Tuesday, December 30, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Our Blog Journey Continues

It seems like only yesterday that we had a vision for The Write Way Café.  We wanted to create an inviting space where writers and readers could and would engage, share, vent and celebrate.  We would like to thank our guests and our readers for joining us on this journey!

We plan to continue writing our own posts, as well as interviewing authors and inviting them to share guest posts. We also hope to do more giveaways.  If you know an author who might be interested, please send them our way!

New for 2015!  

Tuesday Special  – A feature spotlight for authors will be offered every other week, and will include covers, bios, blurbs and buy links.

Building the Dream  Aspiring authors:  Are you shopping your book around?  Are you active on social media? We’d like to help get your name out there. Let us know if you’d like to be our guest.   

Café Menu – What would a café be without food? We’ve shared a few of our favorite recipes, but we’d like to invite you (authors and readers) to share yours as well!

If you’d like to know more about being our guest in one of these areas, please contact us at thewritewaycafe@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you!

And, last but not least, we wish you a safe and Happy New Year!

Lynn and HiDee

Friday, December 26, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe
There is no real ending.  It's just the place where you stop the story.
- Frank Herbert
Thursday, December 25, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Merry Christmas!

from The Write Way Café
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 | By: HiDee

Family Traditions

We hear a lot about family traditions at this time of year.

Common traditions leading up to the holidays include marathon shopping on Black Friday, cookie exchanges, and holiday parties. Schools and churches host holiday concerts and plays. Stores and restaurants pump Christmas music throughout their locations, doing their part to put people in the holiday mood, and enticing them to part with their hard-earned money.

Many people spend their time volunteering at shelters and soup kitchens. There are angel trees, and toy and coat drives for those less fortunate, for there always seems to be a need. It soothes my soul to know there are so many caring people in the world.

At home, my family traditions start with getting a fresh-cut tree. Hubby cuts the excess branches to use as background for our shelving decorations, and the faint piney-scent lingers in our rooms. Christmas cards received line the low wall from our front door, and stockings are hung above the fireplace. When the kids were little, our tradition was to load everyone in the car, drive-through McDonalds for dinner, and then drive around looking at Christmas lights. Nowadays, my son and I good-naturedly argue over who gets to drink the eggnog.

Growing up, my family always gravitated to Christmas Day. As kids, we traveled to both grandparents’ houses for meals and gifts. These days, my extended family gathers at my house. We share an abundance of food, and the women usually hang out around the dining room table while the men talk sports in the family room. We don’t currently have any little ones but when the kids were little, they were always the center of attention. I loved capturing their excitement, their wonder, and even their tantrums to freeze those moments in time. These days, my focus has shifted to capturing special moments with parents and grandparents. One of these days, I’m sure it will come full circle.

By contrast, my husband’s family doesn’t seem to care what actual day it is – when we get together for the holidays, the focus is on food and fellowship. The youngest kids hand out presents, and chaos ensues. Following gifts, my mother-in-law always gives us an assortment of items to choose from: calendars, magnets, coffee mugs, decorative dish towels, assorted crackers and pop, meat and cheese gift sets, and miscellaneous items. Some things she designates as one per person, others are one per family. Often, there is a lot of trading going on!

Over the years, our family traditions have evolved, as I'm sure yours have.  I can remember watching musical Christmas specials with my mom, shows like Donny and Marie, The Captain and Tenille, Julie Andrews, Bing Crosby, and Bob Hope.  We also watched various versions of Rudolph, Frosty, Snoopy and Sesame Street Christmas specials. As we grew older, we graduated to It's A Wonderful Life - a show that's still a favorite to this day.  Who doesn't want to root for George Bailey?

These things may seem small compared to some family traditions, and yet they are an important fabric of our lives. The young adults in our family get upset if we try to shake up any of the normal ways of doing things. They have come to count on our traditions and find comfort in the familiar routines.

What are some of your family traditions?  Have you given your characters any unique traditions? Please share!

Friday, December 19, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Above all, challenge yourself.  You may well surprise yourself at what strengths you have, what you can accomplish. 
– Cecile M. Springer
Thursday, December 18, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe

The End—When is it Time to Say Goodbye to a Series?

The Write Way Café welcomes author Suzanne Johnson, who shares her thoughts on how to end a series without stranding your characters...or your readers!

