Tuesday, July 30, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: Handy Tips for Creating Images with Book Brush!

Today at The Write Way Café, Kathleen Sweeney from Book Brush is here to tell us about an image tool for authors!

When you need an easy way to create professional looking images for marketing or posting on social media – Book Brush is my answer! Book Brush makes creating marketing images easy, fun and affordable, too!

My favorite tool in Book Brush is the Custom Creator because even if you are an amateur, you can create great looking ads for yourself! I’m going to share handy tips and tricks to help you create even more eye-catching ads in no time at all!

Here is the easy to use task bar in the Custom Creator:

Ad Size

Book Brush offers pre-sized ads perfect for places that authors advertise! There are ads with the proper dimensions for BookBub, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more. You can also enter your own custom dimensions so if you are creating something for a special promo, you can enter the dimensions (in pixels) and you are ready to create!


If you don’t feel like you are creative, you can try the pre-made Community Templates for ads! You can filter by genre or the platform where you’ll post the image, find one that you like, then simply insert your book cover, edit text if you want text and download. Here are examples of templates perfectly sized for Instagram or a Facebook Square Ad:


In this step, you can search from over 1 million images that are available for free! You can also choose a solid background color or gradient color to add some pizzazz to your image. One of my favorite tricks in the background step is to upload your own book cover as the background. This gives you a truly unique and personalized look like this one:

Book Template 

Book Brush offers a selection of over 50 book templates including books, ipads, phones, cover reveals and even some with hands attached to show your book being read! Once you choose a book template, you can resize and move it around within your image to place it where you want. What I love in this step is that if you’d like to add more than one book cover to your image, you can repeat this step to add more.

Here you type or paste in your wording, then click edit text styling to really personalize things! You can change the font along with the color and the size of your text as well as adjust the height between your lines of text. You can add a background color to your text box (including gradient color), add a shadow to your text to make it pop or add a border around your text box for definition. Another cool thing about Book Brush is that you can even upload your own font. Here is an example of all the features that you can personalize:


There are so many possibilities in this step! You can add industry related logos such as Kindle Unlimited, Nook, Kobo, Audible, Smashwords and more. There are review rating stars, shelves and decorative stamps. My favorite are the blank stamps – colorful circles and shapes. These are wonderful because you can place a text box on top to create an eye-catching call-to-action in your image such as 99¢ or Buy Now!
Lucky for us, there is a filter option to find the stamps you want:

Want to try Book Brush?

Book Brush offers a Limited Plan where you can test out a selection of book templates, stamps and fonts and it is completely free to create three images per month. Sign up for your free Book Brush account today!

To access all of the great features and functionality, you can upgrade to the Plus Plan. With the Plus Plan you can create and download an unlimited number of images and enjoy access to more book templates, more stamps, more fonts along with the Video Creator and Instant Mockups! Book Brush offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, too!


Book Brush is a platform that provides an easy way for authors to create professional looking ads and images for social media. We offer a free plan where authors can create 3 free images per month along with a paid plan with a lot of additional features like our Custom Creator, 3D Creator and Video Creator. We recently launched Instant Mockups - a super simple tool authors can use to create over 200 professional, real-life images featuring their book in minutes! 

Kathleen Sweeney is the Manager of Customer Service and the Image Creation Specialist at Book Brush. She has over 17 years of client service and business assurance experience across the financial recovery and healthcare industries. She thoroughly enjoys working with authors and helping them create eye-catching images. She lives in Illinois with her husband and three busy, fun-loving boys. Her hobbies include reading and turning socks right side out.

Note from HiDee and Lynn: While The Write Way Cafe does not endorse products, we thank Kathleen for sharing the information about Book Brush and hope everyone finds something useful to take away.

Monday, July 29, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: Chocolate Coated

...a taste of romance

by K. Williams

Two lines. 

Well, that confirms it. With a deep sigh, I place the last test neatly beside the other four on the edge of the tub. Five is the magic number because if three of them came up negative, I could live in denial until my doctor’s appointment next week. 

“What do they say?” my friend Kari asks anxiously from the other side of the door.  

Sighing heavily, I throw open the door and let her inside. Her gaze flicks to mine and she frowns before hurrying over to the tub. A smile lights up her face when she turns around. “They’re all positive! You’re going to have a baby.”  

“Whoopie. A baby.” Blandness drips from my voice as I roll my eyes and twirl my finger in the air. Crossing my arms over my waist, I plop down on the closed toilet seat.  I knew when I couldn’t stand the smell of chocolate anymore something was wrong. Figures, I was right. Worry and elation swirls around in my chest. I’m ecstatic to be a mom but worry what the future will bring. Will this aversion to chocolate be permanent or is it just a temporary thing? I have no husband and no love life whatsoever, so how will my pregnancy affect those areas of my life. Stupid, I know, but those are the two things I’m worried most about right now.   

Kari reaches for the tests, but instead she changes her mind and pulls her hand back halfway there. “I would throw those away for you, but, you know,” her nose scrunches up, “you peed on them.”  

