Wednesday 29 May 2013

Janis Susan May Patterson Shares The Wealth of her Experience

Welcome, Janis. Tell us about yourself.
Oh, my, where do I start? The short version is, I’m proud to be a seventh generation Texan. In my 50's I married the world’s most wonderful man – a Naval officer several years younger than I. It was my first marriage and he had been single for over twenty years; we were the poster children for middle age romance. We’re both also enthusiastic amateur Egyptologists and I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn't know that he proposed to me in a moonlit garden in Egypt. I was one of the original 40 or so women who began RWA. I’m also a member of MWA, NINC and Author’s Guild.

Your love story is the stuff of a great novel! Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?
I've lost count. I've been a talent agent, an actress and singer, a jewelry designer, Supervisor of Accessioning for a bio-genetic DNA lab (not easy when I've never taken a science course in my life), editor in chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups, edited and published the only monthly publication for The American Research Center in Egypt in the world (for nine years at least)… and that’s the short list. Yes, I bore easily. I've raced cars, flown planes and am a serious shooting enthusiast. 

Wow! Impressive! Are you a full time writer or do you have a “day job”?
Full time writing is my day job. And occasionally, when a deadline is breathing heavily on my neck, my night job as well.

I hear you! Tell us about your current WIP.
My current WIP is a romantic adventure called THE EGYPTIAN FILE. The Husband and I spent January of 2010 in Egypt. At a place called El Kab there are four magnificent tombs (and a lot more, which we didn't get to see) and in one is a mysterious graffito. That started the wheels turning. After consulting with Dr. Dirk Huyge, Director of the Belgian Archaeological Mission at El Kab, and Dr. Stephen Harvey of Memphis, that ancient, simple graffito became the key to a tale of lovers and lies and antiquities smuggling and revenge and the lost treasure of Ahmose l.

I can't wait to read it! Where else do you get the ideas for your stories?
My favorite answer to that question is where DON”T you get ideas for stories? Ideas are everywhere, in swarms as thick as bees. The only problem is sorting out which ones to use. That said, however, I will state that an idea is not a plot. (Repeat after me – an idea is not a plot!) You need to have a lot of ideas that fit together seamlessly to make a plot. That’s the hard part – getting ideas by themselves is pitifully easy.

What is your typical day like?
Believe me, ‘typical’ and ‘day’ do not go together in my world. About the only thing I can count on is the sun coming up (which I don’t see, but take on faith) and the sun going down. Some days I sit at the computer all day, never even getting out of my pajamas. (Anna nods in perfect understanding!)
Other days I don’t even turn it on to check my email. Some days I plan to write, but there is a crisis in my circle of family/friends and writing goes on the back burner. I don’t depend on my writing for income (thank both The Husband and the Good Lord) so I prioritize. The computer and my stories will always be there – friends and family, not necessarily. I am so blessed that I can choose what’s important.

That's great. How does your family feel about your writing career?
I’m blessed to have been supported and encouraged by my family. My parents were both word people and loved the idea that I wrote, even in the years when I was concentrating more on traveling and having fun and adventures. When I married, after they were gone, I didn't know how The Husband would react. He, like all of his family, are science people and writers are both alien and somewhat suspect beings. It took a while, but all of them have generally come around. The Husband is now an enthusiastic supporter, though occasionally bemused, but he’s behind me and my dreams all the way.

You are lucky to have found such a great guy! How much time do you spend promoting your books? What works best for you?
Not nearly enough, which is why I am one of the best undiscovered writers around. I was raised in a place and an era when to put yourself forward was both vulgar and unacceptable. I absolutely loathe doing publicity, find social media a great time suck and believe my time is better spent writing. I call The Husband my assistant-in-training, and when he retires in a couple of years he will take over these tiresome chores. If I had the money I would hire a publicist and be done with it.

I've also had a hard time overcoming my upbringing of keeping to the background and not tooting my own horn. How has your experience with self-publishing been?
Costly and unremunerative. I am in the process of bringing out my backlist, but although they have been professionally edited, have dynamite covers and are quite good stories, they are just lying there like dead marmots. Of course, I don’t write sexy (to me sex on the page is a dead bore) so that could be part of the problem. However, as some wise person said, ‘this is a marathon and not a sprint’ so my books will be available for a good long time and who knows what will happen?

It can be frustrating, though. What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?
Do it correctly. Get editing. Get good covers. Be professional. Learn, learn, learn.

All self-pubbed books are rumoured to be shoddily edited. What do you say to that?
Too many are, unfortunately. To me bad/lack of editing just screams ‘Amateur’! I can live with a typo or two (having had a long and intimate association with the Typo Gremlin myself) but scads of them, many misspelled words, lack of coherence in story form, pathetic characterization and, sadly, much more just says the “author” wasn't doing his job. It’s sad today that so many people are seeking the cachet of “published author” by putting out unbelievable dreck. It makes all of us look bad and, unfortunately, there’s no way to stop them. They wouldn't dream of doing brain surgery or replacing brake pads or whatever without any training, but ‘hey – anyone can write a book, right?’ It’s things like these that make me grieve for the days of the gatekeepers. At least then there was a pretense of maintaining standards. Sometimes I am very tempted to do a violence to those clueless ones.

