Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cat in the Lights ... with Author Carla Rossi

Buon Natale, Maria! Thank you for inviting me and Saber the Maine Coon Muse Cat to stop by your blog.

A writer friend once said it was true all writers have cats. She didn’t because she was highly allergic, and she often thought that might be why she wasn’t on the NYT Bestseller list. “After all,” she said, “I hear it’s almost impossible to even land an agent without a cat.”

So yes, I am a cat person.

And yes, I write every day with my cat by my side (or crawling across the keyboard, or swatting at my fingers…) Saber is especially helpful with tasks around the house – like untangling Christmas lights

and as a working writer’s cat, he often helps me brainstorm. I’m sure he’s responsible for the appearance of the kittens in my YA holiday story, How Nick and Holly (Wrecked) Saved Christmas.

Like most pet-loving authors, cats and dogs often make a way into my stories. Last year’s holiday release Dr. Noah and The Sugar Plum Fairy features a couple dogs and a yummy homemade dog biscuit recipe. I hope you’ll check it out and enjoy both holiday stories.

Holly Moreau and Nick Zernigan aren’t friends at school – or anywhere else. Especially since Holly blames Nick for her broken nose after a freak accident. But when they find themselves unexpectedly dropped with older relatives at a retirement complex over Christmas break, they must make peace. They have to. It’s the only way to survive karaoke night and a senior citizen Christmas dance.

Holly thinks Nick is a careless loser. Nick thinks Holly is a too-serious choir nerd. Can one party and a crime spree change their minds about each other? And can Nick and Holly remember the miracle of Christmas and find the answers to some of their hidden questions?

Buy ebook from Pelican Book Group

Buy Kindle edition

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Contact Carla: carla@carlarossi.com

carlarossi.com

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My Christmas Puppy...Kind Of by Terri Weldon

I love Westies. And when my precious Ethel passed away I determined to give myself plenty of time to mourn before bringing another puppy into my home. Crosby, however, had an entirely different idea in mind.

A friend of mine who fosters Westies told me about him and my immediate thought was no way! He was a Christmas puppy, but somehow Santa dropped him off at the wrong house. And at eleven weeks old he found himself living with a foster mom, looking for his forever home.

Then I saw a picture of the little fellow and I thought he’s a boy, he will be so different from her. And he does need a home. So after just three months without a Westie, Crosby came to live with me.

I can honestly say life has never been the same. The first night he cried and carried on all night long! I went out the next day and bought a kennel for him to sleep in, a puppy playpen, and started taking him on walks. It had been so long since I had a puppy I forgot they could (and he did) get into everything – including my heart.

Now almost six years later I can’t imagine life without Crosby! He’s a sweetheart that loves everyone and is confident everyone loves him. He climbs up in my lap to have his head petted. And if I write too long and he feels ignored, he makes sure I know about it.

I won’t deny he’s been a challenge, but one adoring look from those beautiful brown eyes and I know he’s worth it! I’m thankful my Christmas puppy found his way to my house, even if it did take a few extra weeks.

Thank you for being here, Terri. Crosby is adorable!

Misty Winslow is determined to find her prince charming. She meets the man of her dreams through an internet dating service. Or is he?

Because the new dentist in town sets her heart a flutter.

It's love at first sight for Tyler Davenport, but before he can finish his first root canal Misty is involved in an exclusive online romance with Wes99. Tyler begins to get jealous of Wes99, his online persona!

Soon he's pulling out all the stops to woo Misty. As Christmas approaches Wes99 and Tyler both ask her to meet them under the mistletoe. Which man will she choose?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Welcome Author Tanya Stowe

Today I'm happy to welcome author Tanya Stowe with her own story of her journey to publication:

After I wrote and sold my first book, I became a publishing “orphan”. My publishing house closed, leaving me with a half completed sequel. The industry began downsizing and my critique group, which between them had 30 books on the shelves, suddenly had only 6. As the new beginner, my future didn’t look promising. I decided to take on a full time job to help pay the mortgage.

After almost 10 years of putting my writing on the back burner, I decided it was time to quit my job and write full time once again. I completed a manuscript that I considered my best work and sent it out. I had lots of nibbles but no strong bites so I sent the manuscript to a book doctor. When she finished critiquing the work, I felt as if I was finished writing. I was so dispirited and frustrated, I considered going back to work and permanently shelving my writing career.

In fact, I even said out loud “I’m done, Lord. Point me in another direction because I’m finished. Tell me what you have in line for me next.” On the table beside me sat my Bible. I flipped it open and a scripture from Hebrews jumped out at me. “Perseverance is thy training.”

I ranted. I raved. I argued for days. No way could I endure more punishment from the publishing industry. At last, I realized I needed to be obedient. “All right, Lord. You win.” But if writing was what He wanted me to do than I would write for Him. I pulled out my very first manuscript, revised it as an Inspirational romance and sent it out. The story sold within 6 months.

Layne Mabrey is on the run because her ex-husband is determined to institutionalize their Down Syndrome daughter. Layne can't afford to get close to anyone--not even the gentle cowboy next door. Is it possible a Christmas miracle awaits Layne and Chloe on the Heart's Haven Angel Tree?

Thank you for being here today, Tanya and for reminding us that we should always persevere.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

THE CHRISTMAS GIFT by Anne Greene

I love the story of Mary, so young, probably only about fifteen, telling the man she loves that she is pregnant. And young Joseph, probably not more than twenty years old himself, loving her so much and believing the angel that yes, his betrothed though with child, was still a virgin.

How both may have been shunned by their families, but Joseph stepped up like a man and took his beloved Mary for his wife. How they walked to Bethlehem together. Despite tradition, I’m sure young Joseph couldn’t afford a donkey.

How Joseph lay down his tunic for his bride-to-be and there on the dirty floor of a manure-stinking barn delivered God’s own son. Can you think of a more lowly birth for the King of heaven and earth? What a picture to show that Jesus came not to be served but to serve. Only the Creator God could imagine such a birth.

Christmas is our time to rejoice, worship, and give. Let us make the most of the time until The One born so lowly comes again—only when He returns, He will come as King of Kings and Lord of Lords in all His splendor and glory.

What was the best Christmas gift you ever received? Leave a comment below.

A MARRIAGE COVENANT Why does a handsome, powerful noble of the highest rank in England stoop to marry a mere Lady of Lowland Scotland?

A GREAT SECRET Are the whispered stories about him true? With his shadowy past and strange behavior, what awful secret does he hide? Each change of clothes transforms him into a different man.

AN IMPOSSIBLE CHOICE Can Lady Cailin keep her vow to make her marriage happy and successful, unlike that of her parents, or must she arrange for the Duke's accidental death?

ANNE GREENE delights in writing about wounded heroes and gutsy heroines. Her second novel, a Scottish historical, Masquerade Marriage, won the New England Reader Choice award, the Laurel Wreath Award, and the Heart of Excellence Award. The sequel Marriage By Arrangement released November, 2013.

Anne makes her home in McKinney, Texas. Tim LaHaye led her to the Lord when she was twenty-one and Chuck Swindoll is her Pastor. View Anne’s travel pictures and art work at http://www.AnneGreeneAuthor.com.

Anne’s highest hope is that her stories transport the reader to an awesome new world and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Buy Anne’s books at http://www.PelicanBookGroup.com. Or at http://www.Amazon.com.

Visit http://www.anneswritingupdates.blogspot.com for information on writing an award-winning novel. Talk with Anne on twitter at @TheAnneGreene. Visit Anne’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/AnneWGreeneAuthor.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Welcome Brady the Cat ... and Author Joanne Durgin!

I was denied the pleasure (a nice way of saying I wasn’t allowed) to have a “real” pet as a girl, so we had box turtles and frogs and assorted amphibians. Ugh.

Yeah, I tried begging (“Mom, you can’t cuddle with a turtle!”), but nothing worked. Now my husband, Jim, grew up with big, rambunctious and affectionate dogs. So, as soon as we moved into our first house in California, we’d picked out a pure bred Yellow Lab within a week.

I have photos of Prince growing bigger during the next few months just as my expectant belly also expanded. Then came Polo, a Sheltie, in Philadelphia. Then Callie in Boston (after Polo died, I’d suggested no more dogs, yet guess who led the parade to find another puppy at the animal shelter?). Pointing at self here.

Then we moved to Indiana, and when Callie died suddenly at age eight, I said, “Sorry, but that’s it, people. No. More. Animals.”

Not that I don’t love dogs, mind you, but my mother also lives with us. She was bit by a dog as a child and has been afraid of all canines ever since. But…then along came Brady. The cat?!

Jim had never liked cats…until Brady. Like my father, Jim even made disparaging comments about cats. Even told a few bad cat jokes. You know the kind. For my part, I’m allergic to cats (and so is our oldest daughter) and let’s just say I’d met a few less-than-friendly felines.

