Author of Adult & Young Adult Romance

Thursday, December 10, 2015

This Time of Year


This morning as I was having coffee and going through edits, I had the sudden thought of reading a medieval romance. "Why is that?" I suddenly wondered and sat there pondering the idea for several seconds, before I realized, "It's because we're close to Christmas." I'm a fan of ancient Christmas carols like Greensleeves, Adeste Fideles, and Gloria in Excelsis Deo. While these may not be necessarily considered medieval, they certainly make me think of castles bedecked in beautiful garland, carolers dressed in lovely shades of deep green and burgundy, and Wassail filling goblet after goblet.

So, what makes this time of year for each of us? For me, it's the music, the chill in the air and, yes, the happy feeling that red cup from Starbucks gives (filled with a nonfat gingerbread latte, of course). Red lips, warm coats, the flush in everyone's cheeks. Watching the UK YouTubers and their daily Vlogmases. Pancakes for dinner. Hot chocolate with loads of marshmallows. The sound of my mother's voice, telling me how everyone's doing down South. The comfort of sitting next to my husband every evening in the soft glow of tree lights, while our little one laughs.

I dearly hope each and every one of you is enjoying the holidays as much as I.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,





P.S. I'm on the lookout for a juicy medieval romance! Let me know your suggestions!
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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Toxic


I’m a chick who’s unashamed of her past. Bad or good. Better or worse. The experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met, they’re the reason I am who I am now. They’ve shaped me, changed the way I think, taught me the value of appreciation.

Those are awesome occurrences, right? Clicking with someone as if you’re merely two pieces of a puzzle, predestined to connect and match and make a better, bigger picture? Finding that kind of common bond with another human being is not easy. But you know, without a doubt, when the connection happens. Suddenly you want them to succeed. You’re happy about everything great that arrives at their life’s door. Their success, it seems, is yours, and you’re their biggest cheerleader. To be the fan-girl rooting from the corner of their ring comes as involuntarily as breathing.

And then something changes. You can’t really pinpoint what this mysterious something is, but it’s as real as the hand attached to your arm. The friendship feels different, as if the hefty, sturdy garment it once was has become frayed and underappreciated. Either you don’t talk anymore, or you’re the one doing all the talking. The puzzle pieces have split in two.

What now?

I wish I had the answer. As an author, I tend to use life’s experiences as ammunition for a story. But I’ve never had a chink this deep in my armor. Is it repairable? Probably. Will it take time? Doubtless. When you’re no longer part of someone’s life in which you’ve invested a magnanimous amount of time and effort, to walk away feels like cannonballs are chained to both feet.

I share this with you, because I do believe in using the past to better the person you are today; the person you stand to become. Resentment is wasteful. Hate is inconceivable. George Orwell once said, “Happiness can exist only in acceptance,” and as optimists on a path to success, it’s my opinion we must try our best to… how does the other saying go? Accept the things we cannot change, have the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

The writer in me feels compelled to add, however, that regardless of what we can and cannot change, we can always show up at the page.

And that’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


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Sunday, June 28, 2015

5 Methods to Staying Inspired


So, I'm the worst at starting a project and seeing it through 'til the end. The three novels I've published took time, dedication, putting down and picking up, forcing myself to write no matter what, and staying focused longer than I really wanted to. Novel writing is no easy feat. Anyone who's ever written and sent that fresh baby out into the world knows the Struggle Was Real.

For me, there's ways to make that happen a little more smoothly. I'm not saying these will work for you, mind, but if you're stuck in a rut, anything's worth a shot, right?

1. Just Write. Don't outline. Don't worry about word choice, sentence structure, paragraph length, adding the right action to dialogue or, for that matter, obsessing over the flow and feel of that dialogue as if you're binding those pages tomorrow and slapping 'em on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. Get the story out of your head and onto the page. Don't look back. Save that for the editing process.

2. People Watch. This is a lot of fun and wonderfully easy. One of my favorite pastimes is to walk into a Starbucks, order my fave cup of coffee (Grande Non-Fat Misto or, if it's three-hundred degrees outside, a Grande Decaf Iced Caramel Macchiato), take a seat, and pretend as if I'm surfing on my laptop or reading. In all actuality, I'm listening. Watching. Observing the interaction between real, live people. It's actually a great practice to have your laptop or pen and paper handy, because you might just get inspired enough to jot down a few lines.

3. Read. This is a given, I know, but sometimes--a lot of times when you're attempting to write and juggle a day job and, perhaps, a family at home, taking time to read is like planning a vacation to Jamaica. It's a process and, well, the limited hours on the clock simply won't permit such a luxury. But you must read. The best time for me is just before bed, when all electronics are turned off, my face is washed and moisturized, teeth are brushed, and I'm in that zone of relaxation. This allows my brain to sink into the story, to leave behind whatever happened during the day, and to absorb words, story flow, and theme. Feed your writer's mind.

