Wizards with Words: Tera Shanley and Love In the Time of the Dead

bigstock-magic-book-9719930It’s time for Wizards with Words! Today I’m happy to welcome back my bubbly Lyrical Press sister, Tera Shanley. I recently did a cover reveal for her Omnific zombie romance,  LOVE IN THE TIME OF THE DEAD. I hope you’ll sit back and join us as I toss a series of questions at this perpetually upbeat author who always brings a smile to my face. :)

It’s great to have you here Tera. Let’s start with the basics. Tell us a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.

Righty, all about me. My name is Tera Shanley, but I’m more often called by a nickname. In fact, when people use my real name I usually hunch inwardly like I’m about to get in trouble. Little Lady, Thumbalina, and T-ray top off a long list of (g-rated) names given by my guy buddies and usually have to do with my not even 5 foot stature. I met Mr. Tera the first day of college classes and married him two weeks after I graduated and we have two little kiddies, both of whom are his mini-dopplegangers (which I love). I’m owned by two gray-faced pooches and live in Texas. Relatively new to writing novels, I started just two years ago, but I was writing poetry and songs (I play guitar) for a long time before that.

Those nicknames are adorable! And hey, I have a sister-in-law who is a bundle of energy and always the life of the party at 4’11”, LOL.

My favorite part of starting a new novel is coming up with character names. What’s yours and how do you go about it?

Oh goodness, I always have a running list of names! Like a maniac, I’m forever scribbling names down on random scraps of paper and leaving them all over the house. If I see someone’s name I find interesting in the news or in an article, I keep it and hope for an opportunity for it to fit one of my characters someday. Names come easily; titles I’m rubbish at.

That sounds just like me! Which do you find easier to write and why – description or dialogue?

Description is so fun, it really is, but dialogue comes more naturally to me. It’s likely because my characters are so loud in my head and my story lines usually come from conversation yet unnamed characters have with each other, usually while I’m in dreamland. I’m realizing a lot of authors have that schizophrenic-insomnia that comes with trying to shush your imaginary friends so you can catch some uninterrupted zzz’s.

LTD_coverSo true. I especially have that problem on Sunday nights, after a several hours of concentrated writing. Please tell us about your new/upcoming release.

Love in the Time of the Dead is a modern day, post zombie apocalyptic romance set three years into the outbreak. Laney is finally getting over the heartache of someone she’s lost and is slowly opening up to the possibility that life goes on and that she can find this sort of unexpectedly beautiful existence in ruined surroundings if she just lets herself. She and her team have been nomadic for years but with the realization she is immune to dead bites, they have to figure out who they can trust with the information and pick a colony to settle down in.

The goal is to extract a vaccine out of her, but she has to survive some harrowing adventures if that’s going to come to fruition. And right in the middle of that chaos are two men fighting for her and she has an impossible decision to make. One between her brother’s friend Mitchell, who’s been fighting Deads with her since the outbreak, or colony leader, Sean Daniels, who is dark and mysterious, moody and hunted. It’s a story of self-discovery that tests the bonds and strength of character in a group of unlikely friends. It releases today!

YAY! I love having you here on your release day, and can’t wait to delve into the story. The romantic triangle and the description of the two guys have me really intrigued. How did you choose your title?

I didn’t! The book was originally called Dead Run River, for the colony Laney and the boys land in but the team at Omnific came to me with a name that better fit the guts of the book. They were really cool with how they approached me about it. I’d never want someone to pick up the book expecting straight horror and gore because it’s not. The most important part of the story is the character growth and the love triangle romance. I loved it. I didn’t balk at all because I’d been concerned with the original title already ,so it was an easy ‘yes’ for me.

How fantastic it worked so well. And having “love” in the title does lend itself more to romance in my humble opinion. :) Which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?

Mitchell, hands down. He’s such a smart-ace and finds such in enjoyment out of being a splinter. He was supposed to die off in chapter three but he wiggled his way into my heart and gave Sean a run for his money. Sean’s so collected and confident and I loved the way Mitchell can shake him up when it comes to Laney. I just couldn’t bring myself to kill him!

Now you have me really intrigued! Share one sentence – - yes, only one! – - of dialogue or description you love.

“I breathe for that stupid word on your lips.”

Yum! I have an idea of what that “stupid word” might be but can’t wait to find out. Name 3-5 books you’d horde for a deserted island.

Eeeeew, I like this question. Okay, 1.) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, B.) Jane Eyre, aaaaaaand, oh geez, this is like choosing a favorite child…okay and 3.) Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs.

LOL! It’s hard choosing among favorites, isn’t it? Name a book that had a profound effect on you and explain why.

When I was eleven years old, my cousin gifted me a signed copy of Beauty by Bill Wallace. I read it (too many times to count) and that was it for me. It was the first time I remember where I was all in for books. Beauty was the first book in my hoard..eh herm…personal library.

I have a vague memory of reading that too. As a kid, I was in love with any story that involved horses.  If someone gave you a working time machine tomorrow, where would you visit and why?

I’d pull a Claire Randall and Outlander myself straight back to 1700 Scotland and find me a redheaded Scotsman named Jamie. Why? Book boyfriend.

Oh, yum! Book boyfriends are great. I’ve got a few of those guys in my cache, LOL. And now for some quick lightning-round answers:

Favorite season: Autumn (I live in Texas. Summer cooks you.)
Favorite animal: Horse
Food you never grow tired of: Key Lime Pie
Mountains or beach: Mountains

Thanks for being my guest today, Tera, it was a delight to have you. BTW, I have wanted a horse ever since I was a little girl. There is a tradition in my family…on every birthday, before the birthday guy or girl is ready to blow out the candles we all yell “wish for a pony” no matter how old we get. Some things you just never outgrow!

author picAUTHOR BIO
Tera Shanley writes in sub-genres that stretch from Paranormal Romance, to Historic Western Romance, to Apocalyptic (zombie) Romance. The common theme? She loves love! A self-proclaimed bookworm, she was raised in small town Texas and could often be found decorating a table at the local library. She currently lives in Dallas with her husband and two young children and when she isn’t busy running around after her family, she’s writing a new story or devouring a good book. Any spare time is dedicated to chocolate licking, rifle slinging, friend hugging, and the great outdoors.

~ooOOoo~

You can find Tera at the following haunts:

Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

BLURB:
Laney Landry has been fighting Deads alongside her brother and friends for three years. But she has a secret. She’s immune to Dead bites and has to find the right people to trust with the information. Her team rallies around her to find a doctor who can extract a vaccine from Laney which could fight the virus that ended the world.

Sean Daniels leads a colony that provides her team with much needed shelter and supplies. He is obviously interested in Laney. The question is whether he’s only intrigued by her as a source for the possible vaccine, or for something more. Tests for the cure might push her body beyond what it can endure, and just as she faces a ghost from her past, her longtime teammate Derek Mitchell hints at an interest in more than just her Dead slaying abilities.

Two honorable and alluring men – one colossal decision to make. Despite historically bad taste in men, can she rise above the chaos of the apocalypse and choose the one who deserves her heart? The right choice could mean the difference between surviving…and living.

LOVE IN THE TIME OF THE DEAD is available from Amazon, Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble
Add to your Goodreads list here

Welcoming Christina Thompson and Chemical Attraction by Mae Clair

Chemical Attraction Cover ArtToday, I’m happy to introduce you to another new author, Christina Thompson. I hooked up with Christina on Twitter and was soon deeply immersed in her mystery thriller, CHEMICAL ATTRACTION. As someone who loves a book that keeps me guessing and enjoys strong secondary characters (in addition to the H/h) I was happy to learn Christina has a planned series. YAY!

Christina, please share a bit about yourself and tell us how long you’ve been writing.
Thank you for hosting me as I promote my thriller, Chemical AttractionI’ve recently retired after twenty years as a massage therapist and ten years as an acupuncturist. My newest passion is writing fiction. I’ve written numerous research papers and reports in college and grad school. However, the idea of writing novels is a fairly new one, almost seven years now. I enjoy outlining, writing, and editing; and I’m starting to get the hang of the marketing and promoting parts. I’ve met some wonderful people on this journey. Thank you again, Mae, for your support.

Delighted, Christina! And I completely agree with you about the people you meet on the journey. The writing/reading community is wonderful, with so many willing to help. When you finish a novel, how closely would you say the end product resembles your original concept — 100%? 50%? Something else entirely?
I’d say 70% of my outline resembles the finished product. I plot the major points first with a few transitional sections, but that other 30% changes when my characters decide to take a different route. I usually listen and give in. It’s their story after all.

Characters always get the upper hand, LOL! Which do you develop first, character or plot?
That’s a “Chicken or Egg” kind of question. In general, I have the characters and plot in mind when I start. Then, the plot fleshes out a deeper understanding of the characters while the characters push for intriguing dimensions of the plot.

Great answer! What was the most interesting item you discovered in your research?
The U.S. government underwrites research in nanotechnology for about a billion dollars a year, but only a small percentage of it goes into health and safety concerns. These nano-particles can be useful, but it also makes them potentially dangerous. We still don’t know all the ways they affect our body’s chemistry. It’s fascinating and terrifying.

