Interview of M. Lee Prescott

I am so grateful to Cindy for welcoming me to her blog. Thank you, thank you, Cindy! I am pleased to highlight my new series, the Morgan’s Run Romances, especially book one, Emma’s Dream.

Emmas Dream_Cover Final200How did you get started writing? In the early 1980s, a group of teacher colleagues and I formed a writing group to explore the process we were introducing to our students (thank you to the immortal Donald Graves!). From this group, my first book, Asamaran (a YA novel, as yet unpublished) was born! I haven’t stopped since.

What genre(s) do you write in and why? I write contemporary romances, mysteries (three series going), and YA fiction. I’ve also published three nonfiction books in my field of literacy education. I write the kinds of books I love to read, and, in the case of my nonfiction, the kinds of books I believe will be useful resources for K-12 teachers.

Tell us about your current series. I am really excited about my new series, Morgan’s Run Romances. They are contemporary, western romances set in the U.S southwest, a region dear to my heart and one I visit often. The first book, Emma’s Dream, was published on August 25, 2015, and book two, Lang’s Return comes out in 15 days on October 20th! Book three, Jeb’s Promise is scheduled to be published on December 8th! These books chronicle the lives of the amazing Morgan family and friends, who live and work in Saguaro Valley, Arizona. The cowboys are gorgeous, the women astonishing and their romances sweet, sexy, and hot!

What inspired your latest book? My travels to the U.S. southwest and my writing collaborators out there (son and daughter-in-law). It’s an amazing part of our beautiful country. Plus, I’ve always wanted to write a western series and it sounded like fun, which it is!

Where do you get the ideas for your stories? From anywhere and everywhere!

Do you have a view in your writing space?  What does your space look like? My view is a beautiful tidal river that constantly changes, one minute glassy and calm, the next white capped. For most of the year, I write on my sun porch, windows open, the breeze in my hair. When it gets cold and I shut up the sun porch and write in a comfy chair by the fire, the river still in front of me.

Do you write under a pen name?   Why or why not? Yes, I use a pen name because I am an academic and the pen name separates my fiction from my scholarly work. Not sure it’s necessary, but I’m off and running as M. Lee Prescott now so there’s no turning back!

How far do you plan ahead? Several years. I try to create a schedule that changes constantly, but gives me some general direction. This year, while on sabbatical, I surpassed my goals and published two more books than I had scheduled!

What did you want to be when you were a child? A famous actress in my dreams. A teacher and writer in my rational moments.

Do you have any rejection stories to share? I have had many rejection notices over the years, but actually treasure some as they helped me to grow as a writer. My favorite was a six-page letter from a editor who gave me detailed suggestions for my mystery, A Friend of Silence, with many compliments about my writing and characters. While her publishing house did not pick up the book, but I am deeply indebted to her for the time she took to write such a generous, supportive letter.

 

EXCERPT

Emma’s Dream

Book 1: Morgan’s Run Romances

 

This is a huge mistake. Ben Morgan’s chest tightened as he steered the Range Rover over the Arizona mountain pass. Maybe the biggest one I’ve made in five years.

Then he remembered it wasn’t his decision. Doctor’s orders propelled him eastward, away from his gorgeous new home in Santa Barbara and a rapidly expanding business, which needed his attention 24-7. On the Coast Highway, halfway home, the pain now excruciating, he called 911 and told the operator he was having a heart attack.

The young whippersnapper cardiologist had smiled.  “Fascinating diagnosis, Mr. Morgan, but totally incorrect.  You’ve had a panic attack. I’m not sure what’s going on in your life right now, but whatever it is, you’d better see that it stops now, or you’ll be dead before your next birthday. Thirty-two is too young to die, don’t you think?”

Now, six days later, he was headed to his family’s ranch in Arizona, Morgan’s Run, and his enforced R & R in Saguaro Valley. As he turned right on Main and headed toward Gracie’s Diner, a horn blared and the clunker in front of him screeched to a stop. Ben braked, but not in time to stop the Rover before it tapped the rear of the clunker. Ben swore under his breath and backed up, pulling over to park at the curb. As he did, the clunker’s driver leaped from her car, screaming and waving her arms. He shook his head. Foolish woman had left her heap in the middle of the street.  Tall and slender, she wore Jackie O. sunglasses, a baseball cap pulled low on her forehead, a faded cotton shirt over blue jeans, and cowboy boots, the uniform for nearly every female rancher in the valley. Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

As she approached the Rover, Ben noticed her jeans hugged every curve, full breasts not quite obscured by the baggy shirt.  He couldn’t see her face, but he had to admit the rest of the package was intriguing and also vaguely familiar.              “What’s the matter with you?” she screamed, walking in circles, arms still flailing.  “Oh, my God, oh, my God, what am I going to do?”

Ben stared at her back, astounded at what was clearly a huge overreaction. The clunker was fine, hardly a scratch on it, although it would be hard to tell with all the other dings. Then, just as quickly as it started, the fire went out and she flopped down to sit on the curb, head between her legs, sobbing.

“Hey, hey, it’s not that bad, is it?  We hardly touched each other. No harm done.” He sat beside her, wondering whether he should pat her on the shoulder.       Immediately she quieted and looked up at him. “Oh, my God. This just gets better and better.” Ben Morgan, the one person she expected never to see again, sitting beside her in the middle of Main Street. Could things get any worse?  She leaned forward, hiding her face, wondering whether he’d go away if she sat there long enough.

“Maggie? Is that little Maggie Williams?  After five years, I’m in town less than a minute and the first person I bump into is you.”

Maggie groaned and buried her head deeper, praying this was all a bad dream. If she hadn’t had to make a quick run to the bank, she’d be at work in the cool, dark stables. “Please just go.  I’m fine.”

She could feel his heat, his nearness rattling her to her core.  A part of her longed to lean against him and draw comfort and strength from his warmth, but the wiser half screamed danger.  She kept still, hoping he would disappear.

“You don’t seem fine.  Look, I’m sorry.”  Ben placed a hand on her shoulder. It sent shivers of warmth all the way to her toes.  “And I’m not leaving until I’m sure you’re okay.”

Oh, no you don’t. Maggie stood and shook herself, stepping away from his electric touch. She put on her sunglasses. Another second near him and she feared she might actually swoon. His soft chestnut eyes regarded her with obvious concern.  Although he looked tired and thin, Ben Morgan was still drop-dead gorgeous, in faded jeans and sneakers, his broad shoulders straining the seams of a worn Stanford tee shirt.

“I’m fine, really. It’s been a crazy day and you caught me at a bad time.  I’m sorry I overreacted.”

Ben watched her, wondering why a fender kiss had caused so much distress.  “Can I give you a lift somewhere?”

“No, of course not! I mean, thanks, but I’m okay now.  Got to get back to work.”

“Where’s that?”

“Sorry, I’m really late.  Good to see you again.  Take care.”

She hopped into her car and drove away before he could utter another word.

What the hell was that? Ben thought back to his one memorable night with Maggie Williams. They had both left Saguaro shortly after that night, but a part of him always wondered if there was something more to explore with his brother Kyle’s beautiful classmate. While he had pushed thoughts of her and their one night of passionate sex from his mind, as he watched her drive away, Ben realized that he had spent five years comparing every woman he met to Maggie Williams.
About Lee:
M.LeePrescott-author-SMALL (1)M. Lee Prescott is the author of dozens of works of fiction for adults, young adults and children, among them The Ricky Steele Mysteries (Prepped to Kill, Gadfly, Lost in Spindle City), The Roger and Bess Mysteries (A Friend of Silence, In the Name of Silence and The Silence of Memory) Jigsaw, Song of the Spirit, and her newest contemporary romance series, Morgan’s Run Romances. Three of her nonfiction titles have been published by Heinemann and she has published numerous articles in her field of literacy education. Lee is a professor of education at a small New England liberal arts college where she teaches reading and writing pedagogy. Her current research focuses on mindfulness and connections to reading and writing. She regularly teaches abroad, most recently in Singapore.