Sure, they’re cute, but no thank you! Then…a little over a year ago, we noticed this sweet little cat that kept hanging around the house. He’d sit on our front step or on the back deck and the kids would give him food and water (against our better judgment). Talking with our neighbors, we learned several of them thought they’d take the cat in if no one claimed him. He looked like he’d been well-cared for, but he wore no collar.

We’ll probably never know if someone just dropped him off…or what. One night, as my girls and I were going into a store, the sky was dark and ominous and heavy rains were predicted. Jim said, “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” I knew exactly what Jim was thinking. He was worried about that cat!

Twenty minutes later, we came out of the store and there’s Jim in the car stroking that cat. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or think it was one of the sweetest things I’d ever seen. Another twenty minutes later, we walked into a pet store. It was near closing time. I zeroed in on a sales clerk and said, “New cat owners here. We’re going to spend some money!” Within hours, our cat was named Brady (yes, after THAT Brady, as in Tom—Jim’s from New England and we are diehard Patriot fans).

So, male or female, cats are definitely divas. Brady is playful, cute as a button (look at that deceptively innocent face!), intelligent (yes, you can really tell!) and man, does this cat STRUT! Serious wiggles on the back end. It’s pretty hysterical, actually.

And guess what? After a few initial misgivings, neither one of us is allergic, amazingly enough! I’ll say that a cat’s meow is far less irritating than a dog’s bark (our dogs were all barkers).

We don’t have to go out in the freezing cold to walk Brady or let him out to do his business. And best of all? Seeing my husband with Brady on his lap, watching that other Brady on the big screen TV. Yeah, they’re buds. Pretty sweet. So, thank you Lord, for Brady the Cat.

Thanks for hosting me on your blog today, Maria. Blessings, friends!

Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa’s hometown hero made a long-ago promise to the Lord: he won’t kiss a woman until he knows she’s “the one.” Now at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it’ll ever happen. Then, he meets his best friend’s sister, and Jake believes he’s found the woman of his dreams. But what will she think when she discovers his vow?

When Julia makes an unexpected confession on Christmas Day, Jake shares his secret with her, and it looks as though happily-ever-after will make a holiday appearance.

But somehow, everyone in the tiny town of Starlight learns Jake’s secret, and he’s instantly transformed from town hero to laughingstock. Did Julia reveal his secret? Can Jake forget the humiliation and find his way under the mistletoe to share a forever kiss with Julia?

Dante Moretti, Texas-born goalie of an Italian World Cup champion team, expects Starlight, Iowa will be only a blip on the radar of his life. Grabbing a quick meal at Barney’s Diner during the holidays, Dante meets two women who capture his heart in very different ways. Then his rental car won’t start and leaves him stranded. Does the Lord have a plan for bringing him—and keeping him—in Starlight? Amanda Marston is excited to be home for her brother’s wedding. When she drops in for a cup of coffee at Barney’s, she’s charmed by the mysterious, Italian-spouting cowboy. Before she can blink, the handsome stranger is helping with projects all over town and working his way into her heart. Does God have a plan for Dante in her beloved little Starlight or will he take her heart with him when he returns to Italy?

In addition to the Christmas novellas, JoAnn Durgin is the author of The Lewis Legacy Series (Books #1-4 currently available, Book #5 coming in the spring of 2014), and a standalone novel, Catching Serenity.

She is an estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm and lives with her family and Brady the Cat in Southern Indiana. JoAnn loves to hear from readers! Visit her at www.joanndurgin.com or via her Author JoAnn Durgin page on Facebook.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Bouncy Boo Bear

Today I'm joined by author Delia Latham, whose little Boo Bear has stolen my heart! Tell us about Boo, Delia:

At the risk of being shot at or spit on, I have a confession: I've never been a pet person…until Boo Bear—my terribly spoiled Pomeranian.

When we got him, he was barely weaned, and just a tiny little ball of fur—as was his sister, Willow, who claimed my son's heart and also came home with us.

But Willow and Obie have their own home now, and Boo…well, he has the run of our home, and thinks he owns it.

Maybe he does. I'll have to re-check the deed…

Our routine has changed in a number of ways since Boo bounced into our lives.

For example, my husband and I never liked the idea of pets on our bed, but Boo doesn't give a fig what we like or don't like. He has claimed our bed as his own—at least at night, when he bounces up beside me and curls himself into an itty bitty ball right behind my knees.

He's quite the gentleman though. If I come to bed after he and hubby have already burrowed in, he politely jumps off and waits until I get settled before coming back up and staking claim to his chosen spot. During the day, the guestroom bed is his, no matter how hard we try to keep him off it.

Seriously, shouldn't I just run him off? Naw, he'd just come back! In the words of an old song by Susan Wray, "What'cha gonna do with a dog like that?"

Boo's a dancer. When he's showing off for the neighborhood kids, all of whom think he's just the cat's meow (sorry, Boo!), you'd think he was on stage. Those cute little front paws fly high and swat the air with amazing grace, and he struts around like some kind of doggie star. He does the same thing when he's excited…or just walkin' in tall grass and feelin' the joy of life. It's way too cute!

I used to laugh and tease my brother-in-law for turning into an "old softie" when he got his little chihuahua, Angel. But it seems the old adage that states "what goes around comes around" is still true. Even when applied to pets. If you don't want to be wrapped around a little furry paw, don't get a puppy—especially a gentleman dancer of a Pom! (Hmm…maybe we should have name him Astair! Naw…I like Boo.)

Boo's turned both my husband and me into "old softies." But he's worth it.

Delia Latham is a born-and-bred California gal, recently transplanted to Oklahoma where she lives with her husband Johnny. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend—but above all, she treasures her role as child of the King and heir to the throne of God. She enjoys big, loud, happy family gatherings. When she’s not writing, she loves to play piano and sing, read, enjoy nature’s beauty, and design marketing products for authors.

At twenty-one, Lea Dale is well-adjusted and happy, despite the facial scars she's carried since infancy. She has friends in the highest of places, possesses colorful vision (since for some reason she can see auras around folks), and her family and friends adore her. Corrective surgery is a possibility, but not one Lea has felt the need to consider…until wealthy investor Laren Meadows walks into her life and turns it upside down.

Suddenly, Lea is painfully conscious of her lack of perfection, given Laren's flawless looks and ultra-charming personality. What a blessing that he's attracted to her despite her scars—and even her special angel seems to approve of the match.

Then a secret from Laren's past threatens to destroy any hope of a future for the two of them. Now there's only one way for Lea to know if Laren's love is true, but taking that action could mark the end of their relationship.

Can love survive such a tangled mess of physical and emotional scars?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving - Meet Zeke

On Thanksgiving, we give thanks for our pets - dogs, cats, and the occasional bunny find their way into our novels. Why? Because we love them. Today Christine Lindsay shares her love for Zeke. Take it away, Christine!

ZEKE

By Christine Lindsay

With Christmas around the corner, one of my happiest pet memories comes to mind. Our English Springer Spaniel Zeke was ten last Christmas—starting to get a little old, but always a puppy when our grandsons came to visit.

As we all sat around the living room last year, trying to get over our turkey “coma” the three boys all under the age of 7 were running around the sofa chasing a radio control car. They were laughing their heads off. And there was Zeke in the middle of this parade. Now Zeke was never a dog to lick people. I taught him that early on that I didn’t care for that.

But the grandsons didn’t count. Zeke knew very well they were just puppies, and his to keep in line. So in the midst of this squealing, laughing circuit around the sofa was Zeke on the heels of the boys, and every once in a while giving them a little lick on the ear to keep them in line.

Sadly, Zeke passed on that following spring, due to cancer. But I’ll never forget this gorgeous dog who gave us so much joy.

About Christine Lindsay

Christine Lindsay is an Irish-born writer, proud of the fact that she was once patted on the head by Prince Philip when she was a baby. Her great grandfather, and her grandfather—yes father and son—were both riveters on the building of the Titanic.

Tongue in cheek, Christine states that as a family they accept no responsibility for the sinking of that great ship.

It was stories of her ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India that inspired her historical series Twilight of the British Raj of which Book 1 Shadowed in Silk has won several awards, and Book 2 Captured by Moonlight. Christine is currently writing the final installment of that series called Veiled at Midnight to be released August 2014.

Also coming out February 2014 is Londonderry Dreaming, a romance novella set in Londonderry Northern Ireland, not far from Christine’s birthplace. Her newest release a short Christmas story, Heavenly Haven, has just been released as an Ebook.

Christine makes her home in British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada with her husband and their grown up family. Her cat Scottie is chief editor on all Christine’s books.

Please drop by Christine’s website www.christinelindsay.com or her blog http://www.christinelindsay.org

Follow her on Twitter and be her friend on Pinterest and Facebook

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When It's a Baby ...

