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Guest Interview–JM Stewart

Today I’m interviewing author JM Stewart, author of contemporary romance with titles available from several publishers.

Thanks so much for having me, Linda!

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m a stay-at-home mom by trade. My husband and I have been married for 18 years now. I’ve been devouring romances since, gosh, probably around high school. I can’t actually remember when I first picked them up. I started writing them somewhere around 14 years ago, when my youngest was a baby. My first book published in 2010. That book has since been lengthened, revised and reedited, and is being republished by Berkley Intermix.

 What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Passionate, heartfelt contemporary romance

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

Characters. My plots are always character driven, so the plot itself requires me to know the character(s) first.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

A little of both. I start with a basic premise and some idea of a plot, because I have to have some idea of where I’m going. But even then, I don’t really follow a plot. I follow my characters, so much of the book is character led. I like to say I just take dictation. I go where I’m told. 😉

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

I really kind of need quiet when I write. Music can be distracting, because my toe starts tapping, and suddenly I’m singing out loud and the page I’m writing has gone forgotten. lol I like a variety, though, usually stuff that moves me, but mostly contemporary stuff. Some of my current favorites: Josh Groban, Rascal Flatts, Adele, Daughtry, Christina Perri, Bruno Mars.

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

Depends on the story and how much the plot requires it. For example, for Risking It All, I didn’t need much. I needed to know about what it’s like to be a detective, the adoption process and witness protection, but most of it I researched as I needed.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Kind of. Risking It All and Whatever It Takes are both set around where I live, in Puyallup, Washington. But otherwise, no, not really. I wish.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

Take a break and let it sit for a day or two or five. In other words, however long it takes to get me out of my head. Then I come back to it. Often, when I get stuck it’s because I’m stressing too much about writing the “perfect” story and not listening to my characters. Taking a break allows me to de-stress and get my head back where it needs to be. I need to forget the internal editor and write the story. I can always revise. The perfectionist in me absolutely loathes this, so when I get stuck, it can often take me days to let it go.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

The final product. I’m always amazed at watching the story come alive. For Risking It All, I had a lot of edits/revisions to do. The changes weren’t extensive, but lots of small things needed to be added in order to fully flesh out the story. The overall effect, for me, when it was finished was like looking at a different book.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

 I’m up somewhere between 4 and 5 am most days. Just can’t sleep anymore. The older I get, the earlier I conk out, which means by the time 4 am rolls around, I’m wide awake. Lol From the time I get up until the time my kids leave for school at 6:30, I do promo (check email, check the street teams I’m on, including my own, check my calendar to see if I have a guest on my blog, write up tweets, etc).

The rest of the day is divided between household chores (laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc), taking care of the dogs, and writing. But really, I write full time, from about 6:30 am until 2pm. The kids get home then, and the dogs get excited, and I like to catch up with my boys, so I take a break. IE: I can’t concentrate in noise, so I give in. lol I take another hour or so to write while I’m making dinner. After dinner, my brain is shot and my eyes are tired.

 Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

 My current release (and the next two, actually) is a contemporary romance on the sweet and heartwarming side. I’m currently writing (and getting ready to submit) a contemporary series that’s a bit hotter than what I’ve written before. Not erotic, but I’ve turned up the heat quite a bit.

 What’s your dream vacation destination?

It’s a toss-up between Hawaii and Paris. Paris is so romantic and the city has so much history. I’ve always wanted to go somewhere foreign, to visit someone else’s culture. But Hawaii is warm and beautiful, and I live in The Pacific Northwest. I’m tired of gray and I’m tired rain. So, somewhere sunny and semi warm would be a dream. lol.

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?

Not while plotting. Though, I do like Pinterest. Most of the time, I just like seeing my story in pictures, because I’m a visual person, but it can also help when I need to describe something. So, in this case, I use it more for research. Like, for example, deciding what the heroine of my current work-in-progress wore to a formal function.

 In what genre do you read?

 Contemporary and historical. Historical is a pleasure read for me.

 What resources do you use for picking character names?

 Most of the time, my characters name themselves. But I like babynames.com for first and middle names. For last names, I look up a website on most common surnames. But in the last two series I’ve written, I had characters who came from specific roots. For example, the heroine of my current WIP is of Greek descent, so I had to research authentic names, in which case, Google is my best friend.

 Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

 Oh yeah. I love most animals, but I’m mostly a dog person. I’ve had them most of my life. We currently have two. Got them both from shelters when they were puppies. Misty is a Lab/Shepherd mix and Tiger is a Chihuahua/French Bulldog mix. Take a guess who runs the house. lol

 What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

 I hope they enjoy the stories. Though, honestly, I hope the stories touch them in some way. My favorite stories are the ones that touch me, that I can’t forget, and that’s what I always hope for. But really, in a perfect world, I want the reader to sit back and think, “Wow. That was a great story.”

Risking It All

Blurb:

She’s everything he wants…

For years, Kyle Morgan has hidden his true feelings from the gorgeous girl next door that he grew up loving and protecting. But when she shows up at his apartment in the middle of the night, desperately needing comfort and support, his iron will begins to waver…

 …and the only thing he can’t bear to lose.

 Kyle was always the big brother Cecelia Anton never had, but suddenly her goofy best friend has become a sexy man she can’t keep her thoughts—or hands—off of. As their deep connection melts into uncontrollable desire, Ceci is willing to put it all on the line for a shot at true love. Only Kyle is keeping a terrible secret about Ceci’s past that could destroy not only their lifelong friendship but their happily-ever-after…

Buy Links:

Penguin

Amazon

Barns & Noble

iTunes

Books-a-million

Excerpt:

 “I need to know, Kyle.”

His answer sat on the tip of his tongue, but the voice of reason sounded in his head. Don’t say it. Whatever you do, do not say it. Just keep walking.

Her soft footsteps sounded behind him. “You can’t just do something like that and walk away and expect me not to question it. You blow hot and cold, do you know that? I know desire when I see it, yet you just keep walking away.”

“Ever think maybe I wanted to kiss you?” The words left his mouth on a hoarse whisper, and God help him, a desperate need to see her eyes seized him. He turned to find her directly behind him. She stared for a fraction of a second too long, heat and curiosity blazed in her eyes. A heartbeat later, a light blush stole into her cheeks, but she didn’t move, didn’t say a word.

Everything inside of him ground to a halt, his mind twisting off in another direction. I’ll be damned. If ever he needed a confirmation, there it was. Whatever had happened between them was definitely not one-sided.

From 5-star reviews:

“I enjoyed this book and I really enjoyed Kyle I just loved him.” — A Crazy Vermonter’s Book Reviews

“While raising the perpetual question, “Can men and women ever be just friends?”, “Risking It All” by J. M. Stewart also adds mystery and suspense to the plot.” – Mari Davis, from Marienela.net

JM Stewart

BIO:

JM writes passionate, heartfelt contemporary romance. She’s a wife, a mother, a spiritualist, and lover of puppies, and happily addicted to coffee and chocolate. She lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. She’s a hopeless romantic who believes everybody should have their happily-ever-after and has been devouring romance novels for as long as she can remember. Writing them has become her obsession.

Contact links: Website /Blog /Twitter /Facebook

Release Promotion–The Heart Of The Phoenix

THOP COVER

Blurb:

Memories

Lady Evelynn’s childhood hero is home—bitter, hard, tempting as sin. And haunted by secrets. A now-grown Evie offers friendship, but Sir Stephen’s cruel rejection crushes her, and she resolves to forget him. Yet when an unexpected war throws them together, she finds love isn’t so easy to dismiss. If only the king hadn’t betrothed her to another.

