Friday, January 20, 2023

New Beginnings: How to Jump-Start Your Writing By Connie Vines #Round Robin Blog #Writing Tips

Round Robin Blog Fest, January 21, 2023 

While increased personal responsibilities have forced Rhobin Courtright to retire as the leader of our monthly round-robin, Skye Taylor has volunteered to oversee the Round Rhobin flock. 

This month's topic: 
New Beginnings - how do you motivate yourself to get back to writing when 
Life has interrupted your flow, and/or how do you begin a new writing challenge?

The holiday season and the winter weather prompt me to reassess my life and goals for the incoming year. 

I'm ready to start a new project upon January's arrival.

What works for me?

  • My local writing chapter offers monthly online workshops. I participated in several during the holidays. Penny Sansevieri taught one workshop. I also participated in a workshop led by Allie Pleuter. Both of these workshops were interactive, informative, and fun!

  • I read and study some of the novels I have stacked in my office. 1 non-fiction, 1 NY Times best-seller, a favorite classic, and a book my mother sent me: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (a pristine 1945 hardbound copy ) and genre fiction. 

  • I still keep my daily journal, but I enabled the mic feature to switch it up a bit this time. I will return to the pen-and-paper method as it feels like a diary. Speaking my thoughts verbally seems...less intimate.

  • I also spend time with family members (2 winter weddings, holiday celebrations, children's birthdays, etc.). Change of location, interaction, and ensuing chaos, always gives one a new idea/ slant on life.

  •  I also tried new recipes and ordered take-out/delivery meals with unfamiliar (to me cuisine). Why take-out? I was noting my sensory response from a character's POV. Tonight I chose from the Japanese menu: Okonomiyaki (an eggy pancake) and Shoyu (Raman Soup with veggies, protein, seaweed, bamboo shoots, and noodles). I expected the soup to taste salty, but it wasn't. The flavors were unfamiliar, and some of the textures were unexpected. 

  • And lastly, I varied my writing routine. I wrote 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours after dinner. I've been a night owl since birth. Therefore, this was a challenging change in my way (it required additional cups of coffee while a bit of snarkiness embedded itself into my easy-going temperament).

The other Round Robin Blog Hop members have tips and ideas to get you writing in 2023.



 Dr. Bob Rich   

Anne Graham     

Connie Vines    

Diane Bator     

A.J.  Maguire      

Victoria Chatham

Fiona McGuire    

Skye Taylor       

Friday, October 21, 2022

Villainous Characters and Redemption. Yes or No? By Connie Vines #RoundRobin 100, #Writing Tips, #Villians, #RR100

 Have any of your villainous characters reached redemption for their actions? How would you go about it if you were going to do this?

Since I also write YA and MG stories, I try not to make any character 'purely evil' and beyond redemption.

That's not to say that there are no evil or self-serving people without a conscious residing in our world. However, such a story would be too dark and depressing for me to write.

My YA and MG novels explain how/ why this person changed over time. I do not justify evil actions/mistakes. I provide an avenue for the reader to assess and make decisions appropriate for his/her age/ability level.

Romance/Romantic Suspense/Historical Novels

I usually have a villain or two in all of my storylines.

I've yet to send any of my villains on the road to redemption. 

I have little sympathy for my villains.

I don't like my villains.

I don't want my villains to be happy.

I really wish for my villains to suffer.

My points of reference:

  • The Wizard of Oz  - the evil witch tried to kill Toto and Dorothy! ๐Ÿ‘  (yes, I know the house killed her sister, but still..)

  • Dracula (Bran Stoker's classic novel). This novel is a love story. Not your typical happily ever after, but a love story never-the-less. In this case, I could provide the original man (the count) redemption; however, the evil being he became would be beyond redemption here in the earthly realm. Profound sympathy on my part, perhaps.
As a reader, how do you feel about the 'bad guy' returning as a future novel hero?

Is a villain always a villain?

