Monday, May 8, 2017

10 Things I Love About This Series

I cannot tell you how excited I am to be finally publishing this new Young Adult series: Bryant Rockwell. I started the first book nearly two decades ago, when the three girls jumped into my busy life, full of sass, humour, and awesome talents.
After writing the first three books, I swapped careers and became a maths teacher in a number of UK high schools. What an awakening! The nice girls I’d written had little in common with today’s teens. After a decade of teaching (when it was impossible to write anything), I revisited the stories, updated them, and wrote the next three.
Unfortunately, when I looked for an agent, all they wanted were tales of magic schools and vampires in order to jump on various bandwagons. So my gorgeous gals were assigned to the back burner, while I wrote five fantasy books set in a mediaeval-alternate-world. If this appeals, check out the Hengist books; all of them were #1 bestsellers in their genre.

I’m thrilled, because my trio deserves to tell their stories to a wider audience; however I put it off for so long because of the number of adverse comments made by US reviewers about British spelling and punctuation. So I’ve compromised by using US punctuation and modifying the occasional word to avoid the real spelling snags (e.g. practice/practise). But these teens speak with British accents, and the UK school system means subtle differences in their daily schedule and terminology. Because of this, I’ve added a glossary at the end so non-UK readers can translate.
Living on this side of the pond means my guys get to watch Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” in his very own theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, a treat I’ve enjoyed many times. Hope you enjoy your vicarious experience of this. You can read a little more about the characters here.

The elevator pitches go like this:
New Kid in Town: Liv, Jude and Kat are greater than the sum of their parts. Separately they are Brainy, Sporty and Arty. Together they are invincible. Until Drop-Dead-Gorgeous Ray wheels up.

The Show Must Go On: Liv's a snarky chocoholic, Luke's a reformed thug. Who better to take Dirty Diana down a peg or two? She totally has it coming.

I was encouraged when one beta reader described the first book as “10 Things I Hate About You” meets “Glee,” which is great for people in the US. For UK readers, I’d add in the gritty reality of “Waterloo Road.”
I would call it a character-driven romantic comedy, other people say:
Funny, intense and endearing. Wish I had such a group of friends,” and “Drama you can't look away from. I was hooked from the first page.”
The review site, Book Viral, called it “Snappy, well-pitched and edgy. An enjoyable read which will appeal to anyone who has a sense of humour and an ear for the ironic.”
And Readers’ Favorite gave it a shiny, silver 5-star medal: “A well written teenage high school experience. The romance elements fitted perfectly with the plot and were the right balance of lust, love, and friendship.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Glamorous Life of a Writer—Not!

Author Cara Marsi

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I learned to read and discovered the magical world of books. When I learned one of my favorite authors, Robert Ludlum, owned a villa in the Caribbean and wrote from his terrace overlooking the water, I was surer than ever I wanted to be an author. All writers were wealthy and lived glamorous lives, right?


Some authors do have houses in exotic places, and that’s wonderful. But the majority of us have a different reality.

Rather than looking out over the turquoise sea and white sand when I write, I face a small rose garden from my office window. Pretty in spring and summer with the roses blooming. Winter? Not so much. The most exciting thing I’ve seen was a fox burying a dead squirrel under a rose bush. Glamorous, right?

Why do I keep at it? Why do I write if the monetary reward isn’t spectacular?

I’m compelled to write because I love the romance genre, love the written word, and I crave happy endings. As a child, I made up stories in my head, and those stories were romances. I started reading Gothic romances, then historicals. I loved them all.

When I was in my forties, a friend and I traded Harlequin romances. One day we looked at each other and said, “We could write these.” What na├»ve fools we were.

It took ten long, hard years of writing, learning the craft, attending conferences and workshops before I sold my first book. Writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the most rewarding.

Since that first book, I’ve published close to thirty novels, novellas, and short stories. For a few years I wrote short stories for the Confession magazines. I’ve published with traditional publishers, but now I’m an independent author and I love the control over my career.

Brandywine Brides
My latest story is one I’m especially excited about because it’s part of an anthology with six close friends who are talented authors. We call ourselves “The Writers Who Lunch.” We’ve been meeting for lunch for several years. A few years ago, we began talking about doing an anthology together, centered on one family through generations. My contribution is “We’ve Only Just Begun,” a Vietnam War era story.

