Maine Romance Writers’ 2019

STRUT YOUR STUFF CONTEST

The 2019 Maine Romance Writers’ STRUT YOUR STUFF CONTEST is NOW OPEN!

And we’re excited to announce this year’s contest is open to published and unpublished authors!

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Authors whose published books become finalists will be entered in our online

Readers’ Choice Awards and have a chance to get their book in front of potential readers.

We are pleased toannounce that acquiring editor, DEBWERKSMAN of SOURCEBOOKS will be this year’s final round judge for unpublished entries.

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Eligibility:

** PUBLISHED BOOKS **
Books with an original copyright date of 2018 maybe entered in any of the four categories below.

 ** UNPUBLISHED BOOKS**
Any author may enter a blurb in the unpublishedportion of the contest as long as the book being entered has never beenpublished in any format and is not or will not be under contract, up forpre-order or set to be published before May 20, 2019.

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Authorsmay enter multiple books with separate entry form and fee for each title. Entries will be accepted until midnight EST FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2019

No membership requirements

You can check out all the details on the MAINE ROMANCE WRITERS WEBSITE.

We hope you’ll consider entering.

January is a great time to begin fulfilling those 2019 New Years resolutions. If one of them is to get your books published, taking advantage of my formatting sale is perfect for you!

Schedule your formatting job for a January date and receive any Seaside Publications at a 25% discount!!

That means your print book will receive the same great formatting for only $75! Digital formatting for your novel begins at $30!

So what are you waiting for? Contact Nina (Nina@NinaPierce.com) to schedule your formatting job for this month!

iStk_Paper_LgeThe decision to self-publish can feel daunting. But you’ve decided to make the leap and now what? Well, the first step is to prepare your manuscript and chances are … you’ve probably already done it.

When I first started writing in 2005, I know it seems hard to believe, but email and digital books were just beginning to take off. It was customary for an author to format their Word document in Courier New font, double-spaced. This format most emulated a typewriter and averaged 250 words per page. When printed, the number of pages in the manuscript gave the publisher an idea of the number of pages in the finished print book. We tabbed our paragraphs and underlined anything that was going to be italicized so it was easily recognizable by the formatter. Manuscripts were printed and sent by snail mail to the publisher who hand edited them with a red pencil. (I mention this, because there may be some of you looking to re-release previously published books in this format and your manuscript would need to be stripped of all that formatting before your novel can be published digitally.)

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This is a short story I wrote a few years ago. I’ve always loved it and thought I’d post it again for your holiday enjoyment. (It’s based on the “8th day of Christmas”)

Meghan dropped down in the small stool, tipped back her cowboy hat and laid her forehead against the soft belly of the Jersey, less than pleased she was here doing the evening milking—again. The youngest of eight sisters, she always seemed to get stuck finishing the barn chores. She never got to do anything exciting, like ride out into Mistletoe Canyon and find the missing cows. Resigned to her duty, she gripped a teat in each hand, rolled her fingers with a vengeance and sent milk pinging into the bucket between her feet. The cow let out a soft bellow.
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What is it about the night that awakens our imagination and gets our heart racing? There are all kinds of answers to that question. For me, it’s the secrecy. What exactly are the shadows hiding? What is cloaked by the black that the light of day would reveal?

I’ll be the first admit I have an overactive imagination.I don’t watch horror movies because I remember every detail of the monsters and the evil that reigned. When the lights go out, I don’t need those images adding to the ones I’m already conjuring. I close every closet door and tuck away every stray piece of clothing on the floor, lest they hide a villain or become some malevolent entity in the wee hours of the night. Problems loom so much larger when they pull me from sleep. Sounds magnify and become telltale signs of a malicious presence seeking to harm me. I try to be logical about this whole thing. But there’s something about all those shifting shadows that completely crosses my wires and I can’t seem to pull myself together.
 
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I hope all of my American friends are enjoying the 4th of July surrounded by the love of family and friends. And I just have to give a shout out to all the soldiers who are in foreign lands away from those who love them so I can enjoy the freedom of celebrating. May God hold each and every one of you in his care until you’re returned safely to the arms of your family.

