Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Meet My Latest Guest - Stacy Juba!

I want to welcome Stacy Juba. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

I have published books for adults, teens and children, everything from mystery and romantic suspense, to a hockey novel and a paranormal thriller for young adults, to a patriotic children's book that teaches kids about American flag etiquette. I like to say that all of my characters are at a crossroads, or a turning point, in their lives regardless of the genre or age group.  I'm also a freelance editor for writers and teach online writing and marketing classes,

Tell us about your latest release.

 My upcoming release, which should be coming out in early 2015, is Fooling Around With Cinderella. It's a blend of chick lit, romantic comedy and clean romance, and is about a marketing coordinator who gets roped into playing Cinderella at a fairy tale theme park for the summer and winds up falling for her boss. It is the first in my upcoming Storybook Valley series.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?

The favorite villain from one of my books is the mysterious Miles, the stalker obsessed with former reality show contestant Cassidy Novak in Sink or Swim. I remember after my editor read the book, she e-mailed me and said, "Whoa, that Miles is nuts!" There was one scene in particular, set in an old mill with dance music playing in the background, that was really fun to write as I got to showcase how disturbed Miles really was.  My favorite villain in something that I didn't write is Regina, the Evil Queen, from Once Upon a Time. I love how the writers showed how she became evil and how she truly loves her son and wants to change for him, but obstacles keep getting in her way.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?

My favorite character is always the protagonist of the book that I'm writing, so currently it's Jaine from Fooling Around With Cinderella. She is sweet and funny, kind of "adorkable" and I enjoy making her put on a Cinderella dress. I also have a soft spot for Dawn, the teenage psychic in my YA thriller Dark Before Dawn, as she feels like she doesn't fit in and needs to learn self acceptance. She is a good kid who makes mistakes so I think a lot of girls will relate to her. I relate to her as Dawn is always picked last in gym class, like I was in school, only she gets a chance for revenge!     

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?

Although I've also written YA and children's picture books, I mainly focused on mystery novels until recently and now I'm branching out into the Storybook Valley chick lit/sweet romance series. I have loved reading mysteries since I was a kid as I enjoy trying to figure out who did it. I became a fan of chick lit and romantic comedy books over the last few years, since I started reading e-books and being exposed to a wider variety of genres.  I enjoy romantic comedy as those kinds of books are light, fun and sometimes I chuckle out loud.       

4.) What are you working on now?

I am working on the final rewrites of Fooling Around With Cinderella, and on developing the next couple books in the Storybook Valley series.

5.) What got you to start writing?

I started writing in third grade and by fifth grade I was writing my own mystery series about an amateur sleuth named Cathy Summers. I was very introverted and writing was a way for me to express myself. My teachers realized that and encouraged my writing, making me feel as if I had a special talent.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?

I pick up ideas from my daily life. My mystery novel Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, is about an obit writer who stumbles across a 25-year-old murder on the microfilm, and was inspired by my days of working for a newspaper and compiling the flashback columns. Sink or Swim was inspired by the reality TV show craze, but I made Cassidy a personal trainer for a health club because my college major was exercise physiology and I once worked in a gym. Fooling Around With Cinderella was inspired by a family trip to a fairy tale theme park.   

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?

They would probably be surprised to find out that I am so introverted. Because I'm so quiet, a lot of people who know me casually are shocked that I write mysteries and chick lit and that I'm all over Twitter and the blogosphere. I think readers who are just familiar with the confident voice in my novels and on-line would have the opposite reaction and be surprised at how introverted I am. At a party, I'm usually content just talking to one or two people in the corner.    

8.) Do you have any special talents?

Writing is my biggest talent but I'm also good at researching and conveying dense information in a way that is easy for people to understand. I've written a lot of health articles over the years for a mainstream audience. If a friend or relative needs to find out something and doesn't know where to start, they come to me. 

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?

I remember reading that to be a successful author, it took 20 percent talent and 80 percent determination. I think there is some truth to that.  You need determination and drive, regardless of whether you submit to publishers and agents or self-publish. You also need determination to hone your craft and improve your stories, so that your raw talent grows and becomes much more polished.  

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

Dale Carnegie wrote some insightful books about self-improvement, leadership and interpersonal skills such as How to Win Friends and Influence People. One of the core ideas in his books is that it is possible to change other people's behavior by changing one's behavior toward them. I think it would be fascinating to sit down and have a conversation with him.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?

My husband and I danced to the song "Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith as the last song at our wedding and I think that song describes my life to some degree. The lyrics capture how I feel about my family. I also don't want to miss out on anything whether it's pursuing my dream of being a writer, traveling, or whatever else I feel compelled to do, even if it means going out of my "introverted" comfort zone.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

A cat! My cat lounges around on beds and couches all day and her entertainment is watching birds out the window. Sometimes I think of how simple her life is!  

