Posts tagged with: Diana Layne

Using My Kindle Fire to Proofread

After a three-year hiatus (the reasons why will be explained in another blog post), I had finally finished the next book in the Vista Security series, Edge of Trust, Vista Security book 3, which released in December 2015.  And I wanted to share the way I discovered that I think makes it much easier to proofread or do a little copy editing. A way that doesn’t include printing out hardcopy or staring cross-eyed at the computer screen for hours. And yes, I used it as well, on my upcoming release, Nia, Be Mine, a Vista Security prequel (coming soon, I promise!)

I have always made it a habit of reading my work aloud in the final polishing. But by this point, I’m thoroughly tired of the story (interpret that as: sick to death of it) and I find myself forgetting to read out loud and before I know it, I’m skimming.

Christian Suspense writer and friend Dale Amidei suggested a text to voice program, which sorry, I can’t remember what it was called. Dale, if you’re reading this, you can add what the name of the program is and the link to it in the comments. I checked it out but decided against it when I realized I would have to be sitting at the computer for hours more. I was tired of sitting at the computer. But while investigating this program it occurred to me I already had something like this—on my Kindle Fire! Maybe you already know this, but to me, it was practically revolutionary.

Okay, the chick (or dude, I think you can choose male or female), sounds kinda robotic, but to me, that makes it all the better because I have to pay attention and read along. And what is more cool about the Kindle Fire (and I’m betting most e-readers have this function) is that I can highlight typos and make notes.

Multi-Author Boxed Sets: The Hot New Thing?

Love on the Edge 3d final

Multi-author boxed sets, suddenly you are seeing them everywhere. Fabulous covers, full length stories, all genres . . . and all for a ridiculously low price. Here lately, most sets are only 99 cents (at least for part of the time)! What? That’s just crazy pricing, right! So what’s the advantage? The disadvantage?

Before we get to that, I have several of the authors of this hot new boxed set (blatant self-promo alert  😆 ) Love on the Edge: Nine Shades of Romantic Suspense here to tell us a bit about themselves for a fun interview! Learn about their writing process and how the boxed set came about.

Q: When you set out to write romance, did you know you wanted to be in the romantic suspense or romantic mystery realm?

Lori Ryan: No, not at all. I began with the intention of writing contemporary romance, and my work does fit that category, but there is always a little element of suspense now. As my work progresses, the suspense element is coming more to the forefront, but don’t worry, I always include the romance! Lots and lots of romance. I’m a sucker for a happy ending.

Pauline Baird Jones: I did not with my first book (The Spy Who Kissed Me), that was an “accidental” romantic suspense, but for sure with The Last Enemy. I knew going in that it would be a suspense story.It starts with the heroine in a safe house. And it begins with creepy and ramps up fast. Many things go wrong. Over and over again. There was a point where I wasn’t sure I knew how to get Dani out alive.

Amy Gamet: I enjoy many different genres. While my Love and Danger series is obviously romantic suspense, I’m currently working on a contemporary, small town romance.

Q: It seems as though you have to enter the mind of a killer at times in your books. Is this hard to do? Do you ever find it disturbing to do so?

Dale Mayer: Ha! So not difficult. I’m a single parent of 4 (evil grin) – it allows me to keep my sanity while working off my stress!

Wendy Ely: It’s a challenge that I look forward to doing when the story takes me there. My killers usually aren’t ‘that bad’ in the rough draft. When I go through the story again, I focus only on those sections to see how dark those characters can go. More often than not, these characters scare me.

Q: What are some of the most interesting things you’ve discovered when researching for your books?

Diana Layne: Interesting? How about many different ways to kill bad guys? (crazy cackle) I’ve also learned some darned scary things. I have a conspiracy theory suspense arc running through this first set of Vista Security books and wow . . . researching conspiracy theories sometimes had me hiding in the corner and sucking my thumb!

Kathryn Jane: The amazing physical entry requirements to get into the SEALs or Green Berets, or to become a PJ. I’m so looking forward to my trip to Lackland Air Force Base in a couple of weeks where I’ll learn Combat Controller Pararescue, Special Operations Weather, Tactical Air Control, and the training of Combat Dogs.          