As usual, Kari makes me laugh. That’s why I keep her around. “No worries. I’ll take great joy in chucking them into the dumpster.”

“So… are you going to tell him?” She raises an eyebrow at me.  

I shake my head, frowning. “No.” Picking up the grocery bag I brought home the tests in, I lift each one, chucking them in the bag.  

Hands on her hips, she stares at me. “Why? You know he’ll man up for you.” 

“That’s the problem,” I protest. “I don’t want him to ‘man up’ because I’m pregnant.” My fingers draw quotation marks. 

“You have been in love with him since junior high school. Why don’t you just tell him? He’s your best friend and everything. I mean, I wish I had a best friend like that, but no…”

“Exactly. I’m his best friend.” I sigh, remembering the night that changed everything. “He doesn’t even remember that night, Kari. I’ve thrown all kind of hints his way, only to be met with a blank stare. If he doesn’t remember, who am I to tell him?” Tying the bag together, I leave my bathroom. I head for the front door, my heart sinking. “Nothing’s happened by now, so he must not see me as more than best friend material.” Even as I say it, I know I’m right. I’ll never be his, and he’ll never see me as anything more. It hurts to even think it. I brush a tear from my eye before Kari can see it. 

Kari follows me. “So you don’t think the father of your baby deserves to know?” 

“He does, but not right now.” I stop abruptly, and Kari runs into my back. I spin around on my heel. “Look, Kari, I want him to be with me because he wants me, not out of some obligation.” My breath shudders as I shrug. “But he just doesn’t feel that way about me.” Swallowing, I manage to push down the lump in my throat.  

“How do you know? Have you given him a chance?” Her eyes plead with mine before I turn away to continue my trek to the dumpster. “Remember when he found out you lost your virginity to Jess Baker? He didn’t speak to you for almost two weeks. You know he’s got to feel something for you.”  

“Elliot was just mad because Jess was a player who got into girls pants and then ignored them.” I toss the bag into the dumpster and turn back around heading for the building.  

Kari laughs. “I think he started speaking to you again, because the week after, Jess was walking around telling everyone he was going to marry you. Elliot couldn’t wait to talk to you after hearing him say it.”  

The ends of my lips tilt slightly, “He didn’t want to be replaced as my best friend.”  

We make it back up to our condo and close the door behind us. “But Seriously, Sutton. You really need to tell him.”  

“Elliot will know I’m pregnant,” I tell her, “he just won’t know it’s his and you won’t tell him. Right?” I give Kari a pointed look. Embarrassment prickles my body at the thought of telling him he’s fathered a baby stemming from a night he doesn’t remember. On top of everything else, I snuck out of bed before he woke up. No, Elliot really didn’t need to know that part, either. 

“Not my story to tell,” Kari said, “but you own a Chocolate Ice Cream Shop together, and he’s your best friend, so you better figure something out quick. Especially since you haven’t been able to stand the smell of chocolate for the past couple of weeks.” Kari raises an eyebrow at me. “You can’t work because of it and anything dairy sets you off. So, there goes your chocolate ice cream dreams.”


by K. Williams


By my best friend. 

Of course he doesn't remember our night together. No matter how much I hint at it. Sneaking out to avoid the uncomfortable talk that would come after and potentially mess up our friendship was the biggest mistake I ever made. 

What do I do now?

📚  Find K. Williams here:

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Friday, July 26, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Life is all about balance. You don't always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it's perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back, and do nothing.
- Lori Deschene
Thursday, July 25, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Get to Know Lainee Cole

The Write Way Café does something a little different today by interviewing one of the blog's partners. HiDee and Lynn have featured a large variety of talented authors on the blog for a number of years. Today, HiDee - writing as Lainee Cole - answers the questions we've asked others so you can get to know her a bit better.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I've been writing since I was in grade school, but my first thoughts about writing a book were probably in junior high. My friends and I were reading Harlequin romances and passing them around as we finished them. Janet Dailey's Tidewater Lover made a huge impact on me, and I've wanted to be a romance writer ever since.

What was your path to getting The Mistletoe Effect written and published? What type of research did you do?
I've been working on a full-length romance novel for years, along with numerous others that I've started but not actually worked on while raising my family. My local writer's group has been instrumental in encouraging me to FINISH the darned book, but it's still not done. Then in 2016, Lynn Crandall invited me to write a Christmas novella and publish it in an anthology along with her story. I agreed to do it, then almost immediately panicked! I had about 8 weeks to write something from scratch. Lynn had faith in me being able to write the story, and so I did. The Mistletoe Effect didn't require a lot of research, other than on Border Collie behaviors. My sister has Border Collies; she trains them for herding, and search and rescue, and also leads dog training classes with them, so I spent quite a few hours picking her brain and asking lots of questions. She also read my manuscript to be sure I didn't have my Border Collie, Mistletoe, doing anything she shouldn't have been doing!

Where did the idea for The Mistletoe Effect come from? 
Brainstorming! Lynn and I had agreed on a Christmas theme for the anthology, so I started out listing various Christmas-themed words. I grew up with dogs and love interacting with them. I love kids. My aunt and my cousin, as well as several friends, are teachers so we often talk about kids. All these things just came together through brainstorming.

