Friday, February 27, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe
A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave.
- Oscar Wilde
Thursday, February 26, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Breaking New Ground with Charmaine Gordon

Fall in love with author Charmaine Gordon, who The Write Way Café welcomes today. Read how in following her own advice -- Never give up. Keep writing every day and don't let rejection get you down -- she has built a career.

Tell us a little about Breaking New Ground.
When the CEO of a major Construction Company claims a part of Celia Brown's property, he has no idea what he's up against. The elderly widow and her six year old granddaughter prepare for battle. River's Edge, the town that believes in kindness to strangers, jumps into the fray. Add romance, kids, and pride to the mix; there are lessons to be learned in Breaking New Ground.

If Breaking New Ground was made into a movie, who would play your main characters, and why?
I haven't lost my acting chops so I cast myself as the sassy widow Celia Brown. TaDa!  Ryan Gosling is a possibility for the arrogant CEO who has much to learn. If Amy Adams can be made up to look native American, I'd like to see her as Anna Youngblood, the young woman who teaches James Chandler how to be a real person and last, CassidyRae Malone, known to me as my granddaughter, who gave me the idea for Breaking New Ground, will definitely gain the role of the six year old who helps her granny save the old homestead while her Marine Mom is on deployment to the Middle East.

What's the best writing advice you've been given? What's your best writing advice for others?
Kimberlee Williams, my publisher of Vanilla Heart Publishing, is wonderful. From the beginning five years ago, she believed in me and therefore I believed in me. My suggestion to other authors is this. Never give up. Keep writing every day and don't let rejection get you down.

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?
Funny you should ask. Just last week, a so-called young friend told me never to stand up at a book signing. Sit down always and stay seated. I was born in the early thirties when women/girls didn't speak their minds so even now at the ripe age of 84 I still can't think of a snappy comeback unless it's in a script. I thought about this for a few days and when our paths crossed at a meeting, I said, "I've been engaging with the public longer than you were born so don't tell me what to do." Actually I could have used a lot of 2 word combinations: not Happy Birthday but she got the picture.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I've heard gorgeous descriptions, delightful dialogue and words to live by like that. Then the critical nasty stuff, nit picky-not my word-you used the same word twice close together and you began at the wrong place or I love it BUT ... Big Butt.

We're adding books to our Cafe menu. Would your book be a drink, an appetizer, an entree or a dessert? What would you call it?
Breaking New Ground is a long/short rich with love, romance mature and young and belief in kindness to strangers. In my humble opinion I say this story is an entree. And how about my full length To Be Continued book-optioned for a television movie? There's a book worthy of an entree plus dessert. Sorry, I got carried away.

What is your favorite social media? Why?
I like blogging about my acting experiences and family exploits. FB is great for keeping in touch with friends all the country.

Tell us about the book in your closet. 
I'm in the middle of another River's Edge story, no name as yet, and someone I met on FB has a fascinating story she's agreed to let me write. I plan to do her justice.

And now for the fun stuff!

Are you a glass half empty or glass half full personality?
Full to over flowing, that's me.

What is something you do that people would be surprised at?
I build flagstone patios from found stone in upstate NY. They are there in stacks under dirt or near the roads. Once built, it's time to transplant hostas and climbing flowers to trail along the fences. I was a professional dancer years ago and gave it up due to arthritis. Now I dance with my grandest granddaughter to wild and crazy DVD's on a flat screen with WI. She said the other day after a hot session, "Grans, you dance great for an old lady!"

Are you a dog/cat/other person?
Dogs I've loved are long gone and passed away. Now we have 3 hand-me-up cats from daughter-all sweet and loving except for Tony who can be a mean S.O.B. sometimes.

What is your favorite season and why?
Forget winter. I'm over that. Too fearful of falling and breaking old bones. My hubs used to take me for a walk. Now he takes me for a drag. Give me the three seasons to embrace. Although I do wake up each day and think, "This is a plus."

There are a lot of top ten lists. What list would you be number one on?
If Mature Romance/Suspense ever becomes a bona fide genre then I'll make the top of the list. Been there and still doing that. My motto is "it isn't over 'til it's over."

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest. I'd love to read some comments so bring them on.  Are you embarrassed reading about older romance? Let me know.