Can Be Cruel

Sir  Stephen lives a double life while he seeks the treacherous outlaws who murdered his friends. Driven by revenge he thinks his heart is closed to love. His childhood shadow, Lady Evie, unexpectedly challenges that belief. He rebuffs her, but he can’t forget her, although he knows she’s to wed the king’s favorite.

And Deadly

When his drive for vengeance leads to Evie’s kidnapping, Stephen must choose between retribution and the love he’s denied too long. Surely King John will see reason. Convict the murderers; convince the king. Simple. Until a startling revelation threatens everything.

Excerpt(Sir Stephen has pounded on Lady Evie’s door in the middle of the night, and she’s fallen trying to open it in the darkness.)

“Oh, for the love of heaven. Stop plaguing me. Why are you here?”

“I thought you’d like to know the identity of our fellow passenger.”

“At this hour? Could you not have waited until morning?” Sweet Mary, preserve her patience. He was the most maddening man alive. Light flared in the cabin’s shuttered lantern, throwing a shadow across his face, reminding Evie of another reason he should not be here. Her body instantly throbbed to life.

She pressed her palms against her stomach and inhaled. Calm. She needed calm. He was not the most beautiful man she’d ever beheld. He did not possess the power to heat her blood to boiling. He did not care that she thought of him night and day.

That much was true, for certain.

“I have news that will make the rest of your trip joyful.”

His words centered her whirling mind, and Evie eyed him warily. What news could possible make her happy right now?

She ventured a guess. “You are leaving? Your second in command, the delightful Sir Macsen, will accompany me the rest of the way home?”

“Much better.”

Evie could tell Stephen was angry now by the way he glowered and roared in that whispery sort of way no one else could hear, but left her with no doubt of his displeasure.

“Your betrothed.” He bent and scooped her off the floor.

“What? What about him?”

“That’s the identity of the illustrious lord who’s sharing passage with us.”

“You’re drunk. And put me down. I’m perfectly capable of getting up on my own.”

“Be quiet. You have blood on your leg.”

“Of course I do. I tripped and fell trying to answer your pounding when you could easily have opened—” His words finally penetrated her throbbing head. “I’m bleeding?”

Oh, blast. The contents of her—empty—stomach churned. She attended the villagers’ hurts, bound the cuts and scrapes of servants and their children. The sight of their blood bothered her not a whit. But her own? Black spots danced at the corners of her vision, becoming larger and larger until she heard Stephen’s voice.

“Evie, Evie. What the hell?”

His voice echoed so far away. If she didn’t know better, she’d vow he sounded alarmed. Perhaps she’d close her eyes for a moment. As the ringing in her ears crescendoed, she recalled his words.

Betrothed.Her betrothed was on board?

Dear Lord, just let me die.

                                                ~~~~~~

BUY LINKS

The Wild Rose Press

Amazon

Barb Bettis

BIO:

A former health insurance claims adjuster, a former journalist, a former journalism teacher, Barbara Bettis plans never to be a former author. Currently, she supports her writing habit as an adjunct English instructor at a college near her home in Missouri.

 

Author Interview–Anna Kittrell

Today I’m interviewing Anna Kittrell, an author friend from Prism Book Group, who shares interesting tidbits about her writing style. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance at a free book.

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

For the past thirteen years, I have enjoyed working as a middle school secretary in my beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where I reside with my high school sweetheart-turned-husband of twenty-five years, Tim, and our seventeen-year-old daughter. With a son, daughter-in-law, and precious grandbaby nearby, life is my favorite story.

I have written for as long as I can remember. I still have most of my tattered creations—leftover stories I was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—scrawled in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. My love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and I am thrilled my tales are now worth more than ten cents.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Drenched in a combustible mixture of love and hate, Anna strikes a match.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I love spending time with my little grandbaby, watching a good movie with my husband, and reading.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

They arrive simultaneously. Characters approach me in the middle of their experiences.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Planned. The more time I spend planning, the quicker and cleaner the manuscript. I create a binder for each story filled with tabs for my outline, character sketches, visuals, research information, and—perhaps most importantly—a CALENDAR! I write nothing without first planning my characters’ calendar. Early on, I learned of the tangled, inescapable web caused by neglecting to create a solid character calendar. Never again.

 What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

I do some research ahead of time, usually just by googling the topic on which I need information, such as the demographics and climate of the area in which the story is set, how big my character’s school or house is, or the specifics of any special skills or afflictions that my character might have. As the story progresses, I always find more research is needed, so I do more and add it to the research tab in my binder.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

My first romantic suspense novel, Skinbound, is set at Lake Chickasha, Oklahoma, which is just fifteen miles from my house. I’ve trampled those red lakeshores many times.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

My outlines are so detailed, that if I get stuck, it is usually in the planning stage. A brainstorming session with a plain old pad and pencil usually does the trick. I write down a lot of “maybe this” or “maybe that” and do some idea clustering. It helps to just look at my thoughts on paper. If that doesn’t work, I take a shower. lol. For some reason, a hot shower often fills me with ideas and compels me to jump out—naked and soaking wet—to write them all down.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

In addition to YA Christian suspense, I write romantic suspense and YA contemporary.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

Hawaii. More specifically, Fantasy Island. I’m a dreamer—and an 80’s chick.

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pintrest, collages) when plotting or writing?

I love searching for my characters’ hairstyles, attire, and jewelry online. This is especially fun when I am planning a high school prom or a wedding. I also pick out their automobiles and homes. I always print out pictures of people who resemble my characters to use as a reference guide.

In what genre do you read?

It sometimes surprises people to learn that I enjoy reading classic horror. The Picture of Dorian Gray and Frankenstein are two of my favorite books. Also, I am a teen at heart, so I love to read YA. So many important things can be said in the young adult voice that can’t be said in the adult voice. Whether reading or writing, YA allows me to be completely transparent—emotional, dramatic, explosive, silly—and best of all, honest, without fear.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

My little editing partner, Bruce the Chihuahua, passed away last summer at the age of 13. I really miss him. I may get another dog when my six-month-old grandson gets a bit older.

 What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

When the book closes, I want readers to remember my characters as friends—the same way I do. I hope the tale will seem more like a memory experienced than a story read.

DIZZY BLONDE

BLURB:

All of her life, Lenni has been the perfect child, but still her parents are divorcing. Invisible and angry, Lenni trades her innocent princess image for the rebellious likeness of her favorite rock icon, Dizzy. In an effort to shed the old Lenni, she turns her back on those who love her most, trading true friendship for a dangerous affiliation with a shady upperclassman. When deception and rumors threaten to ruin Lenni’s life, she learns the value of good friends and the importance of an honorable reputation. But can this realization save her from the clutches of danger? Or was the lesson learned too late?

EXCERPT:

I stepped through the automatic door, the cold night air piercing my lungs. Snowflakes, too waterlogged to float, splattered on the pavement like wounded birds. I spied Dad’s sports coupe and watched the milky snow plop onto the shiny red paint. On second thought, the stuff falling from the sky looked more like what birds do.

Mom’s parking space was two over from Dad’s, next to an iron lamppost. I pulled my hood up, jogged to the champagne-colored car, and tugged the passenger door handle. Locked. Pressing my forehead against the cold window, I watched the tinted glass fog with my breath. I stooped and cleared the side mirror with my coat sleeve, checking my reflection. With a shiver, I drew in a frigid lungful of air then released it slowly through pursed lips, scissoring my fingers around an invisible cigarette. Impressed with how I looked, I shook back my hood and took another invisible drag.

“Seriously?” Misty’s cackle rang out through the hushed parking lot, causing me to throw down my imaginary cigarette and bury my head in my hood.

“What are you doing, you dork?” she asked, her voice closer. I turned toward her as she stepped into the light, her hair wet with snow, a wisp of real smoke curling, rising above her. “You’ll like this brand better—it has more flavor.” The red glow on the end of the cigarette grew brighter as she sucked on the filter.

