Tuesday, August 30, 2016 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special: Touched by Fate by Jami Gray

Jami Gray
http://jamigray.com/


TOUCHED BY FATE, PSY-IV Teams #2

Trusting him with her secrets is dangerous.


As a specialized consultant for the Department of Defense, Risia Lacoste understands the bargaining chip of a well-kept secret. When her current assignment threatens to unearth her deeply buried skeletons, she’s forced into a high-stakes game of lies and loyalty where even her ability to foresee the future can’t predict the winner.

Trusting him with her heart could be fatal.

Darkness lies under the skin of every man, and PSY-IV Team operative and touch empath, Tag Gunderson, has the demons to prove it. Scarred by betrayal and disillusionment, he’s not Risia’s top pick for a partner in the game, but he’s all she’s got.

As the game draws them deeper into a pit of intrigue and their list of enemies grow, will Risia trust Tag with more than her secrets or will his demons destroy them both?

BUY LINKS for Touched by Fate: Bk 2 of PSY-IV Teams

Amazon      MuseIt Up Publishing      Barnes & Noble

iBooks      Kobo      Scribd


Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

Website        Facebook Author Page        Twitter        Goodreads
Amazon Author Page       Black Opal Books       Muse It Up Publishing


Friday, August 26, 2016 | By: Cafe
Books are the training weights of the mind.
- Epictetus
Thursday, August 25, 2016 | By: Cafe

How to Write a Series . . . or Not by Skye Taylor

The Write Way Café welcomes Skye Taylor, author of Healing a Hero, book 4 in the Camerons of Tide's Way series. She shares her thoughts on writing a series. 

Since my publisher just released book #4 in The Camerons of Tide’s Way series, I was asked to talk about how to write a series. I admit right up front here, I kind of fell into it, and I’ve been learning as I go. My first published book was a mainstream novel set against the backdrop of a presidential campaign and, as were all my other stories, had been written as a stand alone book. Like many new authors, I was trying to find my feet, so to speak, in an industry that was even then, on the brink of big changes. I tried my hand at historical, time travel, contemporary romance, and women’s fiction, too. The Candidate has elicited queries about whether I’m going to write a sequel, but so far, that isn’t even on the horizon. Partly because of what happened when I sold my second book.

Traditional publishers invest a lot in their authors, and they like some assurance that a new author won’t turn out to be a one-book-wonder. So they often look for a series for a couple reasons. One: if that first book is wildly successful, they will be able to fulfill readers’ desire for more right away. And two: with the advent of books sold on line in any format, the more titles accredited to an author, the more easily they will get noticed. My new editor specifically suggested submitting my contemporary romance manuscript as one of a series when I queried her. I’d written the book with no thought about it being a series, but eager to please, I sat back and considered how I might make that happen.

Some of my favorite series involve recurring characters. Their writers have created a hero or heroine that appears in all the books, grows throughout and never fails to keep the readers engaged. These characters need to be complex with identifiable goals, believable strengths and flaws, with lives and careers that the reader can keep coming back to, always ready to cheer the hero or heroine on once again. I love heroes like Mitch Rapp and Jack Reacher. Very different men, with very different backgrounds and agendas. Both are smart, interesting and capable of violence in defense against evil men and bad intentions. And there always seems to be some new facet of their character or history to be found in each new book. Then there are characters like Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter with a messed up personal life in a series that captivates with humor and mystery. My latest love is C. Hope Clark’s Edisto series featuring Callie Jean Morgan a woman with a past when she comes to Edisto to heal and each new story reveals new facets of this woman along with a spine-tingling mystery and a personal life you can relate to and enjoy.