Right on! Do you have critique partners?
No. To me using critique partners smacks of writing by committee, which is the antithesis of creativity. I know some people swear by them, but the concept just doesn't work for me. I do have a small, trusted group of beta readers whose taste and judgment I trust, and as soon as I finish a manuscript I beg their help, which is wonderful.

Was your road to publication difficult or a walk in the park?
Frankly, it’s been so long ago (1979) that I don’t remember!

Do you have a view in your writing space? What does your space look like?
View? You’re kidding, right? I believe that writers should be looking at their writing, not a view. As for my writing space – ! Our house is large, but very weird; it was my mother’s dream house and is not like any other house anywhere as she designed every inch to her peculiar desires – very few but huge rooms, no front door, no side door, two back doors and no hallways at all. Most peculiar. The location, however, is top-notch. The Husband’s office is a small room off the sunroom where, before a minor remodeling, the heater used to live. My ‘office’ is a small desk against one wall in the guest room. It’s as far away from his talk radio and TV as I can get – if I moved any further away, my desk would have to be in the driveway!

I too fight a constant battle against media noise at certain times of the day. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pantser all the way, though I do generally have a vague idea of the skeleton and shape of the story. To me a detailed outline is a guaranteed enthusiasm-killer and a guarantee the book will never be written! Sometimes I don’t know the murderer until the last two or three chapters – but my subconscious must be smarter than I, for when I go back to lard in the necessary clues, more often than not they’re already there! For THE EGYPTIAN FILE I have come up with three different endings – and I’m using them all. It’s going to be a total corkscrew of a finale.

Intriguing! What genres are you drawn to as a reader?
Cozy mysteries. Romantic adventures. Gothic mysteries. Traditional Regency romance. Basically, all the genres I write. I just wish more people liked them so I could sell more books!

Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you avoid reading that genre? 
I don’t think a writer can be effective in a genre if they don’t read that genre. That said, however, I try not to read in the same genre in which I’m writing at the moment in an effort to avoid accidental plagiarism or cross-contamination. For example, while working on CURSE OF THE EXILE I avoided Gothics and mid-19th century British history and read a lot of Egyptology and contemporary romantic adventure. Now that I’m primarily working on THE EGYPTIAN FILE I avoid Egyptology (save for dedicated factual research) and romantic adventure and at the moment am reading some old Regency romances.

Do you write under a pen name?

Sort of. My maiden name is Janis Susan May, and it was under that name I first began writing books. I considered using a pen name, but my father was wistful. He had always wanted to write books, but he always had a family to care for and no time to write, so I kept the May name as an homage to him. I feel blessed that he lived long enough to see our name on my first book. Later, after a decade hiatus from writing in which I cared for my mother in her last illness, when I decided to return to writing I wanted to write cozy mysteries as well. I decided to use Janis Patterson because (1) it is my legal, married name, (2) it honors my husband, and (3) with any luck at all it will get me shelved next to James Patterson! Janis Susan Patterson (children’s) and J.S.M. Patterson (non-fiction/scholarly) are merely two more mutations of my name. I did use a pen name for the two erotic novels I was convinced by a publisher to write (which was one of the most horrible, trying and thoroughly boring experiences in my life), but that name will never be known to anyone except that publisher and God. I've never made a secret of my identity/names (save for the erotic one) and regularly cross-pollinate between them on both my websites. It’s more of a genre branding thing than a secret.

What do you have planned for the future?
To continue writing what interests and amuses me. Hopefully to sell some. Personally, to travel. To have a good time. To love my family and friends. To adventure. To learn. My patron saint is Auntie Mame, and I always think of her most famous quote – “Life is a banquet, and most poor fools are starving to death!” It’s a credo I've followed in the few days I've been flush in the pocket, and in the many more days I've been poor – sometimes so poor I didn't know where my rent money was coming from. I believe happiness and satisfaction are interior aspects, and should be cultivated.

How far do you plan ahead?
Tomorrow? This evening? Remember, “Man makes plans, and God laughs.” To be happy you have to be flexible.

Do you have any words of inspiration for aspiring authors?
Read. Write. Learn. Live. Read. Write. Learn. Live. Repeat for the rest of your life.

What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
It never occurred to me that I would not write, even when I was happily (and sometimes not so happily) up to my neck in other disciplines. I wrote my first book at four (needless to say, it will NOT appear with the rest of my backlist!) and have never really stopped since, though there have been years and even decades when I haven’t submitted a single thing. Writers write. Publication/sales are just a happy by-product.
Being a published author is one of the few decent ways I can make my living in my pajamas.

Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
Read. Write. Learn. Never give up. Writing is a craft, a discipline, as much as and perhaps more so than any other trade. Publication is a reward, not a sinecure. 

What’s next for you?
Who knows? That’s what makes life such an adventure!

Where can readers find you and your books?
The best place to find my books is just about anywhere they choose to look. My books are at 5Star/Gale/Cengage, Carina Press, Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Smashwords, and most any other reputable online retailer… I can be found at either of my websites, and . Come on by and say hello!

Thanks, Janis. This has been fun. Love your sense of humour. Janis will give away a $5 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky commenter.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Jill James Shares the Wealth

Please welcome author Jill James to my blog today. Jill will give away a $5 Amazon certificate to one lucky commenter. 
Tell us about yourself, Jill.
Great to be here. I've been writing seriously since 2004 once my baby was in high school and I finally had “me” time. I live in Northern California with my husband who is the inspiration for all my romance novel heroes. I write contemporary and paranormal romance.

How great to have such an inspirational husband. Have you had other careers before becoming a writer? If you can believe it, I was a junior tax accountant and went to college to become an accountant/computer programmer.

Quite a switch to writing then. How did you get started? I think I've always written stories. At ten I was writing plays and acting them out in my garage with sock puppets and charging the neighborhood kids a nickel to watch.

A born entrepreneur! Tell us about your current WIP. My upcoming release is an urban fantasy/horror; Love in the Time of Zombies. I love zombie books and movies and wanted to write one of my own. I have this theory of why they are so popular, especially the ones that have even a smidgen of romance. If in the middle of mayhem, zombies going for your brains, renegades going for everything else, limited resources, and death and destruction you can find true love, how hard can it be in real life?  It should be available by the end of June.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories? Most of my books started as dreams. I dream in Technicolor Movie Vision. By the time I wake up I have a whole book in my head.

That's amazing! I dream about my books, but in bits at a time. What is your favorite part of writing? Taking something from my imagination and putting it down on paper.

What is your least favorite part of writing? Trying to take something from my imagination and put it down on paper.

LOL! Do you send out a newsletter?  I love doing a newsletter. I only send it out if I have news, like a new release or a piece of my current work in progress. About once a month, sometimes I skip a month if I’m deep in the writing or editing cave.

How has your experience with self-publishing been? Slow, but steady. Kind of like the tortoise. I started with a small e-press, so I learned many lessons to take and carry over to self publishing.

What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish? Know yourself. Can you set your own deadlines and keep them? Can you do all the work? Or do you know what you can’t do and you are willing and able to delegate?

All self-pubbed books are rumored to be shoddily edited. What do you say to that? Never speak in absolutes. You can’t say all traditionally published books are perfect or even necessary (hello Snooki), so don’t assume a self-published author hasn't done their homework and put their best out there. Some are great. Some are not. Just like those out of New York.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Rose Anderson Shares The Wealth

I am delighted to welcome Rose Anderson as a guest blogger today. Have you had other careers before becoming a writer, Rose? 
I’d like to begin with a thank you Anna. Thanks for having me today. To answer your question, yes I have done a few things. I've raised my two children – best career in the world. I also taught middle school science many years ago, then I retired from that and got involved in historic preservation. I’m still a mom and both of my other careers lasted about twelve years each. Nearly two years ago I left preservation and took up writing full time.

We have teaching in common. It was my career and I agree it's a wonderfully rewarding one. Do you have other talents? Or is there a talent you don't have that you wish you did?
I have a few things that tickle my fancy. One is that I’m a world drummer. If you don’t know what that is, it’s making music with different types of drums from all over the world. I have a lot of percussion instruments –everything from African djembes to conga drums and beaded gourds to Scottish bones. I even have this marvelous talking drum – picture the old Tarzan movies where the explorers always hear the drums of hostile natives playing in the distance. I’m fortunate to have a very close community of friends and we are all drummers. In my humble opinion, I think we’re good enough to go pro. One of these days…
As far as talents I wish I had…I’d love to play the fiddle. I could really get into welding for metal sculpture. I’d also like to learn to build stained-glass windows and make glass beads over a torch.

They say drumming is very cathartic. How did you get started writing?
It all began in high school. I had an honors English class and the teacher set the theme for a composition after we’d read The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. I wrote about a dragon waiting on her egg to hatch. That first composition put me in the zone. It basically wrote itself. The teacher kept it with praise saying I needed to pursue writing. I didn't take her seriously but I did take journalism classes and got on the school paper because of her. Boy I wish I still had that dragon story. I have a perfect dragon illustrator and I’d publish it. Unfortunately that was written before xerox  and long before computers became a household item. As a student, I wasn't about to write the thing out by hand twice!
It wasn't until my son was little that I started writing again. I created a seven book series to teach him to read. I’ll publish that one of these days too. Years later, I wrote a youth story about a historic preservation project I was involved in. At the time email submission wasn't possible. I sent full manuscripts to so many publishing houses. I didn't have an agent so I didn't get a nibble. Out of all the manuscripts sent, only one was deemed worthy of a reply. And that was a form letter saying no thanks. That was so discouraging I walked away from writing for nearly twenty years. I got back in when I had a story that needed being told.

