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.


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,, @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?


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.


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.