I was surprised by a lot of the revelations in your book and intrigued by the science. Fiction spun from fact makes amazing reading. Which do you find easier to write and why – description or dialogue?
Dialogue is easier for me to write because I know my characters and their backstories so well. Description is a challenge. I’m constantly wondering if I’m putting too much or not enough of it into the story.

Which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?
FBI Agent Joe Roberts is my favorite. He was a secondary character in a short story I wrote a long time ago. (It’s the prequel to Chemical Attraction.) He stayed in my head until I gave him his own story. On the surface, Joe’s a player. Deeper down, he’s searching for his soul mate, the one person who will love him for his faults, not in spite of them.

Very well said. And I thought Joe was a great character. Without giving too much away, please share a bit about your favorite scene.
Madeline finally explains why she called the FBI. Needing the privacy, they discuss the case in his room at the Bed & Breakfast owned by Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia. Their conversation is professional, but they’re clearly attracted to each other. Testing Joe’s restraint, Madeline seductively stretches out on his bed. He looks at everything in the room but her. I love how it plays out. I think that scene propels the story forward not only with the science angle but with Joe’s struggle between his personal desire and his professional integrity.

I loved that scene and remember it vividly.  Madeline was great in the way she interacted with Joe.

Share only one sentence –yes, only one! –of dialogue or description you love.
“Don’t make decisions for me,” Madeline replied, following Joe’s lead on the dance floor.

Nice! :) Do you have any guilty pleasures you’d like to share?
In this story and its sequel, I reference various songs -the ones David plays with his band, the one Joe and Madeline dance to, their karaoke selections, and others. Well, I have a playlist with all of them, in order. It’s silly, but it makes me happy. My husband just rolls his eyes whenever I hit play.

I love when you can connect songs to a story. A former critique partner (she passed away) and I used to create CDs for each of our WIPs. It was fun to do.

Name a book that had a profound effect on you and explain why.
Stephen King’s On Writing was my epiphany. Like I mentioned, I had only written reports and research papers in college. New to the Novel-Writing World, I didn’t know the first thing about police investigations. I mean, I’ve watched the crime shows and researched the basics, but my confidence wavered at this daunting new endeavor.

Then, I read this passage, “When you step away from the ‘write what you know’ rule, research becomes inevitable…remember that you are writing a novel not a research paper. The story comes first.”

My whole mindset changed. I was writing about the characters; I just didn’t realize it. So, now, if the procedure sounds plausible and fits into the storyline, I use it. It’s called fiction for a reason, right?

King dishes out great advice, doesn’t he? I have that book but have only skimmed it. I really need to sit down and study it. I love what he said about research and the story. Often I get hung up on that too.

Now five quick questions about what you enjoy:

Favorite season: Autumn in Michigan. The leaves of deep reds and golds are spectacular. I also love that Back-to-School newness of Fall. Although my children are grown, I still buy notebooks, pens, pads, clothes, socks, and shoes. They’re all on sale, and what writer doesn’t need extra notebooks and pens?

Favorite singer: Michael Bublé arouses the romance in my stories.

Favorite comic book character: My husband has an extensive collection so we’ve discussed this at great length. I love Captain America for his patriotism and integrity. And, well, Chris Evans is a hottie.

Sunset picnics or night on the town: We live about thirty minutes from Lake Michigan. Its sunsets are dreamy especially when I’m with my husband, Kraig, who’s my inspiration for everything. Sappy but true.

Favorite social media platform: I’m hooked on Twitter. While following other authors (like Mae Clair), I’ve learned about blogs, book trailers, and virtual book tours. When I first started promoting, those concepts blew my mind. Who knew? I certainly didn’t.

Sometimes, my brain hurts … I know I have so much more to learn.

I hope you enjoy reading Chemical Attraction as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Such fun answers, Christina and I love the romantic responses about your husband. I’m married to my high school sweetheart and can  so relate to that soul-mate inspiration/love.

I’ll also agree with you about back-to-school. I think office supplies are pretty much the equivalent of a drug for any writer, and when they’re all displayed so beautifully at this time of year, it’s an instant high. I have to restrain myself from going crazy and buying a lot of things I don’t need just because they look and smell so good, LOL!

Finally, I fully appreciate your comment about so much yet to learn. It seems there is always something new to tackle in the world of promotion and social media. It’s great to have the friendship and support of other authors to help through those learning curves. That’s been invaluable to me.

Thanks again for the blog visit and I wish you the best with the Chemical Attraction Series. I can’t wait for book two!

Connect with Christina at the following haunts:
Website
Twitter @ChristinaPOV
Facebook
Goodreads

Purchase CHEMICAL ATTRACTION from:
Chemical Attraction on Amazon
Chemical Attraction on B&N
Chemical Attraction at 48fourteen

Chemical Attraction Blurb:
FBI Agent Joe Roberts wants that instant chemistry with a woman like the ones his sisters have with their husbands. After years of searching, he finds it with Dr. Madeline Pierce. The problem—she’s his contact on a dangerous case.

When Madeline discovers an extensive operation of meth production and distribution within her medical research facility, Joe goes undercover as her boyfriend to determine the degree of company involvement. They determine the meth is financing a volatile nano-drug.

The small West Michigan farming town is in turmoil over horrific animal attacks. Someone is experimenting outside the laboratory. Are human test subjects next? With the help of Joe’s sister, Eva, who works at the local clinic, and her law enforcement husband, Matt, Joe and Madeline hunt for this new bio-weapon. Will Joe and Madeline give in to temptation? She thinks he’s playing her like the men from her past. He needs to convince her otherwise.

Christina press photo 2Author Bio:
Christina Thompson, a retired acupuncturist, enjoys writing about the physical science, the emotional workings of our mind and heart, and the spiritual energy that taps into our passions.

Her degree in biology from Nazareth College in Kalamazoo gave her a love of science and a background into the physical realm of the body. Her diploma in Traditional Chinese acupuncture from Midwest College of Oriental Medicine taught her that the mind and spirit affect the body in powerful ways.

Wizards with Words: Emma Meade with Dark Whiskey

emma-meadePlease welcome an awesome Wizard with Words! I’m thrilled to have Emma Meade as my guest today. Emma makes her home in Ireland and writes fantastic tales of the paranormal. We “met” through a mutual friend when Emma did a guest stint on the blog of L.J. Kentowksi and I immediately snatched up her book UNDER THE DESERT MOON after reading the blurb and excerpt. I’ve been hooked on everything she’s written since.

Today, she’s sharing her latest release, DARK WHISKEY, so grab your favorite beverage, sit back and enjoy!

~ooOOoo~

Thanks for having me on your blog today, Mae. I love your Mythical Monday posts!

Thank you! I’m delighted to have you here today, and it’s wonderful to hear you enjoy my Mythical Mondays. I love gathering information for them. For starters, please share a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.

I was born and raised in Cork City, Ireland, where I still live. I adore rainy weather – thunder and lightning are even better. I do my best writing on stormy days. I’ve been writing since primary school, often handing up short stories about aliens and ghosts and witches to my teachers. Twenty years later, my heart is still firmly rooted in the supernatural genre.

I love to write on rainy days too. For some reason the words seem to flow easier when I’m snug and cozy inside. Do you have a favorite place and/or time of day to write?

I tend to write curled up on the couch with a hot cup of tea within reaching distance. I can write day or night. If I’m feeling inspired and the words are flowing, I’ll keep going until the early hours of the morning.

I’ve been known to do that a time or two as well. What attracts you most to your chosen genre?  

I’ve always leaned towards paranormal fiction. Worlds filled with superheroes, vampires, werewolves and immortals fascinate me. When I was a kid, I hurried to the library in my mom’s primary school to see what new Point Horror books were available. From there, I moved on to L.J. Smith’s paranormal romance young adult tales, Anne Rice and Stephen King. I adore the supernatural genre across books, TV shows and films. My favourite TV show of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Are you a draft writer or someone who invests a lot of time in editing and polishing as you write? Why does your method work best for you?

I used to write a chapter, then go back and polish, but I no longer do that – I simply found it took too long and I tended to lose my train of thought. These days I write a first draft all the way through, and then I start the editing process. I find I can get a draft of a novella done in a month now. It’s polishing it afterwards that takes more time.

I definitely want to give draft writing a try. Writers seem to make a lot of progress that way. Please tell us about your new release.

Dark WhiskeyI’d like to talk about my short story, Dark Whiskey. It’s my most recent release, and I had a lot of fun writing it. It was my first time publishing a story written in the first person. Ever since I saw the film Blade when I was a teenager, I had an idea in my mind about a vampire club. What if a girl walked into a club full of vampires and wasn’t allowed to leave? How would she cope? In Dark Whiskey, Jesse finds out just how wrong a night out on the town can go.

I loved Dark Whiskey! Your descriptions of the club were so vivid and haunting. How did you choose your title?

I’m a Jack Daniel’s girl, and Jesse in the story is a whiskey drinker. The title came pretty easily.

It’s a  great title. Which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?

