Thursday, April 30, 2015 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Suzanne Johnson


The Write Way Cafe welcomes author Suzanne Johnson, who shares how living through Hurricane Katrina informed her book Royal Street.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
Writing a book is one of those things I used to idly say I’d do back when I was a student, but then life happened and I pursued a career in journalism instead. I didn’t figure I’d ever write a book at all, but if I did, I would’ve placed bets that it would be a humor-laced Southern memoir and certainly not romance. I didn’t even expect to be writing a book when I started my first novel six years ago. It was just going to be a story...and then it got really long. LOL.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do? 
This is the fourth book in a series, the first book of which (that “long story” I mentioned earlier) was a direct result of my own experiences as a New Orleanian going through Hurricane Katrina. It changed all of us in profound ways. For me, it led me to try my hand at writing fiction for the first time. I didn’t have to do a lot of research for that first book, ROYAL STREET, because I’d lived it...well, except for the magic and shapeshifters part! It was my love letter to a city I adore and that we almost lost. In the books since, however, I’ve done a LOT of research on New Orleans history and traditions—even though I’m writing urban fantasy, I want to get my city right. And since he’s become a major series character, I can tell you just about anything you want to know about the early 19th-century French pirate Jean Lafitte! He’s probably taken up more than half of my total research time.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
My Hurricane Katrina experience dictated the locations; I set the books in the parts of New Orleans—Lakeview, Uptown, Mid-City, Broadmoor—that I know well and experienced firsthand after the storm. Setting books in South Louisiana is also a case of “write what you know.” Although I’m not living in New Orleans right now, I did spend almost fifteen years there and still consider it my hometown. It’s also the perfect place to set a story because of its culture and history.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself? 
Well, I’m not a cute blond 28-year-old wizard, unfortunately, but yeah, my heroine DJ and I share some traits. I used some of my own experiences and observations of the Katrina aftermath for her experiences and observations, so that’s inevitable. But I’ve never based a character whole-cloth on any real person, though, or even a compilation of real people. Not consciously anyway. I’m a plot-first writer. I come up with the overarching idea, and then dream up the best characters to bring that idea to life.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about preternatural groups and the devastation a hurricane can leave behind?
I had a huge learning curve in writing my first two or three novels because I’d never written fiction before.  I think I wrote a couple of awful short stories in the seventh grade, and that was it. But the big lessons, the ones that come through in this series, came from the Katrina experience. The emotional journey of my heroine, DJ, represents my greatest lessons from Katrina—that you can lose everything in the blink of an eye, and how you react reveals the mettle of your character. That you can work hard and be honest and do all the right things, but it doesn’t mean you will prevail. That adversity forces you to evaluate what’s important—and what isn’t. That the people who make good leaders in normal times are not necessarily the ones who can lead in a crisis. That sometimes, it’s hard to see through the darkness of your soul, but that, ultimately, you have to trust your heart and be willing to risk it for what you believe in. Those aren’t easy lessons, and DJ’s journey—while funny and wacky and a rollercoaster to read—isn’t an easy journey.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you. 
When I bought my current house in 2008 (just before the economy tanked—talk about lousy timing), its key selling point was an upstairs room with a window and an entire wall of built-in bookcases. I hadn’t even started writing at that point, but it has since become my home office. (I also still have a day job.) I write on a Macbook Pro with a 24-inch monitor hooked up to it, and a wireless keyboard. It’s set up on a big wooden square table and takes up half the table. I have chairs on both sides of the table, because the other half is my space for doing mixed-media art...which is why I have a few spatters of acrylic paint on the back of my monitor! The room is a chaotic jumble of books and art supplies...all good.

What are you working on now? 
I recently signed a contract to write a new romantic suspense series under my Susannah Sandlin pen name. It’s about the work (and loves) of a team of Louisiana wildlife enforcement agents—i.e., game wardens. Not many people realize that they are the most heavily trained law-enforcement agents outside the military, and are the state’s primary search-and-rescue units. They were the first to arrive in New Orleans after Katrina. A lot of the folks you saw getting rescued off rooftops were being pulled out by Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents. I can’t wait to write about them! I’m also working on the next book in my Susannah Sandlin-penned Penton Legacy vampire paranormal romance series, and a couple of “secret projects” that aren’t ready for prime-time yet.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why? 
Because paranormal fantasy has taken a downturn in the market lately, I began last year writing romantic thrillers as well. They’re very much like my paranormal thrillers, only minus the paranormal! The story process and pacing is much the same. I just have to work around the limitations of my characters being, you know, humans.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be? 
A veterinarian, because I love animals so much. But it might be too heartbreaking, on second thought, so maybe I should lower my ambitions and say a pet-sitter or doggie daycare owner.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Getting that first draft down. I love the revision process—absolutely love it. But writing that first draft is painful. You’d think it might get easier as I write more books, but no. It’s awful. I’m okay once I get started but walking to that keyboard every day is like a trip to the gallows. Once the first draft is down, it’s all fun again.

