Wednesday 28 August 2013

Once in a Blue Moon by Diane Burton

Dreamstime Image
Did you happen to see the full moon last Tuesday night? Not just big, huge. That was a Blue Moon.
What, you may ask, is a Blue Moon—besides an interesting beer? The most common definition (the one I was most familiar with) is the occurrence of a second full moon in a calendar month. Last week’s Blue Moon was different. It’s the third of four full moons in a season.
How many times have we said or heard the expression “once in a blue moon”? Is a Blue Moon really that rare? By either definitions (above), a Blue Moon occurs every two or three years. That’s a lot less rare than I would have thought. And, no, that moon is not really blue. However, on rare occasions dust particles caused by volcanic eruptions or huge fires can make the moon look bluish in color even if it’s not a full moon. Considering the fires in the western part of the U.S., we may very well see a moon that looks blue.
So the next time you say your kids will clean their rooms once in a blue moon, it may be sooner than you think.
As for me, I think I’d rather have the beer.
Moons, planets, and starship travel are fodder for science fiction romance writer Diane Burton’s imagination. She takes her readers on adventures that are out of this world. Her latest release, Switched Resolution, concludes the Switched series about twins switching places—from Earth to a starship and the reverse.

With duffle bags slung over shoulders, banging against hips and each other, Scott Cherella and Veronese Qilana raced through the Malawea Spaceport terminal. His ship was gone. Stolen. Not just by the rebels incarcerated on board but by three of his own crew.

“I still can’t believe Drakus and Usolde took the Freedom.” Neese panted from running.

Scott was surprised at how many people either milled around or strolled down the terminal’s main corridor in the middle of the night. He and Neese attracted attention. Maybe Serenians didn’t run through public buildings. Too damn bad. This was an emergency.

“Those two have a lot to answer for,” he said.

Once they got to the hangar—or whatever Serenians called the area where various flight vehicles landed and took off—he let her lead the way. He’d only been through there once, yesterday, after arriving aboard a shuttle from Space Station Alpha where the Freedom had docked. Where it should still be docked.

“This way.” Neese darted down a narrow passageway. “I want to know about the other man. Both Drakus and Usolde mentioned a he who tricked them. Any ideas?”

“You know the crew better than I do. Well, longer anyway.” He had only been aboard the Freedom for three weeks, ever since he switched places with his twin. And, holy shit, what a time it had been. Sabotage, capture, rescue, ecstasy, betrayal.

Yeah, he wanted to know the other guy’s identity, too. A member of the Freedom’s crew had not only masterminded the recent sabotage but also the release of war criminals and the theft of Scott’s ship. How the hell had they gotten it out of spacedock? There had to be controls. Clearance requirements. On top of that, he wondered why the Freedom. The rebels needed a ship to escape. Surely, other ships were easier to take out from under Space Fleet Security than an Alliance battle cruiser. Or maybe that had been the point. A way of thumbing their noses at The Powers That Be.

“Wait.” He snagged the strap of Neese’s bag. They’d gotten to the end of a long hall. She turned to him, questions in her Lake Michigan blue eyes. God, he loved seeing them without the silver lenses she had worn to pass as Serenian. He couldn’t wait for her short hair to grow out. Like wearing camouflage lenses, she’d dyed her hair black to look like a Serenian. He bet if left to nature, her hair would be a deep auburn like Jessie’s. With waves, too, once it was long enough. Or maybe it would curl cutely around her face.

Nah. Neese was many things—striking, intelligent, strong-willed—but never cute.

Edging her into the corner, he dropped his duffle and pulled her into his arms. “I gotta do this before we meet up with the others.”

She opened her mouth in surprise as his came down. He hoped the kiss he planted on her made her remember what they’d been doing two hours earlier. Finally alone and no longer worried about non-fraternization rules, they’d made love in a proper bed. It had been perfect. Perfect until she beat him to the punch and proposed. If the damn computer hadn’t interrupted with urgent messages, he would have made sure she understood there were some things a guy just had to do on his own.

