Friday, May 27, 2016 | By: Cafe
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. 
- Thomas Jefferson
Thursday, May 26, 2016 | By: Cafe

Getting to Know Rena Koontz

The Write Way Café welcomes Rena Koontz. Delightfully entertaining in life and in her stories, Koontz discusses her writing life and her newest upcoming release, Broken Justice, Blind Love.

Can I first say: Thank you HiDee and Lynn for hosting me today. This is the first time I’m talking about my new release, Broken Justice, Blind Love. I’m excited and nervous to share some details. Soul Mate Publishing releases the book on October 5th. I hope you like it.

Tell us a little about Broken Justice, Blind Love.
     For those who read my books, they know I always write about cops. Cops are the good guys and the good guys always win. Broken Justice, Blind Love is my first book where the cop is a woman. She’s a play-by-the-rules cop. Right and wrong for her is as clear as the black-and-white markings on her police cruiser.
     But when she meets and falls in love with a man who might be connected to a string of serial killings, her moral lines blur. All the evidence points to him as the killer and her police brain tells her to arrest him and stop the murders. Her heart tells her otherwise. In her heart she knows he is incapable of killing.
     My tagline sums up her dilemma:  Believe him and risk her career or arrest him and lose the man she loves?

What or who has been instrumental in or to your writing journey?  
     I was a career journalist and through the years I’ve had several good editors. One in particular taught me to see it, hear it, feel it, smell it, taste it and then write it. Sometimes I close my eyes in the middle of writing a scene and make sure my characters are doing all that.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve been given?  What’s your best writing advice for others?
     I’m not one for giving advice because – what do I know? If I were to offer someone guidance, I’d say know your story and write the book. Sit down and finish it. Write the beginning, the middle and the end. Then read it out loud. You’ll know whether or not it’s good.

What “keepers” are in your home library?

     My dog-eared copy of The Flame and the Flower has been a mainstay on my bookshelf since I read it in college. I’ve read it at least 50 times since. I can quote passages from the pages. I write romantic suspense but that’s the love story that caught my attention and made me want to be an author.
     Beside Kathleen Woodiwiss sit Brenda Novak, Patricia Cornwell and a host of other romantic suspense authors. Plus the books from my author friends.

If you could be a character in any book you’ve read (or written), which character would you be and why?
     Hmmm – there is a little bit of me in each of my books. Bits and pieces of me usually comprise the main character. For example, in Love’s Secret Fire I’m the reporter covering the arson cases and riding along on a late night scary patrol in search of the firebug.
     In Thief Of The Heart I’m the burglary victim who is blown away by the police officer who responds to the call. And yes, together with my friend, I truly did scope out the pawn shops and find some of my missing jewelry.
     All of my heroines are stubborn, strong and passionate. Anyone who reads my books and knows me will recognize me.

What book do you wish you could have written?    
     Any book on the best seller list making tons of money.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

     Mind you, I made my living as a newspaper reporter and garnered several (two full boxes) writing awards, including recognition by the Associated Press. When I received a critique back from a contest judge who suggested I take writing classes before attempting to write another word, it cut me to the quick.  It was a lesson about how subjective this business truly is and, perhaps, how cruel other writers can be when they feel threatened by someone more talented.
     The best compliments are the readers who tell me they couldn’t put my book down and the ones who complain I’m not writing fast enough.

We’re adding books to our Café menu.  Would your book be a drink, an appetizer, an entrée or a dessert?  What would you call it? 

     I’d like to be a drink, please. Like a fine wine. Full-bodied, deliciously flavorful and completely satisfying.  So good on your tastes buds, you’ll want more.  I’ll call it Rena’s Rich Romances.

What is your favorite social media?  Why?   
     I’m not a fan of social media at all. I like to stay private, which is difficult when I’m putting myself out there as an author. I’m working on my mindset.

Tell us about the book in your closet.

     I think it’s another contemporary romance. Crystal Clear Love is a contemporary romance while my other books, including my new release, Broken Justice, Blind Love, are romantic suspense novels.
     But I have a shoebox full of old love letters and cards from a former boyfriend. I know there’s a story in there.

