When your Favorite Book becomes a Meet & Greet

Happy Holidays!

People often ask, what is your favorite book?  Without a beat, many stories come to mind. From classics to more current books. But which would I say is at the top of my list?

Drum roll….

Hands down, The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks is my all time, can’t-put-it-down book.  Have you read it? I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s a beautifully written story about a couple’s love for each other and the obstacles they face —a classic girl meets boy from the other side of the tracks.


What was it about this book for me? It was a captivating, plain and simple. Regular people find themselves in an extraordinary relationship. Allie and Noah fought for each other through tears and a whole lot of spark! Could they make their relationship work? I’ll let you read their journey to find out. Maybe it will move to the top of your holiday list!

The moment you get to tell the Author their book is your Favorite!


Recently, Nicholas Sparks visited Union Square Barnes and Noble in NYC to sign his newest book Two by Two. I had to go! I planned for two weeks about what I could say to the author of my favorite story. Do I tell him how much The Notebook meant to me? Or that I cried when Allie said goodbye to Noah? Or that I felt the same love for my husband as he described for Noah and Allie?

Or that I had re-read it more than a half dozen times?

I was determined not to gush and spew mindless thoughts. ACK!  But when it came to my turn, I fumbled with the words, and can’t say verbatim what actually came out, but it went something like…

“The Notebook is my favorite book of all time and your writing inspires me.”

I think!

So there you have it—my favorite book! How about yours? What is your favorite story?


Got milk? Have I got a story idea for you!

milk2Where do stories come from? How do you know what to write?

From the time I started writing stories as a teen, I’ve always thought of the story itself as a milk carton. When I start writing for the day, the carton is brimming with characters and scenes. As my ideas leap onto the page, the carton slowly empties. Instinctively, when it feels like there is nothing left in the carton, usually around 4 to 5 pages in, I’m done writing. Anything more than this feels like I’m pulling and pulling on a fishing line, but not knowing the hook is stuck to the bottom of the boat!

But let’s back up for a second. Somehow story ideas have to fill this carton before writing.  It’s different for many writers, but below are a few strategies that work for me—and may help you!

Read, read, read…and people watch!

Most of the time, my ideas evolve from reading news stories or shopping!  Something interests me enough to ask the “What if…” question. From there, I add on questions. What if a corporate executive embezzled money from her own family? What if her husband faked his death ten years earlier?  What if she stole that purse and blamed her daughter?

As each possibility is added, the story builds. I also use Shirley Jump’s Rule of Six technique to explore the WHY behind the characters motivations/goals to add more emotion and conflict. Check out Shirley’s classes at Margie Lawson’s Writing Academy.

Your dreams are stories … use them!

I get many ideas from dreams!  Sounds like Twilight Zone material, right?

For example, about a month ago, a bad dream startled me awake about 3 a.m. It was about a camp in Pennsylvania, the kind of dream that leaves you sweating and unable to leave the bed to get a glass of water. Somehow, I summoned the courage and faced the darkness. When I finally fell back to sleep, the dream continued to a woman being drowned in the lake. And the bad guy was still after me!

How could that be?

In the morning, I was in the twilight area of waking when the dream finally, finally ended. And boom, just like that, something rocketed into my brain. My eyes flew open. It was as if all that night, the story wouldn’t let me go until I knew the ending. It wasn’t about the camp, or the bad guy chasing me, or even the drowning in the lake that was important.

It was about how the dream ended.

The ending would be my next novel.

I couldn’t talk, eat breakfast, or even have coffee (GASP!) until all this was put down in bare bones summary. This story, still untitled, became the novel I’m writing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Ideas can come from anywhere! So, how do you get yours?

Behind the scenes with Author Linda J. Parisi – “The Emperor”

I am thrilled to welcome author Linda J. Parisi to my blog today! I sat down with Linda to learn more about her thrilling new story The Emperor, which is part of the Never Fear – The Tarot: Do you Really Want to Know? anthology. 13 Thirty Books asked twenty-six authors to write stories based on the Tarot, with the cards determining which stories the authors would write. Linda’s card was The Emperor.



The Emperor

Alan Trembley thought he could survive boarding school by outsmarting the bullies. But then his roommate goes missing and Alan is determined to find out what happened to him. Sometimes being smart isn’t always a substitute for being Wise. And being a friend is the hardest choice of all to make.



Thank you Linda for joining us! We’re so excited to find out more about your new story The Emperor!

Can you tell us about how you came up with your idea for The Emperor?

I’d listened to a news story about bullying and wanted to write a piece about how that can affect people even as adults. Also, I’d been writing YA and wanted to try my hand at something just a bit younger.

What was your favorite part of The Emperor to write?

First, the ending. I always knew exactly how I wanted the story to end. Then there’s a scene (I don’t want to describe it now or that’ll spoil the fun) that has always scared me to death. And since this is a horror story….