Or is a villain in the 'eye' of the reader?

Thank you for stopping by for our 100th Round Rhobin Blog Hop!

Please visit the talented authors of our group for their take on reforming the bad guys.

Happy Reading



Diane Bator

Skye Taylor

Judith Copek

Connie Vines

A.J. Maguire

Dr. Bob Rich

Robin Courtright

** All of my novels/novellas are on sale (50% off) at the

 Smashwords site through Halloween!

Friday, September 23, 2022

Characters, Reader's Intuition, and Deep-Dark Secrets By Connie Vines, #Round Robin99, #Writing Tips, RRBlog,

This Month's Round Robin Topic: What do you define in your writing about your characters and what do you leave to the reader’s intuition? Is there anything you never tell about a character?

This topic will require a bit of pondering...


 When writing YA/MG fiction,/non-fiction I define my characters, my plotting, and characters' histories and backgrounds down to a "gnat's eyelash" so to speak. In historical fiction, there are many events, though historically accurate, a young reader is not equipped to process.  I address this in the note from the author, and the Q and A at the end of the novel.

๐Ÿค ๐Ÿ‘ข๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿ’

As for romantic fiction, I still research career backgrounds, (my setting are towns/states I'm familiar with (residing or numerous vacations in the area). In the past, I interviewed my characters and kept detailed notes about family histories, etc.  I no longer do this before writing my stories. Why because halfway through the book, my characters defined a different pathway--which led to revisions. I detest plot revisions three-quarters through a 60,000-word novel ๐Ÿ˜ญ.

So, now I've become what is defined as a Panster: W-plot outline, scribbled notes about my characters, a title, and away I go.


Secrets and mysterious background.

Don't you love secrets/hinted-at but not revealed mysterious background? I know I do.

Everyone has a chapter in his/her life they'd like to keep hidden. Or it may be a secret that would blow the socks off a person. Double O-7's life sounds romantic and exciting until you really think about what he does for a living.

A cowboy, rancher, or banker may see run-of-the-mill-boring until you discover a past event that defined him as a man of honor and courage; or an act of sacrifice and kindness that makes you weep.

Visit my Round Robin band of authors, they have great stories to share!

Happy Reading, everyone



 Skye Taylor

Diane Bator

Connie Vines

Dr. Bob:

A.J. Maguire

Robin Courtright

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Connie's Tuesday Kitchen: It's Never too Early for Brownies! By Connie Vines #Brownies, Brownies for pennies, #Connie's Kitchen,, #BWL Publishing Inc, #BWLAutorInstider Blog

We are all budget conscious right now. With a box of brownie mix upwards of $4.00, it makes "cents" to keep a Ziploc storage bag containing your "homemade" dry mix in the pantry.

Dry ingredients::

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Spoon into a large Ziplock bag /or other air-resistant containers

Store in your pantry until needed. 

What you will need to add to your dry mix before baking:

2 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes / 176 degrees Celsius

The temperature may vary depending on the type of pan (nonstick/glass/aluminum)

I always have a few candies/ marshmallows/ broken cookies/ or other items (like pretzels that can be broken into small pieces) and added to a dessert to provide a crust/crunch/or a decorative topping ๐Ÿ˜

Often asked questions:
  • How do you make brownies chewier?
Substituting melted unsalted butter for the oil recipe will make for a richer and chewier brownie as well. Just melt the butter and use it instead of the oil to get a rich and chewy brownie.

  • What happens when you add marshmallows to brownie batter?
The brownies are fudgy, and the marshmallows are gooey, and even more indulgent. If you like brownies and marshmallows, you'll be making this dessert every time you want something sweet. 

  • How do you make brownies better?
Use milk instead of water. Milk contains more fat and flavor than water so the brownies are even more moist, gooey, and delicious.

  • Can I add chocolate chips to my brownie batter?
Definitely! Add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of add-ins. Such as chopped nuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, mint pieces, caramel bits, Reese's pieces, Toffee pieces, flaked coconut, etc.

