Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Gentleman's Master on Sale June 1-June 15 by Jo Ann Brown Ferguson

Look for Gentleman's Master from ImaJinn/Bellebooks for only $0.99 where you buy your ebooks.
Tonight is the first night of the rest of their lives. Lady Priscilla anticipates a thrilling time on her honeymoon with her dashing husband, Sir Neville Hathaway, far from family and friends. But when their carriage is halted by a highwayman, she discovers the excitement they are about to share isn't what she expected. She and Neville are about to embark on an investigation of murder most macabre. Obligations from Neville's past demand that he make a bargain with the leader of the highwaymen. If he does not, Priscilla will die. Neville is drawn back into the life he once knew-a life that straddled both sides of the law. He-and Priscilla-agree to help the highwaymen find the man who's hunting them down as if they were beasts. As they work together in this strange alliance, Priscilla and Neville know that friend and foe alike intend to halt their investigation. If they want to enjoy their first night in each other's arms, they must find the truth fast . . . without making a fatal mistake. “. . . filled with romance, humor and mystery.” -Romantic Times magazine "Fast paced, interesting tale of mystery, danger, and love." -My Book Addiction and More

Friday, May 27, 2016

What about those-under-the-bed manuscripts? by Cheryl Bolen


You hear stories about authors like Diana Gaboldon whose first-ever book, The Outlander, skyrocketed to fame. But for many of us, our first books suck. It takes time to learn professional writing. My first book sold was the seventh I’d completed.

When people used to hear that, they would always ask, “So now you can go back and publish those first six books, right?” 

It doesn’t work that way. Or at least it didn’t back when the big publishing houses served as the gatekeepers to the publishing industry. Just because an author had the good fortune to sell a “midlist” book doesn’t mean that suddenly everything she’s written is going to be sought after.

That changed when eBooks soared to prominence and so many people who’d dabbled at writing began publishing their first efforts—many of which were bad. Very bad.  

When I started indie publishing with five backlist titles that had previously been published by Kensington, I did very well. (I sold 100,000 eBooks my first year of indie publishing.) I then decided to examine all those books that had never sold to a publisher to see if any of them were redeemable.  

At that time I had sold ten works to New York publishers and felt I had a reputation to uphold. I had no desire to put out amateurish efforts. 
 
The first “reject” that I indie published was my multi award-winning World War II historical which won contests under various titles but which I finally self published under the title It Had to be You. Though editors always liked the book, they kept saying, “World War II doesn’t sell.” I thought they were ill informed. It was my first “original” eBook. The reviews have been stupendous, with some people saying it was one the best books they’ve ever read. But how about the sales? Those editors were right. WW II doesn’t sell. In five years I’ve sold 3,691 copies. Eleven of my historical books have each sold over 20,000 each—some of them 60-80,000 copies. Even though its sales have been modest, I’ve earned, $6,370 on it—more than any of my advances from Kensington! So, I’m glad I published it. 

Another of my under-the-bed books was Murder at Veranda House, which had won many contests under various names. Because it had done well in contests, I knew the writing was solid. Like It Had to be You, it had not sold because it didn’t fit in a niche market. I had written it with Harlequin Intrigue in mind, so it was half mystery and half romance. I realize now it wasn’t right in tone for Intrigue. I self published it in 2012. It also has received good reviews but slow sales. In over four years it’s logged 7,979 sales and earned just under $5,000.

Of the remaining four under-the-bed books, only one of them I thought salvageable, that first-ever book I wrote when I was 25. Capitol Offense needed a good editing, and I had to add things like cell phones and delete things like Plymouths. By the time I finished editing, it was only 38,000 words. Because it was so short, I decided to give it away in the hopes of drawing readers to my other romantic suspense books. I gave away 21,000, and reviewers liked it so much, I started charging $.99 for it. Finally, I began charging $2.99.  I’ve only earned $1,000 for it—what I earned for my first historical novella for Kensington.  

You might ask how I can pull out sales figures so easily. I subscribe to BookTrakr, which archives sales numbers from the first day any of my books were epublished—even though I wasn’t a BookTrakr subscriber in the beginning. Best of all, I get an email every morning telling me every copy I sold the previous day from the major worldwide electronic vendors  (as well as Create Space), how much money I made, if I got any new reviews, and if I’m on any Top 100 lists anywhere. If you’re in Amazon Select, it calculates how much you earned that day on page reads. This great resource was designed by the brilliant husband and son of bestselling historical romance author Lauren Royal. 

    What I have learned 
My readers don’t follow me to other genres. My genre since my first sale in 1997 has been Regency romance. That’s where I make more than 90 percent of my money. 

Even pathetically selling indie books make more money than my New York-published books!—Cheryl Bolen’s newest historical is Oh What a (Wedding) Night (Book 3 in her Brazen Brides series).