Lee has lived in southern California (loved those Laguna nights!), Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and various spots in New England. Currently, she resides in Massachusetts on a beautiful river, where she canoes, swims, and watches an incredible variety of wildlife pass by. She is the mother of two grown sons and spends lots of time with them, their beautiful wives, and her amazing grandchildren. When not teaching or writing, Lee’s passions revolve around family, yoga (Kripalu is a second home), swimming, sharing mindfulness with children and adults, and walking.

Lee loves to hear from readers. Email her anytime at mleeprescott@gmail.com, and visit her website to hear the latest and sign up for her newsletter.

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Oh, to be an Elf on this Shelf by Kimberly Dean

There’s a new holiday tradition that’s popped up in recent years, the Elf on the Shelf.  For those of you unfamiliar with the phenomenon, these elves are sent out on scouting missions to help Santa decide who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.  So I thought about what the elves might report back to Santa about the characters in my new book, Courting Trouble.

As the title implies, there’s a lot of naughtiness going on, but it’s not that simple.

Sienna is a nice girl who’s put in the position of taking on a naughty job.  Jason is a naughty boy, who can be very nice when he likes someone.  Sienna always follows the rules, but Jason tempts her to break them.  And while Jason might be bossy and rough around the edges, he protects the people who are important to him.  That definitely falls on the nice list.

In the end, neither of them is naughty or nice all of the time.  That would be boring.  What the elves would probably report is that they’re a couple who is nice to each other and naughty together.  That’s something that Santa should reward.  Don’t you think?

Courting_Trouble_200x300 (1)_2 Courting Trouble

When times get tough, how bad does a good girl have to get?

Sienna Blakely is bright, articulate, underemployed and forced to rely on the one asset she vowed never to use – her looks.

With bills piling up, Sienna signs a contract with Luxxor Escort Services. A contract that strictly forbids any sexual contact with clients… And then she’s assigned to companion Jason Sloan. Just meeting the man causes a full-body jolt. Arrogant, powerful, and sexy, he’s trouble. And he can see through the facade she’s erected, right down to the intelligent and sensual woman underneath. He challenges her wits, and he challenges the rules.

Courting Trouble buy links:

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Now you seem like someone who would fall on the nice list, so I have a stocking stuffer for you.  Go get your free copy of my short story, Courting Jealousy here:

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Courting_Jealousy_200x300_2Courting Jealousy

When Noelle hires an escort to accompany her to a charity event, it’s merely to show her ex that’s she’s moved on. Yet she gets more than she bargained for when Dane is assigned to accompany her. Tall, dark, and handsome, he knows how to arouse jealousy. He also knows how to arouse her!

Kimberly Dean is an award-winning author of romance and erotica.  She has written for seven publishing houses, both domestic and international, and has recently focused her efforts on the exciting world of self-publishing. When not writing, she enjoys movies, sports, traveling, music, and sunshine. In her mind, a beach, some rock ‘n’ roll, and a good book make for a perfect day.

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Interview with Veronica Scott

Thanks for having me as your guest today!

MissionToM2-FJM_Mid_Res_1000x1500Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?

As a matter of fact – drum roll, please – as of March 1st I’m taking early retirement from my job at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to become a fulltime author! Going to live the dream and I’m very excited. I’ve been cleaning out my office for the past few weeks, in fact. I told my boss the critical success factor for the retirement party would be a really good chocolate cake, so I hope he delivers on that. I worked on special business projects in the area of the Lab where we wrote contracts for everything from services to office supplies to parts for Mars Rovers. It was a fun career but my heart was in writing romance novels.

Cindy: Congratulations on what must be a scary move. But I know you’ll find it most rewarding.

How did you get started writing?

I started writing when I was seven, because there just weren’t enough books around that I wanted to read. My first epic tale featured flying cats, flying horses, princesses galore, and a riverboat captain as the hero. And I just kept writing. In 2010, when my daughters were grown and out on their own, I decided to get serious about learning my craft and really working to become published.

What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I write science fiction romances set in the far future and I write a paranormal series set in ancient Egypt. I’m fascinated by both eras. My Dad was the science fiction influence as I grew up. My Mom had all the Time-Life book on ancient civilizations, and the “sword and sandal” novels. I just thought there needed to be more romance in everything!

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

I’ve got seven books published – two from Carina Press and the other five independently published. I usually say my favorite is my most recent book, but Wreck of the Nebula Dream, my retelling of the sinking of Titanic, set in the far future in outer space, is also a favorite. (And just recently it was favorably reviewed by Dear Author, which was a thrill.)

How has your experience with self-publishing been?

I LOVE self-publishing. In fact, Wreck of the Nebula Dream was my first venture into self-publishing. I’d written the novel before selling my first ancient Egyptian romance to Carina Press. After the flurry of edits and getting the other book released with Carina, I realized 2012 was the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking. There wasn’t time to submit the book to anyone and get it published, not even Carina, so I dove into the independent publishing world. I enjoy the total control over my books – I pick the cover, I write to my own deadlines, I can tell the stories I want to tell, the books can be as long or as short as I feel they need to be, I set the prices and do the promo that seems appropriate (and fun!). And of course I’m not sharing royalties with a publisher. I learned a great deal from working with Carina and I enjoyed that experience, but indie publishing really appeals to me.

What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

Publishing is a business and when you publish independently, you’re the person who has to make everything happen. That’s the joy and the reality. I love the creative writing part but I recognize the need to hire strong editors, copy editors, find cover artists (although I’m fortunate to work with two of the best – Fiona Jayde and Frauke of Croco Designs), have the formatting done, upload the books to the ebook retailers myself, troubleshoot problems…And you have to do promo for your books. That part holds true whether you’re published or independently, but it is something to remember.

Give us an elevator pitch for your book.

My most recently published science fiction romance is Mission to Mahjundar. “Blind princess going to her loveless arranged marriage meets Special Forces soldier whose orders don’t include falling in love. When the inevitable happens and they do fall in love, the entire planet is set against them.”

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Before I begin, I usually know the opening and closing scenes of the book, who the hero and heroine are, a few major scenes along the way…and then I just start writing and the story fills itself in as I go and get to know my characters even better. So pretty much a pantster! If I plot the story out in too much detail ahead of doing the actual writing, my Muse feels I’m already done and then I can’t write. The creativity evaporates.

Having achieved your goal to be a published author, what is the most rewarding thing?

I love being able to share my stories with readers! There’s nothing as satisfying as hearing from someone that they enjoyed the book, or they really related to one of the characters, or that they want more about a certain character.

Where can readers find you?

Blog: https://veronicascott.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/vscotttheauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Veronica-Scott/177217415659637?ref=hl

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Veronica-Scott/e/B006CUCJ92/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Where can readers find your books? Print/Ebook?

My books are available at all ebook retailers – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBook, Google Play, All Romance eBooks, Kobo.

I also have several of the books available as audiobooks through Amazon, Audible and iBooks, and all my independently published works are also available as paperbacks through Amazon.

Here’s a short excerpt from Mission to Mahjundar:

Mike Varone, Sectors Special Forces, saved the Princess Shalira’s life during a terrorist incident shortly after arriving on her planet. Shalira maneuvers her father into ordering Mike to accompany her on the journey to her arranged marriage, much to Mike’s displeasure. He has a mission to carry out that has nothing to do with Shalira. He goes to argue with her.