“Brandywine Brides: A Blackwood Legacy Anthology” is available for pre-order now at the special pre-order price of $0.99.

One Family – Seven Generations – A Legacy of Love

Franco's Fortune by Cara Marsi

Almost three centuries ago, a Scottish convict was sold into indentured servitude in Philadelphia and given a second chance at a life far from the country of his birth. In the years since, the farm secured by Finlan Blackwood’s efforts would grow and thrive in the Brandywine River valley just as his family and descendants did. Today, Blackwood Farm is one of the largest and most successful farms in Chester County. But it took the sacrifices and best efforts of each generation to make it so.

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter


Monday, April 3, 2017

Why are romance novels so popular?

Author Christina Tetreault

Whether a sweet contemporary or a steamy historical, romance is in my opinion the best genre out there. By why is that, you may be wondering?

Romance novels unlike other types offer you a chance to fall in love with the characters while they fall in love with each other. Despite whatever events occur during the novel, you the reader know that in the end there will be a happy ending. And everyone loves a happy ending.  Didn't all of our favorite Fairy Tales end with “And They Lived Happily Ever After”. 

I also believe that romance novels are so spectacular and popular because there are so many types of romance novels available.  Readers can find everything from a sweeping historical, to a sweet contemporary or a unique paranormal.

Every romance readers’ journey and tastes are different, so I am going to take a minute and tell you a little about mine. 

In His Kiss by Christina Tetreault
An avid reader and writer since about the age of 10, I discovered the world of romance novels a little late.  I picked up my first romance novel A Gentle Rogue by one of my all time favorite authors, Johanna Lindsey during my freshman year of college. I was immediately hooked.  Soon I found myself scouring the bookshelves at Walden Books and Walmart looking for another great romance.  In no time I fell in love with other historical romance authors like Julie Garwood, Julia Quinn, and Hannah Howell.  Not long after that I discovered great contemporary romances by authors like Jessica Bird and Brenda Novak.  Next I found the whole paranormal world of romance by authors like Lynn Kurland and Jessica Andersen.

Today I read almost entirely romance novels from various sub-genres depending on my mood. 

In addition to reading romance, I began writing them around the time I got married.  For me it was just a natural progression.  Besides what could be better than writing about two people meeting, falling in love and living happily ever after?  Nothing, right?  My first romance, The Teacher's Billionaire came out in March of 2012 and I never looked back.

While getting published was always a dream of mine, it never would have happened without the support of my family and other romance authors.  I don't know about authors from other genres, but those who write romance are the best.  They are supportive and giving.  They are always willing to offer helpful advice or a kind word.  And I am thankful to every romance author I have worked with along the way.

Thanks to all the support and great friends I have made along the way In His Kiss the fourth novel in my series Love On The North Shore released March 31 and I am currently working on tenth novel in my series The Sherbrookes of Newport.

Follow Christina on Facebook, Twitter and check out her Website

Friday, March 31, 2017

A Beautiful Obsession

Author Linda Ballou
by Linda Ballou

In my fit forties, I was operating under the illusion that I could do anything and felt invincible. Full swing into my second childhood, I owned my horse and was conquering cross country courses. That’s right!  We were jumping over every hurdle in our path, careening around mountain trails and splashing though creeks. It was thrilling to be fulfilling all my horsey fantasies.

Then one day, while practicing our rough version of dressage, I felt a tingling in my lower back. Within days this sensation manifested itself into a crippling condition that left me crawling from the bed to the fridge on my knees. Diagnosis—garden variety herniated disc.  In the healing process, I realized that I had been pushing my 45-year old body too hard and that I would have to give up full time riding (which meant giving up my mare). This was a tough decision that changed my life.

I decided to combine the things that I love—horses, travel and writing as my path to full expression. My first published articles were all about horses. I used these credits to get travel writing gigs at guest ranches. Throughout my feisty fifties, I enjoyed fantastic outdoor adventures and established myself as an adventure travel writer.

Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawai'i
The changing landscape of the publishing world and the opportunities provided through the internet allowed me to bring my first novel Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawai’i into the world. It was like giving birth to an elephant that was ten years overdue. Now, I am in my soaring sixties and the view from this lofty vantage point is exhilarating. Bringing Wai-nani into the world forced me to
blossom on many levels. I had to come out from behind my computer to give talks and to learn how to do radio interviews.  It has been a very heady and exciting ride. Empowered by reader’s response to Wai-nani and my travel articles, I published Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales. Writing The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon was part of my healing process. It takes you inside the Grand Prix jumping circuit and into the wilds of the Eastern Sierras. At this time my mission is to get to as many beautiful places on the “Big Blue” I can before they are gone. Come to my site to enjoy travel articles and learn more about my books. Subscribe to my blog to receive my latest adventures.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened upon Arriving in Hollywood

Author James Conroyd Martin

Some—as in many—years ago I resigned from a short teaching career, turned my young back on the Midwest, and landed in Hollywood, anxious to learn screenwriting. I landed a job, two actually, and started taking screenwriting classes. All was going according to plan—until I met a young man who insisted I read his translation of his great-great-great-great grandmother’s diary.

Out of politeness, I did read the diary of Countess Anna Maria Berezowska, who began her journaling in 1791 when her parents died and she was forced to live with an aunt, uncle, and two nefarious cousins. The diary held me spellbound as I read of her falling in love with neighbor Jan, while being obstructed in her happiness by crude Walter and scheming Zofia. The background to all of this was the nation at war and on the cusp of destruction. Margaret Mitchell could have outlined it.

Push Not the River by James Conroyd Martin
But this didn’t call for a screenplay—that could come later. I would create a novel, yes—a novel. To cut my own serpentine story short, over years, the manuscript could not survive three agents, countless would-be editors, one lying publisher. Even the weight of Bette Davis, who read it with an eye to an eventual screenplay, didn’t seem to matter.

Return to the Midwest and to teaching. Keep the telling short, James, I tell myself. OK, one day print-on-demand comes along and I publish the book myself, hoping to catch the eye of one of the big publishers. Fates smiles. St. Martin’s Press purchases Push Not the River. Anna’s story gets told. I pray it’s told well, I whisper to the spirit I’ve felt on my shoulder for so many years. Why, her story is translated back into Polish—full circle—and Nie ponaglaj rzeki becomes a bestseller in Poland. Na zdrowie!

The Poland Triology
Oh, the publisher wants a sequel? Cool. Done—Against a Crimson Sky. I’m flying now, pun intended. Wait—my editor is leaving St. Martin’s? What, without her on board they are declining the final part of the trilogy? Publish it yourself, my agent urges. How do I do that? Oh, yeah—I do know how.

And so I do—The Warsaw Conspiracy.

Now what is it they call writers like me—those who have been published by the big boys, as well as by their own big bad selves? I always forget. It’s some kind of flower or plant, isn’t it? Hybrids?—yes that’s right.

I’m a hybrid author. And do you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing.
Oh, a screenplay? It’ll happen one day. You just wait.

For more information check out James Website, on Facebook or Twitter.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Why Genre-Bender Writing can be a Hit with Fans

Stephen Stromp


My novels are probably a bit of an acquired taste. And I’m totally okay with that! I’m fine being a writer with a niche audience. My readers are probably those looking for something a bit off center, a bit unique. One of my favorite reader reviews described my writing like this: “Somehow this author makes the strange and morbid seem normal.” I won’t argue with that assessment. 
I don’t like to be pinned down by a single genre, even within one story. It’s not that I plan my books to be genre-bending. For me, it’s all about the story first. What’s going on in this world? With these characters? What feeling do I have when I think about the story so I can get the tone right?  So, to serve the story best, I ignore genre lines. In fact, I don’t really think about genre at all until I am forced to attempt to classify a book for publication. But if I had to classify the genres I tap into (and as I writer, I begrudgingly do!), they would include dark fantasy, mystery, horror, young adult, fable, low fantasy, supernatural, magical realism, speculative fiction and suspense.

Cracking Grace by Stephen Stromp
Winner of Kindle Press Publishing Contract

My first book, CRACKING GRACE, is a short novel that explores relationships, loss and spirituality. It’s about a young girl who loses her mother and befriends statues in a cemetery, who, it turns out, are on their own journey of discovery.

