Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Writing Process by Connie Vines

Flash Back

The Writing Process

1.      What am I working on right now?
I work on multiple projects at once.  Is this a good thing?  Probably not—but rebel that I am, I do it anyway.  I’m finishing up the Second Act in my novella, Bell, Book, and Gargoyle and I’m three quarters through my anthology: Gumbo Ya Ya (an anthology for woman who like romance Cajun). While all this is going on, Rand, Book 3 in my Rodeo Romance Series in bumping around in my head. And Book 4, Crystal Thunder, in my Rodeo Romance Series is being plotted in my Dramatica Pro a thought at a time.

2.     How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I write in multiple genres and each of genres have a different “tone and focus”—in other words, a different ‘voice’.  My YA novel, Whisper upon the Water (Dream Award Winner, Nat’l Book Award nominee), is told in the 1st person.  The novel is complex; not only a coming-of-age but also a transformation of society as a whole (Tay is Apache, Nde). My heroine begins as a girl on the verge of womanhood, a member of her band, speaking her native tongue.  Kidnapped, held hostage, and manages to escape. Taken to a Native American boarding school, Tay learns a new language, skills, and encounters prejudice but also experiences kindness.  Later, she must make a very difficult choice.  Her decision will influence her life, as well as the lives of others.  The novel is written for YA level and is reading selection for the G.A.T.E. program in numerous SoCal schools, and was selected as a “Teen Read” at libraries at the time of its release.  My novel is being read by 7th grade students at an IB school this trimester, and student feedback is great!

In my Rodeo Romance Series: Lynx, Book 1, is a contemporary western romance and set in Montana and Texas. This book is lively.  Rachel is spirited and Lynx is hot and sexy—but both have had hardships in life.  My secondary characters add elements of comedy and unexpected plot twists. (Winner of the Award of Excellence, Finalist: H.O.L.T. Medallion, Orange Rose and Rocky Mt. Gold contests).  Brede, Book 2, is a western romantic suspense, set in New Mexico.  Since the novel is romantic suspense, I do not wish create a spoiler in this blog post.  I will say everyone one loves old Caldwell, the ornery old cook, and his cohorts.  Brede is strong-willed and caring; Amberlynn is beautiful and in mortal danger.  Rand, Book 3, is told in the 1st person: ChickLit meets the Wild West and goes straight to Hollywood. Lights, Camera, and a boot-full of Action! I am having, fun, fun with this novel!
Crystal Thunder, Book 4, has a more serious tone and is set in the Dakotas.

My stories are diverse, because, like most of us my life experiences are unique.

My stories take place in places I have lived, or where I have vacationed. I know my subject matter.  My father rodeoed while in high school in Texas. I grew up in a career military family and my childhood was nomadic.  I have been involved in Native America culture and educational programs. My husband is a Louisiana country boy.  I now live in SoCal—where, of course, I have met Hollywood television stars and facilitated workshops.

3.     Why do I write what I do?
The story calls to me, it is that simple.  I have a feeling of time and place.  Then I begin hearing snatches of dialogue (like when you are sitting in a coffee shop and you over hear snippets of conversation).  The story invades my life (well it does, just ask my husband).  Today, I’m listening to Zydeco music and I have gumbo in my crockpot.  I am compelled to complete the story.  Native American culture says, “The story comes to the Storyteller.  The Storyteller must bring it to life.” 

4.     How does my writing process work?
For short stories, novellas and anthologies, I utilize the basic W-plot with extra twists and pivotal points.  When I am writing a novel, or a novel series, I plot in acts and work with three chapters at a time (1-3, 4-6, etc.).  With the exception of short stories, I compile detailed backgrounds, motivation, and personality traits. I also conduct interviews, research, and immerse myself in the ‘culture/environment’ I am creating.  It is then I begin the first draft of my novel.  This will change as my characters begin to take over the book.  Any writer will agree with me, under no circumstances can you force you characters to act against his/her will.  You can, however, place huge obstacles in the way and see what happens.

Is my first draft perfect? No.  Is my third draft publishable? It’s probably close.  At this point in the writing process, if I have any bumpy spots, I’ll have writer friend look over those pages. She will give her opinion and suggestions—that I may, or may not follow (though I always give the input careful consideration).  Writing, after all, is subjective—as is a reader’s preference for one novel over another. 

