Wednesday 30 October 2013

Welcome Mary Marvella

Mary is giving away a pdf copy of Protective Instincts to one lucky commenter. Email address needed to win.

Thanks for inviting me to join you today!
I am sitting watching Once Upon a Time because I believe. I grew up reading fairy-tales. When I taught 6th grade I had an extra assignment, to give a 3rd grade teacher a break by taking her kids for half an hour once a week. I had no training teaching kids of that age, but I did know how to make up stories, so once I had used up my store of kids' stories, I retold them, making up new endings and telling what happened next to the characters. 

For as long as I can remember I created stories in my head. I played house, climbed trees, and read everything. I made paper dolls and designed their clothes. I still like to color in coloring books and in stories.

After I retired from teaching I became a tutor. I teach at a variety of levels, including anything language arts and writing classes. I also edit books for Gilded Dragonfly Books and for freelance clients.

Protective Instincts began several incarnations ago, with a man who thought his teenage son had a crush on a sexy young teacher, only to find the teacher was a 30-something woman and sexy in a wholesome, woman-next-door way. He actually asked her out and then kissed her. That part went away with several drafts. Then I thought about what would happen if the woman became the target of a professional killer, the man who killed her husband. What if he planned all murders to be different? Since it was to be a romance, I needed a man who would protect her, but not a cop or a military type. The daddy from the original idea became a man with premonitions and a protective streak a mile wide. That book became Protective Instincts.

An idea comes to me or characters appear and want to tell their stories. I started a book after my EX and I bought a house for my daughter to rent out while she attended college in Milledgeville, Georgia. The seller's daughter mentioned ghosts and named them for me while we were signing the papers. The story wrote itself in my head during the 2 1/2 hour ride home. Well, not the entire story, but I knew who the ghosts were and why they were in the house. They told me they were there to protect the heroine and they introduced me to the hero, the guy next door. From there the story wrote itself over months when I had to turn in pages to my critique group. That story became Haunting Refrain. (

I self -published 3 novels and 2 novellas before I contracted a book. I would advise anyone thinking of self publishing to get your book edited by a pro. Several of my clients ask me to edit books they Indie-published and got bad reviews because of grammar and punctuation.

How do you create sexual tension in your romances? 
It's always about the tease. Make your characters want each other and don't let them get what they want until they beg.

Do you have critique partners? Three of us met through Georgia Romance Writers and the 4th we met at a bookstore. She now belongs to GRW, too. I have one partner I met years ago and we work together and another one who asked me years ago to critique with her and a friend of hers.

I hate routines, but I write or edit when I'm not tutoring or making preparations to tutor. I try to troll Facebook and answer emails and read loops. I might write all night if I am on fire or an idea grabs me or if I don't have other obligations, like blogs to write or posts to upload to my blogs.

Thanks for being my guest, Mary. We’d love a blurb and an excerpt from your latest book.

Sam was ready to climb through the phone line. Something was terribly wrong. He’d known it just before he woke in a cold sweat, his gut in pain. The memory of her frightened amethyst eyes haunted him. Why had he dreamed about her? Why had she seemed so upset? He’d speed-dialed Ms. Roberts’ number before he realized he’d picked up the phone beside the recliner where he’d fallen asleep. All Sean’s teachers’ numbers were programmed into the phone.

“I’m comin’ over.” Sam was out of the chair as quickly as his sleep-stiff body would allow.

“No! No, don’t come over here.”

“Something’s wrong. I know it is.” Still half asleep, Sam held the phone between his chin and his neck as he shoved his feet into the shoes he’d discarded before dozing off.

“Everything’s fine,” she had told him. Why would she lie? He knew she had, because his premonitions were never wrong.

“So, why didn’t you answer your phone?”

“I was half asleep. Do you know what time it is?”

“Yes, but I’m worried about you. I’ll be at your house in ten minutes,” Sam had his keys and wallet in his hands. “I’ll explain, but I really need to be sure you’re all right, please.”

He replaced the phone, then checked Sean’s room. Sean lay sprawled across his bed, blond hair mussed, his hand dangling off the edge. Grabbing a sheet of paper Sam scrawled, “Son, back soon. Don’t worry. Gone to check on a friend.”

Sam raced across town, hoping he didn't get stopped for speeding. The streets were deserted. Good fortune had put each light on green or flashing yellow. He didn't think he’d have stopped if there had been a red light. The eerie feelings weren't as strong as when he’d awakened, but they wouldn't go away.


