Monday, April 30, 2012

Way Out of Line Review by Juanita Kees

     When raging hormones bring young lovers Hal and Trent together one steamy summer, neither would imagine the trouble their union will bring.  Despite his inner warnings, Hal finds he can't resist his attraction to the beautiful young girl he meets on a private beach. She is young - perhaps too young. Spoilt, indulged Trent, however, knows exactly what she wants and she's not about to take 'no' as answer or let something as trivial as age keep them apart. The white lie that brings them together will drive them apart in a way that they least expect.
     Jackson sets an amazing scene in the lead up to events that will change these two young lives forever. Caught in the act by her distrustful father, Hal finds out that the girl of his dreams has mislead him in the worst possible way.  When you mess with the rich who have connections in Congress, you can only expect trouble - a lot of trouble. He finds himself in jail for statutory rape and the only thing that keeps him sane, is the advice of a prison guard to 'never let go of his dreams'.
     While Hal serves his time and battles his demons in prison, we're taken on a tumultuous journey that alternates between Trent's emotional derailment and Hal's experiences in confinement. Despite their brush with drugs, cults, jailhouse bullying and other nasty, character-building experiences, they never forget each other nor do they give up hope of one day being reunited again.
     Again, Jackson brings about their reunion in a very unique and unexpected way. We're taken on a fast-paced, action-packed journey around the world to the wilds of Zimbabwe and Mozambique where finally, amidst brushes with death that threaten to tear them apart again, the two are once again reunited.      
      Nothing in WAY OUT OF LINE is what you expect. Just when you think you know what's going to happen, Jackson whips you off in a whirlwind of action that takes you to places you never imagined.
If you're looking for a book that has it all, then this is one you should not miss. 
     Follow Hal and Trent's journey to hell and back as they learn hard, fast lessons in the real world, experience brainwashing, drugs and the terrors of a wild country and live through it to be reunited in a love designed by Fate.

- Reviewed by Juanita Kees

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review by Betsy Burke

Trish Jackson's newly released novel, Way Out of Line, offers readers an unusual love story. Set in the southern U.S., and the rugged terrains of Mozambique and Zimbabwe, the author's lands of origin, it follows the fates of two young protagonists in their separate journeys of suffering, remorse and longing for each other.
Trent, the daughter of wealthy parents whose excessively bourgeois values push her towards rebellion, is immediately attracted to Hal, an independent young man from a humble background, trying to work his way through college. Headstrong Trent, who lies to Hal about her real age, wants their romance to begin immediately. Hal, though reluctant, is also very attracted to her and eventually gives in, with disastrous results: both become prisoners, Hal in the physical sense, and Trent, the psychological prisoner of her own guilt, with all that it entails.
Jackson's writing style is compact and straightforward, with clear imagery, succinctly-drawn characters and language that is sometimes gritty. The plot is driven more often by chance than by a rigorous agenda on the part of the protagonists. The secondary characters tend to be more vindictive and bent on exacting revenge, thus creating the situations that allow the main characters to be buffeted about by happenstance rather than pro-activism. But this does not mean that they are any less involving. There is tension, feeling, danger, and romance, and they barrel together toward a climactic ending to reward the reader's patience.    

E.J. Burke

Thanks very much to Betsy, who resides in Italy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Author Intrusion

Tina Marie Smith made an excellent comment about my post on POV, head-hopping and author intrusion.
The examples I used, including the example showing author intrusion, were all written in the first person because they were taken from my novel, Redneck P.I.
Here are some samples of author intrusion from my upcoming novel, Way Out of Line, which is written in the third person.

            A few days after he had started working on the chain gang, the prisoner chained directly behind Hal bumped into him so roughly that he knocked Hal's breath out of him.
            "Watch it!" he turned and shouted.
            Ed Purcell, twenty-five years for repeated assault and armed robbery offenses had no remorse, no pity, only malice. His entire being was a festering abscess waiting to burst and release the blood and muck that was anger, outrage, and raw bitter hatred.
Hal looked at the closest guard for help.  
He licked his lips and stared directly at Hal, a cruel smile creasing his mouth. "Don't kill him, Purcell." He drawled.

The yellow text is author intrusion because the piece is written in Hal's POV and he couldn't possibly know that about Purcell. I had to delete the entire paragraph to make it correct.

Here's another:

Hal crawled painfully into the cell, where Demetrio helped him onto his bunk under Roy's watchful, malignant eyes. Demetrio wasn't afraid of the guards and they knew it. His protectiveness towards Hal angered them and made them dislike Hal even more.