With that said, I thought I’d share a few Independence Day factoids with you! Have a good one everyone!

1. Independence Day commemorates the formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. However, it was not declared a legal holiday until 1941.

2. Fireworks were made in China as early as the 11th century. The Chinese used their pyrotechnic mixtures for war rockets and explosives.

3. $128,800,000 will be spent importing fireworks from China, representing the bulk of all US imports. By comparison, US exports only 13,500, 000 in fireworks with the bulk going to Germany. (2002)

4. Uncle Sam was first popularized during the War of 1812, when the term appeared on supply containers. Believe it or not, the U. S. Congress didn’t adopt him as a national symbol until 1961.

5. There are many precise rules for taking care of the American flag. And speaking of flag traditions, we’re sorry to report that contrary to legend, historical research has failed to confirm that Betsy Ross sewed the first flag.

6. 125,000 US flags flew over the Capital last year at the request of House and Senate members. On July 4 alone, 1,200 were flown at our nation’s capitol. (From the U.S. Capitol Flag Room.)

7. $272,000,000 were spent on shipments of fabricated flags, banners and similar emblems by the nation’s manufacturers. (1997)

8. Not all members of the Continental Congress supported a formal Declaration of Independence, but those who did were passionate about it. One representative rode 80 miles by horseback to reach Philadelphia and break a tie in support of independence.

9. The first two versions of the Liberty Bell were defective and had to be melted down and recast. The third version rang every Fourth of July from 1778 to 1835, when, according to tradition, it cracked as it was being tolled for the death of Chief Justice John Marshall.

10. The National anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner is set to the tune of an English drinking song (“To Anacreon in Heaven”).

11. The iron framework of the Statue of Liberty was devised by French engineer Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, who also built the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

12.  More than 66,000,000 Americans said they participated in a barbeque. It’s probably safe to assume a large number of these events took place on the Fourth.

13. Father of the country and architect of independence George Washington held his first public office at the tender age of 17. He continued in public service until his death in 1799.

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY TO ALL MY BLOG READERS!

 

Life has taken on a new kind of normal. As many of you know, Mr. Nina and I have been bumping around the northeast, hoping life–and more specifically, the healthcare field–would settle down enough that would could set down some new roots ourselves. Well, it’s finally happening and hopefully we’ll be able to get back on track with our career goals. And for me, that means finding my way back to writing.

One of my goals for the last couple of years is to find my way back to my SHIFTING BONDS series. And I’m excited to say it’s finally heppening. Yay Me! I’m stepping back into the books cautiously, but optimistically. Hopefully the end of 2018 into the beginning of 2019 will see these sexy shifters back out in the world!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share how I came about finding the names of my main characters in this sexy erotic suspense novel.

Being the visual person that I am, I can’t even get one sentence down without knowing exactly who my characters are. And it’s not so much who they are and where they came from, as a pantser that stuff just sort of unravels itself while I write. Nope, I’m talking about their names.

ColeThat’s right. You should see what I go through to discover who my characters are. I start with the site Baby Names. I usually have an idea of at least a letter which helps with my search. And some names are easy to eliminate. I mean you don’t want an hero named Edwin or Arthur. Neither of those names conjure up a sexy alpha hero capable of being both commanding and gentle. (But Cole … there’s a name can work with!)

The same is true when it comes to naming your heroine. Hester, Evelyn and Ruth bring to mind grandmothers, not kickass women ready to save the world. That doesn’t mean that in certain situations the name doesn’t work. I’m just talking JaydaXSmallgeneralities.

If baby names doesn’t work for me, I use Random Name Generator. What I like about this site is I can decide how obscure I’d like to make the name. And if that doesn’t work, I end up rifling through the phone book.

