#amwriting

My Contest Experiences

So… I have to admit that my enjoyment (perhaps it could be termed an addiction) to writing contests started at a young age.

When I was 9 years old, I won a writing contest in my school district for an essay about Abraham Lincoln. What? Someone thinks I’m a good writer? Well, then, I must be. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked.

Granted, I didn’t win another contest until after I wrote my first book. So there was a bit of a time gap. In 2013 I placed 3rd at the IPPYs and the eLit Awards (for best scifi/fantasy) for the first book I ever finished (and had self-published at the time)–Blue Violet. Since then, I’ve won several more contests or been chosen as a reviewer’s favorite for a given year. (See Abigail Owen awards and Kadie Scott awards.)

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You wouldn’t think it would feel like that big of a deal. But to me those wins were a validation. After all, this was the first book I’d finished. While I’d had it professionally edited (I still credit Wendy with showing me the ropes), I still wasn’t sure if it was any good. Not like I was going to trust my family to be brutally honest, right? But it won, and that gave me a sort of validation that I’d needed. Like I was legit somehow.

I’d love to tell you that I didn’t need that. That I had the confidence in myself to believe I was a good writer. Now, 6 years and 29 books later, you’d think I’d definitely have the confidence. And I do. I know I’m a good writer. I’ve grown and continued to study my craft, always striving for the next book to be even better than the last.

But I still love the validation that placing in a contest can bring. These days it can often be that little nudge I need when I’m knee deep in a manuscript and at the “this sucks and I suck” phase that inevitably happens.

I will say that I don’t particularly care for the contests that involve reader voting. To me, that is a popularity contest to see who has the biggest network (and not necessarily of readers who’ve actually read the book). But the ones judged by people who read the books, and where industry professionals judge the finals? When I place in those, that’s that boost my confidence loves.

Another question you might ask is, did I see any results from winning the contest? Shrug. Sometimes I’ll see a small pop to my sales after winners are announced. I know some authors have found agents or editors via contest wins. I have not. Some of the more helpful contests, the judges provide notes back to the authors, which I do find valuable.  Also, I get to put “award-winning author” in my author title, and that, for what ever arguable reasons, helps legitimize me in the eyes of readers first thinking of picking up one of my books.

To me, contests are also a bit of a litmus test. It helps me know that my writing is continuing to be consistently good. I write so much faster these days. Blue Violet took me three years from word one to publication. Book 2, Hyacinth, took 6 months. Now I write a new book every 2-4 months (rarely as many as 4, I don’t have time). But I still want to produce quality reads.

I don’t submit my books to as many contests as I’d like. That can get horribly expensive, and most aren’t cash prizes. Some will give awards or metals. But most it’s a digital seal to go on my website and the pride. But I love that rush. Even when I don’t win.

Like I said…it’s a bit of an addiction. Much like finishing a book has become one. To me, that’s a huge accomplishment. And release day. Same rush.

Damn, I love being a writer. 🙂

Holidays & Traditions in World Building

Today is February 2nd. You know what that means. Groundhog Day!

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Every year, my husband is so excited to get to rewatch the cult classic movie. That’s our Groundhog Day tradition. Maybe one year we’ll actually go to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to experience the day in style and in person.

Anyway, let’s be honest that this is a bit of a weird holiday/tradition. We listen to a large, though extremely adorable, rodent to see if we get more winter. Living in Texas where it’s already creeping into the 80s by February, I have to say, the significance is even less impactful. 

And it got me to thinking as a writer. It seems every culture is going to have unusual holidays/traditions that might seem weird from the outside. Even from the inside.

Writing contemporary romance, I think that means doing my research on any culture I’m including. In fact, I think of the research as fun. An opportunity to try to go experience some of those traditions when I can, or, at the very least, have my mind and heart opened to new ideas. It also means incorporating those traditions or holidays that are ones I don’t practice myself with as much sensitivity as possible.