But writing a romance series is different. Romance readers want to get drawn into a new love story in every book and they want the happy-ever-after ending when all the conflicts keeping the heroine and hero apart have been resolved. So, while the main characters in one book might appear in later books in the series, each book needs its own hero and heroine and a new set of conflicts to overcome, and it’s something else that ties these stories together. That something else can be a small town setting, a large and connected family, a way of life, a specific time and place in history, settings that showcase our native America heritage or life in the military. It can even be a fantasy world the author creates. But there is always a thread that holds them together. Very often the setting becomes a character in itself and it is important to develop that setting character just as much as the hero and heroine and their various side-kicks.

In that contemporary romance I had pitched, the hero just happened to be one of a large family that lived and thrived in a small, fictional, coastal town in North Carolina between the Marine base, Camp Lejeune and the bustling little river city of Wilmington. Since my editor had asked for a series . . . my answer was to make the town of Tide’s Way one of my characters, and the boisterous Cameron family presented me with quite a few heroes and heroines to write about. Also tying this series together is the overarching theme of patriotism and service to others that was so much a part of the Cameron family ethos.

In writing my series, one thing I found absolutely a must is what some of my fellow writers call the Series Bible. Mine is about ten pages long kept in a slim folder in plastic sleeves that can be updated as needed. My main characters are listed along with secondary characters in each book, their relationships to one another, physical descriptions, friends, jobs, mannerisms, family information and hobbies. Then, because Tide’s Way is the setting throughout (except for some scenes necessarily set at Camp Lejeune) I needed my town to be consistent. Where were the local hangouts? Who is the sheriff, and the librarian, the mayor and the car mechanic, the lady who owns the antique store and the bartender at the beach? It wouldn’t do for my mayor, for instance, to appear in one book with silver at his temples and be the youngest mayor in the town’s history in the next. Then there is the town itself. I actually drew a map of my fictional town with street names, churches, shops, landmarks and homes, the beach and the roads to Wilmington and Lejeune. My editor unknowingly gave me another landmark when she created a logo for the series that featured an anchor. I immediately incorporated the anchor into my stories and I gave it a place and a history.

Because all my books, this series as well as single titles, are character driven, I have always created a detailed backstory for all my main characters before I start writing the book itself. As this series unfolded, I’ve been surprised on occasion to learn something new about a character I thought I knew very well, but for the most part my comprehensive backstory that ties everyone together helps to keep the series consistent. Knowing your characters inside and out is important when writing any book, but it’s especially important when you’re writing a series and the characters are going to appear and interact with others in more than just one book. If you have a crabby cook of few words and the waitress is a friendly chatterbox that is going to set a tone for life in the local diner throughout the series just as much as a deputy with a big ego who likes to throw his weight around will impact run-ins with local law enforcement. And having characters like this make the setting come alive. The reader will feel like they know this place, as if they might have been there before. Or else they would love to come for a visit. This adds color and depth to the series. The scent of the sea and the sound of the waves on the beach are as defining in Clark’s Edisto series as the clandestine world of espionage and violence in Mitch Rapp’s life as created by Vince Flynn. The conventional wisdom is to write what you know, and that intimate knowledge can help an author to develop the detailed background that makes a series feel and sound authentic to the reader.  It creates a place where readers will be eager to return, whether it is to reconnect with favorite characters and the world they inhabit, or a to a town where all the citizens come to life so much you feel like you’ve been invited in for a cup of coffee.

The one thing that a successful series is not, at least in my opinion, is a soap opera. Those addicted to tuning in every day at the same time to watch the endless drama unfold for the characters they’ve come to know, love or hate, don’t expect to have the story resolved. Sure, folks get married, have babies, cheat on their spouses, get in trouble financially, get sick and even die, but the saga is ongoing. A book series is different because each book needs to have an ending. The reader needs to sigh with satisfaction when they turn the last page. Mitch Rapp or Jack Reacher or Stephanie Plum will return again, and they will face a whole new set of problems, but at the end of each book, the reader wants Plum to find the bad guy and bring him in. They want Mitch Rapp to thwart the evil plans of our country’s enemies and Reacher needs to put his toothbrush back in his pocket and get on a bus to somewhere new. In a series of westerns, or romance, or sci-fi or fantasy, the current personal conflicts need to be satisfied. The hero needs to saddle up and ride off into the sunset. The Space Ship needs to be saved from destruction. And a romance needs a happy-ever-after. Once upon a time, a TV series concluded every episode with a satisfying result, but in recent years, they’ve added ongoing drama to make sure viewers tune in again next week. But a well-written book, even one in a series doesn’t need to leave the reader hanging. If a reader has a great experience, they’ll come back. Again and again.

