Wednesday 27 November 2013

Help Choose a Book Title

Please welcome my friend and fellow RWA chapter member, Mimi Barbour. I owe Mimi a debt of gratitude for mentoring and encouraging me when I first started to write seriously.

Thanks so much for having me as your guest today Anna. It’s lovely to visit with someone who has the same goals and dreams.

I thought I’d share with you what’s happening in my life right now. I've just released “She’s Not You” which is this year’s Christmas story. Publishing a new book is always an exciting time for an author. For me, it’s a feeling of accomplishment that I love. I’ll admit it gives me a sweet rush that’s become addictive.

Is it the knowledge that I've finished something I started that’s so pleasurable? Heck - I don’t know. Could it be the story that’s existed in my head now has a happy ending?
At least now I can move on. Make room for the other characters who've been driving me batty, impatiently waiting on the sidelines and madly waving at me from time to time.
She’s Not You came to me in a the craziest way. Driving home from the nearest city one day, I listened to the radio and Elvis’s old song started to play. Since it was one of my favorites, the words rang in my head and wouldn't turn off.
I’m serious… It would not turn off!
I’m talking day after day I found myself singing the chorus until I was driven mad enough to go and look up the lyrics. When I read them, a thought popped into my head that those words told a sad yet beautiful story and POOF!! There went the next two months of my life.
Did I imagine that I could write one book, heck no. I’m now committed to writing a series - all based on the words to the King’s old recordings. His music brought people into the Rock and Roll age and gave hours of listening entertainment to millions of fans.
Myself, I crushed on the singer so his songs have always ranked as many of my old favorites. Therefore, bringing them to life in a book is a labor of love.
Since I haven’t chosen which song to use for the next book yet, I intend to set up a contest to let the readers help make that decision. The information for this contest will be posted on my website and Facebook page. So… if you’d like to be involved, please do come and either sign up for my newsletter on my website or follow me on Facebook. Soon, I will be writing a post and sending everyone linked with me the simple rules.

**The winner will not only choose the title by picking his/ her favorite song of Elvis’s, but the book will be dedicated to that person also.

Twitter: @MimiBarbour

Author of The Vicarage Bench Series, Angels with Attitude Series, and the Vegas Series, Mimi lives on the East coast of Vancouver Island and writes her paranormal romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. “If I can steal a booklover’s attention away from their every-day grind, absorb them into a fantasy love story, and make them care about the ending, then I've done my job.”

Sunday 24 November 2013

Ask For More

In this season of thanks for our abundance, we have plenty to be thankful for. This week in the homes of our American friends, pies will cool on racks and kitchens will be filled with the fragrances and aromas of anticipation.
Hearts will be glad as families reunite and share the celebration together. It’s not often we have the chance to enjoy complete contentment.
My husband and I have just undergone our annual physical checkups and are lucky to be hale and healthy. For that I am truly thankful. Declining health is a difficult taskmaster. In the developed world most of us have access to excellent medical care, but we cannot purchase good health.
So should we be content with what we have? Is it greedy to ask for more?
Hard on the heels of Thanksgiving comes the season of razzamatazz and for some a feeling of lack. There never seems to be enough money for the things we want for ourselves and our family members and friends.
Two years ago, I asked for more, even though I had plenty. I asked for the blessing of creative expression as I embarked on a new career as a writer. 
You know what they say. Ask and ye shall receive.
Spirit listened and I did receive. This week I am extremely thankful to have reached a milestone of 40,000 books sold in the last two years. 
Readers enjoy my books—exactly what I asked for.
In the coming weeks we can ask for our credit and debit cards to go through okay, or we can ask for blessings like good physical and mental health, energy, vitality, creativity. If you don’t get it, at least you tried!