In the Graveyard Antemortem by Stephen Stromp
My first full-length novel, IN THE GRAVEYARD ANTEMORTEM, is a mystery/horror novel set in the 1980s. It’s about a teenager who is determined to solve her father’s murder. But to do so, she must unravel the secrets of Grand Hallow, a funeral and mortuary operation the size of a small city. The book was a winner of the reader-powered Kindle Scout program and was subsequently chosen for publication by Kindle Press. It’s sort of my love letter to the 1980 horror movies I grew up with—but in book form. Although I set out to write an unabashed horror/suspense novel, the mystery element kept creeping in until it clearly became the centerpiece of the novel. Again, I was crossing lines without realizing it. My genre bending was called out when a reviewer at wrote, “I’d have thought it a mistake to have the numerous plates of horror, fantasy AND murder-mystery spinning at once, but all of these aspects dovetail so seamlessly that it produces a wonderful book of relentless pacing, intrigue and sheer oh-dear-God-ness!”

What’s Next?

I keep getting asked if there will be a sequel (or even prequel) to “Antemortem.” I honestly don’t have anything planned, but it would be interesting to explore. There is more to that story that I purposefully held back because it wasn’t the focus of that book. Maybe at some point down the road, I’ll revisit the folks at Grand Hallow. Right now, I’m finishing up editing a book I hope to have released sometime in 2017. All I’ll say about it now is that it’s a coming-of-age story set in the 90s with elements of fantasy and psychological horror. I’m proud of it. It feels perhaps more emotional and personal than my previous books.

Connect with Stephen on Facebook, join his email list to keep up on his new release and visit his Website 

Friday, March 24, 2017

How do you like your suspense?

Author Dale Mayer

by Dale Mayer

With a little romance, a lot of nail biting, a touch of the paranormal or all of the above?

I love mine with romance, edge of the seat tension and either with or without the paranormal. Why because as long as the writer makes it believable, as long as I'm sucked into the story, I don't care where the writer takes me.

Sometimes I've woken up in complete new worlds and loved it!

When I started writing Tuesdays' Child many years ago, I had no idea of the yellow brick road I'd set out on. Now with the release of a new military romance series, Heroes for Hire, I have to admit to feeling a bit like Dorothy!

I'm not in Kansas anymore.

It's a whole new world out there. I don't recognize my surroundings, and can barely remember the many stops I took to get here. Not only has the publishing landscape changed, but so has my professional landscape. But like Dorothy the journey has been incredible. And rewarding.

And suspenseful.

I write mysteries, romance and combine both all the time. I do like a happy ending. 

Currently I’ve been spending a lot of time writing Military Romance. My SEALs of Honor series has been great, but I wanted the freedom to branch off without the restrictions life in the military imposed.

Heroes for Hire was created for just that purpose. I took a unit of 4 SEALs after they were betrayed and helped them set up their own private security company Legendary Security. 

The series starts with Levi and Ice’s story in Levi’s Legend. He is a legend after all.

Stone’s book came next, followed by Merk’s. In order for everyone to dive into the new series, all three are releasing on March 21st.

Levi's Legend by Dale Mayer
Levi's Legend by Dale Mayer
Welcome to Levi's Legend, book 1 in Heroes for Hire reconnecting readers with the unforgettable men from SEALs of Honor in a new series of action packed, page turning romantic suspense that fans have come to expect from USA TODAY Bestselling author Dale Mayer.

Nothing stays the same…
Since his accident Levi has been driven to find the men who betrayed him. Everything else is secondary. Now he’s recovered, started his own company, and he’s caught the scent of the last man on his list. Only to find the same man intends to finish the job he originally started – and kill Levi once and for all.

Ice has been at Levi’s side every step of his new journey – well almost. It’s the places where she hasn’t been that are the hardest. Her relationship with Levi is at a critical point. One wrong word and her hopes and dreams will be gone. They almost are now.

But she can’t resolve her love life until the man who forced change into their world is taken care of. Only he’s on the attack, and his target is right at the heart of everything that’s important to her, and to Levi.

They’ll have to move fast to stop the man who wants them both dead or they won’t have a future at all…

Check out Dale Mayer's books on her Website, follow her on Facebook or Twitter