Category Archives: Interview

Guest Interview–Maureen Bonatch

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

It’s interesting that you ask that question since I’ve recently had my website and my logline updated. Previously it was, “Making the Ordinary Extraordinary and Laughing all the Way”.  My new one is, “Stories with Hocus Pocus and All That.”

I believe both capture the essence of my writing, which is humorous paranormal and fantasy romance.

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

My characters always start the story. Sometimes I don’t even know their names when they begin telling me their story.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

As you can see from my answer above, my writing is freestyle (or panster as some refer to it–I write by the seat of my pants.) I’ve tried to force myself to plan out part of my story to reduce editing after, but most of the time my characters have minds of their own, lol.

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

Most of my stories feature small towns surrounded by dense wooded areas (a great place to tuck away all kinds of secrets). I draw from my home to create the settings, although I don’t use any specific locations.

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

Yes, definitely. I currently have a Shih Tzu, or I should say, he has us, lol. Scruff’s been with our family for four years now. Prior to that, we had a Lhasa Apso for 14+ years. My girls have had an array of other critters over the years—guinea pigs, hermit crabs, fish and a hamster. My husband is allergic to cats, or I’m sure one might’ve been in the mix as well.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope readers find a relaxing escape from the everyday. That they might laugh a little and wander out of the comfort zone of their imagination. That they might appreciate those around them once they look a little closer and see the extraordinary concealed within.

EvilSpeaksSoftly_Oct 11

BLURB

They were never supposed to meet. Fame came easy for Liv by following in the footsteps of the female writers in her family. The cycle repeated for decades…until Liv changed the story. Her villain doesn’t like the revision—and he isn’t a fictional character. In his story, the bad guy always wins.

They were never supposed to find love. Liv never questioned her demanding nocturnal muse, or the strange incidents in her old, family home until she met Gage. His job was to watch her from afar, not reveal the truth about the curse and the stories of the dead. They’ve broken all the rules. Together they unravel secrets as they strive to stop the cycle. Liv’s ability to find love, and protect her loved ones, hangs on the fickle whims of the dead—and they’ve got nothing to lose.

BUY LINKS

The Wild Rose Press

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

KOBO Books

Google Play

iBooks

EXCERPT

“I met this strange man at the bar last night. He told me some really weird stuff.” I paused. When she remained silent, I continued. “He said it was related to my writing.” She watched me with the fascination of one who desperately wanted to look away but couldn’t. As if a deer blinded to the oncoming headlights, she was fixated, trapped. “He said to talk to you.”

I searched her face. I knew my Grams. When resignation settled on her features a knot clenched in my stomach from either fear, or the excitement of validating Gage didn’t fabricate the story. Perhaps he wasn’t crazy.

Grams slowly closed her eyes and opened them again. “He found you?”

I nodded.

She turned to stare out the frosted window where the birdfeeder sat frozen over from the recent snow. “I can’t believe he took that risk. Watchers are never to approach the Recorders. It could totally upset the balance.” She worried her lower lip between her teeth.

When she used the same terms as Gage, my anxiety elevated. I expected her to deny his claims and then we’d laugh about the incident. “Grams, please tell me. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I took a deep breath. “Some weird things happened last night. Occasionally I notice unusual things, but it’s an old house and I have an active imagination, but this time it scared me.”

Added note: This manuscript placed second in the 2015 Golden Palm Contest of the Florida Romance Writers—Paranormal category

maureenbonatch

Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line.

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Guest Interview–Reggi Allder

Hi, Linda, thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I write freestyle. I’m a pantser, not a plotter. Years ago, I took classes to study plotting. I tried using 3 by 5-inch cards for each scene, colored posted notes for each character and made outlines of the book. This works well for many writers. But I had a bout of writer’s block when I tried it. My creativity shut down and I was stymied. Now I write as Jo Beverley used to say, “out into the mist.” I know where the book starts and ends. After that, I let the characters take me through the events and plot twist. I add characters as I see they are needed. In one of my romantic suspense books, Shattered Rules, I was more than halfway through the book when I realized the person I thought was the villain was a red herring and another character became the bad guy.

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

I listen to all kinds of music, rock, classical, jazz, etc. I’ve even listened to the international news for a suspense book I was writing. For the Sierra Creek Series Her Country Heart Christmas Edition and His Country Heart, I played country western music as the books takes place in a small town in the foothills of California, with a strong cowboy and a determined woman.

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

Three of my favorite places for a vacation are San Francisco, Carmel by the Sea and Lake Tahoe, California. I’ve used these locations in several of my books, including two suspense and a western contemporary. It’s great to go online and check out cities, but nothing can compare with meeting the people of the area. I experience the food, weather, and atmosphere, things not available online. I’m looking for another place to visit–any ideas?

CarmelbytheSea

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

Often, I’m writing two books in different genres and I will switch to the other genre. When I’m really puzzled, I take a break and do something completely different, garden, cook, read, etc. If I have enough time, I’ll take my dogs out for a walk. I bring my phone/camera and take pics of whatever attracts me on that day. Usually an idea comes to me during the outing.

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

I grew up with a dog and a cat. Now we live with two dogs, a pure bred and a rescue puppy who barks too much, but is very sweet. I’ve also raised a puppy for Guide Dogs for the Blind. She lived with us for over a year and then returned to guide a woman in Southern California. I’ve also volunteered as a foster care person for Guide Dogs for the Blind. I always wanted a horse, but it never happened. Still, I enjoyed researching quarter horses for my cowboy in Her Country Heart Christmas Edition.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

A review of one of my books said, “…a darn good read.” That’s what I hope for readers, to have a compelling read with characters they care about and are hard to forget. Whatever their mood, I want the reader to get lost in the story and come away with a sense of optimism.

HerCountryXmas_1011

BLURB

Crazy for cowboys? Want to fall in love?

Will Amy Long have a home for Christmas?

A single mother, she was downsized and then lost her apartment in the city. Hoping to find a fresh start, Amy returns to the small town of Sierra Creek. Does she fit in? Cowboy Wyatt Cameron knows she belongs in the city and he has the power to see she returns. Sparks fly when opposites attract.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Amazon UK

Amazon CAN

Amazon AU

EXCERPT

“Sierra Creek,” the driver shouted as the Greyhound Bus came to an abrupt stop on the two lane highway.

Amy Long pushed her hair behind her ears and grabbed the worn suitcase. Surprised to see her hand tremble, she seized the case with both hands and rushed toward the front of the bus.

A gust of hot wind slapped her face as she stepped off the bus. Gravel pelted her bare legs when it drove away. She squinted and read a faded road sign, Sierra Creek population five thousand. There wasn’t a building in sight.

After years of living in the city, she’d forgotten how sweltering and desolate it was here. She’d vowed never to return home. Odd it was the first place that came to mind when she and her young son needed a fresh start.

With Granny gone, there was no family left to welcome her. She swallowed a sob. Maybe it was a mistake to come back.

The relentless afternoon sun beat down on her shoulders and her arms began to burn. San Francisco, the air-conditioned city, seemed a million miles away.

Impatient, she cleared her dry throat, wiped perspiration from her forehead, and let out a groan as the minutes ticked by. What wouldn’t she give for some shade and a bottle of ice water?

With a sigh, she pulled out her smart phone and checked the time. Thirty minutes since she’d arrived at the bus stop and not a single car had gone by. Where was the arranged ride into town?

Granny’s handyman was supposed to meet her. He obviously wasn’t a stickler about being on time. She reminded herself she was in the California foothills not in a busy metropolis where time was money.

The sound of a truck rumbled in the distance. With the back of her hand, she pushed her bangs out of her eyes and squinted. Hopeful, she watched the pick-up come closer. A shiny black Ford F 150 with extended cab pulled up in front of her.

“Amy?” A man yelled through the open window as his brown hair fell casually over a high forehead and deep-set blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight. She moved nearer and stared at his wide cheek bones, square jaw and full lips. About thirty?