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Welcome Kate Hill

Hello Kate. Tell us about yourself.
I’m a forty-something vegetarian New Englander who loves to read, write, work out and watch horror and action movies.
I love connecting with readers, so I visit my publishers’ yahoo/chat groups as often as I can. Also I enjoy hosting special events at my site, such as my annual Halloween page. I have a blog, yahoo group and a website that’s regularly updated. I’m also on Twitter.
My latest series is Combustion, which is published by Changeling Press. It’s erotic science fiction that focuses on a group of aliens who are temporarily stranded on Earth. Trouble in Paradise is my first independently published story. It’s a traditional romantic adventure.
I wanted to write a traditional romance with a heroine who was a little unconventional for her time. Also I wanted to work on a story with a bit more of a buildup to the hero and heroine getting into bed than what I generally write for my current publishers.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, Kate?  
I guess I’m a bit of both, although I’m more of a plotter. Before I start writing, I like to know my characters pretty well and I also need to have a loose outline so I know where the story is going.

Are you traditionally published, self-published or both? 
Both. I write regularly for Changeling Press and I’ve also been published by Ellora’s Cave and New Concepts Publishing. They’ve been fantastic to work with. Trouble in Paradise is my first self-published book. I didn’t feel it would fit well with any of my publishers, so instead of submitting it I decided to publish it independently. Right now I’m revising a previously published story to re-release independently. It will probably be out toward the end of this year or early next year.
I’ve only had one book self-published so far, but I found it to be a lot of work and pretty stressful. With a publisher, you have a lot of help. You’re supplied with editors and cover art. The publisher oversees distribution of the book. Self-published authors are in charge of everything and it takes a lot of time and effort, but it has a tradeoff. You get to see the kind of story you want to write done exactly how you want it, from cover art to characterization. It took over a year of revisions before I felt Trouble in Paradise was in shape to be published.

How do you create sexual tension in your romances? For me it depends on the characters. For some, lust-at-first-sight works. Others take more time before they get together. In Trouble in Paradise, when Grace and RC first meet, she’s completely disgusted with him and with good reason. Once he cleans up his act, she finds him hard to resist.

Do you have any rejection stories to share? Tons!! Rejection just goes with the territory. One that stands out in my mind is a rejection letter that told me my character who was a college student acted too much like a college student. I’m still trying to figure that one out! I eventually sold the story, but I’m still amused by that particular criticism.

What is your writing routine like? I set aside a certain amount of time each day for writing, editing and promo. Since I love keeping calendars and charts, I use them to keep track of my time and drive my family crazy leaving them all over the house.

What are you reading now? Right now I’m reading Making Waves by Cathryn Fox and Jaci Burton.

We’d love a blurb and an excerpt from your latest book.

Trouble in Paradise by Kate Hill (Romantic Suspense) Available at
All Romance Ebooks
Barnes & Noble

Before cell phones and reality TV, when women had big hair and men were all about action and adventure, a girl walks into a bar searching for a hero. She finds R. C. Benson, a soldier turned grave robber wallowing in past sins. With a marriage of convenience, a pet shark and a shady butler, Grace and R. C. have their work cut out for them, but that gives them the perfect chance to fall in love.

“That was some night.” Grace slipped off her shoes once she and R. C. returned to their hotel room. “I can’t wait to get to bed.”
He rubbed his hands together. “Now you’re talking.”
Grace shot him a serious look and pointed in his face. “Remember this is not for real. If you think I’m having sex with you, you’re crazy.”
“Of course I’m crazy. I’ve gone along with this ridiculous idea of yours, haven’t I?”
“I mean it, Benson. You come near me and I’ll castrate you.”
He chuckled and winced at the same time. “Oh and you’d try, too.”
“You can count on it.”
“Well you can’t blame me for trying.” He hung his jacket next to the others in the closet and removed his tie. He unbuttoned his shirt, revealing the lean, hair-dusted chest she longed to caress.
“I’m changing in the bathroom,” she said.
“You like the right side of the bed or the left?”
She glanced over her shoulder, one hand on the bathroom door. “I said I’m not sleeping with you.”
“No. You said you’re not having sex with me. If you think I’m going to sleep on the floor, you’re the one who’s nuts.”
“Fine. I’ll sleep on the floor, seeing how you’re such a gentleman.”
“The bed is king size. You don’t even have to touch me.”
“Damn right about that.”
“Look.” He piled pillows down the center of the bed. “How’s that?”
She narrowed her eyes. The thought of sleeping on the floor wasn't appealing.
“When we get to the island, we’re going to have to share everything, so we might as well start now.”

