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Archive for February, 2014

I wanted to introduce bestselling author BJ Daniels. She graciously stopped by to talk about her writing process in the wilds of Montana and her new book “Atonement.”

BJ-DANIELS-AUTHOR-IMAGE

Tell us a little bit about your upcoming release, “Atonement?”

I wanted to write about Dillon Lawson, undersheriff in my Beartooth, Montana series. I’m also fascinated by twins – especially the identical ones who have taken different paths in life. With all my heroes the hard part is finding them a woman who is equal to them. Dillon deserved a strong, capable woman as a partner. A year ago, he buried his twin who he feels he failed, so he has his own demons when Tessa Winters comes into his life. Nothing is easy for Dillon so it should come as no surprise that Tessa is pregnant – and claims it is his brother’s child.

Atonement Cover

What is your favorite line or phrase from Atonement?

It’s the first time my hero and my pregnant heroine meet:

“Look, I’m not sure what your story is, but that baby you’re carrying? It isn’t–.”

“If you dare say it isn’t yours…” Her right hand dipped into her shoulder bag. An instant later he was staring down the barrel of a .45.

You moved to Montana at a very young age and many of your stories take place there. How do you think living in Montana has shaped you as a person and as a writer?

Life in Montana from the age of five has had a huge impact on me and the stories. I first lived in a cabin my father built from logs in the Gallatin Valley. My brother and I had the run of the mountains with all its rocks and trees and creeks and river as well as wildlife. We often had black bear, moose and deer in the yard. My brother and I even had pet squirrels.

Later I lived on Hebgen Lake. We didn’t have electricity or a phone, but we waterskied for hours, played in the woods and had grizzly bears on the patio. I still live in a wild isolated place three hours from the closest Target store. Today, I am pretty much snowed in as a blizzard just blew through and all the roads out of town will be icy and snowpacked. But this is what I love writing about, my experiences growing up in the state I love.

Where do you do most of your writing? Do you have a certain place that inspires you the most?

I love taking the pickup and driving out into the wilds. I have written many scenes sitting on the tailgate staring out at the country. I have an office three blocks from my house, but if I am stuck on a book – I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I never know what will happen next in a book — I hit the road. For some reason, the story really comes once I leave town. Where I now live there is something like .03 people per square mile so there is a lot of space to create in without seeing another soul.

You’re an avid quilter. Tell us a bit more about that creative process and how is it different from the writing process?

Actually, it is a lot like writing. You start with nothing but a vague idea. (At least that’s the way I write – and quilt.) I often buy fabric without any clue what I am going to make with it, then I let my imagination run wild.

What I love is that a bunch of quilters can take the same fabric and yet make something so entirely different. Same with a book. Give a group of writers the same basic plot, and you will get completely different books. With quilting and all the different fabrics and pattern ideas, you can get as crazy creative as you want.

Also quilters are as creative and fun as writers, so I love that.

How did you find the courage to pursue your dream of writing?

I come from a family of storytellers. When I was a child my family camped a lot. I used to lie in the tent at night and listen to the adults sitting around the campfire telling stories. It made me want to be a writer. My father always told me I could be anything I wanted to be. I believed him. He also taught me that if I wanted something, I had to work to get it. So I went at being a writer by learning as much as I could, writing a whole lot and not giving up.

Do you have any special techniques for writing effective suspense plots?

I love to scare myself. If I am on the edge of my seat while I am writing a scene, then I figure my readers will be too. I’m the kind of person who always looks in the back seat of my car at night to make sure there is no one back there.

Recently I was working on my next HQN and I realized I was breathing hard – and it wasn’t the love scene. I was anxious, afraid my heroine wasn’t going to get away. That is why I love writing so much.

With more than 40 short stories and 70 books published, how do you come up with new and compelling stories that capture your readers’ attention?

It’s funny, but the ideas are always there. I’ve been fortunate that way. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a seat of the pants writer. I start with a blank page and just begin typing. I never know what is going to happen – and I love that. I couldn’t write a book that I knew the ending. I would feel as if I’d already read it. So mostly I write books that I want to read. I think that keeps me from writing the same book over and over.

Who is your fictional character crush?

Right now it is Dillon Lawson from Atonement. He’s the kind of man we know we can depend on. You just want to curl up in his arms and ride out the winter.

I love strong men, men who would fight for their woman. Montana cowboys live by a Code of the West, and Dillon is no different. There are lines he won’t cross, so he fights his growing feelings for his brother’s woman.

 What are you reading right now?

The Obituary Writer by Ann Wood. I love the way two separate stories come together from different decades. Before than I was reading nonfiction books on serial killers for my upcoming HQN titled MERCY out in September. I’m also listening to Elizabeth George’s new book, Just One Evil Act, on CD in my car. I always have a couple of books going at the same time.

 What are the latest trends that you are noticing in romance/romantic suspense novels these days?

I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense because I write it. But I feel that we all take a different approach to it. Some are more romantic. Most of mine are more suspense, I think. They’re hard to write because you need a balance between the two. But I think that is what a lot of readers really like. They love suspense and romance. Kind of like chocolate and peanut butter.

What advice would you give to a struggling writer?

Don’t quit. Read everything you can get your hands on. Never stop learning. And remember, it is all about the story. Tell a good story. One of my favorite writing books is Stephen King’s On Writing. So much about succeeding is putting in the hours at the computer writing.

I think the hardest thing for most writers is staying off the Internet. If you write a lot of emails, you feel as if you wrote that day and yet your book never seems to get finished. I know how that works.

I put together all my suggestions for aspiring writers after being asked this question. The book, Write Your damn Book, is available only digitally online.

What are you working on next?