Why did you pick the setting you did? 
I set the story in a fictional central Illinois town. I grew up in the Midwest, and have lived in Illinois for over 30 years. It just felt right to set my story in a town similar to those where I've lived.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself? 
Although my characters are imaginary, I did model some of their characteristics after people I know. Tess definitely reflects aspects of myself - I'm big on family, and I love dogs and kids. I'm too nice at times, and often put others before myself.

Did you face any blocks while writing The Mistletoe Effect, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret? 
The biggest block I faced was my own doubt about my ability to complete the story by the set deadline. I came home from the day job and went straight to the computer. There were times I sat and stared at the screen, wondering what I'd gotten myself into. But then I would buckle down and just get words on the page. My poor husband was pretty much neglected during those 6-8 weeks, but thankfully he was supportive. I don't know any secrets to avoiding blocks, but I did learn that as long as I wrote every single day, the blocks didn't feel as insurmountable. Making some progress each day made it easier to face the page the next day.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing The Mistletoe Effect and after? 
It was really hard to leave my characters behind and move on to new characters in a new book. I worried about being able to write different characters. That being said, I am planning to connect at least one character in The Mistletoe Effect with other stories, so there will be a familiar character. The biggest surprise was the feeling of accomplishment once the book was actually published. I'm proud of myself for meeting the challenge Lynn presented. It was the kick in the pants I needed. I was also pleasantly surprised by how many friends reached out to say they enjoyed the story and looked forward to more. My challenge now is to keep them reading!

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about technique, skills, and your goals? 
Writing is like perpetually being in school. I'm always learning, and I enjoy it! I learned that I seem to write better under pressure - my thoughts just flow then. I love hearing how other authors write and what works for them, and I try to borrow the processes I think will work for me. My goal is to write stories with characters readers can relate to. I want readers to discover the same enjoyment I've found by reading books.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you. 
I have to join Lynn in lusting after the writing space Tom Selleck had in the movie Her Alibi. I dream of having a large office with plenty of room for books, good lighting, and large windows overlooking a serene nature setting. Although, if I had that, I would probably spend more time daydreaming than writing. In reality, I have a laptop that goes with me to either my favorite chair in the family room, to the kitchen table, or to the large desk in my mostly unused living room. I recently retired from my day job and am slowly working to convert one of the kids rooms to my office, but I'm so used to writing in the family room that it's hard to leave that chair! Our family room has been the center of our family for so many years - it's where we all watched TV, where the kids played video games, and where we still gather for family get-together's and holidays. I feel like my creativity feeds off of surrounding sounds...although there are times when I have to shush my hubby and remind him I am writing!

What are some of your favorite books and why? 
I love Kat Martin's romantic suspense books. Her characters just jump off the pages for me. I'm a sucker for cowboys so Linda Lael Miller and R.C. Ryan books are must-reads. Susan Mallery and Sheryl Woods have a knack for multiple continuity series that are chock full of down-to-earth characters, real life situations, and family connections. I love the feeling that I'm meeting up with old friends when I read their books. I also like to read books by authors I've met in person, online, or at conferences. There are so many good writers and I'm constantly adding new-to-me authors to my must-read lists!

What are you working on now? 
Presently I am writing a contemporary romance novella for the Common Elements Romance Project, which will launch later this fall. Numerous authors are writing their own stories, but each book will contain common elements, hence the name of the project. I'm really excited about being a part of it!

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why? 
I really like contemporary romance, and would like to create a continuity series. But for something different cozy mysteries intrigue me.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be? 
I can't imagine not being a writer!  My dream job would be something working with horses, or maybe working in a zoo - as long as I got to pick what animals I worked with!

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble? 
Plotting. I'm definitely a pantser. Although I have some scenes in my head and a general idea of where the story needs to go, my characters do tend to take on a life of their own.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine? 

There are too many - I can't pick just one!  


Captured by Christmas
by Lynn Crandall and Lainee Cole

It’s Christmas, and the season of holly, Christmas trees, and goodwill is drifting on air in merry holiday wishes. Romantic suspense and paranormal author Lynn Crandall and contemporary author Lainee Cole present in their own way two stories of love in Captured by Christmas. However it finds you—under a Christmas tree or drifted in snow in a backwoods cabin—the spirit of the season will wrap you in love.

In Snowbound, Lynn Crandall lets readers check in on favorite Fierce Hearts series were-lynx characters Kennedy Mitchell and Asher Monroe as they uncover the identity of the creature scaring the humans in Octavia, a small rural community in northern Michigan. Plans for an intimate getaway and family-style holiday are crumbling as the snow piles higher and Kennedy and Asher find themselves snowbound with a killer outside their door.

In The Mistletoe Effect, Christmas is second-grade teacher Tess McCall’s least favorite holiday, but she’s doing her best not to let it show. Learning he’s a father to seven-year-old Holly makes Alex Randle anxious about the upcoming holidays. When Tess’s class starts reading to shelter dogs, Holly and the antics of shelter dog Mistletoe lead them all to rediscover the magic of Christmas.

