What comes first, plot or characters?

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I’m often asked what comes first, plot or characters – My answer tends to vary. When it came to Nick Spinelli, Covert Exposure and Craving Vengeance, I had a very clear picture of Spinelli both physically and emotionally. He was too good looking and too together, so I felt the need to mess up his life a bit, only I hadn’t a clue as to how to make that happen until my fingers hit the keyboard.

When it came to Alex Polecheck and Peter DeBaker, Unforeseen Obsessions, their story was pretty much plotted all the way through.

As for Jack Ricco and Clare Ulster, Taken by Surprise, I knew where I wanted to start the story and finish it, but the middle was a mystery to me each and every day.

Now, for the new series I recently started, I dreamt up Dylan, seriously, I dreamt about him, and I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with him yet, but I do know it will involve a lot of chaos for a while. He’s going to have to work for anything he wants.

There you have it!

 

Meet my Characters Blog Hop – Meet Nick Spinelli from “Covert Exposure and Craving Vengeance.”

Hi everyone! I was invited to participate in this blog hop by the talented Aubrey Wynne. You can read her post here http://aubreywynneauthor.com/2014/09/01/meet-my-characters-blog-hopmeet-rolf-from-rolfs-quest/

First, a bit of info about Aubrey Wynne

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Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things Christmas. She is a proud member of the Coffee Talk Writers. Her debut story, Merry Christmas, Henry, was published in November 2013 by Melange Books, LLC and received Best Short Romance in the Editors and Predators Reader’s Choice of 2013. Her humorous shorts, Pete’s Mighty Purty Privies (Top 100 Laugh Out Loud List on Goodreads) and To Cast A Cliché are published with AlfieFiction.com

Here’s Aubrey’s Links: 

Website URL: http://aubreywynneauthor.wordpress.com

Twitter (Full URL or Handle): https://twitter.com/Aubreywynne51

Facebook (URL): https://www.facebook.com/aubrey.wynne.7

Goodreads (URL): https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/17695894-aubrey-wynne

Pinterest (URL): http://www.pinterest.com/aubreywynne51/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AubreyWynne

Thanks, Aubrey, for the invitation!

Now, I’m supposed to choose one character from a work-in-progress or a recently published book and answer seven easy questions. Here goes!

What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Detective Nick Spinelli is the main character in the Nick Spinelli Mystery series. I just have to say…to me, Spinelli is as real as they come, but I’ve been told he is fictional.

When and where is the story set?

The Nick Spinelli Romance Mystery series is set in the current day.

The first two books in the series, Covert Exposure and Craving Vengeance, are set in Milwaukee. The third book in the series, Crazed Reckoning, is set in Door County, Wisconsin, and is scheduled for release in early 2015. 

What should we know about him/her?

Spinelli is tough as nails on the outside, but a big softie on the inside.  You’ll never hear him say it though. Actually, he’s in complete denial about being a softie. 

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

The beautiful Shannon O’Hara messes up Spinelli’s life pretty good. She doesn’t mean to but she does. Her co-workers, ex-lovers, and old family acquaintances do nothing but get in the way. 

What is the personal goal of the character?

Spinelli’s number one goal is to keep Shannon alive! Yep, you heard me correctly, Spinelli spends much of his time just trying to keep his new love interest out of harms way. 

Is there a working title for this novel and can we read more about it?

The third book in the series is titled Crazed Reckoning, a Nick Spinelli Mystery and is scheduled for release by Melange Books, LLC in early 2015.  I hope to post some teasers on my website in the near future.

You can find the first two books in the Nick Spinelli series here:

CovertExposureVJC2CravingVengeance

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=valerie%20clarizio&sprefix=valer%2Caps

Melange Books, LLC: http://www.melange-books.com/authors/valeriejclarizio/index.html

Now, who are you going to hear from next week…….

The Awesome Shelley Pickens is on deck!