I'm offering an e copy of Breaking New Ground to one incredibly fortunate commenter and for another a copy of To Be Continued. How would you survive and thrive if, heaven forbid, you were abandoned by your husband?

iTunes     All Romance      Amazon

SMASHWORDS for ALL EReader Devices
including PC and Mac
Smashwords     Barnes & Noble

About Charmaine:  I learned a lot reading scripts, watching directors like Mike Nichols, Rob Marshall, and so many more and working with wonderful actors like Gene Wilder, Billy Crystal, Anthony Hopkins, and singing with Harrison Ford in Working Girl. I’m a watcher and I pay attention. When writing, that’s a good trait. Anthony Hopkins told me to learn my lines and don’t trip over anything on the set. Then we had lunch.  How cool is this? Known in New York as the voice of Betty White, never met the lovely lady, whenever her voice was needed and they didn’t want to pay the big bucks, they called on me. My first job was as the leg model for Geraldine Ferarro, first female vice presidential candidate. Secret Service men guarding her and two daughters as they filmed a Diet Pepsi commercial and there was me with my nice legs. Show business. There’s no business like it.

Now I’m an oldie, a goodie writing daily and loving it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: Chris Cannon

Chris Cannon

Don't just fight the system…burn it.
     Since discovering she is a shape-shifting, fire-breathing dragon on her sixteenth birthday (surprise!), Bryn McKenna’s world has been thrown into chaos. Being a “crossbreed”—part Red dragon and part Blue—means Bryn will never fit in. Not with dragon society. Not with the archaic and controlling Directorate. And definitely not when she has striped hair and a not-so-popular affection for rule-breaking…
     But sneaking around with her secret boyfriend, Zavien, gets a whole lot harder when he’s betrothed to someone else. Someone who isn't a mixed breed and totally forbidden. And for an added complication, it turns out Bryn’s former archnemesis Jaxon Westgate isn’t quite the evil asshat she thought. Now she’s caught between her desire to fit in and a need to set things on fire. Literally. 
     Because if Bryn can’t adapt to the status quo…well, then maybe it’s time for her to change it.

Buy links for Bridges Burned:  Barnes & Noble      Amazon    iTunes  Kobo    Amazon-UK     Amazon-Canada

Chris is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter.  Please leave your email address so Chris can contact you if you win!

Chapter One
     On the drive back to school, Bryn reflected on how her life had recently gone to hell. It had all started when flames shot out of her mouth on her sixteenth birthday, proving she wasn’t completely human. Since then she’d been shipped off to a secret school for dragons—the Institute for Excellence—where she was learning how to control her shape-shifting dragon powers. She’d faced discrimination, death threats, and poisoning. She’d been blown up and involved in a battle to the death with a radical Revisionist member—and she’d been there for only a few months.
     Though not everything about her new life was bad. She had a sexy boyfriend, Black dragon Zavien Blackthorn, and two good friends, Clint and Ivy. Being a crossbred dragon meant she had both the Red and Blue dragons’ breath weapons, fire and ice, and even though she was the only crossbreed, she could still outfly even the fastest Blue. Of course, that’s why some of the other Clans hated her. She’d upset the natural order of things in this color-coded world, where the Directorate dictated what Red, Black, Green, Orange, and Blue dragon Clan members could do as a profession and whom they could marry. It was absurd. Yet most dragons didn’t question it.
     Part of Zavien’s appeal lay in the fact that he headed up the student Revisionist group that petitioned the Directorate to change outdated laws. Bryn glanced at Directorate lawyer Merrick Overton, who was driving the Cadillac SUV hybrid she was riding in. Her classmate and former nemesis Jaxon Westgate rode shotgun. She and Jaxon no longer hated each other. Scratch that: he no longer hated her based on his father’s vendetta against her mother, but that didn’t mean they were friends. Funny how saving someone’s life could turn you from enemies to…what? Not friends. Frenemies, maybe? Who knew? It’s not like she wanted to hang out with him, but there was a weird level of trust between them now that she didn’t know what to do with.
     God, what she wouldn’t give to close her eyes and wake up at home with her mom and dad, sitting in the living room eating popcorn and watching bad television. But the Directorate would never let that happen. She was stuck. Stuck in this weird shape-shifting dragon world where she still didn’t know all the rules. And half the rules she did know were total crap.

Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shitzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures. 

Chris can be found at:  
Website     Twitter     Facebook     Google+     Pinterest

Friday, February 20, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe
The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail.  The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible. 
- Mark Twain
Thursday, February 19, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with Sandy Loyd

Romance reader turned prolific author, Sandy Loyd finds inspiration for her books in life around her.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? 
I thought about writing a book for a long time before I actually wrote one. The moment I finally decided to do so was after beginning a book that was so disappointing I threw it across the room and thought ‘I could do better.’ I wrote my first one and have been writing ever since. Was that first thought related to writing romance? Of course it was related to romance, since I love the romance genre.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? 
I already had the characters in mind, since it’s the fifth book in the series. I just needed to sit down and write it.

What type of research did you do?
It’s contemporary romance, so I didn’t have to do a lot. I did luck out, though, in having gone through a simulated attack that soldiers face while I toured Ft. Sam Houston with my writing group.

Where did the idea for your story come from? 
During the same tour I took at Ft. Sam Houston, we met and heard stories from field medics and one story really resonated with me. I had to put the experience in a book to highlight what those brave men and women go through on a daily basis while fighting to keep us safe.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
That was easy, since it was the fifth book in the California Series. It stands to reason, the book would be set in the Bay Area. The heroine lived in Hayward, and I put her hero in San Jose. It was close enough, yet far enough to suit my purposes for the story.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? 
I think my characters are composites of people I know. A laugh, a smile. Something I remember that I liked might go into a book as well as something I disliked.

Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
That’s probably true to an extent. My characters are based on my experiences and would react how I think they should or would react given certain circumstances. Someone else’s character might act totally different because their experiences are different.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them?  If not, what's your secret?
The hardest part for me is getting the characters down and sometimes that takes a lot of writing and then rewriting. I do get blocked when I can’t figure out what’s going to happen or if what’s happening isn’t organic. My critique partners help keep me on track and tell me how the characters are coming across. That eases most of the blocks because they usually have suggestions. The best remedy to unblock a writer’s block is to write, even when it gets impossible.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
The characters always surprise me, especially if I just write and let their story come out. One was that Cam’s mother would find a love of her own. I didn’t plan it, it just happened. And Cam’s reaction was a surprise. I truly learned about him by writing the scene.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about death, promises, and finding a new normal?
The more I write, the more I learn about myself. I’ve unearthed feelings from my childhood as well as feelings about those around me, like my family. It helps with understanding motivations from loved ones. I’ve learned life is short and one should always let people know how much they are loved.

What are some of your favorite books and why? 
One of my favorite romances is Shauna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. In fact I fell in love with romance novels after reading her Flame and the Flower. I also love Gone with the Wind. I’ve read both probably a couple of dozen times in my life. Also, I’m a big Sandra Brown fan. I loved Envy. I’ve read that one several times. It was one of those books that just spoke to me.

What are you working on now? 
I’m working on book 3 in a romantic mystery/suspense series called DC Badboys. This is Eric Coleman’s story. I have it mostly in my mind and may or may not follow the outline I’ve created.




About the author:  Sandy Loyd is a Western girl through and through. Born and raised in Salt Lake City, she's worked and lived in some fabulous places in the US, including South Florida. She now resides in Kentucky and writes full time. As much as she loves her current hometown, she misses the mountains and has to go back to her roots to get her mountain and skiing fix at least once a year, otherwise her muse suffers.
     As a former sales rep for a major manufacturer, she’s traveled extensively throughout the US, so she has a million stored memories to draw from for her stories. She spent her single years in San Francisco and considers that city one of America's treasures, comparable to no other city in the world. Her California Series, starting out with Winter Interlude, are all set in the Bay Area.
     An empty nester, Sandy has published almost two dozen novels, all with true to life characters and heart-warming stories filled with romance that makes the world go ’round. Whether romantic suspense, contemporary romance, or historical romance, she always tries to weave a warm love story into her work, while providing enough twists and turns to entertain any reader.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 | By: HiDee

What's in Your TBR Pile?