I’ve got a lot of ideas for books that aren’t in my current series, but it’s been fun spending time with the Camerons in their seaside town of Tide’s Way. There are two free short stories set in Tide’s Way available on Amazon and B&N (Loving Ben and Mike’s Wager) and another short story you can read by visiting my website:  www.Skye-writer.com (Saving Just One.) And you just never know who else from Tide’s Way will end up in a book of their own some day.

HEALING A HERO, book 4 in the series was just released and is available at:
Amazon      Barnes & Noble 
Kobo     Google

The first three books of the series are all on sale until the end of August on all platforms: FALLING FOR ZOE (99 cents) LOVING MEG ($2.99) and TRUSTING WILL ($3.99)


Skye Taylor lives in the oldest city in America where she soaks up the history, takes daily walks along one of the prettiest beaches in St Augustine, posts a weekly blog, volunteers with the USO and writes novels. She is currently working on a paranormal partially set during WWI. She's a member of Romance Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Florida Writers Association, and Ancient City Romance Authors. Her list of published novels include: The Candidate, Falling for Zoe, Loving Meg, Trusting Will and Healing a Hero.



Tuesday, August 23, 2016 | By: HiDee

Packing Up and Writing On

August 2012
I moved my daughter out today. It wasn’t easy. For the past 20 plus years she’s been a part of my daily life. But she’s an adult now and moving out takes her another step into adulthood. I still have my son at home, but at 16 he’d rather not have much to do with mom. I exist to feed him. One of these days, that won’t be enough and he, too, will move out.

Fast-forward four years.  We just moved my son into his own apartment.  He still doesn’t want much to do with mom. He even told his sister that the best part of moving out was not having to tell me where he was going or what he was doing.  I admit, that hurt.  But moving out is the next step in his quest to achieve adulthood, and I’m proud of him for doing so.

I just had no idea how hard it would be to let the last one go... The house has a different emptiness to it now.  His room, once full of soccer shoes, game systems and the smell of Axe, has now become like a storage room.  My daughter's former room will become our spare room.  I can't help feeling melancholy when I enter those rooms. My nest is empty.

While Hubby and I have different perspectives on our empty nest, there is one thing we agreed on throughout the process:  Packing is a great way to clean and reorganize.

As you pack, you throw away things you really don’t need. It’s easy to toss other things into a box and worry about sorting it later. Then, when you unpack and are trying to put your life back in some semblance of order, you get to reorganize. In the process, you find some parts of you that may have been lost for a while.

My writing has been a part of my daily life since I was a teenager. I’m always writing something - if not my novel, then an article, or a letter, or at the very least, a list. I’ve packed my writing up and dragged it along with me, kicking and screaming, through several house moves and also through rearranging. But it’s always been there.

As the kids have grown, their demands on my time have become less. It may be a subtle shift in priorities but it feels huge. I’ve had more time for writing than I used to, and I didn’t feel guilty about taking the time when I needed it.

Now that it’s just the two of us, it’s time for us to move on to the next phase of our lives as well.  That includes doing more things we enjoy doing together, like hiking and traveling.

My nest may be empty, but I plan to fill it again. All those books I packed up twenty-some years ago to make room for kids? They can now be unpacked and arranged into an real office, complete with filing cabinets, a desk, and my computer! I'm looking forward to that resulting in more writing time!

