Meeting Cover Model Steve Bronson

A_Place_to_Land_CoverI experienced one of the highlights of my writing career this past weekend. During a book signing event, I had the honor of meeting Steve Bronson, who happens to be pictured on the cover of A PLACE TO LAND. Poor guy, I made him take off his sunglasses so I could see his handsome face (his face was mostly covered by a cowboy hat on the cover). He was very gracious about it. As he walked off into the sunset, I noticed he’s taller than I expected him to be. In my opinion, he makes a great Jackson, the hero of the story.

Five-Star Review from The Romance Studio

The Romance Studio

A Place to Land
Mary Vine
Contemporary romance
Available from Black Lyon Publishing
ISBN: 978-934912-22-5
December 2009

Ulianna Markova, an immigrant from Russia, is determined to be wholly American, self-supporting, and to help her parents and siblings to a better life. In lieu of the usual job interview, she travels to northeastern Oregon to do an article about wolves. Her first interviewee is handsome Jackson Holt, a wealthy ranch owner who refuses to talk to her about the subject. Determined to succeed, Uli continues to ask questions of other ranchers, and a local Native American teacher, even after sustaining slashed tires, a broken windshield, and a kidnapping.
Jackson, in spite of his feelings about wolves, falls for Uli and watches over her. Uli, still determined to return to Portland to help her family, falls for Jackson. Then she realizes she loves Jackson and wants to stay, but before she can decide, she is attacked again, learns who is doing this and why, but might not live to make her decision.

This wonderful romance held my interest from the first word to the last. The author has a way of describing the surroundings so you feel you could drive out there and find the place. You see the gorgeous scenery, the sprawling ranch, and the two cowboys who work for Jackson and who watch out for her.

The characters are wonderful. Ulianna’s struggles between the old world and the new are evident in her reactions and decisions. Her strength of character shows in her persistence, even in the face of danger. Jackson, a bachelor, reveals his feelings, beliefs and strengths, as well as his gradual willingness to listen to Uli. The author depicts the stages of the romance in a way that fits perfectly with the feelings and doubts of Uli and Jackson.

The loving older couple, from whom Uli rents a room, depicted as the average American couple and who become like surrogate parents to Uli, greatly add to this story. The mystery behind the attacks is well hidden, yet the clues are there. I did not learn the surprising truth until the end.

A delightful, poignant read. I’ll be looking for more from this author.

Overall rating:
Sensuality rating: Very sensual

Reviewer: Jaye Leyel
May 25, 2010

Love Changes

When I was fourteen years old, I was in love with a rock star. His boyish good looks and toothy grin, as seen on my television screen, won me over. I continued to be smitten with him until his songs moved down the hit chart, and I moved on to other rock musicians. Even though I couldn’t settle on one star, I knew I would never lose my love for the music.

I graduated from high school and moved on with my life, this time taking notice of the men around me. After trial and error, I found a man with a sexy smile and dimple in his cheek. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, and with our two minds together we could solve most problems, or at least work through them.

Five months ago, I had the opportunity to attend a concert on the Oregon Coast starring the rock singer with the toothy grin. Somehow, he still had the boyish looks, but he didn’t lure me in as before. What I did like was the awesomeness of being in the same room with him, while thinking about what my teen self would have thought about being close enough at one point to reach out and touch. Basically, in present time, it was surreal to see the man in person.

There was something else I noticed at the concert. With my teen years long gone, my hormones are quieter and my love is no longer shallow. I’ve fixed my love on my husband, and it is a deeper love than I’d ever thought possible, even without the passion of the early years. Then, I believed I’d find true love, but could not fathom the deepness of the love that I’ve come to know. Remarkably love changes.

I loved the concert, to go back in time is a wonderful experience, but I also liked sitting on the beach peacefully soaking up the sun with my husband and talking about nothing in particular. I no longer sit and stare at him; however, with maturing I’ve found other things in life that define me as a person apart from him, even though he’s the one I run to with my dreams, my hopes, plans and concerns.

Undoubtedly my younger self would have gotten a kick out of knowing I’d be able to see this heart throb one day, but pretty disgusted that I no longer favor rock music. Again, love changes.

Write Like the Wind

It seems to me that some writers can write like the wind, producing two or three books to my one. Some have children, others have full-time jobs, but all have issues that pull them away from the page, yet they are still successful in the field. Perhaps I have only half of the needed talent, while a prolific writer has the whole shebang. I thought this was true once, but not anymore.

