Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's a romance writer's favorite time of year! Happy Valentine's Day to one and all. Whether you're going out with your honey or staying home with a book or movie, I hope you have a terrific day full of all the sweet things. Cheers!

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Good Habits and the Voices in Your Head

 The Slow Start

I have begun my year as I do most years, with the intent of writing at least one page per day in my current work in progress.  I was sidetracked for about a week when everything at home went sideways because of a basement flood (which we and our more expensive things survived), but overall I have managed to maintain my goal.  I had taken a long break after finishing FIRE because I was burnt out, and I needed to recharge or, as we writers put it, "refill the well."  It took a lot of refilling, more than a year of writing listlessly and not regularly.  Like a muscle too taxed with overwork, my "writing brain" was worn out and in need of a rest.  No amount of pretty stationery or writing goodies could coerce me to get words out.

Then, 2018 rolled over.  I knew it was time to get back on the proverbial horse.

I won't lie.  At first, it sucked.  Writing one paragraph was an effort.  I tend to edit as I go, so that what I put on the page is as clean as I can get it in my head before I type it out.  I have never been able to shut off that internal editor.  My personal best is only thirteen pages or so in one day.  I have learned that in about half an hour I can get out one page of "pretty good" work.  (That's one page, formatted, for those of you who wonder, about 250 words, and "pretty good" means it's mostly clean work that has already had its first pass of edits.)  Some days it's less effort than others, but if I have managed that much for a day, I call it a win.

You First

Over time, this PITA page a day that (to me) was just crummy writing started to become better writing again.  It became less work.  Any writer will tell you, we live with hundreds and maybe thousands of imaginary people in our heads, who have conversations and interactions with one another.  Many of these imagined scenes become fodder for our books, and nothing is more frustrating than when your imaginary people stop talking.  That's what happened to me for more than a year.  NONE of my characters would talk on their own.  I had to make up stuff I thought they might say and do, rather than have that lightning strike of inspiration appear in my head without provocation.  And I really, REALLY missed that lightning strike, because it's the joy that keeps every writer going in the hope that it happens again.

Then something funny happened.  My characters seemed to start trusting me again, as if *I* had abandoned them and they were sulking somewhere in my head.  After a couple of weeks of daily at-the-keyboard effort on my part, they started talking to me spontaneously, instead of me dragging the dialogue and actions out of them.  In fact, the main character essentially told me, "Look, I see you've painted yourself into a corner with this plot thread, so I'm gonna help you fix it.  Here's how," and the scene rewrote itself in my head.

Hallelujah.  Lightning strike.  I was so happy to have that happen for the first time in many, many months. You can call it pre-writing, or plotting, or whatever you like, but for me, the best work happens when my characters are "talking" to me.  They were just waiting for me to do some work first.

Staying on Track

No one can tell you how to do your best writing.  Whether you're a plotter or pantser, storyboarder or Scrivener fan, you know how best to get those words out of yourself.  The common thread is to make what works best for you a habit.  Then, it's not as much work; it's just something you do.  You can always go back and edit the words, as long as you have words to edit.  Just keep at it.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

The Power of Yes

It's often said that to be a "yes man" is a negative thing. This is a person who responds with an unqualified yes to everything you say, no matter how outlandish or incorrect (see sycophant). People say it's healthy to have a certain amount of argument and opposition.

It's true that blind agreement with an opinion is unwise. However, I feel that a certain amount of affirmation toward others is a good thing. In a world of divisiveness and negative press, it can mean a lot to have someone respond to you in a positive way. Don't get me wrong; I don't mean that you should agree with everything others say, but it's not a bad thing to seek and respond to the positive in another person's viewpoint (or at least acknowledge it if you can find common ground). Rather than respond with a knee-jerk need to point out the "wrong" in another person's statement, which promotes the feeling of social difference, try responding to comments where you might share some commonality.