Have your kids moved out and left you with an empty nest?  How have you adjusted? Please share.

*This post was adapted from an article originally printed in the July/August/September 2012 issue of Romancing the Prairie, newsletter for Prairie Hearts RWA chapter.


Friday, August 19, 2016 | By: Cafe
If you start with a bang, you won’t end with a whimper.
- T. S. Eliot

Thursday, August 18, 2016 | By: Cafe

Digging Up The Past with Sandi Brackeen


The Write Way Café welcomes Sandi Brackeen, avid reader, fascinating author, and student of the paranormal.


When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance? 
I have always written.  I wrote bad poetry and rather strange philosophical musings about the nature of words, and I’ve always been an avid reader, and truthfully, I don’t know how not to write, although I get slow at turning things out sometimes because new things keep coming up within the work.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do? 
I’ve done a good deal of research about Atlantis, and the theories surrounding it, and I’ve spent some time with some archaeologists working on a dig site.  I also researched Peruvian legends to find the legend of Apocatequil.

Where did the idea for your story come from?  
Riley’s world came into being about 10 years ago when I heard about a contest where writers were asked to write stories based on what would happen if magic returned to the earth.

Why did you pick the setting you did?  
I’ve always been fascinated with stories of Atlantis and magic, and I’m a big fan of Urban Fantasy like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, and Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan, so it was natural for me to write Urban Fantasy related to Atlantis.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?  
I’m sure they can’t help but reflect a bit of myself; however, they are all distinctly their own person.  The initial sketch for some of the characters is loosely based on people I know, but the development is purely their own.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?  
Sometimes life gets in the way, but it’s usually more a matter of finding a way to sit down and face the page without distractions.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?  
One of the things I most noticed in this book was how characters can surprise you, even when, or perhaps especially when, you think you are creating them, and should therefore be in charge.  They will disabuse you of that notion in a hurry.

What did you learn while writing Digging Up The Past? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about archeologists and the supernatural?  
I learned that I’m a pantser and a plotter, but at different times.  I start out flying by the seat of my pants, but then I need to go back and sit down and make an outline to help me focus and get everything where it needs to be.  I have been interested in archaeology for some time, and although I’ve never worked on a dig, I’ve been to a dig site and seen how it works.  I’ve been a student of all things paranormal for most of my life, so any time I can find an excuse to take some time to study an aspect of it, I’m all in favor, and my books give me an opportunity to do that.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.  
Right now, it’s a work in progress.  My number of roommates has changed, so the overall ambient noise in the house has changed, so I’m looking for a new place to work.

What are some of your favorite books and why?  
The books are too numerous to list, but some of my favorite authors are Neil Gaiman, Laurell K. Hamilton, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Kim Harrison, and Anne Bishop.  When I like an author, I usually do my best to read everything they’ve written.

What are you working on now? 
The next book in the series is tentatively called Reaching for Beyond.  Riley and Jason, and the rest are investigating a series of gruesome murders in and around the Grapevine/Colleyville area in Texas and trying to figure out why people from two groups who never collaborate are working together, and what they hope to accomplish.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?  
I might try some straight mystery at some point, and I do a lot of esoteric writing for one of my websites.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?  
Artist/photographer at this point, although when I was younger, I wanted to be a mechanic.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?  
Letting go of the formality I have to teach in the Composition classes that I teach at the local community college.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?  
Again, they are too numerous to name, but Anita Blake, Harry Dresden, Stephanie Plum, Samantha Martin from the Imp Series, the Endless from the Sandman graphic novels, and Janelle from the Black Jewels series come to mind.