Today on what has become Pet Love Tuesdays, I'm sharing a photo of our beagle Riley when she was a baby. In this photo taken in July of 2003, Riley was a little over 8 weeks old.

The older dog in this photo was my sister's first boxer, the dearly departed Fritz. Fritz was a Prince among dogs. You can see in this photo that he knows Riley is a baby and he's giving her some fatherly love. Okay, not his baby, but he "knows". His instinct is to protect her. I think that is so cute, and one more reason I love dogs.

Friday, November 8, 2013

An Interview with Award winning author Linda Rondeau

Welcome to Romancing the Writer, Linda. I’d love to hear a little bit about your journey to publication.

Some say they are called. All I know is that I’ve always enjoyed telling a story, even when I was a school girl. Whenever I had an audience, I told a yarn or two. As is often the case, life got in the way of my hobby. Finally, at work, I felt the nudge. It’s now or not at all. Write for me and I will show you things you never hoped or dreamed. I don’t recommend quitting the day job. For me it was necessary. I never looked back.

I’m not sure where this course will lead, but God has provided in ways I cannot imagine. I quit the day job on June 21, 2000. Won a few awards, published a few short pieces, went to a lot of conferences, honed my craft and kept moving forward. Got an agent three years into the process but still could not seem to get that elusive book contract. Then on June 21, 2011, I got “the call.” Two years later, I have five published manuscripts with three more on the way by end of year. God is good.

Which, so far, is your favorite character from one of your own books?

I think Dorie Fitzgerald from It Really is A Wonderful Life/2012/Lighthouse of the Carolinas is my favorite. The book is about an Iraq War Widow who finds new direction when she moves to a small Adirondack town and joins a theater group in production for It’s a Wonderful Life. In some ways Dorie is me at her age. I met my husband doing community theater.

Do you have any advice for authors as yet unpublished?

Don’t rush it. So many authors either give up too soon or they rush to self-publish when they are not ready. My last few publications were actually books I’d written early in my career as a writer. In some ways, I’m glad they weren’t published then. I’m grateful God put the brakes on those books until I had learned better writing skills. It takes time. Be patient and trust in the Lord’s timing.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t write for the market…write the story God gives you. It took a long time for me to define my writing as I write very much out of the box, i.e. not genre specific or cookie cutter via genre. However, I do follow the rules of good writing. There is a difference.

What are you working on now?

I am currently finishing my second Adirondack Romantic suspense. My first one was The Other Side of Darkness. That book is going off the market, but I plan to rewrite it as a series to go along with my current work in progress, Legacy of Regrets.

A widow is hired by her former college history professor to help him with a research project involving the history of the Adirondack Railroad expansion. She begins to question her sanity when she suspects she is being followed.

What typical writing day look like?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a “typical” day since each day brings its own set of challenges to meet. However, I have routines. I typically try to do my devotion time first thing before the day crowds it out. Then I sort through my email to see what might need immediate attention. I check my two multi-author blogs and share. Then I either work on new stuff or do marketing.

I’m still recovering from my cancer so I have to rest anywhere from one to three hours in the afternoon. I typically spend another two hours after my rest, then prepare dinner, then go back to work for an hour or two, settling in for some television around 9:00pm. On days my husband doesn’t work, I try to be flexible and spend time with him at least part of the day. We might golf, go see a movie or go hiking. He’s my number one priority.

Where can we find you on the web?

The Website

Facebook

Twitter

This Daily Grind

Pinterest

And now for an excerpt from JOY COMES TO DINSMORE STREET/Helping Hands Press:

Most people looked forward to the dawning of the new millennium. For Colin O’Donnell, Christmas 2000 holds no anticipation until he learns Ma expects a visit from Joy, an adored cousin who disappeared on the girl’s sixteenth birthday. Why does she decide to visit Ma after all these years? The day Colin’s father left, Ma clutched Joy’s photograph as if it were a lifeline.

Colin suspects the two disappearances are somehow connected although they occurred decades apart. Perhaps Joy’s visit will bring answers to years-old daunting questions. First, however, Colin must wrestle with a current mystery. What did he do to drive his wife from their bed? When all is revealed and the past and present collide, will Colin fight to preserve his marriage or follow his father’s path of abandonment?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Caption This...?

This makes week two that I've posted photos of my dogs. What can I say? They're cute, and my daughter takes some great candid shots. These are good enough to ask for captions:

Jack says: "Did you see that? He cut me off!"

Riley says: "LOL! And then what did you tell the cat?"

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Woman's Work is Never Done by Christine Lindsey

I'm happy to welcome author Christine Lindsey today:

Like most women, I work, work, work...and work some more. There is truth to the old adage that a woman’s work is never done. Or is it possible that some of us gals are workaholics because we like it?

I’ve noticed something about men and women as we grow older—while our husband’s testosterone levels drop, so too do our estrogen levels. While our husbands start to slow down, our lowering hormone levels that made us want to cozy up the nest for decades, now make us speed up, grow more confident, downright assertive in many cases. How many of us ladies in our forties, fifties, even our sixties, start new enterprises, take up demanding responsibilities in the community or our church?

At the start of my fifties I began my long-desired writing and speaking career, and while things were challenging, God gave me the strength to rise to that challenge, and I thoroughly enjoyed reaching those long-sought-after goals. Oh my, I felt fulfilled. I was woman. I was strong. I was the Proverbs 31 gal, like many of us are.

But fifteen years after the fact, I also discovered that it was hard to shoehorn leisure time into my schedule. When was the last time I relaxed, took a day off? Sometimes months would go by.

This past spring it dawned on me that my dear husband was suffering from loneliness due to my extremely busy schedule. The wrongness of this hit me between the eyes. Something had to change. But what?

I was scheduled to do a bunch of speaking engagements on Vancouver Island in June, and off we went. At least my husband had the opportunity to travel with me and we enjoyed that.

While I chatted with various ladies during my speaking engagements that week, it was as if I ran into two different sets of women. Six of one and half a dozen of the other, you might say. The first group warmly reminisced about the wonderful holidays they had camping with their husbands over the years.

The other group shared that quite recently their husbands had passed away, unexpectedly, suddenly, and all these dear husbands were around the age of sixty.

This too hit me between the eyes. My husband was sixty. On the way home from that speaking trip I felt the question echo in my mind. What was I waiting for? The Lord encouraged me to take time to go away camping with my husband. That week we purchased a brand new little travel trailer.

On our first trip in July we drove through the majestic Canadian Rockies, and at the summit of Roger’s Pass I noticed a large artillery gun. I asked my husband why on earth that was there, and he explained that avalanche control experts shot artillery shells into the snowcaps to trigger avalanches. They did this to carefully control the snows from building too high and thick and thereby causing a fatal avalanche.

I mulled this over and compared that to the changes I was making in my life. My marriage had to come first, even at the expense of my writing and speaking ministry. So, like the avalanche control experts, I chose to cut back on my writing so I could spend more togetherness time with my husband.

My little novelette Heavenly Haven is the culmination of all that thinking. I hope and pray that my characters, Jack and Shaina, will inspire you to keep your priorities in line as well.

A woman’s work can and must stop at times. God insists we take time to rest with Him. He also wants us to keep our priorities in line. Take heart from the story of Mary and Martha from Luke chapter 10, NIV.

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’”

‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

Thank you so much for being here today, Christine. Readers, check out Christine's novella Heavenly Haven:

Avalanches happen to other people, not us. Marital problems happen to other people, not us, especially nine days before Christmas. At least that’s what Jack and Shaina Burke thought.

Married for ten years, avalanche control expert Jack, and Shaina, only wanted to celebrate their December anniversary in a romantic way, until the shifting snows on the mountain bring havoc tumbling down upon them.

Heavenly Haven is available as an Ebook on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo.

Christine Lindsay would love to connect with you on her website www.ChristineLindsay.com,

or drop by her blog for inspiration www.ChristineLindsay.org

or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Author Marianne Evans -- Never, Ever give up!

I'm so thankful to have the wonderful Marianne Evans here today to blog about her own personal journey to publication. She's been an inspiration to me, and I'm sure she will bless the rest of you as well:

Today's blog post is about a life lesson I learned.

Back when the earth was still being formed, I sold my first book, a category contemporary romance, to Kensington Publishing. Wonderful, yes, but let's back up a step or two to the months preceding that glorious milestone.

I had done fairly well in a series of writing contests sponsored by RWA. In addition, I had secured the support of an agent who was new to the market, but energetic and positive with just the right combination of aggressiveness and charm. Best of all? She loved my work. Her name was Kelly St. Clair – a lawyer who moved from private practice to literary representation because she loved romance.