Jesse is a strong woman. She keeps her head in a crisis and doesn’t give up. Something terrible happens to her, but she deals.

I liked Jesse immediately. She was strong and earthy and you gave her great dialogue. How did you choose your setting?

I pictured an ice bar. In my mind I saw an interior similar to the ice hotel located in Sweden – a hotel made entirely of ice. In the end I kept the setting of the club icy white and frosty blue.

It was hypnotic! Most people who follow my blog know I love vivid descriptive passages, and what you did with Dark Whiskey was simply mesmerizing. How about sharing the first three sentences of the book?

“I think we should leave—like right now, Tasha,” I said, grabbing my best friend’s arm.

Tasha yanked away. “You promised me a night to remember, and that’s what I’m getting.”

I took a deep breath.

And from there we get an inkling that things are not going to go well for these girls. Now share one sentence – - yes, only one! – - of dialogue or description you love.

Familiar chords from teenage memories thrummed, the sweet music making its way under the bathroom door.

Fantastic! And now, a quick peek into your list of favorites:

Favorite season: Winter
Favorite time of day: Evening/Night
Favorite TV show: When it aired – Buffy. Today, I’d probably have to go for The Walking Dead
Food you never grow tired of: Chicken curry and rice
Casual or dressy: Casual

I think you must be my first guest who listed winter as their favorite season, Emma. Thanks again for visiting with me today. I wish you much success with DARK WHISKEY.

Connect with Emma at the following haunts:
Website 
Blog
Twitter @EmmaMeadeIrl
Facebook
Goodreads

About the Author
Emma Meade lives in rainy Ireland. She loves reading and writing supernatural fiction. Books, DVDS & TV show boxsets take up lots of space in her home, and she collects all the Point Horror books she can get her hands on.

Grab a copy of Dark Whiskey for just 99 cents from:
Amazon.com
Amazon.UK
Smashwords
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
iTunes

Blurb:
Jesse senses something off about the nightclub. She wants to leave, but her best friend, Tasha, is determined to have a night to remember. There’s no way she’s turning down an invite to the VIP section.

Against Jesse’s better judgement, she follows Tasha up the ivory staircase to the mysterious room above. The whiskey and champagne are flowing, and pretty soon the blood will be too.

(A Short Story, approx 7,100 words)

Wizards with Words: Annette Drake and Celebration House

Before I introduce you to a fab new wordsmith, I’d like to mention I’m visiting my Lyrical Press sister, Kyra Jacobs, today and doing a short Q&A on her blog. Please pop in if you get a chance, and say hello!

And now, I’d like to introduce Annette Drake who has just released CELEBRAtION HOUSE, a novel right up my alley. The moment I read the blurb I was hooked. Check it out:

3Celebration House by Annette Drake - 1600-300dpiqCarrie Hansen spent her life caring for cardiac patients. Little did she know she would become a patient herself. After recovering from her own heart surgery, she realizes she has a special gift: the ability to see and talk with the dead.

Now, with her new heart failing, she leaves the bustle of Seattle behind and returns to Lexington, Missouri, the small town where she spent her childhood. Here, she sets out to restore an abandoned antebellum mansion and open it as a venue for celebrations.

Carrie’s work is cut out for her. The 150-year-old Greek revival house is in need of serious repair. Her sister, Melanie, tries to bully Carrie into returning to Seattle, predicting “her little project” is doomed to fail. Finally, Carrie’s health gives out on her, requiring emergency surgery.

But she will not give up. Carrie’s unique gift allows her to build relationships with the mansion’s original occupants, especially Maj. Tom Stewart, the handsome Civil War soldier who died a hundred years before Carrie was born. He encourages and comforts her, though not in the physical way they both desire.

Then there’s the builder of the house, Col. Bartholomew Stratton. If there’s one thing this 19th century horse trader cannot abide, it’s the living trespassing on his estate. He delights in scaring these intruders away, even if they are paying guests.

Will Carrie finish restoring Celebration House or will it finish her? And how can she plan a future with a man who has only a past?

Awesome, right? Oh, yeah, I can’t wait to read this one! The moment I saw the Civil War solider on the cover and read the blurb, I was a goner — hook, line and sinker! It’s already downloaded on my Kindle and high on my TBR list. I was thrilled when Annette contacted me and asked to be a guest on my blog. Please make her feel welcome and say hello:

Annette, please share a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing:
I’ve been in love with books my whole life. Growing up in a small town in northeast Missouri, there wasn’t a lot to do. The day I discovered the local library was a good day indeed. I spent lots of hours there, crawling on the floor to look at books on the lower shelves or listening to books on vinyl records and cassette tapes. Just soaking up stories. When I went to college, I decided to pursue a degree in journalism because I’ve always loved the written word, but I needed a way to support myself. My dream was to write for the Washington Post before I turned 30. I started writing my first novel when my oldest daughter was about 2. She’s now 22. It’s finishing the book that has always challenged me the most.

Well, I’m delighted you finished Celebration House! What attracts you most to your chosen genre?
That’s a great question. My debut novel is a paranormal romance. I’m marketing a middle-grade novel, Bone Girl, and actively writing a contemporary romance, A Year with Geno. I’ve also recently queried a picture-book manuscript, The Carwash Dragon. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing! I don’t have a chosen genre, but boy, many days I wish I did. For me, it’s all about the characters and their stories.

I completely agree with you! I cross genres when I write and, although I concentrate mostly on romance and romantic mysteries, I have several manuscripts in varying genres, including urban fantasy, fantasy and light horror. Getting back to characters, what do you develop first, characters or plot? Characters. They decide the plot. I just try to keep up.

Well said. Which do you find easier to write and why – description or dialogue?
I love writing dialogue. I think like many new writers – and that’s what I am, a newbie – I struggle with knowing how much description to include. I often ask my critique group – do you want to know what this character looks like? Do you want more description of the house or garden? That’s a struggle for me. I’ve just discovered Dana Stabenow. Wow! She writes great description. I’m reading her work because my current WIP, A Year with Geno, takes place in Alaska. Although I lived there several years, I struggle with wondering how much description to include. A Year with Geno is the first book I’ve written in which I want setting to be a vital part of the book.

I love books set in Alaska and will be looking forward to A Year with Geno. Please tell us about your current release, Celebration House.
Celebration House is the story of a woman who leaves the bustle of Seattle and moves back to her childhood hometown of Lexington, Missouri. There, she restores an abandoned antebellum mansion, which she then opens to the public for weddings and celebratory events. I started writing Celebration House in 2007. I literally woke up from a dream with the plot. I was working as a registered nurse in a cath lab at a hospital in Seattle, and I would see the same patients come in for procedures again and again. I thought, wow, that takes courage. From these patients, my main character, Carrie Hansen, was born. Because we share the same profession, readers may think I envision myself as Carrie. I do not. I do not have her courage. I never will.

It sounds like you’ve created a strong heroine. How did you choose your title? Initially, the working title was The Celebration House. When Tirgearr Publishing offered me a contract, I sought out the advice of the local writers guild president. She suggested I drop the word “The.” The title means more to me, though the house is offered to the public for celebrations. I hope readers will take away the idea that “celebration” also refers to celebrating Carrie’s life and their own.

Great! Share the first three sentences of your book.
With pleasure!

“It hasn’t been lived in for quite a while. It does have electricity though,” said the Realtor. She pushed in a button on the switch plate. The weak overhead light fizzed and, with a loud pop and a puff of white smoke, burnt out.

That puts us right in the setting. Without giving too much away, please share a bit about your favorite scene.
In one of the later scenes, Carrie dances with the male lead, Maj. Tom Stewart. It’s the first time she’s touched him, and like me, Carrie has no idea how to waltz. He teaches her. I love that scene. I fantasize about seeing it on a movie screen. Is Hugh Jackman available? Because he is yummy.

*fanning face* Oh, dear! I’m sold on that scene! There is something so exquisitely romantic about a waltz. I’ve always wanted to learn. And I will now be imagining Hugh Jackman as Maj. Tom Stewart as I read the book. Great choice! :)

If you couldn’t be a writer, what else would you choose to do?
If I didn’t need to make a living, I would love to be an actress. I’ve always been overly dramatic. I would also love to be a farmer, growing any kind of food that goes in a pie, such as strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries or blackberries. I also love the idea of owning a bakery/coffee house/used bookstore. Wouldn’t that be fun?

I would love to own a coffee house or a bookstore! I’d probably fail miserably with the bakery or farm and I’m too introverted to be an actress, LOL.

Name a book that had a profound effect on you and explain why:
I love the book, The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. I love this book because of the character, Skeeter, and how she just doesn’t fit in a small Mississippi town. I also love Minny, who cannot keep her unwanted opinions to herself. I relate to these two women because I didn’t fit in my hometown, and I say things I sure wish I hadn’t.

But another reason I love this story is because it was rejected 60 times. Sixty! I’m struggling to find an agent or publisher for the best book I’ve ever written, Bone Girl, and I tell myself that until I hear no 60 times, I can’t give up. Thank you, Ms. Stockett, for setting the bar so high.