The Spade of Apocatequil can raise the dead and grant immortality—and it’s been stolen! 
When supernatural agents Riley Perez and Jason, her partner at the clandestine government agency DUE, are given the task of tracking down the magical artifact, they discover that the culprit may be one of the workers at an archaeological dig at Shady Shores. Is it John Braden, the head archaeologist on-site, who was involved in the original discovery of the spade? Or is it Danny Roget, the anthropologist, who claims that there have been strange sightings? Riley and Jason’s hunt for the spade is endangered by a rash of sudden, unexplainable deaths of people involved in the dig. Together with Cameron Delaney, the intriguing alpha werewolf who runs Cerberus Security, the company in charge of protecting the archaeologists at the dig, Riley and Jason must find the spade before it can be used to destroy the world!

 
About Sandi:

Sandi lives in Texas with three roommates, two Yellow Labs, a Shepherd/Border Collie mix, a Great Pyrenees, a Standard Poodle, and assorted other critters.  Most of the animals were rescues.  Sandi’s full time job is as the Public Information Officer for the local Sheriff’s Office, and she teaches English part time at the local Community College.  
She says she has a couple of degrees from the University of North Texas lying around somewhere, and she’s been writing ever since she can remember.  Sandi took time off for work and school, and previously her writing has been more geared toward short stories and academic papers.  
Sandi publishes a newsletter and several articles a month in her current position, and much of her writing is geared toward work, but she has now added writing fiction and currently has several more books in the works.


Websites

Natural Images by Sandi

Write to Order
www.facebook.com/writetoorder


Tuesday, August 16, 2016 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special: Angela Smith

Angela Smith
http://www.loveisamystery.com

Romance doesn’t fit into Camden Alexander’s hazardous line of work…

A DEA agent, Camden is deep undercover, posing as a chef on a dangerous drug operation. He wants to take down Darrell Weberley, the owner of the Vin Doux restaurant, who is suspected of manufacturing his own brand of designer drugs. The investigation leaves no time for romance, plus he can’t risk exposing his cover. His love ’em and leave ’em philosophy is the only thing that keeps his one night stands out of harm’s way.

Rayma O’Riley isn’t looking for a quick hook-up. She has her own agenda…

Rayma is bored with her position as anchorwoman for News 12. She misses the thrill of investigative reporting. When she receives an anonymous email about a lucrative restaurant manufacturing drugs, she decides to investigate the story in her free time. She quickly finds a source for information in the form of the handsome and flirty chef. She agrees to a date, thinking she can pry insider information out of Camden.

If Camden can’t convince Rayma to drop this investigation, Darrell will have both their heads…

Camden can’t blow his cover, but if Rayma doesn’t stop snooping around, he knows it will lead to trouble. He doesn’t want her getting hurt before he can take Darrell down. He tries to scare some sense into her, but Rayma releases an article about the restaurant’s below-the-law side business anyway.

Darrell Weberley isn’t the kind of man to let something like that go without punishment, and all it’s going to take is…

one wrong move.

Buy Link: (Amazon is the only pre-order link up at this time)