Lori Ryan: That you can contact the FBI for information and help! The agent I worked with for one of my books was fantastic. Someday, I’ll write something more in depth about an FBI Agent just to get to experience that on a bigger scale.

Q: Romantic suspense books have to straddle two genres, keeping the romantic tension between a hero and heroine alive but also ensuring there are enough twists to the plot to keep readers engaged in the suspense. How do you come up with your plots? Do they change as you progress through the manuscript?

Marie-Nicole Ryan: My plots come from everywhere: news articles, chance comments, or even dreams. Balancing the romantic tension with the suspense element is the most difficult part of my writing process, and I’m not always sure I succeed. Some stories evolve with a greater focus on the romance, and sometimes, the suspense/mystery element takes over. Yet I can’t seem to come up with a straight romance that doesn’t contain a suspense element. They do tend to change since I start with a general idea. I spend more time focusing on the characters which helps me determine where the plot will go more than outlining or plotting.

Margaret Taylor: My plots change constantly and most of the time it’s because my brain goes, “ohhhhhhhh, that’s evil even for me!” The trick I’ve found over the many years I’ve been writing is to just let the characters tell me what’s going on – either in their lives as they try to counter whatever the bad guy has done or when the bad guy decides to ‘react’ to whatever the good guys do to thwart him.

Q: What do you hope your readers come away from one of your books feeling? Is there something you strive for as a writer?

Pauline Baird-Jones: I want them to have a wild ride through the suspense and the romance. I hope they reach the end feeling satisfied and wishing the book wasn’t over yet. It was that feeling of “oh darn, this book is over” that drove me to write books.

Margaret Taylor: Well, I hope they come away feeling whatever the characters have been feeling throughout the book. Did they laugh and cheer when the good guys win? Did they cry when the good guys cried? Did they mourn the loss of a character or the character’s dog? If they do, I’ve done it right.

Q: You’ve got a boxed set of some of the best romantic suspense authors out there. Can you tell us a little about how this project began? Maybe share a little about the benefits of a boxed set and the challenges:

Wendy Ely: I was part of another boxed set last year (organized by Amy Gamet) and decided to organize one myself. After putting a call out for romantic suspense authors, it took me days to pick the people I wanted to work with the most.

One of the biggest benefits of a boxed set are the readers. I’ve met so many new people through my fellow boxed set authors. The challenge is getting all of the authors to agree on things for the set. The cover art is the biggest issue to overcome!

Amy Gamet: Wendy Ely brought this boxed set together. She was in another boxed set that I put together, which is how we know each other. She really gathered a great group of people and I’m happy to be a part of this set. I know my readers enjoy getting to know other authors, and together we can reach a much larger audience than we can reach individually.

Q: Self-publishing is now very easy to do, but it’s not so easy to make it out there in the self-published world. Can you tell us some of the things that worked for you guys as indie-authors?

Diana Layne: What has helped me more than anything, dare I say it? Being in Amazon Select. Granted, if you hang around with self-published authors for long, you’ll hear “the ol’ gray mare ain’t what she used to be” (I’m referring to Amazon Select not me), and that’s true. But there still is an advantage to Select. I tried going all venues when I first published. Crickets. No reviews. You can’t buy promo with no reviews. No sales. Can’t buy promo with no sales either because you don’t have the money. In Select, I’ve given away over 100,000 books and have over 700 reviews between the two books. Granted, 700 is a small percentage of 100, 000 (not even going to try to figure out the math) but for a new author, it’s still a lot. When the reviews started coming in, then I was able to purchase advertising and keep the momentum. What would have helped even more was if I’d written more books in a timely manner, but that’s another story . . . titled “what not to do.” And yes, I do intend to spread out to other venues, but Select is still, in my opinion, a good marketing strategy for a new writer.

Kathryn Jane: Expanding my social media presence in a way that was comfortable, and helpful has been a good way to get my name out there. My extremely diverse background lends itself to sharing useful information— which led to teaching online workshops on Horses, Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Dispatch, Self-Editing, and PTSD. These research workshops assist those both established and new writers, gives me something to talk about on Facebook and twitter and help me meet potential readers.