Shelley is the author of The Haunting of Secrets

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Shelley Pickens is a Spanish teacher by day and a novelist by night. She’s been in love with everything paranormal since she can remember.  After years of teaching high school students, she decided to take her firsthand knowledge of young adults and apply it to her passion for creative writing and fantasy.  When not teaching or writing, Shelley likes to spend time with her husband and two beautiful children in Atlanta, Ga.  Her escape from reality is her love of complex thriller and science fiction TV series like Supernatural and Sleepy Hollow.  In her spare time she is an avid watcher of little league baseball.  THE HAUNTING OF SECRETS is her debut novel.

Here’s Shelley’s links:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Haunting-Secrets-Shelley-R-Pickens-ebook/dp/B00M2E3IVK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410132840&sr=8-1&keywords=shelley+pickens

Melange Books / Fire and Ice Imprint: http://www.fireandiceya.com/authors/shelleyrpickens/index.html

Website/Blog: http://shelleypickens.wordpress.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/shelleypickensauthor

Twitter:  @shelleypickens

  

Guest Post & Giveaway by Author Aubrey Wynne

The Short And The Long Of It - By Aubrey Wynne

Some people prefer short stories: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, or The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain.

Others enjoy getting to know the characters and settling in for a long read: The Call of The Wild by Jack London, Sophie’s Choice By William Styron, The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington or Animal Farm by George Orwell.

I consider any of these good literary choices. Whether I choose short or long for my reading pleasure depends on my time, focus and mood. A long weekend dictates a book I can sink my teeth into and enjoy the intricacies of a plot and subplots. I get involved with main characters and a secondary cast.  If I have an afternoon free, I hate to start a novel and leave in the middle for a week or two. So I choose a short story.

So what is the difference when writing? Which is more difficult for the author? Style often dictates what an author writes. I also think the story itself often decides the length. Some stories are a glimpse into a slice of the character’s life. Others may be detailed accounts that need to be slowly digested and savored. But the styles for each are different.

A novel needs background, detail, and often spans a period of time. Here the author needs to set the tone, give us necessary previous knowledge and include subplots and secondary characters. A short story gets straight to the point, involves fewer characters and usually has only one storyline. The luxury of spending a page describing the valley below does not exist for the short story writer. Each word counts.

If a writer hates to ‘cut his babies’, novels create the perfect vehicle. If you enjoy describing each character’s clothing each time they enter a room or providing an intricate description of the mansion on the hill, by all means pursue the novel. Short story and novella authors usually concentrate on a single plot, add some description and action then wrap it up. This does not mean that characters are not developed or the plot is simple and never complicated: the more intricacies and in-depth the short story, the more talented the author.

So what is your preference as a reader and writer? Short or long? Detailed or to the point?

PRIZE – One random commenter will receive their choice of one my shorts posted below.

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Blurb and Links for To Cast A Cliché: 

The evil Queen Lucinda exacts revenge on a royal poet by casting a spell of never-ending clichés upon the kingdom. Will the clever King Richard thwart his stepmother’s magic and save the good people of Maxim? Test your literary knowledge and enjoy an entertaining spoof on fairytales.

Alfie Dog Fiction: http://alfiedog.com/products-page/aubrey-wynne/to-cast-a-cliche-aubrey-wynne-2700-words-fairytale/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22666679-to-cast-a-cliché

Petes promo cover

Blurb and Links for Pete’s Mighty Purty Privies: 

Pete McNutt, a privy salesman, needs customers for his new business. Spring has arrived and it’s prime time Privy Season. After much consideration, he refines his sales pitch, takes courage in hand and heads to the monthly meeting of the Women’s Library Association.

Alfie Dog Fiction: http://alfiedog.com/products-page/aubrey-wynne/petes-mighty-purty-privies-aubrey-wynne-2000-words-humour-historical/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21798744-pete-s-mighty-purty-privies

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Blurb and Links for Merry Christmas, Henry: 

Henry, a shy and talented artist, moonlights as a security guard at a museum and loses his heart to a beautiful, melancholy woman in a painting. As his obsession grows, he finds a kindred soul who helps him in his search for happiness. On Christmas Eve, Henry dares to take a chance on love and fulfill his dream.