Independent little cuss.

She broke off the kiss, her eyes huge. “We—We shouldn’t do this. Someone might—”

“Relax, Neese. Nobody’s around.”

“There could be.” When she scooted past him, her bag swung out and caught him in the side. Uttering a quick apology, she opened the door to a spacious hangar. “Chief Luqett and Mr. Glaxpher said they’d be waiting for us in Area 72.” She pointed overhead.

Up in the rafters, large white lettering designated areas. Naturally, he couldn’t read them. He didn’t think his link, which she’d programmed to translate Serenian symbols, would be able to “read” that far away.

“Where are we now?” he asked softly as he followed her.

“Area 51.”

That stopped him. “You have got to be joking.”

She turned to him and shook her head. “I do not understand.”

“Area 51. Aliens. Roswell, New Mexico.”

“Oh, that fiasco when the Cardijian ship crashed. We need to hurry.”

“You mean that was real?” He started grinning. “Hot damn.”

Switched Resolution is available at:
Amazon :

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. She is the author of science fiction romance the Switched and The Outer Rim series. With One Red Shoe, soon to be published by The Wild Rose Press, she takes her writing in a new direction into romantic suspense. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and two grandchildren.

Connect with Diane around the Internet
Goodreads: Diane Burton Author
Amazon author page:

Saturday 24 August 2013

Latest Release Cover Reveal

Thanks again to the wonderfully talented Steven Novak for my latest cover.
Hearts and Crowns is the story of Gallien, grandson of the original hero of The Montbryce Legacy series.
Gallien has sworn never to wed again after a catastrophic marriage to a shrew who betrayed him with another man.
You know the old saying, Once bitten...twice shy.

Peridotte de Pontrouge has long dreamed of marrying Geoffrey Plantagenet, but her hopes are dashed when he is betrothed to the daughter of King Henry of England.
Political intrigue forces Gallien and Peri to marry against their will.
Here's a snippet from the betrothal ceremony, the first time Gallien and Peri meet.

Peri paused before the small wooden door to the Chart Room of Ellesmere Castle. “A moment,” she whispered to the Comte d’Anjou’s emissary.
Ballustre bowed, stroking his pointed beard. A tight smile flickered for only a moment, betraying his nervousness.
She smoothed her hands over her skirts and carefully adjusted the veil that threatened to slide from her braided hair. Alys had worked her usual magic with the wrinkled gown, barking orders at the maidservant sent by the Countess as if she were the lady of the castle. They had chosen the gown of forest green wool because it suited her skin and hair color—and her mood. This was not the festive occasion she had dreamed her betrothal ceremony would be.
She had not slept. None of the Montbryce men had returned by the time she had retired to her chamber the previous evening.
She raised her chin, then turned to her escort. Despite the dread churning in her belly, she said, “I am ready.”
He laid his palm against the door. It swung open without a sound and he ushered her inside. Her knees threatened to buckle as she stepped over the threshold into a new life she did not want. She was to be bound to a man who had not welcomed her and who had failed to appear this morning in the Great Hall.
She had broken her fast in uncomfortable silence with Fleurie and Isabelle, nibbling on a crust of freshly baked bread, feeling like a prisoner condemned to the gallows.
Determined to appear unruffled, she thrust out her chin. Her gaze fell on two heads of silver hair, both bent to the close study of some document upon the table. She faltered. By the wood of the true cross! Had King Henry betrothed her to an old man?
At her gasp, both men looked up. They shared a resemblance, except one was a good deal older than the other. The older man smiled, his eyes full of warmth and welcome.
The younger, taller knight straightened. Back rigid, lips in a tight line, he narrowed his eyes. Her belly lurched. Gooseflesh marched across her nape. She had never seen a young man with hair the color of moonbeams. It was strangely compelling. The unrelieved black of his doublet, hose and boots made his appearance all the more startlingUnder his dark gaze, she felt like a rabbit caught in a snare.