Previously, I wrote about how Debbie Macomber’s book Thursdays at Eight resonated with me, but that other of her books remain in my to-be-read pile.  I started thinking about what my TBR pile is composed of, and why.

My original TBR pile began many years ago, when as a teenager I subscribed to the Harlequin Reader Service.  Four to six books arrived in my mailbox each month.  Sometimes I read them all before the next shipment arrived, and sometimes I didn’t.  I also subscribed to a hardcover book club and Writer’s Digest Book Club.  My home library grew.

During those teenage years, my focus was on love stories and their exotic locations.  I was fascinated with characters with knowledge well beyond my years.  I wanted to visit the settings in the books; even Montana and Virginia seemed exotic to me at that age!

Closely following love was sorrow.  All that teenaged angst was really depressing!  I started reading poetry, especially that of Rod McKuen.  Then I started writing poetry, sharing it with friends who shared it with other friends, which was all well and good until it landed in the hands of my crush.

When I was burned out on human love, I turned to animals.  My love affair with horses had begun years earlier, but the closest I could come to having a horse of my own was living vicariously through books. I devoured books by Marguerite Henry, Mary O’Hara, Walter Farley and Will James.  I learned about and fell in love with Seabiscuit long before Laura Hillenbrand told his story in 2001.  I branched out into stories about other animals as well.  All Things Bright and Beautiful and All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott made me smile and want to make a difference in that area. For awhile I dreamed of becoming a vet, but my failure to grasp chemistry and a severe cat allergy put a stop to that.

My reading path took me through history and biographies, feeding my desire to learn what makes people the way they are. This, in turn, brought me back to historical romances, particularly western historicals.  I am in awe of historical writers, both for their knowledge and their ability to bring those worlds so vividly to life in the pages of their books.

Although I’ve always been drawn to romances, when we started our family, I found myself particularly drawn to romantic comedies. I guess I needed a fun escape from the stresses of parenthood.  Now that my children are grown, I increasingly find myself drawn to continuity series with family at the heart of the books.

Looking back over the years, my TBR pile has definitely reflected different periods of my life.  Some of those TBR books have moved to my keeper shelf.  I don’t often re-read a book, but I find comfort knowing those books are there.  They represent parts of me, showing how I have grown and changed, and they reflect who I have become.

What’s in your TBR pile?  Please share.
Friday, February 13, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze. 
- Elinor Glyn
Thursday, February 12, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with Charlene Wilson

The Write Way Café welcomes Charlene Wilson, who shares how her dreams became 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 remember the first time I thought I’d like to write a book, actually. I wrote short stories in my youth and kind of progressed from there. All my stories seemed to have a romantic base. Lol. There was no conscious decision, maybe fate?

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
The path to getting it written was a natural one. It spilled out of me along with the next 3 books in the series. I didn’t know a book couldn’t be 5K words. Who made up that rule anyway? Lol. But I broke it down to the three and got to work revising. Needless to say, I didn’t know what I was doing and revisions turned into several years of edits and more revisions. I submitted to quite a few places before it found a home with Astraea Press. They believed in it and here we are. Published and on our way.

As far as research, I needed to do quite a bit of surfing the web to find just the right words, to describe the scenes and have my characters act naturally deep in the caverns of the World Beneath the Rock. I knew nothing of caves, creatures from below, rocks or anything of the like. But I was able to visit a couple beautiful caverns to get close up and personal with the sediment drapery, cave bacon, and coil crystals that form down there. Amazing!

Where did the idea for your story come from?
Parts of this story came from a set of consecutive dreams I had a very long time ago. I had written short stories about them, and when I sat to write Chad and Salana’s story, I incorporated several scenes from those dreams. I can still remember them like I’d just had them. Vivid and beautiful.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
The setting was natural to the story since it was the setting in the dreams I had. The pool Salana swims in deep in the heart of Aumelan, The ferry keeper’s shack, Sun City University, and the three spires that will have such meaning in book three. They were all there and all I had to do was tie it all in together.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
These characters are all from the dreams. Sorry. I can’t pin them on anyone I know or knew. Of course mannerisms find their way into their personalities from people I’ve watched as I rounded out the individuals they became.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
I was surprised at how chatty my characters where when I sat and started writing. It was as if they had been waiting for ages for the right person to connect with them and agree to give them life. After writing the book, the surprise I’ve found is how many people absolutely love it! Lol.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about people as individuals and in society, and about survival?
I learned I had to open up and let go. If I’m going to grow as a writer, I need feedback from others. It’s hard to show your new baby to strangers. You love it, but what might they say? I’ve gained a very thick skin regarding critique and reviews and welcome all comments concerning how I can better my skill. And I’ve discovered the writing community is teaming with people who love to help. I’ve found countless insights that helped me grow as an author.

