Tuesday, May 26, 2015 | By: Lynn

Summer Living

Summer officially begins June 21, but if you’re like me, you’re already dreaming of ways to spend summer this year.

While summer is a season that varies from region to region, the months of summer are generally considered the hot months of the year. The warm sunshine and longer days open up opportunities for outdoor activities and more daylight to spend in leisure activities. When my children were young, I loved the beginning of summer vacation. No more school work to occupy nights. No more rising in the morning to the sound of an alarm clock. From the vantage point of early June, summer looked long and open to possibilities.

Those days are past, but I still enjoy the leisurely, care-free feel of summer. A perfect summer for me now involves days at the beach, long bike rides alone through the country, and brisk walks with my husband in early evening or after the stars appear.  And of course, there is plenty of reading. My husband and I love taking our lawn chairs to a nearby park or nature preserve and sit together enjoying our separate experience of reading our latest books al fresco.
©  | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Of course, these leisure or fitness activities are sandwiched in between working, because that doesn’t stop for us during summer. I love my work, writing, so it’s not something that gets in the way of enjoying summer.  Still, what I’ve come to believe is what we’re all seeking and hope to find in summer is freedom.

Daily life requires a lot from us, and schedules and demands on our energy and time can seem confining. It causes stress. Even those of us who enjoy our work can find ourselves longing to get away from it all.  It often can feel as though we’re trapped in endless demands. So we look to the warm months of summer to set us free, if only for a holiday or a week-long vacation, to stretch our soul and just do what we choose to do. Like in the “old days” we hear about when kids could play all day and just had to be back home by the time the street lights came on.

And maybe that sense of freedom and world going away to leave us to our own devices are what we find in reading a good book. Summer reads are sometimes thought to be light and fun to fit the mood of summer. For me this summer, I’m feeling very Harry Potteresque, and am looking for magic and excitement in a story. But whatever the stories, reading offers an escape from the mundane, a kind of freedom found in the lovely feeling of being immersed in a different life, a different world, where we don’t have to do or think, just be and enjoy.

Friday, May 22, 2015 | By: Cafe
Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.
- Henry David Thoreau
Thursday, May 21, 2015 | By: Cafe

Two-Time Rita Finalist Maris Soule

The Write Way Café welcomes two-time Rita finalist Maris Soule, who loves to ask unusual questions, such as what would Lara Croft be like in her seventies?

Thank you for inviting me to talk about my writing and about the two books I have coming out this summer. Although I didn’t seriously start writing until I was 40, it seems as though I’ve been writing forever.

I started out writing romances and had 25 published, 2 being RITA finalists and several winning awards. But I love reading mysteries and suspense, so I guess it’s no surprise that a lot of the plot lines in my later romances started to include a mystery. In 2007 finally gave in and moved over to the dark side…at least a bit darker than a romance. The Crows was my first book where the mystery/suspense was the focus of the story with a bit of romance in the background. That book led to As the Crow Flies, where my protagonist, P.J. Benson, again gets involved in a mystery and the romance continues. That book ended with P.J. wondering if she might be pregnant and with her boyfriend, Sheriff’s Detective Wade Kingsley, out on his boat on Lake Michigan with his ex wife.

Well a lot of my readers started pestering me. Was P.J. pregnant or not and would she marry Wade? So I started working on another P.J. Benson mystery. But while writing that book, a new character suddenly popped into my head and insisted on her story being told. (I’m sure other writers understand what I mean about a character invading my thoughts and insisting on her own story.) Mary Harrington began as a question. What would Lara Croft or Nikita be like in their seventies? And what if no one knew this woman had been an assassin in her youth, not even her family?

I loved writing A Killer Past. My P.J. Benson mysteries were told in first person. A Killer Past is told in third person, using both Mary Harrington’s POV and Jack Rossini’s. Poor Jack is the police sergeant trying to figure out how a woman in her seventies could put two teen-aged gang members in the hospital, and why Mary won’t admit it, especially since doing so has now put her in danger of retaliation from the gang. Even more frustrating and intriguing for Jack is why he can’t find any information about Mary before she moved to the town of Rivershore, Michigan.

Once that book was finished, I started looking for an agent to represent it. I also went back to the P.J. Benson book and wrote Eat Crow and Die, the third in my “crow” series. And yes, it answers if P.J. is pregnant. It also allowed me to use the memory I had of watching a boat explode on a lake. In Eat Crow and Die, Wade’s boat explodes and his ex-wife and her new husband die. How convenient, the investigating sheriff’s deputies decide, that Wade and his son Jason just happened to be at the front of the boat when the explosion occurred so they weren’t injured. Did Wade rig that explosion to eliminate his ex? P.J. decides, if she doesn’t want the father of her unborn child thrown in prison, she’d better figure out who did cause the explosion.

