Solstice Island by Mae Clair: Now on Amazon for .99 Cents #RomanticAdventure

I did it! After learning the ropes of HTML formatting, Amazon KDP, and working between Word, Notepad, Calibre and Amazon Kindle Generator, I finally finished and uploaded my first indie publication . . . a romantic adventure novella, SOLSTICE ISLAND.  I’m sure there are simpler ways of accomplishing the whole thing (hopefully, I’ll discover them the more I move ahead), but the bottom line is it’s done and available for purchase! *huge sigh of relief*

Time to celebrate and do the happy dance!

I’m jazzed to announce you can now buy SOLSTICE ISLAND for just .99 cents.

Cover KindleCan an ancient leviathan work magic between a practical man and an idealistic woman?

Rylie Carswell is an amateur cryptozoologist in search of a mythical creature, the Sea Goliath. In order to reach Solstice Island, a location the ancient leviathan is rumored to haunt, she’s forced to hire charter boat captain, Daniel Decatur.

Initially, Daniel wants nothing to do with the trip or the fool woman waving double payment in his face. Convinced she’s yet another loony treasure hunter looking for gold on the remote island, he reluctantly agrees. An embittered neighbor wants to have his charter license yanked, so the extra cash will help him stay afloat.

It doesn’t take long for Daniel to realize Rylie is after the same beast his parents were tracking when they mysteriously vanished ten years earlier. He’s avoided all links to cryptozoology ever since, but the smart and sexy cryptid hunter has him second-guessing his oath and wondering what he’s signed on for.

Warning: A family legacy, glowing plankton and rough waters.

The book is only available through Amazon right now, but if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a FREE Kindle Reading App for your PC, iPhone, iPad android, tablet — take your pick and download here.

Then hop over and grab your copy of SOLSTICE ISLAND for just .99 cents by clicking this link. This is a short, fast read that plays on my love for mythical creatures and romance. I hope you enjoy the tale and will help me spread the word!

Cover Reveal: Solstice Island, by Mae Clair #RomanticAdventure

Wow, I can’t believe the day has finally arrived! I’m another step closer to releasing my first indie-pubbed title, SOLSTICE ISLAND. Today, I’d like to share the cover with you.

I designed this myself, and was really pleased to have found two models who matched my characters in appearance so closely. As a result, I’m pretty jazzed about how it turned out. What do you think?

Cover KindleSOLSTICE ISLAND is a sweet (PG-13) romantic adventure novella pairing an intrepid woman with a withdrawn man during the search for a mythical sea creature. I’d like to extend a “thank you” to everyone who shared their input when I was waffling on several title possibilities a few months ago. SOLSTICE ISLAND was the runaway winner.

As a refresher, here’s the blurb:

Can an ancient leviathan work magic between a practical man and an idealistic woman?

Rylie Carswell is an amateur cryptozoologist in search of a mythical creature, the Sea Goliath. In order to reach Solstice Island, a location the ancient leviathan is rumored to haunt, she’s forced to hire charter boat captain, Daniel Decatur.

Initially, Daniel wants nothing to do with the trip or the fool woman waving double payment in his face. Convinced she’s yet another loony treasure hunter looking for gold on the remote island, he reluctantly agrees. An embittered neighbor wants to have his charter license yanked, so the extra cash will help him stay afloat.

It doesn’t take long for Daniel to realize Rylie is after the same beast his parents were tracking when they mysteriously vanished ten years earlier. He’s avoided all links to cryptozoology ever since, but the smart and sexy cryptid hunter has him second-guessing his oath and wondering what he’s signed on for.

Warning: A family legacy, glowing plankton and rough waters.

~ooOOoo~

I’ve got my fingers crossed I will have this released before the month is out and hope you’ll consider adding it to your TBR list. Thanks for sharing in my cover reveal today. I’m pumped! :D

The Unexpected Curve Ball by Mae Clair

Dear Friends,

In the event you haven’t heard the news my publisher, Lyrical Press, has been acquired by New York house, Kensington Books. Lyrical will become the digital imprint of Kensington. While this opens new opportunities and potential for Lyrical authors, it’s also created some unavoidable issues.