I kept writing and Kelly began a full court press, submitting my manuscripts everywhere. We came close. Over and over and over again I kept hearing wonderful feedback...but never the magic five words: 'We want to buy it.'

After nearly a year, with an ever growing stack of 'no thank you' notes from publishing houses far and wide, I lost confidence. In fact, I went into writer's remission, uninspired and incredibly sad that a dream I'd held for decades was doomed to go unfulfilled. I needed to go to work full time because college money needed to be raised for our kids. Writing time was easy to push aside, since to my mind, it wasn't taking me anywhere. I began to think that perhaps God was trying to send me a message about my writing and I was refusing to receive it.

Meanwhile, as I stopped writing and stepped up my outside work life, Kelly kept on top of the market and new developments. And I received yet another rejection. I was ready to call it quits - and told Kelly as much in a very heartfelt, almost apologetic letter. She had been a tremendous advocate, but by that point, I felt like I was wasting her time.

She wrote back promptly, In an equally heartfelt reply, she urged me to keep going, affirming a talent she saw, but I no longer believed in. She concluded by saying how much she was looking forward to seeing me at the upcoming RWA national conference.

I had nearly canceled my registration, but her note had me deciding to stick with it. It would be my swan song – and at least I'd get a chance to thank her directly for all she had done.

Enter the blessing of timing.

At the conference I checked in at the registration desk and who did I find standing two people away from me? My agent. Kelly had heard me give my name and came up to me immediately and gave me a hug. That was our first face to face communication—and she bubbled with excitement.

She pulled me to a seating area of the hotel lobby, not far from the dozen or so conference rooms that lined the hallway. She explained Kensington was looking for publication ready manuscripts for their new “Precious Gem” line of contemporary romances, and she'd been keeping an eye out for Senior Editor Kate Duffy to get further information about the line...and tell her about me.

We couldn't get over the timing of our lobby meeting.

But that's not the end of the story. We chatted, and she continued to encourage me – and told me not to give up, and that she was determined to keep submitting on my behalf. What a gift. When I had given up, without my even really knowing about it, she had continued to push forward. Her confidence ran deep, and was authenticated by her actions.

A few minutes into our chat, Kelly stopped talking abruptly and started to smile, looking at a spot behind me. Kate Duffy was leaving one of the conference rooms, headed right for us.

We introduced ourselves, and Kelly mentioned I had written a book that might fit the Gem guidelines. Kate was delighted to hear about it – and we chatted a bit further, then Kate left. A short, sweet, perfect meeting.

Less than a month later I sold book number one. A month after that? Book number two.

Moral of the story? Never, ever, ever give up on a dream. I've often used that interlude in my life as an opportunity to tell my kids: Persevere. If a call is on your heart, follow it, and overcome the obstacles. Surround yourself with people who will support, encourage and uplift you. I'm thankful every day they've seen that axiom vindicated.

My wish and prayer is for just such benefits for you, no matter what your dream.

And now, an excerpt from "By Appointment Only"

Political dynamo Matt Bellinger understands he has an unyielding responsibility to work hard for the betterment of his community and the world around him. Life, he believes, should be built strictly on effort and tangibles, not an elusive faith.

But that belief is challenged when a bill to spearhead volunteerism leads him to canvassing efforts at Detroit's legendary diner, Sal's Place, and a meeting with Heather Cavanaugh. His polar opposite, the street-smart beauty challenges his heart and perceptions.

She's the head stylist at Optiva, a trendy, upscale hair salon in downtown Detroit, as well as a tireless volunteer giving back to the city she loves in honor of the God she serves.

Love blooms, gradually shifting Matt's perceptions. But when a life-threatening illness in his family challenges that fledgling faith, will he be able to hold fast to his newfound beliefs? Will he discover that faith makes all things possible and love makes all things beautiful?

*****************

Matt made it to the hospital in plenty of time to give Mandy’s untethered arm a gentle squeeze and dot her forehead with a kiss. He loved the way her eyes lit up at the sight of his gift—a big, pink teddy bear with get-well-soon balloons tied to its paws. Once the pre-operative sedative kicked in, Mandy became sluggish, so Matt followed his family out of the room. Only Rick and Stephanie stayed behind.

In the waiting room, the O’Connors and a few couples from Rick and Stephanie’s church that Matt had never met before convened to wait for word from the OR. As a group, they joined hands and murmured a prayer. Matt watched, compelled by the scene, and he thought instantly of Heather, of how readily and easily she had prayed at dinner, just like these people prayed now. She was comfortable with her faith and her beliefs, as well as the pattern of her life.

Matt felt a stab of yearning that had nothing to do with the love he held for Heather. Rather, the ache that swelled through his chest as the prayer session ended stemmed from the fact that he could feel the peace that flowed. He saw it in their eyes and in the more relaxed way they moved.

But he couldn’t taste it for himself. He was an outsider, hungry yet rootless, staring through plate glass at a feast meant to fill and quench.

How, he wondered, could he ever break through?

“Hey there, handsome.”

From behind, that quiet, subdued summons reached his ears…then entered his heart.

Matt spun, face-to-face with Heather who stepped straight into his arms and held on tight. The love that washed through him was so powerful, words failed.

PURCHASE LINKS:

http://www.pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/by-appointment-only

http://www.amazon.com/Appointment-Only-Sals-Place-ebook/dp/B00DE2L4BK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371227004&sr=8-1&keywords=by+appointment+only+marianne+evans

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=41524EB&item_code=WW&netp_id=1151944&event=ESRCG&view=details

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/by-appointment-only-marianne-evans/1115656436?ean=2940016796789

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Doggie Love

I love my beagles, Jack and Riley. Part of it is their overwhelming love for me.

It is not unusual to be greeted at the door after having been gone for all of thirty minutes with the kind of reception usually reserved for people that have been gone for let’s just say – longer.

Sometimes when I come downstairs, and they’ve been lying around they will wag their tails in greeting and joy that I’ve decided to again grace them with my presence.

They don’t always get up because they’re lazy but I do appreciate the tail wag. It’s as if they’re saying, “Hey.”

We take boatloads of photos of our furry babies, but below is one of my favorites of Jack. I wonder what he's dreaming ...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Welcome Author Andrea Downing

Please help me welcome my guest Andrea Downing to Romancing the Writer. Andrea, I’d love to hear a little bit about your journey to publication.

First, let me say thanks so much for having me here today, Maria. I greatly appreciate the opportunity.

I guess you could say my road to publication has been quite a long one. I've been writing all my life but lacked the confidence to send anything out, despite writing two full length novels and a screenplay.

Finally, when I returned to live in New York in 2008, I was SO old I decided I had nothing to lose. I wrote Loveland and, as a western historical romance, there were a rather limited number of presses that might be willing to accept it. The Wild Rose Press was one of them, and the rest is history…western history!

How long have you been submitting your work to editors and/or agents?

Loveland was completed in 2010, and it was about 4 months before I discovered TWRP, followed by the usual process of query/partial/full.

How many years have you been writing?

As I say, pretty much my entire life. In both school and college I took every creative writing course available…but I'm not going to tell you in actual years!

Which, so far, is your favorite character from one of your own books?

I'm still in love with Jesse from Loveland. It will be difficult to replace him because I think I created my ideal man in him. But I have to say Cal, his best friend, runs a close second. :-)

Do you have any advice for authors as yet unpublished?

Keep at it, accept rejections as stepping stones, criticism as a free course to improve. And don't give up!

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

You won't be published unless you submit!

What are you working on now?

I'm just completing—or trying to complete—another western historical romance novella. I'm hoping it might be suitable for the The Wild Rose Press 'Love Letters' series as it concerns what happens when a letter goes to the wrong address.

What does your typical writing day look like?

A mess! LOL. I'm afraid it depends on a lot of things. Unfortunately, I've had a number of health issues over the past few years although they seem to be tailing off, thank goodness.

But here in New York a six hour visit to a doctor's office is not unheard of when they run a slew of tests and so on. I'm a night person anyway so if I don't get to the computer until late afternoon I still put in a good day's work. And then around 6pm I treat myself to a glass wine and really get going!

Where can we find you on the web? http://andreadowning.com

Good news, readers. Andrea has agreed to give away a digital copy of Lawless Love to one lucky commenter. And now, an excerpt from Lawless Love!

Lacey Everhart has carved out a tough existence in the wilds of 1880s Wyoming, working hard to build a secure life for herself and her younger brother, Luke. She will stop at nothing to protect what’s hers and keep them safe. Even if it means keeping a secret that could destroy their lives.

Marshal Dylan J. Kane is a man who considers everything as black and white, right or wrong. He's never seen life any other way until he sets eyes on Lacey. Suddenly the straight and narrow that he's followed has a few twists and turns. Loving Lacey offers the home life for which he hankers...but can he really love a woman who seems to be plain lawless?