As a paranormal romance writer, that means possibly creating my own unusual holidays and traditions that my characters might celebrate. What if my big, bad dragon shifters had a day when smaller animal shifters helped predict something important to them?Obviously, I wouldn’t just randomly stick a tradition in a story. I’d give it some history of its own and a particular meaning to or impact on the story.

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For example, if you look at the history of Groundhog Day, you’ll find it didn’t just arbitrarily happen. 

According to the history channel, Feb 2nd falls midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and was a significant day in several ancient and modern traditions.

As Christianity spread through Europe, the day evolved into Candlemas, a feast commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the holy temple in Jerusalem. In certain parts of Europe, Christians believed that a sunny Candlemas meant another 40 days of cold and snow.

Germans developed their own take on the legend, pronouncing the day sunny only if badgers and other small animals glimpsed their own shadows. When German immigrants settled Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, they brought the custom with them, choosing the native groundhog as the annual forecaster.

It makes more sense if you look at it from that angle. And, when you incorporate it into a story–like the movie Groundhog Day–it makes the story that much more special. 

This is something I’ll have to consider more as I incorporate world building into all my books–contemporary, paranormal, or whatever.  But I’m already starting to think if there’s something I can do in my current WIPs–in paranormal that would be Fire’s Edge #3, and in contemporary my 5th and final Hills of Texas book. You’ll have to wait and see what I think up!

Worst Writing Advice I Ever Got

Worst writing advice I ever got? Honestly, this is a hard question because if someone is giving it as advice, it’s because that tip worked for them, or is a standard for most, if not all, writers.

For me, just like in most life situations, there is no BAD advice. There is advice that is given with bad intentions, or without all the information, or with a perspective that doesn’t work for the situation. Those can all apply to writing, too. There is also taking good advice and going way overboard.

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That is what I find happens the most with writing. Taking a good rule, and being so rigid or methodical about it that you end up with bad writing or a boring story.

Here a few examples…

No Adverbs

The rule is to try to not use adverbs because it’s “lazy” writing. That there are better verbs you can use or a better way to describe that scene.

The girl walked slowly. 

The sentence gets the point across, but let’s be honest it’s pretty basic and even boring. An improvement would be to use a better verb.

The girl plodded along.

But what about this example?

Her screams abruptly cut off as her lips sealed shut. 

Is the sentence boring? Does it seem poorly written? Or too beginner-ish? I don’t think so. Sure you could cut the adverb and get the point across, but personally I can hear the aburpt end to sound with it in. You could reword the sentence, but part of the impact is that the sentence is as abrupt as the action happening. If you try to reword it, you’d get something like:

Her screams cut off in an abrupt manner as her lips sealed shut.

This fix makes it awkward and rather stiff or overly formal.

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Her screams cut off, the sudden silence almost jarring, as her lips sealed shut.

If the goal is to keep the sentence abrupt as well, you start losing that feel with the addition.

So yes, there are ways to remove every adverb, but they’re not always better.

Remove Every Instance of “There is” “There was” “It was”

This one I do search for and kill as many as I can. The idea is that both the noun and the verb are lazy/boring/vague. You can use a stronger noun, a stronger verb, or both. But there are (snicker because I just used those words) instances when killing it just makes for an awkward sentence. I find this is especially true if it’s related to spoken dialogue. Or even internal dialogue.

How about this one…

There was more?

Sure you could reword it. But you might lose some of the meaning or make a worse sentence.

More was to come?

Too formal in most instances.

More, there was?

Okay, I went a little Yoda there.

No way could she handle more.

Now it’s no longer an internal dialogue moment, and internal dialogue can be important. You can break up long descriptions with it, convey the characters inner turmoil with it. So cutting it just to reword a sentence seems pretty dumb.

While we’re on the topic, I’d like to point out that, one of the most famous opening lines in literature breaks this rule:

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. 

Try rewording that and see if you get the same impact.

Don’t Use Verbs for Dialogue Tags

This is one I will get in a knock down/drag out with editors over, particularly with my paranormal romances. I have editors who insist you can NOT use words like moan, bark, choke, gasp, and so forth, as dialogue tags. They insist that, for example, one can not both speak and moan at the same time. That it’s physically impossible.