I just finished my next HQN titled MERCY. It was the hardest book I have ever written but now that it is done, I love it. I wanted to do a different take on serial killers, so I did. I am fascinated by how two people can grow up in the same house, same genes, etc. and turn out so differently. I find it interesting also that the same horrible childhood that makes a serial killer can do just the opposite to someone else.

I also love seeing what happens to the continuing characters in the series. While each book stands alone, I like some characters who I can check back in with and see how their lives are going.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

B.J. DANIELS, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, wrote her first book after a career as an award-winning newspaper journalist and author of 37 published short stories. That first book, ODD MAN OUT, received a 4 ½ star review from Romantic Times magazine and went on to be nominated for Best Intrigue for that year. Since then she has won numerous awards including a career achievement award for romantic suspense and numerous nominations and awards for best book. Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker, and two Springer Spaniels, Spot and Jem. When she isn’t writing, she snowboards, camps, boats and plays tennis. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Thriller Writers, Kiss of Death and Romance Writers of America.

ATONEMENT by B.J. DANIELS, Harlequin; February 25, 2014

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We are thrilled that UK writer Sara Jayne Townsend is here at Anasazi Dreams, blogging about important inner tools a writer must have for success. Find out more about Sara Jayne here as she gives us insights into her own writing process…

All I ever wanted to be, since childhood, was a writer.  I was telling stories before I even knew how to write – making them up about my favourite toys.  I was about six when I started writing stories down – around the time I first learned how to put words on a page.  Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, “a writer”.  They would generally frown at me and say, “you can’t do that for a living.  You need a proper job.”  But I never wanted to do anything else, and never thought I was actually any good at anything else.

I do know a few writers who manage to make enough money from the writing to do it full time.  But the vast majority have another source of income.  And for me, those early doubters turned out to be right – I still feel I’m a long way from being in a position to give up the day job.

Being a writer with a day job requires discipline.  The writing has to fit round the day job, and for me it means getting up stupidly early a couple of times a week to fit in an hour’s writing at a coffee shop before heading to the office, spending lunch times writing, and often spending much of my time on weekends writing as well.

Then of course there’s the publicity.  Books don’t sell themselves.  If you’re with an established publisher with a publicity department, they will likely arrange readings and signing sessions at book stores for you.  But many of the smaller independent publishers don’t have the same kind of marketing budget, and if your book is only available as an e-book, signing sessions can’t really happen.  Internet promotion can be a valuable tool for the e-book author, but making time to write blog posts, contacting people about interviews, and keep one’s internet presence up to date is just as important as finding time to write.

This is where discipline comes in.  We all have the same number of hours in the day, and how we use them is important.  I rely on lists to keep me organised, and I am a person who likes routine.  I try and schedule time for writing, and time for writing blog posts or whatever.  I don’t have children and the salary from the day job allows me to hire a cleaner so I don’t spend time on house work, but I generally feel that I have to function on less sleep than I would prefer to get everything in.

I may not be a household name, but being a published author has fulfilled a childhood dream.  I’m not a person comfortable with plunging into the great unknown.  I’m a forward planner, in both my writing and the way I live my life.  So being a writer with a day job is the right path for me.  No matter how much sleep I have to sacrifice for it.

 

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BIO:

Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror.  Her horror novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN (e-book) and collection of short stories SOUL SCREAMS (print and e-book) are available from Amazon (UK link – http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B003QROE8S and US link – http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003QROE8S ), and the first two novels in her amateur sleuth series, DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL will be available from MuseItUp Publishing later this year (Summer and Autumn respectively).

Learn more about Sara and her writing from her website (http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com) and her blog (http://sayssara.wordpress.com).

 

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We are proud to introduce our readers to James J. Crofoot and the second book in his exciting new YA dark fiction series.

The Continuing Journeys of a Different Necromancer 200x300

Thomas now views his magic as less than good, but he must raise one more army. This one not of his creation though. For the first time he learns fear of the undead. More than ever, he longs to see the waters of the great sea to the west. Will he find peace there? Will Christina and he find a home with the people of the shores? Maybe. But, maybe he’ll have to fight magic darker than his own to keep his new home.

Maybe he’ll have to fight magic so dark that even a half demon witch fears it and must help.

 

Excerpt:

The Ambassador looked away. “We will fight ourselves then. I will put swords in the hands of teachers. I will put spears in the hands of painters. We will arm the singers and dancers, and we will die! The great libraries where nations send the young to learn will be no more.” He paused and looked back at Thomas. “Come and see what we will die for, come with me to Salat.”

In silence, Christina had walked beside him for the length of the conversation, but now spoke up. “Let’s go, Thomas. Let’s at least see this place before it falls into the hands of the south.”

Thomas looked at her sideways. Her insistence in not understanding what he did with his knowledge beginning to irritate him. She would try to talk him into doing what he now considered an evil. He would go, but he would create no army.

A Little About the Author:

James J has traveled on sea and land, managing to get two degrees and has attended Gotham Writing Workshop. Through it all writing remained his first love. Now he is publishing his work for your enjoyment. ‘The Continuing Journeys of a Different Necromancer’ is the sequel to ‘The Journeys of a Different Necromancer’, both available at MuseItUp publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashswords. He has also appeared in Silverblade Magazine. For notice of further publications, “like” him on Facebook.

WHERE YOU MAY BUY THE BOOK

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+continuing+Journeys+of+a+different+necromancer

Banes & Noble- http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/The-continuning-journeys-of-a-different-necromancer?keyword=The+continuning+journeys+of+a+different+necromancer&store=book

MuseItUp Publishing –  https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/new-releases/series/the-journeys-of-a-different-necromancer-book-two-detail

You may follow James Crowfoot on Facebook – www.facebook.com/jamcrofoot626

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