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Write Time

By Lynn Crandall

Writing time. It isn’t easy to come by for me. It never has been.

I don’t think I’m atypical when it comes to writers trying to find/make writing time. Oh, I treat my writing as work. I know it’s a business, and though I’m passionate about writing, I understand if I’m going to succeed in my chosen profession I can’t wait to be in the mood or for anything in particular. I have to sit down and pound out the story.

But it’s still hard to find enough time. Like most authors, I have many interests. I won’t call them distractions because they are a part of life and I enjoy them. I like spending time with my family. A lot. I enjoy spending time in solitude, in nature, just to keep myself grounded and peaceful. I also enjoy spending time alone with  my husband. We do fun things together and with our kids. I purposely make sure I spend time with my cat, Willow. She’s a member of the family, not a couch pillow. And somewhere in there, time needs to be spent cleaning and cooking, and on and on it goes.

Oh, I almost forgot but how could I? Social media and promotions for my books have become big time grabbers, but that’s just the way of a writer’s life.

During the past few years, I’ve dealt with sickness in myself and in loved ones. I’ve lost loved ones. I’ve gone through overwhelming changes to my life. Today I’m very happy with where I’m at and with what I’m doing. I’ve simplified my life a degree or two. Still, sometimes I feel like hanging a virtual sign on my life that reads, “Don’t bother the writer. She might break down.” 


I’m still seeking balance. I want it all. Writing, family, leisure, fun, and a clean house (though that part of my life dropped to the bottom of list many writing years ago). I don’t want to feel annoyed and stressed all the time. I love writing and still want peace and balance.

To solve this dilemma I have sought out solutions, genuine ways to not just survive but also thrive. Writing is very much a part of thriving and I’m so grateful to have found my passion and have seen my writing published. I’ve picked up a few tips that have helped. Here’s a typical list:

1.      Complete most important tasks first.
2.      Learn to say no.
3.      Get an early start.
4.      Don’t allow unimportant details to drag you down.
5.      Turn key tasks into habits.
6.      Commit to your goals.

This a summation of a list found at  The Creativity Post.

Honestly, I believe how a writer invests in his or her writing and what strategy is used to keep balanced is an individual thing. Fundamental tactics are useful in guiding us. But from what I’ve found in seeking writing time and feeling good about my life, the methods and choices are as varied as the writers. According to Van Winkles in an article written by Sharon Stodala, author of Process, the Writing Lives of Great Authors, Toni Morrison begins writing early in the morning before her family gets out of bed. Earnest Hemmingway also began early. Pulitzer Prize winner Edith Wharton wrote in bed. F. Scott Fitzgerald, on the other hand, slept until around eleven in the morning and tried to accomplish some writing in the afternoon. Frank Kafka took a four-hour afternoon nap after arriving home from his day job, then began writing in the evening. George Orwell wrote at night, but he was known to write at other times during a day, too.

“Vladimir Nabokov, too, could write seemingly anywhere and anytime, perhaps owing to the many emigrations he made throughout his life. If we could all be so lucky,” Stodola wrote in the article.

I’m still working out how I’m going to balance my life now. But however I decide, I’m going to make my process mine and own it, because there are no sure-fire strategies that fit us all.

I'm always open to new thoughts on balancing a writing life with everything else. Share?

Write Time was initially poste on The Write Way Cafe .

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

True Love Strikes


In my perfect romance, the girl is funny, sweet, tough, and far too smart to fall for some guy just because he’s handsome and muscly. Maybe she’s been hurt in the past, or she has some dark secret that holds her back, but regardless, she has her reasons for not making a fool of herself the moment some strapping guy appears.

And the guy? He’s not just pure charm. He’s the most devastating combination of silky, perceptive, and confident. He can be completely earnest or wry one second, and then thoughtfully vulnerable the next. We trust him even when he doesn’t fully trust himself, especially around her.

Then, bam: sparks fly. She gets feisty. He gets witty. She pushes. He pulls. They tumble in the rain and land in a goofy mud puddle with jelly beans spilling everywhere, and we sigh because we know where this is going.

Yes, we do.

Then again, maybe they’re both girls. Or maybe they’re both guys. However it goes, romance is for all of us. 

Caragh M. O'Brien is the writer of The Rule of Mirrors and other YA novels.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Gem of a Boxed Set! by Bonnie Edwards


Earlier this month, one of my favorite books released in this lovely boxed set dedicated to those who come to our rescue: firefighters, police, military and secret agencies. If you love a hero(ine) in a uniform, you may not want to pass up this chance to find a new-to-you writer. 