So, tell me, what do you think as a writer? Have you been in a boxed set? Planning one? Is the market saturated and there’s no advantages now? Speaking of advantages, what are they? Definitely getting new crossover readers is a plus. If the sales are good, hitting bestselling lists is always a possibility.

As a reader, do you like to purchase box sets? Excited for the great deal for so many books? Or do you think it’s all hype and just wish the sets would go away . . .?

Do you have questions for the authors?

Let’s talk . . .!! (And since I have a $10 iTunes gift card left from the Love On The Edge Facebook launch party, I’ll give it to a lucky commenter-Rubies included because I’ll use -sorry authors of this set, you’re not included. 😉 )

About the boxed set: Love On The Edge: Nine Shades of Romantic Suspense Nine shades of Romantic Suspense… Love and danger go hand-in-hand in this boxed set of nine full-length novels by nine award winning, bestselling authors. From second chances, explosive chases, and payback, to mob bosses, telepaths, and private investigators, we’ve got a story for the beach, the doctor’s office or a cozy evening at home.

The authors: Lori Ryan, Diana Layne, Pauline Baird Jones, Dale Mayer, Wendy Ely, Marie-Nicole Ryan, Margaret Taylor, Amy Gamet, Kathryn Jane

Buy links, 99 cents all venues:

Amazon, Amazon UK 


Google Books






Processing Emotions: Journaling Works For Me

Happy. Sad. Fear. Anger. Love.


I am not one of those writers who can keep writing fiction when my life is falling apart and a whole slew of emotions are bombarding me. Call me unprofessional, undedicated, even a weenie-I’ve called myself all of those names and more.  In the past I used to stop writing and concentrate on getting my life back together-one time it took me almost a decade.

After all, I come from a family of extremes-the one extreme dealt with emotions by screaming. The other side stuffed the emotions to appear calm and in control in the midst of another’s hissy fit. Personally, I thought the calm and in control person looked well…more sane, so that’s the pattern I chose. But by stuffing emotions I never learned to process them. And though I’m no psychotherapist, I figure that’s why I tend to shut down during crises.

After that whole decade-long fiasco of piecing my life back together, I learned a different way to cope.  (Yeah, I can be slow sometimes.) Journaling. It sort of evolved out of The Artists Way and morning pages.

Let me state right now even though I’ve used them in the past and they work, I hate morning pages. I might’ve mentioned this a time or two…or ten. But this journaling is something I do strictly to process my emotions. And I don’t do it daily (like you’re supposed to do with morning pages). I only journal during highly emotional times, sometimes happy times but more often during a stressful situation or a crisis. Those times that have me reaching for those things which start with “ch”. Chocolate. Chips.  Yeah, chocolate chips work, too.

After recording what happened to piss me off  upset me, I then take time to write down how I’m feeling. My emotions, my body’s reactions (like this eye twitch I get when I’m trying hard to be in control) and how I feel about it-yeah, simple enough, right? Not so much when you’ve never allowed yourself to process emotions.

I have found an advantage to using this method which translates to my writing. By making myself experience the emotions and recording what I’m feeling, I’ve been able to use what I’ve learned to help my characters process their emotions, too. It was after I started doing this that my writing seemed to really take off. (By this I mean I started finaling and placing in contests, including the Golden Heart® after 10 years of entering.)

Aha! Not only did I learn how to process emotions in real life, but I also utilized what I learned in my fiction writing. Definitely win-win.

How about you? Are you one who can create through anything? Or do you have to process your emotions first before you turn yourself loose on your fiction? Do you find real life emotional experiences (good and bad) help you with writing your novel?


Just an fyi-I’ll be gone most of the day today-one of those stressful times, I have a son going for his first visit for dyslexia testing. It was scheduled for a week ago but the diagnostician came down with the flu. I didn’t realize the conflict when I rescheduled, and it’s out of town plus it will take up to four hours-so unfortunately I’ll be gone most of the day. I will, however, check in when I get back, and I look forward reading and responding to what you have to say. Thank you!