Amazon       Smashwords

Lainee Cole is a Midwestern girl who writes in the company of a husband always trying to talk to her. Lainee’s goal is for her stories to make readers laugh and cry, give them hope, and encourage them to believe in the power of love. When she’s not writing or reading, Lainee enjoys spending time with family and friends; hiking, camping, and traveling with her husband; and consuming daily doses of chocolate.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: An Accidental Love Affair


by Davida Ann Samenski

Hollywood ‘It Boy’ Reece Collins, runs into aspiring author Nicole Delancey in the airport—literally and sparks fly, especially when every tabloid in the world picks up the story. 

Heading to London to compile research for her novel, Nicole is bowled over by Reece as they both run to catch their flight. Joining him in first class, they discover an attraction that will carry them through months of romance and heartbreak, especially when his brother steals her manuscript in a bid to further Reece’s career. 

Reece is used to being in the camera’s spotlight, but tries to keep his personal life private, which becomes hard for him to do when he falls for Nicole. Will he be able to protect her from the bright lights of his fame or will he step out of the light and be the man they both wish he could be?


Davida Ann Samenski learned all about romance at the tender age of four while watching 'Gone with the Wind' for the very first time. An avid romance reader and writer, she loves creating stories about imperfect women and the equally imperfect men who love them--helping them find their way to a Happily Ever After.

Wife to one, mother to many (including the four-legged variety) and grandma to three (for now), she spends her days and nights writing, in between dealing with life and all that comes with it.

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Monday, July 22, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: Horseshoes & Roses

...a taste of romance

Book 7, The Bloodline Series
by Lynda Rees


Dovie Fuller-Dane sat across a table in her restaurant, Fuller House Bistro, from Lemon Sage Gordon. It was a down day, so the room was deserted. Dovie’s French café had been open a month, and business boomed.

“Kudos to the woman who tamed our illustrious sheriff. Wyatt Gordon has been a chick magnet since he was as a good-looking, high school footballer. The shock of silver hair he’s sprouted prematurely makes him even more handsome.” Dovie rolled her eyes and did a twirl with her pen-toting hand. Dovie was a harmless flirt. Joking, she presented no threat and meant none.

Sage laughed. Her marriage to Sheriff Gordon was solid as stone. “I nailed him as a player when we met. I’d heard how women flocked to him, though he’d stopped dating. We kept being thrown together, but we clashed left and right. Wyatt’s aura drew me to him. I sensed his pain. Knee deep in my own misery, the strong attraction surprised me. Sweetwater and my organic farm were my new start. I didn’t expect to find love.”

“Well, honey child, you’ve breathed new life into Wyatt. That’s a fact. Now I’m benefiting from your move. Your organic herbs and produce are customer favorites on my menu. Riley says it’s a good marketing hook. Folks enjoy locally grown and organic combined with fabulous cuisine.”

Sage eyed her curiously. "You’re recently divorced. Right? I saw you cozying up to Moggie Larrs. You wouldn’t be carrying a torch for him by any chance?”

Dovie’s pale, creamy skin flashed as brilliantly red as her long locks. “Am I so easy to read? Yes, my ex is the worst of the world’s cheaters, with one woman after another. He finally settled on a wealthy slut who funded his restaurant in Singapore. He got her. I got the shaft. It’s all good. I’m home where I belong.” Her hand waved nervously. “And Moggie—that man’s smoking hot. His Charles Bronson, sultry, smoking hot handsome is a major turn on. I’ve been swooning over him since I was a sappy teen and he was Gran’s farrier.”

“Moggie’s come a long way from the injured cop who shod horses for a living.”

“Yes, he’s Gran’s foreman. Gran ages quicker by the day and can’t continue the pace. Moggie manages the farm, breeding and racing horses. She adores him and treats him like family.”

“Do you and Carlton plan to take over more of that, now you’re home?”

“God—no. Carlton hates horses and wants nothing to do with the farm. He and Howard live in a lovely, golf course condo. I like riding, but live to cook.”

“What will you and Carlton do with the farm once your Gran passes?” The old gal was in her late eighties in bad shape.

Dovie’s bright, green eyes lit with surprise. “I haven’t given it much consideration. Gran encouraged us to pursue our dreams. The farm belonged to her, and she never acted disappointed in our lack of interest. I’ve spent more time away than I should have. I love her and owe her everything. Our parents died when we were young. She raised Carlton and I. I’m trying to make up lost time with her and enjoying every second.”

“How about a beer? I’m meeting Wyatt, Corrie, Levi and Riley at The Ten Mile House. Want to join?”

Dovie considered for a moment. “Sounds fun. I haven’t seen them since the double wedding. Mr. All American, blonde, shaggy hair with baby, blue eyes capable of melting chocolate, hasn’t changed in all these years. He’s a world renowned horse breeder and racing mogul, but still the sweetest, most down-to-earth guy around. It’s a miracle someone didn’t snap Levi up long ago.”