For the present, until contracts can be signed between Kensington and its new roster of authors, Lyrical has pulled their books from online retailers. As I had just kicked off a blog tour for TWELFTH SUN, I’ve had to cancel that tour. I’m grateful to Literary Nook, my touring company, for their understanding of the situation. The book tour wouldn’t have made much sense without the ability for readers to purchase my titles. Even though they already had bloggers and reviews lined up, Literary Nook willingly cancelled the tour and invited me to contact them again whenever I am ready.

If you had planned to visit me during any of my stops, that tour is now in a holding pattern. It may be thirty to sixty days before my titles are available again. Hopefully, sooner than later. The good news is that if I sign with Kensington, WEATHERING ROCK and TWELFTH SUN will be available through POD as well as digital format. As soon as I know more, I’ll share the news. None of this however, changes what I had previously planned for indie pubbing SOLISTICE ISLAND and ECLIPSE LAKE.

It feels extremely odd not to have my titles available for purchase right now, almost as if a safety net is missing. When the dust settles, whatever the outcome, I believe it will be for the better. Apparently, 2014 threw me a curve ball right out of the box. An exhilarating one, but a challenge nonetheless as I work to get everything back in order. That pesky New Year, LOL!

So, although I’ve had to cancel my tour temporarily, new adventures await on the horizon!

Best to all of you,
Mae

bluejacketcrop2

Mae Clair’s Wizards with Words: Christy Olesen

A beam of light shines out from an open bookToday, on Wizards with Words, I’m happy to introduce Christy Olesen. Christy and I met on Savvy Authors when we took a course together, then continued to communicate afterward through a small group that formed from the class. Christy has just released her debut novel, HER SCOTTISH CEO. I invited her to my blog to share a bit about herself and her new novel, so let’s get started!

Christy: Hi Mae, thanks for inviting me to participate on your wonderful blog today.

I’m pleased to have you pop in for a visit, Christy. Let’s start with what first attracted you to writing. When did you realize it was something you wanted to do?

Christy: When I was eleven or twelve—it was just something I did. It was a form of exploration, the same as drawing, or singing in choir, or playing snake-in-the-grass with the neighborhood kids. Around that time I wrote a story, about 5 pages. It wasn’t until 2005 that I knew I wanted to write with the aim for publication. That led to searching everything I could find about writing, which led to learning how much I didn’t know.

There’s definitely a lot to learn. I think as writers, it’s an ongoing process for us. How about your novel, HER SCOTTISH CEO. Can you give us a brief glimpse into the plot?

Christy: Marcie Winters is an American illustrator who puts her hopes on a job that takes her to Scotland. She needs the illustration job because she needs to start over, but she’s barely there a week and has an accident in her rental car.

Greg McInnis is struggling to prove himself in his family’s publishing business; he’s looking for just the right artwork for the idea he knows will prove his ability. He finds what he’s looking for in the paintings of Marcie Winters, the beguiling American artist he meets on the streets of Fort William, but she’s already contracted to another publisher and after her accident neither of them know if she’ll be able to paint when she recovers. Greg is determined that she will.

This is your debut release, which you chose to indie publish. As someone who is thinking of going that route (I’m not sure my current WIP fits a publisher’s guidelines on genre) how difficult was it to tackle that learning curve?

Christy: Thankfully, there are a lot of people out there (via the internet) who are willing to share their knowledge. So, again, I dove in to find out how much I didn’t know. I have a list of books that were helpful to me on my web site.

Publishing is not hard. The sites are user friendly. We are lucky to live in a time when we can have so much control with the production of our work. Indie publishing is perfect for the writer who wants to write outside the box, push the envelope, reinvent their genre or invent a new one. Or for someone who wants to illustrate their book. Traditional publishers can’t take those risks.

Because I am a graphic artist by trade I wanted to do it all myself, from writing to formatting to cover design. It may seem like I have an advantage, and I guess I do, but I can tell you I was tearing my hair out and saying a few colorful words at my computer. I work with high-end desktop publishing software at my day job and I don’t have a lot for experience with MSWord. After much frustration and research I tamed it enough to do what I needed it to do. The first book is always the hardest. Then it becomes the template for the next.

What would you say was the most difficult challenge of indie publishing?

Christy: Other than the formatting nightmare above?