Good for you, being willing to tough it out! I’ve read that about The Help and it’s so hard to imagine. I wish you much success with Bone Girl. The title is riveting.

And now for a couple of quick glimpses on things you enjoy:
Favorite season
: I love the fall. Halloween is my favorite holiday. No presents to buy. No big meal to cook. Just dress up in silly costumes and beg for chocolate? That’s a great holiday. Sign me up.

Favorite color: Yellow, like sunflowers or the sun. I didn’t know how important the sun was to me until I lived in western Washington and Alaska. My longest stretch without seeing the sun: 33 days. Not a fun time in my life.

Favorite type of music: I love bluegrass. I even own a fiddle and have learned a few tunes. I play a mean Liza Jane.

Favorite TV show: I love the Stephen Colbert report. My fantasy is to someday be a guest on his TV show after my first two books are made into movies. Hey! We all have fantasies, right?

Favorite animal: As much as I love the basset hound, I love horses more. I’ve always been an admirer of the horse.

You got me on thirty-tree days without the sun. I think it takes a special kind of person to be able to live in Alaska. Beautiful country, but wow, what an adjustment! And I’ll look forward to seeing you on the Stephen Colbert report. Maybe you’ll do a little fiddling there too, while sharing your latest bestsellers. :)

Annette Drake (Color)AUTHOR BIO:
Annette Drake’s work is character-driven and celebrates the law of unintended consequences. Her debut novel, Celebration House, debuted on August 1st in e-book format for readers everywhere from Tirgearr Publishing.

Annette left high school after two years to obtain her GED and attend Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. There she earned a degree in journalism before working as a reporter and editor for newspapers in Missouri and Kansas. She earned a bachelor of science in nursing in 1994 from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, and worked as a registered nurse in hospitals throughout Missouri, Alaska and Washington for 18 years before returning her focus to writing

Annette recently completed her middle-grade novel, Bone Girl, and is hard at work revising her steamy contemporary romance, A Year with Geno.

She is the mother of four children. The oldest just graduated from the University of Washington; the youngest just graduated from kindergarten. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. She loves libraries, basset hounds and bakeries. She does not camp.

You can follow her writing at http://annettedrake.com. She welcomes correspondence at: Write2me@annettedrake.com

Purchase Celebration House from:
http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Drake_Annette/celebration-house.htm

Visit Annette at the following haunts:
Blog
Facebook
Twitter (@annettedrake13)
Goodreads
 
 

Wizards with Words: Kyra Jacobs and Armed with Steele

bigstock-magic-book-9719930Please join me in welcoming my sister Lyrical Press author, Kyra Jacobs.

Kyra is celebrating her debut release, ARMED WITH STEELE, a smart romantic suspense novel that is garnering great reviews. Please welcome Kyra as we discuss writing, bulldogs and bathtubs. Aren’t you curious? :D

Kyra, thanks so much for being my guest today. Let’s start with a question regarding technique. When it comes to plotter vs. panster, I think even plotters veer from their outline to a degree during the writing process. When you finish a novel, how closely would you say the end product resembles your original concept — 100%? 50%? Something else entirely?

I’d say the end product is maybe 50% of the original. Maybe. Like, the right guy and gal end up together in the end, but the journey between page one and “the end” is probably not going to look much like my initial idea. I take that as a good sign, though. To me, it lets me know the characters were strong enough to drive the story to completion.

I like your take on it–and your characters’ take :)  Are you a draft writer or someone who invests a lot of time in editing and polishing as you write? Why does your method work best for you?

Honestly, I’ve done both. Unfortunately, I’ve found that if I go back to “fix one little thing” on my draft, I inevitably end up “setting up camp” on a few pages…and then my momentum comes to a screeching halt. So for my current WIP I’ve forced myself to keep plugging along. If I discover I’ve left something out, then I’ll make a note at the end to go back and fix it. So far, it’s working out well.

Good for you! I’m currently experimenting with draft writing, something I was never successful at before. It’s actually kind of fun trying out a different technique.

Which do you develop first, characters or plot?

Good question! Hmm, which do I develop first…probably the characters. Usually I have a scene that pops into my head of either the heroine and/or the hero. From that snippet I dig backwards into the broader scope of the story to determine who they are, why they’re there, and where they’ll end up.

Let’s switch it up a little. Which do you find easier to write and why – description or dialogue?

Definitely dialogue. I hear my characters bantering back and forth in my head all day. Descriptions are more tedious to write for me, and honestly I try not to go into too much detail in my novels. I like to give the audience a general sense of the surroundings, but would rather they insert their own imagination into that part of the story. My characters (hopefully) fill in the rest of the blanks.

Please tell us about your new release, Armed with Steele.

armedwithsteelMy debut release is Armed With Steele (released this month alongside Twelfth Sun!), a fun romantic suspense. The heroine, Jessica Hartley, is like an Indiana version of Stephanie Plum. And the hero, Nate? Well, he’s a mix of Ranger and Joe Morelli all wrapped into one. :)

It sounds wonderful.  I’ve already purchased my copy and you’re on my TBR list. It was fun to share a release day with you, Kyra. Which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?

Gosh, these are some tough questions, Mae! Hmm, I’m gonna go off the board here and pick Brutus the bulldog. One, because his name was my little plug for our favorite college team, and two, because he was pretty low maintenance.

LOL! How cute! I’m looking forward to meeting Brutus.

Without giving too much away, please share a bit about your favorite scene.

One of my favorites (because I admit, there are several) was the bathtub scene. That was a fun one to write. And even more fun to be a tease while I’m writing it…

A bathtub scene? Oh, definitely worth checking out! How about sharing the first three sentences of your book.

I shot out the door at Serenity Spa and made a beeline for my car. One call. All I had to do was answer one, simple phone call.

Hmm. I wonder what that phone call is all about. Great opening! When you’re not writing (or reading) what do you do to unwind?

I’m not so good at unwinding, to be honest. It’s hard for me to sit still in one place for too long. So if the weather cooperates, I’m probably outside playing with my family or pulling weeds from my flower gardens.

Do you have any guilty pleasures (i.e, type of food, music, TV show, shoe obsession, silly distraction) you’d like to share?

Ice cream. It’s nearly impossible for me to pass up ice cream.

A great indulgence for summer. My “can’t-say-no” is chips but it’s hard to resist ice cream.

And now for a series of quickies:

Favorite season: Fall
Favorite TV show: Law & Order
Favorite social media platform: Facebook
Casual or dressy: Casual :)
Mountains or beach: Beach

Thanks so much, Kyra. It was great having you as a guest today and I wish you much success with ARMED WITH STEELE!

BLURB::
What happens undercover, stays under covers.

Jessica Hartley is looking for answers surrounding the mysterious car accident that nearly claimed the life of her best friend. She’s willing to risk it all, even her fledgling business, to find the person responsible and bring them to justice.

Nate Steele is more than willing to help Jessica, but for reasons all his own. He’s been watching the infamous Maxwell Office Solutions for some time now, convinced there’s more going on than meets the eye. When his chief issues a cease and desist order yet again, Nate has no choice but to accept inexperienced Jessica as an undercover partner outside the letter of the law.

Will Jessica and Nate be able to flush out Maxwell’s elusive villain, or will their growing attraction for each other sabotage their undercover ploy? Motives aren’t always what they seem when Jessica finds herself armed with Steele.

CONTENT WARNING: Beware drool-worthy men in uniform, touchy-feely coworkers, and vindictive ex-girlfriends.

KJprofile_updatedAUTHOR BIO:
Kyra Jacobs is a happily married, mother of two, who grew up in Indiana. When she’s not pounding out scenes for her next book, she’s likely goofing around with her husband and kids, or elbow-deep in snapdragons and Lamb’s Ear in one of her many flower gardens. She also loves to golf (though, golf doesn’t really love her) and to jam on the bass in Guitar Hero. Be sure to stop by her blog, http://indianawonderer.wordpress.com for updates on her writing journey and other musings as seen through the eyes of this Midwestern writer.

Look for Kyra Jacobs at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Goodreads

Purchase AMRED WITH STEELE from:
Amazon
B&N
Kobo
iTunes  

Wizards with Words: Julia Gabriel and Falling for the Prodigal Son

bigstock-magic-book-9719930I’m interview happy this week…and happy to interview authors! :D Please say hello to today’s Wizard with Words, Julia Gabriel. I initially connected with Julia on Twitter, was drawn in by her book cover for FALLING FOR THE PRODIGAL SON, then fell in love with the breezy romance. Once I’d finished gobbling it up, I asked Julia to be a guest on my blog.  Let’s get to know her!

~ooOOoo~

Julia, please share a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.

Well, I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid (back then, I illustrated them too!). My mom was an avid reader, and she passed on her love of books (and romance books) to me. I eventually got a master’s degree in creative writing and now teach business and creative writing at a university in Connecticut. I grew up in south-central Pennsylvania but since then, I’ve lived all over the Washington DC area, in San Francisco and now in New England. I write romance books and literary short stories because I love both.

I’m a Keystoner myself, and I love New England. I can look back and say my passion for reading was a gift from my parents too. You’ve definitely lived in some wonderful places! 