My book Love in a Pawn Shop is probably the least suspenseful of these 9 romances. There's no rescue (my heroines don't need rescue...they've already done that). There's no villain. (unless you count my heroine's stubbornness)

But what there is is a warm, funny, family-oriented story revolving around a woman who's already sacrificed more than her fair share for her pain-in-the butt kid brother. 

Dix Dixon has had enough! All she wants is out...unfortunately, Dane Caldwell walks in and threatens everything: her business, her brother and even worse, her heart.

My dog Beau is pictured on this cover! And Razor the pitbull was modelled after him. (Yes, I cried with every scene he stole.)

I hope you're intrigued enough by this short introduction to consider the book and the opportunity to grab this limited time offer of 99c for 9 wonderful romances. 



When the oath to protect and serve tangles with love, expect sparks and lots of heat!
Hot firemen, alpha cops, sexy detectives, and dashing federal agents...this anthology from 9 best-selling and award-winning authors will have you rooting for your favorite heroes and heroines as they step up to the greatest challenge of their lives--to protect and love.






April 1 Seattle, WA
Dane Caldwell ignored his better judgment at 3:45 p.m. and walked across the street into Dixon’s Pawn Shop. Like millions of others in every city in America, the shop sat in a row of storefronts with overhead apartments. Except for the signs, they were all identical. Each one had a door at the side for the apartment stairwells, and he’d bet each one also had a rear entrance to the apartment from an alley in back.
Cops liked to know where the exits were, but since he was here without backup, he’d take the most direct approach and walk in like any other customer. He was so far out of his jurisdiction he might as well be from Mars.
He’d watched the place since arriving from Philly this morning. But at 3:10 p.m. waves of school kids had begun to visit the store and he had to see for himself what drew them in. He didn’t know much about children, but a pawn shop was a damn strange hangout for nine-year-olds.
Three boys went inside, and he slid in behind them and kept his back to the window as they barreled up to the counter in the darker recesses of the store. He planned to hang back and observe nothing more.
Then he saw her.
Dark red hair fell in slight waves across her face. Her mouth, pursed in concentration, sat over a strong chin with a slight dimple. It had to be her. His information said she worked alone every weekday.
The woman must be Dix Dixon. She bent over her cash drawer with a screwdriver in her hand.
As the boys raced toward the counter, papers fluttered in their hands. “Hey, Dix! We got our report cards! Wanna see?”
Her chin dimple disappeared when she smiled at the boys. Warm, friendly, and bright enough to clear the gray Seattle sky, her smile packed a punch. He narrowed his gaze as she patted each head affectionately and read their report cards in turn. Each boy preened at her compliments. Dane frowned. She could charm the birds from the sky.
And his grandmother out of the family jewels. For a woman like Dix, conning an old lady would be a piece of cake.
The boys were busy petting some kind of animal; from where he stood, he couldn’t tell if it was a cat or dog.

Dane hung back, surprised that a woman he was half convinced was a con artist would give this kind of attention to neighborhood kids. He supposed that her wide-open smile worked its magic on most people. It was certainly working on him.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Romance Around the World (Part 1)

One of the really fun things about being an author is seeing your work translated into foreign languages. I've been fortunate to get copies of my books in various languages. I've scanned the covers and some inside pages to give you all an idea of how the translations look.


Some countries print their books in what we would call a backward manner. What English readers consider the back of the book is what other nations consider the front. They read from back to front. One such country is China.

Here's a picture of my book, SASSY LADY, translated to the Chinese language. The cover image is similar to the North American version.

Of course, the characters (alphabet) are much different. I tried to scan the text, but it's a little hard to see. If you look really close, you'll notice that Page 107 is on the left and 106 is on the right.






Another country that prints books back to front is Israel. Here's a copy of my title, LOGAN's LADY, in its Hebrew version. This cover is totally different from the original English version.

I doubt many of our visitors can read the words. In that respect, I have no idea and no control over the translated copies. It's impossible for me to know if my story was properly translated, but I sure hope so.

Quite a few of my books were published in France. I'll share some of those in my next post about Romance Around the World.


I hope you'll all come back and visit for Part 2!

Hugs, Becky
BeckyBarker.com

Thursday, May 19, 2016

As A Writer


Pamela Tracy here, and no the photo isn't of me.  I'm the one taking the photo.

As a writer, I try to take advantage of every opportunity.  Last night the local chapter of Sisters in Crime hosted a program by the Game and Fish department.

I'm acquainted with the Game and Fish department well, here in Arizona, because my family camps.  And, we own ATVs.  We meet the wardens often as they check to make sure we have purchased the right permit to camp, have tags on our ATVs, and carry a fishing license.

The fishing license story is funny because we've only gone fishing once.  We bought a license, drove to the lake, couldn't find the license, went back to the story, was told they couldn't/wouldn't replace, and had to buy a second one within the hour.