A flutter of recognition stirred in her as palpable charm radiated from his broad smile, Wyatt Cameron.

His muscular arms flexed as his huge hands squeezed the steering wheel. “Don’t just stand there. Get in.”

Surprised by his gruffness, she stepped back.

“I heard you need a ride into town,” he said quietly as if he understood her reaction. “I’m Wyatt.”

“Hi, nice to see you again.” Even now her cheeks burned with the memory of him. She tightened the grip on the suitcase. As she stared her heartbeat increased and her breathing quickened. “Granny’s handyman is going to give me a ride.”

“You could say that’s me. Toss your suitcase in the back and get in the truck.”

She shook the pebbles from her flip flops and picked up her suitcase. Filled with everything she and her son might need, she grunted and struggled to lift the enormous bag high enough to push it into the raised truck bed.

Wyatt hopped out of the cab and brushed by her. With a sharp intake of breath, she took in his fresh just-out–of–the-shower scent.

Effortlessly, he tossed the bag into the truck.

She quickly hauled herself into the vehicle and slammed the door. “Nice pick-up. Beautiful upholstery,” she said trying for casual conversation. She ran her hand over the black and white leather seat.

“It’s custom. Had it done in Sacramento by a guy who specializes it tuck and roll car seats.”

“Really nice.”

Pretty fancy truck for handyman. The job must pay better than she’d thought. For some reason she’d believed Granny’s handyman would be an old retired guy gnarled from too much sun and hard work, not the hunk sitting next to her.

“Where’s your son? Thought he’d be with you.”

“He’s staying with a friend of mine in San Francisco. Bobby’s only four. I thought it’d be better if I took care of things here before he comes to the farm.” She paused. “It’s only been a few hours since I left and I already miss him.”

She sighed and leaned back. The purr of the truck’s engine soothed her and her breathing slowed.

“Thanks for giving me a ride. If you drop me at my grandmother’s farm I’ll change my clothes.”

“It’s too late for that. We can’t keep Judge Wilcox waiting.”

REVIEW COMMENT

“I’m HOOKED!!! …A seriously great book!! and I am so happy it is a series, because I am invested in what happens to Amy and Wyatt.

ReggiPhoto Smaller

An author of romantic suspense and contemporary romance novels including “The Sierra Creek Series,” where strong cowboys and determined women intersect. Reggi writes tales of love lost and then found and stories of heroes and heroines who discover love and wonder if they’ll live long enough to enjoy it. Her characters cope with longings and betrayals as each fight to discover a hidden strength.

At University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), she studied screen writing and creative writing and is a past chapter president of Romance Writers of America and current member of RWA.

It makes her day to hear from readers.

GIVEAWAY

Leave a comment for a chance to win a kindle eBook of my new novella With Glowing Hearts, a World War Two romance- Love can be found in unexpected places. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced at the end of the day.

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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Guest Author Interview–Diana Rubino

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my books, and short stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, and New York. My urban fantasy romance, Fakin’ It, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. I live on Cape Cod with my husband Chris.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Get lost on journeys through history and meet folks who shook things up.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I bicycle, golf, work out, walk, play my piano, am very much into the paranormal, and devour books of any genre.

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

Since I started writing bio novels with no fictional characters, I start with the characters—I read about their journeys and accomplishments, and stick as close to possible to the historical record.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I’m a strict outliner and plotter—I use Donald Maass’s WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL workbook and use dozens of questionnaires.

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

Yes, all of them—I also love Austria and Mozart, which I’ve never written about, and that’s on my list, too.

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

How ‘wordy’ the piece can get—I have some really good proofreaders who pare it down and trim it ʼtil it’s lean and mean!

In what genre do you read?

I read all genres but my favorites are biographies and books about the unexplained, especially ghosts. Astronomy books also fascinate me.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope they’ll forget their problems for a while, and escape into a world where life was simpler, yet much harder.

AroundTheWorldIn80Meals

BLURB 

Around the World in 80 Meals: The Best of Cruise Ship Cuisine weaves gastronomic delights around an exotic seven-day dream fantasy cruise. Imagine waking up on a different ship in a new port of call every day, and treating your taste buds to a gourmet meal every evening, each carefully prepared by one of the best chefs afloat.

This book highlights the most interesting menus and recipes of a diversity of cruise lines, from the luxurious Cunard Line, famed for its opulent ocean liners, to a small but highly exclusive line of yachts that offer the most personalized cruise experience.

Amazon buy link

Sample from a Cruise Menu:

THE PRESIDENT’S DINNER

President Ford’s Smoked Norwegian Salmon Terrine with Red Salmon Caviar Sauce

This appetizer was one of the more sophisticated first courses created for President Ford. He always came to the table with a healthy appetite after swimming in the White House outdoor pool, rain or shine.

Smoked Norwegian Salmon Terrine 

Ingredients (6 servings)

1 pound sliced smoked Norwegian salmon

2 cups cream cheese

¼ cup cream

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/3 cup fresh dill, finely chopped

2 tablespoons capers

fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

Place cream cheese, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, dill and capers in a food processor. Season to taste with pepper and combine.

Butter a 6 cup terrine pan. Line base and sides with plastic wrap overhanging two inches at ends.

Layer enough smoked salmon to cover bottom of pan. Layer 1/3  cup cream cheese mixture equally over salmon. Repeat layering process until all the salmon is used. The top layer should be salmon.

Fold plastic wrap over salmon, pressing down gently. Refrigerate overnight.

Before serving, turn onto a platter and remove wrap. Trim ends and cut into slices. Drizzle with red salmon caviar sauce (recipe follows). Serve.

Red Salmon Caviar Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup sour cream

8 ounces crème fraiche

½ cup mayonnaise

4 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

1 pinch white pepper

3½ ounces red salmon caviar

Instructions

Combine sour cream, creme fraiche, mayonnaise, dill, and white pepper in a bowl. Stir well.

Carefully mix in caviar. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Drizzle over salmon terrine (recipe above).

BIO

Diana’s passion for history and travel has taken her to every locale of her stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, and New York. Her urban fantasy romance, Fakin’ It, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband Chris. Together they own CostPro, Inc., an engineering business. In her spare time, Diana bicycles, golfs, plays her piano and devours books of any genre.

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Guest Interview of Rolynn Anderson

I’m enjoying my new brand!  Nope, I didn’t get a tattoo and no cowboy sizzled my skin with his logo.  I’m talking about my new author signature: a suspense writer who spikes her novels with romance and exotic settings.  Call me an inexpensive travel agent, if you want to.  With my novels, I promise you exciting adventures in a new locale, every time.

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It took a friend to point out the obvious.  My characters and I enjoy adventures in far-away places with people and cultures that challenge our sensibilities.  Mix in mystery, danger, and romance.  Watch the intensity spike!

LAST RESORT, my first novel, published by Wild Rose Press in 2011, began my ‘trend’ by taking the reader to an isolated fishing resort in British Columbia, Canada.

house on lake-Aug 25

My three-book series (FADEOUT, FAINT, and SWOON), about a boutique funeral planner whose dead clients refuse to rest in peace, is set in Arroyo Grande, California, which was foreign to me when I first arrived from Washington State in 2001.  FEAR LAND’s adventures focus on San Luis Obispo, California, a sure bet for tourist fun.

Watch how far and wide I travel in my next novels:

LIE CATCHERS: Petersburg, Alaska, settled by natives first, and lots of Norwegians later

BAD LIES: Italy (Rome and the Amalfi Coast)

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CÉZANNE’S GHOST: Aix-en-Provence, France

FIRE IS NICE (coming soon): Sequoia National Park

sequoia-Aug 25

You see, when characters are out of their comfort zone, away from home and the homey, the suspense ramps up.  Soon we discover how resilient, flexible and confident we are, when faced with unfamiliar territory.

All this provides a juicy, boiling, embroiling stew stirred up by a writer like me.