They met because he had premonitions and she was in peril. But you will never believe why they fell in love.
After mourning the loss of her husband, Brit Roberts manages to pick up her life as a teacher for a rural Georgia High school. Things are fine until anonymous phone calls turn creepy and her life is endangered. It's not until Sam Samuels shows up to check on her that she finds a little peace.
Mary Marvella@mmarvellab

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Welcome Reggi Allder

I'm delighted to welcome another member of my RWA chapter, Reggi Allder.
Hi Anna, I’m very happy to be here. Thank you for asking me.

As you know my romantic suspense Money Power and Poison is now available on Amazon. So I’m pretty excited. I love page turning, mystery, suspense, love stories and I’m an avid reader.

I’m married and have two kids. The youngest is at university. My husband is a great guy who’s supportive of my writing full time. I have two dogs, a pure bred poodle and a rescued mutt. They stay in my office with me while I write. They’re patient, though there are times when they give me that we-need-a-walk look and won’t take no for an answer, probably a good thing.

My second romantic suspense book Shattered Rules will be released soon. Unrest around the world triggered my inspiration for it. When I saw a report about the turmoil, I thought what if a woman was innocently involved in intrigue simply because she was naive? There’s lots of conflict and intrigue not to mention a handsome FBI agent.

My schedule starts early. I get up, dress and go straight into my office. I’m usually in the office between seven and eight in the morning. I’m lucky because my husband brings me coffee so I don’t even have to go downstairs. These days I keep that schedule on the weekend if my book is on a roll. I work until late afternoon. Sometimes I work after dinner.

I have two WIPs, a romantic suspense sequel to Money Power and Poison and another contemporary that follows the lives and events of people in a small town in the California foothills. It’s the second book in my Sierra Creek Series and follows characters in Her Country Heart.

I’m a pantser. I tried to plot when I first started writing. I had my first bout of writer’s block. Making lists and outlines and plotting every scene is a great idea but it just didn't work for me. I was lucky to find that out early. I stopped plotting and the writer’s block disappeared. Now I let ideas percolate. Feelings and plot twists come to me as I write. I do have a general idea of where the story will end up. Often I know the end of the book before I have a beginning. I don’t work backward. But when I begin the first chapter, even though I don’t have all the characters and the plot turns, I know how the book will end.

As an author of and romantic suspense and contemporary novels, I love nothing better than tales of love lost and then found or stories of heroes and heroines who discover love but wonder if they’ll live long enough to enjoy it.

My main characters cope with longings, secrets, lies and betrayals. They control their panic and manage their passion as each fight to discover a hidden strength. It’s a strain for them to remain motivated as the world offers temptations and puts them in untenable situations. Can they survive multiple ordeals and carry on to reach their goals and find true love?

In the contemporary novels my heroes and heroines search for love while struggling with the trials of day to day living, including the demands of family, finances and employment.

Here are links to my website and to my book on Amazon:
Blurb: Money Power and Poison When a billionaire is murdered, a woman fights to stay alive long enough to prove she’s innocent. An obsessed killer has plans to make her his next victim. A mystery from the past and lies from the present could help a reporter make sense of it all before it’s too late and the woman dies.
In idyllic Carmel, California, billionaire software developer Conner Harrison is poisoned at his fiftieth birthday party. Young business woman, Kathryn Carlyle is about to be charged with his murder. Why would the police think she’d murder a man she only met once? And why is someone trying to kill her? Out of her depth, she wants someone on her side.
Alpha male, TV reporter Holt Rand needs a scoop to revive his career. The exclusive on Harrison’s murder will put him back on top of the ratings game. Nothing and no one will stop him from getting to the truth. But when he meets Kathryn his life is changed forever.

In the midnight gloom of a residential street in Carmel, California, business owner Kathryn Carlyle watched the city’s dim lights from the back seat of a speeding police car. She gasped for air as dread tightened her throat. This can’t be happening to me.

The catering van she drove to billionaire software developer Conner Harrison’s birthday party had been impounded by the police as evidence. She rubbed her throbbing temples to release the pain accumulated there.

Two blocks from her beachfront condo, she snatched a breath of air. “Please stop. I have to get out.”

The middle-aged officer guided the patrol car to the curb. “We’re not finished with you. Go, but don’t leave town.”

He’d probably been waiting all night to use that cliché. Don’t leave town. She almost laughed, except nothing funny had happened tonight.