Are you a draft writer or someone who invests a lot of time in editing and polishing as you write? Why does your method work best for you?

I’m definitely someone who invests a lot of time in polishing as I go. I’m a slow and careful writer. I love words and sentences so I enjoy the process of just writing sentences. I might be better off if I wrote faster drafts, but that would take away a lot of what I enjoy most about writing.

It sounds like you have a system that works well for you. I’m a polisher too. When it comes to nuts and bolts, which do you develop first, characters or plot?

I usually start with characters in a certain situation. With Falling for the Prodigal Son, my initial idea was “What happens when your new boss was your teenage crush?” Sometimes—like with my current work in progress—the initial situation gets jettisoned because it no longer fits with the way the story is developing. I just had to toss about a hundred pages of that story because the initial situation wasn’t the best way to tell the story.

Wow! That must have been a hard decision to make. I applaud for doing what worked best for the story. Which do you find easier to write and why—description or dialogue?

I find dialogue really easy to write. I think maybe that’s because I am a quiet person by nature—more of a listener than a speaker so I pay close attention to how people talk.

Sounds like me, although sometimes I do get yackity :) Let’s talk about your book, FALLING FOR THE PRODIGAL SON. Which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?

17557962

Isn’t this cover GORGEOUS?!?!?

I had the most fun with Sterling Matthew. I always had this image of a little boy hiding behind a tree, watching other kids having fun and not being able to join in. I had to make him confront that little boy at some point. I also had fun writing Lucy’s mom. She was a bit character in the story but she turned out to have quite a personality.

You definitely achieved what you set out to do with Sterling. That image of the little boy hiding behind the tree really hit home for me. What was your favorite scene?

My favorite scene in Falling for the Prodigal Son is definitely the one where Lucy and Sterling are in Muir Woods in northern California (the redwood forest). It’s the scene where they finally confront each other as two people with a history together, and not only as boss and employee. It’s also the first kiss scene! I think the first kiss is my favorite scene in every book (not just mine).

I LOVE first kiss scenes. Great choice! Tell us about the setting for the book (I drooled all over it, LOL).

Falling for the Prodigal Son is set on the eastern shore of Maryland, an area I know well and love. I’ve spent a lot of time kayaking in the area. St. Caroline is loosely based on the real town of St. Michael’s, a sailing mecca and a place where many wealthy people from Washington, DC, own summer homes. I liked the contrast between the wealthy people who vacation there and a summer camp for disadvantaged kids.

Interesting you should say that. The Maryland coast is like a second home to me, and the entire time I was reading FALLING FOR THE PRODIGAL SON, I kept picturing St. Michael’s. It’s a great town!

Share one sentence from the book you love:

“Well, maybe I’m only half sorry. But I’m not going to tell you which half.”

That’s a great line! :)  And now, switching gears a bit, when you’re not writing (or reading) what do you do to unwind?

Well, when I’m not writing or reading, I’m usually sitting at my son’s taekwondo practices, grading papers. When I have time, I like to hike and kayak. I also quilt, which I’ve found is a great activity for plotting books. When you hand-quilt, you have to focus on what you’re doing but you don’t really have to think about it. That combination of a focused mind but nothing to think about has given me tons of great plot ideas!

A perfect time to entertain plots and characters! And speaking of plots and characters, share a book that had a profound effect on you and tell us why.

Alice Munro’s “Selected Stories.” She writes literary short stories that have the scope of novels, and her wisdom and insight into the lives of women is breathtaking. Sadly, she recently announced that, at 82, she is done writing.

Oh! It does sound like she’s left a wonderful legacy for readers. And good for her that she kept it up until 82 years of age. What a remarkable author!

Now for some quick personal preference questions: 

Dream vacation: A summer to just travel around Europe
Favorite season: Definitely autumn
Food you never grow tired of: Pizza
Owl or lark: Owl
Mountains or beach: Mountains

Autumn in Connecticut must be beautiful!

Julia, thank you so much for being my guest today. It was a pleasure to have you and I’m delighted to share FALLING FOR THE PRODIGAL SON with my readers. I wish you continued success and am so glad we hooked up on Twitter! :)

Look for Julia at the following Haunts:

Web
Blog
Twitter
: @authorjulia
Facebook
Goodreads

Purchase Falling for the Prodigal Son from Amazon

Blurb:
What could be more embarrassing than having slept with your boss … when you both were teenagers?

All Sterling Matthew wants is to get his family’s inn back on sound financial footing—and then leave sleepy St. Caroline for good. He expected the inn’s staff to resist the business changes he has to make. What he didn’t expect was to find skinny, gawky Lucy Wyndham all grown up.

For years, Lucy wondered whether she’d ever catch another glimpse of the tall, quiet boy she’d crushed on at the Chesapeake Inn’s summer camp. Now he’s her boss—and determined to get rid of the camp to improve the inn’s bottom line. But Lucy is just as determined to save the camp, even if the price is her job … and her heart.

Bio: Julia Gabriel is the author of Cupcakes & Chardonnay, Falling for the Prodigal Son, and Feral. She holds a master’s degree in creative writing and is on the faculty of the Writing Department at a university in New England.

Wizards with Words: D.B. Sieders and Red Shoes for Lab Blues

bigstock-magic-book-9719930Hey, everyone! It’s Wizards with Words time and I’m delighted to introduce you to another new author. D.B. Sieders has dropped by today to chat about her writing routine and her hot new release, RED SHOES FOR LAB BLUES.

D.B. is a sister author at Lyrical Press and a talented storyteller. I quickly devoured RED SHOES FOR LAB BLUES, her debut release, and am eagerly looking forward to seeing more from her. So get comfy, settle in, and please say hello to D.B.

~ooOOoo~

Let’s start with your writing routine. D.B. Do you have a favorite place and/or time of day to write?

As a working mom, I squeeze in my writing time from 8:00-10:00 P.M. at least three nights a week. Along with weekends and the occasional sprint during my lunch break at work, I manage a decent word count :)

Good for you! I often use my lunch break at work for writing too, or catching up with promo. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in a short amount of time when those hours are so precious! Which do you develop first, characters or plot?

For me, the characters come first. I catch a flash of one in action or a snippet of dialogue will run through my mind. That’s how they ‘introduce’ themselves. I’m lucky in that those flashes usually reveal some bit of conflict or character motivation, and then their journey to resolution takes shape as I write the first chapters or scene – so there’s my basic process.

I’m a character-first writer too. I love when they introduce themselves,  then hang around demanding attention. A persistent lot, LOL. Which do you find easier to write and why – description or dialogue?

Definitely dialogue! My characters love to talk, whether to each other or to themselves via internal dialogue. I normally crank out all of the conversation for a scene or chapter and then go back to flesh out the setting. I can normally visualize what my characters are doing as they speak, so the action tags work out pretty well.

Sounds like a good process! Please tell us about your new/debut release.

redshoesforlabbluesRed Shoes for Lab Blues is a contemporary romance novella featuring two dedicated and somewhat competitive biomedical cancer researchers and set against the backdrop of laboratory and pharmaceutical corporate politics, including an act of sabotage that could turn deadly.

I loved the story and your characters, especially Henry :). And the cover is awesome! For those who haven’t read the book, would you care to share how you chose your title?

Ah, now that would be telling… My heroine, Dr. Stacey Jamison, tends to be pretty focused on her work in the laboratory, to the point of sacrificing a social life. As her roommate points out, Stacey really needs to get out more and ‘recalibrate her normal meter.’ Well, during one such outing, complete with several tequila shots, a bar bet, and a pair of sexy red suede pumps, Stacey stumbles (literally) into her secret crush from work, Dr. Henry Chan. With looks, smarts, and more charm and sex appeal than any geek has a right to flaunt, he might just be the cure for her lab blues – if she can trust him.

Share one sentence – - yes, only one! – - of dialogue or description you love.

Her face split into that winning smile he’d come to adore as she replied, “Hmm, in that case, you should know I am capable of appreciating a man with a really big…vocabulary.”

LOL! Do you have any guilty pleasures (i.e., type of food, music, TV show, shoe obsession, silly distraction) you’d like to share?

We spend a lot of time on Animal Planet in my house (kid friendly), and I absolutely love ‘My Cat From Hell’ and ‘Call of the Wildman.’ The latter definitely counts as a guilty pleasure.

I love My Cat from Hell (feline fanatic here) and I admit to the guilty pleasure of Call of the Wildman. Hubs and I had never watched it before, then met someone who was friends with Ernie, the Turtleman, on a recent trip. After that, we had to give it a try. It’s definitely addictive!

Moving from TV to books, name 3-5 books you’d horde for a deserted island.

Oh, only 5?!?! Well, if I absolutely have to choose, I’d pick Stephen King’s The Stand, at least one or two of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books (but it would be like choosing between my children), Jeaniene Frost’s Halfway to the Grave (still my favorite out of the series), Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs, and I’d sneak Jeri Smith-Ready’s Requiem for the Devil in while no one’s looking.

Okay, you can sneak,since I’d have to sneak in more than five too. :) Isn’t it amazing how attached we become to our favorites? Now name a book that had a profound effect on you and explain why.