“Won’t you get in trouble if your dad smells smoke on you?”

“What’s he going to do, send me to rehab? He already took my phone, thanks to you.”

“Cigarette rehab, is that a real thing?” I asked.

Misty glared and took another drag. “You know, I used to be a lot like you. A pampered little princess. My parents’ pride and joy. A good girl. Then one day, I woke up and realized I was only being good because I was afraid of being bad. I was a fake. Pretending to be perfect so I wouldn’t disappoint my parents. So I changed. Now I call the shots.”

“Glad you can call something,” I muttered.

“Was that a crack about my phone? Don’t worry, I’ll have it back by this time tomorrow. Wait and see.” She flicked ashes to the wet pavement. “I bet you’ve never done one bad thing in your entire pathetic life. Seriously, how do you stand yourself?”

“Maybe I like how I am,” I said, knowing she could see right through me.

“Yeah. Sure you do. That’s why you’re standing out here in the dark pretending to smoke. Here,” she said, offering her cigarette to me.

The burning tobacco caused my pulse to quicken. Something tingled inside, a maddening mixture of thrill and dread—like riding a rollercoaster up the track. I formed a V with my fingers and extended my hand, on the edge of the most exhilarating moment of my life.

Misty handed the cigarette off to me and I brought it to my lips with shaking fingers, knowing my next breath would leave me forever changed.

“What on earth do you think you’re doing?” my mother screeched, her boot heels clacking across the wet parking lot.

I froze, cigarette smoldering between my fingers, somehow unable to flick it to the ground.

Misty backed away from the glow of the lamppost into the shadows, her quick footsteps fading as she darted across the parking lot, leaving me to burn alone in my mother’s fiery glare.

“Kids will be kids.” I swung around at the sound of Dad’s chuckle as he strode up the hospital sidewalk with Mayor Lincoln. “I’m just glad the girls are all right. Happy holidays.” They shook hands before parting on the curb then Dad glanced over and paced toward us. “Hey, what’s up?” He frowned at the cigarette glued between my fingers.

“Apparently Lenni has taken up smoking,” Mom informed him, her voice wavering.

“Smoking? Lenni?” He shook his head and grinned. “Surely there’s a rational explanation.” My father looked at me expectantly. “Let’s hear it, Len. Did you pick it up off the pavement because it was a fire hazard?”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake, Neal, look around you. The parking lot is completely saturated. If she’d picked it up off the ground, it would be soaking wet and extinguished.” Mom rolled her eyes. “She was smoking.”

“Now hold on. Lenni’s already been through a lot tonight. I’m not convinced—”

They ignored me and argued about what I was or was not doing. My ears rang. A headache pounded behind my eyeballs. Trading digs and snide remarks, their rising voices ignited a fuse in the pit of my stomach that twisted through my entire being.

Smoke wafted into my face and I breathed it in. My parents narrowed their eyes at one another, lost on some angry planet of their own as I brought the cigarette to my lips and drew the smoke into my lungs. I probably could’ve stood there, invisible, and smoked the whole thing, had my sputtering, coughing, and wheezing not snapped their heads in my direction.

With a gasp, Mom lunged and slapped the cigarette from my fingers, grazing my lip. I clamped a hand over my stinging mouth.

“Keep your hands off her,” Dad yelled, grabbing Mom by the wrist. She twisted her arm and grunted, trying to get free.

I jammed myself between their rigid bodies, shoving them apart. Screams ripped through my cigarette-raw throat. Dad dropped Mom’s wrist and they stared at me. I jumped up and down screaming until I ran out of air, ending with a breathy screech.

A young woman holding a bundled child against her shoulder passed by, her eyes wide as she hurried through the wet parking lot to her car.

“She’s okay,” Dad called after her, and then reached his arms out to me.

I took a step back. “Mom, take me home.” My voice plunged to a watery sob that shook my shoulders and weakened my knees.

BUY LINKS

Prism Book Group

Amazon

Snippets from 5-star reviews

I sat down today and read from cover to end. I could not put it down. This book made me feel, it made me ache and yes, in two scenes brought me to tears. I recommend this book to every parent who has a teenager. Read it. Then pass it on to your child.

*Ms Kittrell did an excellent job with this fast paced novel. She handled a very current and troubling situation involving children and teenagers. The intrigue and danger keeps the reader turning pages and the meaning of true friends and a relationship with God clearly shines through.

A Kittrell

Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband of twenty-four years, and their seventeen-year-old daughter. With a son, daughter-in-law, and precious grandbaby nearby, life is her favorite story.

Anna has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—leftover stories she was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.

 

CONTACT LINKS:

Website http://annakittrell.com/

Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/AKittrell

Twitter https://twitter.com/KittrellAnna

email kittrellbooks@gmail.com

Goodreads http://alturl.com/qu6as

Author will give away free e-copy of Witcha’be and a free e-copy of Dizzy Blonde to two random commenters.

 

Release Promotion–Lord of Sherwood

Lord of Sherwood: the Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy, Book Three by Laura Strickland

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BLURB:

Curlew Champion, master archer, has always known his destiny.  With his cousin, Heron Scarlet, he will become a guardian of Sherwood Forest and further his people’s fight against Norman Tyranny.  But the third member of the triad is still to be revealed, the woman who will complete the magical circle and, perhaps, answer the longing in Curlew’s heart.

Anwyn Montfort has fled disgrace in Shrewsbury and come to Nottingham at her father’s bidding.  He wishes her to make a good marriage and settle down.  But the wildness that possesses her refuses to quiet.  She knows she’s been searching for something all her life, but not until she glimpses Curlew does her spirit begin to hope it has found its home.

Only the magic of Sherwood can bring them together, and only their union can complete the spell woven so long ago …

EXCERPT:

Curlew bowed again. When the man reached Nottingham and inquired after an under-forester called Champion, he would know this meeting for a farce. But Curlew would be well away by then.

A small, wicked smile tugged at one corner of his mouth. He straightened from his bow just as the young woman’s cart reached him. Any well-behaved Saxon underling, as Curlew well knew, would avert his eyes respectfully as she passed. Instead, he lifted them to hers.

And, shockingly, she returned his stare, bold and unswerving as any lad. Nay, not like a lad though—for she was all woman, this one, her face brimming with character, interest, and mischief. A smile twitched her lips as their eyes met and held—it said many things: that she knew he had just spun a fabrication, that she applauded him for it, and that she found him just as fascinating to look upon as he found her.

His blood leaped at that look and he condemned himself silently. This, a well-bred Norman miss, was surely no proper object for his admiration. Only, she did not appear particularly well-bred nor well-disciplined. Who was she?

And would he ever see her again?

Curlew stood there with the blood drying on his hands as the small train lumbered past, grateful for his escape, and utterly scorched by her gaze.

Not until they were well past did he draw a deep breath and strive to shake off the spell that held him.

BUY LINKS:

The Wild Rose Press

KOBO

All Romance ebooks

Amazon

Google Play

Laura Strickland

Author bio:

Born and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland is the author of Scottish romance Devil Black as well as The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy consisting of Daughter of Sherwood, Champion of Sherwood and Lord of Sherwood. She is currently working on the second book of a new Steampunk romance series.

Author contacts:

Author web page: www.laurastricklandbooks.com

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Strickland/e/B001KHSACW/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1408276940&sr=1-2-ent

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000002632317

Book Trailer for The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZvJC__mD5s

Guest Interview–Christy Effinger

Welcome to an author friend from The Wild Rose Press, Christy Effinger.

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m originally from Southern Indiana, but now I live in a suburb of Indianapolis with my husband and baby daughter. Books have always been my passion; I earned an MA in English and then taught for several years at a community college. I’m excited to have a book of my own in print—finally!