She exited the car and inhaled the sea breeze as it rustled her hair. It was such a welcome change from the stifling atmosphere that contaminated the police station where she’d spent the last few hours. How long before the man came back to arrest her?

Relieved to be in her safe neighborhood, she took a deeper breath, kicked off her black leather pumps and sat on a driftwood log overlooking the serene bay.

She swallowed as nausea swirled in her stomach. The fact that she hadn't eaten since breakfast didn’t help. Always nervous before an event, she’d planned to eat after Mr. Harrison’s party. Now he hovered near death. The thought of eating brought bile to the back of her throat. Why did the authorities think she poisoned a man she’d only met once?

A nightmare had snared her and was holding her in its grip. When Mr. Harrison died the charge against her would be murder in the first degree.

As the realization crept through her, she tensed. Two deep breaths calmed her, but didn't stop the headache forming over her right eye.

True she’d had the opportunity to poison him, but no motive. She only met him because he’d asked her to cater his birthday party. With his death, there was nothing to gain and a lot to lose, her reputation, her business, her life.

In the morning the police would sort out the truth of her innocence. Still, adrenaline caused her heart to race. She rubbed her temples and tried not to think anymore.

A gust of wind circled her. She shivered and folded her arms in front of her. Damn. Her suit jacket was still in the patrol car.

She stood and brushed the sand from the back of her skirt and picked up her high heels and shoulder bag. Time to go home, sleep was doubtful, still at least she’d put up her sore feet.

Leaves crunched somewhere in the shadows of the nearby trees, she squinted into the darkness but didn’t see anyone. Even so, fear gripped her.

She forced her swollen feet back into her pumps and walked quickly up the dimly lit street. The click of her heels echoed in the quiet night air. The desire to flee from an unknown danger increased the speed of her footsteps.

With the exception of a black truck parked at the curb, the street was empty. The pickup’s engine revved. The cab light came on and cast an eerie glow on the driver’s face. He smiled at her.

As she thought about waving to let him know the headlights were off, the vehicle drove straight at her. It jumped the curb, sideswiped her, sending her flying.

With a thud, she landed on the muddy front lawn of a neighboring condominium. The sound of the engine faded as the vehicle disappeared.

She lay motionless on the ground. Cold mud oozed into the fabric of her skirt. A twinge jabbed her and terror banged against her rib cage.

Overriding the sense of shock was her need to get home where she’d be safe. She grabbed the strap of her purse and attempted to stand. Pain shot through her hip and down her leg. She fell back into the mud.

A man dressed in black came out of the darkness and stood over her. Before she could cry out, he bent down and covered her mouth with his huge hand.

"Don't scream. You'll wake the whole neighborhood. I’m not going to hurt you." He helped her stand.

The streetlight lit his face and a lock of coffee brown hair fell over his furrowed brow. Five o'clock shadow covered his jaw and his full lips formed a grim line. Compassion shone in his obsidian eyes. It was incongruous to his hardened expression. He reminded her of someone, but she couldn’t think of a name.

"Your uncle sent me,” he said in a deep voice.

Shattered Rules
Workaholic FBI agent Brick Larson loves his job. He doesn't need personal relationships. He’s been burned too many times. The last thing he wants is to get involved with the younger sister of his ex-fiance. But to defend the United States that’s exactly what he’ll do.
Kelly Shaw secretly loved Brick when she was a teenager and would have trusted him with her life then. But that was years ago. Neither are the same people they used to be. Can she trust him with her current secret?
Anna thanks again for having me.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Welcome Tina Donahue

Great to have you as my guest, Tina. Tell us about yourself. 
In addition to being a hopeless chocoholic, I’m an award-winning, bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, and Kensington. I’m relieved to say that Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised my work (I've been known to get quite giddy when I get an awesome review). Three of my erotic romances (Adored, Lush Velvet Nights, and Deep, Dark, Delicious) were named finalists in the 2011 EPIC competition (yay!). The French review site, Blue Moon reviews, chose my erotic romance Sensual Stranger as their Book of the Year 2010 (erotic category) (double/triple/quadruple yay!!!). The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for Lush Velvet Nights, and two of my titles (The Yearning and Deep, Dark, Delicious) received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition (2011 and 2012) (to say I was relieved/giddy/flabbergasted is an understatement). Take Me Away and Adored both won second place in the NEC RWA contest (different years). I’m featured in the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market (a dream come true). In my pre-novel days, I was the editor of an award–winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company.