Here is how the author intrusion could be corrected:

         Hal crawled painfully into the cell, where Demetrio helped him onto his bunk under Roy's watchful, malignant eyes. Demetrio wasn't afraid of the guards and they knew it.
         After Roy had left, Demetrio said, "They are more pissed at you because I protect you."


         Hal crawled painfully into the cell, where Demetrio helped him onto his bunk under Roy's watchful, malignant eyes. Demetrio wasn't afraid of the guards and they knew it. Hal sometimes thought Demetrio's protectiveness towards him angered them and made them dislike him even more.

Thanks, Tina Marie, hope that cleared it up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Publishing on CreateSpace

To me, CreateSpace has to be the greatest thing that ever happened to writers.

If you want to see your book in print, you don't have to pay a single penny to publish it on Amazon. Sweat equity--yes. Out of pocket expenses--no.

I'm in the process of preparing the print version of Way Out of Line 
in CreateSpace to publish at the same time it goes live in e-format on Uncial Press -- 

This is not the first book I've published on CreateSpace, so I know the ropes now. The first step was to  edit and edit and re-check my manuscript until I was as certain as I could be it is error-free.

Signed into CreateSpace, I added Way Out of Line to my list of books and the computer issued the ISBN's. I can't figure out why anyone would want a custom ISBN, but the option is there, so I guess some people choose it for whatever reason.

Next, I chose the most popular mass market paperback size recommended on the site, and downloaded the template. It's imperative you use the template because the margins change in width on each alternate page. I copied and pasted the entire manuscript onto the template.

I added my name and the book's name to the headers and made certain the page numbers on the footer was correct. I went through the entire manuscript again, making sure every new chapter started in the right place on the page.

I uploaded the manuscript the first time in Word format and CreateSpace converted it into Adobe. The automated checker went through it and found one error. The font I used was not embedded. This was the font on the title page provided by CreateSpace in the template, so I clicked on the link that tells you how to embed the fonts. It didn't work.

The online proof makes it really easy to spot errors, and I found some.

I have two monitors on my PC, which makes it a lot easier to go through the errors online on the left and correct them in my Word document on the right.

I converted it to pdf before uploading it the next time, thinking maybe the fonts would be embedded if I did it that way. They weren't, and I had to upload it four times in all, because each time something moved to where it shouldn't have moved and I had to fix it in Word. The fonts are still not embedded, but the manuscript is uploaded and formatted.

Creating the cover is the next task.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tight Writing

Have you ever had an editor tell you to tighten your writing?

When I submitted my first novel to several publishers, a couple of them came back with the comment that it was not tight enough for them. I had no clue what they meant, and in those days the Internet was still in its infancy. I couldn't simply Google "tight writing" and find out.

I only really started to understand when I wrote articles for Every piece was edited prior to publication, and some of those copy editors were extremely helpful and kind. I learned a lot from them. When my novel "Redneck P.I." was accepted by Uncial Press, my editor Jude added to my knowledge.

Tight writing is a term used to describe writing so that every word counts and no words are unnecessary. This is loose--here is a tighter version--
Tight writing means make every word count.
Everyone uses certain words more than is necessary. Mine are "that" and "disappeared". While editing my work, I now use the "search and replace" application in Word to locate and change them. Often they are totally unnecessary and removing them tightens the writing.
Louis L'Amour is one of my favorite authors, and a very great writer. His word is "suddenly" and whenever I read a piece he wrote I usually find if "suddenly" was taken out, the effect of the sentence wouldn't change.

Strong Verbs--Use active verbs and strong nouns and avoid passive voice. Advice like this was difficult for me to understand at first, but I know now what it means. Instead of writing: A car was stopped by a police officer in front of them. It should be:
A police officer stopped the car in front of them. (Subject-verb-object).
Also, a good writer should never use "there were, they are, etc."
There were three people in the car--should be--Three people occupied the car. 

Adverbs--Famous and successful writers of the past used adverbs and adjectives and their work included long, descriptive passages. Today's reader prefers action, and publishers consider excessive use of adverbs and adjectives to be the mark of an amateur. Do not use "The sun shone warmly." Everyone knows the sun is warm.

Redundancy--This describes the use of two or more words when you only need one, as in armed gunman, blend together, and round in shape. Remove one of the redundant words to tighten your work.

I'm no expert, but I'm learning, and I want to be as good as I possibly can.

Tight writing comes with practice and editing. Write your story first and go back and edit, edit, edit to get it as good as you possibly can.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

POV - Who is Telling the Story?