What are you working on now?
Now that Aumelan – Blessed of the Gods is out, I’m planning on going full force at Destiny, book three of the Cornerstone Deep series. A lot happens in Destiny and I plan to have it out in May 2015.  After that, Aumelan, book two, World Beneath the Rock is on the agenda.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
I do plan on writing a couple contemporaries, Clara’s Gift and Pepper. Pepper takes on the deputy roll as she serves in a large detention center. Clara is a feisty older woman in search of two special people. Pepper will be a series. Clara a short novella.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
In Aumelan, I hate to say it’s not Chad since he’s my leading man. But his best friend Styne is so vulnerable in his new position and struggles to maintain the dignity befitting a Leading Father of the Nation. At sixteen that’s a tall order, indeed. I just fell in love with Styne.

Thank you for having me on today. It’s such a pleasure to be here!

The unbelievable just hit Sun City. His name is Chad.

     Chad Aumelan is in love, but his world isn't right. Not when he's forbidden to have Dae just because she's his slave.
     When Salana Goffin meets Chad, she's faced with the unbelievable: A man who must take energy from a host to survive. He wants to find a cure to free the woman he loves. How can Salana turn away such a noble cause?
Together, they search for answers, but fate has another plan.

Buy links:
Amazon     B&N     Kobo    Author site

Charlene A. Wilson is an author of tales that take you to other dimensions. She weaves magic, lasting love, and intrigue to immerse you into the lives of her characters. She began writing in her early teens when her vivid dreams stayed with her long after she had them. The characters and worlds were so amazing she brought them to life through her books. Charlene resides in a small community in Arkansas, USA, with her two beautiful daughters, husband, a cuddly Pekingese, and a very chatty cockatiel named Todder.

Charlene can be found at:   Website     Facebook    Twitter     Goodreads     LinkedIn

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: Ashley York - The Bruised Thistle


The Bruised Thistle
     Iseabail is the much adored only daughter of the MacNaughton laird. Upon his death, she is forced to submit to her lecherous uncle who threatens the very fabric of their clan. With her brothers by her side, they plan their escape to get help from outside their uncle's tight sphere of control. Circumstances change and she must travel unprotected and incognito when he puts a price on her head and labels her a murderess. Unable to reveal her true identity even to the handsome mercenary who saves her not once but twice, she must fight her growing attraction or jeopardize their entire plan. With a price on her head and enemies on all sides, her trust is not something she can afford to give lightly…
     Seumas MacDonell is a man wounded in body and soul, driven by guilt. Recently returned from the pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, he struggles with finding a purpose for his life. The wound that has left him impotent stands as a testimony to God's punishment for him. When he rescues Iseabail from one of his men, he cannot deny the intense attraction he feels for her. Her protection falls on him despite her apparent distrust of him. In the hope of finding redemption for his sins, he agrees to help Iseabail…but will his feelings for her prove to be the ultimate obstacle to his salvation?

Available in paperback and e-book   Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Apple      KOBO

     Iseabail dared not take her eyes off him even as he doffed his tunic. She should have turned away from the sight of his near-naked flesh, should have been intimidated by the sheer size of the man. Instead, all she could think of was how well he was made. As if he had been carved out of stone, in perfect proportion. Any excess flesh chipped away until all that was left was this—a strong broad chest narrowing into the rippling planes of his stomach.
     She exhaled loudly, but he did not seem to notice. Had she actually been holding her breath? At the sight of him? She had seen men without their shirts before, in the practice yard at home, but none had looked as good. She forced herself to stop admiring him, but not before she noticed how his long, wavy hair caressed his shoulders.
     Stop being ridiculous.
     She was totally at this man’s mercy...