In a recent interview, author Kerrelyn Sparks talked about her long-running Love at Stake series, whose sixteenth and final book is being released this month. She likened writing such a long-running series to having family members who came to visit and wouldn’t quite leave. She loved them, but she needed a break.

It made me think about my own three series that are currently being published both under this name (Sentinels of New Orleans) and as Susannah Sandlin (The Penton Legacy and The Collectors). Book four of the Penton series released this past June, Collectors No. 2 came out a couple of weeks ago, and Sentinels No. 4 and 5 come out in 2015 and 2016.

Once upon a time in the olden days—you know, about five years ago—the question “When do you end a series?” had only one answer: “When the publisher decides to stop publishing it.”

That, I’m happy to say, is no longer the case. I know readers have often felt cheated when they’ve become invested in series that just….ended. No warning. Characters hanging off cliffs. Usually, the authors bore the brunt of the blame for that, but I can pretty much guarantee that 99.9 percent of those suddenly ending series were publisher choice, not author choice.

Now, with indie publishing becoming not only more accepted but financially viable, the burden is on the author to decide when it’s time to send the relatives home. If a series is still selling well, do you push it past its intended story life, publishing on your own, and risk it dying an ignoble, obscure death (or, in contrast, hitting the bullseye, sales-wise).

And how do you know when it’s time? I love my characters and all of my series, obviously, or I wouldn’t have taken them this far. But recently, I made myself take a step back from them, look at them from both a story and a business point of view, and see where their futures lay.

The answer I finally came up with was, when the story is no longer viable. When the characters begin to feel tired to me, they will be tired to the readers. I think we can all name a series or three that has simply gone on two or three books too long, that went from “must buy and drop everything to read immediately on release day” to “put it on a wish list for later.”

I have an end set for one of my series at either six or seven books, depending on how long the story arc in my head takes to play out. It has been building for a while, is about to explode, and then will need to play out. If it plays out in book six, then it’s done. I love the characters too much to see them grow tired and stale, or venture in directions that are wrong for the series. (Yeah, we’ve all seen that happen, too!)

Another series has reached a turning point where the characters need to go really big or go home. That one, I think, needs to end and morph into a spinoff series with new blood to mix with the old blood.

The third series is new and, as my first foray into a new genre of romantic suspense, is too early to call. It’s an odd premise in the genre—the continuing characters are the bad guys rather than the romantic hero/heroine, and each book can work as a standalone. But I’ll be watching it, taking its temperature, having a talk with my characters (and, oh yeah, the publisher) and deciding.

Of course plans change, there are tons of new stories bubbling around in my brain (and in my story idea folder on my computer desktop which goes by the unfortunate name of “Brain Farts”—true story), and publishers might want to go in one direction more than another.

This thing I know for sure, however. Authors now have options, which means we should never leave our readers—or our characters, for that matter—stranded. I’ve always said that if my series get orphaned, I’ll at least put out a novella to wrap things up, just as a gift to the readers who have invested time and emotion in my stories and my characters. It’s a hard thing to do, giving up writing time when you might be earning a living in order to write something that will earn more than goodwill.

But goodwill, and the trust between and author and a reader, is vital. I love my readers, and I hope they know it. I’d never strand them.

So, what say you? Have you been disappointed when favorite series ended without a satisfactory resolution of story? Do you think authors—or their publishers—have an obligation to readers to put out a final series book that wraps up the storyline?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of your choice of book in any of my series!

Deadly, Calm and Cold
by Susannah Sandlin
How far will ordinary people go to protect their secrets? The Collectors’ games are as much about manipulating lives as finding lost treasure. Everyone is expendable as the ruthless C7 pushes people into gambling with their lives in order to find priceless objects lost to history.

Samantha Crowe’s secrets could ruin her career, while Brody Parker’s could get him killed. They become pawns for two Collectors seeking Bad King John’s crown jewels, which disappeared in rural England back when Robin Hood roamed Nottingham. This time, however, the Collectors—a ruthless dotcom billionaire and a desperate London detective—might not be playing for the same team, leaving Sam and Brody trapped in the middle.

One thing’s for sure: if either hopes to survive, Sam and Brody will have to find a way to overcome their distrust—and their growing attraction—in order to succeed on this winner-take-all treasure hunt.

