How much real life is in your fiction?

We writers are an interesting bunch. Our ideas come from a vast number of places. It could be something as simple as the look a stranger gives you at the grocery store or watching a scene play out at the restaurant. Or maybe a song. Or the weather. Or a news story you read on the internet.

Our minds take the smallest of details and spin them into 300-page novels.  It's pretty amazing.

However, how many of you have had people ask, "Are any of your characters based on people you know?" Or, "How much of your life (or other people's lives) is in your stories?" Or any combination of those types of questions.


For me, that question is simple: little to none. I've got too many original things flying through my head to make true-to-life stories fiction. However, my dear sister thinks my very first book, Broken Ties That Bind, was based off her life. Not so much.

Writing about real people and things that have happened can you put you into some dangerous territory. There are some legal issues there that can get you in some serious trouble. Which is is why I think most of us steer clear of this area or change people/happenings so much that it's not noticeable. Then again, we also have something like this nice little blurb at the beginning of all of our books:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents, either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used factiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Blah, blah, blah, blah-ba-de, blah.

Don't get me wrong, I think some real-life people and stories make great fiction. Great, twisted fiction. :-)  Most stories start with some basic rooted real-life idea and then get spun into something that doesn't resemble that original real-life thing at all. And then, of course, you can always take someone you know and do this:

You know you've all wanted to do this. I've actually had family members and friends beg me NOT to do this. Most of you are probably thinking people don't normally die in romance novels. LoL. That's true. But I actually write in more than on genre. I've written some pretty gritty and dark stuff.

I promise not to do this to anyone I like. *grins*

BTW, that's actually my shirt. My VERY first critique partner and dear friend, Sarah Fine bought it for me several years ago. I cherish it and sometimes where it when I'm writing.

Now you tell me, how much real life is in your fiction? How much real life do you think is in fiction you've read?

Happy Monday all!


A new year, a new you?


Welcome to another new year, 
the time when people vow to start over,
resolve to do things different,

The time of year when people change. 
It's a new year,
so it's time for a new you,


Sure, it'd be nice to get a better job,
a bigger house, 
a nicer car, 
a skinnier body,
a bigger paycheck,
more vacation time,
hell, more vacations, 
and on,
and on,
and on. 

Now, there's nothing wrong with wanting these things and reaching for the stars at work and your life, but the beginning of your year isn't the time to do it. 
The beginning of the year is a the time to NOT make a "new" you, but a BETTER YOU

It's time to make better decisions, 
eat healthier, 
be nicer,
laugh more,
cry less,
don't judge,
smile a lot,
yell less,
enjoy the little things,
do the unthinkable,
be brave,
dream the undreamable,
be amazing,
be the person you've always wanted to be. 

That's what the new year is all about. 
A better you. 

 Now run out and make it so.


Holiday Romances: 'tis the season of love.

Holiday Romances

'Tis the season to fall in love. 

So I've been a writer for about 5-6 years now, I think. It may be a bit longer. I've lost track. 

Anyhoo, during those 5+ years, I've always said that I want to write a romance that takes place during the holidays. 

There's so much magic around the season! So many possibilities! Not to mention, some of my favorite romances have holiday themes. 

Alas, I've never gotten around to actually writing a holiday romance. ONE DAY, though. I will. I mean it! Perhaps I should make that a New Year's resolution? LoL.

Well, since I've yet to write a fantastic holiday romance, I'll share my top four favorite books of the season! 

1. Holiday in Death by J.D. Rob (aka Nora Roberts)--murder, mystery, sarcasm, and romance. What more could you want?

2. Let's Be Jolly by Janet Dailey--two romances in one book! Take a trip to Alaska and then head off on steamboat down Mississippi.

3. The Gift by Nora Roberts--three romances in one! Classic, older Nora romances! 

4. Pretend You're Mine by Lucy Score--whoa. Just whoa. Deep, passionate, powerful, beautiful. One of the best self-published books I've read. 

Are you a fan of holiday romances? What are some of the things that make them special for you? What are some of your favorite holiday romances? 



Do romance novels destroy relationships? #romance #question

Now THAT is an interesting question! 

I'm going to give you two short answers and then we'll discuss. So do romance novels destroy relationships?

1. Yes--but this is only if you expect your man to act like any man in a romance novel. Are you going to act like the women in the romance novels? Didn't think so. Problems arise when you start having expectations about your reality. This just isn't happening peeps. 