Do you know whose mind is processing and telling the story of the events unfolding at any given place in your novel? Understanding POV or Point of View is extremely important for any fiction writer who wants to be successful.
The first thing to understand is that each character in your novel sees things differently, and has his or her own voice. Two people from totally different backgrounds describing the same scene would use different language and would see the scene from a totally different perspective.

In my novel, Redneck P.I., Twila tells the story like this:

The next day at work, the boss called me into his office. Like everyone else, I don’t like being asked to go into the boss’s office. It usually doesn’t mean good news, and reminds me of standing before the head at school, which was an event that had occurred more often than I would have liked.
   He indicated the chair. “Please sit.”
   I slumped into it and wound the gum I was chewing around my finger, before I corrected myself and sat upright as was expected of employees in this larney place.
   “I... um… I... um… I heard that you have...” He coughed, “...been a little um indiscreet with Anthony.”
   I sat bolt upright. “That little pervert has been telling everyone, hasn’t he? I’ll kill him. I’ll…”
   He held his hand up. “Judging by your reaction, I can only assume that Anthony was apparently being honest when he said that you er… You showed him… Your breasts, and you have a ladybug tattoo.” He couldn’t resist looking at them, then raised his eyes guiltily to focus on my face again.

Written from the boss's POV it would have gone something like this:

The next day I called Twila into my office. Her body language told me she felt uncomfortable even before I pointed at the chair and told her to sit. 
I didn't expect her to know any better when she slumped into the chair and wound a piece of gum around her finger. Before I could say anything, she seemed to realize it was not the type of behavior I would expect from one of my employees, and put the gum back in her mouth and sat a little straighter.
"I... um... I... um... I heard that you have..." I coughed to hide my embarrassment, "...been a little um indiscreet with Anthony."
 She sat bolt upright. “That little pervert has been telling everyone, hasn’t he? I’ll kill him. I’ll…”
 I held my hand up and continued. “Judging by your reaction, I can only assume that Anthony was apparently being honest when he said that you er… You showed him… Your breasts, and you have a ladybug tattoo.” I couldn’t resist looking at them, and I knew she must have seen the guilt in my eyes when I focused on her face again.

Author Intrusion is the term used when the POV is that of the author. 
In this passage, Trent, the spoiled teenage girl in my upcoming novel, Way Out of Line is forced to go to a psychologist:

Trent picked at her finger nails. I hate him already. I just hope this goes quickly. I’m not coming again.
"Your parents told me what happened, but I know they probably see it differently from you, so why don’t you tell me your side of the story." Dr. Cohen clasped his hands in front of him on the desk and sat quietly, waiting for a response.
Trent sat there for a while, not looking at him, until the silence unnerved her.
"I love him. They don’t understand. I love him and he didn’t do anything wrong." She squirmed in the chair.
"Okay, that’s a start. Your parents don’t understand how you feel about Hal." Trent looked up at him when he used Hal’s name.
"You don’t know him. You can’t just call him ‘Hal’ like you know him."
Dr. Cohen's training and expertise enabled him to draw her out and get her to talk about her feelings. He persuaded her to return the following week, and the next, and the next.

Here's how it looks now after my editor helped me show it only from Trent's POV:

 Trent picked at her finger nails. I hate him already. I just hope this goes quickly. I’m not coming again.
"Your parents told me what happened, but I know they probably see it differently from you, so why don’t you tell me your side of the story." He clasped his hands in front of him on the desk and sat quietly, obviously waiting for a response.
Trent sat there for a while, not looking at him, until the silence unnerved her.
"I love him. They don’t understand. I love him and he didn’t do anything wrong." She squirmed in the chair.
"Okay, that’s a start. Your parents don’t understand how you feel about Hal." Trent looked up at him when he used Hal’s name.
"You don’t know him. You can’t just call him ‘Hal’ like you know him."
She tried not to let him get the best of her, but he wore her down and made her talk about her feelings. Somehow he tricked her into agreeing to return the following week, and the next, and the next.    

The addition of the word "obviously" is necessary, because Trent can only guess why he is waiting. The second passage, if used as it is written in the first example is Author Intrusion--like someone else is telling the story. A big no-no in modern writing. 

Head-hopping is the term used to describe a piece where the POV of one character switches to that of  another in the same sentence or paragraph. Usually, head-hopping is disruptive and confusing for the reader, although some best selling authors--Nora Roberts comes to mind--have perfected the art and can get away with it.
To avoid head-hopping, point of view should ideally only be changed at the end of a chapter or a clearly defined break in the action, or a change in time or location.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Importance of the First Paragraph

I recently read an extremely valuable article, which categorized three specific items that must be present in the very first paragraph of any novel.