Well, I was thrilled when I received a contract from Robert Hale Ltd. to publish A Killer Past in hardcover* and a contract from Five Star/Gale/Cengage to publish Eat Crow and Die in hardcover and as an e-book. I had no idea at the time that the two books would be released back-to-back. A Killer Past will be available here in the United States and Canada in June. (It was released in the UK in April.) Eat Crow and Die will be released in July. I love both of these books, but wow, it sure would have been nice if they’d come out at least six months apart. Will anyone buy both books? I hope so. It’s like having two of my children in a competition; I want both of them to win.

If you would like more information about me, these two books, or my other books, please visit www.marissoule.com and I would love it if you would “Like” me at www.facebook.com/MarisSouleAuthor

*A Killer Past is supposed to be in e-book form, too, but so far I haven’t seen any info about that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special with Lynn Crandall

Lynn Crandall

     Kennedy, just Kennedy, recently dropped down into the rabbit hole complete with no surname and landed in an entirely different life than the one she’s been living for 22 years. That’s when she learned her parents were people who had been given the job of raising her and keeping from the truth—her real parents were alive and she had been groomed to progress the plans of a secret group. It was also the day she learned her life was in jeopardy and she could trust no one, except maybe the brother she hadn’t known she had, Casey Mitchell, and his colony of were-lynxes.
     Always a charmer, Asher Monroe, a were-bobcat who belongs to Casey’s colony, is willing to help her investigate her past. As a sports writer, he is skilled at ferreting out the truth. He’s also willing to use his special ability of “nudging” others to do what he wants so he can learn as much as he can about Kennedy and her life before. He needs to discover whether she is a threat to the colony or simply a lost soul.
     As their needs for truth take them into escalating danger, their individual woundings expose what really brings them together and pulls them apart.

Amazon       Barnes and Noble       Crimson Romance       YouTube

Please leave a comment for Lynn (and your email) to be eligible for a $25 Amazon gift card!  Winner will be announced on Thursday May 21st on our Giveaways page. 

About the author:  Lynn Crandall lives in the Midwest and writes in the company of her two cats. She has been a reader and a writer all her life. Her background is in journalism, but whether writing a magazine or newspaper story or creating a romance, she loves the power stories hold to transport, inspire, and uplift. In her romances, she focuses on vulnerable, embraceable characters who don't back down. She hopes that readers discover, over and over, stories of ordinary people who face ordinary life challenges and are transformed by extraordinary love.

Friday, May 15, 2015 | By: Cafe
Avoid using the word 'very' because it's lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don't use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reasons, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. 
- John Keating
Thursday, May 14, 2015 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Susanne Matthews

The Write Way Café welcomes author Susanne Matthews. A writer at heart since she was 12, she shares how putting perseverance behind a dream can bring it to life.

Thank you so much for having me here.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
     I received a manual typewriter for my 13th birthday. Each day, after school I sat and plugged away at my novel. Since I didn’t know how to type, believe me, it took a long time. Was it romance? No. I remember clearly that it was along the lines of a Nancy Drew book. Sadly, I have no idea what happened to those pages or what the story was about, but wanting to be an author was something that stayed with me, a yearning that sat on the back burner of my life.
     Back then, I focused my efforts on my school work and writing blank verse poetry and haiku for friends. My favorite classes were those that involved creative writing.  I got married, had children, and went into teaching.  About twenty years ago, I started writing short stories for children for the local paper, a feature that lasted until the big conglomerates bought it out.
     The author bug had bitten me, and from there, I moved on to writing Sunday school lessons and a couple of lessons for Ed Helper an online site that offers printable for teachers. It wasn’t much, but I was being paid to write. The last few years before I retired, I did curriculum writing for the Ministry of Education. When I finally retired from teaching, I decided dreaming about doing something wasn’t enough. It took me fifty years from the day I got that typewriter to actually write and publish my first romance suspense novel, Fire Angel. I still can’t type properly, but I’m darn good at hunt and peck!