4. Create a WIP Soundtrack. This is, hands down, one of my favorite parts of getting inspired. Listen to lyrics, listen to rhythm. Get a nice mix going on and make that playlist on Spotify or, like I used to do, a disc or flash drive. This is the mix that will turn your mind to your characters, even when they've left you and, I don't know, started planning a trip to Jamaica. Get them back. Allow music to connect their lives, their wants and needs to your fingertips.

5. Connect with Other Writers/Authors. The moment I disconnect from the people who are going through the exact same struggle as me, the writer's drive begins to disintegrate. Stay in touch with other authors on social media, read their websites and blogs, meet up with your local writer's group for critique and brainstorming sessions. Uplift one another to success. These are the faces and minds who will always understand you, who know what it's like to have a story pester and eat at you 'til it's finally given life on the page.

I hope these tips were helpful and inspiring. Remember, in the words of the great Louis L'Amour, "Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow, until the faucet is turned on."

Peace, Love & Junior Mints,

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Great Minds


"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

Found this quote today on Pinterest and, I have to say, it gave me pause. Funny how some things do that, right? For me, it's a rare occasion. I'm not so sure that's a good thing, either, but there it is. This quote made me think. Each section, I dissected, meditated over, asked myself, "Is this you?" Because of course we all wanna be that first bit of beauty, right? Great minds discuss ideas. What an incredible idea.

This is a short post, but I thought I'd challenge each of you as, after allowing this quote to bounce around in my head for a good half hour, I challenged myself: Be a great mind. Discuss ideas with others. Events? OK, that's going to happen. I personally find it near impossible to live in America and refrain from talking about the latest high-profile trial or why everyone's ticked off at the government or why our schools need serious revamping or what Kim Kardashian's wearing.

All right, that last one's not true.

Back on track.

The final portion of Eleanor's wise quote, well, I'm guilty as charged. Really, who isn't? Here's the thing about that, though: if you must talk about people, say something nice. We're all on this planet together. One of my favorite quotes of all time came from John F. Kennedy: "For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inherit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's futures, and we are all mortal." I've been saying that quote aloud to myself since I was a teenager, no lie. Because sometimes you need to remember the simplicity of existence on this planet.

So, let's discuss ideas with one another. Whether you're me and eager to brainstorm your next novel or, better yet, your critique partner's, or you're coming up with ways to improve your community, do it. Be that person. Share ideas. Listen to other people's. Let's be better human beings.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,





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Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday is 4 Dreaming

This Friday's a Fabulous Friday, because I've been throwin' it back all week long. Work's been one of the worst weeks in Work History. The kid's been sick. It's raining as if we Louisiana folk are about to live up to our destiny and become the next Atlantis. As a writer, I don't know about you, but I'm constantly trying to figure out how to recapture that passion I had for the craft as a teenager. Stress, like that of this week, tends to wanna smother that. I mean, let's face it. Adult stress far outweighs teenage stress. At least, for most, it does.

But teenage passion cannot be denied. And for me? I wrote as if my life depended on it back then. Couldn't wait to get home from school, so I could write. Couldn't wait for the weekend, so I could slumber at my BFFs house, so we BOTH could write.

Her mom worried constantly if we were getting enough to eat. And, bless that woman's heart, she took a lot of dismissals with the mere flick of our hands.

So, yeah. Recapturing the passion. As you know, music is a big part of my writing process. It is now, just as it was then. The playlist was different, mind you; I was into a lot of different genres, including popular 90's grunge rock. But when this particular song showed up on my Spotify feed yesterday, I stopped immediately. Leaned back in my chair. Closed my eyes. And allowed myself to be sixteen again, when I wrote about princes and princesses and their wild plot-lines.

Have a great weekend, y'all.



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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Searching For: Time 2 Write

I can't even take credit for this post. As most of you know, I'm a fashion fanatic. Makeup, clothes, shoes, purses... you name it, I'm all over it. I follow a lot of fashion bloggers and vloggers via Blogger, Bloglovin' and YouTube and, today, I stumbled upon a blog post that intrigued me so, I had to share.

Sarah from Venus Trapped in Mars entitled this fabulous post, 7 Tips for Balance a Blog + A Full Time Job.

Sarah's from Dallas, so I instantly connected to the Southern chick attempting to juggle several projects at once -- on top of having a full time job. It's hard, isn't it? I work for a flock of fast-paced lawyers. Like the ship in Spaceballs, they move in three speeds: light, ridiculous, and ludicrous. My BFF? She's a full time mom who juggles multiple manuscripts, at once. No matter who you are, where you are, or what you do, most of us writers have some other force occupying the majority of our time. Writing, unfortunately, takes a back seat more often than not.

If you're like me, though, you dream of seeing your writing income equal or exceed your day job income. Because you know what happens then...

