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Tickling the ivories (#MFRWAuthors)

Published April 20, 2018 by francesothomas

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Here we are in week 16 of the Marketing for Romance Writers blog hop. The topic this time is family, friends, and pets I’ve written into my books. Surprisingly few.

One person I did use as an inspiration for a recurring character in my Calusa Town Tales is the former accompanist for the chorus I’ve sung with for many years. The character’s appearance and personality are not at all similar to this pianist. What I used was his habit of making editorial comments on what was going on in rehearsal via snippets of songs he would slyly doodle a few measures of.

For example, if the conductor exhorted the tenors and basses to sing more strongly, the pianist might play a little bit of “Stout Hearted Men.” I did, and still do, sit in the front row, short person that I am, so I always listened carefully to what was emanating from that piano and got a good laugh.

Go here to find out about my fellow authors.

 

 

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Bring on the bubbly (#MFRWAuthor)

Published April 13, 2018 by francesothomas

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This week’s blog topic is how I celebrate completing my manuscript.

I don’t have a particular way to celebrate this milestone. My husband and I have a no-fail plan we use for every holiday, celebration, and even some we-have-no-reason-we-just-deserve-this dinners. We share a bottle of champagne or other bubbly wine, some cheese, a baguette, and some fruit.

Mu husband is possibly the best champagne bottle opener I have ever seen. He tells me the trick is turning the cork, not the bottle. He still gets that satisfying “pop” sound without having the liquid spray all over the place. Not that I buy anything very expensive, but why waste it?

His favorite cheese is blue and mine is Brie, although goat cheese is giving those a run for their money. For Easter, I found one coated with dried cranberries and orange peel. Yum.

For fruit, we usually have grapes, an apple, or a pear.

And we always have something for dessert.

Works for us.

To read about how my fellow authors celebrate, go here.

For the birds (#MFRWAuthor)

Published March 30, 2018 by francesothomas

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The topic for this week’s Marketing for Romance Writers blog contest is what I learned when researching my book.

In the latest book in my Calusa Town Tales, I include a scene featuring an escaped emu. Yes, this actually happened back when I was the editor of our local newspaper. I got repeated calls of emu spottings in various neighborhoods. It took a few days to track the critter down and some firefighters and animal rescue to round it up, as I recall.

It doesn’t happen quite that way in Island Dream. In the fictional version, the emu serves as a means for two minor characters to work out their communication differences.

The actual research I did was to check emus’ height and habits. They can grow to 6′ 2″ in height and run as fast as 31 mph. They are grayish-brown in color and eat mostly plants and the occasional bug. And people really do raise them in Florida.

Read more research stories here.

Let’s start at the very beginning (#MFRWAuthor)

Published March 23, 2018 by francesothomas

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This week’s blog topic is “My contest experiences-win, lose, get signed.” The only contests I have ever entered were two by Harlequin: So You Think You Can Write.

The first one was several years ago. The theme was medical romances. I was a huge fan of House, MD, and had begun a story featuring a brilliant and prickly doctor. (How original.) As you have not seen this novel in print, you may surmise that Harlequin did not drop everything and sign me up. I did, however, get some helpful advice. Start in media res.

Here’s how Encyclopedia Britannica defines that term

In medias res, (Latin: “in the midst of things”) the practice of beginning an epic or other narrative by plunging into a crucial situation that is part of a related chain of events; the situation is an extension of previous events and will be developed in later action. The narrative then goes directly forward, and exposition of earlier events is supplied by flashbacks.

I had started, as many beginning authors do, with backstory instead of at the moment when my naive but plucky heroine met said doctor. Lesson learned. I redid the opening, but have yet to complete the novel. Maybe someday.

I recently entered a similar contest that called for submission of a first chapter. Harlequin favors exotic locations and careers, so I wrote about the maestro of a fledgling opera company in Salzburg who is accused of harassing a violinist. He is immediately cleared by the company’s new PR director who must then pose as his fiancee to keep other women at bay.

I got positive comments on my pacing and characters, but Harlequin’s editor thought the subject was too touchy in today’s climate.

I’ve decided to write the story anyway, but I’ve relocated it to Florida where I live. I’d love some feedback. Is the topic too sensitive? Would you read this book? Please leave me your comments.

And if you want to find out how my fellow authors fared in contests, go here.

 

Help! I need somebody…(#MFRWAuthor)

Published March 16, 2018 by francesothomas

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Oh, my goodness! We are into the 11th week of the year already? This week’s #MFRWAuthor blog challenge is “If I never had to do this one task again…”

Some of these weekly topics are difficult to answer. This one isn’t.

If I never had to deal with telephone customer service, and I use that term loosely, I would jump for joy. This goes for cable television, medical practitioners, bank or insurance personnel, and any and all government bureaucracies.

All of the “push this button for that” business is circular and infuriating. My husband has been known to bellow “Get me a human being” into the phone. This rarely works. I try repeatedly pressing zero. Same non-result.

If by some stroke of luck you actually get to a person, that person cannot give you a satisfactory answer anyway. The most recent excuse I got was they hadn’t called back since they were catching up from the hurricane. The hurricane that happened six months ago.

Take a look here to see what bugs my fellow authors.

 

Do unto others (#MFRWAuthor)

Published March 9, 2018 by francesothomas

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Week ten Marketing for Romance Writers blog challenge is things only my family would understand. My siblings and I use the term “do-less” to describe people who are a combination of useless, clueless, and helpless, and also short on common sense.

My mother used this adjective, and we all picked it up. I’ve never heard anyone else use it. I never knew if it originated in her native West Virginia or if it was her own original construct, but I suspect the latter. It is very useful, however, in conveying a lot of information and more than a little disdain.

I can’t wait to read family stories from my fellow authors here.

 

Just Do It (#MFRWAuthor)

Published February 23, 2018 by francesothomas

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This week’s blog topic is  the worst writing advice I ever got. Honestly, I can’t remember any bad advice. I have gone to a few writers’ conferences over the years, belonged to three writers’ organizations, and have taken online classes and workshops galore. I’ve got notebooks full of wonderful advice.

The problem was not with any of the advice. The problem was with me. For advice to be helpful, you have to follow it. Oh, I’ve managed to put some of it into practice, but a lot of it fell by the wayside.

It’s never enough to know what to do. You actually have to do it.

Check out what some other authors have to say on this topic here.