How about you?  Do you enjoy/use unusual settings to challenge characters (and readers)?  Please comment for a chance to win a free e-version of CÉZANNE’S GHOST.  From those of you who respond to the question between today and Friday at 6AM, I’ll pick one winner at random.

I hope you’ll celebrate with me, the release of CÉZANNE’S GHOST, climbing aboard for a wild, suspense-filled ride in exotic Aix-en-Provence, France.

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BLURB  Three young American women vanish in Aix-en-Provence, France. The FBI suspects their American tour guide.

Leon Beaudet, formerly a U.S. Olympic wrestler, is proud of his five-star guide business, but when tourists disappear on his watch, the FBI dredges up a violent episode in Leon’s past and tap him for the crime. Worse, his new tour group includes Aline Kerig, who is as beautiful and carefree as the three missing women. Leon is fascinated and puzzled by Aline even while he fears for her safety. She refuses to go back to the States, forcing the FBI and local police to involve her in the hunt.

With the French tourist industry about to collapse and Leon as a prime suspect, how does he protect Aline and find his lost tourists?

E-book & print on Amazon:  http://a.co/bQdl7jp

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Scandinavian, Army Brat, English Teacher, High School Principal, Golfer, Boater, World Traveler, Author. With her experiences, Rolynn Anderson is fairly bursting with stories about extraordinary people and amazing settings, real and contrived. Now add her competitive nature and her love of ‘the makeover.’ As a principal, she and the staff she hired, opened a cutting-edge high school; as co-captain with her husband on INTREPID, she cruises from Washington State to Alaska and back. As a writer, she delights in creating imperfect characters faced with extraordinary, transforming challenges. Her hope: You’ll devour her ‘makeover’ suspense novels in the wee hours of the morning, because her stories, settings and characters, capture your imagination and your heart.

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Guest Interview–Gemma Snow

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Hi! Thanks so much for having me on the blog today! I guess I can say I’ve always been a writer, since I’ve been telling stories my whole life. I come from a family of artists and the support I needed to turn a passion into a career always kept me on the track towards authorhood. I studied journalism in college, and that’s been an incredible asset to me as a fiction writer. I also lived in a castle for several months, which I consider equally as important.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

 So I’m actually an automotive journalist, which is a world away from romance in many ways, but similar too. Most of the things I love, love stories, classic cars, baking, art history, travel, share a certain theme, a celebration of the world and beauty and romance over the years, albeit in unique and different ways. I’m also very active, a die-hard yogi, a hiker and an amateur runner. #Ravenclaw #Feminist

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

 It’s actually funny, because it’s been so long that I’ve started from scratch, I really couldn’t tell you. I love writing series and worlds for my books. In the Triple Diamond series, I have whole other offshoots of characters that I know I could play with once the first four books are finished. Seduction en Pointe is a series, as are both of my WIP and coming releases for my other pen name. Because writing isn’t always a linear process, I tend to know the characters and overall action of books two, three and four while writing book one.

Is your writing planned or freestyle?

 I am one ball of yarn away from full-on, recently fired FBI agent with a cold case and a hunch. The bulletin board up right now is a six book series, including all the characters, excerpts, images and folders for books I haven’t even outlined yet. I have the rest of Triple Diamond planned out and already know how Full Swing is going to go. I think a lot of that is the world building that goes into a series, and a lot of that is just because I’d lose my mind if I didn’t.

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

 This is a great question! When I first started with Triple Diamond I’d never even flown over Montana, so the process for staging a whole full-length series there included a crash course in ranch life and Montana as a state, which was fun and challenging. Several of my books have been very heavily influenced by location, though. Seduction en Pointe is Paris, which I visited a few years ago and currently long for, haha. I’d say the biggest one is a book set in Amsterdam, heavily centered around the Rijksmuseum. I studied art history in Amsterdam and I couldn’t have had more fun writing those scenes.

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

 I’m a Pinterest nut. Honestly, it’s a ton of fun to look for character inspiration, so I have a bunch of secret boards of really attractive people. But the Triple Diamond series, for instance is full of images of ranches and mountain ranges. Since it’s a seasonal series, The Lovin’ is Easy is summer and my current WIP is fall, I get to go exploring for the feel and look of each new season. It’s such a fundamental part of my planning process that my boyfriend just rolls his eyes when he sees my screen filled with half-naked cowboys or pirates.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

 Names are tricky for me. Like titles, they’re either set in stone from the very beginning or close to the last thing I figure out. The historical books are definitely harder—they named all their boys after kings and all their girls after kings, but with an a at the end. For modern books though, it’s more about how the hero and heroines names sound together, or if they’re a team, how they’ll sound in a group. I also think about nicknames and how they might refer to each other, as well as name origin, so sites like BehindtheName.com have been incredible. I’d say one of my biggest challenges is in my current book, because Micah’s Native American, and I wanted to follow the specific naming customs for his heritage, but they weren’t easy to find. Suffice to say I’ve learned a lot.

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

I love animals. Right now, we have a big white and brown mutt named Houdini. We got him around Passover when he was still a baby, and my folks were dead set on naming him Moses. The great joke I’ll ever make in my life was that we named him after another famous Jew who escaped… And then there’s Vinnie, who we named for Vincent Van Gogh, because he’s white and ginger and had a small part of his ear missing. He’s the most loving cat I’ve ever met, except he’s now figured out that I’m watching the screen on my computer and not the keyboard, so he’ll just stand in front of it until I pay attention to him.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

 I mean, I love the idea of a reader using one of my books for escape, during all the madness of our current world. Romance has been an escape for me during many challenges in life, and it would be a real honor if I could help even one reader through their own or the world’s obstacles. I’m also pushing for inclusivity of all types in my books, regarding race, sexuality, age, relationship type, physical and mental capabilities and more. It’s really fundamental to my ideology that feminism isn’t feminism unless it’s intersectional, and I hope my writing reflects that.

 

New Release! (3)BLURB

When successful TV star of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Nicco Castillo, finds his boyfriend in bed with another man, he goes full-on Hollywood trainwreck that lands him in ER. Next thing he knows, the producers are shipping him off to Paris to shape up and learn to dance for the next season’s story arc. But his incredibly tempting Parisian ballet instructor, Isabelle La Croix, makes that all too difficult, especially when he learns about her decadent desires–desires Nicco is all too pleased to indulge in. Against the ballet barre, the balcon railing, and wherever and for however long Isabelle is willing to have him.

BUY LINKS

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Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Google

KOBO

EXCERPT

“What is it you’re reading?” he asked, thickening his Spanish accent. As long as he’d been chasing lovers, the Spanish charm had always worked wonders. Hell, it did wonders for getting him starring roles too.

“Who wants to know?” Her accent was light, as though she’d learned English alongside her French, studied in Sweden or London or New York City. But for all of the softness that came spilling out of those pale-rose lips, there was a steel core that told Nicco she wasn’t having any of his charm. Her words came out strong, self-possessed, and confident, and they made him curious about the woman below the slight frame. Despite appearing so soft, she held her head at a tilt that signified power, kept her neck straight, her shoulders arched. Everything about her stance told Nicco exactly how she felt at his intrusion into her space. Normally, he took his cues and left the obviously uninterested alone, but this woman was enchanting and mysterious, and Nicco found he couldn’t quite look away from her, even as he knew that he tempted the serpent, perhaps because he did.

“Niccolo.” He extended his hand. “Here for a meeting with Monsieur La Montagne.” According to the terms Parker had laid out, Nicco would be working alongside La Montagne’s office on a PR tour of Paris while he took his dance classes, giving a few interviews here and there, a signing or two, onward and upward.

The woman beside him, however, appeared abjectly unimpressed. He liked that, liked that she didn’t buy into his bullshit the way everyone else did, the way he’d been doing for so long.