I've not shopped at that hole-in-the-wall store since.

What I learned last night was…
1) If a javelina attacks me, I can shot it.  I'm protecting myself.
2) If a javelina attacks my beloved dog - that I take camping with me - I cannot shot it.  If it eats my dog, I've obeyed the law by not shooting it.  I'm thinking that I'd be a lawbreaker because, yup, I'd shoot it.  But, really, first I'd scream at it to go away.
3) I've learned that lizards are a high commodity black market exotic animal, and that Game and Fish are often out at night arresting those that steal from the desert.
4) Snakes, too, are stolen but they don't fall under game and fish.  Interesting.  Doves do; Pigeons don't.  I listened to the officer talk about entering a house where cages upon cages of snakes and lizards waited for purchase.  He spoke of seeing a venomous snake's cage on a shelf.  Under the shelf, against the wall  , was a baby's play area.  ARG.
5) Game and fish is not really equipped to capture full grown tigers.  The one time they had to, they used a big dog crate.  Now, that game and fish guy is a hero in my book.
6)  I learned what kind of ticket I'd get if I rode my quad in a restricted area.

All told, I had a great time and came away with some good ideas for a future suspense.

Color me happy.

Have you ever had dealings with game and fish?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

On-Site Research -- Writing About What You'd Love to Do Yourself by Jo Ann Brown

I love research. Like other writers, I dream of flying off to the location of my work-in-progress and soaking up the atmosphere.
Time machines are out of the question, but on-site research and picking the brains of experts are not. I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy talking about what interests them. Just look in the acknowledgments of my books, and you’ll see their names listed. I try to have more than one, because even experts disagree with each other. I contact museums, and I’m always invited for a tour. During a tour by the director or a senior docent, you often see things – and sometimes touch them – that “normal” folks don’t get to see and do. After sitting in a hip bath at a historical house in Toronto, I have much more respect for those who used them! I always ask if it’s okay to bring a camera (either my cell or an actual camera, depending on how many pictures I’ll need and the detail I’ll want). With so much information coming at you, it’s easy to forget details. The camera helps preserve it. Before I leave the expert, I confirm the spelling of their name/address/phone number/email address. I ask if I can ask further questions later. I tell them they’ll get an acknowledgment in the book – something that always pleases....and I send an autographed copy when it is published. When I go to a historical site, I buy the site’s booklet. It’ll have information I may not have discovered. I bring a “measuring tape.” It’s my husband. He’s exactly 6 feet tall. I tell him to stand next to doorways or windows or whatever – and I can see how many “Bills” tall something is when I get home. I’m always prepared to be wrong. Even if I’ve studied a location, it can look completely different. I adjust my thinking – and my book – to fit reality. And I prepare myself for Twilight Zone moments. One of my goals on a trip to Wales was to find a setting for a specific event that is the centerpiece of the story. It took place along a small river in the far west. At the car park for St. David’s Cathedral, I saw a small waterway. I decided to use this stream for the site, because none of the books I’d read had specified it. I took pictures, came home and was looking for something else in a book. . .and found the name of the river where my event took place. Going to the map, I found it was the same stream I’d taken pictures of. Cue the Twilight Zone theme. . . I allow time for “wow” moments. My biggest one was when I stood next to the 17th century memorial stone for my however many times great-grandfather in Norwich Cathedral!
And most importantly, have fun. You might find the very fact will give you an idea for your next book!

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Montana Ranchers: series collaboration can be fun by Jan Scarbrough


Maddie James and I go back a long way—back to our Precious Gems days and amusing book signings at Wal-Mart (where the men pushing shopping carts looked at us like we had two heads each).

When Maddie suggested we write a contemporary Western series together, I was in. Over time we developed the idea of a Montana family complete with a patriarch, James, and his second wife, Liz. I was tasked with writing the first book about stepbrother Brody, a Professional Bull Rider. Then Maddie wrote about James’ children—Callie and Parker—by his first wife. The end of the series was to be the story of Mercer, James and Liz’s daughter together.

As things go, our ideas blossomed, and we decided to write a prequel to the whole series that would be free. It would set up the series by telling the story of how the James and Liz met.

Here’s the fun part. We wrote the Montana McKenna’s Prequel one chapter at a time. Maddie wrote the first one. I followed, dropping a bomb at the end of chapter two that Maddie had to deal with. We had a general agreement about where we were going with the story—a happily ever after ending—but didn’t know how we were going to get there.

With Mercer done and published, I took a look at all the characters. Poor James had died. That’s part of the story. And Liz was left a widow. Everyone had a happily ever after ending but poor Liz. What to do? Give her one!