He was much taller than she, a broad-shouldered warrior whose bearing and attire left no doubt about his wealth and power. It was immediately evident he did not welcome this betrothal. He did not want her.

Hearts and Crowns is available on Amazon.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Virginia Kelly is My Guest

A warm welcome today to Virginia Kelly. Tell us about yourself, Virginia.
Thanks, Anna, for having me here. I live on the northern Florida Gulf Coast. It's a beautiful area with sugar white beaches and a laid back lifestyle. The only drawback is that we have to endure hurricane season. My husband and I have three wonderful children, and have had the opportunity to do a bit of traveling, something we hope to do again.

Sugar white beaches! I love the sound of that. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be, and why?
My first thought was Peru, where I was born. I'd really like to live there again. I love the food—my mouth is watering for my favorite dishes and the fresh fruits I can't get here. The people are wonderful, I speak Spanish; it's the home of my childhood. While I was born in Lima, which is a huge city, I spent my first five years in the Peruvian jungle, before moving back to the city for school. While Lima is a possibility, I really don't want to live in the jungle again.
Another possibility is a little cabin in the Smoky Mountains, snug and fitted with all the modern conveniences. Lots of trees and peace and quiet. And wildlife. I love to take pictures. I'm not very good at it, but it's fun.
Short term, I'd love to spend a month living and traveling in Italy. Maybe find a place around Florence for a few weeks, then Venice, then... There's just so much to see. But first, I absolutely have to learn the language. Spanish and English get me by, but it's not the same as being able to communicate in Italian.

I loved Florence when I visited years ago. Venice not so much. Are you a full time writer or do you have a “day job”?
I'm an academic librarian by day. I love what I do. And, no, I don't spend all day reading, nor do I wear orthopedic shoes and a bun J. I work the Reference desk helping students find sources for their research projects and teach research courses. I also deal with computer and website issues, I'm very lucky that I stumbled into a career I love and one that's fun, challenging and offers so many opportunities to learn something new every single day. It's also a career that's allowed me to learn a good deal about technology, something I suspect most people don't know librarians handle on a daily basis.

How did you get started writing?
I'd written short stories as early as 7th grade. My first serious attempt at writing as an adult came after I met an academic librarian who wrote romances. I loved romances, saw that someone who had the same job I did could do it, so thought, "why not?" "Why not" proved difficult indeed. I'm a pantser. I've tried and tried to organize myself, to plot out stories, write synopses, outlines and more. When I do that, I feel like I've already told the story, so now I concentrate on getting a first draft down. Then I do a lot of editing.

What genre do you write in and why?
I primarily write romantic suspense and romantic adventure. DANCING IN THE DARK is a contemporary romance novella. The hero and his profession give it the romantic suspense edge I love.

Sounds intriguing! How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
I've written seven complete books and have two or three others that I work on at the same time. A couple of my books are better left hidden somewhere, like maybe under the bed. I've published two complete novels (plus a third coming out in October) and one novella.
My favorite book has always been my first sale: TO THE LIMIT, which started its journey to publication as The Temptation of Nicholas Romero. It was an RWA Golden Heart finalist and sold to Harlequin. Just because I said it's my favorite, doesn't mean I don't like the others, because I do. I tend to fall in love with my heroes. Nicholas Romero was my first love, so he'll always come first. My latest published hero love is Matt Kincaid from DANCING IN THE DARK. Matt allowed me to interview him, though he wasn't as open as I'd hoped he'd be. There's a link to the interview on my website.

I have a soft spot for the surname Kincaid. It was my mother-in-law's maiden name. I changed the spelling a bit for the heroine of my novella, Sweet Taste of  Love, to Nolana Kyncade. Sorry, I digress! Tell us about your current WIP.
I need to work on a fabulous ending for the romantic suspense tentatively entitled ANOTHER HERO. I'm working on another novel, no title yet, that's a bit stalker romantic suspense, a bit adventure. I also have a novella sequel to AGAINST THE WIND. It’s still in torturous first draft status. I've fallen in love with the heroes of these WIPs. One is half Peruvian, like me.

Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you avoid reading that genre? Why?
I love historical romances, vampire romances, and some mysteries. I don't write those, so can easily turn off my internal editor. When I read the same genre I write, I find myself thinking that I would have done things differently, so don't enjoy reading unless the book absolutely blows me away. If the book blows me away, I go back to my own writing with great reluctance. So, historicals, vampires and mysteries are my fun reading. No matter what I read, a happily ever after is an absolute must.

What’s next for you?
My next release is IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER, from Entangled Publishing's Ignite line. It’s due out in October 2013. I love the hero (call me fickle, I love all my heroes). It's romantic suspense and is the novel-length sequel to DANCING IN THE DARK. Sign up for my news & updates (link below) if you'd like an email reminder when it's available.

Thanks for visiting today. Where can readers find you?
My website is:

News & updates (sign up):

Where can readers find your books? Print/Ebook?
To the Limit can be found in print at used bookstores online. Links below are to ebooks.
To the Limit: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBookstore
Against the Wind: Amazon
Dancing in the Dark: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBookstore

Back cover copy from DANCING IN THE DARK:

What if you discovered all you ever wanted were the things you left behind?
Covert CIA agent Matt Kincaid is back in tiny Walton Springs, only to find Janey Blackmon waiting to ask him a favor. Matt's not there to reminisce with the girl he's never forgotten...and he's definitely not there to divulge government secrets about her missing brother.
Ten years...and Janey hasn't forgotten the love of her life...or that he abandoned her on prom night. Bound by duty and honor, he was shipped out to parts unknown by Uncle Sam. But she knew he'd go because adventure is in Matt's blood. Being stuck in a small town with plain Jane the librarian wasn't ever in his plans.
Trapped by a flood, with no phone or power, desire tempts them both. Will passion—and Matt's offer to recreate prom night—lead to a future together? Or are they just dancing in the dark?

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Cara Marsi is Today's Guest

Welcome Cara!
Share with us how many books have you written. Do you have a favorite?
Thank you for having me today, Anna. I've written nine books, with a tenth ready to publish (seven are published now) and fifteen short stories plus an anthology of six short stories. Like a mother with many kids, I love all my books, but in different ways. A dozen of my short stories were published in national magazines. I’m an eclectic writer. I write contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, erotic romance and short stories.

What is your next project and when will it be released?
I hope to have my Christmas novella, A Groom for Christmas, available in October. I have a short story with paranormal elements, Love Potion, from Boroughs Publishing Group coming out in October. I’ve recently had another short story, The Ring, released from Boroughs, and I’ve written a short erotic romance story, Capri Nights, which I hope to release by the end of the year. Then I’ll start on book three in the Redemption series, Anita’s Temptation.
When I got the rights back to my romantic suspense, Logan’s Redemption, an online friend who is a top-selling indie author urged me to publish Logan myself. I did and I’m so very happy that I did. Logan’s Redemption has been a top seller at Amazon and Apple. It was in print with The Wild Rose Press. Although my new cover is different, the book is mostly the same so I haven’t put the indie version into print. Two of my other books are in print: Loving Or Nothing and Murder, Mi Amore. I enjoy self-publishing because I have more control over the contents, cover, promotion, and I get to keep more of the royalties myself. I also like the idea of keeping all my options open, so I consider myself a hybrid author, a combination of traditionally published and indie published, with more emphasis on the indie.

What went into the process? Writing, editing, cover design, formatting, etc. Share your ups and downs and how you went about it. If you used a service, can you share?
My online friend, Sandra Edwards, who urged me to go indie does all my formatting, and she does a wonderful job. My editor at The Wild Rose Press, Laura Kelly, freelances, and I hire her to edit my indie books. Three of the four books she edited for me have placed in prestigious contests. The fourth book, Franco’s Fortune, is relatively new, and I haven’t yet entered it in any contests. The wonderful cover artist, Harris Channing, does most of my covers.