Sink or Swim: A fun beach read endorsed by contestants from Survivor, Big Brother, and The Amazing Race. Ambitious personal trainer Cassidy Novak has gained fame for starring on Sink or Swim, a hit reality show. Not only does she lose and have to walk the plank, but after the game show ends, the terror begins. Upon returning home, Cassidy discovers she has attracted a stalker masterminding his own twisted game. She struggles to focus on her health club job and celebrity endorsement opportunities, but her stalker has other plans. As her former competitors get knocked off one-by-one, Cassidy refuses to play by the stalker's bizarre rules. She's also being shadowed by hunky photographer Zach Gallagher, who has been assigned to capture her personal moments for a spread in the local newspaper. She wants to trust Zach, but fears he may not be what he seems. When the stalker forces a showdown, Cassidy must once again walk the plank...this time for her life.

Barnes & Noble:

Bio: Stacy Juba loves to write stories about Characters at a Crossroads: individuals who are finding themselves and getting on the right life path after overcoming obstacles. Her goals are to entertain readers of all ages as well as inspire them. She has made numerous bestseller lists including GalleyCat’s Barnes & Noble Bestsellers and GalleyCat’s Mystery and Thriller Bestsellers. Stacy has written about reality TV contestants targeted by a killer, an obit writer investigating a cold case, teen psychics who control minds, twin high school hockey stars battling on the ice, and teddy bears learning to raise the U.S. flag. She has had a book ranked as #5 in the Nook Store and #30 on the Amazon Kindle Paid List. Stacy also offers a beta reading/editing service for writers. Watch for her upcoming romantic comedy Fooling Around With Cinderella.
Website: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stacy-Juba/100155471301
Twitter https://twitter.com/stacyjuba

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's happening on the blog the next few weeks

Hi All,

On Saturday I will be hosting Stacy Juba so please stop on by and see how she answered the questions in my interview. I love seeing everyone's answers.

Then I'll be taking a two week vacation...sort of.

I'm going out of town for a week then we have Thanksgiving here in the US. I hope to post another writing down the bones the tuesday before, but with the holiday and relatives invading plus I won't be back until the sunday before the holiday I'm not sure how easy that will be to do but I will try. I will resume everything after the beginning of December.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.try not to eat too much and I'll see you in December!


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Meet My Latest Guest Elysa Hendricks!

I want to welcome Elysa Hendricks. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

There's not much to say about me. I'm 5'6" tall. I have brown eyes and curly hair. I'm an author, a wife, a mother, and a daughter. Everything else is subject to change without notice.

After trying my hand at a variety of careers, insurance underwriter, video storeowner, home day care, and domestic goddess for other people, I sat down to write a short contemporary novel.  When my heroine turned out to be a winged, telepathic alien, I decided I enjoyed writing stories set in different places, times, and realities. I've published 14 full-length books, ranging from sweet contemporary to sexy sci-fi, as well as numerous short stories.

While living in north east Illinois I helped found the Windy City Chapter of Romance Writers of America, and I'm the only remaining founding member of the Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal Chapter. I've taught workshops on writing at writer’s conferences and at community colleges.
Because for "real life" my motto is: Boring is good, excitement is vastly overrated, I save the adventures for the characters in my books.

I love to connect with other writers and readers. When I'm not writing you can find me hanging out on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elysa-Hendricks-Author/137316289643103  (way too much) or you can check out my books on my web site: http://www.elysahendricks.com

Tell us about your latest release.

My most current release is a contemporary romance with a touch of fantasy.
MUST LOVE CATS - The Nine Lives of Thomas Cash Riley - Book 1
Thomas Cash (TC) Riley is mad, bad and –dead. Killed in a one car wreck the twenty-nine-year old playboy is given one last chance to redeem himself for living a selfish, unfulfilled life and to determine his soul’s final destination.

To help his young daughter recover from the loss of her mother, Daniel Bishop, a widower who dislikes the country and is allergic to anything with fur, has moved back to his wife’s rural hometown to be close to her large family.

Katherine Sinclair, the local veterinarian and the single mother of an adventurous ten-year old son, is wary of the handsome newcomer. Once before she’d given her heart to a wealthy, charming man and she’d ended up pregnant and alone.

With the help of a lonely little girl and a brash young boy, can TC find a way to bring these two damaged people together? Can he remember his past and save his soul in the allotted time?
And can he do it all as a cat?

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?

This is pretty much like asking me which of my human children I like best. I love all my book babies equally, though I do like certain traits that some of them have over others.

If I have to pick a heroine, I'd go with Sianna DiSanti, the empathic healer from my fantasy romance CRYSTAL MOON. She's the person I'd like to be - innocent of evil and empathic. She only sees the good in people. I on the other hand am too much of a realist (though my family truly believes I'm an optimist) to overlook and forgive people for hurting me or my family.

Picking a favorite hero is a bit tougher. I fall in love with each and every one of them. But I think Brandon Alexander Davis from THE SWORD AND THE PEN is closest to my heart. He's a slightly neurotic writer (isn't that redundant?) of sword and sorcery novels. His philosophy for real life is much like mine - Boring is good. Excitement is vastly overrated. Like me, he saves the adventures for the characters in his books. So, of course, I had to give him a heroine with adventure written into her DNA.