Liz, the last book in The Montana McKennas (so far), was released last week on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and Barnes and Noble. If you’d like to see how fifty-five-year-old Liz gets her happy ending, you can go to my website for the buy links.


Maddie has a spinoff to the series called Montana Heat. Those books are—you guessed it—HOT. Here is the list of all of the books in the Montana Rancher’s Series.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Wonderful West, Then and Now

     I have a confession to make.  I love Cowboys.  I always have.  This infatuation could be due to hours of a misspent youth watching Rawhide and Bonanza.  Or perhaps it came about later, while researching the basic fantasies that form the backbone of most romance novels.  I was ecstatic to discover the 'Cowboy Fantasy' is alive and well with more people than just me.  As is the 'Marriage of Convenience' which I use a lot in my Western Historicals, along with the 'Wounded Hero on the Run'.  But I digress.
     The American West calls to me as a backdrop for my historical romance novels for a variety or reasons.  For one, I'm a west coast girl through and through.  My forefathers arrived on the west coast in the 1870's, and none of us who were born here since ever saw reason to leave.
     The land may have become more heavily populated in the last century and a half, but its general topography hasn't changed.  Mountains, coastlines, plains, rivers and forest are interspersed with huge tracts of raw land that remain untouched to this day.  I think about my ancestors who left Europe for the promise of a better life; the unknown of a new, young country.  I'm grateful to them for taking the chance.  Similar chances are taken by the strong, independent, and often impulsive heroines I write about.
     The American West in the last half of the nineteenth century offers my heroines a chance to assert that independence; like the newly widowed Callie in Callie's Honor, a woman alone, struggling to hang on to her home.  Hers is a Universal Theme that strikes a chord in many women today, following divorce or a death in the family.
     Those early days of my imagination strike me as a time when anything is possible.  Fortunes were made and lost on the gold fields or in the gambling halls.  Squatters' Rights made land free for the taking, a terrific opportunity for any hero or heroine prepared to work hard and follow their dreams.  The rules and government that dictated and often crippled society in other parts of the world didn't exist in the West.  At last not in my books.
     My characters have their own ideas of right and wrong, good versus evil, and deal with it on their terms.  It wasn't called the Wild West for nothing.   Life was about conquest, survival, persistence, the merging of people and cultures, and the forming of new communities.  All ideal situations for my hero and heroine to find each other, work through their conflicts and differences, and eventually live happily ever after.
     In Callie's Honor my hero, Rafe, sets out to avenge his brothers death, determined nothing will stop him. Not even the feisty widow whose land is conveniently located next door to the men responsible.  In Anora's Pride, my heroine Anora finds freedom in her tiny deception of being a married woman.  Her ruse only becomes inconvenient when a handsome new Marshall moves to town.  In Jesse's eyes, Anora being married means hands off, despite their instant attraction to each other.
     Deliver Me is a historical twist on one of my favorite movies, The Fugitive.  Maddy, my heroine, in a quest for adventure, joins forces with Jud, an accused murderer, going so far as to marry him in order to help him clear his name.  Grace's Folly is set in California's wine country (did I mention I love wine?) when that region was just being established.  Not quite the Wild West, but a locale with its own colorful history.  Three of my western historicals are about to be released in a box set called Western Weddings.  Three award-winning novels for the price of one.
     I love writing Historical romances.  It's a genre where the reader, by the simple act of picking up the book, instantly suspends disbelief.  She easily forget\s about her world and her woes in a tale where no one needs to empty the dishwasher or take out the trash, and adventure lies around every corner.  As an author, it's fun to carry her away to a time and place where anything could, and often did, happen.  The customs of the day and the manner of dress might be different from today's world, but people are still people.  They laugh, love, hurt and heal.  Celebrate and mourn. They live life large.  And in the untamed wildness of the settling of the west, they do it all on the broad, colorful canvas of my imagination.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

WRITING IS AN ADVENTURE

Hi Everyone,
I've been off loop for a few days, but came down the mountain and finally found have an internet connection sitting in a parking lot. As the title states, writing is an adventure. Hubby and I are currently in the Great Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. We're roughing it, which means we have no internet, no TV, no microwave...you get the picture. We do have our fifth wheel that has an oven, bed and a bathroom. We also have the best views! That's worth giving some things up for.

And inspiration! Wow, I've started the third book in my series which is actually set in the mountains of Tennessee. I'm hoping to have at least 4 books finished before I start publishing them.

We're staying here 9 more days then heading into Tennessee. We're not sure how long we'll be staying. Not having concrete plans is a little daunting. When we were coming up the mountain we didn't have a clue if we would be able to get a spot or not. Then we saw the RV section was closed. If you've never pulled a 34 foot RV into the Smokey Mountains let me just say I have no fingernails left. But then, life is an adventure and sometimes you just have to bite your nails and jump into the deep end. 