“Would you let the life you saved be lost so soon?” Tears shimmered in the depths of her unseeing brown eyes as she turned her face directly to him. Mike could­n’t look away, even though he knew she wasn’t actually seeing him, or his reactions. He put his glass on the table too hard, cracking the base.

“There are those who don’t want me to reach my wedding. The palace rustles with rumors of plots, schemes in motion to take advantage of this final opportunity to kill me. Once I’m safe with my bridegroom-to-be, I’ll be beyond the schemers’ reach, but I have to get to him.” Shalira rubbed her elegant fingers across the pendant as if it were an amulet giving her strength. “I hope that if you ride with me, those who plan my murder will be afraid to proceed under the attention of outworlders.”

What do I say to this? He hadn’t anticipated an appeal along these dramatic lines. “Do you think the bomb yesterday was an attempt to assassinate you?”

“No, assuredly Maralika was the target.” Shalira shook her head. “The empress is pursuing a host of unpopular actions—forbidding the older forms of worship, tearing down temples, forcing the people to pay taxes to her new gods, consolidating power for herself and her son. My father is not a well man, Major. Everyone knows he doesn’t have long to live, and she plans to rule when he’s gone.”

“But there’s opposition to her?” Mike was aware there was. Planetary politics had been a prominent part of his briefing, but he was curious how much Shalira might add.

“Her son is the heir since my brother was murdered, but the throne of Mahjundar has often been claimed by bloodshed rather than by rule of law. I have to get away from here, before the emperor dies.” She laughed, the sound bitter. “Playing the Princess of Shadows won’t protect me after his death.”

“Princess of Shadows?” Nothing about that in our briefing. He remembered the empress had also used the term to refer to Shalira.

“It’s an old folktale about a girl of royal blood who hid from her enemies in the shadows of the palace walls, disguised as a beggar, until her true love rescued her.” Gesturing to her eyes, Shalira said, “It’s meant as an insult to me, since I can’t see, not even shadows, and I’ve lived the past fifteen years on the fringes of the court, out of the ‘sun.’ I’m tolerated, protected only because my mother was the emperor’s Favorite till she died. If I reach the safety of my bridegroom’s people, then I’ll be safe, free of the empress’s plotting and hate. My mother’s clan is among his subjects.” Shalira blinked hard, and then her face crumpled as she wept.

 

Veronica_Scott_square_photoBIO

Amazon best-seller Veronica Scott is a three-time recipient of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award winner, and has written a number of science-fiction and paranormal romances. She writes the SciFi Encounters column for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog. Veronica has two daughters, one grandson and two cats. She loves long blingy earrings, roses, the movie “Aliens” and Mars Rovers.

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A Warrior’s Heart (Marastin Dow Book 1.1) by USA Today Bestseller S.E. Smith
Sealed With A Kiss, A Djinn Novella by Mina Khan
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106,000 Words

An Interview with Jacqueline Patricks

Please help me welcome Jacqueline Patricks to my blog today. Jacqueline is giving away an ecopy of her book to one lucky commentor, so be sure and comment.

dreams_of_the_queen_2How did you get started writing?

When I was 15, I read Barbara Hambley’s Darwath Trilogy and I decided I wanted to write amazing stories like that. The bug bit me hard, too, because went to college for my creative writing degree initially.

What genre(s) do you write in and why?

My main genres are science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction and romance, but all tend to have strong romance elements to the stories. I won’t say that I’ll always write romance into my stories, but somehow it tends to end there most of the time. Mainly I love the freedom invent new worlds while playing with human emotions and psychology.
Tell us about your current series and wip.

My current book Dreams of the Queen- The Brajj #1 is science fiction/romance with lots of angst and twists. It’s not for the faint of heart or those lacking a strong imagination. It really takes readers on a psychological and emotional ride. Lots of characters with agendas and action and romance going on.

I’m currently working on Nightmare of the Queen – The Brajj #2 and another series involving fae, mortals and the end of the world called Fairytale Apocalypse. I’m hoping FA will be out late 2013 and Nightmare will be out early 2014.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Most of my ideas come from my dreams, but I like to read current events and really pay attention to the normal world. I dump a lot of information into my head, then it all marinates until something original and unique percolates to the surface.

How does your family feel about your writing?

My husband is a musician, so not only is very supportive but he understands the creative drive and obsessive need to be an artist. My family is also very supportive of my writing. They have been ever since I subjected them to my horrible teen crap. My dad used to read everything I wrote in Jr. High. I remember him being cautiously supportive. Now his positive feedback is genuine. He’s constantly bugging me for updates. When is the next chapter done? When can he read it? What happens next? I know most families and friends aren’t completely honest in their feedback, but mine are brutal. So to have mine be excited to find out what happens next… that’s the best!

What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book(s)? Did you decide on ebook or print only or both?

Self-publishing has been the best decision for me. I’ve collection my share of rejections. Gave up for a while and focused on working full-time, then fall back into writing again about three years ago. I’d forgotten how much I miss it. I love the freedom, but it’s a lot of hard work. You have to do a lot of research. Know what you’re getting yourself into and even then there’s a sharp learning curve. I had a bit of a false start last Nov 2012 when I first released Queen and had to relearn several things. But it’s stronger now and what I’ve learned I’ll do better with my future book releases.

I was always going to do a print run with my ebooks. Many of my friends and family wanted a print copy and so did it. Money aside, there’s just something about finally holding a physical copy of your work in your hands. Smelling it, flipping through the pages, pressing a flower or bookmark inside… it’s finally real unlike how an ebook will ever be. I will always do a print run of all my novel length books and anthologies of my short stories.

All self-pubbed books are rumored to be shoddily edited. What do you say to that?
Shoddy editing in self-publishing is a huge stigma. One that I and other self-pubbed authors I know are fighting to overcome. There are daily discussions on how to rise above this. One way is for authors to work extremely how to make sure their work is top notch. Get a great beta partner. Learn how to self-edit at a level of excellence. Don’t release your work too soon. Have several typo-catching readers, not editors, just friends who are great at catching typos. They don’t have to be good at grammar, just simple things like dropped words and transposed letters. Ask them to read your work very slowly. But all this is very important. I can read the first paragraph or two of a book and tell you if it’s well written or not. It’s that obvious.

Plotter or Pantser?

I am a total pantser! I start with an idea or premise, sometimes just a very simple one, and I’m off. I generally write from start to finish chronologically, but if I have an idea for specific scenes out of order then I’ll write that scene and save it for later. My brain is constantly working on ideas. While I’m only writing on two main stories right now, I actually have about six in various stages of work. Often my best scenes and dialogue happen while I’m panting my way through. I’ve had characters do things that surprised me, but I’ve realized worked better than my original idea for the scene. Improv is awesome!

Do you write under a pen name? Why or why not? How did you choose it?

I do write under a pen name. I work as a paramedic and have just under eight left to retire, so I’m trying to keep some separation in my two careers. I’ve always liked the name Jacqueline and Patricks is unusual as opposed to Patrick and I liked the feminine and masculine combination. Sort of like my writing, romantic yet strong.

What is your writing routine like?

I don’t actually have a set routine because of my full-time job. I tend to be able to write whenever I get a free moment. I’ve become very disciplined when I sit down to type out hundreds of words an hour when I’m in the right mindset. It’s all about being focused.

I’ll be attending Houston Comicpalooza

http://www.comicpalooza.com/convention/exhibitors/ and speaking on the author panels ‘Sex in Sci-fi’ and ‘Playing God-world building’. If you’re in the Houston area on May 24-26, stop by and visit!