What genre do you write in?
The reason I write erotic romance? To begin, I’d have to say I never set out to be a romance author. Simply put, it was a fast way into the publishing world. It’s extremely popular, so new is always in demand. I really just jumped into it to learn the ropes on. I have a much larger project I've been working on for five years – my five-book, 500k word, as yet unnamed, Magnum Opus (affectionately called my MO). When I return to it, I’ll take everything I've learned so far and apply it. I've changed so much as a writer and improved like I’d hoped I would. I’m thinking I’ll lose 100k words of the MO right off the top.

Ambitious! How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
I currently have six erotic romance books encompassing four stories. You know, it’s funny to think about a favorite. They all become the favorite for a while.
For my breakout novel Hermes Online, I wrote a hook, meaning I put everything I had into it to get noticed by a publisher. It worked! My second, Dreamscape, was written as a reader’s puzzle. My third, written in two parts is The Witchy Wolf and the Wendigo. The fourth is, in many ways, my best work. Like Dreamscape, Loving Leonardo is also a reader-interactive story. These last two novels are told in two books each. Loving Leonardo and Loving Leonardo – The Quest as a whole is one of those color outside the lines stories for me. I so enjoyed my Victorian trio that I have the feeling they’ll soon be whispering to me about further adventures they’d like to take. It will likely be my favorite until the next. :)

What inspired your latest book? 
My latest is the sequel to Loving Leonardo: Loving Leonardo – The Quest. I've mentioned here and there around the web that this tale came right out of the American headlines last summer. The news was filled with women’s issues and negative talk of “progressives”. There was something about a newscast one day that grabbed my attention. I’d heard the term women’s issues combined with progressive, but the word progressive was said with a sneer. It was presented as though the concept of women making their own decisions was unthinkable, and that was the point to the Suffragettes more than 100 years ago. Before I knew it, I had a very American, very unorthodox, Victorian progressive heroine named Ellie and she was as annoyed about the politics of her times as I was about the politics of mine. What’s more, whom you love, and who you wanted to commit your love to, were hot issues as if love itself was a social condition and not a deeply personal thing.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
From everywhere! Headlines like I mention above. Funny or interesting things I encounter here and there. My life and the lives of people I know make cameo appearances in all my books in one form or another because it’s easy to draw from the familiar. I’ll borrow our furnishings for my stories, or our cars, our pets, and I even add things we’d love to own or owned once upon a time. As for my characters, they’re all composites of me. They have my values, my fears, my wit etc. Yes, even the bad guys are composites of the darkest corners of my imagination combined with the ugly things found in the world.

Do you have a blog? 
I do, several in fact! I have a main blog and three satellite blogs that I use a little less frequently. I have a handful of stationary blogs that act more as posters for my work than anything else. I figured as they’re all connected, I could use them for different things that happen to fall in the same time frame. That idea came about because I erroneously signed up for two blog hops that overlapped in the same week. It’s been tremendously useful. For one, I've signed up for more hops and broadened my exposure. The thought being other participants are sometimes more into social media than I am. If they promote themselves, they promote me along with them. I do the same.
Until recently I've steadily blogged about the whole author experience. Surprisingly, the posts where I add things about my childhood in the 1960’s are popular. I participated in the A to Z Challenge for the first time this year. The idea was to post a topic a day through the month of April corresponding to the alphabet. That’s when I discovered what a popular post really was. My historical posts draw the most attention and interest.

What a neat idea! What is your favorite part of writing?
Seeing appreciation for my work lighting other people’s eyes. I love stories, hearing them, telling them. My wonderful family and friends are so encouraging. Because one dear friend and her husband always have something nice to say. I find myself wanting to create scenes I know they’d enjoy. I also have an artist friend who periodically reads my scenes. I know we’re on the same page when he comments on my characters and scenes as if he sees them as real because they’re real to me. That does something to me; it fills me up in some inexplicable way and makes me want to write more complicated scenes to see if he can follow me there. I've always been sort of an oddball that never fit anywhere; I suppose it validates how my mind ticks.
I love writing the classic light vs. dark/ good vs. evil scenario with twists on a theme. Writing conflicts where right triumphs over wrong is the best thing about creating literary worlds. Authors have control over weighty issues and are able to change negative situations to positive outcomes. The real world doesn't always allow for that. I get frustrated by things in life – environmental issues, political garbage, societal woes and ills. In my fictional worlds, where my god complex shines, I can virtually eliminate them. So I do!
I’m a very detail-oriented person so I love the challenge of making impossible concepts possible and implausible scenarios plausible, especially in conflicts between good and evil. In Hermes Online there wasn't evil but there was darkness to overcome. In Dreamscape the impossible needed to be possible because what future can one have loving a ghost? In Loving Leonardo there’s prejudice vs. tolerance. In The Witchy Wolf and the Wendigo there’s hopelessness vs. hope. You can’t have the good without the bad to contrast it with. You can’t have the light without darkness, because darkness makes you appreciate the light more. I think I’m drawn to writing the opposites because life needs balance.