Thanks for having me here today! Leave a comment telling me about YOUR dream job, and at the end of the month I’ll choose a winner at random for a $10 Amazon gift card or equivalent purchase from the Book Depository if the winner is outside the U.S.

From award-winning author Suzanne Johnson comes the fourth book in the smart and sexy, award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans series.

PIRATE’S ALLEY 
by Suzanne Johnson

  Wizard sentinel DJ Jaco thought she had gotten used to the chaos of her life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but a new threat is looming, one that will test every relationship she holds dear. 
  Caught in the middle of a rising struggle between the major powers in the supernatural world—the wizards, elves, vampires and the fae—DJ finds her loyalties torn and her mettle tested in matters both professional and personal. Her relationship with enforcer Alex Warin is shaky, her elven non-husband Quince Randolph is growing more powerful, and her best friend Eugenie has a bombshell that could blow everything to Elfheim and back. 
  And that's before the French pirate Jean Lafitte, newly revived from his latest “death,” returns to New Orleans with vengeance on his mind. DJ's assignment? Keep the sexy leader of the historical undead out of trouble. Good luck with that. 
  Duty clashes with love, loyalty with deception, and friendship with responsibility as DJ navigates passion and politics in the murky waters of a New Orleans caught in the grips of a brutal winter that might have nothing to do with Mother Nature. 
War could be brewing, and DJ will be forced to take a stand. But choosing sides won’t be that easy.

Amazon          Barnes & Noble           Book Depository

About Suzanne:  Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense on top of a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. As a longtime resident of New Orleans, she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick. Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she also is the author of the best-selling Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Elysian Fields, book three in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, won the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence while her Sandlin-penned novel, Allegiance, is nominated for a 2015 Reviewer’s Choice Award from RT Book Reviews magazine. Omega was an RT nominee in 2014.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015 | By: Cafe

What's Your Playlist?

When my youngest son was in high school and college he ran track and cross country. He did very well and broke records and won local, regional, and state meets. Sometimes he expressed insecurity at conquering the next level. When he qualified to go to the state meet in his senior year he was confident but well aware of his competition. My husband and I reminded him of his inner drive and heart for competing. We shared a memory of him walking with his four siblings and his dad and me and how he would get tired and slow down. We would then ask him to sing Eye of the Tiger . He’d start singing in his little boy voice and immediately he would pick up his pace. From that moment’s memory he proceeded to take his music whenever or wherever he ran, and be inspired once again to push on and run his fastest.

Music has always been a part of my life. My family was musical. My father played the trumpet and my mother played the piano. My parents asked each of us in elementary school what instrument we wanted to play, not if. I’m grateful for that musical background. But no one needs a background in music to enjoy listening to a favorite song. Songs can take us to many places and often lift our mood or, like my son’s song, complement self-expression and support our goals.

My playlist for my life when I was younger included upbeat, lively music. It was a rare moment that I wasn’t listening to music at home or in my car. Since I’m a serious person, in college I listened to issue songs, like Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil. I was a romantic, so James Taylor’s Fire and Rain and Neil Diamond’s God Only Knows frequently orchestrated my daily life .

As a young mom I would mop the kitchen floor moving to the beat of Electric Light Orchestra’s All Over the World, Christopher Cross’s I Really Don't Know Anymore, Imagine by John Lennon, and Right Here Right Now by Jesus Jones.

Like my life, my playlist has changed over the years. When I wrote my first book I did it to Gloria Estafan’s Can't Stay Away from You. Other books I wrote to the soundtracks of Superman and White Knights. These oldies but goodies provided an intensity that resonated with the stories in my head.

Nowadays my playlist remains an expression of what’s going on inside me. I would just as likely play Smile by Uncle Kracker or Songbird by Union of Sound, as I would The Sounds of Silence  by Simon and Garfunkle or Dark Horse by Katy Perry.

There are so many, many wonderful songs that have been a part of my life. But now when I write I’m most likely to be in silence. I love the rich, nourishing ambiance of quiet, in my mind and my surroundings.

What’s on your playlist?

Friday, April 24, 2015 | By: Cafe
Let your past be your spring-board, not your quicksand.
- Dr. Steve Maraboli
Thursday, April 23, 2015 | By: Cafe

Heatherly Bell and The Flaming Red Head

The Write Way Café welcomes author Heatherly Bell, who shares how story ideas fall like boxes into her lap and that her alter ego is a flaming red head who puts away bad guys.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?

I’ve always wanted to write since my tenth grade high school English teacher gave me an A+ for my short story, but the first time I thought about writing a book was when I fell in love with Jodi Picoult’s A Second Glance. At the same time, I was overwhelmed with the thought of writing something so large. I had several false starts throughout many years. I had not found my own writing “voice” and tried too hard to be a “Jodi wanna-be”. In the end, my voice turned out to be radically different from that of one of my favorite authors.