Right.

While Sarah's post is more driven toward professional bloggers, I think she's laid out some great tips for any struggling artist who still works a full time job.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Reading What She Likes



Hubby's got a special passion for country music. I mean, I do, too; my dad was a country music disc jockey for years upon years upon years, before he moved to television and film. But Hubby? Blasts the stuff all the time. So, it's no surprise that when he was listening to Blake Shelton, crooning in his beautiful alto about doin' what she likes, I sang my own version: "readin' what she liiiiikes."

I know.

It's totally nerdy.

Hubby thought so, too.

But in that same breath, I got to thinking about all the books I read when I'm writing. I kind of have a method to the craziness. Really, doesn't everybody, regardless of what your particular craziness is?

I kick it off with Lisa Kleypas. She's a great go-to for any historical writer. Then I toss in a little Julia Quinn. Sprinkle a dash of Eloisa James. Yeah, yeah... you're thinking: Alyssia, you JUST said in, like, two posts ago that you don't read people who could possibly influence your own writing.

You're right!

But!

In the beginning stages, I possess this weird need to build my confidence. And these girls? Yeah. They're the reason I said years ago, "That's it. I'm writing historical." They're that good. Something about reading what I've already read and LOVE makes me feel like the Little Engine that Could...

I think I can I think I can I think I can...

So, that's what I'm doing right now. Building confidence. And whenever I lose it in the midst of writing, because it WILL happen (always does), I read Janet Mullany. Very carefully, I must add, because, as you all know, she's my favorite and her work will filter into my own. 

What builds your confidence to do what you love most? Do you need a confidence builder? Or are you just naturally awesome? If so, send some awesomeness this way!

By the way, you can check out all of my favorite historical chicks by clicking on the links below:




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Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Moody Weekend

Obviously this is late. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share a wee bit of a throwback to my past. Recently, one of my co-workers and I were discussing music. See, she's a musician, too. And musicians, well, they have this universal love for all music genres. So, we're discussing a few of our tastes, composers, great songwriters, artists with buttercream voices and, out of nowhere, she says, "You know who I've always loved? The Moody Blues."

Get. Out. Of. Town.

Anyone who knows me just said, "Oh, boy. Here we go." 

Because they know the magnitude of the passion this chick has for The Moody Blues. It's endless, OK? Deeper than deep. Wider than wide. Like... double infinity. Times fifty. I wrote to them when I was a teenager. Dreamed up scenes and dialogue and allowed their lyrics to influence nearly everything that flowed from the tip of my pen to that college-ruled sheet of paper.

So, it's no surprise those innocently spoken words--clearly my co-worker and I are musical soul mates--got The Moody Blues back onto my Spotify playlist. 

Enjoy.



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Monday, January 12, 2015

Researching the Novel


Many people have asked how I go about digging up the necessities to a story. Do I research before? During? And what am I looking for? Do I ever decide it's too much and move on to something else?

There's a billion questions, all of which have a different answer, depending upon what I'm writing (novel, short story, article, legal memo, et cetera). 

But, for the most part, for the full length novel, I stick to a basic plan, regardless of what genre I aim to tackle. Now, remember, I'm not saying this is the right way or the only way. It's just, quite simply, my way. And it works for me. So, here we go.

1. Allowing the story to develop in my head. This sits at #1 for a reason, because everything that follows still leads back to #1. Stories usually begin in my head with a little flame, a flicker of an idea. They happen at random. Maybe I'm watching a movie, maybe it's a song (this occurs a lot), or perhaps it's owing to some event happening in someone's real life (yes, I pay attention to what you say... you have been warned). From there, I feed the idea. Give it a little boost. Which leads to...

2. Listening to music that inspires. Interesting enough, some--SOME--music works across the board. Writers, if you use music for inspiration, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's Not Over by Daughtry is one of those songs for me. Makes the cut to every book soundtrack. Otherwise, it just depends on rhythm, harmony, notes, key, and the way all that melds together, and THEN how it leads the story churning around in my head. I keep a working playlist on Spotify that stays on random/repeat wherever I go. For this current WIP, you'll notice what's building characters and plot by what I post each Friday.

3. Scanning for pictures that create... well... the right picture. Yesterday, I spent an hour looking up photos of Berkeley Square in Westminster. Why? A fair bulk of my current story takes place there. I keep a folder within the manuscript folder specifically for pictures. In it, you'll find landscapes, buildings, faces (very important), costumes, and, sometimes, even animals. Whenever I need a refresher, I go to my picture folder. Whenever I need to be reminded of setting, I go to my picture folder. Yes, folks, a large amount of what a writer does is handed over to imagination. But sometimes we need a little help. :)

4. Reading the genre. This is pretty self-explanatory. If I'm writing historical, I'm reading current historicals. It's important to remind yourself what's out there, what's selling, what you're up against. In that same breath, however, I try to stay away from authors whose prose influences mine way too much. For me, Janet Mullany, Julia Quinn, and Julie Anne Long make the top of this list. Any of those marvelous ladies' work will (unintentionally, of course) bleed over into mine, if I'm not careful. 