Find Deadly, Calm, and Cold in print, digital, and audio at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Book Depository. [Book one, Lovely, Dark, And Deep, is on sale for Kindle in December at $1.99.]

About Suzanne:  Suzanne Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street, River Road, Elysian Fields, Pirate’s Alley (2015) and Belle Chasse (2016), and, as Susannah Sandlin, writes the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series (Redemption, Absolution, Omega, Allegiance, and the spin-off paranormal romance Storm Force). She also writes The Collectors romantic suspense series, Lovely, Dark, and Deep, and Deadly, Calm, and Cold. She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her elderly rescue dog Tanker and a yard full of chipmunks. You can find her at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with Collette Cameron

The Write Way Café welcomes author Collette Cameron, who shares her fascination with history through the characters and settings in her books. 

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

     I don’t actually know when the notion started about writing. Somewhere tucked into the corner of my mind had always been this niggling thought that maybe someday I’d write a book. I didn’t have a clue what kind, except I knew it wouldn’t be a romance novel.
     The idea of writing dialogue terrified me, and there were concerns about what people would think if I wrote one of those books.
     So what do I write? Historical romance novels.
     I had a scene pop into my mind one day, and I wondered if I could write an entire book around that scene. I did, and Highlander’s Hope was the result.

Where did the idea for your story come from? 
     Triumph and Treasure was birthed from my Castle Brides Series.
     There were so many fabulous secondary characters in those first three books, I knew many of them had to have their own stories. Truthfully, some of them nagged incessantly until I agreed to share their tales. Characters can be quite impatient and demanding.
     Flynn, the Marquis of Bretheridge, was a fun-loving popular fellow in that first series, and I wanted to introduce something into his life that would challenge his usual jovial attitude. I also wanted Scottish roots in one or both of my main characters.  I knew Angelina would be different than the typical Scottish Regency heroine, so I had her raised in America.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
     I love both Scotland and England. I seem to have a penchant for setting my stories in those dual locations.
     I’ve been to England twice and fell in love with the country. My hubby and I are going to Scotland in the summer of 2015, so I hope to get a bunch of research done while I’m there. That is if I don’t spend all my time exploring the castles and standing stones.
     Plus, with a name like Cameron, it’s in my blood!

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
     My characters are all completely imaginary, though people swear there are aspects of me in my first heroine. If there are, they were completely unintentional, and in fact, I believe she rubbed off on me, not the other way around.
     I actually deliberately try to create characters totally different than me, which can be a challenge sometimes to get inside their heads and emotions.
     After my stories are written, I’ve seen some character traits in some of my secondary characters that are very familiar, and in one case, I realized the character could, indeed, be someone I actually know.
     Maybe my subconscious was trying to tell me something.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
     I’m what people have called a linear pantser or a plantster. I write beginning to end, and I have some basic plot points I want to hit on, but I don’t know my entire story in detail until it’s done.
     I love how my characters will take me a direction I didn’t see coming or how I’ll suddenly know what a secondary character’s story is going to be because of something that happened during the writing of the story.
     It surprises me how strongly some people react to the fictional people in my books.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about slave-trading, gambling, and Scottish royalty?
     As you might expect, historicals require a great deal of research.
     When I was creating the villain for Triumph and Treasure, I wanted someone involved in something despicable, so I began to research the slave trade in France. I was stunned to learn that slave traders in France were responsible for far more numbers of slaves being sold than the United States.
     Gambling was an acceptable social practice for both men and women as a form of entertainment. Though gaming was all the rage during the Regency era, many a man lost everything at the tables, and some even took their lives after losing a wager.
     The Scots are a fascinating people, and I greatly admire them.  The peerage in Scotland is similar to that of England with a few exceptions.  Flynn, the hero in Triumph and Treasure holds a British title.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
     I have the most beautiful writing space; at least I think so! I call it my shabby chic writing room.
     When my youngest son left home, I commandeered his bedroom. It overlooks our backyard which is also a Certified Wildlife Habitat.  I filled the room with all sorts of repainted cast-offs and everything I love the most: flowers, candles, teacups, pictures galore.
     It’s a bit busy for some people, but that’s okay. It’s not their room.  It’s my quite place and the ambiance in the room is perfect for writing.