As per my deserted island reading list, I’d have to go with The Silence of the Lambs. Clarice Starling is one of the toughest heroines I’ve ever encountered in fiction. She has to be – you don’t go toe-to-toe with Hannibal Lecter and Jame Gumb unless you’re a real warrior. She represents the type of heroine I aspire to create in my own work. Harris does such an amazing job showing both her toughness and vulnerability, easy thing for a male writer to do when writing a female character. Hats off to him!

I’ll agree with you there. I’ve read several books by male authors who failed to capture the female mindset. Hmm..I wonder why that is so more glaringly noticeable than a female author who doesn’t capture the male mindset? I’ve seen the movie Silence of the Lambs, but never read the book. It sounds very intense!

Okay, new direction: Pets and writers seem to go together like peas in a pod. If you have pets tell us about them, and whether or not they shadow your writing time and space.

I have two cats, one long-haired Siamese and a short-haired mutt. They’re great mascots, and love to keep me company (and sometimes walk across my keyboard) while I’m typing.

A favorite pastime for cats :)

And now, a couple quick questions on your personal preferences:

Favorite season: Autumn
Favorite time of day: Early evening
Favorite color: Burgundy
Food you never grow tired of: Chocolate
Sunset picnic or night on the town: Oh, definitely sunset picnic – I’m a nature girl!

I love early evening and sunset picnics too. Thanks for being my guest today, D.B. I enjoyed having you, and wish you much success with your fab release, RED SHOES FOR LAB BLUES.

Thanks so much for having me, Mae!

~ooOOoo~

You can Find D.B. at the Following Haunts:
Website
Blog
Twitter: @DBSieders
Facebook
Goodreads

Red Shoes for Lab Blues is available from:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Blurb:
Dr. Stacey Jamison thinks she’s close to validating PharmEx’s new anti-cancer drug. Her budding independent career, her boss’s tenure, and a ton of research dollars are at stake. She just has to prove Compound Z kills cancer cells.

So far, it doesn’t.

Then along comes Dr. Henry Chan, the department’s new rising star. Henry is smart, handsome, and confident. He’s also captivated by the enigmatic Dr. Jamison, who seems oblivious to her own charms. But will Henry risk his heart when the research project is at stake?

A rival drug company, an insider with a personal grudge, and militant animal rights protestors force everyone’s plans into disarray. Can their love overcome everything being thrown at them?

HeadshotAuthor Bio, D.B. Seiders:
I was born and raised in East Tennessee and spent a great deal of my childhood hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains and wading barefoot in creeks, chasing salamanders, fish, and frogs.  We camped a lot, and we loved to tell stories while sitting around our campfire.

Those days of frog chasing sparked my interest in biology, which I pursued in college and later in graduate school.  I am a working scientist by day, but I never lost my love of sharing stories.  I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember and am thrilled to be working as a writer.

I live in Nashville, Tennessee with my husband, two children, two cats, and my very active imagination.

Wizards with Words: Mary E. Merrell and Soul in Present Condition #G*I*V*E*A*W*A*Y

bigstock-magic-book-9719930Welcome to another Wizards with Words interview — With a fab giveaway!

Stay tuned for the deets later in this post. For now I’d like to introduce Mary E. Merrell who will be sharing her latest release in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery series. 

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I’m a real estate girl (have been since 1988) and am pretty gone on all things strange and weird. Sounds like a good fit for this series, right? (I’ve been in a few vacant spooky houses in the course of my career).

I’m already invested in book one of Mary’s intriguing series and am looking forward to reading all three. Please say hello to Mary!

~ooOOoo~

Mary, Please share a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.  

I’ve been writing for over ten years now. I was a stay at home mom with two sons and I told myself a lot of stories while I cleaned and did mom stuff. About the time I went into real estate, we got our first computer and I attempted to put one of those stories down. It was a lot harder than I expected, but I was hooked. I took some writing classes and joined a writer’s group. I loved it! Then I went into that vacant home, and a compelling story about a newbie real estate agent and a ghost developed. When I’m not writing, I love to grow things, and my husband and I have a small business making vertical frames for succulents. I try to exercise consistently, (ha, good one) and I love reading and playing soccer. Almost time to retire from soccer…again. My team calls me Brett Favre.

You sound extremely busy! When you do find time to write, do you have a favorite place and/or time of day for flexing your creative muscles? (Sorry, couldn’t resist the exercise connection :)).

My favorite time to write is early in the morning. I love to get up, feed the animals and get a cup of coffee and write away, but if I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, the dogs and I go for a run first. I should be doing my crunches and pushups too, but lately I’ve been shirking. Just ask my pants. I write in the office. Usually surrounded by the dogs and cats.

Pets make a perfect patient audience when writing. And I can so relate to the exercise guilt. If it weren’t for my pool routine, I’d be woefully behind. Going back to your writing habits, when it comes to being a plotter vs. panster, I think even plotters veer from their outline to a degree during the process. When you finish a novel, how closely would you say the end product resembles your original concept — 100%? 50%? Something else entirely? series-lineup I just recently read this term, panster on a blog. I have to say I am definitely a panster, if it means writing by the seat of your pants. (Just figured that out as I was typing) My current release, Soul in Present Condition is completely different from the original draft. I changed the killer, had to add new chapters and delete others. As I really think about this, most of my final drafts probably resemble only 50% of the original concept.

I can most certainly relate to that, being a dyed-in-the-wool panster for many years running. Are you a draft writer or someone who invests a lot of time in editing and polishing as you write? Why does your method work best for you? 

I like to write the book all a one time. Straight through. I’ve written one book a year for the last four years for the NaNoWrimo, and this year, hopefully will be no different. Then the book sits until I can get back and revise it. This works well for me because I don’t do extensive plotting. I have a loose outline that I follow, but it could change drastically as I write. That does mean I have to go back and fill a lot of holes and flesh out the story threads and make sure everything is consistent when I revise. Sometimes, like Soul in Present Condition it hardly looks like the original book at all. front_v1

Speaking of Soul in Present Condition, please tell us a bit about it.

Soul in Present Condition is book #3 in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series. This was a fun book to write. I changed it a lot, because I had a great idea for a twist. Rosemary Fernandes is a new real estate agent and her business is building, in spite of ghosts lurking in any home she might show. She knows how to deal with the lost souls that are drawn to her, how to help them move on.

Unfortunately, her gift attracts the undead as well. Now, Rosemary is human servant to a vampire. Marcus Lyons is…difficult but gorgeous. Rosemary doesn’t understand this strange relationship with the vampire, but the more she gets to know him the more human he seems, and the more she finds herself seeing the good in him.

When Rosemary meets a young ghost, all sarcastic and gangster, she has a plan, but this ghost keeps a secret, a deadly secret. Rosemary knows his soul will go on, even in its present condition, but she must convince the vampire that her destiny is helping the spirits that call to her, no matter how dangerous.

In this book, Rosemary’s relationship with her boyfriend, Frank Perez heats up. She realizes her friends and family are in danger just being around her. She wants to tell them her secret, but first she must get permission. As the ghost, the vampire and her friends come together to solve this latest mystery, the dynamics of her life change drastically and nothing will ever be the same.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I loved writing it.

It sounds fascinating! Without giving too much away, please share a bit about your favorite scene.

There are so many little things that I love. I know, I wrote it, but it still tickles me. But I think my favorite scene is with Rosemary and Frank, talking about what’s going to happen with their relationship. Is Frank going to stick around and work for the vampire Marcus Lyons or let the vampire wipe his memory, so he forgets everything, including Rosemary? It’s tender and heartwarming and ends with Rosemary and Frank making the most of a night alone.

I can see why it would be your favorite scene. How about sharing the first three sentences of your book?

I never take clients into a home I haven’t previewed. You never know what you’re going to stumble into. Like a ghost.

Love that! Now share one sentence – - yes, only one! – - of dialogue or description you love.

This isn’t really dialogue, well, internal dialogue then. It’s one of my favorites. “This feud they had with Marcus was going to be the death of me, because if dying of embarrassment was possible, I’d already be a corpse.”

LOL! Very nice! Poor Rosemary. And now for a bit about Mary. When  you’re not writing (or reading) what do you do to unwind?

I do a lot of gardening. Love growing things, and I run and play soccer.

I know you mentioned your pets before. Pets and writers seem to go together like peas in a pod. Tell us about yours and whether or not they shadow your writing time and space. 

I have two dogs and four…I mean five cats. A kitten got into our backyard a couple weeks ago, which is not all that easy since we have a cat fence to keep our cats in and stray cats out. He’s so little he slipped through the lattice in the cat area. I think he’s one of the gang now. In fact, he’s sleeping on the couch next to me. Having trouble naming him. My niece named him Fisher, but my husband doesn’t like it. Well, it’s better than boots. (He has white feet. So cliché.) The cats usually sleep in the office while I’m writing and usually one or another is on the desk vying for my attention. The young dog Lily is always trying to put a toy in my hand so I’ll play tug-o-war, and Charlie (The older female dog, my husband named.) barks at me to chase her. Sometimes I do…

Oh, I love pets. Especially cats! They all sound adorable. And for what it’s worth, I like the name Fisher for the little one. :) Now I have a couple quick questions about fun stuff!