Too true! All self-pubbed books are rumored to be shoddily edited. What do you say to that?
Not mine! I have a professional editor with a background in history and a keen eye for grammar and punctuation. She also holds my feet to the flame where historical anachronisms are concerned. Typos happen. We live in a text-driven society. In both my traditionally published and self-published books, I have had a typo now and then. I will say this though, if a typo works its way into my self-published novel, the instant it’s brought to my attention, I fix it. 

Exactly! Tell us about your hero. Give us one of his strengths and one of his weaknesses.
Nicolas Halstead from Loving Leonardo and LL-The Quest by far possesses the most depth of any character I've written to date. He’s an art historian who sees the world through the artworks he loves. Because all art is a manifestation of emotion, Nicolas wears his depth, compassion, sensitivity, and passion upon his sleeve. He’s also witty and intelligent and terribly romantic. I find him an utterly fascinating character. I love seeing the world through his eyes. I suppose his greatest strength would be his capacity for love. His weakness would be an external element. He must hide the truth of himself from a prejudiced world.

Can't wait to get to know him. Thanks for being my guest today. Rose will give away a copy of Hermes Online to one lucky commenter.

About Rose
I love descriptive words and choose them as carefully as an artist might choose a color. My active imagination compels me to write everything from children’s stories to historical nonfiction. As a persnickety leisure reader, I especially enjoy novels that feel like they were written just for me. It's hard to explain, but if you've ever read one of those, then you know what I mean. I tend to sneak symbolism and metaphor into my writing. You might say it's a game I play with myself when I write. And I so love when readers email to say they've found something. I’d like people to feel my stories were written just for them, for that’s the truth. These hidden insights are my gift to my readers.
My links -
All books on Amazon:
Main Blog:
Satellite Blog:
Too many author pages and mini blogs to mention here but you can see them all by visiting my main blog, I’m just about everywhere!

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Welcome Mary Raimes Curtis

My guest today is Mary Curtis. Welcome, Mary.
Hi, Anna, it’s good to take a break for a chat. Thanks for inviting me over.
Tell us about yourself.
When I retired from writing for corporate clients I decided to retire to a beautiful place by a tidal river. So here I am, with wonderful new friends and finding it fascinating to be able to develop my own story ideas. What else can I tell you? Well, I have three cats and lately have been visiting feral cat colonies with a friend who is involved in a local TNR program. That means feral cats are trapped, visit a wonderful vet who checks them out to make sure they are healthy and then spays or neuters, as needed. Then they are returned to their habitat where volunteers make sure they have food and water. I tag along because the second book in the Gilded River Chronicles features an artist who also volunteers in a similar program. It’s fascinating to visit the colonies and I’m amazed at how healthy the cats are when taken care of. But it can be heart breaking too.

I have a soft spot for cats. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I love my here and now but I have always wanted a little white house on the Isle of Capri. I felt such a connection when I visited, I seriously wondered if I had lived there in another life. Besides, it’s a short ferry crossing to the mainland and then on to Venice. Oh, boy, I love that beautiful but threatened city. I spent hours wandering the narrow alleys, standing on a bridge and thinking of those who had been there long before me, and sitting sipping cappuccino and watching the passing parade.

Venice is a unique experience. Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?
It would take too long to recount and truly they couldn't be called a career. They were just stops on a long journey to make enough money to take the next bus, train, ferry, ocean liner to somewhere new. If anyone is truly interested I wrote a post about my convoluted writer’s journey a short time ago for Marion Sipe, the artist who developed both my book covers. It can be found here:

What genre do you write in?
I have to chuckle when thinking about this question. My brainwaves are all over the place. Luscious & Lethal, the first book in the Gilded River Chronicles is a contemporary romantic suspense. However, the third book in the series will have a touch of paranormal. My first published e-book was Taming the Hawk, a historical romance with some villainy. I also have two paranormal stories waiting for serious editing, while more historical WIPs glower out at me from my files. So you see, I tend to jump around. It’s so much fun that way, although it can get confusing.

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
As noted, I have two published e-books from MuseItUp Publishing. However, there are probably seven stories waiting for attention. Plus, I’m working to launch a new blog, called A Writer’s Journey. A while ago I had a really bad fall and was out of commission for two months and couldn't sit at my laptop for more than five minutes at a time. It was so frustrating but while lounging about I came up with the idea for my new blog. Plus it would involve a really scary notion—I would publish a chapter of a story once a month in the blog. It’s an old idea, Dickens did it as did other writers and some authors still do so today. My scary idea was to publish a chapter of a work-in-progress, not a finished manuscript. So, A Candle Without A Flame was born. The cover is also by Marion Sipe and it is wonderful. I hope you can stop by and check it out when the blog is ready to roll.