What are you working on now?
     I’m in the middle of Heartbreak and Honor, the third book in my Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series. December is busy month for me. The first book in the series, Triumph and Treasure, just released and I’m finishing up the second book, Virtue and Valor.
     I’m also in the final edits for Bride of Falcon, a Regency novella that will be released as part of a boxed novella set, Captivated by His Kiss, with seven other Regency authors in January. And then there’s a 2015 Valentine anthology that features my short story, Heart of a Highlander, and I have another short story releasing in January, A Kiss For Miss Kingsley.
     Many of the characters in those books have been introduced in my other books as well.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
     While historical romance will always remain my favorite genre, I have a time-travel series, a new adult series, and a contemporary series planned.
    There are historical elements to the first two series, so I guess I’m not getting away from writing historicals altogether.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
     I tend to be a wordy writer, which means I have to go back and be brutal about tightening scenes. Thank goodness I have a couple of critique partners who have no qualms about telling me to cut, cut, cut!

Triumph and Treasure
Book One in the Highlander Heather Romancing a Scot Series

A disillusioned Scottish gentlewoman.
Angelina Ellsworth once believed in love—before she discovered her husband of mere hours was a slave-trader and already married. To avoid the scandal and disgrace, she escapes to her aunt and uncle’s, the Duke and Duchess of Waterford. When Angelina learns she is with child, she vows she’ll never trust a man again.

A privileged English lord.
Flynn, Earl of Luxmoore, led an enchanted life until his father committed suicide after losing everything to Waterford in a wager. Stripped of all but his title, Flynn is thrust into the role of marquis as well as provider for his disabled sister and invalid mother. Unable to pay his father’s astronomical gambling loss, Flynn must choose between social or financial ruin.

When the duke suggests he’ll forgive the debt if Flynn marries his niece, Flynn accepts the duke’s proposal. Reluctant to wed a stranger, but willing to do anything to protect her babe and escape the clutches of the madman who still pursues her, Angelina agrees to the union.

Can Flynn and Angelina find happiness and love in a marriage neither wanted, or is the chasm between them insurmountable?

Available from Amazon   

Connect with Collette:
Website          Blue Rose Romance Blog          Twitter           Facebook     
Goodreads          LinkedIn           Google+ 
Visit her website for her email address and mailing address.

About Collette:  Award winning, multi-published historical romance author, Collette Cameron, has a BS in Liberal Studies and a Master's in Teaching.  A Pacific Northwest Native, Collette’s been married most of her life, has three amazing adult children, and five dachshunds. Collette loves a good joke, inspirational quotes, flowers, the beach, trivia, birds, shabby chic, and Cadbury Chocolate. You'll always find dogs, birds, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels. Her motto for life? You can’t have too much chocolate, too many hugs, or too many flowers. She’s thinking about adding shoes to that list.

Friday, December 12, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe
If you cannot find happiness along the road, you will not find it at the end of the road. 
- Author Unknown
Thursday, December 11, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with Diane Burton

The Write Way Café welcomes author Diane Burton, whose insatiable curiosity and love of writing has her writing in various genres and loving it all.

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

My children were going off to college and I was facing the “empty nest.” After years of taking care of everyone, I thought it was time I did something for myself. That was over twenty years ago and I’ve loved every minute of it. I’d read so many romances that, of course, I had to write one. Fortunately for the reading public, those first stories will remain hidden. LOL Somehow, I couldn’t write straight romance. My stories always ended up with a mystery.

Where did the idea for your story come from? What type of research did you do?
I was a huge fan of “Remington Steele” back in the 80s, so it seemed natural when I began writing my first Alex O’Hara novel that the detective had to be a woman. Along with The Case of the Bygone Brother being my first mystery, I had another first. I wrote the second book in the series first. Then I found that instead of filtering in so much backstory I needed to write it as a separate book. I’m so glad I did.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
The Case of the Bygone Brother takes place in a small resort town on the shores of Lake Michigan. I’d always loved the west side of Michigan and had vacationed there many summers. My fictional town of Fair Haven is a combination of the towns along the coast. When I started writing the story, my husband and I lived in the middle of the state and would take “research trips” over to Holland, Grand Haven, South Haven, etc. But it wasn’t until we moved there last year that I really got the flavor of the area with its strong Dutch population.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people?
All my characters are imaginary and not based on real people. I emphasize that because I use a lot of Dutch names—for some, including the missing brother, I used family names. From the early 1600s until the mid-1800s, my ancestors came from The Netherlands. I’ve never been happier for the genealogical research my husband and I have been doing since the first years of our marriage.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about PI’s, missing people, and resort towns?
My best friend is married to a retired police chief and professor of criminal justice. He’s my go-to person when I have questions. He gave me insight into the different type of work private investigators handle—which of course gave me ideas for future books.