2. No--this is if you understand that romances are FICTION and the characters live in fantasy-land. The men you read about, the things they do, and the acts they perform are all in someone else's imagination. They are feel-good reads and you understand the man standing before will never say/do such things and act such ways (unless of course you married someone straight from a romance novel and if you have, I applaud you!)

Now, on the seriousness. 

There was an interesting post I found on Goodreads about this same topic. A reader asked the following questions:

1. Are there really such relationships that exist that are all fire and passion?
2. Or is this simply a fantasy?
3. Is it wrong to compare your partner to the characters in these fictional romances?
4. Should the reader strive to be more like the characters?

Let's face if, we all love those alpha-males. They are sexy, comfortable with their man-self. They are bossy, super sexy, sometimes rich, they know what they want and how to get it. They are sexy. But like a poster said on the Goodreads forum: "Picture what living with a man like this would be like 24/7. I would want to punch him in the face." 

Yup, that about sums it up. 

The same can be said for other heroes. I mean, could you live with Christian Grey? Or some mushy character? 

Sure, there are relationship that exist that have fire and passion. But if you've been with a man for any length of time (either married or what-not) you know that it takes work. Nothing is as easy as romance novels. Sure, they have up and downs, but the purpose of them is to have a good ending. We KNOW that our lives aren't like that. Well, at least I hope you know. 

Romance is fantasy. There are not real life playboys-turned-to-good boys, cowboys who know how to waltz and fine-dine you, business men who would rather spend a passionate day on the boat instead of working. 

Now wait before you get all up in my face about there really being people out their like this. Because somewhere, I'm sure there are. However, the chances of any romance reader finding him and reeling him in is SLIM to NONE. 

It is also wrong to compare your partner to anyone in a romance novel. Every person on the face of this planet is different. No two people act alike, think alike, respond alike, dream alike, etc. If you think you can get your hubs to act like one of the dudes in the Black Dagger Brother series or any other book, good luck with that. You'll have a better chance of getting run over by a train while chasing down the ice cream truck. 

Here's the thing though. We, as women, wish we could have what's in these books. Those of us grounded to reality know the books aren't real. The situations aren't real. The men, for SURE, aren't real. And we as women have to remember that to get what we want (or need) we have to ask. 

Men can't read our minds. Men don't understand why we do what we do. Hell, we are the most confusing thing in the world to men. Our relationships will be what we make them. So if we lash out at our partner, they will lash back. If we cuddle and caress and love like we should, the partner will do the same. It's human nature. 

So, if your head is down here on earth with the rest of us, romance novels shouldn't have a negative effect on your relationship. If anything, it should help you understand some of the tinkerings of the opposite sex. And if you read a good romance, it might liven up the bedroom action.

And if your head is in space, deflate it ASAP and come back down to join the rest of us. 

Romance makes us feel good. We can take that feeling and put it into our lives. But we can't take the stories (and people) and make them part of our lives. 

Happy Monday all! 


Worst Marketing Idea Ever--courtesy of my mother

We all live in the world of marketing. It's a digital age where people are glued to their phones 24/7 and you can't have a decent conversation or watch the news without something interrupting you.

SOMEONE is always trying to sell us SOMETHING. And it's generally a digital device.

I'm a writer, so I'm in the business of marketing myself. I don't do a very good job at it. I just like to hang around on the interwebs, blog, tweet every once and a while and write. I'm not some sort of a marketing genius. And god knows I don't write the kind of books that fly off the shelves. And I'm ok with that.

When my very first book came out, way back in 2012, my family was super stoked. I mean, obvs. It was a BIG deal.

My mother was especially stoked. She literally came up with every idea she could do market me.

"Let's send Oprah a copy of your book! Then she'll read it and put it in her book club."

Um...yeah, no. It doesn't work like that, ma.

"Send it to Ellen! She'll love it and tell her peeps about it."

Errr. Ellen really doesn't look like the romance type. And my book isn't funny. And again, it doesn't work like that, ma.

"Send it to Princess Kate! Your book is about a Dutchess, after all!"

Okay, I did actually let my mother do this. And I actually did get a response back FROM THE PALACE. I'm not kidding. A legit letter from the Princess's assistant or what-not thanking me (well, my mother) for sending her a copy of my book and how thoughtful it was. No word if she actually read it. Or liked it. I doubt it on both counts. Either way, it was legit. I framed it.