Reviews for ‘Dreams of the Queen’

“”Devotees of the paranormal genre will appreciate Patricks’ original work […] science fiction and magic meld together perfectly. As readers’ imagination is put to the test, it’s apparent that only the strong will survive […]the dash of romance creeps in slowly, but doesn’t overwhelm or interfere with the plot that will keep fans itching for more.” InD’Tale Magazine May 2013

“The alien culture of the brajj is deftly revealed over time. Plot twists at the end are genuinely startling, and leave the reader anticipating the sequel. – IndieReader Nov 2012

You can find me at www.jacquelinepatricks.com or www.facebook.com/jacquelinepatricks

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009XTVGNE https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/248843

BIO

profile_picture_by_jinx1764-d50626d_2I started writing fiction when I was 15, and like most aspiring writers, my work was terrible, immature, cliched drivel. I went college for my creative writing degree and got used to the typical reject letters. Eventually, I needed annoying things like food, clothing and rent, so I got a real job and ended up finishing my degree in paramedicine. Since then, I’ve gained 19+ years of experience as a paramedic and spend time in the army.

Then a wonderful thing happened. I woke up one morning with the fire to write fiction again. I’d been published online by writing medical articles and was paid to write for a crafts blog, but I hadn’t felt the particular desire to write fiction in nearly a decade. I was back.

EXCERPT

Never before had she seen a man so beautiful, so supremely confident and calm. It stirred novel emotions within her, feelings of attachment she’d never hoped to find. Or perhaps she merely imagined feelings because of her dissatisfaction with Julian. Did Jeamon represent unattainable perfection to her subconscious? How to know what was real and false? And Jeamon was not human, how did that compare? So much to understand; how could she possibly ever hope to comprehend it all?

“May I assist you in some manner, my Queen?” He remained kneeling, head bowed.

“Cass.”

“Pardon?” His head jerked up, swiveled to meet hers.

“My name, remember it’s Cass.”

The tense lines around his eyes smoothed as he smiled. His head tilted. “Of course, Cass. Though I wonder at your constant request for informality.”

The edge of the alcove suddenly interested her, and she picked at a loose bit of rubble with her fingernail, finding the details of it fascinating. “Do you need to understand right now?” She heard the rustle of his clothing and his boots rasping on the floor as he stood.

“No, I do not.”

Several heartbeats of stubborn silence passed. She breathed—in and out—“I’m sorry about earlier. I was … I’ve been confused. About a lot of things.”

“I, too, have been … confused.”

He placed a hand on the wall, near her fiddling one and leaned over her until she looked up. Inches separated them, his face so close to hers that she could count the sparkling lances in his irises from the random plays of distant sunlight. Her breath caught when one of Jeamon’s fingers swept faintly across one of hers. The usual electricity and blue light sparked and a negative red afterglow burned in her retinas while her skin ignited from her fingertip to her shoulder.

“That… what is that?” she asked, desperate for an answer while he continued to rub tiny circles, each one causing her breath to quicken a bit more.

“I do not know,” he said, his voice a bit husky. “Does it hurt you?” He pulled his finger away. The glow and tingling ceased.

“No.” She moved her finger back, brushing his and restarting the glow and tingling. “It feels … good … different but pleasant. What about you?”

“It is…” He paused, closed his eyes and leaned his head on the wall, causing his loose hair to slide over their hands. The delicate strands were like goose down drawing over her skin, and she sighed. “Stimulating,” he said, then his eyes snapped open and he gave her a keen look. “I have never experienced anything like it.”

“Oh.”

The scientist in her stuttered for an explanation, while the woman just stuttered. His fingers caressed hers and a mounting need to be closer to Jeamon filled her. She stepped into his embrace, rested her head upon his chest, and inhaled his soft musk. Jules was right to be angry. She’d never felt like this with him or anyone else, nor could she explain why. But she wanted more…

Sneak Peek Sunday – Heiress Bride #3

Welcome to my Sneak Peek Sunday. For today’s sneak peak we are staying with Heiress Bride. For my give away this week, I’m giving a copy of Capital Bride, the first in the Matchmaker and Co. series, in any format including paperback if you are in the US.

Heiress Bride, the second in the Matchmaker and Co. series is available now from Amazon and other retailers.

heiress_bridePicking up where we left off, Nathan and Ella have left Golden and are heading home. She’s finally removed her veil and let the sun shine on her face.

“Ahh,” she said. “That feels so wonderful.”

Nathan looked at her and smiled.

“What?” she asked.

“You seem so happy with just a little sunshine on your face. At this rate I’m going to have no trouble pleasing you.”

She laughed. “I am easily amused. After nearly a year without feeling the sunshine on my face for more than a moment, this is amazing.”

He pulled onto a driveway off the main road. Far up the road, in a little gully up against the foothills sat the ranch buildings. She could make out the two large buildings, one of which she assumed was the house and several smaller buildings.

Check out all the other blogs for Sneak Peak Sunday here http://sneak-peek-sunday.blogspot.com/

An Interview with Tara Kingston

Please help me welcome Tara Kingston to my blog today. Tara will be giving away a $5 giftcard to one lucky commentor so be sure and leave her a comment.

claimedbythecaptain_msr-1_2Tell us about yourself.

Hi Cindy! Thanks for having me as a guest today. I’m a Southern girl, Virginia born and bred, but now, I’m living in a small northwestern Pennsylvania town in a restored Victorian on a lovely, tranquil creek. I’m the mother of two sons, and we count our German Shepherd, Lucy, and Jinxie, a fluffy furball of a cat as the family matriarch and princess, respectively. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read and write stories of feisty heroines and adventure.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be, and why?

At this point in my life, I’d live right here in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I love being so close to nature, and my husband and I are both into outdoor recreation. Most weekends, you can find us hiking, canoeing, or relaxing by the creek with a good book.

Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?

I’m proud to say I’ve been a classroom teacher and a librarian, the second most ideal job for anyone who loves books as much as I do.

Are you a full time writer or do you have a “day job”?

At present, I’m devoting my time to writing.

Do you have other talents? Or is there a talent you don’t have that you wish you did?

I have some musical ability. I can play the piano, but sadly I can’t sing a note. I’d love to learn how to play the guitar. But the talent I most wish I possessed was culinary skill. My sons believe I use the smoke alarm as a kitchen timer.

How did you get started writing?

I’ve been writing stories as long as I can remember, but I didn’t begin to seriously pursue publication until I discovered my local Romance Writers of America chapter. Being with a group of talented writers who generously shared their knowledge and skill was a blessing. Then I joined an online RWA chapter for writers of historical romance and found even more encouragement and camaraderie among a group of lovers of history and romance.

claimedbythespymaster_msr-1_2What genres do you write in and why?

I write Historical Romance, Historical Romantic Suspense, and Steampunk with a touch of the paranormal. I wrote my first contemporary, a paranormal romantic comedy, last year. Love Potion #7 is a steamy love story that blends Bewitched with a classic battle of the sexes.

How many books have you written?

Six that have been published, and three that are in process.

Tell us about your current series/WIP.

My current Work in Progress is an enemies-to-lovers story, the first in a series of romantic thrillers set in a Victorian London where vampires have risen to power. Battled by a heroine reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Princess Leia, the vampires bring in an American bounty hunter to bring her in. The hired gun is determined to claim the bounty, until fate and his heart intervene.

I’m also getting ready to relaunch a series of Civil War-era historical romances revolving around the daring spies on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. The Secrets and Spies series will be rereleased this summer with hot new covers and abundant adventure, intrigue, and passion.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I love getting to know my characters, especially my heroes. It’s wonderful to conjure the men of your dreams through the written word.