Melange Books, LLC: http://www.melange-books.com/authors/aubreywynne/merryxmashenry.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GHWQHYS

Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Merry-Christmas-Henry-Aubrey-Wynne-ebook/dp/B00GHWQHYS

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/merry-christmas-henry-aubrey-wynne/1117352015?ean=2940045373494

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18781435-merry-christmas-henry

 About the Author

Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things Christmas. Her debut story, Merry Christmas, Henry, was published in November 2013 by Melange Books, LLC and received Best Short Romance in the Editors and Predators Reader’s Choice of 2013. Her humorous shorts, Pete’s Mighty Purty Privies and To Cast A Cliché are published with AlfieFiction.com

author promo pic

Hook up with Aubrey

http://aubreywynneauthor.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/aubrey.wynne.7

https://www.facebook.com/magnificentvalor

https://twitter.com/Aubreywynne51

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/17695894-aubrey-wynne

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AubreyWynne

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?trk=nav_responsive_sub_nav_edit_profile

aubreywynneauthor@gmail.com]

 

Beach Reads Giveaway Hop!

 

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Update:  The contest winners for my giveaway are:

Melody Gonser – Taken by Surprise

Hilda Oquendo – Covert Exposure, a Nick Spinelli Mystery

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YAY for July!  A great time of year to grab your beach blanket, your cooler of Margaritas and that book you’ve been dying to read, and hit the beach for a peaceful day in the sun!

As a grand prize for this hop, Roane Publishing is giving away a KINDLE PAPERWHITE as a grand prize!  Also, be sure to check out the other twenty or so places to visit on this hop and enter their contests for other great prizes including books, gift cards, and more.

Click this link to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for an ebook of Covert Exposure, a Nick Spinelli Mystery or an ebook of Taken by Surprise:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click this link to enter the Roane Publishing Rafflecopter giveaway for a Kindle Paperwhite.

Here are the links to the sites of the other participating authors, reviewers, and bloggers.

 

Taken by Surprise – Facebook Release Party – July 3rd

I received a surprise notice from my publisher, Whiskey Creek Press, that Taken by Surprise will be released on July 1st, rather than in August.  In celebration of the release I will be throwing a Facebook party on July 3rd from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST and you’re all invited.

What can you expect at this party?  Great fun, author visits, and a chance to win some prizes, including 2 $5 Amazon gift cards.

Facebook link:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1434991190109852/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

As authors confirm their timeslots and prizes I will update both this page and the Facebook party page so you all know what’s happening:)

Author and Prize List:
 Valerie J. Clarizio - Two $5 Amazon Gift Cards, e-copy of Taken by Surprise, and an e-copy of Unforeseen Obsessions
Aubrey Wynne - 2 short stories (e-copy) – PETE’S MIGHTY PURTY PRIVIES and TO CAST A CLICHE
Valerie Twombly - Signed copy of ETERNAL FLAME
Maria Cox - Novelette (e-copy) – JUNGLE FEVER
Leigh Morgan - Authors of Main Street Box Set (e-copy): WEDDINGS ON MAIN STREET & and an e-copy of SECOND CHANCE WEDDING
Dawn Montgomery - USA Today Bestselling Author – An ebook from her backlist (excluding those out of print), e-copy of SILVER TONGUED DEVILS, and a PDF ARC OF DEVILS’ DUE, and an e-copy of Taken by Surprise,
Paige Tyler - USA Today Bestselling Author – An e-book from her backlist (Not including her new release, Her Perfect Mate, or any boxed sets)
Mary Hughes -Two ebooks, choice of Mary’s red-hot BITING LOVE, red-hot JINNI or fun romantic comedies
JoAnne Myers - TBD

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Blurb:

Everyone is shocked when Clare Ulster leaves her rich and handsome fiancé, and chucks her well-to-do Milwaukee city life and moves into her grandparents’ old homestead in a remote area of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  The quiet small town of Iron City is just what she needs to get her life in order and learn to stand on her own.  No men needed! 

