Category Archives: Auth: Jessie Smith

Halloween Candy for Adults: the Best Author Swag from the Historical Romance Retreat

Attendees at the recent Historical Romance Retreat felt like they stepped back in time, thanks to efforts by amazing Historical Romance Authors. They brought their A Game with their attention to detail and creativity. Here are some of my favorite items to inspire other authors to do more than just bookmarks to attract readers.

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Historical Romance Retreat hostesses, Delilah Marvelle and Renee Bernard at the Grand Ball.

Delilah and Renee were the hosts and they set the tone with amazing swag throughout the entire event but their best items were distributed at the Low Tea. Delilah gifted everyone with antique green brooches while Renee created Victorian stretches and turned them into a coloring book. They were unique gifts that perfectly reflected their author branding.

Elizabeth Essex and Erica Monroe gave a presentation called “Revisiting the Lost Art of the Billet-Doux” where attendees got the opportunity to write with a quill and ink. Now every time I see Elizabeth’s matchbox, it will bring back happy memories from my first experience with a quill.

Fans dream of being able to share a moment with one of their favorite authors. I couldn’t believe that it happened to me at HRR with the amazing Jade Lee. She is a triple winner: her books are great, her personality sparkles and I will never toss away her swag item, the Jade necklace.

 

Eloisa James and Julia Quinn were the rock stars at this event and they treated their fans to awesome swag.

Victoria Vane is just as talented as a dressmaker as she is an author. Many attendees had an original Victoria Vane outfit and many others are saving their pennies to get one of her outfits. She was able to market both of her careers with her hair pins.

Even the male attendees received their own special bag of goodies. I especially loved the boxing note card and aspirin to promote Tim Ruzicki’s Pugilism course.

I loved it all. Everything was different and highlighted each author’s brand. Virginia Heath came from England and brought us some jam. Gina Danna has a history degree and provided everyone with the unique item of a sewing wax. I’m keeping it all.

What was the result of all this great swag and positive interactions with Historical Romance authors? I bought as many books as my luggage could carry back home!

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Riley’s Review: Stay by Allie Larkin

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Stay is marketed as a cozy love story and a cute dog. Don’t fall for it.

Reading this story almost gave my mother a PTSD episode as it reminded her of all the craziness of our first few months together. She was able to bury these memories because everything eventually worked out and now I’m just a grumpy old man who doesn’t even bother to bark at the mailman anymore. So I loved this book because it reminded me of my first few months here when I became King of the Castle after defeating the Night’s Watch and overthrowing her two cats. Unlike Joe, my mother was completely sober when she adopted me from a group that they told her that I was housebroken and got along with cats. They lied.

But they aren’t the only liars around here. See that cute dog on the cover? When the dog, Joe, is introduced in the story, they say he’s about 90 pounds. Does that dog on the cover look 90 pounds? This is such false advertisement. My mother tried to explain that authors don’t have much say over the book covers and it’s all about marketing. I must not be the only one who complained because later versions of the book cover have a size appropriate dog.

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That’s not my only complaint. Joe cost $6,000. Was his collar made out of gold? With $6,000 you could sponsor the adoption fees for every single dog at the Wigglin’ Home Boxer Rescue and still have enough money left over for a lifetime of greenies. Buy rescues. We are worth it.

If Stay is the one word that sums up Savannah and Joe’s life together, then the word for my mother and I is Go. As in go away, go get me another greenie, and go get me another dog book to review.

For bringing back such happy memories of when I first moved in and took over my mother’s life, this book earns the full 5 greenies:

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I’m Riley. In pleasant company, my mother refers to me as feisty and independent. In closer circles, there is talk about a Napoleon complex. A select few have called me by my spirit animal, Cujo. But at the end of all her stories, she concludes that she loves her grumpy old man, which is me. I’m a mix of many magnificent species includes Tibetan Spaniel, Corgi and Pomeranian. My mom says that I’m about 11 years old, which is an ironic lie. She has created this space to celebrate her actual 40th birthday but she refuses to admit that I’m probably about 13 years old. I recently had a horrible eye injury which reminded her that I’m the greatest thing that has ever happened to her and she rewarded me with 24/7 greenies. Thus, we have decided to celebrate me (and her 40th birthday) but creating a month long blog series, called Riley’s Reviews as a fundraiser to help my fellow creatures while they are waiting for their personal staff (aka forever homes). But we all know in our hearts that we are doing this so I can get a stage to become a very big deal within a small group of people.

How this will work: My mom is a sucker for stories with animals on the covers so I will post reviews about some of her favorite books by sharing some doggie perspectives to enlighten readers. You are welcome to just visit this blog to adore me and enjoy my canine commentary. Or if you are so inclined, you can celebrate Jessie’s 40th Birthday, by making a donation to one of these wonderful organizations:

Please come back during the month of September to find out what other books I have strong opinions about because I am strong and I am opinionated.

Spring Forward and Plot Your Next Story

Spring has arrived and the sun is finally shining in Portland. While some might feel compelled to clean their house and organize their life, I felt the need to gather with friends and organize my next story.
 
So I spent this past Sunday conducting my own personal think tank with 5 wonderful friends: Susan Lute (host), Nancy Brophy, Linda Mercury, Wendy Warren and Carolyn Zane. We gathered to exchange story ideas and figure out plot points. There is power in collective creativity with people from your “tribe”. It doesn’t matter if you write the same genre. Our stories ranged from heartwarming, cozy mystery, witches, and vampires, oh my! What matters is that there is a level of trust and support among the group.
 