************

Lacey thought of fluttering her eyelashes, but it was such a silly thing to do. How could women act like that? She just looked up at the marshal and waited, the possibilities turning over in her mind, flitting through her head but never settling.

“You wanna tell me what really happened now so we can try to sort this matter? All I can do is promise I’ll do everything in my power to sort it for you, but I cain’t help you less’n you tell the truth. You tell me lies and make me look a dang fool, there’s nothin’ I can do. You understand that?”

Along with the tiniest nod, she clasped her hands together. She looked up at Dylan Kane and saw kindness in that face, a face she could so easily have loved had things been different.

She could sense the heat radiating from his body and knew if she touched his chest, a strength would exist where his heart beat. If she ran her hand down his arms, she would find that same strength in his muscle. How she wanted those arms around her! All her life, it seemed, she had looked after herself, cared for her brother, struggled to make a home for the two of them. What would it have been like if Morgan had not...

“Lacey?” Dylan’s soft voice brought her back from her reveries. “You ready to tell the truth?” With one gentle finger, he lifted her chin so their gazes met for a moment before they each stepped back from the brink of something neither could control. “Lacey?” he repeated.

“Yes, I’m ready.”

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Welcome So You Think You Can Write Winner Jennifer Hayward

Since this series on So You think You Can Write Global 2012 began we’ve had many of the contestants and finalists (some who have also gone on to publish) visit and blog about their experience with the contest. I’m happy to conclude the series with Jennifer Hayward, the grand prize winner of the contest.

Welcome Jennifer, thanks for being here today. Your debut, The Divorce Party, now available through Harlequin Presents.

What a great cover! After submitting your first chapter to SYTYCW, did you have any second thoughts or was it completely ready and polished?

Ooh, I’m not sure you ever feel totally prepared to enter a contest like SYTYCW, but I did have a couple of very awesome beta readers give me the thumbs up on my chapter before I submitted it, so I was happy with it! The full manuscript, however, was only 70 per cent done when I entered! I knew I could finish it and I felt confident about where it was going, so I went for it.

Have you entered a writing contest like this before, or any other writing contest?

Yes! I entered Mills & Boon’s New Voices in 2011 but did not place. The experience was amazing, however, as I met so many great friends and fellow writers and got some valuable feedback on my writing.

How long have you been writing?

A long time! I submitted my first manuscript to Harlequin when I was nineteen and got some nice feedback. After that my career in public relations ran away with me and I had very little time to write until I cut back on work recently. But I always kept my head in the writing game – attending RWA conferences and taking writing bootcamp courses.

What are your thoughts about the promotional aspect of the contest? Do you love social media and all its aspects?

Since I come from a marketing background, the promotional aspect was pretty comfortable for me. I really enjoy social media and connecting with other writers and readers so I found the whole process really fun!

What are you working on now?

I am finishing book three of my De Campo brothers trilogy, the first of which is The Divorce Party. It’s been so much fun to write these three sexy brothers and the woman who tame them.

Do you have any advice for someone considering entering So You Think You Can Write 2013?

Be prepared for a wonderful rollercoaster ride! Submit the story of your heart, let your voice have free rein because that will be what differentiates you and stay confident throughout the process no matter what happens. Every step is getting you where you want to go.

Where can we find you on the Web?

My website is JenniferHaywardRomance– I would love any visits

I’m also on twitter - @jenhayward

and on Facebook

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Do You Write Series Romance?

So You Think You Can Write is gearing up again for 2013, and it's a great opportunity for one of Harlequin's nineteen category series lines.

But do you write series? And should you, if you want an opportunity to be in front of 50 NYC editors from Harlequin?

Something to think about, but take it from someone who thought she could do it. Think twice if you don't read a lot of category. Do you love to read category? Then definitely try your hand and write and enter!

Is all you read single title? Think again. Some authors think it might be "easy" to break into category and then turn that into a single title career. But it's not simple to break into category. It takes a very special set of skills that happens to be quite different from those needed for single title.

There are some very specific requirements for category, and if you regularly read them, you'll know. For one thing, hero and heroine must be on the first page together, or very shortly thereafter. There is very little room for unique and quirky secondary characters. The storyline stays very tightly around the hero and heroine and their goal, motivation and conflict. One editor even opines that the hero and heroine should never be apart (in the entire story) for more than two scenes.

Categories are also shorter, ranging from 55,000 words to about 60,000 with the exception of the new Heartwarming line (75,000) and Superromance, the highest word count category.

If you think you can write category, there is no better opportunity coming around than So You Think You Can Write 2013. Good luck to all who enter!

And after you do, you know where to find me. Drop on by, I'll pull up a chair and you can tell us all about your experience.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Release Day!

Okay, so not my release day. I had you there for a minute, right? Not mine, but the release day of someone who I've known and loved all his life - my little brother, writer Vince Font. So he's not so little anymore. Yes, he's bigger than me. All right, he's younger than me.

Let's rewind back to 1985. Remember the 80s? Big hair, VCRs. I took Vince to see the movie The Falcon and the Snowman starring Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn. Not necessarily my favorite kind of movie (you might have heard I like romance), but I was being the good big sister. I had a driver's license, you see. Let's just I'd had my license for years. I did say my brother was younger than me, but you don't have to know by how much! Enough said.

The movie made an impression on young Vince, though I didn't know that till many years later. Now fast forward to 2010. Vince and his beautiful wife Jane were hosting their online radio show, Prog'opolis. A frequent listener and fan of the show turned out to be Cait Boyce, the wife of Christopher Boyce. Christopher. In other words, the real-life Timothy Hutton! You know, from the movie.

I'm sure you can imagine a few interesting conversations ensued after my brother found out that information. Cait and Christopher are fascinating people, and let's just say Christopher has led the kind of life that Hollywood likes to memorialize.

This book, like the first movie, contains controversial material. We may not all agree on everything, but given the recent news on Edward Snowden, let's all keep an open mind. Of course, you'll have to read the book to do that, and find out what happened to Christopher after he went to prison and how he met Cait. In other words, this is the sequel to The Falcon and the Snowman. And yesterday, Amazon rated it as the #1 bestseller in its category.

So long story short (yeah right), my part in this release day was driving my brother many years ago to see that movie. So take heart, when you wonder what you may have accomplished in your life - maybe it was just having the driver's license. You never know. I'm sure happy that I did.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Brave New World of eTextbooks

My youngest son attends a private high school and for three years I bought hardcover textbooks, scouring the Internet for the best prices. Lots of good sites popped up for second hand books and we did that most of the time. At the end of the year I'd even get some of my money back by turning around and re-selling said books on said same Internet. Of course, I never did seem to get back what I paid, but hey, it was something.

Last year when my son's school announced they were "moving to iPads" I wasn't quite sure what that meant. All I knew was that said son suddenly needed an iPad. Son: "Darn it, mom, the school says I 'have' to get an iPad for next year. I know, bummer."

Long and short of it, the school went all high-techy on us - imagine that, a school in the middle of Silicon Valley. This year, my son's senior year, all books are "apps" and ebooks.

Now I'm no stranger to ereaders (I've got a Kindle) and I'm on board with all that even though if you ask me there is still that something about holding a shiny new paperback in your hands. Still, the fact that I've got over 200 books on my Kindle is sobering. I could go anywhere with my Kindle and always have something to read. This is all to say that I'm pretty high techy myself, thank you very much.

But last night I ordered son's textbooks - or apps, I mean. Not having any Apple products myself (Steve Jobs just rolled over in his grave)though I live just south of "Apple Land" I'm not entirely familiar with apps. I just know that you get them for your phone or pad and they do something. Apparently these apps I bought for my son are now going to teach him something.

And while all this makes sense on one level (textbooks are so heavy many kids start visits to the chiropractor at an early age) I don't know, it's just a sad day for books. Sooner or later books made our of paper are going to be some rare kind of beast, like the 8 track player. I'm keeping some of mine, no matter what.

But in case you think everyone is going quietly into the night, under books for my son's Trig class was a note: SEE TEACHER FIRST

So, there might be one paper book among the bunch. And, there is always Art class.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Welcome SYTYCW Contestant Author Christy Newton

I met Christy through the online community at the Harlequin Boards (a great place for aspiring authors) and we both participated in So You Think You Can Write 2012.

Welcome, Christy it's good to have you here today. We've heard lots of stories about SYTYCW over the past year. Overall, how would you rate your experience with So You think You Can Write Global 2012?

The first word that comes to mind is stressful! Lol I remember being so nervous putting my work out there for the world to see for the first time.

But even worse... trying to get votes for my story non-stop. I felt like a politician instead of a writer. Overall though, it turned out to be invaluable for me, because not only did I find my critique partner and beta reader through the contest, I found lots of writers I could connect with that are still my friends today.