I wrote the story entirely in the first person point of view, like the classic detective novels of the 30s and 40s—Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, etc. This was more difficult than I expected. Since everything is seen through Alex’s eyes, the reader only knows what she knows. No leaking clues by going into the villain’s point of view. No insight into Nick’s (her love interest) motives. I had to know them, of course. This was a real departure from romantic suspense.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
Years ago, my husband salvaged a huge (7 or 8 feet long and 4 feet wide) drafting tabletop from a plant that was being torn down. He used the wood to make a lovely writing desk for me. (His furniture making skills are phenomenal.) It’s in my basement office with a daylight window overlooking a pond with various wildlife, including geese (unfortunately) who come right up to the window. I love the location and my desk, but my favorite space is in my living room recliner with my laptop. It’s comfortable and I can block out all sorts of noise—except my husband’s favorite reality shows like “Alaskan State Troopers.” I think I need earplugs.

What are you working on now?
So many projects, so little time. LOL As soon as I shipped Bygone Brother off to my freelance editor, I began writing the third book in my Outer Rim Series about strong women on the frontier of space. I need to tweak the second Alex O’Hara mystery and I just wrote a short story for The Roses of Prose Holiday anthology. The Santa Tradition appeared in three installations beginning last Sunday. Here’s the link to the first part: http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-santa-tradition-by-diane-burton.html

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
Actually, this is a different genre for me. My first published book, Switched, was a science fiction romance. Since then I’ve written four more sci-fi roms and a romantic suspense. For The Case of the Bygone Brother, I returned to the contemporary time period that I cut my writing teeth on many years ago.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
Writing is my dream job. I love what I do. But if I had to choose another occupation, it would be an astronaut. I’d love to go into space. Why else would I write sci-fi romance? <grin>

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
Nancy Drew. When I was young, I read all my mother’s books then started getting more as gifts. Although I “graduated” to adult mysteries and romances, the spunky girl detective has a special place in my heart.

The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton
A PI mystery

Alex O’Hara finally gets a case that will give her bottom line a much needed boost. She might even be able to change her diet from ramen noodles to prime rib. All she has to do is track down a man who’s been missing for over ten years. Piece of cake . . . until an old flame arrives and a mugger roughs her up with orders to back off.

Available at:
Amazon     Smashwords     iTunes     Barnes & Noble     Kobo 

     “Hello, gorgeous.”
     I whacked my head on the display shelf. 
     Well, what would you do if you were lying across the top of a four-drawer lateral file cabinet, and your arm—yardstick attached—was wedged between the wall and the cabinet, trying to retrieve the license renewal application that if you mangled, crushed or couldn’t get would mean the end of your business, and the ex-love-of-your-life stood in the doorway looking at your butt?
     The shelf shook on its braces from contact with my head. Never mind that the encounter didn’t do much for the aforementioned body part. The Fair Haven Chamber of Commerce awards rattled, and signed Detroit Tigers baseballs pelted my head, shoulders, and the back of my thigh. I dropped the yardstick and swore.
     “I thought you promised your mother you wouldn’t swear anymore.” He would remind me of that vow.
     “Relapse,” I muttered as I looked over my shoulder.
     In that loose-limbed, cocky manner I once thought scary, sexy, and so cool, Nick Palzetti stood in the doorway to the spare office. He even dressed the same in a black leather jacket, black knit shirt, and jeans that molded his hips. Lordy, he could still make my mouth go dry.
     As I wiggled back and sideways across the long cabinet, I felt my skirt ride up. Of all days to wear a skirt. With my foot, I searched for the desk chair I’d climbed to get on top of the cabinet. I’d kicked off my high heels before standing on the chair, probably the only smart thing I’d done so far.
     “Red panties, you naughty girl.”

About the Author:  Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and The Case of the Bygone Brother, a PI mystery. She is regular contributor to The Roses of Prose and Paranormal Romantics blogsites. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and two grandchildren. 