Once I have their full name and I’ve got an idea what the character looks like in my mind. I go to Female Celebrities and List of Male Actors and search out famous people who most closely fit my vision. I like to choose people in the media because I can google their images and find a couple of pictures that I can put on my character profile. But sometimes, like in A TOUCH OF LILLY, which has a very sexy alien, sometimes only the talent of my cover artist captures the character.

Once I have the pictures of my characters I put them in a document and make lists of eye color, hair descriptions and body characteristics (like tattoos) as I’m writing. Often times the characters quirky habits or their childhood backgrounds are added to the list as well. The nice thing about all of this is that I often don’t intend to write series stories, but inevitably, I fall in love with characters and want to continue their story. These photos then can be used when the characters decide I haven’t quite finished telling their story.

Probably more information than you ever wanted to know about all the hoops I jump through to meet my characters and begin writing a story, but there you have it. 😀

As I’m ringing in another, hoping there are still plenty of “firsts” ahead of me, I thought I’d share with you some of the first lines in my books. Every author knows that we have one line, one paragraph and if we’re lucky–one page to grab you, the reader and keep you turning pages. I can spend days tweaking and reworking the beginning of my stories. When you look at them individually what do you think? Does the line make you want to keep reading or not so much?

1. Jahara Khateri’s life was over. As she stared out the windows of the crowded helo-train, she knew nothing could change the course of her life. She felt the hollow reality as obvious as the barren expanse of the desert stretching between her and the horizon.

GARDEN OF SERENITY *


2. Nicholas Gradin III splashed three more finger of thirty-year-old scotch into the crystal tumbler sitting on the antique desk, not bothering to add ice. He didn’t need some watered-down version of liquid courage. At this moment, he needed straight up, balls-to-the-walls confidence that everything would work out in his favor.

*  GRAPES OF RAPTURE *


3. Margaret Callaghan hid her heartache behind dark sunglasses and the Starbuck’s double-double mocha latte she carried like a shield. The steaming coffee hadn’t helped dislodge the hot coal of despair burning her throat or soothe the quiver of her bottom lip. Mercifully, the front receptionist’s desk of Summit Rehabilitation and Wellness Clinic was empty at this hour of the morning, giving her hope that she just might be able to reach her office and pull herself together before anyone could question her misery.

IN HIS EYES


4. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…”
How could this have happened to someone so young? Julie Tilling dabbed at the tears ruining the makeup she’d meticulously applied to her rounded cheeks. She stared at the coffin suspended eerily over the marred earth of the cemetery, not sure what to make of this farce.

BLIND HER WITH BLISS *


5. Sara Lancaster had definitely made the wrong decision. Less than twenty-four hours ago she was sure this weekend was just what she needed. Eight hours ago, excitement had fluttered in her stomach as she’d left Boston, overjoyed to accept the invitation. Hell, just two hours ago she’d been giddy with anticipation as she’d collected her bags at the Key West airport and caught a taxi to the boat landing. But her tiny apartment and the bungalow where she currently stood weren’t merely thousands of miles apart—a whole world separated the comfortable life she’d finally made for herself and the fantasy she was standing in.

* RECLAIMED IN ECSTASTY


6. It wasn’t much of a noise, just an inconsequential thump in the night that was enough to rouse Professor Paul Morgan from his dreamless slumber. Still cradled in the gentle arms of sleep, his blood thick with sleeping medication, he wasn’t sure if he’d simply imagined the sound. But when another muffled bang was followed by a whoosh of air—he had no doubt the commotion coming from the first floor had nothing to do with his mischievous tabby, Zeus.

* UNCONTROLLED BURN *


7. Meghan Tilling’s body quaked with fear and the bone-chilling thirty-eight degrees of the cooler where she was trapped. She pressed her forehead against the icy metal of the door, her palm caressing its pebbled surface, trying to fight the panic lurking like a sinister shadow and threatening to overwhelm her in despair. How ironic that the annoyance of driving in a Maine snowstorm had kept her at Tilling Gardens and Plants, the business she co-owned with her two sisters. Finishing the shop’s holiday arrangements and festive decorations had seemed a better alternative to a white-knuckled drive home in the heart of a nor’easter. Except now, instead of being stranded in a ditch on the side of the road with a chance of being rescued, she was going to freeze to death alone in the walk-in cooler that was the lifeblood of her business.