And now for the fun stuff!  

If you were a punctuation mark, what would you be?
     I’d say an exclamation mark. Think about it. I can be surprised, stupid, angry or emphatic. I can snap or even shout. And I can be happy!

Are you a glass half empty or glass half full personality? 
     I’m a glass is half-full person, which works well with my husband who won’t even say the glass is half empty. He simply says the glass is bone dry. So I’m a good counter-balance, sometimes to the point of being naïve. But that’s okay.

What is something you do that people would be surprised at?
     I read the credits on TV shows and movies. Read them to the very end.

Are you a dog/cat/other person?
     Definitely a dog person although if you have a cat I’ll give it some lovin’. But for me it’s dogs all the way, which is ironic because as a child I was afraid of dogs. In fact, my friend had to lock her St. Bernard in the basement whenever I visited. Now, I can’t imagine my home without one. (Used to be two).

What is your favorite season and why?
     Easier to answer the season I like least – winter. I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, lived for 13 years in Cleveland, OH, and then moved to Decatur, IL. All of those locations see snow and lots of it. When it came time for us to relocate again we tossed the snow shovels. I’m happy as can be in sunny Florida (on the Gulf side). For me the hotter the better.

Coming October 5, 2016
Broken Justice, Blind Love
     He is a suspect. An accused killer. And Trish Kleerey is the law. Patrolman Kleerey stands tall, speaks with an assertive tone, and sees right and wrong as clearly as her black and white cruiser. Commit a wrong and face the consequences. But her strict moral code is challenged when her investigation into a series of murders incriminates the man she loves. Her training tells her to arrest him. Her heart screams otherwise.
     Bryan DeJewel feels the line between love and the law blur when Trish starts asking him questions about the serial killings. The Trish Kleerey he knows is soft, warm, and capable of bringing him to his knees with desire, but that passion isn’t enough to build a lasting relationship. It’s as plain as her black and white cruiser: If she loves him, she must trust him.
     But the choice is not so simple for Trish. Believing Bryan means turning her back on the evidence, breaking the rules and risking her career to prove his innocence.
     Meanwhile, the real killer watches and waits, hoping she’ll fall into his deadly trap. Will Trish listen to her heart and choose love, or strap on her gun and enforce the law?

About Rena:   "Rena Koontz broke into the publishing world in 2012 with her debut novel, “Love’s Secret Fire.” It was quickly followed by “The Devil She Knew” and “Thief Of The Heart,” – all three romantic suspense novels that critics praised for keeping readers on the edge of their seats.
     But Rena had a love story in mind, just begging to be told – the book of her heart. “Crystal Clear Love” is Rena’s first contemporary romance, inspired by childhood friends and memories, and fictionalized from stories gleaned from her career as a journalist. Working as a news reporter at two of the country’s top 20 newspapers provided a writing journey that took Rena into the sports arena, politics, feature writing, editorial writing, and, her favorite, cops and courts. Along the way she met killers and kids who left an impression, victims and victors who beat the odds, and reported stories on life, loss and love.
     While another contemporary percolates in her head, she releases her third romantic suspense on October 5, titled Broken Justice, Blind Love.
     Her novels are the realization of a lifelong dream to write stories that combine romance, suspense and strong female characters designed to mirror today’s women.
     A Pittsburgh native, Rena lives in Central Florida.
     Visit Rena at

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special: A Journey Home with Angela Scavone

Angela Scavone

     Stephanie Tyler’s sole job is to fly overseas to war torn areas of the world to retrieve and escort the bodies of fallen soldiers back home to the United States. It is a tough and emotional job but she is honored for the privilege. Her duty also helps her to escape her past and her failed marriage.                                                     But those flights have become increasingly more dangerous and she is forced to have a partner accompany her. Much to Stephanie’s surprise and dismay, she is partnered up with her ex-husband, Captain “D.A.” Douglas Aston.             
     From the moment Captain D.A. enters the scene, he irritates her. It could have something to do with the fact he slept with her best friend while they were married. As they go on several missions together, Stephanie is forced to be courteous and professional with D.A. even though the very sight of him irritates her beyond comprehension.
     Then, Stephanie’s cheating, husband stealing, ex-best friend is killed in Afghanistan and Stephanie and D.A. must escort her body home. While executing this difficult duty, a myriad of conflicting emotions makes Stephanie ponder how short life really is . . . and to question her own ability to forgive. 