To read the first chapter teasers of my novels please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/Connie-Vines/e/B004C7W6PE  

My Book Trailer to Brede, Rodeo Romance Book 2

Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you have stop by next week at Dishin’ It Out out to read my next blog post.

Happy Reading,

Connie Vines

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Flash Back to the Past!

I miss Justin Wilson's Cajun Cooking Show.

I watched him on weekends. My husband is from Louisiana and enjoyed the mini vacation to the south  Gotta love Justin Wilson's  funny stories.  And, no matter what was on the stove, everything needed more wine! he would tell an no matter what every needed more wine!


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Author Branding—Don’t Muddy the Waters (Part 1) by Connie Vines

Since this is my wedding anniversary, I'm posting a previous Bog Post.

I have been researching this topic via workshops, online chats, and discussion with other authors for several years.

The workshop I attended recently wrapped up the final meeting with: author branding was totally unnecessary.  (Well, that was a total waste of my money!)

So, does Connie have a brand?


Does Connie still think she needs a brand?

Yes.  And no.

I know I need a memorable brand for each series that I write.  However, since I write in multiple genres, I don’t know if an all-encompassing brand is possible.  Or even practical.

We all know how much Connie loves to do research, enroll in online workshops, and conduct impromptu interviews with total strangers (to quote my husband, while we are in line at Souplantation, “why were you asking that man about the cost of a sleeve of tattoos?  You are not going there for the sake of research).  I handed him a napkin and smiled.  Now was not, I decided, the time to remind him that I had my eyebrows and eyeliner enhanced with “wake-up with make-up” tasteful, but still permanent ink.

How to Design Your Author Brand

Okay, it’s scramble time.  Find a piece of paper and something to write with.  You can use the note app in your phone, but I think pen to paper works better in this case. (If you write under more than one pen name, just select one.)


Write down what your author brand is.  You have 10 seconds. Go!
Time’s up.

Were you able to write down your band?  Did you use 6 words or less?

Good for you.  You probably have a good idea of what your brand is.
If you didn’t (you are with me) don’t worry.  We will go about fixing the problem.

Brands Need to Be Specific

If you failed, the above test the reasons are likely because:

1. You don’t really know what your brand is yet.
2. You are over-describing your brand and couldn’t write it all down fast/concisely enough.

Now is the time to sit and ponder.  Strip away the contradictions, muddiness, superfluous.
What does a brand do?  A brand is a signal to customers to know what to expect when they see it.
Once they have had experience with a brand, they (hopefully) know what to expect.  Ideally this is a favorable expectation that encourages them to purchase your product, talk to their friends, and take chances on your next release.

How about a brand like this?

“Daring, Thrilling, Romantic, Action Packed.”

What if we change it to…

“Daring, Thrilling, Sexy, Action Packed”

A big difference isn’t it?

I selected very genre-esque words.  This was my intention because genres play a big role in branding. Brands are also about trust.

Remember genres and sub-genres are their own brands.

This is really important.    We already have a mind-set/expectations when we select a genre to read.  If you select a “Historical” novel (unless it is a sub-genre) you do not expect or probably appreciate elements of Urban Fantasy in the story-line.  Riding in stage coach, you prim-and-so proper heroine isn’t going to mesh with a hidden magical world featuring Fae, Vampires, and Werewolves.    So, unless you plan on inventing your own sub-genre (SteamPunk/StoneagePunk) with a limited readership, consider what you are inheriting from your genre.

Following these guidelines, I will attempt to come up with a brand for my current Rodeo Romance Series (BLW, BooksWeLove, Publsihing.).

Genre:  Contemporary Romance (Lynx), Romantic Suspense (Brede), Contemporary Romance/Humor (Rand), Romantic Suspense (TBT).

I’ll go with Romance as a genre.

Now to the dictionary and thesaurus.

For part 2, stop by next week.

(Feel free to post idea :-))


Monday, February 26, 2018

"Classic Ginger" I Hear Voices, Do You? #pantser

I wonder now at people condemned to asylums because they insisted they had "voices in their heads." Could they have been authors? Especially, 'pantsers' and don't do any plotting?

I never had voices in my head before I started writing...now I've had more than I can handle in this lifetime...all screaming their ideas at me and wanting me to tell their story. I'v found myself so confused at times, I don't know which one to listen to, so I just didn't work on any. I've tried revising my writing style to plotting, but I just can't do it. I need my characters to lead me, but when they're all shouting???