Where did the idea for your story come from? 
I wish I knew – I think it came from that place in heaven that drops down all story ideas into lucky author’s open minds. I knew that I would write about Wallace and Gen, dovetailing from Somebody Like You (the end of the book introduces them). Little blocks of the story dropped down from heaven, until I had my inciting event. What if you loved someone so much but didn’t think you had a chance in hell with him? Would you marry someone who looked like him? Why wouldn’t that work? Let’s just begin with the fact that looks aren’t everything. And we go from there … no it doesn’t work, because when you love someone they are irreplaceable.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
First of all, I live in California and we are known for our wines. I’ve spent a lot of time among these vineyards, some of them in my own backyard. Also, there’s something romantic about a vineyard setting – first of all there is the obvious physical beauty of the land and the ripe luscious vines. But if you go beyond that to the metaphors, grapes need tending and love. If you leave a vineyard unattended it’s going to shrivel up and die.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
This never happens to me, but Until There Was You flew off my fingers in a month. I then took another month for revisions, edits, and the like. I’m not sure why this happened, but I was ecstatic that it did. Most of the time, I do encounter blocks. I handle them by powering through and forcing myself not to look back until I hit “the end.”

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about life in the Napa Valley and settling for less than you want?
Although I do not live in the Napa Valley, I do live in a smaller part of “wine country”. There are several vineyards in my own backyard and the climate is quite similar to Napa, which is about an hour north of us. I had already done research on vineyards for the previous two books in the series, but for this one I was able to consult Ben Scorcur, who leads the crew at a beautiful winery in my little hometown near the garlic capital of the world. For one scene in which Wallace goes to visit his brother Billy, I wanted to know what the crew would be doing to the vines in January. Ben was so helpful, and he actually offered for me to come down and watch them work.

The theme of settling for less than you want can be a painful one, forcing you to look at your own life and the choices you’ve made. Fortunately, everything works out well for my heroine otherwise I wouldn’t write books.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
My favorite writing space is the local coffee shop – it works for me because I don’t have a smart phone to distract me. I will bring along my Alphasmart, which cuts me off from the distractions of email and Facebook (I’m addicted, I admit it.) I often stare into space searching for the next few words, because there is nothing else to do. This is where the best ideas come from, as I engage my subconscious which I believe is a much better writer than I am.

What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on Scott’s story. He’s the youngest Turlock brother, a former soldier and current firefighter. After that I’ll be done with brothers – I should have made up a bigger family, huh? Actually, there are so many secondary characters in this series begging for their own story. I will be telling Joe’s (the pilot, Gen’s older brother) story in a novella that is part of a boxed set out this summer.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
Someday I’d love to try my hand at romantic suspense, because I admire authors who do it and do it so well like Barbara Freethy, one of my favorites. But I fear that will require me to become a plotter. I’m working on it. Maybe one day …

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
My bio says this, but I’d love to be a homicide detective and put away the bad guys. I love watching Dateline every Friday night (especially Keith) and often I’ve already figured out “whodunit” before the big reveal. If I were a detective, of course I’d mostly hang out with the young good-looking cops and detectives. We’d trade thinly veiled sexual innuendos as we worked side by side solving the gruesome murder. I’d also be hot, with long flaming red hair and legs that went on for days. Ooops, you said dream, not fantasy …

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s plotting. My books are character centered, so I fear that many times not much actually “happens” other than the inciting event and the journey the two protagonists take towards each other. I work hard at trying to find interesting and funny situations that will also advance the plot. It’s the toughest part of writing for me. I’ve tried using story boards and the like, but nothing works for me like just sitting down, “butt in chair, hands on keyboard.”



How far would you go to get your fantasy man? 

Would you marry someone who looked just like him?


Genevieve Hannigan has loved her big brother’s best friend, Wallace Turlock, for as long as she can remember. But when he never noticed her, she settled for Wallace 2.0.

With her disastrous two month marriage behind her, Gen knows that nothing but the original Wallace will do.

But when Genevieve’s ex-husband is back in town with hopes to reconcile, things are about to get complicated … 


About Heatherly:   
     When early onset stage fright dashed dreams of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status, Heatherly tackled her first book in 2010, and now the people and voices that occupy her head refuse to leave. She no longer sings unless you count randomly bursting into song to annoy her children (and the dogs).
     If she were not an author, Heatherly maintains she would be a detective and a criminal's worst nightmare. She watches Dateline every Friday night and takes notes.
     Her best selling Starlight Hill series has made the Amazon top 100 and top 50 paid lists in romantic comedy (All of Me) and sports romance (Somebody Like You).
     She lives in northern California with her family, including two beagles, one who can say 'hello' and the other who can feel a pea through several pillows. 

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Heatherly also has a brand new author page that needs some attention! She hopes you'll stop by!





Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special: Rachael Slate

Rachael Slate
www.rachaelslate.com 

Delve into a world steeped in tradition and superstition…
After her parents become infected with the Red Death, Lucy Yeoh flees to Malaysia seeking answers. Everything in this closed-off section of the world is paradise—from the lush tropical climate to her sexy new neighbor, Sheng…who just might be delusional. He claims the Plague God unleashed the Red Death and only a circle of Chinese Zodiac spirit animals can cleanse the Earth. Even more, he insists she’s one of them: the Rabbit. Long furry ears and fluffy bunny tail included.

He’ll show her how to fight to save the world…
As the Chosen of the Tiger, the burden of restoring balance to the world has fallen onto Li Sheng’s shoulders. When he discovers that the ally he’s long awaited, the Dragon, is actually just the Rabbit, Sheng is quick to dismiss Lucy. If only she’d stay dismissed. Lucy’s Rabbit refuses to cooperate, undermining the authority of his Tiger at every turn…and seducing him to the limits of his darkest desires. He’s not supposed to want her. Not when he needs the spirit circle complete and she’s their weakest link.

She’ll show him a love worth fighting the world to save…
Sheng’s enemies draw closer, and not everyone wants Lucy alive. Together, they’ll have to navigate a treacherous world where a line between duty and their hearts has been drawn between them. They must either sacrifice one, or find a way to surrender to both.

Buy Links:     
Free on Kindle Unlimited       Amazon US        Amazon UK        B&N

     Sheng grappled for control that seemed as fleeting as his sanity. Lucy was off-limits. He’d reminded himself a thousand times tonight. Yet when Tiger had pinned her to the ground, Sheng would have taken her. Right then, right there.
     If not for the intrusion of his friends.
     Worse, she’d melted right into him the moment she’d realized his identity.
     She trusted him and didn’t even bloody know why. Once he got her somewhere safe, he’d enlighten her with the logic fueling her instincts.
     Tiger puffed out in supreme satisfaction. He almost hadn’t caught her; she was so swift. If not for the inclined tree trunk providing a bounding point, he might have missed.
     Sheng’s shoulders tensed, on alert for more of Snake’s “friends.” Penang Hill—behind them—served as the boundary between the Hai San and Ghee Hin territories. The Gardens were the gateway to the Ghee Hin Kongsi’s residence in the Batu Feringghi—the stretch of posh beaches on the north coast of the island. He had to get Lucy out of here before Snake caught sight of her and realized what she was.
     Where she might have argued with him, she simply obeyed. Her light footsteps padded behind him. That blind obedience concerned him more than her bolting. She shouldn’t trust a stranger with such ease, certainly not one who looked like him.
     He raked his hands through his hair to stop from lashing out at her…or drawing her into his arms and shielding her. He wasn’t sure which instinct would win.
     Even more reason to hold his tongue.
     He straddled his motorcycle, unclasped the helmet, and offered it to her.
     She approached him, her golden eyes wide and wary. Great. Now she chose to be cautious. “Who were those men?”
     “You wanna stay and find out?”
     Her nose twitched. “Do you work for my uncle? Are you my bodyguard? Where are you taking me?”
     “Get on.” He dismissed her questions and waved the helmet. No time for this, not here.
     Her hands trembled as she accepted it and secured the strap around her chin. Without questioning him again, she slipped onto the bike behind him.
     “Hold on tight.” He reached back, seized her wrists, and clasped her hands together around his waist. “I don’t do slow.”
     He revved the gas, the tires squealing while they pivoted around and peeled away. Her body slammed into his, her grasp cinching tighter as they sped through the streets. Lucy’s slender fingers spread across his abdomen, causing his muscles to tighten and his c*ck to throb. Was she purposefully teasing him with her velvety touch?
     She slid her fingers beneath the hem of his t-shirt and his abs jerked as though sparked by a live wire. He growled once, in warning.
     “Sorry. My fingers are cold. Do you mind?” Her murmur against his ear spiked his blood.
     Was she actually cold or did he detect a sultry note to her voice? Did she suffer the same raging attraction he did?
     With his concentration on navigating the streets and his hands gripping the handlebars, she had him at a disadvantage against the fanning of her fingers.
     Her warm fingers.
     They rounded a corner, and her body crushed against his. She didn’t draw back, and the imprint of her full breasts branded his back. He swore he could even feel her tight little nipples rubbing against him. He fought the urge to swing around and take her on the motorcycle. To hell with crashing—as if they’d even notice. They’d both survive.
     Your fault, Tiger. The beast practically heeled at her side. Like a bloody dog.
     Was it Rabbit or Lucy, herself, driving them both to madness?
     They squealed to a halt in front of a warehouse at the pier. He stiffened as he removed her hands from his waist and plucked her off the bike.
     She regarded him, one hand grasping her opposite wrist while she scanned the dockyard and the scattered people milling around—mostly couples out for a midnight tryst or teenagers looking for trouble.
     “Helmet.” He stretched out his hand.
     She unclasped the strap and removed his helmet, shaking out those long, wavy locks. Tendrils curled over her breasts and down to her waist.
     He licked his lips, his throat suddenly dry. His nostrils flared, inhaling her sweet, floral fragrance. Even caked in dirt, she was the most delectable woman he’d ever scented.
     The helmet slipped from her fingers to his. The slightest brush of contact between them made him bite back a groan.
     A knowing sparkle glinted in her eyes. Oh, yeah. She hadn’t missed his hard-on earlier and likely deemed she possessed an edge of power over him.
     Foolish little Rabbit. Didn’t she know?
     No one toyed with Tiger.