What's a man to do when his fantasy woman appears in his life complete with skimpy outfit, mile-long sword, and bad-ass attitude?

2.) What genre do you write? What made you pick that one?

I write romance. The characters and story decide which sub-genre they fall into. Whether the setting is the American Old West, a modern day small town, a star ship hundreds of years in the future or an alternate universe, the growing relationship between the hero and heroine is the focus of the story. I want to write stories about people falling and staying in love, about the creation of a family.

3.)What are you working on now?

I have numerous projects in the works. I love writing short Holiday themed romances, especially those centered around Christmas, so I have several of those in various stages of completion.
For my full length titles I'm working on a sci-fi romance set in the same universe as STAR CRASH and STAR RAIDERS. I also have a sequel planned for MUST LOVE CATS - Book 1 of The Nine Lives of Thomas Cash Riley. Once those are done I have dozens of ideas brewing and characters nagging me to tell their stories.

4.) What got you to start writing?

I really can't remember when I first started making up stories. In grade school I used to make up stories for the other kids at recess. When I was in high school I took a creative writing course and was hooked. But it wasn't until years later that I actually realized that "real" people wrote books, that authors weren't some separate breed of human with super powers. One day I sat down to write a short, contemporary romance. When my heroine turned out to be a winged, telepathic alien who stows away on passing space ship, I realized I liked telling stories set in different places and times. Since then I've written stories set in the Old West, the future, and alternate universes as well as the current world. Writing isn't so much what I do, it's part of who I am.

5.) Where do you get your ideas from?

When a reader asks me where I get my ideas for the books I write, I say something funny like: "Oh, I have an idea tree growing in my backyard. Once a year I harvest the ideas and store them in my attic to ripen." That usually gets a laugh. If I get a deer-in-the-headlights look, I remind them I'm a writer of fiction, a teller of tall tales. So what did they expect me to say? Stephen King tells people he digs his ideas up in the backyard. Of course, he writes horror not romance, so I guess digging things up is appropriate.

The truth is I find ideas for stories everywhere. Everything I see, hear, taste, feel, or smell can spark a story idea.  A snatch of conversation overheard while standing in a grocery store checkout line, reading about a new scientific breakthrough, hearing about a love letter delivered fifty years late, the smell of barbeque on a warm summer night, walking hand-in-hand with my husband through our neighborhood, the sight of two strangers kissing on a street corner or arguing over dinner in a fancy restaurant all trigger ‘What If’ in my imagination.

6.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?

I don't know that there's much surprising about me. I consider myself to be pretty average - average height, average weight, average looks, sadly I'm a bit past average age. I like to think my intelligence and writing is slightly above average, but that would be boastful - wouldn't it?

Basically, they'd probably be surprised to find out just how average I am, but I'm of the mind that it's not who the author is that's important, it's whether or not the writing pleases and surprises the reader.

7.) Do you have any special talents?

I tell stories. I create people, places, whole worlds from nothing but my imagination. I make readers laugh and cry. I send them on fabulous adventures to distant stars and the past.

I also possess the most powerful super power of all - Common Sense.

8.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?

The best piece of advice I've received is one I still struggle to follow - WRITE! In order to become proficient at anything whether it's playing a sport or knitting, you have to practice. You have to just do it. In order to hone your skill as a writer you need to write - a LOT!

That said, I don't like writing. It's darned hard work. On the other hand, I love having written. There's nothing as satisfying as writing THE END on a story, seeing something you've created out of nothing.

9.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

I'm not so interested in talking to famous people, but I'd love to spend some time with loved ones who have passed on.  I'd like to be able to tell them how much I love them, what they mean to me, and how much I miss them.

10.) What song would you say describes your life?

It's probably cliché, but I have to say Paperback Writer by the Beatles.

11.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

Definitely a cat, preferably the pampered pet of some fabulously wealthy, attractive, movie star. Of course, Thomas Cash (TC) Riley from MUST LOVE CATS isn't all that thrilled about being sent back to earth as a cat to play match maker.