  1.  The protagonist--the person with whom you want readers to identify, and whose point of view is featured in most parts of the book. 
  2. The incident that triggers the events that take place in the story. It is not a good idea to start a novel with a passive scene. Readers are far  more likely to want to read on if something exciting is happening, especially if it creates questions.
  3. A hint at the protagonist's core need. There is a very good reason for this. It gives the author a framework to work around, and that core need must be fulfilled in some way or another for the story to be successful.
I don't know if I can put all of that into one paragraph, but I am definitely going to strive to get it into the first page.

Friday, April 6, 2012

My Next Novel

Way Out of Line is having all the final formatting done before its release in May. I've done all the formatting for CreateSpace for the print version and posted the trailer on Youtube here

The only task I still have to undertake is the cover. I have to decide whether to buy the cover design from my publisher Uncial Press, who only publish e-books, or design my own. I would prefer to have the same cover design but it will depend on the cost.

Kick Assitude, the sequel to Redneck P.I. is with my publisher awaiting review.

Time to start working on To the Limit.(I might change the title). I wrote this first draft several years ago and have forgotten most of it, so I am enjoying re-visiting it and getting it into shape. This is the part I love about writing and I can get lost for hours, totally oblivious of anything going on around me.

This book is about a veterinarian who has moved to a small, remote town in Colorado to escape her violent past. When violence impacts her life again, everything she has worked for will be lost unless she confronts it and faces it head on. Of course there is a very sexy man in the mix--two in this one.

I am thrilled to be writing about one of my greatest loves, horses, dogs and cats. (Kick Assitude also features a dog that rides on Twila's Harley with her.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

‘They try to tell us, we’re too young...’ by Guest Blogger Amy McGuire

Young adults feel romantic love too.

There’s puppy love, a sweet crush, obsession with a member of the opposite sex, and even love at first sight.  While these are usually elements of romance that begin in our teens, they can and often do, extend into our adult lives.  But what about true love; the kind that says, ‘someday I’m going to marry him or her’ and ‘I want to be with him or her forever’?  Many adults say that teenagers cannot experience that kind of lasting love because they haven’t experienced enough of the world yet or the hardships that can make or break a relationship.  I don’t know about you, but some of the most intense feelings I ever had for a guy were in my teen years.  When I fell in love, it was with my whole heart.  When I broke up with a guy, that heart was shattered into a million pieces and I thought I would never love again.  To say that a teenager cannot experience or feel that kind of love is simply deflection.  What really needs to be said is that, while all the feelings are there and sometimes even a desire for commitment that can grow more as we grow older, what is lacking is maturity.  Our teen years are the most tumultuous because we are learning about our place in the world. 
We all have an innate desire to love and be loved.  Whether that is a desire for parental love, friendship, acceptance or a deep love with that one guy or girl we’ve had our eyes on since grade nine, we all experience that deep hunger for love.  One of the reasons I love to read and write about young adult romance is that the emotions are raw, honest and there is very little guile.  As we grow into mature, responsible adults, we tend to censor ourselves for the sake of society.  We no longer walk up to that guy or girl and tell them, ‘you’re hot’.  We no longer wait by the phone in agony if that guy or girl we met at the party last week still hasn’t called.  We tend to stuff our feelings a lot more as we grow up.  Either that, or we go to the other extreme and confuse lust with love, often making poor adult decisions. 
A part of young adult romance that I particularly enjoy is the innocence of first time love.  Many of us had our first real girlfriend or boyfriend in junior high or high school and have experienced that feeling of anticipation and giddy excitement when we know we’ll be seeing them again soon.  The heart pounds, the blood rushes in our ears, we feel faint and we can’t stop smiling.  An old boyfriend of mine coined the phrase, ‘perma-smile’ and I feel that describes the in-love teen’s expression perfectly.  The highs are so high and the lows are so low that falling in love is a genuine rollercoaster.  I don’t know of many things to beat a special smile from your first crush, a stolen kiss by the lockers when you think no one is looking or hearing the words, ‘I love you’ for the first time and knowing you can happily say them back.
While young adults do not always love well, they do love fully.  Writing romance from a teenager’s perspective is both difficult and enjoyable.  The hero and heroines often have insecurities to overcome, decisions to make in regards to their own sexuality and whether or not to follow society like lemmings or create their own path through life.  This is the most fascinating part of all.  Remembering our own hopes, dreams, successes and failures as teens and learning from them as adults.  What decisions in regards to love did we make back in junior high and high school that affect how we view our relationships later in life?  How willing are we to take a chance on love in a world that steadily tells us that the only love is lust?  And how do we tell the difference?  Do we listen to our parents or our peers?  Do we strive to find that one person who we feel completes us or are we content to bounce from one relationship to another?  And do we really think that only adults can experience true love?  Are we willing to step in and guide our teens through this scary, exciting and often fantastic time of life when love can be experienced for the first time? 
I hope to never forget about the love I experienced as a teen.  Those boys taught me many things about love, life and who I would become as a person.  Choosing the right relationship is tough.  That’s why I love to write about the whole trip, from beginning to end.  In adult romance there is much more expectation in regards to the sexual side of things.  In young adult romance I am able to write on a more emotional level and take a few walks down memory lane.  So, we’re not too young to be in love.  We’re just experiencing the first part of what can become a lifetime of joy, decisions and commitments.  The best way to love is to love fully and to love wisely.  I hope my readers will see these qualities in my characters.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Book Trailer