This goes for more than those comments on social media, and more importantly, it affects how you see yourself. Telling yourself "yes" can have a wonderful effect on your self-image and overall mood. Learning to respond to life in the positive promotes a can-do attitude. You're not ignoring the difficulties. There are no rose-colored glasses. There is just an attitude of willingness to try, to see the possible benefits (not only in connection with others, but in your own abilities, when that "yes" is self-directed).

It's hard enough to get by these days when everyone is telling you no. Think how much you could do, and how much we could do together, if you start saying yes!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope this year brings you happiness and good health. As always, I'm hoping to finish a book, but this year, it'll be different: I'm working on a college-age New Adult book rather than romance! This book's main character first "spoke" to me several years ago, at four o'clock in the morning, and refused to stop talking until I got up and began writing. Those are the kind of characters you want: the ones who tell you their story and all you need to do is take dictation! I'm very excited about this book, and I hope you will be, too. Keep an eye out, because I will let you know as soon as I have news about it!

Enjoy your 2018!

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Guest Author: Joe Cosentino presents PORCELAIN DOLL in audiobook!

Good afternoon, all! Today, I welcome back author Joe Cosentino, whose mystery PORCELAIN DOLL has been newly released on audiobook! Here's Joe to tell us all about it.

Not to name drop (but what the heck), I was an actor playing opposite stars like Bruce Willis (A Midsummer Night's Dream on stage), Rosie O'Donnell (AT&T Industrial), Nathan Lane (Roar of the Greasepaint on stage), Holland Taylor (My Mother Was Never a Kid ABC-TV movie), Charles Keating (Another World on NBC), and Jason Robards (Commercial Credit commercial). Those years offered me the first-hand insight into what happens on a set, how actors and actresses behave (or misbehave), and everything that goes into making high budget entertainment.

So it isn't a surprise that the heroine in my popular Jana Lane mystery series was the biggest child movie star ever until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. In PAPER DOLL, Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. I was incredibly fortunate to find Charissa Clark Howe, a gifted actress, to perform the audiobook of PAPER DOLL.

In PORCELAIN DOLL, the second Jana Lane novel, Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous romantic co-star, America's heartthrob Jason Adonis. The other suspects include Jana's James Dean type young co-star, her older John Wayne type co-star, her children's Eve Harrington type nanny, the film's gossipy makeup and hair artist, a local reverend trying to stop the film's production, and Jason's agent. Now with the audiobook of PORCELAIN DOLL, I hit the jackpot with Derick Snow, an actor with a great deal of murder mystery acting experience. He not only connected with the mystery, humor, and mood of the novel, but also beautifully created the multitude of captivating and entertaining characters in Jana's life in book two. His dramatic voice, crisp diction, and emotional availability bring the characters and story to life. Derick's intensity is perfect for the many plot twists and turns, dropped clues and red herrings, sweet romance, and shocking yet gratifying ending. Finally, he realistically connected with the descriptions of the music, hairstyles, clothing, and decadence of the 1980's, when the novels are set.

Hopefully the next three published novels in the series (SATIN DOLL, CHINA DOLL, and RAG DOLL) will have audiobook adaptations as well.

Many of the readers have told me the Jana Lane mysteries should be a television series. I agree! So I wrote a teleplay pilot. While waiting for television producers to make me an offer I can't refuse, enjoy these two audiobooks.

So, grab your popcorn and take your front row seat. Listen to the Jana Lane mystery, PORCELAIN DOLL, performed by the wonderful Derick Snow. Lights up! Action on mystery, humor, romance, and lots of surprises!

PORCELAIN DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery by Joe Cosentino
Published by The Wild Rose Press

Is art imitating life in 1982? Jana Lane, ex-child star, is doing a comeback film about murder. When a crew member is killed on the set, it looks like Jana could be next. Thickening the plot is Jana's breathtakingly handsome and muscular leading man, Jason Apollo, whose boyish, southern charms have aroused Jana's interest on screen and off. Will Jana and Jason stop the murderer before the final reel, or end up on the cutting room floor in this fast-paced whodunit with a shocking ending?