We were required to upload the first chapter as our entry in SYTYCW. Is that chapter still in its original form or has it gone through more revisions?

That chapter was edited about five times since that contest. And I am happy to say that story in now published! You can find Stolen Hearts here.

How long have you been writing?

Almost two years. Since So You Think You Can Write, I have published three books. Stolen Hearts, Something To Treasure and Begin Again.

And now an excerpt from Stolen Hearts:

She walked around slowly to examine the sparkle. They were beautiful. It looked as if a fairy had sprinkled large, multi-colored fairy dust. Gray, blue, purple, pink, brown, orange, yellow and green diamonds. In the center, her eyes were drawn to a gorgeous, white gold necklace with round cut diamonds and a gold medallion hanging from the center. For a split second, she could see why her parents loved jewels and why Simon had collected these.

Amazing. “Are all these diamonds?”

He winked. “Every last one.”

“I never knew diamonds came in all these colors.”

“They’re rare, but yes, the colors are natural. There’s only one color I never acquired, the rarest of all the diamonds…red.”

“How much are all these worth?” she blurted out. “Never mind. Don’t tell me. It’s better if I don’t know.”

Cammie walked up and down looking at all the vibrant colors, a rainbow of diamonds. All the diamonds were loose, except for the necklace.

He eyed her. “Would you like to try it on?”

She shook her head. “Do you ever feel bad about taking these?”

“No, I’ve only taken them from people who didn’t deserve them. Drug lords, criminals, that sort. I get great satisfaction from taking these precious babies off their hands.”

“That sounds really dangerous. Is that who my parents took the ruby from, someone bad?”

His lip twitched. “That’s not my story to tell.”

“This all seems so unreal.”

“In a jewel thief’s world, it’s very real.” Simon scooped up a handful of the colorful jewels. “Hold out your hand.”

Cammie did as he asked and he sprinkled them into her cupped hand.

She looked down at the diamonds in her palm. “I’ve never seen such natural beauty.”

Simon took a lock of her hair and tucked it behind her ear. “I hadn’t either until I met you, Sweetheart.”

She blushed. “I don’t even come close to these.” She gently rolled the diamonds around in her hand to watch the light bounce off of them.

“Oh, but you do and don’t even realize it.”

She handed the jewels back to him. The little room was getting hot. Time to bail.

Where can we find you on the Web?

Christy Newton

Twitter @CNewtonAuthor

Facebook

Thank you for visiting today, Christy!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Welcome Author Collette Cameron

Welcome Collette, it’s good to have you here today. You are published with Soul Mate Publishing and you had a new release in May. Would you give us a blurb of Highlander’s Hope?

Thank you so much, Maria, for hosting me today.

Regency propriety and Scot’s boldness clash in this historical suspense liberally dosed with humor.

She was the heiress determined to never marry. Yvette Stapleton is wary of fortune hunting men and their false declarations of love. She’d rather become a spinster than imprisoned in the bonds of marriage.

At first, she doesn’t recognize the dangerously handsome man who rescues her from assailants on London’s docks, but her reaction to Lord Sethwick’s kisses soon have her reconsidering her cynical views on matrimony.

He was the nobleman who vowed to make her his own. Not a day has gone by that Ewan McTavish, Lord Sethwick and Laird of Craiglocky, hasn’t dreamed of the beauty he danced with two years ago; he’s determined to win her heart.

On a mission to stop a War Office traitor, he unwittingly draws Yvette into deadly international intrigue. To protect her, he exploits Scottish Canon law to declare her his lawful wife—without benefit of a ceremony.

Yvette is furious upon discovering the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, “I do.”

Cameron's charismatic characters and fast-paced plot blend flawlessly for a hard-won happily ever after.

~Award winning Regency author Regina Jeffers

Maria: Check out this cover, guys! I heart it! Collette informed me it's currently in a cover contest on AuthorsdB and now in first place for romance. I'm not surprised. Collette, I’d love to hear a little bit about your journey to publication.

Collette: I started writing seriously in February 2011. I finished the first draft of Highlander’s Hope in six months while teaching full-time. It was 156,000 word monstrosity! I submitted it to three publishers and received polite no thank yous.

I rewrote the novel, drastically cutting it to 85,000 words, and then pitched the new draft at a conference. I had four request for partials and one for a full from editors and agents. Again, I was told no thanks, but this time, the agent that requested the full, gave me some very good advice.

So, back I went to my computer and rewrote the book . . . again. In July of 2012, I submitted a query to Soul Mate Publishing. Four days later, I had a request for a full. Four days after submitting the full, I had a contract offer.

I’ve contracted with them for The Viscount’s Vow (September 2013), the second book in the trilogy. I’m currently about half done with The Earl’s Enticement the final book.

Maria: How long have you been submitting your work to editors and/or agents?

Collette: My first submission was in November 2011.

Maria: How many years have you been writing?

Collette: Two and a half years. This past school year was my last to teach full-time. I’m only going to be substituting very part-time from this point forward so I can spend more time writing.

Maria: Do you have any advice for authors as yet unpublished?

Collette: I think it is very important to learn about the industry and read about the craft of writing. Get involved in writer’s groups (I belong to several) and attend workshops and conferences.

I had to learn so much so fast, it was overwhelming. I don’t know what I would have done without the support of other writers and authors.

Oh, and if you don’t have any, get some critique partners and beta readers. I didn’t have any critique partners for Highlander’s Hope. I’m convinced that if I had, I would have been saved a great deal of rewriting.

For my last two books, I’ve had three fabulous ladies, all of whom also write historical, and just recently, I joined a Regency critique group. I’m rather in awe to be a part of that elite bunch of writers.

Maria: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Collette: Don’t take critiques, reviews, or comments personally. Assess them to determine if they have any merit and if they can make your story/writing better. If so, take the advice. If not, disregard it.

Not everyone has the same taste or appreciates the same writing voice, descriptions . . . even romance genre.

I’ve had some people that don’t particularly care for my abundant descriptions, and yes, I have a tendency to be wordy and over use adjectives and adverbs. (Two critique partners nail me on that!) But, that being said, many of my readers love my descriptions, and my editor for The Viscount’s Vow wants more.

I write what I like to read, and I understand that means there are other people who won’t like it. That’s okay, because truthfully, I disliked (and in a few cases, hated) every single book I had to read for my American Literature class in my undergraduate program. And yes, I do mean hate.

Maria: What are you working on now?

Collette: I’m writing The Earl’s Enticement, the third book in the trilogy. After that, I have several more novels (10-12) all based on secondary characters from Highlander’s Hope.

Maria: Will you be attending the RWA Nationals?

Collette: Not this year. I just went on a Caribbean cruise in March, and I’m going to Hawaii in August. Next year though, watch out!

I’ve “met” so many fabulous romance authors through RWA, The Beau Monde, Faith Hope and Love, Inc., even Facebook and Twitter, I can’t wait to meet them in person.

Maria: Where can we find you on the web?

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Welcome Author Casey Dawes - Excerpt and a Giveaway

Please help me welcome my special guest today, author Casey Dawes.

This excerpt from California Homecoming appears after Hunter Evans has met Sarah Ladina, the woman who purchased his childhood home.

After he left his former home, Hunter drove aimlessly south on Highway One.

Future inn. Ugh.

The thought of the future innkeeper made him smile. Her wiry toughness was covered by a soft petite frame, luminescent eyes, and gleaming chestnut hair. Boy, would he like to wrap his hands in that hair and find out what kissing her would be like.

Eucalyptus trees whipping by the side of the road made him glance at the speedometer. Immediately, he eased off the gas. He wasn’t in the desert anymore; he actually had to obey the laws instead of enforcing them with the military might of the U.S. Marines.

He had no right to be attracted to another woman. He still hadn’t completed his penance for getting Lauren killed. No matter what the shrink said, Hunter knew his inattention was to blame for her death.

He pushed away all thoughts of women—past and present.

The day gleamed in a way his soul never would again. He should focus on the natural beauty of the bay. Ignoring the camouflaged paintball store at the curve of the road by the Bennet Slough, he concentrated on the egrets and herons stalking the wetlands.

His stomach grumbled. Moss Landing, the small town up ahead, was a good place to stop for something to eat and figure out his next moves. He needed a job and a place to live.

As he turned off the highway by The Whole Enchilada, he caught a glimpse of otters in the cove and pulled over to watch. The flop of their webbed feet as they rolled and dove in the water whispered boyhood memories of carefree afternoons on the Santa Cruz shores.

Before his father had uprooted them all and moved them to the chi-chi town of Sausalito. Before Hunter had gone to war.

Before Lauren had died.

Hunter scowled, got back into the Jeep and drove to the fish house. On a late Saturday, even in January, the place was awash with humanity, each person jostling for a place in line.

