, sploosh, crackle, the bag disgorged its contents. With a sigh, I bent to clean up the mess. Then I heard it, a sound far worse than the telltale rip of a treacherous trashbag. A manly chuckle.

No, no, no. I squeezed my eyes shut, wasting all my wishes at once. Another chuckle. I forced my eyes open and peered at the source. The Attractive Male Neighbor.

“Sorry,” he muttered, seeing my face and trying to hide amusement on his own. It didn't work. Those stupid brown eyes actually twinkled. If only the ground would open up and swallow me and my trash heap whole.

“It's Becca, right?” I nodded. “Let me help you with that.”

“Oh no,” the words tumbled out of my mouth like refuse out of a torn garbage bag, “It's all my fault. I'm such a klutz, really. I couldn't allow you—”

“A gentlemen doesn't leave a lady in distress,” he insisted. “Especially in a pile of trash. What would my mother say?”

Man, he was cute. And I smelled like old cheese and dead bananas.

“By the way,” he said, as he helped me to clear up the mess, “amazing display back there. Do you skate professionally or are you keeping your amateur status so you can compete?”

I'd have punched him in the arm, but my fist was full of crumbled weekly fliers and something sticky. Instead, I gave my tongue free reign. “Actually, I'm going on tour with Disney on Ice. I'm Goofy.”

“Sweet,” he said with a grin. “I'm going to need front row seats for that. Hook me up?”

I rolled my eyes, pitching the last banana peel into the dumpster along with an empty pudding cup. “I'm pretty sure you just caught the dress rehearsal.”

He chuckled again, probably recalling my pinwheeling arms, my butt scoot, or the garbage exploding like confetti over me. I tried not to think about which part he found most amusing.

“Well, thank you,” I said, rubbing at a sticky smudge on my knee.

“It's the least I could do.” 

I turned away, fishing my phone out of my handbag and bracing myself for a barrage of tongue-lashing texts. Sorry, girls. Can't make it, I tapped out. Showering and getting dolled up again was too much of a hassle. Netflix, here I come.

“And hey, Becca?”

“Yeah?” I turned back.

A smirk spread over his stupidly handsome face. “Nice lipstick.”

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What do you think? Leave me a comment below. And if you'd like to read more shorts, try: 
Enjoy! And thanks for dropping by!