Kate is giving away a pdf copy of her book to one lucky commenter.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

6 Books for 99 cents!

I have joined forces with five other authors in publishing an anthology of romance stories that is now on sale for a limited time for only 99 cents. See details at the end of the blog.
One of my fellow anthologists is Mona Risk. She is my guest today talking about the book she contributed to the set, Neighbors and More.
Welcome, Mona.

Anna, thank you for inviting me to your beautiful blog and allowing me to present my romance novel, NEIGHBORS AND MORE, that is one of the ebooks bundled in THE ULTIMATE ROMANCE box set.

Where did the inspiration for this book come from? The dictionary defines neighbor as someone who lives near or stands next to another. In my book, the neighbor is any one of the people living in the four-hundred condos of the Blue Waves High Rise on the beach.

Ten years ago I moved from a house to an apartment in a multi-unit building. Downsizing and getting rid of numerous souvenirs was painful enough. Little did I know that living next to so many neighbors would involve losing part of the freedom I took for granted when I dwelt in a house.

My neighbors consist mainly of retirees who live all year round in their condos—and keep a pair of binoculars within reach to peek into their neighbors’ places, the pool area, or the beach terrace. In addition, you can count several snowbird couples who fly to Florida in winter, a few young working white collars who rent for a year or two to enjoy the proximity of the beach, and two or three families with a child. Our high rise is quite cosmopolitan, with South American, Russian, Canadian, French, Swedish, Greek condo owners,... A real Tower of Babel.

Soon enough I realized that the gorgeous and serene scenery surrounding us could hide many potential tempests. And I am not talking of the hurricanes or tropical storms only. Passions can simmer and sizzle when you live too close for comfort.

The real examples following astounded me and became inspiration. The woman on the fifth floor broke a stormy affair with her lover from the tenth; the old widower on the twentieth floor married the young divorcee from the third floor, and died three months later. The neighbor on the seventh floor got drunk and drowned in the hot spa. A lady from the tenth floor disappeared for several days and was found floating on the shore five miles away.

As you can see, life was not boring in a high rise. Actually it was too eventful for my taste. I changed building, and discovered a new set of stories. That is when I decided I absolutely had to write a romantic suspense set in a similar high rise.

Neighbors and More is a contemporary romance novel with elements of suspense and humor.
In the Blue Waves High Rise where so many neighbors live too close for comfort, Dante, the handsome Sicilian lawyer, and Alexa, the wealthy young divorcée, try to hide their idyllic romance. When a neighbor drowns in the Jacuzzi, life will forever change in the Blue Waves.

Wandering to the wall-to-wall bay window, Alexa glanced at the children playing in the pool, the sunbathers lounging on the beach, and the magnificent view of myriad boats gliding on the ocean, on a glorious April afternoon. Too numb to be excited by sceneries she’d always favored, she locked her heart against sentimental regrets and strode to her bedroom where she’d already packed two suitcases.

Get a grip, girl. She needed space to be herself and breathe freely. She’d leave first thing tomorrow, while her nosy neighbors still slept. Would they call her a quitter and other malicious names as they’d called her mother? Maybe the beautiful Annabelle had gone through the same hell before running away with her lover.

Unable to stay a moment longer in her apartment, Alexa slipped on a bikini covered with shorts and a see-through top, ready to go for a last swim and a farewell walk on the beach. As she opened her door, she was caught in a bear hug and pushed back into her condo.

“Oh my God.” Alexa squealed. Her breath jammed in her throat as Dante Cantari kicked her apartment door closed behind them and squeezed her against his chest. “Dante…” A masculine scent mixed with a whiff of lemon enveloped her.

“Cara mia, you are even more beautiful than when I left. Bella... Bellissima.” The Italian hunk in swimming shorts and tank top held her at arm’s length, and offered her a wide grin that brightened her living room more than a noon sun.

Her gaze roamed over his raven black hair, curly and thick, and in need of a cut, a strand falling over his sapphire blue eyes. “I thought you weren’t coming back. I thought you moved somewhere else without telling me. I thought...” Oh dear, she was babbling nonsense. Still unable to believe he was here, holding her, she blinked, glad she hadn’t left in the morning.