* CHEAT HER WITH CHARM *


8. Jesus. Even though Jonathon Brierton wasn’t particularly religious he prayed for Divine intervention. Not that he wanted any lightning strikes or halos of light illuminating the shadowed corner of the club where he’d hidden himself, but a little more help in the patience department would certainly go a long way at the moment. It went against his baser nature to sit back and wait rather than walking over and convincing the copper-haired beauty leaning over the railing across the way to put on his collar and join him in one of the private dungeons below.

* BOUND IN ECSTASY


9. Lilly D’Angelo wasn’t expecting a trip down memory lane when she sauntered into the dingy tavern, but the acrid stench and gruff hum of the Friday night crowd carried her back to one of the seedier establishments on Chicago’s south side nonetheless. Except for the clientele, the owner had managed to replicate nearly every detail right down to the blue haze of cigarette smoke and the soft crooning of a jazz band on the corner stage.

* A TOUCH OF LILLY (An All Romance Ebook BESTSELLER!) *


10. Deirdre Tilling slammed the spade into the soil. Her booted foot thumped down on its metal edge, driving it deeper and transferring her frustration to the wounded earth. She’d been working the flowerbeds around her farmhouse since noon. And though the sun stretched the shadows of the maples long across her lawn, painting their leaves a deeper crimson, the hours of heavy labor hadn’t helped ease the pain of loneliness.

* DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE *

This week I’m jumping into the fourth book in the Darynda Jones “Grave” series, Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet. I love this series. Why? One word … characters. Ms. Jones has created a cast of characters that I have completely fallen in love with and can’t wait to see what happens next in their lives. Of course creating memorable characters that readers fall in love with is the goal of every writer who puts fingers to keyboard. Anyway, this got me thinking about characters over the years that were so strong/handsome/kick-ass that I still think about them. In no particular order …

1. Meggie Cleary (The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough) This feisty redhead knew what she wanted and went after it even when it wasn’t proper. When she couldn’t have the man she loved, she tried her darnedest to love the man she was with.

2. Burke Basile (Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown) – This gruff detective is sure he just wants revenge. In typical Brown storytelling of course he finds love is much sweeter.

3. Ayla (The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel) – Wow, what can be said about this heroine. She just keeps on keeping on. Surviving in the wild, she learns to communicate with animals. She names her horse “Whinnie”, not the name … the sound.

4. Nell Channing (Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts) – She is from the first in the “Three Sister’s Island” trilogy. I love these witches, but this first sister doesn’t know she’s a witch and that’s why I think I love her all the more.

5. Charles Wallace (A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle) – A boy who travels through time and space… what’s not to love?

6. Charlie Gordon (Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes) – This character just breaks my heart. A mentally disabled man that is given a cure and becomes a genius. But when it begins to slip away it’s heartbreaking to watch him decline.

7. Charlie Davidson (First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones) – Not only is she a detective … but the Grim Reaper. Yeah, who would have thought that the Grim Reaper could be one hell of a heroine. But there you have it!

8. Kristin Bjorson (Freedom’s Landing by Anne McCaffrey) – Another kick-ass heroine that you can’t help but loving. Kidnapped from Earth and transported to another planet, she steps up to help lead a ragtag band of victims to create a new settlement. Of course she finds the alien of her dreams in Zainal.

9. Eliza Flyte (The Horsemaster’s Daughter by Susan Wiggs) – Fiercely independent, she lives alone on an island. When a plantation owner brings a wounded horse to her to heal, it seems more than one heart mends.

10. Brenimyn (Garden of Serenity by Nina Pierce) – Oh come on, you’ve gotta give me one! LOL! Bren is the hero from the first novel that I published. I think he’s so memorable because I rolled all my favorite heroes into this one hunky guy.

So there are a few of mine. What about you? What characters can you just not get out of your head … or heart?

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