Unfortunately, disaster follows her.  Unable to let her go, her abusive, cheating, ex- fiancé finds his way to the U.P. and sets out to make Clare’s life more of a living hell then he’d done in the past.  Additionally, Clare’s involvement with the Fire Chief, aka, town player, lands her in a world of trouble with his ring of female admirers, sending her on a dangerously chaotic adventure including murder and kidnapping.  Will Clare be able to survive the deceptively peaceful Iron City?

 

 

Street Teams & Giveaway

Street Teams

Last weekend I attended the Wisconsin Romance Writer Conference and one of the many topics discussed was author Street Teams. The presenter covered all components of street teams from setting them up to growing them throughout the author’s career. At first, the information seemed overwhelming; I’d have to find a forum for my team, I’d have to set guidelines, I’d have to provide incentives, and I’d have to keep things fresh and interesting – WOW – and I thought writing the books would be the hard part.

Over the past couple of days I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about street teams in general, and came to realize that formally setting one up may not be as overwhelming as I thought once I realized I already have a simple form of one in place. I have some fans who already religiously tweet and/or post on Facebook the following type of information about me and my books:

  •  Giveaways
  • Blog hops
  • Book signings
  • What I’m working on
  • New release information
  • Reviews
  • They help me spread the word

Now the question becomes – Where do I go from here? I will begin to work on formalizing my street team by creating a Facebook page for me and my team to use to interact more frequently and consistently. I’m hoping the environment will be such that my team will be themselves, support each other, and of course enjoy themselves. Who’s in?

Contest & Giveaway:

I’ve been straining my brain to come up with a cool name for my street team and am coming up empty with anything to go with Val, Valerie, or Clarizio. Any suggestions? 

In the event your suggestion gets picked to be the official street name, you will score an ebook copy of Covert Exposure, a Nick Spinelli Mystery, which is the first novella in the Nick Spinelli Mystery series.

Now it’s time to get this show on the road!

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New Release & Giveaway – Unforeseen Obsessions – Cheers to the Winners of the Blog Tour Prizes

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And the winners of the blog tour prizes are:

Erin Elliott – $10 Amazon GC

Stephanie Grant – Ebook copy of Unforeseen Obsessions

Brandi Dagwan – Ebook copy of Unforeseen Obsessions

Thank you to everyone who participated in the blog tour!

Title: Unforeseen Obsessions

Author: Valerie J. Clarizio

Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press

Release Date: May 15, 2014

Blog Tour:  Tour runs from May 15th through June 4th – See the ‘Blog Tour’ tab for tour host information.  Please be sure to visit all the tour sites for information about Unforeseen Obsessions and its characters.  You’ll find excerpts leading up to the entire reveal of chapter one, character interviews, top ‘favorite’ lists, and other interesting information.

Buy Links:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Unforeseen-Obsessions-Valerie-J-Clarizio-ebook/dp/B00KCZLY9Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400201248&sr=8-1&keywords=valerie+j+Clarizio

Whiskey Creek Press:  http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1218&zenid=9246fa9ad89d17f59778b50c0a8faec7

Rafflecopter Giveaway Prizes include a $10 Amazon Gift Card and 2 ebooks of Unforeseen Obsessions – Click Here to enter 

Blurb:

After Alex Polecheck’s police officer husband, Sam, is stabbed in cold blood, she vows to see the murderer brought to justice.  Peter, Sam’s best friend, and fellow police officer, seems to be the only member of the Police Department interested in catching the killer.

Peter sets out on a perilous hunt for the killer, while trying to protect Alex, who appears to be next on the murderer’s list.

The mystery begins to unravel when Peter finds a connection between the murder of Sam and two other law enforcement officers, who were all part of an internet crime taskforce. Peter and Alex find themselves alone in the battle for justice and truth when they discover members of the local police department cannot be trusted.  Will Peter piece together the puzzle before Alex is silenced?  While battling to protect Alex, will he be able to continue to conceal his love for her?

What did NY Times bestselling author Stacey Joy Netzel have to say about Unforeseen Obsessions: 

“Kept me turning the pages to solve the mystery, all the while hoping Alex would get her second Happily Ever After.” ~ NY Times bestselling author,  Stacey Joy Netzel

Author Links:  Facebook Twitter Goodreads