Wow! Impressive. Are you a full time writer or do you have a “day job”?
I have a day job, also know in the trade as an EDJ (evil day job). However, I do also write full time (before/after work and on weekends).

Do you have other talents? 
I have a talent for shopping.  Can usually spot a bargain a mile away.

What do you do to promote your work?
A better question might be – what don’t I do to promote my work? I do all that I can. I have a website/blog -
I’m also owner of Sweet n Sexy Divas - - where I showcase my work and that of other authors. I’m one of the resident members at Romance Books 4 Us - I visit other authors’ websites, The Romance Studio, and other locales to promo my new releases. Yes, I’m a promo addict and I’m not ashamed of it.

Tell us about your current series.
Just finished the cover art request for Stolen Desire, Book Four in my Outlawed Realm series for Samhain. It’s due to release March 11, 2014. Don’t have the cover art as yet. But here’s the blurb:

One touch is never enough.
Outlawed Realm, Book 4
Her freedom…her heart…depends on one man. A criminal to his realm.
Abducted from Seattle to E5—a hostile dimension of fire and ice—Paige has little choice except to trust a stranger who’s come to rescue her. A man like none she’s ever met. Potently masculine. His courage and honor remarkable. His past unknown and a shocking surprise.
Zekin was once one of E2’s ruling elite. Sentenced to E5 for his supposed crimes against the realm, Zekin and his men have taken over E5’s prison colony. Risking all, he rescues those brought to this dimension by the guards for their carnal pleasure.
In a stunning underwater world populated by strange creatures and liberated pleasure slaves, Paige experiences a sexual awakening within Zekin’s impassioned embrace. True intimacy neither of them has ever known. Their need becomes unquenchable.
Their future uncertain. From different realms, they must find a way to survive the dangers of E5’s harsh environment, the possibility of the guards’ attack and Paige’s eventual return to Seattle. A journey she will not—cannot—take without him.

Warning: Scorching hot sex and loads of aching tenderness between a drool-worthy hunk who’s determined to do the right thing and a woman who’s not about to give him up.

What inspired your latest book?
Stolen Desire takes place on the 5th dimension of Earth. In my Outlawed Realm series, I've explored the other dimensions, so it was natural that I’d finally get to the 5th one. J I actually created this other world while I was on a business flight to the home office for my EDJ. Most pleasant flight I've ever taken, because I was lost in this new world I was creating, along with the characters that would populate it.

What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? 
Emotions, hands down. Executing deep POV and emotional build is extremely difficult. I have absolutely no trouble with humor in my writing. In fact, my first books were romantic comedies. However, getting the angst the characters feel on the page, or the carnal hunger, their intense desire…wow. Sometimes there just doesn't seem to be enough words to convey what I’m feeling in my heart.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a plotter. I plot out everything fully before I write one word of the story. Most times, my outlines are longer than my novels. Plotting, to me, is like taking a road trip. If I want to get to New York City from Los Angeles, it’s easier if I use a map and a definite route, rather than hopping in my car, just taking off and hoping for the best.

Are you traditionally published, self-published or both?
Traditionally published.

How do you create sexual tension in your romances?
By keeping the characters out of each other’s arms for as long as I can, while also throwing in a lot of direct gazes, unexpected touches and quiet moments where the rest of the world seems to fade away for the hero/heroine. You know, those times when they’re aching to touch each other, share their heat, but something is in the way, forcing them to wait, increasing their passion, their intense desire to be together.

What is your writing routine like?
I write everyday of the year except for Christmas and New Year’s. I get up hours before I’m due in for my EDJ and write. I write after I work my EDJ. I write on the weekends.

What are you reading now?
Vanilla Ride by Joe R. Lansdale. Great book – awesome writer. I tend to read other genres (this one is sort of a crime/suspense), rather than romance. Keeps my writing fresh.