Panic crept his skin. He scanned the room for exits and examined faces for threats. His breath became shallower and he remembered why he was here. He focused on the mounted fish on the walls, the dinner choices before him, and edged as close to the glass cases as possible.

Why did he ever think he could resume a normal life?

He got a tray of fish and chips and found a table near an exit. He forced himself to eat deliberately, fighting the urge to bolt his food and rush back to the safety of the Jeep.

Good thing he no longer kept a gun in the glove box. Times like these made him unsure the struggle to live was worth it.

Practice, the shrink had told him. One day at a time—the mantra of all twelve-step groups.

Hunter wasn’t sure it was ever going to work.

If it didn’t, what would be become of him? Memories surfaced of his mentally ill grandfather reliving the Vietnam War on the streets of San Francisco.

Hunter shoved a fish stick in his mouth, chewed, and swallowed without tasting anything.

He forced his mind back to the present and the image of the innkeeper reappeared in his mind, making him smile. If the thought of her made him feel this good, what would a date feel like—or a kiss?

A bit of life stirred in his heart.

He shook his head. If she was smart she’d want nothing to do with a screwed-up, out-of-work, one-legged vet.

He stuck a French fry in his mouth, the greasy, salty potato soothing his mood. Taking a piece of paper from his pocket, he flattened it and clicked on a pen to write down his job qualifications.

The blank page mocked him.

He couldn’t put down a word. Everything he’d done in the war was classified. The past four years were a blank slate as far as prospective employers were concerned.

As far back as I can remember I was scribbling in notebooks. The best gift I could have was a package of three-holed lined paper and sharpened pencils. At first I’d riff off of my favorite TV shows--I was creating fan fiction before I even knew it existed!

I started writing my own material by the time I was around ten. I entered and came in third on a short story contest sponsored by the Boston Globe. Even my mom was impressed! I don’t really remember my dad’s reaction. He wasn’t overly enthused about the whole writing thing.

After college I tried to write, but there was too much drama going on in my own life to concentrate. Then kids came along, more drama along with a healthy dose of drama, and I could barely stay afloat. I did what needed doing, and loved my children desperately, but there was no time for frivolous writing. I did, however, keep my hand in by writing technical articles and even a book on software!

Around 1998 things started freeing up enough so I could go back to crafting a story and working with a writing group. I love writing groups!

My first attempt was a fantasy, but I found I really didn’t have the patience for world-building. Once I began with romance, however, I discovered my bliss.

With the help of a wonderful new writing group in Missoula, Montana, my first novel, California Sunset, was published on August 6, 2012, the day before my birthday.

Did I mention I love writing groups?

Giveaway: To celebrate writing groups, I’m offering a $5 Amazon gift certificate to one of the people who comment on this post. In your comment please put:

* A comment about a group of friends who’ve inspired you to do more

* Your email in the form name AT provider DOT com

Contest is open until July 15th.

To read more of Sarah’s story, buy a copy of California Homecoming is now available on Amazon.

and iTunes

Learn more about the California Romance series on my website

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Welcome Harlequin Debut Author Jennifer Faye

Hi Maria! Thanks so much for the invite. I’m thrilled to be here. :-)

Q. Overall, how would you rate your experience with So You think You Can Write Global 2012?

It was an awesome experience. I met so many amazing people that I’m still friends with to this day. It also pushed me to broaden my horizons with social networking, something I’d been dragging my feet on. And now as a published author, I’m grateful for that push.

Q. We were required to upload the first chapter as our entry in SYTYCW. Is that chapter still in its original form or has it gone through more revisions?

As of today that chapter is still in its original form. When I sold to Harlequin Romance with another western, RANCHER TO THE RESCUE, I learned that it would be my last western for Romance as their editorial direction was changing and I needed to write something new/different. So my SYTYCW manuscript got put on the backburner.

Q. How about the rest of the book? Is it finished? Going through more revisions?

The rest of my SYTYCW book is written. I’ve had numerous people tell me that they’d like to read the rest of it so I am considering plans for it.

Q. Any thoughts on submitting your entry to another publisher or agent?

Since Harlequin Romance is not interested in my other cowboy/small town romances, I plan to do something with that backlist of manuscripts. But until I’ve nailed down my exact plans, I’m going to keep it tucked under my cowboy hat. ;-)

Q. How long have you been writing?

Most of my life. I fell in love with books and writing as a little kid. But I took a couple of detours before I was able to follow my dream. I actively pursued publishing with Harlequin for five years before I got the call. I was determined. :-)

Q. Have you ever entered a contest like this one before?

Actually I have. The first was the 2010 New Voices Contest. I entered but didn’t final. However, I won an editor critique. I was thrilled. They liked a lot of what I had in my submission but they suggested some changes. Well, instead of really listening to what the editor was telling me, I totally rewrote the opening from a different prospective and submitted. BIG mistake! It promptly got an ‘R’ and rightly so.

The new opening didn’t work. But I just couldn’t let go of that story. It was the story of my heart. When the 2010 SYTYCW Contest launched, I pulled out my NV’s story and dusted it off. I went back to my original opening and set to work, once again tweaking and polishing. I submitted and waited. When the winner was announced and the period for notifying the five finalists passed, I moved on.

But then a few weeks later, at the end of March, I got an email that my manuscript, now titled SNOWBOUND WITH THE SOLDIER, was one of the final five in the 2011 SYTYCW and they would like to continue to work with me. *cue happy dancing* The editor said she’d be getting back to me on my SYTYCW manuscript and another FULL manuscript that had been submitted through the slush pile.

Q. What are your thoughts about the promotional aspect of the contest?

I think that it’s good experience for hopeful writers. In this day and age where there are sooo many possibilities for publishing, there are a ton of books out there. If you don’t do something to make your book stand out, how will people find you?

Q. If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently, if anything?

I don’t know if I’d change a whole lot. I think that if I’d sold sooner I might not have been prepared to continue with book #2, #3, etc. I learned a lot during my journey to becoming a published author. And for that I am grateful. But I still have a lot more to learn.

Q. What are you working on now?

My debut, RANCHER TO THE RESCUE, is up for Pre-order and will be available in just a few days, which has me over the moon with excitement. It’s a dream come true. And my second book, SNOWBOUND WITH THE SOLDIER, is due out October 1st. In the meantime, I’m keeping busy with other books for Harlequin Romance and a couple of side projects.

Q. Where can we find you on the Web?

Connect with me @ Website | Twitter | Facebook

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Welcome Debut Author Barbara Bettis (The Wild Rose Press)

Welcome Barbara, it’s good to have you here today. You are soon to be published with The Wild Rose Press with your debut book, the medieval SILVERHAWK. (Barb has been on a deadline for her galleys.) Would you give us a blurb of your latest release?

Hi Maria. I’m so glad to be here. I’d love to share a bit about Giles and Emelin’s story. I don’t have a release date for it just yet, but I’m hoping that will be announced before long.

Blurb:

Sir Giles of Cambrai has come to England to kill his father, who seduced and betrayed his mother 28 years ago. First, however, he’ll seek sweet revenge and kidnap the old lord’s new betrothed. But when Giles uncovers a plot against King Richard, he faces a dilemma: take the lady or track the traitors. What’s a good mercenary to do? Both, of course.

Lady Emelin has had enough. Abandoned in a convent by her brother, she finally has a chance for the home and family she’s always longed for. Yet now she’s been abducted. Her kidnapper may be the image of her dream knight, but she won’t allow him to spoil this betrothal. Her only solution is to escape

Tracking down the intrepid lady—while hunting traitors—is a challenge Giles couldn’t anticipate. But the greatest challenge to Giles and Emelin is the fire blazing between them. For he’s everything a proper lady should never want, and she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.

I’d love to hear a little bit about your journey to publication.

SILVERHAWK is the second manuscript I completed. Although I’ve finished a third and am in the midst of a fourth (this one a Regency), I loved Giles and Emelin’s story so much, I’ve concentrated on getting it out. I hope readers will like it as much as I do.

How long have you been submitting your work to editors and/or agents?

I submitted my very first manuscript to an editor in 2008. It was my very first manuscript, which really should have gone through many more revisions before it hit the mail. (I hoped I’ve learned since then ). He rejected it, of course, but that allowed me to quality for PRO status in Romance Writers of America.

Since then I’ve submitted to a variety of agents and a few editors who have requested from pitches at conferences. I don’t send out a lot of queries because up to this point I’ve written medieval, and not all agents and/or editors are in the market for it. And I do believe in not subbing just to be subbing.

How many years have you been writing?

I can’t remember when I didn’t write. But after college, life took a turn with marriage and children. Then for several years I worked in journalism before going into teaching. I seriously started my first fiction work in early 2007.

Do you have any advice for authors as yet unpublished?