“That is a remarkable coincidence,” she replied, her eyes taking on a sardonic glint he knew came at his expense, “given that you are in his office, after all.” Feisty, this one. She obviously enjoyed goading him, and Nicco felt a wash of something dangerous at the thought that men probably attempted to charm her quite often. For some reason, his visceral reaction to this strange, nymph-like woman grew stronger each time she stabbed him with her barbed tongue. That was inconvenient, to be certain, but it didn’t stop him from wanting more.

But there was something about his—well, he wouldn’t necessarily call it just an attraction—to this woman that went deeper than lust. Nicco had had lovers, more than his fair share of them since everything with Antonio had gone so royally tits up, and he’d never lacked for a partner if he wanted one. No, whatever had him suddenly desperate to learn more about this mysterious woman went deeper than that, to some fundamental part of himself that might even long for redemption.

“I’d heard about the French,” he said. He should just turn around and leave her to her magazine, but he just couldn’t seem to do so. “Seems the rumors about witches and the smell of cheese aren’t so terribly off.”

She raised an eyebrow, and he took some satisfaction in the small quirk at the corner of her mouth that told of a repressed smile. He’d bet a week’s pay that her smile would light up the city, and he promised himself that at some point, he would be the cause of it. He didn’t know how or why, just that it would happen one way or the other.

“American, is it?” she asked, ignoring his slight.

“Mostly,” he replied. “Spanish sometimes. Occasionally English.”

From her confused expression, Nicco wondered if he had been spending too much time in California. Normally, folks didn’t question his various origins. Of course, the French were reputedly distrusting of anyone who wasn’t French. Still, he had to admit that there was something simple and altogether enjoyable about flirting with a woman who didn’t want to sleep with him just because he was a celebrity or because she angled to get her face in the papers. It felt good to just be himself for what seemed like the first time in a very long time.

“Of course,” she replied, breaking his train of thought. “All that ego can’t be exclusively American, can it?”

Nicco almost laughed out loud.

“You already know me so well,” he said. “Would you care to know me better? Dinner, perhaps?” It was bold, and the moment the words were out of his mouth, Nicco knew it had been too audacious. Something flitted across her eyes, and he could almost see her folding into herself. No, he didn’t like that, didn’t enjoy seeing this confident person turn into something else so quickly. He might be an ass about recognizing the signs in his own life, but someone or something had clearly hurt her—recently, if the ache across those beautiful pale-blue eyes was anything to go by.

“No smart remark,” he commented, hoping to bring back some of the devil he’d seen in her expression. “I’m surprised.”

She squared her jaw, and Nicco found himself happy to see even a little of the fight fill her eyes, even if it was at his expense. And, as he had anticipated, she turned a cold tongue in his direction, murmuring low under her breath.

“You don’t know the first thing about me, so I’ll ask you kindly to take a walk.” Fury, for all it was leashed and low in her whisper. And it made him ache, made him feel some of the hurt in his own chest, because the first week after he’d discovered Tony with his lover, Nicco had lashed out at everyone and everything, taking the whole wide world down to his level of hurt and sadness.

He didn’t doubt that he was nothing more than the proxy for her fury, and it made him feel bad, made him ache for her and for himself a little too.

“Miss La Croix?”

Before she could say anything that might cut him to the quick—would most definitely cut him to the quick—the woman beside him nodded in answer to the receptionist and stood without another word. If he had thought the slope of her neck enticing, he wasn’t prepared for the way her long, powerful legs, visible below her light-blue dress, mesmerized him. She didn’t so much walk down the hall as glide, her body so completely under her command that it made him wonder about putting his body in her hands too. She didn’t give him a second look as she slipped away, and that made Nicco’s heart ache in a way he didn’t want to analyze.

Her magazine still sat on the corner of the table, one of the pages bookmarked with a thick, folded corner, as if she planned on going back to it. Thinking quickly, he pulled out a pen and scribbled a note down on the back cover.

If you ever need a stranger for a friend, give me a call. There are some things we don’t heal from so easily.

Below that, he jotted his e-mail address and then took a short jog down the hallway to catch up with her. The simple note, just like the few extra moments he had spent with his fans outside, felt like color returning to the black-and-white version of himself. He still couldn’t see the full picture, not yet, but just being out of LA helped him focus.

She looked surprised and not all that happy when he drew level with her.

“You left this,” he said, handing her the magazine but not letting go.

She pursed her lips. “And what do you want in exchange for it?” Her tone sounded almost resigned. Bored, almost. He knew better, though. Her expression had a fire—blue and burning—and he rather enjoyed inspiring a reaction in her, whatever it was.

“What’s your name?” he asked her, suddenly desperate to know. By the smallest amount, her expression softened, and Nicco had to wonder what she had expected him to ask. He’d never push a person to do anything they didn’t want to do. He had retained some standards over the last few months of going full-on Hollywood.

“The catch?” she asked, her lips still pointedly pursed in his direction. And what lips they were.

Nicco shook his head. “No catch. I just want to know your name.” He really, really did. She sighed and nodded, sending the white-blonde ponytail swishing across her shoulder. Then she squared her jaw and lifted her chin.

“Isabelle La Croix.” She offered nothing else.

“Isabelle,” he repeated, because he couldn’t seem to stop himself from doing so. “A pleasure.” He handed her the magazine with his note facing down and watched as she gave a sharp nod and continued down the hallway, watched her far after there was nothing left to watch. What about this woman set his body to flame and his mind to far more carnal images than would ever be appropriate for a chance encounter in a producer’s waiting room and so, so much more?

Something hidden that came in bursts of emotion across her pale-blue eyes, something that came in the cut of her shoulders and the grace of her walk.

Miss La Croix. It fit her. She was so utterly French, petite, graceful, sharp around the edges and beautiful beyond the pale. Nicco trod in dangerous waters. He had only just left California behind, and already he panted after a woman he would never see again, unless her facade cracked and she actually decided to contact him. He could hope, kind of had to hope, because there was something about her that was so unlike anyone he had ever met. She had a self-possession, a self-awareness that almost made him envious, would have, if it hadn’t impressed him so.

The whole thing made him…a little relieved. He’d had lovers since Antonio, of course, men and women to waste the lonely nights with, to party with and get drunk with. But to actually find himself feeling a deep, intense connection—and with a person he had only just met—it gave him hope that he might not be on his own forever. Maybe Tony’s infidelities hadn’t completely destroyed who Nicco had been before, after all.

Ruby Small

Gemma Snow is the author of several works of erotic and romantic fiction in both the contemporary and historical genres, and enjoys pushing the limits of freedom, feminism, and fun in her stories.  She has been an avid writer for many years, and recently moved back to her home state of New Jersey from Boston, after completing her education in journalism and creative writing.
In her free time, she loves to travel, and spent a semester abroad living in a 14th century castle in the Netherlands. When not exploring the world, she likes dreaming up stories, eating spicy food, driving fast cars, and talking to strangers.

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Guest Interview–Min Edwards

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m a retired archaeologist, archaeological illustrator and former owner of an independent bookstore, A Thirsty Mind Words & Wines (books and wines, what’s not to love!). I’ve lived in some rather eclectic places in my life; the high plains of Texas, the Philippines during the Marcos regime (I had more shoes than Emelda Marcos), London during the Northern Ireland unrest, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba before the prison was established there, Downeast Maine, Austin Texas and now back to a small farm on the shore of Cobscook Bay, Maine with my own private beach which since I began writing I haven’t visited much.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Reading, reading, reading. However, I’d like to say cooking but although I do it every day I’m awful at it. The kitchen was my mother’s domain when I was a kid. In fact, she wouldn’t even let me in there to do dishes (we had a dishwasher, but she didn’t trust it). I loved her for this. But a few months before I married I tried to make a Thanksgiving dinner for my fiancé. I should have started my writing career then because that Thanksgiving was a date to remember, a true tragedy. I didn’t know the turkey had to be thawed so I got out a hammer and big flat-head screwdriver and tried to hack out the giblets (thank goodness I knew there were giblets inside wrapped in waxed paper!). All day I wrestled with that bird until about 6 pm, then threw the bird into the kitchen sink and left him there until 10 pm and threw it in the over regardless of its defrostedness. When we sat down to eat at 3 in the morning, I have to say the turkey was tasty… not like my mom’s but my fiancé liked it. But then he’d eat roadkill if he was hungry enough. Faint praise for sure.