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I usually start with the characters. Say Nothing of What You See began with the mental image of a woman jumping off a grain elevator, but there was another character I’d been thinking about for some time. He was intelligent and sophisticated but also controlling and jealous. I wanted to find out how these two characters were connected. And to do that, I had to write the story.

  Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I work from a rough outline, but I’ve learned to be flexible. Often characters take me in a direction I never could have imagined. That certainly happened with Say Nothing.

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

When I wrote Say Nothing, I sometimes listened to electronica while I worked. I love chill-out, downtempo, and ambient music. Now that I have a baby, I cherish the quiet moments when I can write. But music remains an important source of inspiration.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

Right now I’m home with my baby daughter, so I write during the day. I tend to write in short bursts when she’s napping or playing. Morning is my favorite time to work.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

Say Nothing is a paranormal new adult novel, but my WIP is contemporary women’s fiction. I also have a historical fiction project in mind I hope to tackle one day.

In what genre do you read?

I love all kinds of books, from literary classics to commercial fiction. I also enjoy narrative nonfiction and poetry.

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BLURB:

 

When her aunt steps off a grain elevator into the emptiness of a prairie evening, Mira Piper loses her one protector. Chloe, her flighty mother, impulsively drags her daughter to Bramblewood, an isolated spiritualist retreat in northern Michigan, run by the enigmatic Dr. Virgil Simon.

 

Chloe plans to train as a medium but it’s Mira who discovers she can communicate with the dead. When her mother abandons her, Mira discovers a darker aspect to Bramblewood: the seemingly kind doctor has a sinister side and a strange control over his students.

 

Then one winter’s day Troy Farrington arrives, to fulfill his mother’s dying wish and deliver her letter to the doctor. But calamity strikes and he finds himself a captive, tended by a sympathetic Mira. Haunted by her dead aunt and desperate to escape Bramblewood, Mira makes a devil’s deal with Dr. Simon. But fulfillment comes with a steep cost…betrayal.

BUY LINKS:

The Wild Rose Press

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

EXCERPT:

 

“You are absolutely stunning, Mira.”

 

I stole another glance in the mirror. The material was a rich, shimmery gold that fell from my shoulders in folds of liquid light. It looked like something a Greek goddess might wear. Oh, how I wished the girls from Amberville High School could see me in this dress!

 

“When you came here,” said Dr. Simon, “I had a vision of you like this. I looked at the girl before me, but I saw the woman you are now.”

 

“Thank you,” I murmured, gesturing toward the piles of clothes on my bed. “You’ve been so generous. I know you’ve spent a good deal of money on me—”

 

“Money means nothing,” he interrupted abruptly. “I have more than I could ever spend, more than I know what to do with. Don’t consider the cost.”

 

His tone was brusque, and I wondered if I had offended him.

 

But the next moment Dr. Simon smiled. “I think of you as my charity case. You were like a doll thrown out in the garbage. I simply rescued you from the trash, cleaned you up, and dressed you in something decent. But the beauty was present all along.” He touched my cheek. “Here.” Then he touched my forehead. “Here.” Then he touched my chest. “And here.”

 

I knew he was referring to my heart, but even so, his hand on my chest made my face warm with discomfort.

 

“You blush so easily,” he laughed. “You’ll never be able hide anything, Mira, with such a transparent face.”

 

“That’s all right,” I said, taking a small step back. “I don’t have anything to hide.”

 

 

 Quote from a 5-star review:

 

“A tale of darkness and despair at the hands of a madman . . . fabulous reading.” –Tome Tender

Effinger Photo

BIO & CONTACTS:

Christy Effinger’s poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in various print and online publications. She lives near Indianapolis. Her website is www.christyeffinger.com.

Author Links:

Website: http://christyeffinger.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/christyeffinger

Tumblr: http://christyeffinger.tumblr.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/christyeffinger

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/christyeffinger

Google+: http://google.com/+christyeffinger

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/christyeffinger

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card

Now through September 30, 2014

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Release promotion–Postmarked Ever After

Postmarked_Ever_After-cover-001

 

BLURB

A delayed letter and a message from afar unite two hearts.

Recently widowed, Serena Gray battles the daily drama of the Emergency Room, as well as her grief. When a mysterious letter arrives, it raises questions about a past she’d only heard her beloved husband speak about.

While on hospital rounds, she sees a child’s brush with death and recounts a vivid dream that bears a message.

Will she risk happiness for the truth or keep a secret from the past?

EXCERPT

Serena unplugged her curling iron and finished her hair. The doorbell rang and she walked from the bedroom to the living room to let Adam inside. “Hi, come on in. I need to get my shoes and I’ll be ready.”

“Okay, I’ll wait right here.”

Adam kissed her and watched her bare feet take brisk steps to the hall. He ambled over to the fish tank and peeked in the glass at the Neon’s swimming, then sat down on the sofa. Adam glanced at the typed forms lying on the coffee table and remembered Serena mentioned trashing records. As he waited, his attention went to the handwritten letter resting on the sofa beside him. He looked away, not wanting to be nosy. Why does that writing seem familiar? Once more, his vision focused on the note. The signature that read “Katie” caught his eyes. Katie, Serena must have a friend with the same name.

Adam heard Serena make a noise and started to stand. He noticed the worn message again. The name Nicky seemed to jump off the page. It has to be a coincidence, can’t be my family. Before Adam considered his actions, he picked the letter up and began to read.

Serena tossed a pair of low heels in the closet and then tried on three pairs before deciding on wedge sandals. She walked into the living room and saw Adam standing rigid. She looked at his pasty white face. In an instant, she noticed his eyes narrowed to a slit. As Serena wondered what was wrong her gaze fell to his hand. He gripped the letter and ogled at her.

“Serena, what is this?” Adam’s words came out slow and controlled.

“Adam, let me explain.” Serena touched her throat and swallowed hard as she stared at Adam’s hand clenched to the letter.

“Really, this ought to be good!” Adam’s words echoed in the room. His nostril flared. “This is Katie’s writing, and she’s talking about our daughter.” Adam gritted his teeth “Where did you get this?  Was Jason your husband?”

Serena wanted to cry, but she held her emotions back. “Adam, please set down and let me explain.”

“No, I’ll stand… you talk.” He nodded toward the note in his hand.

“Jason was my husband and Nicky’s real father. I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you, but I fell in love with you, and then I didn’t want to hurt you or Nicky. I was planning to tear the letter to shreds.” Serena’s voice was low and flat. She hugged her arms as she responded.

“So you’ve had this all along and didn’t bother to mention it,” he hissed.

“I didn’t know what to do. There was no reason to say anything” Serena slumped on the corner of the couch. “Both Jason and Katie are gone. You’re all that Nicky has left.”

Adam glared at Serena. “Am I to believe that this letter, you and I, our love…. It’s all coincidence.”

“Yes,” Serena shook her head. “I didn’t plan to meet you and I assure you my love is real.”

“Hah, I don’t know what’s true anymore.”  Adam stepped back and put more distances between them. “You owe me a better explanation.”

Serena held her head up and looked at Adam. “The letter arrived months after Jason’s accident” She turned her head from Adam, and the stone-cold gawk she saw. “I put the envelope away and decided to forget about it.” Serena stepped closer to the sofa. “I moved to Greensboro because my mother has Alzheimer’s.”

She rubbed her forehead. “I can’t even begin to tell you how shocked I was the day I met Nicky at school, and then you.” She twisted her hands as she talked. “I wasn’t sure if you knew you weren’t Nicky’s biological father, and I saw how much she loves you. I didn’t want to stand in the way of the relationship you two have.”

Adam’s mind teetered with indecision, “sounds farfetched and doesn’t set well, if this is innocent you should have told me from the beginning.”

