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Today we welcome Bill Walker, author of A Note From an Old Acquaintance!

I hear a lot about authors who outline their novels before they start writing, outlines that can often be quite extensive. I’m not one of them, at least not with the books I’ve written thus far. For me, if I had to sit down and ponderously map out every little move my characters make and every twist and turn of the plot, I would more than likely lose interest in taking it any further. To then sit down and write the book would be like repeating myself. At worst, it would be excruciating. At best–anti-climactic. And I need that catharsis that comes with discovery. More about that in a minute.

The method that works for me is to first have an idea so compelling that it seizes my imagination and won’t let go. Call it an obsession if you like, because I won’t deny that it has the feeling of one, and for me I need that unrepentant passion to carry me through the months of work to get to a first draft. The next requirement is discipline, having the will to sit and type at least three pages per day. If I want to do more, fine, but that doesn’t get me off the hook for the next day.

Because I’m a film school graduate, I have always tended to see my stories as movies on a big screen in my mind. And that is the way I write, in a sort of cinematic trance. While I have a firm grip on where the story is going, the characters will often assert themselves and take the story in a different direction. Sometimes I have to rein them in and, at other times, I’m delightfully surprised to find them taking me in a fresh direction I’d never previously considered. These are the moments for which all writers live, and an outline will kill it. Not because those moments will elude you if you’ve outlined your book, but because you’ve put so much work into that outline, you won’t want to deviate from it to go somewhere else with the characters and the story.

My advice, then, is to take that basic idea and just start writing it. Once you get the first draft down, THAT will be your outline. You will then be able to see what needs to be changed with a much clearer vision and you will not have hampered your creativity at the outset by creating a rigid roadmap.

A Note From an Old Acquaintance:

Brian Weller is a haunted man. It’s been two years since the tragic accident that left his three-year-old son dead and his wife in an irreversible coma. A popular author of mega- selling thrillers, Brian’s life has reached a crossroads: his new book is stalled, his wife’s prognosis is dire, and he teeters on the brink of despair. Everything changes the morning an e- mail arrives from Boston artist Joanna Richman. Her heartfelt note brings back all the poignant memories: the night their eyes met, the fiery passion of their short- lived affair, and the agonizing moment he was forced to leave Joanna forever. Now, fifteen years later, the guilt and anger threaten to overwhelm him. Vowing to make things right, Brian arranges a book- signing tour that will take him back to Boston. He is eager to see Joanna again, but remains unsure where their reunion will lead. One thing is certain: the forces that tore their love asunder will stop at nothing to keep them apart. Filled with tender romance and taut suspense, A Note from an Old Acquaintance is an unforgettable story about fate, honor, and the power of true love.

Too Old to Get Married?

The aforementioned question hardly ever bothers men.  But when women turn 30, and there is no ring to adorn their left hand, some become a little uneasy.  When the biological clock starts ticking and viable prospects start to dwindle, the question of whether or not it will ever happen begins to loom in the mind of some and send them into panic mode.  At the risk of sounding old fashioned, I am going to go against the status quo and suggest that they should be concerned.  I don’t say this because I think that marriage doesn’t occur after age 30.  I just believe that society, as a whole, needs to reassess the “right time” to get married.

With every generation, comes an adjustment in beliefs and values.  This all so true with marriage, but have the generational shifts adversely influenced the institution of marriage.  In times past, if a young woman got married at 19, that was the norm, and if she was not married by age 25, well then … she was an “old maid.”  On one hand, it is good to know that we have evolved from the labels, and women are encouraged to pursue their own aspirations.  However, on the other hand, there are still many advantages to getting married earlier in life.  Allow me to elaborate on a few reasons why.

Getting married resolves the issue of sex.  Of course, some would say it doesn’t always, and this is true.  However, if a couple models God’s plan and design for marriage, it does.  The older an individual gets, the harder the challenge is to abstain, particularly for men.  Singles tend to spend a great portion of their time pursuing relationships with the opposite sex.  Married couples are typically settled, and in turn, more focused, which places them in a better position to accomplish their goals.    

Getting married earlier promotes maturity and unity.  Marriage develops maturity because success in marriage demands individuals to be responsible.  Responsibility always forces one to grow.  In order to grow, one must be flexible.  The older one gets, the more ridged that individual becomes, which is not conducive for marriage.  The older a person becomes, the less likely they are to change, because their minds are set.  Statistics show that people that get married later in life are more likely to get divorce than those that get married young.  In addition, the older an individual is, the more likely they are to be already accomplished.  When an individual knows that he or she plans to get married one day, it is good to be prepared, but it is also good to allow room for growing and achieving together, because marriage is a partnership.  Besides, the more accomplished a person is, the harder it becomes to find someone that will truly love them for who they are, because everyone loves a winner.  There is a greater sense of appreciation for someone with whom you can share your accomplishments and dreams.  Whenever someone receives an accolade for a victorious moment in their lives, they always express their gratitude for those that have supported them from the beginning. 