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

I’m a dialogue person, so usually I start jotting down dialogue, then I figure out what type of person is saying these sentences, then somehow the story fleshes out from there. Of course, I find myself spending way more time doing drafts than in writing the initial story. My debut novel wasn’t finished until the 17th draft. However, now I can have a finished manuscript to my editor after 3 drafts normally.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Freestyle, for sure. I can’t even plan a meal much less a novel!

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

I’m still working on my writing process, but with my recent work in progress, I found myself researching as the story unfolded… not the optimum step for sure. Now that I’m in the 2nd draft stage of that historical novel, I’m scrabbling for trivia to enrich my scenes. And unfortunately, I sometimes get lost in the research… bookmarking way too many sites on-line which have no bearing on the current scene or even the current book!

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

Yes, so far all my books carry memories of places I’ve been. In PRECIOUS STONE I’ve gone rather far afield though. Of course, I live in the village where the story begins, but after that my journey is merely wishful thinking. I’ve only dreamed of visiting the land of the painted caves in France and Scotland as well is just at the moment a number in my bucket list. However, in one scene in my novel STONE FALL, book 3 in the High Tide Suspense series, I describe a large snake, a constrictor. That snake didn’t come out of my imagination or from watching Animal Planet. Oh no, that snake, a reticulated python, showed up in my drainage ditch during rainy season when I lived in the Philippines, all 18 feet of him. He’d washed down from Mount Pinatubo… yes the one that exploded and covered Clark Airbase in central Luzon, in feet of ash… the mountain (which we didn’t know was an active volcano) stood at the end of my street. But I digress, a neighbor or someone must have seen this snake slither into the ditch because I was made aware of his presence only when a big base maintenance truck parked and many men jumped out and wrangled the huge thing into the back of the truck and took him away… probably to the base ‘jungle survival school’ where animals such as this were kept and we heard that men trained for jungle warfare there (this was during the Vietnam war). Of course, we didn’t know for sure. It was the military after all. Loose lips, you know.

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

I get up, put on the coffee, and eat a light breakfast while reading. I can’t start or end my day without a story. Most days I get interested in the story and when I look up it’s almost lunch. I eat again, do some chores, then by about 2 pm I’m ready to write… and do other things related to publishing, like marketing (Yuck). I try to write 1000 words every afternoon, sometimes it’s more, sometimes less, but I write every day. I know lots of writers do their work in the mornings, but I’m not my best then. It has to do with being a night owl. Most nights I don’t go to bed before 1 or 2 am. This aggravates my old dog to no end. He has a schedule and expects his human to adhere to it. Buy hey, I’m paying for his kibble and dog treats so I can do what I want without his input.

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

Yes, PRECIOUS STONE is a romantic suspense but I also write straight contemporary romance, historical women’s fiction and am co-writing a new archaeological thriller series with a long-time friend and retired archaeologist.

In what genre do you read?

Romance, Romantic Suspense, Action/Adventure/Thriller and hard Science Fiction… not much fantasy.

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

Yes, since the age of 2. My current love is a 90 pound 11-year-old rescued black German Shepherd… neurotic and so funny. He’s actually too big for my current house. When he decides to leave the comfort of his huge leather club chair and stretch out on the floor, he fills up the space between my fireplace and the opposite wall. I’m not kidding! And in the past, he’s been a detriment to my health. Two broken shoulders (mine not his) when he was in his middle years and still pretty peppy. Thank goodness, he’s slowed down because I’m not getting any younger and broken bones shouldn’t be in my future!

Thanks so much for having me today, Linda. I found romance writing rather late in my professional career, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else. I hope your readers enjoy a peek into my process and my life.

PreciousStone_200px

BLURB

PRECIOUS STONE: Book 4 in the High Tide Suspense series by Min Edwards

A gift of thanks to a young girl from the Tsar more than 100 years ago… and now the Russians want it back. 

Collee McCullough, the owner of The Bakery in Stone Bay, Maine, has a perfect life until early one morning men in suits come calling. She has something someone dangerous wants. Something that her Russian great-grandmother Natasha took when she fled Russia in 1913. Too bad great-gran never told her son or anyone else what she had or where she left it.

Jake Elsmore, visiting Stone Bay to sell his mother’s house, walks into The Bakery for a cup of Earl Grey tea, but gets more. There she is. Collee McCullough, stepping out from behind the Chief of Police, a lovely, fiery-haired fairy toting a shotgun while two men lay insensate on the floor of her shop. Looks like that tea will have to wait.

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EXCERPT

Collee McCullough stood at one of her wall ovens in The Bakery. She knew she needed to begin coordinating her day, it was after all 5 a.m. But this morning wasn’t working for her. She was fuzzy, confused, thinking of anything but baking. That was so unlike her, but she’d had that dream again last night… the one about running through snow, someone chasing her, knowing she was going to die. Since childhood that dream of fleeing in the snow haunted her nights, not every night, and after her teens not often. But when it came, it messed her up like nothing else. She’d never figured out where the damned dream came from. When she remembered details, which wasn’t often, the images in the dream weren’t familiar. The forest wasn’t the woods around Stone Bay, the snow was even different. She’d never figured it out.

Why couldn’t she dream of standing before an audience naked? That dream was supposed to be the worst, but that one never crept into her sleep… just snow-running.

Behind her the bell over her door jingled out its merry tune. Someone needed their coffee, or a sweet roll, or bacon. She needed to yank up her big-girl panties and get to work.

“The Bakery isn’t open yet, but what the heck. Come on in and find a table. I’ll be right out,” she yelled still trying to concentrate on the muffins coming out of her oven. Not the most professional thing to do, the yelling, but her customers and friends in tiny Stone Bay, Maine, thought it normal for her to bellow at them.

There was no sound from the dining room though, not even the scrape of a chair across her newly mopped floor. Some people don’t take direction well, she thought.

Collee shook herself, trying to knock last night’s dream out of her head. She didn’t need this distraction today. It was Friday, her busiest day of the week. She opened early but not at 5 a.m. as her customers seemed to think.

Walking out of the kitchen and up to her service counter, she was startled to see two men standing just inside her door. That was odd. Why were they merely standing there? What did they want? They certainly didn’t look like locals. Nope, no overalls, no foul weather jackets, no rubber boots, no gimmee caps on their heads. These men were city men, tailored suits, shiny shoes which of course wouldn’t stay shiny for long now that mud-season was in full swing. Mud-season, now that was an apt word for a Maine spring.

Being a safety-conscious person, Collee reached down under the counter and put her hand on the stock of the shotgun her brother Nick, the police chief, insisted she keep there. He said just the sound of cocking the damned thing normally scared the bejeesus out of people… unless they were high on something. But here on the coast of Maine, the edge of America, she didn’t see too many druggies. She knew some kids smoked pot… jeez, she’d done that herself in her younger years. But without a pharmacy in town, there weren’t any places to steal the bad stuff. And the clinic was down the road, five miles at least from her shop. There wasn’t much there to steal either.

While the men stood silently, staring at her with what she interpreted as mean, cold eyes, Collee slowly gripped the stock tighter and pulled the shotgun above the level of the counter, cocked it, then pointed it at the intruders, thinking to herself, Damn, I should have loaded it.

“What do you want? As I said, I’m not open yet.”

The man in front gave her a brief and not at all friendly smile, then began slowly walking toward her across the old oak-planked floor, leaving the other man behind guarding the door. Guarding? Why did she think that?