Dream vacation gifted to you by a fairy godmother: I would like a staycation, where I can be home, but nobody knows I’m there, and I don’t have to do anything like housework, cooking, or yardwork, unless I want to. Just me and the animals. Maybe my sisters too.  So they can do the cooking. Hee, hee. I can write until I’m tired of it. Then maybe I’ll read a little too. Or watch stupid TV shows like Big Bang Theory or musicals. Whatever silly movie I’m in the mood for.

Favorite time of day:  Morning

Favorite color:  Yellow

Food you never grow tired of:  Chocolate and coffee together.

I just had a very relaxing staycation with hubby. Unfortunately, I didn’t do any writing, LOL. And you know, I think you’re the first person who’s answered yellow to the color question. It’s so cheerful and summery. That was always my mother’s favorite color and the thought of it makes me smile.

~ooOOoo~

Blurb Soul in Present Condition
Divorced. Check. Ghost Whisperer. Check. Human Servant. Check. Great. Check. Real estate agent Rosemary Fernandes never expected to inherit the ability to communicate with spirits, and she certainly didn’t expect her gift to attract the undead as well. Now Rosemary finds herself ghost whisperer to the lost souls stuck at their haunts and human servant to a gorgeous but aloof vampire Marcus Lyons. Benito Cruz died with a dangerous secret, a secret that connects the ghost to Rosemary. Can Rosemary send the spirit to his final resting place before his past catches up with them, and can she convince the vampire helping spirits like Benito is her destiny? 

Add SOUL IN PRESENT CONDITION to your Goodreads list here!

member_817010[1]Author Bio
Mary E. Merrell writes Paranormal Mysteries and Young Adult Urban Fantasy. She has worked many jobs, but always had stories in her head. It wasn’t until she went into real estate and walked into that old, vacant home that The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series came to life. Fortunately, nothing spooky happened at the furniture store, or the first book could have been, “The Haunted Sofa.”

Mary E. Merrell’s plots are smooth and slightly dark, and her characters sinfully sweet. Try a little guilty pleasure with House Haunting, the first book in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series. One reviewer called it “A good start to a new series.”

Mary E. Merrell lives in the Central Valley of California with her husband, two dogs, and five cats. She has two grown sons. When she’s not writing, she’s gardening or playing soccer. Please visit her website to see what she’s working on next at www.maryemerrell.com.

You can find Mary at the following haunts:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Available Now/Buy Links:
House Haunting
Curve Appeal 

And now for that giveaway I mentioned at the start of this post. To celebrate the release of SOUL IN PRESENT CONDITION, Mary is giving away two prizes. One lucky person who comments will win a $10 gift card to Amazon and another will win ebook copies of Mary’s first two books in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series (House Haunting and Curve Appeal). So be sure to share your thoughts, say hello, and include your email.  Mary would love to hear from you!

Winners will be announced tomorrow!

Wizards with Words: Lorraine Paton and Devin’s Second Chance

bigstock-magic-book-9719930Hello and welcome to another Wizard with Words post.Today I’m pleased to have  Lorraine Paton as my guest.

Lorraine and I go back to the days of Six Sentence Sunday when we were both sharing snippets of our work. I’m excited to announce she has now released her debut novel, DEVIN’S SECOND CHANCE, a contemporary romance and book 1 of the Morning Lake novels. I’m really looking forward to this one and hope you’ll welcome Lorraine as she tells us a bit about herself and her particular style of writing.

I’m so happy to have you here, Lorraine. To start, how about sharing what first prompted you to begin writing?

Lorraine:  First, thank you for having me on your blog, Mae!  I’m thrilled to be here! Now, to answer your question: When didn’t I write? I remember when I was about thirteen doing research at the local library so I could write an historical.  The story didn’t actually go anywhere, but I had a plan! Somewhere around 2000, I ended up having a bit of time on my hands.  It was during that time that I had an idea that wouldn’t let go.  It was a vivid scene.  From there, I had to figure out who the characters were and what lead them to that point.  I winged it and ended up writing my first full length historical romance. I freely admit it was horrible, but it was so much fun!  After that I was hooked and eager to write the next and the next…

Those days of first falling in love with writing were wonderful, weren’t they? I guess it goes without saying that as authors we never fall OUT of love with it. :) Speaking of which, tell us about your new release, DEVIN’S SECOND CHANCE.

Lorraine: Devin, the widowed, former bull-riding hero that he is, came to me first.  In this book, he is forced to deal with his painful past when he falls in love with Claire Best, who must face the possibility of her own uncertain future after discovering she may have cancer. There are a number of important secondary characters who help Devin and Claire along this path, whether they realize it or not. One is Devin’s matchmaking mom, Helen, who launches her big plan to throw the two together at the rodeo. Jay, the teenager of Claire’s summer renters, is also critical to their journey.  Devin takes Jay under his wing to teach him a few things about responsibilities and hard work, and ends up learning a few lessons from “the kid.”

It sounds wonderful. I especially enjoy a novel where the secondary characters are pivotal to bringing about an HEA for the H/h. Do you have a favorite scene in the book? Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about it?

Lorraine: Oh, this is easy!  I loved writing the rodeo scene!  I drew on memories I had going to rodeos as a little girl, and tried to imagine what it would be like for someone who’d never been to a rodeo before.

That would be me, LOL! *raising hand* I’ve seen them on TV, but I’ve never been to one in real life, so I’ll be looking forward to that scene.

Okay, technique time. Do you decide on setting or characters first?

Lorraine:  I usually have either one of the characters or a particular scene to start.  That said, now that I am writing a series I know the setting first and I have heaps of characters eager for me to write about them!  So, maybe things are changing.

Do you have a favorite time of day to write when you’re more productive or creative than other times?

Lorraine:  I like getting up in the morning and writing.  It is usually quieter and I have fewer distractions.  Unfortunately, I can only do that on the weekends.  So, my second best time is whenever I have the house to myself.

What attracts you most to your genre?

Lorraine:  I am a complete sucker for a happy ending.  There is something immensely satisfying about knowing everything is going to work out for the characters.  It is what I read, so I’m naturally drawn to writing them. As a writer, I also find romances to be challenging–afterall, everyone knows how the book is going to end–so I have to push myself to find new, fresh ways for the romance to enfold.

Very good point! And I am a sucker for an HEA too. What is the current title you’re reading on your Kindle/Nook or in print?

Lorraine: I’m reading Marie Force’s Maid for Love.

If you could have a coffee date with an author of your choice to discuss technique, who would you choose and why?

Lorraine:  Oh, tough question! My first impulse was to say J.K. Rowling or J.R. Ward, but now that I think about it a bit, I’m going to choose Elizabeth Hoyt.  I love everything she’s written. To me, her imagery creates a rich texture, her characters are complex, and her plots have a goodly amount of twists.  I also think the romance between her two main characters is always wonderfully rendered.  She writes historicals, but the way she does it feels fresh and new.  I’m not sure what I’d talk to her about specifically, though, since I’d be in awe, and probably tongue-tied and awkward.

I’m definitely going to have to look her up. I enjoy historicals but I especially love romance reads with complex characters and multi-layered plots with twists! I know that DEVIN’S SECOND CHANCE is the first of a planned series. Can you tell us what we can look forward to with the remaining books in the series?

Lorraine: The Morning Lake series is a collection of stories set in the same small town, Morning Lake.  This fictional town is situated in Alberta, Canada.  In addition to the setting, each book also shares the same older woman, Helen Trent, who likes to think of herself as a bit of matchmaker.  I have another novel, Annie’s Christmas Plan, and a novella, Chloe’s Matchmaking Terrier, scheduled for release in 2013.  I’m also already planning more in the series for 2014–I have outlines for an additional three books!

Wow, you are definitely busy! It sounds like a fun series. I’ve enjoyed learning about Canada through the posts you do on your blog and I look forward to meeting all these characters. Do you have any other projects you have in the works?  

Lorraine: Yes!  I have a historical paranormal romance, Awakening a Witch, which is undergoing edits and will soon be ready for beta readers, and a contemporary paranormal romance, which I’m working on with my critique group. I don’t have a title for the contemporary one yet, but I’m almost finished the first draft!  The paranormals are quite different from the Morning Lake series, so they are a fun change.

Paranormals work for me, historical or contemporary. I can’t believe all the projects you have in the hopper! Okay, now some quick stuff for the fun of it!

Favorite number: 4
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite food: Mac and Cheese
Dressy or casual: Casual
Dawn or dusk: Dusk
Cake or pie: Cake

Book you would like to see made into a movie: Something by Elizabeth Hoyt.  To me, her books are so vivid they play like a movie in my head when I’m reading them.  I think To Beguile a Beast would be great, or maybe one of her Maiden Lane books.

Book you wish had never been made into a movie: Probably one of the last Harry Potters. Oddly enough, I love the movies, but I felt there was so much to the story they couldn’t possibly capture in a single movie.