I see Indie publishing as having several facets: Writing, Publishing and Promotion being the most obvious. Each one is difficult at first and it depends on your life experiences and talents what parts will be difficult and at which ones you’ll shine. Don’t be afraid to ask those who have gone before you for advice when you hit a bump.

You chose Scotland as a setting for your novel, always a favorite of mine whatever the era. Is there a particular reason for your choice?

Christy: As a child I was intrigued by my family history. My father’s parents emigrated from Denmark. My mother’s mother was English but born in China and my mother’s father said his family came from Scotland in the 1790s. I was fascinated. Years later I had an opportunity to travel to the UK. I bought a BritRail pass and traveled all over visiting places linked to my family history, including Scotland. It was the scenery and villages that captured me.

What an amazing trip that must have been! You’re an artist as well as a writer and offer three versions of your book: a full color illustrated version through Create Space, a black-and-white illustrated version for less, and the regular Kindle version on Amazon. What were the challenges of acting as illustrator as well as author?

Christy: There weren’t too many challenges since the illustrations were already done during my last trip to Scotland — in fact, that trip became the seed for HER SCOTTISH CEO — I only had to scan the art and format into into the mss. The challenge was having editions to suite everyone’s taste and pocketbook. I was a little stunned at the cost of POD (print on demand) color and I sincerely wish I could offer the Full Color edition for less, but I priced it as low as I could. Since I had two trade paperback editions I wanted buyers to know what they were getting, Full Color or Black and White, so I added subtitles to the books. That caused only one book to show up on an author or title search and it was the more expensive one. I was sure anyone browsing would pass my book over because of the price. Working with customer service I was able to fix that problem at the expense of not offering the Full Color Edition on Amazon any longer. It is only available on CreateSpace right now. By the way, Customer Service at CS is prompt and helpful.

How long did it take you to write HER SCOTTISH CEO, from initial thought to finished product?

Christy: I got the idea long before I stated writing it. I was, at the time, working on another mss, which I’d worked on — off and on — for ten years. That mss was before I decided I could write for publication; I was still cutting my teeth. But with HSCEO things began to click and when I sat down to write it, it took about five weeks. Following mss also took me five to six weeks for a first draft. Meanwhile, I took classes and workshops and rewrote and revised HSCEO. I submitted and I took the editors’ crits to heart. And revised some more. So, to answer your question… about six years. Time flies when you’re having fun.

LOL! Do you have a favorite place to write?

Christy: Yes, in my home office. It’s also my studio and crafts room. I have a big old, 1922 oak news editor’s desk and a view of cottonwood trees and the Sierra mountains.

Lovely! I’m jealous! :D Do you develop characters first or plot? Which do you find harder?

Christy: Characters first. I usually start with a scenario, how a couple meet, or how some event sends their life in another direction putting them off balance. Plotting is the most difficult for me. I’m a pantster, but I’m working on evening out the differences between pantster and plotter. I’d like to be somewhere in between. We’re always learning, aren’t we?

Definitely. When you’re not writing—or working on a new piece of artwork—what do you enjoy doing?

Christy: This winter I’ve gotten into knitting. I’m not experienced but I made a nice neck warmer and caplet to wear in my home office on these cold evenings. In the spring and fall I like to take my vintage trailer out to rallys and travel club trips. In the summer I enjoy gardening.

And now for some quickies:

Christy: Oh, it’s not fair. I have lots of favorites. I’ll pick what comes to mind first.

Favorite color: Turquoise blue. If you see my trailer (there’s a picture on my web site) you’ll know why.

Favorite food: Thin crust pizza with Italian sausage and black olives. Yum.

Favorite movie: Ever After. I love a spunky Cinderella

Favorite song: The River by Garth Brooks. It’s about making your dreams come true, and navigating the rapids of life.

Silver or gold: Gold!

Dawn or Dusk: Sunset

Dream vacation spot gifted to you by a fairy godmother: A croft on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Thanks, Christy! That was fun. Before we close, do you have any works in progress you’d like to share with us?

Christy:  Yes. A DADDY FOR LUKE will introduce my Cottonwood County Chronicles series. It’s slated for a late Spring publication.

Sandy is a legally blind, single mom who snags the heart of popular mystery writer David when he offers to read one of his books to her. Sandy’s been burned and is cautious. David’s back in his hometown for a short visit. Offering to read to Sandy he risks opening an opportunity for his past to catch up with him and ruin his future.