I disagree! Ask me demonstrate next time you see me. Lol.

It’s not that the character is physically doing both things. It’s describing how the words are coming out. Does the tag help the reader hear how those words are being uttered? I say YES!

Example my way: “Right there, John,” she moaned.

She’s moaning the word as she says it. She could be moaning in pleasure or pain. The scene would set that up. But next time you see Meg Ryan do that famous orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally, tell me she’s not moaning some of those words.

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Example without: “Right there, John.”

Sounds so emotionless, right? No oomph.

Example how editors want to fix it: “Right there, John.” She moaned.

Uh. Now she’s saying the words matter-of-factly, and then moaning after the fact. This particular fix gets even funnier with dialogue tags like “barked.”

“Drop and give me twenty,” the drill sergeant barked.

vs.

“Drop and give me twenty.” The drill sergeant barked. 

Aahahahahaha. Don’t tell me that works. It makes it sound like he’s barking like a dog after he says the words. Meanwhile, changing the dialogue tag to a standard “said” is so boring. So is “ordered” IMO. But barked… you can hear that, can’t you?

My way is clearly better. 😉

My point is, rules and advice are made or given for good reasons (usually). But always remember that when you are writing, YOU own that story. Rules are there as guides, but if I feel bending or even breaking them will make my story better, damn strait I’m going to do that.

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Cheat Sheet for Great Beginnings

Beginnings and endings are my favorite parts of books to write. Not just because with one I am starting a new exciting journey and the other I’m finally crossing the finish line. Endings we’ll talk about another time, but beginnings…

Beginnings I love because I get to use a relatively small amount of real estate to get readers invested while setting up the entire rest of the story.  I’m not talking about the first page, but the first roughly 10%. Sounds like a lot, but it’s not. Which is what makes it so exciting as a writer. It’s a challenge I love to dig into.

In the beginning

So… what goes into writing a great beginning?

That is a HUGE question. And we could spend days/hours/many, many blogs on things like GMC (goal, motivation, conflict), building/establishing/developing characters, setting up your plot, and so forth. All fantastic tools to use as a writer, but for this blog, I’m going to assume you’ve practiced all of that (or at least know what it is). 

For me, once I’d learned/read/taken workshops/watched videos, it helped to have a “cheat sheet” of reminders pulling from those teachings and putting them together with my own personal preferences and experience.

Here’s my cheat sheet for great beginnings:

Wait… first I have to share this…

The PIXAR Example

The best help I’ve ever had with beginnings I came across just this year. It’s a short video from Michael Arndt on his website, Pandemonium Inc. Michael is a writer at PIXAR who examines great beginnings in this video. Watch and thank me (and Michael) later…

Beginnings: Setting a Story in Motion from Pandemonium

Okay, now that I’ve shared that, HERE is my cheat sheet great beginnings:

1. Start with Action

I critiqued a beginning written by my friend Mia Darien once, and it has stuck with me for years. Why? Because she immediately kicked the beginning off with a scene full of action, but, layered in that action, we met interesting characters, got a bit of background, and set up quite a bit of conflict.

We didn’t need to meet the characters first and learn their entire history to understand why this scene was important to them. She made it obvious within the scene. But that action was so gripping, I can still close my eyes and picture it. I still want to know what happens next. 

In other words… JUMP IN to your main character(s) life. Don’t bore the reader setting up every detail of that life first with a ton of internal thought, exposition, or you (the writer) telling the reader who this is. 

2. Equilibrium

This was the first ah-ha for me from that PIXAR video. Show what your main character (or characters) lives are like/worlds are like now. However, this isn’t just things like they eat breakfast, get dressed, and go to work (unless this is The Matrix and that info is critical to the story). Show them in their world doing what they love most / what they are about to lose / what’s about to change. 

BTW… by doing this you’re also getting in setting, introducing your character(s), and even a bit of backstory. Add to the action, and readers will be hooked. 

