Category Archives: AHA moments

Calisa Rhose presents ~ Writing Mystery by JoAnne Myers #writingmystery #freebooks


I’m turning over the Round Pen to mystery writer, JoAnne Myers. She’s got some tips on how to write a mystery…which I need right about now, so I’ll be over here in my corner paying close attention. 🙂

Writing Mystery

Before writing a word, take some time to jot down key story points. As you’re writing, the story will want to take on a life of its own. Having a handy reference of key points will help keep your story on track and you from pulling your hair out. A list of key points is also helpful when outlining the story plot. (CR- If you’re a pantser this can also be useful.) You may very well find that the story begins to unfold as you’re writing down the key points. If this happens…let it! Write down any ideas or details that come to you, they’ll come in handy later.

Some key points to consider are;


Calisa Rhose announces ~ Risk Factors is back! #rerelease #amazon #kensington-lyricaldigital

Great news for fans. As you may have heard (I was pretty vocal 🙂 ) in January my small epublisher, Lyrical Press, Inc., sold to Kensington Publishing as the new digital imprint. Some of my LPI sisters’ books have been released for weeks, while some, like myself, have taken a little longer. There has been a few months of new contracts and re-releases. I’ve been waiting somewhat impatiently for Risk Factors to come back to life. Well…

Today is the day! Actually, yesterday was, but I found it today–and I’m super excited! I’ll be putting together a re-release mini blog tour this month and I hope to see you there.

I have to tell ya’ll, not having my baby up there, not knowing when I’d see it’s beautiful ‘face’ again somewhere other than on the background of my laptop was a bit discomboobalating for me. I was a published author without a book. LOL But now… It’s a relief to know when you google my name or book it’s there again. 🙂

Please go check it out if you haven’t. Oh- and great news for you, it’s at a new, lower price at just $2.99! Here’s a refresher of Risk Factors:

Title: Risk Factors

Publisher: Kensington-Lyrical Press Digital Imprint

Editor: Piper Denna

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: Steamy sensual

Pages: 149

Length: 56,056

Publication: March 4, 2013 (re-release) 2014

Cover artist: Valerie Tibbs


Love, like life, is not without risk.

Veterinarian Vivian Dane has purchased her uncle’s practice in the tiny town of Wales, Missouri, where most residents still doubt her ability to treat their pets. But Viv is used to being considered less-worthy than her predecessors. After all, her parents are world-renowned wildlife vets, and most everyone is unimpressed she’s chosen to not follow directly in their footsteps.

Now Connor, a patient’s owner, is hot for Viv, but clearly doesn’t think she’s dating material because he has a daughter…who he believes no woman is good enough for. Being a perfect dad is EMT paramedic Connor’s life focus. He can’t seem to stay away from sexy Doctor Viv, but attraction is as far as he’ll ever let it go. His mother abandoned him, leaving him to be raised in the foster system, and then his wife abandoned both him and their daughter.

He absolutely will not risk bringing another woman into his little girl’s life and having her feel the hurt of being left…again. Forfeiting is easier than attempting and failing. So why does Viv feel compelled to prove she’s a sure bet for Connor and his daughter? Can Connor trust Viv–and himself–enough to play the possibilities?


Viv’s smile and throaty laughter burrowed deeper by the second, mutating into hot want that seemed to draw him to her at every opportunity. But her invitation shook him back to level ground. Dinner. With her. Vivian Dane, the woman who seemed to freely access his dreams lately, was asking him out. Her voice fell to a low smoky grade that slid like satin over him, tightening around his chest, making it hard to breathe. He wanted to kiss her. Period. There was something about her in the lab coat he couldn’t put his finger on. She appeared so fragile and delicate in pink that matched her lips…china doll perfect. Kissable. He opened his mouth to refuse. He couldn’t afford to get close to anyone, wouldn’t risk Janna. He knew his daughter already liked the vet, had said so. If he got involved and it all nosedived south, he couldn’t stand to have Janna hurt. Even if she didn’t know it, Viv was their veterinarian now and he’d have to see her, Jelly Bean would notice the tension– “Connor?” “I’d like that.”