About Rachel:  Rachael Slate resides on the West Coast of Canada with her husband and two children—or as she likes to call them, her own little blended world. One of the best parts about sharing in her husband’s Chinese-Malaysian culture is definitely the food—and the awesome celebrations!
     Rachael writes stories that blend the lines between mythology, reality, and fantasy. In her worlds, you’ll encounter strong, sexy alpha males and the capable women who challenge them. And always, scorching hot romance.
     To find out more about Rachael Slate, visit her website or sign up for her newsletter to learn about upcoming releases.
     Rachael would love to hear from you. You can email her at rachaelslate@outlook.com or find her on social media here:

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Friday, April 17, 2015 | By: Cafe
I write to give myself strength.  I write to be the characters that I am not.  I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of. 
- Joss Whedon
Thursday, April 16, 2015 | By: Cafe

Worries, Blocks, and Successes with Liz Flaherty

The Write Way Café welcomes author Liz Flaherty, who has learned a lot while furthering her writing career. She shares her her worries, her blocks, and her successes. 

Where did the idea for your story come from? 
I started Summer in Stringtown Proper a long time ago, when I was looking for something to read that didn’t feature people too young for me to identify with. However, I never finished it. I never knew why, because I loved Molly and Joe, but I guess it wasn’t time.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
It was part of the community “the Ridge” in A Soft Place to Fall. I always hated leaving the Ridge, and I was happy to go back!

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
Big blocks, because it’s—even for me, a low key writer—a very low key story. I think it’s real and warm and quirky, but even now, when I’m in final editing stages, I worry that it’s somehow not enough.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about divorcees, widowers and second chances?
It’s my first novella-length story, and I learned that you can’t pack 75,000 words worth of stuff into 25,000! Writing that short is also tremendous fun. I’m writing another one this summer for a Christmas anthology and am champing at the bit to get started.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
When my husband and I retired, it became apparent that I needed a quiet space of my own, so he and my son made a 14 X 24 foot section of detached garage into my office/sewing room. My other son brought me a teacher’s desk from Vermont, an old oak one a college professor he worked with had given him. (I still have phone numbers for Lyndon State College in 2007 taped to it!)

What are you working on now?
I’m getting ready to start a novella for a Christmas anthology, which I’m really excited about, and I’m waiting for edits on my next Harlequin Heartwarming, tentatively titled The Winter of Letting Go.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
Each romance I write leans further and further toward women’s fiction. It is what I prefer to read—because there aren’t enough romances written about “mature” protagonists—and I think it’s what I’ll end up writing. The Girls of Tonsil Lake is WF with just bare elements of romance and I had so much fun writing it! Characterization is my favorite thing, and there’s a lot of room for it in WF.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
I would own a tearoom, because I love them. They’re often not very successful in the area where I live, but I keep thinking if it were attached to a little bookstore complete with fireplace and cat, it would go, wouldn’t it? J

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Conflict. Because what works for me may not work for a reader or an editor. Because I don’t like conflict in my own life, I use mostly internal conflict (that, at least, I can understand), and sometimes it’s just not enough.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
Jo March from Little Women; she was where I went when I was young and distressed or depressed and they never let me down. Heroes? Jeff Grant in Kathleen Gilles Seidel’s Maybe This Time because he’s just a nice guy with flaws. I should admit that the next time I’m asked this question, I’ll have a different answer, but that’s one of the joys of being a reader.

Showing up in the SMALL TOWN SUMMER box set on July 13 is SUMMER IN STRINGTOWN PROPER. It's my first-ever novella in my first-ever anthology and I am so excited to tell Molly and Joe’s story. They’re two fifty-year-olds who meet at the wedding of her aunt and his father. She's a divorcee who's afraid to trust and he's a widower who's reluctant to love again.


About Liz:  Retired from the post office, Liz Flaherty spends non-writing time sewing, quilting, and doing whatever else she wants to. She and Duane live in the old farmhouse in North Central Indiana they moved to in 1977. They’ve talked about moving, but really…30-some years’ worth of stuff? It’s not happening! She’d love to hear from you at lizkflaherty@gmail.com or please come and see her at:

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015 | By: HiDee

Unlimited possibilities @ your library®

When I was a child, getting your own library card was like winning the lottery. It meant you could go to the library and choose from a smorgasbord of books. It meant an opportunity to explore other worlds, to learn about people, places and things that you might never experience if not for books.