3. Fatal Flaw

Show your character(s)’s fatal flaw. Only this isn’t that they swear too much or don’t wash their hands. This is something that is going to impact them in a major way and eventually bring about their troubles/conflict/downfall. Is your hero arrogant or brutally honest? Does your heroine struggle with speaking her mind too much, maybe not at all? Want a list of possibilities?

Even better, tie the flaw to what they love most, what they are passionate about, or what they want.

For example, in The American President, the flaws are pride & popularity – Sydney is good at what she does and loves it, takes pride in it. Meanwhile, the President has a high approval rating which he needs to get his job done.

4. Limited / Purposeful Backstory – The “Salt” of the Story

On Writers Helping Writers, James Scott Bell shares a terrific article on incorporating backstory (and agrees with my immediate action thing, too). James and I both agree that backstory should only be shared if it’s important to the scene/story. Also, think of backstory like salt. Sprinkle it a little here and there. Don’t overwhelm the food with it.

I love James’s suggestion to go back through your beginning and highlight all the backstory. It will help you see when you’ve put in too much in one section.  My advice is to limit backstory mentions to 1-2 sentences at a time. I’m not always successful, but keeping that in mind helps.

5. Save the Cat

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder is a book recommended to most writers, and I’ve found it very helpful to help me tighten my plot. There a ton of plot points to consider, but for my cheat sheet on beginnings, I always try to remember to save the cat.

This is especially true if one of my main characters is a tough one (love me those antiheroes and snarky heroines). By having them do one small act of kindness (doesn’t having to be literally saving a cat), I immediately make them human/likable/relatable in the reader’s eyes. 

6. The Meet Cute

I write romance, so this is important to me. The meet-cute is that moment when the hero and heroine meet. It is critical to the romance and (usually) happens pretty quickly. Longer books (like historicals) might stretch it out. Personally, I love it when the meet cute happens fast. 

I have a list of things I try to incorporate into the meet-cute.

  • Fitting for the book/characters.
  • Unusual or unique in some way.
  • Snappy. I want it to move quickly.
  • I want witty banter that sets up the H/H interaction for the rest of the book.
  • And I especially love it when the meet cute can also be incorporated into other aspects of the beginning–like it’s also the inciting incident (#7) or the insult to injury (#8).

7. Inciting Incident

This is one of those basics, but your entire story hinges on you getting it right. By the way, the inciting incident , just by rule of thumb, should hit about 10% into your book. This means you’ve set up quite a bit before you yank the rug out.

Your beginning doesn’t end until the conflict for your character has been “incited” (challenge accepted). Which means you need to know the conflict so you can set it up. What is going to kick that off? This is an event that is going to send your protagonist(s) down a new path into the main action of the story. 

Without an inciting incident, we’re just watching a character keep doing what they always do. One of the best examples… Katniss volunteers as tribute in The Hunger Games.

8. Tie #6 to the Grand Passion

Remember the video. If you can tie the inciting incident to the character’s grand passion (what they love or want most in this life–that you established in the equilibrium), it makes the turn of events that much more gripping for the reader. This was a huge “ah-ha” for me (thanks Michael!).

You take that passion/love/interest/need already established and then you twist it, flip it, throw a fly in the ointment, or take it away altogether.

Back to my Hunger Games example. Prim is who Katniss loves most. Only her name being selected could make Katniss step up that way.

9. Add Insult to Injury

This was a fun ah-ha from Michael’s video for me. What is your inciting incident and what would make it worse for your character? Rub salt in that wound. In the video, Michael’s example is that not only is Mr. Incredible no longer allowed to be a hero (because he saved someone being a hero), but now he works in insurance. That just…sucks for him. 

I have to say I have a great time coming up with ways to add insult to injury. Torturing characters is really fun. 

10. Less Is More

This is the hard part. With each and every element above as well as other elements like dialogue, descriptions, internal thoughts, showing the GMC (goal, motivation, conflict), you don’t need to write a dissertation for each piece. Think of it as a playing a piano. If you hit the same note over and over, listeners will tune you out pretty quickly. The goal is to play lots of different notes in a way that makes music. Same with your words, especially at the beginning when you have to establish so much.