Praise for PORCELAIN DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery:

"Suspenseful and mysterious, Porcelain Doll is a masterful creation, one that was impossible not to be affected by." ~ Carol Fenton, BooksLaidBare Reviews

"Every page fills the readers with intrigue... Edge of your seat mystery that lures readers instantly… Once you read it, you can't put it down." ~ Urban Book Reviews

"Porcelain Doll hooks from the start with characters behaving badly, all of whom have life-changing secrets… The story includes a nice arc, well-developed characters, and a few unexpected surprises." ~ InD'tale Magazine

"What a delight! A fun mystery that takes place in the 1980s with a range of engaging characters and a strong heroine…. Jana is the perfect heroine for a mystery.... A must-read for mystery lovers! Porcelain Doll is charming with a great insight to the rise and fall of stardom, and with a twist at the end I honestly didn't see coming." ~ Readers' Favorite

About Joe Cosentino:

Bestselling author Joe Cosentino won Divine Magazine's awards for best mystery novel, best humorous novel, and best contemporary novel of 2015. He is the author of the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll and Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise (Lethe Press), Drama Luau, Drama Detective; the Cozzi Cove beach series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); and the romance novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays and The Perfect Gift, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press). As an actor, he has appeared in principal roles in film, television, and theatre opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O'Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married.

Web site:

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

HEAVY NETTING Coming Soon in Audiobook!

I am thrilled to share the news that HEAVY NETTING, my Lobster Cove short story, will soon be available as an audiobook! I just finished listening to the recording this evening, and it's delightful. Alexis Portner reads dialogue with terrific charm, and she has captured the sweet, fun spirit of this book exactly as I envisioned it. I can't wait to share it with you.

Stay tuned to the blog for news on the release, which should be coming very soon. In the meantime, I'd like to wish all of you in the United States a very Happy Thanksgiving! (I know mine will be!)

Sunday, October 08, 2017

House Project: Custom Kitchen Island!

I can't be the only one with this problem.

My house is a number of decades old now, and one of the things I have always liked about it is its open floor plan in the kitchen and dining area. At some point, the previous owners knocked out the wall separating the tiny galley kitchen from what was then the living room. When we moved in, it was logical for us to make that ex-living room into our dining area. My stepfather put in a chandelier to light the space, and it's been great.

Except for the lack of cupboards and counters.

The problem with knocking out that wall is that we lost all that storage and food prep space. We have been living with a tiny kitchen island which worked well when we moved into our first apartment together. We also didn't have a dishwasher, and after a big holiday dinner, we always had an overflow of dishes. Then we got a portable dishwasher, which, while adding a bit of "counter" space, just sat in our kitchen looking out of place.

For years, I have hunted the Internet for a kitchen island (or a kitchen island plan) that makes a portable dishwasher (which you can pull out and hook up to your sink tap) look like a built-in.

There is no such monster.

Not to be denied, I started sketching. After much discussion and many years of back-burnering the plan, we are finally, finally building the kitchen island I have always wanted. Lumber Liquidators had the perfect size butcher block top, already cut, to fit the island I designed. So nice of them to read my mind like that!

Hubby set to work hashing out the measurements to fit what I needed it to do. He and our son industriously sawed, drilled, painted, and stained, and this is the end result. The butcher block has to be treated several times with a food-grade mineral oil, but the nice thing about it is you can cut and prep food right on the surface, and butcher block is far less expensive than stone or granite (and weighs a lot less, too, for which I'm sure our floors are grateful).

Wanna know the best part? Some of this lumber was sitting unused in our shed. It's made with T1-11 - the same stuff we used to build our shed! It looks beautifully rustic, like shiplap. I will have to buy some taller counter stools (bar height), but I love it. What do you think? Do my boys get a gold star?