Contemporary Romance
Content Warning: Some explicit language


Angela Scavone lives in Ontario, Canada sharing her home with her father and her two much-loved pups (and one evil cat).  She currently works for the Board of Education behind the scenes supporting and analyzing student data, however, in her spare time, apart from her avid love of storytelling, she likes to read, spend time with family and friends and concoct dairy free recipes from scratch. Sometimes she wins some, and sometimes she loses some – tofu, banana and peanut butter pudding we are looking at you.

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Friday, May 20, 2016 | By: Cafe
Don't fear making a mistake; fear failing to learn and move forward. 
- Pilip Humbert
Thursday, May 19, 2016 | By: Cafe

Hey, Lady! That's An Ugly Baby by Sarah Vance-Tompkins

The Write Way Café welcomes Sarah Vance-Tompkins, who shares her tips for grooming your ugly baby.

How To Take Feedback and Criticism Of Your Manuscript

You've worked hard. You've spent countless hours writing down eighty thousand words that tell a cohesive story. You've cried. You've sweated. You may have even bled. It sure felt like it when you were working alone in a little room while everyone else in your family was watching "The Voice."

You've finally typed "The End." You couldn't be prouder. It's a huge milestone on your path to publication. But here's the thing -- your manuscript -- your baby -- is seriously ugly. 

Even if you know you've got an ugly baby, it's hard to hear those words spoken by someone else. Sending your manuscript out for criticism and feedback can be painful. Here are five things to consider when you are ready for a critique -- professional or otherwise -- about your manuscript. 

1. Tell Me What You Want. What You Really Really Want.
You don't have sing it like a Spice Girl, but before you hit send, you need to ask yourself if you are in search of encouragement to keep writing, or feedback to make your project better. This is important. There is a difference. You need to know what you really want before you send your manuscript off for review and criticism.

Set your own goals. What do you want to accomplish in this round of edits? What are you expecting from the review? Give your editor or critique partner a list of questions you have as the writer, so they can tailor their feedback to your specific needs. 

3. A Pinch Of Salt.
We're all human. It's hard to set aside the problems we're facing in the real world and read someone else's manuscript without prejudice. When we're tired and distracted, we forget to use the kind of words that will encourage an author to keep going without calling their manuscript an ugly baby. You have to have confidence in your own project. Use the feedback that helps you tell your story, and ignore the criticisms that feel like someone might be tossing a little shade. 

4. You Said. She Said. 
The best advice I've gotten from an experienced writer about the editing process was to look at the feedback as the opening of a discussion. If your editor or CP questions an element in the manuscript, they're not necessarily saying what you've written is bad -- but rather -- they may be asking you to create a better storytelling element. Remind yourself that the person you've asked to read the story doesn't know it as well as you do. Whether you agree or disagree -- you should at least respect them for pointing it out. 

5. Say What? 
If you don't understand a comment or suggestion you receive from a critique partner or editor, ask questions before you start to make big changes. Save your original draft in case you need to go back to it. And make sure you have a plane before you start editing. 

Be proud of your ugly baby. The criticism and feedback you receive will put you on the path to success. 

Kisses On A Paper Airplane
A debut YA novella by Sarah Vance-Tompkins

Drama student Hannah Evans isn't kissing any frogs on her path to find Prince Charming. She's determined to share the perfect first kiss -- with the perfect boy -- in the perfect place -- or she's not kissing at all. When Hannah meets a cute ginger-haired boy in first class lounge in the London airport, she knows he's 'The One.'