“Stop right there. My brother is the police chief. He comes in about this time every morning to pick up his coffee. He’ll kick your ass then throw your skanky butt in jail.” This was a load of hogwash because Stone Bay didn’t have an actual jail. Her brother, Nick, processed prisoners quickly and transported them to the sheriff’s department in the county seat. The only cell was his back spare office, which he kept bare of any furniture except a chair and a card table. He called it his conference room. The Stone Bay Police department was relatively new, and Nick had only been the chief for a little more than eighteen months. However, a jail extension on the police/fire department building on the hill was planned to begin in a month. She didn’t think this situation could wait a month though.

“Colleen Onegin?” The bigger of the two men asked with a small crooked grin, almost sinister-looking.

“No, Collee McCullough. You must have the wrong woman.”

“I don’t think so, my dear,” the man growled low in his throat as he came closer.

She kept her eyes glued to him but noticed in her peripheral vision her brother stepping up onto the sidewalk just outside the door. He noticed the interlopers because he gave her a wink, the rat, and nodded his head slightly. Then she watched him slowly reach for the handle on her front door.

In the next moment, that front door slammed open shattering the glass, hitting the second man who’d remained at the entrance in the back and throwing him across the room. Chief Nick McCullough stormed through the destroyed door, gun drawn, a menacing look on his face. “Get back to the kitchen, Collee. I’ll take care of this.”

She didn’t have to hear another word. Her brother was beyond tough, serving four tours in the military police in Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan. He could take care of her and anyone else in his sphere with his hands tied behind his back, and by the story she heard from him one night while he was, as they say, in his cups, he’d once done just that.

BIO

Min Edwards is the pen name of retired Archaeologist and owner of A Thirsty Mind Publishing and Design, Pam Headrick. She toyed her whole life with writing but it wasn’t until she moved to her small seaside farm on the far eastern coast of Maine that she began her career in earnest. She’s published five novels with her sixth being released in just a few weeks, THE RUSSIAN PHOENIX, a women’s fiction historical novel and prequel to PRECIOUS STONE.

Drop in on her alter-ego, Pam at the business website at www.athirstymind.com where you can learn all about the book design business, and visit with Min at www.MinEdwards.com where you can learn about her writing life.

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Author Interview of Andrea R. Cooper

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m a wife and mom to three kids. Currently, I’m a stay-at-home mom and full-time author. I grew up creating stories and characters and haven’t stopped yet.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Romancing Adventure

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Reading, Zumba, Martial Arts. Used to be a gamer, but hard to fit in nowadays.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Freestyle. I have an idea and characters and basic destination in mind, but I don’t plot or outline.

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

Imagine Dragons, Godsmack, anything with a beat

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

I brainstorm while cleaning. Since I’d rather write than scrub floors, my creative mind usually gives me ideas pretty quickly.

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

My biggest surprise was when I discovered no writer has a perfect story. That editors and revision must take place for every book.

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

Yes. I also write fantasy romance, urban fantasy, and historical romance.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

Scotland. I’d love to walk through the old and new castles there.

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

Yes, I love Pinterest. All my books have boards there with characters, outfits, scenery, etc.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

Entertainment and a good story.

 

Fallen

BLURB

She has seduced men everywhere…but never fallen in love. Until now.

Succubus Adeline lost her powers. The crystal that all her kind crave has attached itself to her and rendered her powerless. Unless she finds a way to remove it, she’ll transform into a human–a fate worse than death.

Soon the tables are turned on the succubus, and the succubus finds herself the one at the mercy of desire.

Jack is running from vamps and weres. They want his hidden doppelgänger talents to locate a stone that enables weres to transform at will, but he just wants to be left alone. Now he has a bounty hunter after him.

In a race against time, vampires, and weres, Adeline and Jack travel from Boston to Greece to New Orleans to stay ahead of the hunters.

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EXCERPT

She scrolled through her cell as the taxi turned at a light, and Greek swear words were exchanged between their driver and an electric scooter rider. Jack’s eyes closed, and his head rested on the back of the seat, his cheeks pale.

What would she do if the order came from the master vampire who was after him? Jack tied himself to Beth in order to save Adeline. How can I repay him? The crystal latched onto her wrist caught the light. Right, if I don’t get this thing removed soon, all of my kin nearing 5,000 years will put a bounty on me. Visiting the Oracle, on behalf of a witchdoctor, would give her the chance to get information about removing the quartz without dying.

Her gaze glided over the Oracle voodoo doll. No, she’d probably be lucky if the Oracle didn’t strangle them when she met them.

Adeline dug out a mint and shivered when she pushed aside the cuffs in her purse. Snippets of hot memory of Jack on her made her debate sending the cab driver away for a few hours and straddling Jack. She offered him a mint and took one for herself. His hand brushed hers as the taxi took a sharp turn, its tires squealing.

Focus. It’s only his borrowed powers that make you feel this way. My powers. She checked her texts. Most were from men around the world asking when she’d come see them. Delete, delete, delete. Two messages from Renee, one from Damon, and one from her employer. She cringed.

Status update pronto. Never taken you this long to tag and bag a guy.

Yeah, well she’d never been without her abilities before. Working on it. She texted a reply.

Both of Renee’s notes were short, and the last one cryptic. You okay? Any update? And Call us when you can. We have something to discuss with you.

Damon’s text was blunt: Gotten the rock off yet? Or are you being chased?

Meaning by incubi and succubus who craved the crystal to amplify their gift and avoid becoming demons, or ones who already twisted and sought more wars and violence in the world of mankind. Of course, she’d tried everything to get it off. Even offered it to Damon and her succubus cousin, Samara, but the bracelet wouldn’t let go.

5-star Review snippet:

“This is a fantastic paranormal read and i just loved Jack and Adeline they were great characters.”

Andrea Cooper-June 21

Andrea has always created characters and stories. She writes paranormal and historical romance. When not writing or reading, one may find Andrea dancing in Zumba.

She believes in the power of change and counting each moment as a blessing. But most importantly, she believes in love.

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Guest Interview with Sheryl Winters

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

Research is a tricky subject. I can get lost for hours so I now use a simple technique to keep the story flowing. In my first draft, I type the word RESEARCH in big bold letters when I need a solid fact. An example of this is in Harper’s Place. Since the story is set in New York City, the snow fall accumulation had to be right. I wrote the story, added a realistic amount of snow for a snow storm and upped the believability Harper and Patrick’s romance.

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

Writer’s block involves smacking my head against the table, repeatedly until the blood vessels in my head have opened up. I’m just kidding. When writer’s block hits, I will find myself reading the story over again from the beginning, letting myself feel all the emotions the characters feel. Usually, this is enough to clear up any writer’s block and let me proceed.

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

Editing and revision can be fun. I like to restructure the story after I’ve made a rather terrible first draft. Each editing pass brings the story I’m working on closer to the original vision I intended. So I think I am most surprised at how much I enjoy editing something I’ve created.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

Baby name sites are wonderful for character naming, and I’ve more than one bookmarked. I can get stuck for hours finding the perfect name, so Baby Name sites become invaluable.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope my readers enjoy the stories I write for them. I want them to forget about reality as they roam through the worlds I’ve created.

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

I’d love to say I can devote an entire day to writing. I try to maximize the time I have. If I only have an hour or so, I’ll do light editing. I find that real creativity takes time and quiet and the ability to let myself be bored so that my imagination can explode.

Harpers Place

BLURB:

Harper Grey is fed up with over-bearing men.

Her father wants to sell the family hamburger joint to her brother because a woman could never make it successful.

Harper knows she has the same flair for business as her mother, and sexy Navy SEAL Patrick O’Brien dares her to prove it to the world.

When duty calls and Patrick must leave her side, will Harper be strong enough to make her dream a reality?

BUY LINKS

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Bookstrand

EXCERPT

“How would you bring in new business, though?”

I’m amazed that he seems to find our conversation interesting. He’s an audience willing to listen and I’ve not had that in a long time. Damn this crush of mine. It won’t be easy to tame after tonight.