For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com
Diane can also be found here:  Blog     Twitter     Facebook     Goodreads     Pinterest

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe

See the Beauty in Your Gift

It's Christmas time and I could talk about Christmas traditions, Christmas magic, Christmas spirit. The season offers a lot of opportunity for reflection.

But what I'm going to discuss is a Christmas book, The Littlest Angel, and its impact on me years ago.

According to the front page of the book, The Littlest Angel was written in 1939 at the request of Screen Guild producers, who asked Charles Tazwell to "write something" as a backup plan if one of the guild's productions fell through. The crisis that it was created to avert never happened but the story aired on a Christmas radio show. In 1946, the book was released by Childrens Press of Chicago. The story was presented in various forms over the years, from radio, to book, to magazine, to record, to a Hallmark Hall of Fame production in 1969.

A brief summary of the story:

Many, many years ago, a four-year-old boy entered heaven. From his first step into paradise he upset the heavenly peace with his behavior and fairly unangelic antics, though he tried to do what was expected of him. But mostly he missed the things on earth he had enjoyed – trees to climb, streams to fish, and caves to play in – and he longed for the sun and the rain and dark of night and light of dawn.

When he learned of the homesickness the littlest angel was suffering, the Understanding Angel sent a messenger to procure a box of the littlest angel's treasures from earth, and from then on the boy was a happy and angelic angel.

As the birth of baby Jesus approached, the heavens were excited and all angels gathered to place gifts for the holy infant at the feet of God. Even the littlest angel had found a suitable gift and placed it lovingly in the pile of gifts. But when he saw his unsightly box among the other glorious gifts, he felt embarrassed and wanted to take it back and hide it.

When God's hand moved over the selection of gifts, he stopped at the box from the littlest angel. The littlest angel was so afraid as the box was opened and everyone including God saw the gift he offered. It was nothing, he thought. It was simply a butterfly with golden wings, a sky-blue egg, two white stones, and a tooth-marked collar once worn by his dog. He was miserable. To think he'd believed these simple things would be fitting gifts for Jesus.

But God singled out his gifts as the gift that pleased Him most. And the rough, unsightly gift began to glow, rise, and shine brilliantly over the stable where the baby Jesus was born. And all men called it the shining star of Bethlehem.

The message of this book gave me a confidence boost when I was young. It came back to me as an adult, still powerful, and reminded me to be myself and not judge my writing so harshly. We writers give from our hearts and hope others enjoy the stories we create as much as we enjoy writing them. It's important to love our own stories.

I wish you all the blessing of self-actualization, free from harsh self-judgment, this holiday season. May you see the beauty in your gift.

What books have not only entertained you but given you useful insights?

Friday, December 5, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe
When we read, we start at the beginning & continue until the end. When we write, we start in the middle & fight our way out.
- Vickie Karp
Thursday, December 4, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Christmas Traditions in Regency England by Regan Walker

The Write Way Café welcomes author Regan Walker, who shares the delights of Christmastide in Regency England and how it contrasts with today's typical Christmas traditions in the U.S.

Christmas in Regency England (1811-1820, when George was Prince Regent), was a more subtle celebration than the one we observe today. To my way of thinking, perhaps they were better for it. Christmastide, as they called the season, began with Christmas Eve and continued to Twelfth Night, or January 5th, followed by the Feast of the Epiphany the next day, the official end of the Yule season.
Regency Christmas Party
In country homes and estates where Christmas was typically celebrated, decorations went up on Christmas Eve and stayed up until Epiphany when the greens would be burned in the fireplace. Evergreens were the central part of the decoration, with boughs of holly, ivy, hawthorn, rosemary, and Christmas Rose (hellebore), depending on where you were in England. Of course, there was also mistletoe, although it grows mostly in the western and southwestern parts of Britain. Friends or relatives in other parts of the country might send you some by the mail coach. The mistletoe would more likely have been a “kissing bough”—a hanging structure of evergreens, apples, paper flowers, and dolls representing Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus. Most of the traditions were steeped in the Christian faith.

Christmas Eve might also find folks sipping cups of hot wassail (spiced cider) or eggnog as they watched a performance by traveling actors, called “mummers.” The actors would parade the streets and ask at almost every door if the mummers were wanted. Dressed in the most outrageous fashions with gilt and spangled caps and ribbons of various colors on their bodies, they performed plays, ending with a song, and a collection of coins. The play these groups performed was often Alexander and the King of Egypt, featured in my Christmas story The Holly & The Thistle.

