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

Monday, March 20, 2017


Author Sue Lilley

It’s well known we Brits are obsessive about the weather. It’s usually our first topic of daily conversation. But in our defence, for a small country, we do sometimes have the weirdest weather. The other day I bought a bunch of the first spring daffodils – early flowering because it’s been so mild. The next morning I woke up to six inches of snow. We’re meant to have four seasons, but not all on the same day!

It’s impossible to plan anything. If the sun makes an appearance, blue winter legs and arms might come out of hiding – with a big coat to hand! A barbecue may be optimistically suggested – with a convenient garage and patio heater on standby.

High Hopes by Sue Lilley
Christmas will sometimes mean snow but more often a mild day for walking along the beach in a cosy knit. Kids get presents of sledges and bikes, therefore learning at a young age that it’s wise to hedge their bets. Easter used to be the traditional time for girls to get their summer dresses out. Now it can be colder than Christmas or hotter than July. I’ve celebrated my birthday in the last snow of spring but also with a picnic during a proper heatwave. May can usually be relied upon for scorching weather when all the kids are doing exams. But come July when the schools break up for the summer, it will likely be endless rainy days.

We Brits are good at rain. When I worked for an insurance company, we sold Pluvius insurance – named after the Roman god of rain. I suspect this is a peculiarly British product – the opportunity to insure your garden fete against loss of revenue due to low attendance if it rains! We must be keeping umbrella makers in business. I have to confess I own so many umbrellas I’d be embarrassed to count them. I keep one in my desk, one in the car and one for every size of handbag, including a particularly tiny one for my special “going out” clutch.

It’s fashionable to blame global-warming. I think it’s more likely to be our dodgy memories of what summers were like “in our day.” But I’m sure it was never this extreme.

Another Summer by Sue Lilley
My novel ANOTHER SUMMER was inspired by extreme weather. I was in Cornwall soon after a severe storm had caused major flooding. I saw the remains of an ancient bridge which had been destroyed by a rampant river. There was a shiny motorbike trapped in the debris and not a soul in sight. I started thinking what if….?

Check out Sue's Website and her books on Twitter