Getting married earlier in life allows a couple amply time to plan for a family, as well as time to raise children in your most energetic and lively years, which is most desirable when raising young children.  I don’t understand people who desire to become parents at a point in their lives when they are more suitable to be grandparents.  There is something to be said about doing things in their proper time and seasons.

The “right time” doesn’t mean the perfect time.  The right time is when the opportunity is most favorable.

J.R. Hauptman

The Effects of Deregulation on the Airline Industry 

My novel, “The Target; Love, Death and Airline Deregulation,” is primarily a human story, a tale of one man’s struggles with himself and a world that for him, has been turned upside down.  However, there is a strong undercurrent to the book that might cause a feeling of unease in the reader; it is a sense of potential revolt and impending disaster.  Given the current disastrous economic situation in our country, it may turn out for this book to be unfortunately prophetic.  

Airline deregulation came about in the late Nineteen-Seventies due to the fact that the Civil Aeronautics Board, which regulated that industry, had become too politicized.  The CAB decided what airlines would fly what routes, at what frequency and what fares they could charge.  Both Presidents Johnson and Nixon, having the powers of appointment, approval and veto, used this vital component of our national transportation infrastructure to reward their political allies and to likewise punish their enemies.  The ideal solution would have been to reform the industry and allow more competition in route awards and fares, but the action chosen was what became the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. 

The promoters of airline deregulation proudly declared that the Act would result in free market entry by both established and startup companies, more competitive fares and result in better airline service and cheaper tickets for traveling Americans.  An added benefit foreseen but not often publicly touted by economic “conservatives,” would be an anti-inflationary check on airline employee wages in this highly unionized industry.  They privately salivated over the prospect of putting the final screws into the coffins of labor unions.  

Rather than recount the past three decades of instability and chaos in the airline industry, let me point out the results.   First, the concentration of the industry.  Promoters of deregulation were unaware, or simply ignored the fact that the airline business is extremely capital intensive; it takes a lot of money to operate and maintain a modern fleet of jet airplanes in any semblance of flight frequency, safety, and reliability.  Further, free market entry by small upstart airlines was nipped in the bud by a simply Darwinian fact of economic life; the Big Fish eat the Little Ones.  The big carriers, having huge cash reserves, would simply match or undercut the fares of the low cost carriers and run them out of any competitive market.  The result is, that eventually, the industry went from many high quality carriers serving large, medium and small market cities to a very few major carriers, deemed “too big to fail,” skimming the long haul routes, leaving the medium and small markets to be served by contract carriers operating smaller, regional jets.  

Secondly, was the overall degradation of service.   Economic gurus touted the idea that airlines were finally solving the problem of excess capacity, or “too many empty seats.”  The problem was and continues to be that with fewer major carriers dominating “Hub” markets, they are not only able to fill those empty seats, it is established practice to cram more seats into airplanes, making current air travel an exercise in torture. Additional factors, such as fuel prices, weather delays and security issues only exacerbate these problems and make the travel experience even more unpleasant.  

The effects of unbridled deregulation on our national economic system are currently there for us to witness every day.  Airline deregulation was followed by deregulation of the public utilities, energy, and truck transportation industries, to mention a few.  Worst of all were the complete dismantling of critical securities and banking safeguards.  One of my first jobs, after my airline underwent a sham bankruptcy orchestrated by a corporate raider, was as a securities broker.   My mentor there had come from trust department commercial banking and early on, he warned me; “Just watch; the banks want to get in on the securities business because the bankers see huge profits on the commissions we earn and it will mean disaster for both.”  

How right he was!   The Glass-Steagall act of 1932 was passed during the Great Depression and placed a barrier between Commercial and Investment Banking, which is essentially a securities function.  Glass-Steagall was largely ignored during the go-go days of the Nineteen-Eighties, and then repealed to obviate any undue embarrassment of those who were charged with regulating these industries.  

The result has been overall irresponsible and some outright criminal behavior by those who manage and regulate banking and securities.   They have turn these crucial businesses into veritable “Crap Games” by designing a plethora of shady products designed primarily to line their greedy pockets.   The list is lengthy; the junk bonds used for “Greenmail”, the savings and loan and Enron scandals, credit card usury by the banks, the abusive banking, securities and insurance bailouts with abusive compensation schemes, sub-prime lending; on and on, the list seems endless.   