We'll be posting pics onto my website as we can www.authorkarenkelley.com and if you like sexy, humourous romances check out my newest reissue, Close Encounters of the Sexy Kind. It was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award and won numerous awards.

Best Wishes,
Karen Kelley

Monday, May 9, 2016

From Horses to Unpublished Manuscripts - by Maddie James

This past weekend in Kentucky we hosted a little event known as the fastest two-minutes in sports--The Kentucky Derby. Louisville was a perpetual party for a couple of weeks, until yesterday. My significant other works in a local hotel, and oh my, the stories he told about the partying people who visited our city!

Kentucky Derby time is a unique time of the year for us, for sure. The Bluegrass region of the country also is unique year-round. Whether it's horses, or bourbon, or tobacco, or sports--we have lots of things going on here.

You can get a flavor of the central Kentucky region in my latest release, Wind Ridge.  Let me share the Author Note from the book with you today.
****
Some stories fly from brain to fingers to computer screen. Others take their good ol’ time in coming. This book falls into the latter category.

The storyline for Wind Ridge came to me while living in central Kentucky horse country, back in the 1990s. Nearby, was a small country farm named Wind Ridge. There was another horse farm, complete with Federal style mansion, down the road in the opposite direction. Supposedly, the new owner was a foxhunter, and stories were, that he ran his horses and hounds over neighboring fields and land, much to the irritation of the locals.

The juxtaposition of those two things—the small country tobacco farm, and the more stately southern horse farm—wove their way into my head and a story took wings. Over 100,000 words later, the story was finished, but sad to say, it lay fallow in my computer for many years. Other stories had their day, blessed by the publishing world, but Wind Ridge stayed hidden from public consumption.

I always loved the story; however, it was written at a time when I was still learning how to write. I knew it needed a lot of tender, loving care. About six months ago, I realized I needed to tackle the story again, embrace it, rip it up, even let my editor have her way with it. So, I did. We did. Now, I am so very pleased that Bekah and Collin’s story is finally ready to share with you.

If you decide to pick this one up, please know that this could be considered a period story. It starts out in the 1980s, and picks up again in the 1990s. It was a different world then, in Kentucky, and elsewhere. Tobacco farming has changed quite a bit, and of course, access to cell phones was limited. You’ll probably notice other differences that date the story. Overall, I think you will find this a suspenseful, and satisfying, happily-ever-after!

Here's the back cover copy for Wind Ridge:

Rebekah McCauley is back home after ten long years of living and working in New York City. She left the Big Apple under circumstances she’d rather not share with her family—not yet, anyway—and all she really wants is time to heal and recover from the mess she’d made of her life. Luckily, her grandparents’ Kentucky bluegrass farm, Wind Ridge, provides the safe haven she craves, and the solitude she needs to heal.

Collin Kramer, the fox hunter next door, seems determined to infiltrate that peace and quiet, and invade her safe haven—not only with his noisy hounds running amok over her land, but with his Alpha male, take-charge attitude running roughshod over her wounded heart.

But as Bekah softens to Collin’s conquest, he realizes his own toughened heart needs mending. And just when he thinks he has that conquered, as well, all hell breaks loose. Poisoned horses, a gutted dog, and a barn fire are only the beginning. When Bekah’s farmhouse burns to the ground too, they know someone means business. But who? And whose past, Bekah’s or Collin’s, has come back to haunt them?

You can find Wind Ridge at all major ebook retailers. If you decide to visit central Kentucky through this book, be sure to tell me how you liked it!
****
Maddie James writes romance - but don't try to pin her down to one genre! From edgy suspense to flirty contemporary romance to darker erotic titles, she just wants to silence the people in her head. You can find out more about her books at www.maddiejames.com.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

About epilogues and mothers and pitch-ins and hearing us roar

by Liz Flaherty

Wednesday night at church, we had the annual Mother-Daughter gathering that celebrates Mother's Day. It was a pitch-in--with Methodists, there is always food. It's a small church in a small community and there weren't that many of us; there were nearly as many in the singing group that entertained us as there were in the crowd. My daughter was there, and it was a good time.

Most of the women who sang to us, sitting in their sparkly vests and their black bowler hats, were my age (65) and older. Their leader taught music at our elementary school when my kids went there in the late 70s and early 80s. Others were retired teachers, nurses, farmers, and everything else on the employment spectrum, including stay-at-home moms. A couple of them had canes; one was unable to stand when the others did.

They sang with joy, skill, timing, musicality, and warmth. They laughed with each other and with us. They supported each other. They shared their talent, their time, and their knowledge. They interacted with the children in the crowd and the music teacher hugged my daughter--twice--because even though Kari is 44, Mrs. Dielman still remembers her.