“New menu items, specials, things like that. Start serving dessert, like pies. Easy cook items. With the new burgers, I’ve created and a new décor, I’d open in the summer when the air is fresh and everyone is happy to be out of the snow, hungry for grilled food. I think we could do fine.”

“What’s your hold up?”

“Tony, Dad. It’s complicated.” I shrug. His arm feels good, and I have the overwhelming urge to nuzzle against it. “Did you kiss Amy Parker when you were twelve? She still brags about it.” Did I just ask him about kissing? What is wrong with me? Will this mouth of mine never shut up? Stop it, Stop it, stop it!

“That I did, in a closet over at Robert Anderson’s house.”

“Ew.”

“I was twelve and desperate. You can’t blame me. I do blame that stupid soda bottle.  And your first kiss?” There is a challenge in his voice.

“Kevin Monroe at the Klines Movie Theater. He sent me a six-page note the next day about how much he loved me, and I freaked out and dumped him.”

“Any regrets?”

I choke back a giggle. “Naw, ‘cept I remember I liked his cologne. It could have been aftershave, but it was nice.” It’s not half as nice as the Aramis that Patrick has on. Something about it sends a shiver up my spine that has nothing to do with the zombie waiting in Dad’s office.

“The dark isn’t so bad, now is it?”

“I guess not.”

Silence surrounds us. The fear that enveloped me seems to disappear.

“Are you seeing anyone?”

“No.” It sounds terrible now that I’ve said it out loud. Like I’m admitting to being a desperate and dateless leper.

“So,” he drawls out, “ever thought of dating a military guy?” He squeezes my fingers.

Is he serious?

His fingertip smooths over the rough callouses I’ve gained from years of hard work. Suddenly my wasted evening of not going out to celebrate is starting to look better. “I think it would depend on which military guy.”

“You’re killing me. You know that, don’t you?” His strangled tone only sets off a case of the giggles.

“Are you asking me out, Patrick?”

“Trying to, but you’re not making it easy.” The challenge is back in his voice.

“I wouldn’t mind a date or two,” I manage to squeak out. Breathe, Harper, just breathe, calmly through your nose, out your mouth. Sainted Mother of God, Patrick asked me out! I hit the jackpot! Now all I have to do is not hit him.

BIO

In a small town outside of Anchorage, Sheryl Winters can be found penning her next novel with her two cats and one dog at her side. On sunny days, she can be found in Hatcher’s Pass about an hour outside of Anchorage.

Sheryl is a firm believer that superheroes are among us—regular people whose actions “create beauty out of chaos.” Sheryl is an advocate in the fight against bullying.

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Guest Interview—Jana Begovic

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (ex Yugoslavia) where I spent most of my adult life. I also acquired most of my higher education there (B.A. and M.A. degrees in languages and literature). With my husband and son, I immigrated to Canada in 1991, half a year before the country was engulfed in a civil war. After graduating from the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University, Canada, I started working for the Department of National Defence and began my career path as a foreign language curriculum and testing specialist. With a full-time job that involves a lot of international travel, too, I currently write only as a hobby.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Gourmet cooking and entertaining friends and family, reading, running and other fitness activities, travel, walks in nature.

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

I think of the characters first and have a rough contour of the plot in my mind. I allow the story to evolve organically without much planning.

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

I’ve traveled to most of the locations I mention. For example, in Poisonous Whispers, parts of the plot unfold in Vienna, Rome, Barcelona and Glasgow. Glasgow is one of the cities I have not visited yet. England and Ireland are also mentioned in this book, and I was fortunate to visit England several times. I dream of travelling to Ireland because I feel a strong attraction to that country. My bucket list is much too long for one lifetime.

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

When I get stuck, I simply stop writing and let the story ferment further in my subconscious mind. I also believe in synchronicities, that is meaningful coincidences that come into your life when you need them. And invariably, whenever I’d hit a reef in my storytelling, I would hear a story from a friend or an acquaintance during my travels that would inspire me to continue writing. When it comes to Poisonous Whispers, I simply trusted the process because I believed this book was destined to be born. I will never forget sitting in an airport in Europe and having the “Aha” moment, and knowing without a speck of doubt where the story needed to go in order for the plot line to come full circle.

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

I was shocked to see my characters assume a life of their own. They became alive and started to control the storyline. I was especially surprised that the heroine would reveal a certain secret to her husband almost ruining her marriage. That was so unnecessary and cruel!!! When it comes to editing itself, the realization that it is an almost never-ending process, that it is almost impossible to catch every single error discouraged and frustrated me many times. And I’m not even a perfectionist in my everyday life!

What’s your dream vacation destination?

A hot climate with white pebbled beaches surrounded by pine trees, buzzing with cicada song and infused with the scent of brine and Mediterranean grasses. I believe I’m describing the Adriatic coast where I used to vacation, and which I will always miss.

In what genre do you read?

I read both fiction and non-fiction, commercial and literary prose, but literary fiction is my preferred genre. I enjoy the depth of literary thought, and I crave books that make me stop after every couple of pages and contemplate life.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope that readers derive pleasure from reading my debut novel; I hope they read it slowly, visualizing the pictures of both the physical and emotional landscapes I painted; I hope they lose track of time once they step into the multi-layered worlds I created; I hope the heroine’s pain-laced journey touches them, and also shows them that pain and loss, and poor judgment can deepen, strengthen, humble and redeem us.  And I hope they like and relate to my characters in spite of their flaws and moral fallibility.

Poisonous Whispers-1207

BLURB

“Don’t you ever forget about me…,” he whispers during their secret encounters. Like a curse, these simple words now haunt Leandra, a reputable psychiatrist, who finds herself in emotional chaos after the sudden breakup of her illicit affair. Unable to heal on her own and tormented by dreams in which supernatural forces create havoc with her fate, she desperately turns to David, a colleague psychiatrist, asking him to take her through past-life regression therapy. She hopes that this unorthodox and somewhat suspect technique will explain her profound connection to the lover who has abandoned her so abruptly.

The sessions take Leandra through 17th and 19th century Ireland, Italy and England, where love, loss and betrayal are the leitmotifs in an ambiance of co-mingled fantasy and reality. In her hypnotic state, Leandra recounts a saga of intoxicating love, dizzying passion, flaming lust and profound heartbreak. Despite the painful answers she finds under hypnosis, Leandra still cannot let go of the hope to reunite with her lover. Ultimately, the shattering revelations from her past-life incarnations, along with the turmoil over her ruined marriage, become the stepping stones of her introspective path to healing, self-discovery and an appreciation of true love.

BUY LINKS

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EXCERPT

A tiny streak of pale light is cascading softly down the cell window and making a shy sliver in the veil of darkness. I open my eyes, disoriented. I do not move; I do not even dare blink until I get my bearings. Then I remember and freeze in horror. I sit up, an aching all over my body and cold dread in my heart. Instinctively, I try to disentangle my matted hair with my fingers, but it is hopeless. All around me, I smell mold, decay and death. How can I survive another day in this hole? The sound of the door opening with a screech makes me jump in terror.

The gaoler walks in; a heavy set of keys dangling and jingling in his hand.

“Come. You are being moved in preparation for tonight’s execution. A verdict was reached.”

I speak not but follow him. We climb a steep staircase. Below us, I hear moans and yells and what sounds like the death throes of those hopelessly lost to the world and forgotten by justice, compassion and mercy. Again, I am feeling dissociated from the event of my calamity; I see my body walking, but my soul is not in it and indifference over what might happen floods me. Death is not the end. Death offers me salvation from pain, from the torment of living a human life.

We leave the jailhouse and enter the house across the street to the village inn. The inn owner, James Bourke, looks at me with hatred and disdain. He also always hated my husband because his wife had hoped my husband would marry her. She was in love with him, and when he married me she tried to kill herself. James married her later, but has always known that she never stopped loving my husband.

