#WriteTip - When a Story Won't Leave You Alone by @JSubject, spotlighting her #NAlit #IRMC #scifirom (w/ #zombies!)

It’s always a pleasure to have author Jessica E. Subject on my blog. I, of all people, understand how a zombie apocalypse could be the perfect setting for a smoking hot new adult romance (*cough* Catching Red *cough*) As such, I’m beyond intrigued about Jess’ new release. Let’s dig into it together after this short writing-tip break!

You Can’t Always Write What You Wanna—yes, I have a certain song playing in my head as I write this post. But, it’s true. It happened to me. I had planned to write the second book in my Galactic Defenders series, had the story planned out and was ready to go. Then I had a dream. And a new story invaded my head. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else, experienced writer’s block with the other story. So, I wrote IT TOOK A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. And when it was finished, I wrote JAGER, the second book in my Galactic Defenders series. So, sometimes you just have to put aside the story you want to write, and write the one that won’t leave you alone.” ~ Jessica E. Subject

It Took a Zombie Apocalypse

by Jessica E. Subject

It started with a kiss.

Then the zombies came. Now, Missy must work with the neighbor her parents hate if she wants to survive. But zombies aren't the only threat to her life, or her heart.

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RJ pressed on the text and read….

Contagion arrived from Ostrander.
Spread through the hospital.
Stay in bunker.
I’m infected.

Zombies? He dropped his phone and stared at it on the floor, expecting it to explode. Zombies didn’t exist. He was in some kind of dream. Had to be. Missy actually had come home for the summer. And kissed him. Now, zombies.

“What is it?” Missy bent down to pick up his cell then handed it back to him. “What happened back at the park?”

“Zombies.” The word came out before he had a chance to stop it. He didn’t know whether to laugh or grab Missy again and run.

A crooked smile formed dimples in her cheeks. “You’re joking, right? Trying to help me laugh off what happened.”

“I wish.” He showed her the message from his father. “My dad doesn’t have a sense of humor.”

The phone beeped, and she pushed his hand away. “I think it needs to be charged. We should call him just to be sure. Or contact somebody. Maybe he meant something else. You know how stupid autocorrect can be.”

RJ rushed to the kitchen, found his charger, and plugged in the cell. But, by then, he’d lost signal. Reception was spotty in West Vitula, but he couldn’t get anything. He peeked through the doorway, out to the living room. “Missy, can you get a signal?”

After digging into her purse, she pulled out her phone with a pink, sparkly case. Not at all what he expected from her. Had he missed that girly side, or had someone given it to her, and she didn’t want to hurt their feelings? That he could understand.

She held the cell up and moved around the room. “I got nothing. What’s going on?”

“I don’t know. Maybe we should try outside?” Though he doubted it would make a difference.

Missy stepped over to window and shoved the curtains aside. “Um, there are people coming. And they don’t…look right.”

RJ glanced outside. Neighbors walked down the middle of the street, their bodies twitching. And no one stopped to talk to one another. They just kept marching along to some unknown destination. As they came closer, he noticed their tattered clothing, their disheveled hair, and limbs connected at odd angles to the rest of their body, as if they’d been trampled. And now they were up and walking.

About Jessica E. Subject

Jessica E. Subject is the author of science fiction romance, mostly alien romances, ranging from sweet to super hot. Sometimes she dabbles in paranormal and contemporary as well, bringing to life a wide variety of characters. In her stories, you could not only meet a sexy alien or two, but also clones and androids. You may be transported to a dystopian world where rebels are fighting to live and love, or to another planet for a romantic rendezvous.

When Jessica is not reading, writing, or doing dreaded housework, she likes to go to fitness class and walk her Great Pyrenees/Retriever her family adopted from the local animal shelter.

Jessica lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two energetic children. And she loves to hear from her readers. You can find her at jessicasubject.com.

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5 #Writing Tips from Christy Gissendaner (@ChristyGis), spotlighting her #Holiday #PNR, Christmas Spirits

I'm delighted to welcome paranormal romance author Christy Gissendaner back to my blog today. If you haven't noticed, she's a pretty regular guest. I only asked her for one writing tip, but, being an over achiever, she sent me five. No. 1 & 2 are already on my "Search and Destroy" list (thank goodness!), and I had to learn No. 3 the hard way through a particularly painful "Revise and Resubmit" (Can you imagine Catching Red as a non-linear story full of flashbacks? Well that's how it started.)  

My most recent brush with No. 4 was a case of "snake" vs. "snack," which my editor luckily caught.  And here's a confession: I've been needing constant reminders of No. 5 this year.

5 Writing Tips

from Christy Gissendaner

Thank you to Tara for having me over. It’s always a joy. Almost as much fun as living vicariously through her Roma FB updates! But now, on to the meat of my post….writing tips!