We’d love a blurb and an excerpt from your latest book.
That would be Deep Within Me, Book Two in The Prophecy series for Samhain.
Unrestrained desire…danger without end.
The Prophecy, Book 2
For one agonizing moment, Zeke Neekoma thought his most feared vision had come true. Liz was lifeless in his arms, murdered by her own clan for one traitorous act—loving him. Then her father’s healing touch brought her back.
She hasn't emerged from death unchanged. Now her healing gift leaves her drained, weak. Worse, Zeke is still tortured with visions of a woman covered in blood.
Liz aches for a future with Zeke, to always know the thrill of his body imprisoning hers with mindless pleasure. At her reanimation, she redoubles her determination to use her healing gifts to help his people—except Zeke refuses to allow her to use them.
But with her clan leader set to launch his next attack, Zeke and Jacob have no choice but to try to heal Liz with the same sensual force she used to save them. Yet it may not be enough to avert a merciless plan that will test Zeke’s humanity, risk Liz’s life—and threaten their timeless bond.
Liz could feel Isabel’s glare and had to force herself not to glance over her shoulder at the woman. Once Zeke brought Liz past the last of the crowd, she murmured, “Where are we going?”
“My room.”
As he had during her first time in the stronghold, Zeke led Liz past a series of halls, each of them bullet-ridden now and filthy with blood. Earlier, they’d been filled with children playing games, watching TV. Liz’s stomach rolled. If Carreon’s men had harmed one of those innocents tonight…
At the awful thought, she squeezed Zeke’s hand.
He looked over. “What?”
“Were any of your people harmed?”
“Except for Jacob and Samuel, no.”
Samuel. He’d been guarding the outside door when Kele and Carreon’s men had arrived. One of those lieutenants had shot both of Samuel’s knees, leaving him in agony. Before Liz had left the stronghold, she’d healed him. Not to the extent that he was whole again. That would have taken time she hadn’t had in her determination to see Carreon dead. The last she’d seen of Samuel, he was sagged against one of the vehicles, shouting at her not to drive away.
“Wait,” Liz said.
“Why?” Zeke kept his pace, forcing her to follow.
“I didn't heal Samuel fully. I should—”
“Your father will take care of it.”
Was he joking? “He’s more tired than I am. He’s old, Zeke. I want him to rest, not tend to your men’s injuries when I can do it.”
“Samuel will be fine.”
They’d reached the stairway that led to the stronghold’s second level. Zeke directed Liz up those steps. The first time they’d done this, he’d taken her to his brother’s room where she’d pressed her body against Jacob’s, restoring him to full health. Unlike her father’s power that allowed him to heal the gravest injuries with a mere touch, Liz’s gift wasn’t as strong. When a man was near death, all of her had to touch him in order for her to push enough of her healing gift and life force inside.
It was only when the injury was relatively minor, like her father’s sprained ankle or even Samuel’s bloodied knees, that her touch alone would suffice.
A touch she hadn’t used since leaving Carreon’s stronghold.
When she and Zeke reached the landing, Liz asked, “Why don’t you want me to heal anyone?”
He went in the opposite direction of Jacob’s room, toward the end of the hall and a set of grand double doors. Constructed of a dark wood, possibly mahogany, they bore geometric designs—the same as those on the rugs gracing the walls—and had ornate silver handles. “Did I say that?”
No. But he kept keeping her from doing it. “I can heal Samuel’s knees without crawling all over him, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
Zeke stopped at the double doors and regarded her, his emotions well concealed. “Good to know.”
Was he teasing her…or was he worried about something? Liz recalled his weird questions in the Jeep, his unease as he’d studied her as a physician might, looking for signs of what? Sickness? Physical decline? Death?
She stared at him.
He ignored her and opened one of the doors. “Go on.”
She backed into the room, noting its limestone walls, the same as those in Jacob’s, decorated with similar snake totems in vivid hues. However, this space was three times as large. She regarded the wide bed of a rustic construction, its design matching the nightstands and lamps. What tourists would pay thousands for in order to possess authentic Indian art and craftsmanship.
“What’s going on?” Liz asked, wanting to know what Zeke was thinking. What worried him about her.
He closed the door. Its spring lock clicked faintly. The moment he touched the limestone wall, it glowed as it had in Jacob’s bath and room, the rock a soft golden shade, lending a dreamy, cozy feel to this space.
The setting should have relaxed, then aroused Liz with what was surely coming.
Zeke’s silence precluded that.
More questions poured from her. “Why won’t you let me heal anyone? In the Jeep, why did you ask if I’d fallen asleep? Wait.” She interrupted herself even though he hadn't said anything. Liz shook her head. “You said I’d passed out. Why? And why did my father ask how I was feel—”
He stopped her with his kisses on each corner of her mouth, surprisingly tender and gentle, his arms wrapped protectively around her.
Unable to resist, Liz twined her arms around his neck and sagged into him. “Zeke—”
“No more questions,” he said with a sigh, his mouth on her ear, his body pressed close. “Not now. Just hold me. Please.”
His weary plea did more than any command. The love Liz heard in those few words touched her soul. Drawing him as close as she could, she nestled her face against his neck and suckled his skin.