http://www.amzn.com/B01JHJHHZK

EXCERPT:
     Rayma was staking out the dessert menu when Nicole tugged her hands, vying for her attention. “Isn’t that the guy?” she asked.
     Glancing up, she saw the chef from last night. The menu thudded to the table. She latched onto her wineglass as if that would steady her heartbeat. She couldn’t remember all the drinks they’d ordered, but after the food she’d consumed, her body was feeling no ill effects from alcohol.
     The effects from the chef, however, were a different matter. She watched as he approached their table and talked to Liz. Liz? Of course Liz, why not? She was attractive, young, single, and scantily clad. Why wouldn’t he be interested? Besides, Rayma wasn’t on the look-out right now, so why should she care?
     He made his way around the table, next introducing himself to Brenda and Gail. They each fluttered at whatever he said to them. The guy was a looker, gorgeous even, but Rayma didn’t understand the female species. She would not act so juvenile.
     The cliché of tall, dark, and handsome suited him well. Height was a prerequisite for Rayma, since she stood five-nine. As much as her height gave her an advantage in certain situations, most of the time it made her self-conscious. This man dwarfed her. She lifted her glass to guzzle the remainder of the wine, which was pathetically lacking.
     His molasses-colored eyes slid over her, making her tremble. She reached for the wine bottle and cursed at the quivering in her hands. Red sloshed to the table as she poured and missed. He swiped the bottle and topped off her glass, then asked everyone else if they wanted a drink or dessert.
     Once the wine was topped, he leaned over and extended his hand. She forgot all about dessert. His eyes were more of an indulgence than anything on the menu.
     “Your story might not have helped business, but it did bring out a lot of curious people,” he said by way of introduction.
     She wiped her hands on her cloth napkin and ignored his hand. He finally dropped his.
     “My name is Camden. I’m the chef who brought about your story.”
     “I remember,” Rayma said. “Care to give us any insight?”
     “Clashing of opinions.” His smile revealed perfect teeth. “Kind of like now.”
     “Oh?” Rayma sipped her wine, but it came out as a slurp. She set the glass on the table and dabbed her mouth with the napkin in an attempt to look bored.
     “You think I’m a jerk. I think you’re wrong.”
     “You going to beat me up over it?” she asked, smiling. He was handsome and charming. She was taken in by his good looks but not by his charm. Charm didn’t faze her, even if her heart floundered in her chest and her entire body vibrated like a plucked string.
     “How are you enjoying your dinner?” His voice, deep and rich, trilled along the lines of her collarbone and into her throat. His undertone was like a whisper-soft touch, and she fought the urge to tilt her head back and await his lips on her skin.
     She dropped her napkin on her plate and tried to compose herself. “Why do you ask? You didn’t poison it did you?”
     His laugh thrummed into her, each note sliding to a lower rhythm and settling into her core. “Now why would I do that?”
     She scanned the room, her gaze landing everywhere but on his face. “I don’t know, to get rid of the bad advertising?” She finally glanced up at him. Their eyes met. She nearly collapsed with the punch of their chemistry. Her chair wobbled, like a dock in the ocean being hit by forceful swells, and her heart pounded out dissonant rhythms. “And anyway, you give me way too much credit. Barely anyone reads my blog.”
     “Another clash of opinions,” he said.
     He looked like the devil. Strong jawbone, deep-set eyes so dark she’d lose herself with one glimpse. Perfectly coiffed hair that could easily be mussed by her hands.
     Certainly he evoked this effect on all women on purpose. She fisted her hands on her lap and relaxed her shoulders, breathing in and out slowly and inconspicuously. When that didn’t work to ease her, she grabbed her glass of wine and gulped.
     “Would you like another glass?”
     She hated how his eyes sparkled, as if he knew exactly how he affected her. He was probably accustomed to it, but she was certain he wasn’t accustomed to having the tables turned. He was like a gift from the heavens, and not because of his looks and his charm. No, he was the chef of a famous restaurant accused of smuggling drugs. What better way to unearth the information she desperately craved?
     “No, thanks.”
     “I have to get back to work, but I get off sometime after eleven. How about coffee?”
     “Coffee at eleven?” she asked, oozing her own charm, turning her gaze down, then up again. Smiling. Flirting to her advantage, not his. “I’ll be in bed by then.”


Angela Smith is a Texas native and was dubbed most likely to write a novel during her senior year in high school since she always had her nose stuck in a book. Although high school was decades ago, the dream began when her mom read ‘Brer Rabbit’ to her and her sister so often they could recite it back to each other before ever learning to read. Research is one of her favorite parts of piecing together a story, and she loves creating new characters. Angela started with writing romantic suspense and is branching into other genres, but she hasn’t been able to write one yet where falling in love doesn’t come into play. She works as a certified paralegal and office manager at her local District Attorney’s office and spends her free time with her husband and the animals on her small farm. Although life in general keeps her very busy, her passion for writing and getting the stories out of her head tends to make her restless if she isn’t following what some people call her destiny.

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