The CCC series takes place in a small western town on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, each story has some connection to the local small town newspaper, the Cottonwood County Chronicle.

HER SCOTTISH CEO 1000BLURB:
Contemporary Tender Romance.

Fleeing a lifetime of disappointment, American artist Marcie Winters puts her hopes on a new job that takes her miles away to Scotland. She needs this illustration job. What she doesn’t need is a car accident. On her own in Scotland, starting her new career, she thought disappointment was behind her. Not only has she landed the job she needs to kick off her career, but she’s met a handsome Scotsman who understands her artistic nature. Maybe that’s why she feels a strong connection when they met. Maybe that’s why he is on the scene just when she needs him.

Greg McInnis was a cocky photographer, a man free to roam the world, until one fateful moment thrust him into the top job in his family’s publishing business. After two difficult years trying to live up to his father’s accomplishments and forget his failures, he’s looking for the brilliant spark that will persuade his grandfather to accept his unconventional project. He finds it in the artwork of Marcie Winters, the beguiling American artist, but when she’s in an accident he worries more for her wellbeing than her watercolors.

Set in the beautiful Great Glen in the Highlands of Scotland, from Fort William to Inverness along the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness. Richly illustrated with 17 original watercolors painted on location in the Great Glen.

EXCERPT:
Och, lass, watch yerself!” The Scot’s accent rang in Marcie Winter’s ear, two big hands clamped on her shoulders as momentum carried them both full circle. Her shoulder bag was knocked to the ground before the man disappeared into the morning crowd. At least he hadn’t snatched it.

“Oh, my paintings!” Horrified, Marcie dropped to her knees to retrieve her bag and its contents. Small watercolor paintings, pencils, brushes, lipgloss, postcards and keys littered the sidewalk around her. She could see her hard work about to be trampled by tourists’ feet, and scrambled to retrieve her illustrations before they were damaged.

A man crouched beside her and grabbed the ones beyond her reach. He wore a fine charcoal business jacket paired with a blue and green kilt. Marcie had seen several men in kilts in the week she’d been in the Highlands, but never for the office. He was quite striking and made her wish she’d worn her sundress instead of jeans.

While he studied her artwork, she studied him. Even folded up, she could tell he was tall. His wavy, burnt-ochre hair reminded her of Joel. She wondered if he had dreamy, chocolate-brown eyes like Joel’s. Homesickness and a stab of anger caught her unaware. She must have sighed because the man looked up, concerned.

No, he didn’t resemble Joel. His eyes were as green as the verdurous hills around Fort William. Bright, intelligent, curious. An unsettling connection startled her as his eyes trapped hers. He looked at her as though he knew her. Then a sad, desolate emotion changed his expression from that of a kind stranger to one of an anguished soul. It passed in a heartbeat and he looked away, back to her artwork in his hands. But she’d seen it, and she knew he hadn’t wanted her to see it. And she wondered why. Why had he looked at her as if he’d known her? Then as if he’d lost her?

She continued to observe him as he looked at her artwork. He had a straight nose and an average mouth, which, with his green eyes, came together to make him the most handsome man she’d ever seen.

Up close and personal-wise.

Concentrate, breathe. Don’t look stunned.

She reached to gather her pencils and brushes, and composure.

“Oban, nicely done.” He handed her the painting of the coastal town. “No damage.” Then he smiled. The smile was just a little tug at the corners of his mouth as though he were unaccustomed to smiling or unwilling or just didn’t have the heart. Bittersweet, it made her want to know what was holding his full smile in check. Even so, the smile made her heart skip, her pulse accelerate.

She took the watercolors and smiled back with no reserve. “Thanks for your help.”

He stood but didn’t leave.

With the watercolors safe in her bag, she picked up her lip gloss, sunglasses and bug spray, then examined her camera. Satisfied it was undamaged, she closed her bag and began to rise.

“Are you a’right, lassie?” He took her arm to assist her, his touch firm, gentle and… impersonal.

At five-foot-seven, Marcie’s eyes were even with the knot in his beautiful blue and green tartan tie, a perfect match to his kilt. She looked up. “Yes, I’m fine. I guess I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.”

“Have you drawn anything here in Fort William?”