For the past few months, my story has been stuck in the Winter Blues. I have an idea for a paranormal young adult story and love my main characters but I couldn’t figure out the villains. This is why you need your writing buddies. When you are hesitant to give drama to your beloved characters, other writers can help you create their worst case scenarios, almost too easily and with non-concealed glee.
 
After 6 hours of exchanging ideas, the room was buzzing. I felt exhausted and excited with equal measure. Sharing your story is like sharing a secret. For the first time I had to truly explain the ins and outs of a complex story that keeps me awake at night. I spent over an hour drawing pictures and lines to connect the dots. Then I waited for the rejection. I felt like Carrie looking up to see if I was standing underneath a bucket. Instead I just felt support and suggestions from talented writers who want me to succeed. They could see a sparkle to my story and they helped me look at it from other angles.
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My only regret is that I didn’t bring a tape recorder. Not just for the notes I don’t remember but to listen to the cadence of our voices. Writers love talking about their stories and you can hear it when they speak. In fact, many writers talk about their characters like they are real people. I’m glad we were in Susan’s home because a public location would have drawn many raised eyebrows with our conversations on how best to redeem a murderous villain or why certain children needed to be orphans for everything to work out in the end.
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I left the gathering feeling three things. First, I am extremely motivated to write this story by my self-imposed October 15th deadline. Second, I also can’t wait to read their stories when completed and I will help keep them motivated. Lastly, I am lucky to have found such great writing friends.
 
If you feel energized by collective collaboration, I encourage you to find your own writing tribe and get started on organizing your own potluck plotting sessions. If you don’t know where to start and you write Happily Ever Afters, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) has local writing chapters all over the country. Writing is a solitary task but you don’t have to do it alone.
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The coffee table books of a true writer!

For the Love of Sticky Notes – Lessons from Farrah Rochon

All the Janes from See Jane Publish recently attended Rose City Romance Writer’s annual Writing Conference. This year the presenters were Allyson Longueria, Farrah Rochon, Amy Liz Talley, and Cecilia Tan and we decided that each of us would write about our lessons learned from each class. It’s my privilege to share with you my admiration for Farrah Rochon and our mutual love for Sticky Notes.

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(Left to Right) Jessa Slade, Farrah Rochon and Jessie Smith

Farrah’s presentation was called “For Serious Plotters Only: How to go from an idea to a fully-developed plot before you ever type Chapter One”. As a reminder, there are generally three types of writers:

Pantsers: People who write by “the seat of their pants”. They don’t outline their stories. They feel like if they know where the story is going, it’s not fun to write it.

Plotters: People who like to plot out their story before they begin to write their story. They enjoy the security of knowing exactly where their story is headed on the pages.

Both: People who do a little of both methods. They do some plotting to jumpstart their stories but leave gaps for creative inspiration.

The way people write their stories is part of their own personal process and there isn’t a specific method that works for all types of writers but there are some universal tips to help train your brain to bring out your best story. In Farrah’s presentation, we learned about the power of post-it notes. With my Type A personality, I was immediately drawn to the idea of color coding my thoughts to double check that my storyline and character arcs were fully developed and left nothing unresolved for the readers.

Farrah walked everyone through her process of taking an science project tri-fold heavy-duty poster board, which would naturally break-up the white space into 3 sections and create chapters with two different color notes, one for the heroine and one for the hero. This gave her an overall view of her story and allowed her to make sure both characters were active participants in their happily ever after. I had seen this process before and it was within my writing comfort zone.

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My ah-ha moment was her other example. When she was under a tight deadline, she did the opposite process. After she wrote the story, she used the post-it process to make sure she covered all her bases. She went beyond a two color system and even used different shapes to cover certain subplots and additional characters.

The post-it note plotting process can be used to create your story and then validate that authors included all the necessary elements. I love plotting stories and the fact that I can do it twice made my heart happy. Of course, there is a danger is that I will spend too much time plotting and not enough time actual writing but for now, I am having the time of my life covering my wall like a television detective trying to solve a homicide.

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Now for those who are still following me down the rabbit hole, there is a whole new level of plotting for the extremists.  Did you know that there is actual dry erase paint? You can paint an entire wall with a material that will allow you to write from base to ceiling with dry erase markers. I feel like I have found my summer home improvement project. If you have already done this to a wall, please share your experiences with us.

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Breaking News from Monster Girl and Sammy – Our Mommies are RITA Finalists!

Breaking News: We interrupt your day with a very special announcement from Monster Girl and Sammy…

Sammy say my mommy, Asa Bradley, got TWO Rita nominations!

Sammy says my mom, Asa Maria Bradley, got TWO RITA nominations for her first published book!

Monster Girl says that her mommy got an Editor Nomination for the second year in a row

Monster Girl says my mom, Jessa Slade, got an Editor Nomination for the second year in a row! Woof Woof!

The 2016 RWA Rita and Golden Heart nominations have just been announced and it’s with great pleasure that Jamie Brazil and I announce that our fellow Janes, Jessa Slade and Asa Maria Bradley are RITA Finalists!

Asa’s book, Viking Warrior Rising, has been nominated for best Paranormal Romance AND Best First Book!

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Must Love Chainmail by Angela Quarles has been nominated for best Paranomal Romance with Jessa recognized as the book’s editor.

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The RITA is the highest award of distinction in romance fiction. It’s the equivalent of the Oscars for romance authors. Winners will be announced at the 2016 RWA convention in San Diego on July 16th during the RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony. I’m going to to be in the audience during the awards ceremony, cheering for these two amazingly talented women that I am lucky to call my friends.

Please join Sammy and Monster Girl in celebrating their mothers’ professional writing achievement!

 

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