Daniel pulled his car into the gravel lot alongside the quaint, white clapboard farmhouse. His gaze focused on the classic lines of the lovingly maintained building, at first he didn't notice the slim woman standing arms akimbo at the base of a ladder propped against the house.
As a successful, commercial architect, he admired and envied those who designed houses, creating warm, welcoming, comfortable homes for people. At one point that had been his dream, but pressure from his father convinced him otherwise.
"The money and prestige is in public buildings. No one remembers who designs houses." His father's words came back to him. At the time, Daniel hadn't had the nerve or the courage to argue, to bring up famous architects who'd designed homes. He was well aware that of those, the public, which included his playboy father and socialite mother, only Frank Lloyd Wright's name was recognizable. As always to avoid conflict, to gain his parent's approval, he'd fallen into line.
Marrying Hannah had been the only time he ever went against his father's wishes. Maybe his parents’ objection had been what drew Daniel to her. Even if his father had forgiven him, that relationship had been doomed. But his parents had died before he could reconcile with them. And now Hannah was gone as well. All that remained was Alana.
"Daddy, look! A bird boy!"
Alana's delighted shout and a child's scream drew his attention to the boy clinging precariously to the steeply slanted roof. A makeshift parachute wrapped around his arms, and tangled around his thrashing legs prevented him from gaining a good grip on the roof's shingles. Another look at the woman confirmed his fears. Her ashen face reflected her terror at what was about to happen. A fall from that height, more than twenty feet, would certainly injure, if not kill, the boy.
"Stay here," he told Alana and bolted out of the car. His gaze went from the boy to the ladder. No help there. The old wood wouldn't hold his weight. What other option did he have?
"TC." He heard Alana call out.
His attention focused on the boy, he ignored the streak of black and white racing past him. With only one chance, he calculated the boy's height, weight and the angle of his fall and positioned himself below.
"Hey, son," he called softly.
The boy turned panicked eyes toward Daniel.
"Everything's going to be fine," he reassured the boy. "Let yourself slide down. I'm going to catch you."
The boy nodded in acceptance. Panic drained from his eyes. Daniel felt a punch of fear mingled with gratitude for the boy's instinctive trust.
He held out his arms. "Let go now."
Without hesitation the boy released his grip on the shingles. He slid down then the cloth wrapped around him snagged. His body twisted sideways. He was coming down head first in a different direction. Too fast. Daniel dove to the side, hoping to at least break the boy's fall. He braced for the impact.
He heard the woman's gasp. At the last moment, as the boy plunged off the edge of the roof, his body jerked to a halt to dangle about fifteen feet above Daniel.
Quickly Daniel righted himself below the boy and looked up. At the edge of the roof the cat stretched spread eagle, its claws clinging to the fabric of the makeshift parachute and the shingles. Though its slight weight was no match for the boy's, it had stopped his headlong plummet for a critical few seconds.
Daniel's eyes met those of the cat. For an instant he could have sworn the cat winked at him. Then with a yowl the cat retracted its claws and the boy dropped neatly into Daniel's outstretched arms. They tumbled together to the ground.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Writing Down the Bones: Setting, Mood and Atmosphere

I know I'm a little late in posting this, but it's been a busy week.

I found this wonderful handout and the only source listed is that it came from Make that Scene by William Noble.

1.) Setting

a.) In creating a sense of place you might want to consider a variety of items. Think about the scenery. Are you in a city? What are the buildings like? The streets? Are there any unique speech patterns? What is the weather like? Any folk heroes? Odors?

b.) Choose a few key features, only the ones necessary to your story.

c.)Use just enough information to paint a picture, but don’t overwhelm your reader with too much.

d.) Think of your setting s as a main character. It offers a constant in the story, can be part of the action.

e.) You can use the setting as an influence on your characters.

f.) You can use your setting to limit your plot. When your setting is limited, like to a particular location, it can control what will happen.

g.) Dialogue is another way to develop setting. You can weave drama into your setting through dialog. It allows your reader to become part of the scene.

h.) You can also establish setting through the use of time. Scene transitions establish a time change or a change of setting.

2.) Mood and Atmosphere:

a.) Use the five senses when giving details. It invokes the senses so the reader can feel the character’s feelings and emotions.

b.) The atmosphere helps the reader live what is happening on the pages.

c.) We always say use conflict but you need to use harmony too. Conflict gives the emotion and drama while harmony of the mood and atmosphere gives dimension for the action.

d.) Mood and atmosphere adds to the emotional build-up. It pulls the reader into the story and explains why characters do what they do.

e.) Mood and atmosphere can be influenced by your characters POV. Each character will view the mood and atmosphere differently because of their personality and as you switch POV’s the atmosphere and mood will change too.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Welcome My Latest Guest: P.J. MacLayne!

I want to welcome P.J. MacLayne. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

I'm a geek by day and a writer by night. I fell in love with the Rocky Mountains years ago, and although I've lived in various parts of the United States, I've finally come back to them.

Tell us about your latest release.

The Marquesa's Necklace started off as a romance but quickly turned into a cozy mystery.  I'm better at writing adventure than emotions, but mixing the two is great fun. It's set in an imaginary small town somewhere north of Pittsburgh and it feels like home to me because I grew up in that area.
Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
Favorite villain? That's a tough one. I really appreciate some of the classic James Bond villains. If I had to pick one it would be Dr. Julius No not only for his dastardly plan but for the manner in which he dies, buried under a pile of guano.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
I think that my favorite book is whatever I'm in the middle of writing, and my current favorite character is Harmony Duprie, the main character in The Marquesa's Necklace as well as my work in progress. I like her so much that her story has become a series. She's strong, independent, smart and feisty but still capable of making bad decisions.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I'm currently writing cozy mysteries. I wouldn't say I picked that genre, but rather that it picked me. It gives me the chance to mix adventure with real-life situations. Plus, I like figuring out both the mystery as well as the solution.

4.) What are you working on now?
My work in progress in tentatively titled Her Ladyship's Ring, and is the second in the Oak Grove series. I get Harmony into even more trouble than I did in the first book.