“Just some vignettes. I only arrived last evening.” She held out the watercolors she’d done that morning in the neighborhood of her bed and breakfast, illustrations of quaint cottages with tile roofs, climbing roses and lace curtains. He took them carefully, obviously appreciating their value to her.

“I know this neighborhood.” He shuffled through the vignettes, then stopped to examine one. “My good friends recently purchased this house. Is this one for sale? It would make a brilliant housewarming gift.” He looked at her expectantly.

Should she sell it? It was part of the collection she was under contract to produce. Her contract was for sixty full illustrations of Scotland’s Great Glen, from Oban to Inverness, and as many small vignettes as she wanted to add. However, as long as she handed in sixty watercolor illustrations at the end of her six weeks in Scotland, she would have fulfilled her contract.

It would be wonderful to know the owners of the house would hang her work on their wall. “I adore that cottage. It’s just a few houses from the bed and breakfast where I’m staying.”

The man looked at his watch, then said something under his breath that sounded Gaelic. Then, “Sorry, I’m late.” He handed her the vignettes. Had she lost the sale that quickly? She could use the extra cash, maybe even buy a new cell phone. “Can I have your number?” he continued. “We’ll arrange to meet and I can purchase it then.”

Marcie searched her bag for one of the cards she’d picked up in the lobby of the bed and breakfast, but everything was jumbled.

The most handsome man she’d ever met—up close and personal-wise—handed her a card and said words that made her wonder if she was dreaming. “Call me. After one o’clock. Right now, I have an appointment to keep.” He held out his hand. “Name’s Greg.”

“Marcie.” She took his hand. It enveloped hers in a warm, strong grip, and she felt that sensation of connection again. She hadn’t imagined it. Neither of them let go for several seconds, and even as he backed away, his fingers lingered, their fingertips touching for a moment longer.

Then he smiled. Full force. Just the way she’d hoped he could. Add the sparkle in his eyes and she was a goner.

He turned and walked up High Street. A limp made her wonder if her heavy camera had landed on his foot. He must have been right behind the man who had bumped into her, close enough to have been hit by the fallout.

Her artist’s eye appreciated his broad shoulders and long legs, and she thought he might be more comfortable in outdoor gear than the clothing he wore. Chewing her thumbnail, she watched as he stopped before a building across the street from where she’d parked her rental car. He turned, lifted his hand, then disappeared into the doorway.

Her heart still pounding, she sighed, turned and continued on her way. He could make her forget Joel.

Joel who?

Buy HER SCOTTISH CEO AT:
Amazon Kindle

B & N Nook 
Amazon Trade paperback B&W
CreateSpace Trade paperback Full Color

ChristyOlesenAuthor Bio:
Born and raised in L.A., romance writer Christy Olesen found a home in northern Nevada just over the hill from Lake Tahoe, where the winters aren’t as harsh, the tourist traffic isn’t as heavy and the lifestyle isn’t as hard to live up to. The Sierra and the high desert inspire her contemporary tender romances.

Christy has worked as a cashier, a parts packer, an electronic circuit assembler, and as a dental laboratory ceramist. She loves to read, garden, and travel the Sierra Nevada in her vintage 1955 travel trailer. Christy is also an accomplished watercolor artist and is currently working as a graphic artist for a newspaper and magazine publisher in Carson City, Nevada.

You can find Christy at the following haunts:
Website

Blog
Twitter: @christyolesen2
Facebook
Goodreads
Amazon Author’s page
Email: christy@christyolesen.com

Mae Clair’s Wizard with Words: Venice Kennedy

Hey everyone, I’m super excited about the Word Wizard I’m introducing today. Venice Kennedy is an indie-author who writes stories of vibrant romance. She’s also a good friend who encouraged me to get off my duff and submit the manuscript for WEATHERING ROCK.  Without her, I never would have taken that step out the door.

We’ve known one another for several years but, in 2011, made a joint decision that 2012 was going to be ‘our year’ for publication. I chose to work through an e-pub house and Venice chose to indie-publish.

Want to hear something really weird? The official release day for WEATHERING ROCK, October 8th, was also the day Venice published her short story, BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE, Book 1 in the LOVE BLOOMS series. We didn’t plan it that way, it just happened. Is that kismet or what? :)

Okay, without further giddy exposition on my part, I’d like you to meet Venice. I’m going to ask her to share a bit about herself and how she developed her passion for writing.