Right now RF is only available on Amazon, but as soon as it’s back up on other venues I’ll post those links on the Bookshelf page (accessible by clicking on the cover here). Until then, feel free to use the direct link below for the available NOW copy.


Calisa Rhose has fun with Melissa Snark

Truth of a blogger ~ Calisa Rhose

Too close to my own dirt


I was looking around the bathroom this morning and realized I need to give it a deep scrub. It’s the one most neglected room in my house I think. LOL Yes, I need to bleach the tub and scrub the floor. And those kiddie smears of only-God-knows-what around the knobs? Gotta go.BathroomMess

It got me thinking about my writing and the responses we authors often encounter to our ‘babies’ tossed out into the world to sink or swim. They are only as presentable as we make them.

Back to cleaning house. Why haven’t I noticed the hand grime before? Why haven’t I seen, and picked up, those scattered hair ties the ‘kid’ has strewn around the toilet (normally kept in a container on the rack above the throne)? How could I not have seen the stain ringing the tub–from a kid who loves the outdoors more than washing the outdoors off–before that moment? Ewwww.

The answer is easy. It’s my dirt, my mess, my bathroom. It’s not crusty and gross. The toilet is clean, the sink only has a couple of toothpaste smears today (as opposed to covered in the sticky goop) and I can see myself in the mirror (I only have to tilt slightly right, instead of doing the bob and duck to see around specks and spots). I mean, honestly, it’s looked a LOT worse. It’s clean enough to me as I gather the left over towels and clothes left behind by a kid in a hurry to go play for just another half hour before bed.

It’s my mess.

Have you ever gone to someone’s house and noticed these same things (maybe not the tub ring and probably not as bad as my own–have I mentioned that I hate house work) and wanted to clean the smudge or speck for them? I have. Yet, I don’t see the same thing in my house, which I look at daily, hourly.

AnimBroomSo how does house cleaning tie into writing? Well, we write a book, it may take weeks, months, or in many cases, years of struggle and sweat, but we finish. Whew! Then it’s time to shop the baby. Find that perfect publishing home for it. Right?

Wrong. It’s now time to clean house. Scrub all those bad spots out, wash the smudgy areas so they shine, wipe away the rings we thought should stay, but honestly it’s better off without, and polish the whole thing.

We often set it aside thinking that will make it look better, or to allow us to distance ourselves from the clutter so we can make sense of it later. But left too long it will grow mold or rot to oblivion. Usually it gathers dust at the least.

How many wips have you written, only to set aside and never look at again? Shove those under the bed…let’s face it–some of those really don’t belong under the bed, some actually belong in a bag gracing the garbage can (but I didn’t say that–as I peer at all the ‘bunnies’ hiding under my bed).

Okay, so for this we won’t go there…

We pull that baby out and clean it up. We might even clean it two or three times. This is called editing.

Sometimes we pull them out, wipe the dust off and think they are miraculously all fixed. Wa-la. We didn’t need to do nearly as much as we thought we would to make it all spiffy and pretty. We’re just that good of a writer. They have steeped long enough to have rearranged those poorly written areas without us, and all we need to do is mail it out and watch it flourish.

Wrong again. THAT NEVER HAPPENS! Don’t fool yourself and set yourself up for rejection.

Take another look at it and I’m sure you’ll find something to correct, something to add a better word to, something–

TeamworkBetter yet, have someone else take a look at it. It often takes teamwork to dig deep into those cracks and crevices.

Let someone else walk into your house and see what you can’t. Have them point those smudges out to you, not clean them for you. You won’t learn to recognize those dirt specks if you do. No…that green spot is not part of the wall paper. No, your cabinets didn’t come with blue speckles all over them. It’s more likely toothpaste spatter.

I had an epiphany while staring at my dirty bathroom this morning.Idea

I’m too comfortable in my house, and no, that’s not a bad thing, it’s a fact. I can clean my house, pick up the laundry, do the dishes. I can clean my own house. But it often takes an outsider, an unbiased eye to notice the little things I can’t see in my own writing.

I’m too close to the dirt to see the mess.