5.) What got you to start writing?
In sixth grade I was recognized for an essay I wrote about the Mafia. I got an award for a historical essay I wrote in eighth grade. In high school I became more interested in poetry, and I've had some poetry published over the years. A few years ago, I got the idea for a love story that I just couldn't shape into poetry. That book got written, but it's not good enough to publish, so it'll sit in a computer file until I decide whether or not to revise it. In the meantime, each book I've written has improved my ability to tell a story.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
My mother would like to know the same thing. In truth, I rarely remember my dreams, but when I do, they often hold the basis for a story.  And I like to observe people and try and figure them out. Other than that, I have a very active imagination.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
Which of my deep, dark secrets do I want to reveal? Although I am currently employed in IT, I didn't touch my first computer until I was over thirty years old.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
I needlepoint and I'm pretty good at it. It isn't that hard, but not very many people do it anymore.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
Write. Even if it's bad.   Why? Because you'll never get any better if you don't even try.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
John Denver. I'd like to thank him. He's the reason I moved from Pennsylvania to the West and met my husband.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?
That's easy- Rocky Mountain High.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
I'd have to pick between a wolf and a dragonfly. Now technically, a dragonfly is not an animal, but I've always loved the way their wings shimmer in the sunshine. I've been known to rescue them from inside a building by getting them to land on me and taking them back outside. And the wolf because the first book I published was a paranormal romance titled Wolves' Pawn.

Blurb for The Marquesa's Neckace by P.J. MacLayne

Harmony Duprie enjoyed her well-ordered life in the quiet little town of Oak Grove—until her arrest for drug trafficking. Cleared of all charges, she wants nothing more than to return to the uneventful lifestyle of a historical researcher she once savored.

But when her beloved old car “George” is stolen and explodes into a ball of flames, it sets off a series of events that throws her plans into turmoil. Toss in a police detective that may or may not be interested in her, an attractive but mysterious stranger on her trail, and an ex-boyfriend doing time, and Harmony’s life freefalls into a downward spiral of chaos.

Now she has to use her research skills to figure out who is behind the sinister incidents plaguing her, and why. And she better take it seriously, like her life depends upon finding the right answers.

Because it might.

Buy Links:


Media Links: Facebook: https://facebook.com/pjmaclayne
            Twitter      https://twitter.com/pjmaclayne
            Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/P.J.-MacLayne/e/B00HVE8WZI

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Writing Down the Bones: Digging Deep with your Characters

I found another wonderful unnamed handout about building your characters and it made me think. 

How well do we know our characters anyway? We’ve all been told to know the characters worst fear. That normally is part of the plot so is their deepest desire but does that make the character three dimensional? The author asked some great questions to help you kick start your character development.

What does your character’s bedroom look like? What color is the spread on the bed? Is it neat or messy? What decorates the walls? What is on the night stand? Any books? What are the titles? Do they have any ailments that might make them keep medication on that nightstand?
What does your heroine have in her purse? Why? What size is it? How much did she pay for it? Is it heavy or light? You can ask the same thing about your hero. What does he have in his pockets? Does he carry a briefcase? If so what is in it?

What about the bathroom? What type of towels do they use? Toothpaste? Mouthwash? Are there perfumes in there? How about their brand of deodorant?

What is the make and model of their car? Or is it a truck? What do they have in their trunk? Is it a stick or automatic? Are their tags up to date?

How do they handle new people? Do they judge them off of their looks? Are they a good judge of character? Does meeting new people put them on edge?

Does your character scare easily? Are they shy? Afraid of physical contact? Or one of those people who violate personal space? Do they make eye contact? Talk loud? Talk too much?

This should give you a good jumping off point. I’m sure you can come up with a lot more questions to make your characters three dimensional.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Latest Guest: Ashley Ladd!

I want to welcome Ashley Ladd. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

Tell us about your latest release.

My latest release is ‘Spooky Sojourn’ a ghostly paranormal in which the heroine, Deanna Thompson, is the new manager of a purportedly haunted hotel. She doesn’t believe in ghosts and she is determined to find the culprit(s) responsible for driving guests and employees away from the hotel. She hires Harry DeVeaux, a paranormal investigator, in the hopes of proving there are no ghosts. Immediately, sparks fly. But they often disagree and often argue as he knows ghosts exist and she thinks he’s crazy for believing in them. Still, she can’t help fantasizing about the hottest man she’s ever met and she wonders if she’s crazy for doing so. When bowling pins and kitchen knives start flying through the air and her brother’s car explodes, she starts to rely on Harry more and more.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
The Mummy. He’s completely head over heels in love with his girlfriend, so much so that his love survives his death. He’ll do anything so that they can be together again. In his mind, he’s her hero.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
Haley in ‘Purrfect Justice’. She’s a mild-mannered secretary by day but by night, she dons a Cat Woman costume and really kicks criminal ass. When she was coming home from a Halloween costume party one night she was listening to the police scanner and heard that the policeman she’s in love with was in trouble and she flew to his aid. She saved his neck and it became a habit – in costume. She even borrows her girlfriend’s motorcycle and she jumps it over a police car to escape being caught when they try to pin her down. She’s a lot of fun.