     “Methinks ye wish to place a curse on me with that look of yours… What is yer name?”
     Though she jumped at the sound of his voice, she could not help watching as he poured water from a pitcher to a bowl sitting on the table beside the fire. Mesmerized by the motion and play of firelight over his expansive chest, she did not notice right away when he stopped his movements. She met his eyes. Her heart beat faster and that strange heat centered in her belly again.
     He quirked a brow. “I asked ye a question and I expect an answer…or do ye not know how to act with yer betters?”
     Her better? Though she seethed inside, Iseabail bit her tongue before she gave herself away. If he but knew how much land her clan called their own...
     Nay, Iseabail. Remember the part you play here.
     Lowering her eyes, she quietly answered him. “Forgive me, m’lord. I forget myself.” Unsure what else the charade called for, she curtseyed slightly.
     “Yer name?” He still didn’t move. His brows were raised in expectation yet again.
     “My name is Iseabail.”
     He nodded, apparently appeased. “And my name is Seumas.”
     His face settled into a slight smile, and he continued with his washing. His muscles flexed as he rubbed across his chest and down his arms, scrubbing the soap into lather then rinsing it clean until his skin glistened. When he finished, he reached for the cloth beside him but turned his face to her.
     She exhaled slowly.
     “Come here, Iseabail.”
     His tone was coaxing, as if to a newly harnessed foal. She took the few steps toward him. When he reached for her face, she tensed and her mouth went dry. He was no better than her uncle, after all, and disappointment washed over her. She glanced down, steeling herself for the imminent assault, before facing him. His hand stopped just short of her face. Their eyes met, and she could tell he was insulted by his tight lips and furrowed brow.
     He wiped her cheek with a wet finger. “Ye’re filthy,” he said with disgust. “Make use of my water, and be quick about it.” Seumas walked away, rubbing his hands dry.

About Ashley:
Always an avid romance reader herself, Ashley York enjoys bringing history to life through vibrant and meaningful characters, writing historical romance novels full of passion and intrigue set in the 11th and 12th century British Isles. Her latest release, The Saxon Bride, is the first in The Norman Conquest series.

When she is not writing, talking about writing, or thinking about writing, Ashley relaxes with visits to the local pubs listening to live Celtic tunes. She lives in southern New England with her husband and 3 very spoiled animals.

Friday, February 6, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe
A library is a hospital for the mind.
Thursday, February 5, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe

The Night Shift with Margo Bond Collins

The Write Way Café welcomes Margo Bond Collins, a college English professor with voracious reading habits and a degree in British literature that have influenced her writing choices.  Today we’re discussing her Night Shift series and drooling over her suggested Night Shift dessert!  

Tell us a little about your Night Shift series.

     The Night Shift series is an urban fantasy set in a world just a few years after supernaturals have started appearing in public. It's very much a world in flux—and my characters are in the process of figuring out where the monsters came from, and what (if anything) can and should be done about them.

The first book of the series is Sanguinary:
     Only fifty years left before vampires rule the world.
     When Dallas police detective Cami Davis joined the city's vampire unit, she planned to use the job as a stepping-stone to a better position in the department.
     But she didn't know then what she knows now: there's a silent war raging between humans and vampires, and the vampires are winning.
     So with the help of a disaffected vampire and an ex-cop addict, Cami is going undercover, determined to solve a series of recent murders, discover a way to overthrow the local Sanguinary government, and, in the process, help win the war for the human race.
     But can she maintain her own humanity in the process? Or will Cami find herself, along with the rest of the world, pulled under a darkness she cannot oppose?

The second book is a standalone companion novella, Bound by Blood:
     Sometimes the monsters in the dark are real...
     As a child, Lili Banta ignored her grandmother's cryptic warnings to avoid children outside their Filipino community in Houston. When many of those other children fell ill, Lili ignored the whispers in her community that a vampiric aswang walked among them.
     Years later, Lili returns to Houston to work for the Quarantine Station of the Center for Disease Control—but she is plagued by dark, bloody dreams that consume her nights and haunt her days. When a strange illness attacks the city's children, Lili is called in to find its source, and maybe even a cure.
     But in order to save the city, she must first acknowledge the sinister truth: A monster stalks the night—closer than she ever expected....