Christmas Day would, typically, begin with a trip to church. After, there would be a dinner of roast goose, boar’s head (really the head of a pig, as wild boars became extinct in England as of 1185), and perhaps turkey (brought to England from the New World in 1550). Vegetables such as potatoes, squash, Brussels sprouts and carrots were also served, along with stuffing for the fowl. Wonderful desserts ended the meal, including march pane (what we call marzipan), and gingerbread. Another favorite dessert was Christmas plum pudding, a mixture of 13 ingredients (representing Christ and the twelve apostles): suet, brown sugar, raisins, currants, citron, lemon and orange peels, spices, crumbs, flour, eggs, milk and brandy. All this was boiled in a pudding cloth. Very tasty.

Regency Christmas Dinner
Another dessert that would often appear was Mince pie. While recipes varied by region, ingredients usually included beef, suet, sugar, raisins, lemons, spices, orange peel, goose, tongue, fowls, eggs, apples and brandy. This was also called Twelfth Night Pie because it was originally made with the leftovers of the Christmas dinner. The pies were eaten every day during Christmastide to ensure good luck for the twelve months of the New Year.

Since water was not safe to drink, wine was served with the meal. For the heartier, there was the wassail bowl, which often included sherry or brandy.

Carols sung around the piano might include Deck the Halls, Here We Come a-Wassailing, and While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks. Joy to the World, though first published by Isaac Watts in 1719, wasn’t in the modern version until 1836. Hark the Harold Angels Sing was first written in 1739 by Charles Wesley, and amended in 1753 by George Whitfield. However, Mendelssohn didn’t write the modern version we sing today until 1840. Silent Night was written in 1816 by Joseph Mohr, but wasn't translated into English until 1863.

Christmas Day was also the day on which a gift or tithe was given to the landowner. It was not a widespread tradition to give each other gifts, though a small toy might be given to the child in the family.

Another Regency Christmas tradition was the Christmas pantomime. The pantomime usually opened on Boxing Day. Joseph Grimaldi, the famous clown who lived from 1779 to 1837 regularly performed in one at the Drury Lane theatre. In my story the heroine is planning to attend the performance—that is, until the hero helps her deliver charity baskets to the orphanage. Acts of kindness to the less fortunate also characterized the holiday season.

The day after Christmas was Boxing Day, on which you gave presents or “boxes” to those who had given you good service during the previous year. It was also a traditional day for fox hunting. You did not necessarily have to worry about snow near Christmas, despite the story of Good King Wenceslaus. According to several sources, weather in most parts of England is often warm and damp. The winter of 1818, the year in which my novella The Twelfth Night Wager and my short story The Holly & The Thistle are set, was a particularly warm one.

Twelfth Night Players
The day and night of the 6th – Twelfth Night – was a time for masks and playacting. Cakes were part of this day, not Christmas. Twelfth day cakes were light and covered with colored sugar, and they contained a bean and a pea. The man who found the bean would become king for the night; the woman who found the pea would become queen. Another similar Twelfth Night tradition was for the ladies to pick a man’s name from a hat, and he would be her partner for the night. At the end of Twelfth Night, all the decorations should be taken down, and the greenery burned or the house risked bad luck.

The things that would be missing from Christmas in the Regency would be the Christmas tree and stockings hung by the fire. Christmas trees were a German tradition that while brought to George III’s home by his wife Charlotte, was not widely incorporated into the holiday traditions until Queen Victoria’s time.

Instead, a Regency Christmas contained the simple traditions of holly and candles and good, roaring fires in the hearth, the smell of wassail steaming in a large bowl over the grate, and the pungent aroma of the Christmas pudding and roast goose watering the mouth and filling the imagination. Children home from school might add the typical noise to the family gatherings but the emphasis was on social interaction that is, unfortunately, so often missing in our celebration today.
About Regan:  Bestselling author Regan Walker loved to write stories as a child, particularly those about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors encouraged her to pursue the profession of law, which she did. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding sovereign who taps his subjects for “special assignments.” In each of her novels, there is always real history and real historic figures.

Regan lives in San Diego with her golden retriever, Link, whom she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses.