Where did the idea for your story come from? 
     The idea for The White Carnation and the other books in The Harvester Series, came from a lot of different places. Primarily, I wanted to write a book with my best friends as the hero and heroine, but I wanted the book to be memorable. Most of the seeds for my suspense stories come from the news and bits and pieces of events around me. I don’t remember why exactly, but Charles Manson had been in the news the week before I decided to write the story, so cults were on my mind. As well, I’d seen an episode of Law and Order SVU dealing with a serial rapist impregnating his victims. For another book, I’d done research on so-called date rape drugs including scopolamine. Finally, the debasing and abuse of woman by fanatic terrorists got me thinking that those men were treating their women worse than they did their animals. Basically, I pulled all those threads together to create the story.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
     The White Carnation is set primarily in Boston, Massachusetts and Lake Placid, New York. I live in a city with a Canada-United States border crossing into New York State. I visit Lake Placid, which is about two hours away, at least once a year. I’ve been there in all seasons and the place is beautiful. I’ve often thought I’d love to have a cabin in the mountains like the one I created in my story. As for Boston, my husband and I went there on vacation just before I started to write the novel, so it seemed logical to set it somewhere I’d been. I enjoy reading books or watching movies set in places where I’ve walked the streets. I love the “Hey, I’ve been there” feeling I get from them. Slocum, the imaginary town in the novel, is based on a few of the small towns we drove through in rural Massachusetts. The road trip Faye and Rob take recreates the drive we did when we went to Boston.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
     I think every character an author creates contains something of the author in them. The values we give them, the way they react to situations are all based on our own reactions, otherwise they wouldn’t seem real. While Rob and Faye have some of my personality in them, they’re primarily based on my best friends. Rob and I met when I was ten. We’ve been friends ever since. Faye and I met in high school and we just clicked. I actually introduced the two of them and they’ve been married 43 years this August, so I guess I did a good thing. The real Faye is a strong woman with a definite sense of self, and as much as I love her, she can be stubborn at times. She also holds a grudge, and it’s very hard to get her to accept she might be wrong about something. Rob is more easy going. He’s nobody’s fool, doesn’t let people walk all over him, and can be downright pigheaded when he gets his back up, but he’d do anything for Faye. Those were the qualities I wanted to show in my characters. Readers will have to tell me how well I did.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about reporters, detectives, and second chances at love?
     What did I learn about myself? That I can handle controversial subjects and do it in such a way as to actually sell the book.
     About my process? I’m a linear writer. I had lots of ideas about things I wanted to cover, but couldn’t get myself to skip to them until I got there in the plot itself.
     About the Writing World? It’s a complicated place, and extremely hard to anticipate what will be acceptable and what won’t. Dealing with controversial topics is always risky, especially in this day and age when people get offended easily. I’ve learned to tread carefully.
     About reporters? They can be incredibly single minded, especially when they’re on a story. I spoke with a friend who does some writing for a local newspaper. She said that getting people to open up and tell the truth about uncomfortable things is the hardest aspect of reporting a story. She bristles at the way the police can be so uncooperative and refuse to give information. She worked on a drug-involved murder investigation and couldn’t believe how hard it was to get to the facts to write an unbiased story.
     About second chances at love? People are too quick to throw away love. They get angry, have a fight, and bam! It’s over. I like to think that once cooler heads prevail, they can pick up the pieces and look at what they had. I’m a sucker for happy endings. I know it isn’t realistic, and some things can never be forgiven, but in my world, love conquers all.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
     I have a home office at the back of the house. It isn’t a large room, but it’s my sanctuary. I use a screen reader when I write, so I don’t have any music on or any other distractions. After over 35 years of teaching, I value peace and quiet. When I’m in my office, I step into the world of my imagination. I’ve tried writing outdoors but nothing works as well for me.