What is your favorite part of writing?
I love developing characters from a wisp of an idea. Then finding ways to harass and befuddle them until they do amazing things they never thought possible. Sometimes they surprise the heck out of me.

LOL! What is your least favorite part of writing?
Oh, I do hate to say this but it is writing the final scenes. I can agonize over the denouement until I’m frazzled. Then, maddeningly, the ending that I first visualized pops up and waves at me. Why does that happen? Please, someone tell me.

What is your typical day like?
Do you really want to know? Okay, here goes. A typical day means checking to see who has thrown up a hairball in the oddest places—once into a container holding a thriving plant. The poor thing never recovered. Next I feed the furry horde, go take a shower, come back to find piggy Pepper has stolen someone else’s breakfast. Finally, I make toast with peanut butter and marmalade and a glass of water for myself. It’s good for the system you know. Then I fire up the laptop, go hunting for the file I need, realize I forgot to jot down the page I was editing and have to riffle through a hundred or so pages to find it. By then I’m ready for my usual huge shot of cappuccino with loads of froth. Some of the froth goes to Gypsy. I know, I know, cats aren't supposed to have milk. But, hey, she will be twenty years old this year and I think that means she can have whatever darn thing she wants. Then I may go out to lunch with a friend, or decide to clean out my closet, or write up a new chapter, or…I think you get the message. I lead a very dull life but it has its moments.

What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?
I haven’t actually done that yet, except for publishing my work in progress, Candle Without A Flame, in my own blog. But I do know this. You need someone to check over your work. I have been a freelance writer for a long time and an editor before that. YOU DON’T ALWAYS CATCH YOUR OWN MISTAKES. Please read and re-read that. Maybe tattoo it on your forehead or stick a flag on your computer. If you can’t afford an editor, and many of us can’t, find a willing reader who has a good grasp of grammar and an eye for detail.

All self-pubbed books are rumored to be shoddily edited. What do you say to that?
Yes. No. Sometimes. While I was lying here with cracked ribs and moaning in pain I read well over a hundred books on my e-reader to transport me into another life. Some were self-pubbed others were e-books from established publishers. And yes, quite a few e-books were poorly edited and had lousy design problems. But hold on, not all of the problem books were self-published. Far too many came from well-known publishing houses and included the works of some of my favorite authors. That said, not all the e-books on my list were poorly edited or had flaws in layout.

How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?
Are you trying to get me in trouble? Of course people I meet don’t end up in my books. Well, hardly ever. Okay, occasionally. But it is surprising how people never see themselves as others see them. So, I hope I’m safe from a punch in the nose. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I tend to fly without a flight plan. It gets me into a lot of trouble when the characters decide they want to go east and I’m headed west. I have tried plotting and found my writing tended to be flat and overworked.

Me too! Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
Never, never give up. I wrote articles and copy for other people for many years, but my first novel was published when I was seventy three. If you love writing, just keep on keeping on. The more you write the better you get. I also received some very wise advice from one of my favorite authors. James Lee Burke. He said I should write my story, not the story someone else wanted me to write. So I did, and Lea Schizaz, at MuseItUp Publishing, accepted Taming the Hawk and Luscious & Lethal and I hope others to come.

What’s next for you? 
More of the same, I guess. Sometimes I wish ideas wouldn't keep popping into my head. It’s getting crowded up there. Of course, I have my work in progress being published as each chapter is edited. Then there is a story of a woman called the Gray Ghost who helps abused women to escape their abusers. It is developing into a series that involves a secret society called The Janus League. These are very bad guys and the Gray Lady will need all her strength and cunning to survive through the series and find her own HEA. I’m looking forward to finding time to get back into the war against wickedness. 

Right on! Where can readers find you?
Both my e-books, Luscious & Lethal and Taming the Hawk can be purchased from my publisher at MuseItUp Publishing, on Amazon and at Kobo. As soon as my blog, The Writer’s Journey, is ready to go, I will post it on my Facebook page, so please check in now and then at:
Thank you for sharing the wealth of your experience, Mary. Stay off the ice! Broken ribs are painful. Hope you are well on the mend.
It was great to spend time here with you, Anna. I hope visitors will leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Luscious & Lethal or Taming the Hawk.

Taming the Hawk * Excerpt a man who is a dark brooding stranger. As the carriage trundled towards Anton’s home, Amee wondered if it was possible to die of a broken heart Grief, sorrow, anguish, all flowed together threatening to overwhelm her. Perhaps it was the injury to her head that caused such distress. Could physical pain do that? She didn’t know…didn’t know anything anymore. How had she come to this? The world began that sick, dizzying whirl and her mind spun out of control. The hours since injuring her head had been purgatory. Last night she had finally fallen into an uneasy sleep and dreamed of Brampton Grange and heard her papa’s voice calling her to come see his latest invention.