VENICE: Mae, I could have could have been doing this decades ago.   If I had been more in touch with the voices in my head telling me I was a writer, so I’m a late starter. I always wrote songs, and poems, and little snippets of story ideas.  It wasn’t until college that I started writing short stories.  My professors often picked mine as the story to read out loud. But I was majoring in Theatre, and had my eyes on bright lights and Broadway, and missed the boat on developing my writing during those college years. I even took a screen writing course and the person teaching it was a VP for NBC. He told me I had a good shot at a career in the field if I wanted it. I don’t know what wasn’t clicking in my head for me not to ‘own’ that I was I writer.

Later down the road, one of my family members struggled with mental illness and I hardly wrote or read much during the years my family and I tried to get through those bad times. I know this is personal stuff, but I hope that someone out there reading this will see how your destiny can come back around to you after you missed grabbing hold of it the first few hundred times!  It wasn’t until my mom died that I grasped that I didn’t have forever to find and live out my passion for writing. One thing I will add – – I used to get ribbed as a kid for being addicted to TV. I was always watching. It was my company. Now, I realize my true addiction was to the ‘story’—and I was learning and craving to understand the nuances of character, plotting and story. What I learned is ingrained in my writing.

So let’s talk about your chosen genre. You write interracial sweet romance. In a world where Fifty Shades of Gray is topping bestseller charts, some might call sweet romance old-fashioned or passé.  Personally, I love a sweet romantic tale. Tell us about your vision for the LOVE BLOOMS series and what attracted you to your chosen genre.

VENICE: First I just have to say what a kick this is, Mae. It’s pretty incredible that we made that joint decision in 2011 and that we are living out our dreams to be published authors—and ended up taking different routes, but publishing on the same day! How’s that for kismet?  I’m so thrilled over all you’ve accomplished and extremely happy we paired up to encourage each other. Now to your question—

I discovered interracial romance books a while back. I wasn’t reading romance at all, but quickly fell in love with the genre.  Interracial and multicultural romance is growing in popularity, and while there are lots of great IR books out there, just like in other kinds of romance there is a lot of the scorching hot erotica being published right now. But not that many sweet or sensual, which is my preference.

I have a few reasons that I write sweet interracial. As a reader and writer erotica isn’t a fit for me, so I write what I’d like to read. What is really cool is that I have also found that oh so magical ‘niche’ folks say new writers should look for. I get that some people call sweets or inspirational romance old-fashioned, but I see myself as a contemporary woman, a contemporary writer, who doesn’t need explicit detail to accept that my favorite couple have hot sex –and have it often. LOL! I much rather enjoy reading or writing about the time and spaces in between, and leave the explicit stuff for those who love writing it. Oh, and I’m also an African American woman who has dated interracially. It was a no-brainer for me to throw my voice into the ring.

Love Blooms is my series of shorts and novellas, I’m using it as a way to introduce folks to my writing. Showcasing what I’ve chosen to tag as “Vibrant Interracial Romance.’ I want my stories and characters to resonate — to set off an empathetic vibration in my readers because life has taken them into some of the same valleys and has them hoping to reach the same mountain tops. Ultimately, I’m writing the kinds of stories I want to read.

I read a lot of great IRs but you don’t see a lot of sweet IRs coming out. I just want to offer IR and MC readers more to choose from and also hope I’ll be giving some readers what they’ve been asking for. While African American women interested in, or involved in interracial romance, are my main audience I hope my stories will appeal to a wider audience because everyone can relate to the emotions, hopes and desires we all experience in the journey to true love.

Did I mention I was long-winded? Hah! There may be some folks out there who don’t know much about what’s going on in the IR genre, so I’m taking the advantage of sharing. :)

I’ve read several interracial romances and am always on the lookout for a new one. How about sharing the blurb for BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE?

John Vincent and Amerise Carlton are ready to strangle their mutual friend, Ellen, when she pairs them on a blind date certain to be a recipe for disaster. What should have been a fun-filled evening turns sour when the mismatched couple butts heads over dinner. Toss in an inept waiter, the hottest day of the year, a city-wide blackout, and circumstance goes from bad to worse. Just when rock bottom looms near, the unlikely couple is given a new perspective.