What did you do to promote your work?
I maintain a constant online presence. I guest blog; I belong to a group blog, Romance Books 4 Us. I take out ads. I try to be careful of what promo money I spend, but I’m rarely sure which ads work. You know what they say about advertising: Only half works but no one knows which half.

All self-pubbed books are rumored to be shoddily edited. What do you say to that?
Some may be, but most of the indie books I've read are very well-written and edited. I always hire an editor for my indie books. I wouldn't put up a book that wasn't edited. I believe most of the indie authors who have also been traditionally published recognize the importance of good editing.

Do you have critique partners? How did your critique group form?
I have a face-to-face critique group that meets weekly. One member has over 20 books with Harlequin; another has 10 books with large publishers. The other two members aren't published yet. I also have an online critique group that reads the finished product after I’ve revised according to feedback from my face-to-face group. I can get a little obsessive about polishing my story.

How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book? The mean girls from high school and ex-boyfriends and my ex-husband end up in my books. They’re always the villains. We writers have ways to exact our revenge.

Was your road to publication difficult or a walk in the park?
Very difficult. It took 10 long, hard years of writing, learning, rejections before I sold my first book, A Catered Affair, to Avalon Books. I have the rights back to that book and digitally published a sensual version under the title A Catered Romance.

Give us an elevator pitch for your book.
Here’s the pitch for my recent release, Franco’s Fortune, (Redemption Book 2), the romantic suspense sequel to Logan’s Redemption:
"When a female bodyguard is hired to protect a rich playboy, she finds saving his life is easier than protecting her heart."

Tell us about your hero. Give us one of his strengths and one of his weaknesses.
My hero Franco Callahan in my latest book release, Franco’s Fortune, is the reformed playboy brother of the heroine Doriana from Logan’s Redemption. In Book 1, Franco is a selfish womanizer. I had to figure out a way to reform him. The Franco you meet in Book 2 is still fabulously wealthy, handsome and sexy. But he’s grown. He’s been forced to take over the family’s multi-national construction business. We learn things about Franco’s past, things he’s hidden from his family, that show he has a kind and caring heart, that he suffered from some of the same self-doubts that plague many of us. He used his playboy persona, not that he didn't enjoy it, to hide his true character. Jo Fortune, his bodyguard, brings out all Franco’s protective instincts, even though she’s the one who’s supposed to protect him. These two help each other heal from deep hurts in their pasts.

Do you write under a pen name? Why or why not? How did you choose it?
My first book, with Avalon Books, was published under my real name, Carolyn Matkowsky. I always wanted to publish under my real name because I worked hard for lots of years and I wanted everyone to know I’d finally made it. However, readers had problems spelling and pronouncing my last name. In 2003 I was nominated as an up and coming author in a romance magazine’s readers’ poll. They fractured my name so badly I felt I couldn't use the honor for promo. I decided then to take an easier name. I chose Cara because it’s a shortened form of Carolyn. I chose Marsi because it’s the name of a tribe from the region of Italy where my grandparents are from. We actually belong to another tribe, but that name is very long and difficult. 
Blurbs, excerpts and buy links for all my books are on my website,
Buy links for Franco's Fortune:
Available on Amazon, BN, Kobo, Smashwords and Apple.

Thank you very much for sharing the wealth of your experience, Cara.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

RITA winner Shelley Adina talks about the one-sheet

Shelley Adina is the RITA Award® winning author of 18 traditionally published novels, and an Amazon historical fantasy bestseller for her self published Magnificent Devices steampunk series. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where she teaches as adjunct faculty. Shelley is a world traveler who loves to imagine what might have been. Between books, Shelley loves playing the piano and Celtic harp, making period costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens.

She’s here today to talk with us about one-sheets, a simple bit of marketing collateral you can make should you find yourself in an agent or editor appointment, and I am delighted to welcome a fellow member of my RWA chapter.