Pop star Theo Callahan is on the road to get as far away as possible from his back-stabbing best friend, and the supermodel girlfriend who broke his heart. Until one shy smile from Hannah has him rethinking all of his travel plans.

Theo is smitten, but he's worried she's just a groupie in search of the ultimate selfie. Can Theo learn to trust Hannah in time to share one perfect first kiss, or will Hannah be forced to kiss a frog?

Amazon          Kobo

Sarah Vance-Tompkins was born in a small town in northern Michigan. She received an MFA in Film Production from the University of Southern California, and went on to work in feature film development. Prior to film school, she wrote and produced radio and television commercials. A working writer, she has been paid to write everything from obituaries and press releases to breathless descriptions of engagement rings. She and her husband, The Handsomest Man Alive™, live in Southern California with three cats.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016 | By: Cafe

The Write Time

Writing time. It isn’t easy to come by for me. It never has been.

I don’t think I’m atypical when it comes to writers trying to find/make writing time. Oh, I treat my writing as work. I know it’s a business, and though I’m passionate about writing, I understand if I’m going to succeed in my chosen profession I can’t wait to be in the mood or for anything in particular. I have to sit down and pound out the story.

But it’s still hard to find enough time. Like most authors, I have many interests. I won’t call them distractions because they are a part of life and I enjoy them. I like spending time with my family. A lot. I enjoy spending time in solitude, in nature, just to keep myself grounded and peaceful. I also enjoy spending time alone with  my husband. We do fun things together and with our kids. I purposely make sure I spend time with my cat, Willow. She’s a member of the family, not a couch pillow. And somewhere in there, time needs to be spent cleaning and cooking, and on and on it goes.

Oh, I almost forgot but how could I? Social media and promotions for my books have become big time grabbers, but that’s just the way of a writer’s life.

During the past few years, I’ve dealt with sickness in myself and in loved ones. I’ve lost loved ones. I’ve gone through overwhelming changes to my life. Today I’m very happy with where I’m at and with what I’m doing. I’ve simplified my life a degree or two. Still, sometimes I feel like hanging a virtual sign on my life that reads, “Don’t bother the writer. She might break down.”

I’m still seeking balance. I want it all. Writing, family, leisure, fun, and a clean house (though that part of my life dropped to the bottom of list many writing years ago). I don’t want to feel annoyed and stressed all the time. I love writing and still want peace and balance.

To solve this dilemma I have sought out solutions, genuine ways to not just survive but also thrive. Writing is very much a part of thriving and I’m so grateful to have found my passion and have seen my writing published. I’ve picked up a few tips that have helped. Here’s a typical list:

1.      Complete most important tasks first.
2.      Learn to say no.
3.      Get an early start.
4.      Don’t allow unimportant details to drag you down.
5.      Turn key tasks into habits.
6.      Commit to your goals.

This a summation of a list found at The Creativity Post.

Honestly, I believe how a writer invests in his or her writing and what strategy is used to keep balanced is an individual thing. Fundamental tactics are useful in guiding us. But from what I’ve found in seeking writing time and feeling good about my life, the methods and choices are as varied as the writers. According to Internet publication  Van Winkles' in an article written by Sharon Stodala, author of Process, the Writing Lives of Great Authors, Toni Morrison begins writing early in the morning before her family gets out of bed. Earnest Hemingway also began early. Pulitzer Prize winner Edith Wharton wrote in bed. F. Scott Fitzgerald, on the other hand, slept until around eleven in the morning and tried to accomplish some writing in the afternoon. Frank Kafka took a four-hour afternoon nap after arriving home from his day job, then began writing in the evening. George Orwell wrote at night, but he was known to write at other times during a day, too.

“Vladimir Nabokov, too, could write seemingly anywhere and anytime, perhaps owing to the many emigrations he made throughout his life. If we could all be so lucky,” Stodola wrote in the article.

I’m still working out how I’m going to balance my life now. But however I decide, I’m going to make my process mine and own it, because there are no sure-fire strategies that fit us all.


Friday, May 13, 2016 | By: Cafe
If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor. 
– Edgar Rice Burroughs