What are you working on now?
     I’m finishing up book 2 of the Harvester series, The White Lily, and then I’m writing a shorter romance suspense novel, tentatively entitled Secrets and Lies, set in a Midwestern town in the United States as part of a series, The Hearts of Braden, being released in October. I’ll write book 3 of the Harvester series, The White Iris, later this summer.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
     I started my writing career with non-fiction writing, and I really have no desire to return to that. I still write poetry at times when I create my own verse for a greeting card, and I’ve written a song for a retirement dinner. I’ve written and given speeches and presentations, but I get the most enjoyment out of writing fiction. I’ve written a short story, There’s Always Tomorrow, which I hope to turn into a novel one day. I co-write as Misty Matthews with another Canadian author—a partnership that has produced a sports novella, Grand Slam, and a novel, Coming Home.
     I’ve experimented with subgenres of romance. Most of my books are suspense romance: Fire Angel, In Plain Sight, On His Watch, and the Harvester series—The White Carnation, The White Lily, and The White Iris. I’ve written two historical romances, The Captain’s Promise and The Price of Honor, and hope to complete another one, The Price of Courage later this year or early in 2016.  I’ve also written a number of contemporary romances: Holiday Magic, The Perfect Choice and Just for the Weekend.  I added paranormal elements using ghosts and past life experiences another suspense romance, Echoes of the Past. I’ve also produced a suspense romance novel for the Christian market—All for Love is available for pre-order and due to be released in May.
     If I were to try another genre, I think it would be YA since my grandchildren would like me to write a book they can read. They’re 14, 6, 8, 7, and almost 6. So I think the next book I’ll tackle might be that Nancy Drew style I started on fifty years ago.  As well, my husband is a sci-fi fan, so maybe I could try my hand at one of those.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
     I was a high school English teacher for most of my teaching career, but if I had to pick another job, I’d want to be a travel journalist, going around the world, visiting all the places I’d love to see, taking pictures and writing about them. My brother-in-law and his wife were fortunate enough to visit Nepal about twenty-five years ago. So many of the wonderful things they saw have been destroyed in this year’s devastating earthquake. It would be nice to be able to write about the rest of the world’s wonders before they too are destroyed by people, pollution or natural disasters.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
     Over-editing. I’m a classic over-thinker. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist, so it’s hard for me to decide the book is good enough to be sent in. I tend to read, reread, edit, change, until I have to force myself to let it go, and even then, the doubts crowd in until I get the letter from the publisher. Once the edits come in, that can be difficult too, especially if I’ve grown attached to a scene the editor wants cut.

The White Carnation
     The last person disgraced reporter Faye Lewis wants back in her life is Detective Rob Halliday, the man she blames for ruining her career and breaking her heart. But when she finds an old friend murdered, he’s the one she calls.
     For the past year, Rob and his team have been hunting the Harvester, a serial killer who ritualistically murders new mothers and vanishes with their infants. What Rob doesn’t need is another case, especially one involving his ex-fiancée.
     Then Faye is assaulted, and Rob realizes the cases are connected. She may hold the answers he needs to find the elusive killer. But the more they investigate, the more complex the situation becomes. Can they set the past aside and work together, or will the Harvester and his followers reap another prize?

Buy links can be found on my website.

About the author:  Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

Follow Susanne on her:  Website    Blog    Facebook page    Twitter @jandsmatt

Amazon author page    and    Goodreads author page

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 | By: HiDee

Celebrating the Women in My Life

In honor of Mother’s Day, I'm celebrating the women in my life: family, friends, and authors. 

     I love my mom, but I have been known to insist that I don’t want to turn into her! Haven’t we all at some point? My mom has been a rock throughout my life. We haven’t always agreed with each other, but for the most part, she has encouraged me to live my life and be my own person. It’s comforting to know she’s on my side, and as we age, I plan to be on her side.
     My grandma has been gone for 11 years but I think of her every day when I put on her wedding ring, which was given to me after she passed. I treasure that ring, and it serves as a reminder to me to follow her leads: 
  • Choose your words carefully! I never heard her say a bad word about anybody. She might hint at issues with people, but she always said it in such a way that I was never really sure how she felt about the person.
  • Be spunky! My grandma was a petite, less-than-five-foot-tall lady. In her early 80s, she traveled with a senior citizens group to New York City, even though the doctor had warned against it because of a heart ailment (she replied that she would die doing what she loved). The highlight of her trip was going for a walk in Central Park – alone, at 6 AM – because she wanted to see a bag lady! I guess age didn’t intimidate or stop her from adventures!
     Technology has enabled my sister and I to build a relationship, stronger than when we were kids. We share our lives on a regular basis now – venting and encouraging in turn. She’s a terrific sounding board, respecting my thoughts but not afraid to share a conflicting opinion. I can talk to her about anything.
     My daughter is also a role model for me, believe it or not.  At 23, she is living her dream: owning and driving a racecar. Her passion drives her commitment to racing. Her focus is amazing. I need to take some lessons from her! 

     I’ve heard it said that if you have five good friends in your lifetime, you should count yourself lucky. I am blessed with several good friends – friends who will laugh and cry with me. Friends I might not see or talk to for awhile, but when we get together it’s like we’ve never been apart. Friends who will bring me books and chocolate if I ever go to jail! 

     Some of the smartest, strongest women I know are authors. Not all of the ladies in my writers group are mothers, but it doesn’t matter. They are writers. They offer encouragement and hope when I need it most. They are knowledgeable and helpful. They are hardworking and determined. They know what they want and how to get it. 
I’m fortunate to be surrounded by strong women – women who serve as role models; women who shape my life by their very existence. I am thankful for their presence in my life. 

Celebrate the women in your life!