Like James’s suggestion with backstory, read through your beginning multiple times. Each time focus on one element to tighten/trim/perfect/whittle as needed.


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So when I start a new book. On top of established my GMC, plot points, and various other character development notes, I also list out the following for my beginnings:

  • Beginning Action
  • Equilibrium for Hero
    • Love/Need/Want
    • Fatal Flaw
    • Save the Cat
  • Equilibrium for Heroine:
    • Love/Need/Want
    • Fatal Flaw
    • Save the Cat
  • Meet/Cute and Inciting Incident 
    • Tie to Love/Need/Want
    • Tie to Fatal Flaw
    • Insult to Injury
  • Remember to…
    • Limit Backstory
    • Read several times to see if any one element is in there too much or too little

I highly recommend to writers that you spend time look at books like Save the Cat and and taking workshops on GMC and other techniques. Writing a book takes many tools in an author’s kit. It’s also incredibly personal. This cheat sheet is what works for me. Put together your own of things that work for you. (Feel free to borrow!)

Writing Rituals

giphy-1This week we’re talking about writing rituals in the blog challenge. The thing is… I don’t think I have one I use consistently. I don’t rub a statue or blow kisses to the writing gods or open things in a certain order. I don’t have lucky socks or have to talk to my mom before I start or anything like that.

What I do have are tricks and habits. I have tons that I call on in different phases of the process, and not always the same way, or the same time in the process. Most frequently used are:

Nicole–Sprinting

Especially during the first draft process, getting an hour a day to sprint with my BFF guarantees I get words on paper regularly.

The Treadmill Desk

20180911_124519.jpgBest invention ever for someone with ADD because I can multitask in a way that doesn’t detract from either activity. I walk and write at the same time. I do this for at least 1 hour (often when sprinting with Nic). It helps me stay on target.

The Reference & Prompts Books

Sometimes these come out before I start, sometimes while writing the first draft, and sometimes on the second draft. THese are my brain teasers and reminders and “did you think to add this” prompters. The ones I use most are:

  • Verbalize by Damon Suede
  • Various Writing Thesauruses by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
  • Sixteen Master Archetypes by Cowden, LaFever, & Viders

The 2nd Draft

I live for the second draft when I get to make the story good. My first draft is simply to get the bare bones of the story on paper. Typically, I don’t go back and second draft it–fix and fluff–until first draft is completely done. Lately, though I’ve been second drafting a scene at a time, which is giving me a more complete book when I’m done. We’ll see if I stick to that. Lol.

The Moment

There is at least one (usually several) guaranteed moments where I decide that what I’m writing is pure drivel, all my readers will definitely figure out that I am NOT a writer, and this it it. The end. Usually this comes mid-way through 1st draft.

Beyond that, ever book is different. I will be really curious to see what writing rituals my fellow authors in the blog challenge share. Other authors, do you have any?

 


I am participating in MFRW’s 52-week blog challenge, and it’s a blog hop! If you want to see how other authors approach this topic, stroll on over to the other authors participating and find out how they deal with character profiles. Each author does it differently.

Best (Recent) Writer Advice… #MFRWAuthor Blog Challenge

Isn’t it funny how the right advice comes along just when you need it? Kind of like when you learn a word you’d never heard before, and suddenly you hear it everywhere? There are piles of advice I’ve received over the years as a writer that I could list here. But if I did, I’d be here for days. Instead, how about I share the most recent best advice?

Lately, I’ve been working to make some of my scenes less…predictable. Mostly because I’ve written 27 books now, and I need to keep it fresh for myself. Lol. A friend went to a workshop recently (I wish I remembered more about the workshop. My friend can’t remember either.) and she shared this as the best takeaway.