I remember heading to my favorite sections of the library, trailing my fingers across the spines of books aligned on the shelves as I perused the titles. Often I would select a book and slide to the floor, right there in the aisle, to flip through and read a few passages before deciding if I wanted to check out that book. Sometimes I thumbed through the card catalog, looking for books that might have been shelved somewhere other than my usual sections. Visiting new sections exposed me to books I wouldn’t have thought to explore on my own. But each visit, I would check out as many books as they would allow, or as many as I could carry!

Thankfully, my parents supported my love of books. We were encouraged to check out library books at school, as well as through the public library. Good grades earned opportunities to purchase books from the Scholastic Book order forms that came home with our papers. When we moved out of state, the first place we visited after moving in was the local public library. As we got older, we were treated to trips to the bookstore. Used bookstores were my favorites, because I always came home with a stack of “new” books that didn’t cost my parents a small fortune!

My love of books has grown over the years. I have more books on my shelves and in boxes than I will probably ever read, but I can’t make myself get rid of them. I have core reading preferences but I have also learned to explore new-to-me authors and subjects.

I still prefer having a book in my hands to watching TV. I also live in a small town without a library so I haven’t checked out any library books in a very long time, but I still visit the bookstore or my local department stores every week looking for new books.

Because books are important to me, I wanted to share information on book-related celebrations happening across the nation during the month of April.

D.E.A.R.-- Drop Everything and Read -- is a national month-long celebration of reading designed to encourage people of all ages to make reading a priority in their lives. Author Beverly Cleary wrote about D.E.A.R. in her book Ramona Quimby, Age 8.  Since publication of her book, "Drop Everything and Read" programs have been held nationwide in honor of Mrs. Cleary’s birthday on April 12th.

National Library Week – April 12-18, 2015
Every April since 1958, libraries across the country observe National Library Week to celebrate contributions of libraries and librarians and to promote support and use of libraries.  In the mid-1950s, the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers were concerned that Americans were reading less, and they decided to do something about it. They wanted to motivate people to read, and therefore generate more interest and use of libraries. Their theme that first year was "Wake Up and Read!"

Unlimited possibilities @ your library®.
I love this theme for 2015!  Libraries are filled with possibilities for people of all ages and interests!  While I love the internet and easy access of books through my computer or other electronic devices, there is no experience quite like visiting the library.  It has the potential to change lives, if only people are exposed to it.

How has a library influenced your life?

Friday, April 10, 2015 | By: Cafe
Good fiction's job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.
- David Foster Wallace

Thursday, April 9, 2015 | By: Cafe

Writing, Reading, and More with Robyn Bachar

The Write Way Café welcomes prolific author Robyn Bachar, who shares her thoughts on writing, reading, and surviving her enthusiastic puppy.

Tell us a little about your latest book, Bite Me.
In Bite Me I destroyed civilization with a zombie apocalypse, and then put a vampire in charge of saving humanity. Lizzy Addams was a loner before the world ended, and she worries that the humans she rescues aren’t going to thank her with a wooden stake through the heart.

If Bite Me was made into a movie, who would play your main characters, and why?
Lizzy would be played by Ellen Page, Angie would be played by Nicole Beharie, and Sean would be played by Benedict Cumberbatch. They would all do a fabulous job of looking gorgeous while kicking butt.

What or who has been instrumental in or to your writing journey?
My RWA chapter and my critique group were vital to giving me courage to submit my work for publication. It’s very helpful to have the encouragement and support of other authors.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve been given?  What’s your best writing advice for others?
Nora Roberts gives the best writing advice. I think my favorite quote of hers is, “Give yourself permission to write crap. You can edit crap, but you can't edit a blank page.” You’re never going to get your manuscript right on the first try, so don’t agonize over making every sentence perfect. Just get it down and fix it later.

What “keepers” are in your home library?
So many… I’m trying to stick to buying e-books to cut down on the size of my print library. I have many books by Nora Roberts, Kelly Armstrong, and Linnea Sinclair, to name a few.

Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
Like the time I slipped on the ice while walking the dog and broke my hand? I was two blocks away from home with no cell phone, so I had to walk back with a broken hand and an overexcited dog who thought my fall was a big game. Not fun.

What book do you wish you could have written?
I think every author wishes that they had written The Next Big Thing that Made Enormous Amounts of Money. I try to write the books that I want to write and not obsess about the road not taken.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I had a review where the reader said she would’ve thrown my book against the wall if it hadn’t been on her Kindle. Ouch. It’s a weird thing, though. My worst reviewed book is my best seller, and my best reviewed book has sold the least out of all my titles.

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?
An extremely sinful dessert, like Death by Chocolate. It would probably be a molten chocolate cake with a spicy chocolate center—plain on the outside, but wicked on the inside, just like Lizzy. ;-)

Tell us about the book in your closet.
I have a fantasy series that hasn’t found a home with the right publisher, so I’ve decided to publish it myself. The first book, The Sephra’s Tear, will be out this summer.

And now for the fun stuff! 