When she woke the pillow was wet with tears and she recalled how her head hit something unyielding when Anton hit her. Now the ache in her jaw where his large hand connected was minor to the spears of pain shooting from the crown of her head to her neck and down her back. Perhaps her skull was cracked. That was it. She was broken like a china doll dropped on a rock never to be put back together again.

Arriving at the house in Grosvenor Gardens, Anton climbed from the carriage. Still she sat without moving. “Come, Amee. It is time to be done with your ill-temper.” He reached in and grasped her wrist remembering too late it was bruised. Still she did not move.

“Bloody hell!” He had put up with enough of her waywardness. The sooner he left for his club and got down to the business of drinking the night away the better. He climbed back into the carriage and dragged her from the seat.

His tone was harsh. “Enough of this nonsense you are not a child and I will not put up with your hostility.” He pulled her down the steps and turned to wave Sam away. Behind him he heard a small wavering cry and swung around a second too late to prevent her collapsing at his feet.

“Amee! What is wrong?” He crouched beside her and lifted her veil and saw the nasty black bruise on her jaw. Her eyes were closed. He laid the back of his hand against her cheek. It was hot and dry as tinder. He picked her up and mounted the steps to the front door. Sam ran ahead to open the door for him. Anton noted the groom’s grim face. He was definitely at odds with his master. The thought was dismissed for he had Amee to see to.

Cranley came hurrying across the hall and asked, “Mr. Templeton! Has there been an accident?” He seemed rooted to the spot as his master pushed past him.

“Send someone for the doctor, Cranley. Immediately. My wife is ill.”

“Y-your wife, sir?”

“Yes, my wife, damn you, get a move on.” He quickly carried her up the stairs to the bedchamber next to his. All was in order and ready for her. He strode to the bed, laid her down then sat beside her. Her face was dreadfully pale and yet high spots of color touched her cheekbones.

“Amee, pet. You must wake up and tell me what is wrong.” His hand cupped her hot cheek again. He removed the pins from her bonnet and pulled it off then opened the top buttons of her blouse. Fear made his gut roil.

“Water.” Yes, he should bathe her face with cool water. He went to the bathroom, wet a towel and brought it back. At the cold feel of it, she murmured something he couldn’t make out and turned her head away.

He brushed the tumbled hair back from her brow. “Be still, Amee. A doctor will be here soon.”

“Sir, may I help?” He turned to find Mrs. Grant standing behind him.

“Her skin is burning and she has fainted.”

The housekeeper took the dripping cloth from his hand, folded it neatly and gently laid it on the girl’s forehead. “I was afraid of this. Her fever is much worse. It would be best to remove her clothing so we can bathe her with cool water.”

“A fever, why? I know her face is bruised surely that could not cause a fever.” His fingers pushed the lapels of her jacket aside and fumbled as he opened the rest of the buttons of her blouse. The housekeeper reached out to push his hand away.

“I will call a maid to help me, sir.”

His look brooked no debate. “This is my responsibility, Mrs. Grant. I will lift her if you will strip the garments off.”

Mrs. Grant was red-cheeked as she said, “Please take care. Her head injury is nasty. She should really not have left her bed today but seemed intent on fulfilling a promise. The poor lady worried about something dire that would happen if she could not go with you.”

“Her head injury?” Anton felt like an idiot as if he had to repeat everything to try and make sense of it. He shook his head. “I do not understand.”

“There.” Mrs. Grady dropped the clothing at her feet and unfastened the laces of the small corset and pulled it free. “My goodness. The lass is hardly big enough to wear such a garment.” She bit her lip as if her words were too revealing in front of a man.

It took only a few more minutes to strip Amee to her chemise. Then he untied the ribbon garters and rolled down her well-darned stockings and dropped them with the other clothing on the floor. There was a band of steel around his chest as he pulled the covers over her. He had not failed to note, as Mrs. Grant probably had not, the purple bruises on her upper arms and around her wrists. A monster! He was a bloody monster and should be shot and hanged and…

MC—I hope this small ‘tease’ intrigues you enough to buy Taming the Hawk. Thank you for taking the time to check in.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Please Welcome Lily Rede

My guest today is romance author Lily Rede. Tell us about your current series, Lily.
Bright's Ferry is a nice little seaside town hiding some dark secrets. In Book #2, Safe From the Fire, we meet Grace and Matt. Grace is having trouble finding a guy to play out her little domination fantasies with, and Matt is terrified of turning into a controlling monster like his father. Too bad he's been head over heels for Grace for years. As they attempt to date, tying each other in figurative and literal knots, an arsonist terrorizes Bright's Ferry, and all evidence points to Grace's formerly delinquent brother. It's hot, sweet, and twisty, just like I like it.