In one fast movement, Adam tossed the letter down and opened the front door, “Serena if you care anything for Nicky, you’ll keep this information to yourself. One day, I’m going to tell her everything, but I figure she’s entitled to grow up with a happy childhood. ”

Adam eyed Serena. “As for us, “I’ll not have a life with a woman who keeps things from me, never again.”

The door slammed. She squeezed her eyes tight in an effort to hold back the tears that flowed. Serena was sure she understood the way a wounded animal hurt as the sound of sobbing carried throughout the room.

BUY LINKS

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Amazon

Mary Ball

BIO:

Mary L. Ball is an inspirational author and lives in North Carolina.

In her books, Mary hopes to encourage people to see the wonder of love and a divine guidance.

When Mary isn’t working on her latest story, she enjoys fishing, reading, and singing with her husband at functions.

Web contacts

http://marylouwrites.weebly.com/

http://marylouwrites.weebly.com/-behind-every-story-blog

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Inspirational-author-Mary-L-Ball/200478210087932?ref=hl

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5934448.Mary_L_Balll

Guest Interview–Nancy Fraser

Welcome to Nancy Fraser, author of both contemporary and historical romance. Let’s jump right into the interview questions.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Yes, many. For my contemporary novels, I like to add some color by citing attractions in the city/town setting that I’ve actually experienced myself. In my vintage historical, April Love (part of my Golden Decade of Rock and Roll series), I send my H/H to Grand Cayman Island. I was there in the early sixties with my family, and those pictures (taken with an old Brownie camera) and memories are a big part of the novella.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

Once I quit questioning my sanity at wanting to be a writer, I usually make myself a cup of coffee (I’m a certified cof-a-holic), park myself at the computer and pull up a blank document. I create a ‘very rough’ blurb for the book and two or three tweets pertaining to the WIP. I sometimes also surf the various stock photo sites for a picture of my hero or heroine. These exercises usually get my creative juices flowing again.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing process?

For my featured book, A Saved Woman, it was my editor’s insistence that I needed more conflict. Because I absolutely adore her, and respect her insight, I went back and fleshed out a couple of scenes. As always, I was happy for her suggestions. Most often, though, it’s those pesky passive phrases that trip me up. You work hard to avoid them and—somehow—they sneak in there anyway.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

First of all, I don’t there’s anything ‘normal’ when you’re a writer. I just retired from outside employment this past December. In my cluttered brain and in a very neat spreadsheet, I had my writing plotted out for the following six months. However, s#!t happens. I lost a cousin (for whom I’m serving as executor) just a week after retirement, and my beloved writing partner in May of this year. Needless to say … my schedule quickly went the way of the green-specked deadline fairy,

When not under outside influences, my day begins early. I’m usually dressed and grasping that first cup of coffee by 8:00. I try to write at least 3-4 hours with occasional five minute breaks to stretch my legs (aka re-fill my coffee cup). After a break for lunch and social media, I get another three hours in before calling it quits for the day. I write five days a week, although not always M-F. I devote two full days to family. If my daily routine is interrupted, I try to make up the time in the evenings. Otherwise, at least one hour each evening is set aside for social media.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

Yes, I do, several in fact. I know the ‘experts’ (whoever they are) will tell you it’s easier to build an author platform if you stick to one genre. I wish my brain worked that way. It doesn’t. In addition to western historical, I also write contemporary, vintage historical (e.g., 1950s-1960s), and have dabbled in time travel (probably my favorite of all my books). Later this year, my first borderline erotica will be released from Decadent Publishing.

As a creative person, I can’t expect my imagination to tether itself to one point in time, especially when I can’t confine the reader in me to one genre.

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pintrest, collages) when plotting or writing?

If I didn’t, I’d be lost before the end of the first chapter. I use a spreadsheet of my own design for plotting out every book I write. I often will surf the stock photo sites for images that reflect my H/H or my setting and put them on my corkboard. One of the images I purchased from an online site became the award-winning cover of my release, The Lawman’s Agreement.

For my five-book series (The McCade Legacy) set in post-Civil War Mississippi, the characters move between three different towns along the Mississippi River. I have an extensive spreadsheet devoted to keeping everything straight. No matter which town they’re in at any point in time in the series, I know the banker’s name, the owner of the mercantile, the sheriff, and even the owner of the local saloon/whorehouse.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

If I’m working on a contemporary story, I usually draw from names of people around me, my family, their friends, my friends. If I’m working with a historical setting, I’ll Google the state census for 20 years prior to the book’s setting to get a feel for both the surname and given names popular at the time.

One of my best resources (and most loved), has been the contests I’ve run where the winner got to have their name used in the next series book, and also in a couple of cases got to name one of the businesses featured in the story.

Perhaps I should do that again…soon.

A Saved Woman

BLURB

Katy Anderson has experienced more heartache than most know in a lifetime. Given to a man old enough to be her father, she has spent the past six years secluded from everyone except for her three young children. Her husband’s untimely death brings relief that … finally … she and her children are free.

When Sheriff Mitch Logan arrives at the Anderson homestead, he is moved by Katy’s sad circumstances and vows to right the wrongs done to her. Mitch has always shied away from marriage due to his dangerous profession, yet he quickly changes his mind when Katy comes into his life, and into his heart.

BUY LINKS

The Wild Rose Press

Barnes & Noble

AMAZON

EXCERPT

Katy set aside the storybook she’d been reading to the children and urged a sleepy Alice to unlatch from her breast. Happier than she could ever remember being, She laid the baby in her crib and drew the lightweight blanket up to her tiny heart-shaped chin.

A sigh of contentment flowed through Katy, the simple release calming her in a way she couldn’t describe. The past week had been like a rebirth, the start of a new life for herself and her children. She lifted two narrow logs from the basket beside the stove, her efforts halted by the sound of an approaching horse. She’d barely reached the door when Toby’s excitement rang out across the yard.

“Sheriff Mitch, Sheriff Mitch,” the boy called. “Come see the fort me and Susan built from the old rags.”

Mitchell Logan slid off his horse and started in their direction. She watched in wonder as the tall man hunkered down beside where they played. A lump formed in her throat when the usually shy Susan wrapped her arm around the sheriff’s neck and laid her head down on his shoulder.

Tobias had never shown his children such gentleness. Tobias had never beaten the children, likely because she’d always placed herself between them. However, he’d also never bothered to show interest in them or what they were doing. Her beautiful, precious children accepted their father but learned quickly to be wary of him, even at their young age.

Yet, in the span of a few short days, this total stranger had taught them trust, compassion.

Katy straightened her shoulders and silently strengthened her resolve. No man, no matter how gentle, how trustworthy, would ever come near her again. She’d allow his warmth toward her children, if only to teach them to return kindness. For herself, she wanted only his friendship, his understanding, and nothing more.

She stepped off the porch and crossed the distance between them, coming to a stop at his side. Mitch looked up at her and smiled, his dark brown eyes twinkling with humor. In no more than a heartbeat, her resolve weakened and she found herself wishing it was her head on the sheriff’s shoulder, and not Susan’s.

From a 5-star review:

Historical Romance Full of Passion

“A Saved Woman” opens with the Sheriff telling Katy her husband is dead. This story is set in 1865 and is wonderfully written. Nancy Fraser paints a neat picture of Cold Creek (a western town, and of the characters; Mitch Logan, the sheriff, and Katy Anderson, a poor mother of three). Mitch is a kind, passionate man who is great with children. Any woman would love to have him. Katy is a fragile and yet strong woman who would do anything for her kids, and swears to never let another man near her. Until Mitch. There’s a twist near the beginning I hadn’t expected. I love it when a writer adds something I don’t anticipate to their story. The romance will surely have your heart pounding, as it did mine. If you enjoy short romances with western themes, I encourage you to get to know Mitch and Katy.