Nothing is more representative of this sickness than the Madoff Scandal.  Those who are currently involved in trying to solve this mess are less guilty than Madoff only by degree.   Nonetheless, they seem to be repeating the same arrogant mistakes of their sordid past.  They ignore the risk at their peril and that of our nation.  That risk is Revolution; populist and potentially bloody.

The Target

Joanne Sundell

HOW I GOT PUBLISHED… in 5 years or less!

Has it only been five years since I almost lost it all, giving new meaning to the “literary pitch?” I’d flown to Albuquerque to collect my very first win in a Romance Writers of America, chapter contest; this one with the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors in New Mexico. The moment I saw the contest posted in the RWA Report—the Rebecca Contest—I had to enter something, since Rebecca is the name of my oldest daughter. It’s a sign, I thought; hopefully a sign of good things to come. Darn if it wasn’t! My third completed manuscript, Matchmaker, Matchmaker, won! 

You would think that when given the opportunity to make a pitch to editors at the LERA Conference, I would pitch my winning historical romance, Matchmaker, Matchmaker. Nervous and naive, I sat down with the likes of NAL and Five Star-Gale, and rambled on with another manuscript. I still don’t know what I was thinking . . . but I do know I wasn’t thinking! Russell Davis, the-then-Five Star-editor, actually congratulated me on my contest win at the beginning of my pitch, and I still didn’t get it! When politely asked to submit my manuscript of choice to Five Star-Gale, I snail-mailed my second, completed novel and not my contest win. 

Months went by before I got “the call,” saying thank you but . . . no thank you. It’s the answer I expected, being rejected. But wait, the call wasn’t over. Five Star-Gale asked if I had something else I might want to submit. When given this golden opportunity, you bet this time I sent in my contest winner! Some time later I got the call again, saying thank you and let’s talk sale! 

That one moment will ever withstand the test of time as “the moment” in my writing life . . . five years and counting.

 

Joanne Sundell’s first sale was in 2005, to Five Star, Gale, Cengage Learning. The prime market for Five Star Expressions is the library market, but Five Star’s books are also available on-line at Barnes & Noble and all bookstores. The Five Star Expressions line is a combination of romance and women’s fiction. Joanne’s particular interest is in historical romance with suspenseful elements.

To date, Joanne’s sales to Five Star include: MATCHMAKER, MATCHMAKER (06), A…MY NAME’S AMELIA (07) also out in Large Print, THE PARLOR HOUSE DAUGHTER (08) also out in Large Print, MEGGIE’S REMAINS (09), & THE QUAKER AND THE CONFEDERATE upcoming series (5/10, 9/10). Joanne’s first sale was reviewed nationally by Booklist, her second by Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, and her third by Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist. A…MY NAME’S AMELIA garnered a top 4&1/2 star rating from Romantic Times Magazine. 

History is always a strong character in Joanne’s books, with her first four stories set in colorful, turbulent Colorado history and her next, a two-book series set in Civil War Virginia. As important as it is for Joanne to convey a strong, credible, historical flavor of the time, it is equally important for Joanne to portray strong, credible heroines and heroes. A strong, determined heroine deserves an equally strong and determined hero. Joanne grew up reading romance, historical and contemporary, falling in love with heroes and heroines from Regency England to the American West, from London’s pubs to Colorado’s ski slopes, loving that moment when the hero and heroine meet and fall in love. That moment to Joanne is the moment when Jane Eyre meets Edward Rochester, when Elizabeth Bennett meets Mr. Darcy … that’s the heart-stopping, passionate moment for Joanne in romance. That moment is what led her to attempt traditional, old-fashioned historical romance.

With her three, Colorado-mountain-raised-children grown and off on their own adventures, Joanne lives part-time in Colorado and California, with her husband and their entourage` of felines and huskies.

Joanne is a member of Colorado Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Los Angeles Romance Authors.

 

Barbara Bretton

Today we welcome Barbara Bretton to Bibliophiles ‘R’ Us!

Writers will do just about anything to research a story. Bungee-jump. We’ll climb mountains, swim oceans, talk to dangerous people in dark alleys in the middle of the night, all with the certainty that the Muse will protect us from harm.

And those of us writing paranormals will happily take a walk on the wilder side of reality if given half a chance.

So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that my writer friends and I all said yes when a mutual friend suggested we experience a past-life regression.

Let me set the scene for you: it’s 8:30 on a cloudy Saturday morning in central Long Island. Five writers, clutching bed pillows to their chests, race across the hotel parking lot toward what promised to be a Big Adventure.

