Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer

Summer is here!  School is out!  There are happy dances, big grins, lively chatter, bubbling enthusiasm over vacation plans and a ton of excitement! Oh … I guess I should mention the students are thrilled too!

Yes, it is that time of year again and I don’t know who is more excited. The teachers or the kids. As a fourth-grade teacher, I know I’m ready to enjoy those lazy days of summer with a vacation or two thrown in for good measure.

There will be swimming, grilling and leisurely reading. And, of course, writing. Lots and lots of writing. Hmm ... I guess that means summer for me is not really a break, just more time to do what I love. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve given some thought to what my next project will be and I’m leaning toward a Christian suspense novel. This particular story has been slowly taking shape in my mind for the past few months and now my characters are getting a bit antsy to have their story told. As you can see, I’ve never been one to write just one type of story. The jury is still out on whether or not that is a good thing, but I’ve come to the conclusion that for me it is best to write whatever I’m in the mood for at the moment rather than to stay with one genre.

I’ve always enjoyed reading the Love-Inspired Suspense books Harlequin releases, so my next novel will probably be similar to that line. A pinch of suspense, a spoonful of romance and a sprinkle of faith will hopefully be the recipe for an uplifting, nail-biting romance that will take up the first portion of my summer break. If all goes well, I plan to finish, polish and release it within the next couple of months. Maybe even before I take that much-needed vacation to Florida where I might just get a glimpse of those peacocks Lindy blogged about earlier. Sounds fascinating!

Summer should be a fantastic time for Steel Magnolia Press as well. Jennifer will be releasing some of her backlist novels and possibly even a new novella, other Magnolias will be launching their first titles (oooh ... I can feel the excitement already), and the rest of the Magnolias will be gearing up to release another new title or two over the next few months as well.

So it looks like we will be busy here at Steel Magnolia Press as well as home with our families. Summer holds such promise, I can't wait to get started. I’m ready to pull out my Kindle and escape with a good book. Or two. Or three. Or ... you get the picture. And, of course, I'll be putting my fingers on the keyboard to write, write, write.

So, what are your plans for summer?


Tamelia Tumlin has worked with several online publishers, but is now writing exclusively for Steel Magnolia Press. Juggling motherhood, teaching and writing is a challenge, but one she welcomes to pursue her passion. Her romance novels range from sweet and sassy to dark and dangerous.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The E-Organized Story

The medieval kings and queens of England—what a confusion of Edwards, Richards and Henrys, of Elizabeths and Margarets! Keeping them all straight was a problem while writing my Three Graces trilogy set at the court of Henry VII.  

That was, until I hit upon the idea of using my genealogy program, Family Tree Maker, to keep track. Creating a family chart for Henry Tudor, father of Henry VIII, was just a matter of typing in his name as the “home person” in a new tree. The same was true for Edward IV and the rest of the Plantagenets involved in the story.  Every name entered was greeted by the ubiquitous “leaf” icon which indicated more information available on Clicking a few times added the appropriate birth and death dates, plus the spouses and children, brothers, sisters and ancestors for each royal personage. An hour later, I had the pedigree charts I needed for fast and easy reference.

Not everyone is writing about royalty, of course. But a genealogy program can also be used to track fictional characters, particularly the siblings, cousins and other relatives in a connected series or multi-generational family saga. Using the “New Tree” feature, you might begin with your main character. Type in his or her given and surname names, give them a birth date, then add a father and mother and any siblings along with their appropriate dates. From there you can create as many grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins as your heart desires or your story requires.

If you are feeling super organized, you can add other details such as previous spouses or, in the “Notes” field, include detailed character descriptions and any unusual features, scars or habits. Save and print this “family tree,” and you’ll never have to search your manuscript pages again for that name, age, relationship or description that you can’t quite remember.

Since publishing her first book at age 27, New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jennifer Blake has gone on to write over 65 historical and contemporary novels in multiple genres. She brings the story-telling power and seductive passion of the South to her stories, reflecting her 8th-generation Louisiana heritage. Jennifer lives with her husband in northern Louisiana.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Peacocks Are Meowing Again

Florida is known for many things: warm winter weather, miles of beaches, Disneyworld and the cosmopolitan city of Miami. There’s also a dark side: wildfires, hurricanes and swamps teeming with alligators and boa constrictors. Not to steal the spotlight from fellow Steel Magnolia Press writer, Phoenix Sullivan and her Vet Tech Tales: The Early Years, but living in Florida, I’ve encountered all manner of wild beasts.
Parrots, escaped from their owners, flocked to the mango tree in my back yard every morning at dawn, feasting and fighting over the fruit with their raucous cries. One year, my children weren’t allowed to play outside until a female cougar and her cubs had moved to a new hunting ground. An importer of tropical plants brought in Madagascar Day Geckos along with the pots of flowers. My family named the pair of lizards who lived in the downspout of the gutters on the house Spot and Dot. As they called to each other in the night with an echoing moan, I wondered who had ironically named them day geckos.
Recently, I moved to Orlando where the wildest creature I expected to encounter was a squirrel. As I lay in bed listening to the whistle of the train that passes through the city center and the whine of jets from the executive airport nearby, I heard what I thought was the yowl of a stray cat, reverberating across the lake, or perhaps a parrot, mimicking a cat. Night after night, the sound kept me awake while I wavered between feeding the poor cat, requesting Animal Control to pick it up or, if it was a parrot, demanding that the owner take its cage indoors for the night.
On a foggy morning, when a young peacock streaked across the road in front of me, I had a Eureka! moment. Searching the internet for videos, I found one with two peacocks facing off at a zoo. In the background, as if they were noisy spectators wagering on the fight, birds shrieked the plaintive cry that had caused my insomnia.
Sometimes, the peacocks take an evening stroll down the street, pecking the ground like hens in a barnyard. While it amuses me to see drivers stop their cars to take photos, not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the birds. Once, as my daughter and I said good-bye on the front steps of my house, she rolled her eyes and grumbled, “Mom, the peacocks are meowing again.”
As a writer, I believe that truth is stranger than fiction. If my upcoming novel, Niko’s Stolen Bride, wasn’t set on a yacht in the Gulf of Mexico, I’d find a place for the neighborhood peacocks in the story. It’s possible the birds will be the catalyst for my next work, set in Central Florida. A select few people will know they’re not a figment of my imagination. I’m glad you’re in on the secret.

Lindy Corbin published her first novel in 1988 with Pageant Books. Babies and bills intervened, but she is finally weaving words together again. She lives in the lush oasis of South Florida, a sizzling backdrop for her contemporary stories.