I challenge you to look around your clean house. Really look at it as a visitor might having seen it for a first time. What do you see that you never noticed until you read this post?

Don’t tell me.

Go get your wip out and look at it as if it isn’t yours. Now…what do you see?

Go forth my grasshoppers (you probably won’t know what that means unless you had dinosaurs for pets). Edit.

I’m going to clean a bathroom.


Are you out there? I don’t mean aliens or insanity!


I said I’d blog about platforms so here we are. Welcome! Thank you all for the great response to the earlier post about Social Media. I hope you get something from this post, as well.

What is an author platform and do I need one?

I hadn’t even heard of this terminology until last year. What is an author platform? It’s basically who you are as a writer and how you plan to put yourself out there for sale.

So let’s break it down. I’ve called on some experts for this.

Jane Friedman, the web editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review says what a platform IS:

  • Visibility. Who knows you? Who is aware of your work? Where does your work regularly appear? How many people see it? How does it spread? Where does it spread? What communities are you a part of? Who do you influence? Where do you make waves?
  • Authority. What’s your credibility? What are your credentials? (This is particularly important for nonfiction writers; it is less important for fiction writers, though it can play a role. Just take a look at any graduate of the Iowa MFA program.)
  • Proven reach. It’s not enough to SAY you have visibility. You have to show where you make an impact and give proof of engagement. This could be quantitative evidence (e.g., size of your e-mail newsletter list, website traffic, blog comments) or qualitative evidence (high-profile reviews, testimonials from A-listers in your genre).
  • Target audience. You should be visible to the most receptive or appropriate audience for the work you’re trying to sell. For instance: If you have visibility, authority, and proven reach to orthodontists, that probably won’t be helpful if you’re marketing vampire fiction (unless perhaps you’re writing about a vampire orthodontist who repairs crooked vampire fangs?).

and what platform is NOT:

  • It is not about self-promotion.
  • It is not about hard selling.
  • It is not about annoying people.
  • It is not about being an extrovert.

(For more of this NOT list and the full article, follow the link in Jane’s name above)

Not sure yet? Already have a fail-safe platform? Is your platform current?

I discovered, like the publishing industry, your platform changes, needs to be updated as times change what we think we know.

Alan Rinzler is a consulting editor who says how to build platforms:

So whoever you are and however great you think your platform is, if it’s not new, it may be only as good as yesterday’s publishing standards. 🙂

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’ll be doing a major overhaul on my blog and website. This is why. I don’t write erotic or m/m so why do I showcase those wonderful writers who do? Why do I host books on subject matter I don’t write about? Well, my reason is easy. Friendship. I want to support and help my friends promote their talent. But does helping those authors of genres/topics I don’t write help me? Or could it be hurting my own platform? Am I doing more damage than good by putting content on my blog that I don’t write, no matter how much I enjoy it?

Let’s face it– I’m only here because I’m a writer trying to sell my own wares. So are you. Right? Writing, publishing, is business and I’m a business woman. I mean, stores don’t post competitors sales just because they like them or want to see them succeed. By the same token one publisher won’t publicize another. It would put that store/publisher out of business after a while of sending all their customers across the street where prices are better. No, instead, they use those competitors prices to showcase their own better bargains!

So…how can we, as authors and business people, use that platform to help ourselves and each other? Because we all know authors are the greatest supporters of our own competitors IN THE WORLD!!!!! 😀 Can I get an AMEN?

I think we writers can better strengthen our own platforms by showcasing others’ books in the same genre and subgenre, and even content matter (to some extent), and publishing houses by hosting those talented people in our cyber homes. I also think we can do ourselves justice by sharing genres we don’t write, and by publishers we don’t write for. So what to do?

Well, the same store who uses prices to beat out the competition? He advertises clearly what he sells, but his employees (this would be authors) allow the competitor’s customers to post sale items for sale in the windows.  No, that store doesn’t sell puppies, tractors, or horses, but their act of goodwill helps the community who does– and brings in more customers for their wares at the same time– with the secure knowledge those flyers will come down after a short time (usually).  As a writer that’s what I’m doing, allowing others to post their flyers (books) in my window (blog) for a short time, regardless of what my store (website) boasts I sell (write).