BIO:

Like most authors, Nancy Fraser began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet, which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.

When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five beautiful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.

Social Media:

Website: www.nancyfraser.ca

Blog: http://nancyfraser.ca/wordpress/

Twitter: @nfraserauthor  http://twitter.com/nfraserauthor

FB: http://facebook.com/nancyfraserauthor

GIVEAWAY

Since I mentioned it earlier, I decided to go ahead and offer a giveaway. Here is the Rafflecopter code:

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Release promotion for The Wish List Addiction

Wish List Addiction

Blurb for The Wish List Addiction

 

Rebecca Mathews is a Listoholic—you name it, she has a ‘To Do’ list for it. Coupled with her daily ‘Must Achieve’ List, she possesses a mid-term, creatively drawn ‘Wish List’ and an exhaustively-researched ‘Bucket List’. But so far, they have delivered nothing but spectacular failure. 

With her much-loved career exploded in her face, her marriage terminated in an acrimonious divorce and her frail father’s pleas to return to her native Northumberland ignored, Rebecca concludes that if it wasn’t for her beloved four-year-old son, Max, she would be adding a trip to a Swiss clinic to her list. 

A sparkle of light appears in Rebecca’s life wrapped in the guise of ‘The Little Green Book of Wishes’, which challenges the reader to ‘ditch the list’ and instead to use its gems of wisdom as a ‘dip in/dip out’ lucky bag of challenges from all areas of life. 

Persuaded by her colleagues to relinquish her obsessive reliance on her multiple lists, cast adrift from their reassuring structure, she agrees to complete random tasks selected for her from the ‘little emerald book of miracles’. 

Will it deliver the desired result and cure Rebecca of her Wish List Addiction?

 

Excerpt from ‘The Wish List Addiction’

EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Lindsey Paley

“Right! Where’s that wishes book then?” Deb demanded first thing Monday morning. “Hand it over! I’m holding you to your promise.”

Before Rebecca handed the little green book to Deb, Nathan glanced at their team manager, Georgina, still engrossed in a complicated call, then scootered his chair to Deb’s desk as if keen to get involved.

“The Little Green Book of Wishes.” Deb rotated the book in her hand, stroking its emerald cover as though wedding dress silk, parting its pages at the contents page. “‘Wishes with your Partner’, ‘Wishes with Children’, or ‘Wishes for the World’ section? Hey, there’s one of your wishes here, Nath, from the ‘Wishes with Friends’ section—‘Real Ale tasting’! Oh, and ‘Swishing’! Now that’s one I would include on my wish list!”

I don’t understand why you are both so excited.” Nathan rolled his eyes. “It’s a complete waste of time and energy, if you ask me. Wishes never come true. I’d love to get the supervisor’s job when Georgina is promoted to associate next month, but I know I won’t, so what’s the point applying? Why put myself through all that anxiety and stress?

Anyway, it’s Becky we’re selecting random wishes for, not me. And why put poor Becky through the hassle and potential humiliation of performing challenges from a randomly purchased book extolling the unachievable virtues of fulfilling our deepest desires? Crazy, if you ask me.”

He flicked his Baringer & Co pen between his fingers until it became a blur. However, despite his pessimistic forecast, he continued to pour eagerly over the contents section of the little green book with Deb and Rebecca.

“Well, I think it’s an excellent idea and so does Fergus. Hey, look, there’s even a section on marrying. Thank goodness, ’cos I could do with some seriously helpful tips, we’ve still got so much to do. I’m up for ‘Becoming the Perfect Bride’ and ‘Maintaining a Successful Marriage’. Might even try ‘Co-existing With Your In-laws’.” She sniggered.

“Oh, I’m so excited. Look, Becky, ‘Amassing a Prestigious Shoe Collection.’ Let’s study that one and slip off one lunchtime soon to Jimmy Choo’s wedding shoe emporium! Come on, what’ll be your first challenge from the little green book? You chose the category, but me and Nath are choosing the challenge.” She held the book up to Rebecca’s face and flicked the pages from back to front, her perfectly plucked, honey-blonde eyebrows disappearing into her fringe.

“Well, I really don’t want to go on a date, and my career is rock bottom, so it’ll have to be some sort of an activity.” Rebecca fervently hoped the selection would be ‘Making Maracas’ or ‘An Afternoon Kite Flying’, which she and Max had discovered, but somehow she doubted Deb would let her off so easily.

“Right, now me and Nathan will confer. It’ll be a great way of meeting new guys, anyway.” She giggled. As she was in love, she expected the whole world to want to be, too. “Mmm, what do you think, Nath?” They huddled together in her cubicle, her blonde mane meeting his dark spikes. “Where will there be lots of hot, single men? Oh, and let’s find something she can do with Max, too, this being the first challenge.

“What about ‘Taking a Dance Class’? Must be on everyone’s wish list that, surely? It suggests the waltz or the tango. Here, did you know the tango is said to have been born in the brothels of Argentina, the dancers connecting chest-to-chest or hip-to-thigh displaying strong and determined passion? What could be better? Only two stars, Becky, must be an easy challenge, right?”

“You’re joking. I’m not taking Max to a tango class! Anyway, look what it says at the end. A dance class such as the tango or the jive is not for the faint-hearted when wishing to meet new people. No, Deb.”

“Well, okay, but I might persuade Fergus to take some lessons with me.

We could perform a passionate tango as our first dance at the wedding reception—spice up the night and shock the grannies!”

Her infectious giggle rang around the office, causing Georgina to lift her eyes and throw them a puzzled look. Shaking her short, black curls, she returned to her phone call. It was their lunch break after all.

“Right, ‘Exercising Section,’ then. What sport have you always had a hankering to try? Yoga? Crossbow shooting? Oh, what about Morris dancing? Is that really a sport?”

“Be serious. I’ve not done any real exercise since giving birth to Max. Anything too energetic would be the first and last challenge to be attempted from the book and I’d end up in the A&E.”

“I suppose that also means ‘Climbing Mount Everest’ is not going to make Rebecca’s wonderful wish list, then?” Deb smirked.

Rebecca’s glare said, “Do you think I’m stupid?”

“Right, got it.” She held the book up in front of her and Nathan’s faces. He glanced at the page and then peered around the cover at Rebecca.

“Sure,” Nathan agreed. “As good as any. And Max can join in with that, too, which is what the book is suggesting, I think. There’s a great club near us which runs a junior academy and welcomes kids from the age of three.”

“What? What are you talking about?” Rebecca’s heart hammered against her ribcage, particularly at Nathan’s suggestion that Max join her.

She had not agreed to involving him in this crazy folly. But her new friends ignored her protestations.

“Yes, I’ve been to that club with Fergus’ nephew. It’s great fun. Right, decided.” Deb turned the chosen page toward Rebecca. “There you are, Becky, ‘Learning to Play Golf’. You can take Max along and have some fun just hitting the balls from the driving range, or there’s an American mini golf course to try out. You can enquire about the junior academy whilst you’re there for Max. It’s an activity you can do together and there’ll be lots of men wandering around in that delightful golf gear. You could kill two birds with one golf ball!”

She handed the book to Rebecca, who grabbed it and read out loud, “Learning to play golf is fun. Hitting a golf ball is easy, but hitting the ball in the direction you want it to go takes an enormous amount of practice. Mmm. Look at the warning at the end. Be sure never to stand in close proximity to a golfer’s swinging club. I foresee disaster.”