It has been said that a successful writer is an organized writer. I consistently have papers waiting to be organized on the top of my desk that are separated into two stacks, one on each side of the computer. After tiring of the mess, I bought a roll top desk to hide it, but every once in awhile I’m overwhelmed by the feeling that I might be missing something important in the pile and straighten it. Certainly, I am not the only writer whose desk is in disarray, many successful authors have an even bigger mess than mine, so I don’t think that by organized a tidy desk is what is meant. If this is true, then in what way does organization count, and does organization bring forth speed in writing?

Whether you write as you go or outline your story every step of the way, you’ll get the story written, and one way can be just as fast as the other. Since the joy of writing only goes so far before it becomes work, you need to know what you are going to write when you sit down. If you aren’t inspired when your butt hits the chair, and you don’t know something of where you are going, you’ll be staring at a blank page. Distractions here we come.

In those early writing years, I thought that I could only write when I was stress-free, because that’s when the inspiration would flow. Then one day a writer told me that the book her fans liked the most was written during a very stressful time in her life. I wish she had added that I would never get any writing done if I waited for a time without stress.

Without inspiration, what is needed is a system. Print off a free monthly calendar online and jot down your plans. Perhaps one page a day to complete your book is reasonable to record, because you can complete 365 pages in a year. Pen in what you will write when you sit down, it doesn’t have to be a complete outline, but enough to keep you going. You have to spend time up front to make it work. That is organization.

I set up a writing schedule while working full-time and it is amazing how much more work I’ve gotten done since. Next, I started to rethink the book-in-a-month challenge, even though I couldn’t write a book in a month, I knew I could get several new pages written. While writing, I didn’t know if I could salvage any of the story, but found much of it usable when I got a chance to go back through.

One hour a night, five days a week is another easy plan to get more writing done. I discovered that if I wrote at least an hour after work each day, I had five hours of typing in and still had the weekend to spend with my family. If I took additional writing time on the weekend all the better, but if not, I still felt like I’d gotten something done and it was relatively easy to do.

Sometimes, to be visible at home, I take my AlphaSmart (that I bought used for fifty dollars) and type near my husband while he’s watching TV. The AS is lightweight, extremely sturdy, smaller than my laptop, and runs forever on a battery. When finished, I plug it into my computer and it sends what I’ve typed into a document. I’ve also used the AS in the community while waiting for appointments, or when I travel, helping me write more than I would have been able to without it. Now that’s another easy to do plan.

Still, I have quite a bit of work to do to keep up to the speed of others. I tell myself I’m not in competition because I’m working full time and that when I retire I will be able to write like the wind, however, the saying is true that if you want something done ask a busy person. In actuality, the answer to writing speed has everything to do with why a writer writes. Many of the fastest writers in history wrote for a reason. To keep poverty at bay, writing was approached like a job, not a hobby. Today, the most prolific writers I know approach their work just like anyone in any other profession; they count on the money to pay the bills. Something (whatever it is) has to drive you to write, to get it done far after the joy of writing has left the room.

In summary, to write like the wind, schedule what you will do each day while still being present for your family, put your butt in the chair, and have a commitment to get it done that will move your writing from a hobby to a serious career.
Mary Vine

A PLACE TO LAND Review From Multi-Published Author M. Jean Pike

I admit it. I’ve never read a cowboy romance before now. In all honesty, I never thought I’d be interested in one, but I’d heard so many good things about Mary Vine’s A PLACE TO LAND that I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did! This sweeping tale of romance and self discovery also includes a dash of mystery. It was such an intriguing story I found myself unable to put it down until I’d read the very last page.

I connected with Uli, the story’s heroine, right from the start. As a young girl, Uli came to the U. S. with her Russian family in search of the American Dream. Uli grew up feeling like an outcast and spent her life feeling as if she was responsible for making the dream come true for her family, sacrificing her own dreams in the deal. When she accepts an assignment to write a controversial article for a high-profile magazine, Uli thinks she’s finally found a way to secure her family’s financial success. Her research takes her far from the big-city lights of Portland to the wide open spaces of Northeast Oregon. Uli falls in love, not only with the landscape, but also with Jackson Holt, the sexy rancher who becomes her self appointed guardian.

I loved everything about these characters! Uli had just the right blend of self reliance and vulnerability, and the wealthy Jackson was the perfect tough ‘n tender romance hero. Their love affair unfolded slowly, each filled with doubts and their own unique insecurities. I rooted for them with every turn of the page!