If you aren’t a full-time writer, what is your day job?
Right now I’m working in a bakery. I get paid to bake cookies, which I love. :-)

What is your biggest shopping downfall?
Doughnuts. One of the perils of working in a bakery is the temptation to buy a few things at the end of the day.

Are you a dog/cat/other person?
I’m an animal lover. I’ve had dogs and cats, and they each have their perks. My 10 pound cat was a lot easier to fit on my lap than my 70 pound puppy, but I could never take my cat for a walk. Walking the dog is a great combination of exercise and time to ponder my writing.

What is your favorite season and why?
Fall. It’s not too hot and not too cold, and not full of pollen like Spring.

If you had to write with a pen instead of a computer, what type of pen would be your preference?
Erasable pen. My handwriting is atrocious.

Consumed by the need to feed…
     After an out-of-control spell triggers the zombie apocalypse, Lizzy Addams is left in the ruins of Chicago with only the slightly unhinged commentary—and endless erotic appetites—of her inner demon for company. Her blood supply dwindling, she is forced to find survivors to feed from, or die trying.
     Officer Angela Kinney was on duty when hungry corpses overwhelmed the city. The survivors look to her for leadership, but nothing prepared her for a beautiful monster who offers safety in exchange for blood.
     Sean MacMillan never expected to see Lizzy again after she rejected his attempts to lure her back to the vampire fold. But with his flock threatened by the horde and his murderous vampire brother, Lizzy is the only one he can trust to keep them safe.
     The veil of secrecy shrouding the supernatural world torn apart, humanity’s only hope is to forge an alliance with vampires, werewolves, and things that go bump in the night. Though accepting their aid could be a devil’s bargain that puts humans at the bottom of the food chain.

Buy Links:  Amazon          Barnes and Noble           All Romance


About Robyn:
     Robyn Bachar enjoys writing stories with soul mates, swords, spaceships, vampires, and gratuitous violence against the kitchen sink. Her paranormal romance Bad Witch series, historical paranormal romance series Bad Witch: The Emily Chronicles, and spicy space opera romance trilogy Cy’ren Rising are available from Samhain Publishing. Her books have finaled in PRISM Contest for Published Authors, the Passionate Plume Contest, and twice in the EPIC eBook Awards.
     As a gamer, Robyn has spent many hours rolling dice, playing rock-paper-scissors, and slaying creatures in mmorpgs.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special: Becky Lower and the Pony Express

Becky Lower
www.beckylowerauthor.com
http://historyimagined.wordpress.com



     Samantha Hughes has one day to escape from her wicked uncle, and a sign in the post office is her answer. She’ll cut her hair to pose as a man and become Sam Hughes, a Pony Express rider.
     Valerian Fitzpatrick doesn’t want the weight of responsibility that his brothers have in the family business. Fortunately, the Pony Express offers a chance to make his own way in the world.
     He assumes his new buddy, Sam, is on the run from the law, until she’s hit by a stray gunshot and he has to undress her to staunch the wound. Friendship quickly turns to attraction—and more—but when Sam’s uncle tracks her down, she is forced to run yet again.
     Val’s determined to find her, but will a future with Sam mean giving up the freedom he’s always craved?

Amazon     Barnes & Noble 


      Samantha breathed a sigh of relief as the Seneca station came into view. Two days in the saddle made her one tired woman. But now she had to act as if it was nothing, as if long days in the saddle were something she was used to—and she had to convince the man in charge that she was a fellow. She pulled her hat low over her eyes as she prepared to dismount and meet the gentleman who emerged from the station.
     “About time you got here. These the Lafontaine horses?”
     “Yep.” Sam kept her voice low and curt.
     “Well, put them in the barn and see to them. Then come inside for supper, and we’ll talk.”
     Samantha hurried to do the man’s bidding, after sending a cursory glance to the station, which was actually a hotel. It was a stagecoach stop as well as the first home station for the men who would gallop across the country as Pony Express riders. The Smith Hotel was a busy place, much more so than Samantha cared for. Uncle Jack could emerge from a stagecoach and find her within a few days if he figured out in what direction she’d gone. Maybe she’d move on. Surely if she went farther west, she’d find an outpost where only riders would come through.
     She led the horses into the barn, put them into stalls, fed them some good grain, and filled their troughs with water. As she rubbed them both down and brushed the trail dust from their hides, she thought about her options.
     She found her way to the dining room of the big hotel and met up with the station manager, a grizzly-looking man with a twinkle in his eye. He grabbed hold of Samantha’s hand and shook it, hard. Samantha blinked to keep the sudden tears from falling as she winced in pain.
     “Glad to meet you. Name’s Gus, and this here’s my wife, Emma. She’s the one responsible for all the good grub. Now, sit and talk to me.”
     Emma served them and returned to the kitchen. It was late afternoon, and thankfully, they were alone in the large dining hall. Samantha breathed a small sigh of relief. She reached for a warm roll, inhaling the yeasty scent. After two days in the saddle with only jerky and apples to eat, the food before her was a slice of heaven. She loaded up her plate before she opened the conversation. “My name’s Sam Hughes, and I’m from over St. Joe way. What do you want to know?” 


Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America.  Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com. Visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com

Friday, April 3, 2015 | By: Cafe
The act of writing is an act of optimism.  You would not take the trouble to do it if you felt it didn't matter.
- Edward Albee, Playwright
Thursday, April 2, 2015 | By: Cafe

What Happens When the Past Won't Stay in the Past?


What happens when the past won't stay in the past? The Write Way Café welcomes Cheryl Rees-Price, whose book Echoes explores that problem.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
     Several years ago I wrote a play for the local church. It was a wonderful experience to see the play come to life and witness the reaction from the audience. After that I wrote a few pieces of poetry before gaining the confidence to write a book. I didn’t set out to write a romance novel, I just had an idea for a story with the main theme being mystery and paranormal. The romance element developed as I wrote. It did make Echoes difficult to place with a publishers as it didn’t fit nicely into one genre.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
     When I started writing Echoes I had an idea, started writing and let the plot unfold. I’ve since learned that this is not the best approach, you can easily lose track of the character descriptions and traits and also tie yourself in knots with the time line. Now I create character profiles, timelines and extensive notes for each chapter. Then I start the research, again this is put into a file for easy reference.
     There are many books available for leaning the craft of writing, and you can pick up some good tips but most of it is trial and error until you find what works best for you.

Where did the idea for your story come from?
     The idea for the story came from a nightmare which is the same dream Alice experiences in the opening chapter of Echoes.  As the second half of the book is set during World War Two, I had to do extensive research on the subject and pay particular attention to the timeline, as well as researching the mining industry during that period.  The internet is a fantastic tool for research but I also visited museums, talked with older people who had first experience of working down a mine and was fortunate to have a copy of my husband’s grandfather’s memoirs which gave an insight into life during that time.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
     I used two locations for the book, the first half of the book is set in New York, the second half a mining village in Wales. This was essential to the plot. The main character had to travel to a different country away from all that is familiar and trust her instincts to find a connection to her past.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about dreams and nightmares, soldiers, and secrets from the past?
     I have learned to have patience and perseverance! It is difficult to get your foot in the door of a publisher. The big houses only accept manuscripts through an agent and the smaller, independent publishers only publish a handful of books a year. The competition is fierce.
     The submission process is long with three months or more for a reply and some publishers don’t accept simultaneous submissions. So it can take years of trying before a manuscript gets accepted. In my case it was nearly seven years! I was on the point of giving up but gave it one more try and luckily Echoes was accepted.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
     I hand write my stories so I go through a mountain of note books and pens. I find the process easier, I’m not the best typist and get distracted from all the red lines that appear on the screen from my typing errors. Using a notebook has the advantage of being able to write anywhere. When I transpose my story to computer I generally work at the kitchen table where I can spread out all my notes. Tea and biscuits are close at hand, which is a great but not so good for the waistline!

What are some of your favorite books and why?
     I enjoy a good thriller, one that keeps you up at night. I have to be hooked by the first chapter. There are many books that I have enjoyed over the years. Harlan Coben, Michael Robotham, and Wilbur Smith are among my favorite authors. As a child I read The Hardy Boys and The Famous Five. I loved the mystery. If I had to pick one book that stayed in my memory it would be The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, as a child it magically transported me back in time and to another country.

What are you working on now?
     I am currently working on the second book in a crime series. This is the genre I am most comfortable writing. I enjoy the excitement of creating the storyline and piecing together the plot.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
     This is a tricky question as I already hold down a job and fit my writing around my work.  So I guess being a full time writer would be my dream job. I would love to have a cottage by the sea where I could walk on the beach every day as I conjure up plots and characters. Maybe one day!

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
     I would say editing gives me the most trouble. The process can be tedious especially when you have gone over the manuscript several times. You begin to question every sentence, re-writing and re-structuring paragraphs only to change them back. I had a great editor for Echoes and learned a lot during the process and was able to apply this knowledge to my next book.


Do you believe in ghosts?
     It started as a nightmare, an unknown soldier, glimpses of a buried past. Then a death and the nightmares turn into hauntings. It’s time for secrets to be told.
     Alice is an ordinary woman, a good career, handsome husband and a comfortable home. But her life is suddenly thrown into turmoil when she begins to experience terrifying nightmares of a young soldier. These dreams set in motion a chain of events that irrevocably change her life.
     As the nightmares intensify and merge with reality Alice begins to sustain physical injury and sees the ghostly figure of the soldier in her waking hours.
     Fearing for her sanity she must find the identity of the soldier and the link that draws them together. Her search takes her from New York to a sleepy village in Wales. Here she meets a cantankerous old man who holds the key to unlocking a seventy year old tragedy which will save Alice from a similar fate.

Available from Amazon

About Cheryl:  
     Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a Young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and two cats. After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.
     Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services and sits on the board of a local circus company.
     In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.