It made me think of the epilogue debate among romance writers and editors. Should we write them or
should we not? I come down on the "should" side because as a reader I want to know for sure what happens to the heroine I've invested my time in. I want to be invited to the wedding or to the birth of the firstborn. However, I've never really thought about an extreme epilogue, about where those heroines are 40 or so years later.

Until I attend writers' meetings where most of us are retirement age. Or sewing days with my extension homemakers group when we sew hundreds of garments and toys for the children's hospital. Or talk to my friend's neighbor who's 91 and still gardens. Or see them dance with the ones they share their lives with. Or watch them sing.

That's when I know. With canes and separated-into-days boxes of medication on their kitchen counters, the heroines are still sharing and supporting and being women, hear them roar. Kick-ass heroines didn't start with recent generations but with the ones before us, our mothers and theirs.  the ones who taught us to roar. And share. And support. And love beyond all limitation and write about it. That's their epilogue.

Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Ideas

The previous post on this blog talks about the people in a story.  I read this and thought - yes!  As a writer, I get asked all the time where I get my ideas.  Non-writers see how many books I've written and they say "You must run out of ideas, right?"  And I always answer, "No.  Because it's about the people."

When I'm thinking up my next story, I always start with the people.  I have a hero and a heroine and I learn their backstory before I even begin to write their books.  I know their past and what they want in the future, their problems and goals, hopes and dreams, and passions.  Usually, a story will develop from just them.

And like the previous blog post said, that's what grabs you - as a reader and as an author.  If I'm not invested in the people in my story, I don't want to write it.  An author can have the most marvelous, convoluted plot, but without compelling characters, the story will fall flat.  Thud.

Sometimes as a writer, these characters will grab you by the throat and demand you tell their story. Those are the best books to write, and for me they only happen once in awhile.  Other times, I have to coax answers from my story people.  They hesitate to reveal themselves, and often surprise me as I'm writing.  Those are fun too, because I'll be involved in the story and then, BAM.  I didn't know she had a rich aunt or I had no idea his brother died when he was young.

Right now, I'm starting a new book.  When I wrote the synopsis, I was excited.  I knew these people. This story was going to be an easy one.  Hah!  I started writing and both the hero and the heroine closed up.  None of my business.  Who was I, anyway?  I'm having to write and write stuff in each of their point of view, most of it won't even be in the book.  Why?  Because I need to get to the point where they are willing to tell me their story.  To let me past their walls.

Yes, this might sound weird.  But it's truth, at least for me.  After a few chapters, they'll loosen up and we'll go, and I'll have to go back and revise the beginning.  Because some books are like that.

But the reader will know none of this.  Hopefully, when they pick up this story to read, they will enjoy the gradual peeling of layers.  I'm thinking they'll find something in these character they can relate to, and they will read on to see what else they can discover.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016




IT'S THE PEOPLE, PEOPLE! by Hannah Rowan


Image result for woman reading bookSometimes I hesitate to start reading a book I know I'm going to really love because I know I'll get so caught up in the story I'll stay up way too late reading "just one more chapter."  I'll have to make excuses to my family about why the meatballs are blackened or the clean clothes haven't arrived in the drawers.

 But the other day I was gathering books to return to the library when I picked up one to ask my husband if he had finished reading it.

"I started it, but I just couldn't get into it," he said.

I'd had the same reaction.

It was a book by an author I normally enjoyed.  The blurb made it sound intriguing.  Yet, after a few chapters I found I couldn't quite remember who the characters were.  It wasn't grabbing me at all.  I had no problem abandoning it to go read my email or even take out the trash.  Not my usual reaction to a story!

Nothing was really wrong with the book.  It wasn't the proverbial "throw it against the wall" moment when the characters did something so absurd I couldn't manage to suspend disbelief.  I wasn't so overwhelmed by life that I couldn't concentrate on fiction.  I simply felt as though I were slogging through mud, trying to get to the next chapter.

Oh, the guilt!  Because somewhere in the back of my mind I guess I believe that once I start reading something, I'm obligated to finish it.

But why?  There are hundreds of wonderful books out there just waiting for me to start turning the pages.  Why force myself to finish something that's not delighting me?

Yet it bothered me. What was it about this book, and some others in my past, that made me not care how it all turned out?

It's the people, I suddenly realized.  Be it zombies, were-creatures, sweet little country girls, big city cops, spies, cowboys, or space aliens, the setting doesn't matter as long as the author makes me care about the people.  I don't even have to like them, but they do have to intrigue me.

So even though I didn't finish reading her book, I'm grateful to that author for making me take time to think, and to realize a very important lesson for my own writing.