I knew exactly what to expect. We’d be greeted by an exotic-looking woman draped in jewel-toned silk and smelling faintly of something heady and alluring. The room would be dimly-lit. Soft New Age music would float through the air from an unseen source. One by one we would be led through the sun-dappled meadows of our minds and introduced to the fabulously exciting lives we’d lived before we ended up in Ballroom B of the Hauppauge Ramada Inn.

And I’d find out I’d been Cinderella, complete with glass slippers, the perfect past life for a newly-minted romance writer.

Except it didn’t quite work out that way.

The medium was a middle-aged matron named Ann who wore a corduroy skirt, sensible shoes, and glasses that hung between her breasts from a grosgrain ribbon. Garish fluorescent lights beamed down on us from the ceiling. Instead of New Age music, Van Halen pounded against the far wall.

After introductions, we were told to lie down on the floor of the conference room and get comfortable. Comfortable? All I wanted to do was make a run for the exit.

“Okay,” said Anne, “now that you’re settled, let’s do a few relaxation exercises.”

Who was she kidding? I wasn’t there to relax. I could relax in the coffee shop later.

But the exercises worked and suddenly I found myself drifting toward sleep. The medium’s voice snapped me back into the moment.

“Now we begin,” she said. “We’ll start at the bottom . . . your feet . . . see your feet the way they were . . . ”

That was more like it. I knew exactly what I was going to see: dainty feet in glass high-heeled slippers. What else? I mean, I knew deep in my heart that there was a beautiful 18th century English heroine with a score of eager suitors lurking deep inside me waiting to get out.

Imagine my surprise when I saw two enormous work boots instead! I was horrified. Work boots? What in the name of romantic fantasy was going on? Whose past life was this anyway?

If Anne knew things were going terribly wrong for me, she never let on. “Now we’ll see your ankles and calves,” she said.

Oh, great. I saw worn and filthy trousers over thick ankles and we all know that no self-respecting heroine ever had thick ankles. What a disaster this was turning out to be. She worked our way up the body and I got more depressed with every part revealed. No dainty ballgown-wearing damsel for me. I was a man. And an ugly one at that! I was a big, rough-hewn, foul-tempered Swedish coal miner.

Believe it or not, things went downhill from there. She told us to age ten years. “Where are you?” she asked. “What are you?”

I was finally getting married. My wife hated me but she had no choice. She was as homely and old as I was. I saw us on our wedding night and I was a rough and uncaring lover who made her cry. I didn’t care. I sat by the fireplace and smoked a pipe. Even my dog didn’t like me.

“Fast forward another twenty years,” Anne instructed and I see myself sitting by the same fireplace, still smoking a pipe. My dog is dead. My wife is dead. I lost a leg in a mining accident. I am bitter, miserable, and alone.

I wanted my money back. Where were my ball gown and slippers and handsome suitors? This wasn’t at all what I signed up for. Believe me when I tell you I didn’t want to be a one-legged Swedish coalminer with a bad attitude.

What I was, however, was a writer with an even worse attitude. I got so caught up in trying to force the experience to meet my expectations that I almost lost the point of it all.

It didn’t matter if I was Cinderella or a coal-miner. The point was the experience itself. How it felt to lie on the ballroom floor of a Ramada Inn. The sound of my friends breathing next to me. Anne’s soft voice. The strange sensation that came over me as I “saw” things I didn’t expect to see, in a way I never thought I’d see them.

And isn’t that the point of getting out there and doing hands-on research? I should have left my preconceptions at home and just let it happen. Don’t make my mistake when you research your own novel. Live in the moment. Soak up the knowledge. Savor the element of surprise when it comes your way. You never know where the unexpected might take you.

ABOUT BARBARA

Barbara Bretton is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of more than 40 books. Her most recent title, Laced With Magic, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. She currently has over ten million copies in print around the world and have been translated into twelve languages in over twenty countries.

Barbara has been featured in articles in The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Romantic Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Herald News, Home News, Somerset Gazette,among others, and has been interviewed by Independent Network News Television, appeared on the Susan Stamberg Show on NPR, and been featured in an interview with Charles Osgood of WCBS, among others.

Her awards include both Reviewer’s Choice and Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times; Gold and Silver certificates from Affaire de Coeur; the RWA Region 1 Golden Leaf; and several sales awards from Bookrak. Ms. Bretton was included in a recent edition of Contemporary Authors.

Barbara loves to spend as much time as possible in Maine with her husband, walking the rocky beaches and dreaming up plots for upcoming books.


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