If Sanguinary was made into a movie, who would play your main characters, and why?

  • Cami Davis: Dallas Police Detective and member of the Paranormal Victims Unit
  • Played by: Emma Stone
  • Reese: Cami's contact at the Blood House—a cowboy-turned-disaffected-vampire
  • Played by: Josh Holloway
  • Quentin Garrett: Cami's one-time partner and current vampire-bite junkie
  • Played by: Matthew McConaughey
  • Jeanie Vincent: Paranormal Victims Unit squad member
  • Played by: Viola Davis
  • Administrator Mendoza: Owner of the Dallas Blood House, local vampire leader
  • Played by: Benicio del Toro
  • Dahlia: Vampire, member of the Sanguinary
  • Played by: Taylor Momsen
  • Leah Richards: Doctor, director of the Westlake Rehabilitation Clinic in Dallas
  • Played by: Maggie Gyllenhaal

What’s the best writing advice you’ve been given?  What’s your best writing advice for others?
     The very best advice I ever got was just this: keep writing new things. Always have a work in progress. Finish writing a piece, do a quick edit, and submit it somewhere for publication. Then move on to the next project. Don’t wait to hear back—that way lies madness! If it’s rejected (and often it will be; that’s the nature of writing for publication), don’t let it get you down. Just send it out again and go back to your work in progress.

What “keepers” are in your home library?      
     Never ask an English professor to discuss books unless you want the multi-paragraph answer! Like most novelists, I am a voracious reader in my field, which means that I read all kinds of urban fantasy and paranormal fiction. But in addition to being an urban fantasy writer, I have a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century British literature. This means that any time anyone wants to talk books, I have more than my share to say, and I've got piles and piles of books.
     In early British literature, I love the classics—but especially the stories with heroes and monsters: Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Knight’s Tale. I love Shakespeare’s plays, but my favorites to teach are Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream because each is such a great example of its genre. Hamlet’s tragedy seems virtually unavoidable, and Midsummer’s comedy hits all the high (and low!) points.
     In my own sub-specialty of eighteenth-century British literature, I love the early novels written by some of the first women to make a living writing in England, such as Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, and Delarivier Manley. Behn’s 1688 novel Oroonoko tells the story of a king who became a slave and found the woman he loved in the process, only to kill her and their unborn child to save them from slavery. In Haywood’s Fantomina (1724), a young noblewoman sets off on a sexual adventure full of disguises and intrigue. And in Manley’s The Wife’s Resentment (1720), a young woman takes revenge against her unfaithful husband with a gruesome murder. These early novels influenced later gothic tales, with virtuous damsels in distress and monstrous villains out to destroy them.
     I think these various loves in more traditional literature—monsters, heroes, strong women, and gothic settings—are all parts of what have influenced my love of urban fantasy and horror. I love seeing many of the same tropes and ideas in more recent publications that influenced earlier works, as well.

If you could be a character in any book you’ve read (or written), which character would you be and why?
     I don't know that I'd want to be a character in a book—by their nature, novel characters lead exciting lives (it's very dull, after all, to read about drinking tea and staring at a computer). Life throws enough curve balls at us, anyway—I think I'd rather live my boring life and read about excitement!

What book do you wish you could have written?
     Robin McKinley's Sunshine. As far as I'm concerned, it's the perfect vampire novel and perfect urban fantasy.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
     The best compliment is always asking when my next book comes out!  And as a general rule, I'm not bothered by criticism. In graduate school, I learned not to take criticism of my writing personally. (My dissertation director was tough—my worst fiction critics are lovely and kind by comparison!) So now I read reviews to see if there's anything useful to me as a writer—one plot point of a sequel I'm writing came out of a valid, useful piece of criticism a reviewer had of a book, for example. I take what I can use and don't worry about the rest.

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?
     The Night Shift series would be a dark, decadent dessert, all full of dark, warm, gooey chocolate and cherries. And, come to think of it, "The Night Shift" would be a great name for a dessert.

What is your favorite social media?  Why?
     I like to hang out on Facebook and Twitter, but I'm just now getting going on Tsu.  I wish I had more time for Pinterest. Maybe someday.