But, there is a reason my readers/followers are on my blog (I’m not talking about supportive friends of any and all genres here, because I know without a doubt why those lovelies are here). So, if I’m not giving my readers what they expect from my platform, can I expect them to come back? A better question might be, are “my” followers really mine? If not, then who am I really helping, and again, is that answer good or bad for my own author platform?

Or am I really fooling myself, and therefore, losing my own “target audience” who doesn’t read those other genres? Should I just put an age appropriate warning on my website to suit everyone? I don’t think that’s the answer. But I love helping friends promote their historical books, their ‘sexy’ books, and I don’t want to stop that support. So what will I do?

I’ll keep doing what I love to do…just in a different way.

I want to leave you with this article (note especially the part I underlined in the last line) by Strategic Marketer, Matthew Turner (aka Turndog Millionaire), and encourage you to read the full article if you are still unsure whether you do or don’t need a platform:

“Be the master of your own world and embrace your author platform like you would your story. Everything you create and do is part of it, and if you don’t like something, you have the power to change, or as I like to see it, evolve yourself.

You make the rules and should be damn proud of the ones you create.

So today’s burning question to share in comments is:

Do you have an author platform and is it current? If you don’t, why not? If you do, how does it help you as a writer?


Social media: When IS enough…enough?


I’ve been thinking about this post topic for several weeks; writing and what I write. It seems when I’m given free rein my writer’s brain turns off. Much the way my creative bone unhinges. Why? Heckifiknow!

But I have discovered new levels on Facebook that I didn’t pay attention to before. I’d love if you click my FB link on the right or just go here: Facebook While you’re at it and in the mood, why not follow me on Twitter too?

Yes. This is a problem for my writing. I caved and got a Triberr account. Not a huge thing, not a big time suck as I’d thought. You really don’t do much there in my opinion. Click a few (or twenty or fifty) buttons to approve blogs to fly into your cyber world to help others promote as they do the same for you.

When I joined my first Triberr group in early July it was a brand new group with maybe five members and reached 4K+ readers. That’s a lot of people gaining access to your blog who didn’t before, which means 4K people possibly checking out who you are on any given day. Cool!

I looked at my numbers today and had to smile. With six Tribes (that’s what Triberr calls each group you join), 70 combined members (not all are in every group so I reach various areas of newness with each Tribe), I couldn’t believe my little old blog now has the potential to be seen by 99,871 people! In ONE month! That number increases with each new member to any one of my tribes. Just WOW.

It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? But- does it really help, or am I just sucking those 5 minutes a day or week by participating on Triberr? Does it really help my blog, or anyone’s of whom I ‘Approve?’ There is no way that I can see to track stats for Triberr success other than to watch my blog stats and see if they improve over time, and which I’m horrible at because I just thought of this! 😆 (going to look now!)

72 Blog followers. Not bad, but I haven’t checked to see how my number compares to say…Nora Roberts, or Laura Kaye, Callie Hutton—or anyone else really. I don’t like to compare because it only serves to depress me. Lol  But how many of those followers are due to Triberr? I can’t say, any more than I can say for certain that X number of followers were gained from Twitter posts, Facebook or even word of mouth and how many are just the result of my awesomeness of blogging talent and uber-cool posts.

The raw fact is—I don’t know. I don’t really care either.

Is that bad?

Do I care that it’s bad? Not really. Why? Because, though blogging is important—in my writerly opinion, or I wouldn’t do it at all—it does not MAKE the writer. I actually researched this. Yes, really! As popular as Nora Roberts is—she does NOT blog! Oh, she has a website, but no blog. So how does she get her name out there you ask? How did she first start and become who she is today? My guess is that she concentrated all her efforts on writing kickass books and , I’m sure, for a big six publisher in a time when they did most of the publicity for her. Now, in a new age when authors are responsible for their own publicity, she doesn’t need to worry as much because she’s already got a huge following.

In my opinion, that is the key to real success.

Write, write and write some more. The more backlist, the more your name is out there, the more readers and fan following you’ll grow. That’s not to say you don’t need to promote—this is the age of self-promotion, there’s no way around that. But if you don’t have books to sell, what do you need followers, readers for? What is there to waste time promoting? That one short story you sold five years ago? Not likely. Again, depends on you.