Buy links:      The Twelfth Night Wager          The Holly & The Thistle

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with Catherine Chant

The Write Way Café welcomes author Catherine Chant, here to tell us about her new Soul Mate series!
Hello, everyone! I'm so excited to be here at The Write Way Cafe to tell you a little bit about next book my young adult time travel series, Nothing Stays the Same, and to share the cover with you.

In Wishing You Were Here (Book 1 in the Soul Mates series), we briefly met Callie's younger sister Leah. Now it's Leah's turn for a little time-traveling adventure. Callie went back to the rockin' 50s, but Leah is headed for the groovy 70s. What could be more fun? So, grab your hip-hugger bell-bottoms and those ugly Earth shoes, and let's go!

What Inspired You to Write this Book?
When I wrote the first book, I already had in mind that the series would be music-related. Book 1 took place in 1957 and dealt with early rock 'n' roll. For Book 2 I decided to go forward in time a little bit. The '70s, musically speaking, were a period of great changes and I saw a lot of story potential there. You still had the protest songs from the '60s, then you had glam rock and a second British invasion. You also had a huge rise in kid-centered television shows with musical tie-ins.
One of the biggest inspirations for Nothing Stays the Same was The Monkees, a show I loved as a kid, and The Partridge Family, another classic from the early '70s era. I'm also a huge fan of David Bowie, whose iconic Ziggy Stardust album hit the airwaves in 1972. So I took a little bit of all that, brought in lots of my own memories of growing up in the 1970s (and reading about my favorite teen idols in Tiger Beat magazine) and invented my own musical TV show, my own "manufactured" pop band, and dropped a teenage couple from the 21st century into the mix to shake things up a bit.
Tell Us A Little Bit About the Main Character
Leah Reinard is the younger sister of the heroine from Book 1. When you first meet Leah in Book 1 she's 15 and very annoying. Basically, a brat. Her sister is a fanatic about music, but Leah couldn't care less. She mocks her sister constantly. So when Leah finds herself back in time a year later and drafted into a role on a musical sit-com where's she's expected to sing and dance, this girl is definitely out of her element.
Leah's interests lie squarely on the sports field and in a certain hunky soccer player from a neighboring school. But she hasn't garnered the courage to make a move on him yet, because Leah's not much of a risk taker. She's grown up with a natural athletic ability that's allowed her to skate through life without taking chances. If she wants to win the attention of Brennan Basford, she has to up her game, and learn to show a softer side, a vulnerable side. Leah's tough and she's strong, and she doesn't believe in going home in second place, but in the game of love, she's got a lot to learn.

From the Back Cover
Nothing Stays the Same (Soul Mates Book 2) (Coming in 2015)
Time Changes Everything...
In 1973, The Beat Detectors are the hottest TV pop band to hit the airwaves since The Monkees, thanks to the appealing vocals of rising teen idol Ronnie Basford. But behind the scenes, not everything is rainbows and unicorns. Ronnie realizes much too late that one bad decision can ruin your whole life.
Forty years later, Ronnie is dead from an apparent suicide and his sixteen-year-old son Brennan wants answers. All his life Brennan's never seen his father happy and needs to understand how it all went so wrong. When he finds himself dropped back in time, to the set of his father's TV show, he's determined to redirect the course of his father's life and create the happy ending Ronnie deserved.
Soccer star Leah Reinard has been crushing on Brennan Basford for ages. When they end up at the same summer job, she thinks the fates have finally aligned in her favor. That is, until Brennan suddenly disappears from existence. One day he's there, the next day, he's gone. And no one but Leah even remembers him. Soon after, it's clear that whatever took Brennan is causing numerous other changes to Leah's world. Bad changes. Changes that Brennan can't possibly foresee.
Can Leah find Brennan in time to stop him from ruining both their futures?

The Last Word
Thank you so much for having me. And, oh yes, I love to hear from readers!!!!
You can find me online at my website (where you can sign up for my newsletter - newsletter subscribers hear everything first and are eligible for freebies, sneak peeks and other fun things!) Of course, I’m also on Facebook and on Twitter.

About Catherine:  Catherine Chant is a PRO member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and a Golden Heart® finalist. She writes rock ‘n’ roll romantic fiction and stories with paranormal twists for young adults. She is currently working on a new young adult suspense novel, and the next book in her Soul Mates series.