The gaoler takes me upstairs to one of the guest rooms and locks the door behind me. The room is wide and clean even though sparsely furnished. The bed is large and looks inviting and I realize how exhausted I am. On the bed is a white, thin chemise and I immediately understand thisis what I will wear tonight when I am pushed off the bridge into the water that is cool even on the hottest of summer days. Will I have the strength or the will to swim and save myself? What surprises and almost delights me under such grave circumstances is a bathtub in the corner of the room. There is steam rising from it and I immediately undress and slip into it, relieved to be able to wash off the dirt, the grime, and above all the horrible stench on my body. I rub myself raw trying to clean my skin. Washing my hair is more difficult because at home I have servants who help me with bathing, dressing and undressing. I have been spoilt by marrying a man of wealth and power. Where is my husband now? I crave his protection. If he saved me now, would I give up Kieran, would I give up love in order to live? I surmise I would.

After I have washed, I come out of the tub feeling more exhausted than ever. At the same time, I realize I have not eaten for over a day and devour the plate of bread, cheese and apples ravenously. As I am eating, I can feel tears stream down my face; they are tears of silent despair and hopelessness. My chest is heaving with pain and I have difficulty swallowing the last few bites. I throw myself on the bed thinking my weeping and sobbing will continue forever, but I fall asleep. One would think that my dreams would be filled with the terror of the situation, but instead I dream of Kieran. In my dream I accuse him of being a weakling, of not fighting for our love. He just looks at me sadly and his eyes are filled with tears of powerlessness. He is also saying something in his defense, but I do not understand his words. I wake up feeling a sharp pain stabbing my chest and I gasp for breath. I feel like I am suffocating. I take a sip of water from the pitcher on the floor and the pain subsides. Outside, the moon is peering out from behind a cloud and I realize I’ve slept through the whole day. It is time to get ready for a new chance at life or for death.

I use the chamber pot and wash myself again with the bath water that is no longer clean. I tie my hair into a braid and pin it up. If I had scissors, I would gladly cut it off so it does not weigh me down once the cool river takes me in its wet embrace.

I sit on the bed waiting for my fate to open the next chapter of my life. I do not understand why I am suddenly so peaceful, and I cannot be certain if it is tranquility or resignation that has filled my heart.

I have no reaction when I hear the key turn in the lock and see the homely face of the gaoler appear in the doorframe. He is carrying a large red candle and in its light his toothless smile appears eerie and foreboding.

“Are you ready, my lovely, to face the savior? I must say ‘tis a shame to see such a nice body go to waste and be eaten by the fishes and snakes, but you are not the first or the last wretched witch this village has put an end to.”

His laughter is broken by a cough that must be tearing up his insides. It is so strong that it overwhelms him and he has to bend down to cough out something awful that seems to have been stuck in his throat. What a horrid man!

From a 5-star review

“The writing is exquisite—a book of depth, sophisticated in style, literary in nature. Ms. Begovic displays strong lyrical and poetic writing filled with symbolism and universal truths. The book also holds an element of suspense that keeps the reader wondering about the relationships of the characters until the surprise ending. A beautiful story, a compelling read.”

Beverly Knauer, Author of “The Line Between”

Jana_Begovic_Photo

As far back as she can remember, Jana has been fascinated by storytelling and intoxicated with the written word. As a young child, she began spinning stories, talking to an imaginary friend and devouring fairy tales. Her love of reading and writing drove her to study languages and literature. She works for the Government of Canada in the field of military language training. She was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, but has lived in Canada since 1991.

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GIVEAWAY

One AUTOGRAPHED book copy as giveaway will be mailed to a reader who leaves a question/comment and his/her contact info. The author will select the winner randomly. Good luck!

 

Guest Interview—Willa Blair

Welcome to my friend I met while living in Texas. Tell us a bit about you and your background

A life-long student and reader, I’ve been a stained glass artist and instructor, a foreign language teacher, a computer scientist, an analyst, a manager and an executive. I’ve visited five continents and can get by in several languages. Scouting new settings for books is lots of fun, and being an author is the best job I’ve ever had.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

“Romance and Adventure”. I add “…in the Highlands of Scotland” for my Scottish books!

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I’m sorry, I don’t understand. What does “away from the computer” mean? ;^)

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

Plot, always the plot. I get to know the characters as I write.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Both. I wrestle with an outline and bare-bones synopsis to get the flow of the plot figured out. Then the characters step in and do all they can to wreck the plan.

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

Again, both. I may need to do a lot of historical research if I’m starting in a new time period, then fact-check or look for amplifying detail later.

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

Yes – for my Scottish books—historical and contemporary—I’ve traveled through a good deal of central Scotland and the Highlands, but have plenty left to see and do! I’ve also been to Hawaii several times which came in handy for Sweetie Pie, and just went on my first cruise. Now I have 5 more countries to use as settings if my imagination decides to go there.

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

Go away from it for a few days—or weeks—and work on something else.

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

That much to my editor’s dismay, I’m enamored of commas.

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

Yes. I also write Scottish historical romance.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

A summer in Scotland, a month each in Australia and New Zealand, a summer in Europe, shall I go on? I have lots of dreams.

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BLURB

Widow Lara MacLaren hungers for the hunky architect she hires to restore her derelict Scottish manor, but is she ready for a relationship…and is Ian ready for her twins?

Ian Paterson is eager to awaken Lara’s passionate side. Yet, if he reveals his ancestral claim to her estate, he risks losing her and his job. His clan’s history, lost over the years, may be hidden in the walls—along with a ghost waiting for the laird’s return.

When they uncover a room full of Jacobite treasure, proof of his ancestry, Ian realizes he’s out of time. If the ghost is real, it could expose his secret and destroy his romance with Lara. Ian must convince her she and her twins are the future he truly wants.

BUY LINK

Amazon

EXCERPT

“Are ye okay?” Ian felt Lara’s ribs expand under his hand as she breathed.

“I am now,” she murmured. “I could have sprained an ankle, or fallen and hit my head.”

“You needn’t worry,” he answered softly. “I’ve got you.” Pressed against his hard length, right where he needed her. Though he knew holding her was a mistake, he couldn’t let her go.

Her face flushed. “You do at that. I…I…” She glanced at the ceiling, then returned her gaze to his. “Thank you…”

“You’re welcome. I don’t mind a bit,” Ian teased. Her body was firm, yet soft against his. She made no move to escape his embrace. He lowered his gaze to her mouth. Her lips were so close. So tempting.

Lara’s breath warmed his face. Her gaze met his, then dropped quickly to his mouth.

He was certain she meant to allow his kiss…and to kiss him back. He parted his lips, drinking in her scent, eager to taste her.

Something moved in the darkness below them, soundless, but stirring the cool air and whispering across his hands. The back of Ian’s neck prickled.

Lara stiffened and cocked her head, as if listening.

“Just a draft,” he murmured. Ian could have sworn it was only moving air, nothing more. He hoped. He’d grown up hearing tales about Cairn Dubh—and its ghost. If Cairn Dubh did have a ghost, this ancient space would be a fine place for it to haunt.

Review Snippets

Waiting for the Laird by Willa Blair is a delightful romance and unexpected adventure set in Scotland.” Books & Benches Reviewer’s Choice Seal of Excellence

“Willa Blair spins a beautiful romance set in the Scottish Highlands full of suspense, history and mystery…This is an absolutely wonderful story to read while curled up in a comfy chair with a nice hot drink, I highly suggests you pick it up and enjoy.” Night Owl Reviews Top Pick

Willa Blair

Willa Blair is an Award-winning, Amazon and Barnes & Noble #1 Bestselling author of Scottish Historical, light Paranormal, and Contemporary romance. Her books have won numerous honors, including the Marlene, the Merritt, National Readers’ Choice Award Finalist, The Reader’s Crown finalist, Historical Romance finalist and Honorable Mention in InD’Tale Magazine’s prestigious RONE Award, NightOwl Reviews Top Pick, Books & Benches’ Readers’ Choice Seal of Excellence, and InD’tale Magazine Review’s Crowned Heart.

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