It's the people!  The plot may be crazy as all get-out, but if I care about the people, or make my readers care about the people, the book won't be returned, forlorn and unread, or placed on a donation pile without so much as a cracker crumb lodged between the pages.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Kisses: So Many Kinds

"This kiss, this kiss!" Faith Hill sings.

(Song written by Beth Nielsen Chapman, Robin Lerner, and Annie Roboff.)

Which kiss? There are so many different kinds.

The sweet, often sticky, kisses a toddler gives.

The kisses from Mommy and Daddy that take away the pain of a boo-boo.

The hesitant, awkward first kiss you give and receive as a teen in love.

The public kiss of a bride and groom in front of everyone they know.


The sexy kisses of lovers.

So Many Kinds of Kisses

Have you ever thought about the different kinds of kisses? There's a kiss that fits every age and occasion.

As an author of romance novels, I know kisses are important--especially that first kiss. If it zings, then the couple often move to the next level of intimacy. If it's a dud, then the attraction that brought the couple together fades.

In my romantic comedy, Scents and Sensuality, I wanted the first kiss scene to accomplish more than showing the rising desire between them. I wanted to have Amanda admit her insecurity, and I wanted Harrison to see that she was different from the "flavor of the month" women he usually dated. I also wanted the first kiss scene to be amusing.

Excerpt, The First Kiss, Scents and Sensuality © 2013

Was it really all right to be herself with him? To show her true personality? "Nicole said men prefer women who aren't so serious. She said men like women who are sexy and flirty. I'm not like that. I'm serious and thoughtful and introverted. And shy."

She was shy? Oddly, Harrison liked that. Most of the women he'd had in his bed didn't know the meaning of the word shy. He'd never had a woman hesitate to tell him in detail what to do, where to touch, how to touch, and when to touch... As if he were so unskilled that he didn't know anything about women.

"I really don't know much about pop culture and clubbing and all the stuff that Nicole knows," Amanda said.

"Your friend doesn't know what she's talking about," Harrison said. He stopped moving. Now they weren't dancing. They were just swaying in time to the music. "There's nothing wrong with the real you, sweetheart."

With that one sentence, he had her. She could smell him, and his scent was strong. Musky. Maybe it was just physiology, she thought, with the tiny part of her brain that still worked. Something about her female pheromone receptors went bonkers when he was near. He'd said sweetheart. Amanda didn't know if it was what he'd said or the endearment that warmed her so completely.

In a voice so intense that it made gooseflesh break out on her arms, he said, "You don't have to pretend to be someone you're not. I like you just the way you are."

The song stopped. Still they swayed, cheek to cheek, breast to chest. Heat to heat. The song started again.

"You're beautiful," he whispered against her cheek. "And you're incredibly sexy without playing silly games. You're sexy without even trying. And I want you."

His words wove a spell around her lonely heart. "I want you too," she confessed.

Harrison smiled and nuzzled the tender flesh of her neck where her pulse throbbed.

In a voice so soft that he had to strain to hear, Amanda said, "You don't have to say that...that I'm sexy. I...I won't change my mind about...about...you know." She fell silent.

Harrison pulled away from her a little so he could look at her, gauge her reactions. "Are you trying to say you won't change your mind about having a raging affair with me?"

Amanda took a deep breath and exhaled. She met his eyes directly. "Despite what you say, I know I'm not sexy. I just want to be honest with you. It's important to me to be honest. I don't like lies. They just cause problems. So here's the bald truth. I'm a flop with men, and I was desperate for a date for my cousin's wedding. Nicole helped me hook you. She tutored me on how to be a hot babe because that's what men want."

Harrison found it hard to accept that she believed all that. "That's a hell of a lot of honesty."

His comment was like the release gate on a dam. A flood of words poured out of Amanda. "I don't want you to be confused by Nicole's tricks and think I'm something I'm not. Even though I'm more than willing to...you know...have that raging affair with you."

Amanda spoke faster to get all the words out before she lost her courage. "I was just pretending. So you may not really want me now that you know the truth. I'm not a sexy hot babe, and you don't have to tell me I am just to--"

Harrison's mouth swooped down and captured hers, shutting off the frantic torrent of words. Amanda was frozen for a split second, then the feel of his mouth on hers broke through the paralysis. His lips were warm. They pressed against hers, teasing, shaping hers. The tip of his tongue licked, demanded entrance. She sighed, and his tongue plunged into her mouth. She forgot that she didn't know much about kissing. She welcomed him. She pressed her body as tightly as possible to his and couldn't hold back the moan that rose to her lips.

Scents and Sensuality is available at most ebook sellers including Amazon Kindle.

At its most elemental level, a kiss--whether between lovers or between parents and children--is communication that speaks of emotion.

Post Script

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

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