Your characters in The Emperor are so unique and memorable. How do you go about creating characters that stick with the reader?

Easy answer: years of practice. Hard answer: digging way too deep inside and putting myself in there. You see, for a short time, I went to a boarding school too.

 I’m looking forward to reading more! What project are you working on now?

My last completed work, entitled Resistance, is a World War II Historical YA about the choices young people had to make during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Right now I’m working on a sci-fi YA about what happens to people after the world is destroyed by a virus.

What advice can you give to aspiring authors?

I could give you all the platitudes like Never Give Up or Finish the Damn Book but the fact of the matter is, publishing is not an easy business. So the only advice I can give is embrace that. Don’t fight against it. Make everything you do a victory instead of a defeat. There’s still gold to be mined from even the most scathing rejection. And you never know when a window will open.

I’d also like to give a shout out to my publisher, 13 Thirty Books, for taking on a Romance Writer and letting her try her hand at writing horror. I had a lot of fun writing this story.

About Author Linda J. Parisiheadshot-linda-parisi-1

As a research scientist during the day, Linda J. Parisi knows that the perfect formula for making sparks fly is combining conflicted, edgy heroes with heroines who never give up or give in. Awarded the New Jersey Romance Writer’s Golden Leaf Award for Best First Book for her novel, Noble Blood, and winner of the 4th Annual Stroke of Midnight Contest for her novel, The Joining: Bound by Blood, Linda is a long time member of the Romance Writers of America, member of the YA chapter of RWA, current treasurer of Liberty States Fiction Writers, as well as a Craft and Industry Instructor for Literary Powerhouse Consulting. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, John, and a family which includes Audi, a Cocker Spaniel mix who had her at woof!

You can find Linda here:

Website: Linda J. Parisi, Author

Facebook: Linda J. Parisi, Author

Where to buy: Never Fear, The Tarot: Do You Really Want to Know?


Up for a Challenge? How to NaNoWriMo like Rocky!


How to NaNoWriMo like Rocky!

Remember when Rocky was preparing for his final showdown with Drago? Despite frigid temperatures, he trains in the snow to prepare his body. Build muscle. Become stronger. Put it all on the line.

In a nutshell, this is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Each November, authors strive to write a 50,000 word novel. That breaks down to about 1,667 words a day (which equals about 6 pages, double-spaced EACH DAY). Gasp!

Why? Why would an author sweat, get to her PC at 5am before the day job begins, or freeze dinners for weeks ahead to prepare? Just to reach a word count?


Underneath the word count, something magical happens during the drafting process. Stories are born. Characters come alive. Dialogue is created. And writers learn about themselves. They learn that they have it in them to write a novel — a really good story that comes from the heart, a place that dreams these stories.

And that is where Rocky got the guts to fight Drago and win.

His heart!

How to Get Started in NaNoWriMo

So who’s with me?

Want to join me in the NaNoWriMo challenge? You can register at the National Novel Writing Month website. Add me to your buddy list and we can support each other on this journey (my user name is ChristineDorothy)!

Five tips to tackle NaNoWriMo:

  • Eat healthy. Good food fuels your body and gives you the energy and stamina to get those 1,667 words each day.
  • Sleep well. Sleep rejuvenates your creative juices. Many of my story ideas come from dreams!
  • Exercise. I know, I know. But it makes you feel great! Just a few minutes gives you energy galore. Not to mention your heart will love you!
  • Talk to Writing Buddies. Encourage each other through emails, calls, write-ins and sharing word counts. Or start the timer and do writing sprints with other NaNoWriMo participants. Check out #1k1hr on Twitter.
  • Get out and see Nature. Whether you take a short walk at the park or right in your backyard. Soak up the leaves and cool air! Walk the dog. Sit on your front porch with coffee. It does magic for your creativity.

Welcome – Come on in!



Got your coffee? Wine? Let’s get to it!

Welcome to the Grand Re-opening of my blog “Words Along the Way” – with a new home! A lot of great things have been happening and it’s about time I take my nose from this writing cave to share with you. I wanted to create a place to talk  stories, writing, life, and everything in between. But most of all, a place for us to share and inspire each other as we go after our dreams. A virtual coffeehouse, of sorts!

So, come on in. Bring your dreams and thoughts and let’s ride this journey together! 🙂

What’s happened since we last talked?

I’m finishing the final read-through of my latest manuscript “The Dark Path”.  And then onto Beta readers and submitting to agents! Fingers crossed!  I’m most excited about this story because it’s a thriller set in a small beach town very similar to where I grew up in Point Pleasant, New Jersey.

My short story “November Fury” sold to Intrigue Publishing! I will post the publication date here when I know the details. Below is the cover I created for fun and inspiration during the writing process!



What’s Next?

Please check back for updates, good conversation, fun, and most of all inspiration. Any topics you’d like to hear about, let me know! You can sign up to receive updates via email too.