How does your family feel about your writing career?

They’re very supportive. My husband has prepared many a meal while I’m hunched over my laptop, tapping out a story. He’s the best!

lovepotion7_msr-1_2Love Potion #7 Blurb:

Chelsea York is a witch on a mission. Quarterback Jake Wilder’s broken one heart too many, and Chelsea’s out to give the legendary passer a taste of his own medicine. She calls upon the city’s resident spellcaster to conjure the perfect brew for her task, Love Potion #7.

Jake Wilder left the game of football for the quiet of his hometown, but he hasn’t left fame behind. When a bewitching bookstore owner engages him in a sensuous battle of the sexes, he decides to teach the woman he believes to be a gold digger why she shouldn’t play with fire.

With seduction as their mission, both set out to become the victor in their sexual play. But they both get in over their heads when struck with desire neither can deny. And surrendering to the pleasure of temptation will lead them to discover how some passions are more potent than any spell.

Excerpt:

“To be honest, I really just wanted to get you to myself.”

The wolf’s slow smile signaled a warning. Too late. He caught her hand in his and pulled her to him. Close, so close. His clean scent swept over her like a wind-driven squall. She shouldn’t like this. She needed to reject him, not melt into his embrace. But she clung to him as though she was the one who’d been bewitched.

His mouth brushed her lips, as unhurried as his smile. A gentle sweep against her flesh, tantalizing with its sweet promise of far more decadent caresses to come.

He deepened the kiss. His tongue traced the seam of her lips, exploring, teasing, coaxing her to part for him. A ribbon of liquid heat curled in her belly. The edge of the desk seemed the only thing supporting her wobbly legs. His hands explored her, cupping her bottom, molding her to his torso. His arousal pressed to her belly, allowing no doubt of his body’s reaction to the delicious contact. Hunger stirred in her core. Hunger for this man. Hunger she couldn’t afford to feel.

One hand skimmed along her hip, possessive, brazen. Fingers curving over her fully clothed breast, he teased her flesh to life. Chelsea stifled a little moan, but a hint of her need broke through. Her nipple pebbled beneath his touch, and then, his skillful fingers released one button, then another, stealing beneath the fabric of her sensible blouse. Gentle, yet searing. Each moment of precious contact more delectable than the last. And still he kissed her, his tongue mating with hers in a subtle, sensual dance. The heat in her belly seeped through her body, and she melted to him. Tilting her hips to cradle the hard ridge of his erection, she spread her legs, welcoming the sweet pressure, craving more. Her hands curved over his biceps, rock hard beneath her fingertips, and she drank in the feel of him, the taste of him, the scent of him.
She wanted more.

Buy Links:

Love Potion #7
Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Love-Potion-Hex-Appeal-ebook/dp/B0091F0X5M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366647179&sr=1-1&keywords=love+potion+%237+tara+kingston

Ellora’s Cave:
http://www.ellorascave.com/love-potion-7.html

Claimed by the Captain

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Claimed-by-the-Captain-ebook/dp/B0056GR75Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366647032&sr=8-1&keywords=tara+kingston

Ellora’s Cave: http://www.ellorascave.com/claimed-by-the-captain.html

Claimed by the Spymaster

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Claimed-by-the-Spymaster-ebook/dp/B005JDTC16/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1366647085&sr=8-2&keywords=tara+kingston

Ellora’s Cave: http://www.ellorascave.com/claimed-by-the-spymaster.html

Website: http://www.tarakingston.com/

Bio:
A Southern girl transplanted to a small northwestern Pennsylvania town, Tara Kingston lives her own love story with her Navy Chief hero in a restored Victorian on a picturesque creek. The mother of two sons, Tara shares her home with Lucy, the German shepherd and family matriarch, and Jinxie, a fluffy furball of a cat who’s assumed the role of family princess. When she’s not writing, reading, or burning dinner, Tara can be found cycling, hiking, watching classic movies (and some not-so-classic flicks), and cheering on her favorite football team.

An Interview with Jill Hughey

Today’s guest is Jill Hughey, author of four historical romances, three of which comprise the Evolution Series. Her newest release is Vain. We’ll talk about that soon, but first of all, to break the ice a little, what is your favorite dessert/food?

I have a real weakness for beverages. I have to have at least one cup of decaf coffee in the morning, a cup of caffeinated in the afternoon, and I really enjoy a glass of red wine in the evening with some dark chocolate Hershey’s kisses.

VainCoverNoShade6_2Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
Usually I get one scene in my head that introduces me to the hero and heroine. For example, the first book in my series began with my seeing the hero, David, saying “I want to see her face.” He stood diagonally behind a woman who was kneeling in a room crowded with men, her veil blocking his view of her profile. Around that I created the scene where Rochelle is being interviewed by the emperor. That line of dialogue never occurs in the finished book because the story didn’t support them meeting for the first time at the palace, but the seed for my Evolution Series was planted.

Tell us about your the series.
I chose Charlemagne’s empire as the setting, during the rule of his son, Louis, because it offered the societal structure that romance readers like while being completely separate from England or Scotland, which have been pretty well covered in the genre. The empire was unstable during the 830s. There were three civil wars in one decade because Louis’s sons by his first wife did not want to share the empire with a son he fathered with his second wife.

Each one-word title in the series describes the hero. I know titles can be hard for authors to choose, but these were easy.

The first book, Unbidden, begins in 831 when Louis has just regained his throne. He is determined to place a loyal soldier at a strategic location, which sets the stage for the relationship between David, the soldier and second son of a nobleman, and Rochelle, the heroine who doesn’t really want a soldier at her estate, much less a husband.
In Redeemed, the villain of the first story, Doeg, who is also David’s brother, strives to become a more principled man. He seeks a wife only for her housekeeping skills, but the quiet widow he chooses wants more in return than he ever expected to give. Doeg is a tortured hero and probably one of my favorite creations.

Vain is set in 839. The male lead is David’s best friend, Theophilus (usually shortened to Theo). He is a nobleman in the thick of the political intrigue. He finds himself responsible for a very talented female tailor. They discover a mutual interest in fine cloth and unique garments, while trying to ignore a physical attraction that neither intends to act on. The premise for this relationship originated from the first book in which Theo says “I have my heart set on a woman who can sew. I would save a fortune.” At the time, I had no idea I would be plotting his happy ending, but that statement of his led me to lovely Lily.

Please tell my readers a little bit more about your new book, Vain.

This is the back cover blurb:
Lily had her life planned, neat and tidy as thread on a spindle, until her mother died and her father snipped at the seams of her future by abandoning Lily in their shop. A nobleman unexpectedly gives her hope when he brings fabric for a special garment. Lily survives on his first payment, and immerses herself in sewing and embroidering an incomparable tunic for him, as her tidy plan continues to unravel.

Theophilus, Lord of Ribeauville, takes his responsibility to his townspeople seriously and, therefore, does not dally with local women. Desire wars with duty when Lily glances up at him while adjusting the hem on his Easter tunic. As her deteriorating circumstances push them together, Theo and Lily learn that the path to his heart just might be through his wardrobe, though the exquisite outfit she creates is the only part of her that fits in his precarious aristocratic world.

Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you avoid reading that genre? Why?
I love to read historical romance though I do not read it when I am actively writing a story because I tend to pick up little dialogue quirks or other cues from the author I’m reading. I don’t listen to music while I’m writing either, for the same reason. I guess I am just too suggestible.

Give us an elevator pitch for your book.
A tailor’s abandoned daughter fashions a vain nobleman’s tunic, finding passion between the neckline and hem as misfortune forces her into his precarious aristocratic world.

Vain is available from Amazon (kindle and print), Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and most other online book vendors.