Dream vacation gifted to you by a fairy godmother: Greece (I was “this close” to doing a master’s degree in classics, so I’m drawn to those ancient sites!)

That was fun! Lorraine, thank you again for visiting my blog and taking the time to do an interview with me. I wish you much success with DEVIN’S SECOND CHANCE and can’t wait to read it! DevinsSecondChance_1600x2400 copy

Blurb for DEVIN’S SECOND CHANCE: Cowboy Devin Trent’s life has been stuck for years, unchanged since his unfaithful wife died, and he is determined to keep it that way — an ever-present reminder of why he doesn’t deserve a second chance at love. Claire Best, by contrast, is in turmoil – she is renting her house to summer folk, she is planning a big fundraiser, and her doctor has discovered something that needs to be investigated.

Pulled together by the fundraiser, Claire’s teenage renter, and Devin’s matchmaking mom, their immediate attraction quickly escalates to more, but Claire fears her own health worries will only resurrect Devin’s pain and grief over his wife’s final days and she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness to protect him.

Can they overcome their pasts and listen to their hearts before their happily-ever-after slips away?

EXCERPT:
Luckily, the sun was high in the sky now, minimizing the chance of glare in the photos. The bull- and bronco-riding arena was only ten feet in front of her, much closer than she had imagined, so she changed the lens on her camera and waited.

Thanks to the rodeo booklet and a few words from Helen, she figured she had a good handle on the rodeo events themselves. Bareback riding, bull riding, saddle bronco, steer wrestling, roping—who knew there were so ways men could try to get themselves killed by farm animals?

Promptly at one o’clock, the event started with an anthem and a prayer. Then a man with a deep voice, who sounded like he’d been born to call rodeo events, announced the start of the bareback riding.

Claire leaned forward and turned on her camera. A cowboy was poised atop a horse in a chute beside the arena, then the gate was thrown wide, and man and beast careened into the open. The animal looked some pissed, charging around the pen, jumping and bucking. The cowboy had one arm flung back and the other holding a little leather handle as he was tossed up and down. As far as Claire could tell, he was doing his best to get whiplash. His hat flew off. Then, half a heart beat later, he somersaulted over the front of the horse.

Oh God, he was hurt. He had to be hurt after all that.

She rushed to her feet. Where were the medics? What could she do to help? She only knew rudimentary first aid. Then she realized everyone else was clapping and cheering.

Claire put her hand over her heart, willing it to slow. She watched a couple of other men settle the horse and get it out of the area so the next competitor could do his thing. The cowboy was already standing. Grinning, he waved to the audience, and in return, the crowd and the announcer hollered their support.

They were insane. All of them.

Claire sat beside Helen. She held her camera, but she hadn’t taken a single photo.

~ooOOoo~

DEVIN’S SECOND CHANCE is available at:
Amazon
Smashwords
All Romance eBooks Lorraine_colourphoto_2 copy_1000

AUTHOR BIO
When Lorraine Paton finished her master’s degree, she was tempted to sign on to do a doctorate, but then she realized she wanted to write fiction more. So, by day, she works in a hectic office, and by night, she lets loose her passion for writing romance novels. She lives with two cats who hate one another and a wonderfully patient man with a sexy Scottish accent in Alberta, Canada, which is where her contemporary stories take place. A diehard romance reader and writer, her goal is to bring happily-ever-afters to as many people—or characters—as she can. Devin’s Second Chance is her debut novel, and she’s excitedly planning the release of more stories in 2013 and beyond!

Connect with Lorraine on her blog (http://www.lorrainepaton.com/), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/LorrainePaton.Author), on Twitter (https://twitter.com/patonlorraine) or subscribe to her newsletter.

Wizards with Words: Jane Wakely and Christina’s Bear

bigstock-magic-book-9719930It’s an exciting Tuesday, when I can introduce a new Wizards with Words author. Jane Wakely has visited my blog before, but this is the first I’ve had an opportunity to interview her. She’s here today with her new paranormal/shifter romance, CHRISTINA’S BEAR. And you know how I love the paranormal/shifter stuff, right? Sit back and enjoy!

~ooOOoo~

Let’s start with what first attracted you to writing. When did you realize it was something you wanted to do?

When I look back, I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t writing (except for my almost twenty year break as an adult—and even then I was still creating in my head!) I’ve always enjoyed writing and creating things with words and it’s what attracted me—and convinced me to come back! Early on, I knew I wanted to write, but as I got older I let fear and doubt force me to give up my dream. Luckily, one day I jumped in with both feet and decided to try! :)

Good for you! As an author, you write in multiple romance genres and varying heat levels. Do you find it hard to switch between a paranormal and a contemporary, or a sweet romance and a sensual one?

I don’t find it hard to switch between genres. Usually when an idea comes to me, it’s very clear about which genre it belongs in and I go with it. Heat level is a bit different. I have one erotic short and one sweet one (the rest are in the middle.) I prefer to write sensual/spicy scenes, so both of those stories were a challenge—one because I had to add so much more than usual, the other because I had to take out so much! Usually my characters stay where I’m comfy and hang-out in the sensual/spicy zone, but if they pull me somewhere else, I go with it!

Please share the blurb for your current release.

CHRISTINA’S BEAR
Paranormal/Shifter Romance

Christina Mills’ loud, bubbly personality gains her numerous friends and dating opportunities. Unfortunately, being labeled a “party girl” and dating a lot can give people the wrong impression. When Christina’s dates learn the truth about her, they soon move on.

James “Bull” Johnson is a restless bear shifter ready to settle down. At the urging of his friend, he relocates to the mid-sized town of Chestnut Rock. Bull hopes the nearby forest and being near his best friend will help soothe his bear and cure some of his loneliness.

When Bull and Christina meet, he recognizes her as his mate. However, their first two encounters leave Bull thinking Christina is afraid of him and Christina is confused by her feelings toward the stranger. Both Bull and Christina have secrets and insecurities that keep them guarded, but if they can trust one another, they’ll discover they’re made for each other.

Without giving too much away, do you have a favorite scene in the novel?

I love, love, LOVE this couple so it’s really hard to pick a fave scene. I think I’m going to have to go with the Epilogue and all I can tell you is they live happily ever after! ;)

I love HEAs, so that’s good to know! How long does it usually take you to finish a manuscript?

I write novellas/shorts so if I really hustle I can finish a manuscript in two weeks, but it usually takes me three or four. Life usually gets in the way of my hustle! LOL

I hear that! When you start a new project do you usually begin with characters or plot first?

It depends on the story, but most of the time the plot comes first.

What is your next project on the horizon?

Right now I’m working on Book 6 in my Chestnut Rock Shifters Series. (CHRISTINA’S BEAR is book 2!) Next I’ll work on the final planned book, Book 7!

You are definitely busy! And now a few speed round questions:

Plotter or panster: Pantser with a few notes!

Favorite time of year: Fall/Winter

Favorite animal: Tiger

Favorite type of music: I listen to whatever TG (Teen Girl) plays for me! LOL

Favorite spot to write: I have an office, but when no one’s home I prefer the kitchen table!

A book you’ve read more than once: Annabelle’s Courtship by Lucy Monroe

Dream vacation gifted to you by a fairy godmother: I’d like to visit England, Ireland and Scotland!

They’re on my list too. Before we wrap things up today, is there any sage writing advice you’d like to share?

Patience is a virtue in this business! While you’re waiting, keep writing! :)

Well said!

Christina's Bear CoverExcerpt CHRISTINA’S BEAR
Christina Mills looked around the now half empty apartment and couldn’t help the sadness sweeping over her. She and Jenn lived here together for two years and now Jenn had been completely gone for two weeks. Christina knew they couldn’t live together forever, but she’d honestly thought it would be much longer before either one of them found the one.

Once Jenn and Matt had worked out their differences, Jenn’s belongings disappeared little by little until her friend finally admitted she was moving in with Matt. Christina was very happy for the two of them—and if she was honest, a little jealous. Not of Matt, of what Jenn found with Matt. Someone to love her unconditionally. Christina often wondered if she would ever find a perfect match.

Making friends was easy. Her height combined with her trim body and large breasts always gained the attention of men, but she’d kept most of them in the friend category. The ones that became boyfriends quickly tired of her bubbly—sometimes loud—personality. Looking for love resulted in dating often and had gained her the reputation of being a fun party girl. Unfortunately, many people made the mistake of thinking she was easy and slept around. Jenn was the only one who knew the truth and now Jenn was gone. Christina felt very alone.

Buy CHRISTINA’S BEAR from:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
All Romance Ebooks

Author bio
Jane has always been a writer. Even when she took a break from it for a few years, she couldn’t keep the stories from filling her head. As an avid romance reader, she finally decided her stories needed to be free, and she started writing again.

Reading and liking all genres of romance; it makes sense that she would write that way too. Her stories range from sweet to erotic, contemporary to paranormal, and a bunch in-between. She loves all romance genres, and all levels of spice.

Jane lives on the east coast of the United States with her loving husband, daughter and their Miniature Dachshund.

Look for Jane at the following haunts:
Blog
Facebook
Twitter 
Goodreads