A moonlit garden, novelty candy, and a sweet summer night open the doorway to understanding. Can this unlikely couple find the sugary spark of romance in a city engulfed by darkness?

Maybe Ellen was on to something after all!

BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE is Vol#1 of the Love Blooms Series.

I remember when you initially shared your idea for this story and how the concept intrigued me, especially factoring in the blackout. Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you came up with the idea? It’s so unique!

VENICE: My stories always start with me having a glimpse of a thought in my head. Wondering over what kinds of emotions someone might be having when a particular event or experience happens to them draws my writing attention. The rest of the story blossoms organically from there. Same thing happened with BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE. I wanted to show how Love can easily dismantle the walls two people put up between them, even if a whole city has to be shut-down for love to have its way.

On a side note, Mae, Blackout was going to be a contest entry for a new IR publisher, and you know my instincts told me not to submit it to them. While writing it, I was also taking a few courses on indie publishing over at Savvyauthors.com and said to myself—why not start with this one.

Tell us a little bit about your characters, John and Amerise and what a reader can expect from them.

VENICE: John Vincent and Amerise Carlton are two ordinary likeable, lonely souls. He’s white, she’s black, and initially that’s all they are willing to acknowledge about each other when a mutual friend sets them up on a blind date. When they end up getting stuck together during a city-wide blackout, a lot of who and what they really are shines through, revealing a connection they might have missed. Whether race, culture, or any other difference that keeps people apart— what I’m celebrating in BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE is the connection that lingers right under the surface if we just take the time to find it.

That’s a powerful thought. Let’s talk about your experience with publishing for a moment.You’re a brand new author who has indie published her first novel. Looking back over the experience, what was the biggest hurdle?

VENICE: Social media was, and is, my biggest hurdle. It’s just how I am, never was a big fan of it. Right now I’m caring for an elderly parent and that means my time is limited. I’d much rather be writing when I get time to work. I have difficulty with marketing and selling myself, but I’m learning.  While I should be doing twitter and FB, I’m not there yet. I just started blogging, a new challenge for me and honestly I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying it. Maybe I’ll end up feeling the same way about twitter & FB?? I hope so. Then, there’s also the challenge of trying to put myself on deadlines. Without a publisher out waiting for me to produce, I find I keep moving the writing to the next day, then the next– not good! Other challenges I probably don’t even know about I’m sure will pop up. Oh, and of course there’s the expenses I have to cover- ebook artwork, formatting, editors, proofreaders, all the expenses publishing houses pick up for their authors.

Would you do anything differently if you had to do it over again?

Venice: I wish I had put up something more substantial first time rather than a short story.   I loved writing BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE, and am proud of it. Many folks, I’m coming to understand, prefer a longer read. As an indie, I have complete freedom to make pricing decisions. Maybe giving my story away free would have been a good marketing tool, but for the hours I spent tweaking it, I couldn’t start my writing journey that way. It’s just a psychological for thing for me. I thought about doing the freebie thing but decided to go with my gut and voted against it.

What do you see as being the strongest benefit of indie-publishing?

Control over my covers and not having to fit my story into a predetermined set of restrictions.  The size and landscape of anything I write is all my making. Right now, I’m working with an artist on the cover for the second short in my LOVE BLOOM SERIES, TENDING DEACON’S GARDEN. I’m having fun going back and forth tweaking it to my liking.  It’s beautiful, and I’m very happy with it. I believe it’s going to help me bring more depth to the story.

So I’m assuming this is on the schedule for the near future. Any other upcoming releases you’d like to share with us?

I’m putting myself on notice with this announcement—I’m  indie-publishing my novella TENDING DEACON’S GARDEN, the second story in my LOVE BLOOM SERIES, and a novel  I SEE YOU in 2013. Now I better get my calendar out and note deadlines on it ASAP! :)

And now, some quicksilver questions:

Favorite food: Seafood, most any kind of fish or shellfish. Thanksgiving Dinner!  How timely is that for ya! Truth is, my favorite food depends on what I’m craving at the moment.

Favorite vacation spot: Darn, I haven’t traveled much, but I’m normally very happy at any little New England seaport.

Silver or gold: Silver, I even collect vintage silver jewelry.