How has your experience with self-publishing been?
Fantastic! A year ago, I would never have considered self-publishing, and now ten months in I've sold nearly 20,000 copies. I had plenty of self-doubt holding me back, but getting to share my little worlds with readers and learn from more experienced writers has been incredibly rewarding. I hope this is just the beginning of a wonderful career.

Sounds like you are off to a promising start. What was the hardest thing you've found in the process of self-publishing? And the easiest?
The hardest thing is remembering that it takes time to build an audience, to learn from my mistakes, and to write the next book instead of waiting for reviews. This life requires buckets of patience, which I often have very little of, no matter how hard I try. The easy part is getting it out there - the Internet is an amazing creature, and I am grateful or how idiot-proof most of the process has become. I am not tech savvy on the best of days.

I know what you mean! What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? 
I have trouble when the words come out faster than I want them to - I have to remind myself to slow down and really let the characters feel and express each moment before moving them to the next scene. That and continuity are my nemeses.

Do you have any words of inspiration for aspiring authors?
Don't stop. That's it. Rejection is guaranteed, but so is improvement. You will be better with the next story, and the one after that, and the one after that. Do not let fear of failure get the best of you.
I second that! What is your writing routine like? 
I like to write in the mornings, since I'm useless after 2pm. Coffee, music without lyrics, sometimes the jumbled noise of a coffee shop, and I'm set.

I'm the opposite. I like mornings too, but I prefer a quiet atmosphere. Do you ever suffer from writer's block? 
All the time. I usually go work on something else for a while and let my brain stew on the problem until it starts clamoring at me to go back and finish what I started.

What’s next for you?
I'm almost done with a contemporary novella called More Than A Night about a wealthy but inexperienced young woman who decides to pay for an escort for the night, and finds that there's more to love than sex, and also the prequel novella to my paranormal Hearts of Stone series - Shadow of the Raven (monsters and muses, oh my!) In June, Book #3 of Bright's Ferry - Safe From the Storm. Also, there's an ongoing erotic suspense serial on my blog called Shiny Things.

Where can readers find you?
I'm only on Amazon at the moment, but I'm hoping to branch out soon! Safe From the Dark is available in ebook and print, as is Hot & Sweet - Beginnings, my collection of shorts, but the rest of my titles are currently ebook only. I'm gradually formatting the rest, but there are only so many hours in the day, and miles to go before I sleep, LOL...meanwhile, tons of excerpts up on my blog, along with free chapters of Shiny Things.

Thanks for being my guest today, Lily. Here's the blurb for Safe From the Fire.
Firefighter Matt Harris has wanted edgy librarian Grace Mallow forever – there’s something about her purple hair and her sexy dark side that pushes all of his buttons, even if the rest of the town looks down on her. Unfortunately, Matt’s memories of an abusive childhood have left him terrified of turning into a monster like his father. He’s determined to find a gentle way to woo Grace, but he’s unprepared for the white-hot heat that burns when they finally come together.

Grace Mallow knows that no matter how badly she wants him, she doesn’t belong with a wholesome blond dreamboat like Matt, who would be horrified to learn that she wants to be sexually dominated. But Matt is persistent, and Grace is having a hard time turning him down and keeping her emotional walls intact. As the couple struggles to handle their passion for each other, an arsonist begins terrorizing Bright’s Ferry, and all signs point to Grace’s younger brother, a reformed firebug recently returned to town to make amends for his crimes. Matt and Grace race to stop a madman, but can they find common ground and save each other and their town, or will passion and fire burn out of control and separate them forever?


“What’s the matter?” asked Grace, and then looked up, eyes widening, “Oh.”
“Hi, Grace.”
Did he have to take up all the oxygen in the room? Grace supposed that when a man was as big as Matt Harris, he was going to take the lion’s share of breathable air. She assured herself that her sudden breathlessness was not a result of her impossible attraction to the hot firefighter. He was objectively beautiful, that was all – all that hard muscle that clothing couldn’t disguise, the face carved by a divine hand, thick golden hair, and sky blue eyes that practically shone with honesty and goodwill toward mankind.
She wanted to climb him like a ladder and lick every inch along the way.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
Grace forced a cool smile.
“Hi, Matt. You remember my brother Adam.”
Matt nodded, clearly curious, but didn’t comment on her brother’s sudden reappearance. Adam had been a nightmare for the Bright’s Ferry Fire Department, and Grace couldn’t blame Matt for being un-thrilled to see him again.
“Adam’s going to be staying with me for a while, taking some classes. Isn’t that great?” she went on brightly, squeezing Adam’s hand reassuringly.
Grace knew the second Matt spotted the scars on Adam’s wrists, but again, he remained silent, just raised a surprised eyebrow.
“Did you want something?” Grace cringed internally as the words left her lips, because for the briefest moment, Matt’s eyes flared with heat, and she felt an answering tug low in her stomach.
Oh, he definitely wants something.