Available now from All Romance ebooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Smashwords. For more details, click over to:

Prism Book Group

 

Guest Interview–Alexa Bourne

 

Today I’m chatting with Alexa Bourne, romantic suspense author.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Suspense to leave you breathless, romance to soothe your soul.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I love reading when I have time. I also love watching sports, especially soccer and football. Oooh, and I’ll travel anywhere over the world because I love adventures

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

The music I use depends on what I’m writing. For my Scottish stories, I listen to a lot of Celtic. For my suspense scenes, I listen to metal/alternative. For a love scene, I’ll toss on love songs. For my New Year’s book, Simple Treasures, I played Christmas and New Year’s songs.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Yes, I have! I really love the opportunity to set stories in places I can accurately describe so my readers feel like they are really there. My full-length books are set in states I’ve lived in. So far all my novellas are set in my happy place, my favorite place in the world, the UK. Upcoming settings are Austin, TX, Mexico, and Thailand!

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

I was really surprised with how long it takes to go through my revisions. In the beginning, I would plan for a certain amount of time and then I’d always have to expand it so I could do my best job.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

I have 2 and I can’t choose just 1 to tell you! As a traveler, I’d love to visit New Zealand. It looks so beautiful there. From friends I’ve heard how different society is there and I’d love to observe it. As a writer, I would love to spend 4-6 months somewhere in Scotland. I would love to have a volunteer assignment so I can interact with the locals and then also spend a huge chunk of time writing new books set in Scotland.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope my readers get an idea of what it’s like to be in other countries, maybe a country she dreams of visiting one day. I also hope readers see ordinary people in my characters and everyday courage and love.

DanceAwayDanger_v2

BLURB for Dance Away, Danger:

Sensible dance instructor Tessa Gage likes her life organized, risk-free and on her own terms. When her cop brother goes missing, his crooked partner tries to kill her, and a handsome stranger claims he’s come to protect her, she’s forced to leave her comfort zone. With more dance and business sense than survival skills and no idea who to trust, Tessa has no choice but to rely on this man who’d rather be anywhere but by her side.

When carefree carpenter Matt Rylan gets a late night call from an Army buddy who once saved his life, he finds himself where he never again wanted to be—responsible for someone else. Honor demands Matt cooperate, but he never expects his simple babysitting job to test the limits of his self-control. Nor does he expect it to explode into a race against time for his very freedom.

As Tessa and Matt get closer to the truth, and to each other, Tessa learns to step outside the safety of her world to help set the wheels of justice in motion. For Matt, supporting this courageous woman suddenly becomes everything to him.  Yet, his biggest challenge remains sharing his closed-off heart with her before the danger silences them both forever.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

All Romance ebooks

EXCERPT

“Hammer, I’m callin’ in a favor.”

Matt Rylan tightened his grip on his cell phone. Hammer. No one had called him that in three years, not since his friendship with Jason Gage had drifted apart.

“Jason?”

A strained sigh pushed through the phone line. “You remember.”

Matt gritted his teeth and crushed his lucky fishing hat in his fist. “Did you doubt I would?”

“Truthfully? Yeah. It’s been a while.”

He tossed his cap into the half-filled suitcase sitting in the center of the unmade bed. “What’s up?” he asked, like it hadn’t been years since they’d spoken. From the dresser, he grabbed the plane ticket he’d reserved two weeks before. The one he’d sacrifice tomorrow because Jason had called to collect a debt. And regardless of what his old friend wanted, Matt couldn’t say no to the man who’d saved his life on a battlefield in a far-off country most Americans didn’t know existed.

“My sister, Tessa….” Jason began.

“What about her?”

Jason had shared stories of the teenager during breaks between missions. Their parents’ death in a car wreck had hit her especially hard, which was understandable, but soon after, Jason couldn’t shake her. She became a clingy, paranoid pain in the ass. Jason had to take care of everything for her while he was in high school. Apparently, she hadn’t learned to do anything for herself since.

Matt shuddered at the thought of someone clinging to him like that. He’d willingly surrendered those burdens when he signed on with Uncle Sam and left his permanently discontented sisters to their husbands.

Jason ripped something and let loose a string of vicious swear words. “I need you to protect her.”

Matt’s stomach muscles clenched like a vice grip around a two-by-four. He’d been a contractor since he got out of the Army, taking care of buildings instead of people, which was exactly how he wanted it.

“What kind of trouble is she in?” He tossed the plane ticket into the suitcase and concentrated on his buddy’s words.

“Not her. It’s all me.” Jason wheezed and coughed. “Tell me you’ll do it.”

“What about the cops?”

“I’m not…sure which ones I…can trust.”

Matt straightened at the urgency in his one-time friend’s voice. He’d left soldiering, left responsibility, in his past where it belonged. He’d carved a sweet life for himself, working when he wanted and taking off when he damn well pleased. He answered to no one.

“Come on, Hammer. I got nobody else.” Jason gasped in between words.

A cheer erupted from the TV as Matt returned to the living room. Which of the teams had scored?

No way could he say no. Man, he was a fool. “I’m in.”

 

Bio:

Alexa Bourne is a teacher by day and a romance writer by nights, weekends, and all school holidays. She also teaches online classes for writers throughout the year. She writes romantic suspense and contemporary romance and is thrilled to have the chance to share her stories with readers everywhere.

When she’s not concocting sinister plots and steamy love scenes or traveling and exploring new cultures, Alexa spends her time reading, watching brainless TV, and thinking about exercising. Okay, she also spends way too much time interacting with readers and writers on social media sites. But don’t tell her editors! Find out more about her and her books on her website, www.alexabourne.com.

http://alexabourne.com/cuan-macdougall-pub/
https://twitter.com/AlexaBourne
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlexaBourne
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5818611.Alexa_Bourne

Guest Interview–Julie B. Cosgrove

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I am a native Texan, widowed at the age of 58, who majored in religion and has always been a bookworm. My faith is the most important thing in my life. To be given the humbled honor to write about my Lord and have that touch others in a way that strengthens their faith still amazes me daily.

As a freelance writer, I write devotionals and inspirational articles for several publications and websites. I’ve also authored three Bible studies. I lecture to church groups and lead retreats. But fiction is my passion. Our Lord told stories, because people relate to stories. Each of my novels contains characters with real struggles and doubts, but through the process God helps them discover something in their lives worth redeeming.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Reading and word games/puzzles. I also enjoy observing nature and the wonderful variety of creation in plants, birds and animals.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

Plot, though it evolves around my characters’ life struggles and eventual discovering of God’s mercy and grace at work in their lives. I want people to identify with my characters, but in less they can dive into their lives through the plot, I don’t believe they will see my characters three dimensionally. Our experiences and our reactions to them define us greatly.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Freestyle. I let the creative juices flow and am constantly surprised where God directs my story- always to better plots than my own brain could conjure up. Then I go back and edit, edit, edit to polish it.

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

In 1994, when I’d reached a very dry point in my life, a friend suggested Christian radio. I listened for thirty days, and never went back, except an occasional deviation into Bach or Handel. Gosh, has it really been twenty years? Wow. Music is how I get my worship on, which is my Lord’s and my private joke because the radio is the only thing I have talent to play. Whenever I feel I’m starting to sink, Christian music lifts me back into His hands. But I write in total silence, probably more than not. Stems back to my bookworm in the library days, I guess. That’s where I studied the best.

 Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Yes, many of them. However, I also had the honor to freelance write for a travel site for two years and my assignments were to help people visualize the locations. That has helped my scene-setting immensely. I research until I can put myself there—walk the streets, smell the foods and flowers, and see the people. Thank the Lord for the vastness of the internet!

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

I am blessed to work part-time as a church secretary, and they allow me to write when things slow down. But I seem to have “writing cravings” as if God is beckoning me to carve out time to pray and create. In those times, my fingers fly over the keyboard for hours, even skipping meals and sleep. (Not at work, though!)

In what genre do you read?