If you want to keep in touch with Jill, she writes a blog, has a Facebook page, and tweets @jillhughey.

Thank you, Cynthia, for letting me visit with you today! I’d love to give a Vain ebook away to one commenter.

SETUP of the EXCERPT – Lily has been searching for a way to support herself since being abandoned by her father and taken into the household of Theophilus, Lord of Ribeauville. Lily and Theo both have excellent taste in clothing, and the woman Lily has criticized is also the woman Theo thinks he is going to marry.

BEGINNING OF EXCERPT
“I heard you were went to the market today,” Theophilus stated.

“Yes,” Lily almost cheered, so proud of her accomplishment she did not question his knowledge of her whereabouts. “I sold my cloth and bought raw wool so I can make more. I think I can take care of myself doing this.”

Her lord crossed his arms over his chest as he paced a short distance away. “I have been meaning to talk to you about your future. One of my guests may have a position for you, as a seamstress for her household.” He turned to look at her. “You would be wise to consider it.”

Lily tried to force herself to be smarter than she felt. She did not really want to leave Ribeauville. She did not want to be a servant. “It is not the woman who questioned me the other day, is it?” Lily blurted.

“No. What difference would that make?” he inquired.
Lily scuffed her foot in the gravel before the bench. “She does not like how I make clothes.”
“She likes your insolence even less,” he replied stiffly.

“What insolence?” Lily protested.

“Do not pretend you do not know what I mean. Telling her her clothes said she had a rich father,” he groused. “She recognized the insult, Lily.”

Lily stared up at the moon for a minute, unwilling to back down even if embarrassed by his chiding. “I have seen her on other days dressed very well, but you know as well as I do her tunic on Monday was hideous,” she informed him.

Theophilus gaped at her then burst into unwilling laughter.

“There was so much of it,” Lily explained. “Today’s blue looked very nice on her. I would not have added the dagging at the hem, though I can see how she might need the variety with so many outfits to decorate.”

He laughed again. “Lily, I know you have an excellent eye for clothing. It is your tongue you must learn to control.” He became stern and walked forward to stand over her where she still sat on the bench. “Rotruda is Fastrada’s friend. She needs a steady seamstress for her growing family. She will not tolerate your opinions as I have done. She will not want you to decide her necklines should not be square, even if she would be wise to let you dress her from head to toe.”

His compliments combined with the possibility of hiring out as a disregarded servant curdled her thoughts like sweet milk ruined with vinegar. How could she accept that her talents, of which her lord thought so highly, were to be used to sew mundane clothing for a family who would probably never appreciate her? If she worked quietly and without opinion they would not remember she existed, which is exactly what they wanted. Lily saw how the servants in the shed moved in and out of their masters’ daily lives like specters put on earth to haul and clean and organize as inconspicuously as possible. Some were treated better than others. Lily suspected that the very pregnant, very superior Rotruda would not be a generous mistress.

“I think I will stick to my plan of weaving. With the wool I bought today, I should be able to make enough to rent a small room. I will get out from under your feet as soon as I can, my lord.”

He reached out to touch her shoulder. His heat pulsed through her linen tunic. She scuttled off the bench to stand behind it.

“I am sorry,” he bit out. “I intended only to comfort, not to seduce.”

jill_2AUTHOR BIO:
Jill Hughey has loved historical romance since sneaking peeks at her mother’s library years ago. She has enjoyed writing just as long. She prides herself on deep character development, and settings that take her readers on long, satisfying journeys to places they have probably never been in a book before.
Jill lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. Her hobby is singing lessons, in which she studies classical soprano and some lighthearted works.

An Interview with Sydney Jane Baily

First, I’d like to say thank you to Cynthia Woolf for letting me be a guest on her blog. For those of you who take the time to comment, I’d like to give away a copy of my full-length historical romance An Improper Situation in digital form to two commenters who’ll be entered in a drawing.

1. Tell us about yourself.

I’m a first-generation American. My parents are both from England and all my family is still there. I’m a reserved person who fills up my cup with alone time, the same way some people need to recharge by being social and out with friends. When I was getting my degrees in history and English literature from The College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, VA, I went to the career center and took a personality test. Apparently, I am suited to be either a writer or an undertaker. I think I’m on the correct path now. I live in New England with my husband and children. I have a sister and mother on the west coast and all the rest of my very large family are still in the UK. I love cats (currently caring for three) and have recently become a first-time dog owner and now I love dogs, too.

2. How did you get started writing:

I started writing at a young age. For some reason, I filled notebooks with song lyrics, as well as stories. I still find songs to be very inspirational. When I’m driving in the car, a song will come on that sparks some story idea and I can’t wait to get home and start writing. I finished my first novel when I was 17. It was deservedly rejected on my 18th birthday. I tucked it away and went to college, then grad school, and then I started in my career in publishing. I’ve held just about every position on the editorial side of publishing. Finally, last year, I turned my focus back to writing and in October of 2012, I published An Improper Situation, set in the 1880s.

3 Tell us about your current series/WIP.

It’s a three-book series, starting with An Improper Situation, which begins in fictional Spring City, Colorado, then moves to the hero’s hometown of Boston, MA. It features Reed Malloy, a proper Boston lawyer, and Charlotte Sanborn, a self-sufficient, if somewhat repressed, writer. It was so much fun to research. What a great time period the 1880s is! So modern and so many firsts. The sequel, An Irresistible Temptation, features one of Reed’s sister’s Sophie, who is a classical pianist, and her very sexy hero, Riley Dalcourt, part cowboy, part doctor. This story takes my couple to the opposite coast, to rip-roaring San Francisco, another great researching project for me. It should be out within a few weeks. I got sidetracked by life lately, with a trip back to England and cataract surgery, but now the manuscript is nearly ready to go. I’m so pleased with the cover from Dar Albert at Wicked Smart Designs. Here it is, a sneak preview, as well as an excerpt:

temptation-web-site-copy_2Excerpt:

“I was about to knock but I heard the most unbelievable music . . . and it was you,” he said, wonder in his voice, his eyes fixed on her as if he hadn’t seen her before.

“Sorry, the door was unlocked.”

Sophie was blushing again for the second time in as many days. What was it with this man?

There was no need to pretend modesty. She was good and she knew it. So all she said was, “Thank you.”

Then what? What did he want? “Can I get you a cup of tea or coffee?”

“I’d rather hear you play some more,” he said, coming closer and taking a seat in the parlor.

Sophie stared at him a moment. She’d played for large audiences when performing at school, but now she found she wanted to play perfectly just for Riley. And that made her nervous.

“All right,” she agreed, sitting back down at the piano and flicking her long, nearly black hair over her shoulders. She closed her eyes a moment and decided what to play. Not her own composition that he’d stumbled upon, but something really spectacular. Of course—Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca.

She started and played for five minutes, then ten, not noticing the passing of time but occasionally looking over at him. He sat with his eyes closed, taking it in. She liked that. It was easier to play without him watching her. When she finished, after the last resonance receded, there was only silence. Then Riley’s chair creaked and he stood up and came over to her.

He took her hand and pulled her to her feet. Then he took her other hand and brought her round to face him. She thought he’d say that she played well. It was, after all, a difficult piece. Yet, as she looked up into his warm brown eyes, she caught her breath at what she saw there. She knew it was coming; she’d seen that look on a man’s face before, and she couldn’t move even if she’d wanted to.

Sure enough, Riley lowered his head and brought his lips down to hers.

Sophie stayed frozen. She should step back and slap him. She should scream at his outrageous behavior. She did neither. Instead, she leaned in to his tender kiss, and as she did so, whatever was happening between them ignited like wildfire.