Thanks for being here today, Tina.

*One commenter will receive one of Tina's backlist ebooks from this list:
Adored – RWA award-winning; EPIC 2011 Finalist; 4 Stars RT
Deep, Dark, Delicious – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Holt Medallion Award of Merit
Lush Velvet Nights – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Golden Nib Award
In His Arms – SIX 5 Star Reviews; 4 Stars RT
Sensual Stranger – 2010 Book of the Year (erotic); 4 Stars RT
The Yearning – Top Ten Bestseller
Take Me Away – #1 Pick, Miz Love Loves Books
Unending Desire – Best Book Rating LASR
SiNN – Nominated for Book of the Week LASR
Sinfully Wicked – Magnificent – Romancing the Book
Claiming Magique – Top Pick – NOR
Illicit Desire – Four Stars Romantic Times
Come Fill Me – Five Stars – Guilty Pleasures

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Welcome Pat Amsden

I am very pleased to welcome Pat to my blog. Not only is she a fellow member of my RWA chapter, she's also a good friend, and former critique partner.

Hi, Anna. Great to be here.

I'm a writer of romance and mystery who lives on the West Coast of Canada. I'm older than I care to admit and live with my son who's currently working on a two year college program in computers. Thank goodness because while I use computers constantly, both in my day job and for writing, I'm not a high tech person!

In my day job I work at our local hospital as a clerk. Many would think a position as clerk boring but on my 'Friday' this week I was in the middle of asking someone their address and accident details when a helicopter landed with a trauma patient, the printer wasn't printing where it was supposed to and someone interrupted to say he was having chest pain, could someone please help him. We did! The truth is I work with a team of health professionals who are highly trained, and do, on a regular basis, save lives. I'm lucky to be a part of it.

Currently I have two books out on Amazon. One is a romantic suspense with a twist of humor and is set in Vegas. The other is a cozy mystery set in Victoria, Canada with a heroine who is the owner of a chocolate shop and catering business. When someone dies holding one of her chocolates she has to solve the mystery.

Both have been well received going to the top 100 in their categories multiple times. Chocolate Worth Dying For has been in the top 100 for cozy mysteries and culinary cozies more often than out of it when I check. I'll admit that's been fairly often!

I'm working hard on a Christmas chocolate mystery and planning to do another romantic suspense with my Lost In Vegas characters. But releasing the first book has given me invaluable feed-back from customers who like my book. Particularly JT, the hero! He'll be back along with Kate. In fact I'm thinking of making them the 'Hart to Hart' of our generation solving crimes while living a glamorous live in Las Vegas and having an ongoing romance with each other!

I’d love to say I have a steady routine and stick to it. But the truth is I work a job that has shifts that start at six in the morning for the earliest while the latest starts at eleven in the evening and ends at seven in the morning. It’s also a department that goes twenty-four seven so Monday to Friday just doesn't exist in my world. I aim for an average of five hundred words a day but I’ll admit I don’t always reach it.

And then there’s the wonderful world of marketing. I’d love to think I could just put my book out there and have hundreds and thousands of avid fans just waiting to devour it. Such is not the case. I've arranged book blasts and one of my son's friends did a book trailer for Lost In Vegas. I thought it was great and I’m sure all of this has helped. I've also done Free Par-tay which for me has resulted in a lot of people downloading my books and trying them out. They don’t all love them but a lot do and I think something that gets books into readers’ hands is the best type of publicity there is.

I love five star reviews but not everyone is going to love your work. I've had reviews saying ‘why would a chocolate shop owner try to solve a murder.’ The person made good points and truthfully I don’t think she’s going to enjoy culinary cozies. Fortunately other people do.

I've also made mistakes. I had Lost In Vegas beta read and proofed as well as doing it myself. Critique partners gave feedback and writing instructors gave advice. Then when it was put up something happened in the formatting and from Chapter Five on it was showing commas every time there was an apostrophe. Down it came and changes were made but why it did that I don’t know. I changed a character’s name and missed it when it went through edits. Readers didn't. I took it down and fixed it quickly. In a fifty thousand word manuscript there were exactly three instances. Would it bother me? Yes. Did I change it? Yes.