The question I think we need to ask is how much is too much? Is there such a thing? I think there probably is and that doesn’t matter who you are or how you promote. If you spend all your time promoting that one book—when will you write the next book, or the one after that? And if you do manage to hiccup out another two books, will you spend all your new time promoting them for another three years before you realize it just might be time to write something new again?

I have come to the realization that you should only promote in increments each day or week, or even each month. I have also come to realize my own platform is what will probably help me most. I hope you’ll join me Friday with a part two of this vein of thought.

In the meantime, what about you? How much do you promote and do you see positive results? Enough to keep going even if it prevents productive writing? Are you promoting more than you write?

How do you balance social media and promotion with production?



Contest: HELP! I need an opening scene!


I’m in a rambling mood this morning, trying to transfer the mood to my WIP. Not happening so far, but the muse is tugging at me. You may know, or remember me blogging, about my cowboy story I began last September. It was prompted by an ALL CALL from Wild Rose Press for novellas to go into a new series, Honky Tonk Hearts–the first two of these releases this month! I read the word cowboy and my ears perked up, my muse’s ears perked. Why? Because at that time it had been more than a year since I’d been able to enjoy the smooth sex appeal and charm of a cowboy!

My last was Healing Whispers, Tanner Royal. How many remember him and Tobi Star? I got a request for the partial by an editor at Harlequin SE… What happened with that, you ask? Absolutely nothing. After nearly two years I’m still waiting to hear back on that submission. 😦 Email? Oh, I have…twice. No response is forthcoming so far, not even nearly a year after my second email. Try again? Maybe, or maybe I’ll just submit HW elsewhere. I like the sound of that. True, it wouldn’t be Harlequin, but does that really matter as long as a quality publisher prints my book? I don’t think so.

What does this peek into the dismal past have to do with my ramblings today? I’ll tell ya.

I was trying to sleep last night and as it happens, too often, my characters came to stretch out beside me. Pillow hogs, I tell ya’ll! So there we lay, Nick on my left, Haley on the right…she insisted to lie next to my hubby, not that I blame her. I’m trying to sleep, they want to gab. Typical.

Hero doesn’t think he’s cut out to be a sheriff and heroine doesn’t like how they meet up again after eight years. WTH???

He has to be in law enforcement and there’s already a built in Marshal in the series. That leaves the position of sheriff in Jasper, Tx open for Nick James. He finally concedes. Now he’s agreeing with Haley that how they meet for the first time needs to be more…monumental…memorable. And I agree. Damnit.

So rather than writing their new meeting, I’m writing this blog post. I have a very good reason for this though. It’s helping me. Yep. Blogging is helping me be creative and productive. See, I don’t have a clue how these two should meet now and I’m hoping I’ll have an epiphany as I blog about it. 🙂

Nope. Nothing coming to me so far. I am hoping to get this story finished by April’s end. Maybe ya’ll would like to chime in?

How would you like to see a hero and heroine, high school sweethearts, meet again after years apart, and a split that was less than mutual? Keep in mind that, though not a comedy writer, I do try to add a certain amount of light, tasteful humor in my books, so pretty much any scenario, even the outrageous, will be considered! And Haley is something of a sasspot.

I won’t be sitting here waiting for inspiration, or the winning entry, to strike. I’ll be moving forward from where I left off. 

I’ll announce the winner at the end of April and post the new beginning, along with the winner’s name, in the “Excerpts” section of my website (hover your cursor over The Corral tab) sometime in the future, once I incorporate it into the book. I’m thinking *when* BTTWWW is published I’ll give a free copy to the winner of this blog! 

So leave your suggestions in the comments, tell your friends&family/facebook/tweet/email the contest to help spread the word from now to April 30th and let’s have some fun!


>Where Does Your AHA! Moments Come From?