Do you have any compulsions you must do for no particular reason?
     Not really. I'm way too busy for compulsions!

Tell us about the book in your closet.
     Ha! I don't keep books in the closet. They are all out and proud.

And now for the fun stuff!

If you were a punctuation mark, what would you be?
     I'm a dash—there's always something more to see!

If you aren’t a full-time writer, what is your day job?
     I'm a college English professor.

What is your biggest shopping downfall?
     Books. Always books.

Are you a dog/cat/other person?
     Primarily cats—I've had cats since I was five. But I like dogs, too. I'm a sucker for a sweet animal. For a while, we even had a ridiculous turtle because I couldn't stand to see a stranded or hurt animal and not take care of it.

What is your favorite season and why?
     Summer. I love spending all day in the cool blue water of a swimming pool.





About Margo:  Margo Bond Collins is the author of urban fantasy, contemporary romance, and paranormal mysteries. She has published a number of novels, including Sanguinary, Taming the Country Star, Legally Undead, Waking Up Dead, and Fairy, Texas. She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. Although writing fiction is her first love, she also teaches college-level English courses online. She enjoys reading romance and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, monsters, cowboys, and villains, and the strong women who love them—and sometimes fight them.

Connect with Margo:  
Amazon Author Page       Website       Blog       Twitter @MargoBondCollin  
Google+       GoodreadsAuthor Page       FacebookAuthor Page       Pinterest       Tsu

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 | By: Lynn

From the Heart

I have a very soft spot in my heart for animals. Animals of all kinds. When I read in my Facebook feed about yet another way humans abuse and neglect animals, I get sick inside. Lions being bred for shooting on private property devoted to hunting them. Dogs being skinned alive (!!!) for their meat. Cats being burned for entertainment. All of that and more makes me want to shake some sense into humans.

I have always shared my life with animals. My cats and dogs have been members of the family. I enjoy the interaction and entertainment of having pets and sharing their unconditional love. These days, I also get pleasure from offering support services for stray cats that pass through my backyard. During the last three or four years 17 cats have gotten food and water and a place out of the weather through help from my husband and me. Several were spayed or neutered. All of them were taken to a vet for vaccinations and a checkup. Most of them found a forever home through cat rescues and the local humane society. Relieving suffering of innocent animals makes my heart glow.

When I started brainstorming for Secrets, my first paranormal romance, I wanted to highlight this aspect of my life, my love of animals. The idea bloomed very readily into a story line. Secrets became the book of my heart because of the element of were-lynxes in the story and the heroine’s involvement in cat rescue. With my passion for helping animals it was very easy to write the story of Michelle, a young woman who no one rescued on the night she got raped, but who went the extra mile to rescue cats from neglect, poor living conditions, and hunger. With her hero, Casey, cast as a were-lynx, opportunities popped up for discussion about inhuman ways of humans, and that continues with the next book, Cravings. I love that the were-lynxes have opinions about humans. Here’s an excerpt from Cravings:

     Kennedy wiggled in her seat, refocusing her thoughts. The sensations gliding throughout her body made her shake her head. No. This wasn’t real. She turned to steal a glance at Asher, expecting to catch his gaze and confirm that his ability to nudge her was at the bottom of her swirling feelings. In which case she’d punch his face.
     But Asher was leaning forward, engaged in an earnest conversation about the growing population of big cats in the Midwest.
     “Humans decimated their numbers in the Midwest and now that a few cougars have been seen in parts of the Midwest, you can bet hunters will eliminate the strides that have been made.” Asher shook his head. “Or habitat intrusion will leave these animals with nowhere to go and nowhere to hunt. It makes me sick.”

I think it’s important that writers pay attention to book trends and if possible write for the market. But I agree with what guest blogger Sara Megibow posted on Nelson Literary Agency.

“So, if you are looking at publishing and are tempted to ask, ‘do you think XYZ is hot right now?’ stop. Take a deep breath. Yes the market is important but so is writing a book you believe in wholeheartedly,” Megibow wrote.

Investing in what is meaningful to you will infuse your writing with passion and create pleasure in your work.

At least it did for me.

Is every book you write a book of the heart?