So, what’s a one-sheet?
The one-sheet is a snapshot of your book or series, your market research, and your bio, all on—you guessed it—one page. These have been used for years in the Christian market and in the music and videogame industries (just search on “one-sheet” in Google Images to see what I mean). On this one piece of paper, the editor has everything she needs to know to begin a productive conversation about your book. It also gives her some unwritten but clear information about you, the author: that you’re market savvy, have done the legwork to answer her questions in advance, and have thought about marketing yourself as well as your novel—all skills that will serve you well in a writing career.

Not bad for an 8.5 x 11” piece of paper, eh?

So let’s look at the one-sheet, section by section, and see how it not only presents your book in its best light, but how it can organize your thinking as well for the writing process.

Section 1: The Book

The most important section, and the one given visual importance on the page, contains the back-cover copy for your book. Two or three paragraphs tell the reader about your characters, the central conflict, the setting … and end with a story question. Here’s an example from the first book in my steampunk series, Lady of Devices:

London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.

At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices . . .

When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his . . . if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals . . .

The back-cover blurb is designed to pique reader interest—and gives the editor a starting point for a productive conversation about your characters and plot development.

If you’re pitching a series rather than a single book, you can lay out the one-sheet in landscape orientation and arrange three back-cover blurbs across the page. Then, in a paragraph that spans all three, you can give a series overview, describing the main plot and themes. This will save space so that you don’t have to repeat it in the book descriptions, allowing you greater detail in the individual blurbs below.

Section 2: Your Bio and Contact Information

This section should be 100-150 words, giving your credentials for writing the book, your experience, contest wins, and education. Use your bio from your website if you have one, so that your “collateral,” or marketing materials, are all consistent. Include your website and email address so that if the editor wishes to contact you for more, she can do so easily.

Section 3: Market Research

If you have room, or you’re using a double-sided sheet, think about including your market research. I once proposed a teen series featuring a group of antagonistic high-school girls, slowly drawn together as they created the dresses of their dreams. My market research included quotes from articles that had recently appeared in Publishers Weekly and Time about teens getting into crafting, and mentioned books by NYT bestsellers set in the knitting and scrapbooking communities. Show the editor that your book has a market, and she will have less work to do when she takes your proposal to the editorial meeting.

Optional: Tag Lines and Quotes
Many authors include tag lines on their websites and signature lines to give readers a quick, witty way to remember them and their books.
· Harlequin American author Lee McKenzie writes “fifty shades of pink.”
· Debbie Macomber promises, “Wherever you are, Debbie takes you home.”
· “Steampunk with spirit” is my tagline for the Magnificent Devices series. It’s both a promise and a description.
· The women’s fiction series I proposed under my Adina Senft pseudonym, about an Amish herbal healer (and which recently sold from a one-sheet), is called Healing Grace, and the tagline is “Healing grace in Amish gardens.”

Another option is to use a particularly telling quote from your manuscript—something that encapsulates the theme of your book. I used “A lady of resources makes her own luck,” one of the heroine’s lines. This line appealed to a reader so much that she created a poster of it along with my book covers, and sent it to me!

Recommended: Use images to create a mood
Editors tend to be visual people—even if they’re not creating cover art and page layouts, they still give professional input in both those areas. So consider including images that convey the style and mood of your book, its setting, maybe even its characters. Use your own photography or buy images from stock photo sites, and make your one-sheet even more memorable.

Does the one-sheet really work?
So far, I've sold two trilogies on a one-sheet alone, so I can vouch for how well they work. Give your inner graphic designer some freedom and see what you can come up with. Then at your next editor appointment, see how well it works. You never know—one sheet of paper might start a chain of events that ends with a book contract!

Learn more about Shelley and her books at or And be sure to check out her summer blog series, Letters from the Lady, in connection with the Magnificent Devices books, at

Shelley presented a workshop on One-sheets at a chapter meeting. I rushed home and made one for each of my series. Here's the one for The Montbryce Legacy series.
Front and back

Many thanks for sharing this simple, but effective marketing tool with us, Shelley.