5. Compiling a research folder on my online bookmarks bar. By the end of a novel, this folder will be full. Latin translator, Google maps, historical accounts and letters, Wikipedia pages (but be careful with these!), recipes, fashion plates, historical indexes, and the list goes on and on. I put it at the forefront and add to throughout the course of the novel. If, for the sake of accuracy, a scene requires me to stop and research, I always, always save that page to the folder. 

For certain. there's more to the process, but these are some of the most important assets to my personal writing process. Hope you enjoyed reading. Have a great day!

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday Grammar Lesson

This Friday's a great Friday, because I've discovered London Grammar.

Oh, did you think this was a real grammar lesson? 

Bless your whole heart. 

Let's leave the learnin' behind us for the week, shall we? And maybe do a little fun learning about this great band from Nottingham. They're who's currently inspiring Le Muse.

Have a great weekend, loves.


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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

GMC: What's It To Ya?


I'm not much on self-help manuals, but, like most writers, I do have a few sitting on my Keeper Shelf. Some stand out more than others. Some I reach for more often than others. Some I pick up and read before even daring to start another novel. 

This is the first.

A few years back, I had the extreme honor of participating in a Debra Dixon GMC workshop and, lemme tell ya, folks, it was life-changing. Novel-changing. Her method is extremely simple: the bare bones of every story world holds three crucial elements--Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. Without one, there is no other. Each character has a goal, motivation driving them toward that goal, and conflict attempting to stop them from reaching that goal. 

Don't make it complicated, now; it's easy to do. Just think about the stories you love the most. Then, apply those elements. They're there, regardless of the time, setting, genre, story arc, take your pick. GMC is what makes a good story, what drives characters to grow, what makes us satisfied as readers and watchers of exceptional novels, short stories, screenplays... the list goes on and on.

Coolest thing? This is now available on Kindle

You're welcome. 

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,
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Monday, January 5, 2015

Historical Interaction


So, this new novel I've got going on is set in Regency London. Happenin' place in the 19th century, in case you didn't know, and in case you did, well, did you know about this?


Up close and personal INTERACTIVE maps that take you all around this glorious city, its streets and shops and, yes, the famous gentlemen's clubs. Thank you, modern technology. Even if you don't write Regency or anything historical, for that matter, it's a fun time to play around and familiarize yourself with all the historic sites still standing after all these years.

Many thanks to the fabulous folks at janeaustensworld.wordpress.com for keeping us updated and informed on all things Jane Austen and, most especially, for immersing us in her glittery Regency world.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


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Friday, January 2, 2015

Friday Habits

So, it’s back to the Day Job today, and it’s raining cats and dogs outside, which totally makes me want to stay home and pick up where I left off at word 584. That’s right. You read it. I wrote over 500 words this morning—after staying up to watch the Buckeyes beat Bama ‘til the bitter end, no less. Now, that may not seem like a lot to some, 500+ words, but for a busy mom who has a very demanding job as a paralegal, that’s amazing on so many levels.

So, I’d say Resolution #1 is going well thus far.

Which leads me to Resolution #2: To make every Friday a great Friday by sharing my favorite YouTube video of the week, since… you know… I’m a YouTube junkie. To kick it off, I’ll share the song I’ve had on repeat for I-don’t-know-how-long, the very tune that, for whatever reason, inspires the heck outta Le Muse at present.


Ladies and gents, I give you Tove Lo, performing her current single, Habits

Have a great weekend!


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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!


Did you stay up? Really, now, don't lie. If you're a parent to a wee one, like me, and... like me... well-past your twenties, you probably fell asleep on the couch watching football. I don't even watch the New York City festivities anymore--how sad is that? 

So, this morning I got up, made coffee, checked my email, and immediately perused my YouTube subscriptions. Don't judge. Yes, I'm a YouTube junkie. But what really got me this morning was Bethany Mota -- yes, from Dancing with the Stars -- who made a NYE video chocked full of outfit and DIY ideas. It's the last part that really got me, though.

She said she always gets right on her goals as soon as the New Year begins. She doesn't wait. Doesn't giver herself a breather. There's no better time than the present, right?

Her enthusiasm really resonated with me, though, and I thought, "You need to write, girl. Not only on your manuscript (a given), but also on your webpage. And do both, like, frequently."

So, here's my first goal: write, work, research, something on the manuscript every single day. 

Boom. I said it. Phew. That wasn't so bad. And there's no let's see how well I stick with it. No sir-ee. It's do or die, man. Write every day. 

Write every day.

Every single day.

So, what's your first goal for 2015?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,
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