There are so many tips I wish I’d known when I first began writing. Tara asked me for one, but I’m going to go out on a limb and give you five. Trust me, there’s tons more in my arsenal!

  1. Strike “that” from your vocabulary. I don’t care what you have to do – remove it from your Word dictionary, tape it to your screen – just forget that word ever existed!
  2. Avoid “was” like the plague. You don’t have to run from it, like the aforementioned that, but you’re going to want to steer clear of it as much as possible.
  3. Flashbacks. Don’t do them. Just…don’t.
  4. Never believe no one will notice a typo. (Psst…someone will.)
  5. And finally, don’t stop trying! Fourteen years into this writing gig and I’m still struggling “just to get up that hill”. Yes, I quoted the Good Times’ theme song. And if you don’t recognize it, you haven’t been writing nearly long enough. ; )

Christmas Spirits

by Christy Gissendaner

Kia Mays has little time for anything as her lifelong dream of being a fashion designer comes to fruition. For Christmas, she takes time out of her busy schedule to visit her family in Georgia where her beloved grandmother, Naya, reveals a secret of her Baoule heritage.

In Baoule, located on the Ivory Coast of Africa, the people believe in spirit lovers, which you are separated from at birth. Tedros, Kia’s lover from the spirit world, appears to her and reveals that he is there to assist her in finding a mortal lover.

Elliot Melton, the brother of Kia's new sister in law, is also invited to share the season with the family. With the help of a meddling grandmother and an otherworldly spirit, Elliot and Kia soon find out that Christmas is the best time to fall in love.


Naya motioned her toward the living room with a smile.  “Sit down.  I’ll be right back.”

The couch was the same one that had been in the home Naya had shared with Geoff for decades.  It was worn and threadbare, but still comfortable. 

She settled into the cushions with a heartfelt sigh of relief, dropping her head against the crocheted afghan that always hung on the back of the couch.  Not a thing had changed except the fact that her grandfather wouldn’t be there to greet her. 

She blinked several times to clear her eyes.  It was their second Christmas without Grandpa Geoff, and it still saddened her whenever she thought of him.

“Are you ready?”

Kia looked up expectantly when Naya appeared carrying an item wrapped in tissue paper.  Naya glanced at the gift in her hands, then gave Kia a considering look.  Her dark eyes seemed as if she held the secrets to all life’s mysteries.  “I’ve never shared this with anyone but your grandfather.  Not even with your mother.”

Kia sat up straighter.  It wasn’t like Naya to beat around the bush.  She was about as straightforward as they came.  “What is it?”

Naya sat beside her, still cradling the item in her hands.  “The others wouldn’t understand, but you…”  She paused to touch Kia’s cheek.  “You’re the most like me.  You’ll understand the importance of what I’m about to show you.”

Kia was used to her grandmother’s dramatics, but this was different.  A force inside her recognized the truth of it.  She barely drew a breath as Naya unwrapped the tissue paper to reveal what was beneath.  She didn’t know what to expect, but it surely wasn’t what was revealed. 

She glanced at the wooden figurine with a puzzled frown.  “A doll?”

“No, not a doll.”  Naya’s wrinkled fingers stroked the figure gently.  “It’s your soul mate.”

“Um, Naya?  I hate to disappoint you, but I’m not really into wood.  Rubber, maybe, but…”

Behind her bifocals, the rolling of Naya’s eyes seemed overly pronounced.  “Hush your mouth.  He may hear you and take offense.”

Kia’s frown deepened.  Naya was getting on in years, but Kia had never suspected senility.  “Perhaps you should rest.”

Naya gave her a stern look, one that brooked no argument.  “I’ve not lost my mind, Kia LaShae, and shame on you for thinking so.  This figurine…” she held it up to the light.  “Is the physical reincarnation of your spirit lover, the one you’ve been separated from since birth.  The one you will rejoin in death.”

“My spirit lover, hmm?”  Kia tilted her head to one side and studied him.  “He’s a bit smaller than I would’ve liked.”

Naya put a hand to her forehead and mumbled a few words of her native language, ones Kia doubted were very complimentary.  “In Baoule, when you experience bad luck with your flesh and blood lover, it’s because your spirit lover needs to be appeased.  You must show attention to him to end the bad luck.”

Kia took the figurine from Naya and turned it over in her hands.  “Nice ass.”

“He’ll not like you poking fun at him,” Naya warned.

“Who’s poking fun?  He does have a nice ass.”  Kia pulled up his shirt and ran her forefinger over his ridged wooden abdomen.  “Nice six pack also.”

“I created him according to your specifications.”

Kia lifted an eyebrow.  “I didn’t say anything about a six pack, Naya.”