“Oh Alexa, I’d never do such a thing. You’re more important to me than you think.”

What do you know? Her wish had come true after all. Right away. She almost giggled. “When did you get back from Sicily?” To make sure she wasn't dreaming, she stroked his chiseled jaw with her fingertips.

Mona's Bio:
From chemistry in the lab to chemistry between people.
To be honest, I never thought that hazardous waste analysis would lead me to write novels, but I grew up surrounded by books, thanks to my father who was a professor and a published author. When my Ph.D. and work in chemistry landed me contracts to refurbish laboratories abroad, I traveled to more than fifty countries on business or vacation. To relax from my hectic schedule, I avidly read romance stories and mentally plotted my own novels. Eventually I left a scientific career to share with readers the many stories brewing in my head.

I write romantic suspense, medical romance, contemporary romances, and paranormal fantasy. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, my stories are set in the fascinating places I visited, from exotic Belarus, and historical France, to the beaches of Greece, the monuments of Egypt and the mysterious Islands of Seychelles--or more simply in Ohio, Florida, Boston and Washington, DC.

My books have garnered: Top Picks; Outstanding Read; Sweetheart of the Week; Best Book of the Week at various reviewers, and won several awards, from Best Contemporary Romance of the Year at READERS FAVORITE with two Gold Medals, to EPPIE award finalist and Best Romance Novel of the Year at Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. More recently, my ebooks landed on the Amazon bestseller list for contemporary romance and medical romance and my name was posted in the list of The 100 most Popular Authors in Romance for several months.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. Meet the spirited heroines and the alpha heroes who share irresistible chemistry in stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat.

Thanks for being here, Mona.

THANK YOU for the opportunity to feature my book on your blog. Click here for the Box Set.

Monday 11 November 2013


I think about warriors a lot these days. It goes with the territory of being a writer of medieval romance. In the days of William the Conqueror, Henry Beauclerc and the Plantagenets, men had to be warriors, prepared to defend what was theirs.
I find myself driven to write the stories of these heroic men, who fought in horrendous battles - like my hero Ram de Montbryce, a hero of Hastings, in CONQUERING PASSION.
I love reading about them too. Who can forget the commanding Simon de Montfort in Virginia Henley's THE DRAGON AND THE JEWEL.

And I fell in love with Simon de Beresford, champion of King Stephen, in Julie Andresen's SIMON'S LADY.

Don't misunderstand. I LOVE a good Regency romance, and I too can swoon readily over Loretta Chase's Lord Dain, and Anne Stuart's Adrian Rohan (ar any of the Rohan's for that matter!) But give me a warrior over a rogue or a roue any day! 
It's a wonder England survived the Regency at all as a nation, with so many dissolute noblemen!

One reviewer has remarked that it was unacceptable and 'unheroic' for my 11th century Norman hero, Ram, to have a brief sexual liaison with a Saxon widow while he was betrothed to my heroine. She missed the point of the circumstances of post traumatic stress after the battle of Hastings! Seems the roguish Earls of the Regency cannot be heroes unless they've slept their way to the pages of a best seller!

But I digress! Back to the reason for this post. November 11th is REMEMBRANCE DAY here in Canada, and I'm thinking especially of my late father, a man who fought on the beaches of Normandy, almost 900 years after my hero Ram left there to fight for his Conqueror.

My William wasn't really a 'warrior', but he spent six years in the British Army. It changed his life...and mine. He often joked it made a man of him. News for you dad - you were already a man, a defender throughout your life of all you held dear. I've dedicated one of my novels to my dad. The dedication reads,

"For my father, William.
A Lancashire lad through and through, honest, loyal and true."

Miss you dad.

Here is a link to a poignant video to honour the fallen. Willie McBride by Celtic Thunder.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

MJ Flournoy is my guest

Welcome MJ Flournoy.
Good to be here, Anna.
I live in Georgia with my husband and one neurotic cat. I love reading romance novels, my love of writing grew organically from that love. It was the next logical step for me to move from reading romance to writing romance.  In my day job I teach middle school. I have been a special education teacher for twenty years. I currently co-teach language arts and math. Keeping up with thirteen year olds keeps me young.