“Every racing or political groupie, heiress with a horse fetish, or gold digger in the country pursued Levi for his money or power. He and Riley Powers were in our wedding party. Riley was a workaholic with a thriving business and no time for social life. They hit a few speed bumps then found true love in each other.”

“I adore Riley. She’s a fabulous marketer. I heard about the murder and kidnapping—scary stuff. Hard to believe all the trauma happened in quiet Sweetwater. I understand you enjoyed an adventurous first year, too.”

“Adventure isn’t how I’d describe it. Murder, mayhem and clashing with an over-protective sheriff was more like it.” Sage winked.

“Did your free-spirited, independence drive the caregiver in Wyatt crazy?” Dovie laughed.

Sage grinned mischievously standing. “Still does, but he’s addicted to my impulsive nature. He calls me a danger magnet. Believe me, it’s not intentional.”

The bell chimed. The front door opened. A uniformed deliveryman stepped tentatively inside. “Hello.” Seeing the two women nearby, he approached and extended a box toward them. “Is one of you Mrs. Dovie Dane?”

Dovie reached for it. Handing her a pad, he grinned. “Sign here please.”

Dovie wrote her name and handed the man a five from her pocket. “Thanks.” She sat the carton on the table. “Who would send flowers?”

Sage shrugged. Dovie flipped string from the cardboard, removing the cover and revealing a dozen long-stemmed, white roses. Dovie’s breath caught in a frightening way. She back-stepped, putting distance between her and the package. Panic crossed her face.

Sage placed a gentle hand on Dovie’s shoulder. “You okay?”

Dovie blinked and shook her head. “Is—is—there a note?” She eyed the gift like she feared coming closer.

Sage retrieved a note from the box. Dovie threw a hand up resisting. Sage shrugged and read it. “It won’t be long now.” It’s not signed. Who’s it from?” She eyed her new friend cautiously.

“Oh, God, no. Not again. He’s followed me. This can’t happen.” Her face blanched as white as Sage’s farmer’s cheese.


by Lynda Rees
After a whirlwind global career as a chef, Dovie Fuller opens a restaurant in her hometown of Sweetwater, Kentucky and gets a second chance with Moggie Larrs, the cowhand haunting her dreams since she was too young for naughty thoughts. Her ex wants her back. Her stalker has followed her home. An inheritance forces Dovie to choose between Moggie and her beloved, twin brother, Carlton. Carlton and his lover, Howard try to force a legal battle Dovie doesn’t want. Her business, romance and life are in jeopardy. No one in town is safe.



📚  Find Lynda Rees here:  

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Friday, July 19, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Books are like rivers, meandering this way and that, but taking us on a steady, flowing course to somewhere different.
- Carla H. Krueger

Thursday, July 18, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Extraordinary Adventures with Vijaya Schartz

The Write Way Café welcomes author Vijaya Schartz, a martial artist who writes strong heroines and brave heroes.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? 
Born in France, I was an avid reader since age three, and I started writing stories in the first grade. I loved it and received many encouragements from my teachers. At eighteen, I devoured detective stories and dreamed of writing one. But I was heavily involved in gymnastics (French National team) and there was no time. Later, I found myself dreaming of writing again. At the time, I thought I knew everything, like all young people that age, and I wanted to write a book on how to run a country, because, obviously, the French government wasn’t doing a very good job of it. So I started writing. At the time my boyfriend was a Greek refugee whose father owned a newspaper. He was a good writer and editor himself, and I gave him my pages to read. When he got back to me, he said “the writing is good, but the ideas are not new, and this book was already written and published.” I couldn’t believe someone beat me to the punch. I asked about the author who had dared publishing that book before me. He said, “The author is Plato, the year was 380 BC, and the title is THE REPUBLIC.” So, I went to the library and borrowed The Republic by Plato, read it, then decided I didn’t want to rewrite it. Still, I was thrilled my ideas and Plato’s were so similar.

What was your path to getting Black Dragon written and published? What type of research did you do? 
I love science fiction. I binge on sci-fi books, movies, and TV shows. I call it research. It’s difficult to research the future, and other writers have done it before me. I particularly enjoy exploring the possibility of telepathy as a mode of communication, whether natural, or enhanced by technology. There are also sci-fi parameters to respect in order to be believable in that genre. The sci-fi aficionados already know much from literature. Sometimes sci-fi writers actually inspire the new technology, like the flip phone and the electronic tablet. Of course, I keep abreast of the latest developments in space technology, but my stories are so far in the future that what we know now may no longer apply. Still, a sci-fi author has a responsibility to respect the technology. To, me, however, the technology is only a background, and is secondary to the story and the characters. My characters drive the plot and they are the heroes and the villains, not the technology… although, I also have some cool, human-looking androids as characters, and animals as well, especially cats.