Here it is: When coming up with a scene/plot point, start listing. Discard the first 5-10 you come up with, because those are obvious and will have been done. See if you can get to 15-25 idea on the list. That range of things will be the meat, the most interesting ideas you could come up with.

I’ve been applying this advice to everything (and have to say that it’s turned into one of my favorite exercises because it’s so fun to do).

Here’s an example. This week, I was trying to come up with a reason my cowboy, in my current WIP (Partnering the Playboy–Book 3 in my Hills of Texas), would need to do community service. I need a reason that’s actually honorable and endearing. Since the hero is a playboy and has a reputation for running a bit wild, the reason for his doing community service was easy. He got in a public fight. Pretty bad one. But what would make that honorable, particularly to the heroine? This is where that advice comes into play.

My first few ideas included:

  • a bet
  • hit on by another guy’s girlfriend
  • jealous other contender for a girl at a bar
  • the other guy hit a woman
  • defending the female bartender
  • his buddy started the fight (but he ended it)
  • someone owes money
  • breaking up another fight
  • for beating a dog
  • for hurting a cat

As you can see, these are all fairly predictable. Of course the hows and whys could make each more interesting. But I kept going.

I don’t want to give away what I eventually settled on, but let’s just say it involves an animal you wouldn’t want to tangle with. I add insult to injury by having his older brother–the county Sheriff–be the one to arrest him, and the heroine be the one to bail him out and come up with the community service that he’s assigned.

Should be fun! Yay for timely, fantastic advice!


I am participating in MFRW’s 52-week blog challenge, and it’s a blog hop! If you want to see how other authors approach this topic, stroll on over to the other authors participating and find out how they deal with character profiles. Each author does it differently.

 

When I’m Not Writing… #MFRWAuthor Blog Challenge

I would love to say that when I’m not writing I have a life. But that would be a lie.

Sort of. I have my wonderful family, so frequently any time not spent on writing/books in some form or fashion is spent with them. My kids are at that stage where it’s constant activities, homework, and friends. Less “Mom Time” these days, because–let’s face it–I’m not cool enough any more. We do try to force upon them things like family vacations and game nights, just to remind them we still exist. We also live close to both sides of our family, so we spend time with them as well, which is awesome. It’s why we moved back to Texas a few years ago.

“But Kadie, what about other hobbies?” you ask.

Oh, my friends. My other hobbies include book cover design and helping other authors in their self-publishing journeys. These are my brain breaks and, believe it or not, I love doing that. Especially the graphic design. I can get lost in the visuals when I really want to. However, I think most would agree that this hobby still lands in the “writing realm.”

“Okay, so you still have to do things like exercise. Right?” 

Ummm… So a while ago I bought a treadmill desk. This wonderful invention allows me to walk and write at the same time. I will take 20 minutes or so to add things like hand weights, sit ups, push ups, etc. I used to run a ton, and every once in a while I get the bug. I go on an easy short jog, and my aging body proceeds to laugh in my face and break in some way that means no running for weeks.

“Friends? Movies? Dinners out?”

You’re starting to sound a little desperate. I will say that I do all three of those. Well…I don’t “do” my friends, but I spend time with them. Hubby and I are also huge movie buffs. For Mother’s Day he got me Movie Pass, so I can go any time. We also have a theater in our house with a projector and full screen and everything. When I watch at home, guess what I’m doing? Yup writing. Or editing. Or reading. Or book cover design.

“Please tell me you have SOMETHING.”

I will say that my favorite non-book thing to do is travel. Hubs and I love to travel, both with and without the kids. We have our annual trip to Estes Park, but we love doing lots of other things. In 2018 we’ve done a Caribbean cruise, skiing in Colorado, and have plans for trips to Vegas and Orlando this fall. That said, our trip to Estes was piggy-backed onto a writing conference in Denver. Orlando is also a writing conference. I also usually still spend a lot of that time writing. At the very least I take notes of impressions of a place, in case I want to use it in a future book.

So. There you have it. I have no life outside my writing. But the thing is… I am as happy as a clam dug deep into warm, wet sand. Writing is my lifelong dream and I get to do it everyday. Doesn’t get better than that!