3.) What genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I love contemporary erotic romance, especially rom com. Within that I write a variety of pairings: mf, mm, mfm, mmm, mmf

4.)What are you working on now?
‘Gaycation’ which is an mmf about an erotic romance writer who hasn’t come out of the closet about what she writes to her family, friends, or employer. When she uses her vacation from work to attend a gay conference to get more ideas for her books and her big boss, the man of her dreams, also shows up, she gets way more than she bargained for.

5.) What got you to start writing?
I started writing when I was about six—as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved the written word. I loved Superman and Lois Lane and I wanted to be a hot shot reporter like Lois.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere. Listening to conversations. Watching and reading the news. Watching people including my kids. Dreams. Fantasies. Songs.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
That my friends and coworkers are afraid to swear around me or tell dirty jokes and stories. They think I’m too sweet and innocent for that stuff. It cracks me up. I tell them I really don’t mind but they insist that I’m a goodie two shoes. If only they knew…

8.) Do you have any special talents?
I type 96 wpm. I’m a good aim with a bow and arrow.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
That I should open the bedroom door and write hotter. That’s when I started to write romantica.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
Captain Jack Sparrow – about anything that came to his amazing, crazy mind. He’s so fascinating and sexy and funny I’d never get bored.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?
Everywhere by Tim McGraw

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

A cat! I must be part cat already. I’ve probably been scratched enough that our blood has mingled and I have cat DNA.

Ashley Ladd lives in South Florida with her husband, five children, and beloved pets. She loves the water, cats, and playing on the computer.

She's often incorporates humor and adventure into her books. She also adores very spicy romance, which she weaves into her stories.

Someone’s trying to kill Deanna, but is it the ghosts she doesn’t believe in, the rich socialite who might be a murderess, or someone else with a beef against The Gilroy Hotel and Resort that Deanna has just been hired to manage?  The Gilroy’s owners want the ghosts, or whoever is causing the trouble at the hotel eliminated, and they are pressuring Deanna to do the job as quickly as possible. Harry DeVeaux, paranormal investigator comes highly recommended to do the job and against Deanna’s better judgment, she hires him.

Although Deanna thinks Harry’s crazy for believing in ghosts and Harry thinks Deanna has a closed mind to the possibilities of ghosts and they highly annoy each other, sparks fly. Deanna can’t help but fantasize about Harry and inspired by a romance convention visiting her hotel, writes her fantasies in a private blog that Harry finds, hacks, and reads. Ooh la la!

Deanna reread her fantasy, barely able to believe she’d penned it, wondering if she should delete it. Did she really want to make out with Harry, a perfect stranger, on a public beach? Did she really want her words on the Internet, even in a supposedly private blog under a make-believe name?
Well, it was confidential, right? As long as she didn’t give anybody the web address or password or tell them about it, it would remain secret.

Enough fantasizing! She had to get back to work. Dragging the files out, she familiarized herself with the ghost sightings as well as Lynette’s and Grant’s history. By the time she finished, she knew how they’d died and the theories about their suicides-slash-murders. She also knew that everybody was afraid to point fingers at the now very influential and powerful Roxanne Cambridge-Anderson. Could Roxanne be behind the haunting nonsense? Did she want the hotel shut down? But that made no sense. The rumors portrayed Roxanne as a murderess. It wouldn’t be in her best interest to keep their legend alive.

Deanna’s temples began to ache the harder she thought about everything, so she decided to go to sleep. Hopefully she’d awake if any hi-jinks took place in the bowling alley.

About three a.m., deafening booms awoke her. Light brightened lane fourteen and all but one pin lay scattered on the wooden floor.

Groggy, Deanna tried to gather her senses. She looked around then, to her horror, she saw an iridescent figure of a man on lane fourteen picking up a glowing ball. Collecting her presence of mind, she grabbed her webcam, pointed it at the ghostly shape and turned it on. Shaking, she tried to hold her computer steady. Not believing what she was seeing, she knew there had to be a rational explanation. Perhaps some machine was projecting the image onto the lanes. Perhaps a real person stood in front of her in glowing phosphorescent powder.

Whatever or whoever it was, picked up the ball, and knocked down the spare pin. Then the ‘apparition’ bowled three strikes in a row.

Unexpectedly, he turned and glared at her, fire shooting from his eyes. Pins flew from all the lanes at her. Her heart racing, she ducked under the score table.

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How you can contact Ashley:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Random Thoughts: Can you have distractions while you write?

We all have different ways to get ready to write every day. Some have an office to work in, desk clean, no distractions. Once the door is closed they are ready. Others have a particular place, the dining room table, a chair in their bedroom, a computer desk in a spare room. I sit in a recliner in the living room.

Some will play music while others need silence. I put on a TV show or movie I don’t need to focus on and off I go. When my son was little (he’s now twenty), he understood I wanted to write but didn’t understand that popping his head in every five minutes asking me if I was done yet kept me writing longer. My husband was just as bad. So I invested in a laptop to see if that would give me more time to write without interruptions. It worked. When I sat with them they totally ignored me. It taught me I have less distractions in the middle of the mayhem I call my family then I do locking myself away.

