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.


You can find Tera at the following haunts:


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:
Twitter @ChristinaPOV

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!


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:
Twitter @EmmaMeadeIrl

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:
Barnes & Noble

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:

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

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? 😀

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!

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:

Purchase AMRED WITH STEELE from:

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! 😀 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!


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?


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:

: @authorjulia

Purchase Falling for the Prodigal Son from Amazon

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.


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!


You can Find D.B. at the Following Haunts:
Twitter: @DBSieders

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


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.