Will I ever make another mistake? I’d almost guarantee it. It’s part of being human. It sometimes makes one long to be traditionally published with a huge marketing department behind you and large advances. It should be noted, however, that most of these books contains mistakes as well if you look for them. And even traditionally published authors are expected to maintain a web presence and market themselves these days.

There are good parts to that. There’s more contact and feedback than ever before between author and reader. As a writer having the opportunity to connect with readers who have read your work is priceless. Unfortunately there’s only so much time in the day and finding time to do it all can be – a challenge.

I love telling stories. Whether as an indie or traditionally published I consider myself fortunate to be part of this world.

Thanks for being my guest, Pat.
Pat's website
That didn't mean she didn't notice city counselor, Keith, with his seeing eye dog, Murray, or Nikki Benshaw, columnist for the local gossip paper. Jewellery designer Sanje Gupte was posing for a picture, when photographer Will Reimer, got the shot of a life-time.
At that precise moment, developer, Ron Vandemeer, crashed through the upper balcony of an Olde Towne storefront onto the cobble stoned street in front of her, clutching his throat with one hand while foaming at the mouth. The other hand had a half-eaten chocolate. One of hers!
She let go of Tanya who reeled out of the way saying, “He doesn't look so good,” while Maxine loosened his shirt in a desperate attempt to make him feel better. But even as 911 was called and Dr. Matthews knelt down beside her, to help in any way he could, it was all too obvious Ron Vandemeer was on his last legs. Within minutes he was dead.
Watching as officers clad in white suits complete with white head gear that completely covered their head to avoid any possible contamination and clear plastic masks, inspired fear in the party guests who’d been told to remain in the small waiting area just before Olde Towne. They murmured amongst themselves.
Maxine stood to one side her arms crossed as her fingers dug into them shivering in horror at what had just happened. She watched as Ron’s body was put into a body bag and zipped up, the ambulance drivers wheeling it out on the stretcher.
Tracey Vandemeer’s high pitched wail filled the building and tore at her soul. A family friend led her to a side-room with the help of a police officer as the wails turned into sobbing. How could an evening that had started with such promise have gone so terribly wrong?
Party guests pointed in Maxine’s direction. People she’d grown up with, known her entire life, even if only by sight, now pointed at her and whispered. She heard the words poison and murder. It wasn't possible. She knew that.
She felt as if she was shrinking down, her heart collapsing in on itself as she watched all the food she’d made bagged up and taken away. As police officers dressed in HazMat suits carried out all her cooking supplies.
Heath joined her. “He probably died of a heart attack. Or maybe a brain aneurysm,” he said, giving her a weak smile. Six feet two, with spiked brown hair and a tattoo on his arm, he was fresh out of cooking school, full of enthusiasm and a zest for life.
She gave him a stricken look. “That’s still horrible.”
He sighed, looking her straight in the eyes. “You didn't cause this. There was nothing you could have done to prevent it.”
“I know,” she whispered, a tear sliding down her cheek. “But I can’t help feeling awful about…about,” she gestured towards Olde Towne, to all the party guests, “this!”
Before she had a chance to say anything more her sometimes boyfriend , detective Patrick Shannon from Victoria PD arrived with his partner.
“I know you’re not responsible for this,” he said, looking at her with those blue, blue eyes that had once so charmed her. “But we have to cover all our bases, dot all our T’s. We’re questioning everyone.”
“I understand,” she said bravely. She just wished it didn't feel as the eyes of everyone in the room followed her as he led her into a small room to interview her.
“We’ll be testing the chocolates and wine,” he said. “No choice really. And we've advised everyone that if they have any concerns about their health they need to get it checked out.”
She gave a small cry.
“It’s just precautionary,” he said, clearly uncomfortable. “I mean I know you would never,” His words were cut off as she gave a strangled cry.
“You know I wouldn't.” Just the thought she might have contributed in any way to the death of another made her sick to her stomach. She looked at him in horror.
He sighed. “Is there anything you did differently tonight? Did you have anything out on the counter while you were making the chocolates, something that might have…”
“You know I wouldn't be that careless,” she said angrily."My kitchen and equipment are spotless. And we all follow Food Safe precautions!”
“We have to examine all the possibilities,” he said evenly.
“I know,” she said brokenly.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Jane Toombs Is My Guest

Please welcome Jane Toombs. Tell us about yourself, Jane.
I've been a writer for forty years, ever since my first gothic, Tule Witch, was bought by Avon in 1973. During that time I raised five children, divorced my first husband, had my second husband die of malignant leukemia and met up with an old classmate who became my Significant Other. Our meeting was directly due to a book I'd written that he'd bought and read, found out where I lived and called me.
My education includes graduation from high school, one year of college (Mich. State). Then three years of being a Cadet Nurse to get my R.N. I am now my S.O.'s caretaker because he developed Parkinson's this year.