  • Or Swirl in Some Good Stuff to make your brownies stand out
A dollop of cream cheese, fruit jam, pumpkin๐ŸŽƒ puree, peanut butter, or caramel over brownie batter. Spoon it into the pan, then cut through the batter to create this wow-worthy effect. Your dessert will be prettier and tastier for your effort.๐Ÿ˜‹

Let your imagination guide you.  Pinching pennies doesn't mean you can't make a healthy meal or a delicious dessert.

May your kitchen be filled with Gingerbread Hugs and Peppermint Kisses,


Friday, August 26, 2022

How Do You Create Characters? Are you an Instinctive Writer or Not? By Connie Vines #RR, #Round Robin, #Creating Characters?



Round Robin August topic:   

How do you create your characters--their quirks, habits, values, and what part they will play in the story, etc.? Do you have a process, or do they come to you instinctively?

 Thank you, Rhobin, for this month's topic ๐Ÿ““๐Ÿ’ญ๐Ÿ‘ฉ

Over time, my writing process has evolved. When I first began writing, I published magazine articles, educational materials, and nonfiction. All relied heavily on research, hands-on, and often extensive on-site impressions (visiting a Reservation, historical archive, or site, speaking with those who lived the life, so to speak). This resulted in 3 - 5 years of research for my YA/MG novels.

I had also published in romantic fiction during this time. My first contemporary romance was published by Kensington/Zebra (under a pseudonym) ๐Ÿ’Ž Precious Gems imprint.

When I accepted a part-time position as an acquisitions editor ๐Ÿ‘ฉfor an e-book publisher (during the infancy of this market) and a part-time job in public education ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ‘ง๐Ÿซ๐ŸšŒ I realized my writing had become instinctive. I no longer interviewed my characters. I simply knew them and heard snippets of dialogue in my head. Of course, plot/pacing/goals/conflict were left-brain skills and can never be ignored :-)

Quirks! I adore character quirks.

Now habits are often defined by the position held in life, the physical environment in which one is raised, and personal likes/dislikes. 

A rodeo bull rider's habits ๐Ÿด๐Ÿฎ will differ significantly from a corporate executive's ๐Ÿ—ฝ✈. Of course, there may be someone who grew up on a spread in Montana who had a burning desire to work on Wall Street...but what are the odds? 

But quirks are so much fun to discover. So unexpected.

๐Ÿ’ญDo these quirks come from the writer? Or the character of the story?

Likes and dislikes, I believe, come subconsciously from the author.

Do I have research to substantiate this assumption? No.

I do not like mint ice cream. To me, it tastes like toothpaste ๐Ÿ˜ฌ . However, when I was expecting my first child, I ate mint ice cream daily as part of my lunch. ๐Ÿจ๐Ÿฆ So, if my heroine was expecting, she might eat mint ice cream. 

I love coffee; my characters seem to love coffee ☕ and animals, too.  

Personality Quirks

high levels of enthusiasm

likes to be the center of attention

makes assumptions about others’ motives

tendency to react emotionally

tendency to respond objectively

tendency to take things personally

tenderhearted nature

tends to be argumentative just for the sake of arguing

Behavioral Quirks

always wants to sit facing the door

bites lip when thinking or trying to remember something

uses air quotes when talking

very distinctive laugh noises

whistles the tune to songs

Quirks Related to Eating and Drinking

always orders the same food in a restaurant

brings snacks everywhere

counts the number of chews before swallowing

drinks coffee or tea very frequently

eats while driving the car

Well, you get the picture.

My (Daily) fan club members:

I'm a night owl forcing myself to crawl out of bed at sunrise:

I erased the typo!

Click on my book covers to make a purchase or on my website link to learn more about my novels!

Please visit these fabulous authors' websites. I'm confident they have delightful stories to share!     


Happy Reading,



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