Coffee or tea: I love both, but need a cuppa coffee every morning!

Casual or dressy: Casual, but if I have to dress up, I love it if I can find ‘just’ the right outfit.

Favorite ice cream: Dark, chocolatey with any kind of nuts (ok,fine—and hot fudge, too!)

Three books you couldn’t be without: I don’t know if I’ve read those three yet, Mae. But I will say I happened onto these three just at the right time to urge me to make my move to write.

1.Octavia Butler’s PARABLE OF THE SOWER (2nd book Parable of Talents). I had caught a cable interview of an African American woman, sci-fi writer one Saturday afternoon, and for some reason the way she talked about the craft of writing got into my soul.  Sometime later when I happened onto her PARABLE OF THE SOWER I was stunned by her ability to say so much with so little. Her writing made me fall back in love with books.

2. Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS. For me, it was a lesson on great storytelling.

3. All of the first great reads that introduced me to the IR genre: HAVE YOU SEEN HER? by Chicki Brown, UNFINISHED BUSINESS by Kayrn Langhorne, RECONSTRUCTING JADA CHANNING  by Savannah J.Frierson, IVY’S TWISTED VINE by Latrivia Nelson, and  THE BOMAW SERIES  by Mercedes Keyes. And many more!

And, Mae, there’s always a Bible nearby for inspiration and guidance.

That’s an awfully good book to have nearby :) What do you like to do when you’re not reading or writing:

VENICE: I could spend hours hanging out in little, out-of-the way consignment shops, flea markets or going to tag sales searching for vintage costume jewelry to add to my collection. I also dabble in making jewelry. I love spending time with friends catching music in a small venue. A nice drive to a small town or a big city to have dinner and drinks overlooking the water would be a perfect day for me. My newest favorite thing is Zumba, I love to dance, and it’s great exercise.  You saw my answer on my favorite foods, right? :D

That was fun! Before we wrap things up, do you have any advice you’d like to share? You encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing professionally and took the plunge yourself. We both know there are pitfalls along the way but the end result is worth the effort. What advice would you give the writer who is hovering on the brink?

VENICE: Find yourself a like-minded writing pal, or a writing community that’s a good fit, someplace you’d enjoy spending lots of time learning the ropes.  Take online classes at a great place like Savvyauthors.com which give you the opportunity to hang out with writers in all stages of their careers. I don’t think I would have been able to make the leap without having those support systems. I’d tell them–Don’t sit back and watch everyone doing what you know is in spirit to do. Don’t waste those years like I did!   I’d tell them, Mae, if you’re going indie—pay for editors/proofreading services.  You may only get one chance to impress a reader when they get a sample of your book. Don’t turn them away because of typos, not after you’ve put all of your blood, sweat, tears and time into your work.

Well said! Thanks, Venice. I’m thrilled to have you on my blog today and to welcome you to Wizards with Words. Consider yourself treated as royalty with red-carpet fanfare. And, of course, I expect you to come back again! :D

VENICE: This was nice, Mae. You have been a wonderful inspiration to me and a great example to any new writer on how to do it right!  WEATHERING ROCK is amazing. Your debut’s rave reviews are proof of that. I can’t wait for your next one “THE TWELFTH SUN”, and I’m sure you already have many, many fans who are as eager as I am to read it. Continued success to you and BTW—Great blog! Thanks so much for this interview, it was fun!

BIO
From the very first time she read an interracial romance novel, Venice Kennedy knew she was bound and destined to join the ranks of all the writers out there creating those kind of love stories that just make ya wanna sigh. So she stepped out of her box, discarded some emotional baggage, knocked a few walls down and let her often neglected romantic side soar free. Now Venice is focused on returning to her first love–writing. Bringing readers her ‘vibrant’ interracial romance stories, with characters that she hopes her readers will love as much as she does.

Will she buy that cottage with a lake-view, one where she’ll go for retreats to write, sing, blast her beloved music and dance? And, is there a hunky alpha male in her near future? Why, yes! Of course, yes! That’s the great thing she’s discovered while writing sweet romance– a belief that love and new found joy is always just around the bend.

Buy Links for BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE

BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE

Look for Venice Kennedy at the following haunts
Bog ~ Love Blooms
Goodreads
Email
: venice@venicekennedy.com