I am participating in MFRW’s 52-week blog challenge, and it’s a blog hop! If you want to see how other authors approach this topic, stroll on over to the other authors participating and find out how they deal with character profiles. Each author does it differently.

Using Personal Stories in My Books

Every single book I write has a little bit of me in it. Pull from what you know, right? More often than not it’s things like sneaking Star Wars in, or an expression I use a lot. But sometimes I use personal stories to help me bring my characters, settings, or situations to life. Some have more me in them than others.

My Hills of Texas series, in particular, gets a lot of me in the books. Maybe because I’m writing characters in my home state, or maybe because these are ensemble books centered around the Hill family.

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Sometimes, the moments are smaller. In book 1, Saving the Sheriff, Cash’s daughter Sophia is quite a character. A lot of her moments in the book are taken directly from moments with my own daughter. She is older that Sophia now, but I write down a lot of her quotes just because they are so good, and that comes in handy when writing kids.

Here’s one of those moments in Saving the Sheriff:

Sophia hopped right up on the chair specially deemed for the birthday girl. She donned a sparkly tiara that Carter had bought her and sat up very regally. “I am the queen, and this is my palace.” She waved toward the house.

“I thought this was Pop-pop’s and my house.” His mother had her hands on her hips.

Sophia shook her head. “No. You’re the groundskeepers.”

Cash burst out laughing while his mother muttered, “Why I never.”

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Other times, I’ll pull goofy little details into a story, usually nothing huge. In book 2, Resisting the Rancher (coming July 30th!), the heroine is feisty and independent and trying to prove herself. Her truck is a reflection of that. I modeled after a truck I used to drive.

Williams Hill dragged his hand over his face as he sat in his truck at a stop light in Estes Park, Colorado. After two straight days of driving up from Texas, he was ready to reach his destination of the rodeo grounds in the small Rocky Mountain town. Flexing his shoulders to work out the kinks, he happened to glance over at the vehicle stopped next to him.

Everything in him froze…then released in a pent-up laugh.

The woman driving a shiny new black Ford truck was gorgeous with high cheekbones and pouty lips. Her long hair was pulled back in a ponytail, so he couldn’t quite make out the color, but her appearance wasn’t what had made him laugh.

She was clearly enjoying a favorite song—singing and dancing for all she was worth, without a care in the world for who might be watching. He chuckled again as she did a little shoulder shimmy. Adorable was the word that struck him, and he was strangely affected, an instant attraction coiling inside in a way that surprised him.

He wasn’t an instant attraction kind of guy.

Suddenly she glanced toward him and stilled as she discovered her audience. Her eyes went wide and she sent him a sheepish grin. He smiled back and pretended to tip an imaginary hat. However, instead of another smile, she went cold on him, eyes hardening, lips thinning. She whipped her head around to face forward, her chin in the air, and didn’t glance his way again. She definitely didn’t start singing again. Not that she would have had much time, because the light changed a second later.

She was quick to hit the gas, faster on the draw than Will who was still blinking at her abrupt about face. He almost expected her windows to frost with the drop in temperature in there. A flash of bright pink on her back window caught his attention as she drove ahead of him. For the second time in a handful of minutes, Will chuckled. The sparkly sticker on the back of her truck read, “Silly Boys, Trucks are for Girls.” Lips tipped in amusement, he shook his head.

At the next light, she went straight when he turned, which meant she probably wasn’t there for the rodeo. He gave a mental shrug. Wouldn’t be seeing her again. Probably for the best, since he was here to work.

I always got a kick out of men’s reactions to that sticker in real life. Lol. Some would drive by and glare at me. I even caught one taking a picture once. Hilarious. 🙂

I’m working on book 3, Partnering the Playboy, right now, and the entire opening scene has my goofy butt written all over it. I’m drawing from one of my most embarrassing moments, but turning it into a meet-cute. You’ll have to wait for that one, but let’s just say it involves the heroine accidentally locking herself out of the wrong truck.