Absolutely. Learn your craft. Even if you think you know what you’re doing, take classes. Read good craft books. Never stop trying to learn and get better. And don’t sit around waiting for your muse or inspiration or any other excuse we use to procrastinate. Write.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

It was just that: Write. No matter how you feel, even if you think every word is drivel. You can always edit what’s down. You can’t edit a blank page. (I think Nora Roberts puts it more colorfully. )

What are you working on now?

I’m editing (again) the sequel to SILVERHAWK which is THE HEART OF THE PHOENIX— Stephen and Evie’s story. I’ll be sending it to my editor next month. I may then re-edit my first manuscript, another medieval, which tells the story of Evie’s sister, Alyss. In between, I’ll work on my current WIP, which is a Regency.

Where can we find you on the web?

I’m at www.barbarabettis.com, www.barbarabettis.blogspot.com, @barbarabettis-Twitter

I appreciate follows. Thank you so much for having me today, Maria. I’ve enjoyed your hospitality.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Love for Our Pets ... how much is too much?

A few days ago I saw this photo on Facebook and I shared it.

Honestly, my first thoughts amounted to: this is love! This man is carrying his big dog across a bridge because the poor baby is afraid. Sounds nice, huh?

But.

I immediately received a response amounting to something like the following:

"With all due respect, but this is pathetic. In the wild, the pack leader would have left that dog on the other side and he'd have gotten over his 'fear'."

My Facebook friend has a good point. I was reminded of the time we took our large Golden retriever mix, Shadow, to the beach. We could tell immediately that he was fearful of the waves - for a retriever, he'd strangely never been much of a water dog anyway. It was his first time around this strange very loud pool.

Sure, he'd seen us splash around in our outdoor pool but the ocean is (pardon the pun) a different animal. The waves roll in and crash, roll back out again, and then repeat. My dog decided he'd had enough of this and started barking back at the waves. Well, they were talking to him, weren't they?

I didn't indulge my dog's fears by taking him far away from the ocean. However, for the rest of the day he did sit very close to his "pack leaders" because it was the only way he'd feel safe in this new and brave new world we'd taken him to visit.

Our society does tend to indulge our dogs and treat them very much like our own children (actually, sometimes much better). We often let them get away with bad behavior which would never be accepted in the "pack". We do it because we love them, but are we enabling them? And should it matter? It's not like they are going to grow up and join dog gangs, collect welfare and become a burden on society.

However, as far as rewarding bad behavior, my guess is that Cesar Milan would have a thing or two to say about that and how much it might "cost" you.

So here's my question: how much do you "baby" your dog (or pet) and how much is too much?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pasta for Two

The heroine in my first novel is a terrible cook. However, a friend shares this recipe with Maggie, and tells her it’s the way to a man’s heart. Or at least it’s one way.

This is Pasta Carbonara, the purist’s version. Some cooks throw a lot more ingredients into this recipe, but this is the simplified version and I think we can all agree that sometimes less is more.

In Maggie’s case, Jack turned out to be much more. But that’s another story.

Ingredients:

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound of Rigatoni or spaghetti noodles

1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of pancetta, chopped

One teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 large egg yolks

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or Romano)

Put a large pot of water to boil and cook those noodles to al dente, about 8 minutes and do not get distracted by each other because over cooked noodles will ruin your dish!

In a large skillet add Olive Oil and pancetta and brown, about 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and garlic, cook 2 to 3 minutes. Take that bottle of wine you’ve been serving yourself with (there should be some left) and add it in. Stir up all the pan drippings and try not to drool because this now smells a bit like heaven.

Beat yolks, adding about 1/2 cup of the hot water from the pasta to temper the eggs. Drain the noodles well, and add them to the pancetta mix. Toss and mix well.

Add the egg mixture to the pasta, tossing and mixing some more. Grab two handfuls of the cheese and throw it in there (and some at each other if you’re into that sort of thing) and toss and mix some more. It’s ready now. Ding! Ding! Ding!

You can eat this out of the pan, but it will serve six. Or two people who are really hungry. I recommend you both wear aprons while you cook this. Your choice. But if not an apron, you should wear something.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Welcome Harlequin Love Inspired Debut Author Belle Calhoune

The Prodigal Returns.

After injuring her best friend in a car accident, Cassidy Blake decided to leave town permanently. But now that her mother’s sick, she’s back to make amends. Sheriff Tate Lynch doesn’t want to forgive his former fiancĂ©e for his sister’s injury or for breaking his heart. And he certainly doesn’t want to admit he still has feelings for her. The community can see her commitment to the town as she helps rebuild a church destroyed in a storm. But Tate’s afraid of history repeating itself, even though Cassidy’s actions prove she’s a different person. Could the last secret she harbors about the accident drive Tate away for good?

Please welcome author Belle Calhoune, author of Reunited with the Sheriff. Belle and I met on the Harlequin Boards in June of last year while both pitching our story ideas to Emily Rodmell on her “speed date pitch" fast track. It was such an exciting time. Both of us would eventually receive full requests, but while Belle made a sale with Love Inspired my story has found a home with the Pelican Book Group. Just FYI, Belle was one of the first people to believe in my story and she's always been very supportive as well as inspirational. Belle, would tell us that story and describe for our readers getting “the call”?

After I stumbled onto the Harlequin forums I started looking at the various pitch opportunities. I thought it was so amazing that authors aspiring to write for Harlequin could actually get a chance to pitch to Editors. As soon as I saw the Love Inspired opportunity I jumped on it. I was a fan of the line and I thought my writing would fit well into it, particularly since I love to write about small towns and cowboys. If I remember correctly, I was the ninth person to sign up. Honestly, I had such a good feeling about the Speed date pitch. When we posted our practice pitches with Winnie Griggs I remember seeing your pitch and thinking it was awesome. I sent you an email telling you so, and our friendship was born.

With regards to the call, I had sent Emily Rodmell, Love Inspired Editor, the three chapter proposal she requested during the pitch. I had made some mistakes (a too early kiss and too many pages between hero and heroine), but she very kindly gave me some pointers and opened up the door so I could fix those problems and resubmit, which I did. After reading my revised proposal, Emily asked for the full (which I hadn’t finished).

After a few weeks of frantic writing, I sent her the full manuscript. A week later she sent me an email asking me for my phone number so we could discuss the manuscript. Happily...she called me and offered me a contract for my book, which was at that time titled, “Return of the Preacher’s Daughter.” It was an amazing moment, filled with joy and disbelief, as well as accomplishment. I felt as if I’d been waiting for that moment my entire life.

That's wonderful. How long have you been writing?

That is a tricky question since I’ve always written in some form or another. When I was growing up I was firmly convinced I was going to be a writer like my favorite author, Phyllis Whitney. My sister and I used to write ongoing soap operas and we would read each other’s stories. I was still writing stories long after my sister stopped. I wrote my first manuscript over a decade ago, but I only sent it to one publisher, who very kindly rejected it. It certainly wasn’t ready for publication . A few years ago I started seriously pursuing publication, but I’ve been writing for many years.

The premise behind Reunited with the Sherriff is so compelling. How did you get the story idea?

Well, I wanted my heroine to have done something that she couldn’t just undo with a snap of the fingers and an apology. I wanted her to go back to her hometown with her tail between her legs. I wanted her to have to walk a path towards redemption and to come face to face with the love she left behind. I remember there was a news story about a woman who was pushed into a swimming pool by her bridesmaid during a bridal shower event.

Although her friend meant no harm, the young woman was paralyzed. Throughout her ordeal she handled it with such grace, wisdom and courage. She refused to identify which of her bridesmaids pushed her, even though the story was national news. I kept wondering about the friend and how terrible she must feel about her friend’s condition and how her actions led to it. Boom. It gave me a little inspiration for Cassidy and Tate’s love story.

Describe your first time handling edits. How long did they take? Every writer, I think, has a different version of the story in which the heart palpitations begin and you wonder if you can whip that baby into the shape your editor requires.

The funny thing about being published is that you have the euphoria of getting “the call” and having your book published, quickly followed by an email from your Editor detailing your edits. All I can say is that it was painful. I had a month to do them, and because I am a bit anal about edits and writing, I finished them in two weeks. I got right down to business. For another week I just kept going over everything, and then I sent them back in a week early.

Although I never doubted whether or not I could do it, it was a bit scary. I had one chapter that had to be totally redone, which amounted to several thousand words. That freaked me out, but I had to listen to my Editor’s take on it...it was episodic. So, although editing is my least favorite thing in the world, I do think it is important to the process, and hopefully, makes me a better writer in the end.

Thank you for being here today, Belle. I've got my copy of your book, and Belle is giving away a copy to one lucky person, so leave your comment and entry below.

We'll announce the winner here and on our Facebook pages.

Here's where you can find Belle:

Author Belle Calhoune on Facebook

The website