Her grandmother shrugged.  “I took the liberty of adding a few of my own.”

Kia touched the waistband of the hand sewn, miniature jeans he wore.  “Really?  Exactly what sort of traits?”

Naya slapped a hand over hers.  “Later, Kia.  First I must know if you have any questions.”

Kia placed the figurine, her supposed spirit lover, on the coffee table and crossed her legs.  “Yes, I do.  Did you forget your medication?  You don’t seriously expect me to believe this mumbo jumbo, do you?”

“Have I ever lied to you?”

“There was that bit about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.”

About Christy Gissendaner

Christy Gissendaner is a paranormal and contemporary romance author who believes laughter and love should go hand in hand.

Christy lives in Alabama with her husband and three sons. She’s always hard at work on her next novel, but in her spare time she loves blackjack, karaoke, and anything resembling a vacation!

To find out more, please visit http://christygissendaner.webs.com

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#WriteTip - Develop Secondary Characters by @HaleyWhitehall (spotlighting her #historical #interracial #romance Midnight Caller)

It's been a while since Haley Whitehall paid a visit (I kid.... a couple of months, at the most). She and I met through an author loop at the same small press many moons ago (approximately 24), and since then some of our titles have hit the rights-reversion mark. While I'm still hovering on the indie sidelines trying to decide if I want to tackle re-editing and re-releasing my own titles, Haley has valiantly taken the plunge. Here's a writing tip from Ms. Whitehall, along with a closer look at Midnight Caller.

Develop Secondary Characters

by Haley Whitehall

I’d like to thank Tara for having me on her blog today and help celebrate my re-release of Midnight Caller. My write tip: develop your secondary characters. Many times the secondary characters are overlooked and if they are developed at all are often cliché characters.

Many writers focus all their attention on the main characters. If it is a romance, they spend all their time developing the hero and heroine and of course the bumpy road that leads to them falling in love. However, in real life, people do not live in a bubble. We do not have tunnel vision and only think about, see, and talk to our significant other.

Secondary characters serve many important functions in a story. They can be a sympathetic ear for the main characters and offer advice. With their help the main characters might be able to figure things out and make life decisions. They can help the main characters out when they are in a fix, or they can cause problems for the main characters either intentionally or unintentionally.  There can be many secondary characters in a story. I love the small town romances where you get to know the whole town: the nosy neighbor, grumpy old man, a few rambunctious children etc. Secondary characters can bring the setting to life, and make it feel more real to the reader. And you know what the best part is? Sometimes secondary characters beg to have a story of their own!

I recently re-edited, lengthened, and re-released Midnight Caller (Moonlight Romance, Book 1). After writing three books in the Moonlight Romance series it occurred to me that an important secondary character in Midnight Caller needed a story of her own. Mrs. Dimshire is a widowed matron in Louisville, and she encourages Emma to take a black lover. I got to thinking what is her story? So when I lengthened Midnight Caller for the re-release I went back and added a few more details about Mrs. Dimshire’s life. If secondary characters are more developed, it makes them more real as well as making it easier to write their stories later.

Secondary characters need to be more than names. We need to take time to describe them and develop them. In my opinion, the more the secondary characters are brought to life the more the story will ring true. Just be careful and don’t let them take over the story!

Midnight Caller

Moonlight Romance, 1

by Haley Whitehall

Life without love is painful, but in the Reconstruction Era South forbidden fruit can be deadly. A fiery romance between a widow and an African American man has more consequences than either of them imagined.

Slavery has ended, but racial prejudice remains in Kentucky. Emma Bennett guards a secret that could destroy her life. Until now she never considered the price of her security. Becoming a well-respected member in Louisville had seemed a dream come true, but at what cost?

Her husband’s death from a carriage accident releases Emma from her loveless, controlling marriage. Now she has a chance to find happiness and raise a family. But before she begins courting again she wants to experience her freedom. At the advice of the leading socialite in town, she takes a black lover to fulfill her sexual needs. His raw masculine power awakens feelings she didn’t know existed. After the first touch, she craves more.

Frederick works as a roustabout by day and moonlights as a prostitute. He knows better than to fall in love with his white client, but Emma enchants him the first time he calls on her. To keep them both safe, he works hard to put up barriers. Unfortunately, he can’t protect Emma from the slimy Mr. Hawthorne, who wants her as his bride. Frederick vows to keep her safe even if his forbidden love costs him his life.

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About Haley Whitehall

Haley Whitehall lives in Washington State where she enjoys all four seasons and the surrounding wildlife. She writes historical romance set in the 19th century U.S. When she is not researching or writing, she plays with her cats, watches the Western and History Channels, and goes antiquing. She is hoping to build a time machine so she can go in search of her prince charming. A good book, a cup of coffee, and a view of the mountains make her happy.

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