Mary Vine has a lovely writing style and possesses the uncanny ability to pick her readers up and transport them into her setting. I’ve never visited Oregon, and yet, thanks to the author’s lush descriptions, it is a place I feel I know well. From beginning to end, A PLACE TO LAND was a pleasure to read and I’m eagerly looking forward to my next cowboy romance!

Review From Multi-published Author Kimberly Adkins

A Beautiful Love Story
Mary Vine is bringing ‘sexyback’ to ranching in this wonderfully crafted contemporary romance novel. I just loved this book in every way. The lush imagery she conveyed for the rugged Oregon backdrop was stunning as she managed to pull together the hot topic of a very controversial subject and the beginning of a smoldering relationship between two unlikely candidates. Uli, the heroine of the novel, is strong willed and determined to succeed throughout the storyline, but she carries a touching innocence that has you rooting for her all the way. Wow, what can I say about the sexy rancher, Jackson Holt, who crosses her path and finds her as irrestible as the reader? How about: Let me pack my bags and check out the ranches in Oregon myself!!
Be on the lookout for a few cameos from her previous novel and enjoy the charming banter between a couple of the secondary characters that had me laughing out loud. This novel is well worth the read and I look forward to seeing more from Ms. Vine in the future.

Writing Tips

Elijah writing a story
Elijah writing a story

First of all, believe you can write. Don’t let anyone’s opinion convince you otherwise. Poor contest scores or bad critiques can make you think about ending your writing career before it even gets started. My worst critique was done by a woman who said I had so many errors that she didn’t have the time or energy to critique more than a chapter, let alone a complete manuscript. Thankfully, I thought this was a rather outlandish thing to say to someone, sloughed it off and kept trying. It is a well-known fact that if you continue to write you get better. My writing improved and my manuscript went on to sell. Not everyone is going to like your writing, it is really all subjective; people don’t all like the same type of story.
What should I write about? Don’t worry about writing the type of story that is selling right now as something else may be in vogue when you finish. Instead, write the kind of book you love to read and add what you know or are interested in learning. Further, stretch your horizons. I thought I could only write fiction, but then found I could also write an article on something I knew about, and sold to a magazine, twice, before I sold a book.
Don’t wait for the perfect time to write; it will never come. I used to write on summer breaks from work, believing I could only write when I felt relaxed and stress free. Forget it. No one is ever stress free, so start writing. For example, I work with high school students and though I have many good days, today was not one of them, yet here I am at home this evening working on a blog.
Plan a time to write. Should I write on the weekend, after a busy week at work? Not necessarily. I discovered that if I wrote at least an hour after work each day, I had five hours of typing in and still had the weekend to spend with my family. If I had additional writing time on the weekend all the better, but if not I still felt like I’d gotten something written for the week and it was relatively easy to do.
Get your website started now-before you are published. I knew almost nothing about websites before my first book was published. With working full time, I focused on writing and thought I could worry about a website later. If you get your website started and learn how to get traffic coming through, this can be helpful information to include in your query and you’ll be able to focus on promoting your book when it is released.
Where do I send my work? Use a book like Jeff Herman’s Guide to Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents, to find out who is looking for manuscripts similar to yours, plus find out what their hobbies or interests are. I happened to find a publisher that enjoyed stories about ranches, cowboys, and the gold mining history that I’d written about. Her interest helped me land the deal.
Don’t limit submissions. Shop your manuscript around, and don’t just submit to the big publishing companies. In this day and age of economic difficulties, the midlist is vanishing. Publishers have been sticking with big name authors who have proven to be money makers. If you can’t make a large house notice you, go for a smaller one. You’ll have an eBook or paperback you can hold in your hand, as well as writing credits an agent or larger company will take notice of.
Don’t be thinking you can quit your day job to write. Nora Roberts and Dean Koontz may have quit their day jobs, but Mary Vine can’t-yet. I know a writer who received $60,000 for a two book deal. That money may get one through a year, or two if you’re lucky, but you can’t count on a third sale coming when you need it. I’ve learned to write while I work and you can, too.
My best writing help didn’t come from a how-to book. Although I did learn about time management for the writer from a how-to book, my biggest help in making a sale came from joining a writers group. The value of a critique partner is considerable in getting your manuscript ready to submit. Believe it or not, you are too close to your work to see all the flaws, but a fellow writer can help spot them for you.
Keep reading. Reading is the way I learned how others put the words on the page, and gave me the desire to write. By continuing to read, my brain learned the process of weaving information, or details, into a book. One of the most important things to do is to keep reading; the more you read, the more you will learn how to write.

web headquarters for author Mary Vine