I wish I could draw. I can’t, but I do admire those who can. One of these days I’m going to give watercolors a try. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

To promote my work I use Facebook, I have a blog where I feature excerpts and offer PDF copies as prizes. One lucky commenter today can win a pdf of A Matter of Trust. I use Twitter and I blog with other authors.

My current series is the NVC Series of which A Matter of Trust is the first book. NVC, New Ventures Consulting is a think-tank/covert ops group that fixes things. NVC’s operative have special abilities.

A Matter of Trust was one of those stories that came from real life. I saw a news story about a woman who help rescue a kidnapped child because she sensed something was off about the child’s situation. That story sparked my “what if” response and A Matter of Trust was born.

When a teacher with psychic abilities is framed for kidnapping she has to team up with an Ex-Navy SEAL with trust issues to save the child.

Writing conflict is the hardest for me, because I tend to make it too complicated! Then it takes me forever to figure out how to unpaint my way out of that corner. Guess that’s why I want to be an artist. I am definitely a pantser. I try not to do a detailed outline or synopsis before I write the story because I lose my enthusiasm once I know what is going to happen.

I am traditionally published. My publisher is Renaissance Ebooks, but I think the time is ripe for self publishing. I am seriously considering self-publishing in the near future.

I like to make my characters hyper-aware of their counterpart. Getting into the character's head using deep point of view helps to build the sexual tension. Allowing the reader to experience those thoughts and feelings make it a shared experience for the reader.

I have the best critique partner in the world. We work online a lot, but during the summer months we actually drive to meet and critique. My CP rescued me from the black hole of not writing and pulled me screaming back into the sunshine and I've been basking in it ever since! I’m answering these questions and this is due yesterday. I am a card carrying procrastinator, but my CP has me on the 12 step plan!

I have no rejection stories to share. Rejection depresses me, so I try to avoid discussing it. Just let’s say it’s been a long hard road.

My writing goes in fits and starts. Late nights, weekends and holidays are the most productive times for me. When I am blocked, I pout. Ask my CP, she’ll tell you. Once I quit pouting, the words flow.

I’m currently reading Donnell Bell’s Deadly Recall and writing this is keeping me away from it. That and trying to do NaNoWriMo.

A Matter of Trust is a romantic suspense with paranormal elements. I enjoyed writing this book because as they say, “it was ripped from the headlines.” The idea came after seeing a report of a woman who intervened and called the police when she saw a child she thought had been kidnapped. The woman literally saved a child’s life.
My character, Jolie is a teacher with psychic abilities. Using those abilities cost her dearly, but when a child is kidnapped, she has to team up with hot, sexy hero Mac Carlson to rescue the child. Mac is an ex-Navy SEAL and a loner. Can they learn to trust each other and work together to save the little girl?

Excerpt: (Note-Maniac speaks in Italics)

This is so not good, wake up, Mary Poppins, come on, we’re in deep birdie do-do here.

Jolie’s entire body seared with fire from the inside out. Every muscle, every tendon screamed in pain. She tried to move. She could barely breathe. Her throat refused to cooperate with her order to scream. For a moment she thought herself blind as well as immobile, but the soft texture of cloth against her cheek told her that whatever had been put over her head remained. Slowly her wits returned, if not control of her body. She remembered opening the door and stepping into darkness. Then? Nothing.

No, that’s not right. They drugged us. Didn't you feel that needle? Hurt like hell. Probably still does, but we can’t feel it with the effect of whatever the hell he gave us.

Jolie managed a groan deep in her throat. Or maybe just in her mind. My arm, my pain, not yours, she admonished the Maniac.

Not the time to quibble. I suppose I could go and leave you alone.

Don’t you dare. It would be just like you to leave me at a time like this. Why didn't you warn me? You can feel when a child is in danger, but can’t tell when I’m about to be abducted? What kind of guardian angel are you anyway?

Never claimed to be an angel. Besides, you know it doesn't work that way. We can’t help ourselves. Only others.

Well, if you ask me, it’s a stupid rule.

Not my rule.

Where are we? Jolie tried to move and found her limbs unresponsive.

Haven’t got the foggiest. Can’t see a damn thing with this bag over your head. The Maniac snickered at her little joke.