How do you handle distractions?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Meet My Latest Guest Kasey Moone! #Phaze

Welcome Kasey Moone. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.
I’ve been writing interracial erotic romance for about 5 years now. I actually started writing literary fiction then switched to romance writing because I enjoyed it better. I’ve always been a huge romance fan, and when I started writing in the genre, I knew instantly it was the genre I was supposed to explore. What else…I’m a die-hard romantic at heart and I love writing!

Tell us about your latest release.
Campus Touch is a story that I am self-publishing through Amazon, Smashwords, and AllRomance. It should be out sometime in November, if not sooner. It is the second book in my Edson College series, which a paranormal series that follows a group of hunky werewolf cousins in a prestigious college in Michigan. They are all very rowdy, funny cousins, and they all find their better halves (or lifemates) on campus. It’s a quick, action-packed story that I think readers will enjoy. The story focuses on a white male and a black female. The first book in the series is entitled Campus Prowl and is available at Amazon and AllRomance.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
Wicked Witch of the East. She was the first villain that really frightened me as a child. Guess I haven’t gotten over it.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
That’s a hard one! Definitely Anelle Franklin from my first story Her Snowbound Knight. I like her because she’s tough but vulnerable, and of course she’s the first character I ever written in the romance genre that made me want to explore the industry. She’ll always be my first love. Her and her handsome man, Jasper Madison.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
Interracial erotica. I picked interracial because I believe love crosses all boundaries (race, religion, political status) and I want to give a voice to couples that may be underrepresented in the romance industry. I also think it’s fun writing about two people from different backgrounds. An interracial writer can explore important topic.

4.) What are you working on now?
An interracial, contemporary romance called Small Talk. Then it’s off to another book in the Edson College series!

5.) What got you to start writing?
I started writing when I was 12, and wrote my first novel too! It was called Trouble in Rainbow Land. LOL. I started writing because I was always a quiet kid, sort of a loner, very imaginative and creative, I liked making up stories. I was a bit of a fibber—and sometimes that would get me in trouble. One day I channeled that energy into actually writing stories and the rest is history. I studied writing all throughout school, and even have a graduate degree in it. It is truly my passion. I can’t imagine doing anything else and I hope to do it full-time in the near future.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
Small moments. Something totally insignificant will happen, and I’ll brainstorm in my head for a few moments to try to figure out if a story could come from it. Sometimes I get it from watching movies, television shows, conversations I overhear. But it’s usually something totally random that has me rushing to my notebook to record it.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
I’ve lived in nine different places in my lifetime. And no, I was not running from the cops.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Double jointed. Used to dance professionally. Excellent listener. Can remember random movie quotes.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
“Write with your heart in the first draft, and with your brain in the second.” For some reason, that always stayed with me. One of my instructors offered this advice to me in school, and it’s helped me not to be so critical of myself in the first draft. Note: I used to have a terrible inner critic.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
Muhammad Ali. I love his confidence. Don’t know what I’d ask him though.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?
Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird”  -- because I’m a bit of a free spirit, very independent, creative, warm. I like my freedom.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
A mighty Lion. Leos rule.

Henrietta “Rita” Evans has always been known as the quiet, black girl on campus, some folks even nicknaming her “Mute” in jest. And she doesn’t expect much out of her Winter Break at Edson College, but an equally quiet environment. Until a member of the white campus elite starts running behind her dormitory late at night. Starts warning her to stay away from him and the woods. Starts making her feel more alive than she’s felt in a very long time…

Something is happening to Sal. Something he can’t control. Something threatening his last year of college and family’s werewolf heritage. And what’s worse, a quiet, mocha beauty can’t seem to mind her own business, tempting him at every turn. Who cares if she has the sweetest lips he’s ever seen? Who cares if her scent drives him mad? He has to keep her at a distance, for much more is at stake than the heat blazing between them.

And if he doesn’t put it out, they’ll both burn…
Campus Touch, Second Book in the Edson College Romance Series
Preorder Soon!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Meet my latest Guest! Marilyn Gardiner!

I want to welcome Marilyn Gardiner. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

I’ve been writing nearly all my life. My first novel was written under the covers, at night, with a flashlight. I was eight years old. I still have my handwritten notes and to my horror the plot sounds a lot like Anne of Green Gables! I have been printed in every kind of magazine, newspaper and publishing house you can think of, starting out with children’s stories and inspirational pieces. My husband is a minister, and we have two grown daughters, five grandchildren and five greats. I live across the street from the library, which makes it convenient to always have books on hand. I rarely leave the house without a book in hand, and there are books in every room in my house.
More about me can be found on my webpage: www.booksbymarilyn.com

Tell us about your latest release. 