His mouth slanted across hers and his lips moved against her own, while his hands dropped hers to encircle her waist and pull her closer. Her nostrils were filled with the scent of him, clean vanilla and a hint of leather. Her own hands moved up to rest against his broad chest, and she could feel the staccato of his heartbeat fierce against her sensitive fingers.

When his mouth became more insistent and opened against hers, she felt his teeth tug at her lower lip and her knees went weak.

“Sophie,” he half-whispered, half-groaned against her mouth.

If you’re interested in Sophie’s story, you can go to Goodreads, at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17349430-an-irresistible-temptation, to read the back cover copy for this as-yet unpublished novel. I just noticed that I already have a five-star rating on the book. It’s from one of my beta readers, not from my mom, I promise.

The third book in the trilogy is not yet titled. It features Charlotte’s brother, Thaddeus, and a surprise heroine who is in the first two books. My idea of Thaddeus, a photo from the internet of a male model, is stuck up next to my computer and he glowers at me daily for not getting immediately to his story. I can’t wait. Besides, I really need to get him out of my head; he’s taking up way too much room.

4. What is your favorite part of writing?

Dialogue.

5. What is your least favorite part of writing?

Getting started. I am a procrastinator and I always think it will be more difficult than it is. Even before doing this interview, I managed to make two cups of tea, play ball with the dog, sweep my hearth, and clean the litter box, among other time-frittering tasks. Now that I’m writing it, I am flying along.

6. How much time do you spend promoting your books? What works best for you?

I need help with this. Really. I read about writers who publish their first books and talk about ONLY getting 40 or 50 sales a month and then finally breaking through and getting 200 to 400 a month or whatever. I am nowhere close to those numbers. But at least the manuscripts are no longer languishing in my desk drawer. (Actually, there is a contemporary woman’s novel, set in Newburyport, MA, that is still in my pc somewhere. It’s ready to go, but I don’t have time to shepherd it through the process right now of getting published.) I guess the answer is that I haphazardly play around with promotion on any given day. If I have something to tweet, which is still very new for me, then I do so. I use Hootsuite to manage my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I don’t think those social media accomplish anything for me honestly in terms of promotion. I’m just not adept at them yet.

I also like Goodreads. I had a giveaway for An Improper Situation. Over 400 people entered, but after it was over and I sent off the paperback version to the winner, the other people who entered didn’t run out and buy my book. I would like to advertise on certain ebook sites, but you need a minimum number of reviews and I don’t believe I’ve reached that number yet. I think when the second book is released, then I’ll try some kind of promotional push, such as dropping the price on the first one and . . . well, I’m open to suggestions.

7. How has your experience with self-publishing been?

Love it, love it, love it. I have a micro-manager-type personality, which makes me a good editor. (Of other people’s work, that is. I don’t know an editor who can see his or her own mistakes.) With self-publishing, I can control everything, from length of novel, to release date, to cover art. I have a concept and then my cover designer shows me her manifestation of that, and she has no problem with my tweaking her design and making suggestions. Try doing that with a NY publishing house. There are, of course, downsides. No advance, no one to push you, no editorial help, no marketing assistance. And though I’ve been in publishing for over twenty years now, I’ve learned so much being on the author’s side of the desk. It’s great to be in my mid-forties and learning this new business.

8. What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

If you do nothing else, pay for a copy editor and a professional cover. I don’t buy books with covers that look amateurish, and I stop reading a book by page four or five if I see loose, sloppy prose or typos. A writer may have the best story idea in the world, but if he or she hasn’t honed the writing craft or had a professional find the mistakes that every single one of us makes, then that writer is not putting out a professional product.

9. Soapbox topic: Be professional.

This relates to #8. I actually stopped reading two books recently. The first one just didn’t grab me plot wise by page five, so I stopped. Life is too short. The second one needed a good edit and a rewrite. When in the heroine’s point-of-view, the heroine shouldn’t describe her own attributes, such as removing the sunglasses off her “unusually colored green eyes with flecks of gold.” People don’t think of themselves like that. You need another character to bring out the description. Plus, the clichés were coming fast and furious: rippling muscles, lustrous hair, etc. Yikes. It screamed amateur.

Again, thanks to Cynthia Woolf for having me on her blog.

Website: http://www.SydneyJaneBaily.com
Blog: http://www.SydneyJaneBaily.com/blog
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sydney.jane.baily
Twitter @SydneyJaneBaily

An Improper Situation (five-star average on Amazon) by Sydney Jane Baily:

An_Improper_Situatio_Cover_for_Kindle_2Blurb/Summary:
With her chestnut hair and striking green eyes, Charlotte should be the catch of Spring City, Colorado. But she wears her independence like an impenetrable suit of armor and cloaks her identity behind her famed writing nom de plume of Charles Sanborn. She’s a 24-year-old confirmed spinster who won’t risk heartbreak, until a handsome stranger awakens her yearning both for companionship and for indulgent pleasure.

Boston lawyer Reed Malloy has a solemn mission—to deliver two orphaned children to their Colorado cousin. He’s not prepared for Charlotte being utterly innocent and yet irresistibly beguiling, or for her brewing resentment and flat-out refusal to raise her kin. It will take some firsthand persuasion if he is to complete his legal duty and, perhaps, resolve more tantalizing issues.

When Charlotte forsakes everything familiar—and two thousand miles of America’s heartland no longer separate her from Reed—unforeseen influences conspire to keep them apart. The high society of the Boston Brahmins welcomes her . . . while concealed malice abounds. With the intrusion of sinister forces and scorned women—and with passions ablaze—Reed and Charlotte find themselves in a very Improper Situation.

To purchase An Improper Situation:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Improper-Situation-Sydney-Jane-Baily/dp/0615701191/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1359476000&sr=8-1 (paperback)
http://www.amazon.com/An-Improper-Situation-ebook/dp/B009L8V2AO/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1359476000&sr=8-1 (Kindle version)
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/An-Improper-Situation/book-yarlkdPWB0S6GVJPVIhzQw/page1.html?s=zC71R3hUvUGd8GZGLZi6zw&r=1
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/241875
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/an-improper-situation/id568632505?mt=11
B&N Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-improper-situation-sydney-jane-baily/1113575542?ean=2940044975880
All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-animpropersituation-988641-158.html

Interview with Linda McLaughlin

Please help me welcome Linda McLaughlin to my blog today. Linda is giving away a $5 Starbucks card for today’s tour stop, but is also giving away a $10 giftcard of the winners choice for her overall tour, so be sure to leave a comment to be entered.

RoguesHostage_200_2What inspired your latest release?

About the time I decided to start writing, I was doing my family genealogy. As part of my research, I picked up a nonfiction book about the founding of Pittsburgh by the French, who built Fort Duquesne in the 1750s. I was surprised to learn that the French officers, most of whom were from the aristocracy and upper middle class, would strip down to moccasins and loincloth to lead their Native American allies on frontier raiding parties. I thought, wow, what a great hero that would make! And the idea for Jacques Corbeau of Rogue’s Hostage was born. While I ws still working on the book, the movie of The Last of the Mohicans, starring Daniel Day-Lewis was released and I saw it in the theater 3 or 4 times, absorbing every detail. The movie provided a lot of visual inspiration!

Do you have critique partners?

Yes, I have been with the same critique group for over twenty years. We meet once a week to critique each other’s work, and we have become the best of friends. When we started out, none of us were published, but now we all are.

What is your favorite dessert/food?