Now is so not the time to be funny.

Do something.

I can’t move, I've tried.

Crap, whatever he used still hasn't worn off.

Jolie’s attention caught on that one word. He? She willed her body to move but nothing happened.

Why don’t you do something? Jolie couldn’t feel her arms, much less move them. Why do I have to do it all?

Quiet, someone’s coming. Don’t let him know we’re awake.

Like I could. Panic surged within her when someone or something moved nearby. A subtle shift here, a sound there. Chills tingled down her spine. How many were there? What did they want with her? What were they going to do with her, do to her?

Fear choked her. Perspiration pooled in certain areas of her body. Armpits, upper lip, valley between her breasts, all damp. The scent of fear filled her nostrils. Her fear. Thick tangible, choking, debilitating fear. It ran through her veins like poison. Somewhere deep in her chest a small child-like whimper began, built pressure and forced its way between her clenched lips.

She would not be a wimp. She would not.

We’re not in any immediate danger, I would sense if evil were lurking.

Now you’re a freaking evil barometer. Jolie drew strength from the calmness of the Maniac’s voice.

Well, duh? How else do you think I know these things?

Well, why didn't you… Jolie stilled her thoughts. Never mind, listen they’re coming closer.

Slowly the paralysis relaxed. Jolie tried and found she could move her fingers. Maybe even her arms. She held her body tense, waiting, hoping for a chance. A chance to do what? She was a teacher, not a pugilist. Teachers weren't even allowed to paddle kids these days.

I am so screwed. Jolie realized she could move, but had no idea what to do with that new ability. Should have taken some sort of self-defense class instead of doubling up on reading instructions, Jolie grumbled. Slowly she moved her foot, testing for bindings. She could move her feet, her hands, and even lift her head, if she moved slowly. Apparently her abductors were so confident in the drug used to render her helpless they felt no need to bind her. Their mistake, she hoped.

Okay, we can use this to our advantage. Try moving an arm, see if you can push the damn cloth away from our eyes.

Biting back a retort at the Maniac’s order, Jolie slowly moved her arm, her fingers feeling for the edge of the cloth covering her face. By cautious inches, she pushed the material away from her face.


Total darkness greeted her. Jolie groaned. So much for that.

She moved her hand back to her side, letting her fingers slide over the surface where she lay. It felt like silk, no, satin. Her hand fanned out, moving over the smooth, cool surface. When the fog gradually cleared from her befuddled brain, she took in more details. Softness beneath her. Satin smoothness, soft like a mattress. Jolie’s breath caught in her throat when she and the Maniac reached the same conclusion at the same time.

Not good. We’re in someone’s bed.

Total darkness surrounded her and yet she could feel someone watching her. Her senses were in hyper drive. Warning tingles ran along her spine. Someone was definitely nearby, watching her.

He’s here.


Reminder that MJ is giving away a free PDF of A Matter of Trust. We need your email if you want to win.

Thanks for being my guest, MJ.

Saturday 2 November 2013

Good for the Soul

On this All Souls Day I find myself reflecting on what’s good for my soul. All Souls is a solemn day set aside since the Middle Ages for beloveds who no longer laugh, cry, live. But it's also an opportunity to examine how we care for our own souls.
Artists and theologians through the ages have tried to define the essence of soul. In Care of the Soul, psychotherapist Thomas Moore tells us it's caring for everyday details that makes our soul feel welcome. "Tending the things around us and becoming sensitive to the importance of home, daily schedule, and maybe even the clothes we wear are ways of caring for the soul."

For me I think it’s the thing that sends a satisfied thrill through me when it’s pleased. This morning, for example, I got a five star review on Amazon for one of my books. Definitely good for a writer’s soul, especially when it’s a book that’s a departure from what I normally write.

Soul can be fickle. Sometimes a great cup of coffee soothes my soul; other times it could care less about coffee, good or otherwise.

Talking to my grandsons on Skype is good for my soul, except when they insist on putting their noses right up to the camera and distorting their faces.

Hosting a successful dinner party is soul-pleasing, especially when it’s over!

Can you share what’s good for your soul? I’ll be interested in your comments.