Where did the idea for Black Dragon come from? 
Strong heroines and brave heroes have become my trademark. I like a fighting woman. I was a martial artist myself and would have gladly become a soldier given a chance, but the opportunity wasn’t open to women in France at the time. So, a woman in uniform was the obvious choice for my heroine. It was to be a sweet romance, so I needed a handsome and fascinating hero. I needed a conflict, and what better conflict than throwing opposites together, the law enforcer and the lawless rebel. The other elements of the story grew organically, including the cat. I love cats and I think they are wonderful companions, ideal when you live in a small, closed environment like a spaceship or a space station. And no story would be complete without a villain, and this one, like all my villains, is particularly despicable. A reviewer once stated that I wrote the worst (meaning best) villains in science fiction. As for the gorgeous android woman, it’s another favorite trope of mine.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
I first created the Byzantium space station for another sci-fi romance series, THE AZURA CHRONICLES. In that series, Byzantium is the setting for a small part of the stories, which are primarily set on Azura, an angel planet. But I had created the space station and enjoyed writing about it. It made sense to write a companion series of independent stories set in the same universe, and limited to that space station. Deep Space Nine and Babylon Five captivated TV viewers for decades. Many movies feature space stations, and they are the most interesting places in the universe, where all kinds of people mix and trade and fight their battles. But although Byzantium is under the control of the Galactic Trade Alliance (GTA), it is a civilian hub, and far from being clean and orderly. The structure is old and falling apart for lack of maintenance. Set at the edge of conquered space, Byzantium hosts tourists, but its slums are ruled by deadly gangs, and in its bowels, the GTA holds a penitentiary called the Fortress, where they keep the most dangerous felons in the galaxy.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself? 
I believe all my characters reflect an aspect of myself. I couldn’t write them if I didn’t feel what they feel. My strong heroines definitely are extensions of my independent personality. Most are athletic, some are spiritual, etc.  It was a scary experience when, as a green writer, I wrote from the point of view of one of my villains. Would I identify with evil? But I found it liberating. Although I did not condone my villains’ actions, I believe we all have the seeds of good and evil in us, and what makes us who we are is the way we choose to deal with the problems we face. A villain tends to act selfishly, while a hero will be selfless… and none of us are perfect… or completely evil.

Did you face any blocks while writing Black Dragon, and if so, how did you handle them? 
Usually, I write from a loose outline. When I feel blocked, it’s because I don’t know what should happen next in the story. All I have to do is brainstorm the details of the next few scenes or chapters, and as soon as I know what should happen next, the writing flows again.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing Black Dragon and after? 
It confirmed in my mind that all cats are telepathic to a certain degree. Don’t laugh. My cat is judging me right now. I also discovered that a romance didn’t necessarily need love scenes. This series is sweet, which means the romance focuses on falling in love. In Black Dragon, there are a few sexy innuendos, funny nudity, and one very hot kiss, that’s all. There is no sex, on or off the page. Their first night together will happen after the novel is over.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world? 
Since I had thirty novels published to date in different genres, Black Dragon is not my first novel, far from it. I made most of my discoveries about myself while writing my first four or five novels. I discovered that I know more than I think I know. I discovered that good research can provide many ideas for plot and character development. My process is a mix of plotting and pantsing. I know where the story is going, who the characters are, where they clash, and where they come together.  But I also leave room for last minute plot twists, for improvisation, for exploring unforeseen elements of the story… as long as it makes for a better novel. My work is often called imaginative, and I have to agree.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble? 
Action scenes and fight scenes come easily to me. I’m a martial artist (Aikido and Tai-Chi as an adult, and Judo and Karate as a teen). Emotional scenes take me longer to write and require more rewrites. I give them special attention because they are essential to any story.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you. 
I live alone in a small apartment, with my cat. It’s by choice. I call it my writer’s cave. Welcome to a writer’s life. I always was a hermit by nature. I like it that way. It’s the only way I can find the time and the peace to write all these books. I have a very large desk, panoramic wi-fi, a laser printer, and I work on a laptop, to which I added an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and it has saved me from carpal tunnel syndrome. My only distraction is my cat, who likes to be part of the process. Fortunately, she sleeps most of the day.

What are some of your favorite books and why? 
Dune by Frank Herbert is my all-time favorite sci-fi novel. The world he created for this series is fantastic and so believable. Only the early books in the series were written by Frank Herbert himself. The later books were written by a team of writers including his son. As for the romantic element in my sci-fi novels, I followed in the steps of the great lady of sci-fi romance, Linnea Sinclair, a trail-blazer of the genre. Her Dock-Five Universe series inspired me when I started writing this genre.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine? 
As a reader, I had many over the years. I used to be very taken with Jamie, the hero of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. As for the heroines, I always admired the strong, kick-butt type, like Lara in the Tomb Raider series.