Chocolate. Dark chocolate, to be exact. :D

What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

Do your homework so you know what you are getting into. Assess your strengths and weaknesses so you know what you can on your own and what you will have to pay for. Editing can be quite expensive, for instance, so if you can save money by learning to do your own covers or formatting, then take the time to learn. Join a group and read books and be prepared to go the long distance. It takes time to build a name and find readers. I’m still working on that and I’ve been published, if not self-published, for a long time.

What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Like any child, I had occasional dreams of doing something glamorous, like being a spy or a concert pianist, but it didn’t take long for me to figure out neither of those would happen. I wasn’t that good at the piano, and frankly, I’d make a terrible spy. Can’t keep a secret to save my soul. But the two things that I thought about most were writing or being a librarian. My parents, who were very practical people, made it very clear which choice they thought was best, so I attended Library School after college graduation. I’ve worked as a technical and public librarian on and off for many years. I put the writing dream aside for a long time, but it came back to me in my thirties and I decided to give it a try. Glad I did.

What genres are you drawn to as a reader?

I’m a very eclectic reader and enjoy most genres, though I’m a little too squeamish for horror. However, I am a big history geek, so am drawn to anything historical, whether it’s a romance or mystery or science fiction & fantasy. I like Steampunk and am a big fan of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire books, a historical fantasy series.

Do you have any rejection stories to share?

Yes. About twelve years ago, I submitted Rogue’s Hostage to a New York publisher. When I didn’t hear from them for several months, I sent a postcard asking the status of my manuscript. They told me it had been lost, so I printed out another copy of the manuscript (this was before they took email submissions) and mailed it to them again. A few months later, I received a rejection on the original submission, followed a few weeks later by a second rejection for the second submission. At that point there was nothing to do but laugh. Obviously, the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing! And they wonder why we want to self-publish.

What’s next for you?

Next up is a release of my sweet Regency romance, Lady Elinor’s Escape. Then I plan to work on finishing a Western historical and write a sequel to my December release, How To Woo… A Reluctant Bride, written under my Lyndi Lamont pseudonym. It is going to be a busy year!

Bio:

Linda McLaughlin grew up with a love of history fostered by her paternal grandmother and an incurable case of wanderlust inherited from her father. She has traveled extensively within the United States and has visited Mexico, Canada, & Australia. A lifelong dream came true with a trip to England where she was able to combine sightseeing and theater with research for her novels. A native of Pittsburgh, she now lives in Southern California with her husband.

Her first book was Worth The Risk by Lyn O’Farrell, written with Anne Farrell. Now Linda writes historical and Regency romance. She loves transporting her readers into the past where her characters learn that, in the journey of life, love is the sweetest reward.

She also writes sexy to erotic romance under the name Lyndi Lamont.

Website: http://www.lindamclaughlin.com/
Blog: http://flightsafancy.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LyndiLamont

Rogue’s Hostage
By Linda McLaughlin
Historical Romance

4 ½ stars and a Top Pick from Romantic Times!
Romantic Times Nominee—Best Small Press Romance of 2003!
2nd Place – Lorie Awards – Best Historical Romance!

His hostage…

In 1758 the Pennsylvania frontier is wild, primitive and dangerous, where safety often lies at the end of a gun. Mara Dupre’s life crumbles when a French and Indian war party attacks her cabin, kills her husband, and takes her captive. Marching through the wilderness strengthens her resolve to flee, but she doesn’t count on her captor teaching her the meaning of courage and the tempting call of desire.

Her destiny…

French lieutenant Jacques Corbeau’s desire for his captive threatens what little honor he has left. But when Mara desperately offers herself to him in exchange for her freedom, he finds the strength to refuse and reclaims his lost self-respect. As the shadows of his past catch up to him, Jacques realizes that Mara, despite the odds, is the one true key to reclaiming his soul and banishing his past misdeeds forever.

(Previously published by Amber Quill Press)

Rogue’s Hostage is now available as an electronic download from Barnes and Noble and Amazon and coming soon to Smashwords. For more information and to read an excerpt, go to http://www.lindamclaughlin.com/rogueshostage.html

Excerpt from Rogue’s Hostage:

The woman gave a soft moan and opened her eyes. When she spotted him, she shrank back against the wall, arms folded defensively across her breast. His gut tightened. He didn’t enjoy terrifying women, but fear should make her easier to control. She had already proven unpredictable.

Terror, stark and vivid, glittered in her eyes. “Who are you?”

“My name is Jacques Corbeau, lieutenant in the army of France. And you are my captive.”

* * *

Mara inhaled sharply, panic building inside her. This couldn’t be real. It was all a bad dream. She would wake up soon and tell Emile about it, and they would laugh. And laugh and laugh and… She swallowed the hysteria engulfing her.

“Madame, are you listening to me?”

The Frenchman’s voice, sharp and insistent, demanded her attention. “There is not much time. My companions are not patient men. We must leave soon, but first I want you to bind my shoulder. Where do you keep bandages?”

Her mouth and throat were dry when she swallowed, but she choked out an answer. “The trunk. Under the bed.”

He squatted beside the bed, pulled out the trunk and rummaged through it. She watched his every move, unable to take her eyes off him, alarmed by the physical threat he represented.

He was a tall man who dominated the cabin as Emile never had, and his state of undress revealed nearly every inch of his lean and powerful form. Not only was he bare to the waist, but his breechclout and leggings failed to completely cover his thighs and buttocks. He had a wide-shouldered, rangy body and long, sinewy legs. He looked strong, virile, and dangerous.

A cold knot formed in Mara’s stomach. The French had killed her father and now her husband. What would they do to her?

She wrapped her arms around her waist. Her grandfather would say whatever happened was God’s will, but she rejected that idea. What kind of God allowed such awful things to happen?

Fearfully, she watched as the Frenchman shoved the trunk back under the bed and stood. He held out the bandages, and she froze. She couldn’t touch him, she just couldn’t.

The man’s heavy black brows drew together in a fierce frown, but his voice was without emotion. “Madame, I am all that stands between you and the men who killed your husband. I can be persuaded to act as your protector. It is to your advantage to do what I command.”

He dropped the bandages beside her on the bed and reached out to touch her hair. “Must I remind you, in my companion’s eyes, scalps are more valuable than live captives?”

Horror sliced through her fear. “Emile!” She shot off the bed and bolted for the door. The Frenchman caught her around the waist before she could reach it.

“It is too late, madame,” he said in a hushed voice. “It is done.”

“No,” she moaned, as she fought to banish the image of a bloody scalp, raw flesh.

The Frenchman turned her toward him, holding her by the shoulders, and spoke in an insistent voice. “Listen to me and be sensible. You must be strong now. We have a long journey ahead of us.”

Dazed, she stared at him. “A journey? To where?”

“Fort Duquesne.”

Mara gasped. The dreaded enemy stronghold deep in the wilderness. She struggled to get free, clawing at his powerful arms.

He gripped her tighter, grimacing as he did. “Stop it! What chance do you think you have against three men? Do as I say and you will live. Refuse and…” He let the implication hang in the air between them.

Live. Yes, that was what she must do. She must bide her time and stay alive. Her brother would find her and exact revenge. But for now, she was on her own.

She straightened her spine and stared into the Frenchman’s eyes. “How do I know I can trust you, monsieur?”

He met her gaze, but a shadow darkened his eyes. “You have my word of honor.”

Bitterness filled her. “The word of a Frenchman? What is that worth?”

“For the moment, madame, your life.”

This is the last stop of my Rogue’s Hostage Blog Tour. Leave a comment here with your email address to be entered for $5.00 Starbucks gift card, as well as my blog tour giveaway: a $10.00 gift certificate of the winner’s choice (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, etc). Contest ends March 3.

My thanks to Cynthia for hosting me today. Hope you have enjoyed the interview and excerpt.