You've had your share of triumphs and tragedies, Jane. Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?
Yes, I am an R.N and worked off and on for many years.

How did you get started writing?
When I was seven, I wanted to use my father's big old L.C. Smith typewriter sat on his desk--because he was a nonfiction writer. He said if I promised to write him a story on it, he'd teach me to use it. So I agreed and he taught me how to use the typewriter. He did gently critique every one of my little stories, showing me ways they could be better.

What a lovely beginning. What genres do you write in and why?
It's easier to say that I've never written either men's action or erotica, because I've written in all the rest. My favorite is paranormal due to E.A. Poe's early influence in my life.

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
I've never counted them all, but if you include novellas as well as novels, I must be up to around one hundred. Probably Ladies Of The Lakes is my favorite, since it brought me Elmer as my S.O.

Wow! You're prolific!Tell us about your current series.
I have several series going.
The Underground Series features another world connected to ours and to other worlds by "gates," It's possible to fall through one and wind up there. I've finished two—Unwise and Unwanted and am working on the third, Uncanny.
Dangerous Darkness Series, the stories of four Special Ops once then return to civilian life. The first three have seen the fourth ripped apart by bullets from an AK47 and are sure he's dead.
Shadow On The Floor
Watcher at The Door
Terror From Before
Stranger On The Shore

I've finished the first three and they've been published. I'm writing Stranger On the Shore, the story of a man who should be dead.
Dagan House Trilogy (Ghosts)
Taken In is finished and been published
Where's There's Smoke and Ghost Hunt are not done yet

What is your next project and when will it be released?
My next project is scanning Blue Glory, a rights-back book of mine and sending it to Books We Love, Ltd. to put up as an ebook.

Exciting. You sound like a very organized person. What is your typical day like?
First I get Elmer up and into his wheel chair. If it's a shower day we do that. He essentially can shower himself once he's in the shower chair in the handicapped shower. Then breakfast--he makes his own. He can also transfer out of the W/C onto the toilet and back--also in and out of the lounge chair. I feed the cat, look at email and answer what needs to be. Do any errands like going to the store, P.O. the pharmacy, etc. If no errands, I tend to any correspondence that needs to be done. Then I make dinner--we eat our main meal at noon. I either read or do some writing after we eat. At five we have our cocktail hour. (Tonic or juice, no vodka anymore, with a light snack). Then supper, which is always some kind of cereal and fruit. He watches TV in the evening, I write or read.

Do you self-publish?
Never. I am no techie. It took me long enough to learn how to scan my old rights-back books into the computer. Besides, BWL gives me a beautiful cover and also edits.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I wrote my first two books (gothics)by simply sitting down and writing them. But my agent couldn't sell my third book. This was the heyday of gothics and he called to tell me a packager was doing a Zodiac Series of gothics and needed a writer to do Sagittarius. All I had to do was send him three chapters and a synopsis. I asked what he meant by a synopsis. He told me. So I gave it a try. With the synopsis , I noticed how easy it was to write the chapters. Well, when the packager went to contract on the partial, I was stunned. I didn't have to write an entire book to get a contract for it? So then I always started out by writing a synopsis and found the books were much easier to write, even if I departed from the synopsis which I usually did. Tried finally to write a synopsis for that third book and discovered why it never sold—I'd wandered all over the place. So I wrote a synopsis for it and followed it, which cut out a bunch of stuff. The book sold. I never wrote another book without one. But, as I said, I don't stick slavishly to the synopsis. Does that make me a plotter? I really don't think so, because I've talked to plotters and they work differently. I think I'm a half and half hybrid.

Do you belong to a writing organisation?
I still belong to RWA, and to several other writing groups online, but no longer am able to go to conferences. Conferences are great—your friends know editors and so you meet them, which is always a plus. Plus you make new writer friends and make other contacts, which always is a help to a writer. I miss that. I'm now so old that RWA was formed after I sold my first book, but before it came out.

Where can readers find your print and Ebooks?
All of them are on my website, including the ebooks: or just and the ebooks are also on Amazon and all the other usual places,