Here's a typical day in my life, from the perspective of me and my 'crew.' Mot of these books are finished and available on Amazon, but I do have one pending.  All have new titles and covers.

Odessa: It's been days since you've typed a word of my story. Here I am, all goosebumpy over the fellow who found me in the middle of the desert, I'm dying to kiss him, and you've just left me hanging. Get on with it, would you? Odessa should be a first priority.  NOW TITLED;  ARIZONA SKY

Carrie: Whoa, hold on Dessie. Wait your turn. Ginger started First Degree Innocence long before your silly tale. You just jumped in and interrupted her with the ploy about your pa being trapped under a wagon or some such nonsense. Your urgency is a "kiss"? Really. I'm stuck in prison for something I didn't do, some ballsy chick called Jet is after me to help her set up a friend by planting a shiv, and all you can worry about is when you're gonna get kissed. Give me a break.

Meagan: Shut up, both of you. I gave Ginger the idea for a story that just might qualify for the Harlequin Undone series, even though she's not so great with steamy love scenes. *whispering* Don't tell anyone, but I think she's a prude at times.*back to yelling* The story requirement is only 15,000 words, so if you'll just take a seat and hold your tongues, maybe she can get creative and finish the damn thing. Crap...this just in. She shared the story with some cronies of hers and they tell her it's not hot enough. Now she's got this crazy idea to just make it an historical novella, called Tender Return. Geez, and I gave up my virginity for this?  NOW TITLED:  TIME INVESTED

Clarence: God, is bickering all you women ever do? I have murder cases to solve and lives to save. Sort of makes your silly little plot lines look weak, don't you think? I think The Pendant should take precedence. Right now, I've only had two deaths and I'm working on the cases, but  Ginger just submitted this to Books We Love for re-release so I'm waiting to find out who gets the necklace next, or where the darned thing came from. So stop your yammering so she can listen to me! WAS TITLED THE LOCKET.  IS AVAILABLE NOW ON BWL AS THE PRIZE FOR THEIR VALENTINE'S CONTEST.

Faith: *sniffing* What about me? I'm still waiting for her to start In Search of Joshua. How am I ever going to find happiness if all you keep taking cuts. FAITH IS PART OF AGES OF LOVE AND I STILL HAVEN'T GOTTEN TO IN SEARCH OF JOSHUA.

Clarence: Taking cuts, my ass. You already have a book published with you as the heroine. Give someone else a chance. Geez, talk about greedy.

Faith: Well, it's not just me that's anxious. The people who read the first book...at the least a couple of reviewers, didn't care much for the ending because I didn't connect with Joshua. I have to find him.

Carrie: Take a chill pill, Faith. Try living behind bars and worrying your cellmate is going to snuff you out during the night and then come talk to me. I wish I knew if I was going to survive this story or not. I'm not getting any younger, ya know.

Joy: Hey...don't forget me. I know she only typed a paragraph of my story, but I have a wonderful one to tell...and with a twist none of you have come up with. I think she's stalling on mine because she just can't get kinky. But, I intend to keep yelling in her ear until she finishes Joy's Revelation. JOY'S REVELATION IS NOW PART OF DISCOVERY...A SEVEN SHORT STORY RELEASE IN WHICH EVERYONE DISCOVERS SOMETHING.  :)

Odessa: Revelation, smevelation. It's late. We all have a gripe, but we'd better shut up so Miss EPPIE nominee can get some sleep or she'll never finish anything. At least we know she must have some talent. *laughing*. Good night guys. Talk to you tomorrow.

Clarence: Okay, Goodnight. But I get first crack at her in the morning. It's only fair because lives are involved.

Faith: Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Whoever screams the loudest... Goodnight everyone...you too John Boy!

Everyone giggles.

If you are interested in any of my books, you can find them all on Amazon.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Hollywood Glam and Sunday Coffee by Connie Vines

"Tell them I'm indisposed."

Happy Sunday!

Hollywood Glam with your coffee, anyone?

Image result for french breakfast pastry

Related image
Image result for famous old hollywood actresses quotes

Image result for famous old hollywood actresses quotes
Related image

Related image

I hope you enjoyed a splash of Hollywood with your coffee.

Happy Reading :-)


Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Manic Readers

Manic Readers

She Writes

Historical Fiction Books

Readers and Writers of Distinctive Fiction