"We can put giant magnets with your books on the side of our cars."

Whoa. No. So I can look like an insurance salesman?

But my favorite worst idea she had:

PUTTING MY FACE ON A BILLBOARD. IN MY HOMETOWN. WHERE I STILL LIVE. It's not a big town, folks. And it wouldn't sell books. People here would be like, "WTH is JD doing with those racy pictures on the side of Sawmill Road?"

Just picture it:

Yup. No. Just no.

So, thanks, Mom. I love you. I know you were trying to help. PR Maven and all that. Makes me love you even more, trying to help your little girl succeed in this world of unknowns. But these ideas just ain't for me. Love ya' anyway, though. <3 nbsp="" p="">

Ode to NaNo: NaNo, Oh, NaNo


NaNo, Oh, NaNo, how you displease me so
I plot, try, type, and die
Words twist, spin, fly 
Weaving dangerously
Strangle me in my sleep
I make no sense, 
My eyes, they weep
My brain, it seeps
Not for the faint of heart
Strength required to hit your mark
Make it to the end
Sanity still your friend
You shall rejoice
30 days
Writers, write! 

I did not NaNo this year, my friends. As a matter of fact, I haven't NaNo in three years. I've only done it twice. The first year I won (and finished and published a book!). The second year I failed miserably. Perhaps next year when I get my life together I'll give another shot. 

Here's my cheers to all of you in the darks depths of NaNoWriMo--GO GET 'EM! 

Also, happy Friday the 13th. 

I'm a storyteller, not a writer #PROUD #TRUTH

That's right. I'll admit it.

I'm a storyteller--not a writer.

There's a difference you ask? Yes, according to many people there is (Nathan Bransford, publishing interns, the Shark, to just name a few). And according to the same people, you must be good at both in order to become successful in this business.


That's a difficult statement to handle, isn't it? While it may be true you need to be good at both be SUCCESSFUL, not all of us are chasing down this dream for fame and money. I'm sure the hell not.

A long time ago, an intern on twitter posted the following:

"If you don't have background in writing--don't write."

Grrr.....SUCK IT, is what I wanted to say. And then I took a few deep breaths, collected myself and went on my merry way. Then I heard someone just not too long ago say the exact same thing. Let me make something clear:

First, let's talk about the difference between storytelling and writing. Obviously, storytelling is when you tell a great story. To people, to friends, in a funny notebook you carry around. You make people smile, laugh, and you add all sorts of great details that makes the original story even better. You're a natural entertainer. Wikipedia defines storytelling as: is the conveying of events in words, images and sounds often by improvisation or embellishment.

YEAH, that's totally me.

"Writing" is when you know all that "other" stuff: grammar, tenses--all the jargon about the English language. Wikipedia says writing is: writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols.

Jeez, that sounds lame and boring. 

Then you have all the other "writer" stuff: plots, tension, character delineation, backstory, turning points, plot layers, subplots, personal stakes, reversing motives, character dimensions, blah, blah, blah. This stuff is NOT lame and boring, but please note: all these things can be LEARNED.

Before I knew anything (and I do mean anything) about "writing"--I wrote. I'm secure enough to admit the first few things I wrote were utter crap.  But does that mean I shouldn't have done it? Hell no! It made me happy. I was pursuing a passion. I had zero pursuit to be published, zero need to be famous, I just wanted to feel the joy of creating and weaving a beautiful story that meant something to ME. And that's what all of you should be doing. If you're in this business to get famous--find another gig. Period.

The fact remains: not every novelists has a background in English. Not every author has taken a creative writing class. Not every best seller has a "background" in writing. I even did a little research. There a MANY novelists (famous and not) who didn't even go to college. There are some are who went to college, but not for writing/english. There are even a few high school dropouts.

And you know what? I'd rather be storyteller any day of the week. I can throw. It. Down. I don't care if you wipe pigeon butts 24/7 and don't know the different between Pride and Prejudice and To Kill a Mockingbird. If you want to write a book, do it. Don't let anyone stop you.  Freakin' write a book! Now, if you want to get published...well that's a whole 'nother issue. But don't let anyone stand in the way of what you want to do.


Speaking of not letting anyone stand in the way of what I do, my three romance books have been re-published today! I got the right backs earlier this year, and I'm proud to see my books back on the shelf. I'm not having a party or blogfest or giveaway. If you want to share you can. Or not. You can find them them here.