Yay! My book trailer is completed and live on Youtube!
Move your mouse to the right of this text to find the link -- Way Out of Line Trailer

I'm lucky I have PowerPoint 2010 now. I had 2007 before, and it did not offer the option to convert the ppt presentation to a video.

I had to search for royalty free pictures, which I found on some Creative Commons sites--where photographers display their pictures and license them for commercial or non-commercial reproduction.

Music for commercial use is also available free. I really wanted something like African drums, and I may change the music score later, but I have not so far been able to find the perfect sound track. I went with again because they offer the best choice and the music is formatted correctly for upload to Youtube. I found free music on other sites but when I tried to insert them into my presentation they were not the correct file type.

I hope it sparks the imagination and makes viewers want to read the book!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Romance by Guest Blogger Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

Just the word ‘romance’ evokes beautiful imagery.  We immediately think about true love and kisses and intimate moments between the sheets.  All of our daydreams about romance, the ones which cause us to sigh out loud and offer wistful little smiles to everyone we meet, add to the mystique.  Men can be hopeless romantics too and if we’re lucky, we connect with one who brings us flowers on special occasions or just because.  We women get sentimental over weddings, new babies, spring blossoms, heart shaped chocolates, jewelry, special gifts, and those three little words “I love you.”
            We turn to romance novels when we want a break from the everyday grind.  Romance novels offer an escape, a chance to pretend we’re somewhere else with someone different.  Whether we run away into the past with a historical romance, indulge in a little fantasy with a paranormal romance or one based on a fairy tale or just step into a contemporary novel with a hunky hero, we’re looking for something to take our minds off the humdrum moments of life.
            I love curling up with a romance novel on my corner of the couch on a chill winter’s night or a rainy day.  I like to settle down on my front porch swing on a spring afternoon or stretch out on the deck to read on a summer evening.  A good read can lift my spirits, shift my mood, and take me away almost as effectively as a long soak in a scented bath.
            What happens, however, when you write romance? If I waited to write when I feel romantic, I’d have to find a new occupation.  So I write in between running a basket of dirty clothes down to my basement laundry room or pausing to throw a hunk of meat into the crock pot or to slap together a casserole.  I write with a little voice in the back of my head reminding me I need to pick up one of my three kids at a certain time or to remember play practice. 
            I write in between phone calls, running errands, paying bills, and running the vacuum cleaner.  Ideas and plot twists pop into my head while I’m driving to the supermarket or while I’m sitting in the conference room at a library board meeting.  I try to keep a notebook with me at all times but I’ve been known to use my Blackberry to dictate notes, lines of a work in progress or remind myself of something to use in the story.
            My kids interrupt me when I’m working and on occasion so does my husband.  But in between the hectic moments, those times when the dryer quits and I resort to hanging clothes on the line outside to dry in winter temperatures or the kitchen sink drain clogs or the ants come in looking for food, I write.  And I manage to evoke something of love, of romance, of the fire that erupts between two people in love.
            But then it’s not so different than life, really.  We steal our romantic moments when we can, the stolen kisses, the rare moment to share when the kids are away on a field trip or at grandma’s house.  Sometimes we plan for a getaway weekend but sometimes we just take what we can get.  So I write the same way – when I get blocks of time (like on school days) to write, I take full advantage of them and I learn to work around the interruptions the rest of the time.
            Find me online daily:
 Facebook: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Twitter: @leeannwriter
Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
My novels are available at, Barnes and, Bookstrand, All Romance EBooks, and more.  All are available as eBooks, three are available in paperback at and at Champagne Books.