What are you working on now? 
I’m finishing the second book in the Byzantium series, Akira’s Choice, coming in October 2019. I’m also revising and refreshing the Chronicles of Kassouk sci-fi romance series, for a new edition from BWL Publishing (after the closing of a former publishing house). The first book, Noah's Ark is coming out August 1st, with one new book each month after that. Next I’ll write Book 3 in the Byzantium series, and Book 3 in the Azura Chronicles series. These two series are closely related, and some characters from Azura also appear in Byzantium.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why? 
I already write in other genres. I have a medieval romantic series based on Celtic legends, The Curse of the Lost Isle series, which is now complete, with eight novels. I also wrote a few contemporary romances, one of which, Asleep in Scottsdale, includes a mystery. And my most popular novel, and the first to be published, is a reincarnation story titled Ashes for the Elephant God, and is set in India (where I lived for a while). Ashes for the Elephant God won many awards and includes philosophical, inspirational, and spiritual elements (like Eat, Pray, Love, but my novel came out first). I have no plan of writing in any other genre at this time, but who knows? What makes the future exciting is that it often surprises you.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be? 
I had many careers over the years and did most of the things I wanted to do professionally, including singing, acting, painting, and living in exotic places. I love the ocean, and I miss it in Arizona. When I lived in Hawaii, I was a tour guide and a surfer. I often dream of returning to that simple lifestyle… and someday, I might. A seer once told me in Hawaii that I would go live on the “mainland” but would eventually return to a beach. He said he could feel the sand between my toes. I love that image. I may or may not return to the ocean, but no matter where I am, or whatever else I do, I will always be a writer. Writing is in my blood. I’ve been correcting my elders’ grammar since I was three, and writing fiction since I was five years old. I find language fascinating, and I have more stories to tell than I can write in a lifetime. To me, writing is not just a job, it’s a passion I cannot escape.

by Vijaya Schartz
A gambler is cheating in a den of the Byzantium space station, and Lieutenant Zara Frankel intends to catch him in the act. She always gets her man, but this one could prove more than she can handle.

Captain Czerno Drake, code name Black Dragon, has come under cover to break his innocent uncle from the most secure penitentiary in the galaxy, on the Byzantium space station. He will stop at nothing to succeed, even enrolling the help of Zara, the lovely straight arrow GTA enforcer. When Zara realizes that she’s been duped by a shrewd but seductive rebel, her reaction surprises everyone, most of all herself.



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Vijaya's cat, Jasmine
Born in France, award-winning author Vijaya Schartz never conformed to anything and could never refuse a challenge. She writes strong heroines, brave heroes, and cats. She likes action and exotic settings, in life and on the page. She traveled the world and claims she must be a time traveler, since she writes with the same ease about the far past and the far future. With thirty titles published, Vijaya Schartz writes action adventure laced with sensuality and suspense, in exotic, medieval, or futuristic settings. Her books collected many five-star reviews and literary awards. She makes you believe you actually lived these extraordinary adventures among her characters. Her stories have been compared to Indiana Jones with sizzling romance, and she takes that as a compliment anytime. She writes to entertain. Find her and her books at: http://www.vijayaschartz.com

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: Lacewood


An abandoned house has secrets to tell in a love story that spans centuries.
by Jessica James
Two people trying to escape their pasts find a connection through an old house—and fulfill a destiny through the secrets it shares. 

Part love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about love and loss, roots and belonging, and spirits of the past that refuse to be quieted.

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     Turning in a circle, Katie studied the room again. Faded wallpaper curled and peeled above the dusty wainscoting, but the walls themselves appeared sturdy. On the far side of the entryway, and dominating the wall, stood a mammoth fireplace with an ornately carved hearth. Her attention was immediately drawn to a painting of a woman in nineteenth century dress that hung prominently over the mantel.
     “Who is she?”
     The sheriff turned to the dusty, sun-bleached portrait in the heavy carved guilt frame. “One of the previous owners, they say.” He shrugged. “The family history kind of got lost with the house. Everyone around here calls her the Widow of Lacewood.”
     Katie stood spellbound. The woman was clothed completely in black, but the magnificence of the gown gave the impression of sophistication and class. Her chin was slightly elevated as if to project strength, yet there was more than a hint of sorrow and pain in her eyes.
     “She looks so sad.” Katie spoke without removing her gaze. “And so young. How could she be a widow?”
     The sheriff had already started to walk away, but he turned back and glanced at the painting. “Not sure, but they say she never remarried.”
     Katie’s heart suddenly struggled to beat. The anguish in the woman’s eyes kept her riveted. She could see the pain. Feel a heart ripped apart. Something was missing that could never be replaced. Katie had felt such loss before. In a way that’s why she was here.

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Jessica James believes in honor, duty, and true love—and that’s what she writes about in her award-winning novels that span the ages from the Revolutionary War to modern day. 
     She is a three-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction, and has won more than a dozen other literary awards, including a Readers' Favorite International Book Award and a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America. Her novels have been used in schools and are available in hundreds of libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.
     To combat the sedentary career of writing, Jessica works as a part-time stagehand at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, Pa., the “grandest small town theater in the nation.”