I love suspense and cozy mystery. Always have, from the age of eleven on. In fact, most of my Netflix list is murder mysteries as well. I am just not at the point to where I can murder any of my own characters…maybe down the road

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

I am a total cat person. I have had cats all my life. I have two and they are my joy. They have made widowhood so much easier. To have another heartbeat to talk to when I get home is so nice. Few things are more soothing than a purring cat on your lap. I call them my “beasty boys.”

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

In all my writing, fiction and non-fiction, there is one underlying theme- the fact that God breaks through the mundane, everyday life in a broken world to reach out and show us His vast love for us. Thus my blog – Where Did You Find God Today? It always amazes me how God chooses to communicate with us. I want my readers to discover it for themselves. From the beginning of creation, God’s greatest desire has been to be with His children. Jesus came and walked among us for just that reason. It is also why He died for each of us.

Hush In The Storm

Blurb /Synopsis:

Jen, a young widow floundering in the storm of mourning, whose only lifeline is her humdrum job, is tossed into a maze of deceit and intrigue by a coworker named Tom…at the request of her late husband, or so Tom says. He kidnaps her and fakes her death to keep her safe from the cartel who he thinks caused her husband’s “accident.” Together, they are thrust into a tempest of danger and deceit where no one is whom they claim to be. The list of people Jen can believe in keeps diminishing. Who can she trust while dodging the Feds, human traffickers and the press who’ve discovered she’s alive? How will Jen rescue the two held-captive girls she befriends without drowning them, Tom, and herself in the waves of betrayal, especially when she’s begun to suspect her husband may not be as dead as everyone thinks..

Genre: Christian contemporary suspense romance

Publisher: Prism Book Group

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to learn more, visit Julie’s website

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Excerpt:

An eerie thought pressed a clammy hand upon my shoulder. What if all you thought was true never actually was?

Widowed unexpectedly at thirty-one, I naturally longed for what could never be again. Regrets and what-if mantras swirled daily through my mind. I’d learned to push them aside. But this sudden, unsolicited notion surged an icy-hot chill through my body.

My logical side chided me. Don’t be silly, Jen. Of course it was true. The diamond band on my left hand glimmered with proof. Robert had cherished me, married me, spent five loving years with me…that one night didn’t mean a thing.

I shuddered off the question and leaned in to review the balance sheets my boss had emailed.

But the bizarre suggestion whispered once more in the back of my thoughts just loud enough to keep me from concentrating. The numbers on the page became muddled gibberish. I closed my eyes, sucked in a breath, and tried to focus.

I fiddled with the little gold cross I always wore around my neck, more out of habit than any indication of piety. I hadn’t perched in a pew in years, except for our wedding day and at Robert’s funeral. But after the latest in the series of sympathizers walked away, I seethed a semi-prayer under my breath. “Dear Lord. Please. Why can’t everyone just leave me alone?”

I had a job to do. The report was due first thing in the morning. I had to concentrate on the now. Besides, I never wanted to hear the eggshells crack as well-meaning colleagues tiptoed around my mourning. I was stronger than that, at least in public.

One by one, the other workspaces emptied. The buzz of office machines and human chatter diminished until the only sound was the soft hum from the fluorescent lights and the tick of the office clock, like a steady heartbeat.

At last, a welcomed solitude settled around me in a thick hush. In fact, it was too quiet. I tapped my pencil, then my foot, to dispel it.

A short, high-pitched ding pierced the silence.

My heart jumped into my throat. The elevator? The bottom right-hand side of my computer screen flashed 6:05 p.m. It was too early for the janitorial staff. None of the executives or customers ever ventured down to this dingy basement department with no windows and stale, recycled air.

I swallowed. “Who’s there?”

Tom stepped out of the elevator, then pushed open the glass door with the stenciled white lettering proclaiming the owners of this windowless dungeon—Abernathy & Smith Accounting Firm.

“Hey, Jen. Still at it?”

My heart slid back into place.

My jaw set, making a dental impression in my now tasteless chewing gum. Of all people to show up after hours, why Tom? Those piercing blue eyes unnerved me. Many times over the past few weeks, I’d find his gaze on me. And now, he and I were the only ones left in the department.

I wanted him to leave—and for these numbers to make sense so I could do the same. I also wanted my life back, but I wasn’t about to discuss that with him, or anyone else for that matter.

“Back away from it for the night, Jen. It’s time to go.”

His voice took on an authoritative tone. A hint of brogue, no doubt leftover from some forgone ancestor, twirled the last word on his tongue. They called his type the black Irish—dark hair, crystal blue eyes. Right now his windows into the soul darkened to a deep, steel gray. Stern. Inflexible. Like my eighth-grade biology teacher’s stare when I hadn’t paid attention in class, again. That sort of look always made me buckle.

Bob’s Burgers is close.”

Cholesterol-clogging comfort food did sound good. I grabbed my purse off the back of my chair. “Okay.” I raised my finger. “But we’ll go Dutch.”

“Whatever.”

“Well…” I glanced to the office wall clock. 6:15. My stomach responded with a silent rumble to remind me I hadn’t stopped for lunch. I loathed eating alone and didn’t feel like whipping up something at home. Even eating with Tom was better than the alternatives. “The janitors will be here in a bit anyway. Can’t concentrate with them vacuuming, emptying the trash bins…”

I sighed and dug into my purse. “Where are my keys?”

Tom dangled them in front of my nose. “Left ’em on your desk. But, we should take my car.”

I shook my head and opened my palm, fingers cupped. “Uh, no. We shouldn’t.”

“Your choice.” He exhaled through his nostrils, plopped the keys into my hand, and then texted something into his cell phone. I noticed his jaw twitch as he slipped his phone back into his jacket.

Was it me, or had his mood taken a dark turn? Had I ruffled his male feathers by insisting we go in separate cars and pay Dutch? I made an attempt to smooth things over. “Thanks for the offer, though.”

“I was just trying to save you…”

I touched his arm. “Tom, I don’t need saving.”

One side of his mouth stretched into a smirk. “You sure?”

5-star Review comments 

“Suspense and romance touches the shadowy underworld of human trafficking. A recent widow is kidnapped and her death faked, supposedly for her own good. But if she’s really a widow, why does she keep hearing her husband’s voice? Julie B. Cosgrove weaves a tale that both shocks and informs.  Hush in the Storm will keep you reading late into the night.” Mary Hamilton, author of the best selling Rustic Knoll Bible Camp Series

“Hush in the Storm by Julie B. Cosgrove is a tough but compelling read about a woman spirited away into the darkness and harsh reality of human trafficking. In addition to her terror and confusion over this split-second turn in her life is the unspeakable horror that perhaps someone very close to her is involved in her nightmare. This is a page-turner that will not only entertain but also inform and educate on a topic relevant to our time and culture.” Kathi Macias  (www.kathimacias.com) is an award-winning writer of more than 40 books, including Deliver Me from Evil.

J Cosgrove

BIO

Julie B. Cosgrove is a freelance writer, professional speaker and published author. She is a member of Advanced Writers & Speakers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Authors Network, North Texas Christian Writers, The Christians Writers Group Two, and Christian Writers Fellowship International.

She represents Women at Risk International, a Christian missionary group who sponsor safe houses for women and children snatched from human trafficking and slavery in 13 countries and is actively involved in Prayer For Freedom, a nonprofit anti-trafficking ministry.

Julie has authored three contemporary faith-based novels. Focused, set in the Texas Hill Country, which follows a woman’s journey to find God in her empty nest, was released in 2012. She is working on the other two novels in that trilogy, Grounded and Rooted. The sequel to Hush in the Storm, Legitimate Lies, launches through Prism Book Group in early 2015.

Author Links:

http://www.juliebcosgrove.com

http://Wheredidyoufindgodtoday.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/juliebcosgrove.tx

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/JulieBCosgrove

Giveaway-  3 Kindle or Nook versions ( commenter’s choice) emailed