My latest release was a story about a wagon train going west along the Oregon Trail. Comanche Moon won first place in the latest EPIC contest—historical romance category. I love to do research and writing. This book was a joy. I also have another historical romance: Like A River My Love. The setting was on the Ohio River in 1778, traveling with George Rogers Clark to Kaskaskia in Illinois. I was born and raised in that country, and writing about it was like reliving my childhood.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why? 
I find it hard to pick one favorite villain. I want my villains to be complex, with both faults (some truly horrific) and a compassionate streak of some sort. Humans are a bewildering mix of experience, temptations, challenges and decisions…villains more than others. Villains are fascinating to me.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
My favorite character in my own work is Jenny, the heroine in Comanche Moon. She is faced with enormous problems and feels inadequate to cope with them. She has no choice, however, there is no one else to take charge of her little daughter and herself. She grows, rather she matures, out of sheer necessity, kicking and screaming all the way, but she emerges as a strong and capable young woman – and she finds love in the bargain.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I write in whatever genre my story chooses. I have two historical romances, a four-book series of romantic suspense, one inspirational, several action-packed mysteries and two classified as “women’s literature.”

4.) What are you working on now?
Right now I am finishing the rewrite on the story of a coal mining disaster in W.Va. and how the lives of an entire valley were forever changed. Title: Thine Is The Kingdom, a symbol for the mine tipple which dominates the entire valley and the lives of the people who live there in a thousand ways.

Then, I have another finished book waiting for me to correct. Night Travelers is the story of four women, in four generations, living under one roof all summer. Each has her own problems and solves them in her individual way, yet at the bottom of their soul they are surprised to find they are much alike.

5.) What got you to start writing?
As I said before I was very young when I began to write. When I was about ten my grandmother informed the entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc) that one day I was going to write all the books she never could. She only had a sixth grade education, but was an avid reader. Sometimes I think I write for her. I often have a grandmother in my books. Cicada Summer is my latest short story, available as a download through Amazon—cheap, cheap, cheap. Grandma Livvy is one of the central characters in this story.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
From life. My own experiences and what I hear or read about. Television, newspapers, conversations that I have had and those I’ve only overheard. Every word I hear is grist for my writing mill. I research a lot and have been in an unimproved cave, where the worst thing was having to crawl beneath a low ceiling and not knowing what I was putting my hands in on the floor! For another book I had to know what the banks of a large river looked like and what it felt like to be on a river, in Like A River…so I pleaded with a nephew to take me out in his boat and  took a ton of notes. I’ve traveled extensively in Great Britain, and in Jamaica, and all over the U.S. Often I have put myself in danger wanting to know what was going on. Fires, tornados, floods, etc. My husband gets quite upset with me. Having grown up with my curiosity, my children take it for granted.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
I live a very ordinary life.  I have flown an airplane (with the pilot beside me), I have sung, sometimes professionally, since I was twelve years old. My best friend was my accompanist for many years, and we had a lot of fun. Music and writing/reading are the two passions in my life. I enjoy knitting. Although the first sweater I knitted was for my husband and one sleeve somehow grew three inches longer than the other one! My husband and I have taken in too many troubled teenagers to count, for various lengths of time. I am profoundly grateful to have been a solid presence in the lives of young people who had very little or no stability at all in their lives.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Music and writing are, I think, all I know. I was a secretary for the years my husband was in school. That was four years of college, plus a couple more while working for two Masters degrees and a PhD. I gathered many experiences during those years, most of which show up in my books.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
A speaker at a conference once told me…”White! Write! Write! Hell, in the teeth of the storm, write. Success comes from applying the seat of the pants to the chair!” I have taken that advice seriously. I keep regular office hours. And I take my writing seriously. It isn’t a hobby, it is my passion, and I respect it.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
I’d love to talk with Ghandi, with some of  the women in the Bible, with Harper Lee, Maya Angelou…with so many people who have been effective in the lives of others—and Wilbur Smith, a fabulous word-smith.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?
“As Time Goes By.”   I am at that point in my life where the years seem to fly by at warp speed. I’ll never live long enough to write all the books that are in my head.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
I can’t make up my mind between an elephant and a hummingbird. Basically for the same reason. Because of their size they enjoy total freedom.


Spring has come early along the Oregon Trail. Jenny Nation, her husband and five-year-old daughter are only three weeks into the trip by wagon train when Daniel is killed. Frozen in grief and fear, Jenny must make up her mind whether to press on with the train or turn around and go back to Independence. She chooses to go on, knowing she’ll have to drive the wagon alone, care for the oxen, hunt for food, and possibly fight Indians. Through stultifying heat, terrifying storms, walking beside the oxen, a buffalo stampede, and the kidnapping of her daughter by the Comanches, Jenny refuses to give up. “Every step brings me closer to Oregon,” she tells herself, over and over again. Jenny somehow finds romance with the train’s guide, Zane Thatcher. To keep Jenny—a lone woman—from being thrown off the train as a burden, Zane agrees to be responsible for her. However, it isn’t easy because Jenny insists on being independent and they argue at every juncture. In spite of it all, she faces the challenges of the trail with growing confidence, courage, and humor. “Every step…Oregon. Every step…”