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Monday, July 15, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: Cloudy Rainbow

...a taste of romance

by Debbie De Louise

Part 1
Fall 2007

Chapter One 

     Dulcie glanced to her left at the gray and white cat sitting next to her keyboard. Floppy, her fifteen-year-old male shorthair, purred as she paused in her typing to pat his head.
     “I don’t mean to ignore you, big boy,” she murmured. “Visiting a virtual world isn’t as compelling as spending real time with you.”
     She hit the ESC key from the online game she’d been playing to pass the time and shut down her laptop. She glanced around the tiny kitchen she used as an office.  Tonight, would be especially hard. Thank goodness for Floppy’s company. October 9th, three years ago. She looked at her kitchen clock, which featured her name encircled by yellow roses that matched her wallpaper. It was an apartment warming gift from her friend Valerie. She was lucky she’d been able to bring Floppy to her new home. She couldn’t stay at Frank’s place. Too many memories, clouded now but like light through a rainbow.
     They would’ve been married two years this past summer, if a tragic accident hadn’t torn them apart.
     Tears spilled down her cheeks. She wiped at them with the same hand that had petted the cat. He put out his paw gently as if responding to her sadness. The whitebooted foot gently touched her elbow. She gazed into his yellow eyes and wondered if he remembered Frank, was just responding to her feelings (cats were intuitive that way) or was just asking for more attention or his supper.
     She couldn’t sit here anymore, so she got up and went to the pantry to take out a can of cat food. As she opened the chunky chicken feast with a pull of its flip-top lid, Floppy jumped off the table and bounded toward her as fast as his old body could carry him. She was worried about his slower movements, and the aging that was becoming more apparent recently. Although more indoor cats were living to twenty or older, a cat over eight was considered a senior. Dulcie had studied the cat age charts on the Internet and in her feline health books and knew that Floppy would now be well into his seventies in human years. It seemed such a short time ago that she had first adopted him and held him in her hands. Her roommate had found the stray kitten near her dormitory at college. Many changes had happened in her life since then. She’d studied journalism in college, secretly hoping to make a career out of being a reporter, to live the glamorous yet poor life of Lois Lane without a Superman. Then Frank came along, and she switched from writing articles to writing computer programs to be near him in the computer science classes he taught as a junior professor.
     Floppy’s plaintive meow brought her back to the present, and she remembered that she still hadn’t scooped cat food into his food bowl. “Sorry, fellow,” she apologized. “Mom was just daydreaming, or nightdreaming since it’s almost time for bed.”
     She watched him lap up the food and then cleaned and filled his water bowl. She knew she was just putting off getting into bed tonight. In the last few months, she’d traded watching late night television for playing a computer game called Virtual Universe. As fans of this game were eager to point out, it wasn’t a game but a virtual world where people via the Internet highway were able to communicate under different names and even create characters that represented themselves. Was this unlike the pen names that some authors used or the characters that they wrote about in their books? But these computer images—avatars— had identities and even interacted in this virtual space. She’d once gone dancing using a computer animation with a guy who called himself Nero.
     She’d immediately thought of the Roman emperor. But to give the guy credit, he didn’t have any tattoos and hadn’t built up his biceps in any virtual gym. He was ordinary looking, if computer images could be labeled ordinary. She ran into him occasionally when she logged on, and they’d chat for a bit. But neither knew much about the other, and she wasn’t about to indulge in any online relationship. For all she knew, Nero could be a woman or a married man.
     “I think I’ll just stick with you, Flops,” she said, bending down to give her cat a pat as he finished his meal.
     She took a last glance at her laptop, stifled a yawn, and headed across the room to her daybed which doubled as a sofa. Valerie often berated her about why she’d chosen such a small apartment. It wasn’t a matter of cost. She didn’t need much. It was only her and Floppy. The converted garage apartment she’d had years ago before Frank came back into her life was taken now, so she had to find something else. Fresh starts in new places were always best after life-changing events.
     She pulled open the bed and then went into the bathroom to brush her teeth and change into her catdecorated nightshirt. When she finished, she turned off all the lights but the reading lamp, got under her quilt that was also cat patterned, and opened the Nora Roberts book she was in the middle of reading. Before she could start another page, Floppy was there, treading gently up to her pillow.  She lay the book down and cuddled with him. It was relaxing to stroke his soft fur and listen to his purrs. While it wasn’t the best substitute for a lover, it was easier and less stressful in many ways.

This revised edition celebrates the 10th anniversary of the author’s first published novel.

by Debbie De Louise

When you lose a loved one, whether it’s a relative, friend, or precious pet, you wonder where that special soul has gone and if you will ever see him or her again. For Dulcie Mills, Long Island computer programmer, the answer may lie between a virtual world and the real one, between the past and the present, between dreams and reality.

Unable to get over her fiancée’s death and facing the impending loss of her 15-year-old cat, Dulcie escapes to a virtual world. When Dulcie’s best friend accepts a job from a clairvoyant who offers predictions regarding Dulcie’s dead fiancée and Dulcie becomes attracted to an online stranger, history begins to repeat itself in ways that are both promising and terrifying. What Dulcie discovers through a virtual séance may mean the only chance she has left for love or death itself.

Addressing topics of reincarnation and soul transfer in similar ways as Greg Iles’ Sleep No More and Nora Roberts’ Midnight Bayou, Cloudy Rainbow features an interesting mix of technology and the paranormal and will also appeal to cat lovers.

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