And one last thing, the normal spiel about me: My indie-pub suspense thriller The Good Daughter is up for the 2012 RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Awards. Squee!! To learn more about my books, follow me on social media, subscribe to my newsletter or read past articles I’ve posted, please visit

Hi, I’m New Here. . .Young Adult Author Ellie James Shares Tips On Switching Genres

Today I’m happy to welcome new Young Adult author Ellie James. But Ellie is not “new” to the publishing world. Oh, no, she’s published 18 romantic suspense books for Harlequin/Silhouette over a period of 10 years. But now, Ellie’s writing has taken a new direction, new genre, new pen name. She’s here to tell us what that’s like. Welcome and take it away, Ellie!


At some point in our life, we all make changes. Maybe it’s a new school or a new job, a new state or city, a new neighborhood. Sometimes it’s more than one at a time.  But at some time we invariably say goodbye to what we know and step into unfamiliar territory. It’s fun and exciting, but scary and daunting all at the same time. There’s so much to learn and experience, but lessons to be learned, as well.

It’s the same thing with writing: switching genres is a lot like moving to a new neighborhood. You still have your friends from before, and in all likelihood you still speak the same language, but you’re about to encounter a whole lot of new!

Welcome Teen Author Spencer Brokaw!

When the Rubies heard about this amazing young man, we simply had to know more! Spencer Brokaw published his first book when he was twelve. Today, he is 13 and working on his next novel. Think about that, what were you doing at 12 and 13? As a homeschooling mom of six kids, I love to see creative young men and women. Spencer definitely falls into that category. He is an awesome young man, and I predict a bright, successful future for him. The following are some questions we Rubies came up with so grab your morning brew and learn more about the fascinating Spencer Brokaw.

The Power of Affirmations

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post on getting knocked down with tips on bouncing back.  You can read it HERE. (Amazing how long things hang around on the Internet, right?)

In addition to those tips, I have several other tricks I use and have used which include The Artist’s Way, creative visualization, the law of attraction and of course,  the subject of this post, affirmations.

What exactly are affirmations?

Rip and Rebuild: Revisions Part 2

Welcome back to Rip and Rebuild: Revisions Part 2! If you missed part 1, you can find it here.

Today we’re talking:

Nuts and Bolts

Nuts and Bolts: How to put it all together

Rip and Rebuild: Revisions Part 1


Does the thought give you nightmares, make you break out in a sweat, make your head pound like when you’re in a room full of screaming kids? (Sorry, I’m a mom of six, I’ve dealt with a lot of screaming kids.)

If you haven’t been through a revision and you bravely, even defiantly state, “I’m not afraid,” I offer you a quote from my favorite two-foot high, green Jedi dude, “You will be. Oh. You will be.”

Less Is Best: Cut those words!

I can be amazingly, astoundingly wordy, and in addition I obviously love adverbs, too. Ahem. I once had a critique partner, the amazing, astounding Catherine Spangler (who is taking a temporary hiatus from writing.*sniff, sniff* If you haven’t read her backlist—read them!), who used to pound me over the head with “less is best”. Sometimes she scribbled on every page of my manuscript (yes, back in the day when we used hardcopy) in RED INK gasp! those three words “less is best” along with red lines drawn through a heck a lot of sentences on my pages.

Not a single solitary sentence was safe from that pen of hers! (In keeping with the intent of this post, that sentence can be tightened: Not a sentence was safe from her pen.)

Recently I revised, ripped and totally rewrote THE GOOD DAUGHTER. (and I plan to write a couple of blog posts next month on just how I did that.) It started out at 120,000 words and after that process I managed to cut almost 40,000 words. Then, when I decided to indie-pub THE GOOD DAUGHTER, I sent it to an editor and oops, I’d cut too much. I ended up adding back 14,000 words once I finished with her suggestions. Still, 94,000 words is leaner than 120,000.

The Latest Comments

  • Autumn Jordon: You’re very welcome. I learned a lot.
  • Bev Pettersen: Such a helpful post, Thanks Autumn. And also thanks to Vivi, Rae and Judy!
  • Autumn Jordon: Everyone of these cover designers is so talented. I wish I had their eye for detail.
  • Autumn Jordon: I totally agree, Kate. I think it takes a certain eye to make an awesome cover.
  • Autumn Jordon: They did a amazing job answering my questions, didn’t they. I also learned a lot.