I’ve been thinking (dangerous, I know). It occurred to me that you can write and write for years, and love every word you scratch on paper (or computer) no matter how they turn out. I have stories I’ve written over the years, since I was fifteen or so, that I pull out every so often and read for fun. I love the premise and the characters of each and every one of those early efforts. I know those monstrosities wouldn’t even get past a fifth grader but would it be worth it to rewrite them? Not just no, but Heck No! I wouldn’t even try.
What I would try is to give the characters new life. Maybe take the general premise and character names and write a story that the two main characters will shine in. In thinking about that and how I would rather write just about anything right now that would keep me from the dreaded revisions of Perfect Doctor Viv, I realized something.
Rewriting an existing character to make him/her a live, shining embodiment of what they once were is exactly what these revisions are really all about. Taking Viv and Connor from who they are now- before revisions- and turning them into what I wish I could do to any other character in my queue of rubbish… that’s what this rewrite is equivalent to. I might as well stop wishing for one of those to work on because I know it’s not gonna happen. I’m in revision hell and until I can dig my way out, figure out what these two need, I can’t do anything about those other ‘promising’ characters. But I can’t seem to find what this story needs to survive. And then it hit me.
I tend to look at a glass as half full when I need to see it as half empty. Normally that is a good way to view something. But if what’s in the cup is too distasteful to swallow, why make it fuller than it is? Right? Right! In other words, I’m trying too hard.
So- here’s what I plan to do. I will turn that cup over. I’ll add the sweet ingredients necessary to create a palatable concoction. For example- if my hero isn’t heroic enough I don’t have to take him out and rebuild him. I can add some heroics and sweeten the pie. Heroine too sappy or wilty? Toughen her up. Make the hero fight for what he wants- even when he doesn’t know he wants her yet.
I watched ‘Life As We Know It’ last night with granddaughter. I enjoyed the movie immensely. Great plot, loveable characters. Heartache, anger, it ran the gamut of emotions all the way through. Never a dull moment. I found myself not only watching for enjoyment, but watching for ‘why’ I was enjoying the movie. It was a wonderful romance even though the first kiss didn’t come until somewhere in the last hour. But it was so well done that I didn’t even notice that until it happened!
These two met on a blind date set up by their best friends. He arrives to pick her up- an hour late. Then he offers her a helmet to ride the motorcycle he is picking her up on. Not gonna happen in the adorable black dress and four inch heels she’s wearing. She offers to drive them to a dinner he never made the promised reservations for- in her ‘toy’ SMARTCAR that he can barely get into. Then, before she starts the engine, he gets a phone call and sets up an after-date-booty call while she’s listening a foot away! Great tension, wonderful conflict. He’s a playboy and she’s been alone for three years without so much as a kiss from a man. He’s her first date in three years, but she’s not that desperate.
All the way through I kept thinking “These two like each other- really like, not just might.” Nothing really gave the impression, but I sensed it as the movie progressed. It wasn’t because they were getting closer and more lovey-dovey. In fact, there wasn’t really anything to make me think it in an obvious light. They fought at every event they were together at. He reminded me of my hubby- on his most irritable of days- all the way through. I wanted to kick him for her at times! But when he told her he loved her…I wasn’t caught by surprise because I already ‘knew’ it. How? I can’t explain without ruining the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it. It was just ‘there’. I just knew.
That is what I need for Viv and Connor. Not the constant combat maybe, but conflict to up the ante at every positive turn. And like the movie, there’s a child at the center- though in a very different aspect. But I have to find what makes these two work with and without the child, and why, so then I can build on that. That, even though they may not realize it, or the reader might not see it coming, the hero and heroine are falling in love so subtly and consistently that when it happens you just know without having to be told. That’s beautiful.
If you haven’t seen ‘Life As We Know It’- do. Watch it and enjoy. Is there a movie that filled you with a total AHA! Moment like this one did for me? One that showed you what you need to fix your ms into what you imagined it, no matter the genre, when you first began writing those two lovely characters? Did it really help you? I’d love to hear about your journey through rewrites and revisions. Or maybe it’s getting that story on ‘paper’ in the first place that you found a solution to something you were stuck on. Share. Really.

And for those I forgot to tell (color me lame for that lapse!)… please go here and see what I have to offer about revision letters and what to do with them. It could save your career!